When Disruptor’s Handbook and Constellation Research hosted an evening meetup recently for the Australian launch of Ray Wang’s Disrupting Digital Business book, we were hoping to get some conversation going amongst the audience. We talked all manner of disruption – from innovation to technology, big data to marketing – and everywhere in between. But it wasn’t until we hit the topic of Privacy that debate really kicked off.
It was all in. Twenty or thirty of Australia’s leading business innovators held forth in open debate. And after an hour or so, we realised we’d only scratched the surface. There was plenty more work to be done.
And while there were contrasting views and concerns, one thing was clear. We are all now subject to much greater openness – and therefore at risk of some part of our privacy being compromised. So what are we to do?
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has created a great video to explain.
You know that an industry is starting to get serious about business standards and models when it starts to corral people. And the Internet of Things (IoT) industry is no different.
When Elizabeth Eisenstein investigated the invention of the printing press, she identified five impacts of new media:
- Experts coming under pressure from new voices who are early adopters of new technology
- New organisations emerging to deal with the social, cultural and political changes
- There is a struggle to revise the social and legal norms — especially in relation to intellectual property — and the concepts of identity and community are transformed
- New forms of language come into being
- Educators are pressured to prepare their students for the newly emerging world.
And with the IoT Design Manifesto, we’re now seeing a line in the sand. Initially drafted by a team of design professionals, the aim is to draw feedback from the community of professionals involved in the IoT field. You can sign the manifesto, download or simply read and share. But the question is – what’s missing? What can be strengthened? And perhaps most interesting of all – where to next; which of the five impacts will you work or collaborate on?
The manifesto thus far:
- We don’t believe the hype
- We design useful things
- We aim for the win-win-win
- We keep everyone and every thing secure
- We build and promote a culture of privacy
- We are deliberate about what data we collect
- We make the parties associated with an IoT product explicit
- We empower users to be the masters of their own domain
- We design things for their lifetime
- In the end, we are human beings.
The Econsultancy and Adobe report on “B2B Digital Trends 2015” is based on a survey of more than 800 global B2B digital marketing professionals. Seeking to understand the key priorities, trends and challenges for B2B digital marketing, it contrasts the B2C focus to reveal similar priorities – but with a couple of key differences.
First up, the “no surprises”:
- B2B marketers focusing on content marketing and customer experience
- B2C marketers are excited by mobile (at 16% they’re way ahead of their B2C counterparts at 7%)
- Personalisation and big data battling it out for 3rd spot.
There are, however, some interesting aspects relating to B2C content marketing and mobile:
- B2C marketing differentiates experience through personalisation not content. With a limited focus on the customer journey, B2C marketers are choosing personalisation and big data to differentiate their offerings from their competitors. In my view, B2C content marketing still provides great value but needs to be rethought and reimagined (ie it’s simply not good enough to “digitise” media).
- Mobile is hot for B2C. Not unexpected. BUT just as B2C marketers need to improve their understanding of content marketing, B2B marketers could learn a great deal from B2C mobile strategy. “Future ways of working” initiatives are transforming today’s businesses. Built on a platform of social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC), mobility is obviously a key pillar of this transformation. Expect to see more traction than the research would suggest.
Finally, some surprises:
- B2C need greater focus on marketing automation: These days, marketing at scale requires automation. It also requires strong analytics and customer journey mapping. Not paying attention to these areas actually opens the door to market disruption by faster moving competitors.
- Location based services scrapes the bottom of the barrel. In last place, I wonder whether marketers simply don’t understand the promise and opportunity of location based services. Considering customer experience ranks as the second most important category, there appears to be a disconnect between what customer experience can be and its method of delivery. Location services bring these together via a range of devices including smartphones, beacons, wifi and analytics. As marketers build more practical digital experience, I expect to see these figures improve.
From my first line of HTML I fell in love. Like almost everybody, I started with two simple words loaded into a browser. “hello world”. And with that I was hooked. I could sense, right here beneath my fingertips, that the world was shifting.
