Discover more from Future Commerce
Episode 60
February 8, 2018

An Anagram for Weyland-Yutani Corporation

Creating spaces where privacy reigns supreme, Amazon does healthcare now (because of course), Whole Foods employees are crying at work

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Amazon just won't leave us alone (healthcare?!). Plus we talk cell phone free zones, taking back control of personal data, and an open source voice assistant.

Future Commerce featured in retail TouchPoints:

Amazon's a for-profit venture now to the tune of 1.9 Billion last quarter:

  • Washington Post reports on their profits for Q4.
  • Amazon attributes a good portion of the profit and gross sales to Echo device demand.
  • Bezos: "Expect us to double down." Watch out, people.
  • AWS drove profits. 26% of operating margin in Q4. AWS sales rose 45% to 5.1 Billion.
  • Charlie O'shea: "Growth, growth, and more growth."
  • Buzz Marketing! Amazon's Super Bowl commercial.
  • Could they be teasing replacing Alexa's voice? Maybe a user configurable voice? (Please let it be J.A.R.V.I.S.)
  • Brian's "wouldn't it be weird" moment: what if we could record snippets of our voice and turn them into audio assistant voices?
  • Phillip geeks out and shares a Star Trek anecdote: Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the original voice of the Star Trek computer, had every part of her voice phonetically captured before she died. Now they could embody her posthumously into a device using this data.
  • CIA and FBI shout out!
  • Another shout out! We were just on Kiri Master's podcast, Ecommerce Brain Trust. Check it out. We talked a lot. Thanks, Kiri!

Hot take: Amazon is killing Whole Foods:

  • (Brian says it's fake news)
  • Is Brian ever going to say anything negative about Amazon? Probably not.
  • Business insider reports on new procedures for Whole Foods that make people cry.
  • Brian's take: Actually, Amazon is the savior. Whole Foods rolled out OTS before the merger and it didn't work. Amazon wants to fix the problem.
  • Phillip's take: millennials now have to operate like an actual business. Sadness.

Amazon again? Alexa added voice activated texting as a feature:

Seriously, more Amazon? Amazon healthcare, anyone? (free delivery for Prime members):

  • Partnering with JP Morgan Chase and Warren Buffet to improve healthcare in some mysterious way.
  • If you rearrange the letters in their names, it's an anagram for Weyland-Yutani Corporation.
  • Wow, Brian is excited about this? No way! The all benevolent Amazon will use our personal data to improve our lives.
  • Brian's privatized universal healthcare.
  • Phillip says we're all already working for Amazon in some way.

Chris Rock bans phones at shows:

  • Chris Rock is using the yondr pouch at shows.
  • A new move toward cell phone free spaces?
  • People on Twitter are celebrating this.
  • This is almost 5 years too late.
  • Is there a social quotient? AQ.
  • Yondr markets cell phone cases that lock your phone until the end of the event.

Google clips camera Segue:

  • It came out.
  • Brian: We don't have to be involved. You can be in the moment and review the information later.
  • Phillip: "You would not be saying this if you had watched Black Mirror."
  • But a possible positive trend: we might wind up creating privacy and cell phone free zones.
  • We can still live and have technology but still respect the boundaries of technology free areas.

Strava Data Issues:

  • This year, it turns out a bunch of US military personnel revealed secret US military bases by logging their activities on fitness trackers.
  • This is a human flaw. Shouldn't they know better than to log their personal activity on secret military sites?
  • What's the balance between personal and company/government responsibility?
  • What responsibility do companies have over publishing body data?
  • We should have greater control over how body data is used and published.
  • EU's GDPR compliance. ZDnet article says 22% of businesses aren't near compliant in the next 12 months. Check it out.
  • GDPR big decision: you not only have the right to your anonymity, but you can delete yourself from the internet.
  • Merchants: make your customers data available to them and let them control it. Build partnerships with your customers.

Open Source Voice Assistant:

  • Mycroft just launched a Kickstarter for an open source voice assistant.
  • They have a physical device you can actually source the parts and build it yourself.
  • A third party company could make their own version.
  • It's the Mark II device. The Mark I already exists as a private device.
  • Brian is worried about this.
  • They have a lot of interesting partners including Ubuntu foundation Mozilla foundation is supporting it. You have large partners supporting it.
  • Open source alternative.
  • Look out for a keynote on open source upcoming from Phillip.
  • Phillip is stoked about it.

Download MP3 (53.7 MB)

Brian: [00:01:05] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:09] And I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:01:11] And today we are here to talk about some pretty cool stuff. Amazon. Amazon.

Phillip: [00:01:17] Oh, please God, no. Not another one.

Brian: [00:01:21] Always Amazon.

Phillip: [00:01:21] I can't hardly take it no more. What is that from? That's from a thing. Holy cow. Ok, well...

Brian: [00:01:32] Well, before you get into all that...

Phillip: [00:01:33] Yes.

Brian: [00:01:34] We were featured in Retail TouchPoints recently.

Phillip: [00:01:38] Okay, hold on. But you have to go further back. You have to tell the story of how we even found this.

Brian: [00:01:46] Oh, how did we find this? Good question. Where did we find this?

Phillip: [00:01:51] We just thought we were really awesome and that we've been doing all the hard work that we've done in the last show that all of a sudden we had a big bump in listenership and we were like, where did all this come from? I think all the hard work is paying off, right?

Brian: [00:02:05] Yeah. Exactly.

Phillip: [00:02:06] And then come to find out it did in a little way actually. Come to find out, we were featured on a pretty prominent publication in our industry. So but this was all Brian's find. Brian found this. But we were on Retail TouchPoints and Klaudia Tirico. I don't know that we've ever met her.

Brian: [00:02:28] I don't think we've met her. No, this is new. But thanks for featuring us, Klaudia. That was really nice of you. And I'm glad you enjoy the show. Thanks for listening. And good to have you with us, new listeners.

Phillip: [00:02:41] Yeah.

Brian: [00:02:42] It's great.

Phillip: [00:02:44] Yeah, I will say that we have either elevated ourselves to Jason and Scott and the official NRF podcast level, or we've brought them all down to our level, which is more likely the case, to be honest with you.

