#c3t An Agreeable Swarm: Twitter, the Democratization of Media & Non-localized Proximity

My co-author, Brian Ballsun-Stanton, presented this at the 5th ICCIT: 2010 International Conference on Computer Sciences and Convergence Information Technology in Seoul earlier today:

You can view a full text pdf version of this paper here
#c3t #ICCIT_10

New initiative: the Digital Revolution and Government #gov2 #gov2au

One of my great passions is the digital revolution and how it is affecting society. A key area of our life that the digital revolution is changing is government and governance. Revolutionary thinkers like Clay Shirky and others have even posited the notion of a kind of digital direct democracy.

Exploring these ideas and finding actionable insights is important for Australia and its people, and today Craig Thomler and I have launched a  Government 2.0 Futures project with a new site about Australia’s Government 2.0 future:

“… to provide public sector policy-makers, practitioners and academics with a collection of views on Australia’s Government 2.0 future.

Through Gov2au.net we are asking Australian and international Gov 2.0 experts, commentators and practitioners – and the Australian community – to reflect and contribute their views on three questions:

  • What does Government 2.0 mean for Australia’s governance?
  • How will Government 2.0 change the culture and practice of Australia’s public servants and governments?
  • What will Australia’s Government 2.0 future look like?

We hope to release a selection of these contributions under Creative Commons next year as a free ebook. We also hope to release a paper version to sell in bookstores and online. Any profits from the sale of this book will go to support Government 2.0 initiatives from not-for-profit organisations in Australia.

We invite you to be part of Australia’s Government 2.0 future by contributing your viewsideas and suggestions via the website.”

Source: eGov AU

The starship, Enterprise: social business – opportunity and risk

Navigating the tangled web of Enterprise 2.0 enabled platforms is indeed an opportunity “to explore strange new worlds” in business…

Enterprise 2.0 has been defined as “the application of Web 2.0 technologies to workers using network software within an organisation or business” (Dion Hinchliffe, 2006). There has been much discussion over recent years about Enterprise 2.0 and how it is revolutionising business. Yet, much of the promise remains unfulfilled, especially for large and complex organisations.

The general approach to Enterprise 2.0 has been much like the approach for earlier knowledge management and collaboration initiatives. It has been largely a mechanistic approach. Simply install the tools, train the people, do a bit of change management and leave them to it.

The challenge for organisations
A big challenge for larger organisations remains getting teams to work more effectively across team and organisational boundaries.

Recent discussions with people in Australian banks indicate it is clear that there is no lack of Enterprise 2.0 enabled technology. Rather, there is a great deal of it already in place. For example, one contact in a ‘Big Four’ Bank reported that his organisation has 11 “quite different intranets”. The complexity of navigating these is so high that they have implemented “a fully-federated search that spans them all” that provides “Google-like search with page ranking/indexing and the equivalent of sponsored/suggested links to help staff find critical information faster based on an identified keyword”.

Thus, the implementation of Enterprise 2.0 enabled platforms has resulted in issues of findability, usability and relevance of the information. The answer to these problems is not simply to acquire additional technology, instead it is important to take a step back from the technology and consider the business design. Using social business design approaches are important to enable effective use of collaboration technologies.

The social business solution
Since business is an inherently social process, it is worth exploring how we can redesign business operations and processes to leverage social tools more effectively. All too often, collaboration tools are implemented as yet another piece of technology without the support of social business design to ensure that return on the investment is achieved.

We have already seen the effectiveness of consumer oriented social tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, in breaking down barriers between people. And now social networking and social media is reaching into and across organisational boundaries. Businesses are under increasing pressure to incorporate these external social networks into internal collaboration systems (for example, through the application of social CRM tools). Social business design principles enable this same capability to assist people in working across organisational boundaries and engage each other more effectively for business purposes.

With social tools we have the opportunity to reshape our business architecture so that it better creates value between the participants. No longer do our people need to conform to the way the software needs them to act or behave. Instead, we can more easily tailor the Enterprise 2.0 systems to meet the needs of the people – staff and customers – that they are meant to serve.

Social tools like Facebook are re-educating our workforce and customers in the ways of online collaboration. Further, the success of online collaboration and socially calibrated activities can readily be monitored and evaluated. Social business design enables an evolutionary approach to business practices. It is not a set-and-forget approach like old style knowledge management; rather it is a plan-do-check-act cycle.

Risk of missed opportunities
Another key challenge for businesses in effective implementation of Enterprise 2.0 using the social business design approach is filtering the firehose of information coming into the organisation via so many sources. No longer do companies receive hard copies of media results, now they receive vast amounts of information from diverse sources. That information is about their operations, competitors, customers and industry trends. The opportunity for businesses is to create real-time listening posts that filter and categorise information.

If companies do not find a way to filter and analyse this firehose of information, then they risk missing opportunities. The answer is no longer to create expensive and complex data marts to manage this largely ephemeral information and to turn it into useful information. Enterprise 2.0 technology enables the creation of listening posts that filter and sift this firehose of information and can turn it into actionable insights.

