Category Archives: Business

2021 Technology & Business Predictions

Here are my technology & business predictions for 2021. I try to predict trends that are outside the mainstream, and with high expectations. It seems to get harder every year, and compiling this list for 2021 was by far the hardest yet.

Every year I score my own previous year’s predictions– see how my technology predictions fared in 2020 and work backwards.

Please share your feedback and thoughts on these predictions, either here, on LinkedIn or Twitter. I wish you a safe, healthy and prosperous 2021.

1. Microsoft Teams becomes the next operating system

The XBox was designed as a media device as well as a games console – even if it kept watching you all the time

Like them or loathe them, Microsoft manages to keep providing products for mass appeal during the the various stages of our digital lives. Microsoft keeps transforming these individual products into full platforms.

Examples include Xbox which wasn’t designed just a games console, it’s was also a set top box with full media capabilities; Internet Explorer (now Edge) isn’t just for browsing – it became so powerful for anything you browsed; Dynamics has turned from a straightforward CRM tool into an ERP platform; and now Teams has moved from a new version of Skype into our one-stop business productivity & communication platform.

Over the next year we’ll see Microsoft Teams appear as a consumer platform as well as a business tool. We’ll see more applications join the Teams platform, which will mean we’ll be able to do our banking, email, or pretty much anything inside of Teams. Continue reading 2021 Technology & Business Predictions

Review of my 2020 Technology Trends and Predictions

Many websites and blogs publish their predictions for the year ahead. Not many of them review their predictions at the end of the year though. Even fewer score their previous set of predictions.

It would have been difficult to forecast what happened this year. But let’s see how those 2020 predictions fared in the oddest of years.

1. Alerts from voice assistants

I said that “At the end of 2019, the Google Home device in our kitchen started answers requests with more suggestions of other skills.

Continue reading Review of my 2020 Technology Trends and Predictions

Facebook collected data about me from 612 companies including my bank

Off-Facebook data collection
This is where you can see all the data Facebook has collected about you from other companies

Facebook has launched a tool to let users see what data is collected by other organisations, and then shared with Facebook. I used it earlier this week, and it was jaw dropping.

To set the scene, I don’t have a problem with the Internet giants using my data. They provide amazing services in return for me sharing data with them. For example, I can search almost the whole of the Internet on Google, and chat, share images and status updates with anyone on Facebook apps (including Instagram and WhatsApp). Google and Facebook, among several other companies, don’t charge any more than me sharing data with them. I can accept that. It felt like a great deal for both of us.

The Facebook tool lists all the providers of information (aka business and organisations) that collect data about an individual, and then share it with Facebook. Facebook then categorises the data, which ranges from difficult to understand to super-clear. Continue reading Facebook collected data about me from 612 companies including my bank

The future of air travel

I really enjoyed listening to the podcast below from McKinsey on the future of air travel.

There’s a balance in the airline industry between sustainability, profit and convenience.

There’s always a tension between safety and future technology. We have so much data about current materials and designs to help keep safety records extremely low. Should aircraft manufacturers design an entirely new, super efficient aircraft design but the safety data is less mature?

Will the future of air travel be electric (unlikely) or pilot-less (more likely)?

The two McKinsey partners on the podcast provide insight from their previous careers as airline pilots, and now advising airlines.

There are some good “Tips from pilots” at the end (at about 28 minutes), where they describe jet lag, packing less, whether to get a window or aisle seat, and eating on board (or not).

Packing lightly reduces your carbon footprint. Every kilogram removed from personal luggage reduces the aircraft’s carbon footprint.

Review of my 2019 predictions

Time to look back on the 2019 predictions from 12 months ago…. how many of the predictions came true?

1. Foldable/ rollable and other-able screens

Galaxy Fold
The Samsung Galaxy Fold. The only commercial folding screen currently available.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold was released in the first half of 2019 and is currently (at the end of December) available for sale. For the SIM-free (unlocked) version, it’s only £2,110 including VAT.

For context, the iPhone 11 (64Gb) is currently available for £729 on the same website.

Despite its name, the Motorola Razr 2019 is due for release in Q1 2020.

As for rollable, LG have shown prototypes, but there’s nothing for consumer sale quite yet.

Verdict – 5/10. We only have one folding screen available for sale at the end of 2019, and it costs much more than my Microsoft Surface Pro.

2. Citizen Data Science

I predicted that we’ll find data applications that won’t require a degree in data science to make sense of all their data. Nothing obvious is available yet, although I find Google Maps is becoming ever more personalised with its routing and recommendations. Continue reading Review of my 2019 predictions

Fintech for Breakfast (CSFI, September 2019)

Last week I went to the CSFI breakfast event and it was great. I’ve been to a CSFI event before (I was one of the panellists), but it was a different format back then.