Brian: [00:03:01] {laughter} Yeah, no doubt.

Phillip: [00:03:02] Anyway. If you did find us through Retail TouchPoints blog, we'd love to hear about it, and we'd love to hear what you think about the show. So before we get any further in, you can always lend your voice to the conversation. We'd love you to do so. Be part of this dialog between us and you, our listeners. Go to, scroll down to the Disqus comment box, and leave some comments. What do you think about episode 60? And we're going to talk on my name Amazon on as we are about to do in this episode. Also, our review of Amazon Go is forthcoming next episode. Sixty one, it's going to be the one. So the two of us are going to be live on site in Seattle this very week. So in the very next episode, you should hear a little bit more about that. We'll be really excited to bring that coverage to you.

Brian: [00:03:54] And why are you going to be in Seattle, Phillip?

Phillip: [00:03:56] Oh, so we're doing a live podcast event with another podcast property called Merchant to Merchant. And for some of our day job activities that we don't talk a whole lot about. But if you would like to listen to that, it should be up within the next week or two. We're doing a really cool panel with a bunch of seasonal merchants with a podcast we called Merchant to Merchant. So it's stories and dialog between merchants who share something in common. And on this particular panel we have... Who do we have Brian? We have the folks from Filson.

Brian: [00:04:32] Yes. And Mervin Manufacturing.

Phillip: [00:04:35] Yes.

Brian: [00:04:36] Super excited.

Phillip: [00:04:36] And Mervin is a snowboard manufacturer... Snowboard and skis. And they do LIB Tech and a bunch of other things. Yeah. And if you haven't heard of Filson, which I live in South Florida, so I'd never heard of Filson until like six months ago. And Brian's like, how have you not heard of Filson? Historic outfitter with a really cool flagship store in Seattle.

Brian: [00:04:56] It's really cool. Yeah, it's actually one of the coolest retail experiences I've ever seen because they actually do some of their manufacturing onsite at their flagship down on the lower level. There's manufacturing. And then, you know, they've got space to meet, and they've got offices, and then they've got a retail floor that's really well-staged. It's really beautifully done. And they refresh it on a regular basis. And they also have like this station on the retail floor where they refurbish old bags and materials into new stuff.

Phillip: [00:05:39] Oh I love that.

Brian: [00:05:39] And they're doing it like all day long.

Phillip: [00:05:42] That's like a very... It's like a Patagonia thing. I feel like Patagonia does stuff like that, too, right?

Brian: [00:05:47] Probably. Probably. No, Patagonia is kind of in the same vein, but Filson is a lot more like rustic.

Phillip: [00:05:54] And I think higher end on some...

Brian: [00:05:56] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:05:57] At least on the on the price point.

Brian: [00:05:59] Yeah, definitely no doubt about it. There was a sweater...

Phillip: [00:06:02] When they talk about like retail and like investment pieces, you're probably right in that range.

Brian: [00:06:07] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:06:07] The flannel you will own for the rest of your life, sort of thing.

Brian: [00:06:10] Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I think that they definitely put their sort of stamp like...

Phillip: [00:06:15] This has become like an advertisment for Filson.

Brian: [00:06:17] It has.

Phillip: [00:06:17] Anyway, I'm really excited about that podcast.

Brian: [00:06:20] Yeah if you're in Seattle next week...

Phillip: [00:06:22] Please...

Brian: [00:06:26] Shoot us an email. And we'd love to have you out on on Thursday night.

Phillip: [00:06:31] You know, what we've never done on the show is that if you want to get in touch with either of us, directly hit us up at or and reach out to us directly. We'd love to hear from you there as well. And we will likely cross-post that content. It's just too good to keep from our merchant audience. So at some point you will probably hear a cross-pollination there of at least a segment or two from that panel. So it's going to be really good.

Brian: [00:07:00] Yeah actually if you go back in our history, we cross posted...

Phillip: [00:07:03] Oh we've done that.

Brian: [00:07:05] We cross posted for Merchant once. Yeah. Which was a really great episode. I love that episode that we cross promoted on our site. So, yeah, lots going on.

Phillip: [00:07:19] Can we just get all the Amazon crap out of the way? Can we just do that. That will help me. That will help my mind.

Brian: [00:07:25] So much to talk about. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:07:27] Oh my word. OK. So first story on Washington Post... Amazon. They turned a profit this quarter. Remember when Amazon didn't turn profits?

Brian: [00:07:39] Did they turn a profit?

Phillip: [00:07:40] Remember that 22 year period when they said, "We don't need profits." You remember that?

Brian: [00:07:45] Yeah, no, I mean, I remember it like it was last year.

Phillip: [00:07:49] Yeah. It's well behind us now. Amazon is a for profit venture in 2018. This is where we are. How much profit did they turn?

Brian: [00:07:58] 1.9 bill.

Phillip: [00:08:06] Holy Cow.

Brian: [00:08:06] And you know what's crazy? In the next couple of years I expect this to become the norm for them. I mean we'll see. But they've got a lot of momentum right now. They've never not had momentum. But we'll see. We'll see what happens.

Phillip: [00:08:23] You know, what's incredible is that in the earnings call, they attributed a good portion of it to... A lot of their profit and even gross sales they attribute to the demand for the Echo device. Jeff Bezos says are 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic and we far exceeded them. We don't see positive surprises of this magnitude very often. Expect us to double down. Holy crap.

Brian: [00:08:55] Triple, quadruple, 8x down. I feel like they've already doubled down.

Phillip: [00:09:03] So just to get the other part of this, which I think we'd be remiss if we didn't mention, AWS, Amazon Web Services, drove profits. They have been a very profitable part of the business in years past, kind of actually, the only thing contributing to positive revenue growth. They said that that's 26% of operating margin in the most recent quarter in Q4, compared to 3.5% for the overall company. So massively profitable part of the business. And AWS sales rose 45% to 5.1 billion. And what I love about this is basically the quote, the pull quote from Charlie O'Shay is, "Growth, growth and more growth." Wow. That's a show title. AWS will continue to be the engine for Amazon's profitability. Wow.

