Will Real Estate Ever Be Normal Again?


Credit...Photo Illustration by Dan Winters

The third time Drew Mena’s manager asked him about relocating to Austin, Texas, he and his wife, Amena Sengal, began to seriously consider it. They had deliberated each time before, in 2017 and 2018, but landed on a hard no: Drew and Amena had lived in New York for more than 10 years, and they loved it.

They owned a two-unit townhouse in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, and they felt lucky to have it, with its yard and the kind of close-knit neighbors who compete to shovel one another’s sidewalks after a snowfall.

But now it was August 2020, and the pandemic had changed their calculus. When the city shut down, their daughter, Edie, was 7 months old; Drew and Amena co-parented while working full time, one at the kitchen island, the other at the breakfast table. In May, they escaped to Drew’s family’s cottage in New Hampshire, and gradually their tether to the city began to fray.

When the relocation offer came in from Drew’s employer, an asset-management company, they started browsing listings online, and it looked as if they could get a lot more space in Austin. They would certainly save money on everything else, like gas and groceries. The world is ending, they said to themselves. Why the hell not?

Amena, who was born and raised in Houston and attended the University of Texas at Austin, called her parents to solicit their opinion. They were so thrilled at the thought of her return that they suggested she consider buying, and offered to help with the down payment. They could all share the home as an investment property if Drew and Amena moved on.

Amena crunched the numbers and quickly realized a truth about America: Thanks to persistently low interest rates and tax policies that favor the rich, you can almost always get more space with a mortgage than with the same amount in rent.

So she threw herself into the search with zeal. She mapped commutes to Drew’s new office downtown; she found a dozen preschools she liked, and video-toured more than half of them. In her mind’s eye, she drew a backward C around central Austin, cutting out downtown and the expensive west side.

Their maximum budget was $550,000, $575,000 tops. They were looking for a house that was move-in ready, maybe around 1,500 square feet overall, with three to four bedrooms, two baths and a shed or office space for Amena in the backyard — she planned to keep her New York job in education policy and telecommute.

She reached out to John Gilchrist, a close friend from college who was now a real estate agent and, in January, he began taking her on up to four FaceTime tours a day. In the background, she could see other intent buyers, masked but often encroaching on one another. She could sense quality, but scale was harder to discern. “How many paces is that?” Amena would ask Gilchrist. “Can you put your hand in that sink? It looks tiny.”

The day that she and Drew were scheduled to fly to Austin for house-hunting, at the beginning of February, New York was buried in snow and flights were being canceled, so they opted to reschedule theirs. Feeling stranded and agitated, Amena began bidding on houses. There were two for sale in Johnston Terrace, on Emmitt Run, on the same block as Amena’s best friend from high school.

Both were two stories and 1,700 square feet. One, listed for $437,700, was a bouquet of beiges — beige interior and exterior paint, beige carpets, beige linoleum floors and beige oak cabinets. The other, listed for $50,000 more, was being remodeled by its owner and his friends: modern gray paint, white cabinets, dark wood luxury vinyl plank. “We’re all putting lipstick on a pig trying to get our houses sold,” the owner told me.

Amena bid on the beige, imagining she’d use the extra money to do her own remodel. It went under contract for $45,800 over the asking price, or $43,500 more than her bid. A few days later, Amena bid on another home she’d been dying to see on their trip, a black-and-white ranch house in South Austin listed at $460,000.

At the urging of Gilchrist, who told her how tight the market was, she bid more aggressively, offering $495,000, and was chagrined when she lost that house too. For Amena and Drew, their Austin home-buying odyssey was just beginning — a monthslong ordeal that would teach them quite a bit about the cruel realities of America’s housing market, in which home prices nationwide have risen by an astonishing 24.8 percent since March 2020.

And this first lesson, appropriately enough, demonstrated just one of many ways that the old, measured rules of home-buying no longer applied — that the cutthroat competitiveness that once defined only a few U.S. markets (San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles) had now become standard across the country, as the median home price in small- and medium-size metropolitan areas rose by jaw-dropping levels: Boise, Idaho, 46 percent; Phoenix, 36 percent; Austin, 35 percent; Salt Lake City, 33 percent; Sacramento, 28 percent.

By bidding on two properties she had never visited, in a city nearly 2,000 miles away, Amena joined the 63 percent of North American home buyers in 2020 who made at least one offer on a home that they had never stepped into. Homes had been one of the few things resistant to online shopping: We browsed online, but we didn’t buy. The pandemic changed that. The result was a market that moved much, much faster.

