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Start arrow Agenda arrow 22@Breakfast arrow Past Events arrow 22@Update Breakfast April 2009
22@Update Breakfast April 2009
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Social use of new ICTs (NICTs)

Use of new Information and Communication Technologies is advancing frenetically, becoming a key factor in the everyday life of a large part of society. The younger generations and the current economic situation have created a new environment and pose new challenges we must face with innovative solutions.




The first to speak at the April 22@Update Breakfast was the president of the Catalan Association of Regional Science and director of IREA (the UB’s Research Institute of Applied Economics), Jordi Suriñach. The body he heads is made up of professionals from a wide range of fields: a group of economists, geologists, urban planners and architects –among others- who meet to debate urban-planning issues. The association’s activities also include a series of conferences on current events in this area. One of these conferences led to the book titled Els hàbits socials i les NTIC: tendencies (Social habits and NICTs: trends), a study carried out by the Barcelona Strategic Metropolitan Plan that focused on the use and evolution of new technology and gave a prognosis of what is to come for our region in the near future. All those who attended the April 22@Update Breakfast, held in the Mapfre Tower, received a copy of the study.

The book gave us the opportunity to present Guillermo Ricarte, general director of the Creafutur Foundation, a private entity –driven by ESADE and the Regional Government of Catalonia– which offers companies help in understanding who their future clients will be and in identifying emerging business opportunities. Ricarte’s presentation focused on trends and challenges for the future posed by new information and communication technologies at home, in universities and at work. One of the first ideas that the general director of Creafutur, Guillermo Ricarte, stressed was the focus on a specific segment of the population.

“In terms of information and technology it is becoming more and more important to take into account the generation of 13- to 20-year-olds”

The importance of this group is growing at a frenetic rhythm and they are becoming an unknown generation because they have attributes that set them apart from the rest:
  • Born and grew up in the Internet age
  • Have direct access to technology
  • Have only experienced a booming economy
  • Establish new relationships and ways to interact with their family

These characteristics give the so-called unknown generation values that make them unique and different. Knowing how to predict the evolution of this group is one of the great challenges posed in the information and communication sector. Apart from this, six main trends will be key in the district:

1.    Connectivity. The importance of being connected at all times; connected to other people and connected to technology through mobile devices. The study Social habits and NICT: trends foresees that in 2012 there will be some 17,000 million network devices in the world.

2.    Interactivity. Messages are bidirectional. In this sense, a substantial change is coming about with the arrival of the web 2.0. –user-generated content– which has radically changed the online environment. One example is Youtube, which allows users to publish their own videos online and comment on them. By 2013, almost everyone under 50 will have an online presence.

3.    Mobility. Entertainment everywhere, all the time. Mobility options offered by new technologies allow usage time to increase. Users can listen to music, with an mp3 player for example, while they travel on public transport.
 
4.    Comfort. Comfort is also important when accessing contents. Between 30 and 40% of Europeans arrive home and switch on the television, regardless of what particular programming is offered at that time. Moreover, the study shows that the success of live contents will become more important to users.

5.    Quality. Continues to be key. For this reason it is important to continue research and development in this line, as it will be a key element in the future.

6.    Personalization. Market segmentation is huge. Everyone wants a personalized product.  Each user wants to see what they are interested in, communication on demand. We are evolving toward communication focused directly on the user, offering total personalization of the message.

Far down in the European ranking of innovation
As far as the region is concerned, the report published by the Catalan Association of Regional Science shows that the Catalan region is still far from the most innovative countries in Europe (holding the 82nd position of 203 European regions analyzed). The data take into account the number of patents, investment in innovation and workers’ skill level. The general director of the Creafutur Foundation, Guillermo Ricarte, regards the negative trend in Catalonia’s classification over the past years as “most concerning” (in 2006, Catalonia held the 52nd position).  

Xavier Verdaguer, CEO of TMT Factory, invited as April’s Innovator22@
The presentation of case studies arrived with April’s innovator22@. Xavier Verdaguer, CEO of TMT Factory, explained his experience through examples of actions developed by his company over the past years. This company, which calls itself an innovation factory, was founded in Barcelona in 1997 and focuses on new market trends, proposing solutions for clients with specific needs. They have developed products like Integra TV (a service that combines television and Internet), digital signposting systems, implementing new technology in golf courses, dynamic communication channels, communication channels in public transport systems, etc. The company’s CEO defined their activity by saying: “We sell innovation to all types of sectors”.

