There's a rule about new technologies - bleeding edge tech doesn't equal bleeding edge demand. I'm old enough to remember Betamax.
Electronics companies have a track record in this kind of failure. Famously (and quoted in Blue Ocean Strategy) Phillips CD-i was a commercial flop because it tried to do too many things - and customers weren't sure what value it could add to their lives.
That and the fact the games were rubbish.
Phillips added and added technical functions and spec. With all this 'special stuff' - the execs were convinced the market would lap it up. But they forgot to ask what the user would find useful.
Innovation is only any good if it's useful to people. The more people it is useful to, the better the outcome.
Often the focus of innovation is on ourselves - how can we make things better for us. Or it's on showing off how technically clever we are (our spec's bigger than your spec).
And isn't that what a huge chunk of digital marketing has been all about? Sharper and sharper focus on tracking and responding to online behaviour - cleverer and cleverer tech, more and more spec?
All the better to serve the right ad at the right time with.
All the innovation focused on building a better advert.
What we're talking about here is a technological arms race in pursuit of incremental improvements in quality or relevance of messages.
Which is the answer you'd come up with if you asked advertising and marketing teams what they wanted from digital innovation.
But is it what all elements of the route to market actually WANT from the best-ever ability to connect with people that digital technologies enable?
Is a better advert what the manufacturers and service providers want from digital technology? Is it the best they can expect from our growing ability to form communities of purpose at the drop of a hat?
And is a better advert what 'consumers' want?
Oh, I know, the right information at the right time becomes really 'useful' so you could argue the more effective you are at this the more effective your 'adverts' for all parties. There is some truth in this. Ads that take this approach attain much higher click-thru rates (but all those that don't get clicked must still be counted as spam).
More importantly, this is defaulting to the belief that what we all want is better messaging.
What if that isn't true? What if what we all actually want (manufacturers and service providers -
customers, too) is improvement in quality or relevance of products and services?
More potential 'customers' for advertising would find that useful.
So the role of advertising and marketing may just be in deploying your skills and relationships to improve the quality and relevance of products and services.
How do you innovate that using digital tools? Well that's pretty much what I'll be talking about at OMEXPO in Madrid tomorrow.
Expect references to the best set of tools to bring us together (the social technologies which form the web) being wasted on gathering eyeballs - and how platform thinking can put them to their best use: innovating better and more relevant products and services.
See you there (slides will follow :-)
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
There's a rule about new technologies - bleeding edge tech doesn't equal bleeding edge demand. I'm old enough to remember Betamax.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
This genuine and effective charity has been tarred with a very nasty and impactful brush. Some of its would-be clients - many of them vulnerable school kids - have been put off by the fear that their confidentiality will be breached - in the same way (very much allegedly) that No10 staff reportedly had theirs breached by The National Bullying Helpline.
So let's be very clear BullyUK has absolutely nothing to do with the self-proclaimed National Bullying Helpline.
And if the national press, and the Conservative Party care as much about bullying as the screaming headlines suggest, then perhaps they will join me in donating to BullyingUK right here and now.
They have a lot of damage to repair.
Perhaps you will join in too?
I should make clear, BullyingUK have been very careful not to solicit donations during this sensitive period for fear of accusations of cashing in. And I think that's very wise.
But (and in line with the platform approach I advocate all organisations take) I'm equipped with the belief and the tools to play my part in righting this wrong. And now, so are you.
So let's do what they can't. Together. You'll find them on twitter, too.
Donate, by all means - but ask others to, blog about this, tweet about it. Thank you.
Monday, February 22, 2010
I'll be in Madrid for the OMEXPO on Feb 24-25. I'll be presenting alongside Jamie Burke (CEO at 90:10) on the, obviously, non-controversial subject of: The Death of Advertising.
This is how our 45 minutes is being sold:
90:10's Jamie Burke and David Cushman confront you with the end of business as usual.
They'll examine how everything you thought you knew about traditional advertising will fail you in the rapidly emerging and increasingly dominant networked world.
