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To stay relevant to your customers over the next couple of years you’ll need to be aware of mega trends: the very biggest macro factors.

Mega trends are those irreversible, slow-to-grow changes that we tend not to recognise as quickly as we might. It’s a bit like seeing a child (puppy, kitten) after a period of time: you notice their growth much more than if you see them every day.

Who do mega trends affect?

Mega trends affect us all. They offer opportunity and threat to business in equal measure. The opportunities presented by mega trends are visible to companies who actively look for ideas to grow. The threats that mega trends present are also clear to companies looking for ideas to grow. The message is this – if you’re not looking at trends, you aren’t seeing either growth opportunity or risk of disruption.

Here in the UK many brands, especially SMEs, are wrapped up in Brexit, and it’s become really easy not to look too far into the future. While Brexit is definitely a macro factor, it’s also been difficult to plan for.

True mega trends are usually easier to read than Brexit, and definitely more likely to open up an opportunity. These are some mega trends you might like to take a look at…

The sharing economy – this may be a hard one to get to grips with if you sell consumer products. As things are developing, your newest customers are making fewer capital purchases – but there are two sides to this.

If you sell sofas, you can rent out sofas. If you sell bikes, hire out bikes. The transition to a subscription model is not hard unless you just don’t see the need.

Personal Mobility – while governments around the world are pumping billions into the electrification of cars, there is an undercurrent of radical change that still has a long way to go.

Not only are cars and other vehicles subject to changes in fuel systems, with all the knock-on impact that will have on the automotive supply chain, but even this emerging market is under pressure from the sharing economy. This trend is going to run and run, and electricity won’t be the only fuel solution explored. This blog talks about this more:

Emotional intelligence – Human Resource departments are great at building systems to recruit team members who ‘fit’ with each other.

They have known for decades that IQ isn’t the only measure of probable effectiveness. Emotional Quotient (EQ) is now better understood and it’s being managed and exploited. EQ describes the way you monitor your emotions and the emotions of your colleagues, as well as how customers react in response to your brand messages. EQ extends through your recruitment, staff management and how you are able to manage consumer loyalty.

To build a sustainable brand position, your launch planning must be part of the innovation process and persona development at the earliest possible time.

The room44 Innovation Process takes EQ into account. Let’s talk about this complex part of your plan. You can book some time here to talk.

Ages of population – here’s how the ages of the various generations are described.

Your customer personas need to anticipate how the ages of your shoppers are shifting. It’s thought that 75% of the workforce in 2025 could be Millennials.

People who sit in Gen Z and Alpha will live well beyond 100 and have plenty of time for several discrete careers. What does this mean? Well, one theory is that Gen Zs are already approaching an age when their first business sectors are changing enough that they need to retrain.

Law – the legal systems we abide by have been developed over hundreds of years. Prevailing laws are the compound product of ideas and reactions to societal developments that have taken place over time.

History tells us that legislators are slow to evolve laws to meet a new situation, and yet the forecasted rate of change in many areas of our lives means that the legal system must accelerate to keep up. Laws rely on precedent to direct us, but technology is applying pressure here. Financial management, online business, digital fraud, autonomous vehicles, geographic and geo-fenced boundaries, artificial and human intelligence are a few examples of the areas where the law is evolving, but may need to anticipate what’s coming rather than react to what has happened.

These mega trends are just some of those that sit on the horizon. They’re already in play and will cascade to affect your customers’ choices, your brand positioning and your relationship with your buyers.

room44 watches trends, builds systems for our clients to watch for themselves and trains teams to innovate by being aware and informed about the way their markets are changing – before the change arrives.

 We can help with that. Call us to find out more: +44 208 144 9800 or click through to see how our outside insight service works. Don’t worry, there isn’t another form to fill in.

outside insight

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

Faced with a journey, you’ve got choices: plan the route or start walking (driving, cycling – whatever you choose).

Planning feels logical. Get the map out, plug coordinates into a sat nav and see how long it takes. Your route to a final destination, plotted via a set of well-worn pathways.

The expected outcome is clear.




