CEB: Five Imperatives for Businesses in 2009

Want to get a feel for what corporate CEOs will want to do well in 2009?  Read on…

The Corporate Executive Board recently published a list of what they call 2009 Imperatives.  These are things that companies must do well in 2009.  The list of imperatives was developed from hundreds of interviews with executive teams to review their plans and budgets.   The insights that surfaced from those interviews along with some additional research and insights resulted in the list of 2009 Imperatives.  Follow the hotlinks for more information on each of the imperatives.  

  1. Improve Cost Discipline:  Reduce Cost of Goods Sold and Capital Use, not General & Administrative Spending.  Focus on Cost of Goods Sold rather than General & Administrative expenses to achieve long-term cost discipline.  Incorporate capital costs into SKU reduction efforts.
  2. Protect Growth Initiatives:  Elevate, consolidate, and protect innovation funding.  Name and protect explicit growth bets in the capital budget.   Incorporate concrete innovation targets into performance expectations and reporting, even amidst belt-tightening.
  3. Leverage Financial Strengths:  Re-envision your value chain as a capital and pricing chain.  Foster innovations that target the shifting financial strength of customers and suppliers.   Use the crisis to price for the true value of intangibles that customers under-appreciate.
  4. Exploit Risk Opportunities:  Embrace, don’t eradicate, the right risk exposures.  Harmonize executive risk tolerances and pursue those you are uniquely positioned to manage.  Evaluate your contract portfolios with an eye toward renegotiating past (and changing future) contract terms.   Robustly manage fraud risks by identifying and punishing incidents of misconduct early in the down cycle.
  5. Make Critical Talent Plays:  Use today’s crisis to court & cultivate tomorrow’s winners.  Seize the opportunity to close critical skill gaps with “not-in-play” talent.  Reward relative outperformance (even if you must court the wrath of executive-pay watchdogs).  Use the economic crisis to sharpen the acumen of future executives.  Re-brand the employment value proposition to recoup productivity losses from suddenly disengaged talent.  Embrace offshore centers as a source for critical skills and next-generation executive leadership, not just low-cost execution.

The 2009 Imperatives are part of a larger deliverable from the CEB called Executive Guidance for 2009 which will be released next week….so look for a potential future blog entry to provide you with the details on that.

Consumer Electronics: Five Technologies to Watch in 2009

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recently released the 2009 edition of their "Five Technology Trends to Watch   publication.  CEA analysts predict consumer electronics devices of tomorrow will be personalized and far more powerful than today's products.

The Five Trends…

The five sections to this years report are:

  1. Control Freaks? Technologies Change How We Interact with Consumer Electronics:  How do we use command and control technologies to interact with our Consumer Electronics?  In the first section, the publication takes a look at the command and control technologies that allow people to more naturally interact with consumer electronics.  From real-world products to prototypes still in the lab, this section examines some of the cutting-edge control mechanisms that may soon impact the human-machine relationship.  What do you think…Are we a control freak society?
  2. Ingredients for the Kitchen of Tomorrow: Power – Connectivity – Control:   Many pieces of the technology for the kitchen of ‘the future’ is available today.   This section looks into the kitchen of tomorrow, full of everything from flat-panel displays and Internet connectivity on refrigerators to appliances that manage energy efficiency and decide when to run.  The report forecasts that the kitchen may be the hub of the house, with the ability to control the consumption and management of energy throughout the house.
  3. Displays: A Look at the Next Wave of Innovation:  With the transition from analog to digital television nearing the final stages, a host of new display technologies will reach markets sooner than many realize.  Four areas of development worth watching closely include energy efficiency, enhanced experience and form factor, nonliving room uses and connectivity.
  4. The Future has Already Arrived: The Localization of the Internet:  As the world moves toward Web 3.0, the trend of Web-based applications like or software business tools such as will continue to have more personalized functionality directed at the end-user.  And further exploring the Web theme, in the contextual Web 3.0, devices will do much of the sorting, filtering, contextualizing and connecting of data currently done by individuals.  Devices will begin to provide data in context with other available information residing elsewhere on the Internet.
  5. The Contextual Web:  The final section looks at how consumer technology is being used to further medical advances and diagnosis, the trend toward more efficient, energy-saving devices and even using video games to fight disease. 

About the CEA's Five Technology Trends To Watch Publication 

Produced by the Consumer Electronic's Association's market research analysts, Five Technology Trends To Watch, reviews the business of consumer technologies, software, retailing, expanding GPS services, the future of radio, and a special future section highlighting CE products on the horizon.

