Asymconf Amsterdam 2012 - Summary

This conference was structured around four main cases and an introduction in the beginning.

With cases 1-3, Horace gave about a 20-25 minute presentation then we opened it up for a discussion. With Case 4 - Education, it was more of a free flowing discussion, with no formal presentation.

Below are the chapters which gives a pretty good idea of what was discussed at the conference. The introduction is available for free as a Padcast in Perceptive, feel free to check it out as well.

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Be sure to check out the video download on the Asymco Store



Chapter 1 On the Trajectories of Innovative Nation States

Opening Remarks.

Chapter 2 - Why Amsterdam?

Horace talks about how it was founded on the basis of disruptive technology, which is the windmill & pump.

Chapter 3 - Innovating with Capital

How the Dutch used capital to maintain it’s dikes, canals, & windmills which created capital markets, because the transportation network was there.

Chapter 4 - The Foundation of Finance

Discussing how growing pool of money in Amsterdam led to the creation of a Stock Exchange, Insurance, Funds, and other products.

Chapter 5 - The Steam Engine

How the engine made in england led to the decline of Holland, but since they became good a finance, they financed nations.

Chapter 6 Wrap-Up and Credits

Case 1 - Mobile

Chapter 1 - What is Disruption?

Horace gives an overview of disruption theory using basic principals, and examples from the computer, auto & aviation industries.

Chapter 2 - Disruption in Mobile

Using Perspective, Horace takes a looks at how the mobile industry has changed over the past 5 years.

Chapter 3 - Anomalies

Horace & The Case Team speak on how this is not a rare occurrence, In fact most of the major companies today have their roots in disruption.

Chapter 4 - Smartphone Penetration and Increasing Mobile Smartphone Usage

David states with smartphone penetration becoming ubiquitous, they discuss the need of these devices penetrating into emerging markets.

Chapter 5 - Platform Becoming the Driver

On how devices will become commodities for the cloud services.

Chapter 6 - The Personal Cloud and Network Limits

Morten, Michael, Anthony and Peter discuss how the concept of the personal cloud taking dominance over individual devices which might result in a ASP drop. But with the limits of the current network, they struggle to see in the short term, that much progress. Peter also asks - What if a technology player would buy a network and offer free service based on device sales?

Chapter 7 - Differentiating Devices Based on Experience

Javier, Horace, and Trenton talk on how we still have room to make device experiences simpler. With things like Siri giving us a hint of what is to come, but there is still issues with language technology. And how Apple’s leading product disrupter was based on a input method change (Keyboard-Apple 2, Mouse-Mac, Scroll Wheel-iPod, Touch- iPhone/iPad).

Chapter 8 - Jobs That Don’t Require Input Methods

Wayne asks if there are Jobs to be Done that don’t require a input method. Horace thinks companionship is a big one, and they discuss how the wearable computer is still evolving as a concept.

Chapter 9 - Room for Software Growth for Apple

Ben talks on how Apple has really not monetized software in a large way like console makers. But with hardware becoming more and more powerful, this will continue to grow along with its growth from app store revenues.

Chapter 10 - Betting Against Moore’s Law

Andrew talks about how hard it is to bet against Moore’s law in any sense. We are still very limited to basic interactions with computers, compared with a human hand for example.

Chapter 11 - The Importance of Brand & Ecosystem

Natalie, Horace, Niels, and Volker talk about the barriers for a customer to to leap to a new technology or company. Which makes them resistant in trying new things. Then once you do, how this new cloud linked eco-system will keep you locked into to it, and the value you get from it.

Chapter 12 - Cost of the Device and Network

Eric talks on how expensive these devices cost to operate. That there has to be a better way of offering service instead of just at a lower price. Horace responds with how during the last recession that the the last thing people would cut was the internet/mobile and how data usage has evolved over the years in various countries.

