Mike Elgan

About the Author Mike Elgan


Google’s Clips camera offers a snapshot of things to come

Google held a big hardware event this week, announcing a couple of new Pixel-branded smartphones, two Google Home devices, a new Pixelbook laptop, new earbuds called Pixel Buds, and a consumer camera called Google Clips.

Of all the new Google products announced, Google Clips is the most interesting by far — which is to say that it represents the most interesting trend. This consumer device represents the future of enterprise A.I.

But wait, you might say. Isn’t Google’s Pixel Buds product the most revolutionary? Its ability to translate language in real time is something out of science fiction, and the elimination of language barriers surely has major implications for the future of mankind.

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There’s no such thing as a ‘remote’ employee

Over the next year or two, some of your best employees may quit and find work elsewhere for a simple reason: They want to work from home full time.

During the past 10 years, telecommuting has gone up – doubling, in fact, with growth of 115% between 2005 and 2015, according to the US Census Bureau.

But when Yahoo and IBM famously banned telecommuting, some assumed the trend toward increasing work-from-home policies would be thrown into reverse. That assumption is a big mistake.

The telecommuting trend will continue. More than that: Companies will be increasingly forced to allow employees to work from outside the office. This trend obviously has major implications for security and management. 

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Wanted: A world where virtual assistants help (without being asked)

Instead of fearing that artificial intelligence (A.I.) will replace us, we should be excited about how A.I. will help us.

In a perfect future, our A.I. virtual assistant will know what we’re doing, where we’re going and — most importantly — what we’re saying. They’ll know lots of other things, too. And when they sense we need help, they’ll whisper suggestions, ideas or facts into our ears, essentially giving us real-time knowledge as we go about our day.

As you’re walking from a parking garage to your meeting, your virtual assistant should give you turn-by-turn walking directions without you having to ask. As you shake hands before the meeting, your virtual assistant should remind you (without anyone else hearing), that you met the person four years ago at a conference. During the meeting, it should listen for potential questions and supply the answer.

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Smartphones make people distracted and unproductive

Silicon Valley is draining away the economy’s most precious resource for its own benefit.

OK, I’d better explain that.

The economy’s most precious resource is human attention — specifically, the attention people pay to their work. No matter what kind of company you own, run or work for, the employees of that company are paid for not only their skill, experience and work, but also for their attention and creativity.

When, say, Facebook and Google grab user attention, they’re taking that attention away from other things. One of those things is the work you’re paying employees to do.

As a thought experiment, imagine that an employee who used to pay attention to your business eight hours each day now pays attention only seven hours a day because he or she is now focusing on Facebook during that last hour. You’re paying the employee the same, but getting less employee attention for it.

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How smart cities like New York City will drive enterprise change

Everybody talks about smart cities, but few are doing anything about it.

New York City is an exception. It’s in the early stages of an ambitious project to blanket the city with ultrafast Wi-Fi via smart kiosks, which will replace obsolete public telephones.

These kiosks are the work of a Google-backed startup called Intersection. The company has already installed around 1,000 kiosks, and aims to install more than 6,000 more, Intersection Chief Innovation Officer Colin O’Donnell said in an interview this week.

colin o'donnellMike Elgan

Intersection Chief Innovation Officer Colin O’Donnell on stage at Cannes Lions on June 18, 2017.

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