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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.

 

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Machines, platforms, crowds

machine platform crowd

In a new book, Machine, Platforms and Crowds, the authors (Messrs. McAfee and Brynjolfsson, both from MIT) do a good job of stepping back and look at the overall tech landscape and what it could mean for how companies operate.

This is not their first rodeo (they have previously written good books – e.g. The Second Machine age) and it shows. A chunk of the material is repetitive, but there are good sections on the economics of platforms, the potential impact of Blockchain on companies and how companies should think about each of the key tech trends. Their central thesis is the competition is not between machine vs. man, platform vs. app or core vs crowd, but really that the smart companies will leverage both sides of the coin. Some tidbits:

  • As of 2012, Google was not using deep learning at all; by 2015 it was being used in about 1200 projects
  • In the mid 1990s, the US had ~2400 newspapers and generated about $46B in revenue. By 2013, total revenue had fallen by 70%
  • 2017 was the first year in the last 50 years that a new indoor mall didn’t open in the US
  • An estimated 130M books have been published throughout human history, of which about 30M are the Library of Congress.
  • Between 2011 and 2016 Apple acquired 70 companies, Facebook more than 50, and Google almost 200

Overall, worth a read. If you are in a hurry, they were also featured on a A16Z podcast recently.

Categories: books, future, technology Tags: ,

Amazon acendant

It’s easy to forget how dominant Amazon has become in our lives. An article from the Economist a few weeks ago (I’m behind!) is a good reminder. Some tidbits:

  • It is now the world’s fifth largest company by value (currently at ~$400B), with sales at about $140B
  • It accounts for 5% of retail spending in the US (roughly half of Walmart)
  • Alexa already has has ~10,000 skills (sort of akin to apps), despite the recency of its launch
  • Amazon spends twice as much much on movies / TV than HBO
  • The number of Amazon prime customers is now ~72M, up 32% from 2015.

amazon on fire

Only 10 firms with sales of more $50B have managed to grow by 15% for over 10 years since 1950; no company over $100B has pulled that off. Can Amazon be the one? I wouldn’t rule it out.

Nice read.

Categories: future, trends

Hot temperatures lead to hot tempers

February 13, 2017 Leave a comment

If you thought the public discourse on social media wasn’t civil now, there may be more bad news as the world gets hotter. MIT tech review published this in the latest edition and the data is apparently a study of over a billion tweets.

profanity.png

Apparently there’s a correlation between profanity (at least in tweets) and the ambient temperature.  If you are looking for the original paper for more details it can be found here.

Categories: future, interesting Tags:

Uber domination

September 7, 2016 Leave a comment

The Economist had a nice article on Uber this week and how it’s poised for world domination.

uber-dominates

 

Apparently, it now operates in 72 countries, 425 cities, with an estimated revenue of ~$4B/year. However, most of Uber’s bookings are just made in 20 of those 425 cities. Worth a quick scan.

Categories: future, travel, trends Tags: ,

Amazon airships?

The New Yorker had an interesting article about the old/new technology of airships .

Airships.fc

Two points caught my eye:

  • Early zepplins were made from cow intestines. Apparently it took 250k cows to make one airship. Ouch.
  • Apparently “more than two-thirds of the world’s land area and more than half the world’s population has no direct access to paved roads”. That’s a lot.

Move over drones, it’s time for the Amazon airships.

Categories: future, interesting, trends Tags:

A peek into the future of consulting?

November 8, 2015 Leave a comment

The Economist had an early review of a new book that promises a look into the future of professional work (including, I’m assuming consulting).

future of professions

The summary seems to be that technology is going to take away a lot of the work that we normally do. I agree on the mundane things (gathering data, looking for trends, …); I’m less convinced when it comes to the non-sexy, but essential part of consulting (e.g. managing clients, understanding client dynamics / politics). Looks interesting.

Categories: books, consulting, future Tags: ,