Friday Faves – What We’re Reading This Week
Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive.
Achieving Digital Maturity
Anne says: MITSloan in collaboration with Deloitte Digital has released a new report on Digital Maturity – the 3rd in an annual series.
The report highlights a number of key practices that are evident in digitally mature organisations. These include:
- Systemic changes to how work gets done
This features cross-functional teams, corporate cultures, recruitment tactics and leadership approaches;
- Playing the long game
Digitally mature organisations tend to have longer horizons on strategic plans – up to 5 years;
- Scaling small digital experiments into enterprise-wide initiatives that have business impact;
- Becoming talent magnets
Digitally mature organisations understand the necessity of digital skills and mindsets, consequently attracting and retaining talent.
The closing remarks should be taken as an authoritative reminder:
“The time to begin maturing is now. If an organization waits until it sees positive market proof that traditional business models are faltering, it may be too late.”
The next action you take needs to “commit to and make digital a core part of your organization.”
Chinese Umbrella-Sharing Business Faces Rainy Days After Losing Most of its Umbrellas: Lessons in Trust For Startups
Joel says: If you’re planning on starting your own startup business it might be a good idea not to base your business model around people needing to do the right thing for you to succeed.
A Chinese startup has found out the perils of the sharing economy the hard way, after almost all of its 300,000 umbrellas were stolen just weeks after launch.
Despite being modelled after popular bike-sharing platforms, its financiers were left in the cold after users simply did not return the umbrellas they had rented through the app. The app allows people to rent umbrellas — which are picked up from stands located at subways and bus stations for a small deposit and were then charged approximately 10c (AUD) per 30 minutes of use.
The part that caused the business to fall into strife appears to have been in the lack of fees charged for non-returned umbrellas, meaning many users simply kept the umbrellas, which cost 60 yuan (AUD $11.60) each to manufacture.
The article also includes an interview and advice from the CEO of a similar startup as he explains what he would have one differently to prevent the mass theft and how communicating expectations better to end users may have prevented the issue all together.
AI Will Help Us Download Meeting Notes to Our Brains By 2030
Nat says: Brain augmentation, or technology that more closely aligns with consciousness, is where the tech-centric world is headed (no pun intended). I was drawn to this article for two reasons. Firstly, I was curious as to why we would use such advanced technology to download something as pointless as “meeting notes” and, secondly, betting on the future is a risky move in itself as the future is created every day in the ‘now’, and future predictions about technology seldom come to fruition. However, the futurist Ray Kurzweil believes brain-downloading technology will be a reality, and he has been right 86% of the time from the predictions he has made since the 90s.
Kurzweil claims that nanobots will enter our brains and provide “a fully immersive virtual reality that connects our neocortex to the cloud, expanding our brain power in much the same way that our smartphones tap into the cloud for outsized computing power”.
The short term breakthroughs from such brain tech are said to include improvements of damaged cognitive functioning, restoring sight for the blind, and allowing sensation to be felt in paralysed limbs. The long term uses include memory sharing and direct communication between brains. Strangely, the office is used as a prime example of where such technology could be used. But the question remains – outside of technology improving our lives, as is the case with wanting to restore sight or sensation, what world will we end up creating if our most secret place (our minds) becomes unlocked and shared? I guess I’ll have to wait thirteen more years to find out.
Bacteria Can Store Their Own Reaction GIFs, and Other Less Important Tech Advances
Jakkii says: It’s been a big week for science news, with so much great stuff I couldn’t choose just one.
In what is obviously the most important story of all, scientists have used CRISPR to implant DNA encoded with a moving image into live bacteria, meaning that the E coli in your gut can now share around the latest reaction GIFs on Bacteriabook. I mean, also it shows demonstrably that we can store and recover data including video using DNA warehousing, which has huge implications for the future. But, mostly, the GIFs.
Hyperloop is a new way to move people and things at airline speeds for the price of a bus ticket. It’s on-demand, energy-efficient and safe. Think: broadband for transportation.
Hyperloop aims to revolutionise human transportation, and if it ultimately proves successful can transport you from New York to Los Angeles in only 50 minutes. During the test, Hyperloop One levitated above its magnetic track for only 5.3 seconds – but that was long enough to reach speeds of 112kph (70mph). It’s a fascinating – and exciting – technology, and one well worth keeping an eye on.
Moving from transportation to teleportation comes news out of China this week. When you hear the word “teleport”, you probably think of Star Trek – classic science fiction. Well, scientists from China have teleported a photon from Earth to orbit for the first time ever. The process relies on quantum entanglement, and possible future uses of it include secure communications. And, of course – beaming us up, Scotty.
Over in Switzerland, researchers have used 3D printing to print a soft artificial heart that actually functions a lot like a real one. Previously 3D printing had been limited to hard plastics and metals; malleable material that could move like the complex musculature and structure of a heart is truly incredible. Though this is a concept and not a device able to be implanted, these advances are heading us towards a possible future where a lack of organ donors is no longer a death sentence for so many people.
Finally, advances in materials science could make wearables actually wearable. Shieldex, a material soft motion measuring sensor has been developed at Harvard and may change the way we create, wear and use wearables in the future. Uses in sports, aged care and physical rehabilitation immediately spring to mind.
Sick of Fake News? Here’s How It Happens, and How to Stop It
Emilio says: FAKE NEWS. Forget the traditional media release, this is what the scary arsenal of propaganda in the digital age is made of. It is also being used conveniently as the scapegoat by embattled individuals (read: politicians) who have become targets of allegations, true or not, online.
Circulate it through efficient and powerful distribution platforms like social media and search – and you’ve got the potential to shape public opinion, even elect a bogus leader to power.
The way I see it, fake news going viral really is a showcase of powerful content marketing – but that’s another topic altogether.
If you are curious about how fake news happens, I recommend you watch this interesting video produced by Wired which attempts to trace fake news in the lead up to the election of US President Donald Trump.
So what can be done to stop fake news? Facebook now implements strict censorship rules including using third-party fact checking to flag potentially fake and misleading content, whilst Google is also cutting ad revenues to dodgy websites dishing out misleading and questionable content.
Whilst stopping the spread of fake news clearly requires a multi-sectoral effort and is a complex undertaking, what is critical is vigilance from all of us – to call out fake news the moment we spot it so that it is stopped in its tracks right there and then.