What Amena and Drew would ultimately learn about Covid-era real estate was not just the necessity of raising their budget and lowering their expectations. It was also that the whole mind-set required to buy a house, the most important purchase that most Americans will ever make, had undergone a fundamental transformation — possibly a long-term one, given the realities of both supply and demand. Freddie Mac estimated at the end of 2020 that the United States was 3.8 million housing units short of meeting the nation’s needs.

Combine that with the surge of millennials into the housing market — they represented more than half of all mortgage originations last year — as well as the insatiable appetite of investors, who now snatch up nearly one in six homes sold in America, and the contours of a new, lightning-fast, permanently desperate housing market come clearly into view.

“It’s so irresponsible,” Amena lamented, when discussing those first, remote bids they made, and Drew chimed in: “In a normal market you would never do that.” By “normal,” Drew meant a time when a home buyer could tour a house in person, mull it over, go back a second time with her parents or friends and then make an offer with time for an inspection and an appraisal. But there’s reason to fear that America’s real estate market, after passing through the pandemic madhouse, might never get back to that kind of normal again.

Several Austin real estate agents told me the same story about when the “flip switched” during Covid: a sale on Ephraim Road, in the suburb of Brushy Creek, on New Year’s Day 2021. The house was “well cared for,” a buyer’s agent told me, but “nothing out of the ordinary”: two stories in brick, with a large arched window — the sort of place one of Tony’s underlings might own in a Texas spinoff of “The Sopranos.”

It was listed on Dec. 30, 2020, for $370,000, and it seemed like mere minutes until buyers and agents began lining up in the bitter rain to tour the house one by one, a process that took hours….Read more…

By:

Source: Will Real Estate Ever Be Normal Again? – The New York Times

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5 Modern Technologies ‘The Jetsons’ Accurately Predicted 60 Years Ago

When The Jetsons premiered in 1962, show writers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera imagined what the future might look like in 100 years. They also created George Jetson, the “dad of the future,” to handle the trials and tribulations of the nuclear household of 2062, and they set his date of birth as July 31, 2022.

In celebration of this beloved cartoon father’s birthday, we decided to take a look at the various gizmos and gadgets in the show to see how much of it might have inspired modern technologies we use today. It turns out there’s a quite a lot.

1. Video Calls

Perhaps the most obvious bit of tech from The Jetsons to make its way to the modern age is the video call. Video calls took place regularly on the show, most often for connecting family members to one another or for connecting George to his boss.

Notably, the first real video call took place long before the show was even created, in 1927, to connect then-US Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover in Washington, D.C. to then-AT&T President Walter Gifford in New York City. AT&T later announced video conferencing as a subscription service at the 1964 World’s Fair, but canceled it in the ’70s due to low subscription rates. Nowadays video calling is so commonplace that most of the popular services we use on a regular basis are offered for free.

2. Personal Assistants

The cultural impact of Rosie the robot cannot be overstated when talking about tech from The Jetsons. While having a personal robot assistant like Rosie still remains largely a dream, voice assistants are very much a reality that many of us use on a daily basis. And let’s not forget about robot vacuums and mops, two welcome household ‘bots that do some of the dirty work for us.

There’s also the Astro, Amazon’s personal robot that can act as a mobile voice assistant and security guard (and shares a name with the Jetsons’ dog), and Proteus, the company’s fully autonomous robot designed to work at Amazon’s fulfillment and sort centers (at least initially). So while we may not have our own Rosie just yet, we’re getting pretty close.

3. Smartwatches

George Jetson was constantly getting work calls from his boss on his wristwatch. While that watch was almost exclusively used for video calls in the show, modern smartwatches are far more useful, offering you navigation directions or the ability to call a cab, measuring your activity and heart rate, and, of course, letting you make and answer phone calls. Some models offer video-calling capabilities as well, but these day we have plenty of more convenient screens for that.

4. Food Printing

Preparing dinner on The Jetsons was as simple as choosing what you wanted to eat and setting it into the food replicator, which automatically produced tasty-looking results (for a cartoon, that is). In 2006, the Cornell University student group Fab@Home created the first 3D printer capable of printing food, with a series of syringes filled with substances like chocolate and cookie dough. Modern 3D food printers use cartridges of powdered food components (such as proteins and simple carbohydrates) to create different foods within the printer itself.

While 3D food printers haven’t quite reached a level of ubiquity where most of have one on the kitchen shelf, we’ve reviewed gadgets at PCMag such as the Zimplistic Rotimatic, which turns out perfect roti at the push of a button. While it’s not quite a food replicator, we can tell you that the future of flatbread is indeed delicious.

