Disruptors bring affordable tech whilst leaders humanize their communications
Ease of use has been a strong competitive advantage for Apple that is now challenged by disruptor brands that offer strong functionality and design, but at a much lower price. These disruptors, like Huawei, may not come with an Apple-like ecosystem, but that is less of an issue for younger tech savvy consumers who select devices on their individual merits, regardless of operating system and switch between them seamlessly. At the same time, leading brands have got better at simpler, more human communication. Leading brands talk less about features, but instead focus on user benefits in a more human way. Apple just show beautiful photographs taken with an iPhone, they don’t talk about megapixels or auto focus. Similarly, Samsung used a more human tone in their Olympics and Paralympics sponsorship. And when it encountered problems with the Galaxy Note 7 phone, it apologized in an open, humble and human way.
Global Director / Client Lead
As innovation slows, service becomes key brand differentiator
A lot of the new products we’re seeing are not driven by innovation, but rather by brands looking for the next dollar. Providers like Facebook and Google have grown very rapidly. But the pace of growth is slowing. New consumers aren’t coming in. And Moore’s Law is history now; we no longer have the regular doubling of computing power against price. In its place, we have a lot of large companies with high growth expectations and, in some cases, impatient shareholders. We think there are parallels with the history of the aviation business with where the smartphone is at the moment. In the late ‘60s, when Boeing developed the 747, the team that built it was actually the second team. The A team was working on supersonic planes to compete on speed. But the airlines we fly on today are not much different than the 747s built in the ‘70s. The airline business has stopped competing on technology and speed. Instead, they’re competing on service. And I think we’re at that point with the smart phone business. Even Apple, which is most likely to innovate in this space, seems to be moving into service.
Internet of Things may draw brands into collaboration
We hear a lot of talk about the Internet of Things, but consumers don’t really understand it, how it’s going to benefit us or how it can help us in our everyday lives. But IoT is so much bigger than just consumers. It’s a global infrastructure – from autonomous driving to city planning, from health to day to day living. Until now IoT devices have tended to work separately – across lots of incompatible platforms. From a consumer perspective, they should work together – giving real human benefits. This year it’s likely we’ll see an unprecedented collaboration between the major brands to work co-operatively or perhaps allowing more interoperability between devices.
Managing Director, UK Technology Practice
Retro countertrend balances movement to Internet of Things
In the past year, as we’ve heard a lot about the Internet of Things but I’ve also noticed a retro movement. I did a project for a client about vinyl records and people still really love vinyl. My birthday present from my parents 10 years ago was an iPod, but this year it was a record player. One influence is a younger generation pushing back against the older generation, but the trend also reveals an attitude of people saying they don’t want their house saturated with technology.
Social media must address new ethics and credibility risks
Because of the rising risk of fake news, derogatory comments, unregulated access to personal data and unscrupulous or even illegal content, social networks need a greater degree of self-governance. There's so much digital conversation taking place, social networks face a challenge mediating it. This issue is not simply about the risk to privacy as brands push for greater personalization, it’s also about what’s being said in a public forum and what content is shown alongside or before paid ads. Facebook, Twitter and Google/YouTube are starting to get a sense of the danger that exists but they must get a handle on it quickly. Because of the scale of the threat there's understandable eagerness to use automated solutions, but at least in the short term, there will be a limit about how much AI will be able address these problems.
Director, Financial Services and Technology