GDPR, the best thing since spliced breadcrumb trails

Every site is ‘thanking us for our data choices’ but are we really taking the time to understand what our choices are? We all have a data footprint but to what extent we may not be entirely aware.

Since the beginning of the transactional web these footprints have been collected, stored, connected and maybe now and again actually used. I say now and again, because most businesses I come across haven’t really worked out the value of data to inform anything beyond their CRM program. It’s often left to one side when it comes to shaping a business model, design approach or even NPD. More often, instead the point of view comes from inside the boardroom or with an eye to the competition and what they’re doing.

But that time has passed, relevance centred businesses are servicing an ‘Age of You’ – the internet era that goes beyond eco-systems and leverages insight to inform purchase journeys and their wider experiences around a users actual needs and desires.

In this web 4.0 world where the IoT is starting to pivot around the individual not the brand, GDPR has come into force in order to harmonise data laws whilst protecting consumers who don’t quite know what the data cost of all this connectivity is. And it’s putting emphasis on businesses to be held more accountable. HOORAY.

The age of ‘my data, my internet’ is on the horizon and the exponential rate that technology will advance this far outpaces nearly every legacy data lakes in place today. So what to do? Now that is a question I’m getting asked in an equally exponentially increasing rate.

I have some simple starting questions that have helped me shape some of the data strategies I’ve been working on with clients embracing GDPR as a chance to positively shake themselves up (Chapeaux). These are just starting points and they will open up more questions but I have found if you keep coming back to them every time you disappear down rabbit hole, they help.

First things first, there are three main types of data:

1st party; the stuff you collect directly and that you ask for the permissions to own

2nd party; essentially someone else’s 1st that they share with you (normally advertisers and publishers)

3rd party; the kind of stuff you can buy from anywhere and is generally diluted and generalised (i.e. not very useful to anyone so I’m not going to cover this)

Your starting point is likely to be a ton of archaic stuff that’s been collected for years, decades even, and not really modernised. Or if it has been modernised it will have been done so through a brand or business lens therefore adding to it’s linearity.

You don’t need to chuck it all out though, where there is data there is insight you just need to know how to mine for it, so my first question: What can this existing pile of data tell you?

There will be many assumptions, heed caution. If you don’t believe the assumptions (and trust your gut on this one) get a data wizard (some call them scientists) to mine it for you. They will be able to develop a question set with you then deploy speedy algorithms and methodologies to offer up a different set of useful insights.

Once you know what your data knows, you’ll have some gaps against your objectives which leads to the next bit…

It’s likely you’re working for or with a brand or business who think they need to own all the data. You don’t. In fact it’s quite greedy to assume you should. I’m not saying a big bank of addresses is all redundant (do not underestimate the power of email) BUT 2nd party data can be a super useful shortcut to getting to know the answers to the gaps that the data you already have doesn’t give you right now.

Google for example, know quite a bit about most audiences you are likely to be trying to reach and engage. “Google conquered the advertising world with nothing more than applied mathematics. It didn’t pretend to know anything about the culture and conventions of advertising — it just assumed that better data, with better analytical tools, would win the day.”

And Google was right.

I didn’t say that by the way, Wired’s Chris Anderson did a little while back. I totally agree – as does most of the internet.

So, question number two: Who are your trusted 2nd party data partners?

Your lead agencies should have a good view on this, but you will too. Within your organisation you will have worked with media and publishing partners on initiatives and activations, plus a whole host of other partnerships will have proved useful along the way. Look at what’s worked and bring them into the fold then widen your horizons to the likes of Google. Once you a clear view you can work out how you’ll use each one to plug your 1st party gaps. Make two tidy lists; one for 1st party and one for 2nd party, then put them to one side for now.

The next bit is more tricky, and that’s working out a data roadmap to get you over your immediate hurdles and propel you into a consumer centric model so you can effectively operate in the ‘Age of You’. So, question number three: How are you going to map and further extend your two data sets to give you the answers you need, now and for tomorrow?

