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Future smart speakers won’t just know what you want — they’ll do your shopping for you

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In the (possibly not so distant) future, your smart speaker might order the laundry detergent that it thinks is best for you rather than that brand you’ve always bought.

As consumers around the world increasingly turn to smart speakers for their shopping needs, companies are looking for new avenues to sell you goods.

They’re betting you won’t want to listen to a laundry list of choices.

That’s why sophisticated artificial intelligence — far advanced compared to what today’s Siri and Alexa can do — will offer a curated, well-researched and short selection based on your needs, wants and desires.

“That makes branding incredibly important, because if you are just asking your device to reorder the thing you’ve got last time, then there’s almost no branding exercise taking place there,” Tom Webster, vice president of strategy at Edison Research, told Day 6.

The first major hurdle to overcome is one already at play in your local supermarket — the private label brand.

Alexa’s choice

Walk into any grocery store and shoppers are presented with hundreds of trustworthy goods that will save shoppers a few bucks — all because they don’t have a brand name label slapped on the front.

Amazon Basics, a line that includes everyday household products from computer cables to kitchenware, is currently the world’s fastest growing private label, according to Niraj Dawar, a marketing professor at Western University’s Ivey Business School in London, Ont.

When you bring someone a skill that they trust and that helps them … it actually changes how people feel about the people behind that brand.-Tom Webster, marketing expert

It’s not inconceivable that Alexa might one day order her own company’s product by default, rather than the Tide you’ve used for years.

That’s the challenge that traditional brands need to overcome.

A large part of marketers’ budgets are already spent convincing buyers to make a trip to their local shop for a specific product, Dawar says.

He foresees a future where that budget will be spent talking directly to consumers through their AI-powered speakers.

Amazon told tech website the Verge that the company has sold 100 million units of their Echo smart speaker. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

In the same way that companies game online searches using keywords to get their product at the top of your Google results, they’ll make sure their paper towel offering is the first listed on your Google Home.

“Ultimately, the choice may still be in the consumer’s hands, and most likely the AI will defer to the consumer,” Dawar said.

“But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the consumer is involved right from the get-go,” he added.

Your insurance broker?

About two-thirds of consumers use smart speakers to play music and check the weather, according to research by Adobe Analytics. Half use them for timers and to check the news, while about 30 per cent will order products online.

Webster says that these relatively simple tasks are “kind of a Trojan horse for everything else that they can do.”

As the devices work their way deeper into our lives, users will rely on them for more complex tasks.

Niraj Dawar, a professor at Western University’s Ivey Business School, says that the AI behind smart speakers will come along way in the next five years.

No longer will they be used just to restock your bathroom. Instead, we’ll ask for advice on things we know little about — like insurance, or which cell phone plan you actually need.

“It’s very likely that algorithms that are embedded in these AI speakers will be able to sift through the noise … and pick the right one based on your calling patterns,” said Dawar.

Offer me skills

More and more users, Webster says, are using smart speakers to reduce their screen time. That means fewer eyes on the visual real estate once guaranteed to advertisers.

Marketers will increasingly present their products in novel ways, he adds. One approach: asking how they can make a user’s life easier.

Johnson & Johnson, the company behind allergy drug Zyrtec, offers the “Allergy Cast” skill on Google Home devices.

The skill doesn’t deliver an ad for the product, but instead offers a branded allergen forecast while building name-recognition of their brand name medication.

“As someone who suffers from allergies, I love that skill,” said Webster.

“When you bring someone a skill that they trust, and that helps them with how they actually live their everyday lives … it actually changes how people feel about the people behind that brand.”

Google Home smart speakers and Pixel smartphones are displayed at the company’s booth during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, in January 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Webster believes the key to building consumers’ trust is building these indispensable skills that users will rely on.

The greatest skill, according to Webster, actually predates the devices. That’s the beloved Butterball turkey talk line.

“You could call up a live human, tell them what you have done to their bird and get some help on how to save it,” he said. Butterball has adapted their phone line for the Amazon Echo — no need to pick up a phone with greasy turkey hands.

“That’s what really adds to people’s trust with these devices.”


To hear more from Tom Webster and Niraj Dawar, download our podcast or click ‘Listen’ above.

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Wedding attack and tech: How OpenText’s investigations service beats the traditional approach

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At its heart, an investigation is a hunt for relevant facts in order to tell a story — a story that drives strategies for organizations, including law firms.

Tracy Drynan, head of OpenText Recon Investigations — a seamless end-to-end service that helps companies and law firms find evidence for all types of investigations including internal investigations, litigation assessments, compliance and regulatory investigations, c-suite vetting and more — says these stories are a more powerful tool than most people think.

The team led by Drynan arms both in-house and external counsel with the information needed to guide their corporate and outside lawyers with the information needed to guide their clients: an investigation empowers them. What differentiates OpenText Recon is the speed with which the team utilizes specialized tools and workflows to efficiently locate evidence. This approach gains insights into patterns, gaps and relationships in a fraction of the cost of a traditional eDiscovery review, and more quickly gathers the relevant facts to create that critical story.

“Whether it be litigation or a regulatory investigation or an internal audit, often time is of the essence,” Drynan says. “Being able to make decisions that affect your bottom line, your liability, your risks which ultimately challenge your resources, even public opinion, is critical.”

Too often, an archaic model is applied to investigations — one derived when we still existed in a paper society — that analyzes all available information but doesn’t actively hunt for relevant facts, and that produces a disconnect. An efficient model does not need to analyze every piece of information.