And again, years later, working with “Koz Community” at IBM – a system that was way ahead of its time – I could tell that those amorphous “audiences” out there were coming together. Connecting with each other and with me. Us. There was a fusing around passions and interests that was closer to performance art than marketing.
Social media turned the screw yet again. Turning the commonplace into uniqueness, transforming text into experience, image into storytelling. It put the levers of the imagination into the hands of everyday people – you and I. And we loved it. We loved the freedom of expression. The connection. The gritty humanity of it all shone through with every update.
But digital marketing – for the most part – has remained lacklustre. But it’s not for want of trying. Having been on judging panels for various awards, I can see that great work is being done. Interesting, challenging, pushing-the-envelope-type work. But the work that is possible and the expectations of clients are out of sync:
- Client led: Where the client is leading the innovation – looking for ever-newer approaches
- Agency led: Where the agency works to educate, engage, sell-in and deliver the “new”.
The problem is that we continue to look towards “one-offs”. We think that “strategy” is to do with plans on paper. Or Powerpoint. Or Keynote. We don’t think of it as “getting closer to our customers”. We don’t envision strategy as a process of solving problems. And we don’t see “digital marketing” as a fundamental way to transform the customer relationship.
Take a look at the video below. Think about the way that social, mobile, cloud (and ultimately analytics) – the SMAC – are combining to create a transformative customer experience. See how paid, owned and earned media are coming together. But what is most exciting about this is the way that “art” or an artistic sensibility – creativity – is coming into the execution. It’s the “A” in my PANDA framework for visionary marketing.
I have said it before and will say it again – experience is the currency of your brand.
And until we understand this, we won’t fulfil the promise of digital marketing.
When you are head down working on projects, developing new business and just keeping it all together, it’s easy to miss business milestones – like your first year in business.
The initial idea for Disruptor’s Handbook came from a lunchtime meeting with my former colleagues at PwC. We were talking about the concept of “disruption” and how it could be managed. Used for innovation. Simon Gibbard suggested that we write a handbook – a disruptor’s handbook. Tim Lovitt and I had topic ideas and thought we could pull together a blog. Or an ebook. Or something.
Of course, it never happened. We were busy with projects and with life.
When my PwC contract ended, I launched Disruptor’s Handbook with the view that there was something to the concept. There were plenty of lessons from the world of startups that could be applied to corporates, and vice versa. I had also worked with communities and business networks and knew there was value in collaboration. The plan was to bring these things together – to help corporates, smaller businesses with the appetite for change, and innovative NFPs:
- Reduce the risk of innovation
- Innovate quickly by adopting proven frameworks
- Be supported by experienced executives, mentors and teams.
The Three Principles
So I began with three principles that applied not only to collaborators but also to clients:
- Intention: When working with clients and with collaborators, I needed to understand their intention. Did they truly, deeply have an intention to work together? Or was it a “lipstick on a pig” project designed to give the appearance of innovation?
- Commitment: Was there a commitment to make a difference with innovation? Would clients and collaborators commit to a problem, wrestle with politics, budgets and organisational apathy?
- Gavin is not always right: I can be passionate and easily convinced of the power of my own ideas, but I challenged myself to be open to alternatives of all kinds.
Five Lessons from Disruption
Like any fledgling business, there’s a lot required to build, learn and grow. You need work. Case studies. Cash flow. But these are the same for any business. What follows, however, are the more hidden lessons that I have taken out of the last 12 months:
- Your greatest strength is speed – but only if you use it. There is plenty of competition out there. But being a small business means that you can change the way you DO business quickly. But you have to commit to doing so. If you take a week to change your website, you’re too late. If you need to delay a project you may lose it. The challenge is to actually use your nimbleness to respond to project, client or market changes faster than everyone else.
- You aren’t what you sell. After creating a dozen or more disruptor’s handbooks on various topics from “using the lean canvas” to “how to run a hackathon”, I realised that I needed to bring things together. Potential clients could see the value but not the offer. I needed to quickly change the way that I explained Disruptor’s Handbook to make it more tangible. Remember to sell the sizzle as well as the steak.