Using data to; inform the creative process, brand storytelling or simply just for personalised targeting and messaging requires using data to generate a contextual, or even better, an emotional connection. But there is a line, and this is where GDPR is reinforcing the interests of consumers. Balancing the digital data economy, with commercial opportunities and consumer rights is a minefield unless you truly start thinking consumer first. Your data map should flip every question you’ve asked yourself as a business or brand thus far to be just this, so instead of ‘data will help us do X and Y’ instead ask yourself ‘by knowing this piece of information about our consumer we can help them do X and Y’.

Once you’ve built out your consumer maps based on what (1st and 2nd party data points) you need to know in order to deliver on their needs and desires, you’ll be in a good place to start mapping your own goals to them, but another watch out – never reverse them or you’ll be right back to where you started in no time.

The GDPR applies to all businesses that are established in the EU, regardless of whether the data processing takes place in the EU or not. And if you think you have a loop hole, even non-EU established businesses will be subject to GDPR if your business speaks to consumers in the EU. You can’t stick your head in the sand over this one and the world isn’t go to wait for you to figure it out, so best to get cracking.

Bottom line? You need to know what your data knows, work out what you don’t understand and shift to a consumer first approach.

GDPR data post

Image found on Google courtesy of gigaom – thank you

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#OurEra2018

I’m in Milan at the Nesta ‘Challenge of our Era’ 2018 Global Summit where I was honored to deliver their opening keynote.

My role was to inspire innovative thinking, it was honestly one of the most rewarding speeches I’ve delivered to date, so again thank you!

As part of it, I adapted a poem I wrote a year or so ago for SXSW and I’ve been asked several times to print it and share it, so here it is. For anyone interested search twitter for the hash tag #OurEra2018 to find out more about the summit, it’s got some incredible ambitions and the call for responses is open to anyone in the world.

For now, I leave you with this:

 

The visions for the future excite me more than the past,

Because when it comes to innovation, the past fades fast.

 

I have crazy ideas and I’m proud to be a geek,

Which you’ll know if you go online and maybe read a tweet.

 

And maybe I’ll reply or maybe it’s my bot,

Because maybe I’m real and here, or maybe I’m not.

 

The future isn’t just augmented or virtual you see,

It’s set to be a blend of several realities.

 

And as the future keeps advancing and we become more connected,

We’ll all be liked and rated and ever more self-reflected.

 

Will robots steal our jobs? Will Skynet really happen?

Or is that as likely as a one-handed man clapping?

 

Will tech become so seamless that we won’t be able to tell,

Where I begin, you end, and the tech blends in as well…

 

Today we pay with fingerprints, tomorrow our voice

In the future, our faces, will this remove our choice

 

To have our lives in the cloud, seamlessly connected

Will we be faster, more efficient, or will our memories be neglected?

 

In a future where every heartbeat and every drop of sweat,

Is calculated, decoded and uploaded to the net.

 

When connected collars tell us when our dogs have got a fever,

Or our cats can be interpreted through intelligent receivers.

 

When AI Armani jeans tell guys ‘you’re flying low’,

Your Valentino clothing knows you’re stressed from head to toe.

 

Your Maserati, or Romeo, isn’t just autonomous but flies,

In highways constructed over Milan in the Sky.

 

In the future are we dumb? Just run by automation…

Or are we elite and empowered an unstoppable ‘one nation’?

 

In OUR future we WILL stand beside robots that are intelligent,

But furthermore, we face a future that goes beyond this and is sentient.

 

There will be competition, co-petition, ambition, and decision

But convergence and empowerment will come to fruition.

 

If biology is programmable and we can program 3D printing,

Will we solve poverty and hunger, now that got me thinking…

 

If a world built on noughts and ones merges with atoms,

Does that provide a world that you and I can barely fathom?

 

If we can put interfaces into brains and quadriplegics can move cursors,

Will we enhance that human life, is the advance in science worth it?

