The Privacy Gap: Why Expectations Don’t Meet Reality — Futurum Tech Podcast Episode 006

On this week’s FTP, The Futurum Tech Podcast, we take a deep dive into the risks of cyber security and the challenge of creating digital trust in the growing digital economy. Plus Cisco’s earnings, Kroger delivering groceries via autonomous vehicles, drones, the demise of the home bitcoin minor, Uber, again, and our crystal ball prediction on the most disruptive technology of 2019.

Our Main Dive

We’re increasingly relying on the internet for daily tasks, from constantly being on our phone or laptop to using streaming sites to watch TV shows. But one thing many people forget they’re giving up in return is privacy. After checking out some articles about cyber security lately, it’s become clear that there’s pretty much no such thing as data privacy. We’ve traded it for amazing, personalized experiences with technology practically every second of the day. And if we want those to continue, we’ll have to get used to the idea that we’ll have to keep giving out our data with no promise of better cyber security in sight.

From one Australian teen hacking Apple with ease to Google admitting it tracks you even when your phone is off, we can’t realistically have an expectation of privacy when we agree to give up so much data. The cyber security departments of even the biggest companies just can’t keep up, since it seems the moment they figure out a fix for a problem, a few new ones pop up. So unless you get used to the idea of just not having privacy when you use technology, there’s not much you can do.

Bottom Line: So, what can we hope for, aside from waiting for cyber security methods to struggle to catch up with the newest technology? It might take the government getting more involved and imposing some regulations on the kind of data companies can collect and use. Maybe requiring the terms and conditions, including privacy rights, to be more obvious to users would help so everyone can make a more informed decision before signing up for a new app or device. And perhaps companies that constantly use our private data can take a step back and decide if they really should keep doing this, or if people deserve a little more privacy while they enjoy technology.

Our Fast Five

We dig into this week’s interesting and noteworthy news:

  • Speaking of having less privacy when you use technology, Google is planning to release an AI smart speaker just before the holidays, and it will have a digital display. It will probably be the competitor to the Amazon Echo Show, so look for this if you want to see how Google stacks up to Amazon in this space.
  • Cryptocurrency rose to success not just due to the work of large data centers, but also on the backs of at-home miners who created impressive mining rigs in their basement or garage. Nvidia equipment was a big part of such mining setups, so the company expected to show about $100 million in cryptocurrency-related revenue for Q2. Instead, it discovered it was closer to $18 million, thanks to fewer people buying GPUs for bitcoin lately. Luckily, Nvidia’s sales of other products soared, leading to overall success for Q2.
  • Forget regular grocery delivery. Kroger and Nuro have teamed up to allow self-driving cars to deliver groceries. So far, it’s only trying this out in Scottsdale, AZ right now, but may expand if all goes well.
  • Another company that has had some impressive earnings lately is Cisco. The tech giant is up 6 percent year over year for the quarter. Yeah, Cisco isn’t always flashy and often flies under the radar for such a major tech company, but whatever it’s doing seems to be working!
  • If you’ve used drones, you know sometimes they crash into objects—including other drones. But when they’re equipped with a sensor that uses Bluetooth to broadcast their location, collisions may be a thing of the past. Look for this technology to be more widely used in drones soon.

Tech Bites

For the sheer number of people who use Uber, this company sure isn’t as successful as it should be. According to a recent quarterly report, Uber lost about $404 million. How? Do they need to just give up on the self-driving car business they’ve been exploring—and spending lots of money on—or is time to adjust the prices for rides? Hopefully they can figure it out soon, because this doesn’t sound right for such a huge company.

Crystal Ball: Future-um Predictions and Guesses

Our crystal ball this week is all about the most impressive new technology. Currently, there are a ton of technologies that seem set to really blow up with success in 2019. Some examples include VR and AR, Edge Compute and Edge AI, 5G, the cloud, and autonomous vehicles. So which one will be the most transformative, dominant force next year? Well, that’s a tough call. Some of us think the answer is clearly Edge AI, but that it’s pretty much tied with IoT, since data is so important right now. But we also need to point out how huge software is these days, because no matter what you want to use technology for, you can’t do anything without topnotch software that’s innovative and easy to use. That won’t change in 2019!