It is possible to leverage the Enterprise 2.0 platforms that already exist within many large organisations. However, key to effectiveness is adopting a social business approach to re-imagining the business architecture. And the use of real-time social listening posts creates opportunities for businesses to reassess and recalibrate their activities based on real-time feedback.

Note: This piece was originally published in Online Banking Review on 21 October 2010

Living in the future: new media, new consumers, new desires

The old media model of the twentieth century was monolithic and based on a broadcast model. Large scale media players distributed a fixed series of products to a passive audience.

In the twenty-first century we are seeing the beginnings of a new media model. The passive broadcast audience is fragmenting into niches. Now audiences are not passive. They have been trained to engage with their media by years of playing online games. And they also expect to be able to engage with other people as part of their consumption of media. Thus the audience is no longer merely an audience, instead they are participants. And those participants are hyperconnected with each other.

This evolution is causing shifts in the business models of organisations that deliver media content. The power relationship between the creators and distributors of media and their erstwhile audience is shifting.

The introduction of new devices is also driving this trend. Social computing is truly here now that we have devices like the iPad or Android tablets. These devices encourage collaborative behaviour and sharing of the media participation experience.

Participants (or consumers) in this new media landscape are also on the move. No more are we tethered to a television or desktop computer. Our computers are in our mobile devices like cell phones, laptops and tablet computers. Our consumption while on the move is only limited by battery life (especially if using Apple devices).

A defining feature of the media that will be successful in this new milieu is device neutrality. Successful media products will not need to be played on a particular machine or device, nor will we be forced to consume it on only one device.

This means that licensing and related legal constructs will need to evolve too. Consumers want to buy the rights to content only once but to be able to consume it on our various devices at will. Consumers also want ways to give our right to the content to another person to play on their devices.

Consumer demands for this kind of flexibility are growing and will continue to increase. The media industry needs to face up to these kinds of demands and find ways to accommodate these consumer desires. Locking down access is not the answer. Loading increasingly onerous legal obligations upon consumers and enforcing them vigourously (for example by way of Digital Rights Management) is no way to address the evolving consumer demands.

It is time for the new media creators and distributors to find new ways to price-in flexibility and ease of use. The realities of a global market for digital media must be acknowledged.

Success but on whose terms? What about personal brands and character?

There is so much pressure on people these days to be successful.  And I do not think we are encouraged to stop and think what success actually means for each of us and for society in general.  Many of us seem to be on a treadmill.  Go to school, get good grades and get into a good university and then get a good job.  Then get a mortgage on a house in a good area and possibly buy an investment property.  By this stage we are supposed to be successful and thus be happy.

But I’m not sure that this is the correct equation for achieving a happy and successful life.  I see the pattern so often. Many of my friends are on this treadmill.  Some of get to their thirties or forties and realise that they have not achieved as much as they had hoped to.  Perhaps their job isn’t good enough, perhaps they didn’t go to a good enough university. In any case they start to feel defeated and not good enough. They begin the slide down into a gently defeated middle age where they think that because they did not do good enough their life will not really amount to much now.

It seems to me that this is no way to live. Constantly checking yourself out against an ill-defined standard of good. What the hell does good in these contexts mean anyway?  Because the standard of goodness is not defined – and good goes so easily with better and best – there is always a feeling that the good thing might be surpassed by a better thing.

There is little room in this pattern for joy, inspiration, non-traditional approaches, or unexpected roads to fulfilment.

Coupled with this treadmill is the relatively new notion of ‘personal branding’.  Chris Penn wrote a nice piece on personal branding recently which is worth a read (HT: @maverickwoman for the link).

When the idea of a personal brand is tied to the treadmill of a good career it puts even more pressure on people to measure up to these ill-defined standards.

When we look back to history many of the people we most admire did not follow the generally accepted standards of the day with regards to good education, jobs, etc.

It’s time for us all to think and feel and reason about what is success.  How does that link to character (not personal brand)? What kind of person do we want to be?  And what kind of actions do we need to undertake based on that? By thinking about these things we can determine what to do to achieve success on our own terms and not upon the ill-defined terms that seem to be generally accepted in our society.

Headshift event: Social Business Design – Pathways to Success on 23/11 in Sydney

The Headshift team is running a short event on the 23rd November, here in Sydney:

Everyone is talking about social media, social networks, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter but not many people are discussing how to be a socially designed business.

A social business is one where we use the opportunities presented by new technologies to deliver business value – to reduce costs, increase effectiveness or mitigate risks.

Come along to this presentation to discuss a new perspective on being a socially designed business:

  • Customer Participation: Engaging with customers in ways that traditional one-way communication cannot support.
  • Workforce Collaboration: Meeting your workforce’s need to collaborate and coordinate efforts to effectively meet business goals.
  • Business Partner Optimisation: Rethinking value chain relationships, including connections like suppliers, distribution networks, and vendors/delivery partners.

