Amazon’s New Echo Lineup Does What Fire Phone Never Could

Remember when Amazon created a new phone, hoping it could revolutionize the smartphone business? Remember how badly that failed? This week, Amazon released new products that prove it doesn’t need a smartphone to get up close and personal with its most engaged customers, who now can have Alexa in their ears, on the bridge of their nose, and on their finger. By putting technology on your body today (and eventually in your body), Amazon begins building an all-body network — a distributed set of devices that free us from having to use our mobile phones to access digital tools and services. Change the interface and you change the world, as I first wrote in 2011, and it’s truer now than when I said it then. Amazon’s effort will succeed, at least with the 42% of people who believe that smart speakers and intelligent assistants will affect them positively or very positively (source: Forrester’s benchmark Future Fit study, October 2018). At the same time, Amazon’s move will come under massive fire by those the products weren’t built for. Valid complaints about privacy will ensue. Politicians will even use it as election-year fodder. Amazon will have to counter those concerns, and we’ll be watching closely to see how it responds. But there’s one piece that we’ll watch just as closely: Can Amazon make this lifestyle experience as meaningful as it is convenient?

Accenture Continues Its March Toward Co-Innovation Success

Accenture released another strong earnings report this week. The investments the services stallion has made in data, digital, and cloud clearly appeal to you in your digital transformation: That business grew 20% in local currency. Other service providers — IBM Services, Capgemini, TCS, and so on — are also growing but none at the profit and revenue growth rates of Accenture. So what has it figured out that appeals to you? Based on our recent calls with Accenture Interactive customer references, it’s the embedded relationships that seem to pay off best, where co-innovation and co-creation define your success and theirs. Is this the future of technology services? Continuous business improvement through partnering? We’d love to hear your views on this.

Finally, The Rationality Of Daylight Lights Up The Ridiculousness That Is WeWork

Amazing what free beer, a mobile app, and a seductive entrepreneur can do to buff up the staid commercial real estate management market. WeWork’s valuation peaked at $47 billion, irrationally for a company that lost $1.6 billion last year. Well, those days are gone. Investors finally booted the CEO and his friends and family. WeWork’s disrupted IPO plans could be the peak of this startup cycle. (When entrepreneurs are allowed to use investors’ money to buy corporate jets, it’s clear that the investors are absentee landlords.) But fear not, the tale wasn’t all fantasy. The company did present digital solutions to complex and annoying manual processes. And so can you. Our direct-to-value research shows you how to adapt your value proposition to a world of ever-more-demanding customers and ever-more-clever competitors. And our digital business playbook shows you how to transform your firm to make it happen.

No Matter How Their Drivers Are Classified, Uber And Lyft Must Commit To Better Worker Experience

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill that pressures ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to label drivers as employees. The goal is to increase wages and enable access to benefits. Uber and Lyft are resisting, as business leaders say they will not plan to reclassify drivers as employees and instead intend to celebrate independent work. The ride-share duopoly has had its share of employee experience problems, with drivers frequently protesting unfair treatment like freezing drivers out of apps to save on costs when there is a lull in demand. The battle between companies and courts on this issue is just beginning. Uber and Lyft would help themselves by empowering workers. Using dark patterns that hack human behavior simply for revenue-generating reasons fails to recognize that the subsequent reduction in workers’ feeling of autonomy to decide when and whether to drive damages long-term success. Instead, they should help workers feel a sense of belonging — something that is much harder for independent contractors. Our research shows that understanding of what makes employees engaged and productive directly affects customer experience and financial performance.