Monday, December 3, 2018

The Human Fund — December 3, 2018

Amid our technological advances, we seem to be leaving the human component out; A.I. for social good; Waymo invests in safety; how influencers make so much money; a survey of what matters to CMOs; brand trust matters in purchases; digital innovation is driving more brick and mortar engagement; 2018's Most Spineless Board; what teens like and loathe about social media; Fox Nation is a new streaming service that is devoid of news; 90% of podcasts have received fewer than 10 ratings; what the Marriott breach says about security; Airbnb's building phase; the odds on sports data and Vegas; the secret to leading a fulfilling life; how to have more self-confidence; and so much more in the Human Fund edition of The Full Monty for the week of December 3, 2018.

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Top Story
Artificial Intelligence / Autonomous
Communications / Marketing / Business Strategy
Retail Apocalypse
Privacy / Security / Regulatory
Measurement / Analytics / Data
Mental Nourishment


Just an advance notice: with Christmas and New Year's Day falling mid-week, there will be interruptions in holiday deliveries of The Full Monty. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Top Story

Cyber Monday is behind us now, and the retail sector continues its holiday dash. But did you stop to think about what made all of those purchases and deliveries possible?

A former Amazon warehouse worker described the conditions of working in an Amazon fulfillment center during the big push of Black Friday / Cyber Monday. And it wasn't pretty.

Similarly, I listened to this episode of The Daily that investigated the human cost behind instant delivery, looking at conditions of an XPO warehouse in Memphis. The details were chilling. (You should listen too.)

We might console ourselves in the knowledge that robots will be replacing these workers soon (how depressing is it to know that they're working under such conditions, only to find themselves replace by machines?), but meanwhile in China, the race to A.I. supremacy is predicated by cheap human labor as people are tasked with sorting through and cleaning up data.

The Cleaners is a documentary about the individuals who are "content moderators" for sites like Facebook, where they have to sort through and discard some of the most objectionable and heinous content for hours on end. In this case, Silicon Valley has outsourced its dirty work to Manila.

In each of these cases, there's a decided toll being exacted on these people. To us, it may seem like a box, a data set, or a photo that's the end product, but the cost to actual humans in the process is real.

Meanwhile, new research from customer engagement platform Braze seeks to identify the top emotional and functional attributes that make a brand feel human to customers.

Would more transparency in your firm's products and processes help or hurt that measurement? Something to think about.

More on humanity and the power of the personal in this week's Timeless Wisdom (please make sure you're signed up for that).

About this week's image: Gassed was completed in March 1919 by John Singer Sargent. It depicts the aftermath of a mustard gas attack during the First World War, with a line of wounded soldiers walking towards a dressing station. Mustard gas is a chemical warfare agent developed by the Germans, who first used it in WWI. This, along with airplanes and tanks, were three technological advances that took warfare to the next level, at great human cost.

Artificial Intelligence / Autonomous

The latest in AI, machine learning, bots, and blockchain, mobility, and autonomous everything.
Aʀᴛɪꜰɪᴄɪᴀʟ Iɴᴛᴇʟʟɪɢᴇɴᴄᴇ / Mᴀᴄʜɪɴᴇ Lᴇᴀʀɴɪɴɢ
Aᴜᴛᴏɴᴏᴍᴏᴜs / Mᴏʙɪʟɪᴛʏ

Communications / Marketing / Business Strategy

Industry developments and trends, including advertising & marketing, journalism, customer experience, content, and influencer relations.
Sᴛʀᴀᴛᴇɢʏ / Mᴀʀᴋᴇᴛɪɴɢ / Cᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ

Jᴏᴜʀɴᴀʟɪsᴍ / Cᴏᴍᴍᴜɴɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴs / Rᴇᴘᴜᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ


  • IRI combines highly comprehensive data sets — including consumers’ actual purchase behavior — advanced analytics, and robust technology to offer clients 3-4 times sales uplift and up to 70% improvement on return on advertising spend. Click here for more information on the impact of online ads to offline product sales. (IRI Worldwide) If you ask me, that's the Holy Grail of measurement.

