Innovation

How to use accelerators and incubators as a tech scouting tool

Engage in the VC ecosystem to stay on top of emerging tech.

Artificial intelligence: A tipping point for digital business

Is AI the shot in the arm that today’s transformation efforts need?

Sportifying STEM through robotics to stimulate learning

What can businesses learn from programs that use robotics and gamification to spark kids’ interest in math and science?

What emerging technology should we invest in?

How to assess emerging technologies to know if they’re worthwhile investments for your company.

Digital haystacks: Extracting insight from enterprise data

How big data innovation helped PwC transform enterprise search to deliver key data and increase employee effectiveness.

3 approaches to emerging technology experimentation

The key to effectively experimenting with emerging technology is to link innovations to specific business goals.

Forest or trees: Navigating the emerging technology wilderness

How to stay informed about emerging technologies without becoming overwhelmed by the endless possibilities.

Is augmented reality opening a new productivity frontier?

A look at some companies that are using augmented reality to boost productivity-and what AR advances might mean for you.

Not quite ready for the (fourth industrial) revolution

With few businesses prepared for Industry 4.0, it’s time to hone your strategy for emerging technology.

4 hidden secrets from Mobile World Congress 2016

Four secrets from Mobile World Congress 2016 that can help you put the media coverage in perspective.

Blockchains: Bitcoin’s boundless building blocks

We explore block chains—the foundation of Bitcoin—and how this innovation might impact industries worldwide.

Exploring the possibilities of Virtual Reality across industries

Six industries that can benefit from virtual reality applications—will your business be prepared?

EmTech 2015 conference highlights

The EmTech 2015 conference showcased emerging technologies you might soon see in a range of industries.

Thought experiments help transform search at PwC

How we used thought experiments at PwC to get started on a massive project to transform search.

Guiding principles of technology innovators

PwC’s 2015 Digital Survey IQ results explore what digital leaders do to capitalize on their technology investments and drive stronger performance.

Why every company needs its own tech lab

The importance of a having a lab that where you can run experiments and perfect existing systems to improve the business.

Beacons brighten the patient experience

Eight ways beacon technology can improve patient care—and health outcomes.

Agile coding in enterprise IT: Code small and local

Big SOA was overkill. In its place, a more agile form of services is taking hold.

Demystifying machine learning part 1

What you need to know about machine learning and how it can help companies achieve their growth goals.

Graph databases: Beyond recommendation engines

Graph databases allow businesses to draw powerful connections between many data points to make better use of big data.

Robots set free: Innovation in robotics

The future of robotics in manufacturing hinges on developments in robots’ cognition, manipulation, and interaction abilities.

The power of picking the right prototype

How to overcome some common challenges of using prototypes to test out product ideas.

Sensors and analytics creating a competitive edge in retail

What retailers need to consider before implementing sensors and data analytics to gain a competitive edge.

8 reasons innovators should pay attention to SXSW

SXSW Interactive can be a doorway to fresh ideas and knowledge sharing to fuel innovation initiatives.

Microservices architecture: A change worth making

How can your business shift to microservices architecture (MSA): a decoupled approach that suits today’s nimble approach to applications development.

Lessons in innovation from the future of shopping

How retailers can uncover the innovation opportunities promised by the internet of things.

2015 digital technology trends for business

Cybersecurity, NoSQL databases and the internet of things top the list of business technology innovations for 2015.

Enterprise innovators: Thinking big, acting small

Four ways to encourage innovation in your enterprise to effectively compete in the digital age.

Interview: Will data lake advocates repeat the mistakes of data warehousing?

  PwC’s Technology Forecast recently addressed the topic of data lakes. The coverage included research and interviews on data lakes and how they can help enterprises remove integration barriers and clear a path for more timely and informed business decisions. To continue the discussion and look at some of the challenges enterprises can face in implementing a shift to data lakes, we are sharing an excerpt of a conversation between Technology Forecast’s Alan Morrison and Terry Retter, president of small business consultancy BrightZone, in Reno, Nevada; a former VP/CIO of Grubb & Ellis, and a PwC alumnus. AM:  Terry, you were a CIO. Some companies say they’ve created a data lake. In reality, they’ve built a single-purpose sandbox. How can CIOs get their organizations to commit to the strategic, long-term vision of a true data lake? TR: By dealing with real problems and real users.  They should focus on a service or a perception problem among customers they must resolve to avoid losing profits or market share. They should start small, but think big, in data lake terms. They shouldn’t collect data just around a single process. Instead, they should gather everything they can think of while using the lake at first to solve a particular problem. …

How is software advancing 3D printing?