Chapter 13 - The Different Buyers in a Disruption

Tim asks about how buyers are the ones who hold the power and how that can affect change. Horace & Ben respond with the example of the buyer shift in the computer industry from business to consumer customers.

Chapter 14 - The KDDI Operator Approach in Japan

Takashi talks about how KDDI has changed their core strategy to a ‘3M’ approach - Multi-Use, Multi-Network, and Multi-Device. With Horace adding some more history on how operator’s have tried to keep OTT usage to a minimum.

Chapter 15 - Moving Jobs to the Cloud

Jeremy, Horace, and Morton talk about what will happen next, and they ways the the cloud services can change the cost structure of mobile and it will get disrupted. But with change there are barriers to entry like Morton states with and example of the Norwegian Government limiting iCloud use in their business.

Chapter 16 - Device Subsidies Effecting Cycle Time

Kai Mo & Horace talk how the device subsidy model pricing might lead to a longer device replacement time due to the lower cost of service without subsidy. But right now, the subsidy model is winning big time

Chapter 17 - Time as a Resource

Ville & Horace, talk about with the abundance of devices and being connected all the time, brings the time question back to the center. Is that will people hire devices so they get the maximum amount of value compared to time spent.

Chapter 18 - Facebook as the Next Platform?

Bastiaan infers with Facebook doing a lot of key hiring and acquisitions, are they going to compete in the mobile market at all? David also brings his experience from working at a company who developed Facebook games, and how they monetized the Facebook platform.

Chapter 19 - Disruption Football Stadium Analogy

Natalie gives an example of if someone is watching water fill a football stadium exponentially how long until they realize its too late to get out and asks if there is a way to model this exponential disruptive growth. Horace and Andrew respond with how there is no model right now to predict it because of the sheer number of variables involved which make it almost impossible.

Chapter 20 - Measuring the Current Performance of Mobile Devices

Stijn asks how are we measuring performance right now in mobile? Because it’s not clear right now. Which makes it hard to predict the basis of competition for the next disruption. Horace agrees and says it takes time to identify patterns, while Katherine adds on how it can be very paradoxical.

Chapter 21 - The Need of Imagination

Volker bring up how Steve Jobs was really an imagination guy. And he partnered with people to bring his ideas into refined products.

Chapter 22 - Measuring the Value of a Cloud Platform

Anthony and Horace talk how you can document the value of a cloud platform by looking at the secondary value created by the participants (Apps, iBooks, Ads), and how Microsoft has trouble doing it themselves, so they had to do a lot of acquisitions

Chapter 23 - Apple is a Low-End Disruptor

Ben talks how even though the iPhone is a high-end device, when you look at the jobs that it does it’s absolutely low-end. He uses the example of original iPhone games, that were very low quality, but this did not stop them from competing with high-end console games.

Chapter 24 - Apple Selling Devices to the Customer Instead of Carriers

Wil and Horace look back at how Apple changed the way manufacturers interact and sell products to carriers. Before the iPhone, all the carriers were very deep into their own Service Development Platforms and having the control of the devices they sell. They talk about how Apple was willing to shake the model up which typically you would only see in small startups and worry if Apple can sustain this type of thinking moving forward.

Chapter 25 - Facebook’s Strengths

Hannah notes how important Facebook has become, to the point of utility where some would argue, you cannot not be on it. Horace agrees, but does see that with the Instagram deal that Facebook is even-though its a very new company, was starting to loose the mobile market so they had to act.

Chapter 26 - Hiring Devices Mostly to Deal With Boredom

Wayne speaks on how yes we do out devices to help our efficiently, but yet many of the apps on these devices deal with human boredom. Horace brings up a story he told when he was at Nokia, on how the job of the iPod was to avoid boredom.

Chapter 27 - Looking at Android

Horace talks about how android has evolved as a platform. That since the team at google was very small, relatively speaking. They were able to iterate the platform at a dramatically faster rate with the only issue being partner adoption and fragmentation.

