- Select a blog category
This time last year, I posed the question: how close are we really before automated vehicles hit the mass market? One year on, are we any closer?
The second week in January heralded the return of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This show is accepted in the industry as the overriding display of cutting edge technology – any technology company you have heard of (and many others besides) make a loud showing in earnest.
‘New technology will not necessarily replace old technology, but it will date it’ - Steve Jobs
As consumers, we are compelled to possess the latest technology trends and innovations. This compulsion is rendering today’s technology as yesterday’s at an unprecedented rate, giving Steve Jobs’ observation more relevance than ever before. Such progression is no better exemplified than in the market for smartphones; as the market grows and evolves, new devices are released quickly dating older versions. With 1bn smartphone upgrades in 2015, what is the fate of used devices?
Cybercrime is costing British businesses £34 billion per year, including £18bn in lost revenue, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. But it appears that the majority of British businesses have yet to take cybercrime seriously, even given the threat of EU legislation which could involve huge fines for beaches. This was the subject of a roundtable discussion by a panel of leading cybersecurity experts, convened by Super North in the offices of Deloitte in Manchester.
We have seen much discussion on WiThink on how digital and technology innovation has disrupted businesses in the music and media industry however, while this type of disruption has captured our attention, another one was gradually making progress: affecting cities and government. Similar to businesses, the advent of digital and tech innovation have pushed cities and governments to rethink the way they operate and engage with their citizens.
The world is becoming more mobile. Whether across the globe or at a national level, people can have a certain degree of flexibility when deciding where to live. There are a handful of “global cities” that are effectively competing with one another to attract the best talents and businesses. Appearing as a smart, efficient city, that’s environmentally safe and free of logistical nightmares is a valuable selling point.
We recently held a media and broadcast cyber security event, co-sponsored by Deloitte and the Association for International Broadcasting, where leading figures from the cyber security world shared their thoughts on current challenges and solutions for the industry. The event was held under Chatham House rules, so I won’t disclose or quote anything that was discussed, but I wanted to give you a flavour of the day and its focus.
In a recent post, I explored the changing mix of consumption channels and the rise of streaming and subscription expenditure. Now I want to look at how this affects the record labels and individual artists. There has been debate in recent years about subscription services, and in particular the way in which the artist is financially rewarded when compared to physical sales or download to own (DTO) sales. There is a key fundamental we need to understand, the royalty amount that an artist earns from subscription services is a result of the contract between an artist and their record label. To increase the royalty payments there are broadly three options:
- Negotiate a higher royalty rate between record label and artist. This is within the artist’s control to an extent, however these rates are at risk of being squeezed as existing contracts were drawn up when subscription services were in their infancy and future contracts will be given greater scrutiny.
- Negotiate higher gross payment terms with Digital Service Providers (DSP). The terms between labels and DSPs get a lot of press coverage and with the exceptions of the really huge artists (e.g. Taylor Swift), artists require the bargaining power of their record labels to negotiate these. Tidal launched claiming they will be passing on a much greater amount to the record label which then filters through to the artist, however in my opinion, this looks to come directly from charging a higher monthly fee to its users.
- Generate more streams. Simply driving greater consumption levels will yield greater rewards to the artists. In the future I believe we will see significantly more artist innovation around personalising subscription services such as creating playlists, developing a greater online presence or choosing a single channel for a release (e.g. releasing via subscription services before making DTO or physical products available).
October 13 marks Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Ada Lovelace has been credited with being the first computer programmer as her notes (written in 1842!) on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine, contained what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine.
From her pioneering work, fast forward a century and a half and information technologies (IT) touch almost every aspect of our lives. From how we interact with close friends and collaborate with strangers from across the globe, to how we do our shopping; from how we perform our jobs to how businesses attract customers and how governments interact with their citizens.
Voices, opinions and make-up tutorials can be effortlessly shared on a global scale. The abundance of smartphones, apps and bandwidth allow individual “influencers” to curate professional content and gather immediate feedback.
Organisations face challenges in their ability to influence customers to the same scale. The power of individuals in contrast lies in building an intimate and authentic engagement with their audience. Brands are now regularly partnering with rising YouTube phenomena and Vine megastars to promote products.
These evolutions in technology and attitude reflect prominently in our personal lives. 76% of UK adults now own a smartphone and collectively, we look at our phones over 1 billion times a day. Our demands for streaming videos, uploading photos and sharing our lives have been met by increasing mobile bandwidth. Current 4G network performance is now double that of 3G and over 250 times faster than GSM networks’ top speed of 58 Kbit/s.
With this power at our fingertips, how is the UK public riding the mobile revolution?
2015 has already been a huge year for the music industry, with a number of significant launches and announcements which will heavily impact the way in which consumers interact with content providers and the way that organisations within it will have to operate.
- A consortium of artists including Jay Z and Madonna purchase Aspiro to launch TIDAL
- Apple enter the streaming market with Apple Music
- SoundCloud begin to sign individual deals with record labels
- YouTube building up the launch of Music Key
These events all have one thing in common - they are reactions to the changes in the way music listeners want to own and consume music.
In a world of driverless cars, self-service checkouts and online banking, will there be any jobs left for humans?
In a paper co-authored with my colleagues Debapratim De and Alex Cole, we mapped the historical relationship between jobs and technology by analysing census data from England and Wales since 1871. The data offers powerful reassurance that the ongoing wave of technological innovation will not render humans obsolete.
The paper was shortlisted for the Society of Business Economists' annual Rybczynski Prize and can be found here.
The Guardian also wrote an article on our paper which has generated a lot of interest and debate.