This week’s episode of the Futurum Tech Podcast, included analysts Daniel Newman, Fred McClimans and Sarah Wallace. We discussed the collaboration and e-learning opportunities that may arise from the coronavirus outbreak. We also covered financial cloud startup Thought Machine receiving next round of funding, Cisco Webex’s global support of customers during this time, Elliott Management buying stake in Twitter, AT&T launching its AT&T TV service nationwide and Microsoft entering the RPA space. Let’s dive in.
Our Main Dive
A discussion of what it means for collaboration and e-learning as a result of the coronavirus. As many tech conferences are being canceled and even schools in Japan etc. are being shut down. How will the tech community step up and enhance collaboration and distance learning abilities? Listen as we each give our opinion and prediction on this issue.
Our Fast Five
We dig into this week’s interesting and noteworthy news:
- Cloud-based fintech startup Thought Machine receives $85 million in Series B funding. The startup has a banking platform called Vault which handles checking, savings, loans, credit cards and mortgages for banks. The main point here is that traditional banks are teaming up with such cloud-based startups to have a more modern and agile service. Backer Draper Esprit is known for investing in other fintech companies. This announcement bolsters the ongoing momentum of cloud and financial services partnerships.
- Cisco offers free Webex around the globe. In response to the coronavirus COVID-19, Cisco is offering a free version of its Webex to customers around the globe with unlimited usage and up to 100 users. See what the Futurum analyst’s take on this move by the conference call giant.
- The Elliott Management group, spear headed by Paul Singer has made an investment in Twitter. See our analyst take on this, what may seemingly be, a political move and what this means for Twitter founder Jack Dorsey who has an ongoing tense relationship with the Paul Singer camp.
- AT&T launches its AT&T TV offering nationwide. With starting prices as low as $49.99 offering live TV, an on-demand library, DVR space and access to thousands of streaming ups, buyer beware as the 2 year contract price goes up after about a year. Hear our analyst take on this offering.
- Microsoft announces its launch into the RPA space. The big news here is that Microsoft is a huge tech player entering this space offering end-to-end capabilities with very competitive pricing. Listen to our analyst take on this hot news item: Microsoft’s Power Automate Nears GA Propelling RPA Forward.
LinkedIn adds snapchat-style stories. LinkedIn will be adding a stories feature that will be much like Snapchat stories in that they will be brief videos that can be sent, then disappear. As we all use social media platforms for different purposes, will this be a feature that most LinkedIn users would take advantage of? You can find more details about this new LinkedIn feature here.
Crystal Ball: Future-um Predictions and Guesses
For the crystal ball section of our show, Fred asked Daniel and Sarah what lessons will tech learn from this experience with the Corona Virus. As companies have had to cancel trade shows, limit company travel and adjust budgets, overall, what will be the lessons learned here? Want to know what we think, well, you’ll need to listen to the podcast. And if you’ve not yet taken a moment to subscribe, do it — you won’t be sorry. Here’s a link for you to do that: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/futurum-tech-podcast/id1432363570
Fred McClimans: Welcome to this week’s edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast. I’m your host, Fred McClimans, joined by my colleagues, Daniel Newman and Sarah Wallace. Dan, Sarah, welcome to this week’s edition of FTP.
How are we today?
Daniel Newman: I was going to let Sarah talk first, but do you know what? We’re going to go ahead. I’m going to jump in. First up. I’m doing good. It’s been a while since I’ve been on an episode of FTP, and after doing the first 30 or 35, it’s been great to see the team grow and a lot of new voices on here, but exciting time to be here. And interesting circumstances allowing me to be here, but we’ll talk more about that later.
Fred McClimans: Yes, and Sarah, I believe this is the first time we’ve been on the Futurum Tech Podcast together.
Sarah Wallace: Yes, I’ve done it two other times, but I think this is the first time you and I have collaborated, so thanks for having me.
