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I’ve been interviewing many companies on how they’ve been rolling out AI for their customer-facing engagements as well as for customer care use cases. One thing is very clear, they’re experimenting, and in most cases, they don’t have the full support of the rest of the organization.
My talented business partner Jessica Groopman, has published an in depth 50-page report which gives unseen insights, pragmatic recommendations based off interviews and research on how companies need to be prepared for AI. Surprisingly, much of the readiness isn’t just about getting technology and data cleansed –there’s many cultural, impacts, including preparing employees and even setting up a clear code of ethics.
Don’t just dump your company’s data and brand into an AI engagement without having a larger program that reflects five different areas:
Strategy: AI-driven transformation begins with ground-up problem-solving, but must be supported by a foundation of governance and aligned with business objectives and enterprise data strategy. While approaches and metrics vary by organizational maturity, customer experience is always true north.
People: Preparing people for AI is as important as preparing data, and it is essential for businesses to prioritize human factors over technological capabilities. Instill the “AI Mindset” across myriad stakeholder groups; foster lockstep coordination between technical and product, and address AI’s limitations and cultural stigma head-on.
Data: Data preparedness is not a linear destination. AI data readiness requires organizations address their broader data strategy and orchestrate data pipelines and resources for ongoing enterprise learning and evolution.
Infrastructure: Decision-making around the technical architecture and integrations required to deploy AI must align with core product strategy, balance reliability with flexibility, and account for rapidly evolving AI software, hardware, and firmware.
Ethics: The mass automation of big data and AI call for a new business competency: a formalized approach to organizational resources, bias assessment, transparency, and ethical preparedness.
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With a self driving car, what will you do with that extra time and money? Plan now, they arrive in 2–3 years.
The average American commuter spends 50 minutes a day going to work and back. With self driving cars emerging in just 2–3 years, what will you do with your reclaimed time?
Me? I sometimes take an Uber or Lyft to downtown SF from Silicon Valley, traffic is gnarly, parking is frustrating and expensive. I use this downtime to: catch up on emails, listen to audiobooks/music and relax or take a nap — it’s already like a self driving car.
I live on the Peninsula near Facebook/Box/Oracle. My Uber or Lyft costs to 1 Market in SF which is 24 miles away, is $42–100 depending on time of day or type of ride, one way. I don’t have to pay $25 parking, gas or wear or tear (which is $13.20, calculated on 55 cents per mile write off per us tax code, a total of $38.20) so my actual cost is a mere $4 if I take the least expensive ride.
Once self-driving Uber’s and Lyft’s emerge (Uber just agreed to buy 24,000 Self driving Volvo’s) the cost of my ride will plummet as there’s no human, it’s possible the overall economics would be a net positive.
Some economic models (link in comments) predict that the cost of a self driving ride as a service could be as low as 35 cents a mile. Which mean my ride would go from $42 with a human driver, down to $8.20 one way, which is still tax deductible. That’s cheaper than parking at Caltrain and taking the train in, which would also take longer, and still require a transfer, you’ll be lucky to get a seat, during rush hour.
Of course there are significant impacts, as the most common job code in most American states is “professional driver” we will need to offer either updated skills and roles for them, or switch to an economic model that enables care for all. It’s worth noting most of these vehicles will be electric, reducing emissions.
My prediction: some rides will eventually be free as unit economics drop, in exchange for advertising, marketing or even data provided. Marketers will pay top dollar for a truly captive audience.
Photos: Volvo self driving car recliner, Mercedes seats face each other, BMW (Bronze sedan) which I’ve seen and touched multiple times.
It’s Thanksgiving weekend, and crazed consumerism is the top activity, both on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and everywhere in between. Many shoppers are filling up physical shopping carts (hopefully avoiding a nasty elbow or two) and online shoppers are filling up digital shopping carts. Shopping carts (both physical and digital) will be an anachronism in just several years.