 

There are so many things that today we do not know,

But if we supercharge our neurons there’s nowhere a brain can’t go.

 

Whether this presentation makes you doubt, smile or wonder,

There is one thing for sure that we should collectively ponder;

 

How can innovation be a force for positivity and help us prosper?

How can it bring us closer so that great ideas are fostered?

 

To quote Einstein ‘it’s obvious it’s exceeded humanity’

And he’s been dead for decades so it’s pretty clear to see,

 

That the trajectory we’re on isn’t slowing down,

And in fact, with quantum computing, we can go to town.

 

I for one would rather be in the driving seat,

Amongst you crazy bunch of awesome innovators and geeks.

 

For the ONE thing about the future that we should ALL be aware

Is love it question it, WE are ALL going there …

 

And we can choose to lead or we can choose to follow

So I say, let’s grab the future by the balls and go invent tomorrow!!!

 

 

COOE

#OurEra2018 Nesta Global Summit, Milan

 

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Top Tech that brands need to be thinking about for 2018

The turkey is gone along with the attempts at dry January. We’re swinging back into action and it’s time to make good on all those big ambitions you presented to clients at the end of last year.

‘Digital’, ‘Tech’ and ‘Innovations’ continue to top every client priority list followed by the ‘What do we do?’ question. It’s a good question. We’re still facing a cluttered landscape with so much happening, so here’s my wiki guide of high-level things to keep up your sleeve when asked, or even look into if you feel so inclined…

I’ll ease you in, let’s start with a few obvious ones that were talked about a lot but mainly ignored in 2017 – they’re not going away so best to start thinking about how they could be relevant:

  • AR will continue to pave the way for realties adoption. The fad is over and the race to develop a scalable solution is on.
  • AI (yes, yes I know) IS only getting better and faster. Brands that don’t adopt or at the very least develop a roadmap towards adopting, will see others eat their breakfast by the time the 2020 swings round.
  • 5G is coming and we’ll see phone connectivity increase by a thousandfold. More video streaming with less buffering? Yes, but we’ll also see consumers demanding more, more quickly than ever before… if you’re not set up for instant gratification, time to button that down now.

A few less obvious ones but that I expect to see explode this year are:

  • Voice and visual search will increase and not just with the younger generations. Brands that include this in their sales strategies will see an increase in revenue – early predictions from Gartner state this could be up to 30%.
  • The race to creatively use the blockchain is ON! Someone will get there (in an interesting way) and they will be hailed for it.
  • Processing power will continue to increase by 4-6x with rapid adoption by both consumers and business. Couple this with my point around 5G, this means the window for instant gratification increases the pace of life further. Brands that manage to keep up with this will see deeper loyalty, simply for making the things consumers seek easier to do/get.
  • Wearables will slowly start to replace smartphones. If you just rolled your eyes click here.
  • 3D printing has grown up and adoption will increase for car parts and begin for human body parts.

And to draw this post to a close a few slightly more ‘eep’ ones to know about (and ignore if you’re not ready yet):

  • Sales in EV’s and smart cars will spike and so the connection to smart cities will begin to join up and take its place in the IoT.
  • Edge computing will start to replace cloud computing, connecting the IoT more closely than ever before.
  • Privacy will start to become obsolete and the pressure on brands to be transparent will rocket, turbocharged by the GDPR directive.
  • The four horsemen will each try to develop one code base to dominate the IoT. The battle to own the data will continue and consumers will be nudged into a decision of adopting or releasing the ease of the connected intuitive world from their lives.

Tech is transforming our world really bloody quickly. In fact, experts predict it will change more in the next 25 years than it has in the last 200.

Time to pull your head out of the sand, look up and buckle up, it’s going to be a breakneck year.

Wooooooo

lord of the rings

One code to rule them all, one code to bind them…

Monetising Virtual Reality

I’m on the train back from a conference where I was privileged enough to be part of a panel alongside top guys from the BBC, Unity and Dubit, we discussed and interrogated the money making roadmap for Virtual Reality (VR).