Retail Apocalypse

Humans are a transactional species, and the practice — if not the very notion of what retail is  is undergoing a historical metamorphosis. 
  • Digitally-inspired innovation is now helping brick-and-mortar regain relevance and get shoppers back into physical stores. This includes aggressive moves by dozens of digitally native direct-to-consumer retailers to plant their flag in brick-and-mortar. (eMarketer Retail) Maybe Retail Apocalypse should be renamed Retail Relevance?
  • Amazon's Cyber Monday was the biggest shopping day in the company's history. (TechCrunch)
  • Can you guess what Amazon's best-selling item was on Cyber Monday? (Digital Trends) I got it right on my first guess. Let me know if you did too.
  • Amazon is putting more pressure on brands. So much that a revolt may be brewing. According to one analyst, “I don’t think Amazon understands how close they are to blowing themselves up.” (Recode)

"Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy." 
–Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

Just a quick moment to thank those of you who have recommend this newsletter (publicly) to friends and colleagues. You've helped countless others discover these stories and learn from them.
Please consider doing it again, as the busy season is upon us.


News to know about relevant social, virtual, and augmented reality platforms that may affect your business.
Fᴀᴄᴇʙᴏᴏᴋ / Iɴsᴛᴀɢʀᴀᴍ / WʜᴀᴛsAᴘᴘ
  • Twitter has rolled out an out-of-home campaign in New York City’s Times Square to promote the fresh, irreverent tone of voice of its flagship @Twitter account. (The Drum)
  • Twitter redesigned its core iOS app to de-emphasize follower counts, in an effort to reprioritize "meaningful" conversations. (The Verge)


The latest in the world of streaming video, audio, and the advertising, pricing and bundling models related to them.
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Privacy / Security / Regulatory

Business disruptions in the legal, regulatory, and computer security fields, from hacking to the on-demand economy and more.
Pʀɪᴠᴀᴄʏ / Sᴇᴄᴜʀɪᴛʏ / Hᴀᴄᴋɪɴɢ
  • The big security news last week was Marriott's data breach in which 500 million records were compromised, including passport numbers, emails and mailing addresses, and possibly some credit card numbers. (Bloomberg) Evidently, it was the second largest data breach ever, after Yahoo's.
  • A perspective on what the Marriott breach says about security for both consumers and companies. (Krebs on Security) Spend some time with this. We all have a stake in data security and can be victimized by the action (or inaction) of others.

Rᴇɢᴜʟᴀᴛᴏʀʏ / Oɴ-Dᴇᴍᴀɴᴅ Eᴄᴏɴᴏᴍʏ

Measurement / Analytics / Data

The future is not in plastics, but in data. Those who know how to measure and analyze it will rule the world.
  • Does your HR team have an analyst yet? It might be time to get one as analytics reinvents human resources. (Towards Data Science)
  • How to measure the value of influencer marketing. (Christopher Penn)
  • The NBA signed deals with sports data providers Genius Sports Group and Sportradar guessed it, provide betting data to U.S. sportsbooks. (Bloomberg)
  • MGM has entered into its third official league partnership in the past few months, partnering with MLB, which follows a similar sports betting agreement with the NBA and another betting deal with the NHL. Each of the three contracts includes sponsorships and access to official data, including at least some advanced tracking data. (SportTechie)

    Speaking Engagements

    Always looking for recommendations for venues to share my stories. I connect our digital selves with classical influences, pointing out the universal human truths that can unlock the secret of retaining and growing customer relationshipsFeel free to contact me to discuss speaking to your organization or at an event you've been to recently where you think I might stand out.

    SPECIAL OFFER: There are only three slots left on my discount offer for up to three subscribers of The Full Monty. Book me to speak in 2019, and I'll speak to your group for 30 percent off my normal rate. Let's have a call to discuss it. This offer is ending soon, so please act quickly.

    Mental Nourishment

    Other links to help you reflect, improve, or simply learn something new.

    Top image credit: Gassed by John Singer Sargent, 1919 (Wikipedia, Public Domain) 


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