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Trends in the business space looking forward

It’s the end of the year as we’ve known it and more of us are several yards short of fine. Only after the phrase “dumpster fire” becomes a frequently used descriptor on the national newscasts does one realize they’ve entered a new place, a terra incognito built simultaneously on fear and false equivalency. But that’s where we are and that’s what drives culture and culture is both cause and outcome of business. If only the only thing to fear was fear itself. That luxury is so last decade. Writing this piece while simultaneously checking social media and listening to the drone of cable news in the other room one might think we’re on the edge of a swirling abyss, surfing the event horizons of several significant disasters at the same time. So this isn’t really a predictions piece. It is more ...

Why the Sudden Changes with the Web?

These might be the waning days of the new economy created by the digital communications revolution. For the better part of the last three decades every aspect of our culture has been altered, accelerated, surpassed, and often destroyed by the Internet and most importantly, by the Internet’s favourite four letter F word, F-R-E-E. It’s been a wild ride but it was never really sustainable. Along the way, we’ve devalued our recent cultural creations and made it far harder for artists to scrape out a semblance of a decent living. A recent story in The New Yorker magazine, “Who Owns the Internet?” outlined the experience of Levon Helm, drummer for the seminal rock group The Band. After The Band broke up and Helm retired from rock music, he was living a comfortable life on royalty che...

On Killing the Goose that Lays Golden Eggs

Trump appointed Federal Communications Commission chairman, Ajit Pai, is about to cancel the Obama era protection that regulates the Internet as a public utility in the United States. The end of an open and free era will soon be behind us. Sometimes people confuse theory and ideology with tradition and practicality. This mistake usually leads to disastrous outcomes. Human societies have existed for thousands of years and have evolved over time to think, act, and function in ways that tend to be the most efficient and useful, hopefully for the largest number of people. They might structure around different systems but systems that work are invented, innovated on and evolve and to help people survive. In North America, we have representative democracies. Modern democratic societies are built...

Electric and Autonomous and Barreling into the Ways We Do Business

There are a few baseline industries that are so critical to the overall infrastructure of a nation that any change in those industries can have profound effects on the overall economy. Home building is a well known example. Another is transportation and shipping. Even minor changes in either of these industries can cause unanticipated ripples to roll over other areas of productivity. Over the coming ten years, the Canadian logistics and shipping industries will change very quickly. These changes will, in turn, have remarkable implications on the greater Canadian economy. What will emerge will be a far more efficient, safe, and cost effective transportation industry but one that produces substantially fewer employment opportunities. This week’s public introduction of Elon Musk’s long distan...

You Can be a Coworking Nomad

Imagine a utopia where people are no longer compelled to be connected to one location, a life where the world isn’t limited by distance or borders but is instead open to exploration at whim and supportive of cultural immersion. Imagine living on a remarkably unified planet. For many entrepreneurs, that world already exists. A few months ago we looked at the Rise of the Digital Nomad, that type of entrepreneur who lives to travel and has found ways to work independently or as part of a team while constantly moving from one place to the next. While their lives might seem chaotic and messy, some of the most productive and yet peaceful people find their grounded selves constantly moving over ground yet continually able to serve their clients. That they’re able to balance work and flight so eas...

The Great Acceleration or, How Sophia Got Its Groove

This week, October 26, 2017 to be precise, the universe changed forever. A new era started and our way of life as labour officially started its end phase. All eras start with a moment in time when something happened that changed our perspectives so thoroughly we would never understand the world around us the same way again. As noted by British historian James Burke, there are days that change the universe as we know it. Earlier this week, the human race truly entered the Robotics Era. Sophia, a robot designed and developed by Hong Kong based Hanson Robotics, was granted legal citizenship by Saudi Arabia, a sovereign state. The implications are incredible, so much so that this is the leading edge of a wave that will alter our ideas about everything we do as a society. Sophia is very life li...

51% of Canadian Businesses Report Cyber-Security Issues

How secure is your business? What about the data you collect for business use, how secure is it? In the expanding digital age, the two questions are virtually one and the same. Most businesses are primarily made of data. Frighteningly, more than half of the 650 registered businesses surveyed by the Canadian Securities Administrators reported some sort of cyber-security incident in 2016. As an organization, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) has good reason to be concerned about the state of cyber-security in Canada. The CSA is made up of regulators from the 10 provincial and 3 territorial securities commissions. Their goal is to improve, coordinate, and harmonize regulation of Canadian capital markets, administration of which is functionally left to each province or territory. It...

What to Expect if NAFTA Talks Fail

Most businesses in Canada share a deep seeded defect that is so common as to be part of our DNA yet so malignant it corrupts the very foundation of Canada’s national sovereignty. The flaw is not a fault of planning or ideology. It is not caused by neurosis or insecurity. It is a simple yet subtle mixture of geography and the physics of supply and demand. Most Canadian businesses are entirely dependent on access to the American market, or are reliant on serving businesses that are successful only because they enjoy easy access to the American market. Stretched primarily along a 6400km border with our southern continental neighbour, approximately 35million Canadians live a relatively excellent life by finding ways to collaborate with or feed the enormous appetites of a post-industrial consum...

The Changing Face of Search Results

Lost amidst the mayhem of last week’s news cycles was a small story that had far larger implications than the amount of attention it received. Google and Apple signed a historic deal that pushes Google results sets onto even more devices than ever before. Google search results will replace search results generated by Bing on versions of the personal assistant Siri found on Apple’s iPhones powered by iOS. Though financial figures behind the agreement were not revealed, a previous agreement between the two companies to provide Google search results on other iOS devices is thought to be worth billions per year. Two important signals stem from this agreement. The first is the rise of the digital personal assistant (PDA). The second is the unmistakable importance of mobile search for both Googl...

Armchair Economics – Reality Based Fandom

I’m an armchair economist. I have little formal training in economics beyond the generalist survey courses most university students select before deciding what they want to major in when they grow up. Nevertheless, I find the machinations of any given economy fascinating. As a spectator sport, economics has the fine detail of baseball mixed with the speed and brutality of hockey, the long-game passion of European football and the regimentation of American football. Armchair economics is reality based fandom. For entrepreneurs, armchair economics is both a form of fantasy sport and an important part of business planning. All entrepreneurs dream about the future. Developing an understanding of how the world works is an essential part of foreseeing the future and the ability to foresee the fu...