Tag Archives: technology


Hello all,

I just arrived to Austin yesterday and will be here for a week as part of wonderful delegation from JWT & Mirum Asia-Pacific:


Our group in SXSW 

We will be sharing content every day from the interesting talks in our blogs:




Despite having had relatively rough start in Austin due to jet lag and cramping leg after cruel flight, I had full day of talks already today.  You can read some of my observations in our blog:

Why Living in Singapore Makes You Perfectly Prepared for SXSW?

How I Found The Happiness in SXSW 2018

If anyone reading this blog is in Austin, hit me up on different social media channels.

It would be great to meet.

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Marginal Gains vs. Changing The Game

“The difference between stupid and genius is that genius has its limits”
– Albert Einstein

We have limits as humans.

Luckily we have not yet reached them in majority of things. But for example, baseball pitcher cannot throw faster than 100 MPH. Although pitcher could get stronger, his tendons and ligaments would just snap throwing it faster.

Throwing the baseball is one aspect of baseball, so that is why there will be plenty of evolution in the baseball. Scientists have calculated that even in other sports the pace of development has slowed down and we are approaching the limits. Actually in some sports like long jump we are getting worse.

Being an optimist, I take there is a still lot to improve for us in humans: whether in sports or in life in general (I don´t know why anyone would make a separation between those two). These developments will happen by either tweaking the small details or reshaping the big picture:

 1. Aggregation of marginal gains

“The marginal gains philosophy requires you to look at every single aspect of what you do so you can try and improve it. It looks at every aspect of performance, and tries to improve each a little bit— even just a tenth of a percent . If you find a training technique that makes an athlete that tiny bit stronger , it alone might not have a huge effect on a race. But if you can stack those very small improvements on one another, finding a bit in tires and a bit in the wheels and a bit on the track surface and a bit in nutrition supplements— well, soon those marginal gains begin to add up to big gaps between you and your competition.”
Dave Brailsford on aggregation of marginal gains

Dave Brailsford started as the general manager for Team Sky (Great Britain´s professional cycling team) in 2010. He had the concept laid down in the quote above: if you improve every area related to cycling by just a little bit (most commonly is used 1 percent), then those small gains would eventually add up to bigger improvement. These improvements ranged from the obvious (training, nutrition) to more surprising (every cyclist had their own pillows when they are travelling). The results were outstanding. Brailsford was wrong in believing that Team Sky could win Tour De France in five years. They did it in three.

This works when the competitive field is already mature. Cycling itself is quite established sports, so there is not necessary that much innovation (doping excluded) to be done.

The difference nowadays between agencies is not in the actual ideas, but in the craft. Similar ideas have gotten totally different reception in marketplace and also in award shows. When we essentially are doing the same things, the difference comes in small details.

Has our industry then just become minor improvements and tweaking in quite predictable playing field?
Not necessarily.

2. Disruptive leaps

Disruptive thinking has radically altered the sports. Quite often the change is driven by technology, but sometimes it is also about the different way to approach the challenge in sports.

a) Technology disruption
“I think the players, I put in the book for example that we should go back to wood rackets, probably they laughed at me, I’m a dinosaur, but I think that you see these great players, have even more variety and you see more strategy, there’d be more subtlety.”
John McEnroe (last player to win major tournament with wooden racket)

Technology has played huge role in certain sports, especially in golf driving distance. We are not talking about marginal gains in here; these technologies have truly revolutionized the sports.

Internet has changed the whole ball game in our industry. Either you have digital capabilities, or you are like a guy trying to play with wooden racquet in tennis court. Not only you look stupid, you will also certainly lose.

b) Approach disruption
I adapted an antiquated style and modernized it to something that was efficient. I didn’t know anyone else in the world would be able to use it and I never imagined it would revolutionize the event.
Dick Fosbury (inventor of Fosbury Flop)

Not always you need a technological breakthrough to change the game. V-style jump in ski-jump or Fosbury flop in high jump are examples when smart individuals outsmarted the competition. They looked the problem from a different angle and found a totally new and more effective way to solve it.

