Snapshots from the 2035 economy

the future soon

What follows is a  short essay I completed for my Managerial Economics module, part of my EMBA course I am taking at the Hult International Business School and it is inspired by the  “Zero Marginal Cost society” envisioned by Jeremy Rifkin.

What close are these snapshots from what will actually happen by 2035?

————

Martin wakes up. It’s 11 o’clock. He takes a shower and meanwhile reads the news & check his emails on the shower glass. He picks up a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a jacket and go to a Cafe where he gets a Latte, some fresh fruits and a croissant. The place has about 35 tables. Each one accommodates 4 to 6 people. There are some whiteboards around.

In the world of Martin, most people work in the service economy which lately has grown mostly in the fields of the arts, culture, filmmaking, entertainment, theatre, food & cooking, education, sports, wellbeing, health, information technology, design and many other jobs that require lots of common sense. Yes, these are the jobs that robots cannot do yet. Common sense is a difficult task for robots and artificial intelligence. Plumbers, artisans, pizza makers, baristas are some more examples of jobs that still need human common sense.

Luckily enough, robots do most of the jobs anyway. The marginal cost of almost anything is low, allowing the society as a whole to be as productive as ever, with little direct labor involved. More value now is being created from the same amount of capital and work.

Using the internet and the data coming from the trillions of sensors embedded in everything, there is hardly any waste of resources: transportation, energy, people, infrastructure and beyond. We have never been as rich as today.

What drives the economy is the most human part of people: creativity. It is “creativity” that fosters innovation. And creativity nowadays is hardly owned by corporations. As most people are knowledge workers connected to an ever changing marketplace of opportunities, people work on projects based on personal preferences and fit.

Everybody is a company, everybody is a brand.

This has led to almost total flexibility in the workforce, with companies hiring on a project basis and looking for the best talent, wherever is available.

Martin does not own a car or a house and tends to rent almost everything he uses. As most people of his generation, does not have an interest on owning things. It is not a status symbol as it used to be in the past. The relationship of people towards “things” has dramatically changed over the past 15 years as people are more conscious on the impact of their purchasing decisions on the planet. This is why owning stuff that would stay idle most of the time is seen as a negative trait from society.

The social impact each company has on society has become a real business driver. As people can get similar products from companies that do have a positive impact on the society, companies are competing on the good they are doing to the world as a way to gain customers preferences.

Martin lives in the niche economy. Thanks to the availability of technology, knowledge, information and low cost of products or services creation and delivery, a whole new range of micro, small and medium enterprises have grown, contributing up to the 82% of the total value added creation in the economy.

While Martin is sipping his Latte, he votes for 3 new law proposals that are being discussing at the parliament. After the great pressure that most governments suffered from the community about its decisions via Social Media, nowadays is common to consult the broad population on many decisions of public interest.

The Government has the main goal of keeping the neutrality of the internet and to govern intellectual property in such an open world to keep “the platform” open and accessible to everyone who is part of the community.

Martin now lives in a world where he counts more than ever. A world where everybody has the possibility to emerge and, for the very same reason, it is difficult to do so. It is a world of niches and communities of interests that go beyond old national borders. Communities that drive specific markets dynamics and that big companies have hard time to understand. Ironically, the globalization was not what many had in mind at the beginning of the century: the homogenization of consumer preferences. It turned out to be the other way around: every community has its own version of fashion, music, food, believes, and more.

Martin lives in the society of no more-middlemen. Even retail spaces are now places of relationship with brands, more than places where to buy products. Car dealers, brokers, real estate agents, travel agents and the likes are portraits of the past.

Martin goes back home. Kisses her daughter, brings in his japan-mex dishes dinner. Before going to bed, checks his energy account and discovers to be richer than the day before as he is producing his own energy. Then he closes three projects he was doing for three different companies.

For Martin, tomorrow will be another day where to create his own future.

5 thoughts on the future of marketing and technology.

A few days ago I was at the Top Management Forum as a speaker. I was invited to contribute on the “marketing automation” subject.

marketing-automation robot

As I have witnessed the contamination of marketing by technology in the last 10 years, it was a good occasion to stop and think about this trend and have a look at what’s coming.

Here is my take, based on some thoughts I developed before the conference and I shared with the audience.

1. The fundamental rules of marketing have not changed.

I see a lot of “new marketing” bla bla bla going on because of technology innovation. Still, I think that if the basis of marketing were always taken into account, most of the nowadays campaigns would be way more successful.

I see over and over again that time constraints, pressure etc., make most marketers forget to answer the most basic marketing questions in the first place: who exactly is the buyer? what the buying cycle looks like? Etc.

If these questions are not answered beforehand based on data or feedback then there is not such a software that will make your campaign successful.

