Visionary Thinking for Thought Leaders

Visionary Thinking for Thought Leaders

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned
skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
Leonardo da Vinci

Visionary thinking

What does the history of great design leadership teach us about visionary thinking?

For one, we have learned from the greatest innovators on our planet that they dreamed the unimaginable way ahead of their time. They boldly envisioned things to come in the future and started to conduct experiments others may have ridiculed or even suppressed.

So, how can innovation drive any form of design or art, policy or system to new heights?

What is your great vision?

One way to start is to identify a great vision. Zaha Hadid, one of the leading contemporary architects named “Queen of the curve” by The Guardian famously stated: “You really have to have a goal. The goal posts might shift, but you should have a goal. Know what it is you want to find out.”

What did Leonardo da Vinci want to find out? The legendary Renaissance artist is best known for the Mona Lisa and one of the first generation of painters to employ ‘central perspective’ in their work. Da Vinci had an insatiable curiosity about the mechanics of the world that surrounded him. Unbounded systems thinking led him to fill 15,000 pages with his notes, ideas, and concepts that took several hundred years and the ambition of countless yet unborn designers to realize. Most notable among da Vinci’s dreams was the machine that would fly, first generated by the Icarus myth from classical Greek antiquity.

What is the take-away for today’s thought leader? The mental image of human flight took more than two millennia until it was finally realized by the Wright brothers in the early 1900s, who themselves revisited da Vinci’s initial designs. Da Vinci and many other inventors and designers developed countless ideas. Many of them continue to linger in the digital realm as well as in archives and libraries, ready to be unearthed to help inspire and inform the next great invention.

Innovation and design

Cutting-edge business practices have been looking towards the field of design for discourse on creative professional practices. While skillsets and specializations were increasingly compartmentalized during the industrial revolution and much of the twentieth century, internationally leading business leaders and schools today promote more holistic, cross-disciplinary dialog and collaboration.

At its core design brings together rational thinking and creativity to create solutions that fulfill a need and inspire an emotional response in people. It is little wonder that much modern innovation is delivered with the help of design processes and thinking.


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How the Internet of Things (IoT) will Affect Our Lives

How the Internet of Things (IoT) will Affect Our Lives

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT is the amalgamation of artificial intelligence, cloud technology, sensors and analytics allowing us to work and live better. As it permeates our daily lives, nearly every device we own or use will be connected to the internet. With this huge impact, we need to adopt to the up-and-coming transitions and embrace the “new normal.”

Acceleration of IoT

The market for the Internet of Things has seen revolutionary advancements in the fast couple of years. Companies across the spectrum, most notably IoT software, cloud and services companies, far surpassed revenue outlooks. Microsoft Azure grew 76% and Amazon AWS grew 45% in the last quarter of 2018 with their IoT segment contributing considerably to the growth. The number of connected IoT devices used right now is around 7 billion globally, which is expected to increase to 10 billion by 2020 according to research conducted by IoT Analytics.

Concerns Over Individual Privacy

Despite all the benefits and positive expectations, there are concerns that IoT is bound to disrupt the idea of information control that forms an integral part of information privacy. Therefore there is a pressing need for governments and organisations to start the process of improving individuals’ privacy protection and updating current legislation, as the IoT is expected to become the new standard in an Internet-connected digital age.

The Impact On Our Daily Lives

The significant areas being transformed and ones that will be completely modified through IoT at the intersection of people, data and intelligent machines in the near future are:

Connected Homes

House owners using smartphones would be capable of turning on lights, activate dishwashers and washing machines and adjust the air-conditioning temperature at the right time, using IoT. Benefits are manifold like – gas leaks and smoke alerts can be sent to mobile devices, appliances such as washer/dryers can run during non-peak hours of electricity consumption, requirements related to maintenance work can be alerted beforehand averting expensive repairs at the last moment, keeping the house owners informed in the real-time about the security status of their home, home monitoring in remote locations, refrigerators sensing when you are running low on staples such as eggs or milk and automatically populate a grocery list, can all be done using this technology.

