Seventhman Blog

  1. Want to Innovate? Create Problems First

    "innovative culture"If you’re not creating enough problems, you’re not pushing your business towards ultimate success.  Would you agree?  Good leaders are great at solving problems, but strategic leaders don’t simply solve – they create problems that push people to the edge of their limits.. to the point that it empowers the entire organization to move forward.  Besides, if you come to think of all the greatest innovation in our history, whether accidentally or meticulously discovered, you’ll see that they have all been born out of a serious need to solve a problem.  Taking this into account, if you feel that your business is plunging towards stagnation, maybe all you need is a serious challenge.

    What Motivates You?

    Remember that very first time a brilliant idea hit you like some meteor crashing on your head?  Do you even recall what it feels like the very first time you opened your business?  How excited were you? Most important, do you still feel that excitement?  When I started my first venture, it felt like I’m on a very important mission to Mars, seriously.  I want to solve problems through the power of coding and technology.  As years passed by and the business grew, I have to admit how I love the status quo that rocking the boat feels like something totally out of the question.  I just can’t risk it,  given these tough economic times.  I believe most business owners can relate to my experience.  As the adage goes, ‘if you’re not part of the problem, you’re part of a solution’. If I were to rephrase it then, if you’re not creating a problem – you’re not creating a sustainable solution; you’re just waiting for things to magically form out of thin air.

    Disruptive Innovation Starts With Disrupting Your Mindset

    You’ve probably heard of the ‘Fail Fast’ concept and the idea behind it is to embrace failure as a journey to success.  Makes sense for some and for others, a hot topic for debate.  But why would you even risk failure when things are working just fine?  Suddenly, you start to scratch your head as you see this new competitor shining so bright it threatens the very existence of your business.  Your brand suddenly feels like a commodity, your bottom line is shrinking and your top people are disconnected with your company’s goals.  In fact, you’ve got more brainpower right now as you’re surrounded by A-level management and you begin to wonder why nobody’s speaking up each time you have a brainstorming session.  What’s the problem?  You.. or them?

    Building a Culture of Problem-Solvers

    You might agree with me or not: Entrepreneurs who are good at problem solving are best equipped in solving their customers’ pain points effectively.  In the era of rapid changes, creating an innovative culture is not a choice; it is a MUST if you want your business to thrive longer.  How can you adjust your expectations so you can motivate your people to take more risks.. with minimal damage?  How can you reposition your company in your industry?  The answer is simple: Stop Micromanaging.  Treat each team player as a decision maker and give them the tools to solve real problems. Get everyone involved in the planning process and you’d be amazed, after all these years, at all those awesome ideas shared and people are super-excited to add value to the table. It worked for me which I’m totally grateful for…and I’d say that passion trumps experience all the time.

    What are you waiting for then?  You won’t know unless you try…

     

     

  2. Chief Innovation Officer: The New CIO

    "chief innovation officer"Chief Innovation Officer… you probably haven’t heard of this new job title.  You might be wondering if this is just another hype as companies desperately search for the ultimate alchemist that will bring about change, for the better.  The business realm is under a major transformation and stakeholders are taking a qualitative approach this 2014.  For this reason, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) no longer holds a limited function as technology-enabled innovation proliferate in the enterprise.  There is a need for new leadership in the corporate world as the C-suite struggles to find balance and sustain growth for their products and services in a dynamic, competitive market.

    Should You Hire a Chief Innovation officer?

    Call them the new ‘CIO’ or ‘CINO’ – this new breed of consultants are catalysts of change who have developed a well-rounded set of technical expertise, business cunning, excellent leadership and people skills all-rolled-into-one.  They are not merely growth hackers predicting the path to business success, but they are also stewards mentoring every business unit to make sure that the plan is implemented accordingly.  If you’re asking whether you should hire a CIO for your organization or not, you must be asking yourself how to find one instead.  The ability to continuously improve and innovate faster has never been easy.  Finding someone who can deliver impact to your business is like searching for the rarest of gems. You’ll need all the luck!

    Innovation’s Best-Kept Secrets

    Think of your Chief Innovation Officer as the final block to complete the 3D puzzle.  Just type the word ‘innovation’ on search engines and you’ll see lots of resources on ways to innovate.  Sometimes, you have to look beyond the usual way of things if you really want real change.  Thanks to technology, hiring someone outside your own comfort zone adds diversity to the organization.  Bringing in people from different culture and experiences may just open your mind to what you’ve been missing in the way you do business with your customers.  As Steve Jobs said, ‘Put a Dent in the Universe’.. and that may literally translate to having someone who may be the exact polar opposite of people working in your office.  Radical? Yes. Sometimes, you have to rock the boat a little, shift the balance of power to get from points A to B – faster.