Technology has changed completely the context where the marketer operates, not the fundamental laws of marketing.

2. One to one personalization is here, now.

The tools to really have a one to one personal communication with each one of your customers are already here. Making it happen is the exception though.

You can listen to what is being said about your brand and products, engage in conversations, integrate social data into your CRM systems, nurture your leads, trigger personable communications along each step of the funnel: awareness -> consideration -> intention -> purchase -> support -> loyalty -> advocacy. This is all possible today.

Communicating with an human voice is another still to see feature. Work on it please. Indeed what you normally see from companies are clear robot messages. And no human like to talk to bots via email etc.

Most companies are not taking advantage of new technologies or not using them properly as they forget the human nature of social media conversations.

3. Mass communication is (almost) dead

See young people nowadays. They don’t watch TV anymore. The have thousands of choices and they decide what to see, when and where using on demand TV, music, cinema etc.

What is the implication of this? Well, if they don’t care anymore more about you… they still care about stuff they are interested in. More precisely, they are interested in stories that fit their worldview.

The good news is that you still can dialogue with your potential customer in a more targeted way. How? Creating stories they want to hear from you.

Today life is a stream of stories flowing from our connected world of friends, family, and whoever we decide to follow (influencers).

Finding a way to create your stories is the key of the communications of the future. We are heading to something that looks like the mass customization of messages.

Advertising and stories are merging. It will be increasingly difficult to tell what is advertising and what’s not as we’ll see more and more stories that are either interesting, entertaining or at least useful for us.

Companies must embrace this new context in order to get in touch with the connected target audience.

4. The marketing department of the future will invest much more in technology because data will be at the core of decisions and communications.

Here is a practical piece of advice. Traditional companies will see fights between IT and Marketing managers. Why? Because there are two different cultures at play. The new marketing people are getting used to digital technologies and data and they want and need to use more and more of them.

Digital technologies are not the standard type of solution you will find in enterprise level kind of software. IT people are typically skeptical about new digital technologies (open source, web based stuff from unknown vendors) which very often cost a fraction of a fraction of the “enterprise level” alternatives.

You must be aware of this dynamic as marketing automation means the integration of digital technologies into more typical enterprise level software. Make sure your marketing people projects won’t be killed by the IT more conservative and powerful crowd.

5. People

As you want to be a market leader, you want to move faster than competition. To achieve this, you must invest in training of all your marketing and communications people.

All in all, my suggestion to the people listening was condensed in these 5 points.

Then I told them why this matters: if you can increase your conversion rate by 25%, everything else equal, then you’ll get 25% more business, now. And my experience tell me that every company has a big conversion rate improvement potential. It’ a rough diamond and its there, right in front of you.

Through marketing automation you may also be able to increase repeat sales, test new ways to add people to the top of your funnel and more.

Technology is available and is abundant and is not expensive. So I invited the attendees to test, test, test and results will come.

Here and here and here you’ll find curated list of available software.

image credit: donsolo

Growing your business through digital marketing? The most important thing you should know.

Just back from a two weeks business trip to the US and UK. I met friends and colleagues and spent time trying to figuring out how online marketing can support better their business goals.

Aside from the great time we had, there is something that became, day after day more and more clear to me: the meaning of content nowadays. Here my conclusion:

Business today is all about creating relationships through content.

Content is the new Marketing

Source: gapingvoid

And this mean much more that what just “content marketing” is supposed to be.

The days of interruption marketing are gone. We agree on that, correct?

The more I discussed with my friends and colleagues WHO our best customers are, HOW they are discovering our company and products, WHY they are buying and are happy about us… the more became clear that CONTENT is the New Marketing.

So, here a few questions.

  • Where are your best customers?
  • How can you be useful to them beyond your products?
  • What content can you create to be relevant and useful to them?
  • How can you get that content in front of them at the right time?
  • How can you make that content easily shareable?
  • Etc. (You get the point)

There are dozens of great examples of how this is happening and is going to happen in the future: an immersive experience on a magazine your are reading on your iPad and click, you buy what a celebrity is wearing or you get to discover a new company while playing a video game, etc.

Bottom line: now it’s the time where business grow through extremely relevant content to a very specific type of customer.

The hyper-personalized internet: the battle between Google and Facebook?

Yesterday I saw a video that touched a topic I see more and more clearly as part of our future: the hyper-personalization of digital services.

This trend is s strong that is the main reason behind the battle between Google and Facebook: knowing every aspect of YOU.

Right now Facebook is winning it.

This is the battle to dominate the future of online advertising and value added content and services.

Imagine this: YOU go to a website and based on who YOU are it adapts to what you WILL or MAY want. On the fly.