Chapter 28 - Opportunity in Non-Consumption

Horace look at the problem of being over-served or not. Using Apple as the example, he see that Apple is making big investments in staying competitive, and he looks at how Tim Cook is aware of the prepaid market and constantly looks to see if there is opportunity for Apple there.

Chapter 29 - Samsung’s Ability to Innovate?

Horace asks if Samsung has the ability to evolve to be able to innovate rather than copy? Even-though they did ride the Android wave, they are not setup like maybe people like Baidu, Amazon, Facebook or maybe even Twitter to be a disruptor.

Chapter 30 - Wrap-up and Credits

Case 2 - Entertainment

Chapter 1 - The Jobs To Be Done Theory

Horace gives an overview of what the theory is and how it relates to entertainment via an examples of advertising.

Chapter 2 - The Black and Decker Example

Horace talks the story of how Black and Decker reworked the hand drill. Instead of designing a long lifetime drill, they created a sealed designed which matched what the use case would be for an average consumer.

Chapter 3 - The Computer Industry Example

Horace looks at the personal computer industry has gone through signifiant phases, from the early computers like TRS 80 and Altair to Mac then to windows. But now over the past 5 years mobile operating systems like android and IOS have taken over.

Chapter 4 - The Distribution of Movies

Horace talks how the movie industry has been dominated by the same 5 or 6 major companies of the past 35 years. Which shows there has not been a major change in the jobs to be done of entertainment.

Chapter 5 - Space-Time Segmentation of Cars and Entertainment

Horace looks at a old chart from Germany comparing number of cars in a household compared to time traveled to distance traveled and compares it to number of screens in the household to time spent watching.

Chapter 6 - What Are The Jobs Of Entertainment?

Horace opens up the discussion with the question of how you can get people to consume more? Moreover what are the Jobs to be Done of Entertainment. Alexis & Michiel start with how we hire it to relax and to avoid boredom. With Horace observing some trends in television.

Chapter 7 - Hiring for Community Building

Wil adds how entertainment is used for a kid of community building. Being able to participate in the water cooler discussion. Horace notes how that this is apart of american now as well.

Chapter 8 - Interactive/Non-Interactive Sharing

Martin talk about the differences between experiences, and what the value is of being interactive is. Horace asks about the game industry and this could pivot the chart into a third dimensions in combining these elements.

Chapter 9 - The Value of Story

Simon talks about how story is still very important in this wold of interactivity. And how genres can be really segmented into different types of stories.

Chapter 10 - Exercising Emotions & Unpredictability

The Case Team talks about the value of exercising emotions and how people like controlling being in a situation by experiencing these feelings in a theater for example.

Chapter 11 - Cutting Out the Middleman

Bertram talks about how the user decides what job entertainment is hired to do. Citing how to videos on YouTube and Kahn Academy.

Chapter 12 - Hiring for Babysitting

Wil talks about how he purchased a TV for his family so that he can give his wife a rest from watching the kids for a bit. Horace and Wil both talk about the different ways of enabling this consumption (in the car) and the value we place on companies that provide this entertainment.

Chapter 13 - The Shift from Movies to Gaming

Taco asks if we are reaching a tipping point for the classic film? He cites the babysitting job for kids has shifted from Disney to iPad games for many people. Horace agrees and adds how kids are using games to create their own content as well.

Chapter 14 - Hiring Movies for Dating

Lassi reminds us that even though he has a great setup at home. He will still take his wife out to the theatre for a shared social experience. Horace adds a reference to a book The Hollywood Economist by Jay Epstein on how most of the current theater audience is for people who date or are dating.

Chapter 15 - The Value of Live

Chris and Horace talk about the performance measure of passivity versus activity and how people do value experiencing things in person, which can be a point for many reasons we do things like have meetings, travel, etc.

Chapter 16 - Playing and Multitasking

Morten talk about children and what they really do for 90% of the day is play. Annti, Horace, and Tashi talk about the experiences multitasking between all the screen we have today.

