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The Wrap #1 | Welcome to the new addition of our newsletter
A shot of thinking fuel, brought to you each month by Futurestate Design Co.
Hello September, and welcome to the new edition of our newsletter.
In time for its first birthday, we felt The Wrap-as-you-know-it deserved a rethink and redesign.
Be prepared for insights, articles of interest and opinions. We’ll share articles relevant to business design and innovation, subjects on which we are passionate – like how ‘the new normal’ continues to dominate the agenda and why we should be using this time to think bigger.
It's clear that we need a new generation UK economy built on pioneering strategies, and country-wide investment in digital infrastructure rather than throwing money at the old world.
Companies need this same mindset: no more tinkering with old business models and operational efficiency agendas out of the management consultancy playbook. Identifying and exploiting digital potential has always been a priority. Now it’s critical.
Don’t repair something wasn't fit for purpose to start with: invent its replacement.
Here are some of the things that have got us thinking this month...
The real opportunity for AI: what can’t be done by humans.
Amidst all the scare-mongering about AI, this is a good-looking visual piece about how Google’s AI team are training machines to keep ships away from an endangered group of Orcas.
This work shows how AI can have profoundly positive impacts on life, if people think about more than simply driving efficiency. Most of the opportunities of AI come in enabling things that simply aren’t possible otherwise, and we’re just at the beginning of that era. (The cynical-minded of us might put this down to a crafty PR strategy. That’s no bad thing if it saves the whales.) If you didn’t know you wanted a convolutional neural network before, you will after reading this.
Still chasing Millennials? Look to their grandparents instead.
With an ageing population, even at a basic level the numbers add up, so why do so few companies target the elderly? Perhaps perceived as a less glamorous customer base, the opportunities to serve elderly customers grow as their proportion of the market does.
They’re often easier to research, are very service-loyal and most have more disposable income than their children or grandchildren. Isn’t it funny how when you say ‘consumers’ most people think of working age people or below. Overlook the greys at your peril.
Management Today: The next tech frontier: The elderly?
Short-term thinking = long-term irrelevance.
A topic close to our hearts: the short-termism of traditional business measures. This article added quarterly guidance to our list. Modern businesses need to have a long-arc purpose, and a vision that people buy into, not just another set of numbers about the next three months. Focusing on historic or current performance can be disastrous in the digital economy as you can easily drive over a high cliff in a car full of last year’s money.
Be careful, your growth can hurt you.
This piece from the NYT highlights the scrutiny that the big tech players are coming under, in this case as Google and Apple are sued by Epic games for removing their game Fortnite, from their app stores.
Epic broke the rules of both by deliberately circumventing their payment system to avoid the 30% fees levied. It was a pre-planned act aimed at piling on the pressure. The question is are their fees fair? Maintaining a global ecosystem isn’t cheap, developers (including Epic) have made billions, and physical resellers of software demand a bigger cut. Too much power is clearly bad, but does a good thing automatically become a bad thing when it gets so big?
Time to retire Valleys and Roundabouts?
A fascinating long read about the Old Street roundabout immortalised by WIRED’s Silicon Roundabout map in 2010 , and more importantly about how location ‘clusters’ have been a powerhouse in driving innovation explosions. In reality, their real importance has been in making it easier for VCs to bless startups and in filling the pockets of property developers. Might COVID-19 spell the end of that era, ushering in a more virtual cluster concept? Well worth the time to read.