It was interesting and much fun, not least because it’s something I believe is here to stay (no surprise to those of you that follow me), but eyebrow raising too in that the focus across the industry is steering quickly to ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment) rather than considering the fact that we haven’t really nailed the craft, purpose or immersion factor yet.

I was asked afterwards by several people; ‘What are your top tips for getting into VR and where is the money?’ (mainly in the same breath) and so thought I’d distill the panel into a post… here goes.

First things first; as with any good content (or business), a VR experience is only as good as the idea(s) at the core. Crack a brilliant concept first and the money will follow (one way or another). During my career I’ve worked for some of the top agencies in the world, of these two spring to mind; one was focused on money first and idea second, another ideas first and money second. The latter is acing it, the first is arguably losing it’s identity, staff and direction. Enough said.

Secondly, again you’ll see the parallel here; you have to build trust. Trust in the medium is growing but headsets aren’t about to fly off the shelf just yet, it’s a slow burn but it will reap it’s reward.  The ‘jazz hands’ have been and gone, the next phase on the roadmap is about creating brilliant and relevant experiences, VR is about immersion not reach. Get this bit right and scale (therefore money) will follow.

Third up; consider the right investment and return model. You can; create an app based service and tie subscription to it, you can launch with experiential then move to freemium and start an economy of scale from there, you can take an AR in-road with an upgrade model, sponsorships, partnerships, branded content… as with any new medium there are many money making ways. However, as with any medium, one will apply to your objectives more than the other. Explore and choose carefully.

It’s a bit ABC but thats because really truly, the basics aren’t actually all that complicated. The playground is big, experimentation is happening, trailblazers are lighting up the way. Those that keep their head but jump in and concentrate on; brilliance, trust and effectiveness (in that order), will be the ones to make their millions in this medium.

See you there.

Minecraft Money

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Cannes Lions 2017: From stories to experiences

Movies like Terminator, iRobot or Minority Report didn’t predict the future, the creators just opened up a new way of thinking within the realms of their scripting.

Similarly, as an industry, we advertisers pride ourselves on creativity and storytelling. We strive to create new ideas and worlds every day and communicate these through stories. Our stories get seeded online and then evolve amongst communities online and offline. They’re influenced globally by opinions and cultures, evolving and developing as multiple varieties from that one original core. The best stories transcend through the industry as ways of inspiring others.

But we must move beyond just stories. In today’s ‘post cinematic’ world we have so many new and exciting ways of creating, telling and sharing experiences; immersive mediums, alternate realities, cognitive and predictive data, connected and intuitive ecosystems. All of these things push the boundaries of storytelling, so why then, when for years we have successfully told linear stories, do we suddenly get ‘tech fear’ and limit ourselves at the hands of technology stressing over whether it’s been done?

This year I was honoured to be invited to judge the Cannes Lions mobile category and it was clear to me that when creativity and technology meet there are a few key trends emerging across the globe:

  1. Tech for tech’s sake is taking a back seat, FINALLY! The pioneers of converging an idea with the pace of life today are really doing their research to nail the killer insight at the heart of an idea, and you can see how this helps the idea evolve but not stray.
  2. That said, few are brave enough to state they don’t quite know what they’re doing (which is OK by the way as long as you are ‘doing’) and so stick digital and social amplification plasters over the cracks in an idea and talk about reach (I’m rolling my eyes now).
  3. Too many brands are quick to experiment but slow to adopt and scale, they come with an award in mind but lose sight of their audience in doing so.
  4. Very few have really, truly wrapped their minds around how to move from telling a story to putting their user at the centre of it to create an experience.
  5. Those brave enough to explore new terrain are doing so with a cause at the heart of it, which is empowering, I salut you.
  6. Ethics and morals aside for a moment, there’s still a ton of opportunity to just do really cool shit that leaves your brand emblazoned on the minds of those you want to buy your product.

