System innovation & trends: top 3 things we learned at Air NZ’s conversation with Ariel Muller

15 December 2015

Air NZ recently hosted an evening with Ariel Muller, Principal Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future, our system innovation partner from the UK. Here are our top three takeaways from the event.

  1. The next few years will bring further innovation and disruption as a result of declining resources and increasing competition for them.

Key trends include the following:

  • Increasing transparency, for example the widespread use of mobile phones means news travels very fast. This means that anyone can now hold business to account. Good news travels fast – but bad news travels faster.
  • More models from the sharing economy will continue to disrupt business as usual simply by recognising where the real value lies in any kind of service. Look at the rapid growth of Airbnb, Facebook, Alibaba and Uber: they don’t own any assets, they have a strong service culture, and they are valued in the billions.
  • Growth of 3D printing taking on new areas including building homes. 
  • Energy transformation with the ongoing shift to renewable energy as a leading theme – particularly in light of the recent Paris talks.
  1. Business is already responding to these trends.

Changes already afoot include:

  • Future proofing companies in response to risks and opportunities.
  • Setting truly bold targets. 
  • Redefining businesses’ purpose (a reminder to focus on WHY you do what you do).
  • Continually innovating with new products and services. 
  • Businesses taking a long view.
  • Organisations partnering in new ways. Collaboration is a must!
  1. Focus on improving your ‘core’ strengths rather than your ‘core’ business.

A very important point made by Ariel was her request to understand what your business is good at (your core strength) without being wedded to your existing business model for delivery.  We are in rapid times of change and your delivery model (or what many will term your core business) is likely to be challenged and will have to change in the future. For example, although Uber’s core business could be described as a taxi company, in actuality its core strength is its digital platform, so it focuses on that rather than on sourcing the best taxis. The key point is to be open to change.

Find out more about Forum for the Future’s Futures Centre.