Last week we went through a document of web links and discussed each one. It was much more interesting than it sounds. Jemima Kelly, the FT journalist who wrote many of those articles was one of the panellists.

Facebook Libra

What’s in it for anyone except for Facebook? (Left unanswered but with some good points made:

  1. It could be extremely disruptive and put massive pressure on the big currencies, making them look volatile.
  2. Governments will try to squash it – and if they do, Facebook might use this as an opportunity to show that it’s not evil.
  3. Facebook needs to find another revenue stream other than marketing, this might be the first.
  4. It’s simply/ only an ETF on Fiat currencies).

Continue reading Fintech for Breakfast (CSFI, September 2019)

Countering fast retail

Bicycle shop with search bar
A bicycle shop with search bar

I was working on a piece of work recently with a colleague about the retail industry. Our thinking was moving into fast fashion, or more like “fast retail” – a made up term describing the sales of low-cost goods increasingly quickly, probably through subscription channels.

We started to consider the counter this trend, but the following piece was dropped. I recently picked it up again when I saw an article about UK retail sales.

Countering fast retail

The Guardian article “Charity shop and antique purchases drive up UK retail sales” is interesting because it’s such a counter balance to the constant product advertising and marketing culture we live in: “Buy more”, “buy it cheaper”, “buy the latest version”, etc. etc.

There’s usually a counterculture that either stops, or prolongs, a trend. With retail sales it might be a combination of Minimalism, the book and Netflix documentary; and Marie Kondo or KonMari – her process of tidying up to create joy. (If that sentence looks peculiar, then watch one of the programmes to get the picture).

Minimalism and Marie Kondo both recommend buying fewer high-quality goods rather than lots of poor-quality goods.

Maybe this explains the increase in charity shop purchases. In the Guardian article, Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics, said “…households still have the ability to spend and remain the strongest part of the economy.” In other words, people are choosing to go into charity shops over buying brand new goods. Continue reading Countering fast retail

Why Netflix and Amazon (probably) don’t mind users sharing passwords

It’s been an interesting week at Netflix, with US subscribers falling by 120,000.

Another interesting piece of Netflix news has been about password sharing. According to analysts MoffettNathanson, 14% of Netflix subscribers share their password, and only 6% share their Amazon password to access Prime video.

The reason why password sharing on Amazon Prime is much lower than Netflix is probably because it’s easy for a friend to purchase an Amazon product once you give them your password. Possibly just as undesirable – it’s straightforward for people to review purchases on your account once you have given them your password!

I’ve been asked a few times this week, why Netflix and Amazon don’t clamp down on password sharing. I think the answer lies with a comment from Spotify.

Think of those Netflix users who are using someone else’s password as ‘freemium’ subscribers. Spotify encourages freemium (non-paying, or trial) accounts to learn “that music is an important part of their life worth paying for”. And consider the data from those listeners, how Spotify can “learn from the biggest possible group of music fans in the world.”

Freemium places a user on the path to a sales conversion. It’s a far better path than traditional or digital marketing channels. When people share a password, it shares the value of the product, that might want to make them ultimately go and buy the product.

Netflix has a vastly different strategy to Spotify though. Netflix is testing the maximum price that users are willing to pay for the service. It recently increased the monthly subscription cost in the US from $11 to $13. Continue reading Why Netflix and Amazon (probably) don’t mind users sharing passwords

How to use legacy systems to drive innovation in insurance

I was on a webinar panel earlier today discussing legacy systems and their role in innovation in the insurance industry.

The premise was simple. Given the hype around digital you might be excused for thinking that you need to re-platform everything, rip out what you currently have – and start again – to remain relevant in the modern insurance market.

Especially given the threat from fleet-of-feet start-ups operating with a clean piece of paper and no legacy technology.

But it should not be forgotten that as a legacy organisation you have a number of things that start-ups would love to have. Including data and customers, and that is just for starters.

Here are some of my notes from the webinar. You can also watch the full feature length video with your family tonight. Continue reading How to use legacy systems to drive innovation in insurance

Remarkable! How Facebook will reduce its reliance on advertising revenue

Facebook investors are going to like this announcement

Facebook has announced the most exciting new product of all the recent FAANG press releases. From “Sign In With Apple” to Uber’s IPO, this one beats them all.

Until now, Facebook has been reliant on advertising spend. In Q4 2018, Facebook’s advertising revenue was $16.6bn, of a total revenue $16.9bn.

Facebook has always received poor press coverage over its collection, harvesting and commercialisation of our data. What’s the best way to avoid this type of brand coverage?

Rebrand.

Enter Calibra. Or at least, Calibra will enter next year.

Continue reading Remarkable! How Facebook will reduce its reliance on advertising revenue