Photo of a LEGO scene depicting a mad scientist and experiment
Business 2.0, Design

Crafting great experiments

I’ve recently been involved in designing and running a bunch of different experiments under Lean Startup principles with an emphasis on testing the value proposition and customer traction (rather than product-specific factors).

While on the surface the idea of experiments seems relatively straightforward, my experience has been they are trickier to get right than they first appear. Especially early in the development of a product or service.

We’ve had some #flearnings along the way that I thought would be valuable to share (to “fail informatively” to borrow the phrase from Clay Shirky). Continue reading

Dots, camera, mirror. Image source:
Business 2.0, Sustainability

A (financially) sustainable internet of things (pt. 2)

I “grew up on the internet” during an era when open source and ideas like the Creative Commons were just the “way things were done”. There were often warnings from key influencers like Dan Gillmor, Dave Winer, Doc Searls and others about the threats impending on this ethos and our rights as citizens of the internet. I hold these values pretty dear to my heart.

So I’m finding it challenging to reconcile the conundrum relating to internet of things business models that revolve around the data collected.

While the IoT ideas I am experimenting with may never come to market (I did say “early experiments” in my last post, right?), I am thinking about business models etc. If, as I’ve argued previously, the return on investment rationale doesn’t stack up for energy monitoring devices in an apartment/small-space living context, one thought is that it would be advantageous to cross-subsidise the costs through other means. For example, to provide the device at close to cost (or less than cost, possibly even free) and generating revenue through “other means.” Those other means are likely to involve some way of leveraging the data you have collected. Continue reading

Grid of connecting nodes on a screen. Image source:
Business 2.0, Sustainability

A (financially) sustainable internet of things (pt. 1)

I read with interest a recent post by, well… (ahem)… The Internet of Shit (herein IoS) that calls out the internet of things’ dirty little secret.

The article starts by making some (valid) points about the plethora of devices that are starting to emerge that are connected to the internet for no real purpose or value. Sure, they might be cute or novel (and sometimes that can help us rethink things or look at the everyday from a different perspective). But in a time of relative affluence, and declining wellbeing and environmental health, it begs real questions about value and the need for more crap.

But the crux of IoS’s argument runs a little deeper, looking more specifically at how internet of things (IoT) products are often only financially sustainable by “monetize the monotonous that was never even interesting to any at-scale business”. Continue reading

Lego minifig character holding the 'Ctrl' key from a laptop keyboard
Business 2.0, Design, Sustainability

Finding momentum towards urban energy savings

Implicit in my recent series of posts is that the structural barriers won’t or can’t be addressed. Of course, wins of this manner/magnitude can have huge flow-on effects. So working towards addressing these remains critical and important. For example, if:

  • New building stock had sustainability as a key criteria
  • Buildings had smart meters that provided timely data to residents
  • Open data became the norm for energy usage information (i.e. system interoperability, with due security measures to ensure privacy etc.) that enabled individuals to use a variety of toolsets or “migrate” their data between systems
  • Strata managers and owners’ corporations took active steps to make operations more efficient, save money, and introduce generation capacity where suitable
  • Residents are empowered to have a more active voice in moving strata managers and owners’ corporations to express their values, whether they be owners or renters

Then we would be in a much better place—literally.

However, regardless of if this is possible, it’s going to take time. And in the meantime, what can residents do? Do they just throw their arms in the air and say “I can’t do anything (meaningful)?” Or are their options that the can exercise? Continue reading

Business 2.0, Sustainability

Energy savings in high-density residential

I wrote recently about the value of creating connections to nature in an urban environment.

I came across a striking statistic that really reinforces this point:

By 2030, 80% of City of Sydney residents will live in apartments and 90% of all new homes built will be in high rise apartment buildings.

A layman’s reading of this is that much of the benefits of energy efficiency in addressing emissions are going to have to come from improvements at the high-density residential level. Continue reading