5. Space Tourism

Though The Jetsons took place in the fictional, cloud-based Orbit City, space travel on the show was so commonplace that people would take vacations to the moon.While it’ll likely be some time before you can book an interstellar family getaway, the first space tourist is set to visit the International Space Station in 2023. In addition, companies like Blue Origin are regularly launching missions to send their own teams of astronauts into space with the goal of making space travel possible for the common individual.

Looking back, it’s pretty impressive just how far technology has advanced since The Jetsons was created. We can’t know for sure what the next 60 years has in store for us and what technology will meet us there, but we can at least hope that much of it is fun as what Hanna-Barbera dreamed up in 1962. Want to stream The Jetsons? Watch all three seasons on HBO Max,

By Francisco Lahoz

Source: 5 Modern Technologies ‘The Jetsons’ Accurately Predicted 60 Years Ago

Critics by Saemoon Yoon

17 ways technology could change the world by 2025

We asked our 2020 intake of Technology Pioneers for their views on how technology will change the world in the next five years. From quantum computers and 5G in action to managing cancer chronically, here are their predictions for our near-term future.

1. AI-optimized manufacturing

Paper and pencil tracking, luck, significant global travel and opaque supply chains are part of today’s status quo, resulting in large amounts of wasted energy, materials and time. Accelerated in part by the long-term shutdown of international and regional travel by COVID-19, companies that design and build products will rapidly adopt cloud-based technologies to aggregate, intelligently transform, and contextually present product and process data from manufacturing lines throughout their supply chains.

By 2025, this ubiquitous stream of data and the intelligent algorithms crunching it will enable manufacturing lines to continuously optimize towards higher levels of output and product quality – reducing overall waste in manufacturing by up to 50%. As a result, we will enjoy higher quality products, produced faster, at lower cost to our pocketbooks and the environment.

2. A far-reaching energy transformation

In 2025, carbon footprints will be viewed as socially unacceptable, much like drink driving is today. The COVID-19 pandemic will have focused the public’s attention on the need to take action to deal with threats to our way of life, our health and our future. Public attention will drive government policy and behavioural changes, with carbon footprints becoming a subject of worldwide scrutiny. Individuals, companies and countries will seek the quickest and most affordable ways to achieve net-zero – the elimination of their carbon footprint.

The creation of a sustainable, net-zero future will be built through a far-reaching energy transformation that significantly reduces the world’s carbon emissions, and through the emergence of a massive carbon management industry that captures, utilizes and eliminates carbon dioxide. We’ll see a diversity of new technologies aimed at both reducing and removing the world’s emissions – unleashing a wave of innovation to compare with the industrial and digital Revolutions of the past.

How do I follow the Pioneers of Change Summit? We have a rare and narrowing window of change to build a better world after the pandemic.The World Economic Forum’s inaugural Pioneers of Change meeting will bring together leaders of emerging businesses, social entrepreneurs and other innovators to discuss how to spark and scale up meaningful change.

3. A new era of computing

By 2025, quantum computing will have outgrown its infancy, and a first generation of commercial devices will be able tackle meaningful, real-world problems. One major application of this new kind of computer will be the simulation of complex chemical reactions, a powerful tool that opens up new avenues in drug development. Quantum chemistry calculations will also aid the design of novel materials with desired properties, for instance better catalysts for the automotive industry that curb emissions and help fight climate change.

Right now, the development of pharmaceuticals and performance materials relies massively on trial and error, which means it is an iterative, time-consuming and terribly expensive process. Quantum computers may soon be able to change this. They will significantly shorten product development cycles and reduce the costs for R&D.

4. Healthcare paradigm shift to prevention through diet

By 2025, healthcare systems will adopt more preventative health approaches based on the developing science behind the health benefits of plant-rich, nutrient-dense diets. This trend will be enabled by AI-powered and systems biology-based technology that exponentially grows our knowledge of the role of specific dietary phytonutrients in specific human health and functional outcomes.

After the pandemic of 2020, consumers will be more aware of the importance of their underlying health and will increasingly demand healthier food to help support their natural defences. Armed with a much deeper understanding of nutrition, the global food industry can respond by offering a broader range of product options to support optimal health outcomes. The healthcare industry can respond by promoting earth’s plant intelligence for more resilient lives and to incentivize people to take care of themselves in an effort to reduce unsustainable costs.

5. 5G will enhance the global economy and save lives

Overnight, we’ve experienced a sharp increase in delivery services with a need for “day-of” goods from providers like Amazon and Instacart – but it has been limited. With 5G networks in place, tied directly into autonomous bots, goods would be delivered safely within hours.

