Dear Tech: Let’s Do Better

We all want to believe in something larger than ourselves. We want to believe that our words, deeds and actions can make a difference in the world – what Steve Jobs described as “making a dent in the universe”.

But over the last decade, it feels like we have all been knuckling down, focusing on near term data – the next quarter, the month end numbers, the little things that allow us to scrape by week-by-week.

I’m not suggesting all these things are not important. After all, we do need to make our numbers, pay our rent, keep the wolves from the door.

But when did we give up on our dreams of creating a better place than the one we found ourselves in? When did the BIG picture become the landscape for our fears rather than our aspirations? Isn’t it time we re-evaluate?

If there is something that the last decade has taught us, it’s that complex change requires complex solutions. Sure, we can gravitate towards the simple slogan and an easy promise – but the simple truth is that change is hard. It requires effort. And that this future is already here.

The good thing is, is that we’re not alone in this. We have access to the best and brightest minds of our generation, right now. There are massive global corporations turning their attention to fundamental issues and a future that is full of opportunity not fear. It’s why I love this open letter from IBM.

Technology was the defining innovation of the 20th Century, and it looks to be continuing into the 21st. This open letter represents not just an invitation, but a call for participation. Together we can make a difference in the industries that employ our populations and provide purpose and work – like finance, retail, telecommunications and healthcare. But the same rings true for government, the environment and society. Technology has the potential to impact poverty, wellbeing, education and even champion data rights as human rights.

It’s possible. We’ve just got to expect more from technology and the people who work with and in it.

When it Comes to Startups, Storytelling Make the Difference

When we build innovation teams, we always ask for skill diversity – we want hackers, hipsters, hustlers AND humanitarians all working together. It’s a magical combination of skills, perspectives and interests.

Often, however, we struggle to find enough marketers and sales people to contribute. 

Interestingly, it’s also something we often find in the makeup of early stage startups. Founders will seek out tech and product team members well before they seek out marketers. In fact, many founders spend a great deal of time and effort trying to find a tech co-founder.

But what of the marketing co-founder? Where are they and where can they be found?

Micah Rosenberg, writing for the Founder Collective, suggests however, that:

There’s no substitute for being a good story-teller. Often the reason one company raises capital more easily than another in the same general category, with the same general metrics, is that the founder is just a more compelling storyteller.

So perhaps the next best strategic hire for your startup is …

wait for it … 

wait for it …

someone who can give you a surprise ending.

Join Us for #CoffeeMornings in #Singapore this Friday

Update: it seems the very first #coffeemornings in #singapore has outgrown itself. We’ll now be at Pickleville, 140 Robinson Road – Level 4.

For over 10 years now, we have been hosting a meeting of various strategy, digital, social media, innovation and tech types each Friday morning in Sydney’s Surry Hills. We have seen the rise and transformation of marketing and social media as a niche topic to a mainstream – must-have. We have discussed the role of communications and activism, seen new apps and platforms come and go – and still we persist.

But it’s not always about the tech or the topics. It’s mostly about the people.

Now, we know that life is busy and that there’s every reason NOT to get up a little earlier to come along to meet with a table full of people you’ve never met (or maybe only see at conferences). But this Friday is different. This Friday, we’ll be in Singapore.

The plan is the same. All are welcome. We meet. Drink coffee. Talk. Find the wavelength and think about how we can all use our creativity, insight and generosity to plant some change in this world. We’d love for you to join us!

Where: Pickleville, 140 Robinson Road, Level 4
When: Friday, 18 May 2018
Time: From 8am
Getting there: Get directions.

Wait! How will I find you?

Check out my LinkedIn profile. I look like my photo – especially after I have had coffee.

Why are we in Singapore?

This week, Bryony Cole, CEO of FutureOfSex.org and I are hosting the first sextech hackthon in Asia. As Bryony explains, “In every society, there are undercurrents we don’t talk about. Sex is almost universally one of them. The ramifications of creating an unspoken culture around sex is that critical information on protection and health is also ignored or driven underground.” Imagine if there was a way to change lives through conversation (ie sounds like a communications challenge, right there!).

Hackathons are the perfect way of hosting and workshopping challenging topics – whether they are tech, social, business or cultural in nature. If you can’t make the hackathon, come along to coffee. I’m looking forward to meeting you!