So, what about the journey to a new destination that hasn’t been visited before, by anyone, ever?



Things aren’t as clear now. It’s harder to know how to get there. You might not even be sure where ‘there’ is. How do you take the first step?

This is the problem that an innovation process tackles.

Now we’re talking about a different set of variables: who is your target customer and what will they be struggling with at the end of your product development process? With technology and competition developing at current rates, you can’t assume that today’s customer will be the same in six months’ time.


This is why we look at time horizons and consider new trends – not data. Data is historical. Trends are emerging. There’s a major difference in their usefulness when it comes to plotting your customer need as it will develop – not as it did.

Think of it like this: over the course of, say, five years, lots of products will fade from the market. Trends like electric vehicles are growing. Consequently, the bits and bobs that sit under the bonnet of your family saloon won’t be needed in the numbers they are today. Stuff like carburettors, exhaust pipes and so on.

and place

If you make carburettors or exhaust pipes, you have time to develop a new strategy – but not much. Deciding what you’ll do when exhaust pipes aren’t needed; raising finance; buying and receiving new machines; becoming a player in a new product segment…all these things take time.

A five-year window isn’t very big at all, and by the time you make it to market with a new idea that meets a need today, that need will have moved on.


This quote from the World Economic Forum says it all

  1. The right strategic vision is critical– in addition to anticipating what your customers are going to want, you need to define the depth and scope of the changes and redesign your internal processes and broader ecosystem.
  2. Execution is the hardest part of transformation– more than half of all companies undertaking transformation will fail to achieve their desired outcomes. One of the most common stumbling blocks is underestimating the operating model refinements that will be required across the organisation.
  3. Beware leaders who are clinging to past or current successes – this is the hypnotic siren song of the status quo. Transformation needs to be a continuous, never-ending process rather than a distinct ‘event’.

The article’s called “What is the life expectancy of your company?” It’s a good question.

room44 has a process for helping you succeed in a changing market place. It’s called the Programme for Changemakers. Click below for details.

[button link=”” type=”big” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] Programme for Changemakers[/button]

While the media (and all of us) continue to hazard guesses about what March 29th will bring, this week has brought more news of businesses leaving the UK to base production abroad. We’ve had Monocle Monday and Honda Tuesday. What next?

Monocle Magazine #Monoclemagazine the newsy/ lifestyle/ trend reporting magazine that has been, until now, printed in the UK announces that it is moving printing to Germany “to ensure there are no hiccups in delivery and quality”.

#Honda announces it’s closing a factory in Swindon – devastating, not only for its employees, but also the thousands working in the Honda supply chain around the UK.

The Labour Party #LabourParty goes into a flat spin with Monday Mutineers, and responds by pleading for by-elections to paper over the cracks.

These are effects brought on by mounting uncertainty. When a problem shifts from ‘chronic’ to ‘acute’, our defence mechanisms mobilise and decisions are made that may prove not to be best-judged.

Although we have had nearly three years to plan for the Brexit scenarios, it’s only now, when the impact of the move is still so unclear, that many businesses are acting.

As Courier Media #CourierWeekly said today: “We are living in uncertain times. In the UK, trying to understand what Brexit will look like is impossible (even politicians don’t know). So what’s the current reality for small businesses operating in the unknown?”

This is the question room44 is here to help with. Thursday is a great day to start seeing it differently.

With five weeks to go before the clocks go forward (in the UK) and Brexit happens, you do still have time to see your prospects differently.

Innovation (even invention) can happen regardless of Brexit. Treat the macro impact on the trading environment right, and we can show you how to turn it into a positive feature of your development plans.

Another word from #courierweekly. This time from top UK chef Shamil Thakrar: “We’ve spent an awful lot of time thinking about this [Brexit]. This time would be better spent improving the proposition for customers – [instead] our mental focus is on damage limitation.’


Click here to download our guide to Seeing it Differently – How to sell innovation into your own business.

Once you see the potential room44 holds, get in touch. There is no time to waste.

Why do companies seem great while the founder is in place and then gradually wither to nothing?

