Consultant obsolescence – coming soon!

December 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Some cheer just in time for the holidays. Apparently all humans are going to be obsolete in ~125 years according a new study by academics as explained in the “Economist’s World in 2018“. The profession that apparently will survive the longest is (maybe not surprisingly) people doing AI research.

economist death march

Consultants (although they not called out), probably fall somewhere between a retail salesperson and an best selling author; so maybe they have about 20 years to go. That’s still probably 20 years too long per most of the the consultants’ clients.

Categories: technology, trends Tags: ,

Shattering the ML prediction hysteria

November 26, 2017 Leave a comment

MLThere’s a not a single day that goes by without an article or ten about how ML (machine learning) is going to take over the world. (e.g. a quick search on Google today offers predictions about it transforming customer service, transforming out cities etc.).

So it was refreshing to read an article in MIT’s Tech Review (“The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions”) about what’s real in ML vs. what’s hype and an over extrapolation. In essence, the author (who just happens to be the founder of iRobot among other accomplishments) offers a few reasons:

  • We overestimate tech in the short run and overestimate in the long run (think GPS)
  • All tech has limits. We are not taking that into account yet for ML
  • ML today is pretty narrow in what it can do
  • We’re stretching (too far) the concept of learning
  • The speed of deployment is going to be limited by what tech already exists (e.g. PLCs are being used in Tesla’s ultra modern factory in Freemont)

Definitely worth a read.

Categories: interesting, technology Tags:

Humor: PowerPoint torture

November 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Consulting interview for lateral hires. Another one from Bob’s book

powerpoint torture

Categories: humor Tags: ,

Origins of PowerPoint

November 8, 2017 Leave a comment

For those consultants (and other corporate monkeys) that have the unfortunate need to spend their waking hours in PowerPoint, I thought this article from IEEE on the history of the software may be interesting. Apparently one of the first decks was a fictional pitch from Columbus to the Queen of Spain.

first powerpoint

What surprised me was how little things have actually changed. Sure there are more bells and whistles, but the essentials are pretty much the same as they were 30 years ago. Maybe the evolution to long form word documents that Amazon famously imposed is way overdue.

Humor: The joys of consulting

November 6, 2017 Leave a comment

For all the consultants out there and those that have been on the buying / receiving side, this should ring a bell.

consulting risks

Another classic from the New Yorker. This one is from the book by Bob Mankoff, the former cartoon editor of the New Yorker.

Categories: consulting, humor Tags: ,

Consumption patterns of the 1%

November 3, 2017 Leave a comment

sum of small thingsFor those that are trying to understand the future spending patterns of the 1% (and the others that are aspiring to get there), the new book by Elizabeth Halkett (“The Sum of Small Things“) may not be a bad place to start (at all). Unlike other books that are based on hypothesis and mere observation, the strength of this book is the unique data set that the author (and her doctoral student) have been able to parse and synthesize. And what a synthesis it is: the book is full of really interesting insights. E.g.:

  • Travelers who spend over $100k annually on trips have increased their spending ~2-3x compared to the “regular traveler” (who spend ~$10k a year). Wow.
  • ~80% of Whole Food customers have a college degree
  • The number of farmers markets have doubled to ~8000 over the last 4 years
  • American made apparel dropped from ~55% to ~2% between 1991 and 2012
  • New Yorkers spend 27x more on watches than everyone else (in the US)
  • ….and so on!

You get the idea. It’s a longish read, and at times a bit pedantic, but worth it if you are trying to understand consumption patterns.

Categories: books, trends Tags:

Future of warehouses?

November 2, 2017 Leave a comment

It seems like there’s not a week (or is it day?) that goes by without much hand wringing about how machines are going to take over humans. The New Yorker led with this this week on its cover. Buried in the article on this topic was a eye opening (for me) piece on the future of warehousing, led by companies such as Symbiotic.

warehouse future

What’s different about companies such as these (rather than companies that simply automate pieces of the way warehouses currently work), is that they sell fully automated warehouse systems. A few tidbits that caught my eye:

  • Since the robots don’t need light to operate, the warehouse requires 35% less energy than conventional warehouses.
  • The warehouses can run ~24 hours a day.
  • It costs ~$50M to install, and pays for itself in about 4.5 years
  • Apparently Target, Walmart and Coca Cola are experimenting with this

If you are interested , there’s a longer (but older) article on this from the WSJ.