Article on ‘Silos’ in Brand Quarterly

Thanks to Brand Quarterly for publishing my article on the challenge of ‘silos’ in retail. Charged with being simultaneously agile/flexible and stable/optimised, organisational silos were an answer to the latter, yet create a barrier to the former. In this article I discuss the balance that retail leaders must strike in order to benefit from flexibility as well as efficiency.

The Eternal Battle In Multichannel Retail: Flexibility Vs Efficiency

 

Webwanderings for June 25th through June 26th

These are my links for June 25th through June 26th:

  • Coca-Cola European Partners to invest £39m in UK facility | FoodBev Media – Infrastructure and investment. Part of the ongoing IR theme that in order to success in the post-retail age you need invention, investment and integrity (less so ‘just’ innovation, which in a competitive sector is widespread).
  • Edge Cases For Self Driving Cars – Rodney Brooks
  • The key to jobs in the future is not college but compassion | Aeon Essays – Twin argument of ‘caring/emotional’ work in the future and the fact that never-ending education is not a solution. Example being an overqualified doctor working 80 hours a week, but lacking empathy… when AI can diagnose more effectively where is the new value?”The US economists W Norton Grubb and Marvin Lazerson call the belief in more schooling as the solution to every labour problem the ‘education gospel’. As Grubb argued in a 2005 talk, having more education tends to help individuals find better work, but that doesn’t make schooling a good overall economic strategy. In fact, he said, 30 to 40 per cent of workers in developed countries already have more education than their jobs demand.”
  • Opinion | The Real Threat of Artificial Intelligence – “Service jobs of love” and ‘strength negate strength’. The impact of AI will concentrate power in the hands of the us and china, and leave only ’emotional’ and interface jobs.
    Interesting article.
    Note too the characterisation of current AI as ‘spreadsheets on steroids’ – main point being that solutions are domain- and purpose-specific at present, not overarching ‘intelligence’.

Staff over robots – an editorial

I’ve just had an editorial published in the Raconteur supplement in The Times, in which I argue the role of ‘carbon-based life-forms’ over and above robots. This piece was a counterpoint to the ‘store staff have no future’ debate that’s frankly ignoring the point: as retail becomes increasingly about stories and experience, it takes wonderful staff (not just wonderful robots) to bring this to life…

https://www.raconteur.net/business/people-our-staff-standing-on-the-shoulders-of-robots-and-digital-capabilities-are-the-future-of-e-commerce

eCommerce Trends 2017 in Warsaw

Looking forward to speaking at the upcoming eCommerce Trends Poland. This will be the fourth time I’ve spoken at the NoNoobs-organised event and there’s always been a full house and lively discussion.

This time I’m taking ‘competing with/alongside Amazon’ as my theme. Amazon is of interest to Polish merchants for both the growth opportunity and the threat. Even though Allegro.pl is a pan-European powerhouse of a marketplace, somehow the encroachment of Amazon is seen more as a threat. In my presentation I’ll look at the areas for merchants to sustain their independence, to work with Amazon and thrive in a multichannel world.

http://2017.ecommercetrends.pl/

 

eCommerce Poland 2017 – Ian Jindal – Selling in an Amazon Age

Mojo Chord – high resolution music via iTunes (avoiding the ‘red light’/44khz problem)

You’ve probably found this since for whatever reason you simultaneously 1) use iTunes to store your music 2) have become a fan of higher-resolution music files (HD or Studio Masters) and 3) you’ve decided that your music needs a further lift with the (rather amazing) Chord Mojo.

There’s no manual in the box with the Mojo (just lovely milled aluminium and glowing balls…. but I’m getting distracted). The promise is to plug into the Mac and there’s zero configuration.

Output stuck on ‘red’ 44khz

Upon playback of my high-res music it immediately sounded great, but the sample-rate indicator resolutely stuck on “Red”, no matter what music I threw at it. Rather concerning.

To explain: the on/off illuminated button-ball changes colour to indicate the sample rate of the music it’s playing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red is the humble 44.1khz of a CD, ramping up to some immense DSD rates and 768Khz at 32bit.

Initially I thought I had a faulty unit (since my Meridian Explorer used to recognise higher sample-rates).

Audio Midi Setup? Nope.

Then I found a hint to go to Audio Midi Setup on the Mac, take the Mojo and saw that I could set the format. You’ll see here that I’m playing a 192k track, but it notes that the Mojo is capable of 768k. I set the highest and though I’d solved the problem. Nope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The midi setup simply pegs the light at the rate you set (in this case a nice cobalt blue) but there’s no change in the sound. Also, as soon as you change application or turn off the Mojo you lose the settings….

