The Future We Live In

  • On May 31, 2017

What follows is the text version of my keynote speech at the Procter & Gamble eVolution event on May 30th, 2017. I have decided to publish it because I believe managers need to be reminded of the disruptive times we live in and take massive action. It is a long read so I will be glad it you take the time to go through.

After keynotes like the one below, I often get this question:

“I understand all this digital transformation but my company is too slow. What shall I do?”.

My answer is always the same:

“First of all, disrupt yourself “.

Technology is enabling managers to be set free from the cage set by the company they work for. What would you do if your company gets disrupted tomorrow? Are you ready to go back to the job market? What do you have to offer to a modern company? How are you going to differentiate yourself from the many others that have exactly your competencies? If you are not asking yourself these questions, if you don’t have clear that the future we live in is going to make your job obsolete, take the time to reflect and reconsider.

*All time bound predictions below are mine and based on pure gut feeling 🙂

It is always a great pleasure to be back “home”. I left this company in 2012 but it still feels yesterday for me. The Future We Live In. How do you define your future? How do you know what’s right or wrong for your own career? Do you own it? Do you own your future? Are you able to anticipate what’s next?

To show you how technology is going to change our lives, how brands will have to respond to new consumer habits, I want to take you on a journey to the Future. Let’s imagine that today is the 30th of May 2029. 12 years from now. By doing so I want to give you the opportunity to anticipate the future and decide what’s right or wrong for you and the company you work for. Are you with me?

Ok, I will tell you how my life looks like in 2029.

This morning I woke up at 6 am like every day. Beautiful day ahead. My house has got sensors tracking anything you can possibly imagine. At this time of the morning they know I didn’t just go to the toilet for some “blin blin”. They can feel that I’m awake so the smart house turns on the boiler for my favourite cup of Gyokuro Japanese Green tea. I buy it on Rakuten with a smart subscription that adjusts automatically based on my consumption level to avoid overstocking. While the tea gets made I like to go on a guided meditation. I found this new app, it’s called Headspace. Have you heard of it? I have it installed on my neuro-implant. Right here. Look at your faces…

I know it sounds weird but I’m an early adopter so when they came across in 2025 I had one implanted.

Back to my morning, I’m done with meditation, I take my cup of tea and head for this little private studio I have in my house.

Here is the thing about this studio as well as any other office facility in the World. We don’t have monitors anymore. At home I bought the last generation Augmented Reality Projector that makes me feel much like Tony Stark in Iron Man.

However, in my office, they use Augmented Reality Glasses. Already in 2017 companies like Microsoft or startups like META had prototypes ready for developers to play with. By 2029 such devices will be smaller, faster and capable of substituting monitors almost everywhere.

When I work with AR I mostly touch and talk to an Artificial Intelligence, similar to Jarvis from Iron Man. Together we have something as close to conversations as you can possibly imagine.

However, every future looks ahead and in 2029 we believe the next breakthrough is thoughts-recognition. Finally, those amazing thoughts and ideas we have under the shower will be captured in a cloud-based version of Evernote. Ladies, don’t give your husband the password!

I get some work done while sipping my cup of tea.

Wait, wait, wait. I get a signal. Lots of brain waves here in the room seem to converge towards one question: Are we still doing emails in 2029? What would you like to hear? You might be happy to know that we don’t do emails anymore. As voice recognition got faster and better, as voice/video recording became seamless, we exchange searchable voice/video messages and we can pick up conversations that get transcribed into text by the AI for those that like to read. Yet, corporate HR still invites people not to Reply To All to a birthday message. It confuses the AI…

AI + Machine Learning has made collaboration smoother, we have access to an enormous wealth of information, easily searchable. Data is not scary anymore and at some point, all managers had to go through a Data for Business 101. Much needed and nothing really different vs. what happened in the 90s when we moved from printed messages and fax to emails and Microsoft Office. The question is, are you educating yourself on how data are entering the workplace? What will data do to your job profile? What do you need to know now to be competitive tomorrow?

Time for a short run. I have a nice park just outside my house. I like it there, it’s quiet and well maintained. I put on my Nike shoes, they are custom-fit. Actually, there is very little in my house that isn’t personalised. I wouldn’t wear anything today that isn’t made-for-me. Yet, Nike is still there winning my money. In my mind, Nike is not a sportswear company. Nike = Running and Running is more than what I wear. With Nike, I’m part of an ecosystem. And for Nike, I’m a Single Consumer with very specific needs. I can have conversations with people at Nike and as they know my running style, routine and have access to some of my health data, it can provide me with personalised recommendations, contributing to adjust my training routine. And last, I buy Nike smart clothes and custom-fit shoes that reduce my chances of injuries while tracking the biometrics movements of my body. Nike is meeting all the 3 needs of personalization: I want conversations to be personal, I want services, I want products that are made-for-me.

Back home I get into the shower and as I turn on the hot water I feel good. We installed a solar panel and I joined the SIG (Services Industriels de Géneve) energy grid in 2022 as early adopters.

