Questions established companies must ask themselves

future

“How could our customers do this thing without us?”

“What can be removed from the process and still solve this problem?”

“How could this problem be solved without using a physical product?”

“What technology is likely to be introduced into our things?

“What will happen to prices of the thing we sell when more technology is introduced.?”

“What would a new entrant into this market likely do to meet customers needs?”

Once these questions are answered sufficiently and honestly, they ought go ahead and do these things. They are going to happen anyway aren’t they?

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When to resist technology

My readers know that I love technology –  I literally rub my face in it.

But technology is not always the answer. Sometimes it pays to resist the use of it. This is especially true when technology lacks differentiation or is the lazy option. A hand written letter has far more value today than an email, tweet or whatsapp message does. We know you care more, we know you made more of a concerted effort with a pen and a post box.

It comes down to swimming against the tide. Music is one industry that has been impacted incredibly by new technology. Every laptop is a world class studio, opening up the music making to everyone regardless of their budget. But prized musician David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) has some interesting views on why this might not be the answer to make great music. Watch the video below, and think about the work you do and how it applies. If you listen close enough you’ll come up with some new anti-tech ways to both make a difference and a better product. Enjoy!

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Tesla Model 3 & the start of the end of petrol cars

The hype of the new Tesla model 3 is understated as far as I can tell. While it is true Tesla hasn’t actually sold any of the cars – they haven’t made any yet – it is also true that there has never been a car in history (any product?) which achieved $8.86B in pre-order sales. Yes, 253,000 on order at the time of publishing.

Tesla Model 3 Launch

The hype is understated for a simple reason: most people are yet to discover their annual fuel bill costs will cover a $35,000 car repayments. So it will be a curve jump transition to electric cars, not a phase in.  I refer you to this earlier vitally important post I’ve written on the subject. 

The interesting bit is how it impacts the industry beyond Tesla. We are about to go through a war time like reconfiguration of manufacturing facilities as the world rapidly moves to electric cars. Every auto player in the world will need to fast track and maybe even scramble to have relevant cars on the market. A shift the likes of which we’ve not seen in any industry since World War 2. It’s gonna be big.

Giddy up.

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The economic future of the Western World

The economic future of the Western World is bright, so long as it doesn’t squander its opportunities. So long as it remains open to the growth of developing nations and we manage to collaborate cross borders. Isolation and protectionism is not the answer, just ask China before it reopened to the world. Yet, all we ever hear is about the impending doom of the middle class and the end of manufacturing.

Abandoned factory USA

While reading my Quora feed I came across a brilliant answer to this question by Balaji Viswanathan:

What is the future of the American middle class in a world where manufacturing can be done so much more cheaply in Asia and Latin America?

About a decade ago, I was chatting with my buddy who was working at Windows Mobile. He was lamenting how the mobile industry was racing to the bottom where everyone was trying to produce $10 phones. Industry experts thought that the future of telephony was ultra cheap commodity. 

A year after that conversation, an American company came with a nice gadget named iPhone that started at around $500 [without contract]. And another company in the same city brought a great competitor in Android. In a matter of months, it was clear that the future of phone market was not down, but up. Apple went on to be the biggest the most profitable company ever. Android became the biggest ever mobile OS.

That is the future of American manufacturing and middle class, if they can focus on out-innovating the world, rather than constantly whining about cheap countries. And the US is still a world leader in manufacturing with the likes of GE, Caterpillar, Dow, 3M, Boeing etc [see more: How does the USA make money despite much less manufacturing?]

There is a whole range of exciting new technology ahead of us – Virtual reality revolution, a 3d printing revolution, autonomous vehicles on land, air and water, robotics revolution, clean energy revolution, space exploration revolution and so on. Just like how Apple changed everything in a span of mere months, there could be enormous new innovations that are to come in the next few years. 

This is probably like being in the 1950s – where everything is exciting and every field is getting rapidly changed. US has all the energy sources, a large market, the biggest labs, the most innovative companies & the best of universities. If you cannot win with all these advantages, there must be something wrong. 

Do you want to build that tomorrow or keep complaining about losing the yesterday?

It’s worth reading twice. And here’s a few more of the so ons:

Internet of things, quantified self, nano technology, molecular manufacturing, genetic engineering, vertical farming, crypto currencies, block chain technology, crowd funding and fintech, wearables, quantum computing, augmented knowledge…. I could continue, but we all know that there’s enough opportunity in this list for every industry known to humanity, and the prices of all of them are dropping – which means the cost of innovating with them is low and the opportunity for value creation is high.

Now lets get excited and lets get going.

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Why OzTam’s Aust TV ratings are still way behind the times

Television man

The TV industry in Australia recently claimed its ratings measurements have now ‘caught up with the times’ – as they now include catch up TV. Here’s a question for them: Do the ratings include Youtube views?

It’s pretty clear now that TV is not the aggregation of the formal channels. There is no such thing as TV, there is only this: All audio visual content streamed to eyeballs = TV.

This means that every video we view on Youtube is TV. Every Video we watch on Facebook is TV. Everything we send from our mobile to our big screen is TV. Every Snap we watch is TV. The real problem the TV industry is facing is it’s limited definition of the market today. Twenty years on and they still don’t get it. Their recent announcement confirms that the thing they are measuring is their share of a shrinking pie. Sure, it’s not in their short term interest to expand their definition of the market, but pretending it isn’t so, doesn’t make it go away.

Yet another reminder that in times of dramatic technological change market share is a fools measure. Put simply, new solutions to old problems mean our real competitors are usually invisible.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

Innovating too early is the same as being wrong

The EV2 Electric car

I’ve had a few startups where I was a bit early. I’d put my former startup rentoid in this category – not to mention the amazing potential pivots I missed. When someone is early to an emerging market we often say these simple words.

“He had the right idea, he was just a bit early.”

Here’s the truth. Early is the same as wrong. I know it sounds mean, but we have to be honest with ourselves. If the idea is not at the right time, then put simply it is the wrong idea. But I will admit there are complexities with being early, and it leads me to these thoughts.

  1. I’d rather be wrong by being early, than wrong with a dumb idea.
  2. There’s always a good chance of being early with something new.

Number 2 points to the importance of keeping costs low. A low cost operation has more time to learn and iterate. They have a better chance of getting closer to todays needs, and or the market catching up to their initial vision.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

Your app is not an app

8 bit smartphone

Never, ever tell anyone your startup is an app. It’s a startup that does X, Y or Z.

Saying your startup is an app, is a bit like telling people your startup uses electricity. The app side of what you do is making the infrastructure the hero, not the problem you solve.

My latest startup is all about Surfing. #SneakySurf – you might have seen me tweet about it. It’s still in private beta, and it is, lets say – ‘Smartphone compatible’ but it is much more than an app. I never sell it as such. It is a surfing company.

The world doesn’t need another app, but it certainly needs many more businesses. Make sure you don’t confuse what you really do, with the infrastructure you happen to employ.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.