That website adapts to YOU and delivers content, suggestions you may like.

YOU don’t even need to go to other websites as the experience is built mixing 3rd party apps.

For example, going to tripadvisor.com, what YOU’ll see is completely different from what EVERYONE ELSE will see.

Recommendations will be created around YOU and people LIKE YOU: age, gender, income, atmosphere, colours, food, past reviews… etc. how much data about your preferences Facebook owns?

You’ll be booking your hotels, activities and restaurants using third party apps on tripadvisor.com

What else you see happening in an hyper-personalized digital world?

My Web 2.0 Expo Conference First Day Take Aways in 5 Keywords

As I’m involved in the creation and launch of a product right now, I spent the day on 2 start-up focused workshops: “Get Going: How to Build and Test Your Idea Without Programming and “How to Fail for Success: Three Key Start-up Mistakes”.

Here the bottom line of my day in 5 keywords:

1. Relevance
Very often strong ideas sit on common sense. I think common sense is not common at all. So, saying that you should be creating RELEVANT products for your customers sounds stupid but it’s not.

Ask you a question: does your current product have room for becoming more relevant?

For example, I think Google search has a huge room for improvement and RELEVANCE is the battle Google is facing today and will be facing in the next 5 years.

What is the last time you have been disappointed by Google Serp’s?

2. Time
Think about your product: how much time (%) you dedicate to your customers compared to product dev., features, business models etc.?

You should be spending MOST OF YOUR TIME talking with your customers, understanding their needs, desires, etc.

3. Focus
Now that you are creating a relevant product around your customers you MUST FOCUS on the ONE BIG SINGLE THING that your customers love.

Don’t get fooled by featuritis.

Get feedback from all your available sources, analogue (real face to face interviews) and data, fine tune your product, simplify etc.

Tough stuff uh?

4. Passion
Find out which are customers that LOVE your product and build your development around them.

Passionate customers will spread your product idea and make it a social object.

5. Speed
Don’t get fooled by the “the product is not ready yet” syndrome. Launch bits of the product every week, day or night. Learn from real customers, fine tune etc. Do it as quickly as you can.

As Janice Fraser from luxr.co said today: Prove and Improve, Prove and Improve. Keep at it.

As soon as I’ll back home, I’ll be testing our product with real people much more that what we have been doing till now. It’s never too late.

What about you?

La novità del 2010? Il Web 2.0

Intravedere nel futuro è uno dei miei “sport” preferiti quando si parla del mix “business&tecnologia”.

Voglio condividere uno dei due pensieri più importanti che mi sono portato dalla ‘the next web conference 2010‘. L’altro pensiero importante lo lascio per un altro post.

Nel 2001 mi ero cimentato in progetto d’avanguardia: l’uso di applicazioni web in modalità ASP (oggi note come Saas, software as a service). L’idea era promettente e si è rivelata giusta. Niente più software da installare sul proprio PC (o sistemi informativi aziendali), ma accessibili via web. Esattamente come oggi uso Gmail in remoto e non più il vecchio l’outlook, per capirci.

Oggi esistono centinaia di migliaia di servizi erogati in questa modalità.

Poi arrivò la promessa del Web 2.0, il web come piattaforma. Tutto diventa miscellaneo… usiamo e remixiamo i dati per creare servizi unici, accessibili da web.

Ora il web 2.0 comincia davvero a concretizzarsi con l’IaaS (infracstructure as a service). E’ stato il cuore della presentazione di Werner Vogels, CTO di Amazon.

Di che si tratta? Di mettere insieme diversi servizi in modalità SaaS per costruire un servizio nuovo. Dove? All’interno di una infrastruttura dedicata come Amazon EC2 (Elastic Computing Cloud) o Google GAE (Google App Engine).

Promesse

In pratica, se in azienda state pensando a sviluppare un nuovo sito o applicazione web, oggi c’è questa nuova opzione che promette maggiore velocità, scalabilità, costi evolutivi inferiori, flessibilità e soprattutto innovazione.

Il punto più forte rimane l’innovazione. Se l’idea di business alla base del vostro sito o applicazione è buona, allora sarebbe il caso che l’80% dello sforzo sia investito sull’idea di business, quella cosa che vi differenzia, quella per la quale qualcuno sarà disposto a pagare. Per tutto il resto, troverete un servizio erogato ‘nella cloud’, attraverso l’infrastruttura.

