Lots of Trends, But the Direction is Mobile

In the marketing world, we love trends. We use them to help us spot and understand what is happening in our marketplaces and what is shifting in the worlds of our customers. They can also be used to help us identify where we have gaps in our customer engagement strategy or where a competitive advantage is opening up.

But so often we focus only on the trend and miss the greater underlying movement that is taking place.

Take a look at this presentation from Edelman Digital. The focus is on trends across Asia Pacific – but the reality of this is, that the same can be easily applied to any country. We are, after all, globally connected. And when I say “we”, I mean “consumers”.

As the presentation points out, trends like “touch (see) and go” and “convergence emergence” are not just on the horizon – they are happening and visible in our marketplace now. And tying this to the Edelman Trust Barometer – a measure of the trustworthiness of our institutions – shows precisely why social networks and dominating the thinking of so many business executives.

But for my money, it’s not the trends that are important for us all to consider. It’s the direction. The report touches on this under “Trend 8: Device Freedom” – but reading between the lines, it’s clear that there is a substantial shift in consumer behaviour underway. And it will impact every angle, every industry, every message and every business – whether we like it or not. It’s the ever increasing ubiquity of the mobile phone (particularly the smart phone). It’s already changing the way we shop and the way we work, but it’s going to go further than most businesses are ready for.

Those that prepare and move earlier will be well placed to guide the customer experience and transform the notion of trust that is at the heart of our often fragile sense of brand loyalty. Those that fail to move may find that they fail in more ways than one. It’s taken well over 10 years to get to the year of the mobile, but the trending time is over – the direction is clear and it’s in the palm of your hand.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

I was out most of last week with a bad, bad cold. It seems it’s going around (ie the really viral). But I was still able to find a few gems to read in between heavy nanna naps.

  1. Some snappy writing and a barb in the tail of Jim Parker’s writing. He explains why journalists fear academics and shines a light on the process of opinion making and influence wielding in the Australian media. You’ll love it.
  2. Greg Verdino takes us behind the scenes with the American Express OPEN Forum and shares the four principles that keep it fresh and focused.
  3. Is branding something that only your customers experience? What if you treated your employees first? In Let’s Go to Work, Katie Chatfield talks about what this might mean.
  4. Despite our interest in authenticity, it can be hard to live by. Mark Schaefer shares a recent conference experience and explains why.
  5. Is Facebook the New Big Mac? Tim Longhurst casts an accusatory eye across the over-hyped Facebook IPO to tease out the sense, if not the dollars, underlying the valuation and market expectation.

Oh and if you are looking for one more, here’s my post on the future of work and the need to think like a teenager.

Influencing Design with Frank Chimero

One of the biggest challenges we face in the business world is – in my opinion – not generating more sales, cutting more costs or improving productivity. It’s more fundamental  and goes to the heart of our human condition. It’s harnessing our logic AND our creativity in such a way that it solves the problems that our work, business, social and creative endeavours throw in our path. I call it The Social Way.

So, the chance to hear Frank Chimero speak in Sydney in June looks too good to pass up. He has worked as a designer, illustrator and strategist for brands such as the New York Times, Facebook and WIRED. His recent book The Shape of Design suggests that logic may not always to be the best way to solve design problems (which obviously is right up my alley) – and his inclusive style promises a lively keynote and Q&A forum.

Here courtesy of Portable and VIVID Ideas, he is also slated for talks in Brisbane and Melbourne. Book in while you can!

Out and About? Turn Your Mobile On. It’s the Future of Work

I am old enough to remember using a bundy clock to mark the beginning and end of my work day. Each day, at 8:45am I would pick out the card with my name typewritten (yes typed by a typewriter) at the top and I would slot it into the machine which would time stamp my attendance. And then again, at 5:00pm, I would walk down the stairs, select my card and “bundy out”. If I think about it I can still feel the rhythm that would vibrate up the card into my fingers.

The reason I started work at 8:45am was to create enough time in our working schedule for a fortnightly “early afternoon”. Every two weeks the office closed early and we all rushed off to nearby shops to pay bills, bank cheques and so on. It afforded a small amount of flexibility in our otherwise regimented working lives.

Clearly, this was a time before 24 hour shopping. It was a world that stopped after 6pm.

Inside the office, the decor of the moment was beige. Office landscapes were designed like wagon trains – the management encircling the worker who eeked out their existence in brown hessian covered partitions surrounded by inboxes, outboxes, reading materials and filing cabinets. The only piece of technology to be seen was the Commander telephone. And yes, your desktop really was a desktop – there was not a computer in sight.

And while this environment looked and felt safe, conservative and controlled – it was anything but – for technology was about to create a massive disruption within the workplace – one from which we would never recover.

It began with green screen – or orange screen – computers. Hovering over our desks, they looked like alien eyes peering back at us from unimagined future. Suddenly the activity of “work” shifted from the pad and pen – from the desk – onto the screen connected to a mainframe locked away in a climate controlled room in the basement. We were trained, supported and performance KPI’d. And then slowly it started.

A business case here and a business case there, and soon “desktop computers” began to sprout across the office. They were like great silent triffids gobbling up our old work practices and expectations. Some of my older colleagues gave up and took early retirement. Others retreated further up the management chain, defending their positions with computer-literate PAs and assistants.

Eventually the desk was replaced with the desktop.

We now face yet another wave of disruptive change. Many now cling as tightly to their laptop computers and email as my colleagues once did with their pens, pads and sense of tradition. But those days are over. The future of work isn’t about desks or even offices. It’s mobile and it’s already here. It’s time to turn it on.