 

Hey BizCover Insurance, Welcome to the Internet

For the last few years I have been using BizCover for business insurance. It has been very competitive and convenient. Until now.

A couple of weeks ago, my bank noticed a suspicious transaction on my account and alerted me. After a quick call, we realised that it was entirely fraudulent – which meant that my card number had been compromised and needed to be cancelled.

Happily, the new card arrived within days and normal operations resumed. Except, of course, that regular payments had to be updated.

Which brings us back to BizCover.

As a small business owner, I seek convenience and flexibility. I look for the best deal possible. And I have recommended BizCover to many people – colleagues, contractors and other small businesses. Their rates are competitive and they are flexible. You can review policy options, check rates and signup online. It is a fantastic service.

Up to a point.

But what happens when things change? Surely, you can just login and update your details, right?

It appears not.

Now, it feels like I am making a mountain out of a mole hill. After all, tomorrow I will call and sort out the details. But I see this as a more instructive challenge for most digital businesses. Which – for better or worse – is all businesses.

We have spent the last decade figuring out how to get our customers to buy online – and we have done this relatively successfully. But now we need to go further. To figure out how to get them to remain our customers, and to serve them online.

Sure, this can be challenging when you offer a brokerage service. But that’s part of the deal.

If you want the sale, you’ve got to continue to service the channel.

It’s time that fintech – and especially insurance companies, brokers and stakeholders invested the effort to understand this new marketplace. It’s not just about the upfront dollars, but the ongoing relationship. This really is an internet driven commercial world now, and customer service and convenience should not be a special service. It just gives you a seat at the customer’s table.

Get Started with Your Startup with #StartupSundays

Once upon a time, we all had a dream of writing a novel. In fact, many of us are fond of explaining that we have that Great Australian Novel locked away in a drawer – or more likely – a computer file, gathering dust. One day … we say, we’ll dust it off and finish the story and garner the applause of the world. But like so many great dreams, the Great Australian Novel, often never materialises. But over the last couple of years, I have noticed a distinctly different aspiration coming from friends and colleagues. They speak not so much of a Great Australian Novel, but of a Great Australian Startup. Their own business.

From the number of conversations that I have had over the last 12 months, it seems that we’ve started the awkward journey of becoming a nation of entrepreneurs.

We no longer dream of writing a modern day Kings in Grass Castles. It’s all Canva this, Atlassian that.

Starting at the start

Of course, just like writing a novel, the trick to starting a startup is to “just start”. But while we can all pull out a piece of paper and start to write, surely a startup takes something more … substantial!?

Not so. The Disruptor’s Handbook, for example, is a program that literally guides you from idea to soft launch. And a lot of it requires writing words on paper. It’s just like a novel – but one where you are the hero. The villain. And the entire supporting cast.

Startups are a community affair

While writing a novel can be a fairly solitary activity, startups thrive on community. Feedback is the lifeblood of the startup, and that means the very worst thing you can do is bury yourself in your bedroom (or garage) and hope to knock out the next greatest Facebook/Insta/App. This is where coworking is your saviour. Coworking is a way to get out of the house, connect with others and test your ideas – and your business – in the hard light of day. After all, it’s no use building a business that no one wants or needs.

With this in mind, Vibewire has just announced a new program to support startups of all shapes and size. Called #StartupSundays, it runs each Sunday in October from 9:30am to midday. It’s like a lazy breakfast with motivated people. Over the two and a half hours, there will be speed mentoring and networking, inspirational talks and a chance for peer feedback and a spot of pitching. It’s a simple but effective way to get ahead of your week.

All in a friendly atmosphere – the Vibewire Common Room in Ultimo, Sydney.

  • Where: Vibewire Common Room
  • When: 9:30am-midday, each Sunday in October 2016
  • Bookings: Register here.

New Journeys in Product Development with the Qantas Hackathon

For the last two years, Disruptor’s Handbook have been working with Qantas to create an innovation program that brings the power, agility and speed of the startups into their customer journeys. With a focus on customer experience, these weekend intensives, known as the Codeshare Hackathons, expose Qantas business challenges to the scrutiny – and creativity – of the hackers, hipsters and hustlers of the startup world.

