Amazon Go Ushers In A New Era In Retail Technology

Nigel Fenwick

Amazon's new Amazon Go store ushers in a new era in brick and mortar grocery and convenience shopping. In the early 80's, electronic point of sale (POS) dramatically changed the checkout experience in grocery stores, speeding up checkout lines. Today, a checkout without POS is unthinkable unless it's a farm stand on the side of the road … and even here we're likely to see Square hooked up to a smartphone. But even with POS, the checkout has always been the big time waster in any grocery shopping experience. Until this week.

Six years ago, "The Ultimate Grocery Shopping App" described a future in which the grocery shopping experience was radically different from what existed in 2010. This week, Amazon has brought part of that vision to life by opening its first Amazon Go brick and mortar convenience store for Amazon employees in Seattle. A convenience store with no checkout lines … with no checkout.

Gone are the POS systems. Welcome to the era of automatic checkout. Amazon has used new technologies like image recognition and machine learning to go beyond at least some of the experience predicted back in 2010. Instead of shoppers having to scan items into their shopping cart, Amazon uses this advanced technology to track what shoppers pick up and add to their cart and what they put back on the shelf. No scanning, no checkout … just walk out and pay.

Why will this take off? Becuase it gives shoppers back significant time savings and it gives retailers potentially enormous costs savings.

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The Uncertain Future of Obamacare and the Healthcare Industry

Kate McCarthy

The results of the United States Presidential election came as a shock to almost everyone – even Trump supporters. Most prepared for a Clinton win, which would have meant that even if the Republican party held onto the House and the Senate, there would still be a relative balance of power across party lines. In that scenario, the future of Obamacare, and the healthcare industry at large, was certain to stay the course. But a Republican Congress and Presidency, makes that future less certain.

Republicans have talked about repealing the Affordable Care Act for six years, backing their words with actions, sending numerous bills through Congress to amend and/or repeal the Act. These efforts failed under the Obama administration, which implemented the Affordable Care Act, expanding access to health insurance to over 20 million previously uninsured lives. In the last six years, the annual increase of health spending has slowed to equal the rate of gross domestic product (GDP). The healthcare cost savings from 2010-2020 should exceed $1 trillion. More importantly, as payers and providers have adjusted their businesses to the New Healthcare Economy, we have seen improvements in quality outcomes including a 25% reduction in hospital readmissions.

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Web Summit Stakes Its Claim As One Of The Most Important Global Tech Events

Dan Bieler

Photo: Paddy Cosgrave, CEO and co-founder of Web Summit

Recently, Web Summit took place in Lisbon. “Web-what”? Web Summit is indeed a relative newcomer on the event scene, but you should take notice. At its core, Web Summit is all about connecting larger enterprises and investors to smaller tech companies. On a human level, Web Summit’s goal is to bring together youngish and enthusiastic technology entrepreneurs with experienced investors and leading managers of technology vendors. The result is a fresh and dynamic exchange of ideas and opinions as well as the mutual mentoring of the involved participants.

Web Summit started only in 2009 with a few dozen bloggers, journalists, and technologists in a hotel on the outskirts of Dublin. Web Summit’s rise to become one of the most important global technology conferences is remarkable. In 2016, the event already attracted 53,000 visitors from 166 countries and 15,000 companies, with 65% of visitors being senior managers, including 7,000 CEOs.

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VMware Is Evolving As A Powerful Provider Of Cloud-Based Offerings

Dan Bieler

With Lauren Nelson

We recently attended VMworld 2016 Europe in Barcelona. The event, which attracted about 10,000 visitors, has established itself as an important destination for anyone with an interest in virtualization-related topics. In many respects, the event was over-shadowed by the VMware-AWS partnership. However, the event also provided us with several additional impressions. We felt that there were several encouraging signs pointing to how VMware is progressing as a business within Dell Technologies, in particular, VMware is:

  • Developing its ecosystem of partners. The event was a good example how large VMware’s ecosystem has grown over the years. Most major systems integrators, IT firms, software houses, and telcos were present. In discussions with management, it was obvious that VMware fully understands the need to partner with a wide range of providers to address the business requirements that enterprise customers have. We expect VMware to further strengthen its ecosystem activities.
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India Jolts Its Cash Economy

Ashutosh Sharma

Prime Minister Modi’s announcement of the demonetization of the large denomination bills is a significant initiative. While he indicated terror financing and corruption as the main causes for the initiative, there are many ramifications this move will have on legitimate business activities as well.

India is known for its love of cash. Uber is primarily a cashless service elsewhere in the world, but more than 50% of Uber trips in India are paid for in cash. This preference for cash transactions arises primarily from following reasons:

  1. The majority of Indians are still not familiar with card-based or electronic payments, irrespective of the relentless focus of the Reserve Bank of India toward changing their behavior.
  2. Merchants in India are forcing the choice of cash payments on customers because electronic payments eat into their margins — just like everywhere else in the world.
  3. Even more significantly, cash payments allow merchants and professionals like doctors, lawyers, and accountants to keep such transactions off the books and avoid tax.
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The US Leads In Public Cloud Services, But Other Regions Are Catching Up

Jennifer Adams

Public cloud services are one of the biggest disruptions in the tech market in the past 15 years. In September 2016, my colleagues Andrew Bartels, Dave Bartoletti, and John R. Rymer published their latest public cloud services outlook, The Public Cloud Services Market Will Grow Rapidly To $236 Billion In 2020,projecting 22% annual growth in public cloud services over the 2015-to-2020 period. Explosive growth in cloud applications has depressed software license sales, and cloud platforms have upended the traditional on-premises server and storage market. The pure-play public cloud players continue to report fantastic growth: Amazon Web Services’ revenue grew 58% year-over-year in Q2 2016, and Microsoft Azure reported 116% year-over-year revenue growth in Q1 2017 (September). In response, traditional software and hardware vendors are moving to the cloud via both acquisitions and launches of new cloud services.

