Why I Enjoy Printed Publications on My Travels
With lots of business travel this week & last, together with having already recently authored a detailed post on Brexit letter, I’ve decided to take it easier this time. Based on my reading while travelling, here is a review of a few articles from printed magazines that I found helpful.
I’ve previously sung the praises of listening podcasts (which I find particularly useful while driving on business) and insight newsletters (that I skim during my morning routine). However, probably like you, I also spend a fair amount of time traveling on trains & planes. During these journeys, there are times when it is just easier to have a printed magazine to read. I, for one, still value that format.
But, as more and more valued insight publications go digital only (including the much mourned DataIQ Magazine), what is there still out there in printed form to read?
Well, in this post I hope to share a few with you. Please ignore the irony of (because of the media) sharing links to their digital versions. If we have a chance to meet for a coffee, I will gladly lend you a physical version, or you can subscribe at their sites.
Why the insight challenge is different for B2B businesses
The first article to grab my attention (whilst flying in this case), was one in Database Marketing magazine. For those familiar with this publication, for many years it has provided the ‘voice of the industry‘. A chance to keep up to date with what is happening in the worlds of data & database marketing providers.
Despite being predominantly full of ‘supplier voices’, it still manages to have some article well worth reading by client-side data & analytics leaders. In this, first one, a quartet of Simon Lawrence (Uncommon Knowledge), Nigel Magson (Adroit), Jon Clarke (Cyance) & Adam Erbert (Market Location) share their experience of applying data insights in B2B contexts. As they highlight, a lot of groundwork is needed to improve data that is normally in a worse state than B2C data & in which any definition of Single Client View is more complex/nuanced. Despite the challenges, the authors so a good job of highlighting the opportunity for B2B firms to benefit from insights through segmentations, prioritised relationship marketing & list filtering. Worth a read for anyone working in B2B.
Controversial analysis of ‘Minorities march on Middle England’
In danger of reading more like a Daily Mail headline, this is actually the title of a fascinating (if controversial) article by Professor Richard Webber. Readers will probably know him as the ‘father of Mosaic’ and arguably the widespread use of sociodemographic segmentations purchased by so many businesses. Always worth listening too (especially to understand the attribution work that goes on behind the scenes when launching an updated version), in this short piece, Prof Webber outlines evidence of cultural diversity reaching Middle England.
Based on simply postcode & surname analysis (with ethnic origin implied by surnames), it is interesting to hear evidence of this movement away from city centres (including inner London). The evidence for greater use of multiple retailers & questions on readiness of leafy suburbs to offer greater diversity are interesting. Worth reading & just checking that your own interpretations are assuming an ethnic origin mix in your consumers that is outdated (in terms of location).
Are you considering emotions & behavioural biases in your treats for customers?
As an associate of British Psychological Society (BPS), to inform my coaching work, I also benefit from receiving monthly “The Psychologist” magazine. In the April 2017 edition, I was pleased to see an article from Jonathan Myers on how we all make choices.
With the engaging title of “Chocolate cake, sex & valuing behaviour“, in this well written piece, Jonathan offers a layman’s overview of the evidence for both emotions and other behavioural biases negatively influencing how we make choices. Despite also working on application of this understanding to Financial Services, Jonathan offers an engaging list of examples from everyday life & wider society. This is supported by evidence from both behavioural trials and neuroscience monitoring studies.
A useful read, especially as an introduction to this field.
Stressful thinking patterns are bad for your heart, so stop & breath deeply
If you are also a director, you may have also signed up to the Institute of Directors and benefit from their range of member benefits. For me, the use of airport lounges & Regus business lounges alone pays the cost of my subscription. Anyway, avoiding an advert for them, I reference the IoD as they also send me the beautifully produced “Director” magazine. On a train this time, it was my final magazine reading to share this week.
Following up on the above psychological theme, the IoD editorial team included an interesting short article, summarising a recent study published in The Lancet. That study suggests the link between stress and cardiovascular disease could lie in the brain. It seems some people may have a higher sensitivity to too much stressful thinking in the amygdala causing more white blood cells to be produced by bone marrow, causing damage to the arteries & greater risk of heart attack.
Just one more reason to take the advice of Mindfulness trainers to heart. Practice breathing exercises & being more present focussed. It has helped me.