Currently every agency is jumping with the old style, where the room for innovation is limited. When the playing field is the same for everyone, the only way you can win is to search for marginal gains. I truly believe that we could approach our business truly differently and take the whole agency business model to the new heights. It is time to rethink the whole jump.

(Full disclosure: These sports anecdotes were mostly lifted from the great book I just read. The book is done by Mark Mucclusky and is called “Faster, Higher, Stronger. Highly recommended reading)

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Asia is Driving Innovation

Unfortunately there is still almost colonial attitude towards emerging markets in the western countries (especially US and Europe). When dealing with people who are not living and working this region, the knowledge of the development and innovation happening in here is still quite modest. Everyone recognizes the business potential, but they think that it is just some void, which can be filled with western products.

They could not be more wrong.

Micromax is biggest phone manufacturer in India.

Xiaomi is the world´s third biggest phone manufacturer and China´s biggest.

Alibaba is worth more than Amazon and Ebay combined.

There are two prevalent myths, which are just wrong. Other is that all the Asian brands are just copying western brands and doing it cheaper. Other is that their whole success is based on the big local markets. These myths are not the whole picture:

1. Asian brands are not just cheap copycats.

Micromax has cheap phones that is true. They also have a solar powered phone. I think that is quite cool. Xiaomi admittedly copies Apple with pride, but it has also totally disrupted the way to sell the phones. Innovation takes different forms in the Asia that is certain, but identifying all the brands as either copycats or cost cutters is dangerous simplification. Price is a big issue in all the markets and many Asian tech innovations have been able to do things more cheaply which is appreciated also by western consumers.

2. They are not popular because they are local, but because they understand local consumer.

One of the main push for Line & WeChat for their popularity, was the addition of stickers. As the script language is slower to type with your mobile, the emojis on steroids enable you to communicate faster and convey more emotion. Facebook messenger has definitely taken some cues from WeChat and Line in its position. Flipkart & Alibaba have understood the delivery dynamics on their respective countries better than Amazon and therefore are now kicking Amazon´s ass.

No matter where you are, you should have eye on Asia. Not only because the region is growing, but also because the next big innovation is coming from (around) here.

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Why Apple Watch Is Crucial For The Future of Apple?

“Premium branded phones are the culmination of decades of research in wireless technology, computing, materials, and design. Shitphones are the culmination of decades of research in wireless technology, computing, materials, and designminus a year or two.”
John Hermann-Shitphone A Love Story

After Apple doing the best quarter ever (for any company), it does not really seem that company is in trouble. However if you investigate the Apple revenue breakdown, there are some things to watch out for. iPhone contributes to almost 70% of Apple´s revenue. iPad (which is declining) is only 17% of iPhone sales and Mac 13%. Services contribute to 0.6% to Apple´s revenue.

Launching the phablet-sized iPhone 6 was brilliant business move in China. The sales soared over 70% in Greater China region.

1.Smartphones will be commoditized
Xiaomi is a great example of this: the phone works ok, but sells in aggressively lower price (thus low margin). Like John Hermann wrote, many technology brands are in situation where “genuine novelty rapidly reduced to thankless anonymity” Apple is more secure than other premium phone brands, as it is guarded with its lock-in ecosystem, but nothing in this world lasts forever.

2. Smartphones will eventually be no longer status symbols
When I got my first mobile phone at the tender age of 12, I was the king of hill in schoolyard. First iPhone was a conversation topic for weeks. New bigger-screen iPhone was a topic for a short question around “does it bend” and that was it. iPhone has already been around eight years, mobile phones even longer, it is getting harder and harder to excite the audience. Same will apply to China, which currently brings huge parts of Apple revenues. Technology status symbols are fickle as the status comes from constant innovation.

3. iPhone eats the other parts of Apple ecosystem
Who normal person needs home computer any more? As our life has become more dominantly mobile, the need for laptop has radically decreased. iPad was the first substitute for your home laptor. At the same time iPhone 6 is killing it, iPad sales have dropped 20%. That is not necessarily worrying; maybe iPad was transition product for something else (such as the bigger mobile). Although you are committed to single device, the previous Apple ecosystem with multiple devices working seamlessly acted as a bigger barrier to switch. Not to mention that the former clue to that ecosystem iTunes does not really do anything at the moment. Streaming services have pretty much killed that business and what will become from Beats acquisition is yet unknown.

