Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been popular gimmicks in recent years, used by futuristic companies to exhibit the potentials of technology. However, events of recent weeks and months are seeing what was once considered technological potential become a fast-approaching reality from the retail sector to health to the real world itself.
To clarify the distinction between these two technology applications, AR overlays digital information on real-world objects by using the camera on a mobile device, while VR obscures the real world and the user is immersed in a fully digital experience.
In a marketplace increasingly concerned with climate change and environmental sustainability, the call to action for companies rings loud and clear. With Millennials and Gen Z consistently willing to pay more for products with purpose and boycott the companies that fall short, businesses and brands can no longer ignore the demands of the environment, or the market.
In this climate, it is tempting for some businesses to engage in ‘greenwashing’, making statements or taking actions that may seem impressive but in reality do little to mitigate environmental impacts. Other companies well and truly practice what they preach, and it comes as no surprise that these are the ones that reap the rewards.
Looking back over the last two years quickly reveals a narrative of fear. In all the frenzies of panic-buying, the conspiracy theories and the misinformation that fed our anxiety, we have consistently been driven to hysteria by a very primal sense of fear.
While this kind of fear has led to some unfortunate consequences, the reality of fear in general is that it is our greatest mechanism for safety and survival – it is designed to keep us alive. In fact, while confidence may be attractive, it is simply dangerous when it reaches the level of arrogance – consider the cars full of over-confident young men in situations that have so often led to disaster.
This principle applies as much to business as it does to life. A healthy sense of paranoia in business is a crucial mechanism for remaining relevant. More often than not, the businesses that crash the hardest are those that were so distracted by their own success that they failed to read the signs and take seriously how quickly the competition was catching up.
Within a society driven by capitalist aims – efficiency, accumulation, profits – the endless innovation of new products is a worthy practice. Keeping consumers keen for new products is key, and so the clever marketing, regular new releases and planned obsolescence begin. After all, why would a customer buy a new product if they are satisfied with what they have?
Neuroscientist and author of The Trust Factor, Paul Zak, has spent years studying what builds trust between individuals. His findings are remarkable and yet surprisingly simple. According to Zak, the most important factor at play in gaining trust is our ‘humanness’. When we are real, vulnerable and even fallible, oxytocin is released in the brains of others – a neuro-mechanism humans have used for centuries to determine who we can trust.
This is an important revelation for every leader, professional or brand. For years we have worked hard to project sanitized and corporatized versions of ourselves. Spin doctors and corporate communications departments have tended to carefully craft every message in an effort to ensure communication is predictable, reliable and on-brand.
This approach has well and truly seen its day. In an era of post-truth paradigms, endless marketing, pervasive non-human tech and eroded trust, polished professionalism and corporate spin simply does not stand up to scrutiny. In place of the impersonal corporate giants of yesterday, consumers today are looking for brands that have an organic personality and act with authenticity.
The problem of renewable energy is arguably the most pressing of our time. As governments scramble to keep up with the pressures of rising temperatures and public demand, the need for large-scale energy solutions continues to grow exponentially.
Sourcing, storing and distributing power have been among the key issues that have held society back in its pursuit of renewable sources. Innovators have laboured for years over questions of where to find tomorrow’s energy, how to store solar and wind energy, and how to get it to the people who need it.
Blockchain has steadily grown in popularity over the last couple of years. Bitcoin’s value soared over 70% in 2020 and is projected to reach a price of US$66,000 by the end of this year. With low transaction fees, limited institutional involvement, and ease of use, blockchain presents an attractive opportunity for spenders across the world. But what will this new currency mean for the future of our notes and coins?
Any of us who are familiar with the process of writing will no doubt know the critical importance of fresh perspectives. You can write the work, edit it, proofread it, reread it, and still miss the most glaringly obvious of mistakes. Within seconds, a set of new eyes picks up errors that had simply disappeared into the rest of the writing.
The power and importance of outsiders’ perspectives cannot be overlooked across all works, not least of which our businesses. Falling into comfortable patterns, familiar rhythms and efficient systems is an impulse that is hard to avoid in organisations, but nothing will kill agility, creativity and innovation faster than these.
When did you last truly look at your organization from an outsider’s perspective?