Innovators of Tomorrow, Today
Feb/Mar 2014
Peggy Smedley, Editorial Director

It takes something special to be an innovator. When we speak of innovators, we say these are the men and women that go beyond traditional boundaries seeing the world completely differently than it is today, and focusing on what it can be tomorrow. Isn't that truly the definition of innovation? Remarkably it's fair to say only a handful of individuals can possess these unique qualities. These are the people truly obsessed with taking something that is and creating or molding it into something most of us never could have imagined, but wished we had. Innovators see solutions where most people don't even see problems.

I think you will agree that it takes a rare individual to have the capacity to think so brilliantly as to create something that simply makes our lives better.

Who are the individuals that when you hear their name uttered, you are awestruck by their ability to think in ways we can't even imagine? They are true problem solvers that have mastered the art of making our way of living so much better. When you think of innovators, visionaries, big thinkers, who comes to mind?

I asked this very question to Howard Tullman. Tullman recently took over as CEO of 1871, a 50,000-sq.ft startup hub at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. He has great plans for mentoring and advising the 240-plus startups that are housed at 1871 and encourages these budding innovators to think aggressively. He notes with the birth of the Internet it's all about accountability and how things can be measured. Companies need to really consider how they are reaching their customers to help them be more efficient and effective.

Tullman says today's budding entrepreneur needs to recognize that we have evolved from a technology point that the PC was about how to make things, the Web was how to share things, and then we learned how to distribute things, and finally Google taught us how to find stuff. Moving forward, he says, the next big evolution in the enterprise doesn't necessarily require dramatic changes because a lot of data and tools already exist that can have a real impact.

Tullman cites Jeff Bezos—one of the most accomplished entrepreneurs revolutionizing e-commerce—as a visionary who continues to reinvent his business and provide better services for his customers through cloud services. He applauds Bezos for being willing to forgo some profitability to gain marketshare and customer loyalty and in the end ultimately achieve an even more profitable business.

Throughout the years I have had the pleasure of interviewing some of these big thinkers, like Tullman, who also enjoy giving something back. These are the individuals who have demonstrated their relentless pursuit for making the world a better place. They envision it and can't stop until they see completion of their project. These brilliant men and women are from all walks of life. But what's so interesting is consider these facts, that within 60 years we went from Kitty Hawk to Apollo 11 and almost 40 years after that the iPhone launched a revolution of connected devices and apps that no one person could ever consume in his or her lifetime. All of this is being led by some of today's greatest innovators who had a vision for tomorrow.

On the pages of Connected World in 2014 our mission will be to continue to highlight some of these brilliant thinkers, innovators and to have them share who are the iconic entrepreneurs that still inspired them today and how they are giving back to the tech community.

Are these the people that have founded Amazon, Google, Facebook, Panasonic, Nike, Whirlpool, Sony, General Electric, or even lesser known but just as important companies like Dust, Orbcomm, Telit Wireless, Nest, Buzzcar, Babolat? All of these companies are doing something that changes our lives in a special way. Some more than others, but each has contributed to our wellbeing in one way or another.

At one point, these iconic entrepreneurs had to start somewhere. They each had to find that legendary genius from within and then the integrity to want to give something back. We will continue to follow and bring personal interviews to the pages of Connected World about the innovative, colorful, and creative individuals from leading firms from around the world. These are the futurists. Email me at—I am looking forward to sharing your story with the readers of Connected World. It's your story that just might inspire the next great innovator of tomorrow, today.

To read the full issue of Connected World, download the Connected World app in the Apple App Store or Google Play by searching for Connected World.

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