200ideas video: Big data

A new 200ideas video is online (in French), discussing one of today’s most important trend: big data. Find out about all the opportunities presented by a world where data can be collected everywhere and analyzed in real time.

The examples used in this presentation:

Les données des appels téléphoniques à Madrid le soir de la finale de l’euro 2008

Les chiens de New York

The Climate Corporation
To price its insurance products, Climate Corp’s platform ingests weather measurements from 2.5 million locations and forecasts from major climate models, and processes this data along with 150 billion soil observations to generate 10 trillion weather simulation data points, requiring it to manage 50 terabytes of live data at any given time. Needless to say, this company has built daunting barriers to entry.

Détecter les gens qui vont changer de job… avant qu’ils ne le savent eux-même.

La campagne Obama 2012
“We ran the election 66,000 times every night, and every morning we got the spit-out – here are your chances of winning these states. And that is how we allocated resources.”

Comment prévoir le crime avec les données

Prêts à la consommation basés sur… le profile Facebook

La banque qui ne donne pas le solde, mais ce que l’on peut dépenser sans danger de se retrouver à découvert.

Capter les données des acheteurs dans les magasins

Euclid Analytics
Combien de personnes devant une vitrine vs les gens qui sont rentrés dans le magasin

Jawbone Up
Mesurer son sommeil et ses pas

Proteus digital Health
La pilule qui sait quand vous avez pris vos médicaments.

TomTom peut-il revendre ses données à la police?
Cette vente (avortée) pose la question de l’appartenance des données récoltées sur les utilisateurs.

Target découvre qu’une adolescenteest enceinte
Avant son propre père…

Vraiment tout est mesurable…

Huggies Tweet Pee
Un tweet dès que bébé fait pipi…

Un capteur dans l’urine
Pas une idée si stupide finalement…

200ideas video: smart machines

The fifth 200ideas video is now online (in French), exploring those algorithms that govern our lives. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of smart machines.

The examples used in this presentation:

McKinsey Global Institute
Evolution du nombre des “transaction workers” depuis les années 1970

The Washington Post
[Nov 2012] UBS fired its head of credit-default swaps index trading, David Gallers, last week, with no plan to fill the position. Instead, the bank replaced Gallers with computer algorithms that trade using mathematical models.

Wealthfront developed software to make [tax-loss harvesting], traditionally only available to accounts in excess of $10 million, available to taxable accounts with at least $100k

Le robot qui fait des prises de sang

Utilisation de robots de téléprésence à l’hôpital

Le robot caméra
Utilisé dans l’armée anglaise

Funérailles pour les robots “morts” au combat

Paro Therapeutic Robot

Ce que les hackers peuvent faire à une voiture robotisée

Livraison de pizza via drone

Max Busser: “I don’t care about what customers want”

Maximilian Busser [disclaimer: a close friend and partner of 200ideas] is one of the few people I really look forward to read in the media. He’s a quote machine, often saying what everybody thinks secretly. In a recent interview on Luxury Society, he confesses to “not know” why clients buy his machines, that his brand has no DNA (being a collective effort), and that he doesn’t care about what customers want/like/request. I guess you don’t need feedback when you have a vision…

Maximilian Büsser, founder of MB&F, is the first person to tell the world that no-one needs a watch. Let alone a mechanical watch, which he describes as “ten thousand times less accurate and a thousand times more expensive” than a quartz watch. […]

“I actually don’t know [what compels clients to spend upwards of €70,000 on an MB&F machine]. I set upon my creative and entrepreneurial rebellion and discovered along the way that a few people understood, followed and started buying into our story and projects.” […]

“There is no brand DNA (except my own I suppose) and we credit every single artisan, engineer, creator who has worked with us on every project  […]

“100% of our creative process is self-centered and never considers what the market or customers may want/like/request. Therefore it is the closest watchmaking has ever come to art.” […]

“If [clients] do not like what we do, it is absolutely fine, but do not ask me to change something I think is great. You would not ask a painter to do the same painting in another color right?” […]

We do not want the company to grow from there onwards. Growth would be the biggest danger to our creative process. […]

“From day one we knew we would never have any money for advertising. Our R&D Budget is 27% of our revenue, and communication barely 5%. Probably the exact opposite to most high-end watch brands. […]

“The three biggest enemies of creativity and innovation are usually growth, market research (one rarely has an innovative idea asking the public what they want) and shareholder value. […]


“Snowden’s revelations might be the best thing happened to European IT in years”

My interview for the yearly book of Swiss Made Software (a label that stands for Swiss values in software development) has been published. I was asked about the genesis of Lift, 200ideas and my current projects, and my views on Switzerland’s potential in the digital world. Full text below, a good update on what I’ve been doing which, I’m often told, can be a bit confusing from the outside 😉

How did Lift come about?
In 2004 I worked for a very large and successful company. Though it had been clear to me since the 90’s that the internet would bring about fundamental changes, my employer had that very Swiss belief that things can never change too radically, that there is no need to worry about emerging models and technologies. I did not agree with that vision at all. Around the same time I attended a conference called Reboot in Denmark. Its main theme was how the internet would change society, business and the world. Afterwards, I figured that we need this kind of discussion in Switzerland, and Lift was born.

So you decided to help Switzerland into the future?
Kind of. Maybe being a French immigrant allowed me to see this country from a different angle. In the late 90’s I studied at the University of Lausanne. There the tech infrastructure was so much better than what my friends had back home. Everyone had an email address and access to yahoo.standford.edu and other early resources. This opened up all kinds of doors for me personally, while at the same time making me realize that Switzerland had the potential to be huge in the digital world. What was missing was awareness of this.