My dad started his jewellery retail business in the late 1960s. He grew it to three shops and planned for his family to succeed him. Then the 1970s came along. Petrol was in short supply. The three-day week hit. Power cuts were a regular feature on high streets and the UK hit a recession. Trade was not so buoyant, but the business kept its head above water.

By the mid-eighties, though, my dad’s shops were in trouble. The market for luxury goods was waning and he didn’t have a successor yet. The systems he’d built into his business relied upon him being there – to anyone else, they were impenetrable.

Shoppers in the jewellery market looked around for cheap alternatives. While Dad held on to his Rolex and Bulova concessions, Timex did new things with LED digital watches and shoppers drifted to lower cost products. After all, a watch didn’t get more accurate the more you spent, especially since electronics were now more reliable than mechanicals.

Empires sprouted out of ‘low cost’. What eventually killed off many traditional high street jewellers – including my dad – wasn’t a recession or a digital watch, but the insurgent response.

Even after Gerald Ratner reduced his multi-million-pound jewellery business to rubble with a single remark about how his products were so cheap – ‘because it’s total crap’ – the market still needed watches and wedding rings.  What Dad didn’t do was see the trend and respond to consumer signals. He stuck to his established ways, failed to prepare for a time when they were out of date, and eventually went under.

How does this relate to today?

Let’s have a quick look at another industry that is important to the UK today: automotive.

It’s changing.

The UK Government says within twenty years we’ll have seen the last signs of the current petro-chemical-based car industry. The recognisable car-making supply chain in the UK is founded on mining, smelting, rolling, beating and pressing. Now we’re seeing electric vehicles start to dominate. New cars are getting lighter, using less metal, and new construction methods. Process like laminating, injecting, bonding and moulding. If legislation isn’t sending a wake-up call to the component end of this market, the language of the new market should.

The SME’s lament: the language of change.

Too often, the generation that built a business doesn’t acknowledge when it needs to change radically. More and more SMEs (and others too) are seeing their markets change so quickly that there isn’t time to enjoy a ‘career’. Established SMEs are used to believing that what mum or dad started, the kids can take over. Not necessarily so.

Today, the average lifecycle of a business is around eighteen years, while careers last over thirty. Because demand and technology change markets so quickly, and old habits die hard, what worked even five years ago, can’t be relied upon to work now.

There’s an adage that says:

  1. The first generation builds it.
  2. The second generation keeps it.
  3. The third generation loses it.

This is really unfair on the third generation. The probability is that the first and second generations just don’t set the third up for success by changing soon enough.

If you see any of this in yourself, get in touch. The best time to have made an essential decision may have been twenty years ago. But the next best time is today.

Download our guide to selling innovation into your own business, ‘Seeing it differently’, here.

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

Writing about reading: a content-based strategy for everything we do in innovation.

When we started room44 in 2014, one of the decisions we made was to focus our marketing and research on the written word. Sounds obvious? Maybe.

The way all research is done, at one level or another, is to read stuff: data, reports, white papers, articles, blogs, strategy documents.

It’s also necessary to watch video content and, of course, we do. From watching something, we may get a flavour of a subject, yet it still takes reading into a topic to properly understand it.

As we read, we learn. In fact, as we read and then write, we are challenged to assimilate information and convert it into useable insight – to see obscure connections that might be exploited as part of an innovation strategy. That’s what we’re here for and why we spend so much time reading and writing.

Below is a short list of books that you might find of interest over the holidays.

They aren’t entirely business-focused, but they are writing-focused and have been useful to us during the latter half of 2018 as we prepare to further develop the room44 brand.


Being a Writer

This is a classic compendium of quotes about writing by famous authors. It’s enlightening, and presented in small enough chunks to dip into often and quickly.

Being a writer. Travis Elborough


You can’t make this stuff up

If non-fiction is your thing, and we’d include writing for business in that, Gutkind is something of a guru and this is a manual for doing it better.

For me, this has become a go-to reminder of how to write well and what readers like to see.

You can’t make this stuff up. Lee Gutkind.


