Strategy Tech’s most read stories of 2018

From smart homes to helping meet adoption hurdles, here's what our readers were most interested in this year.

googlehome

It’s that time of year, when strategy runs down the list of stories our readers were most interested in over the previous year as a way to look back at the trends that shaped the industry. Today, we are looking at the top stories from the Strategy Tech newsletter to see what made waves on the innovation front. Check back in the days ahead to see the rest of the news that turned heads in 2018.

Google goes hands-on to show off the smart home

Despite the hype they’ve received, AI-powered personal assistants and smart speakers are still a brave new frontier for most consumers. Google has been working to drive adoption by showing what its Home and Home Mini devices can do, while also using experiential activations to put them in the context of rooms and homes so consumers can imagine the devices as part of their day-to-day lives. A giant gingerbread house set up at Toronto’s Eaton Centre got a lot of attention this year – partially due to its high-traffic placement during the Black Friday shopping weekend – but the company has found plenty of other situations where a Google Home can be put to use.

FCB/Six jumps on consulting

Clients have been looking to agency partners to find creative uses of technology for years, but they’re also looking for more help in actually implementing new tech, data practices and CRM platforms. FCB/Six – a data- and tech-driven agency launched by FCB Canada in 2016 – launched a consulting division in the spring, separate from the creative and branding work of both agencies, to help clients face adoption challenges. But they aren’t the only ones: some agencies have also been moving upstream to help clients tackle more strategic business challenges, while others have been staffing up to take on more innovation-focused work.

TD’s tech priorities

Canada’s banks continue to be major drivers of the country’s innovation, be it the tools and capabilities they’ve built for themselves or the investments and connections they’ve established in the broader fintech community. TD hosted its second annual Tech Day in the fall to run down some of its most recent moves and priorities in both areas. They ranged from a new patent program that built relationships with startups, making an investment in a new innovation lab for “cleantech” startups and new location-based tools for its mobile app.

The hurdles for AI adoption

Many Canadian business leaders, in marketing roles or otherwise, are past the point where they need to be sold on the capabilities of AI and machine learning. What’s become clear, especially as numerous reports came out in the later months of the year, is that they are more interested in how to implement the technology and overcome adoption roadblocks. Some companies have been taking steps to address this need: IBM announced an open technology platform specifically built to address common pain points in AI adoption, while Accenture created an entire podcast about AI on top of its existing consulting services and innovation labs.

Being prepared for the ethics of AI

The cover story of strategy’s April issue took a look at the technical needs a company should be aware of when considering bringing on new technology like AI and blockchain – many companies have not structured their data in a way that AI requires, and a study showed that many don’t have fully integrated tech stacks needed to ensure tech is being used effectively across an organization. But it also looked at the ethical implications, and how things like privacy, bias and the general “creepy factor” might cause pitfalls, both within an organization and its consumers.