Ask The World

 16th October 2018 by gihan

In our social, mobile, and highly-connected world, the best people to solve your problems could turn up in the most unexpected places. Don’t just turn to the people you already know. There’s a whole world that’s willing to help. Reach out to them, and you tap into endless talent, skills, and expertise.


Here are five key differences between established and disruptive organisations when it comes to finding resources:

Let’s look at these from the bottom up:

  • Own vs Share: The old model was to own as many resources as possible (in fact, these are the things that appear on your balance sheet as “assets”). In the new model, you share things rather than owning them, because that keeps you nimble and flexible.
  • Suppliers vs Freelancers: Instead of dealing only with a few “preferred” suppliers, disruptive organisations often use freelancers (also known as the gig economy or sharing economy) for specific skills in narrow areas of expertise.
  • Specialists vs Crowd: Established organisations value specialists who have earned their stripes in traditional ways (such as education and reputation). Disruptive organisations know they can find the right expertise everywhere, and reach out far and wide for it.
  • Partners vs Community: When creating even stronger relationships, established organisations find partners they can work closely with. Disruptive organisations do value partnerships, but are also willing to sacrifice the closeness of the relationship to get the diversity of a wider community.
  • Local vs Global: When established businesses want to create new relationships, their go-to approach is to reach out to their inner circles. Disruptive organisations recognise that the best new relationships might be at the edges of their existing networks.

Listen To the Episode

More Resources

The Fit for the Future Podcast brings you regular ideas, interviews and insights about how you, your teams and your organisation can become fit for the future.

More ways to engage with me:

Smart Places – A Competitive Advantage for Location Brands

 11th October 2018 by gihan

We tend to think that everything is moving online and digital, but that’s not always the case. It might be true that we don’t buy music in CD stores anymore, or that we hold a business meeting in an online conference room. But there are some things we still do in “real life” to interact with “location brands” – such as shopping centres, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and public open spaces.

The leading location brands integrate technology into those physical locations so they become “smart places”. This technology, often falling under the IoT (“Internet of Things”) banner, tracks people moving through the location, and uses this information to improve their experience.

A recent research report from Altimeter reviewed some of these smart places, to see how well location brands were using technology to enhance their CX, or customer experience.

If you’re a consumer, you might find research mildly interesting. If you’re an organisation with a physical location, this is essential reading!

What is a smart place?

First, let’s be clear about what Altimeter means by a “smart place”:

“A physical space – public or private, indoors or outdoors – where connected, sensing technology is used to gather insights into the actions, intent, and behavior of people in it to support customer experience. Smart places can be ‘active’ when people opt-in; ‘passive’ when people’s actions are tracked and their behavior intuited in an unobtrusive way or without their knowledge; or a combination of the two.”

As you can see, this is quite a broad definition, and covers many physical locations, from commercial buildings (such as shopping centres) to entertainment precincts to public spaces.

Let’s narrow our focus now to retail spaces, although everything we cover here applies equally to other smart places.

Use Cases

Let’s look at seven areas – four for consumers and three for the businesses serving those consumers – where we can use smart place technology to enhance CX.


Smart places detect where you are, track your movements, and give you access to different areas of the location. For example, visitors to Disney Resorts wear a “MagicBand” that give them fast check-in, access to their hotel room, entrance into theme parks, and so on.


Smart place technology helps you find your way around. For example, you might use Google Maps for external navigation, but some companies also offer an enhanced “indoors” version that helps you find your way around a large space.

Personalised Content

Smart place technology can personalise your experience, providing content, offers and assistance based on your individual preferences. In the future, AI will become sophisticated enough to even predict your future behaviour, and tailor the experience based on your future preferences!


One of the most common uses of smart place technology is – and will continue to be – for payment. We already have payments that don’t need credit cards (by using wearables, for example), and that will soon extend to biometric identification. The leading location brands are already experimenting with checkout-free experiences.

Asset Tracking

Turning our attention now to the businesses that serve the customers in a smart place, one popular use of this technology is for tracking resources – such as retail stock, vehicles, or medication in hospitals. This is most commonly done now with physical tags on the assets, but advances in AI and computer vision will mean resources won’t need tagging.

Employee Enablement

An obvious extension is to track your most important asset: your people. By tracking their location, smart place technology can simplify access, personalise their experience, and assist with wayfinding. It can also monitor them at finer levels – for example, to monitor how often staff in hospitals wash their hands.


The six areas we’ve considered above apply to individuals, but smart place technology can also be used to collect and aggregate data to conduct useful analytics – for example, measuring foot traffic in stores, detecting potential problems (such as shoplifting), and optimising employee productivity (for example, by reducing lost time walking from one place to another).

It’s Not Too Late!

