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Innovate our way out of the difficult times now

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Back from New Orleans with some great ideas and a better understanding of Microsoft’s roadmap for Dynamics GP. The Convergence 2009 Conference was packed with great sessions on SharePoint, Dynamics GP, Reporting Services, Business Portal and how to keep your business running in a time of crisis.

The Tagline for the conference was "Power of Possibilities" with discussions on how you can innovate your way out of the difficult times today and use technology to get an advantage.

The second Key note was from Kirill Tatarinov, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Business
Solutions, on how Microsoft can help create a “dynamic” business. (full transcript of Kirill Tatarinov’s keynote – http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/tatarinov/2009/03-10Convergence.mspx )

The CEO of a company called IDEO,Tom Kelly did a session from his book "10 Faces of Innovation" which really made me look at the world differently.
He talked about how most CEO’s say  that innovation is urgent and #1 in their minds but in reality it is treated as important but not urgent.  Companies have a tendency to put innovation off which can hurt their business. Innovation should have an urgency all of its own and should be in the companies business plan.

Businesses tend to have a Red Queen effect like the queen running across the chess board with Alice in Through the looking glass. Their feet are moving but they are not getting anywhere.  Alice asks the queen why they aren’t getting anywhere to which the queen says "If you want to get somewhere else that you must run at least twice as fast as that…  You have to be prepared to move quickly because standing still is lethal to any brand.

The 10 faces of innovation are:
The learning roles:
    Anthropologist – Observe Human Behavior
    Experimentor – Human Action (try things)
    Cross Pollinator – Find ideas – inspire and translate
The Organizing Roles:
    Hurdler – Anticipates likes obstacles
    Collaborator – Brings in new points of view
    Director – Never on Stage – attracts talented people
The Building Roles:
    Experience Architect
    Set Designer
    Caregiver
    Story Teller – puts message in story for people to remember

Anthropologist:
    Insight on member needs via first hand observation. CEO’s tend to screen out what they consider irrelavent but real acts of discovery consist not of finding new kinds but of seeing with new eyes (Same place New look)

Empathetic Design – Talked about a book called "When Sparks Fly – Igniting Creativity in groups"
Usability studies are irrelavant because they tend to ask the wrong questions. The question should be openended like "What doesn’t the front door of your house do that you want it to do?"
The question that you should be looking to answer is, "What are they searching for and not finding?
Don’t ask them what they want – ask them what they need.
Quote from Tom Kelly "I don’t know who discovered water but I am sure it wasn’t a fish.

You don’t want your product to become a commodity because then it is all about price.

The other important person is the Experience Architect.  
Commodity – gather all the ingredients and bake a cake
Product  – buy cake mix and add some ingrediants and bake a cake. 
Service – Go to a bakery and buy a cake that someone else baked.
Experience – Goto Chuckie Cheeses and have them serve a cake and a party (Experience)

How can you apply this to membership, conferences and other benefits. Can you create an experience on the web that would make the members want to log in to your website?

Some ideas that I can implement –
1) Search through audio for words spoken in video.
2) Specialtysoftware.org – Business alerts for sharepoint

3) Silverlight with econnect for some great user interfaces showing transaction detail for cost center

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