And there you have it, this week’s Futurum Tech Podcast.


Olivier Blanchard: Welcome to this week’s edition of FTP, The Futurum Tech Podcast. I’m Olivier Blanchard, your host today, Senior Analyst with Futurum Research. And joining me on today’s show are my co-hosts and colleagues, Dan Newman and Fred McClimans. How are you gentlemen doing today?

Dan Newman: Doing great here.

Fred McClimans: Feeling great here as well.

Olivier Blanchard: Awesome. Same here. Okay, so quickly forward, today is going to focus on cyber security, one of our favorite topics. We’ll share some of our favorite tech stories of the week in our Fast Five segment, followed by Tech Bytes, in which we highlight one of the biggest tech-related fails of the week. We will end the show, as always, with our crystal ball.

It goes without saying that the show is intended for informational purposes only. No advice or insights provided here today should be taken as investment advice.

So, our main topic today is cyber security. And it’s something that we like to talk about a lot, because we kind of have to. It’s a fairly big concern in the tech industry, and pretty much with everything we do. On the one hand, we have issues of cyber security that involve national security, that involve infrastructure security. And then there’s also issues of data privacy, where we expect to be able to use a lot of technologies today, like Facebook, Google, and email, but at the same we want to strike the right balance between information that we give out, and information that we don’t give out.

And before I give you guys the floor, I just wanted to bring up a few stories that caught my eye this week, that touch on cyber security. They’re all somewhat unrelated, if you look at them individually. But if you kind of bring ’em all together, they all kind of address different aspects of the same problem, or the same potential problem. So, one of them was as 16 year old kid in Melbourne, Australia, who hacked into Apple. And Apple reputedly of very, very strong with strong cyber security, it’s one of the reasons why a lot of Apple users prefer Apple to Android and Microsoft based systems. This kid apparently kept breaking into Apple’s secure computer systems and accessing authorized keys as part of his offenses. Those grant login access to users [inaudible 00:02:54]. So, he got busted. He’s in court now.

There was also a story that about WhatsApp, and the illusion of chat privacy. WhatsApp, as you know, is a messaging app that was acquired by Facebook not too long ago. And there was also the sense that it, communications going on in WhatsApp were relatively safe and private. We’re finding out now that Facebook actually has the ability to look into these chats, and so that illusion of privacy is definitely an illusion now.

There was another story in that referenced a CIA story, or a CIA case that happened in 2010 or 2012 roughly, in which CIA’s communication system in China, blew the cover of a bunch of Chinese agents, who were later executed. So, this was a horrible tragedy, life or death situation, and even the CIA was not able to adequately protect [inaudible 00:03:54].

There’s another story, and I’ll just leave it at that one. And it’s a story in the New York Times this week, about a system that banks and retailers are using to track how consumers type, swipe, and tap on their devices. Essentially, the concept of this is that everybody has a very unique signature, when it comes to the way that they interface with keyboards, and with touchscreens. So, you can identify, or essentially use these typing/swiping and tapping behaviors from individual users, as essentially passwords, kind of like and iris scan. It’s a very personalized way of doing things, and these banks and retailers are now essentially adding these behaviors, and these swipe patterns into profiles of their users. The problem with that, and it’s a great idea, but the problem with that is that if you don’t keep that knowledge at the edge, on the device, you’re entering an encryption. What you have to do is store it with profiles online, presumably in the Cloud.

And if you do that, then that information is accessible by hackers. So, all of these things together, and this was just this week, kind of made me want to ask you guys about cyber security, and the illusion of data privacy, and whether we’re making any progress. What are your thoughts on this? Let me start with Dan.

