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This is the ustwo newsletter, which is about interesting things happening in Digital, Design and Transformation. You can subscribe here or unsubscribe at any time. You can find out more about ustwo here

Digital transformation

It seems that many digital transformation projects fail. One reason for this is organisations doing the digital bit but not the transformation. Digitising something that already exists can bring some efficiency benefits if the project goes well. Transformation goes much further. It usually has a larger promise but is often harder to do because it’s usually about people, culture, process, mission and so on, and rarely about the technology.

Here’s a great piece on digital healthcare: “digital technology is an essential part of building a continuously learning culture”. And that culture is how we get from digital to digital transformation.


Image of the month

When the world’s most recognisable building becomes a canvas for new pictures. From ustwo’s piece about unleashing Australia’s innovation opportunity.


Uncanny AI: why it feels weird when Gmail suggests words

Why does it feel a bit strange when Gmail’s predictive text suggests replying to someone’s email with “Great idea!”? It’s not as if the recipient will be able to tell that you hit tab instead of carefully typing the words one at a time. Is it because Gmail is reading your emails, even while you’re writing them? Perhaps it is that you sense you’ll be contributing to a great machine learning effort that’s turning everyone’s written voice into an aggregated, averaged every-voice. If your written voice is to remain distinctive maybe you’d need to carefully avoid Gmail’s suggestions.


Self-driving car progress ("Where did my $3K go?")

Addison Lee aims to deploy self-driving cars in London by 2021, using a shuttle bus approach. Addison Lee are optimistic but it seems likely that the self-driving tipping point - the point at which a significant % of drivers switch - is a way off and it depends on how you define and caveat “self-driving”. But the *electric* car tipping point is almost here. This is very exciting because (a) emissions and (b) new forms and modes of travel will be possible with electric motors - it won’t just be about cars.

A less optimistic view: Missing: Tesla's full self-driving option. Tesla is removing options - in some cases for features that customers have already paid for. Once software is spread throughout a car, its capabilities can be updated, improved or rolled back very quickly, often “over the air”. Things that were once products start to feel more like services, and will make service-first business models feel more natural. (See also our thoughts on how mobility can become more sustainable.)


Giving a table a connection

This is a really interesting way to think about augmented reality: if your mobile’s camera knows that it is looking at a table, then it’s like you’re giving that table an internet connection and access to computation. Your table got smarter.


The new shopping

As online shopping makes inroads into the shopping for consumer staples and basics, offline retail looks for distinctive experiences and new angles. Some convenience stores are going upmarket and becoming more curatorial. There are cafes where you pay for your coffee with your data. Mediaco BuzzFeed is opening a quirky toy store in NYC - it will redo its décor and merchandise every few months, and out the back there’s an “experiential” area set up for Instagram-worthy selfies.


Banks looking out for you

In the summer, new challenger banks Starling and Monzo added a feature that allowed customers to place a block on gambling transactions. This was a good move, helping vulnerable people. But imagine a bank that prevented *any* transaction that would cause harm - customers might have less fun and fuller retirement accounts, though maybe it would feel like... an anti-bank.

Thanks for reading. You can subscribe here or unsubscribe at any time. You can find out more about ustwo here

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