#EmTechMonthly: Graceful robots, karaoke booths, predicting the future

  • Posted on May 31, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
top 10 technologies

When we formed our emerging technology team almost a year ago, I started an internal newsletter focused on emerging technology (EmTech). It was designed to provide colleagues with a view of the technologies, trends and people that were likely to impact organizations in the coming years. We’ve decided to open this up monthly to everyone and will feature a curation of emerging technology news tidbits and trends under the auspices of our Avanade Trendlines program. I hope you enjoy and let’s discuss any thoughts you have in the comments.

Technology: Top 10 breakthrough technologies for 2019
I recently watched HBO’s fantastic documentary on Theranos, the rise and fall of the multibillion-dollar health care company founded by Elizabeth Holmes. With that as the backdrop to how far should you push to bring new technologies to market (without breaking the law 😊) MIT Technology Review earlier this year published its top 10 breakthrough technologies for 2019. A majority are focused on wellness and health, a trend that is going to continue.

Why should you care? Among those breakthrough technologies, two stand out to me: robot dexterity and smooth-talking AI assistants. While digital assistants are coming, it’s still early and the leading ones are provided by technology companies that have the data and the AI expertise to deliver (Amazon, Google, Alibaba and Microsoft). This is the interface we all want, but getting that experience right today is extremely hard.Robot dexterity is going to be a game changer for human-plus-machine and it’s advancing quickly.

Business models: Multimodal is emerging
How many ads did you see in the last 24 hours? How many did you just glaze over? What if the number was capped at two or three a day, how would that change how you felt about the platform? We’re used to most digital business models being based on ads or transactions. At Tencent in China (with WeChat), ads are only 20% of revenue and the company limits ads on WeChat Moments to fewer than two per user per day. Instead they have a multimodal business model, which is quickly becoming an emerging trend. Tencent’s QQ Music in China incorporates leaderboards, games, prizes, livestream concerts, online radio, event tickets, app skins, artist/stories/new, and physical and digital karaoke booths.

Tencent’s music platforms are not solo-consumption experiences like Apple Music or Spotify. If you have funny or entertaining commentary or a great voice, you can make money on the platform. Music-center livestreaming services account for 70% of Tencent’s music revenue.

Why should you care? It’s not hard to imagine the karaoke booth showing up in malls, new retail experience centers or even airports at some point in the future. China is showing a shift to business models as product strategy (beyond ads and transaction-only models) where you focus on sources of revenue (not just revenue lines) that create more fun and engaging products.

Profile: Patty McCord on building a great company
Patty McCord served as chief talent officer at Netflix for 14 years and helped create the Netflix Culture Deck. Sheryl Sandberg has said that it “may be the most important document ever to come out of Silicon Valley.” Twenty minutes well worth watching. No binging required.

Why should you care?What does the 21st century of work look like and why do we keep repeating the same corporate people-management philosophies from the 20th century?

Why predicting the future is so hard
In a recent issue of Nautilus, Tom Vanderbilt quotes Nicholas Rescher, who wrote that “we incline to view the future through a telescope, as it were, thereby magnifying and bringing nearer what we can manage to see.” Futurists do a decent job of predicting new technologies, but the pace of adoption across society is usually wrong. That’s because we tend to forget about people and culture. As Vanderbilt points out: “One futurist noted that a 1960s film of the ‘office of the future’ made on-par technological predictions (fax machines and the like) but had a glaring omission: The office had no women.”

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