    What Questions You Should Be Asking Instead

    As I mentioned from my last post that this year will be exciting as hybrid talents are on the rise, as the key decision maker, you should ask:

    •    How can I gain a sustained competitive advantage in a saturated market?
    •    Who can I trust to implement a successful innovation strategy from ground-level..up?
    •    Who are insatiably passionate about what they do and are willing to push the limits to explore new ideas?
    •    Who can collaborate with different departments and act as an ambassador of idea generation?
    •    Who can successfully pilot your innovation road map to align with your business goals?
    •    Who is realistic enough to allow room for growth while minimizing risks that come with failure?

    Probably by now, you have the answer to this question which can only be summed up by a talented CINO.  The business world is facing major changes and the only way to become a game changer is to be as creative, as fearless and as realistic.  You’ve got to be unconventional this time or you may simply bring in someone who will relentlessly focus on how to grow your business for the long run.

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

     

     

  3. How Can You Create Value Through Innovation?

    "creating value"Welcome to the Age of the Customer.  This year, businesses will be called to explain that unique value they create.  It’s not enough to say you have a good product or service. You need to get rid of that box and think of all those missed opportunities that you had when your customers choose your competitor over you.  This time, you have to get into the nook and cranny of your business strategy so you can create that unique value, no-frills.  When demanding customers want more, you have to think of new ways of creating value on the digital plane.  Are you ready to engage your customers with authentic experiences and innovation across online and physical touch points?

    Revamping Your Business Model

    I would lie if I tell you that innovating your products and processes is easy.  In fact, it is expensive and time-consuming in most parts. Coupled with a certain level of uncertainty on growing your profit and adopting change, I can’t blame companies why they would put a lid to innovation before it even begins.  If you take the time to look at your Point of Difference, or what makes your product/service quality different from the rest – you would have found your master key that will unlock the elusive door of success in your marketing and sales strategies.  It’s not enough to simply make a list of the benefits your business has to offer, but you should find new areas where your competition does not act.

    Are You Ready to Compete on User Experience?

    I’d like to throw this question your way.  It’s not new to you that more companies out there are using digital marketing to reach their customers and build relationships with them.  Problem is that it’s getting tougher to get your message out there in the tidal wave of information. Digitally-savvy customers are harder to engage this time, even with all the deals and freebies that you can find to lure them to your site. You’ve got to be credible, authentic and transparent to gain their trust. You have to find more ways of making them feel part of your brand; not just mere observers.  You have to put yourself in their shoes and think of what they value the most.

    Change is Good

    When the bar is set higher, how you do business is more important than what you do.  Your customers carry an invisible score card each time they interact with your brand. For this reason, I have created Simple Pay Finance to address the pain points of many in the dental profession who is suffering the ‘Empty Dental Chair Syndrome’.  To sum it up, I’m bridging the gap between dentists and their patients through hassle-free financing.  We get more patients in the door and give patients the friendly support they need.  Everybody’s happy then which makes for a win-win case.  Moral of the story is: Take some time to think of how you can solve your customers (and even their customers’) problems and make solving it a breeze.

    You’ve got technology at your disposal and the possibilities are endless!

    **We’ll be at the 2014 RMDC (Rocky Mountain Dental Convention) this January 23rd…  Do drop by to say hello and double your chance of winning a MacBook Air HERE

     

  4. 2014 Insights: Can Technology Save the World?

    "social impact"A means to an end… or an end to a mean?  I’ve been thinking about this whenever I read the news about the latest innovation in the tech world.  The point of creating something new is to solve problems in the real world.  I just can’t think of any other reason than that and those who did so passionately have turned out to be a huge success in their field.  I believe that the question is not about coming up with any solution you can think of – but solving the right problem.  Think of it this way:  If you’re given 24 hours to save the world, what will you plan to resolve?  Sounds simple than you think, right?

    The Problem With Breakthrough

    Many businesses are still in the dark when it comes to creating new products, processes and services.  Try as they might to attempt solving issues which they think are important, there will still be missed opportunities in the pursuit of the next big thing.  How many times have we seen IT projects fail to deliver?  How often do we see new products failing to hit profit simply because it didn’t tackle the right problems?  We are living in a world where innovation is driven by challenges in a business, technical, political and social level.  No matter how many talented experts we have in the marketplace, success rates rise and fall dramatically.  Months to years of elaborate research and development have gone down the drain, with thousands to millions of dollars vanishing into thin air.