Brian: [00:09:58] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:09:59] Great.

Brian: [00:09:59] Not surprising.

Phillip: [00:10:01] No.

Brian: [00:10:02] Not surprising.

Phillip: [00:10:03] No, no, no. Not surprising. OK, so. But OK. So the double down in Alexa. This isn't in our show notes, but it's something that will happen on the 4th of February, there is a teaser going out right now. A lot of Amazon spots. I think it's coinciding with the Super Bowl.

Brian: [00:10:21] Coinciding with the Super Bowl. You mean released during the Super Bowl commercials.

Phillip: [00:10:28] There is something with Alexa during the Super Bowl. So we'll see what that is.

Brian: [00:10:33] It's kind of fun. Yeah. Like the teasers like, oh, Alexa lost her voice. What's going on? What happened?

Phillip: [00:10:39] Yeah.

Brian: [00:10:40] Pretty fun stuff.

Phillip: [00:10:41] Yeah.

Brian: [00:10:43] Jeff Bezos popped up in the teaser.

Phillip: [00:10:45] It's so fun. And there's a commercial with Rebel Wilson who has like a headset on. She's like being herself. It's really funny. What I'm kind of hoping for is it sounds and looks very much like they're like talking about replacing Alex's voice. And in some way, maybe it's user configurable, kind of a TomTom-esque sort of thing.

Brian: [00:11:08] Oh my gosh. Yes.

Phillip: [00:11:09] Which would be kind of cool...

Brian: [00:11:12] Robert Downey Jr...

Phillip: [00:11:12] I just want Jarvis. That's all I'm asking for is Jarvis. I want to turn Alexa into Jarvis from The Avengers and Iron Man.

Brian: [00:11:22] Wouldn't it be really, really cool if you could have someone like yourself or whoever speak a certain set of words and phrases into Alexa, and then that became her voice?

Phillip: [00:11:36] Well, so this is incredible, right? So I don't know if you're as much of a geek as I am because this exists in the world.

Brian: [00:11:43] I'm not. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:11:43] Majel Barrett. Do you know who Majel Barrett is?

Brian: [00:11:45] I do not.

Phillip: [00:11:48] She's the original voice of the computer on Star Trek. And she...

Brian: [00:11:53] Which was, by the way, the inspiration for the Echo, according to Jeff Bezos.

Phillip: [00:11:58] I mean, that makes a lot of sense, right? So but she was married to Gene Roddenberry and she actually played Lwaxana Troi on a Next Generation, Deep Space Nine. So she was like Counselor Troy's mom. She's had a role through the entire arc of both old trek and new track. But before she died, they phonetically captured every part of her voice. And they did it in such a way... I think they even contributed... It's part of some open source projects. They did it in such a way that they could embody her posthumously into an Alexa type device, which.

Brian: [00:12:40] Oh, my gosh.

Phillip: [00:12:41] How incredible would that be?

Brian: [00:12:43] That would be insane. Oh, dude, think about it. I wonder if it's just... If there's enough of your voice out there publicly, like maybe you and me. What if anyone could just take our voices, play them into their Alexa device or their Echo device, and then all of a sudden, like they have us speaking to them?

Phillip: [00:13:09] You know, I'm pretty sure if anybody could do it, it would be very corrupt. CIA and or FBI. No, I'm just kidding. Fake news. Very corrupt. Okay. Let's move on. Speaking of corrupt Amazon's killing Whole Foods.

Brian: [00:13:26] Whoa, whoa, whoa... Before we get back to Amazon, we missed something. We were supposed to talk about something before we got into this.

Phillip: [00:13:33] What was it? What was it?

Brian: [00:13:34] We were just on Kiri Masters' podcast.

Phillip: [00:13:38] Oh I forgot about that. That's actually part... It's speaking of Amazon... You could kind of tie it in, right? They talk a lot about Amazon.

Brian: [00:13:47] Yeah, they do.

Phillip: [00:13:48] It's actually all they talk about is Amazon.

Brian: [00:13:49] Pretty much. Pretty much. Yeah. And we talked about the Amazon a lot too on that show.

Phillip: [00:13:54] Sure.

Brian: [00:13:54] So definitely it should be live here probably shortly after this episode goes live or maybe right before it. Make sure you head over to ECommerce Braintrust and check that out. I don't know what episode number it will be, but really looking forward to that. I think it was really good content. And Kiri is awesome to talk with. Love, love talking with her. And I think it's worth listening to for sure.

Phillip: [00:14:18] You know, what is really amazing is that she dealt with the two of us for about forty five minutes.

Brian: [00:14:24] We did talk a lot. And we talked over each other, and we talked over her. Thank you for having us.

Phillip: [00:14:29] In fairness, I didn't have the greatest internet connection. Kiri, you're absolutely fabulous. I'm so sorry. OK, so what's not absolutely fabulous is Amazon is absolutely killing Whole Foods.

Brian: [00:14:45] That is fake news.

Phillip: [00:14:48] {laughter} Says the Amazon apologist. Are you ever gonna be able to say anything bad about Amazon? I don't think so.

Brian: [00:14:54] Maybe someday. I don't know. Probably not.

Phillip: [00:14:58] I doubt it. There are so many pictures on the internet of empty shelves.

Brian: [00:15:04] Yes. Yes.

Phillip: [00:15:05] Hold on. So you got to give context. We've not talked about this yet, for those don't know.

Brian: [00:15:10] Alright. Give the context.

Phillip: [00:15:13] Go ahead.

Brian: [00:15:13] No you're giving the context.

Phillip: [00:15:14] OK. So here's the... So I'm actually going to just quote. So Business Insider has an article out about... I love the title here. The title is, "Seeing Someone Cry at Work is Becoming Normal" Employees say Whole Foods is using, "scorecards" to punish them. {laughter} Which hold on, there's a really great hot take at the end of this. But basically, there is an inventory management system called OTS, or Order to Shelf that had a strict set, or has a strict set, of procedures for purchasing, displaying and storing products on store shelves and in the back rooms. And Whole Foods rolled this out before and sort of during this Amazon takeover. And a lot of people are putting a lot of blame on Amazon for customer dissatisfaction, a lot of pictures of empty shelves that are, you know, all over Twitter right now of people that are sort of upset about widespread food shortages in their new inventory management's controlled stores. But, Brian, you have a different take.