In the near-distant future, goods will be delivered before we realize we want them, in a predictive manner. As we interact with products at physical showrooms or online, samples will arrive to our homes within hours, enabling us to try-and-buy, in a fremium model, that we’re already used to with online web services, like online photo sites, online storage, or email applications.
Imagine liking a jacket on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter a photo from your favorite clothing brand, or maybe you engaged with the product while at the actual physical showroom. The future marketing platforms will realize you’re a target customer, perhaps one that has purchased before, or that of a competitor, and you may have appear to be in the right geography, or indicate you’ve a job or cash.
Within a few hours, the jacket would have arrived at your doorstep, before you realized that you really wanted to try it on. It would intuitively know your height, size and weight, providing the ideal fit. Perhaps if they didn’t know, multiple sizes of the same product would be sent to you.
Automation enables this. Self-driving cars and trucks are emerging in just a few years, so the cost of the supply chain and home delivery will plummet, with less dependency on human labor costs. Also, it’s possible a drop box of clothes may have emerged in your garage that you granted commerce companies access to, or a drone may have air dropped it to your backyard.
Of course, this won’t be for everyone, marketers will be sophisticated and vet out real shoppers from those that endlessly try on, without purchasing. Or perhaps you’ve already signed up for a subscription model at Trunk Club, Amazon Prime, or Stitch Fix.
This model will even be cost-effective for consumable items too, your smart fridge, and smart kitchen will know what you want, before you do, and appropriate products will be delivered to your house, or your self-driving car will automatically pick them up while you’re sleeping or at work.
The business model: For products that are un-wanted, the same courier systems would pick them up, return them to the warehouse, replacing stock. For some items, there may be some loss from damage, spoil, or loss. This margin will easily be offset by the opportunity to get products into customers hands, before competitors do, solving a need before customers realize they needed it.
So there’s a glimpse into the future, marketing systems will be so intelligent, they’ll be able to predict what we want, and a whole host of products will be shipped to you. Imagine, all your Christmas presents come pre-wrapped and with holiday cards, event anticipating what your friends will want, based on social graph analysis.
In the above short video (or access directly), I make the case that your future car will be like a living creature, able to predict what we want, and even start to reproduce.
I had a mere three minutes to present and deliver a single concept on the largest physical TED stage in Frankfurt Germany in conjunction with BMW at the world’s largest auto show. Over 180 people submitted ideas, and 6 folks were invited by the TED team to bring that idea to the stage. Of course, I was delighted to be selected. We had many planning calls, and a seasoned TED speaker was assigned to mentor me. I rehearsed about 50 times, and we did multiple dress rehearsals to get it right. Weeks of preparing for just a few minutes on stage –I gave it my all.
My topic? What happens when powerful AI connects to self driving cars, what kind of world would it be?
First, these self driving cars will connect to our online Calenders, giving them ability to automatically escort us around. Then they’ll connect to our smart fridges, getting the milk and eggs before they run out. Then they’ll connect to our social networks, analyzing what type of mood we’re in, setting the experience of the ride. Then they’ll connect to our search engines, and can take us to places we didn’t even know we’d love. It thinks, anticipates, and acts before we know we need something.
At that magical point, these cars become alive, but it won’t stop there. These cars will act like humans. They’ll generate revenues just as human workers do, by offering rides to individuals and ferrying parcels around town. Then, they’ll self-charge, just as we eat our meals and drink our energy drinks. After that, they’ll use their savings to upgrade their tires, upholstery, and even have installed a new VR entertainment system. At this next magical point, it knows to purchase another car, to increase its fleet, it reproduces just as humans do.
In this radical future, these distributed managed vehicles will become like a living species, able to self-sustain, grow, and reproduce. Of course this sounds far-fetched but we’re seeing similar behaviors with Blockchain: decentralized, unknown creator, and it’s growing at a scalable rate.
So what type of future does this mean for society? I address this in the speech, but I am optimistic that we can create a meaningful society for us all, but we need to start planning now –the impacts to society are not an afterthought we can clean up later, these technologies are going to grow at exponential rates.