Dan Newman: Yeah, those are some great stories, and I as I perused through them ahead of the show. I read them and my eyes start to bulge. You could start to feel the blood vessels pop and then I’m getting that sense that they might actually explode right off of my head. This business is really difficult, because we’re sort of at this crossroads. Experiences are the hot button topic, right? Olivier, you and I wrote a book about digital transformation and the experience economy. And in order for companies to deliver the marquee experience to users, they need data, they need a lot of data, because they need to know who their user is. And the whole idea of a 360 customer journey comes down to really understanding well, who that customer is, and creating as personalized an experience as possible based upon what? Data.

So, that has led to an insatiable appetite among technology companies, app companies, retailers, social media applications, to extract as much data as possible, from every single user. And as users, we’ve become pretty willing to sacrifice our data in the exchange for this great experience. All that said, these behaviors, this goal for these amazing experiences that companies have, and this desire to be engaged in these experiences that users have, has basically opened the floodgate for privacy and cyber security breaches that nobody is prepared to manage.

You gave several different examples. You can kinda look at ’em in two buckets. You have, for instance, the CIA and the Apple instances, where I look at that more as arrogance, I look at that more as a relentless teenage hacker in one case, and in the CIA’s case, a belief that they’re so far ahead of the world, but were not. On the other side, though, you look at what you talked about with WhatsApp and the messaging, you look at what you discuss with the swiping and tapping behaviors. These are really issues that could become cyber security breaches, but that they are really all being done in the name of privacy, in the name of data collection at the expense of privacy. And so, I think so long as we are seeking to deliver as technologists, or receive as consumers, these unparalleled amazing technology driven experiences, we’re gonna have to continue to part with data at volumes, and at a velocity that I don’t think our systems in cyber security analysts and experts, are yet prepared to deal with.

And then of course you could say, well blockchain, or AI, or other security tools will be the difference maker, but I would also say with each one of those technology’s proliferation, it will also be proliferated by the Black Hats, in the dark side, to use these things to the negative. We’ve got a real problem have, because we have become so dependent, so interested, and so excited about what technology can be, that we really haven’t ever been able to catch up to the technological risks, and cyber security risks that are being created.

Olivier Blanchard: Well Fred, I have a question for you. So, it seems that on the one hand, you have the CIA in the story, one of the things that caught my eye in the story, was that they had an attitude that quotes, “We’ve got this, we’re untouchable.” There was this real sense of, we have the best secure systems, therefore we don’t have to worry about it. On the other hand, you have Apple, who have presumably a similar attitude, that we’re very strong, with cyber security, it’s virtually impossible for anybody to hack into our systems. In their defense, the kid was caught, and typically people who break into Apple systems are caught fairly quickly and prosecuted. But do you think that there’s a disconnect between technology companies that sell cyber security solutions to their clients? Whether they’re big international conglomerates, or public sector kind of government clients, do you think there’s a disconnect between the sales pitch and what they can actually deliver, when it comes to real secure systems?

Fred McClimans: That’s an easy one to answer. Yes, there is. There’s a massive disconnect that exists in the marketplace today. I would almost frame it as, more a series of ongoing evolving gaps, some of which literally become chasms out there in the marketplace. To Dan’s point, we are that stage in tech evolution, in business evolution, we can call it transformation, call it what you will there, but the reality is, technology is moving faster than we right now have presently the ability to absorb and to stay ahead of the threat that’s out there. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that we should stop what we’re doing here, I don’t think that’s the situation at all. But from a realistic perspective if we want this digital economy to really function, and to last, we have to find a way to instill a level of digital trust in our systems. That’s gonna be a challenge, because when we talk about cyber security, it’s an asymmetric battle.

The hackers, they only need to be right once, and the people protecting their assets, they need to be right 100% of the time. So it’s almost an unfair game there. But if I take a look at some of the specific examples that we’re talking about here, the NSA/CIA attitude out there is, “We’re great, we’ve got this.” In fact, it just came out a couple of days ago, that a previously known hack by the NSA, into some Russian airline booking systems into the media outlet Al Jazeera. We found out a little bit more about we had actually done there. In fact, the NSA had the capability back in 2006 to hack into these systems. It’s not surprising that somebody was able to hack into the CIA, these things, they happen there.