Brian: [00:16:20] Yeah, it's not even me, really. Basically... So the reason why Whole Foods implemented OTS was because employees, suppliers, and industry analysts all said that Whole Foods old system of managing inventory was highly inefficient and needed to be updated. So, you know, even before the Amazon merger, they realized that they were just... Their stock levels and the way they were doing inventory management was just not really cutting it. And so they implemented OTS to try and actually do something that was more efficient. The problem was when they implemented it, they didn't do it very well. And so, you know, in the same Business Insider's article, they quote Jim Holbrook, who's the CEO of a retail consultancy, Daymon Worldwide, who recently started working with Whole Foods. And he said, you know, Whole Foods had a very decentralized approach which added complexity, and complexity added cost. So essentially, they tried to implement this, you know, in line with other conventional supermarkets like Kroger and Safeway. And it just hasn't really worked the way that they expected. It's been too lean. It's been too tough. And so everyone, you know, not everyone, but it says "many employees are hopeful that Amazon will fix the new system." So actually, Amazon might be the savior in this situation where Whole Foods sort of bungled their way into an improperly managed inventory management system.

Phillip: [00:18:05] Whole Foods has, you mentioned it there, and it was great quote, because I think that that kind of sums it up, which is that Whole Foods has operated in a very decentralized way where individual stores had a lot of purchasing and power control over what was featured in their stores. And that might have been part of the charm of Whole Foods at one point in time. But the Austin headquarters began to own more control of that, especially toward the the end of the Amazon merger event. And so one person's take, which I'll just go ahead and subscribe to, because it's the witty, sarcastic, cynical take. And that's sort of my shtick. One person's take on Twitter was basically this is a bunch of millennial whining and complaining that they now have to actually operate like a business instead of like, you know, a love-in. And that's really that's essentially what this is. It's going from loosey goosey to, you know, operating like a traditional grocery store. Shocker. Anyway, growing pains, right?

Brian: [00:19:12] They quoted one 12 year employee of Whole Foods in the Midwest. They said, "We all just hope that the Amazon will walk into some stores and see all the holes on the shelf." In short, they don't feel like Amazons have that chance, yet.

Phillip: [00:19:28] Yeah, and some of the scorecard thing. It's interesting. I don't know how many businesses could get to the place where Whole Foods was without having some sort of, I don't know, metric or KPI of employee or store performance of some kind. They just sound like they're putting real just corporate accountability in place and it's freaking a lot of people out. Which is understandable. Anyway, I just like I like the narrative that Whole Foods entire corporate culture is being killed by Amazon. And the seeing people cry thing, I think, also kind of resonates because I've heard that about Amazon in the past. We'll find out. Anyway...

Brian: [00:20:12] {laughter} Speaking of Amazon again.

Phillip: [00:20:14] Oh, my gosh.

Brian: [00:20:17] {laughter} Did you see that Alexa added voice activated SMS texting?

Phillip: [00:20:22] It's interesting because I feel like this has been around. This doesn't feel like a new thing.

Brian: [00:20:26] Maybe it has been around. I feel like it's been around, too. But I think this is relatively new. Like as of the 1st.

Phillip: [00:20:34] Definitely the blog that I saw as of... Right, right, right, right. Right.

Brian: [00:20:38] February 1st. Which it makes sense... You know, it's interesting. I think that more texting gets done via voice than a lot of people realize, because I see people from all different age categories now doing it.

Phillip: [00:20:56] Yeah.

Brian: [00:20:57] Everyone from baby boomers to Xennials.

Phillip: [00:21:01] Yeah.

Brian: [00:21:02] To Gen Z. So I think this is a no brainer. It's like a very obvious step. And it's a way that voice is being used in a very, you know, like widespread way.

Phillip: [00:21:14] Well... So this was an article on a Retail TouchPoints, which is our new favorite blog. One little thing jumped off the page to me, and it's completely hidden in here. But it's that Brooks Brothers, the North American clothing retailer, they are an early adopter of Alexa for business, which was that product that was unveiled back in, I think November at AWS Reinvent. And what's cool about that is that they're not using it in a customer facing capacity. So they're really using Alexa for business in the way that it was, you know, sort of imagined that it would be.

Brian: [00:21:57] Right.

Phillip: [00:21:57] And that's for business enablement on the back end.

Brian: [00:22:00] Which is definitely something that, you know, seems like a really obvious application. And I'm really glad that it's being used, and I expect to see it used quite a bit more.

Phillip: [00:22:12] Yeah, for sure. Anyway, really, really interesting.

Brian: [00:22:15] Yeah. Let's talk about the the elephant in the room. Amazon. Again.

Phillip: [00:22:25] Who are they? I've never heard of them.

Brian: [00:22:25] {laughter} So Amazon's also announced a partnership with Warren Buffett and JP Morgan Chase to improve health care in some mysterious way.

Phillip: [00:22:38] I actually I think that this almost sells better if you're like, "Hey, Brian." Now you have to play with me here. "Hey, Brian."

Brian: [00:22:49] Oh, "Hey, what, Phillip? What's that?"

Phillip: [00:22:51] "How could we lower our health care costs?"

Brian: [00:22:54] "Oh, maybe Amazon should get involved."

Phillip: [00:22:57] "Yeah. Yeah. But you know what if we just made our own health care company?"

Brian: [00:23:05] There it is. There it is.

Phillip: [00:23:05] That's the conversation that they just had. That's it. Like only Amazon and only Berkshire Hathaway and only, you know, JP Morgan could decide... I don't know. If you rearrange the letters in Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan, it's an anagram for Weyland Yutani Corporation. And that is the world that we are heading towards right now.

Brian: [00:23:29] You know what? I, for one, am super excited about this for a lot of reasons. Yeah. Yes, actually, actually excited about it.

Phillip: [00:23:38] Oh gosh.

Brian: [00:23:38] Because I've been talking about technology being applied to healthcare ever since I realized how body data was going to play into it. You know, we had that whole thing about how I see the future of healthcare being sort of a push system, not a pull system, if you will.