Building a story brand

If content features in your marketing strategy, you may find this a useful read.

Another ‘how to’ manual, that gets into the nuts and bolts of how to push a message out and why.

Building a story brand. Donald Miller


Finally, there are lots of sources of advice about content creation. This is exactly why we look away from the light for inspiration. Reading away from obvious subjects always prompts a tangential thought. It provokes a perspective that wasn’t going to come into focus otherwise and it gets our ideation running riot. Think of it as not looking for your lost keys under the lamppost. They’re probably out in the dark and under a bush.


Something else we turn to regularly is The Happy Reader.

It’s a bit of an oddity. It’s the wrong size, has a feel all of its own and is almost a pamphlet in the old-fashioned sense. For all that, it’s worth trying as a challenge to yourself.

The Happy Reader



If you’re looking for a new product, or trying to take your business in a new direction, and are unsure exactly what you need to do – click here and I’ll call you back to help work it out.

If you haven’t heard of cross platform Apps until now and don’t see a connection with your market, it doesn’t mean something isn’t happening. It just means you haven’t seen it yet. We can change that and put you in a competitively stronger position. It starts with a call or an e-mail to us. Click here and most of the work is done for you.

What haven’t you seen yet?

When the iPhone launched, a decade ago, we all swooned over the colour-coded SMS trail. How much more creative could we expect a single brand to get? Surely Apple had reached its pinnacle.

Then Apple launched the App Store. Three short years later, iPhones made sense and the cost of buying software fell through the floor. Great news for us, even if it was a bit hard to comprehend at the time.

Since then, we’ve become conditioned to being diverted to App stores. Every one we download comes from a central iOS or Android store, and we navigate the journey like pros. But things are changing, and the redirection soon won’t be necessary.

The App Store is not an ’appy place

Cross platform Apps are already out there and growing in popularity. Across Android and Apple stores, you can choose from over four million (4,000,000) Apps today. Lots of them are duplications across platforms, but the next big shift in App usage is for them to be developed as a single product to run across platforms. It makes sense. Brands are already pushing them out to users without us needing to go to an App store.

As users, we may not see a huge difference. One less click in the UX maybe. But to the brand – no need to distribute through another channel, personal data collected directly, always on.

Cross platform Apps have access to all the bits of your operating system they need, like its camera and address book. Importantly, these apps can be used offline. For brands, this is great news. The way these Apps are built allows them to see your activity in a way that doesn’t intrude into your daily user behaviour. To the App Stores, it’s a problem: lost traffic, lost revenue, lost data – now we’re getting to the nub of the issue.

Off on a tangent (stay with me):

In other blogs, I’ve written about the serious impact electric vehicles will have on the sales of products that consumers (you) regularly buy from petrol stations – which seems obvious when you think about it. Now we see brands developing the opportunity to suck up your digital dust. These are connected concepts.

There are also efforts being made by larger brand owners (Unilever, Mars…) to deal directly with consumers and cut out the retail step in the consumer journey.

These are all signals of a trend that recognises the importance of knowing who your consumers are, how they behave, being able to anticipate when things need to be replenished, and knowing the most efficient way to get your product into their shopping baskets. From a consumer perspective, until the backlash happens and some of us decide we don’t want to give up our data quite so easily, this trend is developing in the background.

Apps for digital natives

When your kids get to market, because they are digitally native and, more importantly, have zero experience of analogue habits, these trends are showing us how they will shop.

Following this line of thinking, we can see how distribution channels may be reorganised. Whether bricks and mortar outlets will feature as much in our shopping habits as they do today is questionable. Whether wholesale and cash & carry outlets can maintain their foothold in this newly organised market is doubtful. Do they have time to do something to underpin their business in the face of trends that are gradually pushing them into obscurity? Of course they do. Will they? Are they? Not obviously, and not fast enough.

The signs are that…

Not enough of the people involved in traditional distribution are looking to their futures. As a result, unforeseen things will happen to them. But ‘unforeseen’ only because they aren’t looking, or choose not to believe what they see, or just can’t figure out what to do about the threat.

