Tech World: Uber’s new CEO, Amazon’s grocery bet, bitcoin’s price fluctuation and more


Welcome to Tech World, your quick roundup
of some the top technology news stories from
across the globe. This month, we have Uber’s
new CEO, Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase,
cryptocurrency news and more.
For this episode’s Hot Topic interview,
we spoke with Martyn Whistler from EY about
generational differences in attitude to technology.
First though, here’s your round up of the
month’s biggest tech news.
The Federal Trade Commission gave the green
light to Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods
Market in a deal valued at $13.7bn. The deal
signals a turning point for Amazon, which
has been struggling to break into the US grocery
business for years.
Sticking with the topic of food, Chinese search
giant Baidu sold its food delivery subsidiary
to Ele.me, a startup backed by Alibaba. The
reported price tag of the sale was around
$800m, a steep discount from the business’s
prior valuation of around $2.5bn.
Office sharing company WeWork raised $4.4bn
from SoftBank Group and SoftBank Vision Fund.
SoftBank is investing $3bn in WeWork itself,
and putting $1.4bn into three new WeWork subsidiaries:
WeWork China, WeWork Japan, and WeWork Pacific.
The cryptocurrency space has been really heating
up of late. For a start, the price of bitcoin
reached new heights in August, closing out
the month at over $4,770. Also, startup Protocol
Labs launched an initial coin offering for
its Filecoin Network, raising close to $200m
from accredited investors.
Dara Khosrowshahi was announced as the new
CEO of Uber. He’s the former CEO of online
travel company Expedia and takes over at Uber
from Travis Kalanick. Dara said he hopes to
take the ride-hailing firm public in the next
18 to 36 months.
That’s it for our top global tech news roundup,
but keep watching to see this episode’s
Hot Topics interview.
We spoke with Martyn Whistler from EY about
generational differences in attitude to technology,
media and telecommunications.
Martyn, thank you for joining us today. So EY
recently conducted some research into the
attitudes of different age groups towards
technology companies. Can you tell us a bit
more about that?
Yeah, that’s right. So we know that increasingly
the way that companies serve their customers
and their customer experience is important
to media companies, to technology companies
and also to telecoms companies. So we really
wanted to get under the skin of that. We conducted
a survey of 2,500 UK consumers, asking them
essentially how they use products and services
with those different providers, so looking
at things like mobile phones, for example,
but also through to television subscription
services and music services.
OK, and what would you say were the key findings
to come out of that research?
Well crucially we broke it down and looked
at it across the continuum of their journey,
so right from understanding what products
they wanted to buy, to things like how they
interacted with those service providers and
then across to loyalty. Some of the interesting
things that came out, for example, would be
levels of satisfaction – so we realised
that baby boomers, for example, are highly
dissatisfied with long wait times on their
call centres and also very dissatisfied if
they talk to people in call centres overseas.
And yet, they’re not the least loyal. There
are people within generations who will switch
service providers much more frequently. We
know that younger generations, for example,
like Generation Z, they like to change once
they seen new upgrades to their services – new
cameras, new equipment, better screens. And
yet older generations will tend to hold onto
their devices until they run out of useful
lifetime.
It’s kind of that attitude that ‘if it ain’t
broke, don’t fix it’, if it’s working well
enough for them the why would they bother
upgrading?
I think it’s very much that, and I think it’s
also there’s an element of being the cool
younger generation, having the latest piece
of kit, showing off – that doesn’t seem
to resonate so much with older generations.
I think also they tend to be stickier as well
– once they’ve got their service, if it’s
working for them and they understand how it
works, then they tend to stick with that,
they tend to like what they have.
OK, and was there anything particularly surprising
that came out of the research?
Yeah, I think the single most surprising thing
was how strong the high street remains amongst
UK consumers, so we saw, for example, with
Generation Z that 25% of them still like to
go in store. A quarter of Generation Z will
go in store to touch the devices, to check
out the mobile phone before they make the
purchase. That surprised us a little bit.
And it’s across all generations a similar
story. So overall, about 43% of people like
to go in store, whether it’s to get advice
or information or whether it’s just to handle
the device.
OK, so there’s loads of information online,
but people still want that one-on-one interaction
with a real person.
It’s a real split, I think what you see is
there’s people going in to store, sometimes
they have an interaction with a real person,
sometimes it’s just about actually seeing
the technology in their hand and being able
to play with it. And for the other half of
the demographic, they’re happy to do things
online, whether it’s buying a device, doing
their research or just interacting with customer
services.
So bearing in mind the findings of the report,
what can companies that operate within the
TMT space do to make sure that they appeal
to all of these different age groups?
I think the important word here is nuance.
Different generations want a different experience.
There are so many channels out there now that
the touch points for each generation are very
different. We’ve already talked a little bit
about how the in-store remains very important
for different reasons for different generations,
but we see the same thing, for example, with
social media. We know social media is a place
where a lot of customers will go to talk about
their experiences with their service providers
and it’s also a place that a lot of people
will go to learn about their service offerings
and different products. It’s where people
go to get information, increasingly. So having
those different nuances and different touch
points is a really important thing for a lot
of service providers.
Brilliant, thanks Martyn.
Thank you.
That’s all for this episode. For more of
the latest top tech headlines, head to uktech.news.

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