Geared toward industry professionals, the publication provides analysis of each of the five trends as well as market forecasts for the upcoming year.  Other topics covered for each trend include consumer perspectives, partnerships, key players and public policy issues.

For more on the U.S.-based Consumer Electronic Association, go here…

MSN Health: 9 Mind-Boggling Medical Technologies

This is a summary of was an article titled "Mind-Boggling Medical Technologies" that recently appeared on MSN's Health website.   Article here .  The article provided overviews of 9 emerging technologies in the medical field.  Some of them may seem far fetched, but I suspect there are many scientists working on these ideas and we will no doubt see many of them in our lifetime.

  1. Blood bots.  Someday surgeons will guide small robots through the body.  These robots may perform certain tasks, like clean plaque-filled vessels, slice off tissue for biopsies, or deliver targeted drugs
  2. Thought-controlled artificial limbs.  In the future a biological interface would link a patient's nervous system to an artificial limb that responds to thought.
  3. Brain-clot vacuum cleaner.  In the same way a vacuum cleaner suctions up debris, a device called the Penumbra is being tested that could suction life-threatening blood clots out of a stroke patient's brain.
  4. Deep transcranial magnetic therapy.  This technology sends an electromagnetic pulse through the skull and can induce neural excitation or inhibition deep inside the brain and is being tested for treatment of depression, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even eating disorders.
  5. Breathalyzers for disease diagnosis.  This emerging technology will perform tests on a person's breath that might reveal a range of illnesses or conditions, including cancer, asthma and many others.
  6. Diagnosing Alzheimer's with a blood test.  Diagnosing Alzheimer's by means of a simple blood test may become a reality in the foreseeable future. 
  7. Spit here to detect breast cancer.  Researchers are trying to develop a simple breast cancer test that uses a person's saliva.
  8. Implantable nano wires to monitor blood pressure.  A little invasive, but researchers are working on an idea to implant small wires (we are talking very, very small wires) in the body to remotely monitor blood pressure
  9. Laser-powered heart beats.  This technology uses lasers to stimulate a release of calcium ions within the heart, which can restore a heart to a steady beat.

This was an interesting list to read.  Healthcare Technology is such an amazing  imagine industry.  We are living in an age where technology advancements in healthcare are happing rapidly.  The next 50-100 years we will see so many more fantastic innovations.  I can only hope that we find a way to deliver these innovations and other important medical advancements to less developed nations.

THE FUTURIST: Ten Forecasted Trends

THE FUTURIST is a bi-monthly magazine published by the  World Future Society'.   The Nov-Dec 2008 edition's cover story is "Outlook 2009".  In the magazine, there is a list of Top Ten Forecasts for 2009 and beyond.

The FUTURIST always has a flair for dramatic, attention-grabbing prediction/forecasting lists and this year's is no exception.  Here is a summary of this year's list…

  1. Every sound / movement can be recorded by 2030.  By the late 2010s, ubiquitous, unseen nanodevices will provide seamless communication and surveillance among all people everywhere.
  2. Bioviolence becomes a greater threat as the technology becomes more accessible.  Bacteria and viruses could be altered to increase their lethality or to evade antibiotic treatment.
  3. The car's days as king of the road may soon be over.  More powerful wireless communication that reduces demand for travel, flying delivery drones to replace trucks, and policies to restrict the number of vehicles owned in each household are among potential developments.
  4. Careers to become more specialized.  For example, instead of simply majoring in business, more students are beginning to explore niche majors such as sustainable business, strategic intelligence, and entrepreneurship.
  5. The world's legal systems will be networked.  The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), a database of local and national laws for more than 50 participating countries will lay the groundwork for a more universal understanding of the diversity of laws between nations and will create new opportunities for peace and international partnership.
  6. Professional knowledge will become obsolete almost as quickly as it's acquired.  An individual's professional knowledge is becoming outdated at a much faster rate than ever before.  Rapid changes in the job market and work-related technologies will necessitate job education for almost every worker.
  7. The race for biomedical and genetic enhancement.  Humanity is ready and eager to pursue biomedical and genetic enhancement.
  8. Urbanization will hit 60 percent by 2030.   As more of the world's population lives in cities, rapid development to accommodate them will make existing environmental and socioeconomic problems worse. 
  9. The Middle East will become more secular while religious influence in China will grow.  Popular support for religious government will decline in the Middle East.  Religion in China will likely increase as an indirect result of economic activity and globalization.
  10. Access to electricity will reach 83 percent of the world by 2030.  Electrification, at 73 percent in 2000, may reach 83 percent of the world's people by 2030.  Electricity is fundamental to raising living standards and access to the world's products and services.