They'll explain how the shift from a broadcast world to a network of peers disrupts content creation, distribution and user experience.
And they'll ask what lessons Spain's advertising industry can learn from the peer-powered disruption tearing the UK's media landscape apart.
If you landed in a world without advertising today, would you reinvent it?
And, of course, I'll be making the slides available via slideshare shortly after. Expect some conclusions involving platforms, naturally.
Jamie and I arrive around 1pm on the 24th and leave on the evening of the 25th. If you'd like to meet with us while we're there, please drop either of us a line: david AT ninety10group DOT com or Jamie AT ninety10group DOT com.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Gerd Leonhard via WikipediaTwo of the brightest lights to guide you into the networked world, Alan Moore and Gerd Leonhard, have buddied up to present a joint webinar:
Thriving commercially in social media and the networked society: An interactive seminar with Gerd Leonhard and Alan Moore
Both are acclaimed authors, bloggers and consultants to a wide-range of global organisations.
Places are strictly limited and priced at just $50. Gerd and Alan are both good friends of mine - and fellow collaborators at 90:10. Trust me - that's around 1% of their combined day rates - so quite a bargain.
But just in case you need even more of an incentive, there's a special discount code available on a first-come first-served basis. It'll bag you a decent 15% off the price. To get it just drop me an email.
The webinar is on Monday, March 1, 2010 from 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM (ET)
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The fact that colleague Laurence Borel is (was, heh heh) Mayor of 90:10 at 17 Percy St provides a great location-based nudge, for example (the more you check in at a location, the more points you accrue - you may even get to be Mayor... ah hem, I guess you have to be there).
I like the way tips can be delivered with both positive and negative power:
'ask for Joe he makes a mean cocktail'And I think there's a further two potentials likely to emerge. The first is for a wikifixing of venues and locations: A kind of brand tags.net for shops, bars, restaurants, offices, airports etc. (image via handmaps.org)
'avoid the soup - it tastes like dishwater'
The second is an extraordinary potential to redraw the WHOLE map niche by niche (by each niche and for each niche) wresting control from the centre to the edge. It's our world, we should map it.
By following the emerging folksonomies FourSquare and those that will follow it (right up to and including ubiquitous augmented reality - Minority Report all around us) have the potential to disrupt the mass production version of the world - the one with a shared taxonomy on a centrally quality-assured (agreed) map.
These are two quite distinct plays: The brandtags version allows people to name a venue based on how they feel about it. The number of people who check into that location under its new title will indicate how much others agree.
In brandtags, consumers share keyterms for how they would describe a brand. On Foursquare if I label London's Kings Cross Railway Station, with, 'The Slough of Despond' it's likely a number long suffering commuters will check into The Slough.
A restaurant which serves bad food could get renamed by disgruntled diners and if others agree, the check-ins at Chez Crap will rise.
That's the crowd wikifixing individual locations then.
Then there's the greater opportunity of the long tail of mapping OUR multiple niche realities.
The maps we are used to are a view from the centre. They are an iconic example of a world view literally (super)imposed on us.
Buildings get given their official names - not the ones we use. I wonder if you can find Big Ben or The Pineapple on an OS map of London?
And those are just folksonomy terms everyone uses. How would the people in your office direct you to a nearby Thai restaurant? In the way a sat-nav would? Or like a human - 'just past the sandwich shop, opposite the pub and left past the bank'
Couldn't this kind of folksonomy be built in to deliver a world view (map) of shared usefulness to your particular niche? We would create maps of relevance with our own naming conventions and iconography.
Relevance always beats quality. You can have the most 'correct' map in the world, but if its icons and taxonomies mean little to me then I can't use it. We create meaning through our use in communities of purpose and in the context of our communities of purpose.
Great location based services and geolocation will enhance our experience of the physical world. Making our understanding of it more relevant for each community of purpose.
It's an important and symbolic example of the network disrupting anything that functions from the centre, out.
Now you can not only have your own world view, you can draw it and put a name to it.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Image via CrunchBase
I haven't used it myself but... in a nutshell: LinkedIn taken beyond the silo.
