Innovation – Horizontal and Vertical Progress

In the book Zero to One Peter Thiel (member of the PayPal mafia) distinguishes between two types of progress:

  • Horizontal or extensive progress
  • Vertical or intensive progress

Horizontal or extensive progress

Horizontal or extensive progress means copying things that work. It is going from 1 to N. It isn’t to hard to imagine horizontal progress. We already know what the base looks like.

From another level horizontal progress is globalisation. It is taking things that work somewhere and making them work everywhere.

Vertical or intensive progress

Vertical or intensive progress means doing new things. It is going from 0 to 1. Vertical progress is harder to imagine because it requires doing something that nobody else has ever done.

The single word for vertical progress is technology. However there is no reason that technology is limited to computers! Any new of better way to do things is considered technology.

Technology matters more that globalisation

Thiel states that if the future would be just about globalisation it would be catastrophic. If without any technological advancement just China and India would copy the way we live in Europe and North America, we would need to scale energy production and utility of scarce resources to such an extend that would devastate our planet. Spreading (copying) old or even current ways to create wealth are not sustainable. We need technology to advance our ways to create wealth in a sustainable way.

The thing is that although since the invention of the steam engine around 1760 up to around the 1970 there has been a tremendous technological progress. Creating more wealth and well-being for each generation. And we expected this to continue. But did it? But a better future doesn’t come automatic. Since the late 1960’s only computers and communications have improved dramatically.

Just think of Eroom’s Law: the observation that drug discovery is becoming slower and more expensive over time. This isn’t a new trend. It was first discovered in the 1980’s.

Continuous Delivery at bol.com

Last month two of our software engineers Mihaela Tunaru and Mary Gouseti were invited to give a presentation of how continuous delivery is done at bol.com. The presentation gives a good insight in the state of continuous delivery at bol.com from a software engineering perspective.

In case you want to know more from the operations perspective check Mayfly on GitHub and the presentation below. Maarten Dirkse gave a talk Docker your user stories using Mayfly.

Mayfly is a development platform built by bol.com. Mayfly speeds up your service development by wrapping your scrum user story code in containers, testing it in an isolated, production-like environment and automatically enforcing your Definition of Done.

European Digital City Index 2015

European Digital City Index 2015The European Digital City Index 2015 describes how well different cities across Europe support digital entrepreneurs. The aim of in the index is to support digital entrepreneurship across Europe and for policy makers, the index provides a tool to benchmark cities and decide where they may need to devote more resources.

The EDCI is a composite index based on the following factors:

  • Access to capital
  • Business environment
  • Digital environment
  • Skills
  • Entrepeneurial culture
  • Knowledge spillovers
  • Lifestyle
  • Market
  • Mentoring & managerial assistance
  • Non-digital infrastructure

The data for the European Digital City Index stems from among others Digital Economy & Society Index (DESI).

It should be no surprise that access to capital is by far the best in London, followed by Paris and basically all the others are really small compared to these.

Mapping to other indexes

First of all it is interesting to compare this map to the Global Startup Map. The number 1, London, in the EDCI has tentimes the number of startups in the global startup map compared to the number 2, Amsterdam.

The European Digital City Index maps really well to the Digital Evolution Index (DEI). However we should note that the DEI is not as optimistic about the growth of the digital capabilities of most of the countries where the top-10 cities are located.

Support doesn’t equal results

The European Digital City Index looks at support of digital entrepreneurs in Europe. This doesn’t equal results! If we look at global list of unicorns (in short billion dollar startups) both compiled by WSJ and TechCrunch results differ. There is just one unicorn in Amsterdam (Adyen), the number 2 on the EDCI, where both Berlin (number 7) and Stockholm (number3) have more.

Bloomberg Innovation Index

bloomberg innovation index logoBesides the Global Innovation Index there are other indexes measuring and comparing innovation around the globe. Another interesting index is the Bloomberg Innovation Index.

Bloomberg’s innovation index is based on six equally weighted metrics. Their scores are combined to provide an overall score for each country from zero to 100.

  • Research and development – Research and development expenditure as a percentage of GDP.
  • Manufacturing – since it takes a lot of knowledge and know-how to stay at the leading edge of making things. Manufacturing value-added per capita.
  • High-Tech companies – Number of domestically domiciled high-tech public companies as a share of world’s total high-tech public companies.
  • Postsecondary education – Number of secondary graduates enrolled in postsecondary institutions as a percentage of cohort; percentage of labor force with tertiary degrees; annual science and engineering graduates as a percentage of the labor force and as a percentage of total tertiary graduates.
  • Research personnel – Professionals, including Ph.D. students, engaged in R&D per 1 million population.
  • Patents – Resident utility patent filings per 1 million population and per $1 million of R&D spent; utility patents granted as a percentage of world total.

bloomberg innovation index  2015

The Bloomberg Innovation Index takes less factors into account compared to the Global Innovation Index (GII). The GII gives more attention to context. It includes political and regulation environment, infrastructure, market sophistication and creativity.