- What you have isn’t necessarily what clients want. This is a hard one. Sometimes people “want” disruption but they’re not “ready” for it (yet). Like most innovation, it’s a journey. You’ve got to both educate your clients and lead them on a journey. You’ve got to support them in selling the concepts into their own teams and management. It may be that your offerings are too early for the market. In which case, it’s time for Lesson 4.
- Ditch your beautiful ideas. Ideas in your disruptive business are worth nothing. What counts is traction. If a proposal is successful, analyse it for what worked. Keep refining it. But if you proposals are not succeeding, you need to move on quickly (see Lesson 1). No one will love your idea more than you, and that’s what makes it hard to let go. Be honest with yourself, ask for feedback and figure out where to go next. After all, you need to eat.
- Ride the horse all the way to “yes”. In our minds we are often saying yes but our words, presentations, proposals and actions indicate “no”. Keep practising saying “yes” out loud so that your clients and collaborators can hear it. Be open (as per Principle 3 above) as a project can often veer into unexpected and exciting territory. It may start out simply but can become truly disruptive and exciting. Ride that horse all the way to yes.
- A note of thanks. I know this is Lesson 6 … but it’s also important to be thankful. In the first year I have been fortunate to work with and learn from many people. We’ve done some great work together – from the innovative Qantas Hackathon to StudyNSW digital strategy. We’ve run workshops, spoken at conferences, mentored startups and incubated a few new businesses that are yet to launch (more to come). Every project took commitment and intention from the business and the business sponsors. And I was not always right. But I am truly thankful for the opportunity and experience.
With one year down, I’m excited to be looking further ahead. Plans are being considered. Collaborators cultivated. If you have a project you like to discuss, I’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to be a collaborator, hit me up.
I recently met with an old colleague to catch up after many years apart. While we settled very quickly into an easy conversation – almost like the time had never passed – it also gave me cause to reflect. It made me think about my business behaviour and some of the decisions I made on the way to achieving various things. It made me think about my own expectations and approaches – the things I wanted and how I thought my future might play out.
For example, I thought that at some point that I would:
- “Receive the knowledge” – that sense of understanding of how the world works and why
- Work less and earn more – I know. I can hear you laughing from here
- Work on more meaningful projects – sometimes you strike it lucky, but I look to my work with Vibewire for this
- Know what I’m doing – the truth is, I’m constantly creating new knowledge and new ways of working. And I think you should too.
The interesting thing, is that I am not alone in these youthful delusions. It seems that the much more self-aware Ann Handley rowed that same boat. Here are five things that she thought she knew at 22 that turned out to be totally wrong. Of course, it doesn’t make her any less awesome.
I have a love-hate relationship with shopping. Actually, when I think about it, I quite like shopping as an experience. What I don’t like the way retail transforms that experience. You see, retail shopping is filled with frustration:
- There’s no or limited stock
- Loyalty programs are more of a burden than a benefit
- The digital experience is out-of-kilter with the in-store experience
- Customer service is an after thought.
And it seems I am not alone. The 2015 IBM Smarter Consumer Study: Shoppers Disrupted gauged global sentiment about consumers’ shopping behaviour. The extensive survey of 28,500 online respondents across 15 countries saw more than 1,800 Australians respond to the survey.
Some of the key findings include:
- Australian shoppers are less loyal than ever – 10% act as advocates while 37% act as antagonists
- 38% of 20-39 year olds prefer to shop online
- Online shopping is up across all categories (esp consumer electronics)
- Shoppers prefer to be in control – and that means a mobile experience.
You can register and download the full report here.
Now, much of this is not new. I have been analysing the structural, technological and strategic problems with retail for years. But Australian retail, in particular, has been slow to respond to the challenges (and opportunities) of digital disruption. And when they do respond, they often do so with the blinkered vision of incumbency. Does this leave the door open for nimble competition or does is just breed consumer mistrust and apathy? I’d love your thoughts.
The big question, of course, is when will retailers fix these problems? Those that do will reap the reward of an increasingly digitally-savvy customer base. Those that twiddle their thumbs will see their customers switch allegiances – or worse – become antagonists.