/ Weekly Takeaways

The death of the smartphone upgrade cycle, the shrinking tech talent pool and the profitability of Design

Consumers aren't rushing to upgrade their phones anymore

According to a new study in the US, the average age of an iPhone at trade-in is now 2.92 years up from 2.38 in 2016 (and 2.59 in 2017), showing a drop in the "I need to get that new phone" attitude toward personal tech. For the full story - check out the Wall Street Journal's coverage here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/upgrade-no-thanks-americans-are-sticking-with-their-old-phones-1540818000?mod=rss_Technology

Key Takeaway

We saw this happen already with PCs, we're seeing it happen now with smartphones. Twenty years ago we were obsessed with how fast our computer would go, and how much space it had (for all our Napster MP3s of course), but over time, fast and big became the expectation, not the exception. Adding better cameras, battery life and changing the form factor are now just slim benefits compared to the whopping life changes we expected when we first got our hands on new smartphones.

This is ultimately another indicator that we as consumers aren't looking for the next big thing. We already have it. Now we just expect it to read our minds without selling our thoughts.

There will be a 30% drop in tech talent by 2022

New research from IDC is showing a 30% tech pool talent gap that will come to life in 2022. This is mainly due to baby boomers going into retirement and a lack of available workforce for the high tech demands from AI that companies now seek. Venture Capital firms like Andreesen Horowitz are voicing alarm on this issue particularly around their notion that companies are becoming technology platforms, but won't have the talent to keep their momentum going.

Key Takeaway

The notion that companies are becoming tech platforms is resonating more and more as banks begin to act more like Facebook, focusing on extending and scaling their offering through technology. It will be interesting to see the evolving role of the CIO over these next few years as they move from being the security and data experts, to becoming business powerhouses.

Businesses that focus on Design are more profitable

At least according to a recent McKinsey report (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-design/our-insights/the-business-value-of-design) that looks at 40,000 organizations in a recent analysis of the effects of Design on profitability.

In their analysis they describe four key areas that demonstrate their view of Design

  • Data-driven leadership
  • Cross-functional teams
  • Lean / Iterative project execution
  • User Experience

Of those companies that did not see profitability from design, McKinsey's analysts noted that they also did not engage with any of their customers for feedback (part of the UX process), nor was their leadership involved in these efforts.

Key Takeaway

Value or Business Design has been around for a long time (at least since the 1980's going back to MG Taylor - http://www.mgtaylor.com/mgtaylor/glasbead/7stagcrp.htm), but we're finally starting to see quantifiable evidence of the returns from these investments. Moreover, we're seeing executives taking a data-first approach to business, and looking for their direction to go all the way down to their customers. Contrary to the skill gap we're seeing in the tech space, I think this will be made up for by a new breed of Design Thinkers that are becoming mainstays at consulting firms, creative agencies and UX boutiques.

The death of the smartphone upgrade cycle, the shrinking tech talent pool and the profitability of Design
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