VIDEO: Nevada’s economy and ‘Ubertrends’ – instant gratification culture reshaping society, business
RENO, Nev. — Hotels staffed entirely by robots. Cellphone lanes for texting pedestrians. Toilets powered by Alexa.
Whether any or all of the above are necessary is debatable, but it’s a microcosm of one fact: the future is here and reshaping cultures, priorities and expectations.
Which begs the question: Are businesses and organizations riding the technology-driven waves of the future?
Such was the message spread by motivational speaker Michael Tchong, founder of Ubercool Innovation, a trend forecasting agency and incubator, during the fourth annual Nevada Economic Development Conference on Aug. 21 at the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno.
“By my estimate, technology is responsible for two-thirds of all trends,” said Tchong, who’s dubbed these massive shifts in business and society as “Ubertrends.” “In fact, technology has given us one of the biggest revolutions of the past two decades: social media.”
Tchong stressed the need for businesses to interact — promptly — with their customer base through social media. He said two-thirds of social media users who complain on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al., expect companies to respond the same day. Further, four out of 10 users expect a response within the hour.
“This trend is even more pronounced on Millennials, your customer and constituent of the future, so keep that in mind,” he added.
To that tend, Tchong said time compression is an “Ubertrend” that has led to a multitasking population that’s in love with instant gratification.
“What’s the saying in the office we always use? I want it yesterday! Now’s too slow,” yelled Tchong, triggering a wave of laughter from the audience. “So you need to think about this world that wants to have efficiency, speed and simplicity in everything you offer.”
Startups, Tchong said, are at the forefront of this shift and scoring capital at astonishing rates because of it. As of early August 2018, startups have scored 22,421 tech finance deals totaling $304 billion this year alone. What’s more, in July 55 startups raised $100 million-plus mega rounds, the highest amount in the last decade, he said.
Not to mention, the advancement of machine learning will prove to be a massive game-changer for the marketplace, he added.
“When you factor machine learning into the equation, by my estimate, we’re going to quadruple the speed at which innovations arrive on the market,” Tchong said. “And that’s the minimum. So buckle up, things are going to get wild.”
Nevada’s need for training
Zooming in on Nevada’s economy, Tchong said the Silver State’s July 2018 month-over-month job gains (9,500) was the largest increase since the end of the recession, citing the Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).
However, he pointed to the fact Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Office of Workforce Innovation (OWINN) program, which was established in 2016, has spent $6.5 million while training only 1,153 Nevadans.
“That’s a drop in the bucket,” said Tchong, noting Nevada’s current workforce equates to 1.3 million employees. “The question I would ask is: how can we have more of a cultural impact with our job training programs? Why can’t we train more people? That’s what we need to ask ourselves.”
Tchong thinks virtual reality could be the answer.
“I’m a firm believer that immersive virtual reality will revolutionize the field of job training,” he said. “There is no state actively developing job training in VR. I propose we establish Nevada as the nation’s premier VR job skill training hub and immediately raise the visibility of the state dramatically.”
Notably, Google recently invested $100,000 with state partner JOIN Inc., to help Nevadans develop digital skills needed for job placement and advancement.
“All of the VR stakeholders — Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple — would immediately look at Nevada and give you a heck of a lot more than $100,000,” Tchong said. “So think about this.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.