Fred McClimans: My pleasure, our pleasure. So before we get into today’s discussion, I do want to take a moment and I want to remind our loyal listeners, and you know who you are, that the Futurum Tech Podcast is for informational and entertainment purposes only. We will talk about companies that are publicly traded, but please do not take anything that we say as investment advice, financial advice, or just advice in general. We’re here to talk about interesting things and have a good time.
So with that, it’s difficult to talk about this particular subject because it’s so fresh, it’s so new. But the COVID-19 coronavirus, it is out there. It is devastating in in parts of the world, and fairly shortly maybe the entire world. It is, Dan, I suspect part of the reason why you are here today, able to do the podcast because travel has changed. Plans have changed. We’re not jet setting around the world. We’re not attending events. We’re not meeting with clients. We are in our remote offices right now, where we do tend to spend a lot of time, but there is a noticeable impact here. We see it, and I’m sure everybody out there feels it and sees it as well. Especially those of you that have kids, and parents and all the things that we need to be concerned about right now.
But I want to talk about, because we are tech aficionados here, the impact of technology. We have an event here that is literally bringing the global economy to a halt. Supply chains, not there any longer. The ability to travel, the ability to even go into the office, not there to get things done. And one of the things that we’ve seen, in an interesting way here, and I’m not going to say this is an opportunity, that something good, there’s always a silver lining out here. But if you look at what’s taking place, or what has taken place over the last couple of months, in China and Japan and other parts of Asia, and I suspect shortly here in the United States as well, you have a situation where remote workers, mobile workers, whether they want to be or not, they’re finding themselves in that situation.
You can go down the list of Fortune 500 companies that are saying, “We’re curbing travel.” There’s a company that I used to work for years ago, massive 100,000 plus employees around the world. Their policy is, if you’ve been out of the United States anywhere, you don’t step foot in an office for 14 days. It’s that extreme, that we’re seeing here. We’re seeing schools shut down. We’re seeing governments put on restricted activities. But the school thing is actually kind of interesting, because in China, and parts of Asia, they’re going into a mandatory e-learning program.
They’re leveraging a technology that I think is very beneficial in this way. It offers an opportunity for us here. And for me that’s a real interesting one, because if you think about the opportunities right now, people are for the first time in a lot of school districts around the world, they’re getting a taste of what it actually means to really be immersed in e-learning. There are a lot of employees, first time into remote work.
And there are some advantages here and I’m wondering is there a way that we can use this technology to not just stay safe during this period, but can we also use this as a next step to say, look, let’s really push the issue after this current crisis is over. And let’s really start to put some emphasis on leveraging the tech that we have to allow workers to be more remote, more mobile. And we know from our own research that we’ve done here at Futurum, mobile workers, they are as productive, if not more productive than in office workers. And their job satisfaction is as high,, if not higher than in office workers. And from an educational perspective, the idea of having a… My child, everybody in our school district has Chromebooks. In sixth grade you get a Chromebook. The idea of having them spend a couple of days home a week, so that they can take online courses from other schools in the district or even other schools outside of the district is actually appealing to me.
So I, I’d like to throw this out to you here. We’ve been talking a lot about technology. And Dan, I know you’ve got some ways that you think tech is helping us through this crisis, but what’s at the top of your mind? Is there an opportunity here that we can step into? Or are there other things that you think we might be able to get some value from?
Daniel Newman: I think the first thing we need to really think about is the fact that there’s a lot of human interest in people behind all of this. So as tech has come to the forefront as a possible solution, I just want to take a moment, call out… This is a very serious situation. It has a lot of implications, there’s a lot of considerations and every individual needs to make a set of personal decisions about how they want to approach a situation like COVID-19. How they approach work, how they approach protecting their families, how they approach acquiring supplies.
I have friends everywhere from those that think this is nothing. It’s like a cold, and they’re going to get it and it’s going to go away, to the people that have literally a basement full of toilet paper and cold medicine. And there isn’t a right or wrong. And that’s built on a foundation of, we live in a society where information flows readily and steadily, but not always in a way that’s easily digestible or consumable by us. Every medium has an intention, and it’s not only just to inform.