It beat off better known (at least to me) challengers Twelpforce (2nd with 14%) and Local Motors (with 10%).
Check out all the January 2010 nominations here (along with the purpose of the awards).
If nothing else, January's vote has served to surface something new to me - and likely new to you too. We're discovering stuff we didn't know we needed to know about.
So BusinessCard2 becomes the first to enter our Social Business Innovation Hall of Fame. The process of selecting the next to join it will be started when we open nominations later this month for the February 2010 award. Please join in.
Here's BusinessCard2 co-founder Lief C Larson (of Workface Inc) on what makes BusinessCard2 a good example of social business innovation:
How our model works:
"Individual-level transparency is a major opportunity in the future of social business. We have created BusinessCard2, a service that helps professionals network and exchange business cards online without face to face interaction.
"Tens of thousands of users have created a card with us. The card acts as a web container that holds all the information that makes us digitally distinct: a utility to inform and educate. Customers and prospects use it to peer deeper into the great people behind the company. Fundamentally we believe business is about two people forming new connections.
"To help BusinessCard2 users reach more customers and prospects, we built unique technology that makes the card portable. For instance, those with a card can visit BusinessCard2-enabled websites and drop their card. BusinessCard2 was built to most closely mimic the process of sharing business cards in the real world, but as a process on the internet.
How social tools are used to innovate:
"BusinessCard2 is itself a social tool. It has been designed to provide portability beyond any singular walled garden social network. However, we have also implemented ways that BusinessCard2 can be shared in existing social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.
"From my perspective, business isn't just about those you all ready know (the current social network), but also about reaching out to those you don't yet know (the network potential). Our technology road map is focused on using the social infrastructure to build visibility within specific markets and help give our users the tools to form new connections.
We are not focused on specific user case studies at this time. There are so many different use cases for BusinessCard2 that calling out specific instances does a disservice to it's potential. Rather, we are focused on how BusinessCard2 is incorporated into many different social situations: from social networks like Facebook, to high-traffic websites, to CMS (such as blogs, wordpress, etc.). I have a three minute video here that shows how to integrate BusinessCard2:
"I also have a brief video here that helps you understand what BusinessCard2 looks like.
BusinessCard2 on Social Business:
One of our core beliefs is that business is not just about companies, products, and services - but about meaningful connections between two people. At the organizational level, a company is defined as the sum of its parts.
"The parts are the people. We seek individual-level freedom and transparency at the professional level. We aspire to help power the autonomy of any person engaged in business to take their identity with them across the web. We hope to help help encourage social business by giving the public open access to the millions of incredible people behind the companies, products, and services we use every day.
"Each person who creates a BusinessCard2 has formed a social compact where they have complete control over their identity, and agree to expose that identity openly across the web. You do not need to log in to BusinessCard2 to view a person's card. Anyone with a BusinessCard can take their card anywhere they wish and share it freely."
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I've been writing about the platform as primary organisational (and conceptual) framework pretty much as long as I've been writing this blog.
But I've never stopped to pull the essentials together.
What is a platform organisation? How does yours become one?
Let's start with a definition. Mine: A platform organisation uses its available resources to find, connect and support those who share its Purpose.
To be clear, I mean both within and without the organisation's own membranes. Those membranes must become permeable.
Of course, it does this with certain outcomes in mind. And to my mind these are they:
Why be a platform organisation?
Crowd-sourcing solutions offers three key benefits:
1. Value innovation: Access to more 'customer' minds in real-time increases the likelihood of 'blue ocean' solutions. These are those which seek to create new market space - where competition is irrelevant and benchmarking forgotten. Internal-only teams are more likely to default to tried and tested, me-too iterations delivering incremental efficiencies within current market confines. Value innovators look for things that customers value in common. Crowds deliver this. Then they ask: "what if we started anew?"
2. Better-fit solutions. Involving those for whom an outcome is intended in shaping that outcome results in a closer fit with their real needs. You make what you want; We make what we want.
