Category Archives: Technology

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

Would you click on phishing emails like these?

Google Unsafe websites detected per week April 2020
The number of unsafe websites detected per week has increased sharply. Source: Google

There has been an increase in scam/ phishing emails recently. And the biggest challenge is that they are looking increasingly genuine.

Someone in my immediately family clicked on one of the text messages, and we ended up having to change our debit cards.

Here are some that I’ve received in the last couple of weeks.

Stay alert for the following signs.

Creating an emotional reaction

This is the hardest to avoid. When I received the Thrifty phishing email below my immediate response was “I can’t believe I have to pay an overage for a car I rented last Summer“. I was almost tempted. The O2 text message below managed to convince my close family member because we were on holiday at the time and they thought “I don’t want my mobile to be disconnected while I’m away“. These emotional reactions cause us to stop thinking and start clicking.

Here’s how phishing emails create that emotional reaction.

Urgency

Very few companies need an immediate payment. The phrases “Don’t miss out!” and “valid until...” create urgency, which creates the emotional reaction in the point above.

Too good to be true

As always, if it’s too good to be true, it isn’t. This too, creates an emotional reaction for you to stop thinking and start clicking on those phishing emails.

Links in phishing emails

Banks and government agencies usually make a point of not including any links in their email and directing people to their official website. They recommend opening a web browser and making you typing in their web address, not clicking on a link. In the scams below:

  • The Thrifty email links go to a website that is clearly not Thrifty’s
  • The O2 text message is a NOT an O2 website, it is a subdomain made to look like the real O2 site.
  • The Argos link is a shortened bit.ly address.

Always be super, super careful about checking links because there are ways for companies to make a link look genuine to the naked eye.

Please be careful out there!

Recent examples of phishing emails

Phishing email example from Thrifty car rental
A fake Thrifty car rental email. Beware!!

 

Phishing email example from O2 billing
Fake O2 billing text message. Beware!

 

 

Phishing email example from Argos
A fake Argos text message – don’t click on it. Beware!

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.

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