Wifi can’t scale to meet higher capacity demands. Sheltering-in-place has moved businesses and classrooms to video conferencing, highlighting poor-quality networks. Low latency 5G networks would resolve this lack of network reliability and even allow for more high-capacity services like telehealth, telesurgery and ER services. Businesses can offset the high cost of mobility with economy-boosting activities including smart factories, real-time monitoring, and content-intensive, real-time edge-compute services. 5G private networks make this possible and changes the mobile services economy.

The roll-out of 5G creates markets that we only imagine – like self-driving bots, along with a mobility-as-a-service economy – and others we can’t imagine, enabling next generations to invent thriving markets and prosperous causes.

6. A new normal in managing cancer

Technology drives data, data catalyzes knowledge, and knowledge enables empowerment. In tomorrow’s world, cancer will be managed like any chronic health condition —we will be able to precisely identify what we may be facing and be empowered to overcome it.

In other words, a new normal will emerge in how we can manage cancer. We will see more early and proactive screening with improved diagnostics innovation, such as in better genome sequencing technology or in liquid biopsy, that promises higher ease of testing, higher accuracy and ideally at an affordable cost. Early detection and intervention in common cancer types will not only save lives but reduce the financial and emotional burden of late discovery.

We will also see a revolution in treatment propelled by technology. Gene editing and immunotherapy that bring fewer side effects will have made greater headway. With advances in early screening and treatment going hand in hand, cancer will no longer be the cursed ‘C’ word that inspires such fear among people.

7. Robotic retail

Historically, robotics has turned around many industries, while a few select sectors – such as grocery retail – have remained largely untouched . With the use of a new robotics application called ‘microfulfillment’, Grocery retailing will no longer look the same. The use of robotics downstream at a ‘hyper local’ level (as opposed to the traditional upstream application in the supply chain) will disrupt this 100-year-old, $5 trillion industry and all its stakeholders will experience significant change. Retailers will operate at a higher order of magnitude on productivity, which will in turn result in positive and enticing returns in the online grocery business (unheard of at the moment).

This technology also unlocks broader access to food and a better customer proposition to consumers at large: speed, product availability and cost. Microfulfillment centers are located in existing (and typically less productive) real estate at the store level and can operate 5-10% more cheaply than a brick and mortar store. We predict that value will be equally captured by retailers and consumers as online.

8. A blurring of physical and virtual spaces

One thing the current pandemic has shown us is how important technology is for maintaining and facilitating communication – not simply for work purposes, but for building real emotional connections. In the next few years we can expect to see this progress accelerate, with AI technology built to connect people at a human level and drive them closer to each other, even when physically they’re apart. The line between physical space and virtual will forever be blurred.

We’ll start to see capabilities for global events – from SXSW to the Glastonbury Festival – to provide fully digitalized alternatives, beyond simple live streaming into full experiences. However, it’s not as simple as just providing these services – data privacy will have to be prioritised in order to create confidence among consumers. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we saw a lot in the news about concerns over the security of video conferencing companies. These concerns aren’t going anywhere and as digital connectivity increases, brands simply can’t afford to give users anything less than full transparency and control over their data.

9. Putting individuals – not institutions – at the heart of healthcare

By 2025, the lines separating culture, information technology and health will be blurred. Engineering biology, machine learning and the sharing economy will establish a framework for decentralising the healthcare continuum, moving it from institutions to the individual. Propelling this forward are advances in artificial intelligence and new supply chain delivery mechanisms, which require the real-time biological data that engineering biology will deliver as simple, low-cost diagnostic tests to individuals in every corner of the globe.

As a result, morbidity, mortality and costs will decrease in acute conditions, such as infectious diseases, because only the most severe cases will need additional care. Fewer infected people will leave their homes, dramatically altering disease epidemiology while decreasing the burden on healthcare systems. A corresponding decrease in costs and increase in the quality of care follows, as inexpensive diagnostics move expenses and power to the individual, simultaneously increasing the cost-efficiency of care. Inextricable links between health, socio-economic status and quality of life will begin to loosen, and tensions that exist by equating health with access to healthcare institutions will dissipate. From daily care to pandemics, these converging technologies will alter economic and social factors to relieve many pressures on the global human condition.

10. The future of construction has already begun

Construction will become a synchronized sequence of manufacturing processes, delivering control, change and production at scale. It will be a safer, faster and more cost-effective way to build the homes, offices, factories and other structures we need to thrive in cities and beyond. As rich datasets are created across the construction industry through the internet of things, AI and image capture, to name a few, this vision is already coming to life.

Using data to deeply understand industry processes is profoundly enhancing the ability of field professionals to trust their instincts in real-time decision making, enabling learning and progress while gaining trust and adoption. Actionable data sheds light where we could not see before, empowering leaders to manage projects proactively rather than reactively. Precision in planning and execution enables construction professionals to control the environment, instead of it controlling them, and creates repeatable processes that are easier to control, automate, and teach. That’s the future of construction. And it’s already begun.

