Wirelive: Episode #10 - Post Pandemic tech trends and predictions.

Show Notes

Print Your Very Own 3D Paul!

PARLEY OCEAN PLASTIC

Zoom saw a huge increase in subscribers — and revenue — thanks to the pandemic

Facebook Portal Sales ‘Up 10X’ Since Mid-March (

Why workers hate hot-desking - and how you can make it work

Wall Street Banks And Tech Companies Are Fleeing New York And California

In A Strong Sign The Pandemic Is Ending, Wall Street Banks And Hedge Funds That Fled To Florida Are Now Coming Back Home To New York City

Towns Fund - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Live Transcription 

 Rob 

Okay, I think we're live. Hello, everybody. Welcome to our 10th Wirelive. We are going to talk post-pandemic trends. And I am joined by a long-term partner in crime. Mr. Jim Bowes. As I put on LinkedIn, when I shared this, it's nice to get the band back together. Jim and I, in the before times used to record a podcast together called AlexaStop, which we've been struggling to kind of find a rhythm within this virtual world. Maybe that's one of the things we'll discuss what the future of, of all of these wonderful audio formats looks like. Maybe it's Clubhouse? Who knows? But yeah, without any further adoI'd like to introduce Jim to the virtual studio and and we'll get get cracking with the conversation. So Mr. Bowes, how's it going? 

 Jim

Good afternoon, Rob. How are you? 

Rob

 Yeah, I'm very well, thank you very well. A little bit presumptuous of me to assume that people know who I am and who you are. So, I suppose, we should probably introduce ourselves. But as it's polite, after you, my friend, what's your name, where to come from? 

Jim 

My name is Jim Bowes. I come from Somerset, where I live and look on to a dairy farm. But I previously known for running the digital agency Manifesto of which I am CEO, whether anyone remember that That's what I do now that I've been locked in a barn in Somerset for the last year. Who knows? Maybe I'll find out the next time I visit London and try and sort of say hello to some folks who work in the tech business in the UK. 

 Rob B   

And out of interest, how long has it been since you were in London, where you're at Jim's traditional home was Shoreditch, where his agency had a very large and lovely office in the before times, when was the last time you visited London. 

Jim

I think the last time I came to London was when I had dinner with you. I think we had some gnocchi  with tomato sauce and ricotta gnocchi if I remember correctly, and I had a doctor's appointment. So it wasn't even for anything work-related. 

 Rob 

Good memory that feels like years ago. So Hey, everyone, Rob CEO of Wirehive and Pax8 UK. Thanks for joining us today. Yeah, we're going to unpack some of we're going to do well, we're going to do the very dangerous thing, which is we're going to try and make some predictions predictions often end up making you look a little bit foolish. And frankly, if ever, you had seen two gentlemen who badly haircuts as much as Jim and I  did, I think I think today is that day, I mean, I'm looking at you, I'm looking at myself and thinking, Oh, god, this is not a good look. And maybe if you can, it's kind of working for you. I think it's working for you. But I've definitely never seen that one before. 

 Jim

I'm not sure. 

 Rob

I see. I see. Well, well for what it's worth, I think you look great. But look, before we get into the into the all-important details of predictions, and maybe a bit analysis of what's been going on in the last year. It's nearly Easter. So I think you know, we should cover off the important questions, Jim. And you mentioned on on social that you were eager to discuss what the best easter egg is. So let's get that out of the way early doors. What's your view on this? 

Jim

Well, look, you probably already know this. But when manifesto became part of a group called the Panoply, I took a role as chief innovation officer with the group which I don't do any longer. I fully focused on growing manifesto again as CEO of Manifesto. But in my contract with the group, part of my negotiations included the fact that I had to receive each Easter a fruit and nut easter egg with fruit and nuts in the egg shell itself. And I believe the dairy milk fruit and nut-based Cadbury's easter egg with fruit and not in the egg shell is the best easter egg.  

Rob

it IS the one is the one. I mean, I must say I always admired the detail you went to in your negotiations. They're not simply one of those chocolate egg with a little bit of written not inside when you smash it open. No, no it had to be in the shell which, you know, that's that attention to detail which is what makes you such a such a great leader, I'm sure. 

 Jim     

But I can I can say I can say that now I'm no longer playing the group role. I don't have a service contract that includes that which means and I have to buy my own fruit and not easter egg which i have bought it was 10 pounds! by the way which was so it was a big I mean I'm surprised i didn't have to declare it on my P11D or I certainly didn't so if I could be caught up with for that because i probably should have done but yeah I've paid for it myself and I've already eaten that easter egg. So it's gone that ship has sailed the seas know what what's your I'm also a fan of a chocolate orange easter egg where there is chocolate orange flavour in the egg shell itself ,so there is a bit of a theme for what i think makes a good easter egg i like it where one of your favourite chocolate bars has gone to the trouble of forming an entire egg shell out of chocolate with that flavouring. 

 Rob

that isn't the magic of technology I don't know what it is I feel like I should move us on as much as I'd love to spend another 10 minutes on these drugs it's my own fault for probing the question i mean maybe this is a nice segue into 3d printing so i mean look i think it's fun today it'll be fun today to just unpack some of the stuff that's happened in the last year but really look more to the future right and up to prediction so i think one of the things that people have been predicting for a long time is that 3d printing is new 

 Rob 

and that isn't the magic of technology i don't know what it is i feel like i should move us on as much as I'd love to spend another 10 minutes on Easter Eggs.  it's my own fault for probing the question I mean maybe this is a nice segue into 3d printing so I mean look I think it's fun today it'll be fun today to just unpack some of the stuff that's happened in the last year but really looks more to the future right and looks to prediction.  

