While I am using this extended time at home to try and develop my guitar playing, as a huge fan of films, Maria has just started a new online course in the history of cinema. One surprising thing that she told me was that the inventor of the photographic negative was Brazilian-French inventor Antoine Hercule Romuald Florence, who created it in 1833 in Campinas, in the state of São Paulo.
Now that I am living in Brazil I am much more senstised to the way in which so many inventions, works of art and literature, cultural movements and other significant creative developments simply have not received the global recognition they quite properly merit, this being just one example of many.
On a more positive note, Maria also spoke after her first lesson about the story of Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès, who was one of the most creative cinematographers of his era, developing special effects and editing techniques in his films as A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Impossible Voyage (1904).
The striking thing for me about Méliès and other film pioneers of this era was how they explored this nascent technology by taking every advance to the absolute limit. We see this same attidude in the musical and sonic innovations of The Beatles, who showed no fear in dismantaling and desconstructing recording equipment, and finding ways to create songs, motifs and solos in ways never previously heard before.
The reason for this article is that yesterday I completed an interview for my old school which was asking some probing and interesting questions about what had been my inspiration and what had propelled me into my current work and role. This led me to think about the fact that I have always been curious, always experimental and always wanting to create things, and that this has always led me to looking for opportunities allowing me to enjoy this creativity rather than simply doing a job which finishes at the end of each working day.
Throughout the 90s I worked at British Telecom, first at BT Laboratories, and then in 96 I moved to BT Cellnet where I was the business development manager responsible for smart phones. This was a very exciting time to be working in telecoms and the internet, and I remember the same pioneering spirit across many different companies, all working both competitively and also co-operatively to develop the mobile internet, its protocols, platforms and value propositions.
Within BT Cellnet I was focused on music, games and entertainment, and in 1997 I become the co-founder of Genie Internet, one of the UK’s first startups, founded inside of BT who financed the project. At the same time I started work on developing one of the world’s first mobile gaming platforms, allowing me to work not only with some of the world’s leading technologists, but also with many of the most forward-thinking music and gaming companies who wanted to work with us to launch their content and apps on top of the nascent platforms which we were designing.
At times it felt that we had to design everything from scratch, and I remember the struggles we had with the complexity of online and mobile music solutions in the very early days, trying to understand how to manage the content, develop payment systems, design business models for multiple partners, deal with legal rights issues and cope with the lack of broadband at that time. But like all pioneering innovators before us, we had to continually attempt to see the component parts in new ways, and absolutely maximise any available technology to bring our visions to fruition.
Genie Internet reached an independent market valuation of £1 billion, making it one of the UKs most valuabe startups of its time. BT Cellnet did not though wish to invest in the creation of an additional mobile gaming service, and so Kevin Bradshaw, the technical consultant who I had been working with to define and build it, decided to leave his consultancy work to take the vision as the basis for a new startup which he founded, Digital Bridges, which soon became one of the world’s top three mobile gaming platforms, and which I would later join a year later.
With this insiders background in the birth of the platform age of business, I have always followed developments in this area, always believing in the potential of platforms for the positive good of the world. For this reason in 2015 I coined the phrase The New 4Ps (platforms, purpose, people and planet) as I was looking to find a way to explain how the new entrepreneurial reality was changing and that the original 4Ps of product, prince, place and promotion while still valid for thinking about marketing, were no longer able to fully frame this new reality and the importance of the emerging platform paradigm.
Two decades later it is therefore sobering to see how these developments have evolved into an incredible concentration of power, with Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba e Tencent now representing more than US$ 6.3 trillion in market value, meaning that seven out of ten of the most valuable businesses are now platform-based enterprises.
This concentration of wealth and technological power raises many important questions in relation to how we now see the evolution of advanced technology in relation to evolving to more equitable societies and restoring our planet’s depleted natural ecosystems. What does it mean to be human in this new reality which is emerging, and how will organisations and businesses evolve to ensure that they continue to be meaningful and impactful in our lives?
To help explain how we answer these questions, Maria Moraes Robinson, Igor Couto and I came together to write our new book, Deep Tech and the Amplified Organisation, which was conceived as a guide for leaders, designers, technologists, entrepreneurs and investors who are seeking to rise to the challenge of creating transformation that matters. The book introduces a visual and systemic blueprint of the amplified organisation which aligns and integrates platform capabilities, digital systems and data analytics with an organisation’s strategy, value proposition and digital operating model.
The result is a transdisciplinary approach to Deep Tech that integrates innovative and new approaches to enterprise architectures, design methodologies and purpose-driven leadership which enables organisations to become future-fit by:
- Amplifying business through the New 4Ps framework of platforms, purpose, people and planet;
- Designing scalable platform-based business models and elevated value propositions;
- Creating open, networked and highly extensive platform architectures;
- Achieving organisational agility through implementing a systemic approach to strategy;
- Capturing the power of data through deep sensemaking and networked intelligence;
- Engaging people meaningfully though deeper customer and employee experiences; and
- Integrating universal human values into organisational culture, ecosystem relationships and leadership consciousness.
We believe that our book has the power to revolutionise the way you do business and allow you to thrive in the most technologically important era since the industrial revolution. We hope you find inspiration and insights throughout its pages.