It’s a form of open innovation that we’ve developed specifically to deliver new product opportunities rapidly and at scale. This approach takes a leaf out of the startup book (should I say the Startup Bible), Lean Startup by Eric Ries – focusing however, not on product-market fit but on market-product fit. That means that we help our corporate clients focus on the business challenges they face, coach them through a process of articulation, reverse pitching and presentation, and then open the challenges to startups, students and entrepreneurs.

Then, in a matter of days, we all collaboratively develop working prototypes – what is known as an MVP (a minimum viable product) – to the stated challenges. I call it “marketing-led innovation”.

The secret sauce of corporate hackathons

To the outside world, hackathons are like a cauldron of mystery. We throw in some ingredients, mix them up, and emerge some time later with a magic solution. Somewhere in the middle of the process, a secret sauce is added. But this is anything like Colonel Sanders’ secret recipe. You see, it’s all about process and people.

Over the last couple of years, we have been building out a process that reduces the risk of innovation. We use systems and design thinking approaches, add a dash of lean startup, good old fashioned project and event management and highly targeted coaching and mentoring. We consult with clients, manage stakeholder expectations and do so within what is a relatively controlled and safe environment.

And the results are stunning. New products. New collaborations. New businesses and startups. In many ways, it’s marketing in action. And we’ve got more planned. Get involved, you’ll be amazed at how tasty the secret sauce really is.

Enter the Constellation Supernova Awards

I’m judging the 2016 Constellation SuperNova Awards again this year. It has been a while, but I am excited to see the innovation that is emerging from enterprises around the world. Every year the Constellation SuperNova Awards recognise individuals for their leadership in digital business. and the great thing is, you don’t have to be a North American business. Anyone can enter. Nominate yourself or someone you know before August 8, 2016. It’s a great way to promote your program while also learning from others in the same field. Learn more and apply here.

About the SuperNova Awards

The SuperNova Awards honour leaders that demonstrate excellence in the application and adoption of new and emerging technologies.

In its sixth year, the Constellation SuperNova Awards will recognize individuals who demonstrate leadership in nine categories:

  • Internet of Things – A network of smart objects enables smart services. (sensors, smart ‘things’, device to purchase, artificial intelligence)
  • Data to Decisions – Using data to make informed business decisions. (big data, predictive analytics)
  • Digital Marketing Transformation – Personalized, data-driven digital marketing
  • Future of Work: Social Business – The technologies enabling teams to work together efficiently. (enterprise social networks, collaboration, digital assistants)
  • Future of Work: Human Capital Management – Enabling your organization to utilize your workforce as an asset.  (talent management, benefits, HR core)
  • Matrix Commerce – Commerce responds to changing realities from the supply chain to the storefront. (digital retail, supply chain, payments, ‘ubiquitous-channel’ retail)
  • Next Generation Customer Experience – Customers in the digital age demand seamless service throughout all lifecycle stages and across all channels.  (crm, customer experience)
  • Safety and Privacy – Strategies to secure sensitive data (blockchain, digital identity, authentication)
  • Technology Optimization & Innovation – Innovative methods to balance innovation and IT budgets. (innovation in the cloud, ENSW cost savings, cloud ERP, efficient app production).

The SuperNova Awards are seeking leaders and teams who have innovatively applied disruptive technolgies to their business models as a means of adapting to the rapidly-changing digital business environment. If you have what it takes to compete in the SuperNova Awards submit your application today: https://www.constellationr.com/events/supernova/2016

After the Spark of Innovation Comes the Grind of Transformation

For the  corporate entrepreneur or intrapreneur, innovation is seductive. It’s the nod and a wink that catches your attention out of the corner of your eye. Often, by the time that you’ve doubled back to start a conversation, it has disappeared into the corporate ether.

But that glance holds you in thrall. You know that despite the allure of bright and shiny projects, it’s the riskier, opportunities that will draw you back in.

And yet, while innovation continues to attract us, the real value accrues to the organisation that systematically absorbs that innovation and disperses it not just in new product and service offerings. This means taking the spark of innovation and allowing it to light a million fires in the minds of our employees, transforming the culture one idea, project or prototype at a time.

But almost every leadership team makes the same mistake with digital and with innovation. They focus on the technology, forgetting about the people.

This infographic illustrates this exact problem. Sure, digital is disrupting enterprises, but it’s the hard grind of transforming your people and your processes that sees dramatic revenue, cost and consumer experience benefits:

  • Executives expect that by 2020, 47% of sales will be influence by digital
  • BUT:
    • 14% believe they have the right processes
    • 21% have the right culture
    • 21% have the right people.