Chapter 17 - Hiring Physical Exercise

Rukesh brings up how doing things like dancing, rock climbing and sports is a form of entertainment as well. Horace and Rukesh talk on how video games and general sedentary entertainment as substituted a different type of endorphin release with their own.

Chapter 18 - Consolidating Screens

James and Horace talk about how tablets have substituted a lot of the screens he used before to consume different things like books, TV, and games.

Chapter 19 - Hollywood Assimilating Technology

Shawn and Horace talk on how the entertainment has embraced new technology over the years, from the platter system, to home video to television. However they are unsure if they are embracing the internet as well.

Chapter 20 - The Value of Brand

Horace and The Case Team discuss how they have not emotional connection to any of the movie studios with the exception of Disney/Pixar, and the same thing with music companies. They have basically become generic distributors.

Chapter 21 - Hiring for Non-Consumption in Dating

Tom and Horace look at how narrow of a segment that the cinema occupies in the dating function today. Of which this non-consumption is now being addressed by new form factors like gaming, youtube, and other forms of entertainment.

Chapter 22 - Different Models of Narrative Content

Tom, Matt, Horace, and the Case team talk about the form factor innovations happening in Cable TV with high production value serialized episodic television.

Chapter 23 - How Distribution Is The Current Driver

Horace and The Case Team talk about how right now the distributors is deciding what product to make, which is limiting the product innovation.

Chapter 24 - Creating a New Value Network

Horace talks about how you be an innovator, in that typically a person not vested in the current system creates a parallel value network to derive a new basis of competition. He talks about how he thinks Apple gets this point because they are not making an Apple Tv with a cable connection in it.

Chapter 25 - The Challenges of Licensing

Wil adds that one of the biggest challenges is in licensing, and talks about an experiences a local operator had with content not being available across multiple devices. Horace and Bertram add to the discussion talking how companies like Netflix, Hulu, and Google are dealing with the problem.

Chapter 26 - KickStarter as a Disruptor

Hans thinks that Kickstarter is a disrupter because artist are using the audience to finance production. Of which Horace didn’t agree because they are not changing distribution.

Chapter 27 - Wrap-Up and Credits

Case 3 - Wall Street

Chapter 1 - Modularity Vs Integration

Horace opens will looking the history of the computer industry being vertically integrated or not. On back in the 1960’s IBM was fully integrated to more modular like mini computer companies to now where Apple acts as a fully integrated company.

Chapter 2 - Apple’s CapEx

Horace talks about the patterns in Apple’s CapEx spending and how their spending gives them great advantages in being an integrated player. And will this trend of technology companies doing financing on their own continue?

Chapter 3 - Financing Innovation?

Horace asks the question of “Is an innovator crazy enough to do something disruptive that they cannot rely on tradition financing?” He talks how Wall Street might have hit a critical over-service point, how technology companies might be disrupting it, and how Apple has used capital to control their partners, instead of owning the manufacturing themselves.

Chapter 4 - Accumulating Large Amounts of Cash

Matt, Horace, and The Case Team look at Apple’s cash balance, and how they are the not the first company to do so. The look a what companies like GE and GMC have done with their cash to give financing to their customers.

Chapter 5 - Placing Bets on Apple’s Production Cycle

Keshav and Horace talk on how Apple has a very lumpy production cycle in only making a few major new products a year. Which means Apple has to ask their vendors to place huge bets on them.

Chapter 6 - Tech Industry investing and the iFund

Katharine, Arek, Matt, Ben, and Horace look at investing in startups in the tech industry. Specifically looking at how Kleiner Perkins iFund has had some successes like NG Moco, but then how app developers don’t needs millions of dollars to develop something.

Chapter 7 - Is Wall Street Over-Serving?