I think probably the more troubling aspect of all of this, in this growing lack of digital trust, is that as these systems evolve, we have this attitude from a business perspective that says, “If we can do it, let’s do it.” And we need to step back a little bit and say, “Yes we can, but should we? Can we actually secure this data? How might this be used?” Behavioral analytics, that’s been something that I’ve been tracking for a few years now, and the ability to actually add a layer of security around password access, user authentication. Using behavioral analytics is huge, I have no problem with that. But the implementation, it’s risky, and we’re not stepping back a moment to say, “Hey before we do this, how do we actually secure it?”

Look at a different situation with Google this past week. Google is kinda sitting in a bit of hot water right now, the executive team is now having to explain away their involvement in the development at least, which they say now is years off, potentially. But the development of a sensor enabled search engine for China. That was something that’s been going on for a while, but it creates a sense of distrust. At what point does Google do that in some other marketplace?

Then we have the whole issue of Google kind of admitting here that when you turn off your phone location tracking, yeah, we actually still track you through these other systems over here. The response to that is to simply say, “We’re going to update our user terms and conditions so that you know what we’re doing,” and that’s not the right response here, because this data was being collected. It was being used. People knew it was inside the Google network, the Google people did.

The user perception, however, is when I turn location awareness off, everything shuts off. There’s this gap, this disconnect. We definitely need to approach it proactively. We need to build a sense of digital trust in all of our systems. Transparency in what we’re doing. When a company says, “Yes, we don’t do something,” they actually need to not to do it. It’s a challenge.

Olivier Blanchard: Well, Dan, when you look at the behavior that Facebook has displayed recently and we just talked about Google tracking our movements, Facebook can access our private conversations. You have Apple not too long ago turning over iCloud operations and encryption keys to the Chinese government.

You have these massive companies that we all, whether we love them or hate them, love to use. In a lot of cases, have to use for work, for existing in a digital society. What can we do to make these companies really try to build digital trust? To try to not commoditize their users and constantly find ways of monetizing their data access and their data creating the soft breaches privacy?

I mean is it going to take Congress to act? Do we need laws for this? What mechanism can we use to kind of regain some power here over these companies?

Dan Newman: Yeah, that’s a big question, Olivier. I think, and this is something we’ve spent quite a bit of time analyzing and looking into, I think the bottom line is the reason laws like GDPR were put into place in Europe was for the very reason that these companies are not going to regulate themselves. There’s no benefit for them to do so. I say this without cynicism. I say as long as people are going to continue to consume the product, like Facebook, right? When the service is free, you are the product. We become the product for so many organizations. We expect these experiences.

We like what the Ubers, we like what the Facebooks and the Twitters and Googles provide us in terms of convenience. Well, we also have to sacrifice certain things unless intervention and regulation comes into play. I think companies can take more active role in educating people and helping them understand what their rights to privacy are. How to opt out instead of having it buried under 327th page of a search. I mean I don’t easily know where to find Google’s privacy rights documents and statements. I mean maybe there’s a privacy policy probably written in some sort of legalese that 99% of its users will never be able to understand.

Without letting this section carry on too far into our show, I would say it’s going to be government and regulation. As much as I’d like to see the tech community step up, I’d really have to ask why. If you’re making billions of dollars a month, a quarter, a year on the backs of utilizing data and creating experiences that most people want, it’s really hard to look in the mirror and say, “We’re doing anything wrong.” Not to say they’re not because they are, but it’s just to say we enable it. We’re enabling the bad behaviors as users.

It’s really hard to be on top of these tech companies if we’re not actually willing to cease our use or stand up against the abuse in more ways than podcasting, tweeting or complaining online from time to time on these platforms that are abusing our data.

Olivier Blanchard: Right. No irony there. Okay. Well, thanks, guys. That’s all the time we have for this particular topic. To be continued because I don’t think this is going to get solved overnight, so we’ll probably have many, many follow ups on this topic. All right. Let’s switch gears a little bit and switch to our fast five.