From renovators to homeowners, saving money on increasing energy expenditure is also one of the foremost drivers for mass market adoption. Technology giants Google and Amazon are investing heavily in the smarthomes segment. Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA is also ramping up their smarthomes product line.

According to Statista, smarthome market revenue is “expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2019-2023) of 20.7%, resulting in a market volume of US$151,955m by 2023”.

Connected Cars

IoT is breaking new grounds for car manufacturers and also driving the autonomous vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) revolution. With the connected car, the automotive sector has the potential to become a major IoT frontrunner and drive the adoption of IoT cloud services among car owners. Driverless cars utilize IoT connectivity when updating their algorithms based on user data. People on their way to the office or a meeting can get some extra work done during drive-time instead of focusing on driving. Also being connected to other cars on the road will eventually make driving much safer. These measures will not only save time spent waiting around in a queue of traffic but will also bring down the amount of fuel consumed by almost a quarter. Gartner estimates that 250 million connected cars will be on the world’s roads by the year 2020.

Connected Offices

IoT opens the door for new business prospects and will help organizations take advantage of innovative revenue streams created by superior business models and services. IoT driven innovations reduce time to reach the market and augment ROI. IoT is transforming the interaction in both B2B and B2C spaces leveraging increased connectivity and customer experiences. The logistics industry can now deploy IoT sensors on vehicles and packages that can maximize the visibility of supply chains and improve transport operations of valuable cargo. Sensors deployed as part of IoT devices produce data that can be stored and analyzed as part of existing analytics. IoT services integrated with sensors and video cameras help monitor the workplace to ensure equipment safety and protect against physical threats.

Smart Factories

The Industrial Internet of Things is a strategic priority for manufacturing companies as it allows them to give more value to their customers as well as improve cost-efficiency of their internal operations. Using IoT for predictive maintenance can reduce maintenance costs by 30% and breakdowns by 70%. Organizations use connected technology in tandem with cloud-based analytics to drive efficiencies and launch new business models. Airbus has launched a digital manufacturing initiative known as Factory of the Future to streamline operations and bolster production capacity, Gehring Technologies enables its customers to see live data on how Gehring’s machines work before they place an order, and Hitachi has also developed an IoT-enhanced production model that it claims has slashed production lead times by half within its Omika Works division.

IoT-Enabled Healthcare

IoT is unquestionably changing the healthcare industry by redefining the space of devices and people interaction in delivering healthcare solutions. IoT is redefining healthcare by ensuring better care, improved treatment outcomes and reduced costs for patients, and better processes and workflows, improved performance and patient experience for healthcare providers.

The Smarter Future Awaits

From smart homes to smart cities and consumer technology, the world is going to be hit by a huge wave of the IoT revolution.

The IoT raises many complex and potentially ground-breaking opportunities and issues. Simple systems can save huge amount of energy and make everything convenient and economical.

We can barely guess how big the IoT transformation is going to be. In the next decade, it’s totally going to change the way we work and conduct our daily lives.


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Blockchain Implementation in the Public Sector

Blockchain Implementation in the Public Sector

Blockchain Implementation in the Public Sector

In 2008, Estonia revolutionized its private and public sector processes by launching the “Hash-linked time-stamping” technology. Considered as a pre-cursor of Blockchain as we know it today, the initiative helped Estonia significantly reduce its administrative load and emerge as the front-runner of Blockchain implementation. This exemplifies the potential of Blockchain to augment and innovate public sector services and intrigues us to explore similar possibilities that can be achieved by Governments around the world.

The Blockchain Biography

Blockchain represents a huge shift from traditional systems comprising a de-centralised database hosting validated transactions. A set of timestamped transactions make a “block”. Individual blocks are linked in a sequential manner. Any change in the information stored or in the block sequence immediately informs the owner and breaks the link, thereby indicating Blockchain’s fraud detection capabilities.