 

So i think one of the things that people have been predicting for a long time is that 3d printing this new and modern method of fabrication was going to have its day in the sun it was going to you know final mile production was going to be this thing and lots of the products that we were going to buy and use might get made in warehouses within you know proximity to where we lived rather than made in china and shipped over on big boats how Suez canal you know maybe there are good reasons why that might be a good thing for the future without these kind of long distribution chains and as it's been very relevant in the last few weeks and i think you know 3d printing it's fair to say did have a bit of a moment didn't it as people were rapidly producing all the PPE equipment i mean a guy in the Wirehive team john tata made a load of face masks for a local hospital and so it was great to see that sort of distributed manufacturing kicking in i suppose my question to you is do you think that's a trend that now continues do you think do you think we're going to see that that kind of catch on in a bigger way or do you think maybe it sort of fades away again and it's going to take another 10 years before it catches on? 

 Jim   

yeah i mean it's interesting isn't it i remember when three the all the original hype of 3d print trench printing was around and i actually for the whole company we did a team day that was so everybody in the company could learn the basics of 3d printing because i was like oh this is so exciting and this is going to change our lives really soon and then we did a project with Paul Mccartney which was around the ability to print a 3d Paul Mccartney and that was really the last of 3d printing in manifesto live which was associated with some game release they've created some music for and i think after that period it really sort of fell into those people who are still into this but it's really niche whilst those more broad applications so I'd seen some really interesting things with how ADIDAS  plan to make it so that pairs of trainers could be sort of printed on site effectively what i think that the sort of technology for that was sort of being developed and coming along and try and sort of find this meaningful purpose.  

 

I think while that was happening in the background the sort of that hype sort of faded away and then you do get these little peaks but I still think in reality we are a while away from 3d printing playing a significant role in the day to day lives of people I'd say maybe it's still five to 10 years I don't know do would you agree? 

 Rob

Yeah I think so for me the my prediction on 3d printing is that it is it will continue to be a really important part of how modern manufacturing is taking place but it will still be done in a kind of mass production way, so i think this idea of distributing production to the edge isn't that relevant yeah and might not be for quite a while but i think you know, you used ADIDAS  does a great example you know it does have got this sort of industry leading technique that they were they're reducing the boost layer at the bottom of they're very popular trainers from ocean plastics and that technique is only possible because of this very sophisticated 3d printing stuff they do but they're still doing it in factories right and mass producing in that way so you know certain car parts 3d printed now you know I think I think the technique of 3d printing is a massive trend that is going to really disrupt the way products can be designed and built over the next 10 years and it's nice to see the sustainability angle being a big part of that like how to use new and interesting materials that are only possible because of that but I don't I still don't think everyone's going to have a 3d printer in their kitchen you know like it just I love it it's sort of The Jetsons isn't it but i think sadly that's probably still a way off 

 Jim   

I think it is transformative for some industries and some like I think maybe even like experiential agencies if I look at the sort of space close to manifesto back I can't even remember what year the Athens Olympics were a long time ago.  

 But I was working on the golf and trainer brand Mizuno stand at the Athens Olympics and we needed to get some custom stands made for the trainers and that meant getting tooling set up you know in in china or somewhere that had a big manufacturing base just to make this all worn off pop up for the Olympics, and I think things like that are like really obvious applications where you know we never needed we didn't need the tools to print a million copies of these stands we just needed one pop up show in Athens for like a month and I think so I do think that it's also something that may start to affect the more experiential end of the agency industry as well. 

 Rob

So, there we go there's German Rob's first post-pandemic prediction 3d printing is not going to arrive in your homes but will definitely arrive in the products that you buy, wear and consumed and may provide some interesting innovation for things like experiential agencies.  

 Jim   

 Hey, Rob, do you know why that was this week yeah, we're still stand by it, but you know what i did this week? 

Rob   

What did you do Jim? 

 Jim   

what I did was I went back through our predictions for 2020 which we wrote in 2019 before we knew there was going to be a global pandemic. and we didn't predict a global pandemic by the way but we also did predict some other things we talked a lot about the environment, we made some predictions about amazon, and we talked a lot about transparency but one of our predictions was that Twitter would take a backseat but with the Black Lives Matter movement and the presidential shenanigans of the Trump era I think wprobably were slightly off the money when it came to Twitter taking a backseat. 

Rob 

Yeah, I mean although you know since trump got booted out it does seem like it's sort of starting to slide again so maybe we made we were early but not wrong with that one we'll have to wait and see but at that time was there anything else in there that yeah exactly was there anything else in there that really stood out? 

 Jim   

well, I suppose the environmental stuff I think probably what sort was off on the money and that sort of expectation of big tech like Amazon to really increase their level of transparency. 

 

I think we definitely saw more about that this year so I think we were probably in a good place on that and yeah what else I suppose that we also just talking about democracy and the role of privacy and things like that and how that big tech was going to have to do more and I think we did see some evidence of that but maybe not as far as lots of people would like it.  

