Category Archives: Technology

Samsung’s MPOS on a phone

Trend #7 in my 2020 technology trends, “Apple accepts payments” has come true, enabling small businesses take contactless payments without the need to buy additional hardware or dongles.

The new Samsung XCover-Pro, which comes with MPOS functionality as standard

The product comes from Samsung rather than Apple. Apple is rarely a first mover, so in hindsight I should have called the trend “Samsung accepts payments“.

Among several new features, Galaxy XCover Pro will also have Samsung POS, a mobile-based point of sale (MPOS) solution that has been approved by Visa’s Tap to Phone pilot program.

Continue reading Samsung’s MPOS on a phone

2020 Technology Trends and Predictions

Here are my technology predictions for 2020. I try to predict technology trends that are outside the mainstream, and with high expectations. It seems to get harder every year.

Every year I score my own previous year’s predictions– see how I fared for digital predictions for 2019 and work backwards. Hopefully my technology predictions for 2020 will fare a little better!

1. Alerts from voice assistants

Alexa prank to set an alarm at 3am
Alexa practical jokes were invented in 2015

If 2018 was the year of mass adoption of Alexa and Google Home devices, 2019 was the year of releasing a lot more skills. At the end of 2019, the Google Home device in our kitchen started answers requests with more suggestions of other skills. Cross-selling perhaps.

But this is nothing compared to where these devices are heading. I predict that by the end of 2020 these devices will be making proactive recommendations to us.

“Rain is due today, take an umbrella.”

“You still have 30 unread emails, why not deal with some of them?”

“You ordered XYZ from Amazon recently, and it’s due to arrive today”.

2. Wearables beyond your wrist

In 2020 we’ll see many more wearable devices.

In 2019, several devices for pets became available, from activity trackers to GPS trackers to smart collars.

Next year we’ll start seeing many more devices, such as spectacles from Vue or ByNorth (my favourites). With the announcement of the iPhone 12, we’ll probably hear Apple launch a new type of wearable beyond the Apple Watch.

And remember the $2.1 billion Google acquisition of Fitbit? Expect to see a new type of wearable from Fitbit in 2020. Continue reading 2020 Technology Trends and Predictions

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

Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report

Mary Meeker’s latest annual Internet trends report has been released, and it’s as insightful as always.

New sections for this year include:

  • A new section on the ethics of data usage and regulation
  • Interesting sections on healthcare (expenditure by country, and their focus on preventable deaths); and China (the move from manufacturing, and the totally different user experiences, such as live streaming for ecommerce)
  • New section on education – US university enrolments falling, with online increasing

Here are my highlights (aka abbreviated research notes):

  • Slide 25: [USA-based] advertising purchasing is moving to Amazon/ Twitter/ Pinterest (basically, moving from Facebook or Google at a quicker amount than they are growing)
  • Slide 28 & 29: Balancing Customer acquisition cost with Life Time Value!!
  • Slide 32: Drive conversion from freemium (Spotify & Zoom), rather than seeking new customers
  • #51: Echo devices doubled last year to 47M. There are now 90,000+ skills for Alexa. Why? How are they promoted?

Continue reading Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report

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

UK media usage 2019 – still fascinated with TV

The latest Ofcom media report has been released, and here are some of the highlights:

  • On the BBC revenue: 20% of people don’t know how BBC TV is funded, over a third of people don’t know how the BBC website is funded, and almost half don’t know how BBC iPlayer is funded.
  • Almost a half of people don’t know how search engines make money, and 56% of people don’t know how YouTube is funded. (Answer: it’s owned by Google and has lots of video ads).
  • Incredibly, 31% of people don’t know how commercial TV is funded. (Answer: Adverts and sometimes subscriptions)
  • The social network unknowns: In socio-economic terms, why do 74% of the AB group have a social media profile, and for DE it’s only 56%? Yet C1 has the highest percentage of social media profiles. Also, “One in seven adults of working age in DE households do not use the internet, and when they do, one in five only go online via a smartphone.

Continue reading UK media usage 2019 – still fascinated with TV

Inside an Amazon Fulfilment Centre

Amazon LTN4 in Dunstable

On Bank Holiday Monday my family and I visited our local Amazon fulfilment centre for a factory tour. It was an eye into the future of robotic automation, and an opportunity to see how something as traditional warehouse stock picking can be reinvented from the ground up.

We visited LTN4, which is in Dunstable (near Luton, Hertfordshire) in the UK. Amazon fulfilment centres are named after their nearest airport codes (Luton airport is less than 10 miles away), and we visited the 4th building on the industrial estate.

From the moment you arrive at the car park, safety is a priority. There are signs every few metres instructing drivers to reverse into spaces.

Inside the warehouse, there are safety signs everywhere. The second priority is security. Employees and visitors need to leave everything except keys, wallet and phone in a locker. There are hundreds of lockers for the 1,200 permanent staff. And there’s even an Amazon locker in the reception area. There are airport-style metal detectors which all staff need to pass through on the way in and out of the warehouse.

Once on the tour, we watched the stock fillers, stock pickers, and two sets of packing teams – for customers who ordered a single item, and on the opposite side of the warehouse, pickers for customers with multiple items. We weren’t allowed to take any photos during the tour, except in the room below. Continue reading Inside an Amazon Fulfilment Centre

This person REALLY does not exist

Keep looking at the image and repeating “This person doesn’t exist.”

ThisPersonDoesNotExist is my favourite site of the year so far. It’s mesmerising.

Each time you look at the site, it generates a face from a very clever Machine Learning algorithm. And the algorithm, well the learning, only gets better with time.

The more you look at the site, you then start wondering:

  1. If the facial components on ThisPersonDoesNotExist are from real people, who owns those parts? (E.g. my chin)
  2. If the faces on ThisPersonDoesNotExist are indistinguishable from real-life portraits, how much longer before we are looking at other computer-generated artefacts? Newspaper articles written by robot journalists and TV robot news anchors have already been done.
  3. When will we started reading fictional news items, totally fabricated from non-real photos and facts? How will we certify real things?
  4. What’s next?

Top 10 favourite digital blogs

Photo by Tamás Mészáros

It’s time for my annual blog/ RSS feed clean up, and to share my preferred thought-provoking digital news feeds:

1. Chris Matts (The IT Risk Manager). Chris regularly updates his blog with practical advice for technology teams and senior managers such as “executives and transparency”, and he focusses his agile transformation articles on business managers rather than technology teams. That said, there are also a fair number of more technical articles about automated testing and development. https://theitriskmanager.wordpress.com

2. Doc Searls. Doc has several interests, mainly in privacy, photography and technology. Whilst I don’t agree with his extreme views on privacy and anti-advertising, his blogs and other feeds are very interesting to read occasionally. http://blogs.harvard.edu/doc/

3. Google Webmaster Blog. there are several skills everyone in the digital industry should have, and one of them is an overview of search engines and how they work. The search engines are the key footfall, entry point, gateway and provider of revenue to almost every digital company. Stay up to date with Google on this blog. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/ Continue reading Top 10 favourite digital blogs