3. Increased marketing and advertising efficiencies. Outcomes are more likely to be embraced by those who have played a part in creating them - the perfect start point for peer-to-peer advocacy.
There are others; You get closer to your customer; the customer feels they have skin in your game; you matter more to them; you get low-cost NPD, R&D, marketing, PR, advertising, customer support etc etc - but I think all these fall into the above three key reasons.
How to be(come) a platform organisation:
Start with the big why: Purpose. Platform organisations thrive on bringing people together to create best-fit outcomes but why would those outside your org want to join with you?
What is wrong with your industry, the way stuff gets done, how people are treated... the world... What is wrong with any of those things, that your org is out to put right?
Know this and express this through action. This is your first step to the Purpose-Driven Collaboration that platform organisations can share in.
Discovery and introduction:
Through expressing your purpose, and actively seeking those who share it, the latent community will emerge: those who care about the same stuff you do and who are willing to join you in working on it: communities of purpose. Join them, support them, contribute to them, provide for them. They were always there, the platform organisation's role is to discover and introduce them.
Community - groups
People join groups for three reasons:
2. To talk about the thing they care about
3. To fix the thing they care about.
Plenty of community tools enable 1 and 2. But 3 is too often disregarded. It is the key part. Social tools are not simply for connection, they are to enable outcomes that those people connecting care about. The platform organisation understands that 'social media' is 90% social, 10% media. It brings people together to make better stuff, not better messages.
Better messages are a necessary consequence of better stuff.
So ensure that their wikifixing contributions can be surfaced, acted on and the value created, shared.
It's nice to know that people are talking about you, saying nice things (or bad things) and where those things are being said. But much better to surface their concerns and join with them in addressing them - find ways for them to collaborate with you in fault finding and fixing and integrate that into work flows.
Systems which enable you to prioritise response and identify shared pinch points - from sophisticated conversation auditing to simple votes - offer some of the tools.
But the first step is to be open to collaborative change in the first place. And that starts in your head.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
There are lots of reasons:
(To summarise and plagiarise the Harvard Business Review (Jan/Feb 10) and Robert H Miles' Accelerating Corporate Transformation...)
- Managers come over all conservative - what starts as a game changer ends up as a watered-down version of what it could/should have been.
- No one gets given the space to change. Your team continue to be set the same old targets and have to deliver against the same responsibilities - yet are expected to layer on the new stuff alongside that very busy day job. They default to what they regard as the 'must do' rather than the 'important to do'. Their job descriptions don't get changed.
- Then there's 'Initiative Gridlock' which loosely translates as 'what we're doing ain't good enough, but we'll keep on plugging away until we think of something better... only we never get time to think of anything better.' There's a great Einstein quote that the boardroom should keep in mind: "The definition of madness is repeating the same experiment and expecting different results."
- It's easier to repeat than to change.
- Innovation often fails in the implementation phase - because you didn't involve the people who you need on board to make it happen, in the process of shaping what it is that needs to happen.
- That leads to its own set of issues - if the guys doing the implementation don't have the change in their soul their focus is going to be reduced and their efforts and the outcome blunted.
But I do think there are ways of improving your chances AND overcoming those obstacles at the same time.
The first is not to equate innovation with incremental improvement. I always think of the image of the guy doing the Fosbury Flop for the first time. Real innovation is not a little bit better. It is not a repeat of the previous experiment, but bigger.
It is revolutionary.
I think the definition of Innovation from wikipedia re Signal Processing is helpful.
"the innovation is the difference between the observed value of a variable at time t and the optimal forecast of that value based on information available prior to time t.
In other words: "How much better could this thing be?"
How much better depends on where you look from. If you look at the issue from the perspective of the same old supply chains you have always analysed, and delivering with same set of resources you've always had to play with, you are almost certain to identify how incrementally better YOU can make it. Small headroom.
But if you look at every aspect of that supply chain and imagine you have the global resource of all those who care about solving the same problem you face, then you can start to spot the revolutionary change you and the crowd can deliver TOGETHER. Big headroom.
