Author Archives: Andrew Imbesi

Digital Transformation Final Summary

The world will look nothing like it did in the past, we are undergoing a period of digital transformation. The American Dream is no longer what it used to be; Capitalism is shrinking, and technology is taking the jobs of the working-class. Americans are having trouble finding their place in society because technology has taken the role of human physical presence. The past American Dream offered a pre-determined agenda that was simple to complete, founded on simple jobs like “factory worker”, “waitress” or “cashier”, but now these ‘stable’ positions are all disappearing. Navigating the former route of the American Dream is not an option because it is no longer so set in stone. Life proves to be unpredictable, and same with the direction of the American Dream. New jobs are emerging on the web, and we must adapt to this digital transformation, even if it means adjusting our American Dream. We can no longer settle for one job, rather settle when the jobs are done.

We must cope with the fact that there is almost no room to climb up the capitalist ladder anymore. We must work with the ones at the top in order to expand our overall potential for success. Platform companies control most of the IoT and technologies that come with it. They offer many opportunities for businesses to grow: Shopify, Amazon, and Facebook offer many services to help customers and sellers engage in business, Ziosk offers an easy-to-use food ordering service for dine-in customers at Applebee’s and other restaurants, and Microsoft Office changed the way we create and submit reports. Neglecting these innovations will leave you behind, there is much success to be gained by properly utilizing these technologies.

We must not learn a specific set of skills, rather a much broader set of technology skills that cover multiple fields. Being F.A.I.R. will help people transition into their new skills. F.A.I.R. people will always be innovating new products/services, so no longer can we restrict our skills, we must anticipate and adapt to change.

Achieving the American Dream is still possible, but it requires a new route to success. We must expand our knowledge in different fields rather than one to adapt to the never ending changes we will face. We cannot have a narrow focus to our next step in life when the future requirements to our jobs require us to think more broadly. Being able to adapt to change, “learn, unlearn, and relearn”, will help us reach the next chapter in our lives.

Link to our group presentation!

 

The Future of Digital Transformation

Over the past two months, I have researched the disruptive impacts of digital transformation and how they affect our society and the future. To me, I think the most important hypothesis that I discovered throughout my research is that most businesses and jobs that exist today are doomed in the future. Technology companies, specifically Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, have become necessities to our daily lives and while in the process of becoming so important to us, other businesses have fallen off the radar.

There is really only one reason why this is happening and that is digital transformation. Really, only a few companies are leading in digital transformation and other than those leaders, other companies are only transforming in reaction to others transforming. Typical scenarios include technology companies creating software and platforms for other companies to use (Amazon Web Services, Facebook Pages, Square).

(For example, many restaurants in South Orange utilize online ordering, but back where I am from, that transformation has yet to be made. I assume in South Orange, once one small business took on the challenge, many others were forced to compete. The level of competition has not yet increased where I live, so for now, many businesses still use the phone to take orders until one business discovers the trend).

There is a lack of awareness when it comes to this issue, which may be a reason why there has not been more and/or faster transformation. However, digital transformation is not easy, which may be why it has taken companies awhile to get the ball rolling on this pressing issue. MITSloan lists three critical elements to digital transformation, including, transforming customer experiences, operational processes, and business models. In short, it looks like a complete business remodel, which most executives do not wish to undergo due to time and risk.

On the other hand, if companies do not wish to digitally transform, they will risk their own success. If companies wish to be successful, making processes more efficient is the answer, even if that means making harder decisions along the way. As result of these technologies, lots of business operations will become autonomous, and jobs will be lost along the way. Digital transformation not only affects companies, but their workers, since much of the new technology will overtake human tasks. Companies are being forced to choose between technology and human, and the better choice is clearly technology.

In the end, digital transformation will force us to choose between ourselves and the potential of technology, and it is likely that technology will be chosen. So what does that mean for the rest of us not running the few companies that dominate our everyday lives? If people want to survive in a digitally transformed world, people must not only learn new technologies, but more specifically how to be F.A.I.R. Being able to be F.A.I.R. maximizes the potential of becoming successful because in the world we enter, it is not all about being skillful, rather being able to change directions at a moments notice. Moving into the future, the only way to survive digital transformation is by embracing it in whatever way possible.