The Altimeter report identifies some challenges with adopting some of this smart place technology – for example, updating skills, managing privacy concerns, getting consent, and investing in expensive infrastructure.

But these challenges also form a natural barrier to everybody jumping on the band wagon. The market is still new and not very mature, so if you get on board now – even in a small way – it gives you a competitive advantage.

Read the full Altimeter report here

Help Customers Help Each Other

 9th October 2018 by gihan

In May 2006, a Malaysian IKEA fan who goes by the pseudonym Jules Yap started the Website, posting interesting examples of IKEA customers who assembled their furniture in creative and innovative ways. Before long, the site became the leading community for IKEA fans looking for interesting ideas to enhance their IKEA furniture experience.

From IKEA’s viewpoint, it’s a huge benefit to have a passionate blogger, working at no cost to IKEA, building a community of IKEA fans who share ideas and experiences, and along the way happen to buy more IKEA products. Most businesses would love to have that kind of fan community, and many pay their staff to build such a community – but rarely with that much success. IKEA should be thrilled by Jules’ site.

But they weren’t. Bizarrely, eight years after Jules launched the site, IKEA turned its lawyers on her, demanding she shut it down for trademark infringement. Strictly speaking, they might have been in the right, but it wasn’t harming IKEA in any way – in fact, just the opposite. Rather than embracing the efforts of a passionate fan, they threatened and intimidated her.

Jules and her fans didn’t want to go down without a fight, and they took to Twitter, e-mail, and any other form of feedback to ask IKEA to retract their action. And this story has a happy ending, because – to their credit – somebody at IKEA saw the light and backed down. Their apology reflected (in retrospect) the mindset they should have had right from the start:

“We want to clarify that we deeply regret the situation at hand with IKEAhackers. It has of course never been our ambition to stop their webpage. On the contrary, we very much appreciate the interest in our products and the fact that there are people around the world that love our products as much as we do. We are now evaluating the situation, with the intention to try to find a solution that is good for all involved.”

At the time of the legal dispute, Jules said, “I was a just crazy fan … In retrospect, a naive one too”. Fortunately for IKEA, they recognised the value of “crazy fans” on their side.

Your customers know more than you think.

You think you know everything about your product or service, because you live it, breathe it, and developed it with blood, sweat, and tears. All that might be true, but it doesn’t mean you know everything. As much as you are experts in building it, your customers are experts in using it.

In a nutshell: Customers know how to help other customers get stuff done!

Because you’re always looking at your product from an internal view, you create rules about how to solve a problem, or (if you’re being a bit more flexible) different options.

But customers view it with a fresh outlook and an external perspective. Sometimes they find answers you hadn’t considered, and you can add them to your support database.

The real gold comes when customers find solutions in innovative ways – which we call “hacks” – that break the rules of how you’re “supposed” to use your product or service. You didn’t imagine them, and sometimes you wouldn’t even allow or sanction them. But they still work!

Don’t discourage these hacks. Instead, encourage, endorse and embrace them – and find a way to bring these fans together to help each other.

Like ants at a picnic that lay a trail for other ants, they’ll share their ideas with other customers – and that’s good for you.

What can you do to help customers help each other?

What can you do to support customers who want to support each other? Ask these three questions first:

  1. Are you currently doing anything that restricts or discourages customers from sharing ideas with each other?
  2. Can you find customers who are already building a fan base for you? What can you do to support and encourage them?
  3. What can you do to build a space (often online) for customers to share ideas with each other?

If you would like my help, please get in touch. In my Think Sharper masterclass and executive mentoring, we examine six different touchpoints in the customer journey where you can involve them more as partners in your business.

Filed Under

Tagged With

We’re All Living in an AI World

 4th October 2018 by gihan

Gartner has released its 2018 emerging technology hype cycle, and they are predicting artificial intelligence (AI) will be everywhere within 10 years. But it’s already here, and you’re already interacting with it, even if you’re not aware of it:

  • When you’re writing a text message and your phone predicts the next word before you write it, that’s AI.
  • When you get in your car and your phone “knows” where you’re going – because you go to the same place almost every Tuesday afternoon at 3.30 – that’s AI.
  • When your bank contacts you because your credit card number has been used 3 times in an unusual way a week after you got back from Bali, that’s AI.

Your Woolies loyalty card records what you buy, how much you spend, how often you go to the shops, and where you shop. Woolies then uses AI to send you special offers, so you can either get a special deal or spend even more at Woolies!

How will an AI-powered world look?

Just imagine what your morning might look like 5 years from now …

You wake up, and when you get out of bed, the bed tells the coffee machine to start making your first coffee of the day. But not just yet, because it’s a Tuesday, so you’re going for a run. Your headset isn’t just playing music, it’s also your personal trainer, and measures your pace, heart rate, and breathing, and coaches and encourages you along the way.