I’ve been stunned at how politically divisive this entire COVID-19 issue has become. It’s become vastly partisan amidst our election for 2020. People are using it, they’re weaponizing it. The markets are reacting to it in a significant way, which is not surprising, but as markets react, there’s certainly more implications there. So all these things are kind of creating this perfect storm. And for me, Fred, it’s really an interesting time now that you’ve looked at all those things to think about, like you said, how could tech play a role in all of this? And I think in the future, this is going to be something that we as a society are going to have to learn from to respond more quickly. To act more efficiently, so that individual’s healthcare can be the priority.
So if you end with where I started, this is a situation that is about people. There’s a lack of information out there that people are able to easily digest, to understand what’s truly going on. And technology can be the way forward in many ways from helping us get better access to information that can be trusted, which is things that AI is going to help do, for instance, all the way to platforms that will enable companies to continue working, building products, having people collaborate in efficient ways with minimum disruption. While keeping those that are concerned, or those that are ill, away from those that are still healthy.
Fred McClimans: I like the point you’re making there. This is a human issue, and if nothing else, if we can get people to right now realize that, hey looked, there are options out there. There are tech solutions that you can use to either stay informed, to vet information. Certainly there’s a lot of information out there that, you can just look at it and go, “Yeah, that’s not right.” But helping people to understand, and figure out how to analyze and vet and determine, is this truthful information or not is a big thing. And also if you’ve got the technology, and you can work from home, if you can put some social distance between you and other people, for the next week two weeks, the month, two months, however long this is. I think that’s, in and of itself, a very good thing to try and move towards on this.
Sarah, what are your thoughts on this? Where do you see that maybe some obstacles that we’re encountering here, that tech might be able to help us move through this process?
Sarah Wallace: Sure. So two things that I think will be interesting here are… Some of these tech providers, vendors, will really going to have to put their money where their mouth is. So if we do have to do conferences virtually, and people are already touting their tech abilities, well then let’s see it. So can we host thousands of people on streaming HD live events. I don’t know about you guys, I think the biggest WebEx I’ve ever been on was maybe 800 people. I don’t know, Daniel, when you do investor calls, how many people are on there. But just the capability of being able to host thousands of people virtually.
And the other thing, Fred, you mentioned was the distance learning capability. And it’ll be interesting to see how that actually shapes colleges and universities, and what they’re thinking right now. Because a big sell for them… If you have a private school, and you’re, you’re paying 60K for your child to go there for room and board and education. But suddenly, all these schools are having to do distance learning and then are these colleges thinking, “Oh, so now this changes the shape of learning,” where we’re seeing that in order for college kids to attend classes, they can do it all online. So, I see these, those two factors coming into play. And I think the capabilities that we already have, and being able to do some of this virtually, does help solve the problem of some in-person capabilities or conferences being canceled.
Fred McClimans: I know in reading into some of the stories about what’s going on with the school systems in Asia. It’s not an issue of getting tech in the hands of the students. It’s more an issue of making sure that you’ve got a camera in class, or you’ve got some way for the teacher to actually engage and interact. And very often I think there’s a third issue that’s probably the more severe here, that I think is a global issue. And that’s the digital divide. They have a lot of students that just simply don’t have the bandwidth available. And a lot of school systems, they’ve never built out their infrastructure to be able to handle this type of operation.
