The immense role of national and ethnic diaspora in driving global innovation


For over a decade I have been working with various facets of the idea of Global Innovation Networks: connections around the world that facilitate new endeavors.

Innovation always stems from diverse connections between ideas and people. Bringing in different viewpoints from around the world necessarily provides more opportunities for the new. Moreover, in the many stages of the innovation process there are almost certainly points where resources or capabilities from other countries can create better outcomes.

In my travels I have often seen how national and ethnic diaspora have been at the heart of the connections between nations. The TiE network began in Silicon Valley as The Indus Entrepreneurs, with innovators from the Indian subcontinent creating an organization that is now well and truly global, facilitating connections not just between Indians but also people of any nationality.

Source: The Economist
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We are on track for 518% global economic growth this half-century


Yesterday I gave an executive briefing to a senior team tasked with generating major new revenue opportunities for their organization.

My presentation delved into the drivers of change in economic structure, individual and societal behaviours, the shape of cities, the role of government, and the implications for the elderly of demographic change.

However to kick off I wanted to put the group into a bigger mental frame than they would usually think in, so I ran through the following chart:

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Economic structural change is NOT industry compositional change


I am currently preparing a number of keynotes for senior business audiences over coming weeks. In preliminary conversations with one group I encountered a very common and deeply misleading view of how business is changing today.

We engaged in discussions on “economic structural change”, that were in fact only about changes in industry composition. The mindset was to consider the changes in relative sizes of industries in the economy, such as manufacturing getting smaller and tourism becoming larger. This perspective is prevalent with economists, who like to predicts shifts in industries over time.

However this is a deeply fallacious perspective in thinking about change in the economy.
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Can cyber-crime result in global financial systemic risk?


On Saturday I was interviewed on SBS World News about the ATM heist that netted $45 million from 40,000 withdrawals over 26 countries. The video of the TV news segment (start at 09:05) is available online until 19 May.

It was an extremely sophisticated attack, involving not just hacking credit card payment processors and banks, but also eliminating the limits on prepaid debit cards before creating thousands of copies. Not surprisingly there are strong safeguards around tampering with the limits on cards, yet the gang managed to circumvent these.
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Critical issue: Will the fertility rate in the developed world continue to increase?


I recently appeared on the Morning Show being interviewed about the future of the family. Click on the image below to see a video of the segment.


One of the interesting topics we discussed was trends in the fertility rate.
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How drones could build real-world networks to transform delivery of food, medicine, mail, and more


The rise of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) has been at the forefront of the news over the last months, with issues emerging that range from the remote use of military force to domestic privacy.

However there are many very positive applications of drones. Matternet, spawned from a Singularity University program, envisages creating a network of drones to address developing world problems. Over a billion people are geographically isolated and are often not able to access regular transport and the goods that can travel to them. Rather than building physical infrastructure, drones can cheaply and easily allow drugs, food, and other essentials to get to where they are needed. The video below shows the Matternet Vision.

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Professional services will be at the heart of our economic future


Last night was the announcement of the winners of the annual BRW Client Choice Awards.

Each year Beaton Consulting compiles the opinions of large professional service clients – this year 40,000 of them – who collectively select the best professional service firms in Australia. The results are announced at a gala dinner and published in BRW magazine.

The full list of winners is here. The magazine’s lead article on the awards Client choice awards: Savvy, digital, global: the face of the new professional, provides interesting insights into the state of the professions in Australia.

I gave the guest keynote at the event, with the intent of providing inspirational yet light-hearted perspectives on the awards.

My theme was “Creating Australia’s Future”, about how professional services firms are at the heart of Australia’s (and all developed countries’) future.
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Analysis: US, Australia social network usage flat, New Zealand now the world’s biggest user of social networks?


On February 13 I will speak at Air New Zealand’s Social Media Breakfast in Auckland, together with Teddy Goff, Obama’s Digital Director, with an expected audience of close to 1,000.

Air New Zealand ran its first Social Media Breakfast in July last year with Randi Zuckerberg as key speaker, with the exceptional success of the event leading the airline to continue the series with the second breakfast next week. While Air New Zealand is the 36th largest airline in the world, it ranks 6th in its social media presence.

In preparing for the event I have been looking at data on New Zealand’s usage of social media. I was surprised to find that there is a fair chance that New Zealand has the highest rate of social network usage in the world.


The chart above shows a summary of data from Nielsen on the time spent per month on social networks in a variety of countries around the world.
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How to prepare for the jobs of the future: Learning, Love, Collaboration, Design


A little while back I was interviewed for a cover story on the jobs of the future for the Careers section of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Here are the sections of the article that drew on my thoughts:

According to the futurist Ross Dawson, the world of work has always required employees to be on the front foot.

“Jobs have always disappeared and others come up,” he says. “It’s just that the pace of change has become far faster than ever before.”

Dawson say there are two overarching issues to consider when predicting which jobs will survive the next change to the work world: remote work and automation.

Employees with an eye to the future should ask themselves, “Is it is possible this work could be automated?” and “Is it possible that this work could be done by somebody else somewhere else in the world?”, he says.

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Ranking and comparing the world’s top 20 startup hubs


Earlier this year I wrote about the top 25 startup hubs in the world as ranked by the Startup Genome project.

As I noted at the time, it was based on skewed data from the sample used, but was probably the best available. The project has now released updated and more detailed data ranking the top global startup ecosystems on a wide range of criteria. It makes for interesting reading. You can register to download the full report.

This is considerably better data than the first round, in particular in providing richer comparisons of the differences between the cities in how the startup scene is structured. On the rankings, we think we can do better, and we are planning to launch a framework that will provide insights into the relative performance of startup hubs around the world. For now, the Startup Genome data is the best available, and a great resource for understanding the global startup scene.

Below are quick highlights from each of the top 20 cities. This includes, in addition to brief notes on distinctive aspects of the startup scene, a chart showing performance relative to top-performing Silicon Valley on 8 indices:
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