Two words in most of the case studies and two that I hear every day are; Disruptive and Innovative. For me, true disruption emerges at the convergence of technologies, ideas and of course stories.

I was excited to see the bar is inching up, however there is a whole new world we can create through the next generation of stories and experiences that is currently untapped.

Whilst I love a good story, it’s definitely left me fuelled to continue to push for experiences, ones that make hairs stand on end, screeches escape mouths and eyes to well up, all of which happened in the jury room #justsaying.

Cannes Lions 2017

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3 Steps to adopting AI

I’ve being asked for my view on AI a lot this year, more so than last. It would appear the industry has caught up with the ‘hype’ being a reality.

I’m not getting the slightly twitchy ’Is it going to steal my job?’ anymore though, now the questions are; Is this something I need to be bothered about?, Can I afford it?, Where do I start?

All good questions. If you’re a brand or business looking to get ahead, simply keep up, or maybe even catch up, you can’t afford not to be thinking about this and getting a beta into place. If you don’t your competition will, and then you will be sat watching them eat your share of market or voice, or both. Either way, I can’t imagine that’s something you’re keen to see happen.

Roughly a third of the brands I work across either have a version of an AI (artificial Intelligence) ready IA (Intelligent Assistant) or have jumped straight into an AI trial or beta. Every single one of them has seen positive results. Every single one of them is now developing a roadmap with us to put in place milestones to be better, faster and more informed on a real time basis.

The shape of these solutions vary from bettering service response levels to informing fashion design and everything in-between. But the steps to get there are the same, and here they are;

Work out what the problem is you want to solve

Ok, obvious right? But actually I highlight this because I recommend you don’t ‘do a chatbot’ because your competitor did.

Is there a challenge that advertising or marketing isn’t fixing for you right now? Do you have a human centered design idea that you can’t quite get to grips with? Do you have micro communities you don’t understand or can’t reach in meaningful ways?

All of these are problems AI can help you with, quickly and effectively. So consider where you might want to turbo charge a solution and put a brief together around that.  Be clear about your brief as well, if you’re vague about what you want to achieve it’s tricky to train an AI to think comprehensively, it in turn will be vague.

Review and understand ALL of your relevant data

AI is only ever as good as the data you feed it; the more data you have, the more connections can be compiled and the faster it will evaluate and learn. It’s not magic, it’s algorithm on speed. 

Define the goals you want to achieve in order to reach the objective in your brief, or work with an AI data partner to do this (most good agencies should have someone who can help you get started and then find the right partner for you, the answer isn’t always ‘Watson’ btw). You will likely have a mass of data you understand and a bank of data you’ve never really thought about, once you have it all in one place you need to work out where the gaps are and fill them in.

This up front bit seems tedious, that’s because it is. But don’t cut corners as you’ll only pay for it further down the line. The better the data set, the more robust your AI solution will be and the quicker you will see results.

Choose your AI partner

What you want your AI to do will depend on what supplier or partner you choose. There are many solutions already available at both scale up and enterprise level to choose from. They offer everything from; language skills, analytics, tech stacks that speed up services, listening, finding ‘moments of serendipity’ through to predictive analytics and forecasting.

A read of IBM Watson and AWS are good places to start if you want to dig more into what’s on offer, but also check out the likes of DigitalGenius and DeepMind for something smaller or a bit more creative.

Of course you may be looking to create something truly bespoke in which case you may have to hire a bunch of experts to create your algorithm from scratch, or seek a start up willing to work with you and co-create. There are an abundance of really cool start ups just about to break on to the scene so this is a truly valid and cost effective approach, don’t rule it out.

That’s it. From here, you should be in safe hands. You know what you want, you have the data in play to get it and a partner who knows what to do with the data to get what you want.

