Innovation FLICKR

The many forms of innovation – credit to @ufozoo, Flickr

This week I had two public speaking engagements on the topic of innovation with very different audiences. One, was a group of 200 students in Engineering, Physics and Business at Oxford University, as part of the course “Building a Business“. The students are in the beginning of their careers, looking to embrace new innovation practices to launch their own startups or at least to get an edge in the new economy. The second group, was a in a conference in Stuttgart organized by the Fraunhofer IAO, to an audience of about 200 managers in diverse industries – construction, manufacturing, automotive and some tech. They’ve been used to doing business in a certain way for years, and they see the world changing around them. They need innovation to survive and compete with new firms.

The topic of the discussion was the same, principles of innovation, but the implementation across the two groups is so different. For the students, much of it is second nature – they’ve either already know about it (by reading it on some blog or social media) or are willing to accept the new principles quickly through experimentation. For the other group, it’s new – and new could mean different and sometimes scary.

It got me thinking, that our careers and whole industries are the middle of a long shift process. Working for a high-tech company or running a startup, it’s easy to forget that for much of the economy, things are done in a certain way, change is slow and these innovation principles are completely foreign.

That’s why I really enjoyed the video “Working Environments 4.0“, the result of a research project called OFFICE21®, conducted by Fraunhofer IAO. The clip shows the future of work and living in the year 2025,  based on a forecast process with over 100 experts. The video was shown to the group in Stuttgart before my presentation. I can only hope that the combination of information opened up the circuits for exciting changes and innovations they can bring back to their organizations. Only by exposing the ‘non-tech’ part of the economy to these new ideas and technology will we see the speed of change accelerating in the wider economy.

Watch the video:

 So how does the future work environment looks like 12 years from now?

  • Distributed workforce - you don’t have to go to the office to get your job done, everything is available online, and on the go.
  • Personalized information - recommendations, directions and advice, based on data collected on us from devices continuously, on the go.
  • Ubiquitous info – Text to speech, speech to text, auto translation from an to any language
  • Talent development – companies will identify candidates in high school, monitor their progress and sponsor their academic careers
  • Retirement – senior citizens will be able to work beyond their retirement age
  • Smart home/office – oxygen levels, temperature and light will be regulated to optimize performance, work stations will be customizable – just log in, and you have all your docs on the cloud
  • Sustainability - companies will use resources economically without harming the environment (wishful thinking)


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Eze Vidra

Head of Google for Entrepreneurs Europe and Campus London at Google
Eze is the Head of Google for Entrepreneurs Europe and Campus London. In 2005, he started VC Cafe to shine a spotlight on startups and Venture Capital in Israel, and in 2012, Eze founded Techbikers, a non-for-profit that supports education through cycling challenges for techies.
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  • Pascale Scheurer

    Liked the blog post but found the video excruciating.  It’s about 3 decades behind current thinking (in content, imagery and styling).  

    There’s so much more innovation than this going on right now.  E.g. just look at Google Campus.  Great model for future workplace (we already design schools & colleges like this – so very much agree with your point about generational expectations).

  • Nina Rung-Hoch

    This is not new?

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