Categories
Editor's pick product sustainability

57% of H&M Group’s material mix is now sustainably sourced or recycled

57% of all materials used by the H&M Group now come from either recycled or sustainable sources, according to its annual Sustainability Report released yesterday.

This is a considerable increase from last year, in which recycled or sustainably-sourced materials made up 35% of the company’s material mix – thus inching it closer to its ambitious circularity goals for 2030.

“Big change requires bold actions and the courage to aim high. At the same time, we have to be humble to the challenges our planet is facing,” said Anna Gedda, head of sustainability at the H&M Group.”So if we want to make a real change, we have to be brave, push the boundaries and not be afraid to fail.”

At present, 55.2% of the Group’s material mix is sourced from sustainable origins that are verified by third-party bodies. For example, 95% of is cotton comes from certified sources such as organic cotton (14.6%) or sourced from the Better Cotton Initiative (79.9%).

The remaining 1.4% of the mix comes from recycled sources, a small percentage that the report highlights is due to the “lack of viable recycling solutions [which] either do not exist or are not commercially available at scale.”

Other highlights include a reduction of 11% in CO2 emissions in its operations, moving it closer to its target of becoming climate-positive by 2040; a new commitment to making all of its packaging designed to be reusable, recyclable and compostable by 2025; reducing water usage in production by 25% by 2022, supported by WWF; and the announcement that 655 factories and 930,000 garment workers are now covered by the Group’s key programmes for workplace dialogue and wage management system.

Technology is also playing a major role, with artificial intelligence being deployed to ensure production and demand are more aligned from a sustainability perspective. This follows an announcement in late 2018 that Christopher Wylie, of Cambridge Analytica fame, is joining as a consultant on all things AI.

From the consumer side, its Take Care initiative, which offers customers guidance, repair services and products to care for their garments in order to extend their lifespan, has now moved into further four markets; and in June 2018, the company launched of Afound, a new brand giving unsold products a new life.

Additional reporting by Camilla Rydzek.

How are you thinking about your sustainable strategy? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 


Categories
Editor's pick sustainability

Consumer demand for accountability and sustainability is on the rise, says report

Fashion Revolution
Fashion Revolution

Ahead of Black Friday, arguably the biggest global shopping day each year, Fashion Revolution has launched a report highlighting that European consumers are urging brands and governments to take the lead in the fight for sustainability within the fashion industry.

Consumers want to know more about the social and environmental impacts of their garments when shopping, and it is incumbent on brands and governments to address those issues, the research reveals.

“The pace of change by the fashion industry simply isn’t moving fast enough, and we can see this reflected in consumer attitudes,” said Sarah Ditty, Fashion Revolution’s policy director. “People have an urgent, emotional desire to know more about how their clothes are made, and that they haven’t harmed the environment, the people who made them nor were tested on animals. And they want governments to hold brands and retailers to account to ensure this happens.”

Conducted across the five largest EU markets (UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy), the findings from the study reveal that under the topic of sustainability, environmental factors such as climate change (85%) and environmental protection (88%) are considered important by the majority of people, followed by social issues such as global poverty (84%) and gender inequality (77%).

Furthermore, 72% of those surveyed said that fashion brands should do more to improve the lives of the women making their clothes – there is a gender split in opinion, however, as 81% of women surveyed think brands should tackle gender inequality, against 72% of male respondents.

Meanwhile the government should be more proactive in not only ensuring practices are established, but developing tools to communicate it back to the population, it finds.

In an era of extreme distrust in institutions, this cry for change is more relevant than ever. The report shows that the majority of people (68%) place responsibility on the government to hold fashion brands accountable for their sustainability methods. 77% think that fashion brands should be required by law to respect the human rights of everybody involved in making their products, while 75% think they should protect the environment at every stage of the supply chain. Additionally, 72% say brands should provide information about the environmental impact of their business.

“We’d like the general public, companies and governments to use our research to help drive change in the fashion industry, to better influence their peers to care more about social and environmental issues in fashion and start asking vital questions about the impacts of our clothing,” added Ditty.

How information is communicated is a vital part of the puzzle in helping consumers match their sustainability goals with actual purchase. An earlier report by Fashion Revolution also highlighted that 80% of consumers think brands should publish which factories were used to manufacture their clothes, or which suppliers they use to source their materials from (77%).

