Post #27: “People want outcomes, not widgets”

One of the great things about following multiple future trends is getting to meet with a broad range of interesting people who work at the cutting edge. The past week was fairly typical: we had lunch with the Chief Technology Officer of a cybersecurity start-up, as well as meetings with executives working for important players both in the plastic recycling and liquefied natural gas sectors. Below follow some brief highlights –

On cybersecurity,the reason, we were told why people want “outcomes, not widgets” is a reflection of the fact that buzz terms such as AI in particular are becoming over-used (and correspondingly over-hyped). This is a useful lesson for much of the industry: avoid talking about AI if you want to win business. It matters particularly in cybersecurity, where some 3,500 businesses are currently active (per a US venture capital business database), yet only 10% of these have revenues of more than $5m. Some consolidation, therefore, seems inevitable, particularly since the current market environment remains propitious for capital raising. Note stories this morning across the media of Broadcom’s interest in Symantec.

On plastic recycling, we were reminded of the shocking statistic that only 2% of all plastic produced today is currently recycled, which compared poorly to rates of well over 50%+ for glass, aluminium and paper. Plastic, however, remains popular as a material of choice owing to its cheapness and durability. There is a future for plastic, but increasingly a recycled one. For those unaware, the EU’s Single Plastics Directive, released this March, mandates for 77% of plastic to be recycled by 2027 and 90% by 2029. Nations need to get to work to hit these targets. Logically, growing interest in those businesses producing recycling solutions such as reverse vending machines should follow. 

On liquefied natural gas (‘LNG’), supply-demand dynamics remain highly favourable, we were told. While supply is currently increasing (led by the Qataris in particular), it remains the case that long-term supply will be constrained by the significant costs of infrastructure build. Current demand (liquified gas is outpacing any other hydrocarbon at present) is more than able to accommodate increased supply. The fact that liquefied natural gas has a superior carbon footprint relative either to coal or oil is one factor helping to support demand. Interestingly, we were informed, this dynamic also creates a relative opportunity for players in the LNG space to stress their environmental credentials. 

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