This brings us to the watch. Apple Watch is hugely important for Apple because of the following reasons:

1. Opportunity to highlight premium innovation
Apple is a premium technology brand so it needs to be constantly innovating. The recent innovations in mobile phones have been tepid at best (making your phone big require more innovation for jeans makers). Apple watch is an opportunity to showcase their innovation, which entitles them to ask premium price.

2. New behavior
Apple Watch is also an opportunity to teach a new behavior for consumers. If any brand can do that, Apple can. Using iTunes, downloading apps or using iPad were new behaviors for the audience. Jury is still out, have these behaviors become permanent (app downloading seems to still go strong).

3. Stronger lock-in to ecosystem
iPhone is currently the crown jewel for Apple. As Apple Watch requires iPhone to work properly, it is great fit to Apple ecosystem and will increase the time spent on it.

4. Bragging rights
Apple Watch will spark much more lunch hour chatter than previous iPhone models combined. It remains to be seen, do you appear cool or douche when dabbling with your watch.

Apple Watch can be success or not (we will now more when it hits the store April 24th). It is risk because it involves new behavior and wearables have not yet been that succesful. However it is necessary risk for Apple to stay relevant and continue charging premium from their products.

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Forget the Apple Watch, This is the Only Wearable that Truly Matters…

Stop jacking off, start jacking on…
Although I have been an early advocate for wearable tech, some of the recent developments in wearables have been cringe-worthy at their best. While waiting for the Apple watch, the wearable space has been disappointing. Until now…

Enter the Wankband.

As we all know, the main developments in Internet technology have been driven by porn industry. Therefore it is only opportunity, that Pornhub should take the role to be the lighting beacon in the future of wearables with their “Wankband”. The idea is simple: wankband creates power when you love yourself (move the band in up & down motion) and then kinetic charger stores the “dirty energy” which you can use for example to charge your phone.

Although I am quite skeptical that this product will ever reach the store shelves, Wankband still embodies the five success requirements that majority of current wearables are missing at the moment:

1. Simple (Anyone can do the up & down movement)
2. Useful (Your phone is always running out of the battery, isn´t it?)
3. Instant gratification (Although you don´t necessarily charge the full battery, the journey to create “dirty energy” is satisfying)
4. Based on existing behavior (Although no one admits it)
5. Well-branded (Catchy name, good-looking site, mentions in PSFK)

The copywriter for the website and the video deserves extra credit as well with great puns.

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Why Smartphone Batteries Are Always Dead?

During recent years our smartphones have taken huge leaps.

Still even though we have fingerprint scanners, high-end cameras, all the bells and quite a lot of whistles, one question still boggles every smartphone user´s mind:

Why does not my damn battery last any longer?

 The reason is simple. Smartphones in general follow Moore´s Law, meaning that processing power will double for every two years. Batteries are expectation to this, because they are chemical products converting chemical energy to electrical energy. Batteries do not follow Moore´s Law as their “technology” has already been optimized.

When you are desperately trying to find a place to charge your phone, here are couple of things to consider:

Team is only as long as its weakest link
Life is like working out in gym. As tempting it would be to only do bench press and skip all the more difficult exercises, it will eventually backlash. Smartphone manufacturers have been obsessed with new additional features and bringing more power. What they have neglected is the battery. At some point, the drained battery might be the Achilles heel of the whole smartphone industry if it is not taken care of.

People learn new habits when they are forced to
When we still used feature phones, it would have been totally unheard of to charge your phone even on every day. Nowadays you charge your phone whenever there is an opportunity and you are accustomed to everyday charging. People also routinely disable different features to maximize the battery life. Would people be more effective if they could use all the smartphone functions without the fear of battery drainage? One way to increase the battery life is not to use data, but that pretty much defies the idea of smartphone, not?