Access the full detail here  Top Ten Forecasts for 2009 and beyond.

Most of these seem like they are safe bets to me to be key trends by 2030, except for number 1 and 3.  I think those are much longer term trend (e.g. out another 100 years). 

Accenture: 14 Trends Impacting Businesses

"High performers don’t just find themselves in the right place at the right time.  They aggressively scan the horizon and act now to take advantage of opportunities and hedge against risk."   Quote from "Trends:  Back to the Future" – Sept 2008, Accenture. 

Accenture recently published an article called "Trends:  Back to The Future" in the September 2008 issue of their Outlook Journal. 

The article presents a list of 14 trends along with Accenture's recommendation for each trend.  The trends listed are wide and varied, but do include important trends that are causing macroeconomic shifts, upheaval in the business environment, concerns about sustainability and societal change.  

To get to the 14 trends, Accenture tapped into 50 of their industry and technology SMEs to develop an initial list.  Then, in order to get a fresh perspective and new ideas, they surveyed 3,000 new Accenture employees from locations around the world and at every level of the company.  Finally, 14 trends and business imperatives identified here.

My summary of the trends listed in the report is provided below.  As you will see, the focus of this trends list is more on current and emerging issues that are impacting businesses and not so much on on the impact of technology.  The 14 trends are listed in the sequence with which they appeared in the article, which according to authors, is in order of the importance assigned to them by the participants in Accenture's research.

Here are the 14 trends along with the recommendations from Accenture on what to do about the trend.

1. The rapid rise of emerging-market multinationals.  Heard of Emaar? Qatar Airways? WuXi PharmaTech?  Mahindra & Mahindra?   Accenture recommendations:  1) Prepare to compete against companies that are not even on your radar today.  2) Take options on new global business by forging links with select emerging multinationals.

2. The expansion of “shoring” options.  Don't limit your options to just offshoring.  Accenture recommendation:  Develop a broad-based, blended model of outsourcing.

3. Increasing demand for corporate social responsibility.  All stakeholders are expecting companies to be good corporate citizens by acting in a socially responsible manner.   Accenture recommendations:  1) Research and prepare for new customer-driven corporate social responsibility requirements, and 2) Tie corporate social responsibility initiatives to the retention of top talent, as well as to hiring.

4. The need for abundant, secure supplies of talent, energy and other scarce resources.  Business execs need access to limited resources.  Accenture recommendations:  1) Turn scarcity into an opportunity, and 2) Launch a robust “talent pipeline” initiative to ensure a long-term supply of qualified employees.

5. National loyalties slowing the process of globalization.  Accenture says that protectionist views and actions are on the rise throughout the world.  Accenture recommendation:  Develop a global mindset, not a rigid global corporate culture.

6. Social networking as a business tool.  Accenture says that social networking is producing some striking benefits for the businesses that know how to use it.  Accenture recommendation:  Exploit the power of social networks for everything from hiring to R&D.

7. Increasing demand for sustainability.  Accenture says businesses must match an approach to sustainability with proper expectations about the timing and scale of benefits.  Accenture recommendation:  Analyze different approaches and benefits to eco initiatives while avoiding self-serving “greenwashing.”

8. Major new sources of capital.  Local and regional banks are the only sources of capital.   Accenture recommendation:  Understand how the new sources and flows of capital can offer advantages as well as risks.

9. High demand for new and better infrastructure.  Infrastructure challenges (maintenance in developed world and building it in emerging markets) is a massive opportunity.   Accenture recommendation:  Evaluate the prospects for participation in infrastructure repairs, upgrades and development.

10.  Rapid improvements in the delivery of government services.  Technology is improving government responsiveness.   Accenture recommendation:  Follow best practices from the private sector to provide better “citizen-as-customer” solutions.

11.  Rising consumerism in emerging markets; uneasy consumers in the West.  Accenture says business need to target both developed and developing markets.   Accenture recommendation:  Capture the value of design, in both products and experiences.

12.  Evolving sources of trustworthy information and advice.  Businesses must figure out how to effectively capitalize on the trust they have built while at the same time protecting their hard-won reputations.  Accenture recommendation:  Turn your reputation for trustworthiness into revenue.

13. “Free” as a legitimate business model.  Google has shown that offering services for free is a business model in its own right.   Accenture recommendation:  Decide what parts of your business you could profitably offer for free—and the parts competitors could give away before you do.

14. The rise of Africa as an important source of demand as well as supply.  Africa's economy is waking up.   Accenture recommendation:  Map Africa’s new market opportunities in light of global competitors’ moves, while keeping an eye on infrastructure challenges and political conditions.