The crisis as an opportunity
April’s innnovator22@ reflected on business opportunities in times of crisis, like the current one. According to the head of TMT Factory, we must always think that things can be improved and look for ways to redirect processes to improve business efficiency. For this reason, Xavier Verdaguer recommends taking advantage of the crisis.
 

“We shouldn’t just try to get through the crisis, we have to use innovation to take advantage of it”

In order to prevail in times of crisis we must keep two key concepts in mind: innovation and cooperation. We can innovate by developing new products. To do this, the head of TMT proposed encouraging workers through a point system that rewards professionals with innovative ideas. “Innovation is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, work,” explained Verdaguer.  

Business cooperation to widen the market
TMT Factory has put into action the option of cooperating with other companies. One option is to cooperate in product development. This is what the company has done by joining forces with Benito, a national leader in urban equipment. They were two companies with very different profiles and the result was a consolidated hybrid carrying out joint R&D activities. “To cooperate we have to stop being so complicated!” explained Verdaguer. The final product was the Smartpoint, a new advertising media to provide residents with information. It was a new experience, a new line of business for both companies and the birth of an innovative product for the market.
In order to increase their ability to offer solutions for their clients, Hyunday and TMT decided to start a joint commercial action, creating a new brand called Hyunday TMT to design new bus stops for the city of New York. Working on this project has allowed the Barcelona-based company to contact clients that were previously inaccessible.

When establishing cooperative relationships with multinational companies on a global level, the Barcelona brand has become a key factor in selling creativity, an added value that makes the offer more enticing. TMT Factory is working with IKUSSI through an agreement that has allowed them to carry out a project for a Dynamic Communication Channel in the Mexican metro system: 13,000 screens in trains and over 100 stations.

Before finishing his presentation, CEO of TMT Factory explained that we must encourage projects that bring together the market, businesses and universities, since these links allow us to give products added value, research how best to launch to market and improve solutions we offer clients. Finally, Xavier Verdaguer concluded his presentation by stressing that we must be optimistic in any situation, “We mustn’t turn our backs on the crisis. Where there is crisis there is opportunity.”

100 members in the Networking community
Before finishing up April’s 22@Update Breakfast, Josep M. Vilà, president of 22@Network, the Association of businesses and institutions in 22@Barcelona, announced that member number 100 has joined the networking community.  The president of 22@Network spoke about initiatives like Digital Volunteering, which provides service to organizations in the neighborhood, and the Job Center, which helps people find work in 22@Barcelona companies. Additionally, Josep M. Vila explained that the Network’s workshops have been very successful.


KEY IDEAS

•    One of the key generations in the world of New Information and Communication Technologies is that of 13- to 20-year-olds, called the unknown generation.

•    Six main trends must be taken into account in order to adapt to the present and future of NICTs: connectivity, interactivity, mobility, comfort, quality and personalization.

•    In times of crisis, like the current one, we must always think that things can be improved and look for ways to redirect processes to improve business efficiency. Innovation and cooperation are key.

•    The Barcelona brand is an added value when establishing cooperative relationships with multinational companies on a global level; this factor sells creativity.

•    We must encourage projects that bring together the market, businesses and universities. These links give products added value.



ATTENDEES’ OPINIONS

“The truth is that I wasn’t aware of a lot of the possibilities that were presented here today. I think we still have a long way to go in our company before we can implement strategies as innovative as the ones discussed here. It was really very interesting.”

“I’m a long-time 22@Update Breakfast attendee, and the truth is that I always find something that we can apply. I work in the public sector and today’s breakfast gave me some advice that I can apply, but not in all municipalities, just in the largest ones.”

“I thought today’s breakfast was very interesting. They always come to conclusions that can help you. I was surprised by the optimistic take the speakers had on the current crisis. I think it might not be as accessible as some business people make it out to be.”

“It isn’t always easy to apply everything discussed in events like this one. Achieving these levels is difficult but it is a good tool to get ideas. In my field we want to do things like those mentioned today but it’s hard to see the evolution.”

Presentation of Guillermo Ricarte, general director of Creafutur.






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