Exploring the ways that software can advance and improve 3D printing.

To liberate healthcare data, dip into data lakes

How data lakes can help healthcare companies make better user of their data while protecting confidential patient information.

6 technology innovation sources for outside-in learning

How to stoke the flames of innovation in your company by bringing the outside in.

What will make 3D printing a game changer?

How 3D printing can overcome obstacles it faces to reach its full potential.

What is microservices architecture? Think ant colonies, beehives, or termite mounds

Microservices architecture explained: What they are and what they’re food for.

Digital spaghetti: What happens when emerging technology meets the hype cycle

How to separate hype from reality about emerging technologies: internet if things, wearables, and context-aware computing.

A guide to the Internet of Things

We share a roundup of fresh PwC intellectual capital on the internet of things.

Smarter business intelligence through sensors

Sensors and embedded computing are quietly re-architecting companies’ operations and business intelligence capabilities.

Engaging employees for an innovation advantage

Bridging enterprise silos to bring employees into the process and encourage innovation.

The End of Data Standardization

We can no longer deny the drive to diversify data management technology that began in the mid-90s. The aspiration to achieve one single and simple database management system has died. I grew up with the advent of commercial relational databases in the late 80s and early 90s. At the time, the promise was clear: you could store everything in a relational database that was carefully modeled and expandable. And in doing so, you acquired the ability to access, govern and securely manage every bit of data in a single technology environment. Most companies decided on a relational database standard and ported some or all of their applications towards that single database backend. All the principles of good architecture – including cost and skill optimization played out – until they didn’t. All seemed swimming until one of my clients – a major European railway operator – wanted to geo code every bit of equipment and every centimeter of their railway network. As hard as we tried, we couldn’t meet the client’s demands well with a relational database. The advent of spatial data management systems came to the rescue. Questions like ‘What is the total book value of all assets deployed within …

The CIO’s Role in the Internet of Things

In our soon-to-be-released Digital IQ survey of over 1,400 business and technology executives, 20% of respondents say they plan to invest in sensors. We feel confident in predicting that the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Internet of Everything will finally begin to take off this year, as futurists have forecasted for years. What remains to be seen is whether or not CIOs will win their rightful place in product design planning and the development of business instrumentation strategy. Slowly but surely businesses and governments will use sensors to digitize droves of everyday devices and extract infinite amounts of information and insights to gain a competitive edge and garner deeper relationships with customers. Here are a handful of examples we expect to materialize this year: Mobile devices will interact with the digital data that surrounds them, giving users the benefits of a true digital assistant Low cost sensors will track shopping traffic patterns to enable retailors to improve customer service, streamline operations and lower costs Motion and weight sensors will direct drivers to open parking spaces Manufacturers will track everything in their supply chains to streamline operations City governments will use gunfire locators to sense when a gun is fired …

Hot Technologies for VCs

Which emerging technologies are attractive to venture capitalists (VCs) right now? PwC’s MoneyTree™ publication enables us to follow the money and get a sense for where investors believe specific industries and lines of business will have a market impact over the course of the next several years. There is a tremendous investment focus on software, internet and other technology-related categories. In 2013, VC investment in software accounted for over 37% of the total VC investment for the year. Internet investments accounted for roughly 24%. This is a direct reflection of the idea that technology has a significant impact on driving economic growth and profits. Ultimately, this is what VCs are interested in – helping companies grow, drive profits and eventually receive a return for their investment in those companies. While software has always been a top focus for VCs, 2013 MoneyTree™ results point to an even deeper focus on software, as the digital age demands that businesses invest in new IT systems that enable more software-defined business models. In particular, as the last decade has brought about tremendous innovation in smaller mobile computing devices, increased broadband access, enterprise automation, and cloud delivery, the last several quarters represent a focus on …