Ways Blockchain Can Help Government

Blockchain’s integral characteristics like transparency, immutability, and resilience, have captured the attention of Governments around the world to facilitate critical tasks like:


Storing personal identity information


Preventing cyber hacks


Managing contracts, assets, financial transaction and regulatory compliance


Managing information security


Streamlining government functions to increase efficiency


Enhancing data security and transparency


Improving voting systems and enhancing other public services


Providing relevant support in back-office functions


Managing information security


Mitigating fraud

Ways Blockchain Can Help Government

Jonny Voon, the Innovation lead at Innovate UK opines in his article on the blockchain that Governments often face a challenge in identifying an ideal and valid implementation of the technology in areas that cater to organizational needs, ensure seamlessness in daily processes and imparts technical strength.

To prevent technology overkill, a few priority areas have been identified for Blockchain implementation in the public sector:


Asset Management for efficient handling of property transactions


Identity Management by compiling, checking and verifying multiple data sources, transactions or events in a secured manner


Seamless and secured citizen services like voting or tax collection


Regulatory Compliance to automate legal and statutory requirements


Enhanced vendor performances through improved Contract Management systems


Improved Borderless Services

Government’s Role in Blockchain Implementation

Governments around the world are slowly but surely waking up to the immense potential of Blockchain in enhancing public sector services and achieving their digital milestones. In its May 2017 Survey report, NASCIO terms Blockchain implementation as the “next big transformational technology” owing to its safe, resilient and immutable nature.

Currently, Governments in 46 countries including Australia are making their mark on the digital map with around 200 planned Blockchain implementations. The map below highlights the status of Blockchain implementation across the world (as of March 2018).

Governments are increasingly entering into partnerships and forming communities both within and across sectors to implement Blockchain. This has led to the establishment of several Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to explore and implement Blockchains.

The article “Blockchains Unchained: Blockchain Technology and its Use in the Public Sector – Berryhill, J., T. Bourgery and A. Hanson (2018) ” cites the example of the ID2020 initiative, between United Nations, Microsoft, Accenture, and Rockefeller foundation that works towards strengthening identity management based on Blockchain technology.

To successfully implement Blockchain, Governments are purchasing technology services using three principal approaches :

Principles for use

To successfully implement Blockchain, Governments are purchasing technology services using three principal approaches:


Promoting Entrepreneurs


Awaiting innovations and best practices from private firms


Seeking partnerships with contract Technology vendors

Governments go through a detailed internal process before awarding the RFP to the selected contractor. The illustration below highlights the stages involved in the pre-selection process.

Blockchain in Australia – Transforming Processes Down Under

Australia is aggressively adopting digital transformation in its government policies and processes. The country has consistently secured a second position in the United Nations E-Governance Development Index Survey list ever since it was launched in 2014.

The chief stakeholders in the decision making during the selection process include Business Decision Makers (BDM), IT Decision makers (ITDM), Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO).

In 2016 Australia garnered substantial global attention by becoming one of the first countries to combine the power of IoT and the brilliance of Blockchain technology for trade with China. Moreover, its e-governance initiatives, economic policies, and encouragement for innovative enterprises indicate an appetite for comprehensive digital transformation.

Tracing Australia’s Blockchain Footprints


In 2017, Queensland was the first provincial government to leverage the smart contract technology and issued a “virtual cryptobond”. This facilitated automation and management of coupon payments.


In July 2018, the Australian Government, through its Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), concerted with IBM to design a transformative digital network. The platform, known as the Australian National Blockchain (ANB), aims at facilitating businesses to leverage smart contract technology to manage transactions and events through their entire lifcycle.


The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has partnered with World Bank to issue Blockchain bond based on Ethereum. The bond will be denominated in Australian Dollars.

Blockchain Around the World – Implementation Use Cases

Countries around the World are also initiating their Blockchain implementation. Three sample use cases are cited below:

Dubai, UAE

In 2017, The Wall Street Journal opined that “Dubai Aims to Be a City Built on Blockchain” owing to the varied implementation of the technology in different areas impacting citizen’s life including healthcare, trade efficiency, tourism, registrations, property ownership.


The UK Government implements Blockchain for disbursing and tracking student loans and welfare checks. In 2018, it implemented the technology for regulatory compliance in the food sector.