 Rob

Yeah, it's still a way to go there.  I mean I think lets you know, let's move to some other sort of key trends that have very been quite disruptive over the last year and then look at what you know what the prediction is so I think the next trend I'd like to just talk about briefly is this sort of shift to video conferencing and this kind of you know I'm sure people are tired of hearing everybody talk about Zoom and Zoom in Teams and how it's you know changing everything.  

 I think one of one of the areas that's been really successful as a result of this is actually hardware based so if you look at the Facebook Portal devices which is surprisingly good I'm not trying to be a Facebook advert here but they're actually much better devices than you perhaps would expect given Facebook isn't exactly a hardware manufacturer so Facebook has a Portal device which they'd already launched but just sort of in the right place at the right time and they come in three sizes,  wow I really am selling them now, they come in three sizes there's a sort of small medium or one that you put on top of a TV and they track you around a bit and they have a good sort of microphone speakers in them so they're just sort of take the pain out of videoconferencing and make it really straightforward for people and they've sold like mad.  

 

 I mean they've been hugely successful as a result of this and I think what people are realizing you know it's funny how you sometimes need like a trigger event for change to happen, what people are realizing is that video conferencing is actually really good for certain things that they didn't do before like. You know you've got a young daughter i think that's a great example for your parents to see their grandchildren easily and frequently particularly if they don't live nearby, video conferencing using a device that will follow your toddler around the room, right and just kind of make the whole experience quite seamless, is really useful and those things I don't think would have happened had there not been this sort of necessity to shift towards them and so it's forced everybody to get really used to the idea of doing human interaction in that way and so my prediction is that that is going to stay i think the proliferation of video conferencing is now out of the bottle as it were and we're only going to see more and more of that over the years ahead it's going to be completely socially normal forevermore to just do meetings on video conferencing rather than in person and for you know lots of sort of family catch up social interaction type stuff to happen via video conferencing as well what do you think do you think I'm on the money that you.  

Jim   

I think it depends on what your family are like. So I reckon My family is still a pretty face to face bunch. I agree with the sort of grandparent regular catch-ups with grandchildren. I think that that's true. I think that's something that will happen. But I think those have bigger family gatherings, I think people in my family will definitely still be focusing on the, I've done relatively few catch-ups where like, more than just my mom, or more than just my partner's parents have joined the call. So I think I'm sure some families have like gone in hard on the quiz every Friday with the whole family. But that hasn't really been the vibe in my family. We've done a couple with my brother. So I think, yes, I think in some families, it will really like hang around in a bigger sense. But I know that the first thing all of my family planned to do is visit me as soon as they're allowed to. So. But I think for those sort of more like one house to one other house interactions, I think it will, it'll definitely stick around. I think the other thing that's really fascinating about this technology is that the high quality video conferencing cameras and hardware that were associated with the business space, were generally several 1000 pounds for each piece of kit. And you sort of take a Portal where you're sort of looking at a couple of 100 pounds, it really is sort of sub 10%, the cost of doing this business, I also think businesses will start using some of this lower end consumer tech for meeting some of their commercial needs. And I think the big thing that Facebook did was enabling Zoom to work on their portal products, which I think is a real game-changer. And I think, you know, when they launched those products, they only worked with Messenger and with WhatsApp. And they've sort of opened that door to them being a more adoptable technology. 

Rob  

Yeah, for sure. And so that So there we go, maybe that's maybe that can be our second prediction is that businesses will start to take advantage of the consumer-grade, as it were video conferencing capabilities that have become mainstream, and therefore at a much more accessible price point. So that's, that's a good prediction. I think, for me, you know, this sort of maps to a point about the future of office space and how people are going to use their, their workspaces. And just, you know, let's, let's just go there now, right? So, you know, you're back, you're back hold holding the reins of Manifesto full time, not that you ever stop. But you know, you had other responsibilities, while you're very focused on Manifesto again, completely. What does your vision for Manifesto look like in the future? With regards to location? Right? I mean, as you've said, You're now in a barn in Somerset, it seems unlikely you're going to spend five days a week in Shoreditch ever again, from where I'm sitting. And I would understand why. You know, how do you What's your vision for the business as a whole? For the team? You know, how do video conferences play into that? How does technology play into that? What's your prediction for how that maps out? 

Jim   

Yeah, I mean, I think there's so much to unpack here that it's really fascinating. I think there's, there's, firstly, there's the sort of link to video conferencing. And I think there's some associated technologies that have come into the workplace. So in our workplace, there's tools like Myro. And I think there's, there's products like that, or at Myro, mural, lucid, which were, I guess, virtual whiteboards, and vert and collaborative drawing and charting applications that I think the virtue those are sort of like the the sort of things that user experience teams or designers used previously as parts of how they did some things, which have now become mass products of collaboration along with the video conferencing software.  

 

So and I'm delivering training this week where I'm, there's a tool being rolled out in an organization. And I'm using the tools that are being rolled out by that organization in parallel to delivering the training, which is essentially on a different topicsSo I'm sort of delivering sort of multiple aspects of that transformation into the into an organization which helps them be a more effective remote business or more effective hybrid business. For Manifesto. We have a lease that runs out in May on our main Shoreditch office, which means that we have an interesting decision to make in what is the future of our London office, in a period of time where we haven't yet quite returned to, or established what our new preferences are in the real worldSo we have survey data from our team. We have lots of wonderful articles by lots of people saying what they think the future of work is going to be like, but we don't actually know how that's going to manifest itself. We believe people want to use Office facilities, some of the time most people wants two days a week, and they want to use it for focusing on collaboration and social interaction with their colleagues. What that means for us is, I think the end of us fitting out running our own office, having our own office manager paying for our own utilities, paying a service charge, all of those sorts of things that we've done for the last, well decades of running the business, or about seven years of the last decade running the business. And what we are in sort of final discussions on is to take out a new shared workspace in Well, two shared workspaces in two different cities from the start of June. And even those two spaces combined couldn't fit all of our staff in. So if we say we've got about 60 people in London, we are we are looking at getting 20 desks basically. 

