Friday Five – Cloud-y skies ahead for Capital One, retail rebirth, and child stardom on YouTube

Capital One data breach: Still all-in on the cloud?

Amazon Web Services’ client and partner Capital One has been a proud proponent of moving from off-premise to cloud services. In July, Capital One perked up its ears to news of its customer data appearing on GitHub code repository. How much customer data? 100 million American and 6 million Canadian cardholders. The stock market took note, sending Capital One’s shares down 5.9%. The show is not over. This data breach will swallow $100-$150 million in incremental costs to cover customer notification, credit monitoring, and legal fees.

In the age where data breach news are a dime a dozen and where cloud storage market soars to 24% CAGR, what are businesses and consumers prepared to tolerate or even sacrifice at the altar of convenience and efficiency? Further, how does one negotiate these concerns against AWS’ clear market share dominance(not to mention insane profitability) of worldwide cloud infrastructure? Is AWS, with clients like Department of Defense and NASA, going to dictate the fate of all things that meet at the critical juncture of enterprise cloud and data security? Good news – cloud is maturing. Market dynamics are evolving, with more enterprises getting into multi-cloud and hybrid IT environments to leverage strengths of multiple service providers and deployment models. There is strength in numbers, and a more nuanced approach to cloud is certainly in order.

The rebirth of retail

We all remember it, the tragic day where any lasting remnants of our childlike wonder were crushed as Toys R Us fell victim to the retailpocalypse and closed its doors to over 800 stores.

But it wasn’t the end. Geoffrey the Giraffe will be back this November, as the parent company of Toys R Us, Tru Kid, has joined a venture with B8ta, a company with a history of helping struggling stores bring their spark back to customers who still seek the thrill of leaving their house to shop. The stores will no longer be the giant warehouses we once knew so well, but smaller boutique-style toyshops with, you guessed it, sensors watching each interaction to help improve the overall customer experience.

This isn’t the only example of a store rising from the ashes like a phoenix, Staples Canada has also decided to ditch their warehouse-style store and rebrand after their wave of store closings in 2017. Their new concept boasts a coffee shop, co-working studio, and a dedicated space for community events all housed within a store selling everything from office furniture to custom boxes of crayons and artisanal lattes. More than just an office supply store, the new Staples wants to be the face of the future of work. While Toys R Us and Staples are taking different approaches to try and stay relevant in the whirlwind which is the current state of retail, they both show that a solid customer experience is the key to keeping the lights on amidst the ongoing retail storm.

There’s always money in the YouTube stand

Margaret Atwood has said: You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself. For the 75% of six to 17 year oldsthat aspire to be Youtubers, that someone may be Boram. Boram is a six year old Youtuber from South Korea who recently made news by purchasing a $8 million property in Seoul. She is probably also the envy of all the avocado toast eating, forever renting millennials. She has two popular YouTube accounts, and one of her most popular videos has reached 376 million views – the clip is of her making instant noodles and then eating them … captivating stuff. She is not the only rich baby vlogger – the highest earner on YouTube, earning $22 million in 2018, is seven-year old toy reviewer Ryan.

In what may come as a surprise, child stardom on the internet is not always a land of sunshine and rainbows. The parents of a popular YouTube family show have lost custody of two of their children after a string of ‘prank’ videos in which their children were yelled at and had their toys broken. The parents said it was “for entertainment purposes only”, which the courts *surprisingly* did not accept as a valid reason. Additionally, child YouTubers are often subject to sexual exploitation in the comment sections; something that has led to YouTube’s policy of holding the account itself responsible for the contents in the comments section. This policy has been met with backlash by content creators who call it unfair.

As media consumption patterns shift, and younger cohorts look to online platforms like YouTube for content, the rise of the social media star will continue to grow (perhaps the song of the 2020s will be YouTube killed the TV star). These platforms will have to do a better job of protecting their child content creators and viewers.

CSR is turning green, one announcement at a time

Corporate Social Responsibility as a term was born in 1953 in Howard Bowen’s book Social Responsibilities of the Businessman, when the scholar defined it as “the obligations of businessmen to pursue lines of action which are desirable in terms of the objectives and values of our society.” By 2000s, scholars started delineating between Social CSR and Environmental CSR. Fast forward to today and ECSR is not purely a salient buzzword, but a strategic pillar with holistic and measurable approaches. Just look at any major company’s annual sustainability reports.

While there is still an abyss between environmental issues awareness and adequate response, environmental (and specifically climate) worry is a permanent guest in the American mind. And when consumer attitudes and corporate strategy mesh, one gets action. Plastic bag removal by SobeysStarbucks’ elimination of plastic straws, electric planes looking to alleviate “flying shame” (the Swedes even have a word for it) – these are just some of the most recent corporate reactions to consumer opinions, feelings, and impulses.

Back to those business school textbooks, a stance toward ECSR can be defensive, obstructive (*judgmental eyebrows raised*), accommodating, or proactive (yay!). With growing existential threats and a strong public sense of urgency, expect more and more ECSR announcements. Tiny drops make the ocean.

Working hard at home; or at home hardly working

Working from home is becoming more mainstreamed with 43% of American workers working remotely part of the time, and this number is seeing growth every year. Helpful WTW (what to wear) when WFH (work from home) articles from the Wall Street Journal seek to inform new wfh-ers how to properly dress, instead of the pajamas most probably never change out of, this helpful article suggests you wear $4,160 earrings and $690 slingbacks instead.

As the nature of work changes it has knock on effects, more tangible than an uptick in purchases of $4,160 earrings:

  • The crusher of all industries, Millennials, have been blamed for the downturn in buying lunch– with Boomers exiting the workforce and Millennials working from home with flexible schedules, American’s annual lunch purchases at a restaurant are down to 61 in 2018 from 72 in 2008.
  • What is bad for one industry is good for another. The work from homers who feel like loners can join a co-working space. Co-working juggernaut WeWork has become a unicorn, earning their valuation for shepherding in unlimited beer on tap at their co-working spaces (the unlimited policy has been eliminated due to its bro-y overtones). Over 1,000 coworking spaces opened in the US in 2018, and the space seems poised for more growth.
  • Software tools are also benefiting from the shift to a more relaxed home work place. There are countless tools marketed to the work from home professional who wants to be productive – Evernote to manage your time (time should be spent on work and not Netflix); Todoist to prepare to-do lists (to do: work; not to do: nap); MindMeister to be a desktop notepad to doodle ideas (doodle: workflow diagram; don’t doodle: your boss’s face).

Work from home may be the norm for some now; but when robots take everyone’s jobs we may be missing the familiar walls of the soul-crushing cubicle and awkward chats at the water cooler.

Read last week’s edition of Friday Five: Controversy in the gig economy, Beyond Meat beyond expectations, and Macy’s latest dish not the hit of the party

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