6 things to read this week (10.07.17)

Rewind my week to fast forward yours #29

Where & when to look for signals of change? This week’s links give some answers, taking in all-electric cars, emerging markets & bitcoin, Chinese luxury shifts, overlooked innovation and the coming wave of automation. Enjoy!

NB/ A slightly delayed edition this week due to holiday travels. Normal service will be resumed next Monday :)


🔌 We continue to hammer home the big idea in Trend-Driven Innovation — that a key driver of trends is expectation transfer. Once an innovation sets customer expectations about what is possible, the rest of the market will have to catch up. So once Tesla showed that you could have a sustainable (& sporty!) car, then it was only a matter of time before other car manufacturers made similar moves. Witness Volvo’s announcement that they’ll be going all-electric from 2019.

💸 Another theme we return to again and again: trends often emerge in ‘unlikely’ locations or demographics, where customers’ basic needs aren’t able to be satisfied by the existing infrastructure. Having seen Kenya’s M-Pesa be one of the most advanced manifestations of mobile money nearly 10 years ago now, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that customers & businesses in some of the less stable economies are embracing the possibilities offered by cryptocurrencies. One to watch.

🇨🇳 A fascinating look at what constitutes status for younger Chinese consumers. Yes, the ‘usual’ suspects (unique experiences, storied brands, personal transformation etc), but the most interesting nuggets focus on the more unique aspects of the Chinese experience, especially keeping a connection to the past and maintaining a respect for older family members.

🏢 Cities — and the communities they support — are the engines of both economic and social progress. Which is why this article, from Adam Rogers is so interesting. Will Apple’s corporate campus, that’s both literally and metaphorically isolated (and isolating) from the surrounding community, come to represent their attachment to an industry — hardware — that’s very much of the 20th century? And will it make it harder for Apple to create value in the future, given value is becoming more dynamic, networked, and ‘mesh’-like?

📎 Paper, barbed wire, the metal box that is the shipping container. Tim Hartford reminds us not to focus too much on high tech innovation, but on the often much-more important but less heralded cheap and widely available supporting innovations that enable entire ecosystems to be remade.

What we get wrong about technology: forget flying cars or humanoid robots, the most disruptive inventions are often cheap, simple and easy to overlook. (FT Paywall)

🤖 But if you want to know why the robots are coming (and fast), then DANCE is your acronym du jour: Data, Algorithms, Networks, the Cloud, and Exponentially improving hardware. There’s a certain irony that a robot probably would have suggested Hardware as the final letter. Is this our future: only to be called upon when rules need to be broken? ;) Actually, the authors suggest that the robots will be deployed whenever work is one of the 4 Ds: dull, dirty, dangerous, and dear (does coining acronyms count?!). But don’t be distracted by my cynicism here, this is a must read.


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