Recently I was back home visiting family and was given the daunting task of entertaining two of my extremely lively nephews (when I say I was entertaining them, I actually mean that they were terrorising me!). While this meant I could play with Lego, dinosaurs and all other manner of toys, it also showed me just how far more inquisitive, unafraid of failure and more innovative they are.
At first, this revelation annoyed me. Here I was, a well-educated adult with years of professional experience, and yet I was being outperformed by two, semi feral four year olds when playing a basic board game… and then it scared me.
While I was still trying to work out how the latest toy worked, the boys were well ahead: having already engaged in the game and having fun. All this in a matter of seconds. There I was still reading the instructions. Instead of being fun Uncle Dave, I’d turned into a boring playmate. I was not only slowing them down, but trying to stick to the rules and instructions set out by the manufacturer. I was set in my ways.
Why is this relevant?
This whole experience, aside from bruising my ego, got me thinking. In industry, how many times has a well-known and established brand been scuppered and overtaken by a younger model, more akin to experimenting and challenging the norm? Nokia. Zocor. Blackberry. Motorola. Kodak.
Blockbuster even turned down the opportunity to acquire Netflix for $50 million because Netflix were a ‘very small niche business’. In fairness, Netflix were still mailing DVDs to consumers at this time, but that misses the point. Blockbuster was guilty of misreading a threat, their success had caused complacency, the business was misaligned and, putting it bluntly, they were focused on protecting their margins rather than on growing them. Ultimately, their corporate decision cycles lagged behind new, available technologies and evolving consumer preferences.
My punts on 2017 tech start ups
So, who do I think in 2017 is in a position to learn from the likes of Blockbuster and Nokia, and really take the retail industry by storm? In essence, I mean which tech start-ups are focusing on what my nephews do each and every day – throw a fear of failure out the window, have an inquisitive mindset and bring innovative and different approaches to the rules of use.
I had planned to identify my top 3 through a set of vigorous criteria, however, in the end I took a more subjective approach: I chose the ones I found really cool and different. Admittedly, this is an inexact science (and more than happy to be challenged!) but as a consumer of tech, the best way to make my choice was to select based on how useful and unique they are to me. So here are my top three picks for this year:
It may be the brave new world of 2017, but it’s likely to be a pretty hairy one for IT security professionals – BioCatch could help with this. They’re an Israeli start-up who aims to significantly reduce online fraud and protect users against a variety of cyber threats across both eCommerce and mCommerce, without having a negative impact on the user experience. Quite a bold promise, but having been around since 2011, this could be the year they go stratospheric.
StreetDots' technology connects street traders with bricks and mortar landlords through simple one-stop booking. The result is a network of smart street trading pitches, each occupied by a different vendor every day. This allows traders to reach new audiences and showcase their brand, be it street food, fashion or the next big thing.
A start-up whose purpose is to help retailers improve their bottom line by connecting all of their data sources and delivering actionable insights to the right person, in real time, through alerts and notifications on their phone, whether customer or employee.
As I said, happy to be challenged! Leave a comment if you don’t agree with my choice and would be great to find out what other start-ups you think are likely to change the retail industry.
Here at Capgemini, we like to innovate. And this year we’re celebrating our 50th year of pushing innovation, so we’ve launched the InnovatorsRace50 – an initiative seeking to reward the most innovative entrepreneurs and disruptive early stage start-ups.
We’ll be giving the winner of each InnovatorsRace50 theme the opportunity to secure equity free funding of $50,000, extensive networking opportunities, participation in international tech events, access to industry experts, and the opportunity to become a Capgemini partner.
As an added incentive, the winner will have the prospect of coming in and spending a few weeks with us at one of our Applied Innovation Exchanges to develop their solution – a truly once in a lifetime opportunity!
So if you have a passion for tech and want to really challenge yourself, enter Capgemini’s global InnovatorsRace50. Applications close on 28 February.