You can either seek to innovate solutions using the resources you have at your disposal within the org, or you can seek to innovate solutions using all those resources PLUS the world outside.
I wonder how many of those failed 9/10 innovations tried to do it all on their own?
The truly innovative organisation sees itself as an connecting, enabling platform.
You can add. We can transform.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
I don't often do a 'one to watch' these days. Everything moves so fast I'd rather just back the web.
But on this occasion I have been pointed at something by (twitter.com/willsh) that has significant potential and which I think you should explore: ThingLink.org
It's a social network for things and could play it's part in the emerging web of things in a very interesting way.
So far as I understand (and I have only just applied for a beta invite) it crowd sources the identification of objects and their relationship with other objects. The result is a social graph for a thing.
That could get very interesting. Imagine the Amazon 'People who like this also like this' extended to ALL objects? Real relationships identified and shared and multiplied; rather than market researched samples extrapolated until they burst.
Layer on real-time and location and some very complex relationships could be revealed as they emerge and as they create value.
A fascinating area to keep up to speed with. Hope you'll join me in trying.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Friday, February 05, 2010
We found each other again less than a year ago. Via Twitter, naturally. She came along to a hastily arranged tweet-up in Camden Town – which was where she told me about the book she was completing. Had we stumbled upon each other earlier Jemmia says I'd likely have played a cameo in Monkeys With Typewriters myself (insert your own gags here).
Jemima’s book is “a novelistic approach to social computing” according to Luis Suarez.
It certainly has a story-telling quality – scenes described, images evoked.
I’ll admit it wasn’t an approach I was comfortable with at first, but it grew on me – and I found myself drawn in attracted by the page-turning storyness of it.
It’s a story in which I happen to know a great many of the characters. ‘Social’ is a relatively small world – particularly in London where the majority of the plot unfolds. Perhaps that added to the fascination… I kept reading on looking out for the next friend to get a mention…
Sometimes there is more story-telling description than actual insight – but that’s not altogether a bad thing.
Many, when faced with creating a mass media portrayal of the interwebs (book, magazine article, latest BBC4 TV series…) default to a way of describing aA Big Thing that it is out to do and who is out to do this big thing and to whom – very centre-out notions and essentially a broadcast approach.
The reality is the web is what it is. It is all of us. It is what each of us makes it. It is what emerges from our interactions. There is no grand plan, there is no editorial committee…
Jemima’s approach (and the clue is in the title, Monkeys With Typewriters… brave when your surname is Gibbons) is much closer to the latter ‘reality’.
It’s a guide book for those in organisations coming to terms with the shifting sands beneath their feet (as hierarchy and central control are swept away and improved upon by adhoc self-forming communities of purpose).
And it’s a guide book that is more practical than most, coming complete with buzzword demystification and a 30-step guide to ‘getting social’ thrown in.
If you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the impact of group forming network theory then this is probably not the book for you. But if you’re just starting to understand that everything the network touches it will disrupt, then Monkey’s With Typewriters will set you on the right path without making your brain bleed. And we all know someone who could do with that.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
A fascinating post by fellow 90:10er Stowe Boyd (... The Dark Matter of influence) has been rolling around my head since I read it yesterday.
Stowe discusses this Arvix Post, titled Best Connected Individuals Are Not the Most Influential Spreaders in Social Networks.
To summarise; influence is derived from how close you are to other influencers in a network - how low and short the number of links from you to how many other influencers (not the number of your connections, as often assumed).
Which validates why network analysis is such a crucial element when trying to 'identify influencers'. (image via Beth Harte)
The subtle, dark-matter mystery of social networks is that influence is oblique, and not easily determined by the sorts of tools we have today.Influence is fluid. It resides less in the node and more in the interactions between the nodes. It is the interactions which change the state of the group, not a change in the condition of the nodes (think water H2O molecules and ice, water, steam - an example Mark Earls (another 90:10 collaborator) refers to in his book Herd. (Update, Mark has now posted his own response)
It is not your follower count, or who you follow, per se. But, instead, do you have short paths into other social scenes, both incoming and outgoing? That is the deep structure of being truly connected: bridging over different social scenes, acting as a conduit, a vector, a filter and amplifier for ideas good and bad, the best insights, and deadly viruses.