Dan, since you’re already close to the microphone, what is your first fast five news item this week? What caught your eye?

Dan Newman: Yeah, on a little bit of a fun and light note, Google is set to debut its own digital display equipped AI smart speaker prior to the holidays. For all those out there, that have gotten into the Amazon Echo series with the video displays and have come to like it and don’t mind the fact that it’s listening to you all the time and getting to know you and using privacy to create experiences for you … holy crap how did we end up back on that again?

For all of you that like that kind of technology, Google is gonna offer an alternative. With Google’s success on the voice recognition and AI, natural language processing, they’re gonna make a strong play in any market they enter right now in that smart speaker space.

Kudos Google, and kudos to you if you don’t mind Google knowing exactly when you like to order your groceries, and what you’re watching on TV tonight.

Olivier Blanchard: Awesome. Great. All right, Fred, what’s yours?

Fred McClimans: I’m gonna kick things off here with crypto but a different blend here. In this case were talking about crypto currency mining. So when we think of the bitcoins, the ESS, the light coins, the EOSs and all these various blockchain-enabled currencies in the marketplace today, they all rely on a distributed network of miners or farmers, people who take the time to set up a computer system that has the ability to actually mine all the blockchain transactions around the world.

This is a big deal. It’s a huge deal. Without this kind of a decentralized base, blockchain just doesn’t quite get there. And some of the cyber currencies wouldn’t be where they are today. The way this mining operation takes place, there’s really two groups of individuals here. You have the larger, very well-funded data center operations that engage in crypto currency mining, and then you have probably an equally large number of at-home miners. People who are setting up mining rigs in their basement, in their garage, anywhere were they think they can get reasonably cheap power and enough cooling to run these operations.

Of course, the benefit is as you mine these currencies, you earn a piece or those currencies, so a very big deal. Now in terms of the hardware that’s used here, the more advanced data center operations, they’re shifting over to ASIX that gives them exactly what they need on a mass scale, but for the rest of the world, it’s all based on GPUs. In particular, Nvidia GPUs. They have been by far the most popular processor and card technology used by bitcoin miners.

So, we get to this point here where Nvidia just reported their Q2 earnings, and there were a couple of surprises in here. That’s not to say they underperformed. In fact, for their Q2, they logged $1.76 per share. That was up and above expectations for the market. Their revenue growth was up 40% to 3.12 billion. Again, ahead of expectations, but buried in all of this there was a massive surprise.

That was their product line for crypto currencies that they expected to deliver about $100 million in revenue this past quarter, only eked out $18 million in revenue. What we see here is this sudden massive stop in the purchasing of GPUs for this blockchain mining operation on the part of individuals on a global basis.

What’s driving this? Well as the price of bitcoins comes down, or as crypto currencies gets lower, the value equation just isn’t there for a lot of these individuals. Plus I think there’s a bit of a fad that’s been taking place. I’m a gaming enthusiast, I’m into the crypto currencies, it’s tough to get those cards to keep those going. But a lot of people jumped in, they bought their equipment, they set it up, I think they’ve moved beyond the tier.

So now the big question is, what does this mean for the rest of the mining community? Is there some sort of a deflation that’s about to take place here?

Olivier Blanchard: That’s interesting. We should do a whole show on crypto currency, because yeah, I think we all have some pretty strong opinions on that, myself included. But yeah, I think your right about that aspect of it.

Okay, so my story is a little bit less complicated. It’s simply that Kroger and Nuro have just started testing home deliveries for groceries using self-driving vehicles, so that’s one of the things we’ve kind of been, not ourselves, but we’ve been hearing about and we’ve been talking about the future of retail, and especially the future of grocery shopping, especially when it intersects with the potential for self-driving vehicles.

Amazon has played around with the notion of delivery drones, which may still happen in a commercialized environments, and in companies like Kroger experimenting with self-driving vehicles, dropping off your groceries at your house, or at a pickup center, is probably really a good indication that we may see a commercial application like this in the future.

