Here comes the Autonomous Vehicle Arms Race

5

minorityreportdriverlesscars

Above: Sci Fi movie Minority Report envisions a future of fast-moving networked cars

We’re one week out from the Detroit Auto show, 2016, which I’ll be attending. In this new market, many established auto manufactures have shown prototypes, made pronouncements, while young upstarts release their vehicles at CES, all while partnerships between established tech startups and traditional players are announced with great fanfare.

This new Autonomous World has evolved from the Collaborative Economy movement: Uber, Lyft, Didi, Ola, BlaBla have all taught us that we don’t need to own a car to achieve mobility. We can summon a car, on-demand, using an app, whisking us away to our location, without the frets of parking, the stress of driving, and associated management woes of vehicle support. The tenant of “access over ownership” is also driving the Autonomous Vehicle movement, the pains of managing a car can dissipate.

Before we move forward we must acknowledge when companies announce self-driving features, there’s a wide range of features, from driver assist (like helping to park) to autopilot features (auto slowing when a traffic jam is spotted ahead) to full autonomous like Google’s car –which lacks any steering wheel or pedals, learn about the four different phases of self driving maturity in this industry-referenced graph.

The purpose of this post is to aggregate the numerous self-driving car deployments in the industry show the acceleration as the next phase of technology disruption. At Crowd Companies, we’re hosting an event for our members, and launching a premium report that will answer questions on what the business models are of the future, when robots are more efficient than humans. To track this movement, I’ll aggregate (with your help) the players quickly moving into this Autonomous Vehicle market, listed in date order:


Autonomous Vehicle Arms Race Timeline:
While many car companies have secret prototypes testing away from prying eyes, the criteria of this will seek publicly referenced articles from credible source that include testing announcements, spotted prototypes or full blown unveilings.


A quick analysis indicates: the deployments are coming from three groups: 1) Established mainstay auto manufactures, 2) Upstart players, like Tesla, Faraday, 3) Tech startups like Baidu, Google, Uber, and supposedly Apple. There’s a variety of deployments from simple self valet parking, driver assist features, to full freeway driving management.

If you’ve updates, you can leave a comment below, or tweet at me at @jowyang, so we can collaboratively keep this list going, to show the acceleration of this arms race.

If you want to learn how these technology disrupt business models from hospitality, logistics, health and wellness, short haul airlines, insurance and more, this post outlines the major changes coming. The biggest question, which we plan to ask and answer is: “What role to humans play, when robots do it better?”

Welcome my friends, to the Autonomous World.

2016 Brings Additional Enrichment, Growth to Crowd Companies Innovation Council

1

pexels-photo-12233

It’s almost a new year, and we have a lot planned for 2016 to help our members grow their Collaborative Economy programs here at Crowd Companies, which we founded two years ago. I wanted to share with you five items that we’re focused on:

  1. Content and discussions that focus on “how to” deploy in innovative markets,
  2. Leading our members through the six-phase Innovation Journey methodology,
  3. Over five physical events, plus private roundtable dinners for members,
  4. An additional topic focus, the “Autonomous World” (drones, self driving cars, AI)
  5. New employees, to serve our growing member base

Next year, we’ll focus even more on the “how to” of program development, providing the in-depth tools you need to determine opportunities and begin defining initiatives related to the Collaborative Economy, innovation, and other disruptive technologies. To do this, we have a number of offerings planned:

Building Out “Crowd Innovation Journey” Resources, a Roadmap for Business Change
If you attended our October Main Event in San Francisco, you’ll remember our Innovation Journey, a framework we developed to guide members through the six stages of program development, prototyping, and deployment (see below). 