By Jeremiah Owyang, with co-contributor Ryan Brinks
Drones come in many shapes and sizes, and are coming to a front door near you. Retail, logistics, and the way we shop and consume will never be the same.
We call this trend the “Autonomous World” when robots are able to augment, supplant and replace human workers at greater efficiency. It’s happening in all walks of life, industries and sectors, but the one area that will be most impacted will be the retail and logistics space. Earlier this month, I was a keynote at Etail, where over a thousand retailers were present to learn about how on-demand workers and autonomous drones will impact their business models.
Just three years ago, the thought of delivering packages by drone was a fantastical idea. Today, it is one of the leading obsessions of the tech world, and a future where drones fill the streets and skies now seems inevitable. When that day eventually arrives, it will no doubt change the retail business forever. An estimate from the former White House administration forecast the potential for an $82 billion American commercial drone industry with as many as 100,000 new jobs by the year 2025.
Here are 10 delivery drones that are likely candidates to help companies get there:
Domino’s Robotics Unit
Domino’s is not betting exclusively on either air or ground; if its flying drone venture with Flirtey doesn’t take off (below), it still has its wheeled DRU, the Domino’s Robotics Unit, in tests on the streets of Queensland, Australia. The 3-foot-tall carrier for up to 10 pizzas keeps them hot — and a few beverages cool too — while speeding along at nearly 12.5 mph. DRU is built by Marathon Robotics, better known for its robotic military targets. Domino’s as a whole produced $2.2 billion in revenue throughout 2016.
Much closer to reality is Amazon’s delivery drone itself, which successfully delivered its first order of popcorn and a Fire TV stick to a rural customer near Cambridge, England, in December. The drone is designed to fly under 400 feet with packages that weigh 5 pounds or less within a 10-mile radius of a fulfillment center, enabling deliveries to be made in less than 30 minutes.
Amazon first announced its pursuit of drone technology in December 2013, and with 341,400 employees and $136 billion in 2016 revenue, it is an undisputed leader in the race to deploy retail delivery drones.
While lesser known than the eCommerce giant it’s competing against, Nevada startup Flirtey beat Amazon to the record books by completing the first government-approved test delivery in March 2016, and the drone that can carry up to 5.5 pounds for a 10-mile round trip further tested 77 deliveries from a 7-Eleven in Reno before the year was out. Unlike Amazon’s drone, Flirtey designed its deliveries to be dropped from a cable while hovering 40 to 50 feet above the ground. The startup has raised $15.8 million and, in addition to 7-Eleven, has also partnered with pizza delivery giant Domino’s for development.
UPS and the Workhorse Group
No stranger to the intricacies of delivering packages, UPS has driven to the forefront of the drone scene with its deployment of an electric delivery truck equipped with a drone dock on its roof. Its ubiquitous brown trucks have made news in September 2016, when it teamed up with a CyPhy Works drone to make a package delivery to an island near Boston, and again in February when a partner HorseFly UAV lifted off and delivered a package in Florida.
A lot is at stake for UPS; in addition to its standard-setting role in the delivery industry, the company projects that it could save as much as $50 million a year by shaving just one mile off each of its drivers’ routes every day. UPS employs more than 434,000 people and generated $61 billion in 2016.
The HorseFly is an eight-rotor drone developed by the Workhorse Group of Ohio last year, and it can carry up to 10 pounds for a 30-minute flight. As soon as it returns to its truck-top dock, its battery automatically recharges.
Mercedes-Benz and Matternet
As would be expected, luxury car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz is upgrading the UPS vision with a drone delivery van concept of its own. This one features a stylish self-driving electric van with a fully automated cargo space and rooftop drone hatch, making the entire process fully autonomous. Mercedes-Benz has designed the van with a 168-mile range and backed drone startup Matternet with a five-year, $562 million investment back in September. Matternet had reported $13 million in funding at the time of the Mercedes partnership. Its drone can carry up to 4.4 pounds and fly 12 miles per charge. The automaker anticipates testing throughout 2017. Mercedes-Benz employs 140,000 and generated revenues of $94 billion last year.