The solution will come from somewhere, we just don´t know the angle
It might even be that our batteries will never be able to last as long as during feature phone era. The toll our new features put on smartphones is just too much. There will be improvements in battery technology, but it will take time. There are couple quick wins to be had, such as smarter antennas that could double your battery life. The answer might not also be to increase the durability of the battery, but to make recharging faster. If you could recharge your phone fully in 30 seconds (or even 2 minutes), that would be the potential game changer.

Batteries are not a trivial matter, as certain studies say that people appreciate it more than brand, speed or camera quality. That might be an opportunity for some newcomer brand to disrupt the marketplace?

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Robots Should Drive My Taxi

During my three years in Singapore, majority of things have improved.

Trying to get taxis and travelling with them is however becoming more frustrating every day. I mostly use public transport. Both bus and MRT lines work perfectly (at least in my routes). Usually when I select taxi, the selection is based on urgency instead of convenience. Quite often the service experience is not really pleasant.

The rise of the taxi apps has been double-edged sword. On the other hand they have enabled you to get taxis to areas where you could not really wave a cab before. On the other hand every taxi driver is now just circling areas and waiting for pre-booking fees from the apps. Also apparently some taxi companies try to force their drivers not to use the best app (Grabtaxi) and to use only their own apps.

Taxi booking apps and arrival of Uber in Singapore are hopefully just a start in Taxi revolution. I am waiting for the time that the robot cars will revolutionize taxi industry:

Singapore would be a perfect place to test self-driving taxis: small area which is mostly documented in GPS, not many cyclists, predictable traffic, predictable weather, good roads, etc.

Here are six reasons why I would select robot over human driver any time:

1. No mistakes

Google´s self-driving cars have crashed twice. First time a human was driving the car. Next time a human rear-ended Google´s car. I would feel much safer with robot driving my taxi, than have my human driver watching Korean drama from his iPad and fixing his smartphone while speeding on highway (real story). Airplanes are majorly automatically flown nowadays which has reduced the accidents. Majority of the flight crashes are caused by human error. Comparing the

2. No explaining routes
“PIE or ECP*?” was my crash course to Singaporean acronyms. I thought that the driver was referring to some part drugs. Taxi driver should better equipped as a professional to select the right expressway. Especially compared to me, as I am still occasionally thinking that traffic goes to wrong direction.

The point of taxi service is that client needs to only know where he wants to go. Driver should know how to get there. Quite seldom that is the case. I have realized that I am actually checking the routes before hopping into taxi to instruct the drivers. This is waste of my time. For some odd reason majority of taxi drivers do not use GPS maps in Singapore.

Getting from point A to B is not rocket science. Google Maps gets you quite far. Waze gets you even further (both owned by Google though). Robot-driving car would utilize these tools with ease.

3. No shift changes or general laziness
Nothing frustrates more than seeing green cabs refusing to take you where you want to go because it is not on the right direction for the driver. Taxi should be a service business.

There is something fundamentally wrong with incentive system for cab drivers in Singapore. Drivers can just cherry-pick easy drives and even stop driving if they feel like it.

Robot driver does not need sleep, go to toilet or have any of other hindrances human drivers have. It would just keep on driving. Self-driving car would not discriminate depending on where you are going. Or throw tantrums at you because you just happen to live close to the airport.

4. No hiding in the rain
Whenever it starts to rain, taxis disappear. Based on the studies many taxis don´t pick up passengers during rain. They are afraid of accidents, because taxi companies will deduct them 1000 SGD immediately after accident. You will get it back, if you are not to blame of the accident. Again that is fault of the system, but eventually consumers will suffer. You usually need taxis more when it rains and not the vice versa.

Driving in rain, even heavy rain is not even that difficult. People are driving in snowstorms and icy roads all the time in Nordic countries. Robot drivers would not have extra jinx because of the conditions and could automatically adjust their driving style to any weather.

5. No annoying bantering during your trip
From planner perspective talking to taxi drivers is always beneficial.

You get answers and firm POV on about everything you could even think of. I can also understand that quite many people do not necessarily want to hear driver´s view on air pollution, politics or prostitutes in Geylang. Instead you could tune your favorite playlist in Spotify and enjoy a smooth ride from place A to B.