    Through the Lens of Effective Leadership

    Sometimes, when things go wrong, you wonder which is lacking: Leadership or problem-solving skills?  Leaders missed the opportunity to understand the depths and dimension of a problem.  This may have contributed in failure to implement things correctly.  Many fear that they spend too much time defining what the real issue is so they speed towards a solution like some crash-test dummy.  If one really wants to change the way things are right now, existing practices and protocols must be improved and problems must be viewed as a door to making things better; not as a distraction.  In my experience, transparent communication works.  When people are empowered to speak up, you can clearly map-out a road towards a viable, long-term solution. Your open-mindedness will break down communication silos, hands down.

    Making a Big Difference in the Real World

    To all tech startups, enthusiasts and fellow entrepreneurs, I have one question for you this coming new year: Are you ready to solve serious problems and make a difference in people’s lives?  You may have prioritized monetization, social capital, or influence when you spread the word about your creation.  How about social impact?  When I saw Jason Pontin’s Ted talk, Can Technology Solve our Big Problems, it made me think how social media and countless apps have enriched our lives.. from the Arab Spring uprising to inspiring memes.  But then again, how about coming up with something that addresses real issues like poverty, climate change and so on?  It’s nice to see the likes of crowdfunding, open online courses, and open source projects bridging the gap.  I just think that we can do more, especially in this age of interconnectivity.

    Are you up to the challenge then?

     

     

  5. What’s the Next Big Thing in Technology?

    "next big thing"We’re just a few days away before 2013 finally closes its chapter and we hear of talks about the ‘next big thing’ in technology.  I bet that tech giants out there are feeling tremendous pressure as people are expecting them to come up with a product that makes you say ‘Wow!’ – from internet, software, smartphones, tablets and so much more.  Who will be the next biggest disruptor?  This is the question I’ve been asking lately when I wrote a post about disruptive innovation.  Many of these big things morphed into big hype not because they didn’t stand up to people’s expectations, but these trends became part of an overused phrase that makes the next big.. meme.

    Getting High in the High Tech Lane

    Like many out there, I’m starting to have doubts.  Will there be a next big thing in technology?  We’ve read countless posts about wearable computing and Google glass will soon launch a new line of prescription lenses.  Perhaps, a new social network that can put Facebook out of it’s No.1 spot?  A new way of adopting cloud models?  The possibilities are endless and expectations run high each year that puts big brands on the hot seat of product research and development, like some game show on primetime TV.  Haven’t we seen Apple suffering from this?  While some may argue that tech companies can’t innovate from the ground level, it might surprise you how small businesses are coming up with new and interesting stuff.

    Technologies We Love to Hate…and Love

    In the fast lane where tech products crash and burn, there will always be those that over-promised and under-delivered.  Who do we blame: The media or ourselves?  It doesn’t matter much what the answer is.  I believe you’re all too familiar with these overhyped words: Big Data, Augmented Reality, 3D Printing, Cloud, NFC, Mobile Wallet, Wearable Tech (only to name a few).  In fact, Gartner can summarize these catch phrases into one: Hype Cycle.  What started as a useful technology has reached the height of its peak that it’s getting out of sync with reality.  The disillusionment keeps businesses floating in the cloud of great ideas that they lose their capacities to execute smart decisions well.  Instead of efficiency, lower costs, greater profits and better processes – we see the opposite.

    Continuing the Search for the Next Big Thing

    I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I think that it’s only human to hope for bigger and better things.  There will always be this danger with anything new and the trouble is that you can’t simply know which bubble is about to burst.  Sometimes, you only have to look back to the basics and address the struggles your clients are facing, to come up with something new and useful.  Who wouldn’t want an easier integration where their accounting, inventory and customer relationships are concerned?  Who would like to have something that’s both fast and secured?  Who would like to have the best of speed, simplicity, flexibility, security and quality at a fraction of a cost?  In my opinion, addressing those who would say s/he wants all these is the starting point of coming up with the next big thing.. for real.

     

     

     

  6. Are You Ready to Disrupt… Disruption?

    "disruptive innovation"If you recall, I’ve blogged about ‘Disruptive Innovation‘ last July.  This catchphrase is getting more popular as time passes by that I have to stop and wonder if this is just another hype in the making.  Everyone seems to be wanting a fresh perspective and feels confident enough to say that they want to disrupt.  Still, I believe that true innovation requires more than having great ideas, which are a dime a dozen.  Innovation requires knowledge.  It doesn’t matter where you get those crucial insights, from within your organization or from outside consultants.  That person may have the freshest idea in the room but if this is not realistic and workable, it’s just another smart suggestion.  To succeed as an innovator, you must mix expertise with experience.

    Disruptive Innovation: Another Meaningless Buzzword?