How Today’s Leaders Set Examples for Tomorrow’s Future

New technology has posed new challenges for existing companies, and now digital transformation is happening all around us. When it comes to innovation, existing companies are being beaten to the punch by evolving platform companies such as Amazon, Google, and Apple. I think there are some great reasons as to why existing companies are having such trouble with growth, and it is not necessarily because of these technology companies taking all the business. Humans, not companies, drive digital transformation. If companies wish to be successful, a lot of success will come from great leaders and thinkers.

There are great leaders motivated to bring change to the world, and other leaders that hold their positions for power and simply do not care when innovations come along (until it effects them). The difference between these two leaders is productivity, and the leaders for change typically give out more positive results. I believe there are many leaders uprising to bring change to the world, and this is noticeable in digital transformation.

First, lots of successful people are the ones that lead digital transformation. Digital transformation is making the world a more productive place, and the ones implementing change are the ones ahead of the curve. Even in small business settings, Tito’s Burritos allows you to place orders online, is it possible that option gives them an edge over the competition? Secondly, many, if not all of these people leading digital transformation, are also “self-made“, meaning their wealth is not inherited. They are self-made because of their brilliant accomplishments. Solely a genius will make his or her way to the top given motivation. Millions of inherited dollars does not make you a genius, it just puts you in a better position to succeed. Third, the leaders of digital transformation are determined to expand, their companies are notably the strongest growing in the world. Although these people have made it to the top on their own, they still persist for more, and continue getting smarter everyday. These are intelligent leaders, and they do not settle for anything less than more.

What does this all mean? It means people like you and I, people who came from normal middle class families, rose to the top. We are no different from the ones at the top but why are they in the position that they are in today and we are still down below? They hopped on trends and took them first. These leaders thought exponentially and came up with innovative ideas. As humans, we typically follow a trend of patterns and think in the same direction, but thinking outside the box helps when trying to be innovative. There are many humans with the potential of starting new trends, they just need to think differently in order to discover these trends. In the video below, Jeff Bezos explains what motivated him to startup Amazon.

Notably, Bezos mentions two key facts: the fact that books are widely popular and profitable, and web usage is expected to grow at a rate of over 2300%. Bezos took these two different facts and turned it into one brilliant idea, an online bookstore, bound to expand its services into what we know today as Amazon.

Like Bezos, us humans are capable of connecting the dots in order to come up with innovative ideas. In order to do so, it is important to keep track of trends and act accordingly. Ignoring the first wave of innovation will only make us unprepared for the second wave, and we must learn to adapt with changes in our society. Humans tend to go with the flow but this must end. If humans aspire to live in a world with digital transformation, they need to be five steps ahead of what is going on around them and expect the unexpected, plan for the inevitable.

Why Technology Companies Lead Digital Transformation

In prior blog posts, I have discussed how the growth of technology companies have disrupted companies in almost every field. Existing companies are now forced to improve their products and compete with the innovative products/services of technology companies.

Platform companies all started out simple, Amazon wanted to sell books on the web, Google was just a search engine, but instead they expanded way beyond what they started out as and integrated themselves into everything we do in our daily lives. Now of days, technology is almost always necessary in everything we do, we use it for a number of reasons including: to check in on our health, view our mail, and retrieve information.

These technology companies did not all plan to be so successful, but there are a number of factors that have led them to this point. One reason why these companies are so successful is because they are leaders in Artificial Intelligence Technologies. Notably, these technology companies are large spenders in AI, and globally, existing companies have followed their trend as well (as shown in the chart below).

global ai commerce financing trend

Overtime, humans have become much more attracted to AI technologies. More often, these technologies make experiences for the customer simpler, so customers continue using their technologies. For example, tech companies have a great lead in voice recognition technologies and is now becoming a technology that is commonly used. In the chart below, it is evident that overtime more and more people will be accustomed to voice recognition technologies.

bii consumer usage and interest in VAs global 2017 accenture

Even incorporating voice recognition technology into customer support calls can make companies much more efficient. Voice recognition technologies are a beneficial technology to incorporate into a digital company, it serves as a useful tool to customers.