6. No obstacle to card payment
Paying with card in Taxis is a troublesome experience. Despite the card stickers on windows, majority of the drivers try to avoid card payment by any means.

Therefore you try to always pay with cash. Even then you are scolded by paying with too big notes (usually 50 dollars, which just happens to be the standard note from ATMs). Automatic cars could just take your card without complaints and no worries when they will receive the money to their bank account.

Don´t get me wrong. There have been awesome taxi drivers who have saved me multiple times by getting me on time to the airport. Still I am firm advocate of constant development. Currently the service level you get from human drivers would easily be matched and improved by self-driving taxis. I am definitely the first one testing the driverless car.

*These refer to Singaporean expressways (East Coast Parkway and Pan Island Expressway).

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Why Digital Detox is Bullsh*t?

Recently there has been lots of hype about people going on digital detox. Digital detox means that you stay away from your mobile, computer and social media channels for a pre-determined time and then brag about it afterwards in digital channels.

Talk about contradiction in terms.

Generally people can do whatever they want with their life and time. I am also all for people living without digital devices for real. It is everyone´s individual choice and I celebrate that. Digital detox however is just lame attempt to have the cake and eat it too. The problem is that all this hoopla around people going back to the Stone Age blurs the real story around digital:

Digital devices and Internet has made our life better.

This is true to technological advancement in general. Life is better now than it was hundred years ago. Period. Every year people are becoming healthier, happier and more productive.

Thanks to the technology.

As technology develops people develop as well. Before some Luddite turns up the example of atom bomb, I would like to quote Kevin Kelly from his brilliant book “What Technology Wants”:

“The world does not need to be perfectly utopian to see progress. Some portions of our actions, such as war, are destructive. A bunch of what we produce is crap. Maybe nearly half of what we do. But if we create only 1 percent or 2 percent (or even one-tenth of 1 percent) more positive stuff than we destroy, then we have progress”

This the reason why ads like these make me sick:

Yes, it is annoying if your friend is meddling with his phone during your lunch. Or maybe you are just boring? Or whatever happened to the plain old firm saying: “Stop checking your phone”.

Digital detox and ad like this Coke example spread the message that we are digital slaves not capable of control it. This message is wrong and also destructive.

We are the masters of digital devices and social networks.
We can control them and we can control ourselves as well.
That is why I urge everyone to digital retox.

The more we use new digital devices, connect with each other and are open to the future, the more we will develop as a human beings.

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Fart with Confidence and How There Is Demand for Pretty Much Anything

When you market is the whole world you can pretty much sell anything and there is demand for what you do. I think it is a question of point-of-view whether this thought is comforting or disturbing. I was reminded about this when colleague, whose identity I want to protect, because he was probably buying them for himself, put me up on this:

Fart with Confidence

So basically it is underwear, which neutralizes your farts, so they do not smell. Apparently it uses high-technology carbon cloth “Zorflex”, which dissolves the odor.  It was originally used in chemical warfare suits, but now everyone can use that technology when releasing their own private “chemical warfare”.

Chemical Warfare

I understand that severe flatulence is no laughing matter (or it should not be), but I still it hard to not found this a little bit amusing. Especially because their tagline is “Fart With Confidence”.

This odd product raise couple of questions:
– If flatulence causes you uncomfortable social situations, why do you want to use underwear product with such as a prominent branding?
– Who are those perverts who smell each other when they are farting (referring to the picture)?
And if you have decided to practice those weird activities, what is the point of smelling the fart if you cannot smell it (referring to the picture as well)? Is it some kind of vibration thing? 
On the philosophical tip, if you fart and no one smells it, did you really fart?
Will they next upgrade the product to remove the noise as well?
Have they considered using this chap as their spokeperson? Or sponsor this event?

Shreddies have big potential target audience, as normal person farts approximately 14 times a day. Also if you would fart consistently for 6 years and 9 months, you would produce enough gas to produce atom bomb. I found this in the Internet, so it must be true.

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Mastering the MIM: Marketer´s Guide to Mobile Instant Messaging

SMS is dead.
Long live MIM.

