Conseil en innovation stratégique

2000 – 2020 – 20 Years of Innovation that have marked the World

clear glass ball on gray sand during sunset

In the Anglosphere, the number 20 is used to measure the vision (20/20 indicates a normal vision up to 20 feet, commonly perceived as the ‘perfect vision’). In numerology, 20 refers to change – this is good news for the Kea Group which has fallen into transformation like Obélix in the magic potion – and more specifically to improvisation. And 20 in Tarot Cards is the 20th card of the deck which is significant to show the grail before the final step. Grail, in terms of innovation, is to echo utopia.

So, let’s take a look at innovations launched in the last 20 years, and whether they have contributed to the progress…. for good, the one and only true grail, from our point of view at Tilt ideas, the Strategic Innovation Consultancy of Kea group.

After the 80’s and the 90’s, full of energy, the 2000s were the years of awareness, to be conscious of the actions behind consuming and managing teams.

To illustrate, the following overview will talk about initiatives instead of innovations. Since innovation is a formidable word, of which we don’t really know what it covers or what it really means; it limits product, service, or technology, whereas the term initiative is broader. Afterall, etymologically, “entreprendre” is to take initiatives, instead of dreaming of a utopia for each innovation. For each initiative taken, Tilt ideas presents the following lessons. Indeed, as everyone knows, behind any innovation, there is a potential perverse effect. Paul Virilio said that, with the invention of TGV, we had also invented high-speed accidents.

2020, big bang! 20 years after, no one anticipated Covid-19. Morale: taking the initiative is above all to identify the field of (im)possibilities to prepare for them. This is what we call foresight. Similarly, who would have thought that the small online bookseller Amazon would become such an essential marketplace 20 years later? Amazon’s genius was to grasp the addictive (hysterical?) habit of instant purchasing.

Utopia #1: Global Communication. The smartphone became our best embodiment, especially since 2007 with the iPhone and all the applications from the Appstore. Morale: For a strong brand, its field of innovation is not limited to the original business but to its purpose. Thus, innovation extends the domain of the brand, and the innovations launched should be coherent with its purpose. In 2000, who would have thought that Apple – manufacturer of hardware – would extend their domain in services as well (25% of their revenue today)? Who would have thought that a telephone, a click, would be used to take photos and soon (who knows) to make coffee? In the same vein, with the launch of lipsticks in early 2020, Hermès has opened its 16th business line, far from its original leather business.

Utopia #2: Me Myself I. The explosion of self-oriented initiatives, mirrors of oneself via social networks (Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn… and now Tik Tok) have clearly transformed the way people value themselves. For the better? You’ll have to see. Morale: Never forget that in so-called collective innovation approaches, the interest of individuals comes first (do I want it, and what good will it do me?)

Utopia #3: Hyperconnectivity and Mobility Atawad. The democratization of the Wi-Fi (it became the base element of Maslow’s pyramid 😊) and the GPS are two examples. Without GPS, there is no compass in our life. The GPS is not a recent innovation, the technology is from the 60s, but its democratization didn’t take place until the 2000s. Morale: some initiatives take time to develop before they become a success. Innovation is a marathon – Nespresso waited at least 10 years before it became a strong brand for Nestlé, when few people imagined that coffee could be sold in capsules. In terms of time-to-market and innovative initiatives, let’s also mention the Logan (launched in 2004). People at Renault did not think it was possible to design and market in half the time and at half the cost.

Utopia #4: The Gamification of the World. Video games, a colossal market in which giants such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo or even Ubisoft are fighting to launch the next generation of games ahead of the others. Tomorrow, the Metaverse innovations (ie. Matrix-like universes – released in 1999 – or Second Life in 2003) will be looming. YouTube and all the content distributors, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos are all in this type of innovation. Beyond that, the whole subscription economy was born, binds us (not to say “ties” us) in a society where playfulness prevails. Infotainment, at all levelsm is also a part of this trend: between 2000-2010, these medias these medias open new models: free daily newspapers with 20 Minutes, social networks with Facebook and Twitter, the chain of info on TNT with BFMTV and the online payed journalism with Meidapart.