Rosie the Robot, Amazon, and the Future of RAAI
Written by: Travis Briggs, CEO at ROBO Global US
It’s tough to find a kid out there who hasn’t dreamed about robots. Long before artificial intelligence existed in the real world, the idea of a non-human entity that could act and think like a human has been rooted in our imaginations. According to Greek legends, Cadmus turned dragon teeth into soldiers, Hephaestus fabricated tables that could “walk” on their own three legs, and Talos, perhaps the original “Tin Man,” defended Crete. Of course, in our own times, modern storytellers have added hundreds of new examples to the mix. Many of us grew up watching Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons. As we got older, the stories got more sophisticated. “Hal” in 2001: A Space Odyssey was soon followed by R2-D2 and C-3PO in the original Star Wars trilogy. RoboCop, Interstellar, and Ex Machina are just a few of the recent additions to the list.
Maybe it’s because these stories are such a part of our culture that few people realize just how far robotics has advanced today—and that artificial intelligence is anything but a futuristic fantasy. Ask anyone outside the industry how modern-day robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are used in the real world, and the answers are usually pretty generic. Surgical robots. Self-driving cars. Amazon’s Alexa. What remains a mystery to most is the immense and fast-growing role the combination of robotics automation and artificial intelligence, or RAAI (pronounced “ray”), plays in nearly every aspect of our everyday lives.
Today, shopping online is something most of us take for granted, and yet eCommerce is still in its relative infancy. Despite double-digit growth in the past four years, only 8% of total retail spending is currently done online. That number is growing every day. Business headlines in July announced that Amazon was on a hiring spree to add another 50K fulfillment employees to its already massive workforce. While that certainly reflects the shift from brick-and-mortar to web-based retail, it doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what this growth means for the technology and application firms that deliver the RAAI tools required to support the momentum of eCommerce. In 2017, only 5% of the warehouses that fuel eCommerce are even partially automated. This means that to keep up with demand, the application of RAAI will have to accelerate—and fast. In fact, RAAI is a key driver of success for top e-retailers like Amazon, Apple, and Wal-Mart as they strive to meet the explosion in online sales.
From an investor’s perspective, this fast-growing demand for robotics, automation and artificial intelligence is a promising opportunity—especially in logistics automation that includes the tools and technologies that drive efficiencies across complex retail supply chains. Considering the fact that four of the top ten supply chain automation players were acquired in the past three years, it’s clear that the industry is transforming rapidly. Amazon’s introduction of Prime delivery (which itself requires incredibly sophisticated logistics operations) was only made possible by its 2012 acquisition of Kiva Systems, the pioneer of autonomous mobile robots for warehouses and supply chains. Amazon recently upped the ante yet again with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market, which not only adds 450 warehouses to its immense logistics network, but is also expected to be a game-changer for the online grocery retail industry.
Clearly Amazon isn’t the only major driver of innovation in logistics automation. It’s just the largest, at least for the moment. It’s no wonder that many RAAI companies have outperformed the S&P500 in the past three years. And while some investors have worried that the RAAI movement is at risk of creating its own tech bubble, the growth of eCommerce is showing no signs of reaching a peak. In fact, if the online retail industry comes even close to achieving the growth predicted—of doubling to an amazing $4 trillion by 2020—it’s likely that logistics automation is still in the early stages of adoption. For best-of-breed players in every area of logistics automation, from equipment, software, and services to supply chain automation technology providers, the potential for growth is tremendous.
How can investors take advantage of the growth in robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence?
One simple way to track the performance of these markets is through the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index. The logistics subsector currently accounts for around 9% of the index and is the best performing subsector since its inception. The index includes leading players in every area of RAAI, including material handling systems, automated storage and retrieval systems, enterprise asset intelligence, and supply chain management software across a wide range of geographies and market capitalizations. Our index is research based and we apply quality filters to identify the best high growth companies that enable this infrastructure and technology that is driving the revolution in the retail and distribution world.
When I was a kid, I may have dreamed of having a Rosie the Robot of my own to help do my chores, but I certainly had no idea how her 21st century successors would revolutionize how we shop, where we shop, and even how we receive what we buy - often via delivery to our doorstep on the very same day. Of course, the use of RAAI is by no means limited to eCommerce. It’s driving transformative change in nearly every industry. But when it comes to enabling the logistics automation required to support a level of growth rarely seen in any industry, RAAI has a lot of legs to stand on—even if those “legs” are anything but human.
To learn more, download A Look Into Logistics Automation, our July 2017 whitepaper on the evolution and opportunity of logistics automation.
The ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation Index and the ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation UCITS Index (the “Indices”) are the property of ROBO who have contracted with Solactive AG to calculate and maintain the Indices. Past performance of an index is not a guarantee of future results. It is not intended that anything stated above should be construed as an offer or invitation to buy or sell any investment in any Investment Fund or other investment vehicle referred to in this website, or for potential investors to engage in any investment activity.
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