Online education portals like Udacity and Coursera are really changing the world of remote learning in significant ways. By making free and high quality education accessible to a global audience, these platforms are opening up undreamt of possibilities for communities around the world to improve, grow, and prosper in the digital economy of the 21st century. Education at top tier colleges and universities has traditionally been a social and economic privilege, but now anyone can join in the learning revolution by sitting in virtual classrooms with the world’s best and brightest educators. Whether this involves learning how to code and build smart phone apps, or starting up a new business, or learning about public health literacy, the sky is the limit of what’s now possible.

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Making Innovation central to your small business – part 1

break throughInnovation is the big buzz word today in technology circles and has effectively come to embody all that the word “entrepreneurship” denoted in the 1990s. Innovators are described as the moguls of the new entrepreneurial economy, the change agents of the future. And enterprises are all over this trend, pouring millions of dollars into innovation efforts and initiatives to stay relevant and competitive in the market. “Innovate or die” is part of the new lingo in the digital marketplace and businesses are buying it up like there’s no tomorrow!   In essence, innovation is the act of producing new ideas, methods, or devices. It’s really the implementation of novel and creative thinking to solving old problems. Innovation is all around us and it constantly impact our everyday lives; the cars we drive (or that will soon drive us!), the smartphones we text and call on, the computers we use at home and work, the jets that take us to our vacation destinations . . . Everything around us (and all that we take for granted) can be traceable back to someone’s vision for making a task, action, or process more effective and efficient.




Technological progress is the hallmark of innovation and the rapid pace of transformation around mobile, cloud, and Big Data in recent years has added an increasing sense of urgency and demand for innovation to happen faster and more efficiently. Businesses of all sizes are now asking themselves questions like the following: What constitutes effective innovation? What does it means for individuals to innovate? How do teams effectively innovate together? Why do so many businesses fail at innovation?”





At first glance it might seem that large enterprises with big spending budgets would have the clear advantage in innovation, this is not necessarily the case. Indeed, while being smaller used to be a disadvantage from an IT spending perspective, the landscape is changing now. A technological renaissance has occurred in recent years thanks to new breakthroughs in collaboration tools, open source systems, mobile platforms, and SaaS solutions that put the latest technologies in the hands of smaller businesses that can adopt them much more quickly than their larger counterparts.   Corporate baggage is often a hindrance to the heart of true innovation as creativity and spontaneity get lost in process and policies. For this reason bigger businesses have in recent years focused on restructuring their research and development initiatives around investments in smaller innovation centers that offer a more startup like feel.   So when we talk about innovation for the small business, we are actually getting closer to the mark of a true innovative culture than we might expect in a larger, well-funded corporate environment. Small businesses are perfect places for innovation, precisely because they aren’t strapped down by big, legacy systems. A big budget simply is not necessary to undertake innovation; just some ambition and a good idea! In this series we want to dig deeper into this notion of what innovation looks like for the small business.




There is no cookie-cutter way of doing innovation; the whole enterprise is a dynamic, unfolding process that resists templated approaches. However, there are a core set of principles and best practices that are commonly found among all truly successful innovators. Some of these are listed here.


  • Don’t expect to reinvent the wheel
  • Challenge convention
  • Keep the end result in mind
  • Don’t languish in the planning stage
  • Get uncomfortable
  • Think outside the box
  • Create a small, agile team
  • Leave decision-making in the hands of no more than two people


In the next part of this new series we plan to kickoff a more extended discussion on what constitutes true innovation. We’ll begin to dig deeper into how small business leaders can start today to change their culture to one that promotes innovation and equips employees to think and act innovatively on the job. So please join us back here soon!



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Ralph Eck

About Ralph Eck

Ralph is an international businessman with a wealth of experience in developing; telecommunications, data transmission, CATV and internet companies. His experience and expertise positions him uniquely in being able to; analyze, evaluate and critique technology and how it fits into a business’ operational needs while supporting its’ success.