Research Library

Findings from the 2014 Study Tour: Silicon Valley - Disrupting Innovations, Disrupting Industries – presentation

The 2014 LEF Study Tour set out to understand how Silicon Valley is not just a source of new technologies, but recombinations and industry disruptions. We looked at why this is happening, who some of the winners and losers were, and what you we need to know to not just survive but to flourish in this world.

Among the issues we discussed with our hosts were:

  • The overall theme was to learn to be a player, not lunch
  • Players have good situational awareness of the present along with a explicit map to guide their future moves
  • Players know how to deal with the talent shortage – they will take your coders and make them better and happier, challenging them to change the world
  • Players know how to make use of accelerator organizations, new technologies, and new methodologies to shorten time-to-market
  • Players not only have easy-to-use APIs, but they also assist in the analysis of these data
  • Players create a culture that supports their aspirations such as fail fast and rapid cycle delivery
  • Players can sell you product, create higher level systems or go after whole industries
  • Players like Tesla make clear that even heavy manufacturing industries are at risk
  • Players are keenly aware of what other firms are doing that can help or hurt them

In this web conference, we discussed these and other issues that emerged during our visits to both well known and startup companies:

  • Amazon
  • Battery Ventures
  • Formation Data Systems
  • Neo
  • Apigee
  • Cloudera
  • Palantir
  • Canonical
  • OnBeep
  • Guardtime
  • Highway1
  • Pivotal
  • Adallom
  • Fastly

Looking forward - should there be a third fish?

As China's GDP (total, not per capita) begins to exceed that of the United States, what happens to Silicon Valley? Should there be a third and bigger fish in the diagram. China is a significant country, but will they be able to create the culture needed to successfully play the game?


01 David Reid – Introduction

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ZIP (11.9 MB)



Lewis Richards
Lewis Richards is the former researcher and self-styled Digital Chef for Leading Edge Forum.  He was responsible for research into Pro-active, Haptic Sensing and bringing additional value to clients as Head of our 21st Century Human Upgrade Programme Advisory practice, enabling clients to build hands-on digital skills.  Lewis’ most recent publications are the Technology Trends and Me video series; AI & Me,  Automation & Me and VR & Me which provide insights on today's emerging trends as we try to make sense of the world around us. Prior to this, Lewis authored the report The Field Engineer of the Future – An LEF Xperience Lab Case Study. Lewis is a seasoned IT leader having spent 16 years working for CSC where he performed a number of UK and International roles within Financial Service and the Corporate Office of Innovation.  Lewis managed the European Innovation Centre for CSC and worked with clients and partners to showcase Next Gen technologies whilst articulating how IT can address the needs of current business problems. In his previous post, Lewis was responsible for Global Portfolio Management for CSC's Application Business.  This role involved the management of a diverse workforce and the reengineering of the applications business, including the adoption of a globalized portfolio management process and the implementation of product and technology roadmaps. Lewis is passionate about collaboration and the cultural changes required to enhance business functions. Lewis has a BSc from the University of Surrey and an MBA in Technology Management from the Open University.
Simon Wardley
Simon Wardley, based in the UK, is a Researcher for Leading Edge Forum and the lead practitioner for Wardley Maps advisory service helping clients anticipate market and ecosystem developments. Simon’s focus is on the intersection of IT strategy and new technologies, and he is the author of multiple reports including Clash of the Titans – Will China Dethrone Silicon Valley?  where he assesses the hi-tech challenge from China and what this means to the future of global technology industry competition. His previous research covers topics including Of Wonders and Disruption,  The Future is More Predictable Than You Think - A Workbook for Value Chain Mapping, Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts: Strategies for an Increasingly Open Economy, Learning from Web 2.0 and A Lifecycle Approach to Cloud Computing. Simon is a seasoned executive who has spent the last 15 years defining future IT strategies for companies in the FMCG, Retail and IT industries.  From Canon’s early leadership in the cloud computing space in 2005 to Ubuntu’s recent dominance as the #1 Cloud operating system. As a geneticist with a love of mathematics and a fascination in economics, Simon has always found himself dealing with complex systems, whether it’s in behavioural patterns, environmental risks of chemical pollution, developing novel computer systems or managing companies.  He is a passionate advocate and researcher in the fields of open source, commoditization, innovation, organizational structure and cybernetics. Simon is a regular presenter at conferences worldwide, and has been voted as one of the UK's top 50 most influential people in IT in recent Computer Weekly polls.    
Douglas Neal
Research Fellow
Doug Neal, based in the United States, is a Research Fellow for Leading Edge Forum. Doug's focus is on the intersection of strategy, business operations and technology.     Doug is the author of multiple reports including A Guide to Co-creating Value with Your Customers, authored with Jim Ginsburgh, Lewis Richards and Professor Venkat Ramaswamy from the University of Michigan, Next Generation Consumerization – Co-creating Value with your Customers, The Consumerization Workbook and Preparing for a Post-PC World.   He co-authored the book The Networked Supply Chain:  Applying Breakthrough BPM Technology to Meet Relentless Customer Demands.  Doug’s point of view on consumer privacy was published in Wilson Quarterly, the journal of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Doug has led a number of study tours over recent years on subjects including Dealing with Disruption, The Future of Do-It-Yourself Technology, Mobility, Cloud Computing, Web 2.0 and Green IT. Doug has developed state-of-the-art management and other end-user systems for clients in financial services, manufacturing, healthcare and high-technology companies.  Prior to joining the Leading Edge Forum, Doug worked at two international management consulting firms and founded an organization specializing in systems for executive management. Doug received a BA from Haverford College, conducted special studies at the Ruhr University, and has an ABD from the University of Michigan.