Solution – BitPerfect

After I while I realised that even though iTunes stores higher-res files, it ‘only’ plays at 44khz. In order to unlock the higher rate files’ capabilities you need an additional application like BitPerfect or Audirvana. I have BitPerfect and it’s fine for $10, but it’s a bit flakey. You have to quite iTunes and then use BitPerfect to command iTunes to reopen (so loading its interface?). Once you’ve done that BitPerfect sits out of the way in the menu bar and does nothing. It will tell you the rates and resolution it’s playing at, and – lo and behold – the Mojo echoes these settings with its glowing ball.

Also, speak it quietly, but you can also hear a difference – the reason we’re going through all of this 🙂

Here we have BitPerfect’s icon (a nice blue) showing that it’s output is 32 bit and 44.1Khz…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While here we’ve stepped up to 192Khz (and a less nice orange colour).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All very simple.

I mentioned that BitPerfect is a bit unstable and after a couple of days of being on, with things plugged and unplugged, it just stops working and needs to be closed, as does iTunes and everything restarted.

A small effort for $10 – especially since it’s so invisible when it’s working – but I’m going to give Audirvana a trial to see whether it’s more stable.

I hope that helps others who’re googling how to get beyond the red glow on the Mojo.

Next step – finding an invisible way to get high-res out of the iPhone without having to change from iTunes/Music. Any tips appreciated!

Closing keynote at aDigital’s #FashTech conference in Bilbao

At InternetRetailing we’ve know aDigital – the Spanish Association for the digital economy – for a number of years, so it was a great pleasure to be able to join them in Bilbao for their FashTech Conference on 29 November, 2016.

The event was very well-attended, with some 450 delegates at any one time in an impressive venue – the Azkuna Zentroa – a mixed-used community conference/cinema/expo/meeting venue… a bit like a mini Tate Modern just for meetings and events!

I took as my theme some of the learnings from the InternetRetailing IREU Top500 ranking and in particular the challenges of connecting with connected customers, at scale, repeatedly and at profit.

I had not visited Bilbao for about 25 years and so the renaissance in the city was remarkable. More pleasing that that, however, was the really local feel to the city. That evening, as I got lost on my wanders, I bumped into people who’d been at the Conference and came up to me, chatted (and pointed me in the right direction). I’ve never experienced that before.

You can see the video of my presentation here, along with some kind tweets.

 

 

InternetRetailing Conference 2016 – our 11th annual event

I was pleased to open both www.edeliveryconference.com and www.internetretailingconference.com and welcome the usual senior gathering of multichannel professionals to our intense multi-track conference and expo.

You can see the write-up of the event and also videos of proceedings on the conference site, but a particular thanks to Tony Rivenell of Halfords who was game enough to do a Q&A on the role of the Chief Digital Officer during our keynote sessions…

Opening presentation for the International Association of Department Stores (IADS.org)

I’ve long been a great fan of the IADS and have contributed in the past to their events. I was therefore particularly pleased to be invited to open their conference in London on Omnichannel/multichannel on 15 September, 2016.

Department stores have been at the forefront of multichannel development in the U.K. And Europe and so it was interesting to share with them the research from our IREU Top500 2016 report, which created a performance-based ranking of Europe’s multichannel and pure play retailers. With delegates from the EU, Asia and South America it was an international gathering.

While the presentation and discussions were confidential, the IREU report is available from InternetRetailing – www.internetretailing.net/ireu 

Chairing Millennial 2020’s inaugural conference in Singapore

After the successful launch event in London earlier this year the Millennial 2020 concept is taking shape globally. I was pleased to chair the first Asia event, held at the high-impact Art Science Museum in Singapore, and equally pleased to see London, New York and Singapore dates confirmed for 2017.

The event is a global gathering of brands, retailers, innovators, marketers and entrepreneurs who are focused on engaging with, understanding, selling to and anticipating the global millennial customer. Mind you, a number of the presentations are already focused on GenZ so even the millennial label will change along with consumer demographics, I’m sure.

I chaired the Travel and Hospitality stream and although all of the speakers were really interesting a couple gave me new perspectives.

The Luxe Nomad and What3Words were great, while Victor Cui of OneChampionship had an amazing cross-continental story to tell of martial arts, moving countries, seeing a gap and an enthusiasm to create a broadcast empire.

Shifting to the Future Trends stream the one and only Pep Torres gave one of the most memorable presentations I’ve seen in years. Interesting, inspiring and engaging – he had me mentally ripping up my presentations! I won’t spoil the fun – watch his presentation here.

On the second day the presentation from Ludwick Marishane on ‘a bath with no water’ was both eye-opening and inspiring. This presentation really showed the reach, ambition and global changes underway – a real tribute to the programming of the event.

Some photos below, while info on the next event in New York on 1 and 2 March, 2017 can be seen on the http://www.millennial20-20.com/newyork2017/website.

View of the Arts Science Museum from the Marina Sands Hotel.

Setup of the Economist stage

Great staging and AV

The CNBC studio operating throughout the event.

The Economist brought a taco van – with GM meat…

Pep Torres warming up.