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Technology Insights

Whitney Fishman

Managing Partner, Innovation & Consumer Technology




Insight | XR (Extended Reality)


There’s been plenty of talk around the ‘realities’ (AR, VR and MR), including their many barrier breaking applications. Most recently, and not yet totally in the spotlight, is an emerging tech to track dubbed, extended reality (XR), a sort of mix of it all. Defined by Wikipedia as “technology-mediated experiences that combine digital and biological realities”, XR is different; it requires mental effort, and often physical motion to engage. By unlocking access to any location, eliminating the notion of space between people/places/things, and removing historic roadblocks to interactivity, XR will change the role of communications. It won’t displace a medium, but rather act as a tool for breaking physical and digital barriers to create intimacy and connectivity. It has the ability to bring consumers closer to everything – brands, content, information, each other – in ways never before imagined. Think of the opportunity for information exchange and how that data can influence the evolution of brand and consumer relationships – it’s just a matter of leaning in.


Stephan Pretorius

UK Group CEO & Global CTO




Insight | Voice


Voice is ready for

prime time,

but what voice?


Voice is ready for prime time. The technology behind voice recognition is advancing rapidly to understand important nuances and meanings.  

In voice, Amazon will need to broaden its information base beyond shopping. The question is, what kind of person would you like to have around the house? One that tries to sell you stuff or one that can answer questions and solve problems?

Ultimately, utility will win out, and I see Google catching up and winning in this space because it’s infinitely more useful. Over the next few years, brands will fight for direct consumer connections outside the main voice providers. Today, customer service is probably the number one voice application for brands, but that will expand rapidly to other marketing categories as consumer adoption of voice interfaces continue to grow.


Sanjeev Bhatt

Managing Partner




Insight | China


Exportable tech,

like AI, guides

China’s future


China can surge ahead in technology for several reasons. China has its BAT brands, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, which are roughly equivalent to FANG in the West, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. The challenge for the China’s BAT brands is that they are circumscribed by their geography, because of the country’s internet ‘firewall’. But China is making a global impact by embracing technologies that can travel overseas. These include artificial intelligence and connected devices. Also, China defies Newton’s Law that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In the West, advances in technology are monitored by privacy groups and government regulators. There is less of that oversight in China, so the opportunity to experiment is immense.


Nihar Das

Global Account Director




Insight | China


China sets pace

for consumer



China has moved to the pole position of having the most demanding consumer expectations globally. The major consumer products companies now acknowledge that, and are shifting their torture tests to China. China’s high speed rail network is bigger than rest of the world put together. Huawei has more 5G patents than everyone else combined. There is more qualified chip design talent in China than in India. From being an anxious leader in the race, China has assumed the undisputed leadership role in the post digital world that it truly deserves.


Nick Snowdon

Director, Technology

Kantar TNS


Insight | Voice


This is the year

that voice gets

to be branded

This is the year that voice gets branded. In the past we debated how much conversation would be gesture based, versus how much would be voice based, and how much would be fueled by artificial intelligence. Brands with scale are in line to dominate, whether it’s Amazon with shopping or Google with search, but we can also expect other brands to adapt this technology for more specific brand roles. We’ll see a contest about how much voice is commercialized versus being genuinely helpful, but regardless we can expect increased differentiation in voice technology in terms of role, tone, and ethical values.



Henry Gummer

Vice President




Insight | Voice


Voice needs

to seem human,

not only helpful


The human, emotional side of voice will have to be delivered, or else voice becomes just a utilitarian way to get to music a little bit quicker, but, ultimately, it’s not part of your daily routine. There is a real opportunity for experiences to be delivered as a value-add for families as they go about their busy lives. It’s not there yet. Kids are getting frustrated, which suggests there’s a lot of room for improvement.




Dayoán Daumont

Consulting Partner, Innovation & Digital Transformation




Insight | Voice


Voice competes

on strengths

of ecosystems


As a practical matter, most people will buy only one brand voice device. They will choose one ecosystem and stay in it. So, if Amazon does good enough, and starts modifying its voice recognition system to be incrementally better with time, it will continue dominating that market. Google’s disadvantage was not having a built-in retail ecosystem ready to go a year ago. Now it has one in the US with Walmart, enabling users to buy products with voice on Google devices. But the Amazon’s retail ecosystem is much better. However, the killer feature of voice devices, which Google does way better, is having voice work across multiple type of devices in your home at on the move. This is still nascent technology and how/where we use it as consumers is still being defined so it is anyone’s game to dominate.



Carlos Werner

Senior Director

Kantar Consulting



Insight | Voice


Hello Alexa,




Voice is at a tipping point. It has been present for the past six or seven years. But the usability is increasing. Podcasts are popular. But people are also having books and articles read to them. We could arrive at a business model where the voice brands will be the engines and they might sell this entry point. At the moment, we have voice as an interface and voice as a personal assistant. As a personal assistant we converge to a few big players, such as Amazon and Google. The personal assistant has a personality and helps us organizes our daily lives. But voice as an interface is becoming more and more ubiquitous as the alternative to a keyboard when we control the TV or call customer service.


Bediz Eker

Group Strategy Director




Insight | China


West and China

advantages vary

in tech contest


Competition between Chinese and Western technology brands comes down to basic economic principles: China has an enormous market and relatively relaxed regulations, which enables agility and advancement through trial and error. However, on the Western side of the equation, population is lower, but they have higher disposable income per capita. The most obvious advantage for these brands will be to focus on quality versus quantity. I interpret the change in Facebook as a shift from selling millions of “likes” or “clicks” to instead selling quality engagements. My view is that this quality strategy applies to both software and hardware solutions. Western brands will have the advantage of charging a higher premium than their Chinese competitors, however Chinese technology brands will have the advantage of scale.