My parting piece of advice is to remember that AI / ML (Machine Learning) are solutions that learn and develop, think of it as a child going from kindergarten to PHD level but in weeks rather than years. There may be a few mistakes along the way but be patient and think big, because with direction and correction the results are nothing short of impressive.

And it’s not just customer service stuff either…

marchesa-thumbnail (1)

Marchesa and Watson’s cognitive dress – read more here

P.S. Here’s a mini wiki;

IA; Generally speaking an Intelligent Assistant is a pre-structured agent used to deliver automated responses but does not include self correction or ‘learning’, therefore is not always classed as AI. It’s often the step before AI and used to validate the quality of data. That said some do include NLP (Natural Language Processing) and are connected to the IoT (Internet of Things) so the line is often blurred.

NLP; Natural language Processing is a computer science that uses AI and handles human speech between computers and humans.

AI; Artificial Intelligence is an intelligent or cognitive behavior exhibited by machines, sometimes also referred to as problem solving or learning.

ML; Machine Learning is a sub-field of AI that includes programming computers to deepen the learning process.

P.P.S. If you find AI interesting generally you might want to check out my other blog, co-written with @kayperbeats – it’s a bit more off the wall but it’s insightful none-the-less.

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Creating Cultures of Innovation

Innovation is such a loaded word.

How do you constantly reinvent yourself? The team around you? How do you think like a start up when you hit 150 people, 300 people, 500..?

I come across two sets of people every day; the ‘No, but’s’ and the ‘Yes, and’s’. It’s the latter that drive change because they disrupt with positivity.  My starting point is always to invite these guys in and let them thrive for as long as possible.

Once positive disruption is in place (and it needn’t take many people to create a stir) quickly focus on negating potential risk of that running for too long. Once you have something that you intuitively feel is right, start making it. It doesn’t have to be slick, rough and ready is good, but play with it, test it, let others do the same.

Ask yourself; if you were to put money into this how confident would you be that it will succeed?

I can promise you this; regardless of what your idea is you will be more confident once you start making it. You simply can’t get the insight and feedback loop you need from a deck with some words and pictures in it. It’s not the same.

Once you have something tangible, look at what makes it fit for brief, or purpose (depending whether you’re coming at this as an agency or client). The idea itself will die if it’s not put into practice, and quickly.

At this stage you should involve your audience in your beta, this is where you get the ‘authentic truths’ from and where your product will start to improve quickly. This will also help you identify where scale and profitability will come from, which in turn will shape your ‘go to market’ approach.

If you’ve reached this point, well done! You should feel like you have a desirable product or service and this is where sh*t gets real.

There are many ways to go to market, especially with ‘the internet’ enabling us to reach the masses quickly and effectively. Don’t forget to include the audience you’ve just built in your testing, include them as you plan your approach.

Hacker marketing, or growth marketing should never be underestimated, I recommend this book if you’re ready to start getting something out there and you’re a start up, or try this one if you’re an agency or client with an internal team changing the status quo. Obviously feel free to read both!

It doesn’t stop here, once you’re up and running, never stop innovating or disrupting. If you sit on your laurels, someone else will come along and disrupt you, which doesn’t feel good.

Keep pushing, interrogating, improve your product, or move on to something else.

Whatever you do, don’t sit still.

In the words of Steve Jobs ‘If you don’t cannabalise yourself, someone else will.’ And look what he achieved.

stevejobs1image found on Google – thank you

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My SXSW Poem of the Future

At SXSW this year I took part in the Tech Off, run by the ace guys over at TechDept. The theme was ‘The Future’, quite a big subject.

Since getting on stage several people have asked me to publish my talk, mainly because it rhymed I think… so here it is, enjoy!

