Design thinking

Hello from the Big Apple

Jakob Boije

Life in New York City has changed a lot over the years. It’s gone from being a pretty scary place in the ’70s to a mostly safe and warm city full of people from all over the world who share a strong drive to help others as much as they can. It was amazing to witness firsthand the courage, humility and recovery after Sandy, the superstorm that basically wiped out a majority of the city for a good two weeks.

Life in NYC throws a significant learning curve on how to filter things out. There’s so much to do and see that it’s almost overwhelming. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the city gets pretty empty during long weekends – helped, of course, by the excellent Zipcar car club. In the city that never sleeps, you’ll find your work life and private life constantly overlapping. But good or bad, you can feel the pulse wherever you go.

It’s Only Going to Get Faster and More Complex

2013 was an exciting year of sensational opportunities, almost all driven by the digital transformation currently sweeping the globe. One day it’s the high profile IPO of our favorite 140-character blue bird company. The next, the world’s most powerful search engine decides to sink 3 billion dollars (yes, that’s nine zeros) into a little trend called the Internet of Things, with hopes of ruling smart home automation some day. Living in the nation’s second largest tech city after Silicon Valley, it’s hard not to be influenced by it all. And it’s a true challenge to decide where to turn your gaze as trends just keep coming faster and more furious.

Venture-backed Startups Booming in the City

Beyond its well-known finance, advertising and media industries (coupled with a world-class food and culture scene), NYC is starting to breed some of the most high-profile startups out there. Beginning with small teams, they often quickly scale up to become substantial multi-million dollar enterprises – sometimes in less than a year. With the recent shift to cloud and mobile-based service operations, there’s basically no limit on how fast you can get new offerings out on the market to test people’s appetite for your ideas. With virtually zero need for inventory or any significant distributions costs, a team of less than 20 people can, in the best case scenario, deliver meaningful digital products to 10,000 or 500,000 paying customers without a substantial increase in costs. The upside is potentially huge if you manage to create a new marketplace and learn to navigate from there, fighting off competition as you move forward.

The message from the market is clear; start thinking digital and act agile or go home. There’s no turning back.

The market for tech investments is hot. Some say it’s at an all-time high, with talk of 20 to 30 percent value premiums across the board. You can read about the tech frenzy in just about any business magazine. It’s a happy, pixilated blur of big data analysis, customer acquisition and churn rates, cyber security, online privacy and dreams of real-life impact for the masses. A huge shift is occurring inside the healthcare and retail industries, driven by social, mobile and local needs and behaviors. Customers expect total transparency that no brand can hide behind. The digital “word-of-mouth” around great and useful services spreads overnight and can come crashing down equally fast if you don’t play your cards right. The power to change entire industries is now in our very own hands.

New Friends, New Opportunities

This year will no doubt be even more exciting as the pace of innovation and risk-taking only seems to accelerate here in New York. We are extra thrilled about teaming up with global IT and change management leader TCS that will enable us to help our clients to build more powerful data and people-driven customer-centric businesses at scale. Brands will continue to look for smarter and more competitive ways of keeping you as their customer by building more seamless and engaging experiences.