But I know my kids, they do their homework online at home, they submit everything online. There’s a number of things that they can do without actually being there, being present. And maybe this is a good wakeup call that it says, “Hey look, when we encounter something like this,” and I’m not going to call it a black Swan event, but it’s a dirty gray swan here for a lot of people. And maybe we need to start thinking more about, how do we plan and prepare for this? Is there value in having a nationwide, or national, effort that says, “Look, we want to put Chromebooks,” and not a plug for Google, “But we want to put these devices in the hands of our kids, of the students. And we want to make sure that we’ve got high speed broadband access for everybody in the country.” It just seems to me like there, there’s some stumbling blocks that they’re running into here.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. I don’t think there’s any perfect path, Fred, to get there. I think the real question is well, COVID aside, what should we be learning about tech’s ability to bring people together more efficiently? To communicate, to more quickly mobilize and respond in issues in times like these? This is no laughing matter, but I laugh a little bit about this being the draw of people considering virtualizing some events, and stuff like that. Well, you look at the overarching expenses related to global event market, and of course it’s a big business, and there’s a lot of business in itself. And I certainly believe that the benefits of shaking hands, and meeting people and seeing people in real life can be invaluable. But how many times are we asked to fly somewhere to hear something that we could easily have done on a bridge in two hours, and gotten all the same information out of it. Instead, it’s drawn out over two or three days.
We’re learning this every day though still as people. And I think that’s the combination and balance of people wanting to be physically present, people wanting to connect, people wanting to build relationships, well concurrently looking at how tech can simplify a process. We’re going to deal with these kinds of questions and challenges in everything from human machine partnerships, the robot that can flip burgers more effectively than a human, all the way to whether or not we ever need to step face to face in a meeting again in order to get our business done.
Same thing in education. Do you really need to go to school to learn a curriculum, to take a test? We’ve already proven you don’t, that the online learning colleges, standardized testing, remote testing. So we really are in this delicate balance period of time where it’s not even just an issue of a swan, or an event or an incident. It’s really an issue of the human evolution, and the need of humans to connect. And how technology can both enable that, and also limit that in in ways. And where’s the balance?
Fred McClimans: If you think about just the sheer amount of money that we spend when we do travel, the car to the airport, the airline ticket. You’ve got taxicabs, you’ve got hotels, you’ve got restaurants, eating out, all that stuff. If you just took that, and set it aside and said, “Well, instead of spending,” how much is it? Thousands, 10 thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year that gets spent on that for a fairly busy traveling analyst in this space. “And we’re just going to sink that money into the best virtual tech that we can get to allow us to see, communicate, engage in the best possible way that we can.”
Maybe there’s an interesting trade off there on that, but there’s a lot here that I think we’re stress testing right now. And I think the important thing, as you pointed out, Dan, we do need to remember that first foremost, this is a human crisis. And it’s one that I think, unfortunately, is not the only time we’re going to encounter this type of event. And we need to prepare for it, and we need to learn from it. And we need to be, hopefully, in a better place at the end of this than we are right now. Because right now, we’re a little bit scattered.
And I think that there are some ways that the tech can help us, and the tech companies I think can help us through this a bit. And in fact, we’re going to talk about some of those as we move into our fast five segment of the day. But before I get to that topic… And Dan, I’m going to toss it over here to Sarah. Take us into our first fast five of the day. You’ve got some news here about Thought Machine, and some funding they may have happened across.
Sarah Wallace: Yeah, sure. So Thought Machine is a start-up which provides cloud-based banking technology. They just got a series B funding worth $83 million. And now their value is estimated around 220 to 320 million. So a Thought Machine has its Vault platform, which handles checking, savings, loans, credit cards, mortgages, and mortgages for banks. And so the main point here is that traditional banks, they’re teaming up with start-ups such as this, mostly cloud-based, so they can make their banking services, especially areas like customer experience, more modern and more agile. And the backer of this funding Draper Esprit is also known for investing on a lot of other FinTech companies. And so this announcement… And I like following cloud, and what’s going on in the different verticals, and so this announcement really just bolsters the ongoing momentum and growth in banking, and in cloud, and the technology and capabilities. And also these mega partnerships as well.
Fred McClimans: Just looking at this, and putting aside for a second that secondary issue as we move more banking online, we have a lack of banking facilities for a lot of elderly people and people in rural areas. Putting that aside for a second here, do you think that what we’re experiencing now, and going back to our main dive, this results in an increase in start-ups in this type of space? Or perhaps investment opportunities in this space?