Phillip: [00:23:56] Yeah.

Brian: [00:23:57] And I really hope that's what comes out of this, where we have personal health monitoring tools that are going to help us. Instead of us being like, you know, "I don't feel great or whatever. I'd better go to the doctor," and then we don't go to the doctor or whatever. I'm looking forward to a world where it's like, "Oh, hey, we saw an anomaly. Why don't you hop on a virtual health session with us for ten minutes, and let's just talk about what it is that might be going on. Let's do a couple of additional, deeper scans we're going to have you do. That to me seems a way more efficient and a way better use of medical resources. I think that this is the future of health care.

Phillip: [00:24:41] And it's not just within their own company, even though I sort of made it sound that way. Jeff Bezos, in the statement that was released when they announced that they're launching a healthcare company says, "Hard as it might be reducing health care's burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families will be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginners mind and long term orientation."

Brian: [00:25:05] And here's a crazy idea. What if they come up with a a privatized... Yeah. You know where I'm going with this?

Phillip: [00:25:20] I mean, it's like a single payer system...

Brian: [00:25:22] You privatize universal health care.

Phillip: [00:25:26] I mean, we're basically all already working for Amazon in some capacity. So again, really. I rest my case. All right. We're there. OK. So fine. I think we're through the Amazon block. Can we just be done with that? I feel like we're done.

Brian: [00:25:43] All right. Let's talk about some other stuff now.

Phillip: [00:25:46] OK.

Brian: [00:25:46] Let's talk about Chris Rock banning phones at shows.

Phillip: [00:25:50] Oh my gosh. Ok this. I love this story so much. I love this story. Did you watch the Grammys at all?

Brian: [00:25:57] No, man. And apparently a whole bunch of other people didn't either.

Phillip: [00:26:01] Oh, my gosh, that's not a joke. I actually really enjoyed the Grammys this year.

Brian: [00:26:05] This year? OK. Nice.

Phillip: [00:26:06] You would have, I think, enjoyed Childish Gambino's performance, which I thought was...

Brian: [00:26:13] I would have, but I would have been really mad that he didn't win more, because I'm a big fan.

Phillip: [00:26:16] Yeah. You aren't the only one. Angry Twitter was angry.

Brian: [00:26:23] Yeah, that's because Donald Glover's the bomb.

Phillip: [00:26:27] They did this really great gag where... Is it James Corden? Who was the host?

Brian: [00:26:34] I'm a big fan of James Corden. Yeah I think he was.

Phillip: [00:26:36] Yeah. James Corden was the host. I just watched it, and I can't even remember. He was that memorable. James Corden did this gag where he's like, you know, imagine that you're at a concert. And he's like, no, this isn't quite right. He's like, hold on. And then like, three hundred people from off the camera all put their phones in front of the camera and like, you know, recording James Corden. And he's like, well, that's better. That's better. That's more like the actual concert experience. I thought that was really, really funny.

Brian: [00:27:08] That's good.

Phillip: [00:27:08] And if you've been to a concert or any sort of public event, you know, my kids kindergarten Christmas performance comes to mind.

Brian: [00:27:19] {laughter} That's a concert.

Phillip: [00:27:21] Then you have experienced people holding their phones up and kind of being really obnoxious, recording something that they'll never, ever watch again. And so Chris Rock has, for some upcoming shows, they're employing... He's basically put it into his rider, and they're enforcing the use of a device called Yondr. It's a pouch that you can carry with you, but it requires that your phone be housed inside of it. And so yeah, and Donald Glover was one of those people that is also basically kind of buying into this. Looks like Dave Chappelle's part of it as well. It's kind of an interesting thing.

Brian: [00:28:03] Yeah, no, I think...

Phillip: [00:28:05] Creating cell phone free spaces.

Brian: [00:28:07] Yes. Let's get off line.

Phillip: [00:28:12] Right?

Brian: [00:28:12] Let's create some moments where we can actually just enjoy life instead of being barraged by the entire world on our phone.

Phillip: [00:30:17] The people on Twitter are actually kind of celebrating this.

Brian: [00:30:22] Yeah, and they should be. I think if you're active on Twitter and social networks and, you know, you're a contributor, you kinda have to be on all the time or you feel like that pressure to constantly be out there in the conversation, relevant, timely, all of the above. That's not me, by the way, on social media.

Phillip: [00:30:47] No, you are the opposite of that. You don't do anything like that. You have no urgency around social media.

Brian: [00:30:54] No, I don't. I don't. I understand that there is importance to urgency on social media. And there's, you know, certain people that that should be a part of their job. But I think that people are too connected. I like this move.

Phillip: [00:31:13] I like it, too. And I love the fact that there's so many applications. So if you go to Yeah. Concerts or comedy shows. Those are both, you know, just two of the potential venues in which this could be used. But think about it in schools and in courthouses. Right? And all of a sudden you're kind of thinking like this might be a really, really smart thing. I don't know how this hasn't already happened in the past 10 years.

Brian: [00:31:44] Yeah, that's actually a really good point. That shows you how addicted we are.

Phillip: [00:31:48] It does actually. Yeah.

Brian: [00:31:50] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:31:51] Yeah. This is almost five years too late. And I know myself, I would definitely have some FOMO being, you know, somewhere for three, four hours without access to my phone. I think I might freak out a little bit. That's kind of a good thing. I need that, I think.

Brian: [00:32:09] I think a lot of people need that. I really hope to see this trend pick up steam, not just at your concerts, but like to find other places or it's like, you know what? Let's not connect for a minute. Let's actually have real... I shouldn't say that. I do think the Internet interactions are real. Absolutely. Connected interaction, social interactions online are real interactions. But let's focus 100 percent of our attention on what's in front of us instead of capturing it or trying to see other things that are happening. Let's put our full focus on what's happening right now.