However, the problem for many existing companies is that they did not start out as technology companies so making this shift is more complex than traditional. It requires ‘exponential‘ thinking for a shift as such; thinking outside the box. If companies want to succeed in transforming their businesses digitally, they must come up with new ideas in order to grow. Following the same routine over and over will not change results, companies must learn to adapt to their markets.

Babe Ruth once said “It’s hard to beat a person that never gives up”, and the technology companies do not give up. Existing companies have not changed their agendas for years and technology companies have given them a wake up call. Technology companies are successful because of their drive to bring new and creative products/services to the market. In order for a company to be successful in the 21st century, they must adapt to changing markets.

Banks are no Longer ‘Unstoppable’

The innovation of online banking truly changed the way we handle money, but did the banks ever think this invention could fall out of their own hands? Everyday, I can check my bank account from the tips of my fingers, but things were not always like this. Fifty years ago, you would have to walk into a bank to do what you can now do simply on your phone. And this applies to a variety of services: you can deposit checks, make appointments, and even handle disputes over the phone.

Without a doubt, this technology has made the world much more efficient, but it has led to a few unintended consequences. The increase of banking technologies meant there was less need for in-person banking, and as result this hurt that aspect of their business. There is almost no communication between the depositor and the bank anymore since everything is done over the phone or at an ATM. For the average person, there is no need for a bank, just a lot of ATM’s and internet connection. Minus a regular checking account, the other services of a bank are becoming accessible elsewhere too. Not only do banks provide loans and compile information for companies, but Amazon is starting to do these things too. Who’s to say the frightful 5 cannot do what the banks are already doing now?

remittance volume

The key difference between banks and a company like Amazon is customer satisfaction. They have both evolved to offer similar interactive experiences on the web (lots of AI), but companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook interact with their users much more, and offer a more pleasurable experience. As shown below, the disruptive improvements made by technology companies heavily influence the bank’s return on investments.

Screen Shot 2017 10 24 at 1.20.46 PM

(Note: If digital disruption stays on pace, it is likely we could experience another depression by 2025 because the banks would perform so poorly it would affect many other businesses and their finances ran through the bank).

This screams nightmare for the banks. The bank is becoming small competition to these technology companies, and already they offer many of the same services in their bank-like accounts. Even I am considering an Amazon Prime Visa Card, prime benefits could be more applicable to me than the typical benefits of a credit card.

Going into the future, banks need to develop better relationships with their customers in order to compete. Likewise, many other companies must adapt and form databases of their customers in order to develop long-lasting relationships. The more digitally ahead a company is, the more likely they are to survive in the future. Now is the time to transform with the customers awaiting change.

Is Online Streaming Finally Ready to Take Off?

The at-home experience of watching LIVE television has become more enjoyable over the years. Technology has provided us with many amenities to television including: colorful screens, higher resolution, WiFi, and even computer-generated graphics. My dad loves television, he “never wants to leave the couch” on Sundays because the NFL Red Zone experience is luxury: no commercials, access to every game, and perfect camera angles. However, many shows are no longer exclusive to television, their outlets to exposure have expanded. When my dad is not watching Red Zone on television, he is streaming from one of his mobile devices.

How People Watch Live Sports

As shown above, live streaming has become a popular way to watch sports, and this number will continue to grow with increased exposure and accessibility. However, the choice between television and live stream will result in intense competition, and could leave some broadcasting companies out of business.

What seems to have been attempted in the past has reemerged only a decade later. The first successful online broadcasting website was broadcast.com, founded by Christopher Jaeb, Todd Wagner, Mark Cuban, and Martin Woodall just a little more than 20 years ago. Broadcast.com brought television and radio to the web through innovative live streaming services, and this forced many companies into panic mode. Broadcast.com developed such a strong database of viewers that Yahoo.com decided to buy them out for over $5 billion. However, Broadcast.com would be worth nothing in a few short years due to Yahoo’s poor management. This would put a short pause on live streaming for a few years until more technology companies would grow.