Sarah Wallace: Yeah. So you mean in terms of the elderly having access? Is that what you mean?
Fred McClimans: Well, no. Just in general, if you think about the investment here into Thought Machine, and what they’re doing in the financial space. Do you think that as a result of what we’re seeing now where the world is suddenly realizing, hey look, we do need to be able to step back physically, and do a little bit more digitally. Do you think that that gears up, or bodes well, for additional investments and expansion for Thought Machine or others in the sector?
Sarah Wallace: Yeah, I think it does. And the one thing… It’s interesting that you mentioned the elderly and rural locations on the backend, and this is for another podcast. I’ve talked to rural carriers that say the majority of their customers still don’t have smartphones. So as we’re rolling out these capabilities, and these vendors are coordinating, we also have to be working with the carriers to give these capabilities to people who need them, and might have the means for them to. But again, that’s for another podcast.
Fred McClimans: Fair enough. Fair enough. All right, so, Dan, let’s toss this one over to you. And you’re actually going to talk about a company that’s doing something in this, I’ll call it distance collaboration space.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. Last week, Zoom got a lot of excitement, because it basically lifted its limitations on its free service for Chinese users of Zoom. Cisco stepped up this weekend, raised the bar a little bit by actually expanding. It’s a free WebEx service globally. And they provided some good data on why the company decided to do this. But essentially, since this outbreak really began, Cisco said that its connection of Chinese based users with their global workplace increased 22 times. And also four to five times as many users in Japan, South Korea and Singapore, with daily average on WebEx video meetings doubling with its users in those countries. And free signups for WebEx are up seven times. So people are flocking to the technology.
So what Cisco did is instead of monetizing this, the company seeks to be part of the solution in the short and longer term. Obviously the long tail is if people use the technology like it, the money will get spent. Short term, keeping operations, keeping the economy flowing, keeping people connected. So the company, for all 44 countries in which the free WebEx service is available, it basically expanded its offering to unlimited usage, supporting up to a hundred concurrent participants. And offering some toll dial in for those that cannot get access to the web.
Very interesting decision by Cisco to basically lift the lid on its service globally, making it free for almost all companies and all the regions in which WebEx supports, but I think it’s a bold move, a strong move, and a good positioning for the company as it seeks to expand market share, and visibility during this particular time when people are really paying attention to technologies that will enable connectivity during the crisis.
Fred McClimans: That’s interesting because that is a situation here where a lot of companies talk about their CSR, their corporate social responsibility, and very often, as we know with companies like Google, you may have a talent base of employees that think one way, and management or business reality that thinks another. But something like this is a really simple way for a company as successful as Google is… Or sorry, Cisco, to literally step up and say, “Look, we know there’s an issue. We know people need to be connected here. Let’s bring it up, and let’s go.” I’m curious if you’ve seen anything there that does this in the personal space? Anybody that’s… There’s lots of free video services out there, but if there’s anybody that’s trying to make a push there and say, “Look, we know this is a difficult time. We’ll give you some quality video, privacy video, whatnot with your family.”
Daniel Newman: I haven’t seen it yet. But a lot of people who have… If you have a data plan, and mobile connectivity and you have WIFI, everything from Google Duo to FaceTime does enable people to get face to face pretty easily. So I think it’s always… The issue has always been at scale. I think one to one, or one to a few videos always been pretty easy and cheap over the last two or three years. So I think this is really all about scaling for the enterprise or for the school.
Fred McClimans: That’s a good point there on the education side. So let’s talk about scale a little bit here, now that you mentioned scale. My fast five for the day has to do with a company that started incredibly small, and scaled phenomenally large. Along the way, they had a couple of opportunities to be acquired, and in fact a couple of years back, I dove really head first into that. And there was a certain point where I actually thought, Salesforce would be an interesting company to acquire this particular company. Twitter. They did not. In fact, nobody did. There was a point where Twitter tried to sell themselves. In 2016, 2017, Twitter was my acquisition pick of the year, and nobody bought on it.