    Dan Rowinski wrote about How Researchers Map the Future of Innovation, and his insights got me intrigued that I’ve asked him a question. Is it by coincidence that the word ‘Disruptive’ is also tagged as “MoonShots”?  It’s just a shame that Disruptive Innovation is fast-becoming another industry buzzword void of any real meaning.  It suddenly compels entrepreneurs to think of something so different (sometimes bizarre) and unrealistic or else, they may feel like a big failure.. of not being disruptive enough.  Here comes the innovator’s dilemma then, that in search of the next big thing, you fail to address the most basic issue of all which has the highest chance of making a difference in the lives of your customers.  Consequently, it’s not surprising why customer experience is still a hit-or-miss deal with many businesses, big or small.

    Exploring the Myth of Disruptive Innovation

    If I were to thoroughly discuss this in bits and tiny details, I would have written a book about it instead.  I don’t have that luxury of time.  Back to the topic, we haven’t even defined what real innovation means and we’re already wanting to disrupt it.  We even see many who are calling themselves as disruptor and I don’t have the right to question this.  How many times have we read people writing about the end of technology A-Z and predicting that this will happen with the help of something disruptive?  A lot.  Are major brands like Apple, Google and Microsoft simply lucky by coming up with new products that are deemed disruptive? I bet it took them lots of research and testing before coming up with ways of changing things for the better; it simply didn’t happen out of thin air.

    There’s More to Innovation than Disruption

    No offense to Clayton Christensen, this Harvard business expert who coined in this popular term.  I just believe that there’s more to innovation than having a wonderful set of theories to begin with.  Surely, the seduction of becoming a disruptive innovator is great as it comes with fortune and fame.  The challenge now is how you can keep both your feet on the ground while your mind floats in the cloud of countless possibilities.  Sometimes, it’s good to ask your customers for their insights as they may hold that big secret you may be missing.  No matter, it will all come down to solving real problems and making things better for everyone.  That’s when you disrupt what’s broken and help everyone adapt to change.. for the greater good.  Would you agree?

     

     

     

  7. The Rise of the Digital Marketer

    "digital marketing trend"Digital marketers are on the rise and many companies are hiring one to be called innovative these days.  You may probably be wondering if this is another buzz word where social media and mobility comes into play.  Thanks to data analytics and new platforms, it is now easier for marketers to reach more audience as they measure the effectiveness of their campaigns to the last number.  But in doing so, one can only wonder if all those big data crunched into quantifiable results can cost marketing professionals the creativity to think spontaneously outside the box.

    Stepping Out of the Siloes

    Is it about time for the C-Suite to step away from the traditional way their marketing is run and shift to the digital space?  When the boundary between marketing and IT diminishes, decision makers must think of ways on how the two can work seamlessly together to help achieve business goals.  If you’re clueless about digital marketing, think of it as a marriage between technology and marketing. For the same reason that we see the rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist in organizations, businesses must be ready to adapt a hybrid role.  One can’t simply focus on IT alone without touching the marketing side of things.  Problem is that not everyone can fill in hybrid roles as it’s tough to find someone who is part-data scientist who can interpret data analytics and part-artist who can come up with creative campaigns.

    Getting Lost in the Digital Wild West

    Do you trust anyone who can offer you the answer to your business needs?  One of the greatest sins every business owner is guilty of is treating marketing as some kind of magic pill that will resolve everything.  You may think that ‘digital marketing’ went up a notch, but it actually isn’t.  The term may sound new, like music to your ears.  Know that there’s no international standards yet in this field.  With too much data for analysis, there are multiple ways to come up with strategies on how to connect with leads.  At the heart of every business is communications and no matter how relatively new digital marketers are to the field, delivering a great customer experience is something that you can’t automate with all the tools and dashboards on the Web.

    Are You Ready to Embrace Digital Marketing?

    You must clearly identify your purpose as to why you want a change in the way you market your brand – online, offline or both.  You don’t simply collect content creators, curators, social media marketers, etc. and hope that everything will fall into place.  That system is bound to fail.  Then, there are terms you need to comply with – from search engines to social networking sites.  If you’re not prepared, you may put your brand value at risk instead.  How do you even know that a digital marketer will help you spread the word about your brand online?  It might surprise you that according to the study: Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night?, 66% of marketers feel digital is critical to their company’s success and yet, less than half feel highly proficient in digital marketing.  Shocking?  Only 9% of marketers are confident enough to say that what they’re doing works.

    The Moral of this Story:  We are living in a data-driven age and companies now have the luxury of getting their hands on customer information.  Digital marketing may just help you make informed decisions in which platforms to use so you can reach the right audience with your marketing message… at the right time.  That needs work and there are just no shortcuts.