Illinois, USA

The Government of Illinois has launched the “Digital Property Abstract” that consolidates land records from different governments into a single repository.

The Future Ahead

World Governments are increasingly acknowledging the definite advantages of Blockchain as a disruptive digital technology. However, challenges in the form of security concerns, lack of trust and awareness continue to impede the adoption in public sector services. Government agencies need to mobilise their energies to help create the right environment in terms of infrastructure, technical skills, resource capability, effective PPPs and appropriate awareness in order to make their digital dreams become a reality.


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The Power of Human-Centred Design

The Power of Human-Centred Design

Apple – a new kind of computer

When Steve Jobs briefed Jony Ive to design Apple’s first iMac, he wanted him to design a computer that would overcome the fear barrier between man and machine. The big, beige boxes of the world intimidated many people. Apple wanted a new kind of computer. A machine that would invite users to play with it.

So Jony thought of his grandmother. He asked himself what he could do to the machine’s design that would get even his grandmother to take command of it.

So he set out to design a big handle on its back. Because, he figured, if his grandmother felt at any moment she could lift it up and place it wherever she wanted, that she would be in charge of it. And not the other way round.

This is an example of a human-centred approach to product design. And it is entirely based on empathy. The ability of one human, in this case, the designer, to put themselves in the shoes of another (the end-user).

 Today, this approach to design is also used in designing the next generation of digital applications, websites and other interfaces. More and more, companies who make the things we use every day, virtual and real, are placing more emphasis on empathy.

The impact of design on our daily lives

The upside is obvious. When we think like the user, we are asking ourselves important questions and therefore avoiding pitfalls. This approach helps us to make products more meaningful and useful. When we feel like the user, like in the case of Jony Ive, who imagined the fear his grandmother had of computers, we can make iconic products.

Obvious does not mean easy

To follow the human-centred approach seems so obvious, yet every day we deal with countless products that are confusing, useless or downright impossible to use. Anyone who’s ever tried to connect a new printer, or figure out video-conferencing software can attest to this.

This is because empathy requires effort. It is far easier for us to see life from our point-of-view. And even more so for large organisations, that by their collective nature can get very entangled in their own perspective.

A human-centred approach can also make communication sharper, more engaging and more meaningful.

How to start to design

When creating any messaging, whether it is advertising, PR, a user-manual, micro-copy on an interface, putting yourself in the shoes of the user is essential. Great questions to ask include:

  • Where would I be when I get this message?
  • What else could be distracting me when I’m trying to interpret this user manual?
  • What kind of language would I like to read this product copy in?
  • How big is the screen on which I am getting this message?
  • In what state of mind am I during this user journey?

Another great example

One great example of a human-centred approach to communication can be found in the “get well” cards of Emily McDowell. She created a range of cards that are designed to convey a sense of understanding to someone who is even terminally ill. Consider some of the messaging she has used, compared to the normal cheesy copy one would normally find on a get well card:

  • Laughter is the best medicine. Until they find an actual cure for whatever you have.
  • If this is God’s plan, God’s a terrible planner.
  • Together we can find a cure for the phrase ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’

This type of communication creates a meaningful connection with the receiver. It conveys a strong sense of recognition from one person to another – a feeling of I see you.

Applying human-centered design

As in product design companies, the same challenge in knowledge-based teams is to remain empathetic towards the end receiver, and not to revert to the perspective of the organisation – the sender.

This is only possible with a sustained conscious effort that is supported from across various verticals in an organisation – especially from management. Because being human-centred often required organisations to flex and bend their internal processes and paradigms.

Think of banks, for example, who present user’s money into buckets called ‘accounts’, because that is what makes sense to the bank’s process and mainframe computers.

But, what if a bank could put itself in a user’s shoes and imagine that people like to budget into more flexible wallets and containers that can be created and deleted on the fly – without paperwork. By building this kind of metaphorical layer on top of its existing framework requires extra effort and investment, but makes it easier for users to visualise and use their money.

Human-centered design is the way of the future

The potential of a human-centred approach to communication is limitless.

 Just ask the world’s first trillion dollar company.


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