Now we see the NFL and Twitter teaming up together to stream Football online, which will no doubt impact many broadcasting companies. NFL Sunday is the most watched event in America, if suddenly all of its viewers relocated, then CBS, NBC, FOX, etc. would lose profits. This is not only happening in sports, even services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube are diverting attention away from television. In addition, the internet is being updated so frequently, it is almost impossible for television to keep up with internet content.

The Frightful 5, aka the leaders of digital transformation, will impact broadcasting companies as well. Services such as Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook Live, all pose serious threats to television companies. It is nearly impossible to stop this shift from television to streaming, because unarguably these services provide us with more efficient ways to digest information quickly.

There is nothing that can be done to stop these tech companies from beating their competition, but we can keep them from expanding too large. If these companies become too large, it can be dangerous the amount of control they possess over the market. Overtime, television will need to become more digitally interactive if broadcasting companies want to survive.

Digital Transportation Part 2: More than Autonomous

Over the past two weeks, I have talked about Amazon and Tesla dominating their markets through digital transformation. Over the past decade, these companies have developed into big name brands, and I think that has a whole lot to do with change. Until Amazon and Tesla came along, business models and consumer goods did not see a whole lot of change because it was not needed. There was no need for one company to outdo the other because competition was simple, but that changed real fast. Technologies such as Amazon Go, and autonomous driving, have forced other companies to compete and create their own technologies, or go out of business trying. Through improved products and services, Amazon and Tesla have been able to dominate their markets, and now, two more companies are trying to replicate their success through brand new modes of transportation.

In the future, it is probable that Hyperloop One, and The Boring Company, will compete for the top transportation service. In short, the Hyperloop One is a very fast train that will be able to reach speeds of 670 mph (much faster than the Amtrak!). If the Hyperloop One is able to reach this speed, then serious disruption would occur. Overtime, the speed of the Hyperloop One would make airports less useful. The amount of flights needed daily would decrease along with the workers needed at an airport. It would be much faster to transport a person or package by Hyperloop One than by flight. In addition to airports being disrupted, the Amtrak would quickly go off the tracks too. The only use Amtrak will have is for medium distances, distances public transportation (short) and/or Hyperloop One (long) will not travel. The Hyperloop will not take planes out of the sky, but it will at least derail the Amtrak. If not, The Boring Company will.

The Boring Company is Elon Musk’s latest project with a goal to transport cars through tunnels at high speeds at least 130 mph. It is not too much different from the Hyperloop One, it is just a more personal way of traveling. Rather than board a Hyperloop One with hundreds of other people, you can board the Boring Company with a few others in the comfort of your own vehicle. Even though both of these modes of transportation sound luxurious and fast, they both will come at the cost of other services and companies. If the Hyperloop One does not hurt Amtrak, then the Boring Company definitely will. The Boring Company is direct competition with Amtrak, they both will travel the same distances at the similar speeds. In addition, The Boring Company will have wait times instead of scheduled departures. Instead of having to worry about missing the Amtrak, with the Boring Company, you can travel whenever you please. The Boring Company should certainly draw in some business.

Clearly these companies share disruptive qualities and both of them will shift the economy. Going into the future, it is important to pick up on the trends that coincide with digital transformation: quickness, adaptation, and innovation. These are two prime examples of products that have been digitally transformed for efficiency. The Hyperloop One is a faster train, and the Boring Company is a building block to cars. Digital transformation of some products and services just go to show that nothing stays the same forever. Life is always changing and all about catching onto the trends. As technology continues to improve, it is important to improve with it.

317 – Digital Transportation

In last week’s blog post, I discussed how Amazon is impacting markets through digital transformation. Their easy online services and innovative technologies, including Amazon Go, make it difficult for large department and grocery stores to compete. However, there is one market Amazon has left untouched, and that is the transportation market.

Over the past few decades, transportation has become much more advanced. New technology has brought new ideas to the market, and companies implementing these new ideas are the ones coming out ahead. One of the major new players to make a splash in the automotive market is Tesla, and their development of high-performing autonomous vehicles is one ought to pay attention to.

