The Lights in The Tunnel

The writer, Martin Ford, tries to explain the paradox of market demand and automation using the example of lights in the tunnel. I won’t try to do the same here. However, I will put it simply, if jobs are automated and less people are employed as a results. And without income from employment, there will be no market demand.

Why would business then invest in increased production?

The optimistic view of economist states that increase economic activity creates job. What they don’t know is that in an increasingly automated economy, the job creation does not occur!

I was quite relief when towards the end of the book, the writer suggests a solution which could address this issue i.e. recapture the lost wages using 2 types of taxes:

  1. Higher business tax
  2. Higher GST or VAT

I believe our government is currently capturing both tax types above. However, he suggests both types of taxes should be re-prioritized.

So how?

Currently, tax rate for businesses are reduced to encourage productivity. So he suggests a higher tax rate instead. In theory, if a business is making more profits from cheaper labour (automation), more of this profit should be re-captured. Even if the tax rate is higher, business is still enjoying higher profits than before.

Having said that, you don’t want to tax business too much as you want to give business incentive to innovate.

What to do?

He suggests keeping business tax rate constant but increase GST. He makes a point that with higher GST, the burden may fall on low income earners instead. Not to worry, this can be counteracted by applying a lower GST on necessities items but a higher GST on luxury.

I find his view of the future quite bleak. If jobs requiring ‘people skills’ such as bank tellers can be replaced by ATMs, what hope do we have with our current job.

He reminds us again and again that: Everything to be produced by the economy is ultimately consumed by individual human beings. Human being without job means the economy has no demand to produce.

It will take a long time before true AI is possible. However, Roger Penrose stated the following:

True AI is impossible using conventional computers because consciousness has its roots in quantum mechanics i.e. the area of physics that governs probabilistic and bizarre interactions that occur between particles of subatomic size.

Does that mean true AI will be possible using Quantum Computer?



What is Product Design?

I came across this article trying to explain why every company next hire should be a Product Designer.

What is Product Designer? Is it just a new or latest trend? Or is it a role that will stick around?

I can’t answer you that. But after reading this article, I notice that Product Designer is just a new role name with attributes currently required from existing roles such as Product Manager, Business Analyst, User Experience Designer and User Interface Designer.


Scuba Diving

Just like to share this with you.

This is another example I found from the same article I read from a professor at MIT.

A Scuba Diving shop has been dropping flyers in the neighbourhood and targeting people who subscribe to Diving magazine, it struggled to succeed.

After spending time at the lesson, they found most of their students are couples.

They started asking the students questions and found out that they are mostly honeymooners who wants to learn scuba diving together.

No Constraints.

So when they asked why they want to learn scuba diving, they said they are going on honeymoon and wanted to do something together in a tropical climate.

It became very clear that they shouldn’t drop flyers in random neighbourhood. And they should just buy the mailing lists from Bride magazine rather than Dive magazine.

It is really easy to assume that if the shop is located in a neighbourhood, people living there will want to learn scuba diving. It says a lot that we can’t target a product base on customers geographic location. It needs to go deeper and understand why they wanted to do it: Couples who wanted to learn something together on honeymoon!

The same principle should apply to us when we design a new product I reckon.

User Experience Design is not what you think

This is kind of what I expected. Basically it’s saying that user experience design is not just about the app or user interface. It’s the user experience that comes first.

One example that I like is ‘Making Returns Painless’. Every time you order something online and you want to return for refund. It requires you to walk to post office and pay for postage and no way of knowing if money will come through after posting the item in mail. However, there’s a company that refunds to customers as soon as they requested. And then ask their customers the best time to pick up the item. All customer had to do is request for refund. Money transferred into their account immediately. And then wait for them to pick up.

Great user experience without having to design an app!

You are the best user researcher ever!

I like this article because it’s saying that you don’t need a dedicated resource to do user research. Anyone can do it as long as they know how to frame the question and a few other things.

One I really like e.g. is probe behaviour not intention: It’s not useful to ask how many times you intend to go to gym. It’s better to ask how many times have you been to gym in the last 2 weeks. It’s about finding out what your users are doing today.

Nice read for you when you’re traveling or whatever you’re doing at the time!

What I got out of this article:

  • Ask open ended question without leading user. Basically, do not put words into user’s mouth.
  • Get user to be specific. It’s not much point when they say it’s very helpful. It can be because the app gives them ability to track delivery real time or it can be because it’s easy to order a product.
  • Ask about behaviour not intention. As described above.
  • Keep user on focus so they don’t start going on about a topic they have a lot of opinion about. This distract you from answering the question that must be answered.

In short, you are the best user researcher every!

This is How We Do

I read about this article and thought you might like it. This goes against what every company is doing when Elon Musk from Tesla announced to the world what their Product Roadmap was:

Elon’s Product Roadmap for Tesla announced to the public in 2006:
1. Build sports car
2. Use that money to build an affordable car
3. Use that money to build an even more affordable car
4. While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options

Don’t tell anyone.

At the end of the roadmap, he added ‘Don’t tell anyone’ as he was being tongue in cheek because this product roadmap was made available to the public in 2006.

Although it took him 10 years to complete all 4 steps above. No-one has stole his idea at all. What Elon was betting wasn’t the Idea. He was betting his money on the Execution.

You can read the article in full here.

Building a Brand is building a trust with your customers

I found this article today after we spoke about company branding at our meeting yesterday. As discussed, I still believe branding is about building trust with our customers. It goes beyond what a logo looks. So I did a search online and when compare the definition of branding and marketing, it becomes so much clearer the purpose of branding. Have a read at this article I found below:

I really like one extract from the above article:

The brand is what remains after the marketing has swept through the room. It’s what sticks in your mind associated with a product, service, or organization—whether or not, at that particular moment, you bought or did not buy.

The brand is ultimately what determines if you will become a loyal customer or not.

What do you think?

Do you agree?