trends. digital.
and life upside down
about wool
WOOL: Trends, Digital and Life Upside Down, a trend based quarterly magazine, features non-obvious trends, or trends that are in the making. WOOL explores the interplay of technology, innovation, design and consumer’s lives. It will be available only in print and will help business leaders in trendsetting especially when trends are still in the making.
Living a data-driven life
As digital citizens, our digital lives are ruled by data—and will be for the foreseeable future. While the future is a digital democracy where “billions of things are talking to each other”, the challenge is to connect everything without losing human interaction. As we race towards a connected life, the spotlight is on living a Data-Driven Life in all its forms and drawing fascinating conclusions.
Living a data-driven life

New startups generate millions of dollars in valuation while owning no inventory and making no products. Behavior online is tracked, quantified, sold and resold to help companies create more customized experiences. An explosion of drones and low-cost satellites is generating new data-driven insights on an interplanetary level that could take decades to decipher. The shelf lives of products and services are being decided by tomorrow’s consumers, designers and innovators in subtle ways.

With digital transformations and pure-play startups disrupting proven sectors, and businesses depending on specialized algorithms for smarter informed decisions, we can find endless possibilities for using data in new ways to create competitive advantage.

A digital and data net has also enveloped our personal lives. The urge to compulsively track your daily life, from knowing how fast you ran, how much you ate, how well you slept and how many calories you burnt, is pushing the limits of the pervasive quantification of life, work and play. Our personal lives are being constantly infiltrated by the obsession to track and measure, share and display.

As digital natives, our digital lives are ruled by data—and will be for the foreseeable future. For those vulnerable to this disruptive change, the options are either adapt or perish. While the future is a digital democracy where “billions of things are talking to each other,” the challenge is to connect everything without losing human interaction.

In 2011, technology author Anthony D. Williams wrote, “Virtually every animate and inanimate object on Earth could be generating and transmitting data, including our homes, our cars, our natural and man-made environments, and yes, even our bodies.” Today, this is a reality.

As we race towards a connected life, the spotlight is on living a data-driven life in all its forms and drawing fascinating conclusions.

How is data changing the way that the world produces and distributes food? What role is artificial intelligence poised to take in decoding the data generated by the world’s largest health organizations? How can companies really use all the consumer data they are collecting to produce truly personalized experiences? Is a productivity obsession turning out to be counterproductive?

As you seek answers, we offer six trends that will bring us closer to the future. Each trend captures supporting stories that give a glimpse of a life that is explicitly digital and upside down, underscoring how the enormous cloud of bits and bytes that we generate can be channeled to make our lives better.

The following pages showcase examples from around the globe of corporations and governments pioneering new uses of data and testing new solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur working for yourself or an intrapreneur inspiring change from within, this collection of insights will help spark your curiosity. You may be surprised where it leads you.

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obsessive productivity
Have you ever wondered how obsessively connected we are to our devices? Do we often tend to confuse this addiction with passion? Or is it a result of our built-in need to be productive at all times?
#1 obsessive productivity

An increased sense of productivity makes us all feel accomplished, organized, and in control; undeniably, technology has taken this fixation to stay connected and productive to an obsessive level.

Whether you’re in a business meeting, sipping espresso in a café, or rejuvenating at a spa, the irresistible urge to be ‘online’ is spilling over from the workstation to airplanes, hotel rooms, and even our bedrooms. We look for every opportunity to check email, what’s happening on Wall Street, or simply scan through the news.

Thriving in a highly connected environment never allows us to unplug and yet most people show no desire to. We are fixated on being productive without losing a moment. This obsession has spiraled out of our reduced attention spans and voracious appetite for ‘how to get more done’.

Now, wasting time has become the eighth “deadly sin,” and those who have embraced the outsourced lifestyle, reclaimed their time, and implemented their four-hour workweeks are emerging as the new superheroes of the business world.

How do we support a trend like Obsessive Productivity? By finding new technologies, innovative apps, and services that can help consumers and brands find newer and faster ways to maximize their time by automating tasks and filtering relevant and customized information.

To channelize this new obsession, brands are increasingly coming up with tools that improve time management and empower users with greater control over tasks, making our everyday experiences more streamlined, efficient, and valuable.

“App-timizing” Your Time

A cleaning service for your contacts

Suppose you have an urgent need to connect with a person, but at that very moment you are unable to dig out that one email address you need most. You scan through your emails, phone contacts, and all your social media accounts, but every effort is futile. It’s like a needle in a haystack. Sound familiar? Luckily, there’s an app for that.

As our lives continue to hinge on the many connected devices and smartphones that we use on a daily basis, managing contacts and keeping them updated can be a pain. FullContact, a mobile and web-enabled app, links a user’s Google and social media accounts to create a unified record. It does this by combining existing contacts on your phone with the data collected from the other accounts and organizing them by culling out duplicates, while keeping them up-to-date and synchronized.

Hold it for me

Imagine you have a flight to catch and you just realized you missed ordering the anniversary gift you planned to surprise your spouse with. You call up a florist - and there it goes - the seemingly never-ending hold time.

To make life easier in these situations, the LucyPhone App holds the phone for you through ‘virtual queuing’ and a callback system. The app is free of cost, it doesn’t even sell or share the user’s phone number, and to top it off, is also completely ad-free. What more could one ask for to escape this ordeal?