Earlier this week, fashion data platform Lyst unveiled its year in fashion report for 2018, which trackers over 100m searches on its site over the past 12 months to analyze the trends and the buzziest brands. It revealed a 47% increase in shoppers looking for items that have sustainable credentials, using terms like “vegan leather” and “organic cotton”. Veja, a French-Brazilian sneaker brand that uses sustainable that uses sustainable materials, showed a 113% year-on-year uptick on searches, for example.

How are you thinking about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
business e-commerce mobile social media

4 findings on the digital habits of Chinese consumers that luxury brands need to know

Domestic luxury e-commerce website 5lux.com - chinese consumers
Domestic luxury e-commerce website 5lux.com

Chinese consumers are ready to buy everything online. That and a few other key findings came to light in a recent report entitled “Digital Lifestyles in China” by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). The report offers insights and data about the online behaviors of consumers culled from a survey of over 3,000 smartphone users from mainland China.

First released during the association’s annual CES Asia Conference, in Shanghai, China from June 7-9, the report can help luxury brands better understand content consumption as well as the personal networking and buying behaviours of their targeted consumers.

Here are four takeaways for luxury brands operating in China:

1. Social media in China remains more personal than professional

Chinese consumers use social media more to explore and maintain their personal relationships than to further professional development. The data suggests that over 60 percent of those surveyed contact and engage with their friends and families, while only 28 percent of them use it for professional purposes.

“It’s possible that creating reliable firewalls between their personal and professional social networking could help the majority of Chinese express their individuality while still maintaining a professional persona,” Steve Koenig, the senior director of market research at CTA, said in a statement.

2. Chinese consumers are ready to purchase everything online

It is a cliché to elaborate on the importance of online shopping in China, but it is still a surprise to learn that Chinese consumers think “there are very few products they cannot, or will not purchase online”. The data from the report shows that nearly half of the surveyed users have purchased everything they need and want online, meaning that shopping online has become a necessary part of the modern world for them.

In the past, China’s e-commerce sites such as Tmall recruited a number of luxury automakers including Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi to launch digital stores with them. Therefore, luxury brands in China should not be afraid of making the full use of their imagination to creatively think about how they can cater to Chinese consumers digitally.

3. Chinese consumers favour shopping on smartphones

Following up on the previous finding, CTA reveals that smartphones are the main digital device that Chinese consumers use when shopping online due to its convenience and accessibility. Therefore, it is not surprising to find that the surveyed consumers have made almost 90 percent of their past purchases on their smartphones. Compare that to just 33 percent of purchases made on a tablet. Also, half of respondents said that they used a store’s own app to place the order.

The finding confirms the importance for luxury brands to invest in digital channels to maximise its potential for sales. Launching on a major online shopping platform is an absolute must for luxury brands, but they also should improve the functionality of their own apps to make them more localised, user-friendly and accessible to Chinese people.

4. WeChat is where meaningful interaction happens

Even though there is a strong resurgence in the number of active users on Sina Weibo thanks to the recent introduction of video-related content, the platform still lacks the scale and capacity to generate meaningful interaction between luxury brands and their followers when compared to WeChat.

On WeChat, CTA found that almost 90 percent of users they asked check the app multiple times per day, which was twice that of Weibo users, which was 44 percent.

By Yiling Pan @SiennaPan

This article was originally published on Jing Daily, a Fashion & Mash content partner.

Categories
business social media sustainability

Binge shopping leads to emotional hangovers for consumers, Greenpeace study shows

The excitement of shopping doesn't last too long according to a new study by Greenpeace
The excitement of shopping doesn’t last too long, according to a new study by Greenpeace

Compulsive shopping isn’t only bad for the planet, it’s also not making consumers in Europe and Asia very happy, according to a new report from Greenpeace, released ahead of this week’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

The environmental organisation’s study shows fashion shoppers regularly overspend on new clothes, with the excitement of doing so often turning into guilt after less than a day.

In all the countries surveyed (including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy and Germany), most consumers admitted to owning more clothes than they needed, with many of them having multiple items in their wardrobes that have never been worn.