Nugzar and Horace talk about the roots of Wall Street of its basic function is to get companies access to capital. They look at liquid metal as an example of Apple providing a form of financing that they may have unable to get in other ways, the Stock trading evolution from institutions to brokers to individual, and the question of “Is Disruptive Innovations Possible?”

Chapter 8 - Wal-Mart Changing Retail

James and Horace talk on how the company changed the way retailer’s operated with suppliers, both in capital, and in the use of IT systems to drive efficency and to bring down cost.

Chapter 9 - Providing Access to Market in Software

Puni and Horace discuss how before the App Store, platform providers did not really have a direct way to create wealth for businesses to develop on their platform. With Apple providing a new venue, the created a whole new network of value creation for developers.

Chapter 10 - Crowd Funding and Micro-financing

Javier and Horace talk about the power of services like Kickstarter and Kiva and it democratizing funding.

Chapter 11 - The Vertical Integration of Financing

Winston and Horace look at how Apple has vertically integrated financing for their suppliers for both enabling supplier expansion and controlling the information flow.

Chapter 12 - The Structure of a Public Company Dilemma

Winston, Nugzar, James, Philip, and Horace look at the issues how maybe the structure of public companies is counter productive. They look at Google’s Share manipulation, Innovation in private companies, Issues with UK financial reporting, and the value of going public today versus self funding.

Chapter 13 - Apple’s App Store Incentives

Chris talks with Horace about his experiences with how Apples uses placement in their store to promote new apps, which can be a form of financing, in addition to helping small apps compete like Pixelmator and Adobe Photoshop.

Chapter 14 - Apple’s Options in Using Capital

Eric, Alex, Des, and Horace look at what Apple can using their cash for like: going private, buying a manufacturer, small acquisitions, controlling manufactures, and stimulating demand in lower tier markets.

Chapter 15 - Apple’s Value in the Market

Razvan takes a step back a points out that vendors financing is a small problem compared to what to do with the 100 billion in cash Apple has on had, but they he did not that Apple has create a large amount of value in market capitalization in the beginning of 2012.

Chapter 16 - Wall Street Serving the Technology Business?

Arek, Keshav and Horace look at if wall street has ever served the tech business properly. They reference Holland farmers in history, GMC and GE Finance, and VC’s, and even JP Morgan was an innovator to put financing together back in the late 19th century.

Chapter 17 - Apple Going Private?

Stephen asks if Apple could buy itself back? which Horace, and Keshav talk about the cash needed, and what the value of doing that is.

Chapter 18 - The People of Wall Street

Jullian and Horace talk about who the people of Wall Street actually are (like Goldman Sachs, because it can be unclear.

Chapter 19 - Financing as Lubrication

Horace closes the discussion with what really financial institutions do which is providing financial lubrication. He takes the analogy further with integration and modulatory and how the financial model trajectory can change in the next generation.

Chapter 20 - Wrap-Up and Credits

Case 4 Education

Chapter 1 - The Job of Asymco

Horace gives some unscripted opening remarks on why he started Asymco, and Asymconf with a story when he was still a analyst and not being able to give a presentation to an executive conference. He asks the group what makes a great teacher, and what did you like about this experience.

Chapter 2 - An Influential Teacher

James relates his experience being inspired by a quadriplegic teacher he had at the University of Wisconsin that using in the 1890’s IBM pc’s and land-Sat photos to redevelop land and modeling it. Inspiration and Tools.

Chapter 3 - Being More Integrated in Learning

Ryan likes that Asymco can bring together a lot of the academic theories and give a reverent take in a integrated fashion on the subject matter at hand. Which is unlike a stock eduction because it is very modular. And since its modular, its hard to find any mature curriculum.

Chapter 4 - The Value of Story

David and Horace talk about the value of storytelling in engaging students in making them apart of the discussion.

Chapter 5 - The Teacher’s Role Shifting

Kristian adds that the teacher’s role may be shifting from being the holder of information to being the facilitator of it. Horace agrees and talks about the need to working through the jobs question of the parent, educator, and pupil.