Phillip: [00:32:51] I think I've said this at some point on the show. I can't remember. But it's something I've riffed on in real life. And I think you've heard me say it, but I feel like, not to diss anybody who's ever done it because Lord knows I've taken stupid cell phone videos, and that's how I've learned not to take stupid cell phone videos, but I feel like there will be sort of a Black Mirror-esque segmenting of society, of people who are sort of establishing themselves as sort of the high end or the upper end. It's like an IQ, like we have the intelligence quotient. We have the emotional quotient now. Right? Well, what if there's like a a social quotient or like a...

Brian: [00:33:43] I think we chatted about that. One article I saw recently about what was it called?

Phillip: [00:33:50] AQ. It was AQ.

Brian: [00:33:51] AQ Yeah.

Phillip: [00:33:52] That's right. It was artificial intelligence? What was that?

Brian: [00:33:56] No, it was basically the ability to adapt.

Phillip: [00:34:00] Okay. Yeah.

Brian: [00:34:01] Which I thought was cool.

Phillip: [00:34:04] I think that's a really cool idea. I was kind of leaning toward just the joke, "You can't be part of our social circle. We have to check your phone if you've...

Brian: [00:34:17] If you ever eaten in a restaurant with spinach artichoke dip, you're out.

Phillip: [00:34:24] That's the best inside joke that we've ever had. Okay.

Brian: [00:34:27] That was the best inside joke we've ever had.

Phillip: [00:34:27] If you have ever posted your body data from a secret military base in Taiwan you are no longer part of our social network.

Brian: [00:34:40] Wait, wait, wait. Hold on. Let's go back one more second.

Phillip: [00:34:41] You do this all the time. Just take the segue. It was such a good segue.

Brian: [00:34:46] It was a great segue, but I wanted to mention Google Clips Camera because I think that...

Phillip: [00:34:54] Oh that just came out. That just came out.

Brian: [00:34:56] Yes. The reason why I think this plays into what we were just talking about is because I think one of the problems we have right now and Healey Cypher sort of alluded to this in our episode with him, which was like our third episode...

Phillip: [00:35:12] Healey Cypher of Evoke Labs. Yeah.

Brian: [00:35:12] He talked about how we need to get our heads up out of our phones and have digital experiences that appear out as a part of our world. Right? So I think... I'll take that even a step further and say like, well, what if we can use AI and other tools to help, you know, achieve the same level of capture of like sort of like a moment capture and data capture like this Google Clips Camera where we don't have to be involved. We can just focus and then we can go back and review. I'm really hoping to see this in business with meetings like note-taking may be not necessary soon.

Phillip: [00:35:58] Have you watched Black Mirror? Because I feel like you would not be saying this if you had watched Black Mirror.

Brian: [00:36:05] {laughter} I have not watched the episode you're referring to yet.

Phillip: [00:36:09] Yeah, but you know the premise, right?

Brian: [00:36:11] Yes.

Phillip: [00:36:12] Yeah. I feel like that has its own dangers. But I see what you're saying.

Brian: [00:36:15] Of course it has dangers. Everything we're doing right now has dangers.

Phillip: [00:36:19] Sure.

Brian: [00:36:19] And almost everything we've talked about on this show has dangers. Just ask Brian Ramaley.

Phillip: [00:36:27] Oh, yeah. That guy can...

Brian: [00:36:28] Anything that we've talked about he can take it to its conclusion that basically is a Black Mirror episode. So, I think the question is, are we going to be responsible with what we have?

Phillip: [00:36:47] Yeah. So this is...

Brian: [00:36:49] You call out people who do abuse it. And punish them for that abuse.

Phillip: [00:36:54] That's kind of where I feel like where we might be heading. And I do feel like we as humans somehow always tend to try to find equilibrium. Sometimes the pendulum swings a little too far out...

Brian: [00:37:12] Often. Often it does.

Phillip: [00:37:13] Right. But it's trying to achieve an equilibrium. And so I think we've been so far in the realm of allowing technology to occupy everything we do. And that's sort of where we are right now. We might be at an apex of some kind.

Brian: [00:37:32] Maybe.

Phillip: [00:37:33] I do believe that there will be a swing back. And I think Yondr is a really good example of the kind of people that are wanting to establish an experience or a space that is technology free. That is one one way of doing it. I do think that at some point we're probably more likely to see this mandated in sort of a geofenced way, in much the same way that we're seeing drones that are being controlled. I mean, I was thinking about over the weekend, a few weekends ago, my brother in law was in town. He has a DJI Mavic. And but, you know, I live in Palm Beach. So, you know, the president happened to be in town. And when Air Force One is coming in, every drone in this county and this whole area is grounded, you cannot even take off. It's just grounded. As soon as he leaves town, the GPS restriction is lifted and everybody can take off their drones again. But I think that's where we're gonna wind up is in creating privacy and cell phone free zones, so that we can still live and have technologies like the Google Clips of the world, but they'll respect the boundaries of areas that are technology free. And that's probably how we're gonna swing back the other way because houses of worship, courthouses, some types of public spheres, public spaces, libraries, that sort of thing... They may actually want to create spaces that allow you to engage in the environment and what's going on around you rather than, you know, experiencing it through with a three inch screen.

Brian: [00:39:20] Yeah, in short...

Phillip: [00:39:21] And that should be the perogative. Right?

Brian: [00:39:24] In short, I need to go watch that Black Mirror episode.

Phillip: [00:39:26] Yeah. You gotta watch it.

Brian: [00:39:30] Yeah. No, I think you're totally right. I actually think you're hitting on something that's sparking more ideas in my mind that I'm not going to talk about now, but maybe it will show up in Future Commerce Insiders. So subscribe.

Phillip: [00:39:41] Yeah. Oh yeah. You can do that for sure. For sure. For sure. For sure. Okay. So I had this really great segue. We blew it.

Brian: [00:39:48] Yes.

Phillip: [00:39:48] So let's come back to it a little bit. Over on The Daily Beast. And like literally everywhere else this past week, there is a story that was broken about what they're calling a security flaw. It's not a security flaw. About the fitness tracker app, Strava. Strava puts out an annual heat map of Strava users runs or activity where you can search a global map or search your local area and see a heat map of where people are most active. And this year, it turns out that a lot of people got really interested in some of those heat maps showing up out in the middle of nowhere with nothing else around. And it turns out that a bunch of US military bases, in particular in like Niger and where else? Syria, Yemen, Turkey. Like a lot of interesting sort of places were being revealed where, you know, I guess military personnel were logging there their miles and their runs or their walks or some sort of activity, but accidentally revealing secret military bases as well.