Rob

Interesting. So when, when you do want to bring the whole company together in person, which I assume you will want to do at least once a year, what's your thinking than for how you facilitate that? 

 Jim   

Yeah, it's a good question. So I think Firstly, I want to do that more often than annually, I think we'll probably look to do something quarterly, probably, we've also in this period changed our offering ting model and moved to a divisional structure. So we have a there's like a tension between how frequently the divisions get together themselves, and how frequently bring the whole company together. And we're still sort of learning and working through some of that, but I think we will either do something completely different, that is maybe not even in London, or uses an alternative space in London. So in July, I'm looking at doing a festival that will bring people together, where they can camp and we can all have a good time and, and that kind of thing, which will be a sort of pure sort of social occasion and trying to take a period of take advantage of the period of time where the, I perceive the pandemic related risk to be at its lowest, so that there's the highest chance, we'd be able to all get together safely. And we're not close to sort of October when there is perhaps some risk that there could be some restrictions again next winter. So I think, ultimately, we will spend some money on making gatherings where we will come together with good in terms of venue and the other aspects of them. And that will be so whilst on paper, you save lots and lots of money, or it looks like you do, I think we will probably spend some more money on transport. And we'll certainly spend some more money on bringing people together more often. 

Rob   

Yeah, interesting, that sort of resonates a lot with our thinking as well. So over the last, sort of, well since January, when we announced the acquisition of Wirehive by Pax8 we have been going on this really interesting journey of sort of bringing the businesses together. And so I'm overseeing Pax8 UK operation and kind of bridging to the US. And so the, in the UK, we've got wives office in Farnborough, we've got a shared workspace in Bristol, where Pax8 sort of headquartered in the UK, and all of our sort of new hires are going in. And so we've kind of got both versions already, right, we've got kind of flexible, you know, shared inverted commas workspace, and we've got full time, digs that we figured out and kind of done ourselves. So we're starting to see how those things stack up side by side. And actually, in the US, the business is growing so quickly that we don't have enough desks now for everybody to go back to the office in the offices we were in. Because we've hired so many people during the pandemic year that we're now you know, 20, 30% over capacity for the building that we were in. So this is big debate going on at the moment, sort of philosophically about, well, what do we do? Do we do we need like, maybe we go your way, and we don't actually need a desk for every person, because the world's changed and more people want to work from home. And, you know, the surveys are that pretty much everybody doesn't want to work from the office five days a week. So, you kind of, you know, there's kind of a capacity thing there that might work. And I think one thing that seems to keep coming out, and this is a prediction I'll make, as part of, you know, as we get to a predict predictions element here is that people hate the hotelling idea with desks, people hate hot desking. Right? 

 

Like, fundamentally, people want somewhere to stick their picture and have their own mug, and it's like, it's very human thing to like, want your own space that is yours that you don't share. And I don't think anybody's quite figured that out yet. You know, I think that's one of the big tensions with this idea of, you know, not having full capacity for your team is that ultimately, you've got to do some people are going to have to share then. And maybe there are solutions to that, that we haven't figured out yet. You know, maybe there'll be sort of whole, like desk, fittings that you sort of take and put in your locker and then you stick on your desk when it's your desk for the day or I don't know, it's been a wacky idea. But you know what I mean. Like maybe there's a kind of hack to, to kind of give people there, their home away from home. Or maybe people will just become accustomed to it. And these are trends that you know, evolve over time. But so so my prediction is that there will be an ongoing tension that companies feel between giving people their own private spaces, their own desk, their own corner office, whatever it might be their own chair, they can set it just how they like, and that desire to be more flexible, like you're saying, because it doesn't make any sense at all to take huge offices and have them only 50% full. And frankly, it's not a very nice experience for people that are in those offices, you know, it feels a bit empty, right, when you've got half an office capacity. So, you know, I think we're going to see some really interesting solutions to that problem emerge over the next few years. And I don't think anybody's quite cracked it yet. It's my instinct, what do you reckon? 

 Jim   

Is it that our start-up idea is a cleaning company and office cleaning company that also turns the desks for who they're meant to be for? So, you, you have an itinerary? And it's like, who is in tomorrow? And then you know exactly how they all have it. And it's like a premium cleaning service that just gets it just so for the exact set of people who are in. 

Rob 

Yeah, puts this puts the half-drunk coffee back on the desk from the person who always leaves it there. And they go home. Yeah, exactly. Baby, maybe, you know, maybe! seems crazy to think but I do think there's something very important about that, about that sense of belonging to space and your interaction with it. And I'm not sure I think that's quite a, it's quite a physical problem. Right. I don't think that's Tech problems, per se. So, so yeah, I think that that'sthat's an interesting dilemma. I mean, I think the other trend that I would like to lean into and this, I'll propose this as a prediction, and you can agree and support or disagree.  

