Business Think Tank

By Mitch Betts | Insights about the future of business

The Industrial Era Ended, and So Will the Digital Era

In a famous scene in the 1967 movie <i>The Graduate</i>, a family friend takes aside Dustin Hoffman’s character, Benjamin Braddock, and whispers in a conspiratorial tone, “Plastics….There’s a great future in plastics.” It seems quaint today, but back then plastics really were new and exciting.<p>If the movie …

Innovation

What Will Your Industry Look Like in 2030?

Dell Technologies surveyed 3,800 business leaders from around the world to uncover their forecasts for the next decade. The research revealed a divided vision of the future but common ground on the need to transform and how.Live from Dell Technologies World conference in May 2018, Matthew Saleski, …

Dell Technologies

Google’s Duplex AI could kill the call center

The robots on the other side of the customer support line could soon start to sound a lot more human.<p>Google is reportedly shopping its Duplex AI system around as a tool for call centers, according to The Information, including a large insurance company.<p>Duplex would handle simple calls for the …

Artificial Intelligence

Is Vertical Farming Really the Future of Agriculture?

<i>This story was originally published on</i> <i>Civil Eats</i><i>.</i><p>By now, the images of shelves full of perfect greens in hulking warehouses, stacked floor to ceiling in sterile environs and illuminated by high-powered LED lights, have become familiar. Food futurists and industry leaders say these high-tech …

Aquaponics

These nine companies are snapping up almost all the AI startups

In the current acquisition binge around artificial intelligence, tech behemoths with deep pockets lead the way, including Google, Apple, Facebook, …

Artificial Intelligence

Getting Value from Machine Learning Isn’t About Fancier Algorithms — It’s About Making It Easier to Use

Machine learning can drive tangible business value for a wide range of industries — but only if it is actually put to use. Despite the many machine learning discoveries being made by academics, new research papers showing what is possible, and an increasing amount of data available, companies are …

Machine Learning

The Principles of Service Design Thinking - Building Better Services

Service design is all about taking a service and making it meet the user’s and customer’s needs for that service. It can be used to improve an …

UX Design

Why insurance companies are betting big on AI-powered chatbots

The appeal of artificial intelligence across many industries is impossible to deny. But it may come as a surprise to hear that the insurance industry — typically perceived by outsiders to be one of the more decidedly unsexy industries today — outspends 12 other major industries when it comes to …

Artificial Intelligence

The Death of Supply Chain Management

The supply chain is the heart of a company’s operations. To make the best decisions, managers need access to real-time data about their supply chain, but the limitations of legacy technologies can thwart the goal of end-to-end transparency. However, those days may soon be behind us. New digital …

Customer Service

Is Your Company Ready for the Rise of Smart Cities?

The movement to make cities smarter is transforming municipal governments worldwide. But that’s only one side of the story. For companies, smart cities represent major business opportunities — and not only for tech firms selling systems to government agencies.<p>Technology is reconfiguring traditional …

How Airlines Decide What You'll Pay To Fly Is About To Change Dramatically

How much does it cost to fly from here to there?<p>Choose any two cities in the United States, or heck, anywhere in the world, and if there’s even one flight a week to each of them you’ve been able for at least 20 years now to get an instant, simple answer to that basic question.<p>And, probably with a …

Selling

The Race to Send Robots to Mine the Ocean Floor

When the 300-foot Maersk Launcher docked in San Diego early Monday morning, it unloaded a cargo of hardened black blobs scooped from the bottom of …

Rare Earth

Companies Can Address Talent Shortages by Partnering with Educators

Although it’s hard to pinpoint when skills shortages became the norm in the U.S., one widely acknowledged indicator of a crisis in the making appeared in 1983, with the release of “A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform.” This groundbreaking report, commissioned by President Ronald …

Virtual power plants are now powering electrical grids without fuel

Utilities around the world began installing batteries in the mid-1980s (pdf). They didn’t amount to much. At best, these lead-acid batteries could supply a brief burst of energy before conventional power plants had to take over. No longer. Now, cheap, lithium-ion batteries paired with powerful …

Clean Energy

How are millennials’ preferences changing the food industry?

