top of page

Bob Dylan walked into a bar and mumbles. No one understood him either.

I cite a book named the inevitable alot. It is central to my thought processes. It usually happens in an unconscious way, just there, manifesting and forming opinions. Opinions can be dangerous. eCommerce has changed. It has been the same since 1997 to a large degree. Some largely accepted principles:

  • 3% conversion is acceptable

  • Marketing involves the purchasing of attention

  • Shipping should be 24 hours or less

  • We think loyalty exists

  • We assume consumers want personalisation

  • Data privacy is key to our scattergun approach

Leading to :

  • Unprofitable commerce

I am not pontificating but increasingly arriving at this place that says, we need to do this differently. If we want different outcomes for our future, we need to consider our present and our past. Back to the inevitable, it forecasts 12 technological forces that will shape the next 30 years.

According to Kelly, much of what will happen in the next thirty years is inevitable. The future will bring with it even more screens, tracking, and lack of privacy. In the book he outlines twelve trends that will forever change the ways in which we work, learn and communicate:[4] The chapters are organized by these forces.[5]

  1. Becoming: Moving from fixed products to always upgrading services and subscriptions

  2. Cognifying: Making everything much smarter using cheap powerful AI that we get from the cloud

  3. Flowing: Depending on unstoppable streams in real time for everything

  4. Screening: Turning all surfaces into screens

  5. Accessing: Shifting society from one where we own assets to one where instead we will have access to services at all times[6]

  6. Sharing: Collaboration at mass scale. Kelly writes, "On my imaginary Sharing Meter Index we are still at 2 out of 10."

  7. Filtering: Harnessing intense personalization in order to anticipate our desires

  8. Remixing: Unbundling existing products into their most primitive parts and then recombining in all possible ways

  9. Interacting: Immersing ourselves inside our computers to maximize their engagement

  10. Tracking: Employing total surveillance for the benefit of citizens and consumers

  11. Questioning: Promoting good questions is far more valuable than good answers

  12. Beginning: Constructing a planetary system connecting all humans and machines into a global matrix[7]

In a post pandemic world, it feels we are emerging into the most evolutionary stage of commerce, retail and tech.I think right now, we are leaning heavily into

Becoming - a move to more sustainable revenue models for business maintenance

Filtering - aggregating of service providers, platforms and harmonising digital experiences

Questioning - Asking better questions to get better outcomes. Generational swing and a new focus on large societal and environmental norms is forcing impacts across a plethora of workstreams.

Remixing - What has kind of worked up to now, will not take us into the next decade. We are reviewing our operating models, some are dying but a new pattern will emerge.

What is happening?

eCommerce as an “MO” is becoming outdated. Tech has become devalued to the point of having no value and the processes underlying will become embedded in everyday lives:

  • Shopping will become full connected and passive

  • Advertising will come full Minority Report

  • Roles and tasks will become automated to the point of obsolescence

The PEST pressures no longer make global universality of commerce viable. Thanks Lisa Goller for the visual.

When we look beyond 2024, one of the areas with more questions than answers right now is privacy. We need to ensure we are looking for the right outcomes. In a world of personal equity and everything becoming a network, it is not inconceivable to me that individuals will have the right to monetise their own data to the highest bidder. Wouldn’t this be the truest, safest and most commercially savvy use of money ever? Imagine that, google paying each person for every click? But we do need to look at how we want that future to be shaped. What got us here won’t get us anywhere new.

Our relationship with Media

I wrote my thesis in 2004 - The Cultivation of a Generation: How MTV transcended brand to become a lifestyle. I set out to write about the positive impact I felt MTV had. It had to be in there somewhere. It was not. Much to my dismay. The more I researched, the worse it got. Not only were the impacts having profound impacts on my generation and the ones proceeding us, but it was planned, strategically and at all levels of culture, including governmental. I called my Mom today to try and retrieve my only copy, it cannot be found. I am slightly dismayed as it received first class honours. Moreover, I am disappointed because this was pre GPT, when we had to form opinions and do research. It was time consuming but worth it. I wrote it with a “hip hop-tionary” and with lyrics denoting the tone and rhetoric with each chapter. Recapturing my youth to get across a point.

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin'
And you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'

Before WeChat, Tencent, Facebook or TikTok, we had MTV. MTV started out as music TV - a seemingly harmless medium. But quickly and strategically was layered and designed to infiltrating huge parts of our lives and impacting our choices beyond musical preference. Interaction with the media swiftly moved to passive consumption. MTV went 24/7, it split genres (MTV base, Dance etc) It created subrands, TV shows, Awards, radio, online… the list was seemingly endless. The new video format allowed for creative expression to be delivered and consumed raw, emotive ways.

