“Innovative entrepreneurship in the digital era: The future will be Open and Disruptive but…”

Posted by Linda van de Ven | 12 October 2016

Source: Alain Heureux, Published on: 21/10/2016

We shouldn’t be naive and organise the concept of openness avoiding monopolies who are capturing the entire value created by the chain. The so called Open and Shared Culture comes from the digital industry and the upcoming Internet of Things will rapidly confront any industry with this new mindset.

Today the Internet is dominated by a few Gatekeepers controlling the access and creating the value because they are fast, they have scale, they’re disruptive, agile, innovative and service-minded.  They are defining the rules calling them open and shared but the reality is very different because we were blind and blocked in our believes.

How can Europe play a role tomorrow and use its historical DNA of diversity and creativity to produce global digital services rather than only consume digital services?

SCALE-SPEED-SERVICE will have to become the focus throughout the European industries and institutions as the mind-set of intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship are clearly back: when visiting several reconversed sheds (Watershed, Engine Shed, etc.) in Bristol or a grassroots initiative called Institut for X in Aarhus, when visiting several public and private fablabs (Manchester, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Toulouse, etc) as imagined in Professor Neil Gershenfeld’s dream enabling us to make nearly anything, when discovering how large Corporates are reinventing their internal structure as described in Frederic Laloux’s book but also put into practices within emblematic companies like Saint-Gobain, Airbus or Renault, you can clearly feel that the mind-set has changed over the last 5 years and we don’t have to be jealous anymore of the Valley or any other location.

SCALE remains an important challenge for Europe.  The Digital Single Market should help us to reach scale in our home market before going global.  Reaching our 500 million citizens remains very complex due to a variety of legislation and administration which slow-down the upscale and retention of our new initiatives attracted by other regions in the world : the United States or Regions of Europe, including UK or London, Bristol and Manchester, will have to become a reality or we will fail to retain our talent and to offer an attractive future to the next generations.

In that world where time to market becomes the rule rather than Intellectual Property, the SPEED factor is a second element we should work on as the next years will be important setting the scene and defining the rules of a playing field where everything is connected by sensors and produces data which can be turned instantly into predictive information.  Smart protocols, standards or legislation has to be developed ensuring the playing field is level.  Today the ecosystem is not controlled at all which leads to some monopolistic situations which are damageable for any form of competition and further developments.  The current situation has to be rectified and a new playground has to be defined and organized providing opportunities for small, medium and large initiatives.

The notion of SERVICE combined with the culture of OPENNESS are probably the biggest challenges for our Continent as they are new to our European way of thinking : we were the best in manufacturing but now we have to turn our products into services using digital technologies to empower them : a car manufacture has to become a company providing mobility services to the end-user.  One third of the value will come from the product but 2/3 from the service.  Today, Europe is only focusing on his products whilst others will conquer the services.   To think service we have to accept to open our products :

Open design teaches us that if you can’t open it, you can’t own it!

The Fairphone initiative created in Amsterdam is a perfect example that a phone can be more than a product!

In the manufacturer-centric model, a user’s only role is to have needs, which manufacturers then identify and fill by producing new products.

User-centered innovation processes are very different from this traditional model, in which products and services are developed by manufacturers in a closed way,  with the manufacturers using patents, copyrights, and other protections to prevent imitators from free riding on their innovation investments.

By opening the entire process, ideas are becoming more disruptive and tested faster speeding-up the innovation cycle and creating new partnerships between small and large organizations.  The open iteration guarantees a permanent process of potential improvement.

Citizens, Cities and Companies have to collaborate creating test-beds and connecting with other cities and regions throughout Europe sharing experiences, identify best-practices but also co-creating throughout the boarders.  The power of Europe remains it’s diversity and historical sense of creativity, which we should turn into a, phrasing the visionary picture of Professor Joël de Rosnay, Collective and Connective Intelligence.  Whilst this might look futuristic, remember that in some Papua New Guinean traditions people are told half a story, and have to find the other half from within themselves – or from someone else.

We have to hope that our leaders and systems will become more conscious at all levels (Raj Sisodia about Conscious Capitalism : Purpose-Planet-People), and holistic in their approach.  Engaged optimism remains our attitude…written by a European Entrepreneur working within the vibrant Brussels ecosystem!

The content of this opinion piece does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author.



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