Brian: [00:41:00] Talk about a technology free zone. There you go. That's where they should have it.

Phillip: [00:41:10] There's a segue. Good job. I like that.

Brian: [00:41:12] There's a segue.

Phillip: [00:41:12] That was really good. You know, here's... I want to know what you think about this. I don't know that this is so much a security problem. They're calling this a security flaw. And whether or not, you know, Strava should have revealed this information. I think of it as this is a human flaw. Shouldn't people that are on private military installations know better than to...

Brian: [00:41:38] Yeah. So this is a really good discussion because this discussion is going to come up a lot more. The "know better" clause is going to be a phrase that we hear a lot more than the next few years.

Phillip: [00:41:56] Right.

Brian: [00:41:57] Like how much as personal responsibility for exposing things and how much is sort of the company's responsibility to make sure that things don't get exposed? It's going to be a big debate, and there's going to be a lot of lawsuits about it. I don't have answers for this right now. I think that it's going to be really difficult to discern when something is somebody's personal fault or when it's like, "Hey, this company should have had stronger warnings or like opt-in type things to prevent this from happening.

Phillip: [00:42:41] For sure. And to be fair, it is anonymized in that it's people's, you know, one to one. You don't know necessarily at the global level who is participating in the activity. You're just seeing activity take place.

Brian: [00:42:56] Right. Right. Yeah. In fact, things like that data on its own, just like one person wouldn't really mean that much because no one would know where they are. But it's the aggregate data has a much bigger story to tell.

Phillip: [00:43:09] For sure.

Brian: [00:43:09] And that's something that would be really hard to discern like, "Oh, I'm logging my personal data. I didn't realize that everyone else on the base had this fitness tracker."

Phillip: [00:43:26] I don't know about that. I can see a use case where you have people that are sort of competing with each others, watching each other, workouts that are all, you know, taking place in a group together. You are together and you should be able to have that visibility. It's the I don't think they correlate that understanding that because they can see each other's data, that this could be "anonymized" and then used to be published to the public.

Brian: [00:43:59] Right. Totally.

Phillip: [00:43:59] Right. And so I do think that there's, you know, some responsibility needs to fall to some personal responsibility and education about how data privacy really should work. And then secondly, some responsibility should fall to, you know, Strava and other apps or other companies that are consuming body data. And this is the story that I think we're going to miss, is the look and then presence are fundamentally part of our body data. And we should have greater control over how it's used and where it's published. Full stop.

Brian: [00:44:37] Back to episode 55: Predictions. That's exactly right.

Phillip: [00:44:43] It's exactly what we're talking about. And there are some regulations and laws that are coming into focus that could potentially help enforce some of this. So really, you know, one that's top of mind for us, at least in the eCommerce world and retail, that do global eCommerce and retail, is the EU's GDPR compliance.

Brian: [00:45:05] This is huge. Yes.

Phillip: [00:45:05] This is General Data Protection Regulation. If you're in retail and you're doing eCommerce overseas, outside of the United States and you do business in the EU, you likely are already following and having to look at these guidelines. There's a lot of...

Brian: [00:45:20] Well I hope you are. If you're not, there's gonna be a violation. And I think it was Forrester that I was listening to that said that they expect to see some people actually get in trouble for this or maybe it was someone else's predictions.

Phillip: [00:45:32] Oh, yeah, for sure.

Brian: [00:45:33] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:45:33] Oh, actually there's an article out on ZDNet which a) I haven't heard from them in ages, but there's an article on ZDNet that actually quotes that Forrester that 22% of businesses are basically not compliant. They're not like even anywhere near compliance in the next 12 months. But effectively, they actually put out a list of those that are least ready to be compliant. So you should actually check that out. I think we'll link it up in the show notes.

Brian: [00:46:07] Yeah, for sure.

Phillip: [00:46:08] I'm not familiar with any of these companies because I don't live in Europe. But I think that GDPR... One of the big decisions in GDPR was that you have not only the right to anonymity, but the right to be able to delete your own existence off the Internet.

Brian: [00:46:28] Yep.

Phillip: [00:46:28] And so you can control... You should be able to control the ability to terminate your account and see what kind of data any company has on you.

Brian: [00:46:38] Exactly. No, this is exactly what I was talking about in the predictions episode. This is what I see happening next. Or encourage retailers to do. We don't have this going on in the US quite as much yet. But merchants make your data that you have on your customers public to them and allow them to leverage that data to do more things. Because I can tell you right now, if they see utility in giving you that data, they will allow you to continue to use it. And so that's how I see companies maintaining data from now on. Building partnerships and giving customers the ability to do more when they provide that data. I think that's a big... Maybe 2018 is sort of the start of this trend. And, you know, it's the beginning. But over the next three years, I expect to see this to become a much bigger part of our conversation.

Phillip: [00:47:44] What's interesting is I worked for a merchant seven years ago, six, seven years ago now. And we were running an eCommerce platform, which shall not be named, but we were running eCommerce platform. And I remember remarking, you know, nearly a decade ago that we would field customer requests all the time to delete their account. And there is no way to delete your account. It's still to this day in that same platform, almost a decade later. There's still no functionality for you to go delete your account. So they have no control over...

Brian: [00:48:19] Wait, why aren't you naming it?

Phillip: [00:48:20] I mean, they're nice people. But I don't think that, you know, they do a lot of business in Europe. I don't think that there is a... I can't think of a single eCommerce platform that I've worked with. And I mean, there's likely to be some European centric ones that would obey this. Spryker might come to mind. I can't think of any that at least, you know, have even anything close to that. So I think everybody is going to have to come up a level.

Brian: [00:48:51] Yeah. Yes.

Phillip: [00:48:52] And and that means that third party integrations, those that enable all the kinds of personalization... It might actually be really eye-opening to you to see where the areas of noncompliance might be. And that might be... You might not even realize how many tentacles of data collection are happening on your site through third parties right now until you're on the hook to try to open that up and give visibility of all of that data to your customer.

