All Change.

I spend lots of time helping brands and agencies cope with the stress of a constantly moving technology landscape. Adapting from broadcast to network communications and the growth of people powered content is a challenge to most organisations out there. I can help people understand what's going on but I know that won't work in isolation. Training's important but to really develop an organisation you need to do far more. Edward Boches has written a great post on this where he identifies five key ingredients required for changing a business:

Pressure from the top
A company-wide vision
An investment of money, time and resources
Actionable steps to be taken
Measures of success

He points out that if you take any one of those 5 away you'll more than likely fail. For years Mullen (his agency) tried to accelerate its digital transformation but only had three or four of the five. They applied pressure, but didn’t have buy-in across the agency. They made investments but weren’t always sure of the specific actionable steps. Eventually they figured it out. Laid out a vision that everyone could buy into; Weeded out the few who wouldn’t. Made investments in people and resources and took specific steps to accelerate change. Moved to Boston, dramatically changed space and redefined the composition of creative teams. And while they’re still not done, it’s been working.

Building on these 5, I think it's worth expanding on 2 areas:

1. Education
2. Partnerships

Education. How to keep people informed of what's technically possible? How to get creative teams inspired by the potential of Google/Twitter APIs? People like me can help naturalise teams to the new landscape, behaviours, interesting platforms and tools. But all this changes fast. What I prefer to do is give people a good understanding of the basics and encourage them to be curious for themselves. Of course it's worth building partnerships with other organisations. Outside speakers are great but over time the best approach is blending this with your own people taking on much of the knowledge sharing.  

Partnerships. Build relationships with the best tech companies to ensure they come in regularly to inspire your teams (and follow the talks with workshops, get people to apply what they've just seen). Consider loaning office space to interesting tech startups or sponsor them in other ways. Ad agencies and tech companies have complementary skill-sets so they should clearly play nicer together. Agencies aren't great at tech projects and tech startups aren't great at marketing what they do. For me it's a no-brainer. It just makes sense for them to work more closely and try to create a mutually beneficial relationships. 
Partnerships are, for me, fundamental to all good businesses in the future. Collaboration is becoming more and more important (both internally and externally). Companies who can create smart, robust ways to work with others (whether it be internal departments, suppliers or customers) will thrive. Those that can't will always struggle. 

The psychology of shopping

Social commerce (the combination of ecommerce & social media) is, in many peoples minds, the future for shopping. A lot of the ideas relate to behavioural economics (how we're not as rational as we like to think). A piece at Social Commerce Today raises some great points on the psychology that drives shopping in general. Using Dan Ariely‘s book, Predictably Irrational they highlight some of the ideas that drive us to consume and how they relate to social commerce. Here are some of the key points:

▪ The Cost of Social Norms: We are happy to do things, but not when we are paid to do them. Financial rewards or penalties create a market norm, a paid-for transaction that legitimises behaviour – even when undesirable. Social norms and market norms (business, financial rules) are not the same – recognise the difference between the two, and don’t attempt to turn a social norm into a market norm.

▪ The High Price of Ownership: We Overvalue What We Have. We don’t like to lose things – so once we own them, we tend to overvalue them. This may explain why influencer strategies can work – once someone owns your product, they’re likelier to advocate it.

▪ The Cost of Zero Cost: We often pay too much when we pay nothing. Consumers will trade-up, wait in line, and pay more just to be able to get a free gift or bonus, such as free shipping. Free is valuable.

▪ The Power of Price: More expensive is perceived and expected to be better and more effective. Price has an effect on experience. Consider how price is presented and how prices are compared in your product presentation/UX strategy.

▪ The Influence of Arousal: In a state of excitement or arousal, people think and behave very differently. Emotional states trump rational thinking; it’s easier to sell to people when they are excited. Potentially you could use social commerce for live event shopping as opposed to simply adding a retail layer to social platforms and a social layer to your retail platform.

Behavioural economics tells us that we're far less rational in our purchase decisions than other models predict, but that those behaviours aren’t random – they are rather systematic and predictable (as is human nature). For instance, we will often sacrifice personal pleasure for public image – sometimes going against the current simply for the sake of being viewed as ‘different’, even if we prefer what most are doing. Behavioural economics can offer insight into consumer behaviour, which should be considered in social commerce strategies and programs to present things in the most desirable, compelling manner.

Shirky on optimism

“The final thing I’d say about optimism is this. If we took the loopiest, most moonbeam-addled Californian utopian internet bullshit, and held it up against the most cynical, realpolitik-inflected scepticism, the Californian bullshit would still be a better predictor of the future.

Which is to say that, if in 1994 you’d wanted to understand what our lives would be like right now, you’d still be better off reading a single copy of Wired magazine published in that year than all of the sceptical literature published ever since.”

from Clay Shirky in The Guardian

Vodafone. The evolution of mobile

From ringtones to snakes to maps. 

Smartphones now make up 20% of 3 billion devices worldwide, with market share blazing towards 50% over next 2 years (Ofcom).

“It’s an always on medium. People love their mobile phones so much  researchers found people often feel a phantom ‘tingle’ in their pocket that normally proceeds the excitement of a text/call.” 