Esempi

  • Alla vostra applicazione servono servizi di geolocallizazione? Allora usate SimpleGeo.
  • E’ cruciale assicurare la deliverability delle email generate dal sistema? Usate Critsend.
  • Volete permettere ai vostri utenti di caricare file e condividerli? C’e’ drop.io .
  • Convertire foto in video? C’è Animoto.
  • Upload e encoding di Video? C’è Panda.
  • Serve un sistema di billing per farvi pagare? Chargify
  • Gestire l’advertising sul vostro sito? OpenX
  • Serve monetizzare beni virtuali? C’è Social Gold
  • Serve un motore per gestire le ‘recommendations’? Ecco Direct edge
  • Volete abilitare discussioni real time? C’è Echo
  • Servizi di crawling? C’è 80 legs
  • Volete inviare notifiche push sul telefonino dei vostri registrati? Ecco urbanship
  • E vendere magliette o altri oggetti stampabili in tutto il mondo? Peecho
  • O addirittura farvi sviluppare l’applicazione completamente in outsourcing? 8kmiles

Non solo, ciascuno di questi servizi vive in un mercato nel quale la sopravvivenza (indovinate un po’…) è determinata dalla capacità di innovare. Quindi ciascun servizio evolve… dandovi la possibilità di incorporare la loro innovazione nel vostro servizio.

A questo punto non vi rimane che concentrarvi su ciò che rende unico il vostro servizio, sfruttando tutte le potenzialità dei servizi disponibili nella nuvola (cloud). L’alternativa è lo sviluppo di tutto quello che serve in casa… da ciò che vi differenzia.. a ciò  che è invece commodity, come la gestione dell’invio delle email, per capirci. Vedete le potenzialità di questo approccio?

Questo è il Web 2.0 che comincia davvero a diventare realtà: il web come piattaforma, per la creazione di servizi unici (la tua idea!) remixando quelli disponibili. Pronti a creare la vostra applicazione Web 2.0?

Inplicazioni

  • la tecnologia diventerà sempre più accessibile, diventando commodity
  • la chiave del successo si sposta sulla creatività (sempre più vero) e la velocità di implementazione
  • servono agenzie web nuove, capaci di proporre sviluppi nella nuvola e consigliarvi sui servizi migliori
  • le agenzie web diventeranno ‘sarti’ che dovranno essere bravi a capire le vostre esigenze di business per confezionarvi il vestito giusto
  • chi sarà deputato in azienda allo stare aggiornati sugli sviluppi di questi servizi? Il Web Strategist?

p.s. non ho nessuna associazione con i servizi menzionati. Gli stessi me li sono appuntati durante le presentazioni e conversazioni avute con Joe Stump, cofondatore di Simple Geo, Tom Werner, fondatore di Github e Werner Vogel, CTO di Amazon.

BRANDS E BRANDING

L’Italia è un paese di piccole aziende. Branding è una parola troppo grande nel nostro contesto. Branding evoca nomi come Coca Cola o De Beers o Fed Ex. E così associamo il branding al marchio. Il marchio che evoca… qualcosa.

Quanto ci vuole a costruire un brand?

Il rischio del branding è quello di pensare ai loghi, colori, immagini da usare… dimenticandosi dell’essenza.

L’essenza è la relazione.

Ogni singola volta che una persona entra in contatto con la tua azienda si instaura una relazione. Una relazione è una esperienza. Una esperienza è qualcosa che le persone ricordano e associano alla tua azienda, al tuo marchio, al tuo brand.

E’ il modo in cui mi tratti che determina la percezione che ho della tua azienda e del tuo band.

Giorni fa ho chiamato la Trony (non ci sono paragoni…). Volevo sapere se avevano un modello di TV. Dopo alcuni tentativi, mi risponde una ragazza. Mi dice che mi deve passare “il reparto”. Ring… ring… ring… il reparto non funziona. Metto giù e riprovo.

La ragazza di prima… le spiego… le chiedo “potrebbe informarsi lei e farmi sapere…?” Dentro di me spero che si offra di richiamarmi. Niente, insiste che deve passarmi il reparto… Insomma, la devo tentare la ruota della fortuna. Ring ring ring… ho comprato il TV altrove.

Do you care?

La ragazza era, in quel momento l’azienda: Trony. Non m’importa nulla se a dovermi dare la risposta doveva essere il reparto TV. Ho chiamato il numero che c’era sul sito e ho chiesto di un prodotto che vendono. A che altro deve servire il numero?

La verità è che quella ragazza”didn‘t care”. Hanno perso una vendita, hanno guadagnato un post negativo sul mio blog, la mia percezione negativa, la mia esperienza negativa… Hanno distrutto un pezzettino di brand.

Puoi obiettare che è la norma. O quasi.

Forse hai ragione. Ma allora, che opportunità c’è là fuori?

Costruisci relazioni, costruisciti una buona reputazione. E’ Il miglior investimento in branding che puo fare.

If only you care…