When you get back, the hot water system has been heating up the water for your shower, and the coffee machine is ready to start brewing the coffee. Your smart TV has gathered the main news stories that will interest you, and puts them together into a package – just for you.

Everything is tailored just for you – because AI learns what you do and what you like.

The best part of personal AI is that it’s incredibly cheap. It’s like having your own personal assistant, butler, personal trainer, life coach, food consultant, and concierge rolled into one – and all in the palm of your hand with Siri, or in your living room with Google Home.

Listen For More

I was recently interviewed by Edith Cowan University Radio about AI and how it will affect us. You can listen to the interview here:

Filed Under

Tagged With

The #1 Thing That Trips Up New Products

 2nd October 2018 by gihan

In the next three weeks, I’ll be speaking at conferences across many different industries – including insurance, food & beverage, surveying, manufacturing, and real estate. They all want to know how to predict what new products and services to offer their customers, so they can stay ahead of the game.

But this is the wrong goal. It’s difficult to predict what customers will want, and if you try, it’s easy to waste a lot of time and money on something they don’t want.

There’s a better way.

Let me tell you a story …

The technology company LifeBEAM, founded in 2011 by former US Air Force pilots, first built products to monitor heart rate and blood flow of pilots and astronauts, to help understand more about the physical challenges of flying. Their technology was later used by Samsung and Under Amour in their wearable products, so LifeBEAM knew there were consumer applications as well.

But when planning their own consumer product – an “artificially intelligent” personal trainer (in reality, smart headphones for helping joggers and runners) – they weren’t sure customers would like it. So, before investing millions of dollars in research and development of a product that might only generate lukewarm demand, they decided to ask customers directly whether they wanted it.

They did this using the popular crowdfunding site, Kickstarter, asking for US$100,000 of seed money to fund the initial development. The campaign swiftly reached its goal, and then exceeded it many times over, eventually ending with US$1.7 million! That made it the highest-funded campaign to date for a wearable device.

More importantly, the team at LifeBEAM knew they had a hit on their hands, and they went into full-blown production, knowing customers had voted for their product – long before they had started developing it, let alone marketing it.

Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo play an important role in providing alternative funding for  start-up companies and entrepreneurs who don’t want to go down the traditional funding path (venture capitalists, floats, and so on). There’s no doubt they have helped many small businesses launch big products.

But they also provide another valuable service: They give customers a say in which products and services they want. In the world of crowdfunding, only a few succeed, and most products fail (that is, they don’t reach their funding goal). The failures can be devastating for their founders, but it’s better to fail now rather than pumping time, money and energy into a product that fails later.

Your customers know what products they want.

You might think you know the best product or service for your customers, but do you really know? Wouldn’t it be nice to know before you invest time and money in them?

You don’t have to use a crowdfunding site, but do ask customers what they want. Give them options, and they will help you choose the best products and services.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you give customers carte blanche in every decision. In fact, there are two things you usually don’t delegate to your customers:

  • Why: You control your underlying mission, purpose, and values – and all products and services must align with these principles.
  • How: After you choose a product or service, you don’t expect your customers to have the expertise to create it.

Think of this like passengers on a bus, who choose their seats and their stop, but don’t choose the route (the why) or control the steering wheel (the how).

Even if you leave those two things aside, you still have a lot of scope to ask your customers about the “What” – in other words, what products or services will suit them best. Or, if you apply this to existing products or services, ask them what features they would like next.

Ask your customers to help you choose.

To invite your customers to help you choose the best products and services, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What new products and services are you considering? Have you asked your customers to help you choose, prioritise, or evaluate them?
  2. Does it make sense to start by offering this only to selected customers (for example, your most loyal customers)?
  3. Can you extend this beyond your existing customers to the wider market?

Want to know more?

If you would like my help, please get in touch. In my Think Sharper masterclass and executive mentoring, we examine six different touchpoints in the customer journey where you can involve them more as partners in your business. Find out more here, or drop me a line and let’s talk about it.

Filed Under

Tagged With

The Australian Fintech Landscape

 25th September 2018 by gihan

I’ve been doing a lot of work in the financial services industry recently, and it’s an area that has been facing a lot of disruption recently.

Of course, there’s the Financial Services Royal Commission, which is due to deliver an interim report at the end of this month. But even if you ignore that, the industry is facing competitive pressures from a purely commercial viewpoint.

And let’s not worry about blockchain and cryptocurrencies just yet. Too much hype for my liking, and not enough solid, practical evidence behind it.

Even putting aside these two headline-grabbing disruptors, the industry is still facing many others. One of the most dramatic illustrations of this is KPMG’s infographic showing the myriad fintech companies jostling with each other to displace established businesses in the industry.

The infographic shows disruptors in lending, crowdfunding, back office, data & analytics, insurance, personal finance, and more. It looks like this:

Download it here from the KPMG Website.

