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This is one of a series of live blog posts directly from the site of the 2013 IFS World Conference in Barcelona. Business journalist Adam Tinworth is a veteran of Reed Business Information and a lecturer on digital journalism at City University in London. His first-hand impressions are accompanied by illustrations of Matthew Buck, cartoonist for Drawnalism.

David Andersson, IFS Labs

WoCo2013_LabsThere is always a crisis somewhere. How do you filter out the noise to find the trends?

Google is a service most people use daily. It has 83 percent market share  –  a huge figure. There are other search engines out there – but few people use them. Most people turn to Google. Facebook has 1.1 billion active user accounts. There were 400 million tweets a day in July. Twitter is slowly undermining the model of the news agencies – because you can log in to Twitter and see what’s happening. Twenty years ago, people gathered in schools and workplaces to talk about Twin Peaks. Now? They talk about shows on Twitter in real time using a hashtag. Four billion people use a mobile phone, 3.5 billion use a toothbrush. That means pretty much everyone has a mobile they use daily.

What do these figures tell us? We’re more or less operating on an identical set of information now. The information arbitrage we used to operate on has almost disappeared. When he was a student, the university had one Bloomberg terminal for $16,000 a month, Now his mother has that information, for nothing or a tiny cost. Format is no longer a competitive edge, because everyone expects that you’ll be on mobile. Some people take responsive design a little too far, but it works.

Everyone around us is operating on the same premises… What can we do?

Well, the airport business needs disrupting. Horrible check-in queues are what greet us at airports. Can’t someone clever do something about this? Cash is really annoying – that needs disrupting, too. Who wants to lose money every time you change currency?

There are two worlds in our lives: the business and personal. They can be quite different.

Personal Lives

In our personal lives, there are three major themes:

  1. Privacy – Three years ago you could see everything people posted to Facebook. Now, they’ve got the privacy settings on and you can see nothing. We are becoming more and more scared of what the constant recording of us is doing. 
  2. Freedom – The ’80s was a decade of people seeking luxury items. Now, we seek freedom. People with time on their hands are seen as people that have achieved mastery of their lives. It’s a measure of importance.
  3. Trust – Morgan Freeman died 80 times last year –on Wikipedia (there was a troll targeting him). There’s so much information out there now, that the question is ‘what can you trust?’

Business Lives

There are three competitive advantages in business:

  1. Speed – It’s really, really simple. If everything else is equal, you go with the fastest. 
  2. Accuracy – it used to be “I will show up at around 9ish.” Now, we expect 8.58 exactly.
  3. Knowledge – everyone has information. It’s how to turn it into knowledge that makes the difference.

A scenario: You’re driving a truck to collect some goods. You’re on a deadline, but when you turn the steering wheel left, it goes “clunk clunk clunk. But you push on anyway. You need to hit that deadline. You arrive, and a man comes up, tells you he has the replacement part, and he will be able to fit it before you have to leave. How does this happen?

The truck reported its problem to base, because its own sensor spotted it. The system at the central office (IFS of course) flags it and schedules the expert to get to the depot, where a 3D printer is already creating the needed part. This is the future.


  • The game is still changing
  • We’re all operating on the same information
  • The shift in business is speed, accuracy and knowledge
  • And with IFS, you’re always ahead of the curve.


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