#EmTechMonthly: Digital twins, future of commerce, paperclip perfection

  • Posted on March 2, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
digital commerce

Welcome to our monthly curation of emerging technology news tidbits and trends that help inform the research we do for our Avanade Trendlines program. Let’s discuss any thoughts you have in the comments.

Technology: Didn’t you always want a twin?
Facebook has a team working on photo realistic avatars of you. “This involves exploring physics-based avatars that can interact with any virtual environment and combines fundamental research in areas like biomechanics, neuroscience, motion analysis, and physically driven simulations. This technique still relies on live data capture … but instead of the live sensor data driving a neural network, it drives a physics-based model inspired by human anatomy.”

Why should you care? There is a term called a digital twin and, depending on the industry, it can mean many different things, but in essence it’s a digital replication of the physical world. Imagine when an exact likeness of your physical self exists in the digital world. We talk about digital ethics in terms of our physical world, but who’s looking after the digital one? Expect to see lots more on digital twins over the next 12 months.

The future of direct to consumer
Direct to consumer has been emerging for the last three years, especially across fast-moving consumer goods verticals. In that time, there were over 177 M&A transactions related to direct to consumer and digital assets. “Generating organic traffic will become so strategic that successful DTC [direct to consumer] businesses will have no other choice than to become content and media companies at scale.” One company, The Hut Group, has created its own retail ecosystem.

Why should you care? We’re moving from DTC 1.0 to DTC 2.0 where consumer goods companies used to sell their own product, but now are creating an ecosystem that covers the entire path to purchase. As part of this evolution, many DTC companies are also becoming media companies. The most exciting digital marketing efforts over the next 24 months will come from these “new” media companies.

Profile: We are still at the beginning of a larger retail transformation
Kirsten Green, founder of Forerunner Ventures is the visionary investor behind some of the tech industry’s most successful startups. “Green has backed an impressive portfolio of brands at the collision of retail and tech from Warby Parker to Glossier, Dollar Shave Club, Jet.com, and Birchbox.”

Why should you care? Green has been funding today’s leading direct-to-consumer companies, which have been transforming retail by pushing advertising boundaries to new types of store and digital experiences. The world we’re in now is one captured best by a Facebook retail executive who last year said (paraphrasing) that we’ve moved from going shopping to always shopping.

Design perfection
The paperclip was invented in 1899 and hasn’t been improved upon since. The “patent drawing shows the clip not as an invention but as the outcome of an invention: the best solution to an old problem, using a new material and new manufacturing processes. Coiled in this form, the steel wire was pliant enough to open, allowing papers to nestle between its loops, but springy enough to press those papers back together.”

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