11. Gigaton-scale CO2 removal will help to reverse climate change

A scale up of negative emission technologies, such as carbon dioxide removal, will remove climate-relevant amounts of CO2 from the air. This will be necessary in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. While humanity will do everything possible to stop emitting more carbon into the atmosphere, it will also do everything it can in order to remove historic CO2 from the air permanently.

By becoming widely accessible, the demand for CO2 removal will increase and costs will fall. CO2 removal will be scaled up to the gigaton-level, and will become the responsible option for removing unavoidable emissions from the air. It will empower individuals to have a direct and climate-positive impact on the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. It will ultimately help to prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels and give humanity the potential to reverse climate change.

12. A new era in medicine

Medicine has always been on a quest to gather more knowledge and understanding of human biology for better clinical decision-making. AI is that new tool that will enable us to extract more insights at an unprecedented level from all the medical ‘big data’ that has never really been fully taken advantage of in the past. It will shift the world of medicine and how it is practiced.

13. Closing the wealth gap

Improvements in AI will finally put access to wealth creation within reach of the masses. Financial advisors, who are knowledge workers, have been the mainstay of wealth management: using customized strategies to grow a small nest egg into a larger one. Since knowledge workers are expensive, access to wealth management has often meant you already need to be wealthy to preserve and grow your wealth. As a result, historically, wealth management has been out of reach of those who needed it most.

Artificial intelligence is improving at such a speed that the strategies employed by these financial advisors will be accessible via technology, and therefore affordable for the masses. Just like you don’t need to know how near-field communication works to use ApplePay, tens of millions of people won’t have to know modern portfolio theory to be able to have their money work for them.

14. A clean energy revolution supported by digital twins

Over the next five years, the energy transition will reach a tipping point. The cost of new-build renewable energy will be lower than the marginal cost of fossil fuels. A global innovation ecosystem will have provided an environment in which problems can be addressed collectively, and allowed for the deployment of innovation to be scaled rapidly. As a result, we will have seen an astounding increase in offshore wind capacity. We will have achieved this through an unwavering commitment to digitalization, which will have gathered a pace that aligns with Moore’s law to mirror solar’s innovation curve.

The rapid development of digital twins – virtual replicas of physical devices – will support a systems-level transformation of the energy sector. The scientific machine learning that combines physics-based models with big data will lead to leaner designs, lower operating costs and ultimately clean, affordable energy for all. The ability to monitor structural health in real-time and fix things before they break will result in safer, more resilient infrastructure and everything from wind farms to bridges and unmanned aerial vehicles being protected by a real-time digital twin.

15. Understanding the microscopic secrets hidden on surfaces

Every surface on Earth carries hidden information that will prove essential for avoiding pandemic-related crises, both now and in the future. The built environment, where humans spend 90% of their lives, is laden with naturally occurring microbiomes comprised of bacterial, fungal and viral ecosystems. Technology that accelerates our ability to rapidly sample, digitalize and interpret microbiome data will transform our understanding of how pathogens spread.

Exposing this invisible microbiome data layer will identify genetic signatures that can predict when and where people and groups are shedding pathogens, which surfaces and environments present the highest transmission risk, and how these risks are impacted by our actions and change over time. We are just scratching the surface of what microbiome data insights offer and will see this accelerate over the next five years. These insights will not only help us avoid and respond to pandemics, but will influence how we design, operate and clean environments like buildings, cars, subways and planes, in addition to how we support economic activity without sacrificing public health.

16. Machine learning and AI expedite decarbonization in carbon-heavy industries

Over the next five years, carbon-heavy industries will use machine learning and AI technology to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint. Traditionally, industries like manufacturing and oil and gas have been slow to implement decarbonization efforts as they struggle to maintain productivity and profitability while doing so. However, climate change, as well as regulatory pressure and market volatility, are pushing these industries to adjust.

For example, oil and gas and industrial manufacturing organizations are feeling the pinch of regulators, who want them to significantly reduce CO2 emissions within the next few years. Technology-enabled initiatives were vital to boosting decarbonizing efforts in sectors like transportation and buildings – and heavy industries will follow a similar approach. Indeed, as a result of increasing digital transformation, carbon-heavy sectors will be able to utilize advanced technologies, like AI and machine learning, using real-time, high-fidelity data from billions of connected devices to efficiently and proactively reduce harmful emissions and decrease carbon footprints.