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2017 Predictions: Big Data, Digital, and Virtual Care Key to Engage Healthcare’s Empowered Consumer

Kate McCarthy

The healthcare industry is changing rapidly as its consumers begin to demand more of the organizations from whom they receive care and insurance. Not only are healthcare consumers sharing more financial risk for the insurance and care they receive, but they are increasingly purchasing insurance outside of group contracts via exchanges or Medicare and Medicaid programs. In 2015, we saw the first big signal that the health insurance industry is pivoting from B2B to B2C-whether they’re ready or not-as the percent of business served by group contracts dropped to 48%. Providers and payers continue to struggle to understand what engages the healthcare consumer. As they seek to win, serve and retain these customers, they will need the tools, people, and culture to crack that code and master patient and consumer engagement.

Forrester sees three big, highly visible trends accelerating in 2017: 1) continued adoption of big data technologies to ingest and derive useful, high-quality, and cost-impacting insights, 2) expanding investments in digital experience to achieve more engagement and satisfaction, and 3) virtual care investments continue to grow to serve future demand. We believe these investments are necessary to win, serve, and retain healthcare's empowered consumer, because:

  1. Mastery of unstructured data will deliver customer insight.  Payers and providers must integrate unstructured data to derive patient and customer insight. Providers, particularly, should start taking advantage of health clouds.  And they should begin to apply cognitive offerings to pull more insight from their data. 
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Blockchain And IoT: Not Ready For Primetime, But Now’s The Time To Start

Martha Bennett

Few would disagree that for IoT to live up to its promises, devices will sooner or later need to communicate directly, autonomously and securely with each other. Well-architected blockchain-based systems can help deliver those requirements, but they’re not available or even feasible today. In many ways, that’s a good thing, because it opens up great opportunities to get things right.

So let's start by looking at the challenges that IoT and blockchain ecosystems participants must address. They fall into three broad categories:

  • Technology.  IoT solutions need technology that scales, is secure, and behaves predictably (at least to the degree required by the individual use case). All of these characteristics comprise many different elements. On the security front, for example, there’s the security of the device itself, the security of the actual blockchain, and the security of any interfaces between the devices and the chain, the chain and any other systems, etc. One only needs to look at the incidents such as The DAO debacle of early summer 2016, the Bitfinex hack in August, and the DDoS attacks mounted by IoT devices in October to realize that this remains work in progress. And that’s just security; there are plenty of other issues, including, but not limited to, exception handling, ensuring confidentiality, or dealing with devices that may not be connected all the time, and likely have little on-board compute power or storage.  
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Blockchain’s Potential For IoT Solutions

Dan Bieler

“IoT is not a feasible concept without a solution that allows for the direct interaction between machines and devices. Blockchain is a technology that can help to unlock this piece of the puzzle.”

Matthew Spoke, CEO, Nuco

Blockchain technology and the IoT both are currently catching the imagination of many interested stakeholders — for good reasons. For IoT to come into its own in the long run, devices sooner or later will have to communicate directly between each other. More than that, they must also be able to initiate further action without waiting for external instructions.

Blockchain can potentially add many benefits to IoT scenarios. Both — IoT and blockchain — are based on decentralized, distributed approaches; in combination, they potentially offer huge benefits from operational efficiencies to revenue generation. While these benefits will not emerge overnight, business and technology leaders need to acquaint themselves now with the possibilities as well as the challenges of blockchain technology in the IoT context, because:

  • Conceptually, blockchain technology is a good match for IoT scenarios. IoT applications are by definition distributed and call for devices to interact directly with each other rather than via existing centralized models.
  • Blockchain has the potential for improved IoT features, cost-efficiency, and compliance. Blockchain is not an end in itself, but forms the basis for applications, including potentially smart contracts, which support specific IoT processes.
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Predictions 2017: CEOs Invest Billions To Transform Operations With Digital Tech

Nigel Fenwick
You've been creating digital customer experiences for years now. You've built a successful app. You’ve assembled a martech/adtech stack. You may even have started swinging at omnichannel delivery or harnessed AI or piloted a connected product. So it’s time to declare victory on digital transformation, right? 
 
Think again.
 
Digital customer experiences are only the shining faces of a digital business. Those pretty faces quickly lose their luster unless you’ve also transformed your business operations to make them better every single day -- and introduce new digital faces all the time. We call this capability "digital operational excellence." It’s the 80 in the 80/20 rule of digital transformation. In our latest report, Predictions 2017: In Digital Transformation, The Hard Work Of Operational Excellence Begins,  my co-authors Ted SchadlerMartin Gill and I give Forrester's predictions for the next year in digital business, including these three:
 
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