At the very least they’re testing it in Arizona. That started this month, so we’ll have to see what happens in the next year or two with that.

Dan, back to you, what’s your second fast five?

Dan Newman: Yeah, so quickie here, this week Cisco, the technology giants announced their earnings and on a quick note, they had a pretty good quarter, so 6% up year over year for the same quarter. 3% growth on the annual. Interestingly enough I feel like Cisco’s like … you ever watch those Bugs Bunny when he used to get in the races, the tortoise and the hare?

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah.

Dan Newman: You would be taking off flying, you got all these tech companies kind of doing that. Cisco’s as far from a startup at this point as you can be, but they’re one of those companies that just keeps plodding along like the tortoise, but in a really good way, whereas Bugs is running, you see the Tasmanian flash, and then all of a sudden he gets to his next destination and there’s the hare.

I see a lot of that with Cisco, as they’re consistently showing good earnings per share, good outlooks going forward, the direction of the company, consistent acquisitions. I mentioned the duo-acquisition. They’re very focused on cyber security. That’s been an area of growth for them. Their typical infrastructure businesses are showing to be very strong.

I just kind of wanted to make a note of that, that Cisco, while sometimes we’re only talking about them a little bit because they’re not really pissing anyone off enough to get into our tech bites category, they’re not often doing anything that’s necessarily a front page headline worthy for the show, but at the same time, just plodding along like the tortoise, but somehow they continue to win the race. They continue to show good results, and you know gotta give a little bit of a shout to them.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, no drama Cisco. All right. So, Fred, what’s your last one? What’s the last fast five of the week?

Fred McClimans: Before I get to that, I do have to say I have been very impressed with Cisco’s ability to slowly reinvent themselves. They’ve come a phenomenal way over the years to remain relevant a lot longer than a lot of people expected from them. I’m gonna shift into a different gear here. Who on this podcast has a drone? Raise your hands guys. Dan?

Dan Newman: I do.

Fred McClimans: Okay. Olivier, so you’re the odd man out. So Dan, I’m gonna speak directly to you on this. I have a drone. I have several drones. I have also experienced the unfortunate circumstances of having a drone wander off over the Chesapeake Bay, only to bury itself by Davy Jones’ Locker, and I’ve had the experience of having a drone collide with another drone. Not a great thing to have.

Now drone technology is advancing incredibly fast, and the potential for drones goes well beyond the consumer marketplace. Drones are technologies that we see increasingly in disaster recovery, we see them in surveillance, we see them in pipeline integrity and risk, what’s the word I’m looking for, surveillance. They’re there. They have the phenomenal ability, phenomenal potential, they have the ability to kind of accelerate what companies like Amazon are doing with their home delivery. We see drones being used in medical rescue, the list goes on and on.

The challenge is, as drones kind of proliferate into the skies, how do we keep these drones from smacking into each other, or smacking into other things? So, there is an effort underfoot to come up with a drone collision avoidance system in the marketplace and it is being championed, in one aspect, by Intel, who has actually put together an interesting package used on, or based on, block-chain, why am I saying block-chain, based on Bluetooth. I have too much block-chain on the brain today.

The idea is that Bluetooth is low cost, it’s ubiquitous, and if we can put sort of a sensor in that drone that broadcasts out its location, where it is, what it’s doing, we can theoretically avoid collisions in the future. This is something to watch. There are some other competing technologies and approaches to Intel’s open drone ID, but like it or not, it’s coming, and I think it’s something that is a good move for the industry.

Olivier Blanchard: Cool, awesome. Well that wraps up our fast five for this week. A little bit like not very, very fast, fast five, but we had some complicated topics today-

Dan Newman: Fast-ish five?

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah.

Fred McClimans: Getting better.

Dan Newman: It’s like we kind of have a half hour show?

