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Idealog Year in Review 2017: Louise Webster

Founder of the NZ Innovation Council and NZ Innovation Awards and GM at Tech Futures Lab Louise Webster shares her views on the year that was and the years that could be.

Favourite innovation that isn't yours?

Definitely Eat My Lunch, I’m a big social enterprise fan, so anyone who can develop a business to help others, especially by giving lunches to children in need, has my vote!

Favourite innovation that is yours?

Just sold it!

Most interesting launch/trend/idea/building/product of the year?

AI is definitely rocking my world at the mo, I love the idea that a personal assistant or bot can learn exponentially faster than a human, it fascinates me. I can’t wait to see the infinite applications that will be created to use personal assistants in the future and how this will change our society; the way we interact, the relationships we have and the information we have instant access to.

Most promising New Zealand company/companies?

Rocket Lab…who doesn’t like rockets!

Heroes?

Definitely my dedicated and supportive team - Jane Tohill, Fiona Millar and Andy Blackburn. Thanks guys! 

Your own biggest success?

Definitely selling and exiting a business, biggest learning curve ever! I'm now ready to start the next one – exciting!

What’s the biggest mistake innovators/businesses will make in 2017?

That’s an easy one, it’s been the same for many years. Not focusing on solving a customer problem or pain point and truly putting the customer at the heart of everything you do; every decision, every campaign, every piece of internal and external communication.  It's easy to say but not so easy to do!

What do you expect to see in the next five years?

Driverless cars with a move away from owning a vehicle and using ride-sharing and collaborative economy models. Personal assistants that can anticipate your meal choice, and can you let you know before you get home what’s missing from the fridge and what specials are on at the supermarket. 3D printed food and vending machines that measure your nutritional needs and create the food of your choice with no calories, fat or sugar.

What will be dead in the next five years?

Most professional services firms, especially those with partner models, which don’t promote long-term investment in the company. Little investment and legacy systems mean there is no opportunity for growth development and innovation at scale.

What should be invented and/or un-invented?

Professional services firms….?

Favourite book/TV show/podcast/album/website/magazine/story/performance-enhancing drug of the year?

In the book category The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb, she’s an Aussie so pokes the borax at herself and others; a funny read. The book is based on the premise that we all need someone to help us with our life admin, children and extended family. Maybe our personal assistants will be our new ‘wives’ of the future?

What’s the one piece of tech would you have on a desert island?

A machine that makes food from salt water? Is there such a thing?...and of course my iPhone, but everyone says that right?

Will the robots become sentient and kill us all? (asking for a friend)

Hopefully not, at least not in my lifetime. Anyway, I’m hoping Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics will apply! Along with a good dose of common sense.

How long before we have immortality?

Immortality is an interesting one, it would be very cool to see if any of the above comes to fruition, especially the robot killing part.

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