17. Privacy is pervasive – and prioritized

Despite the accelerating regulatory environments we’ve seen surface in recent years, we are now just seeing the tip of the privacy iceberg, both from a regulatory and consumer standpoint. Five years from now, privacy and data-centric security will have reached commodity status – and the ability for consumers to protect and control sensitive data assets will be viewed as the rule rather than the exception. As awareness and understanding continue to build, so will the prevalence of privacy preserving and enhancing capabilities, namely privacy-enhancing technologies (PET). By 2025, PET as a technology category will become mainstream.

They will be a foundational element of enterprise privacy and security strategies rather than an added-on component integrated only meet a minimum compliance threshold. While the world will still lack a global privacy standard, organizations will embrace a data-centric approach to security that provides the flexibility necessary to adapt to regional regulations and consumer expectations. These efforts will be led by cross-functional teams representing the data, privacy and security interests within an organization.

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Industry Reborn: How Tech Is Changing The Way We Make Things

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As information technology remakes the modern factory, forward-looking companies are creating virtual worlds to optimize real-world manufacturing. The rewards include improvements in business value and sustainability that would have been almost unimaginable just a few years ago.

Among the most important domains in which data-driven approaches are helping manufacturers boost innovation and performance are:

A digital twin is a computer-based replica of a physical object or system.

More specifically, it’s a digital representation of the information embedded within the system. And it’s something that industrial managers can easily study and comprehend—in a way that they can’t, say, a functioning container ship or sprawling manufacturing plant. Managers can use digital twins to predict problems before they occur or to run experiments, exposing the twin to stresses and different inputs without disrupting the real-world system.

The use of duplicates to manage systems dates back to NASA’s Apollo program—more precisely, to 1970’s ill-starred Apollo 13 mission, which almost ended in disaster. The space agency deployed mirrored systems to diagnose the imperiled spacecraft’s problems and devise a plan to get its astronauts back to Earth.

The combination of model-based systems that represent the attributes and behavior of business processes in manufacturing with the recent ascendancy of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is letting digital twin technology come into its own. The IIoT uses sensors and smart components embedded in machines to allow those machines to communicate with other systems—and to feed data back to managers for analysis. That data and the model, together, constitute the material from which the digital twin takes shape.

Digital twins can also guide sustainable manufacturing, letting companies test out different approaches in a virtual environment. That lets them see how they can best eliminate potential waste, whether in inventory, energy use, equipment efficiency or anywhere else.

A digital twin’s most powerful application, however, may be in the design and planning of manufacturing processes and even entire factories. Eric Green, vice president at Dassault Systèmes, cites the case of a company that Dassault Systèmes helped to create a digital model as a starting point for a new plant.

The company realized that it could improve quality and reduce costs by self-manufacturing parts that it had long outsourced. Working with the digital simulacrum, the company simulated different production volumes and flow rates for the parts it wanted to make in-house.

The state-of-the-art plant worked efficiently from day one—the digital twin eliminated the need for a shakedown period. As a bonus, the company now has nearly identical virtual and real environments. This allows managers to more efficiently shift production around various lines.

“They can simulate and optimize for production rates as they grow their business and understand what they need to do before they actually make changes on the factory floor,” says Green. “They’ve now saved a lot of money and become very efficient.”

Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE tech goes further. A 3DEXPERIENCE twin is a virtual model of business processes, with digital continuity from engineering to manufacturing. It’s generated from a single data model on a unified platform—an advantage no other twin can claim. A 3DEXPERIENCE twin also ensures unmatched accuracy and fidelity. When these powerful simulated environments are used for analysis in real time, the result is an unparalleled ability to experiment in the digital world. That in turn creates a flawless experience in the real world.

Organizations are also putting twin-based IT platforms to work to create more value within their supplier networks. A supplier may notice, for example, that a different material is more suitable for a component and suggest its use. The twin can then confirm whether that alternative will meet expectations.

The drive to squeeze more value from networks often starts with a market opportunity. A company might detect a shift in the marketplace, and want to capitalize on it. By mapping a network’s complexities in the virtual realm first, managers can model the entire value network—determining how best to acquire and distribute resources before taking real-world steps.

Ultimately, Green says, a company wants to “maximize the profit mix and the product portfolio mix on a global level, and in a sustainable way.”

“Suppliers in certain parts of the world might be more efficient or better than others,” he says. Impacts will vary “based on total landed costs, which include product costs, transportation costs, labor costs, environmental costs, taxes and tariffs.”

Companies are also using collaborative platforms to create sustainability throughout the value network. A platform such as 3DEXPERIENCE lets firms capture, standardize and analyze data to evaluate a business activity’s environmental and social effects and communicate what’s been learned. Beyond their own operations, companies can collaborate through the value network to reduce waste and increase efficiency—from upfront product and packaging design and raw-material sourcing, to end-stage disposal and recovery of materials.

