Skating To Where the Puck Is Going

This is the latest in LSA’s Skate To Where the Puck is Going series. Running semi-weekly, it examines the moves and motivations of tech giants as leading indicators for where markets are moving. Check out the entire series here.

What can we learn from the moves and motivations of tech giants? This is a thought exercise we’ve been practicing in order to extrapolate the path of SMB-related technologies. For example, just knowing the motivations of market movers like Google, Amazon and Facebook can triangulate their directions.

The reason that’s important for the SMB SaaS ecosystem is that the gravitational pull of these giants means they can move markets along with them. So knowing their direction can help smaller startups and mid-market players align product roadmaps, aim for the same endpoints, and skate to where the puck is going.

This quote, often attributed to Wayne Gretzky, has arguably been overused in conference rhetoric but it remains valid. As such, we’re structuring related coverage around it and launching a new series of articles under this banner. It will run semi-weekly and examine moves and motivations of tech’s largest players.

For example, as we recently covered, there’s evidence that Amazon is making moves into food delivery and “cloud kitchens.” If that’s true, it has massive implications for SMBs in the restaurant vertical, multi-location brands in the QSR sector and the startups that support them. It’s all about following the money.

Tech Giants’ Motivations: The revenue picture, courtesy of Business Insider

In another example, SparkToro released its perennial clickstream analysis around search behavior. It found that 50 percent of Google searches are “zero-click searches.” Google’s unit economics of course rely on metrics like ad coverage, bid pressure, CTRs and CPCs. So where will it look to boost these figures?

This exercise also shines in early-early stage sectors where trajectories are even less certain. We’ve previously used this construct to predict directions in augmented reality. For example, Google’s massive AR investments are to secure the technology that will be a visual front end for the future of search.

And that’s just it… though tech giants have different reasons for chasing a given technology, there’s a common thread: To protect, boost or pave the future path for their core revenue streams (see above). For Google, that’s search; for Apple, it’s mobile hardware and for Amazon, it’s selling us stuff… lots of stuff.

That set of motivations may seem obvious but it becomes more complex when applying the formula to various technologies these giants invest in. We’ll embark on that exercise and attempt to draw actionable meaning from implicit signals, explicit moves and underlying motivations of these market movers.

Look out for semi-weekly articles published under this banner and see the full series any time. It could reveal important trends over longer time intervals. That’s our job as industry analysts and we’ll continue rolling out new ways to structure market insights. Stay tuned for more announcements along these lines.

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