Legacy automaker Ford isn’t about to pass on the delivery drone opportunity, either. Though lagging behind UPS and Mercedes-Benz in development, Ford recently unveiled its Autolivery service concept with virtual reality headsets at the Mobile World Congress. Married to Ford’s push for fully autonomous vehicles by 2021, Autolivery envisions self-driving electric vans equipped with flying drones for curb-to-door navigation and even skyscraper window delivery. Ford generated $152 billion in revenue last year.
Self-Driving Delivery Trucks
Mercedes-Benz and Ford aren’t the only companies in hot pursuit of a self-driving retail disruption. Overseas, Charge has designed a self-driving electric delivery van that it says could be ready for use yet this year — and priced competitively with conventional vans. The Oxfordshire, England, startup has been backed by $500 million venture capital firm Kinetik since late 2015. Charge’s lightweight frame can be built by a single person in just four hours, giving the company an initial production capacity of 10,000 trucks per year with just 10 workers on two daily shifts. The electric vehicles are autonomous-ready and emit no emissions over their first 100 miles. A dual mode can extend that range to 500 miles.
In the United States, the retail industry’s interest in self-driving vehicles has focused on larger distribution trucks, and while leading names like Otto and Embark have made headlines with self-driving technology for highway driving, Starsky Robotics has put together a self-driving truck that also boasts of having remote-controlled last mile navigation. Its aftermarket retrofit kit can turn any big rig into an autonomous vehicle remotely monitored by a driver who can instruct the onboard robotics to physically push the pedals, turn the steering wheel and change gears. These remote drivers can keep an eye on and intervene for 10 to 30 trucks at a time. The San Francisco startup with $3.75 million in funding debuted a successful test in February that featured autonomous driving for 120 miles and remote guidance for 20 miles.
Moving even closer to home is Starship Technologies, which has created a wheeled sidewalk drone for small deliveries across town, I visited them at their Redwood City location and test drove their unit. Spawned from a 2014 NASA robot contest by a pair of Skype innovators, the delivery bot can send up to 40 pounds of goods out into the neighborhood and reach its destination within a 3-mile radius in 5 to 30 minutes by traveling at pedestrian speed.
Headquartered in London and engineered in Estonia, Starship just garnered $17.2 million in funding this January and has already inked partnerships in the United States with DoorDash and Postmates, as well as deals in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and Estonia with Just Eat, Hermes Parcel Delivery, Media Markt, Swiss Post and Wolt.
Carry by Dispatch
Another leading contender in the neighborhood delivery race is Carry, a 3-cubic-foot delivery bot that stands 3 feet tall and sports four storage compartments that can hold a total of 100 pounds. While it travels at the same pedestrian speed of 2 to 4.5 mph, Carry is only limited in range by its 12-hour lithium-ion battery. Its compartments are unlocked by an app.
Carry’s $2 million South San Francisco startup, called Dispatch, is testing the bot out on the campuses of Menlo College and CSU Monterey Bay. Dispatch, backed in April 2016 by Andreessen Horowitz and Precursor Ventures, plans to sell access to Carry, not the drones themselves.
10) Amazon’s Flying Warehouse
One of the most widely anticipated concepts for the future of retail delivery is Amazon’s vision of drones literally raining down to Earth from a massive blimp-style flying warehouse. Patented in April 2016, this airborne fulfillment center would house a vast store of popular Amazon products some 45,000 feet in the air and release small drones to glide nearly energy-free to their destination. Upon delivery, the drones would then fly to a nearby collection site to await a return trip to the flying warehouse.Amazon also attained a February patent for an alternate delivery method from its flying warehouse: parachutes instead of drones. And another patent theorizes a system of light poles capable of recharging or docking drones.While the challenges that stand in the way of such visions are daunting, they have nonetheless inspired many to dream outside the box.
