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Industry Insight

A Dr. Joe Potpourri: Meeker’s 200 Slides, Marriott Gives Points for (un)Cleanliness, and OECD Says the New Normal May Not be New, but It’s Still Here

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: June 2, 2016

The annual Internet Trends presentation by Kleiner Perkins’ Mary Meeker is always anticipated by entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, analysts, media movers and shakers, and even yours truly. If you want a real sense of the change and direction of media markets, the social and economic trends that shape them in the background of technology, you must read this. You can see Meeker deliver the presentation at the Code conference of June 1 on video, but the real treat is always the slide deck. It takes days to take in the implications of nearly each one, as well as the grander perspective of all of the topics together. Download the complete set of 213 slides for free.

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The OECD has issued its latest forecasts of the world economies. It’s basically more of what we’ve had. Their US forecast is +1.8% for 2016 and +2.2% in 2017. India, they claim, will be the strongest market, while China’s growth rates slip into the low +6% range. Nothing really new here, but always worth reading.

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The discussion of the effects of the minimum wage continues, and businesses know where it’s headed, and are acting pre-emptively. We’ve all heard the news about fast food ordering kiosks and smartphone apps that do the same. Many of these changes would naturally occur in the quest for improved customer experience. The process of empowering consumers by giving them a sense of control over their time and their choices, paradoxically turns them into order entry clerks. It usually increases speed of ordering and reduces errors, which customers like. Management limits customer contact to exceptions and special ordering, which typically require attention by more experienced personnel. Even that will eventually be automated, I suspect.

Many changes to customer service mask changes in the complex nature of total labor cost, and shift those costs to customers and the developers of the enabling technologies

What brought this to mind is a program by Marriott where you can get Marriott Rewards points for every day you don’t use housekeeping. I regularly skip housekeeping anyway since I often work in my traveling hotel rooms at odd hours and prefer not being interrupted or having to uproot my technology footprint. The Cato Institute has some interesting comments about the effects.

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I was recently reminded of a report that Cato issued in late 2015 about the decades-long trend of the US fiscal situation. Keep some ibuprofen nearby as you read it.

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Recently I noted that Austin, TX, hotbed of high technology, had banned Uber and Lyft. Now, it seems, a black market has started for ridesharing. It’s basic economics. It’s a story worth following. Black markets often have deep truths about the nature of supply and demand, and what consumer needs are not being adequately filled.

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.


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