Designing work environments using virtual twins can make them safer, more efficient and more collaborative. Digital twins can help identify workflow bottlenecks or other process flaws.

Augmented reality and virtual reality systems are proving their utility as part of the worker-training process. Dassault Systèmes designed a system for one manufacturer that uses computer-aided design to create an immersive and interactive environment in which trainees manipulate holographic 3D images. New employees can more quickly grasp complex concepts and gain new insights into processes.

The system also improves safety outcomes and efficiency as workers arrive ready to handle the tools, technologies and procedures the factory will throw at them. The risk of human error falls dramatically. And with less need for shop-floor training and shadowing, the arrival of a new employee can have little or no negative impact on production rates.

Needless to say, when life is easier for shop-floor employees, the whole company benefits. In the United States, an aerospace firm was looking for ways to decrease the two full years it was investing in training incoming engineering graduates. With assistance from Dassault Systèmes, the company created a learning program that gave new hires experience with 3D design and digital transformation software. The new employees became productive team members at the company’s aircraft manufacturing sites that much faster.

Collaborative platforms and augmented or virtual reality systems are also providing a mechanism through which experienced workers can share knowledge and know-how—or what Green calls their “DNA”—with younger colleagues.

Then too, collaborative platforms are easing the ability of existing employees to share knowledge across teams or groups.

Green asks us to imagine a worker helping assemble an aircraft. If the engineering team modifies the assembly process and the worker notices that a key procedural step is lacking, that worker needs the ability to raise a red flag and make sure the appropriate people notice it.

Incorporating digital twin technology into these platforms lets companies test out changes that workers have suggested and identify whether it might make sense to formalize some of their on-the-spot work-process improvisations. The result might be more efficient and improved business processes, fewer wasteful steps and less risk of injury. That, in turn, will boost productivity, empower employees and promote wellness—things crucial to leading companies.

By Tom Clynes

Dassault Systèmes, the 3DEXPERIENCE® Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations.

Source: Industry Reborn: How Tech Is Changing The Way We Make Things

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More contents:

AI And The Secret To Employee Happiness

When I started working as a mainframe operator in IT in 1988, I felt like I was part of a secret club. None of my family understood what I was doing; my friends would ask, “what’s a mainframe and why do you have to work nights?”

My onboarding took months, and a typical workday began with staring at a blank screen. Since mainframes didn’t come with a mouse, I would enter memorized commands like “=3.4” and “Sys3.AF*” to navigate the data sets I needed to find.I don’t think many workers today would put up with that.

Any manager who has tried to hire an employee today will agree the war for talent is real. Job perks like free lunches and on-site laundry just don’t cut it anymore. To recruit talent today, there’s really one thing that every enterprise needs to do: Make work better.

Make work easy

I’ve found that companies invest in digital transformation for three reasons: To work faster, to work more efficiently, and to change or expand their business models. But the end result of any digital transformation should be a better experience, and leaders often neglect the everyday experience of the workers who actually achieve these goals.

Consider this. Outside of work, most people have grown used to finding a new home, getting pet care, and organizing travel all with just a swipe of their finger on the touchscreen. They expect the same level of ease when it comes to the technologies they use at work. It’s no coincidence that the latest release of the Now Platform invested so heavily in improving user experience.

Sure, the interface looks beautiful. But the experience goes deeper than the surface by making the usage more intuitive. Good user experience is about simplifying and hiding complexity so that using it comes naturally to anyone. Make work easy.

Flex on flexibility

Many workplaces have returned to on-site or hybrid work, but I don’t think we’ll bring back the rigid workday schedule. The last two years have taught us that, while face-to-face and real-time interactions are invaluable, many other tasks can be done just as well, if not better, asynchronously.

Yes, it wasn’t fun to work from a makeshift standing desk in the kitchen while keeping one eye on a freakishly fast toddler. It’s no wonder why some employees have eagerly returned to the ergonomic office stocked with free snacks. But some of us love attending a meeting without sitting in traffic, having lunch without navigating a packed cafeteria, or taking a two-hour afternoon break to compensate for that evening call with Tokyo. You have to accommodate both types—and everyone in between.

Leaders learned the hard way in 2020 that you can’t just flip a switch and change the way a business is run. You have to stay ready with workplace technology that can support various—and changing—work models.

Flexibility, supported with a solid digital foundation, is no longer a choice. Clearly communicate what your employees need to deliver and let them decide where, when, and how. Or you can try to force a rigid work model and watch your talent flock to another employer.