Brian: [00:49:25] Absolutely agree.

Phillip: [00:49:25] All right. Anyway. And anyway, Strava. The really interesting story. Yeah, that's it. That's all I have to say about that. {laughter}

Brian: [00:49:38] Oh, man. We've got more, lots more.

Phillip: [00:49:42] There's so much more.

Brian: [00:49:43] How far we're to run with this, man.

Phillip: [00:49:44] Let's just take this next one.

Brian: [00:49:46] Ok.

Phillip: [00:49:46] And actually, you know what? No, no. Hold on. I think we could hold this one over. Let's just do this open source voice assistant. I really like that story.

Brian: [00:49:55] Ok that one is interesting.

Phillip: [00:49:55] Because it's not so dark. Kickstarter. There's actually a really interesting Kickstarter that just launched. And it sort of took me by surprise. There is a company who is Mycroft, who has already created a production open source voice assistant, which is the open source answer to the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Brian: [00:50:26] And Siri and Cortana and all those.

Phillip: [00:50:26] They already have an existing... This is a physical device that is open source to the point where you could actually, you know, source the parts, build it yourself if you needed. It would be open source so that any third party company, let's say Anchor, or some other company, they could make their own version of this particular voice assistant. What's really interesting about this is this the Mark 2. So Mark 1 already exists and it is a commercial product. And so their Kickstarter is to support the Mark 2 device coming into...

Brian: [00:50:59] They already hit their goal.

Phillip: [00:51:01] They did hit the goal.

Brian: [00:51:04] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:51:05] So an open device, an open smart speaker.

Brian: [00:51:10] That kind of scares me. I'm not going to lie. Simply because, like the support around this is going to have to be unbelievable. The security and everything. In order for me to bring an open source voice device that's listening to me into my home, I'm going to need to feel real good about it.

Phillip: [00:51:31] I mean, in general terms, most open source things that you interact with every day, let's say most every web server, most every piece of software that runs on the web server, has some element of open source in it.

Brian: [00:51:49] Sure. Yes.

Phillip: [00:51:49] Every secure transaction that takes place on the Internet likely uses open...

Brian: [00:51:55] Totally agree with that, but those are really well supported, well known entities that have the whole Internet is concerned about them. This is something that's one off that the whole Internet's not concerned about.

Phillip: [00:52:12] They have a lot of really interesting partners. So they have actually published I mean, this isn't their first device. They actually have a couple. This is there's like second go around. But they actually have a team of 17. And the Mark 1 device is in fifty six countries and 38 US states at the moment. Not a terribly large footprint, but the Ubuntu Foundation is behind this and supporting it.

Brian: [00:52:43] That's cool.

Phillip: [00:52:44] You also have the Mozilla Foundation is behind it and supporting it. So you have larger open source organizations that are behind it to some degree. So I find that really fascinating. And I think that's what makes or breaks any open source initiative is having a large corporate and large open foundations and organizations behind it that help support it.

Brian: [00:53:08] Yeah communities. Communities of developers really.

Phillip: [00:53:13] For sure. And it's not just about developers. There's a hardware componant.

Brian: [00:53:19] Yeah. Totally. Also, there's going to be a monetary driver, too. It looks like this does have that. So I'm excited to keep my eye on this. Absolutely.

Phillip: [00:53:29] I think we should have, you know, variants like this that exist in the world. It provides an element of competition. I mean, not really competition, but it's an open source alternative. And it actually leads me to a thought about a series of like a keynote that I'm trying to develop right now about the open source business.

Brian: [00:53:51] I love this keynote you're working on. I forgot about this.

Phillip: [00:53:54] Yeah. The idea is, is you could find open source products to fulfill every area in need of your business from your point of sale to your warehouse management platform to order management. I mean, open-source eCommerce platforms have been around since the web started. Right? And so we have open source platforms at work and could be at every element of our business. What I think is, is that if you were to do that, the trick is deciding where those pieces make sense for you and your business that help you in what makes you differentiated or help you achieve certain goals. But it certainly would be a bad idea for every part of your entire business to have open source products that you have to maintain and control and manage and develop. But the idea is because there are open source products available for every part of your business, the thought experiment is what would happen if you used all of them. And so we take it out to its logical conclusion. It's likely really bad idea. The world falls apart, everything implodes. But just having a voice assistant that's open source blows my mind. It's like one more piece of that puzzle. And so something I'm really excited to talk about.

Brian: [00:55:23] Awesome. Well that's a good way to end it.

Phillip: [00:55:29] {laughter} We ended up note for once.

Brian: [00:55:30] We did. No, we've done that more than one time. We always try to come back around. We don't always make it back around, but we do try to come back.

Phillip: [00:55:40] Awesome. Thank you for listening to Future Commerce. I cut you off. You were doing the outro.

Brian: [00:55:45] No, no. I was, but you can do it. It's all you.

Phillip: [00:55:47] Thank you. Thank you for listening to Future Commerce. We want you to subscribe and get involved in our community. We want to make you one of our retail futurists that belong to this community of other retail futurists. And you could do that by visiting Sign up for FC Insiders, your weekly dose of all things retail. That's news, exclusives, rumors, some gossip. You're gonna get behind the scenes full and unedited interviews, all kinds of really cool, interesting stuff. And we've got a bunch of really interesting long-form content that we're about to publish and put out. So don't miss it.

Brian: [00:56:22] Don't miss it.

Phillip: [00:56:23] and sign up for FC Insiders and make sure to subscribe on Apple podcast, Stitcher, Google Play or any smart speaker device, and you can get Future Commerce pretty much anywhere and these days. So make sure you do that.

Brian: [00:56:39] Well, another great episode on the books. That was actually episode 60 for us.

Phillip: [00:56:43] Crying out loud.

Brian: [00:56:45] That's a lot.

Phillip: [00:56:46] That's amazing.

Brian: [00:56:46] Yeah. And so go back, listen to the rest of all 60 episodes. Because with Future Commerce retail tech is moving fast...

Phillip: [00:56:56] And we're moving much faster. Thanks for listening.

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