As mentioned above, you can access the full report here: "Trends:  Back to The Future"

IBM Launches Smarter Planet Campaign

In the future, every human being, company, organization, city, nation, natural system, and man-made system will be interconnected, instrumented, and intelligent.   Imagine what that will be like.  Wow! 

How do we get there?  IBM's Smart Planet campaign, which kicks off today, will help position IBM to participate in this future.   As I write this Sam Palmisano, IBM's CEO is preparing to speak to The Council on Foreign  Relations in New York City on the topic of “A Smarter Planet: The Next Leadership Agenda.  At the bottom of this post I'll provide some more links on the campaign

This is a perfect time to launch this campaign.  At this very moment in our planet's history, there are a number of very significant and fundamental shifts that are occurring in society, business and technology.  These shifts are playing an increasingly critical role in shaping the agenda of both the CEO and IT Managers.  IBM is in a unique position in the industry and should have a big role in communicating to CEOs and CIOs the implications of these shifts.  IBM will also need to deliver a roadmap to the future Smarter Planet.  Look for the Smarter Planet campaign to do just that.

Fundamental Shifts…

So let's reflect on some of the important shifts that are occurring across our great planet…

New Intelligence:  The explosion of information is driving the need for new  intelligent systems.

  • An explosion of next-generation mobile & computing devices, a system of a trillion smart devices and physical things—more connected, alive with intelligence are creating insights that could improve competitive advantage.
  • Scores of new devices and touch points that are collecting terabytes of valuable new customer data daily.   This has created a massive data explosion – enterprise data expected to grow 57% CAGR 2010
  • Web 2.0 is enabling two-way collaboration with customers that is shaping new business models and razor thin margins are forcing companies to identify and capture customer opportunities in real-time

Globalization:  Globalization is transforming society and reshaping business at a rate that few imagined.

  • Global markets are creating change on an unprecedented scale – new consumers, new infrastructure, new WW talent pools, and aggressive new competitors for Western markets will impact firms of all sizes
  • A huge new global “middle class” is awakening before our eyes” – unfolding with a greater disposable income.  Just consider the impact China and India consumers will have in the future.
    • A growing Chinese middle and upper class: 2005=7%; 2015=45%; 2025=71%.
    • Indian middle and upper class: 2005=7%; 2015=26%; 2025=49%
  • An estimated 2 Billion people will be on the Web by 2011.  This will drive an insatiable demand for goods and infrastructure.  Companies will have a much more demanding customer set that wants locally tailored/customized solutions.

Impact of Technology:  Technology has enabled a freedom of choice that has created a wealth of new client expectations.

  • Technology is freeing people from traditional constraints that once governed their lives. It is enabling personal and professional “freedom” and interaction wherever, whenever, however.
  • Growing global prosperity is giving rise to the pursuit of new customers in new markets, while ubiquitous connectivity is creating a growing class of more informed and collaborative customers
  • Systems & processes enable billions of people to work & live; physical goods to be developed, manufactured, bought & sold; services to be delivered; & movement of everything from people , to money to oil, & water

Green Initiatives:  New environmental responsibilities have awoken the public’s consciousness and shocked business into new approaches.

  • New responsibilities including environment, air, energy, water & food shortages are now pervasive and urgent issues. There are visible signs of climate change, $140+ /bbl. petroleum prices, rising energy costs, rising energy demand, environmental compliance and governance mandates
  • Mainstreaming of “green” beliefs/activism. Customers, employees, regulators, investors, and other stakeholders look for actions that produce genuine results that improve their environmental and financial results. Companies & governments of all sizes need to look across their operations, prioritize their focus areas / investments, & take action now.

Bigger Than The Industrial Revolution

This is an exciting time to work in the Information Technology industry as we are in the position to truly lead in this transformation to the vision I stated at the beginning of this post.

Future generations will look back at this time in history much like we look back at impact the period of the Industrial Revolution.  Back then, developing economies experienced major transformations in agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation.   Much of this was caused because of the introduction of the steam engine and related technologies.  The Industrial Revolution and the changes that occurred as a result, had a profound effect on socioeconomic and cultural conditions of those developing economies. 

The vision of a Smarter Planet will have a much larger impact than the Industrial Revolution.  It will usher in the Industrialization of Services.   And if you have been reading my posts this year, you know that I believe  that Cloud Computing will be the 'steam engine' that supplies the brain power for us to accelerate towards the Smarter Planet Vision.

Want To Learn More?

Take a look at A Smarter Planet page on or check out some videos at Youtube playlist: Building a smarter planet