Three Trends With Explosive Growth

During the World Economic Forum 2017 held in Davos recently , Jack Ma (Chairman of Alibaba) shared three trends that will define our future. First trend is about handing the implications of technology revolution, second trend is to pay attention to those who are 30 years old as he sees them as builders of the world, and the third trend he said “Third, let’s pay attention to the companies who have fewer than 30 employees. So, 30 years, and 30 years old, and 30 employees, that way we can make the world much better.”

We’re no Jack Ma but we similarly came up with three trends with explosive growth after much research and talking to industry leaders.

1. Get me a dreamer and thinker!


For the last 10 years we have witnessed an exponential growth in outsourcing with companies shifting many of their business tasks to external service providers to focus on their core competencies. According to one study, some of the most frequently outsourced business tasks include customer service support, finance and accounting, creative services, computer programming, manufacturing, recruitment and data entry.

So what else will be outsourced? In the food industry, we see an increasing trend in outsourcing food preparation. We’ve also seen the outsourcing of innovation thinking where MNCs are partnering, incubating and/or investing in startups to gain access to new ideas and technologies. Everyone is looking for that quantum leap.

Even though more and more companies in Asia such as AllianzChangi airportP&G are setting up in-house innovation labs/centres (yes, “lab is the buzzword now), we predict this function will be outsourced to specialist firms in time to come. This would be just as ubiquitos as outsourcing customer care support. We foresee a talent pool of “dreamers” and “thinkers” emerging.

Three questions for brand builders:
• What are the big hairy audacious goals we have?
• Can we achieve these goals based on our current resources?
• What can we outsource to increase our competitive advantage so as to reach those goals?

2. Are we intelligent or what?


Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies have become pervasive in business in every industry where innovation is being fundamentally accelerated by deep learning, machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and computer vision, among others.

Every day we come into contact with more and more AI-enabled products and services, think self-driving trucks, automated product recommendations, robot service crew . AI has also invaded our homes with AI-enabled home appliances such as, Samsung smart fridges, and toys such as Kolibree smart toothbrushesHello Barbie doll and Toy Dino. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg, and more are reaching the market every day.

We know Google and Facebook collect immense amount of information about us (where we are, what we read online, who are our friends, etc.). What if every single device can collect information about us or people, and things around us? What if AI has the capability of reading people’s minds and literally knowing everything…NOW and then predict the future! This is no science fiction but according to reports, researchers have already developed a computer program that is able to search for the brain activity related to certain words and then use this to predict a sentence being thought even it hasn’t seen it before. So next time when you think someone is intelligent, you better ask if that is AI-enabled.

Three questions for brand builders:
• How has AI affect our customers?
• How has AI affect our brands, our employees and processes?
• How can we use AI to improve our products and our customers’ brand experience?

3. The sky’s the limit?


According to a Wall Street Journal report entitled “Drones Boom Raises New Question: Who Owns Your Airspace?” , it discussed the challenging debate on airspace ownership due to the booming drones industry. We have definitely see more companies using drones both in operations and marketing, with the likes of GECoca ColaCamisaria Colombo etc.. Using drones has definitely not gone mainstream yet but there lies a huge potential, in fact estimated to be worth US$127 billion by 2020 according to consulting group PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Now with Amazon being awarded patent for its air-borne fullfillment centre, or so called “flying warehouse” using drone technology, the battle for airspace is just getting interesting.

Let’s project further and imagine for a moment that we are can tap into the usage of airspace which opens up immense opportunities for work and for play. We know airplanes have to fly at least 500ft altitude and above, and air traffic management mostly regulated by governments. What about the airspace below 500ft, that space between the buildings and 500ft altitude? One of US president Donald Trump’s promises during his campaign was to privatize air traffic management. If he gets what he wants, would this become a reality and set a precedent for other nations to follow? Would that mean air space is available for both private companies and individuals to tap on just like real estate?

Perhaps leasing airspace will be a significant revenue source for governments and enterprising companies. We might see the emergence of “air” estate developers, and businesses moving to “higher” places, after all the sky’s the limit! This reminds me of the song “I am the eye in the sky looking at you woohoo… I can read your mind…(sung by Alan Parsons Project).

Three questions for brand builders:
• How has your industry been affected by the boom in drone technologies?
• What would the privatisiation of air space mean to your business and brand?
• How can you take advantage of the availability of airspace to grow your brand?

So these are some trends we predict with explosive growth in 2017. What about you, what do you see?