Challenges Facing Delivery Drones
Despite the prevalence of successful drone tests across the country and world, the real roadblock to a drone-filled future for the retail industry is government regulation. Regulatory frameworks are lacking and commercial drone rules are stifling. The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits drones from flying higher than 400 feet, at night, over human heads and outside their pilots’ line of sight.
Better rules have been proposed, but that process is moving slowly. A government committee recommended standards for drone flights to the FAA in April 2016, and Congress ordered the FAA to create new regulations that would allow for commercial drone delivery by 2018. The new Trump administration, however, has thrown a curveball into that progress via an executive order requiring two federal regulations to be rescinded for every new one passed.
Meanwhile, other workarounds are also being proposed. A D.C. bill to allow personal delivery devices has been introduced, and Virginia was the first state to pass legislation allowing delivery robots to operate on sidewalks and crosswalks across the state. That law, drafted with the help of Starship Technologies, goes into effect on July 1. Similar legislation has been proposed in Idaho and Florida.
Besides airspace concerns, costs and energy usage constraints — particularly in the collection of deployed drones — have hampered drone development.
But with so many players now in the game, viable solutions are bound to find their way to customers’ doors in the near future.
The rise of automation is destined to replace some worker employment, and it could increasingly cause friction with efforts to create new jobs, a hallmark of the Donald Trump administration.
Many studies have forecast a day when repetitive and labor-intensive jobs will be recast by automation, though the jury is still out about whether the humans now holding those jobs will be elevated to more meaningful positions that utilize automation or will be replaced outright.
One particular technology, self-driving cars, is on pace to emerge en masse in 2021, right around the next election, as most car manufacturers will offer these features in their fleets. Furthermore, Lyft has partnered with GM to roll out self-driving on-demand fleets, and Uber and Mercedes have forged a partnership with a similar offering. Uber also purchased Otto, which automates large trucks — a move that will have profound effects on safety, speed, and the shortage of truck drivers.
Far from mainstream America, Silicon Valley represents a bubble that reveals parts of what the future will hold. Just last week, I filmed an automated barista serving coffee in San Francisco without the need for humans, and a few months ago, I visited an automated restaurant in the same neighborhood. In my local city, Starship Technologies is already starting to ship food to people’s homes and offices using a robot. Mercedes, Amazon, Google, GE, and many other companies are also quickly advancing in robotics.
How will this administration respond to automation? I see a few options:
Resist automation and place limitations. The current administration may seek to limit the amount of automation that can be deployed, keeping American workers intact. The risk is that foreign competitors could leapfrog ahead in productivity by deploying robots, as China-based Foxconn is already doing.
Embrace automation, as it lifts American productivity and GDP. The administration might welcome automation, embracing the productivity benefits it brings to company performance, country GDP, and taxes. The risk is that displaced workers who are unable to upskill will be left in the cold.
Embrace universal basic income. In a less likely scenario, I could imagine the current administration embracing universal basic income, which would be a social program to provide all citizens with a living wage (food, clothing, shelter, and education) regardless of employment status or age. The funds would be derived from taxes on the companies that are deploying automation. The hope is that automation increases total productivity, generating more food, goods, and services than ever before, thereby creating a surplus for humanity. However, IDC industry analyst Alan Webber has given me feedback on this scenario that suggests it is at odds with Republican values, an assessment that’s in agreement with government expert Alan Silberberg in a phone discussion with me.
America and other countries can’t stop innovating their automation and risk lagging behind, as that will give other competitors the opportunity to leap forward. Within the next few years, the Trump administration and other global leaders focused on nationalism will need to prepare a message and plan to deal with the automation that will certainly change the job landscape.
My suggestions: The Trump administration (or any administration, for that matter) should quickly: 1) assess which jobs will be automated, 2) make plans to communicate this to the public, 3) prepare its base with upskilling, 4) and prepare to partner with the technology companies that will be driving this new future. This is the best path forward for the people, businesses, government, country, and world — there’s more at stake than political position.