Giving businesses the power to run themselves autonomously.

More than ever before, young people, women, and marginalized communities are turning to technology-enabled entrepreneurism to empower themselves and find economic freedom. The side hustle has become a way of life for many — a way of filling the gap left by a lack of real, well-paying long-term employment options.

As a software company who enables small business operators, Wave Accounting wins when their users win. With this in mind, Wave engaged me and the team at Humanistic to lead a research and foresight engagement with a primary goal of identifying the forces shaping technology enabled entrepreneurship, and it's intersection with the burgeoning fields of data science and machine learning.

Wave Financial
Dec 2018
Project Context

The team and I worked to scan the horizon for novel machine intelligence applications in incumbent markets, emergent global entrepreneur behaviours, and newly formed social practices within the broader finance and financial products/services spaces.

As a result we identified a number of high-growth opportunities for Wave, illuminating new and competitive applications at the intersection of emerging small business owner behaviours, automation, and machine intelligence.

Within these high growth opportunity areas, we developed a number of speculative future scenarios which explored how future entrepreneurs might run their businesses in the world of tomorrow — and powered by tomorrow's technologies.

Largely exploratory, these scenarios pushed the limit of contemporary accounting, imagining interactions with machine intelligence, automated fulfillment, smart bookkeeping, or dealing with multiple jurisdictional tax codes.

Methods & Activities
  • Foresight and Vision Development
  • Market, Environment, and Horizon Scanning
  • Market Trend and Driver Analysis
  • Scenario and Uncertainty Planning
  • Ethnography, Observation, and User Research
  • SME, Stakeholder, Expert Interviews
  • Business Immersion, Value Web Modelling
  • Desk Research, Doc and Literature Review
  • Venture and New Business Design
  • Speculative Futures Design
  • Strategic & Tactical Planning, Roadmapping

My contributions and leadership on this project provided Wave with extremely valuable future-oriented insights and opportunities — guidance that informed a market-leading machine intelligence vision, a number of key business acquisitions, and the development of multiple future products and services.

Wave was later bought by one of the acquisition targets we identified during this project.

"Shawn and Matt at Humanistic brought a number of unique and fresh perspectives to the table, along with an incredible work ethic. They produced high-quality results in a remarkably short period of time and broadened our thinking about what the vision of this organization could be. Working with them was a great spark for creativity and innovation."
Ideshini Naidoo - CTO, Wave Accounting.
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