LucyPhone claims that cumulatively, users have saved over 80 years of time so far with the service.

Obsessive Productivity doesn’t stop with apps. There are also many wearable devices and smart products that help us stay connected and automate the ways we do things.

In the past two years, we have seen myriad sensors and wearables products crowding the markets that can optimize our digital lives.

It’s now possible to track everything from the quality and quantity of our sleep, to the optimal posture, to automatically scan barcodes in the kitchen to add to a shopping list — all to help us be more productive.

The health concierge

LifeFuels has redefined health technology in the form of a smart bottle and app that help you track nutrition and hydration. It works by repackaging popular beverages in compact fuelpods for either single or multi-use. Those pods are designed to boost your energy throughout your day by catering to different nutritional needs, such as first thing in the morning or after a workout. The bottle and pod system make it easy to fuel up anytime, anywhere, and all you have to do is add water.

The LifeFuels App tracks drinks consumed, observes the user's habits, and recommends the right pods at the right time. It’s designed to fit seamlessly into an active lifestyle by integrating with wearable trackers and health apps.

The heart-smart helmet

The LifeBeam SMART helmet looks like any other cycling helmet from the outside, but it’s the first to have an ANT+ enabled heart rate sensing system, which allows users to sync their heart rate straight to compatible devices (such as a GPS bike computer or smartphone) without the need for a heart rate strap. Powered by a re-chargeable battery, it can be plugged into a computer or any USB outlet.

What the future holds

Tomorrow’s consumers will seek out technology that changes the way they work for the better, whether it’s a slick new interface or a brand-new approach to an existing problem.

In Microsoft’s case, now has plug-ins and add-ons, and a new product is expected to bring fresh features to the same Office we have been using for years. Sway combines Word, PowerPoint, and Bing, offering context and collaboration at a level that was unheard of just a few years ago.

While wearable devices currently need to overcome certain challenges such as battery life, these shortcomings will be resolved through the use of solar power and kinetic energy. Once these initial roadblocks are overcome, it is estimated that the market for wearables will reach $6B (approx. 70M devices) by 2018.

We are all trying to optimize the 24 hours we get in a day. In the near future, we will see brands and services that are able to do this taking big strides that will gain them immense customer loyalty from consumers. Speed of both innovation and going to market will become the serious competitive advantage.

A version of this article appeared in the April 2016 issue of WOOL magazine.

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small data
In the upside down world, the intelligence of small data can be harnessed much like a swarm of bees executing a perfect dance to crowdsource the next stash of food for the hive. Or migratory birds flying in a perfect pattern.
small data

Consumers have become increasingly wary about businesses who own their data when they provide personal information to join a dating site, buy a product, or pay their bills. However, the benefit of Small Data is that it’s personal, unsolicited, and not owned by brands, putting its power in the hands of its users. Thanks to cutting-edge encryption methods, sharing Small Data can be a choice rather than a requirement for using connected products and services. Co-owning data makes consumers a lot more comfortable with the idea that companies will use the constant flow of information to keep improving on their offerings to create bigger and better things for them to use.

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overquantified life
What effect is excessive data having on us? This trend is revealing that we are collecting an overwhelming amount of data about ourselves. Businesses are tracking the trails of personal data left behind by consumers to get their attention and better engage with them.
overquantified life

The overquantification of lives can feed on curiosity and novelty at first but numbers can fragment attention, dilute utility and without insight many products will live as forgotten fads instead of mainstream. In the end, data should and will simplify lives, not complicate it. To be center-stage, your business will need to fit the numbers zig-saw together to paint a better picture of how your consumers interact with your offerings and beyond.

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data overflow
Corporates and consumers are busy accumulating ‘Big’ as well as ‘Small’ data. Not only this collection of data not getting any smaller, but there is a third kind adding to it – ‘open data’ –that is usually unstructured, and freely available to access.
data overflow

Though people have been complaining about information overload, ‘data overflow’ is a good problem to have, as long as you know how to find your way out of the muddy waters. Coping with this information is getting tougher, especially for businesses trying to extract the nuggets of gold hidden under mountains of data and extract wisdom from them. It’s become necessary to sift, centralize and pull insights from the data that truly makes sense.

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heroic design
"Heroic Design" has the power to transform the way we live – in big ways and small. What was once considered a profession that prettied up your offering is now intrinsic to the inception of a new product or idea.
heroic design

Design is hardly a linear process. It has found inspiration in nature and art and needs constant leaps of faith to experiment and fail. That’s why we idolize Leonardo da Vinci – arguably the personification of Heroic Design and celebrate the moment Jonathan Ive met Steve Jobs as outliers. Design thinking has been moving mainstream steadily though – and mapping customer journeys may not democratize genius but creates a shared journey for your team dreaming of the next breakthrough.

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self-aware data
Data is learning to predictively organize itself to provide more insights in an automated way, requiring less human analysis and filling its own gaps, much the same way the human eye fills in the missing vwls in wrds so we can rd a sntnce wth msspllngs.
self-aware data

Self-aware organizations have decided to meet self-aware data more than halfway. They are experimenting selectively – in front offices or back offices, in business processes or IT processes. Selectively and collectively, their human talent is getting comfortable with a co-existence with machines that’s here to stay.

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