My Job didn’t exist when I was at school,
When I started coding my Dad thought I was fool.
He thought I’d turn into a weird geeky hermit,
In fact, he tried to make me study law and get a law permit.
But the visions for the future excite me more than the past,
Because when it comes to tech, the past fades fast.
So I’m definitely not a hermit and I’m proud to be a geek,
Which you’ll know if you go online and maybe read a tweet.
And maybe I’ll reply or maybe it’s my bot,
Because maybe I’m real and here, or maybe I’m not.
The future isn’t just augmented or virtual you see,
It’s set to be a blend of several realities.
And as the future keeps advancing and we become more connected,
We’ll all be liked and rated and ever more self reflected.
Will we strive for 5 gold stars or get jobs based on social ratings?
In a future that’s rose tinted and won’t allow for ‘slatings’.
Will robots steal our jobs? Will Skynet really happen?
Or is that as likely as a one handed man clapping?
Will tech become so seamless that we won’t be able to tell,
Where I begin, you end, and the tech blends in as well…
Does the future of ‘blurred lines’ mean mortar and bricks,
Become synonymously intertwined with pixels and clicks?
Today we pay with fingerprints, tomorrow our voice
In the future, our faces, will this remove our choice
To be recognised or not, to have ambiguity?
Or will we be on camera everywhere, live streamed to the street?
When our lives are in the cloud, seamlessly connected
Will we be faster, more efficient, or will our memories be neglected?
I only know one phone number, that’s the one I’ve had for 15 years,
If tech fails us, are we lost, stuck in a tech-less fear?
Will we all walk round in circles when Google maps decides to stop?
Will our short hand math become really shit? Will that matter, or not?
Does a bit of humanity get lost when we rely on tech?
Do we discover less, feel less, care less, meh what the heck…
Or is tech making us efficient so we get more out of life?
And if we supercharge this in the future do we negate trouble and strife?
I’m at a conference with talks about ‘cheating MRI’
And every little thing becoming powered by AI.
In a future where every heartbeat and every drop of sweat,
Is calculated, decoded and uploaded to the net.
When connected collars tell us when our dogs have got a fever,
Or our cats can be interpreted through intelligent receivers.
When Jacquard powered jeans tell guys ‘you’re flying low’,
Our clothing interprets stress and tension, head to toe.
In a future where cars aren’t just autonomous but fly,
In highways constructed over cities in the Sky.
Where these cars are an extension of our physical being,
Our fridges order milk, our homes capable of seeing.
In the future are we dumb? Just run by automation…
Or are we elite and empowered, an unstoppable ‘one nation’?
In OUR future we WILL stand beside robots that are intelligent,
But further more we face a future that goes beyond this and is sentient.
There will be competition, co-petition, ambition and decision
But convergence and empowerment will come to fruition.
If biology is programmable and we can program 3D printing,
Will we solve poverty and hunger, now that got me thinking…
If a world built on noughts and ones merges with atoms,
Does that provide a world that you and I can barely fathom?
If we can put interfaces into brains and quadriplegics can move cursors,
Will we enhance that human life, is the advance in science worth it?
If we contemplate the dialogue between human and computer,
Do we invite tech to take over or, just to help us when it suits us?
There are so many things that today we do not know,
But if we super charge our neurons there’s nowhere a brain can’t go.
We can speed up our learning curve and mass communicate,
Have conversations without speaking, silently collaborate.
Whether this 5 minutes makes you laugh or maybe makes you wonder,
There is one thing for sure that we should collectively ponder;
Is technology and innovation a force for good or force for bad?
Is it going to bring us closer or going to drive us mad?
To quote Einstein ‘it’s obvious it’s exceeded humanity’
And he’s been dead for decades so it’s pretty clear to see,
That the trajectory we’re on isn’t slowing down,
And in fact with quantum computing we can go to town.
I for one would rather be in the driving seat,
Amongst you crazy bunch of awesome techies, devs and geeks.
For the ONE thing about the future that we should ALL be aware
Is love it fear it, WE are ALL going there …
And we can choose to lead or we can choose to follow
So I say, let’s grab the future by the balls and go invent tomorrow!!!
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the blending edge

It’s the second week of a new year and I’m halfway through writing three future retail strategies.