This means that giving interesting things to people to do together - bringing them together around things they care about (through shared purpose), to act on those things, has more value than spotting the influencer and giving them some sort of message you expect them to go off and influence others with.
Influence has a certain value: in crisis management, identifying those with the likelihood of having their voice heard by a greater number and in giving likely start points for the real job of peer to peer distribution. If you're going to try to turn the flock, you're bound to think it best to start off by working with the big birds.
And to Stowe's point about the tools, influence is complex, but not complicated. It can be deconstructed nuance by nuance; function by function.
One day - and perhaps quite soon - we will have the tools to fully understand it in real time. And that concerns me. Because at the point we can truly understand influence we're but a tiny step from using that power for ill. Manipulation, springs to mind. It could all become very 'broadcast'.
People influence each other. They change the state they are in. Help them find each other, support their conversation, help them act on it. That will always generate more value (for ALL parties) than an influential voice.
Be the platform.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
The success or failure of any groups that form, via pretty much any tools, comes down to the same thing - how well are you enabling those involved to achieve the three things they join groups to do? (image courtesy Kbaird.)
Three Reasons People Join Groups:
1. Express themselves: Usually this is support for or antipathy toward something. It's how people know that group X is one that cares about the same stuff they do.
2. Discuss what needs fixing about it.
3. Fix itFacebook has the tools for peer-to-peer comms - but pages and groups veer towards broadcasting at an audience without extreme caution. Success depends on what the community is given and in how much they talk to each other. Communities talk to each other, audiences are broadcast at.
One way 'founders' of groups can encourage more interaction is by appointing interested folk to roles in which they can take more ownership of the group. Obviously ongoing support for the group through tools, content and interaction is critical , too.
Few groups get past point 1.
To point 3, make clear in the group how people joining can help and what they can actually do to manifest that.
Peer-to-peer interaction is always less about the viral marketing of a message, more about bringing people together who care, to talk - and then act.
Monday, February 01, 2010
The nominations are now closed and the voting is now open in the first ever Social Business Innovation Awards. Don't worry if your favourites aren't on the list, we all get the chance to nominate again for the next month's when the voting closes on this round on Feb 11.
For those who missed the nomination phase, to reiterate, this is what it's all about:
Social business innovation: Efficiency and tranformation through the use of social tools.The winner will enter a Hall of Fame where we can collectively gawp upon fine thinking, share opinions and get inspired.
We have the best set of tools in history for people to find each other and act together to create and improve on the things that matter to them.
What are we doing with them?
Some businesses and organisations are grasping them to wikifix their products and services, to deliver best-fit R&D and NPD and join in waste-free people-powered communications and marketing. The wikifixing of the world has begun.
Those engaging in the process reach new levels of efficiency thanks to an ever-better fit with the needs of their partners - those formerly known as the customer. (By way of disclosure, that's what we at 90:10 Group help organisations with).
I hope you will join with me to celebrate the best of them - and through this find a path to the communities-of-purpose-driven future of the organisation.
So each month this blog will host a Social Business Innovation of The Month award, nominated by you and voted on by you. The format is very much inspired by Neil Perkin's ThinkTank.
The awards are to recognise great work in open/social business/organisational design/innovation/tranformation/efficiency using social technologies.
The winners will enter a case-study Hall of Fame to be shared with all - and in which the winners can revel in the glory of their peers' admiration ;-). More importantly, we can all get inspiration and guidance.
So, here are this month's nominees (note they do not have to be from the last month (at least initially), the monthly cycle is just to keep this rolling and keep us collectively scouring.
The Nominations are:
1. The City Square Project
VOTING CLOSES ON February 11, 2010. Nominations for the next (February 2010) award will open shortly after.