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Spotify and an audio plus visual use case

Spotify is making an interesting move with Spotlights in the podcast segment (or podcast behavior), fairly expected I would say. In one way it seems like a small addition to the core that is audio streams, but from a use case perspective it’s a rather large move from device in pocket (passive) to device in hand (active). This new use case is the interesting thing to look at, not the technology or new media type attributes.

Will be interesting to see how that plays out. I for one would love some cured tech news podcast type stuff. I can also see the value in added visuals and a new type of story telling and communication. But at the same time, am I now going to relate to, and use, Spotify like I relate to, and use, Youtube?

Personally I’ve been on about (simple prototypes proactively to Swedish Radio) at least experimenting with visual media as they explore what radio is in this technology paradigm. Everything about the definition has changed. Broadcasting music, stories and news over audio frequency (and nothing else) doesn’t mean working with radio primarily has to worry so much about that anymore. It was one mean to an end.

The media convergence happening now, combined with our attention situation/challenge, actually puts radio (or rather audio-first…) in a very interesting position. So far text (text first) based publishing seem to have been best at merging media types.

The threat of artificial intelligence more intelligent than ourselves

Detta med artificial intelligence va? EU-parlamentet släppte sin robotrapport. Massa möjligheter men också hot. Kill switch? Jo, det känns kanske tryggast så. DI Digital lyfter även denna biten:

Men utredningen belyser också att robotar kan utgöra ett potentiellt hot mot människor. Det finns en möjlighet att AI kommer att vara vida överlägsen den mänskliga intelligensen, heter det. Om det inte kontrolleras riskeras människans överlevnad.

från DI Digital

Jag slås av att vi också kan våga se det som så att om robotar blir mer intelligenta än oss människor så kanske vi har en bättre chans att överleva. För så intelligenta beslut har vi väl ofta inte tagit? Just a thought.

mind expanding examples of objects with meta layers

IoT, voice, predictive search, contextual search and so on. In “the future”, lots will happen very differently. Part of that lot, are very simple and mundane interactions and tasks. These two videos help not only expand ones view of how these simple things will be carried out in ways that might still seem magical, but also provide proof of how imminent this magic is.

Here’s interacting with a knob that isn’t there, but the interaction with that non-present knob is physically there. Get it?

Build further on ordering coffee instantaneously from the coffee maker with “pre-emtive orders” and/or voice. “Buy more coffee”. Beep.

I can definitely dig that future.

online mobile in offline and why it’s wrong

Margot Langsdorf from PSFK on Vimeo.

A good reminder of a few things. There’s not offline and online. Connectivity is simply a new dimension and mobile is hence about mobility. Which means there’s confusion to be experienced when/if working on mobile strategy and digital strategy and social strategy. Maybe it’s best to just talk about strategic planning and thinking for being real world ready…

The holistic approach to digital strategy is simply about the real world

In the article Why Nordstrom’s Digital Strategy Works (and Yours Probably Doesn’t), from Harvard Business Review, the three authors (from MIT Sloan School of Management, MIT Sloan’s Center for Information Systems Research and University of Texas at Austin) stress the fact that although a great number of respondents (in their research) expect competitive advantage from SMACIT technologies (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, IoT) – it’s unlikely to happen. Those technologies are rather minimum requirements, and highly available to boot.

The trick lies in how you combine, deploy and use them. Yes, that’s when you add a strategy behind it all. But as is often the case with strategy – it’s mostly a word used (bantered) and rarely a concept well practiced. Reasons being lack of a true aim, a real problem to overcome, no sober discussion around strengths to focus on and weaknesses to accept, overly unrealistic expectation (feels good and looks good, but doesn’t help with crafting strategy that actually helps) etc. So it’s unlikely to happen not because it can’t happen, but because the concept of strategy is so poorly practiced.

The Nordstrom example they use highlights the difference between disparate initiatives in different parts of an organisation – masquerading as digital strategy – versus a coherent and holistic approach that realizes that a powerful digital strategy that actually accomplishes something has to take the full picture into account. Not mobile. Not social. But how everything fits together in the real world, and in real situations, with the business in the center.