Some consumers are more affected than others – 41% of all Chinese consumers are found to be excessive or compulsive shoppers for instance, with 59% of them saying they can’t stop themselves making impulse buys even though they realise they are buying too much. A quarter of respondents in Germany, a third in Italy, 42% in Hong Kong and a staggering 46% in China admit that they often buy more clothes than they can afford.

While the average consumer buys clothes around once or twice a month, the excessive shopper rarely goes more than a week without purchasing something new. In China again, 31% said they feel empty, bored or lost when not shopping, and in Hong Kong and Taiwan, 50% of consumers revealed they sometimes hide or conceal their purchases from others out of fear of negative reactions.

Unsurprisingly, one of the big triggers is social media, with platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or WeChat in China, driving shopping mania, especially among young digitally connected consumers. Other influencing factors include celebrity endorsements, peer pressure and sales promotions.


That insight comes off the back of a study last year from McKinsey & Company, which showed that annual clothing production exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014. It also highlighted that consumers now keep clothing items for about half as long as they did 15 years ago, and that nearly three-fifths of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being made.

The Greenpeace research further highlights that the majority of shoppers – ranging from 65% in Germany and Italy to 48% in China – think the excitement of buying fashion wears off after a day or less, while a third say they feel even emptier once it does so.

“Our surveys show that binge shopping is followed by an emotional hangover – made of emptiness, guilt and shame. People start to realise they are trapped in an unsatisfying cycle of cheap, disposable fashion trends and that their overconsumption does not lead to lasting happiness. This should serve as a warning to companies and advertisers that promote the current fast fashion model. Fast fashion clothing brands should radically change their business model by shifting focus away from high volume production towards quality and durability,” said Kirsten Brodde, project lead of the Detox my Fashion campaign at Greenpeace.

The campaign has committed 79 global textile brands and suppliers to ban hazardous chemicals from their supply chains by 2020. In order to protect the planet further, it is also calling for a change in the way we consume clothing.

“In today’s broken fashion system, companies spend billions of ad dollars to sell us false dreams of happiness, beauty and connection tied to shopping products. But we would be much happier if fashion labels provided clothes that are high quality, durable companions for life, and offered support for customers to care, share and repair our clothes. We and the planet deserve nothing less,” Brodde added.

Categories
social media

Do Chinese fashion bloggers have what it takes for luxury brands to succeed?

Chinese fashion bloggers - Gogoboi (second from left), who was ranked as the number one fashion blogger in China by Exane BNP Paribas, attended the Swarovski BeBrilliant event in New York last year. (Shutterstock)
Gogoboi (second from left), who was ranked as the number one fashion blogger in China by Exane BNP Paribas, attended the Swarovski BeBrilliant event in New York last year. (Shutterstock)

Luxury fashion brands marketing to China’s affluent consumers can no doubt benefit by leveraging the huge social media followings of local fashion bloggers. However, this strategy can leave brands with more questions than answers. Investment company Exane BNP Paribas’ recent report, The Shopping Guide: Bloggers in China, which names China’s top 10 fashion bloggers, explores exactly to what extent these influencers can be helpful.

The report ranks China’s most influential fashion bloggers based on their number of Weibo followers, and some of the most familiar names come out on top, including Gogoboi (ranked #1) and Mr. Bags (#3). Their social media feeds cover a wide range of content that varies from blogger to blogger. For example, Dipsy (called Dixi in Chinese, #2), and Vogue China columnist, whose Weibo handle is weishaonian_k (#8) both post about seasonal collections, runway shows at major international fashion weeks, and Chinese celebrities’ cooperation with brands. Fashion columnist with the handle libeika (#4) and shiliupo (#10) are styling experts who pair products from different brands to show readers how to dress.

The top 10 Chinese fashion bloggers ranked by Exane BNP Paribas based on their number of Weibo followers
The top 10 Chinese fashion bloggers ranked by Exane BNP Paribas based on their number of Weibo followers

The report illustrates that thanks to their vast number of followers, fashion bloggers are equally useful or even better than media coverage and advertisement to create buzz in China, unlike in the West, where bloggers are less influential for luxury brands compared to celebrities and fashion media outlets. This is because the rise of fashion bloggers and the development of the Chinese luxury market happened in tandem. The report explains that fashion bloggers “have filled a void on the internet ahead of luxury/fashion brands and publishers” in educating Chinese consumers about different brands.