“It’s flawed for this reason,” Drynan says. “When you review a set of information, even when you apply advanced analytics and information retrieval science, it is still at the end bucketed for a team to analyze it contiguously. In a way, we are still following the pre-electronic paradigm — we are reviewing almost paper documents one by one, and that unfortunately is handicapping both the talent and the technology in the hunt for the facts.”

While lawyers may make a living hunting facts and building narratives, Drynan would argue their approach could be improved and points out that many of the companies hired by firms to help out during an investigation still apply that outdated model. OpenText Recon breaks that pattern and approaches the hunt differently — they don’t compartmentalize anything, which means the team can identify patterns more easily. Those patterns become the clues, which become the facts, that become the story that allow lawyers to make those critical decisions. The result is not a stack of documents, but a more nuanced report outlining the important facts to analyze.

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Canada takes aim at Netflix, Airbnb in $6.5B big-tech tax plan

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Canada’s federal government is planning to force foreign-based technology firms such as Netflix Inc. and Airbnb Inc. to charge their users a sales tax in a move aimed at boosting the government’s coffers by as much as $6.5 billion over the next five years. 

The new taxation plans, outlined in the government’s Fall Economic Statement, attempt to level the playing field between Canadian companies and foreign-based digital corporations that were largely exempt from paying federal sales taxes. Some provinces — such as Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Quebec — introduced taxes on streaming services like Netflix earlier this year. 

The government announced Monday that any foreign-based company selling digital products or services to consumers in Canada will be required to collect and remit the Goods and Services Tax or Harmonized Sales Tax. The new tax changes are proposed to begin on July 1, 2021. 

“Canadians want a tax system that is fair, where everyone pays their fair share, so the government has the resources it needs to invest in people and keep our economy strong. That is why we are moving ahead with implementing GST/HST on multinational digital giants and limiting stock option deductions in the largest companies,” said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, in prepared remarks. 

“And Canada will act unilaterally, if necessary … to apply a tax on large multinational digital corporations, so they pay their fair share just like any other company operating in Canada.”

Those taxes will include any sales on products or services made through digital marketplace platforms, sales to Canadians of goods that are located in Canadian fulfillment warehouses, as well as any companies whose platforms help to facilitate short-term rental accommodations in Canada. 

However, the new taxation moves wouldn’t see streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video, Walt Disney Co.’s Disney+, and Spotify Technology SA meet certain Canadian-content requirements, something the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission​ recommended be adopted rather than introduce new tax measures in a wide-ranging report released earlier this year. 

The CRTC estimates that those streaming services record annual revenue of roughly $5 billion, according to its most recent financial data. The federal broadcast regulator said in January that Ottawa should require foreign streaming services to invest in local programming rather than “digital taxes” that would likely get passed down to consumers. 

“It is more appropriate to establish a regime that requires such online streaming services that benefit from operating in Canada to invest in Canadian programming that they believe will attract and appeal to Canadians,” the report said. 

Ottawa will also consider new corporate-level taxes for foreign-owned digital corporations and is working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to develop a framework it expects to provide further details on in the next budget. It expects the new measure will result in $3.4 billion in new tax revenue over the next five years once it is introduced sometime in 2022. 

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RevoluGROUP Canada Inc. RevoluPAY To Pursue Dubai Financial Services Authority PSP License

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia(GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — RevoluGROUP Canada Inc. (TSX-V: REVO), (Frankfurt: IJA2) (the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has dispatched Company advisor Erik A. Lara Riveros to pursue the petition of a Payment Service Provider (“PSP”) Money Service Business License in the Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”) from the Dubai Financial Services Authority.

Corporate Rational For a PSP License in Dubai

In May 2020, RevoluPAY was granted the European PSD2 license. In September, RevoluPAY received Pan-European passporting approval to operate in 27 E.U. countries. The Company has further expanded its international open banking reach through definitive agreements (“DA”) with BBVA, Flutterwave, and Thunes. Additionally, via direct PSD2 SEPA passporting, the Company added sixty-eight countries and territories to its financial operations roster. In November, the Company submitted petitions for both the analogous United States MSB licenses and the Canadian FINTRAC license. The MEASA region of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia is a significant financial hub that necessitates exposure for both financial operations and a strategic base for the region’s operations. The Company considers the DIFC an excellent regional hub, having introduced robust legislation for payment services providers (“PSP”) like RevoluPAY.

Furthermore, DIFC conveniently fills the timezone gap for a global financial center between London and New York’s leading financial centers in the West and Hong Kong and Tokyo in the East. Company advisor Erik A. Lara Riveros is duly accredited with the Dubai Financial Services Authority, which should aid the Company’s plans to obtain the Dubai PSP license and establish a corporate financial hub in the region. The Company has diligently prepared all required documentation, and Mr. Lara Riveros arrives in Dubai on the 4th of December 2020 to initiate the license petition process. The global operations of RevoluPAY expect to benefit from the multi timezone capability garnered from a supplementary and PSP licensed subsidiary domiciled in the MEASA region.

License Sought in Dubai

The Company intends to pursue the Category 3D license, which covers the following activities, “Providing or Operating a Payment Account, executing Payment Transactions or Issuing Payment Instruments, including creating and maintaining accounts for executing payment transactions, issuance of personalized sets of procedures agreed upon by the users and the provider, for initiation or execution of payment instructions.”

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