Common Misconceptions about Emerging Technologies: Gamification

First in a series on common misconceptions about emerging technologies. Misconception: Gamification is about giving out badges to users. I had the chance recently to go through Code.org’s Hour of Code, an introduction to a series of free online courses that are designed to teach children (not to mention adults) the fundamentals of computer science. Hour of Code teaches a few basics of JavaScript using a drag-and-drop interface and exercises with challenges and goals from Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies and other popular games. Students make progress level by level, and after they’ve completed the full Hour, they each get a certificate of completion. By December 2013, Code.org claimed that over 20 million users had completed the Hour of Code. The course seems to me a prime example of gamification, not just because it rewards users with certificates of completion or incorporates bits of games, but because the entire design reflects a solid understanding of how users are motivated and the game conforms the design to that understanding. Code.org’s designers encourage students to make more and more progress, but equally importantly, they’ve cleared some fundamental obstacles students have faced when it comes to getting a leg up on programming concepts. …

3D Printing: On the Brink of Disruption

If you’re a confessed tinkerer like me, it’s hard not to get excited about 3D printing. Dream it and you can build it. Using CAD designs, 3D printers fabricate solid objects from digital images. Believe it or not, 3D printers are making everything from pizza and high-fashion clothing to human organs and parts for the space shuttle. Because 3D printing has the potential to turn every large enterprise, small business and living room into a factory I don’t feel it’s exaggerating to say 3D printing is one of the most important inventions since the personal computer. According to Gartner, “The 3D printer market will grow from $288 million to more than $5.7 billion by 2017 as consumer 3D printing hype accelerates 3D printer purchases by enterprises worldwide.”* Should You Add 3D Printing to Your Portfolio? Developed in the 80s, 3D printing is nothing new. Only now it’s exponentially more cost-effective and efficient than ever before. As you consider how 3D printing could provide your business with a competitive advantage, you should focus like a laser on your business goals. What problems will 3D printing solve for your company: rapid prototyping, uniquely customized products, etc? Like most emerging technologies, 3D printing …

Businesses Banking on Breakthrough Innovation

Post co-authored by Rob Shelton, Global Innovation Strategy Lead. Last year if you asked a CEO what he or she is doing to achieve growth, the answer would have been investing in China. This year the answer is innovation. Business executives are banking on bold innovation to meet aggressive growth targets, so they are taking innovation more seriously than ever before. In the spirit of Peter Drucker who said, “innovation is work,” business executives are focusing less on informal processes that produce incremental improvements to internal operations and more on formal innovation approaches that generate “breakthrough” and “radical” innovation. In our latest innovation study, 69% of 1,757 senior executives contend having a well-defined innovation process is important to establishing a culture of innovation. This rigor is necessary to improve the chances of innovation success.  To make headline-worthy innovations happen, a significant percentage of companies are looking to new innovation models such as open innovation (collaboration with outside partners), design thinking (looking at the need from an anthropologist’s perspective), corporate venturing (investing in startups), and incubators (small groups of intrapreneurs that use rapid prototyping). Corporate venturing is the most popular approach among technology companies. To meet tenacious growth targets, established technology companies …

The Discipline of Digital Disruption

Nowadays, virtually every time I turn around my wife is watching some home improvement show on TV. I must confess that I get glued to the house remodels. After watching quite a few of them, I’ve begun to notice a pattern. Invariably, demolitions unearth unexpected issues that cost extra time and money. Knob and tube wiring, ancient leaks, and termites, oh my. It reminds me of the problems enterprises face as they start swinging the hammer of disruption when pursuing emerging technology. If you think about it, houses are a lot like enterprises. If you want to tear down a wall to make an enhancement, you better carefully examine the blueprints and devise a plan that ensures success, minimizes costs and reduces risk. The last thing you want to do is rock the stability of your structure by removing a load-bearing wall. Or, in the case of an enterprise, abandon a critical legacy system or disable a critical business process. Yet, senior executives are barreling into emerging technology implementations without consulting business designers with a bird’s eye view of the organization’s operations. They just know in their gut that a particular technology is going to give them an edge and …

Can an App Read Your Mind?