This is not a matter of having the best apps, analytics, or social media tools. Instead, it’s a matter of tending to the details of building integrated digital capabilities, one at a time, making the right data accessible, and simplifying processes. Most retailers will struggle to do this because they haven’t architected their product or customer data for easy access by the new digital capabilities. Without those core capabilities, integration with and among new digital capabilities is virtually impossible.

  • building integrated…
  • data accessible
  • processes
  • easy access
  • integration

Notice how all of that has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with how people are going to work with it. And that demands understanding why it’s needed at all (what can we do better, i.e. what problem do we have today). These aspects revolve around the business, they highlight the importance of stakeholder alignment, cross departmental understanding, processes etc.

The authors sign off by suggesting that we Develop a strategy for succeeding in the digital economy—a purpose that leverages your unique capabilities and responds to market opportunities. Then grab every technology that takes you there.

And thinking about how to succeed in the digital economy is, of course, equally thinking about how to be real world ready. So if strategy is a word that sets the wrong tone and triggers the wrong associations – just make it about the real world.

future of key societal institutions

So, as mentioned earlier, banking is one of the most exciting industries from a service design perspective and definitely one on the verge of really being disrupted. Perhaps less likely by new entrants surprising the old dragons, but rather one or more old dragons to finally redefine and rewrite their ”normal” approach to banking.

In my feed, these two initiatives surfaced. Don’t know how serious they are with this, but we’ll see.

nordea innovation challenge

Nordea Bank Challenge
A team from IBM, Nordea and Apple were available for all the teams through out the event.

Deutsche Bank, future of banking

Design boom - future of banking
A future of banking event by designboom, in collaboration
with Deutsche Bank.

If banking, as a key institution in society yet until recently quite unlikely to progressively move forward, is doing it , who aren’t, yet? Library and other public services? Governments as such? Traditional education system? What area or industry is the least progressive and change embracing, I wonder.

Robinhood and the disruption of financial services

The financial service sector is one of the most interesting ones in terms of burgeoning disruption. A sector up until fairly recently not seen as especially dynamic – mainly because the sector itself seemed, and perhaps still is, largely uninterested in advancing things – is now rattling, shaking, squeaking and bustling in every way.

Simple Bank sold to BBVA. Tink, a Swedish company, raises more capital and claims 2% of the swedish population holds an account. In the same area, that of personal finances and money management, is another Swedish start-up in Dreams, helping individuals better save money.

This kind of stuff is natural when you think of the meaning of banks (or whatever we’ll call it). Why individuals need them in their lives. Entrepreneurs focusing on user value, solving problems and seing unmet opportunities, create these things because they should exist. They make sense. And as living our lives involves money and financial services, and technology allows for it, that industry is now booming. Great for almost everyone.

From private finance to investment and trading

Many of the new players in financial services have focused on payment and personal finance. At least the user facing ones. Robinhood takes it in another direction, that of trading.

If I were part of the old school trading industry, I’d be paying close attention as the waves of disruption come rolling in. But, what struck me in the Wired article on Robinhood, is the quote below, where the founders paint a picture, a usage scenario, that really helps us see the viability in the service, and hence potential democratisation of trading.

We all know how toilet breaks, queuing in line, bus rides, ad breaks, just-after-eating-up, micro breaks etc and so on are devoted (more by some) to not only instagram and Facebook – the status check of the collective also known as group of friends – but candy crush, poker, casino and other game like apps, providing that micro fix of excitement. Every gambling company I’ve come in contact with knows (and struggles to perfectly articulate) that intersection of fun/excitement and risk/benefit tickle. But it’s right there in the middle, which is why trading – when made accessible like this – might very well find its way into that usage occasion. I think Roobinhood perfectly exemplifies the importance of looking at behaviours in combination with technology and business vision.

Standing in line for coffee may seem like an awkward time to trade stocks. But for the makers of the new app Robinhood, those casual moments are exactly when they want to reach a new generation of potential investors who might otherwise feel the markets are closed to them.

Robinhood - democratizing stock trading
Screen grab from Roobinhood

From 2009 to 2014 – the deal-breaker that is APIs

an rfid and twitter powered cat door via

Back in 2009, the above twitter/rfid cat door surfaced in my feed. I remembered that me and a colleague of mine (a brilliant digital director now at North Kingdom) had an interesting discussion about possible futures of APIs in general and connected physical things more specifically. It’s really ever since (and before that) that I’ve been bookmarking and in other ways saving and reflecting thoughts on what I label “offline/online”.