However, when it comes to actually transferring popularity from the fashion bloggers to luxury brands, brands have to pay attention to more than just a blogger’s number of followers. Luca Solca, the author of the report and the head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas, said social media following is not a good enough metric to gauge a blogger’s value. “The number of social actions [likes, shares, and comments] and posts is a much better indicator of social media traction,” he said.

“The real ‘effectiveness’ of key opinion leaders (KOLs) also derives from their personality, specific writing style, visual style, unique skills or level of authority within the fashion industry,” said Patrice Nordey, the Shanghai-based chief executive officer of digital inception agency Velvet Group.

Examples of successful collaborations include Gucci’s turnaround in 2016, which can be said to be because of Chinese fashion bloggers who first caught on to the new designs and promoted them to consumers. Earlier this year, a capsule collection released jointly by Mr. Bags and the handbag brand Strathberry also attracted praise online. Not all matches are perfect though—when Gogoboi took over the Weibo handle of Louis Vuitton during Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015, Chinese internet users sniffed at Louis Vuitton’s choice as they thought Gogoboi’s style did not fit with the brand image. In his latest Weibo campaign for Fendi, the number of comments under his post also dwarfed the average level of engagement he is able to generate.

What is possibly the biggest reason for brands to be cautious about seeking a one-on-one partnership with a Chinese fashion blogger is the unclear relationship between sales and influencer marketing. After Gogoboi’s November Fendi campaign, the brand’s parent company LVMH reported in its 2016 annual report that Fendi saw sales growth in China’s market. The two events may be correlated, but such correlation does not imply causation.

chinese fashion bloggers - Givenchy’s “Mini Horizon” handbag order page on WeChat
Givenchy’s “Mini Horizon” handbag order page on WeChat

Mr. Bags’ recent collaboration with Givenchy is another interesting case. Turning WeChat into a social e-commerce site, Mr. Bags gave his followers access to buy his exclusive Valentine’s Day edition Givenchy “Mini Horizon” handbags. He reported that 80 handbags were sold out in 12 minutes, but it remains unknown if such an astonishing achievement can be completely credited to his influence or if it’s a result of “hunger marketing,” a promotional strategy used by brands to boost customers’ desire to buy their new products by limiting supply. This strategy has been frequently used by Chinese brands, such as tech company Xiaomi, and has proven successful in drumming up sales in the short term.

There is no doubt that Chinese fashion bloggers will continue to play a significant role in the luxury fashion industry. But one thing is clear: blogging is no longer a hobby for them. Apart from their large online following, they need to prove their real effectiveness and business value in the long run.

By Yiling Pan @SiennaPan

This article was originally published on Jing Daily, a Fashion & Mash content partner.

Categories
e-commerce

Digital luxury: Who are 2016’s winners (and losers)?

Balenciaga digital luxury
Balenciaga.com

Luxury was late to the digital party and for the most part hasn’t acquitted itself well ever since. Which is why the regular ContactLab/Exane BNP Paribas reports into just how good the purchasing experience is for consumers is always interesting.

The report looks at factors such as digital touchpoint like abandoned carts, customer service, ease of ordering and general communications, plus physical touchpoint like packaging, delivery and much more.

Last year it did this from a Milanese viewpoint and this year it was New York. So what did it learn?

Well, Balenciaga and Fendi topped the performance ranking this time after ContactLab did its usual practical tests. It bought and returned products from 31 brand websites and five multi brand e-tailers.

Kering (Balenciaga owner) and LVMH (Fendi owner) must be happy as they were joint first. Kering scored again in number three position as Saint Laurent (or is it YSL these days?) took the bronze medal. Chanel and Coach shared fourth place, just missing the medal-winners rostrum.

Dropping back this time were Cartier, which had scored well last year but was in eighth spot this time, plus former high-ranker Louis Vuitton at only number 17. Hugo Boss was a lowly 31. Gucci stayed at number 16.

Burberry and Prada both improved. But given that Burberry was only at number 13 when it prides itself on being very digitally-focused, that’s not great. And poor old Prada only managed a rise to number 27 so its much-talked-about digital turnaround obviously hasn’t kicked in yet.