If you’re working in any area of financial services, it would be smart to understand some of these disruptors! They aren’t all risks or threats to your business; some of them could be the best opportunities.

Filed Under

Think Sharper

 20th September 2018 by gihan

Why do most innovation programs fail? Smart leaders know they need to change and innovate, but their efforts just don’t get traction. I reckon we’re getting innovation all wrong! In this webinar, you will discover the missing piece that dooms most innovation programs to failure.

You can watch the recording here:

After the webinar, I asked participants “What was the most useful thing you learned today?” Here are some of their answers:

“A framework to make better decisions”

“Take action early”

“Foresight vs Hindsight”

“Different models to help us make decisions”

The Future Proof Webinar Series

The Future Proof webinar series will keep you in touch with our future – what’s ahead, what it means for us, and how to stay ahead of the game.

In each webinar, I’ll cover an important topic about the future – for example, the shift of power to Asia, the changing workplace, healthcare technology, the shift to customer-centric business, big data, and more. This is not just theory; I’ll also give you practical examples and ideas for you to future-proof your organisation, teams, and career.

Register here

Filed Under

Tagged With ,

The Real Secret to Smarter Decisions (It’s Not What You Think)

 17th September 2018 by gihan

In the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to work with two large organisations in Australia – a healthcare provider and a professional services firm – helping them with their strategic planning for the next five years. Both of them wanted to know how to make smart decisions for the future, even when the future is uncertain and ever-changing.

This issue faces us all, regardless of size and industry, because we all have to make plans in a fast-changing world. And a key factor in your success is the way you make decisions – individually, in your teams, and in the entire organisation.

What’s your decision-making style?

As a futurist, my job is not to predict the future, but to help you make smart decisions now, even when we can’t predict the future. As a result, I’m fascinated by how people make decisions in this “VUCA” (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world.

Broadly, you can classify decision-making styles into four categories.

First, there are the resistant people, who simply refuse to make any decisions. They are like the three monkeys who “See no evil, hear no evil, do no evil”, and shut themselves off from the world, hoping their problems will disappear. That sounds extreme, but I bet you know people in your organisation who act that way!

Next are the impulsive people, who live by the motto, “A fast decision is a good decision!” The problem is they often make rash decisions because they don’t have enough information to make an informed decision. Speed alone is not enough!

The third kind takes the opposite approach: They are hesitant and slow to make a decision, reluctant to commit until they have “all” the information. The trouble is, they can never get all the information, so they never make a decision. Or, if they do, it’s too late and the opportunity has passed them by.

Finally, the fourth – and best – kind is the decisive person, who gathers enough information to make an informed decision, and then makes a decision.

Here’s a summary of the four types:

How can you be more decisive?

Of course, the trick is to know when you have enough information! How do you know when you have enough information to make an informed decision, but not wait so long that you miss the opportunity?

You might think there’s no right answer to this question, because it varies depending on the situation.

But that’s not true. There is a right answer.


Yep, 37! That’s the point at which you should stop gathering information and start making decisions.

In computer science, this is known as the “Optimal Stopping” problem, and it has a (mathematically) proven “best” solution. You spend 37% of your time just gathering information, and then choose the next option that’s better than any of those you have seen so far.

Here’s an example …

Suppose you’re recruiting a new team member, and you decide to interview 100 candidates. You know the most talented people have a choice of jobs, so when you find the best person, you want to grab them immediately.

But how do you know when you’ve found the “best” person?

If you’re impulsive and you stop after, say, 5 candidates, you probably haven’t reached the best person yet, because they are more likely to be in the other 95.

On the other hand, if you’re hesitant and wait until you’ve interviewed 95 candidates, the best was probably among them, but you passed them by and they would have already been snatched up by somebody else.

The Optimal Stopping decision-making process says you should interview and evaluate the first 37 candidates (without choosing any of them), and then choose the very next candidate who’s better than those first 37.

This doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the best person, but it maximises your chances – according to computer science (Trust me – I have a Computer Science degree).

Most people don’t make decisions this way.

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting you should use this process for every decision you make. That just wouldn’t make any sense.

I’m sharing this to make the point that most people just don’t make decisions this way. They haven’t given much thought to their decision-making processes, and rely on vague, hand-waving processes like gut feel, intuition, past experience, advice from peers, and so on. The trouble is, most of those strategies just don’t work anymore. They might have worked when the world was slower, more stable, and more predictable – but that’s not the world we live in now.

If you want to make smart decisions now for success in the future, you need to think differently!

Want to know more?

In my Think Sharper masterclass and my facilitation with leadership teams, we talk about decision-making processes like the Optimal Stopping solution. Find out more here, or drop me a line and let’s talk about it.

Filed Under

Tagged With