Last month I was lucky enough to join 400 global CEOs, tycoons, thought leaders, capitalists and entrepreneurs at the annual Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore. Of particular interest to me, was the panel featuring John Sculley, former CEO of Apple Computer, and Eduardo Saverin, Co-Founder of Facebook which focussed on innovation and technology.
Best known as the former CEO of Apple Computer, Sculley began his career in 1967 when Pepsi-Cola Company hired him as a trainee armed with a Wharton MBA. Three years later, he became the company’s youngest ever vice president for marketing, and by 1977, Sculley was Pepsi-Cola Company’s youngest President & CEO. See Sculley’s website.
Eduardo Saverin, Co-Founder of Facebook, co-founded Facebook… Nothing more needed. See Saverin’s Forbes profile.
L-R: David Wei, Executive Chairman, Vision Knight Capital; John Sculley, Managing Partner, Sculley Family Office; Eduardo Saverin, Co-Founder and Investor, Facebook; Mike Perlis, President and CEO, Forbes Media LLC; Vincent Mo, Executive Chairman, SouFun Holdings Ltd.; Rich Karlgaard, Publisher, Forbes Magazine.
The future of rural healthcare is in our hands?
Sculley believes healthcare technology on mobile devices has an exceptionally bright future and when someone like that predicts a trend in innovation and technology, you sit up and start taking notes.
Sculley’s vision presents a future of smart watch health management applications and sensors, i.e. combining a fitness band with a smart watch and adding the data management of a health clinic. I could see the Apple philosophy behind his thoughts; how can we use technology in an innovative way so that it becomes part of people’s everyday life?
In this instance, how can we use clinical data as a patient management tool powerful enough to manage and monitor patients at home? This could drastically improve the healthcare management system and take the load off healthcare infrastructure faced with an aging population. In Australia, this could be particularly relevant in rural and regional Australia to reduce patient commuting and to manage regional health infrastructure. Food for thought.
Transformers; the potential of machine to machine communication in Australian Ag
What became apparent from Sculley and Saverin’s presentation, was the rate at which the evolution of smart technology is giving rise to personalised machine learning and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. For example, GE have thousands of sensors on their jet engines sending data directly to ground operators and scheduling software to ensure customer don’t experience any unplanned downtime. Read Rebecca Merrett’s (CIO) article about GE’s M2M innovations. This technology could be a significant development for agriculture and can be applied across all industries that have highly mechanised operations.
Imagine the potential during harvest. Currently, chaser bin drivers are required to constantly follow headers to receive grain and transport it to trucks or in-field storage. All requiring skilled operators.
Imagine smart M2M communications between the header, chaser bin tractors and receival sites… When the header is full, a sensor sends a signal to the chaser bin tractor and positioning of the two machines is coordinated by GPS. The full chaser bin can then be directed to receival sites or trucks. The sensors and associated data can provide valuable information to drastically reduce harvest time, and streamline in-field and ex-farm logistics.
GE Australia CEO, Steve Sargent, is backing the “industrial internet” whereby 50 million machines could be connected to the internet and will be able to communicate with each other. Perhaps agriculture should back the same trend.
The end of Business Plans.
You can tell that Sculley is all about being disruptive. He strongly believes Business Plans are obsolete and businesses should change to Customer Plans. The Customer should drive the company as they control their spending and public perceptions. This represents a significant power shift from producers to consumers (see previous post on consumption) and this is not only evident in technology, but also food. In the age of choice, convenience and globalisation, producers need to be in tune with consumers more than ever.
Other disruptive and forward thinking insights from Sculley and Saverin included;
Empower younger staff within business to utilise and capture technology opportunities. If you’re targeting younger customers, let the younger staff engage with them.
Sharing economies enable more efficient use of assets and skills. Companies such as freelancer.com and outsourcing services allow people to draw on the expertise of others like never before.
Could Australian farms outsource R&D internationally?
Saverin believes a “job” is no longer a “job” meaning that activities will be more task based and skills sourced from global networks. Why can’t Australian farms outsource R&D internationally and remotely? There are many skilled researchers and technical experts across the world that can add value to our systems and this is definitely an avenue we should explore as our own government cuts spending into domestic R&D programs.
Where are we on the innovation take-up curve?
Technology and innovation create a leap-frog effect where innovation allows progress past a less effective technology or practice. Nowadays, the tenure of a leader at the forefront is shortening as we progress due to the speed of technology and disruptive innovation. The Forbes Global CEO Conference highlighted the fact that we are only at the beginning of the innovation take-up curve!