All over the western world, the number of new driving licenses is decreasing. The decline is dramatic the US, the holy country of car driving, According to Federal Highway Administration, 83% of all Americans (between 16-24) had a driving license in 1983. Today it is less then 65%. The same development is true in Germany, Great Britain, Australia and Sweden.

The role of the car in youth culture is passé. It is more important what social media friends think about your lifestyle than what you neighbors say about your car. A number of studies prove that high usage of internet leads to lower usage of cars. Digital natives prefer access to products and services, rather than owning objects. They regard the car as an unnecessary problem, only bringing complexity to daily life.

In 2004, the total number of kilometers driven per person flattened out, to start a declining trend since 2007. The car as a mode of transportation is consequently questioned even before there is a full-blown effect of video conferencing, e-commerce, digitalized banking and hospital services, all replacing physical visits (where you may need your car). In the digital daily life, it seems like freedom will be to use google, facebook or instagram on your journey, not being locked behind a car wheel.

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What makes a nation innovative?

international innovation rankings, the Nordic countries generally score in a top position. Sweden, for example, ranks number one in the EU Innovation Scoreboard and number two in Global Innovation Index as well as the World Bank Innovation Rank.

But if you dig deeper, you will soon find that a lot of the top performing nations, including Sweden, is strong when it comes to input to innovation – but not innovation that is commercialized or launched in any market. If a country spends a lot on R&D and innovation infrastructure, the ranking position improves but the commercial output can still be pretty low. There is also a difference between countries focusing on imitation compared to cutting-edge innovations. Imitation has been the path for developing countries, but lately a feature of European countries as well.

Maybe it is time to focus a bit more on the input-output level, the number start-ups, jobs, new products and services in the market per invested R&D dollar. Top performing countries when measuring input-output levels are Israel, South Korea and the US. What’s common among them is an active national innovation agenda among politicians with strategic focus areas and prioritized market opportunities – and innovation is a defined area of responsibility included in politicians’ job descriptions. Another common denominator is universities with cutting-edge education and research, with distinct target areas and increased competitive strength as a result. Finally, they have built strong clusters around big corporations and the eco-system results in new start-ups building new commercial value. Strong clusters are of special interest as spin-offs from big corporations generally have a stronger growth than other start-ups.

A top position in an international innovation ranking may not be the answer. Innovation input without a market will not lead to international success. Innovation needs to be a top priority for national governments to build innovation and technology strategies, prioritize investments in strategic focus areas, research and clusters – and to make sure to support R&D investments that at the end of the day will be delivered to the market.

Sara Öhrvall

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7 Misconceptions about marketing

1. It’s all about money. A small local company can’t compete against large global brands with 3 times larger marketing budgets. The best 20 % of marketing is 5 times more effective than mediocre efforts. David can beat Goljat, but David needs to be braver.

2. If marketing is not working, it’s the marketing departments or the ad agency ́s fault. Yes, but: if the management team can’t decide what the company brand stands for, and if they aren’t able to follow through, the others are destined to fail, too.

3. It’s all about creating great marketing campaigns. A great campaign will grab attention, woo new customers and deepen the commitment of existing ones. Yes, but only for awhile.

4. The secret to being customer centric is to ask people what they want. And to believe the things they say in surveys and focus groups. Untrue. And why? Most good intentions rarely lead to action.

5. Marketing is about telling why the brand is great. The more convincing the arguments, the harder you sell, the more like they are to buy. This rarely, if ever, works. Life is, unfortunately, more complicated.

6. In the near future, all we need to do is to invest in marketing automation software. It will turn suspects into prospects and prospects into leads. Marketing automation is able to make the email campaigns less annoying, but it won’t help much, when we want to change people’s perceptions or behavior.

7. Content is king and content marketing is the solution. All we need to do is match great content to our brands and people will love us. Many brands look at Red Bull and thinkthey can do the same. They forget that they haven’t helped anybody to jump from space lately. And that the only story they have might be in fact – quite boring. It is not that easy.


What should you do instead?

1. Crystallize your brand into a promise in a way neither employees nor customers can misunderstand. Be exceptional in at least one thing: Über is the most conventient way to get a ride and pay for it.

