• Frances Valintine

2017: The Year You Realise Google Might Nick Your Job


I won’t mince my words. What I will tell you that in 2017, businesses will come to the realisation that their biggest competitor is not the known legacy business down the street or even the multinational company sitting in their highrise tower but technological giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook or Apple who with one supercharged sweep can render entire business sector obsolete. And this phenomenon is not set in decades from now, but happening right here, right now.

Retail: Be Wary

Amazon is set to unleash its inventiveness down under. The tech giant is taking on Australia, bringing with it the smarter online shopping experience that some analysts believe “could strip as much as $4 billion in sales from local retailers.” Amazon took their bold message stating their plan was to “set prices at a 30 per cent discount’.

The e-commerce giant said they saw potential in Australia because prices are too high, saying “your margin is our opportunity” as their “motto” for Australia.

Mr Goyder, chief executive at Wesfarmers, whose conglomerate owns retailers Coles, Bunnings, Target, Kmart and Officeworks has repeatedly warned that “Amazon will eat all our breakfasts, lunches and dinners.” and adds that his biggest fear “was not the looming competitive threat from rival domestic retailers, but tech companies such as Amazon that were heading this way.”

The disruption doesn’t end there. Amazon is revolutionising deliveries and logistics, working on delivery of on-demand groceries in urban areas. Amazon Prime Air, a future delivery system from Amazon is designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned drones.

Banks & Insurers: Get Ready

WeChat, the popular 1.1Billion user app is demonstrating what a cashless society will look like. Two years ago, it launched a “red packet” campaign in which WeChat users were able to send digital money to friends and family to celebrate Chinese New Year rather than sending cash in a red envelope, as is customary. In 2016, over 400 Million WeChat users sent 32 Billion packets of digital cash during the celebration.

Zhongan, China first digital insurance company started 3 years ago ago and is mulling an IPO in the next 18 months. It has sold 5.8 Billion policies to 460 Million customers. Zhongan’s radical approach to offer innovative micro-policies for binge drinking before a football game or for flight delays is revolutionising an industry that has long struggled to attract young people. The kicker, according to the Financial Times, is that the company’s big three backers, Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, internet group Tencent and financial conglomerate Ping An, “have already collected user data across vast swaths of China’s internet, through online merchants, messaging applications and bank accounts. Now, when Zhongan underwrites its retail credit insurance products, it can tap into the personal credit scoring databases of the three Chinese internet groups — giving it one of the broadest views of credit data of any company in the country.” To continue its blazing success, Zhongan has prioritised recruiting staff with tech, rather than insurance, backgrounds.

Food & Beverage: Be Prepared

Lab based meat and beverage is making waves across the world. The day is not far where Kiwis will either choose traditional farm based milk, meat and eggs or lab-edited food, grown from cells. From just 2014 to 2015, investments in these sectors have doubled from US$ 2.6 bn to U$ 4.6 bn in the US alone. Perfect Day, a synthetic milk company, tastes just like cow milk but there’s no cow in sight. Companies like Beyond Meat flavour plant based ingredients to taste like meat and are gaining in popularity. Food technology has the capacity to disrupt New Zealand’s core industry, setting in motion a domino effect that will have far reaching effects.

What’s the bright spark in the midst of all these news?

There is time to wake up and act now. To think objectively and make technology work for all. To be ready for change. And build a global economy with products and services that have demand beyond our own borders. The other bright spot is the growing number of startups and early stage companies, harnessing technology and creating jobs. In August, the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science released figures showing net job creation comes from early-stage and start-up businesses – with young companies creating nearly all of the 1.6 million net new jobs in Australia from 2003 to 2014. This does not happen by chance. It is a result of a strategic vision for the future.

To be prepared for the future, you owe yourself, that in 2017 you will sit up, take note and act.

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Tech Futures Lab is an education facility of The Mind Lab, a NZQA registered Tertiary Education Organisation under the provisions of the Education Act 1989. Candidates who are studying on a programme delivered by Tech Futures Lab are enrolled with The Mind Lab.