Other innovation lists

There is a more extensive list of innovation indexes.

Presentatie op LAC congres – De architect tussen 35 scrum teams in de 90e sprint…

Op woensdag 25 en donderdag 26 november is de 17e editie Landelijk Architectuur Congres. Net als vorig jaar ga ik in de track Agile Architecting een presentatie geven over architectuur en architecten in een Agile omgeving. De titel van de presentatie dit jaar is: De architect tussen 35 scrum teams in de 90e sprint…

De realisatie van software gebeurt steeds vaker agile. Dit vraagt ook iets van de architect en de architectuur. Software wordt steeds sneller en frequenter naar productie gebracht. Wat betekent dit voor de architect? De hoeveelheid data die verwerkt moet worden door de IT systemen blijft groeien. En nu? Bij bol.com zijn we op weg naar de 100e sprint met inmiddels zo’n 35 scrum teams. Aan de hand van voorbeelden laten we zien hoe we hier bij bol.com mee omgaan en hoe de architect en de architectuur steeds meer volwassen worden.

Bij bol.com hebben we inmiddels heel wat ervaring opgedaan met scrum, Agile architectuur en het schalen van scrum en Agile. In de presentatie zal ik ervaringen delen uit de realisatie van een nieuwe voorraadservice, Logistiek via bol.com, Vandaag Ophalen en de lopende realisatie van ons nieuwe fulfillment center.

Business Intelligence en Big Data bij bol.com

Naast mijn presentatie over Agile architectuur, verzorgt mijn collega Wieneke Keller een presentatie over Business Intelligence en Big Data bij bol.com in de track data science voor architecten:

bol.com groeit stevig door. In onze (micro) service architectuur proberen we deze groei te faciliteren. Belangrijk is dat we inzicht houden in de kwaliteit van onze processen. Bij bol.com doen we dit door big data technologieën in te zetten binnen het BI domein. Zo kunnen we de groeiende hoeveelheden data en databronnen eenvoudig toegankelijk en beheersbaar houden. In deze presentatie wordt toegelicht hoe we dit doen. Ook zullen andere toepassingen van big data bij bol.com worden besproken.

Global Innovation Index 2015

The Global Innovation Index (GII) 2015 is an annual publication which features a composite indicator that ranks countries/economies in terms of their enabling environment to innovation and their innovation outputs. The GII covers 141 economies around the world and uses 79 indicators across a range of themes. The Global Innovation Index 2015 was created by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Here is an overview of the indicators that are used to create the innovation index and how they are related:
Global Innovation Index factors

And this is how the measures are calculated:

  • The Global Innovation Index is the simple average of the Input and Output Sub-Indices.
  • The Innovation Efficiency Ratio is the ratio of the Output Sub-Index over the Input Sub-Index.
  • The Innovation Input Sub-Index is the simple average of the first five pillar scores.
  • The Innovation Output Sub-Index is the simple average of the last two pillar scores.

Global Innovation Index Ranking

Here is the 2015 ranking for the Global Innovation Index. Switzerland, the United Kingdom (UK), Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United States of America (USA) are the world’s five most-innovative nations; at the same time, China, Malaysia, Viet Nam, India, Jordan, Kenya, Uganda, and a group of other countries are outpacing their economic peers in 2015. Global Innovation Index Ranking

The top 25 countries in the GII consistently score well in most indicators and have strengths in areas such as information and communication technologies and business sophistication, which includes knowledge workers, innovation linkages, and knowledge absorption; they also create high levels of measurable outputs including creative goods and services.

Technology Gap

On average, the technology gap between developing and developed countries is narrowing. One explanation for this phenomenon is that more and more developing countries outperform in innovation inputs and outputs relative to their level of development.

By tracking global progress in innovation and focusing on those developing countries that out- perform in innovation compared to countries at similar levels of development, the GII can be used to monitor progress in innovation and identify areas of strengths and weaknesses in innovation efforts.

At low income levels, countries that outperform their peers focus on removing structural obstacles to innovation, such as poor access to finance and poor linkages within the innovation systems. At higher income levels, efforts concentrate on increasing investments, spurring growth in innovation outputs, and improving human capital.

Research and development (R&D) is one of the key policy areas that can secure technological potential and, therefore, innovation and economic growth. In order to reach the income levels of high-income countries, low- and middle-income countries need to expand their access to technology and their capacity to use it.

And digital?

Given the importance of strengths in areas such as information and communication technologies (ICT) for leading countries in innovation, it should be no surprise that the top 10 shares a lot of countries with the leader in the Digital Evolution Index. Especially since innovation is one of the underlaying drivers in the DEI.

Same remarks hold for the Digital Economy and Society Index. Only the latter is just focussed on Europe.