Utopia #5: The Best Solution resides in the Problem. In food sector, the most striking initiatives of the last 20 years undeniably embody a return to our roots: organic, local, urban farming, vertical farms, products with minimum packaging… Morale: Won’t the role of brands tomorrow, be primarily to make themselves paradoxically forgotten, to favor a direct link to the producer? From food to health, there is only one step: in terms of health, crucial breakthroughs for our future have been made and the past 20 years have been rich in science: from the Higgs Boson (2017) to the first photo of a black hole (2019), via advances in gene therapy (cf. the Human Genome Project), neuroscience, telemedicine, biotech…

Utopia #6: The Circular Economy and the new uses it brings. Second hand, recycling, reparability, solid cosmetics (shampoo, deodorants…), but also 3D printers (which could transform us into DIY actors) or the reusable rocket of SpaceX which opens doors for the conquest of space in terms of price and durability. Morale: In 20 years, awareness of innovation is not only good for humans, but also for the planet by limiting the weight of the Anthropocene, has increased. We can also mention the acceleration of the deployment of new electric mobilities (the Tesla electroshock), and, in another register, the advent of nuclear fusion without waste (instead of fission, it has emerged as an alternative to another innovation that is essential but much more negative for the climate or health: shale gas/oil, in the same way as GMOs).

Utopia (dystopia?) #7: Traceability and Control. In the face of paranoia deploying its rets, the 2020s also saw the birth of three other innovations: the QR code (how can we do without it from now on? 😎), Google Home (we control everything at home now), and facial recognition (already widely deployed in China, and a tool for social control as the dystopian saga, Black Mirrors described it). Morale: Innovation must remain democratic, otherwise George Orwell will get out of his depth.

Utopia #8: Platformization. In other words, the Pandora’s box that brings us into an endless visual universe (Netflix, Disney +, and their addictive series…), facilitates access to services (AirBnB, Uber, Doctolib…) or to B-B or B-C distribution (marketplaces, born in 2003, as well as click & collect and home delivery services). Whatever the size of a business, omnichannel is becoming an issue of sustainability. Morale: The famous disruptive innovation consists in challenging the so-called rules and habits to bypass the systems in place: for example, crypto-currencies (which bypass the rules of financial systems). The Drive (born in 2004) is also part of this trend. As for Uberization, it has generated a perverse effect: the slavery linked to the traceability of non-salaried workers, supposedly autonomous and yet very dependent.

Utopia #9: The company, a place of well-being? Innovation has also been deployed within the systems generating innovations, to better mobilize collective intelligence and motivate employees by giving the keys to the future. Open Innovation (born in 2003 in Berkeley), Holacracy (conceived in 2001), Design Thinking or Yugaad inno (aiming at simplifying things as much as possible) have become practices reinforcing what we call Q.I. (quality of initiative), thus favoring Intrapreneurial behaviors. Thus, giving birth to “start up nations” in many countries. Morale: Just like the bifidus effect, the best innovation must create an internal effect before being deployed to customers.

As you can see, most of the innovations that have marked the last 20 years are in fact quite ambivalent: on the one hand, access to the infinite possibilities and to an “augmented human” (transhumanism will probably be there for the next decade…) that relies on its own productions. On the other hand, a source of “misery” – impoverishment of real content and facial value for the benefit of the mass – the advent of an augmented but unhappy man: who neither sleeps nor dies anymore, capricious, never satisfied and in cognitive distortion because of this “massive distraction”.

Ahead, in the next 20 years, by 2040?

What if the Covid-19 was a formidable agent of innovative transformation? Let’s bet that this pandemic will give rise to new initiatives. At Tilt ideas, we are betting a lot on what we call Innovation for good. In other words, innovation that puts people and the planet at the heart (the famous H-H), innovation that demands what the Japanese call Omotenashi (taking somebody into consideration)… In other words, innovation that truly re-enchants (in the Weberian sense of the term), i.e. innovation that reconciles social, economic and political aspects. If not? Perhaps we will end up with a “Bug” as described by Enki Bilal…

Brice Auckenthaler and the Tilt by Kea team, strategic innovation consultants