Innovation

To truly scout emerging technology, stop thinking like an executive

Inspiration for your next innovation might just be found in the movies.

Scouting emerging tech: the advantages of university relationships

Looking within universities for innovation is win-win.

Investing in innovation? Here’s how to make the biggest impact

It’s not the number of dollars you spend. It’s how you spend them.

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.

A beacon for personalized customer engagement

A case for using beacons in combination with other technologies to create a truly custom customer experience.

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.

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?

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.

Eight 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.

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 …

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. …

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

Companies now have a powerful tool to notify, enhance, extend, and rationalize situations to augment our human decision-making capability. It not only helps us to make better, more informed decisions, but it truly becomes an extension of us.

The internet of things raises new security questions

There are 10 billion internet-connected objects. IoT is creating security vulnerabilities that need to be carefully considered.

The Next Phase of Agile Development

It’s human nature for people to build sturdy structures to shield themselves from the unpredictability of the elements. But, if you are too sheltered for too long, you weaken your ability to continuously confront change. That’s the dilemma facing IT departments. Change is raining down on them, and they are having trouble continuously adapting. A term is gaining momentum in the IT community to describe an ideal state of being for IT systems: antifragility. Coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, the antifragile system grows stronger when exposed to disorder in the same way the human body’s immune system gains strength when attacked by disease. In contrast, fragile systems are easily injured and suffer from volatility. Most enterprises today fall into the “robust” category somewhere in between antifragile and fragile. They are anchored to legacy systems and run by IT departments that are hard-wired to deflect disruption. These IT systems are like immovable barricades that are increasingly incapable of flexing alongside tech-empowered consumers. New mindsets and governance models are needed in today’s digitally dynamic marketplace. The notion of antifragility and its associated biological metaphors are serving as inspiration for enterprises to migrate away …

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

Mark McCaffrey

US Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Leader Tel: +1 (408) 817 4199 Email