Prague’s Maximilian Hotel reopens following redesign by Conran and Partners
One of Prague’s most established boutique hotels, Maximilian, has reopened after a refurbishment programme by Conran and Partners.
Criteo’s Mike Walley is hitting the hi-tech groove this month, wondering when and how we got to the point where pretty much everything the consumer wants is at the end of a computer keyboard stroke.
It used to be that where you lived often had a major impact on your future career. If you lived in Northampton, it was likely you’d end up in the shoe business, Sheffield it would be the cutlery business, and if you lived in the area known as The Potteries, it was going to be ceramics.
Then came the globalisation of business and the local weight of these industries reduced enormously; the workforce became more diversely skilled and the map showed a more homogenised picture of business and industry across the UK.
Then someone invented tech.
Amusingly, for a thing that is meant to set us all free, and allow us to do so much more whilst on the move or from home or on the train etc, if you wanted to work in this industry ‘back in the day’, there were global hotspots you absolutely had to be in – Silicon Valley, Shoreditch, Munich or 9th arrondissment in Paris, for example. These areas were full of deeply clever people, doing amazing things that would more and more directly affect everyone’s daily lives. They lived and worked in these hot spots and they created more and more weight in the local economies, sometimes to the profound disquiet of the earlier residents of these areas.
Like the industries of the past, tech has reached that moment in its lifecycle where de-centralisation is the next step.
But, as always, lots of other businesses benefited from this centralisation. From coffee shops to real estate, we were all happy to support these centres of tech (and in the process we hoped a little of ‘the cool’ rubbed off on us) and they also spawned some new businesses, like coworking spaces and the whole world of workplace experience.
The thing is, good ideas are infectious and e-commerce is a blindingly good one. It started with online shopping for books and then grew exponentially from there. I remember the first time I heard of someone ordering loo paper online; I thought it was ridiculous. You go out shopping for that kind of thing – you don’t sit in the spare bedroom on your computer, typing in credit card details with your fingers crossed, hoping it’s not a scam.
It feels like I blinked and the next thing I know, we were doing our entire Christmas shopping online, and venturing out to the shops was almost solely for entertainment.
So, faced with such acceptance of and demand for online commerce, everyone is getting in on the act. Banks, fashion retailing, supermarkets, you name it – and we expect to be able to buy it online and have it delivered the next day or sooner! For example, in my own house, in the last month, we have had delivered…two sets of Nordic walking poles, gizmos for a marine diesel engine, 14 prom dresses (of which, so far, 12 have been returned), three cases of dogfood and a manhole cover. We want to control our heating, our library card and our boarding passes for the holiday flight. All these companies are hiring their own tech teams and creating their own worlds. We now have PropTech, FinTech, MedTech, FashionTech, SportsTech, HealthTech and FemTech, to name but a few.
Such retail joy cannot be driven solely by outsourced tech; it has to come in-house. The establishment started to suck up all the tech talent. So what is going to happen to the tech hubs?
I believe the hub areas will slowly transform into the incubators for the rest of business, growing the staff and start-ups that bigger companies will then absorb. Tech is being homogenised throughout business and that tightknit group of workers we are used to chasing with crazy-wonderful office design, food and wellness perks are, at once, more in demand than they have ever been – and more thinly dispersed.
And, guess what? They are taking all that design, wellness and workplace fun stuff with them. 300- year-old banks are putting beanbags in meeting rooms, fashion houses are getting to grips with jeans and hoodies and doctors are using apps to diagnose a range of ailments (although, having worked in a medical charity for some years, I strongly suspect it’s the nurses doing it for them).
So like the industries of the past, tech has reached that moment in its lifecycle where de-centralisation is the next step. This time though, I think we will all see the benefits. The workforce from tech is educating the office market, inside and out. Design is becoming important whatever your business, wellness and sustainability are being taken seriously and it is now really easy to get a great coffee almost anywhere. I wonder how business will influence the tech crowd?
Hoodie, t-shirt and a tie, perhaps…
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