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Published: January 30, 2007


Seven Counterintuitive Trends

Just as customers will want technology that is simpler in its features and easier to use, they will also respond well to technology products that express their identity in smart design. Design itself will be a crucial differentiator: The era of generic look and feel in devices is over. The style of a machine is part of a company’s brand, and as the boundary between software devices and consumer products increasingly blurs, distinctively designed, technology-driven goods will have an edge around the world.

How these seven trends affect us will depend in large part on whether the business world recognizes them and how it responds. Where some see dangers and difficulties, others will find opportunities to unlock value and drive change. At Booz Allen, we look forward to helping our clients navigate this uncertain environment and build enduring capabilities for the future.

Author Profile:

Dan Lewis ([email protected]) is senior vice president and managing director of Booz Allen Hamilton’s global commercial markets. Based in New York, he leads the firm’s commercial market management consulting business, which provides services in strategy, operations, and systems to the world’s major international corporations.
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  1. Olaf Acker, Niklas Dieterich, and Christopher Schmitz, “Dueling Technologies at the Point of Sale,” s+b, Spring 2006: Mobile payments could transform the purchasing experience, but these systems have so far failed to spark much interest in the United States and Europe. The reasons reveal a great deal about the prospects for innovative financial services, and about the underlying nature of infrastructure change. Click here.
  2. Nikhil Bahadur, Edward Landry, and Steven Treppo, “How to Slim Down a Brand Portfolio,” s+b, Autumn 2006: Consumer packaged-goods companies have awakened to the risks of an overextended brand portfolio and begun to cut the fat with a vengeance. Click here.
  3. Doug Bartholomew, “A House Divided: Manufacturing in Crisis,” IndustryWeek, November 1, 2005: Overview of the “civil war” between large and small manufacturers as they battle in a landscape marked by expensive raw materials and competition from low-cost countries. Click here.
  4. Stewart Brand, “City Planet,” s+b, Spring 2006: Get ready for cosmopolitan slums with thriving markets, aging residents, and the most creative economies in history. Click here.
  5. Vinay Couto and Ashok Divakaran, “How to Be an Outsourcing Virtuoso,” s+b, Autumn 2006: As the turbulent global services industry matures, a highly skilled cadre of master providers and customers is emerging. Click here.
  6. Kevin Dehoff and Vikas Sehgal, “Innovators without Borders,” s+b, Autumn 2006: For companies that want to build a global growth engine, offshoring innovation is both a challenge and a necessity. Click here.
  7. Frank Galioto, Jason Kerins, Steffen Lauster, and Deanna Mitchell, “The Matrix Reloaded: The Multi-Axis Organization as Key to Competitive Advantage,” Booz Allen Hamilton white paper, January 2007: Consumer packaged-goods companies that master the matrix organization enjoy a competitive advantage that is powerful, sustainable, and highly adaptable as market and company priorities change over time. PDF download.
  8. Thomas Goldbrunner, Yves Doz, Keeley Wilson, and Steven Veldhoen, “The Well-Designed Global R&D Network,” s+b Resilience Report, May 15, 2006: A new study by Booz Allen Hamilton and INSEAD finds that organizations benefit when they configure their innovation networks for cost and manage them for value. Click here.
  9. Ronald Haddock, Christian Koehler, and Edward Tse, “A New Era for Chinese Vehicle Manufacturers: Opportunities and Challenges for Chinese Automakers as They Expand Overseas,” Booz Allen Hamilton white paper, January 2007: Strategies for Chinese automakers to grow in their home market and expand globally. PDF download.
  10. Steve Hedlund and Tom Pernsteiner, “Why Systems Haven’t Been the Solution for Suppliers,” Booz Allen Hamilton white paper, March 2001: Why automotive systems suppliers have been unable to generate adequate returns on their investments. PDF download.
  11. Barry Jaruzelski, Michael Busch, and Jay Kumar, “The Stealth Software Challenge,” s+b Leading Idea, December 12, 2006: Just about every product on the market, from planes to toasters to Legos, relies on microprocessors to work, but manufacturers usually treat software development for their products as an afterthought. Therein lies the problem. Click here.
  12. Edward Landry, Andrew Tipping, and Jay Kumar, “Growth Champions,” s+b, Summer 2006: How marketers can drive the only metric that matters. Click here.
  13. Matthew G. McKenna, Herve Wilczynski, and David VanderSchee, “Capital Project Execution in the Oil and Gas Industry: Increased Challenges, Increased Opportunities,” Booz Allen Hamilton white paper, March 2006: A Booz Allen survey of oil majors and suppliers revealed the pain points in supplier relationships. PDF download.
  14. Peter Parry, Varya Davidson, and Andrew Clark, “Crisis in the Oil and Gas Industry,” s+b Leading Idea, November 21, 2006: A skilled labor shortage threatens to stall the boom in investment and exploration. Click here.
  15. Jeremy W. Peters, “Auto Supplier Dana Files for Bankruptcy Protection,” New York Times, March 3, 2006: Overview of supplier bankruptcies in the automotive industry, including Delphi, Dana, Collins & Aikman, and Tower Automotive. Click here.
  16. C.K. Prahalad, “The Innovation Sandbox,” s+b, Autumn 2006: To create an impossibly low-cost, high-quality new business model, start by cultivating constraints. Click here.
  17. John W. Schoen, “Auto Industry Rocked by Delphi Bankruptcy,”, October 10, 2005: An analysis of how Delphi reached this point, and the bankruptcy’s effect on the automotive industry. Click here.
  18. Lord Andrew Turnbull, “Toward a Flexible Energy Future,” s+b, Winter 2006: When the price of fuel reflects all the costs, government and industry will know where to invest. Click here. 
  19. Herve Wilczynski, Matthew McKenna, and David VanderSchee, “Unprecedented and Unseen: The Next Great Energy Challenge,” s+b Leading Idea, November 9, 2006: As the oil and gas industries ramp up “megaprojects” to meet demand, few companies really know how to manage them effectively. Click here.
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