It became a drug of sorts with millions of teens globally, sitting passively in a dream like state passive consuming. This narcotisation effect became the norm and this before the 360 strategy took effect - the tools for implementation were not there, yet. But the blueprint for what came since then had been researched, trialed and delivered. There is no going back.

Furthermore, MTV’s success as a platform to sell was immediately apparent as ‘63 percent of the survey respondents said they purchased an artist’s album after viewing a clip featuring the artist’s music’ (Banks 1996, 37). This success involved both expanding venues for engaging the 1980s’ popculture explosion and the excitement it entailed,and intensifying a strategic, if uneven, convergence of the means of cultural expression. As the music industry became increasingly inseparable from music videos and MTV’s living room marketing platform, so too did Hollywood.

In the early 1980s, movie soundtracks became critical components of film marketing, revolving around the marriage of popular music artists/teen idols with the visual drama of film clips.

For reference, MTV launched in March 1981, about 3 weeks after my entrance to the world and I have felt connected to it ever since. Video killed the radio star was the first song, by the Buggles, even it was deliberate. That was the first use of a mass medium to expand brand roles in our lives, then came 2007. The year that everything changed, almost beyond that again.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'

2023 will go down as the year that advertising was everything, everywhere and all at once. With the collapse of SVB, the free flow of capital into the previously thriving start up scene being reevaluated. It will not come back the way it was. Why would it?

2023 will also be remembered that the use cases for AI technology became ubiquitous. Imperfections aside, what is happening now is that people are searching for viable use cases. This will prompt (see what I did) better outcomes and ultimately role obsolescence. Shopping will change. Again it is likely we will see the emergence of shopping AI tools to work as personal shopping concierges: Consider the following use case for an AI bot and now consider how tech needs to interact with this:

Woop - (thats what I call my bot)

  • Woop here are my shopping preferences and desired habits.

  • Browse mens discount fashion stores for outdoors and sports clothing in the months of Feb, May and Sept

  • Create a wishlist of 10 perfumes under €100 from Irish only perfume sellers who can send me a free sample before I purchase and offer a cashback deal on my first purchase

  • Refresh my wishlist every quarter and update this to exclude brands who do not offer me other discounts between browses

  • Never make a purchase without notifying me first

  • All purchases over $300 need my approval

  • Any purchase under $40 for a specific item can be made at your discretion based on previous purchases once I can return the item for up to 30 days for free

  • If the brand has negative sentiments on service for more than 3 occasions per month, ditch them from my list

  • Do not browse on any womens sites

  • Do not accept tracking cookies

  • Do not click on sponsored links on google search results ever

This behavioral output changes the nature of all of our interactions with retail forever - it changes the nature of advertising forever. It is not in our distant future, it is in the perfect realms of data privacy management and means relevancy and business modeling can be exceptionally precise.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'

Learning from our past

Thomas Friedman, has this amazing book, Thank you for being late. Too much to pack in, but this one chapter is striking in its breadth. What happened in 2007?

The timeline of 2007 is little written about as a year of note, but it is impressive when looked at through a narrow lens.

  • Jan 9th - Steven Jobs launches the iPhone at the Moscone centre, San Fransisco

  • Hadoop, a small company made infinite storage capacity for all - effectively starting - the Cloud

  • Late 2006, a college based intranet called Facebook, opened its platform to anyone over 13

  • 2007 a micro blog start up company named Twitter started to scale.

  • An open source repository for collaborative software development called Github was launched

  • the social mobilisation engine emerged

  • In late 2006, Google bought Youtube and in 2007, launched Android

  • AT&T invested in “software enabled networks” - increasing the capacity for data handling 1000,000X during 2007.

  • AirBnB was conceived

  • Amazon Kindle was launched - digitally replicated 10,000’s of books - the product was not the success here, it was the digital transformation.

  • The internet tipped into its first Billion users

  • David Ferrucci who led the Semantic Analysis and Integration Department at Microsoft created Watson.

  • In 2007 Intel introduced non silicon materials into its chip production process, effectively pouring hyper fuel on the fire that was Moores Law.

  • 2007 began the clean power revolution

The advancement and rapid growth of Retail Media Networks will become a battleground for attention like we have never seen before. It wont all be plain sailing either.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'


bottom of page