Global startup map

Following the several indexes on startups and innovation I’ve been following last period I found an interesting map of startups. Startupblink offers a world map of the startup ecosystem. You can use the startup map to zoom, filter etc the startups in your neighborhood. Besides a map of startups, it offers information on other related entities such as co-working spaces, accelerators, startups organizations, tech reporters and much more…

You can read an interview with the Startupblink founder at Business Insider. You can help to expand, for example by adding your startup…

Startup map example

startup map

Performance testing at bol.com

On Monday October 12th Rob de Groot and Chris Kramer of the bol.com test automation team and development process innovation team will present on performance testing at bol.com. The presentation is for the Dutch Web Performance & Operations Meetup, as a pre-event for the WebPerfDays.

Rob and Chris will elaborate on how performance testing evolved at bol.com and show how modern tooling like Docker and Mayfly fits into the future of performance testing? Mayfly is the user story centric Continuous Delivery development platform, developed by bol.com.

The event will be hosted at bol.com headquarters in Utrecht (map).

RSVP and join!

Finding billion dollar startups in Europe

The WSJ billion dollar startup club

The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones VentureSource are tracking venture-backed private companies valued at $1 billion or more. This group of companies is called the billion dollar club.

The infographic created by the WSJ can be used to track how the membership of this club evolves and what the valuation of these companies individual and as a group is. In line with the findings in the Digital Evolution Index there is a limited number of European companies in the club and their number and valuation aren’t growing as fast as Asia and USA ones.

In January 2014 only 2 of the 42 companies in the billion dollar club are from Europe. In September 2015 just 10 of the 118 are European based companies. Here is the list of billion dollar startups in Europe:

  • Spotify
  • Global Fashion Group
  • Delivery Hero
  • Powa
  • Adyen – Read: The unicorn of Amsterdam
  • BlaBlaCar
  • Klarna
  • Home24
  • Shazam
  • Farfetch
  • Funding Circle

Rocket Internet and Zalando exited the list in October 2014 because of their IPOs. All are located in the countries with the best internet infrastructure: United Kingdom (London), Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and France.

The TechCrunch billion dollar startup club

Besides WSJ and Dow Jones VentureSource TechCrunch also curates a list of Unicorns. A Unicorn being a private company with a post-money valuations of $1 billion or more. The TechCrunch Unicorn Leaderboard features one European company that isn’t listed at the WSJ’s list: Auto1 Group from Berlin, Germany.

The picture in both leader boards is the same: there is a relative low number of billion dollar European startups. It is the same in the emerging Unicorns list.

Does Europe fall behind?

Looking at both the WSJ and TechCrunch list of unicorns and the findings in the Digital Evolution Index it certainly looks like Europe is falling behind. If the EU wouldn’t agree why would they have bothered to start a digital agenda (a Europe 2020 initiative)?

Thomas Petersen has written Why is Europe failing to create more unicorns? Mainly stating that there is no true single European market, the EU doesn’t make it better for entrepreneurs (yet worse because of legislation and political sub optimisations), and there is geolocation where both money and technical knowledge gravitate to.

Besides those, there is a reason that al European unicorns are situated in the countries with the best internet infrastructure. Larger parts of Europe aren’t in that position yet.
Some of the European countries with unicorns are in the stall out group in the DESI index. Meaning that measures should be taken to get their momentum back because they run the risk of falling behind.
Again Europe should work really hard on creating a true single digital European market. Reducing the number of laws and trade barriers is key.

VUCA – Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity

Recognising that change is the only constant, shows us the path to VUCA. VUCA is the acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. VUCA stems from military vocabulary and has been emerging in ideas on strategic leadership. The 4 elements of VUCA offer a context in which organisations view their current and future state. On a strategic level who isn’t interested in preparing for a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous future?

There is an easy overview of VUCA on HBR.

Volatility

Volatility basically means that things tend to vary often and widely. The word comes from the Latin word volare, which means “to fly”. In a world were things seem to change faster and faster, stability can’t be attained. During the financial crises and economic turmoil of the last years people kept asking: “When will things be stable again?”. Could be that unstable and turbulence are here to stay.

Uncertainty

In past decades we build our lives on certainties and security. There were things that we could always count on. Nowadays, the uncertainties and the level of uncertainty keeps growing. Think of the economy, technology, whether companies will survive, how markets will evolve. In all these fields things are happening that very few of us have imagined only a decade ago.

What happens in our world and business gets harder and harder to predict. Known cause and effect relations need reevaluation and seem to have turned more complex and with a larger number of factors. We have to dig deeper to solve these unknown cause and effect relations.

Complexity

To properly understand the world we live in and perform our business we have to move beyond lineair models. Although models are getting better, they are based on an overwhelming number of interconnected parts and variables. This to such an extend that even though computers running these model have become better and faster, results and predictions haven’t. Think of the search for better medicines: the money invested is growing incredibly faster than the results we’re getting. Check eroom’s law (Moore’s law reversed) “the cost of developing a new drug doubles every nine years”.

Ambiguity

Ambiguity basically means that you can interpret a thing or situation in more than one way. The explanation and/or interpretation depends on context. This demands us to look at the whole picture to understand what lays in front of us. There is an unclear cause and effect. We can’t come up with a straight answer. There is a strong need for interpretation in context.