What’s so interesting about this particular report is that it’s not about the things we often notice first, such as high profile websites or social media engagement; it’s purely about the nuts and bolts of buying and returning goods, because that’s what the customer does and that’s how the customer interacts most with a brand. Given that online accounted for all of luxury’s growth last year and is expected to do so for the next few years at least, you’d think the experience would be prioritised.

You’d also think luxury retailers rather than monobrands might perform better with their long traditions of customer service, but some of those don’t acquit themselves that well. Saks was only in 13th place, Nordstrom 18th, Barneys 26th and Bergdorf Goodman an unimpressive 35th.

Who was the top retailer? Net-a-Porter in sixth place. I must admit, the experience of buying from this company (and its Yoox arm) is generally excellent. It wasn’t always. Many a time I’ve paid extra for Saturday delivery from Yoox only for something to arrive on Monday. While Net-a-Porter once took five months to refund me for an item returned the day after delivery. It was only a small amount and I completely overlooked not getting the refund until it just showed up nearly half a year later.

But that was five years ago, since then the company has shown why it’s the luxury e-tail leader.

“Net-A-Porter is digital native and is extremely consistent in assuring a top luxury performance in the majority of the more than 100 digital and physical touch points we have been evaluating along the online purchasing process,” said Marco Pozzi, senior advisor at ContactLab. He added that US department stores came out better on the digital touch points (especially Nordstrom and Saks) but they’re “average or lagging on physical touch points”.

“It should not be difficult for department stores to improve packaging, fillers, documentation and overall care in order to give a more luxury and less Amazon-like feeling to online customers,” Pozzi said. “Of course this requires focus on the problem, and for sure additional costs.”

The stores do rate highly on returns though, especially Nordstrom, which is unsurprising as multibrand retailers have a long tradition of liberal returns policies while luxury brands themselves are frequently very unforgiving if you change your mind. However, ContactLab said Burberry and Cartier top the returns service rankings.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday.

Categories
e-commerce mobile

Smartphones: Still third choice for fashion shopping

smartphones fashion
Topshop Unique

We’re buying more and more fashion on our smartphones these days but it seems laptop and desktop computers, as well as the tablets that we use to browse while lounging on our sofas, are still our favourite devices for actually spending.

A new report from e-tail personalisation platform Nosto, based on data from 700 vendors, shows that m-commerce accounts for 51% of all online spend across categories, but for fashion, we’re still more likely to buy via a traditional computer or tablet.

And we spend more per order on other devices. UK shoppers’ average fashion order value (AOV) via smartphone was £89 in the first half of the year compared to £116 on desktop/laptop and £107 on tablets.

While some commentators seem surprised/frustrated at this, I’m not particularly shocked. Personally, I buy on my laptop, my tablet and my phone, depending on the circumstances. But if I’m in the comfort of my living room, buying via a smartphone is the last thing I’d do. And given that most of my fashion purchases are done from the sofa, then I’m a confirmed laptop/tablet shopper.

My phone is more of a device for research – shooting photos, making price comparisons while in-store and so on. That makes it a crucial omnichannel tool and with Nosto saying mobile bounce rate is the highest of any device and time on site is also the lowest, it seems many people feel the same way.

However much investment e-tailers put into their smartphone apps and however tech-tastic smartphones get, it makes sense that consumers will use a large screen over a small one when they’re able to when shopping for items as personal as things we’re going to wear.

And that seems to be the attitude across Europe. Consumers in the Nordics and France spend more via smartphones (£101 and £96 AOV respectively) while in Germany it’s £88 and in Spain £81. But with those figures not too far different from the UK’s, it seems the laptop/tablet bias is fairly universal.

That said, fashion m-commerce via smartphones is growing fast and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. But whether it will ever become the primary channel for fashion spending (especially higher value transactions) is still open to question.

Nosto said mobile accounted for 29% of all UK fashion web traffic in the first half, a rise from 22% compared to H1 2015.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday.

Categories
business social media

Get influencer marketing right and you’ve got luxury e-tail sewn up, says study

Influencer marketing is increasingly important for luxury brands
Influencer marketing is increasingly important for luxury brands

Who decides what we buy online? Well, we do of course. But other people have an influence too. Friends, family, significant others, and celebs (from A-list to Z-list) can all play their part in our final e-buying decisions, as well as how we shop in physical stores.