What made you think Switzerland was not fulfilling its potential?
If your business is information, all you need to do your job is internet access. So if you could choose where to live, Switzerland should be pretty high on anybody’s list, right? Especially once you have kids. We have great health care, good public schools, the country is very secure, there are plenty of well-educated English speakers, and we have world-class research centers. The list is long. But somehow all this did not translate into Switzerland taking a leading role in this new digital world.

I think my work at Lift was about trying to make locals realize the potential they had. I wanted to create a platform for the kind of discourse I knew was vital to navigate the future of society as a whole.

That sounds rather grandiose.
Maybe, but I think time has proven me right to some degree. If you look at the topics we covered in 2006: DRM, data security, freedom of expression, etc. Essentially these are all deep social questions. I remember distinctly being interviewed at the time and hearing that what I was putting together was a nerd conference. I don’t think anybody would make this claim today. These themes have gone mainstream now. Nobody can ignore the privacy issues technologies are raising, for example.

So Lift isn’t really a techie conference, right?
No, I always envisaged Lift to be more about technology’s impact on society. In my opinion, computers will cease to be considered as something separate from business or society. No company has an English department after all, though everybody speaks it. I think the same will be true about IT in the future. It will be everywhere, and stop being a topic by itself.

Did you have prior experience with organizing such events?
Not at all. Looking back, that was a good thing. Had I been aware of all the risks involved, I might not have done it. For example, in 2006 I booked the conference room just three weeks in advance. At the time, the conference center’s staff thought I was completely crazy since bookings tend to be made a year in advance. In my mind that made perfect sense, though. I didn’t want to book before I knew how many people were coming. Needless to say we changed our approach the following year (laughs).

What was new about Lift?
We were the first to share our talks online for free. Today nearly everybody does that. We were among the first to use online ticketing as well. Though there was a bit of luck involved because right around then online ticketing companies like Amiando sprang up. We kind of helped each other into the world at large. Now Amiando is a very successful company that was sold to Xing.

Lift grew from just 360 participants to over a 1000 in seven years. Why did you leave the organization?
I was lucky and privileged to run Lift. The company experienced huge growth and I was able to organize close to 15 events on two continents in just seven years. But anybody running events knows how stressful a job it can be. After the birth of my first daughter, I wanted to travel less, settle down a bit more. And I felt that all the ingredients for Lift to continue without me were in place. Sylvie Reinhard, who joined the project in 2007, took over as CEO, thus providing continuity, added to the stability provided by a visionary investor in the person of Abir Oreibi. I’m happy to let Lift continue in its current form, and in very capable hands.

So what are you doing now?
Because of my work as an innovation curator, people kept asking me to help them make sense of what is going on. So I became a consultant and a coach. I help my clients understand the impact of innovations on their business model, building innovation programs for large companies or working with lean startups. This turned me into a public speaker as well because my clients asked me to spread these ideas within their organizations. And now this has turned into another event – again.

Can you tell us a little about your new event?
It’s a short, local, intimate business gathering called 200ideas. Decision makers are notorious for their lack of time. 200ideas is a place where they can pick up the most important trends and innovations. They are presented in 200 minutes, for 200 francs. It’s invitation only, and all content was recorded and made available free on the web. The first edition took place in French on the evening of November 11th.

Why French, isn’t that a bit retro?
I think global and local are not mutually exclusive. Ideas and technologies are global, but the way they interact with society is location-specific. Instead of doing one global event, I am now more interested in several local gatherings, all adapted to a specific place.

What else are you involved in?
I teach social media at the University of Lausanne, I do consulting in the event business and I’m a speaker mentor for Wired UK. Finally I am a venture partner with Anthemis, a company that is reinventing finance for the information economy. I also have some crazy not-for-profit projects. My favorite right now is teaching social media to people over 80. It’s one of the things I do to reconnect the generations.

You seem busier than ever.
In some ways yes, but I don’t work 20 hours a day. I just found a way to leverage my strengths into different channels. My take on innovations is my content. This is supplemented by this great network of people around me. And I bring all this to other people. I call it ‘Connecting people with ideas, and ideas with people’.

Any perspective on the impact of recent events for the future?
I think Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA spying will have a huge impact. It might be the best thing that has happened to European IT in years.

Why is that?
Data security is important, especially for corporations. What Snowden has shown is that you can’t place your trust in US companies when it comes to sensitive, competitive information. If people in Europe are a bit smart about this, a huge market just opened for them.

If it’s free you’re the product (1973 version)

Nothing is really new, sometimes to the point where you end up wondering why it’s worth trying to have new ideas and pushing things forward… Have you heard this famous quote that has been touring the web for the past three years, “if it’s free you are the product”. Well, this is what a friend saw this week-end at a Lausanne museum: a 1973 video saying this exact same thing about the media that, at the time, was becoming mass: television.

Full video is here:

This reinforces the theory I developed in my recent TEDx talk, that to understand the future you need to look at the past. How did we survive becoming the product of TV? Well, we developed new cognitive capacities like ignoring advertising messages, and remote controls were invented to switch channels when commercial messages came up. Ads did not become irrelevant, instead a balance appeared, a consensus in which all parties’ interests were taken into account. Everybody way happy enough. This is what will happen on the web in the coming years. We might be products, but products with enough creativity and power to fight back and force a new balance to appear.

Surviving disruption

Here is the video of the talk I gave at TEDx Reims (in French) on one of the topic I have been researching and covering for a few years now: how to survive in times of changes. This presentation is the result of more than 15 years of observing large and small organisations in the process of adapting to disruptive changes. My rules for survival are:

1. Protect the future from the past
2. You can’t buy innovation
3. The future looks a lot like the past
4. Always fight positively
5. See through the hype
6. Technology is not always the solution