Networking 101: Getting Out and About for Business

No matter where you are on the career ladder – starting out, consolidating or even retiring and soaking up the sun – the process of networking is vital. But when I say “networking” I don’t mean meeting and greeting and handing out dozens of business cards – these days a great deal of networking and information gathering can take place online (after all it is called “social” media).

The nice thing about this, is that you can get a sense of someone’s skills and experience via LinkedIn, understand their thought process and expertise by reading their blog and even see what they look like and how they “handle themselves” socially via Twitter.

And then, after you have done your “due diligence” and have determined that your online interactions warrant a face-to-face meeting, you can arrange to meet. Where? It really depends on where you live. But in my Networking 101 article over at the MYOB website you can read up on some suggestions for where to go, tools to use and why you should care.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

This week there seems to be plenty of talk about disruption … about what it means and what the implications are. And while this feels true, disruption has always been the natural state in the creative industries (including advertising). It’s just that the waves of disruption now overlap and seem to hit us from all directions. Some of these articles may help you navigate this chaotic world.

  1. Stories can have a powerful transformative effect on people and on brands – but many still fail to see the link with social media. Meghan Biro explains why brand humanization is not a social media fad.
  2. It used to be easy to measure things when the only way to access the web was via a browser (let’s face it, WAP was a dud). But these days our experience is fragmented across a variety of branded and non-branded elements and varies according to the way in which we CONSUME that experience – TVCs, radio, print, website, app, social network etc. Is it any wonder we need help influencing the customer journey?
  3. On a similar topic, Michael Brito steps us through some of the steps required to shift from traditional approaches to become more of a social business.
  4. One of my favourite ways of explaining difficult concepts is through pop culture references. And Veronica Jarski shares some powerful business lessons from four Marvel Superheroes. Love it!
  5. Edward Boches suggests that CMOs (and the rest of us) have to become a whole lot more tech savvy. With digital audiences and audience-focused platforms continuing to grow, the digital havoc will continue.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

Each week, as I click links, follow trails and read through my ever burgeoning list of RSS feed, I leave tabs open in my browser. That often means that I will have 60-70 tabs open at one time – which also means that my browser is slow to load each morning. In an ideal world I read, cull and move on – with only the best tabs left still open at the end of the week. It is from this list that I draw my five must-read posts. Here are a few that I just can’t seem to close:

  1. In my mind there is no doubt that Search and all its variants is under pressure. We are slowly but surely coming back to our trusted networks to source knowledge, resolve issues and decide on the things that we buy. And because if this changing behaviour, it’s I also believe the interest graph is the future of social commerce 
  2. And on that subject, as “the social customer” becomes clearer in our marketing lenses, it will no doubt require new ways of organising our businesses. Michael Brito shares this presentation on the shift to social business
  3. We’re not just seeing a massive behavioural shift in the marketplace – we are also seeing a significant demographic shift. Augie Ray reminds us that the Gen Y tidal wave is on the horizon – and will bring with it even more discontinuous change. Time to dust off the longboard
  4. How do you build your blog into one of the leading sites for your industry? Valeria Maltoni shares some of the secrets that have made her Conversation Agent site so successful
  5. Remember when you weren’t so good at your chosen profession? Sometimes you need to work through some skills and build your capabilities before you can truly deliver for your employer, clients or customers. Sean Howard reminds us that you will suck, deal with it.

The Real Value in Conferences is the People

I just got back from a fantastic couple of days at Terrapin’s Internet Show conference. It confirmed for me how powerful in-person events can be – papering over the cracks of our fragmented online connections, interactions and identities. More than once I was introduced to a person who had previously seemed more real in 140 characters than the flesh and blood person standing in front of me. And more than once did I laugh and revel in the light of a witty observation or wry comment.


There was also plenty of great food for thought. Rob Campbell was challenging and thought provoking. Douglas Nicol wowed us with data, mapping and analysis. Tiphereth Gloria showed how frameworks can help make sense of your digital strategy. And some great panel discussions brought the crowd into the conversation.

There were some presentations that I could not get to, but at least this one on social media measurement from Mandi Bateson is online.

Measuring social media success

View more presentations from Mandi Bateson

I’ve even uploaded a selection of the photos I took during the sessions. More can be found on instagram. And you can also check out my presentation – on the business of being social on Slideshare (and embedded below).

Vibewire’s fastBREAK Featuring Dan Ilic

On the last Friday of every month, Vibewire in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum, hosts #fastBREAK – a breakfast event featuring young innovators and creatives. This is not just a chance for people to “pitch” to the assembled audience of curious business people, artists and entrepreneurs – it goes a step deeper – challenging the speakers to share something deeper – to share a sense of purpose.

Last Friday, with the umbrella theme of “Rage”, five speakers again assembled to engage and entertain the audience. On the bill was well-known comedian and performer, Dan Ilic. Through storytelling, anecdotes and a spot of culture jamming, he showed just how young innovators are challenging the norms, the political narratives of our times and moving from “rage to action”.

The next #fastBREAK will be held slightly out of sequence – on May 18. It is part of the Sydney Writers Festival and promises to be literary, challenging and more than entertaining. It’s like a breakfast that’s good for you …

And don’t forget – the event is sponsored by the pastry gurus from Black Star Pastry in Newtown. It’s the best $10 you’ve ever spent in Sydney! Be sure to book early!