It’s fair enough to go along to an industry’s annual ball and pick up an award based on what you did in 2018. The trouble is, this isn’t where the battle is being fought.

Food distribution, technology, clothing, leisure, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, cars/mobility, retail… even culture and now Apps themselves are product and experience areas that are being differently managed as digital innovation. This not only presents new ideas, but changes whole industry sectors.

Our answer? Well, you can wait for the future to happen to you, or you can copy Jack Reacher: “hope for the best, plan for the worst.”

Randomly connected observations present opportunity

If seemingly unconnected signals like this are new to you, if you don’t see the connection between apparently random events and your market, or if you want to find an opportunity in this (and they are certainly there), get in touch.

Change of this kind is both a threat and an opportunity, depending on what you do next.

  • Knowing where to look for the signals is a skill.
  • Being able to believe the data is a skill.
  • Being able to see useable connections is a skill.

Doing any of these things will be the difference in your surviving industry change, or not; in waiting to lose orders to insurgent competition, or creating an opportunity for yourself; in being resurgent, pushing back and making the best of the tools you have at your disposal.

If you haven’t heard of cross platform Apps until now, if you don’t see a connection between your market and what is happening around you, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It just means you haven’t seen it yet. We can change that and put you in a competitively stronger position.

It starts with a call or an e-mail to us, but you have to do that for yourself.

Click here and most of the work is done for you. Or call me. I look forward to talking. +44 (0) 208 144 9800

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

Things are changing online. The magnetic pull of social media is starting to wane, and digital natives are behaving differently.

Have you noticed some of your friends not posting on Facebook as often as they used to?

Sure, they’re reading the news on Twitter but tweeting? Not so much.

If you aren’t looking on Instagram, you won’t see your teenage family and friends. And you’re not invited to their chats anyway, because WhatsApp and Messenger are by invitation only.

Have you seen a decline in advertising by the brands you follow? Probably not. Brands are still so desperate to tell you how great they are that social platforms’ revenue from advertising is holding up nicely.

The ‘by invitation’ nuance is something to watch.

Gaining access to a private conversation is becoming a ‘must have’ in marketing. Being on the inside of a group shows that you are one of us and have a connection that isn’t available to everyone.

Exclusivity equals scarcity, which equals premium. If a consumer can get a social edge by being the first or only customer, they’ll pay for that privilege as long as it lasts.

As an idea, this may not be new, but it is new to this audience, where it’s the norm to have access to everything, all the time. ‘Always on’ is beginning to look a bit old. In fact, if you aren’t always on, where are you? Probably somewhere new and exciting.

Brand scarcity works.

In any event the work goes on. FMCG, pharma, culture, VMS, personal mobility and EVs, law, accountancy… we’re working in and on all of these sectors.

Want to know what we’re doing? Send me an e-mail and find out.

Click here and most of the hard work is done for you.

Seeing it differently. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

My dad broke his back in a motorcycle crash. It was a time when spinal injuries weren’t well understood and he didn’t walk again. He was nineteen.

In those post-war years, being a paraplegic put some pressure on your job prospects. It took three years to get my dad into a wheelchair and then home. For most of that time, he lay on his back and had few visitors.

Cause and effect.

One person who did visit was the chap who was riding pillion at the time of the crash. He came to see if my dad’s insurance would cover the cost of a new suit (the suit he was wearing had been torn when my dad broke his back). No-one seemed to think it remarkable that this guy had been the pillion rider in previous bike crashes. Unrecognised cause and effect?

Being from a farming family, when Dad was lying in hospital it relieved the family of the need to feed him. When he went home, he was a burden. He got a disabled carriage: one of those small, single-seater, single-cylinder cars with handlebars instead of a steering wheel, and started selling different grades of oil to farmers, displayed in Kilner Jars so they could see the colour difference and know which oil was better for their tractor or rotovator. Not a common job these days.

You can’t buy more time.