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, we’ll get there. Alright, so let’s switch it over to tech bites, so we actually had a long list of potential losers this week, because there were a lot of fails in the news, but we finally, we took a vote, and we finally agreed on Uber, which is not a favorite target of ours, but comes up every once in a while. They tend to make mistakes, and to their credit, they’ve done a pretty good job of trying to turn the company around in the last year, and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, that they’ll be able to do that.

However, Uber had its quarterly reports, and apparently one of the things that really caught my eye, is that they reported 404 million dollars in losses, and I wanted to get a quick reaction from you guys, on that particular point. How is Uber losing 404 million dollars per quarter?

Dan Newman: Well, let’s just start with something really simple; they’re really bullish on growth. They grow their losses regularly, and they’re getting bigger and bigger. In all seriousness, I think they’re up a hundred million in losses, from quarter to quarter. I think as a whole, Uber has a major flaw, and that when you’re doing billions in revenue you should have figured out by now, how to make money. And that is really something for the unicorns of the world. I understand large adoption rates, I understand user adoption and growth, I understand the revenue, and they have very good revenue, in the billions. There’s a point you have to be able to make money, and I think it bites, but their investors are telling them, maybe they need to sell off their self-driving car business, which they’re investing a lot of RND in. Which could be attributing to their losses. I think they’re still struggling to come up with a pay model because they want to be competitive with other pricing and rides they’re offering, and as a whole, they’re paying out a lot of money to their contractors. I mean, you remember the sharing economy is dependent on all these drivers.

They’re writing a lot of checks every month, so all this revenue’s coming in, but a lot of it’s accounted for, so maybe their pricing models still aren’t right. A price adjustment of just one, two, three percent can make massive differences to the bottom line, and I know they’re working on it. I know their algorithms and surge pricing. And they even look at your behavior and the battery life on your phone when they decide how much they’re gonna charge you, but they still haven’t gotten it right. So, I would kind of boil it down to, created a culture or a world that is comfortable with their losses, they’re still selling the unicorn dream, although I think they’re past the unicorn phase. And, they clearly don’t have their business model correct. When you’re doing it in the billions on a quarterly basis, losing 404 million in a quarter just should not happen.

But, I’m sure behind the scenes, there’s something going on there, and if you and I had a perfect solution that would solve this problem, we may actually be the CEO today. But we don’t.

Fred McClimans: Yeah, I’m not convinced that I would be interested in that opportunity. Or that too many other people would. But, yeah, Uber is sort of a vexing beast out there. We tend to think of them, or at least public perception is that they are this collaborative economy, a taxi replacement.

But, at the heart of it, they are a logistics and transportation company. They’re not doing a particularly good job I think in conveying that or in proving they can grow that. The Uber Eats, that’s just shuttling food around, it’s transportation that’s cargo, it’s logistics. If it’s people, it’s logistics for people again. I think they’ve got to do something … I just don’t see them ever being affective in the autonomous vehicle space, and I’m kind of glad to see that go. I mean they shut down their self-driving truck operation this past quarter as well. I wish them well, but I’d like to see them figure out if they are in the logistics space, how they’re actually gonna master that.

Olivier Blanchard: Agree, okay, well we have finally come to the time of the show when we pull out our crystal ball. And this time, we have a specific question that was posed to us by some of our listeners, and the question is this, “Which of the following popular technologies will emerge as the most dominant, transformative, force in 2019?” And they were kind enough to give us multiple choice answers. So, on the one hand we have VR and AR. On the other, we have Edge Compute, and Edge AI. We also have autonomous vehicles, we have the cloud, and we have 5G. So, Fred? Since you’re nearest the microphone, which of these five, or is there another technology that strikes your fancy as the most significant transformative force for 2019?

Fred McClimans: Yeah, this has to be a trick question of some sort. I’m not sure that any one of these really stands out. I would almost kind of take a step back and say, if you ask me to pick one technology area that is the most transformative today, and should be moving forward? I’d simply lay down the feat of software. Everything comes down to software today. You can build the best hardware, you can build the worst hardware, but the software has to be topnotch. And that’s where we’re really seeing the acceleration of innovation and development. You know, with software that monitors and helps write new software. So, I’d throw it on software. I’m gonna take a scapegoat approach here. An easy out approach, Dan?

