A Blog by Jonathan Low


Mar 30, 2017

The Case For Digital Reinvention

Digital reinvention for any enterprise in every industry is disruptive, expensive, uncomfortable and risky. But it definitely beats the alternative, which is obsolescence. JL

Jacques Bughin and colleagues report in the McKinsey Quarterly:

In the quest for coherent responses to a digitizing world, companies must assess how far digitization has progressed along multiple dimensions in their industries and the impact that this evolution is having—and will have—on economic performance. And they must act on each of these dimensions with bold, tightly integrated strategies. Only then will their investments match the context in which they compete.

Evidence That Robots Are Winning the Race For American Jobs

For now, the data suggests, the robots are winning. And projecting from the information in the article below, another 3 million US jobs could be lost in manufacturing. Which does not even begin to count those tens of millions that could be replaced in trucking and food service.

The question is to whether our civilization will do anything about it. JL

Claire Miller reports in the New York Times:

For every robot per thousand workers, up to six workers lost their jobs and wages fell by as much as three-fourths of a percent. Robots are to blame for 670,000 lost jobs between 1990 and 2007. That number will rise because industrial robots are expected to quadruple. There will be jobs in the years to come, though not as many as today. New jobs created by technology are not in the places losing jobs.

Competing Blockchain Strategies From IBM Versus Microsoft: Who Will Win?

IBM is pursuing a more controlled, private model, presumably to capture more of the knowledge and, potentially, the eventual profits. Microsoft has embraced the public model thanks to its broader developer base and interoperability.

IBM has achieved its preeminent success as a provider of tools and intelligence to other businesses. It's blockchain strategy builds on that model. Microsoft introduced tech to the masses. It's strategy is also consistent with its earlier and most prominent success.

The modern history of technology suggests that more open models enhance scale and speed, which favors Microsoft's public blockchain strategy. But we shall see. JL

Noelle Acheson reports in CoinDesk:

Microsoft is designed to work with a range of protocols, its partnerships are with startups, and  business adaptations of the public blockchain. IBM has stayed away from public blockchains.
Both (are) modular, in the cloud, based on open-source code, with massive ecosystems. (But) a bug in (MSFT's) is a public event. If (IBM's) were to encounter a problem, we would never know. The arguments for public blockchain include the broad developer base and interoperability.

Mar 29, 2017

Who Owns Your Face?

Answer: that's a matter for debate. Marketing companies are using facial recognition technology to sharpen their consumer targeting. Governments are collecting similar data - from driver's licenses, for instance - in order to enhance their threat protection responsibilities.

It is likely that the notion of 'ownership' of your face will not be resolved in consumers favor until they, in their alternate role as citizens, demand it. And they show no organized signs of doing so. Yet. JL

Adrienne La France reports in The Atlantic:

Your face is a defining feature of your identity. But it’s also just another datapoint waiting to be collected. At a time when cameras are ubiquitous and individual data collection is baked into nearly every transaction a person can make, faces are increasingly up for grabs. “It would be one thing if facial-recognition technology were perfect, or near-perfect, but it clearly is not.”

You've Still Got Mail: What Explains the Persistence of Email In the Age of Snapchat?

The reality is that in the digital age, we want more access not less. Which means no media channel or platform ever completely dies. JL

Walt Mossberg reports in The Verge:

New types of media channels rarely kill off old ones, even though everyone predicts they will. The old ones just adapt and change. Television was supposed to kill off radio, but radio saved itself by dropping the programming TV did better and started playing hit songs and talk shows. Something similar is going on with email. Like radio, email isn’t dying, some analyses suggest that it’s growing. Few people can afford to be without it. It hasn’t expired; it’s morphed..

How Every Enterprise Can Learn From Tech's Open Source Success

In a world of 'frenemies,' where your competitors may also be your alliance partners, growth is increasingly dependent on sharing knowledge in order to optimize desired proprietary outcomes. JL

Greg Satell reports in Digital Tonto:

What’s clear is that every industry will eventually have to learn the same trick the tech industry has: the future will be made of proprietary business built on top of communal technologies. “We released Android as an open source product because we knew that was the fastest way to grow adoption, which enabled us to preserve relationships with customers for businesses like search, maps and gmail.”

BlackRock, World's Largest Asset Manager, Replacing Human Stock Pickers With Tech

It's not just technology, it's performance and cost.  JL

Stephen Foley reports in the Financial Times:

Funds whose managers use traditional investment research to try to pick winning stocks in liquid and efficient markets have consistently been shown to lag behind cheap index-tracker funds, and have suffered accelerating outflows. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager, with more than $5tn in assets under management. But $20bn flowed out of its actively managed equities business last year.