2. Do tangible things that deliver the brand promise, not just a campaign. Nissan’s promise is ‘innovation that excites’. They developed a smart watch for their Nismo sports car range. The watch connects the telemetrics of the car to the driver’s pulse.

3. Treat people like wild animals. Respect them but observe what they are actually doing instead of asking what they intend to do. Focus on what pisses them off. Jet Blue observed thatpeople hated the fact that they didn’t have a fast enough internet connection during the flight – and developed their own superfast satellite link.

4. It is not about you. When you engage the audience, let it be more about actual development than just pr. Be like Starbucks, who tell the status and proceeding of customers ideas in their Starbucking by Starbuck initiative.

5. Innovative marketing is not necessarily an action hero making a split between two moving trucks – but merely a great service innovation that makes a difference in people ́s daily life.

6. Doing more is the new norm – and a great way to differentiate. Zappos is just another ecommerce venture with effective delivery, but the longest calls to their customer servicecan take up to 6 hours. In the automation era, the best marketeers are the ones with the best customer service .

7. Never underestimate the power of good deeds or values in action. Convergence is not opposite to good will. Brands that stand for something are more likely to stand the test of time.

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Press release

A new network of independent advisors to grasp digital transformation issues

The former research and development director of the Bonnier Group, Sara Öhrvall and the former CEO of Bonnier Publication Oy Marjaana Toiminen are launching an international network of independent digital advisors.

The MindMill Network is a group of senior executives from San Fransisco, New York and Singapore. Sue Gardner is a special advisor and former director of the Wikipedia Foundation. Guy Bar-Nahum is a former Apple and Samsung UX director, now leading a start up.  Sejal Patel works for an investment management fund and Ville Oehman is a consultant and an angel investor, formerly a start up entrepreneur. Megan Miller is also a start up entrepreneur and a former research and development director at Bonnier in San Francisco. Their expertise ranges from media, mobile development and digital investments to retail and societal development issues.

“At Mindmill Network we are interested in analyzing for example, how digitalization could change teaching, health care ,office work as well as consumption – and how companies and organizations should react and transform accordingly”, Toiminen says.

“We will be working on initiatives and prototypes, as well as insights and scenario-building.”

Öhrvall and Toiminen have already started with the first client projects. “We have been able to test our way of working during the fall with the property investment company Sponda, a global gaming company and the ad agency TBWA”, Toiminen says.

In Sweden, Öhrvall is preparing projects on future of education and media.

“I hope we are able to realize similar projects in Finland once we get started. Finland and Sweden should be more active in joining forces in trying to solve questions on the future of the welfare state”, Öhrvall says.

“I have worked digital transformation and trend analysis projects for years, but I have never had the opportunity to work with a network that has such a huge capacity on various fields. I also believe in our project based working model. We can gather the best available talents for ach project”, Öhrvall says

“The MindMill Network  has an immense spectra of knowledge and experience, as well as the ability to genuinely original thinking. This is why we want to keep the operating idea of the network quite open. We want to be able to grasp ideas and topics that interest us, while committing to our client cases”, Toiminen says.

Öhrvall has been an independent consultant since the beginning of the year. She is also a member of the board of Bonnier Books, Bonnier Publishing, Bisnode, Umeå University and the Nobel Museum. Toiminen´s work at Bonnier ended two months ago.

Further information:
Sara Öhrvall
+46 708 115 377

Marjaana Toiminen
+358 40 708 2648


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Kansainvälinen asiantuntijaverkosto MindMill Network yhdistää digiekspertit kolmella mantereella

Sara Öhrvall ja Marjaana Toiminen perustavat kansainvälisen asiantuntijaverkoston. Öhrvall on Bonnier-konsernin entinen tutkimus- ja kehitysjohtaja, Toiminen sen Suomen lehtiyksikön entinen toimitusjohtaja.

The MindMill Network -verkostoon kuuluu perustajien lisäksi viisi digitaalisten alojen asiantuntijaa San Fransiscosta, New Yorkista ja Singaporesta. Kaikki ovat työskennelleet ylimmän johdon tehtävissä.