But it’s just come out that Elliot Management, a hedge fund that has a knack for stepping in, and shaking up companies that they buy a stake in, very often either forcing the sale of a company or restructuring the management team has bought a sizable stake in Twitter. And the rumor out there right now is that Paul Singer, who is the founder of the Elliott Management a hedge fund… And by the way, they’ve got probably about $40 billion in assets under management right now. They’re a sizable entity, and they carry a lot of weight. And they don’t need to take a majority stake, they just take a small enough stake to be troublesome with these companies.
But Paul Singer used to be a never Trumper. He has now come on board to the Trump bandwagon. And as we know, Trump and Dorsey, or Trump and Twitter, do not necessarily see eye to eye. So there’s a lot of talk out there right now. Maybe Jack Dorsey is in a little bit of hot water at Twitter, and may not be there, or at least there would be an attempted to oust him for that. And thinking of how tech companies can do good, here’s an opportunity for all the people who have made billions and billions off tech to step in and rescue Twitter. So we’ll see what happens with this, but it’s going to be a bumpy ride based on my past experiences with Elliot. So moving back here, Sarah, our fourth fast five of the day, AT&T TV on Android?
Sarah Wallace: Yes. So actually you can use it on Android, or Apple iOS as well. But yes, AT&T has nationally launched its AT&T TV service, and this is over the internet. It’s contract based. I think the minimum contract is a two year agreement. So the starting price, keyword being here starting price, I think the tiers are $49.99. You can get a sports package for $59.99. I think there’s also an entertainment package. But it comes with a set top box that comes with the remote, or you can access it on an app on your smartphone.
It has live TV, on demand titles to choose from, you can access over 5,000 apps like Netflix or Hulu, and also comes with DVR capabilities with 500 hours of space. And it can allow you to… Three users can stream at the same time. So now the downside of this promotion is that after a certain amount of time, the service, the cost of the service, will go up possibly up to $135 a month. So users have to be aware of that, they don’t want sticker shock.
But the appeal of this is that users can toggle between live TV, and their streaming services and not have to play around with their HDMI ports or juggle remotes, so that’s supposed to be the appeal. And to me, the reason I chose this for my fast five is because this launch is just solidifying that traditional carriers are still trying to stay relevant.
And in the age of cord cutting and the streaming service wars, they’re trying to launch a service that’s going to be between cable, and streaming services and combining the two. So it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.
Fred McClimans: So now is this an evolution of the DirecTV Service?
Sarah Wallace: Yeah. So I think it was formally called DirecTV Service, and now they’re calling it AT&T TV.
Fred McClimans: Got it. Interesting. Glad to see the competition out there. We’ll see if anybody bites for that long-term price hike there. But, Dan, why don’t you go ahead and take us home here with a little bit of positive upbeat automation talk from Microsoft.
Daniel Newman: Microsoft is a company that really has struggled to do anything wrong in the last couple of years as its market cap has nearly tripled under the leadership of Satya Nadella. And last year at Ignite it announced something called Power Automate, which is basically Microsoft formally announcing its participation in the growing RPA space. Now for those not all that familiar, there’s a number of companies from Automation Anywhere, to UiPath, Pega, Blue Prism that have really niched out a multibillion dollar industry over the past few years of these robotic process automation, primarily built on UI, helping to take advantage of automations of workflows within complex software environments, mainframes banking systems. Also like I said, just very simple UI based automation. But where it’s all going towards is this more UI, API, and then fully intelligent automation. And so a lot of those companies that I’ve mentioned have started working towards that API based, and intelligence based automation.