Millennials are dramatically disrupting the way food is produced, packaged, marketed and served. As a highly vocal group, millennials have given food …

Study: Early AI adopters may gain "insurmountable advantage"

A pecking order is evolving in the newest stage of the digital era: aggressive early adopters of artificial intelligence are reporting elevated …

GM Gets Ready for a Post-Car Future

About a hundred years ago, the United States reached “peak horse.” In 1920 some 25 million horses roamed the plains, boulevards, cul-de-sacs, rodeos, …

Why China’s Payment Apps Give U.S. Bankers Nightmares

Thousands of wallets are buried in a glass box to raise awareness of mobile payments in Shanghai, China. Source: VCG/Getty Images<p>By Jennifer …

Bureaucracy Can Drain Your Company’s Energy. Agile Can Restore It.

Believe it or not, bureaucracy was once a progressive innovation. Its hierarchical authority, specialized division of labor, and standard operating procedures enabled companies to grow far larger than they had ever been. The German sociologist Max Weber famously praised bureaucracy’s rationality …

Robots fight weeds in challenge to agrochemical giants

YVERDON-LES-BAINS, Switzerland/CHICAGO (Reuters) - In a field of sugar beet in Switzerland, a solar-powered robot that looks like a table on wheels scans the rows of crops with its camera, identifies weeds and zaps them with jets of blue liquid from its mechanical tentacles.<p>Undergoing final tests …

Farming

It's Time to Stop Calling It 'Artificial' Intelligence

The fatal flaw in AI isn't the technology or its intelligence, it's something far more difficult to change.<p>The challenge of artificial intelligence isn't so much the technology as it is our own attitude about machines and intelligence. In doing research for my upcoming book <i>Revealing The Invisible:</i> …

Artificial Intelligence

How GDPR Will Transform Digital Marketing

This month will see the enforcement of a sweeping new set of regulations that could change the face of digital marketing: the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. To protect consumers’ privacy and give them greater control over how their data is collected and used, GDPR …

Gen Z is Not Millennials 2.0. Here are 5 Things You Need to Know to Market to Them

Millennials have monopolized the marketing spotlight for quite a while, but it's time for you get to know Gen Z.<p>Generation Z, those born between 1995 and 2012, will account for 40% of all consumers by the year 2020. Although they are "digital natives," these price-conscious shoppers buy in brick …

Public Relations

Shell Spreads Its Bets Around as It Prepares for a Greener Future

COVENTRY, England — There seems to be little about the scrappy energy company in central England that would appeal to Royal Dutch Shell, the button-down oil giant.<p>The little company, First Utility, is an upstart challenger. It offers friendly customer service, and low prices on electricity and …

Space mining could become a real thing — and it could be worth trillions

The race to space traditionally has advanced with exploration and even tourism in mind, but space-mining is looking like an increasingly legitimate …

The $8.5 Trillion Talent Shortage

It’s probably the most repeated prognostication of the year: Robots are eventually going to take your job, and probably sooner than you think. As it …

In 2040, cash and credit cards will be relics of the past

You’ve just got an electric autonomous taxi from the gym to work, picked up a coffee and—in the lift to your office—watched a short advert on the heads-up display projected by your wearable digital assistant, clipped to your collar.<p>In a matter of minutes, four transactions have taken place. And you …

Payment Systems

Digital revolution signals faster trains

<b>Faster, more frequent trains are being promised by Network Rail as it embarks on a digital overhaul to cope with rising passenger numbers, ageing equipment and the construction of HS2.</b><p>The aim is for 70% of journeys to benefit from digital technology by the time HS2 reaches Manchester in 2033.<p>Routes …

Welcome to the automated warehouse of the future

How British supermarket Ocado is using robots to make online grocery shopping faster<p>They call it “the hive,” or “the grid.” Or sometimes just: “the machine.” It’s a huge structure that fills a warehouse on the outskirts of Andover, a small and quiet town in southeast England. It’s impossible to …

Robotics