 So, a prediction I have is that there's a real drive, you know about time, right? There's a real drive to increase diversity in businesses, I think that the discussion on diversity is now an open one that everybody can have, without any real fear of repercussion. And I think I got slightly rose-tinted, but it's certainly improving. And, and I think one of the things that businesses really struggle with when they try to hire a more diverse workforce is the availability of talent in the area, they locate themselves. And this is one of the things we really excited about with Pax8, opening up employment into new areas is we think we can then go to the places where there are, there is a more diverse talent pool and recruit from those places. And so I think that's the other big trend prediction I would make about the future of workspace is it allows businesses to finally dip their toe into new talent pools and different places. And maybe it gives people a fighting chance of actually changing the balance a little bit in terms of diversity, what would you reckon 

Jim   

I think the biggest challenge when it comes to altering a system that is like the product of the sort of systemic inequality, or systemic racism, or, or systemic lack of gender equality, whatever, whatever aspect of it is, when it comes to sort of diversity and inclusion and equity, is that the constructs in our businesses are not such in most businesses, not in all businesses, to sufficiently support people who come from less advantaged backgrounds, or from different backgrounds in being successful in those workplaces. And I actually think that is the more significant challenge than, so finding that the right talent pools or firefighter giving people the opportunity or, or making things making the opportunity, the access to opportunity more equal, is a challenge by also then think, actually understanding the context that you or I are from, and how many contextual norms there are for us, that we just know what to do in certain situations, because of the backgrounds that we've come from and what we've been around. I think, actually, the most significant challenge is creating the right environment and the right support for people to perform at their best and be successful. And I think that I think there will be many businesses, my prediction would be there'll be many businesses that try really hard to hire up a more diverse workforce, and then struggle with retention. 

 Rob

Very interesting, great. I mean, that that's another strong prediction, I think, and one, I totally agree with everything you've said, I think you've articulated that really well. And it's a really interesting challenge and one that I'm looking forward to seeing people tackle. I think it should also, by proxy, allow for the regeneration of areas that perhaps lacked commercial opportunity. And I think this sort of leads into another trend. I want to talk about the proximity of where people live and work and this sort of the death of like the urban centre and whether that's a short term thing or a long term thing and there's you know one of the big trends was in America which was the New York was really badly hit by the pandemic and obviously it's an incredibly dense urban metropolis and obviously in America New York is the home of the financial services industry that's where wall street is as I'm sure everyone watching knows and there was this real sort of god what's the word departure there was this you know this huge exodus from New York to other places because actually financial services really all you need is an internet connection and a couple of screens to do the job, most people do in fs, and when you can't enjoy the delights of New York when it's open there's really no point being there because it's dirty and you know claustrophobic and there's not much green space relatively speaking and stuff like that and so lots of people moved and the place that a lot of your moved to was Florida particularly Miami,  Miami has been is real talking point in America recently and now as they're starting to come out of their severe lockdowns in New York what people weren't predicting was that everybody would go back but it seems that people are starting to go back. and if you read interviews you know it's quite funny like there's sort of wall street bigwigs saying you know the problem with moving to Florida and you know living in Miami is that you have to be in Florida right like it's like it made sense at the time but actually they don't really want to be there you know there's a lot that they loved about New York and that kind of everything that it stood for and what you get for being in an urban city so I think I'm really on the fence about this one you know i think you and i are good examples of that you know we were very London centric we both left London and have no plans to go back. and I mean I don't think I have I can't see that changing for me and you know as Matt said in the chat your barn looks lovely Jim and it is lovely I can report viewers and i can't see Jim leaving anytime soon either so some people definitely aren't going back to the sort of city life, we'll visit but we won't read we weren't to sort of be permanently based there so I do you think that's a prediction that will stick but I suppose my question to you is where do you think the needle lands do you think large cities will raise rejuvenate back to what they were or do you think there's a real permanent shift there that will be lasting.  

 Jim   

I think we have to sort of segment this up a little bit because i think there's a big difference between New York and London and somewhere like Preston or or a smaller town somewhere so i think you know i think there's those towns across the country where the erosion of the high street is a trend that we've seen for years and we've obviously seen some incredibly significant failures during the pandemic and we're where my prediction would be that we've not seen the worst of the impact because obviously there's enormous government support still in place but even when we've not seen the bulk of the impact of the high street in the town centres we've lost Topshop and Debenhams  and people like that during the pandemic already and so i think the fact that there won't be a Topshop on that corner and oxford street in London I don't think that's an issue for London because i think people will return to London it's one of the most amazing global cities young people want to come there to hang out with other young people with all the makers and creators that are there and whilst quite a few people left London you know there's still an awful lot of people there and still an awful lot to attract people there and the same is true of New York. I think when you look at those sort of more those seaside towns and I still try to pick towns as a thing set up by the Bloomberg foundation or part of the Bloomberg foundation plus the government are doing a thing called the town's fund which is about regenerating specific towns across all of that Bournemouth I think is one of them as well which is near you and I think you've got this much more systemic, the economy of this place is structurally altered in the internet era kind of issue that's been accelerated during the pandemic.  and I think what I hope is that some of these projects like the town's fund work and what you normally see so what then what I think is there's a lag between the land and property owners accepting the true future value of their assets in some of these places Which is now lower. And then there's this point where artists and cultural things move in. And then really interesting stuff happens. And that's not going to happen everywhere. But in some places, I think it will create really interesting opportunities for sort of artistic and cultural regeneration. And that's what I would hope for. That's the optimist in me. 