If the internet as such is now finding its way into the minds of the less technically advanced, the second revolution re: internet is the physical one.

I often get “oh shit” reactions when I let my thoughts wander. I had one while preparing a deck and a few workshops around the subject of brand strategy and digital strategy considering the new reality that is networks and the dramatic impact it has on businesses, communications, great ideas etc. I had completely missed the Watson API. I mean, Watson computer. Cognitive powers. AI. API. When that evolves. Oh shit. My head hearts.

An API for the Watson computer by IBM
The IBM Watson API, over at Programmable Web.

Business transformation report, by Tieto

My work is never dull. I frequently get involved in workshops and discussions with stakeholders from different industries, all battling the same core challenge. That of change and transformation. Recently I got a taste of private banking. I’m not going to share any of that, but it struck me how true much of this Business Transformation Report, from Tieto (a leading Nordic IT Service Company) and Kairos Future (Strategic Futures Consultants) is spot on and true based on the conversations. Some excerpts:

“Hand on heart: Is your prime goal with adopting new technology incremental change or radical innovation?”

”The reason we do not invest more in transformation is not lack of resources. It’s because we simply don’t know what to invest in”.

– Major Bank executive (Tieto report)

“Even though they might have a rough idea of where the market and technology is heading, they are uncertain of how the business models will play out and what the consequences will be. The questions those executives need to ask is: Will you be more certain if you sit waiting, or if you invest small in exploration and low-cost experimentation?”

Easier said than done, transforming and changing. But waiting to be sure isn’t the route you want to bet on.

Don’t just stand there (chapter):

  1. Do you have a clear view of where the future of your industry is heading over the next 3-7 years?
  2. Would you describe your company as an active future-oriented reallocator?
  3. Do you have a process for scouting and acquiring promising companies or technologies?
  4. Do you actively engage your partners and customers in co-creation activities to find the future for you?

“Consequently, having a culture where people are embracing or at least not rejecting changing behaviours (my marking), practices and attitudes is necessary if a fundamental transformation will ever take place.”

That’s an interesting distinction when working with change. You don’t have to focus on loving change, start by not disliking it so much, and from that position you can do things slightly different. Doesn’t sound as a big difference, but it is. Don’t go for daring to do things differently. Go for not being afraid of trying some things differently.

“As neurologists and neuroscientists say, we become what we constantly do. This is true not only metaphorically. Even our brains are being transformed and rewired as we start to use them in different ways. So fundamental transformation in terms of new practices and behaviours is – literally – fundamental.”

End of block quotes…

Full report accessible here.

Hardware becoming software – dimple

Is hardware becoming like software? What is that even? We often hear about hardware becoming more and more like software, meaning open source (-ish), hackable and customisable. Then, of course, focusing too much on hardware might be wrong. Either way.

This thing dimple is quite interesting as it lives somewhere in-between software and hardware and kind of transcends those boundaries. Keeping hardware intact, yet still customising it. By way of software. Hmmm. Something like that.

(if the annoying “support us now” box is in the middle of the screen, hover and click x. But do support.)

The internet of things – industrial internet

The incredibly smart people of BERG hacked a washer and proves a great deal of areas where connectivity help. I mean, the “find repair people” part alone is worth a lot. Some time, after 2 years of really not thinking about it. Postponing rinse takes care of the “shit, sorry I can’t because I’m doing the washing” problem. There are probably not many products that do not benefit from connectivity.

I talked aobut this and that (which is what interesets me most) with a very technically oriented ex-colleague who shared a conversation with interaction designers of a more visual background and nature, and how that hinders the thinking around connected products. “What’s a couch gonna say to me?”. Nada, but tracking the use of it provides input to material choices and manufacturing (something that today is a part of the manufacturing process, but pehaps could be combined and outsourced to “natural use situations”) as well as feedback to healthcare industries benefiting from understanding our couch-potato-behavior.

Cloudwash: the connected washing machine from BERG on Vimeo.