Microsoft came out the other way, having a legacy of intelligence and API based. The company rolled out its UI flows, which now allows people that we’re using its API based automations to add a robotic process automations more traditionally. So Microsoft now has the full stack, and this week the company talked about… Rolled out its pricing, a very disruptive price point that’s going to cause a lot of challenges. And given the fact that Microsoft sits in such a good position of market, Power Platform has significant popularity, it’s low code, no code capabilities, I think it’s going to be a very interesting next six to 12 months for the RPA space. Because there hasn’t been a Microsoft-like company that’s really entered with an end to end solution that companies could lean on to start automating more and more of their workflows, both simple UI all the way through fully automated AI based intelligence flows. And now the company’s there and the company has come in with a very competitive price point.
So that announcement came out today, it’s going to shake up the RPA space, I believe. And Microsoft, I believe, is well positioned to grab significant market share and really become the power player in this space, which hasn’t had per se any of the largest tech companies really raising their hands and saying we want to participate, but rather having been more effort partnering with some of these specialized organizations.
Fred McClimans: So it sounds like this is very clearly targeted more at the enterprise market, not at the consumer Windows market. Comparable to some of the automation tools, and what not that you see with Apple and the Mac OS tools?
Daniel Newman: No, this is enterprise. So this is part of the power platform that Microsoft delivers to enterprise. Basically, automation of enterprise workloads. Everything from, like you said, enterprise CRM, ERP, workloads, to traditional processes that might be running on a mainframe. This is enterprise focused, designed to help create closer partnerships between human and machine. And like I said, it’s an interesting spot for Microsoft to really lean into, because there’ll be the biggest player in this space in name recognition value. And now competitive pricing is going to set the company up well to have a successful entrée into this particular part of the RPA path.
Fred McClimans: That’s great. Just within the last couple of days, I’ve been doing some research and some work internally here at Futurum on some RPA projects. And I think, to be honest, I think the comp and annual growth rate, everybody’s talking about 35, 36% right now. I think that’s actually low for the RPA market. I think with things like this, and with the systems becoming more embedded into AI based systems where they have a much stronger level of orchestration, and a much easier, or frictionless, mechanism for users to step in there, I think this market goes up to 40% plus CAGR in the next two, three years.
Daniel Newman: Only thing I’ll add really quickly is I think that the problem is categorizing automation for traditional UI automation, versus intelligent AI based automation are so different. So you have to… The calculation’s probably still not caught up with the way the market’s actually maturing in this technology.
Fred McClimans: I think you’re probably right. So with that, let’s wrap our fast five. And let’s talk about what we’d like to talk about every week, tech that bites in our tech bites segments. And this week. I’m just going to take a real quick poke here at the amount of time that, and I’ll raise my hand here, that a lot of people spend online doing meaningless, trivial memes, jokes and whatnot. Everything that I associate with the core essence of Snapchat. Well, LinkedIn, that favored business network that we all like, and we have all enjoyed because it is not Twitter, it is not Facebook, it’s not Snapchat.
LinkedIn has just a come out and announced that they have been testing a stories feature that would pretty much replicate the Snapchat functionality within LinkedIn. Messages that delete after a certain period of time. Very quick hit tech stuff that I just have this fear of cat memes appearing all over the place on LinkedIn, or somebody chronicling their day. “Hey, I’m getting a cup of coffee now. I’m sitting at my desk. I’m typing now.” I just look at it and go, I’m just not sure where they’re going. But because it’s our tech bites segment, Sarah, here’s your chance to weigh in. Do you think that LinkedIn should implement Snapchat-like stories on their platform?
Sarah Wallace: I just don’t know that the user base will take advantage of it, because I wouldn’t think to use LinkedIn in that manner. So I don’t know. It seems like an effort that would be futile, but that’s my opinion.
Fred McClimans: Fair enough. Dan, what’s your thought here?
Daniel Newman: Well, I think Microsoft and LinkedIn are probably trying to think about the future, and how employees are going to want to engage in the longer term. So there’s probably some value for these millennial-type employees that are loving Snapchat and loving Instagram that might love having that kind of presence. I still wonder… We talked about Twitter earlier, you talked about LinkedIn. I think these are still a little bit echo chambers.