Over the years, artists, film directors, novelists, etc. have entertained and frightened us with their visions of a sinister future where computers reign over humans. “Singularity” is the term for the moment artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence and moves to conquer humanity. This is scary stuff. Good thing it remains science fiction. In the real world, computers will think for us when they are better at the job and with us when the work requires uniquely human characteristics such as creativity, insight, instinct, pattern recognition, story-telling skills, empathy and listening. Software vendors and enterprises are designing and launching what we call “mindful apps.” While they can’t read your mind, mindful apps are programed based on human-thinking models and can support humans by presenting the right information exactly at the right time—what we call “intelligence in the moment.” Masterful Human, Computer Matchups When Garry Kasparov, the chess grandmaster and former World Chess Champion, got beat by a computer—IBM’s Deep Blue—he didn’t come to the obvious conclusion that computers would supplant human intelligence. Kasparov understood that Deep Blue’s “intelligence” represented an exhaustive, computationally intensive search of all possible outcomes of a limited set of move options facing the chess player. Human intelligence …

Enterprise architecture for emerging technology: build, buy, or open source

As companies transition to more flexible IT platforms, they are searching for guidance on how to determine whether they should build their own application, use packaged applications from an ERP vendor, adopt an open source platform, or leverage a SaaS solution. It’s not an easy decision to make. Whether custom-built or vendor-based, projects can fail. Before making the transition, you should carefully consider the following differences surrounding support, customization and deployment. All things being equal, the primary difference between open source and vendor products is the source of support. Open source support options are “do it yourself.” If you’re not equipped for DIY, you’ll need to reach out to a forum or community involved with that project. In contrast, vendor products provide you a number to call when you need help, which can be either good or bad depending on the responsiveness of your vendor. When an open source platform/product has reached critical mass, you will usually find companies that provide professional support (e.g Redhat, Hadoop and Oracle VirtualBox.) Open source enhancements are usually quicker if you have a vibrant community. If you choose the vendor route, you’ll have better luck if your company is large. Vendors tend to listen to …

The Potential of Context Aware Computing

Imagine driving home late at night after work, an inattentive driver plows into the side of your vehicle. Before your wheels stop spinning, a sensor in your vehicle recognizes the severity of the impact, contacts 911 so emergency vehicles can be dispatched. While the ambulance is in route, your medical records and insurance information are communicated to the receiving hospital, your driver’s history is forwarded to the police, your auto insurance company has been notified, and your vital signs are sent from your body sensor to the approaching rescue vehicle. The EMTs know exactly how to treat you even before they arrive at the crash site and the police have contacted your family to let them know you have been in an accident. Does this sound like science fiction? Actually, today some of it is already happening and some of it is coming soon. Welcome to your new “best friend” – context aware computing. Context aware computing refers to a style of computing in which situational and environmental information is used to anticipate immediate needs and proactively offer enriched, situation-aware responses. Instead of being a singular technology, it exists as a result of combining four disruptive technologies that are reaching …

The Internet of Things Raises New Security Questions

Within the last few years the number of devices connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on the planet— some estimates placing the figure at over 10 billion Internet-connected objects.   In coming years a growing number of things—food, furniture, livestock, buildings, clothing, medical devices and even entire cities—will be increasingly interconnected. While the Internet of Things (IoT) brings great convenience to daily life it is also creating significant and little explored security vulnerabilities that need to be carefully considered. As more devices and sensors get connected, we will see changes in business models across numerous sectors, precision marketing and advertising, and homes that are connected and automated. Companies, organizations and individuals need to begin preparing now for new vulnerabilities and threats resulting from the expansion of the interconnectivity that is at IoT’s core.   As the number of networked objects grows exponentially, so too will data transmission and storage methods—as well as the number of threats.  Organizations of all types will need to understand threats not only to their own networks but also to other networks as interdependencies increase.  What’s Next for Internet of Things Security? The IoT holds great promise but there are new developments and factors that businesses …

Contacts

Chris Curran

Principal and Chief Technologist, PwC US Tel: +1 (214) 754 5055 Email

Vicki Huff Eckert

Global New Business & Innovation Leader Tel: +1 (650) 387 4956 Email

Pierre-Alain Sur

US Technology Industry Leader Tel: +1 (646) 471 6973 Email