During the presentation, the Headshift team will facilitate discussion and lead a brainstorming activity to help you understand the opportunities and think about next steps.
via headshift.com

The future of shopping is social

These are some thoughts that I presented at the AMP Social Media Cafe in Sydney on 11 November 2010, the slides and references follow below.

The future of shopping is social. But that is nothing new – shopping has always been social. The difference is that now we are seeing social interaction on a hyperconnected scale and the emergence of new competitors. It is still shopping, but social shopping is on steroids.

Firstly I want to give you a sense of the broader shopping landscape in the digital age.

There is a growing body of empirical research on retail effectiveness and the statistics are quite scary. As Sorenson notes “The shopper comes to the store to buy things. The retailer creates stores to sell things. Manufacturers create products to sell. Yet most of the shopper’s time in the store is spent not buying.”  And he notes further that “a single item in a store might attract only 300 seconds [of attention] from all shoppers in an entire week, about five minutes [in total]”.

This means that not only are shopping centres fighting to get and maintain traffic, but also that the traffic is not necessarily being well used by the retailers to sell products effectively. And this leaves each of them vulnerable to competition.

Yet the work we have been doing in the shopping business over the years can summarised quite nicely by this diagram by Robert Kozimets. And the model works equally well for retailers or for shopping malls. We have been building spaces for brands that cluster around either the transactional (think supermarkets) or the iconic (think of one of the new high fashion shopping centres).

But all of this is happening in a broader context. The economy is changing around us. We are moving into what I have come to call the engagement economy. But there are so many competitors how for a share of that attention ( as well as for a share of wallet) that it is important to be able to grab attention and then to drive ongoing engagement.

We’ve had social shopping for a long time – since commerce began. But the nature of competitors is changing. Before it was the other mall or the retailer down the road that we had to worry about. Now competitors include farmers’ markets in grocery and fresh food; virtual goods like digital video and music from iTunes; large online aggregators like Amazon (who perform many of the functions of a department store and are often cheaper); and new entrants such as online shopping clubs (of which more later).

This competitive landscape has evolved very fast – just look at this timeline from Sean Carton to see how fast. Two and a half thousand years ago we were writing on clay tablets and in the last decade the digital revolution has changed our lives. Many of us cannot imagine a world without the internet anymore.

Also media has been changed by this digital revolution too. Marketing and advertising are being reborn in this new digital world; while many newspapers around the globe cling tenuously to existence. This diagram by David Armano illustrates this phenomenon very well.  He nicely illustrates the fact that we are moving from lower engagement traditional media to higher engagement online social media.  After all not many people check their newspaper first thing in the morning, but some recent research indicated that many people check Facebook (or Twitter) before they go to the loo or brush their teeth in the morning.

And the tools of the digital revolution – web 2.0, social media, social networking and mobile devices – have changed the way people interact with each other and with brands.

Facebook is probably the best example of this change (although there are other similar services such as Twitter that are gaining ground). Facebook is important because it is changing what real people are doing with real time and attention every day all around the world.

But now hold that thought for a little while as we consider some other trends.

Let’s have a brief look at the evolution of shopping in the digital age.

There are a number of trends here:

  • Rise of mobile devices
  • Word of mouth via social networks
  • Social shopping
  • Collaborative shopping
  • Geo-social services (location based)
  • Putting geo-social into perspective

Social and collaborative shopping is reshaping the power relations between consumers and sellers.  New intermediaries are arising, ones who aggregate consumer demand via shopping clubs.  The fight for better value by consumers is shifting onto new territory.  And this shift will begin to manifest as changes in share of wallet for traditional retail channels.

The growing role of mobile devices also means that the shopping dynamic is changing.  Consumers can share realtime information and collaborate while they are on the move.  In the past we had to connect online via fixed PCs,but now the devices are always on and in our pockets and handbags.

Sites like Facebook are picking up on this trend with their adoption of Places – a geo-social application that enables users to share their physical location with friends (there are other contenders in the geo-social space too). And now the interesting thing is that we are seeing the merging of online and offline social activities with shopping and the integration of micropayments.  For example Facebook’s relatively recent addition of Buxter to enable peer to peer payments between friends.

It is very early days yet. We do not know where these trends are heading in particular. However, it is clear that geo-social applications have the potential to close the loop between online social networks and real world activity, especially when these are connected by online micropayment capabilities.

What we do know is that consumers are:

  • Going mobile
  • Sharing information via social networks
  • Collaborating via social networks
  • Shopping for virtual goods
  • Starting to use augmented reality

Future of shopping is social

References
Sorensen, Herb, Inside the mind of the shopper: the science of retailing,  Safari Tech Books (ISBN: 0131366130), 2009
Lowrey, Tina, Brick & Mortar Shopping in the 21st Century (ISBN: 9781410618252), Psychology Press, 2007
Report: Consumer Shopping Experiences, Preferences, and Behaviors, Oct 2010, Art Technology Group, Inc. , http://www.atg.com/resource-library/white-papers/atg-online-shopping-study.pdf