Chapter 6 - The Standardization Issue

Henrik and Horace talk about how standardizing topics become a cycle of wanting equal opportunity, to equal starting point to therefore we need to measure, then therefore having tests and learning at the same pace. Which contradicts individual learning pace.

Chapter 7 - The Power of Self-Learning via Books

Ronald, Ryan, Antti and Horace talk about the powers of learning via good books. They talk about their experiences of reading Good to Great (Jim Collins), Getting Things Done (David Allen), and the No Asshole Rule (RoBert Sutton).

Chapter 8 - Taking Ownership and Wanting to Learn

Chris, Janico, Horace and The Case Team, talk about the value of actually wanting to learn something, and then having the ability to own the process, like independent projects.

Chapter 9 - A Teacher Being a Entertainer

Maurice, Rukesh and Horace talk about how the best education is trying to do more than transferring facts, but instead its about changing behaviors, changing habits of though and the way to do things. They discuss how engagement, classroom motivation, and environment effect the process.

Chapter 10 - Handcuffed Teachers

Mark, Natalie, and Horace talk about some of the challenges in the UK education system. They talk about home some have declared enemy number one is the teacher and how also the problem of big numbers of how do you scale an experience up to 10,000 or 10 million without loosing the inspiration relationship among other things.

Chapter 11 - The Montessori Methodology

James, Jan, and Horace look at the the Montessori Methodology and how it might address some of the issues with the current approach. Currently its only at a elementary level but it is starting to be scaled up to a older kids.

Chapter 12 - Being Consciously Incompetent and Fundamentals

Horace, Puni, and Michael look at the power case method and how you need to have a sufficient maturity to be comfortable to own up to being consciously incompetent. They also talk about the values of going back to fundamentals to provide the roots to a discussion.

Chapter 13 - Targeting Non-Consumption

David talks about how higher education is now being consumed by everyone and with the power of the net and things like Asymco and providing a new basis for learning on the go.

Chapter 14 - The Power of Addiction

Paul and Horace look at the power of addiction and how it can be used to motivate in different types of situations.

Chapter 15 - Acquiring and Executing Knowledge

Rahul breaks education in two parts of acquisition and executing on it, and how people can get hung up in the concept of continuous improvement. With Horace he talk about the A3 method, the 10,000 hour concept, and how can be complacent

Chapter 16 - The Power of Different Media

Tim and Horace talk about how consuming different types of media effect people differently. Tim loves the power that images play an help dreamily in his understanding of an particular point for example.

Chapter 17 - The Power of Changing Perspective

Valentina, Jan, and Horace talk about value the get from a great leaning from somebody, which is to show there is a different way of looking at the world. Which is some of Asymconf’s greatest strength of pulling people together from vastly different disciplines and looking at things differently.

Chapter 18 - Motivation is Key

Volker raises the point that at the root of about 50-70% of what’s been said can come down to motivation, that you need to have it so you can have the capacity to learn. Kristian, and Arek add with the challenges of motivating a classroom today, and how that it can make or break it.

Chapter 19 - The Asymco Website

Arek speaks about his challenge of gaining value from the comments, Puni talks about the jobs she hires the Asymco website to do, and Horace’s experiences with comments on Asymco with both deriving value, and leading a community.

Chapter 20 - Technology in Education

The Case Team talks about the power the Technology has had in democratizing information, and not having the need to have the gatekeeper of an institution to learn something. But on the other side of that Horace argues that you will always need to curate and implement it in a thoughtful manor, else you will have wasted your money. James agrees you have to have substance before you add the technology, and adding a reference to Massachusetts adopting high standards.

Chapter 21 - The Jobs to be Done of Asymconf

Horace closes out the conference by reviewing some key ways we are learning from each other at Asymconf, along with seeing the value of using tools correctly.

Chapter 22 - Wrap-Up and Credits