WhatsApp has been a major contributor of 25% decline of SMS in Spain
. Chinese WeChat has over 300 million users. Over 90% of Korean smartphone users use Kakaotalk. These are just a few examples of the rising trend of the mobile instant messaging (MIM).

Instant messaging as such is not a new thing (remember ICQ?), but there are certain reasons why it has had its resurrection now:

1. Phones are increasingly more about data than talking
In developed countries nearly every new phone sold is smartphone. Smartphones are increasingly more about being smart than phone. There is app for that, now also for the basic phone features (talking and texting).

2. That data is getting faster

New 4G LTE (Long term evolution) phones will enable high-speed data for mobile phones. This opens new opportunities for what kind of content we can exchange in MIM platforms.

3. Facebook is so huge that it is already mass broadcasting

If you are average Facebook user sending your status update, the odds are that the message will be seen by your family, friends and colleagues plus countless of people you do not even know about. This is great, but serves more of people´s need for vanity and instant recognition. The most meaningful conversations happen with the people you know. Same phenomenon has been also reason for the success of Path.

4. There is always need for 1-to-1 communication

Some might argue that Facebook message does the trick. However the challenge is that Facebook is already flooded with so many messages, it is not that reliable way to catch people (at least not all of them). Phone has been relevant for so long because you can be quite certain that your message is received. Although Facebook has increased the number of “friends”, it has not really increase the number of “real friends”. The amount of those real friends is limited and many of interactions with those people we want to keep private.

5. World is getting smaller

Majority of MIM applications work internationally. The bread and butter of Telcos profit margins has been charging for international calls and roaming. MIM applications do not have those international boundaries. You want to communicate with your friends no matter where they geographically are.

6. World is getting more visual

Although SMS-messages have been relatively cheap, telcos are still taking quite big premium with multimedia messages. With MIM applications you can send whatever data possible and the because of the point 2 the alternatives are actually increasing all the time. Basic SMS- type of messaging is just the beginning for MIM applications and there will be probably lots of innovations in what kind of communication there will be.

What are opportunities for marketers?

Many MIM applications are still quite in infancy regarding their business model. Opportunities for marketers also vary greatly between different platforms. For example paid application WhatsApp is totally ad-free and there has not really been marketers using it (expect for personal use). On the other end of the spectrum is the WeChat, which is currently almost like Wild West with Chinese brands flooding there.

MIM applications are interesting part of mobile strategy for marketers. They provide straight access to consumer´s main screen: smartphone. As the smartphone is always within you, that is the straight pathway to consumer connecting digital to retail. That is the connection which every marketer wants to master. It might be that clever way to utilize MIM is the key for cracking that task.

But why anyone would want to have 1-to-1 connection with brand?

Compared to Facebook where your brand page reaches only fraction of your fans, MIM application has almost the hit-rate of 100%. This is creates a big responsibility for brands. You cannot flood your fans with messages such as “Like if you are ready for the spring!” or “Tell us in one word: (Our Brand) make me ______”. You are truly invading personal space with your message so it needs to add some real value for the consumer. In Facebook you are more likely to get away with stupid brand messages, although they are definitely not recommended in there either.

Here potential routes for marketers to utilize MIM:

1. Daily Deals & Promotions
Deals and promotions are always appreciated by the consumers. With MIM you can connect it phones and also create the sense of urgency to redeem those deals. Of course, provided that these deals are good.
2. Daily tips
MIM provides opportunities also for content marketing. It could be daily practice tips for sport brand. It could be song of the day for music service. Of recent campaigns Oreo Daily Twist could work in Whatsapp. The most important thing whether deals or content, is the expectation management. You have to be really candid about what kind of messages you send and how often. You have one change to lose trust and none chances to get it back.
3. Extension of loyalty card
Having own MIM circle for the valued customers could be great idea for rewarding your best customers with VIP treatment.
4. Rapid Market research
Combined with promotions or deals, MIM also provides vehicle for doing rapid market research and gather intelligence for your loyal customers.

It is too early to tell whether MIM will be the secret weapon that connects digital and retail. One thing is certain though: MIM cannot be left out of consideration for your mobile strategy.

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