Is the Internet doomed?

Great talk by Timothy Wu at the RSA yesterday. A talk about his book, Master Switch and a timely reminder of how history has a tendency to repeat itself. When new information industries appear (telephone, radio, film, tv), a pattern often emerges… 

1. We get over-excited about the potential benefits (we think most technologies will solve the worlds problems). 

2. There's a period of openness and experimentation by hobbyists (in the early days of telephone farmers would use barbed wire fences as telephone lines in an effort to be alerted when prairie fires started). 

3. A corporate power intervenes and centralises control of the new medium. We accept this because once the novelty's worn off we want order, reliability and less spam. We're also overwhelmed by the openness and overwhelming choice/confusion. 

4. The new power monopoly helps for the first 5 years or so, creating order out of chaos but after than innovation flounders and their key motivation becomes protectionism. 

He drew an interesting analogy of monopolies with dictatorships. They often begin with a wave of populist support (Mubarak, Mugabe, Hitler & Mao) but become corrupted through absolute power.   

So will the internet follow suit? Will Apple, Facebook & Google create closed, safe environments for us to sleepwalk our digital lives in? 

I think not. It's always hard seeing beyond monopolies (Microsoft, MySpace) but the reality is, empires crumble. There's too much competition. Too much potential for upstarts to challenge the dominant. 
I think we're ok for now…  

Hot or Not. The Disruptive Tech Outlook for 2011

Great overview of new technologies and how they're confusing business today. Common themes are location location location, mobile, data and social. I can't think of one smart company that isn't experimenting in these areas (can you?). In a blog post Charlene also breaks down how you should prioritise where your focus lies: 

  • User Experience. Does this technology pass the “no manual needed” test? Does it allow people to connect in new ways? Twitter is powerful as a platform, but inscrutable if you’re not familiar or comfortable with @ and DMs — which thereby limits its disruptive power. In comparison, social networks like Facebook are intuitive and provide tremendous value with the new experiences they enable.
  • Business model. Simply put, can you make more money, or save costs because of these new technologies? And by using the technologies better and faster than your competitor, can you gain an advantage? An example of this is YouTube, which when deployed in a strategic way can lower acquisition and support costs for companies.
  • Ecosystem value. The most disruptive technologies are when ecosystems get impacted. Streaming, on-demand video seemed to be the dominion of cable companies but then along comes Netflix who wasn’t even in the streaming business at all — but has the relationship with movie viewers who were sick of keeping track of red envelopes. Value shifts with the entrant of a new player who is able to tap into this new technology.

Here's the full deck. You can download the ppt and share. 

Simple Media Planning

Nice graphic describing the oft over-used but sometimes useful idea of Bought, Owned and Earned media.


Phone fluff

I made some new ringtones. I love the sound of old phones so the first 3 are based on the old analog bakelite phone rings. The next 2 are submarine sonar sounds. The last is from the Tokyo metro system (where they have a different audio motif for every station so you don't have to look at the signs). 

Old Phone 1 Old Phone 2 Old Phone 3

Sonar 1 Sonar 2

Tokoy Subway


I'm fascinated with why we're so keen to use old ring tones on new phones. It seems to soften the shock of new technology, to help us enjoy a smooth transition to strange new things. 

Inspiring Voices - Tim Smit

I heard Tim Smit, the founder of the Eden Project on Radio 4 last week and was completely blown away by his intelligence, sense & humility. Ted, who I met on Monday did the smart thing and put the videos on YouTube. Thanks Ted! Well worth a listen. 

Our Mobile Future

Everything you need to know about the rise of mobile, tablets and virtual goods. Mary Meeker nails it and demos how fast change is occurring (I spend my life looking at this stuff and some was still new to me).
Mary meeker mobile trends 11 feb 2011

Here's my 7" radio edit. 
So Lo Mo - Social Local Mobile
Mobile advertising is still in it's infancy but its developing fast, has very high transaction conversion rates and is very viral. 
  • Location-Based Services – Enable real-time physical retail / service opportunities - Shopkick
  • Transparent Pricing – Instant local + online price comparison disrupts retailers - ShopSavvy
  • Discounted Offers – Deep discounts drive foot traffic to local retailers - Groupon iPhone
  • Immediate Gratification – OTA (over-the-air) instant digital product + content delivery - Shazam/iTunes
"Mobile is clearly becoming a new way people shop," Jon Donahoe, CEO Ebay
Read More

Why is DropBox so much more popular than other similar tools?

I love DropBox and I'm intrigued by Quora so I was happy to see this post asking why DropBox is so popular compared to other file syncing solutions. 
"Well, let's take a step back and think about the sync problem and what the ideal solution for it would do:


There would be a folder.
You'd put your stuff in it.
It would sync.


They built that.

Why didn't anyone else build that?  I have no idea.

"But," you may ask, "so much more you could do!  What about task management, calendaring, customized dashboards, virtual white boarding.  More than just folders and files!"
No, shut up.  People don't use that crap.  They just want a folder.  A folder that syncs."


Exactly. DropBox does one thing very well and it doesn't try to make you do anything new. If you haven't tried it. Do. It's an amazing way to backup and sync your stuff.