Which is why influencer marketing is so important and is going to become even more relevant to the luxury and premium brand sectors over the next decade, global influencer marketing platform Traackr and digital marketing agency The Myndset say. They reckon influencer marketing can be a way for smaller brands to compete with the major players.

The reason is that if brands get it right, influencer marketing can be both cost effective and generally effective, reaching the parts other marketing channels can’t and at lower cost.

Myndset president Minter Dial said: “Luxury market CMOs must re-evaluate and realign budgetary spend around achieving true impact. The measurable benefits of advanced influencer marketing practice are enabling niche luxury clients to compete on a level playing field with major players…[As a result] all luxury brands can achieve compelling ROI and demonstrably increase sales, brand resonance and achieve superior insights into their valued customers.”

So how do Traackr and Myndset reach this conclusion? A recent study by McKinsey and Altagamma Foundation estimates the percentage of luxury sales made online should rise from their current 6% of total luxury sales to 18% in 2025, reaching €70bn.

And influencers are key when consumers shop online. Luxury may have been late to this, but as they realise that the future is all about the younger millennial shopper and that this shopper is fully connected, they’re racing to come up with effective influencer marketing strategies.

Luxury brands have traditionally relied heavily on expensive marketing methods such as glossy print and flashy TV campaigns, as well as creating expensive online brand experiences and spending heavily on creating beautiful stores. But achieving the personalisation, true engagement with and impact on their customers has remained difficult to achieve.

Traackr thinks they’ve been missing a trick lately with “trust [being] largely driven by peers and authoritative content” with only 3% of individuals driving 90% of conversations and impact online.

Luxury and premium brands are, of course, taking notice of this. Traackr cites an Econsultancy report on fashion and beauty. Apparently, 59% of company decision-makers are planning to boost their budgets for this area this year and Myndset research reveals 67% of luxury brands and 60% of premium brands considering digital “important to very important” in understanding their customers.

That’s because digital has been such a huge disruptor for their business. While 11% of non-premium and non-luxury companies say digital is a disruptor, 42% of luxury brands and 28% of premium brands say so. If you want to know more, the white paper can be downloaded here.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday. 

Categories
business Editor's pick technology

Eight essential technologies to integrate for future business success

emerging future technologies pwc
Drones are one of the eight essential emerging technologies, according to PwC

There are eight essential emerging technologies that businesses should be thinking about, according to a new report from PwC.

Referred to as the most likely to be influential on businesses worldwide in the very near future, they include artificial intelligence, augmented reality, blockchain, drones, internet of things, robots, virtual reality and 3D printing.

“They are at varying degrees of maturity; some have been around for years but are finally hitting their stride, while others are maturing rapidly,” the report explains. It analysed a total of 150 emerging technologies in a bid to pinpoint the most pertinent ones for business today.

None of them are of course surprising, and though referred to as relevant across industries, each and every one is also likely to have significant impact on fashion and retail verticals over the coming years.

As Vicki Huff Eckert, PwC’s global new business leader, explains: “Most companies have laid a foundation for emerging technology, investing in areas such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud. Now it’s time for executives to take a broader view of more advanced technologies that will have a greater impact on the business.”

tech-megatrends-4

The report suggests that each of these emerging technologies will influence strategy, customer engagement, operations and compliance. As a result, leadership teams in business should find effective answers to three fundamental questions:

  • Do we have a sustainable innovation strategy and process?
  • Have we quantified the impact of new technologies? If not, how can we do that-and how soon?
  • Do we have an emerging-technologies road map? If so, are we keeping it up to date?

The report also encourages chief executives not to think of such technologies as a checklist to delegate to CIOs or CTOs, but an opportunity to begin exploring and quantifying them in order to plan for their integration into core corporate strategy.

Here is more detail on each:

  1. Artificial intelligence (AI): Software algorithms that are capable of performing tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation. AI is an “umbrella” concept that is made up of numerous subfields such as machine learning, which focuses on the development of programs that can teach themselves to learn, understand, reason, plan, and act (i.e., become more “intelligent”) when exposed to new data in the right quantities.

  2. Augmented reality (AR): Addition of information or visuals to the physical world, via a graphics and/or audio overlay, to improve the user experience for a task or a product. This “augmentation” of the real world is achieved via supplemental devices that render and display said information. AR is distinct from Virtual Reality (VR); the latter being designed and used to re-create reality within a confined experience.