Tesla is America’s top Electric Car company creating disruption in the automotive market. In recent years, car companies have adopted Tesla’s innovative ideas to create green and autonomous vehicles. The shift from gas to electric is basic, but developing brand new technologies for cars is more complex and challenging to work with. Therefore, car companies are forced to make a leap of death in order to compete: either roll out autonomous vehicles or go bankrupt trying. However, this technology will not come without controversy.

There are many reasons why autonomous driving is disruptive, minus the fact that it will take over millions of driving jobs. Overlooked problems of autonomous driving are the accidents that take place on the road. What if two autonomous vehicles get into an accident? Who is liable when neither person had control of the car? These are issues that need to be addressed legally.

Another problem with autonomous driving is that many people are going to want to take a nap when they hit the road, and that just cannot happen. Tesla has technology that can detect whether the driver is asleep behind the wheel or not, so no one can drive with both eyes closed. I do not see this feature going away anytime soon, and I hope legislation does not change that.

Finally, the last problem I see with the brand new vehicles coming out is the WiFi feature. I really do not think it is smart to put a ton of wireless access points in cars when it is really easy to hack into them. I saw this video below some time ago, how a few hackers were able to control a person’s vehicle while in use through WiFi connection.

This must be prevented from becoming a common occurrence.

There is missing legislation in regards to autonomous vehicles, and many hiccups will come with drafting this legislation. Will it be ethical for there to be autonomous taxis in a world where you cannot fall asleep behind one (an autonomous vehicle)? Should steps be taken to limit the power of autonomous vehicles? Questions like these will all have to be answered in time, but should be answered sooner rather than later. Before we eliminate manuals and automatics, we need to understand autonomous first.

317 – Digital Transformation Update

A few months ago, Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 Billion, one of the largest amounts paid to acquire a company. This is all apart of Jeff Bezos’ strategy to bring cheaper products to the consumer market. This acquisition may be great for consumers, but Bezos’ purchase will force other companies to digitally transform.

Towards the end of August, Amazon began dropping the prices of Whole Foods products by significant amounts. This acquisition has clearly impacted grocery stocks, which have struggled since the merge. A main reason why Amazon is successful is because they minimize their profits as much as possible and reinvest capital back into the company. By doing this, Amazon will continue dropping prices so that customers will run into their inexpensive services.

At the moment, Amazon/Whole Foods is competing at the same level of competition as other grocery markets, but this is unlikely to last for long. Eventually, Amazon will implement their new Artificial Intelligence that will make shopping simpler and faster. However, there is a huge down side that will come with this new technology. Although this technology will eliminate store lines, and allow the option to pay for items later, the technology will displace millions of cashier jobs across America. Eventually, this AI will be found in every store, and the near future may include different variations of this technology for small businesses (unless you are paying in cash).

Many companies are struggling to compete with Amazon’s advanced technologies and strategic business decisions. Toys R Us, Sears, and Macy’s are just a few companies that are being affected by Amazon’s success, and they are running out of ideas to save themselves. The reason why these companies fail to compete with Amazon is because they do not offer the wide range of services that Amazon does. Amazon competes in almost every market, and none of these companies can make the expansion into multiple markets like Amazon already has.

Additionally, Amazon has outperformed these companies digitally. Amazon has disrupted many businesses through their innovative technologies and AI. There is a lot of good that has come out of Amazon (such as Amazon Go) which is why I believe the government has not stepped in on their monopoly yet, the government would not want to hinder their incredible progress. On the other hand, what Amazon is doing is arguably illegal. Although the technology Amazon has come up with is considerably brilliant, it cannot mask the fact that it will destroy millions of jobs and hundreds of multi-million dollar companies.

Given the Whole Foods deal has been approved, there are no signs of Amazon slowing down. Something needs to be done in order to prevent companies like Amazon from expanding too large. The outcomes will impact the economy more negatively than positively. In the near future, Amazon’s innovative ideas like Amazon Go will be embraced, but not unless it is shared among other businesses. If Amazon grows too large, there will be no room for other companies to grow, no competition, and fewer jobs. For now, companies need to focus on keeping up with Amazon so they do not fall behind. I believe Amazon will be stalled eventually, but until then, the market MUST adapt to technological advancements.