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 9.02.17 AM

In 2015, we began organizing existing Vault resources by phase of Innovation Journey, and in 2016 we’ll be building out a series of useful tools that align with the initial stages of this journey. These tools may include:

  • Member Program Spotlights
  • Company Adoption Survey
  • Feasibility & Readiness Diagnostic
  • Use Cases by Industry Vertical
  • Business Case Template
  • Partner/Supplier Tools
  • Collaborative Economy Business Models Report

Hosting In-Person Events and Online Session, Group Calls
We have five in-person events planned for 2016 (with some additional regional roundtables in the works), in addition to your monthly session calls with industry thought leaders and group calls with fellow members. These events are included in your membership:

  • Tour and Salon: Future of Mobility in the Age of the Autonomous World, Jan. 21 | 3:30pm – 8:00pm | Silicon Valley
  • SXSW Brunch Member Panel and Social, March 12, 2016 | Austin, Texas
  • Spring Summit: Co-innovation for your Brand, April 28, 2016, with optional evening tour April 27 | Hallmark HQ, Kansas City, Missouri
  • European Summit: The Global Collaborative Economy, June 22, 2016 | BMW HQ, Munich, Germany
  • The Main Event, October 5-6, 2016 | San Francisco
  • Regional Roundtables,  Feb in NYC | Others to be determined

Expansion of Crowd Companies’ Topic Coverage: Autonomous World
As previewed by our kickoff event of the year, Crowd Companies will be broadening its coverage in 2016 to include additional topics that affect our innovative members. The council will continue to support its members as they deploy Collaborative Economy programs, while also expanding its focus to assist members as they adapt their business models to other tangential technologies that stem from these crowd movements.

The first focal point you’ll begin to see content and resources emerge around is what we’re calling the “Autonomous World” where robotic hardware and software perform tasks once performed by humans, often using the same business models from the collaborative economy. In January, we’ll be hosting a member event where we’ll examine the impact of self-driving vehicles, drones, and artificial intelligence on all industries and society as a whole. Also release a research report for members and and a related infographic for public consumption.

Adding a New Member Success Manager to our Crew
Finally, we’re pleased to announce the newest Crowd Companies staff member, Carl Bohlin, whose primary goal will be to understand our members needs, and strategically matching them to a variety of innovation resources that the council offers. Crowd Companies has over 200 members, spanning 50 companies, across multiple countries, as such, Carl will work with Angus on member success initiatives to assist the council in its growth along the Crowd Innovation Journey. He has more than 7 years experience in managing peer-to-peer councils at Forrester and Giga, and has a background in IT and financial services. Carl joins us on the east coast.

If you work for a large company, and want to learn more about membership, please submit your details to our online submission form2015 flew by, and I’m looking forward to growing with you all in 2016. Let’s keep the momentum going. Cheers to you and your loved ones in a prosperous new year!

Warm Regards,
Jeremiah

Why a Strong Brand Matters in the Collaborative Economy

6

In a recent webinar, I joined Andrew Reid, founder of Vision Critical, to discuss the new rules of the Collaborative Economy. The webinar explored three paths established companies can take to successfully compete with the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Instacart: through price, convenience and brand.

As we revealed in the webcast and in the accompanying report, brand is the most useful path for companies with strong brand recognition and positive brand sentiment. This is particularly true in markets where customers are sensitive to risk.

This finding might seem counterintuitive. Afterall, startups—the small guys—have driven the growth of the Collaborative Economy. But our report, based on feedback from more than 50,000 North Americans, clearly shows that in almost all categories of the Collaborative Economy, a single player dominates the market. That’s why Uber is practically synonymous with ride-sharing, Kickstarter with crowdfunding and Airbnb with house-sharing.

09

Positive brand recognition is huge for top players in the Collaborative Economy. For instance, more than 40 percent of North Americans have heard of market leaders like eBay, Craigslist and Uber. Many of these same players also have positive reputations, as the infographic below shows.

11
In short, the scrappy innovative startups of the Collaborative Economy have become big brands themselves.

The big lesson: your brand still matters in the Collaborative Economy. The rise of on-demand technologies doesn’t change the fact that brand recognition and market dominance are still closely related. In fact, across all age groups, brand is as important as convenience in determining whether a customer will consider sharing or buying. Brand trust determines whether buyers will choose traditional buying over sharing, and vice versa.

The enduring importance of brands is good news for established companies. Here are three strategies for companies that want to take advantage of their brand name in the collaborative economy.

  1. Partner with companies that have strong positive brand sentiment. This provides a level of brand trust, which is useful in encouraging people to try your initiatives in the collaborative economy.
  2. Leverage your own brand to increase your collaborative capacity. Determine if your brand has strong positive recognition, and if it does, make sure your brand is front and center as you launch sharing programs.
  3. Focus on customer experience to build your brand. For companies that are already well known, providing a high caliber of customer experience assures the continued strength of your brand—a necessary step in attracting customers in an era of collaborative consumption. Engage with your customers frequently to identify ways of providing a more seamless experience, and build your brand over time using customer insight.