Rob 

So that Yeah, I think that'sthat's certainly a great prediction. And like you say, it's not going to happen everywhere. But I think it is clearly happening in some places already, you know, and it doesn't in a small area, you know, in a relatively small town, or village or whatever, it doesn't take much treally materially move it on, actually, and make it much more attractive. And then you get that kind of snowball effect, don't you? You know, suddenly, somebody goes, Oh, I can do my job from here. And actually, I'd love to open an amazing local cafe right in a place that didn't previously have like a pub at and post office. And then suddenly, the next person comes, it goes, Oh, there's a cool local cafe I could live in here. Maybe I'll open a restaurant or an art gallery, or, you know, whatever. And, and life sort of takes hold and, and things gentrify and become richer and better services crop up. So it does sort of happen organically, doesn't it if you can get it started. 

Jim   

And there are a couple of interesting trends, the relationship to this because we've got things like the rollout of fibre broadband, which helps some of the sorts of creative, particularly this sort of internet creative disciplines sort of spread. But you've also got the fact that the pandemic particularly but perhaps it was a movement before. But certainly, the pandemic has caused an enormous increase in community-based spirit, though a big increase in certain types of volunteering, not all. But community apps and apps, like Next-door, have seen an app like Olio, which let people like share things like a sore or a drill has been enormous increase in those sort of local and community. And so if you look at sort of local as a, as a theme, you know, we kind of started there with 3d printing. Yes, there's the sort of manufacturing and the delivery and all of that side to it. But there's also sort of community local and, and then the sort of environment local, and I think you see a series of small trends come together to go actually, people quite like the idea of getting the most out of their community and locality. And, and, and many will have found greater happiness in not rushing about quite as much over the last year. 

 Rob 

Yeah, totally. And I, you know, speaking personally, I do think the complexion of my tolerance for six hours of travelling for a one-hour meeting, is permanently checked has permanently changed. You know, like, I think the idea of going to Manchester to meet somebody for lunch just seems like the most ridiculous idea now. And I mean, frankly, it probably seemed a little bit ridiculous before, but you just did it, right, because it was the way it was done. And so, you know, I think, I think some things like that have permanently shifted. As much as I love going up the Pendo for lunch, what would I do now? what's the alternative? Good question, because actually, having a zoom call is not really a good alternative to that experience. And 

Jim   

don't know unless you've all done the same thing on Deliveroo. 

Rob  

And as we've established, you know, having done it ourselves in lockdown, it's all right, but it's not, it's not the same is it? So it's, it'll be really interesting to see how that, how that all plays out. But um, so I mean, talking a little bit more than about what the new normal might look like. So let's talk about Lateral flow tests. Let's talk about a cashless society, you know, let's talk about like, what's going to happen as a result of this pandemic, not going away anytime soon. And the things that we think will permanently change as a result and kind of go there with predictions. So the Welsh Government, I think, last week, have said that regardless of what happens with vaccinations, masks and social distancing is it will be in place until Easter of 22So they're saying at least another year in Wales, social distancing and masks, even though they'll relax, you know, the groupings and all that kind of stuff. So that's, you know, that's their position. Germany is currently looking at doing another lockdown in Italy or applies more curfews right now, you know, this thing isn't going to just disappear. Sorry, if you're watching this and you thought it was it is not going to we are going to live with this forever, probably in some shape or form, much like we do the cold and flu. And the real question, actually is, when's the next one? It seems, you know, there will be other Coronavirus strains, there have been others before. This is the only one that's been such a global problem. So you know, this idea of sort of control spread of new and new viruses is something that I think is going to be with us, perhaps for our lifetimes, right? 

 So, so so how do we solve that problem? And I think one of the things I see coming is, is testing for me, testing has always been this big sort of problem they needed to resolve. Because as soon as you can get to the point where lateral flow tests, if you're watching, and you don't know what that means, a way to work out if you have Coronavirus or not very quickly and cheaply without some invasive test, imagine you spit in a little tube and shake a thing. And in 30 seconds, it tells you if you're positive or not, you know, once those are available, at the door of every restaurant, you know, in Germany, they're doing experiments at the local level, where are the perimeter of like town centres, they have tests available. And so as you arrive at the perimeter of the village, Town Center, or whatever, you do a test. And if you pass, you're allowed in no masks, no distancingSo they create sort of safe zones, once you're within the zone, you can then live a very normal life, you know, I think those types of things are going to be a trend, you know, I think it's not, it's not unlikely that within the next year or two, there will be offices that operate like that, where they have a massive box of lateral flow tests at the door. And everyone's told, like, if you got a temperature, don't even turn up. If you think you're fine. Come to work, you know, come to the office, do a test. And if your test clear, take your mask off and enjoy your time, you know, is living free and easySo seems like that stuff's sticking around. We'll give you a chance to chime in. What do you think about this one? 

 Jim   

I think you're right about offices, particularly. So I think the sharing economy is interesting because the sharing economy became temporarily, very unappealing in the pandemic, and then we'll find its feet again. And obviously shared office is a part of that. And I think, Manifestos Bristol office, they were taking your temperature there on the way in really early in the pandemic last year. So I think, if they had a way of testing you in 30 seconds, I have no doubt that they would happily take that up. I think what will happen is, will I think as, as the global vaccination starts to slow the mutation, I mean, we're getting into science now And medical science, which is like not my strongest point. But while what I believe when the virus is replicating less and is obviously getting less opportunity to mutate. And we've got consistent proven data of people who've been vaccinated, being very unlikely to be hospitalized. I think you'll see. So I think you'll see a good year of people taking this exceptionally seriously. And then with hospitalization and things like that being near-normal levels. I think you gradually see a relaxation, Thereafter, that would be my prediction. But with as you say, better, better test and trace facilities set up in the UK, which I think we'd I think there is probably better facilities in Germany than we had. And certainly, countries that had had like SARS, or MERS, like South Korea had much, much better facilities, and already some cultural behaviours that related to things like this happening. 

 Rob 

Yeah, for sure. There's also a couple of other really cool experiments going on, as people try and figure out what the realities of this new situation is. So in the Netherlands, they're doing the two I've heard about, there's one where they're doing a music festival, I think it's 1500 people are invited. And they testing, they test everyone on arrival. And then they let everybody do a normal festival and they tell them no masks, you know, hug, kiss, whatever, have fun, you know, it's a music festival live in those duchies ey?  bong and a crep?  or whatever. And afterwards, they send everybody home and then they test them on the way out and then a week later, and they're collecting a huge data set to see what happens, right? And they're doing the same thing with football games. I think there are two or three football games where they're doing full stadiums, no masks, no tape, distancing, you know, like just basically but Guinea pigging it right just being like, well, we don't we really dealt with this before. We've we're now at a point where we think we understand well enough how to treat this and what the hospital capacity would be if it was to go wrong. And so they're trying it and do you fancy that should we see if we can get on the list for guinea pig music festival? I'm not sure I'd go 

 Jim   

I think there were something like 25,000 applications to go to that festival I was listening to the, because it's happened it was I listened to some of the audio at the weekend on the radio of in progress and there was actually a mosh pit happening when you said bong and a crep, though I'm like it made me think was, is that someone who said Learning the dance stage? could be it could be the name of a dodgy 90s dance act, maybe. But yeah, I think would I go? I mean, I'm really up for a festival. I've got tickets to the local festival here Somerstock in Somerset, which is happening on the 10th of July, which is like 3000 people. And I'm like, well, that's a good number, like, do I really feel like being in amongst it at Glastonbury this year, and obviously, it's not happening. But I would feel uncomfortable with 180,000 people together. But I sort of think 3000 people with quite a lot of fresh air between you we know that transmission outside is actually very low. So I think, I think I would have a preference for outdoor stages, rather than sweaty dance tents, this year, at least. And I'll be really interested in the data as it comes out. But I would say I'm obviously looking at organizing a working festival for up to 250 people. And I'm also looking at going to one the following weekend. So hopefully I haven't turned into some kind of super spreader in the early part of July. 

 Rob 

Well, we'll have to check back later in the year and see and yeah, the other. My other prediction is that everybody's going to get really sick of weddings. I've I am, I've been invited to three weddings every three week period, in Darbyshire, Cornwall and Kent. So my suit is going to get some mileage out of it for, the for my summer suit for those three weeks. So yeah, slightly tongue in cheek, but I think, you know, there's going to be there is clearly going to be this kind of like a rush to public gatherings again, understandably, as everybody's just desperate to get out and you say 25,000 people 1500 tickets, and that sort of says it all, doesn't it? So? 

 Jim     

Yeah, yeah, well, you know, the risk is completely unproven, and they're still like, super, super up for it. I think, you know, I'm a little bit older than you less people getting married in my life, that they're new. So and because we were due to go to one last May. And those people just went off and got married, like the two of them, plus some witnesses or something in a window of opportunity. So the wedding slate has been cleaned, actually, I think this year, but who knows, some might start cropping up, there was an announcement of an engagement today at work, but who knows if I'll make the cut on that list. 

 Rob

Maybe they're watching him. Now they feel suitable to be awkward, so they'll have to send over an invite. Look, we're, we're getting close to time. And the only thing I had slated that I thought would be fun to talk about was just the kind of cash-free thing. But I mean, there's not really much to say is there other than cash is basically dead as a form of payment, and there's not going to come back in any meaningful way. Other than as a tax dodge for people, for people who prefer not to fully declare their income, it would seem to me, and when was the last time you had you handled money? Do you have any? Do you have anybody in your life, you have to pay with cash still? 

 Jim    

I paid a window cleaner with some cash. Well, that was the last time and I've paid a delivery driver with some cash. Those are the last two cash transactions in my life, which were both at the specific request of the person. Just I imagine helping them remember it really clearly. So they could declare it honestly, on their tax returns. And I think but I found it very limited. I mean, I think everywhere that you know, everywhere that you buy coffees, and I think it's actually really accelerated the adoption of universal cashless nurse even in pretty rural places, which I think, you know, is a good thing. I you know, I think that those systems and things are really reliable now, I think there is still a massive black market and sort of, you know, less honest part of the economy that has survived on cash for a really long time. And I don't really know where that will go. I mean, some of it may have moved to cryptocurrency, of course, but presumably, not all criminals are savvy enough to use cryptocurrencies for their activity. So I feel like there are some things like that driving cash. And I think there is obviously also that sort of like digital divide of, you know, plenty of older people who are incredibly technology savvy, very happy with the digitization of things, but there is also a significant cohort that isn't and so we have to just be conscious of that sort of exclusion gap, which you know, is previously sort of extended the time in which checks are being phased out and things like that. So I think what becomes a challenge for the sort of institutions that administer these things is that they become increasingly expensive for them to run for decreasing audience, but I think there will be a very long, long tail. 

 Rob   

Yeah, for sure. For sure. And, and Crypto  is one of those funny odd things, because people think of crypto as this sort of alternative. But actually, the, the way or blockchains work is it's a public ledger, right? So there's no, like, you couldn't have a less anonymous way to make a payment. It's there forever, you can't hide it even if you wanted to after the fact so. And then so there's another prediction for you, tax offices are going to come down hard on everybody's crypto stuff. So if you've got a lot of Bitcoin profit, and you haven't declared it, expect a call from HMRC. At some point in the next few years, the IRS now on the forms that you have to fill out as an American citizen, every year every American system has to do this. They specifically asked you if you own any cryptocurrencies and it is a federal offence to lie on that for like a really serious thing to misrepresent on those forms. So you know that the long, the long arm of Her Majesty's Revenue is coming for your crypto transactions, there's another prediction for everybody. 

 Jim    

So I guess I can still sort of, people can sort of still obfuscate, I guess, whilst there is a ledger of where things came and went to, I guess people do obfuscate the actual wallets themselves and things I'm sure that I mean, we could probably do an episode on how to anonymously extract money from Bitcoin because I would be educated in that. I did want to mention one other crypto thing, which is perhaps more a trend than prediction. But I've seen a pretty much constant stream of NFT related stuff. So I'd be interested to get your short view on whether you think non-fungible tokens, which you can probably do a really quickly articulated explanation of, are really a thing. And do you think, I guess I see it as like defeat the proof of ownership of digital antiques is the kind of primary use case that is being talked about at the moment? 

 Rob B  

Yeah, I mean, in the five minutes, we've got I think I'll struggle to cover NFT's in any great detail. But the NFT space is extremely frothy at the moment, I'd be amazed if anybody hasn't at least seen the acronym floating around, even if they've not really dived into it. The big story really in the NFT space has been driven by NBA Top Shots, which is in the NBA as in basketball in America. Top shots is a sort of digital trading card thing. A bit like oh god ,Panini stickers, right when we were lads that you get your Panini stickers, you go to the newsagent, you buy a pack and you open them and you hope you get the ones you want. You stick them in your book. Imagine sort of like a cool digital version of that only its videos. And they're tradable. And they're sort of vaguely unique. Top Shots... 

 Jim    

 and like a quarter of a million for each one 

 

Rob 

 Some of them are Yeah, which is, you know, which is why it's a bit of a bubble at the moment, I think. And but then, you know, the other end of the spectrum is is some people think it's like the future of fine art. And there's an artist called BEEPLE,  who sold a piece of work with it was auctioned at Christie's for $69 million, which meant his work his works are now worth more than the highest value works from the likes of Dali, which is just ridiculous, frankly, but fair play to the guy, you know, it's a new world out there and, and the NFT kind of idea, right, you say of creating digital assets or digital antiques, as you put it as quite a nice phrase that Jim, should trademark. And, you know, is here to stay. And I think as always with this kind of new and interesting technologies that have a lot of money flying around in them, there's a bit of a gold rush going on. So if you're watching this, and you're thinking, Well, how do I capitalize on this commercially, I mean, the lesson of gold rushes is that you're better off selling pickaxes than then refining for gold. So I think people creating systems around the NFT ecosystem are doing very well and will probably continue to do well. If you're thinking about buying NFT's as investments, I would caution you, fairly severely.  

 I think a lot of the stuff being bought today will ultimately end up being worth basically nothing. But then that's the speculative joy of bubbles, right some Some of it may genuinely end up being a collector's item and being you know, the future works of art of our generation. So, um, you know, there's a lot of dross in there, but there is some kind of interesting stuff going on too. And I think the NFT trend, my prediction is NFT's are going to stick around that isn't like a flash in the pan, the idea of an NF t you know a unique digital asset that you can own and transfer online makes sense to me like it's a bit like Bitcoin was kind of my For the internet, NFT's is sort of like a way of creating a physical asset in the digital world, and with the same sort of associated ownership that goes with it. And, and, you know, will there be billionaires in the future who have, you know, digital-like tech, you know, digital picture frames displaying their NFT's? Yeah, I think there will be. And there's already some quite interesting stuff coming out there. So you can do that, right. You can have a big frame in your hallway with your NFT's kind of cycling through. 

 Jim     

I've had those for years, those picture frames that can rotate a JPEG. 

 Rob 

And what's funny is, fundamentally I basically what it is right? Which is why it's so ridiculous. But anyway, NFT's is probably another episode in itself. But thanks for bringing that up. That is definitely another trend. So, Jim, it's been an absolute delight, my friend to talk to you. I hope some of our viewers have enjoyed our slightly vague ramblings about some predictions, but we've got some solid stuff in there too. Any final final thoughts? Any shout outs, anything to say? 

 Jim     

It's just been a pleasure and a joy to spend an hour with you. I'm looking forward to catching up as soon as rules allow. 

 Rob 

Yeah, likewise, likewise, my friend. All right. That's That's a wrap. That's Wirelive Episode 10. Hopefully some interesting insights for all of you watching in there. And if you've got any follow up questions, or you'd like help navigating this weird, a wonderful year that we all have ahead, then do get in touch and thanks for watching.