Which means, there are significant transformation deficits that must be overcome.

forresterinfographicdigital_businessnigelfenwick18

Uncertain? You’re Not Alone at Vibewire’s #fastBREAK

fastbreak-uncertain

If there is one thing that we can all agree upon, it’s that we all feel UNCERTAIN.

It could be about work. Our partners. Our future.

Do you have a calling or a mission? Do you feel out of touch? Let down? Discombobulated?

Chances are, you’re not alone.

In fact, Vibewire’s upcoming fastBREAK breakfast on 27 May at 8am, is your chance to find out just how un-alone you really are. And you can do it by being with others who feel the same uncertainty.

Join me and five great, young leaders as they share their insights into uncertainty at the first fastBREAK event for the year.

It’s FIVE speakers with FIVE minutes to tell their story. You get to meet and mingle with the speakers and audiences, drink coffee and eat breakfast and still be back at work in time for your WIP meeting. Just a couple of the speakers you will see include:

BRITTANY LEE WALLER
“I like to think of myself as a storyteller, less bad dad jokes more witty, life of the party sort of raconteur. A girl can dream, right?”

Brittany Lee Waller is a freelance writer, editor and content producer. She has spent 8 years working across Gourmet Traveller, Peats Ridge Music Festival, Drinks World Asia, Rare Birds and Nine Network Australia. Brittany founded storytelling site Meet the People because she has always believed that people should be at the essence of everything we do. She likes short walks to the bar and prefers everything to come with a pop culture reference.

OSMAN FARUQI

Osman Faruqi is the co-founder of MetaPoll. He has worked closely with a number of research firms in Australia as a campaign strategist and political adviser for the Australian Greens. He also has an in-depth understanding of Australia’s media and political landscape as a result of his work as a political journalist, broadcaster and commentator. He likes politics, ice cream, Gossip Girl and nationalising things.

Get your tickets here.

Lufthansa Takes You on a Virtual Journey

One of the key marketing challenges that we face in the customer journey is moving from awareness to trial. That is, we want potential customers to “try out” our products or services.

This can be particularly challenging when your product or service has a substantial price tag attached.

Think of travel.

There are a whole series of steps that we go through when we are on a travel journey:

  • Ideas and inspiration: We seek out amazing stories, pictures and reviews of places, people and experiences so that we can plan our own adventures
  • Planning and projection: We start to actively curate our activities, destinations and journeys, connecting the dots and figuring out our itineraries and (gasp, horror) budget. In this stage we are not just planning our activities – but actively imagining what it will be like to BE there
  • Lock and load: When we’ve checked, double and triple checked, confirmed our budget and dates, now we wade neck deep into the process of locking dates to a loaded credit card. Yes, it’s commitment time and the pressure is on (so many websites, so many things that can go wrong)
  • See ya, see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya: Wave goodbye to your friends and family and take the leap into the unknown
  • Wish you were here: Well, we say this to be kind, but if the planning and projection phase was well done, you’ll be taking hundreds of selfies all around the world and using them to induce raging envy across your social graph
  • Reflection and longing: Planes aren’t the only things that land with a BUMP. So too does our travel ego. Coming back to “reality” can be a confronting experience. To cope, we return to our #RunningWithTheBulls selfies to remind ourselves just what the travel rush was all about and how we really are #travelheroes.

In amongst each of these steps, there are hardly any that an airline can directly impact. They can inspire us with their media activities, advertising and profile. And they may even help us to plan – albeit in a small way. A good airline will make locking and loading a breeze and but it’s really when you are in the plane that they can make a huge impact.

But experiencing airline travel is expensive, right? And price alone is a barrier.

This virtual travel experience from Lufthansa by 3Spin is a very interesting innovation that I expect will see plenty of others follow.

Lufthansa have touched on many aspects of the travel journey – turning a largely imaginative process into something that is more tangible. More experiential. In fact, it’s not just the destination that is inspirational, it’s the experience of the virtual reality itself. And with a clever mix of digital, analog and old fashioned customer service, they’ve created something far more than just a 360 degree virtual experience. They have created an EVENT – a point in time and space that will create memories. Stories. And hopefully for Lufthansa, bookings.

It makes me think there may be something to this VR lark after all.