Though blurred lines won’t be a new premise for most of you who follow this blog, I thought a handy snapshot of where you can expect them to become increasingly blurred across the year might prove useful as it’s the recurring theme I’m hearing myself explain on a daily basis.

So here are my top blurred lines to expect for 2017;

The line between clicks and bricks

For anyone leading the way when it comes to the conversation between shopping online verses in-store, this will have been on your radar for several years by now, but thanks to Amazon bringing checkout free shopping to bricks and mortar in Seattle, this year comes with a whole new sense of anticipation and threat. Admittedly whilst limited at the moment, given the force behind the world’s 7th biggest brand it won’t be long before they’re popping up all over the globe. The internet will continue to spill out of our mobiles and laptops and into the objects around us, the age of the Internet of Things (IoT) has arrived.

The line between humans and intelligent assistants

Not to be confused with Artificial Intelligence (AI) which is autonomous, Intelligent Assistants (IA) are on the rise at a rapid rate. An IA is pre-programmed with data and doesn’t learn autonomously, this means brands are feeling more comfortable with releasing them into their customer service offerings and consumers are more comfortable with interacting with them. The speedy response negates the desire to have an informal chat with a human over the phone and accuracy is vastly improving.

The line between one and many

One of the greatest strengths of the internet is it’s ability to merge consumers needs with others that identify with the same. This pier to pier collaboration is defining what habits emerge and what technology enables those habits.

The line between social power and brand success

Building on this last point, brands are built on what consumers say about you, and thanks to the power of social, what is said is heard far and wide in seconds. You only have to look at the likes of Uber and AirBnB, case studies that are thrown around to show the true power of businesses built on ratings and feedback, to see the reality is that what you say is barely relevant, the true power is with the consumer. Content was King across Web 1.0 and 2.0, Context across Web 2.0 and 3.0. Depending on how sophisticated your brand is, you’re likely somewhere between 3.0 and 4.0 so the consumer is very much your King today.

The line between listening and predicting

Nike built their brand on the philosophy ‘Know me to serve me’ and it sits at the heart of everything they do. Because technology means consumers can have whatever they want at the touch of a button successful brands have a limited window to ‘listen and respond’. The successful retailer will know what a consumer wants before they even know they want it.

It’s clear that the notion of a clear dividing line is drawing to a close.

amazon-go

image found on http://www.theguardian.com – thank you

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Success in 2017 means Disruption as standard

One thing stood out to me this year more than anything else; the fact that senior clients are finally seeing disruption as the new norm within their businesses.

Good news for me. Great news for them.

In 2017 more brands and industries will be shaped by technology and models that challenge their internal legacy frameworks. In marketing ‘traditional’ is no longer broadcast, that’s simply archaic. Traditional encompasses straight forward digital advertising, social at the heart of your conversations with consumers and hopefully semantic designs and processes.

So brands looking to be ahead of the game, or even just quick to follow, will need to go beyond sticking digital plasters over the cracks in their swim-lane plans for reaching and engaging audiences.

Mobile centric should now be standard, consumer concentric planning should be something your agency is talking to you about on every brief, and if you’re not already thinking about smart solutions that step towards AI integration into your service offering at the very least, then be prepared for next year to be the year you fall behind.

The internet is no longer contained in our laptops or phones. The Internet of Things (IoT) is here and very much a part of consumers’ lives. So if you’re a senior marketer then get ready to disrupt your marketing, chuck out the old rinse repeat model and shake up the business.

Brands that embrace innovative thinking next year will be the ones that establish new rules of engagement in a window of opportunity to explore and be brave.

Consumers want to work with brands and more importantly buy from brands that are seen to be innovative. The key is to take that first step, getting it 100% right doesn’t necessarily matter as long as you involve them in your journey, bring them into your beta; innovate, deploy, ask, listen, innovate, deploy… you get the picture.

So as you look to 2017 and wonder what it holds for you and your business, my advice is simple; disrupt your norm.

 

fish

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