AI and human intelligence aren’t mutually exclusive. They work best when they work together.

Automate the mundane

Automation has freed employees from many repetitive tasks, making work more fulfilling and creative. The digitization of work can go a step further by tapping artificial intelligence that effectively sorts through massive amounts of data and makes prescriptive recommendations. AI can even be used to make it easier for employees to be promoted internally—a huge factor in retaining and rewarding your workforce.

There’s a misconception that AI is designed to replace human workers. But for me, artificial intelligence is actually about the interface between people and machines, making lives more interesting by automating the mundane, removing friction, and presenting the right information and insights.

Better together

Knowledge workers thrive when they can harness technology to make more effective decisions. These decisions aren’t only reactive but also proactive—something that AI enables through its predictive power, which can anticipate and adjust to a world full of constantly changing variables.

When it comes to digital transformation, we think of how it impacts the bottom line by improving speed and efficiency. But how do we improve speed and efficiency? By empowering our talent with the delightful and intuitive experiences they deserve.

AI and human intelligence aren’t mutually exclusive. They work best when they work together.

Dave Wright is ServiceNow’s chief innovation officer and acts as an evangelist for how to improve workplace productivity. He has worked with thousands of

Source: AI And The Secret To Employee Happiness

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More contents:

What is a Digital Transformation Strategy? »

What is a Digital Business? »

How to make a Digital Transformation Strategy? »

Digital Transformation Strategy in 2020 »

Where to Start with a Digital Transformation Strategy »

Who should be involved in creating a Digital Transformation Strategy? »

What happens to businesses that don’t have a Digital Transformation Strategy? »

What are the top 5 Digital Transformation Strategy Frameworks?

How do I measure if my Digital Transformation Strategy is working? »

What is Digital Transformation?

The Difference Between Digitization and Digital Transformation

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Last Mile Is Being Disrupted Again: Here’s How Retailers Can Hold Their Ground

Last mile delivery: It’s been quite an interesting road to travel these past couple of years, indeed!

Amazon did an end-run around UPS and Fedex by ramping up its own-fleet delivery to 72% of its total shipments. Uber and Lyft drove into the last mile, bringing everything from restaurant orders to auto parts right to their existing riders’ doorsteps. And the Covid-19 pandemic famously heralded in an explosion of last mile grocery delivery via Instacart, Shipt, Peapod and others.

In 2021, however, last mile disruption was itself severely disrupted. Gopuff barnstormed its way to a $40 billion valuation with a curated assortment and ultra-fast delivery model that rendered Walmart’s two-hour express delivery “so last year” and made Amazon’s same-day delivery service seem positively ancient.

Some leading last mile players, meanwhile, encroached on first-party offering territory. Instacart’s setup of micro fulfillment centers (MFCs) drove speculation that it would soon begin selling products directly to consumers, while DoorDash has already begun doing just that, growing its ranks of new DashMarts nationwide.

However you view it, the disruption of last mile has become the flywheel, driving a larger transformation of retail. For traditional brick-and-mortar stores, who were already under pressure to adapt to changing consumer expectations and increased competition, this disruption represents both threats and opportunities.

Barry Clogan, Chief Product Officer at Wynshop. Read Barry Clogan’s full executive profile here.

Source: Last Mile Is Being Disrupted Again: Here’s How Retailers Can Hold Their Ground

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Critics:

Elina Geller, Sam Kemmis

Know your travel goals

This is an important consideration when evaluating what you would like to get out of your points and miles hobby. Do you want to travel several times a year to an exotic location, flying in first class on miles and paying for your hotel on points? Do you want to fly to visit friends and family using miles (but don’t care if you sit in economy or business class)? Or do you just want to learn what travel rewards are all about?

The good news is that regardless of your travel goals, understanding the basics of these currencies can make those goals a reality. Using points and miles to see the world can save a lot of cash. And when you get into this hobby, you begin to realize that all sorts of travel is affordable and within reach.

Setting clear travel goals can also help focus your attention and investigation. If you want to visit Japan, you can focus on relevant airlines and hotel programs while ignoring the rest (for now). This can help avoid overwhelm and the paradox of choice.

Think of points and miles (travel rewards) as another type of currency. Just like stocks, crypto, bonds or foreign currencies, travel rewards present a way to pay for your travel experiences and invest in your travel goals without using cash.

Each travel reward currency has its own value, just like a country’s currency. Many points and miles are worth roughly a cent apiece, but values vary … It’s important to do the math whenever you’re considering a particular offer or promotion to figure out the approximate cash value. 100,000 points might sound like a lot, but it depends on what kind of points they are…..more

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