For a deeper dive on the use of brand as a competitive advantage in the collaborative economy, watch a recording of the webinar The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy.

Convenience as a Source of Competitive Advantage in the Collaborative Economy

2

people-train-public-transportation-hurry-large

In the on-demand, peer-to-peer movement called the collaborative economy, many rising startups are offering convenience to attract new users and customers. In this new economy, Uber and Lyft provide rides with just a few quick clicks on a mobile app—no credit cards or cash to fuss with. Buying on eBay today is often easier than going down to the consignment store to find pre-owned goods. Finding a professional on TaskRabbit is more convenient than the traditional way of hiring full-time staff.

As we revealed in The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, a report I co-authored with tech strategist Alexandra Samuel, convenience is the number one factor cited by people for their latest participation in the collaborative economy. More than three-quarters of the people we engaged with said convenience was the reason they used a sharing service—beating price and product or service quality.

06

In the report, based on a study by Vision Critical, the leading customer intelligence platform provider, we also revealed that about a third of would-be buyers are swayed to consider sharing services that make it easier and more seamless to access goods and services.

07

On the flip side, however, fewer people are interested in conveniences that could come from buying (services like a home furnishings or gift store that offer personal shopping and delivery). In other words, adding extra services to traditional ways of buying might not suffice. In the long-term, rethinking your infrastructure to enable on-demand and instant access to your products and services is a necessary step to competing in the collaborative economy.

In the short-term, established companies that want to offer convenience for sharers have a few strategies:

  1. Emphasize convenience for your affluent, professional customers. These people place a premium on their time and are more likely to switch to sharing if it’s more convenient to do so.
  2. Leverage sharing startups to offer convenience. Many sharing startups already have the structure to offer web-enabled instant access to products and services. Partnerships with startups could be an easy for companies to offer the convenience that today’s empowered customers are looking for.
  3. Bring local and customer-made products to your store experience. At our upcoming webinar, we’ll share some examples of big retailers that are bringing maker goods from sharing companies like Etsy to make it convenient for customers to buy unique products with a local flavor.

 

To learn how established enterprises are using convenience to compete in the collaborative economy, please join me for a live Vision Critical webinar on December 1.

How To Use Price to Compete In The Collaborative Economy

3

numbers-money-calculating-calculationIf you want to compete with startups like Instacart, Uber and Etsy, there’s one aspect of your product or service that you might want to re-evaluate: your price.

As we revealed in The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, a report I co-authored with technology strategist Alexandra Samuel, cost savings is a key driver in the growth of the collaborative economy—the economic phenomenon where people get the products and services they need from each other instead of buying them by traditional means.

The report, based on a study by Vision Critical, the leading customer intelligence platform provider, shows that price is a significant driver to the growth of the collaborative economy. We found that a great majority of sharing transactions are at least partly motivated by price. Our study shows that getting a good price is an extremely or very important factor in 68 percent of sharers’ latest sharing transactions.

In fact, we found that more than half of traditional purchasers—those who choose traditional ways of buying instead of using a sharing service—will consider the collaborative economy if it means saving 25 percent. Cost is an even bigger factor among younger customers like millennials and Gen Zs.

 

05

For traditional companies that want to win back customers who are now participating in the collaborative economy, price is a critical competitive tactic. If the buying option were less expensive, an overwhelming majority (70 percent) of sharers would consider buying instead.

04

So what does this mean for established brands that are in the crosshairs of the collaborative economy movement? These tactical considerations are a good start:

  1. Lower your price, if possible. Financial savings is a big motivation for sharers in the collaborative economy, and your customers will switch from sharing to buying if it means more cash in their pockets. Offer other value added services, such as on-demand services, insurance, and more.
  2. Reduce cost of ownership via rental. For companies that sell expensive, infrequently used products, enabling access via rental models to your products could be an easy way of participating in the collaborative economy. We’ll share some real-world examples in our upcoming webinar.
  3. Empower your customers to sell back pre-owned goods. Establishing a used goods marketplace could make sense if your customers are already buying or trading your pre-owned products. Not only does this prove product durability, a commitment to the environment, it also provides opportunity for upsell later.