Sue Gardner on Wikimedia Foundationin entinen johtaja, nykyisin sen erikoisneuvonantaja.
Guy Bar-Nahum on työskennellyt Samsung Mobile Labin varatoimitusjohtajana, ja aiemmin mm. Applella ohjelmistojohtajana yksikössä, joka suunnitteli iPodin. Nyt hän
vetää uutta pilvipalveluyritystä.
Ville Öhman on perustanut terveydenhuollon palvelu- ja teknologiayrityksiä. Hän toimii aasialaisiin start upeihin erikoistuneena enkelisijoittajana ja Tekesin sosiaalipalvelujen innovaatiot -johtoryhmän jäsenenä.
Sejal Patel on enkelisijoittaja ja työskentelee pääomarahastojen hallinnointiyrityksessä.
Megan Miller on Bonnierin Yhdysvaltain yksikön entinen kehitysjohtaja ja nykyisin start up -yrittäjä.

“Autamme asiakkaita kysymään oikeita kysymyksiä ja näkemään mahdollisuuksia digitaalisessa murroksessa. Verkoston jäsenillä on kyky tuottaa laadukasta ajattelua siitä, miltä tuleva näyttää esimerkiksi toimistotyössä tai kivijalkakaupassa”, Toiminen sanoo.

Verkoston perustajat ovat jo aloittaneet työn ensimmäisten asiakkaiden kanssa. ”Olemme saaneet testata työtapaamme parin kuukauden ajan. Suomessa meillä on työ käynnissä kiinteistösijoitusyhtiö Spondan, TBWA-mainostoimiston sekä pelialan yrityksen kanssa”, Toiminen sanoo.

Ruotsissa Öhrvallilla on vireillä kaksi eri tahojen kanssa toteutettavaa hanketta. Toinen käsittelee median tulevaisuuden rahoitusmalleja ja toinen digitaalisen murroksen vaikutusta koulutukseen.

“Toivon, että saamme perustettua näille hankkeille rinnakkaisprojektit Suomessa. Suomen ja Ruotsin pitäisi tehdä enemmän kehityshankkeita yhdessä. Siitä hyötyisivät molemmat maat ja ehkä myös skandinaavinen hyvinvointivaltio”, Öhrvall sanoo.

“Verkostolla on laaja-alaista kokemusta ja kykyä ajatella toisin. Haluamme pitää toimintaidean väljänä ja toteutamme myös oma-aloitteisia hankkeita asiakkaiden
toimeksiantojen rinnalla”, Toiminen sanoo.

Öhrvall ja Toiminen tuntevat toisensa aiemman työnsä kautta.

“Bonnierilla arvostin kovasti Saran trendianalyysejä ja hyödynsin niitä työssäni. Olin imarreltu, kun hän pyysi mukaan. Melkein parinkymmenen vuoden esimiestyörupeaman jälkeen halusin oppia uutta ja tehdä asioita, jotka ovat merkityksellisiä juuri nyt”, Marjaana Toiminen sanoo. Toimisen työ Bonnier Publicationsin toimitusjohtajana päättyi elokuun lopussa.

Öhrvall on työskennellyt itsenäisenä johdon konsulttina vuoden alusta. Hän vaikuttaa myös mm. Nobel-museon, Bisnoden ja Bonnier Booksin hallituksissa.

“Olen tehnyt vastaavaa digitaalista konsultointia jo vuosia, mutta koskaan en ole saanut tehdä sitä verkoston kanssa, jolla on näin valtava kapasiteetti. Uskon tällaiseen työn tekemisen tapaan. Yhdistämme parhaat voimat kuhunkin hankkeeseen. Olemme innoissamme, mahdollisuuksia riittää”, Öhrvall sanoo.

Sara Öhrvall
+46 708 115 377

Marjaana Toiminen
+358 40 708 2648


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Founder, Senior Advisor
marjaana@mindmillnetwork.com / +358 40 708 2648 / Twitter @Sarimarjaana
Pieni Roobertinkatu 9 / FI-00130 Helsinki / Finland

Twitter @MindMillNetwork / LinkedIn The Mindmill Network