Smart Shoes, the ‘Little guys’, and DAVOS…

The Badger has the luxury of time for contemplation. This time allows thoughts to meander to whatever conclusion ultimately emerges. It’s quite therapeutic, and quite exciting because the outcome can’t be predicted from the initial input triggers.
A couple of things caught the Badger’s attention and not only triggered a chuckle, but also provided inputs for contemplation time! The first was Nike’s self-lacing Smart Shoes – see here, here and here – and the second was someone’s blog item entitled ‘Can tech replace politicians?’.

Nike’s ‘wearable tech’ Smart Shoes are currently sports shoes where small improvements in equipment and performance can make the difference between winning or losing. The Badger chuckled because firstly a smart phone app controls the fit of the shoes, and secondly because the shoes need recharging every 10 to 14 days. The Badger also had a mental flash of a future where people are unable to dress themselves if they lost their phone or there was disaster with a software update! Bizarre, I know, but the brain works in strange way.

The ‘Can tech replace politicians?’ chuckle was driven by the creativity of the blogger’s idea therein, and the realisation that political and democratic mechanics cannot be immune to tech-driven change. The Badger might be a tad mischievous, but the blogger’s idea could really be implemented! After all, if Smart Meters can be developed and rolled out to a population then so can the blogger’s suggestion!

It was these chuckle points that provided input for a meandering contemplative session. The outcome? Two related things. First, the influence of the ‘little guy’ is rising. Second, there’s re-orientation coming for the tech and IT industries. Why? Because people are more rational about tech, more distrustful of marketing hype, more price sensitive, and sceptical of the motives of big organisations, especially regarding use of personal data and (mis)treatment of their loyalty. Tech and IT is also commoditised with small and medium businesses no longer in awe of the ‘big guys’. They challenge big corporates in every sector, and their star is rising ever faster. After all, it’s smaller enterprises not big ones that have created almost 75% of the new jobs in the UK in the last ten years.

‘Big guys beware’, the ‘little guys’ are not gnawing at your ankles, they’re gnawing at your knees. So it’s the ‘little guys’ who have the future in their hands, not those gathered at Davos to discuss “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a New Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” – whatever that really means. By the way, the Badger’s just heard David Attenborough talk at Davos about environmental issues. Has Nike thought about the carbon footprint of Smart Shoes? Don’t know, but they could of course reduce it by reverting to traditional shoes you actually need to lace up…


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