The Full Monty — August 21, 2017

Tech companies are at the center of a great debate on free speech; Baidu wants everyone speaking into their OS; Apple is expanding Siri; inside Ford’s AI purchase; principles of customer strategy; the fate of online trust in the next decade; how companies avoid disruption; the battle between Amazon and Walmart moves into an unlikely area; iMessage is a powerhouse; Twitter boosts TV; Facebook took a step that will impact influencer marketing; YouTube’s push for subscription music; major budgets for original content from Apple and Netflix; smart speaker data; the best sites for password security; your face will unlock your accounts soon; Lyft gets a boost; new metrics for brand performance; meditating, the classical way; and more in the solar eclipse edition of The Full Monty. Don’t forget check out where Brain+Trust is speaking (final section below).



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Top Stories

  • The alt-right relied heavily on the app / social network Discord for organizing. Following the Charlottesville events, Discord finally took action, banning several of the largest alt-right Discord communities and taking away one of the white nationalist movement’s key communication tools.
  • This has led to a wider discussion about and actions by technology companies regarding unsavory content and activities that their sites host. The future of free expression lies in the balance as tech companies are now being called on to make ethics-based decisions. And the conundrum is where they’ll draw the line.



Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning / Autonomous

The latest in AI, machine learning, bots, and autonomous everything.

AUTONOMOUS

  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will cooperate with BMW to develop self-driving cars. This takes care of the last OEM standing. FCA was last in the race as other automakers charged ahead. Having a powerful partner like BMW could help them catch up with the competition.
  • Ford Motor Company put $1B into autonomous startup Argo AI. Here’s a look at what’s behind Argo’s autonomous expertise in the race to build self-driving cars.
  • At Ford’s Future of Cities conference last week, CEO Jim Hackett reiterated the company’s commitment to having Level 4 autonomous vehicles on the road by 2021, although the deployment is in question: “If you think we’re going to take the [autonomous vehicle] and just replace the station wagon, I don’t believe that’s what’s going to happen.” 


Communications / Marketing / Business Strategy

Industry developments and trends, including retail, fake news, customer experience, content marketing, and influencer relations.

  • Does trust even matter any more in the age of the Internet? Some experts say lack of trust will not act as a barrier, while others are hopeful that it will grow. Ultimately, we need to wonder at what point does trust trump convenience? From Pew Research: the Fate of Online Trust in the Next Decade.
  • Targeting customers is no longer enough. You need a well thought out and considered customer strategy. Here from PwC are 10 principles of customer strategy.

THIS WEEK IN RETAIL:

  • Walmart (a Brain+Trust client) held its Q2 earnings call last week, and in doing so, shared a few choice bits of information: online sales surged 60% (that’s after 63% the previous quarter), food sales are helping discount retailers, and the integration of online and brick and mortar is more important than ever.
  • Walmart is nudging into one of Amazon‘s successful areas: Walmart is getting heavily into the ad business, offering display, native, programmatic and in-store ads for brands that wish to use the service. Combined with Walmart’s treasure trove of data on customers, this could be a very attractive option for some brands.
  • Meanwhile, Amazon is getting into the brick-and-mortar business with Instant Pickup, a service that allows customers to pick up items immediately after ordering them.
  • And Target is buying Grand Junction, a San Francisco-based startup that connects retailers and other distributors to a network of more than 700 carriers across North America, a move to better go toe-to-toe with rivals Amazon and Walmart on same-say delivery.
  • Costco owes Tiffany $19M for using the luxury retailer’s name without permission in conjunction with diamond sales at its stores and online. From the famous blue box to a big box


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Platforms 

News to know about relevant social, virtual, and augmented reality platforms that may affect your business.

  • Huddle is a mental health app that gives users a safe space to discuss mental health and to avoid the stigma in public spaces such as on Facebook or Twitter. How great to see the tech industry create something not it just because he could, but rather because it answers a real need for millions of people.
  • How iMessage came to dominate messaging among US teens: studies show upward of 70% of teens on it. Where Apple may go with it to disrupt apps like Snapchat, Messenger. iMessage is a social platform for teens. It’s currently the center of their immediate, social universe.

TWITTER / PERISCOPE

FACEBOOK / INSTAGRAM / WHATSAPP

ALPHABET / GOOGLE / YOUTUBE

AR / VR

  • Facebook is developing futuristic smart glasses that will likely put it squarely in the augmented reality business. The smart glasses would be able to display images, video, and work with connected speakers or headphones to play audio when worn.
  • John Arrow, founder and chairman of Mutual Mobile, opined on the future of tech, particularly on how VR will play a role in meetings and conferences


Media

The latest in the world of streaming video, audio, and the advertising, pricing and bundling models related to them.

VIDEO

AUDIO

  • Public radio stations are using Amazon’s smart speakers to discover new ways of reaching their audiences. The platform incorporates “skills,” which allow users to access content or information from a specific company or organization by saying a specific phrase. Stations want to ensure that they control the geotargeting, not third parties. There are lessons here for any business that has local branches.
  • Make no mistake: music will aid the rise of the smart speaker. And vice versa.
  • The latest data from Edison Research shows that 58% of VA smart speaker owners had listened to music for an average of 4 hours 34 minutes in the previous week, and 65% said they are listening to more music since buying a smart speaker.
  • Thinking of getting into the audio industry. Here’s a back-of-the-envelope survey on how much audio producers are earning.
  • Do you know George Guidall? You should. He’s the undisputed king of audio books.
  • Program of the Week: This week’s recommendation comes to us from Dan York: For Immediate Release. For over 12 years, Shel Holtz has hosted this weekly podcast on “the intersection of business communications and social media, technology and more.” The show features different panels of guests covering the latest topics of interest. Do you have a program to recommend? Add yours to our Google Sheet: smonty.co/yourpodcasts.  


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Regulatory / Security 

Business disruptions in the legal, regulatory, and computer security fields, from hacking to the on-demand economy and more.

SECURITY / HACKING:

    ON-DEMAND ECONOMY


    Measurement / Analytics / Data

    The future is not in plastics, but in data. Those who know how to measure and analyze it will rule the world.


    Mental Nourishment

    Other links to help you reflect, improve, or simply learn something new.


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    Top photo credit: Eclipse by Eugene Atget, Metropolitan Museum of Art (public domain)

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