Dan Newman: What a load of crap, Fred! No, yeah. I do think I love that our audience is jumping in asking questions, and adding, maybe we’ll have to have a mailbag section someday. But, I will say there’s a little bit of a trick question in a sense that some of those things are overlapping like autonomous vehicles, Edge AI, cloud, traditional machine learning in AI, I mean they are very interdependent items. I’m going to actually go with the Edge AI topic, and actually add a caveat and a term that didn’t get added but is IOT.

And, I really do think that what we have entered is the age of data everywhere, collected everywhere, and utilized everywhere, and for these software services, technologies, tools, to actually deliver the promise that we’re being given by the technology industry, from our software, from the hardware, we need the data. We need more data from more places, from more device monitoring and managing more behaviors, that’s if we want the future to actually look like it’s being painted and like many of our gen Zs and millennials are excited about and many of our boomers of scared to death of. And that’s not true in all cases, but, I do think IOT has been a hot topic for a long time. It’s actually been around for a long time, but from a consumerization standpoint from data being collected, managed, monitored, and used everywhere, I really do believe it’s gonna be hot this year. It’s gonna be big this year and it’s what’s gonna make analytics, machine learning, and AI start to pop, and start to become truly ubiquitous and more useful than the sort of fake AI, that we’re being told today, is in fact AI.

Olivier Blanchard: I’m sorry, Fred, but I have to agree with Dan on this one. I think if anything-

Dan Newman: Yes.

Fred McClimans: You don’t need to be sorry.

Olivier Blanchard: They all overlap, and to me Edge, and 5G’s gonna be huge, right? So 5G is probably more a 2020, to 2025 play, 2019 might be a little too early for that. But, what I’m seeing coming out in terms of machine learning, artificial intelligence, all at the edge, in the Silicon that’s coming out, and the integration that we’re seeing with devices across the IOT, from your smartphone, to drones that we talked about, the cameras, and voice operated systems. It’s all moving to the Edge, and we should probably also talk about Frog at some point, which is kind of like a hybrid, kind of like a networked Edge, that’s not necessarily on devices, but at the node and network level.

But, that to me seems to be the biggest, like dominant, transformative force in technology that we will see kind of emerge out of 2019, and probably guide a lot of the other things.

Dan Newman: And for those interested, definitely check out Click on the research, and Fred, myself, and Olivier have both been neck deep in some research on this very topic. We did a Cisco study on Edge Enterprise, where we really do explore that topic of Frog, Olivier that you mentioned, and Fred we worked on a few studies on Edge and IOT. We actually have a new one that we’ve just commissioned this survey with HPE, so little plug here, but the research and reports are mostly available for free, so it’s definitely worth checking out. We’ll put in our show notes, a link to those, but for those that wanna hear more about these crystal ball topics, learn more about the technology trends that are being driven through digital transformation, we do have a whole body of research that goes along with our overblown opinions, I mean our very good opinions that we provide throughout this show.

Olivier Blanchard: Fact-based opinions and insights, absolutely. Well guys, thanks a lot. That does it for this week’s edition of FTP, Futurum Tech Podcast. Thanks for listening. You can catch us next week, same time, same channel, as they used to say, and of course, don’t forget to subscribe, and have a great week.

Outro: There will be plenty of more tech topics and tech conversations right here, on the Futurum Tech Podcast, FTP. Hit that subscribe button, join us, become part of our community, we would love to hear from you. Check us out,, or Futurum Tech Podcast, Daniel Newman, Fred McClimans, Olivier Blanchard, we’ll see you later.

Author Information

Olivier Blanchard has extensive experience managing product innovation, technology adoption, digital integration, and change management for industry leaders in the B2B, B2C, B2G sectors, and the IT channel. His passion is helping decision-makers and their organizations understand the many risks and opportunities of technology-driven disruption, and leverage innovation to build stronger, better, more competitive companies.  Read Full Bio.


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