I think people that are really busy running companies aren’t actually spending that much time on these platforms, and they sure as heck aren’t spending a lot of time watching people’s Insta videos, or snap video formats. And I don’t see that changing either.
I think they’re trying to drive more time on platform. As some of these millennials that came up with… Or Zillenials, or Zs that came up with Snapchat through high school and college are now entering the workforce. I think it might provide a familiar platform that will drive some interest. And I think LinkedIn, like I said, has had a huge adoption. Has had success in terms of selling its marketing, and making money before it got acquired. It was a very profitable business. So the company’s done a lot of things well, better than some of its other social media competitors. But having said that, I think the platform’s always lacked stickiness. It’s always lacked keeping people on the platform. So in terms of a data aggregator, it’s been great. As a collection of contacts. Great. As a place where people dump content and leave, great. Trying things out that make people stay on the platform longer, that’s every social platform’s goal. And this might be the one for… This might be a goal for LinkedIn. And so, not something I would use, but not saying others wouldn’t.
Fred McClimans: I tend to agree with you. It’s not something that I would necessarily gravitate towards, but I know far too many people that would look at this and go, “Ooh, this is cool,” and dive in and just push me further from the platform. But it will be interesting to see what LinkedIn and Microsoft do. There’s still, I think a lot they can do with this platform to bring it closer into the office suite, and perhaps closer into their CRM tools and so forth. But where it stands right now, yeah, I’d pass on this one in an Instagram heartbeat.
So with that, let’s wrap up our show here. Let’s get to the ultimate conclusion here, our crystal ball for the day. So just going back to our main theme, or main dive of the day here. In in 15 words or less, Dan, what do you think will be the biggest tech lesson we learn from the current pandemic situation that we’re running through here?
Daniel Newman: I think being able to react quickly. I’m going to leave this to enterprises, because I’m not a healthcare expert so I don’t know what we’re learning on the healthcare front. But I think in terms of as an enterprise, it’s being nimble. Having these kinds of platforms and technologies well understood, and well utilized, throughout your organization so that when things like this happen, the ability to migrate people over isn’t in such a haul. Quick adoption, quick utilization, let’s mobilize our teams, let’s get them using the platforms. Let’s have a policy in place during these particular times.
Because if you look over the last 15 years, whether it’s been Zika, or SARS, or MRSA or different, MERS, there’s been a number of these different that haven’t quite gotten to the same extent as this particular outbreak. Any one of them could have. And so if it’s health care crises is that need to propel companies to being faster and having better response plans, maybe this is the one that can be learned from and be acted upon. I think big companies are definitely getting that, having better reactions to events and getting teams mobilized. But that’s going to have to trickle all the way down through mid-size and small companies as well.
Fred McClimans: Very good. And, Sarah, what do you think we learned?
Sarah Wallace: So I think the biggest learn is going to be efficiency. So efficiency in how we relay our message, and also even budgetary efficiency. Because if a lot of companies take a hit from this, budgets are going to be cut. And so both money and technology is going to have to be more efficient in the long run.
Fred McClimans: Very good, very good. Well, Dan, Sarah, and all of our loyal listeners out there, thank you very much for being part of this week’s edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast. I do want to remind everybody, stay safe. Put a little bit of distance between you and else. Be proactive about it. Don’t wait until they cough before you take a step back.
So with that, please send us your comments, your feedback on the podcast here. We’d love to hear what you’re thinking. If you liked the podcast, like it, subscribe, share it with all your friends. And we look forward to seeing you next week on the next edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast.
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Fred is an experienced analyst and advisor, with over 30 years of experience in the digital and technology markets. Fred launched the equity research team at Samadhi Partners and provides marketing strategy through the Wasabi Rabbit digital agency. He previously served as an EVP and Research Vice President at HfS Research, launching its Digital Trust practice and coverage of emerging “trust-enabling” technologies. Read Full Bio.