  3. Blockchain: Distributed electronic ledger that uses software algorithms to record and confirm transactions with reliability and anonymity. The record of events is shared between many parties and information once entered cannot be altered, as the downstream chain reinforces upstream transactions.

  4. Drones: Air or water-based devices and vehicles, for example Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), that fly or move without an on-board human pilot. Drones can operate autonomously (via on-board computers) on a predefined flight plan or be controlled remotely. (Note: This category is distinct from autonomous land-based vehicles.)

  5. Internet of Things (IoT): Network of objects — devices, vehicles, etc. — embedded with sensors, software, network connectivity, and compute capability, that can collect and exchange data over the Internet. IoT enables devices to be connected and remotely monitored or controlled. The term IoT has come to represent any device that is now “connected” and accessible via a network connection. The Industrial IoT (IIoT) is a subset of IoT and refers to its use in manufacturing and industrial sectors.

  6. Robots: Electro-mechanical machines or virtual agents that automate, augment or assist human activities, autonomously or according to set instructions — often a computer program. (Note: Drones are also robots, but we list them as a separate technology.)

  7. Virtual reality (VR): Computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or a complete environment, within a defined and contained space (unlike AR), that viewers can interact with in realistic ways. VR is intended to be an immersive experience and typically requires equipment, most commonly a helmet/headset.

  8. 3D printing: Additive manufacturing techniques used to create three-dimensional objects based on digital models by layering or “printing” successive layers of materials. 3D printing relies on innovative “inks” including plastic, metal, and more recently, glass and wood.

As the report notes: “To remain relevant and to succeed, emerging technology strategy needs to be a part of every company’s corporate strategy… Disruption is happening today at a faster rate and higher volume than ever before, [and] innovations throughout history have tipped the balance in favour of the innovators.”

You can download the full report here.

Categories
data product technology

Wearable tech’s future: Beyond fitness trackers to $160bn in 10 years

smartwatch
The wearable tech market will be worth $160bn in 10 years

Have you noticed how the hype around wearable technology has died down lately? A couple of years ago you couldn’t move for some expert predicting that we’d all be talking into our jackets and lighting up the room with our jeans.

So has wearable tech gone from being the Next Big Thing to Yesterday’s Thing? Not at all, in fact a new report shows how its NBT status has evolved to make it a much more nuanced market and one that’s set to grow fast.

The wearable tech market is currently worth around $30bn but will hit $160bn in the next 10 years, the report from IDTechEx says. On the way, it’ll be worth $40bn in the next two years and $100bn by 2023.

Not that it’s going to achieve all that just on the back of the fitness trackers and smartwatches that currently dominate the market. After all, the former category has proved popular but prices are relatively low, while the latter hasn’t exactly grabbed mass consumer imagination just yet.

What’s needed is for wearables to expand into other areas of our lives and IDTechEx says it will do just that. It believes there will be almost 40 product sub-categories in the next 10 years, including fitness trackers, smartwatches, connected clothing, smart eyewear (particularly important because of augmented reality and virtual reality), medical devices, smart patches, headphones, and hearing devices.

wearable-tech-growth

At the moment, just about every wearable tech device relies on a smartphone to act as the hub, and it will continue to do so for some time. But IDTechEx also says that “all of the largest manufacturers now look to a future, where the hub itself may become wearable”.

We’re already seeing some signs of this with devices like Samsung’s Gear S2 not relying on a smartphone to make calls and Google’s upcoming Android Wear 2.0 having more independent functionality too.

Report author James Hayward said: “Fuelled by a frenzy of hype, funding and global interest, wearable technology was catapulted to the top of the agenda for companies spanning the entire value chain and world.

“This investment manifested in hundreds of new products and extensive tailored R&D investigating relevant technology areas. However, the fickle nature of hype is beginning to show, and many companies are now progressing beyond discussing wearables to focus on the detailed and varied sub-sectors.”

So what does all that mean for the future? Well based on those sub-categories that IDTechEx lists, we still won’t be talking into our jackets or lighting up room with our jeans in the next decade. But it does seem than wearable tech will work its way into our lives in many different areas.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday