Does it spark joy?


von Marietta Meister

Was wir von „Ausmisten mit Marie Kondo“ für die Arbeit mit Marken lernen können

2013 veröffentlichte die Organisations- und Aufräumberaterin Marie Kondo ihr Ordnungsmanifest „Magic Cleaning – Wie richtiges Aufräumen Ihr Leben verändert“. Die 34-jährige Japanerin ist weltweit als „Aufräumguru“ bekannt und wurde 2015 sogar zu den Top 100 der einflussreichsten Menschen vom TIME Magazine gewählt. Ihr Buch wurde international gefeiert und führte wochenlang die Bestsellerliste des New York Times-Magazins an. Auch wenn die Veröffentlichung bereits 2013 erfolgte, erfährt das Thema „Aufräumen“ in Zeiten von Konsumkritik und Minimalismus einen regelrechten Hype. Spätestens seit der neuen Dokumentations-Serie „Aufräumen mit Marie Kondo“, die seit Januar 2019 auf Netflix zu sehen ist, ist das Thema wieder brandaktuell. (mehr …)

State of Digital Transformation


von André Maier

Seit fünf Jahren analysiert der „State of Digital Transformation“-Report jährlich den Stand der digitalen Transformation in Unternehmen. Wir fassen die wichtigsten Ergebnisse zusammen.

Die Digitalisierung der Unternehmenswelt ist in vollem Gange. Die Budgets und Potentiale sind hoch wie nie und die Liste disruptiver Technologien, die an der Börse beobachtet werden, wird immer länger. Investiert wird dabei vor allem in Customer Experience (CX) und insgesamt wird deutlich, dass digitale Transformation sich über die IT-Abteilungen hinaus auf die Wettbewerbsfähigkeit des gesamten Unternehmens auswirkt.

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We need to talk… about automation

It’s time for us humans to do some deeper machine learning

VORN Automation

Von Tom Davis

What percentage of the manufacturing process of your smartphone is made by man versus machine? What percentage of the production & distribution of the food that ends up on your plate comes from man versus machine? Most of us will assume a high percentage of machine involvement in the manufacturing of our phones and a low percentage in the production of our food, but that could very well soon change. The question is, should we know how man-made each of the products & services we use are? Does it even matter?


The rise of the machines

There are great advancements being made with robotics and machine learning leading to artificial intelligence that is transforming the way we do business from manufacturing to distribution to marketing.

For example, there have been a series of truck platooning tests carried out in the last 12 months within the EU. Truck platooning is when a row of trucks communicate wirelessly, driving very closely behind one another in a convoy, ultimately without the need for a driver in each truck. The result being a far more fuel-efficient journey as there is less drag produced by each vehicle.

Another example would be Chatbots. „Chatbot“ is the new marketing buzzword that is steadily taking over from the previous fanfair around „Content Marketing“. It’s not that one has become more important than the other, but artificial intelligence (A.I) is leading to a new age of marketing – a conversational age – that brands and the businesses behind them need to fully understand and continually adapt to. Brands such as Starbucks and British Airways, are becoming evermore chatbot-savvy via Facebook’s Messenger or Slack. Smartphone Apps such as Duolingo are taking full advantage of the chatbot opportunity offering people new, more natural ways of learning a language through dialogue, albeit a text-based dialogue with a computer.


Machines are leading to more natural human interactions

ChatBots are actually just the tip of the iceberg. More generally, conversational interfaces, powered by machine learning, are rapidly increasing in popularity, as they allow people to achieve things without even lifting a finger (Think Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Amazon’s Alexa). Why pick up your phone, open your pizza delivery app and faff around with submitting your order, when you can just talk to your Amazon Echo and ask Alexa to do the same? No phone, no screens, just voice. In fact, our device screens are an incredibly impractical and unnatural way of interacting with the world. What could be more intuitive than interacting through conversation? There’s no need to learn a specific graphical interface or operating system. Just by talking naturally, your every wish becomes their command. As machine learning gets smarter and voice recognition becomes more accurate we could be freed from our small-screen-obsession, at least in the comfort of our own homes. The paradox is that A.I. is leading to our interactions becoming more human.


Man vs machine

The flip-side of it all is that as transportation, manufacturing, and marketing jobs are becoming more automated, we are in danger of making ourselves redundant. As has already been written by many others, if the trucks drive themselves, what do the drivers do instead? If the cars are built by robots, what do the engineers do instead? And if you’re thinking your job could never be done by a robot, then think again. Lawyers, journalists, accountants, investment bankers and doctors are also being threatened by the rise of automation. A “robot lawyer” chatbot has overturned 160,000 parking fines and is now helping refugees claim asylum. Robo-surgeons can already cut a more accurate incision better than the shaky hand of an ageing human surgeon. In 2012 the co-founder of Sun Microsystems predicted that 80% of medical doctors jobs would be lost within the next 20 years due to automation. Arguably, automation is in part fuelling the recent backlash to globalisation, due to more technological unemployment.

But it’s certainly not all bad. In fact, we need these kind of robotic developments to keep up with our exploding population worldwide. According to The Palmer Group, even if every person that wanted to become a doctor achieved their ambition, there still wouldn’t be enough doctors to serve the population. Robots and machines are adding great value here. In addition, according to an official European Commission study of the impact of robotic systems on employment in the EU (revised at the end of 2015), the use of industrial robots does not have significantly negative effects on employment and in fact produces superior efficiency in their manufacturing processes.

The robotic Armageddon depicted in Terminator 2 is thankfully not on the immediate horizon, but at a societal level, there are some serious questions that need to be answered about how far we want to go into an automated world and how we can regulate it enough, to ensure all jobs aren’t lost to machines, whilst still embracing the technological advancement, its value and efficiencies.


Manu factum vs. machina factum 

Ultimately, we, the consumers of goods, hold the power to say what we believe is ethical and what not; what we will buy and what we will avoid, but that requires brands to provide greater transparency around the production processes behind the goods we buy. In the same way we currently have the choice of buying goods from organic and ethical sources, in future we should be offered the same choice when it comes to human or machine-produced goods. It’s not totally outlandish to hope for a new label appearing on the goods we buy, not just organically-certified but also human-certified.

The term manufacturing, has come to mean „the making of articles on a large scale with machinery“ but perhaps we need to reclaim the Latin origins of this term: „manu factum“ – made by hand – and use it as a transparent & visible mark that let’s us know whether what we’re buying/interacting with is truly man-made, or at least in part. In future, this could and perhaps should also apply to customer services. Like something out of Blade Runner, we may be questioning if we are talking to a human or a replicant that is “more human than human”. It’s not that machine is bad and human is good, but we need the opportunity to make informed decisions.

As consumers, if we know for sure that the product or service is „manufactured“, in the original sense of the word, we will then be faced with the question: are we willing to pay extra for it?


It’s time for man to do some machine learning

Whilst this article expresses a number of concerns and potential dangers, ultimately technology has the power to augment human input rather than replace it. As brand and business shapers, we must do some deep machine learning of our own and continually re-evaluate the evolving opportunities and implications that go with evermore sophisticated artificial intelligence.

We need to adapt now to ensure our businesses are evolving in a sustainable way, embracing and supported by robotics. To quote the authors of “Race Against The Machine “the key to winning the race is not to compete against machines but to compete with machines”.


If you’re interested in identifying the latest opportunities and threats of automation or harnessing the conversational age for your brand and business, we have a team of humans who are enthusiastic about supporting your team around these topics. Just drop us a line.

Introducing André Maier VORN Strategy Consultant

Interview HEADER Entwurf.001

Von  Aurélie Hepper

Was war dein bedeutendster Sprung nach vorne?
Das war zu großen Teilen mein damaliges Auslandssemester in den USA, da es auf so vielen Ebenen neue Erfahrungen und Erkenntnisse bot. Sowohl Land und Leute, als auch Studium und Universitätsleben haben mich nachhaltig beeindruckt und definitiv nach vorn gebracht.

Was treibt dich zu VORN nach Berlin?
Zu VORN treibt mich der digitale Wandel, tolle Menschen, Begeisterung für Strategie und Marken und das einzigartige Feeling unserer Hauptstadt.

Strategie bedeutet für mich …
Bruce Henderson sagte einmal sehr treffend: „the essence of strategy is to convince competitors not to invest in areas of strategic importance to you“. Er beschreibt damit die eigentliche Kunst und Eleganz einer guten Strategie, Wettbewerber durch gute Entscheidungen schlicht irrelevant zu machen und davon abzuhalten überhaupt in einen Wettbewerb zu treten. Für mich macht genau das eine gute Strategie aus.

Was sind deine besonderen Leidenschaften?
Neben Marken und Strategien habe ich eine besondere Leidenschaft für Sport, die Berge und tolles Storytelling in nahezu allen Variationen. Also sprich mit einer langen Trekking-Tour in den Alpen, CrossFit-Workouts und guten Büchern und Filmen kann man mich sehr begeistern.

Meine digitale Sucht: …
Serien. Egal ob auf Netflix, Amazon Prime oder anderweitigen Quellen muss ich da schon einen leichten Suchtfaktor zugestehen.

Ein Trend der mich nicht loslässt: …
Den Trend hin zu digitalen Plattformen und Ökosystemen finde ich hochinteressant. Vor allem die Effekte auf bestehende Geschäftsmodelle und der allgemeine Umgang von Unternehmen und Marken mit dem Wandel den diese Ökosysteme mit sich bringen, faszinieren mich sehr.

Letzte Frage an dich: Wie würdest Du Dich in drei Worten beschreiben?
Bescheiden. Pragmatisch. Progressiv.

Andrés Stationen vor VORN: (mehr …)

Plattformbasierte Smart Home Lösungen wachsen um 58%


Von Mathias Kowalik, Sarah Perlick, Kirsten Pöltl

Ende 2015 gab es rund 536.000 Smart Home Haushalte in Deutschland. Davon waren 307.000 „echte“, also plattformbasierte Smart Homes, die über ein zentrales Gateway gesteuert werden, und 229.000 Insellösungen, sprich smarte Einzelanwendungen. Bei den echten Smart Homes ist laut Statista in Deutschland bis 2018 mit einem durchschnittlichen jährlichen Wachstum von 58% auf insgesamt 1,2 Mio. zu rechnen. Die Insellösungen steigen bei einem durchschnittlichen jährlichen Wachstum von 38% auf 600.000 an.
Die Schere zwischen Insel- und Plattformlösungen schließt sich im Verhältnis betrachtet also zunehmend.

Statista, 2016: Smart Home – Nachfragestruktur und Umsatzpotenzial