Join me on December 1 for a live Vision Critical webinar for a deeper dive on how to use price as a competitive tactic in the collaborative economy.

Should Silicon Valley Fix Its Image Problem?

15

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 12.33.32 PM

Silicon Valley is known for a lot of positive things, but there’s clearly a negative sentiment from outsiders. The question is, does Silicon Valley want to fix this image problem?

Decades ago, before it was called “Silicon Valley,” it was an area abundant with fruit and flower farms, redwood harvesting, and scattered towns connected via dirt roads. This fruitful area has also blossomed into computer chips, hard drive platters, networking gear, devices, computers, and internet companies galore. Many have become famous, gathered many riches, and helped to change other people’s lives. Today, Silicon Valley is experiencing the second gold rush, where investors, entrepreneurs, workers, and more flock to this region to strike it rich and make a difference.

To understand perception, I asked my social media network of followers and friends who are NOT from Silicon Valley to chime in and leave three words about what their perceptions are of Silicon Valley, see the raw post on FB. The goal wasn’t to argue, or to judge, but to listen and learn what others think. We stripped out any answers from folks that I knew were from the area, and well, the findings are pretty surprising. There’s quite a bit of negative sentiment toward Silicon Valley, in addition to the adoration. Of course, this is not a truly scientific endeavor, these respondents are in my social graph, and I would make the assumption they’re familiar with the tech industry or business, which is my primary topic.

A few findings: There are 534 words submitted that are ‘stand alone’ words. We segmented the data by sentiment; 161 are positive, 192 are negative, 181 are neutral. It was difficult to classify some of the phrases or words, so we had to do some data massaging and remove synonyms. There were some clear trends, as ‘Expensive’ showed up 36 times and ‘Innovative/innovation’ showed up 38 times. All of those wonderful things come with some severe drawbacks, which are nicely illustrated in the tag cloud, first let’s explore the positive sentiment.


Below Word Cloud: Positive attributes provided from people who are NOT from Silicon Valley. 

The patterns are clear; Innovation scores the highest, then opportunity, exciting, optimism, and dreams. If I had to summarize it, this is a place to create and fulfill a dream. It’s arguable if young is a positive sentiment, as ageism is becoming rampant as investors favor the youth. It’s also interesting to see a variety of descriptions related to smart, ideas, and knowledge. I assume beautiful is related to the area, as the culture in Silicon Valley isn’t driven by physical beauty or fashion.

 

SV_WordCloud_JasonDavies_POS


Below Word Cloud: Negative attributes provided from people who are NOT from Silicon Valley. 

Big trends are around the expensive cost of living (now the highest in the nation), arrogant, self-absorbed, delusional, and insular. Basically, if I had to summarize it up, it would be “Rich Asshole.” While the previous tag cloud shows a region where people are fulfilling dreams, you can see how this quickly results in terms like “overworked, entitled, inequality” for those that make it. This of course results in interesting terms like “hype, overinflated, and ethnocentric.”

SV_WordCloud_JasonDavies_NEG


Below Word Cloud: Both positive, negative and neutral attributes provided from people who are NOT from Silicon Valley. 

Putting all the data together, you can see how al the terms nicely come together, including some neutral terms like “Unicorn, Investment, Money, White” and other names of popular local companies. Together, this is a real indicator that this is a dynamic region filled with ups and downs and complexities in a fast moving environment.

SV_WordCloud_JasonDavies_ALL


Silicon Valley has an image problem, should they fix it?
Beyond all the positives of entrepreneurs chasing their dreams to change the world (while getting rich at it), Silicon Valley has a perception issue relating to an insular entitled group of rich assholes. A question I have for you is: Is Silicon Valley aware of this perception gap? Do they care? Should they do anything about it? Or is this just the natural state of an innovation area? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Could you imagine the Santa Clara or San Mateo chamber of commerce funding a PR campaign to recast the stereotypes? Could you imagine cultural education and PSA emerging to billionaires to not flaunt it? Or just let it be.

Update: Francine Hardaway says that Chambers of Commerce in Silicon Valley area shouldn’t waste any resources on a PR campaign.