Inflexion Point - Part 1

Inflexion Point - Part 1

Dr. Pavan Soni 21/03/2018 4

Welcome to Inflexion Point, the monthly on the interesting and important ideas from the world of innovation, creativity and strategy.

In this edition, I would like to share breakthrough technologies for the year from MIT, the interesting truth about truth on Twitter, how the global science remains male dominated, testing out the Peter Principle, the interesting story of rise and rise of Tencent beyond Facebook, surprising facts about Amazon Prime, the power of Sanskrit, and seven technologies shaping business. 

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2018

The annual list from MIT Tech Review remains one of the most definitive identification of technologies that would shape our work and life in the foreseeable future. Of the ten technological advancements, my favorite is the notion of artificial embryos, the ones grown entirely out of stem cell without any sperm or eggs! Another interesting development is GAN, generative adversarial network, that allows AI applications to be more accurate and learn quickly, and the applications could be numerous. (Source: MIT Tech Review)

You can't handle the truth- at least on Twitter

Research at MIT suggests that false news travels 70% faster than truth. And that not the bots to be blamed, but instead humans. Retweets are far more for unbelievable and false information, and over time it's difficult to discern it from the truth. It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy, for the news plays on salacious or controversial elements.  What does it inform us about human behavior? (Source: Scientific American)

Gender and race biases persists in US science

Even with so much talk on inclusion at the workplace, researchers contend that for women working in science, technology, engineering or math jobs, the workplace is a different, sometimes more hostile environment than the one their male co-workers experience. Further, discrimination and sexual harassment are seen as more frequent, and gender is perceived as more of an impediment than an advantage to career success. Gender inequality remains real, unfortunately. (Source: Nature)

Empirically testing the Peter Principle

Do people really get promoted to their levels of incompetence? Study comprising of over 200 companies suggests so, the Peter Principle. It's like a very good techie promoted to become an awful manager. People do get promoted to their level of incompetence, a paradox articulated by Laurence Peter in 1969. It happens because, while promoting an individual, other parameters are often overlooked attributing the success to oneself, and then the person underperforms in the new role. Does this also apply to entrepreneurs who assume the role of the CEOs? Guess so. (Source: Harvard Business Review)

How Tencent rose to the top of social media world

Recently, China's Tencent overtook Facebook as the world's most valuable social media company, valued at over $500 billion. Even more surprising is the fact that while Facebook received 98% of its revenues from advertisement, the number for Tencent is less than 20%. The innovation is not so much on the product or the service, but the distribution platform and the mobile gaming, which is fast catching up. Even the advertising potential of WeChat hasn't been adequately explored. Some business acumen there. (Source: World Economic Forum)

Surprising facts about Amazon Prime

For starters, Amazon shipped more than 5 billion items in 2017 with Prime worldwide, and by 2022, there will be 56 million Amazon Prime Video subscribers in the U.S., and 122 million worldwide. The stickiness could only be guessed by the fact that 46% of Amazon Prime subscribers buy something online using the benefits of their subscription at least once a week. And in countries like Germany, Japan and UK, where Amazon previously faced troubles, Amazon Prime is helping get new subscribers and customers. That's a multipronged business model at its best. (Source: Forbes)

Can studying ancient mantras increase thinking and memory?

Neuroscientists using MRI scans show that memorizing ancient mantras increases the size of brain regions associated with cognitive function. Reciting mantras have shown to significantly improve memory and even intelligence, and needless to say the calming effect produced. The so called 'Sanskrit Effect',  enable experts to orally memorize and exactly recite 3,000-year old oral texts ranging from 40,000 to over 100,000 words. Such experts have developed 10 percent more gray matter in both cerebral hemispheres and a substantially thick cortical. Does this show the direction of evolution? Backwards. (Source: Scientific American)

Seven technologies remaking the world

Technological advancements have made the access and the impact ubiquitous, across our work, lives and in everything in between. Based on a survey of 300 senior executives across Americas, the following technologies have emerged as widely adopted and impactful across the domains of commerce, health, environment, and learning. These are: biotechnology, 3D printing, machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, pervasive computing and wireless mesh networks. These are even more powerful owing to their intelligence, natural interface, and ubiquity. (Source: MIT Sloan Management Review) 

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  • Kevin Smith

    Tencent is on a roll lately

  • Marco Silva

    Nanotechnology took a step back last year, we will see what may happen this year

  • Eric Steven

    I like this new concept, can't wait to read the next part

  • Morgan Wesley

    Insightful report

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Dr. Pavan Soni

Innovation Expert

Dr. Pavan is an Innovation Evangelist by profession and a teacher by passion. He is the founder of Inflexion Point, a strategy and innovation consulting. Apart from being an Adjunct Faculty at IIM Bangalore, Pavan has consulted with leading organizations on innovation and creativity, including 3M, Amazon, BCG, Deloitte, Flipkart, Honeywell, and Samsung, amongst others. Pavan was the only Indian to be shortlisted for the prestigious 'FT & McKinsey Bracken Bower Award for the Best Business Book of the Year 2016'. He has also been invited four times to speak at the TEDx. For his work on innovation, Pavan bagged the prestigious ‘On the Job Achiever’ Award at Lakshya in 2007 at NITIE Mumbai. Pavan works closely with CII, Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce, European Business Group, FICCI, Karnataka Knowledge Commission, NHRD, and World Trade Centre, towards shaping their innovation activities. Pavan is a mentor for NSRCEL at IIM Bangalore, Founder Institute, Institute of Product Leadership, Brainstars, Budli, HackerEarth, and UpGrad, and is on advisory board for VC firm- Utilis Capital. Pavan is also a columnist at YourStory, Entrepreneur India, Inc 42, and People Matters. He is a Gold Medalist from MBM Engineering College Jodhpur, and did his PGDIE from NITIE Mumbai. Pavan finished his Doctoral Studies from IIM Bangalore in the domain of innovation management. More on his work is available at

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