Eventually, Dad trained as a watchmaker and found his groove. For over sixty years, he repaired watches. He fixed clocks too, and old clocks became his speciality. Those rickety old timepieces that were never really destined to keep good time, but which did a better job when he’d replaced their steel bearings with brass or jewels. Engineering that did a good enough job when timekeeping was more of an approximation than a science.

When man made it to the moon, watches became electronic, so Dad learnt to fix them as far as he could. When quartz watches launched, he decided he was not going to try: the technology is disposable, and the chips too small and cheap to try and fix. Even in the old days, there were companies that only made movements, and they supplied the same workings to all brands.

My dad made a good living from watches and clocks. He sold some, he fixed some, and he got paid what the service was worth. Because everyone knew what an alarm clock, or a Timex or a Rolex, cost, there was a limit to what he could charge for these repairs. But because no-one could put a price on an antique grandfather clock, or a Fusée movement, he charged what the customer would pay: value-based pricing in the service sector.

Over time, my dad became the only watchmaker in town. He outlived the others, or just kept working when they retired. Being in a wheelchair meant he couldn’t take up golf or sailing, so he did what he did. We never played football together, but we did go fishing. There were pastimes that he could apply some logic to – use his engineer’s mind.

To be in an industry that’s showing signs of changing in ways that you can’t see is not unusual.

As time went on, though, the price Dad could charge for repairing a clock became a matter of intense negotiation on every job. Whether the clock’s timekeeping was accurate was usually not a question: it was its status as a heritage piece, with an emotional value for the customer, that dictated what they’d pay to see it working again.

Gradually, the value of his work dropped. The quality was still as high – sixty years of knowledge and practice was hard learnt. But, whether you pay £5 or £50,000 for a watch, you can’t buy more time and can’t buy accuracy that makes that much difference. Watches and clocks now hold a different place in our value eco-system. Phones, screens and cars tell us what we need to know.
The old master made enough to live off by being good at what he did, but the market moved on. We all forgot about watchmakers – most of us are unlikely ever to need one.

This story is one that you can track through time and industry sectors right across the consumer product and medical landscape. Things that mattered to our parents and their parents simply don’t matter to us. Technologies that have come and gone are easy to list as far back as you can remember. My dad didn’t have a strategy: he had a skill that fell out of favour. Everything does eventually.

To be in an industry that’s showing signs of changing in ways that you can’t see is not unusual. Your time will come: that’s why we do what we do.

We help you to see how the trends developing around you will impact on your revenue line, and we work with you to develop a plan that underpins your continued business success.

Innovation isn’t an option.

Innovation isn’t an option, it’s an imperative. Unless you are planning to play golf or go fishing, and that isn’t really much of a plan.

Seeing it differently. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

The Light Phone was announced after a Kickstarter campaign in 2015. It’s a concept that makes perfect sense in today’s market and taps into a current vibe. It’s a simple solution to a strongly signalled unmet need, and App developers will hate it.

Standing up in front of an audience and predicting the demise of the smartphone is a bit like predicting the end of the petrol-driven car: signalled, signposted, obvious, yet unwelcome to most people hearing it for the first time. Unwelcome, because change of this kind demands that those of us in business begin to think about what we need to do in response to that development. Early signals that the customer we serve has a new option are not helpful to a budget that was set in the past.

Change is expensive and change is disruptive. Not necessarily to the betterment of the consumer experience, but to us. Business budgets are built with the assumption that we are broadly in control and that we’ve anticipated the market dynamics that we’ll operate within.

It seems to me that the smartphone is an old technology waiting to be superseded. The signs are that it simply can’t survive the changes in technology that are visible to even the casual observer.

Without going into the detail, in this post (Google calls time on smartphones) from March 2017, I suggested that smartphones were already looking down the barrel of a gun. Google and Levi collaborated to release a Levi Jacket that sees mobile phone technology woven into its fabric.

The response to my blog was notable, insofar as a lot of the comment was received from App developers. People and companies that make Apps today are completely invested in the smartphone screen. If you don’t interact with your touch screen, they haven’t got a market. You can see the problem. The signals are there, but some people just can’t afford to see them.