My house produces energy in excess so I can sell it back to the network and SIG pays me with Solarcoins, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency that I can spend to buy services in Geneva fostering the local economy.

Dressed up in my tailor-made suit, I head down to the garage where the self-driving Tesla has been charging. I made commuting my “thinking space”. In 2029 my two children cannot understand the concept of “mass-production”. Don’t get me wrong, we still produce goods in massive quantities with hyper-automated factories. It couldn’t be otherwise as we are more than 10 billion people. However, they cannot understand going to a department store buying clothes made for a “standard” model or buying the same shampoo as anyone else would. Why would they? They live in the “made-for-me” economy. Why would anyone buy the same product as anyone else if we can get affordable access to products that are made-for-me by companies that place my experience at the center?

The car drives me to the center. A wonderful sun is shining over Geneva. I tell the car to leave me a few blocks away from my office. I want to take a walk. The car leaves me: Where is it going? People don’t really own cars in 2029. Uber-like services have become mainstream and I let Uber rent my Tesla for its customers. It pays me a nice fee so I guess it is a great win-win.

It’s really hot and I haven’t had time for breakfast so the neuro-implant and the rest of the sensors I have on my clothes tell me I should get some energy boost.

I’m wearing these AR contact lenses. They offer a much better experience on the go, eliminating the wierd feeling of the early Google Glasses.

Advertising will see a new spring in 2029. With the ability to focus on highly-relevant, contextual, micro-moment that are relevant for me, brands can leverage the power of data to offer me real value. This morning moment where my energies are running low, it is prime for a good ad. It’s Unilever to win the real time programmatic bid and I get a contextual ad for a Popsicle at a store nearby. Wierd but hey, it’s hot, that’s fresh, I go for it!

Unilever has been an early adopter of marketing automation and has completely transformed its marketing function going through tremendous resistance. Yet they made it through and became a modern consumer centric company able to processes incredibly large amount of data and satisfy the three needs of personalisation.

I get to the store where a Vending Machine is waiting for me. It recognizes me as I’m approaching asks I want my favorite Lemon Popsicle or if I’m up to try something new. Lemons, I love Lemons.

The machine doesn’t have any popsicle ready-made. You can say that it 3D prints it and not with just water and lemon juice, it adds all the minerals I need in a hot spring morning. Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin C, you name it; all in the doses prescribed by my Artificial Intelligence doctor. I lick it, I’m healthier.

Unilever has not only won the ice-cream industry. It has a growing vending machine business and it got into food supplements.

As I keep walking to my office my wife calls in. No, I don’t have a smartphone. We got rid of those a few years ago. My neuro-implant serves as a microphone. Now I know what it means when someone gets into your head!

She is downtown where they have these nice billboards and digital outdoor that recognizes your face and the people around you, selecting which ads to display in order to be relevant to most. Apparently she has seen a new DNA test that can improve her skin and beauty care regimen. Don’t ask me how it is possible but these days I spend more in tests then in pizza and I really love pizza.

It seems Sephora can do this new test. Forget about Lipsticks and Fragrances. Sephora does DNA tests these days. Sephora bought companies like GENEU many years ago in order to stay competitive in a fast changing, prime for disruption, industry.

Then we discuss about dinner and what to eat. We visually share recipes ideas courtesy of Kraft. After a bit of chatting we make up our mind on one and approve the purchase. It goes to my smart house butler app that reminds me to approve replenishment of the dishwashing all-included subscription (laundry + maintenance). I get everything directly from Dishwasing manufacturer that has decided to establish an ongoing relationship with the consumer as a 7 years repurchase lifecycle didn’t really resonate with them anymore.

It worked fine with me as they monitor the dishwashing for maintenance and it all comes together in a nice service package that I approve for replenishment every-month. We couldn’t hang up without seeing an advertising for a space trip from Expedia. We have been wanting to do it for quite some time and will likely buy it for our 15th year of marriage, coming soon.

I finally get to the P&G office. This is May 30th 2029 but I remember May 30th 2017 as if it was today. Marketers still discussing about Customer Experience and Customer Centricity, Digital Marketing and the transformation at stake. I get it, it is complex and confusing but it is coming. I like to use this analogy. If supply chain’s Nirvana is MOQ of 1, Marketing Nirvana should be 1 Consumer.

I chose to take you to 2029 because it will be a special year for me. I joined P&G in the mid of 2005. 12 years ago and in 12 years we will be in 2029. The pace of innovation we have seen in the last decade will be nothing compared to the changes ahead of us and yet most of my conversations I have with top level executives sound so 2005.

Now it comes down to you, as a manager and as a person. You have a choice, you can take the red pill and stay as you are, expecting someone else to tell you how your job has changed or has become obsolete or you can take the blue pill and embrace the transformation starting to educate yourself on what is happening and how it affects your career and the company you work for. The beauty is we all have the same choice.

Which pill will you take?

Thank you.



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