The innovations behind the innovations

In our industry we tend to celebrate products and product designers. We don’t hear much about innovative decisions during the product design, during the product rollout, during applications at customer sites. Frankly, that is what gets me salivating. So, Apple’s Jony Ive’s advanced materials decisions – how much glass,composites and brushed metal, the bevels and screws to factor in an iPad. As Google rolls out Now in response to Apple’s Siri, the voice nuances for the digital assistant. Apple’s coordination with hundreds of carriers as it rolls out various versions of the iPhone. Amazon’s postal injections for logistical advantage.

So, watching the Olympics to me was like peeling an onion. While the end product was fantastic, to me every ceremony, every event, every London structure was a reason to explore the web, call friends in London, talk to athletes, rack my own memories of the UK.

So, the amazing cauldron at the Games led me to a creative firm called Stage One which constructed it in secret. Stage One is used to similar major event design projects such as that for a stage for a Mass during the Papal Visit to the UK in 2010.  The beach volleyball event had me intrigued why the players did not have any sand sticking to them in spite of all their activity. It led me to the fact that 17,000 tons of super fine sand from the beaches of Hainan in China had been shipped to Games. I wondered what Londoners thought of the ArcelorMittal Orbit Structure, a prominent icon of the Games. My curiosity led me to 30 posts from ticket to torch to pool design at the Games.

What does that have to do with enterprise technology you may ask? To start with the Games are a big business unto themselves. Just think of the travel business. Flying the 10,000+ athletes from 200+ countries to London and back. Over 50,000 hotel nights just for the NBC staff.

The analytics British Cycling used to phenomenal success will be leveraged to other sports and other business challenges. The biomechanics of Usain Bolt, already analyzed in detail, will get even more scrutiny for healthcare applications. The elaborate security the UK deployed with Typhoon jets, Rapier missiles and frogmen will be emulated by many other cities around the world.  Atos, one of the systems integrators at the Games should be able to apply learning from the Technology Operations Centre to many other scenarios. I could go on.

Just as importantly, it gives me a chance to evaluate the role individual vendors play. IBM markets Rio as one of its Smarter Planet success stories. I am sure it will bask in the attention at the 2016 Games. But in the hundreds of other innovations likely at Rio, how many will it specifically help on?

Successful, delightful products are a result of hundreds of projects executed well, and with plenty of imagination. I would love to see the Master GANTT chart of all the projects that came together to make the London Games so successful.

(Cross-posted @ DealArchitect Full)

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CEO of Deal Architect, a top advisory boutique recognized in The Black Book of Outsourcing, author of a widely praised book on technology enabled innovation, The New Polymath, prolific blogger, writing about technology-enabled innovation at New Florence, New Renaissance and about waste in technology at Deal Architect.  Previously Analyst  at Gartner, Partner with PwC Consulting. Keynoted at many business and technology conferences and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, The Financial Times, CIO Magazine, and other executive and technology publications.