Here are the objectives that Google and Levi released when they announced Project Jacquard in 2016/17. From the Project Jacquard website:

[box] Connected clothes offer new possibilities for interacting with services, devices, and environments. These interactions can be reconfigured at any time. Jacquard is a blank canvas for the fashion industry. Designers can use it as they would any fabric, adding new layers of functionality to their designs, without having to learn about electronics. Developers will be able to connect existing apps and services to Jacquard-enabled clothes, and create new features specifically for the platform. We are also developing custom connectors, electronic components, communication protocols, and an ecosystem of simple applications and cloud services. [/box]

At the same time as I wrote the Google calls time on smartphones blog, I had a conversation with a fashion photographer who questioned why anyone would buy a new camera when smartphones make such a great job of photography. My response was that single-use, dedicated, high quality products still have a market and, generally, can do a better job than most users realise. In the case of cameras, specialists value the quality that a good lens and a large sensor can deliver.

And then came this: the Light Phone was announced after a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 and adds fuel to the fire. It’s a concept that makes perfect sense in today’s market and taps into a current vibe:

  • Please release me from my smartphone
  • Help me connect with my surroundings
  • Put some space between me and everything else in my life
  • Encourage me to talk to people
  • Unplug me, but keep me in touch

It’s a simple solution to a strongly signalled unmet need, and App developers will hate it.

Seeing it differently. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

The controls that we recognise are under threat.

Where we buy from has changed in recent years, but the basic premise of shopping is still recognisable. If you want a new computer, bedside lamp, car… you research the subject and make a decision to buy. However you buy, the transaction is relatively similar to the way your parents did it.

Of course, now we have the internet. A new place to go shopping. For most honest citizens, that’s as far as it goes. The web allows us all to buy anything we want, whenever we want it, and it gets delivered on time (usually) and in full.

If you’re selling in this market, there are also still strong similarities between customers today and previous generations: they have an idea, look around for people that sell it, go and choose it, and pay tax on the purchase. Whether the advertising that helped attract the customer was a magazine advert, a billboard, or a sidebar targeted at them with Adwords, there are few substantial differences.

Companies sometimes do things that affect their reputations. Enron spills oil into the sea, Amazon and Starbucks are thought not to pay enough tax, and Facebook is accused of not taking content as seriously as we want. We get to know about these things really quickly, thanks to the way media have evolved, and we react according to our own biases. Stop using Facebook or move to Café Nero: your choice.

The issue that we all face, as markets evolve into digital entities, is that international rules around trade and commerce can’t develop quickly enough. And the risk to us as consumers is growing

A major threat is the Dark Web. Some believe it threatens the structure of everything that we, as regular shopping citizens, recognise as ‘normal’.

Banks aren’t sure whether crypto-currencies will wipe them out. If it happens, much of what we understand about finance will change. This won’t happen overnight, but it could happen. What then? How does society structure and control finance?

The blockchain has the potential to record and reveal every transaction made with cryptocurrencies and across all product types. Ironically, this is great for traceability and helping differentiate between the real item you chose to buy and copies, but it still doesn’t necessarily help control who’s doing the copying, within the structures we recognise today.

Law-makers appear as conflicted today as they’ve always been. Crime against property still seems to be punished more seriously than crime against the person. Consider Ross Ulbricht and his double-life plus 40-year sentence for starting Silk Road. A message may have been sent to the Dark Web about the gravity of illegal drug trading, but renegades like Ulbricht have a habit of sparking off a revolution rather than a corporation.

If you don’t know much about The Dark Web, there’s an excellent exposé of the subject on in a series of new journalism they call Audible Originals. It’s a well-produced analysis of the state of internet evolution. It may not affect what you do today or tomorrow, but it will open your eyes to a set of rules that may be changing.

Knowing it could happen is where trend analysis starts.

We a few places on our called ‘Spotting trends and signals: Seeing things differently’ in September. Book here.

You can click to see all September workshops dates on our website here or give us a call for old-fashioned talking on +44 (0)20 8144 9800.

Seeing it differently. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

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