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Change creates opportunity. I think that looking at major changes in the world we live in can provide some interesting new market opportunities. There are two ways to capture a market: invent it or re-invent it. The first is actually harder than the second, since you have to educate your (potential) customers on why they need your product. Henry Ford (he of the automobile) once said that if he had asked his customers what they would have wanted, he would have delivered”faster horses”. When you re-invent a market you need to look for a disruption opportunity (a better mousetrap), but you don’t have to educate your customers, create budgets, channels, etc.What are the major changes in our world? For some inspiration, check out Tom Friedman’s book,”The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century“. If you think reading books is so, well, 90′s, here’s a starter list of what I call Themes:1. Globalization: supply chains are getting longer and more geographically distributed2. Green: save energy, save the planet3. Aging: Europe and US are getting older-what do the elderly need?4. Healthcare: 16% of US GDP and growing5. Digital entertainment: download any movie, any song, any game6. Mobility: always connected, anywhere, anytime7. Gaming: already bigger than the movie industry, now going mainstream8. Emerging economies: High growth new economies whose needs are different than old world economiesSo find a theme, then ask yourself:”what are the open issues?” For Green, this might be: household appliances that consume too much power in standby mode, for IT systems, that they consume a constant amount of power regardless of whether they’re in use or not. In the case of re-invention, then ask yourself what key disruptions are coming to this market. Don’t think that these have to be technologies. Some of the most interesting disruptions may be regulatory (someone changes the law, creates a tax break, etc.), business models (pay per view), or generational (the millenials don’t have to be taught how to use social networking tools). Combine the open issues with the disruptions, add a dash of salt, bring to the boil, and voila! A new I-Prize idea.

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