Instagram Dumps Early Adopters for a Shot at the Mainstream

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1344924671 When Instagram burst onto the scene with its mobile only platform and funky photo filters it came armed with a secret. It wasn’t just about the photos.

Sure, the vast range of photo filters were appealing. They provided a layer of nostalgia for the Gen Xers raised on Kodak round edged photos and soft focus pastels from the 70s. Some filters created a more edgy feel, displacing the photo border and accentuating the top end of the colour spectrum. They made the amateur photographer feel empowered, even if the filters sometimes degraded the photo quality. What we lost in quality we made up for in consistency of image, framing and in the ease of digital cropping.

Community was the secret sauce of Instagram

But Instagram was more than just a fun way to take photos. For many social network early adopters, it was a sanctuary from the noise of Facebook and Twitter. It allowed people to curate small communities of like minds, where networks of dozens, hundreds and in some cases, thousands, of people could share photos, tips and engage in in-the-moment sharing, collaboration and discussion.

And as the platform was engineered around mobility, it had built-in location awareness and sharing, so that closed networks of connections could create a sense of context around the digital interaction. Moreover, with push awareness, users could be updated on any interactions with their own images, comments, likes, loves and so on. It brought a human dimension to the digital experience. It was a sense of community and all the goodness that comes with that sense of belonging.

Facebook’s billion dollar acquisition changed the Instagram game

When Facebook purchased Instagram back in April 2012 for about $1 billion, it was only a matter of time before something changed. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg focused on synergies, announcing:

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family … Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

But throughout 2012, Facebook has also been under pressure to prove its IPO valuation. And Instagram was a canny move, because it brings a ready made market.

Changing Instagram’s terms of use

Facebook are well-known for pushing the limits of user privacy. They started with the now failed Beacon. Then they stepped back and made a claim over all user generated content published on the social network. After a series of protests, Facebook modified their claims, but still succeeded in shifting the boundaries on user privacy and content ownership.

Taking a leaf out of the Facebook guide to user engagement, Instagram have now updated their terms of use which are due to come into effect on January 16, 2013. Buried within the Instagram site, these terms provide for the following “rights”:

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Saying goodbye to the early adopters, welcoming the mainstream

In making this move, Instagram is sounding its own death knell. It is signalling the end of the relationship to those who care about (and understand) the complex nature of web privacy. These “early adopters” were the founders of the Instagram community and fuelled its growth.

According to the diffusion of innovations, early adopters are vital in bringing new technology to the mainstream audience. Without the support of the early adopters, new innovations fall into the “chasm” and never reach wide acceptance within a community.

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But the early adopters have done their job now and as Instagram says goodbye to them, it is opening its arms to the mainstream. The early adopters have bridged the chasm and are shifting their focus away from community building to monetisation.

Facebook’s lucrative double whammy

Facebook’s billion dollar investment has not only eliminated a competitor, it has opened a lucrative new revenue stream. Extending the existing Facebook photo sharing functionality (for which it was already a global leader) by integrating the Instagram capabilities will help drive further online usage.

The change in the terms of use will provide new revenue by allowing Instagram to license your photographs, name and images to content hungry third parties.

The shift from users to customers

Many have suggested that Instagram, as an alternative, should charge to download their app. But this would change the nature of the relationship. At present, Instagram has a strong community of “users”, but charging would make those users “customers” – and that in turn would compromise the business model.

As it currently stands, Instagram’s “customers” will be those “third parties” – brands and businesses who are interested in the vast quantities of content being produced by Instagram’s users.

Instagram may re-jig the terms of use with slightly more generous concessions based on user protest, but users should expect that the direction to be maintained.

So what happens to the early adopters?

They’ll move to a new service. They’ll rediscover Path or re-evaluate the new Flickr app. Perhaps they’ll warily move to the new mobile Twitter app with in-built filters.

But saying goodbye to the early adopters is not the end of the world. It’s the start of a new mainstream story. And many of us will only care when we see our own images splashed, out of context, in some other place on the web. But by then, that will be too late.

For many, privacy and “intellectual property rights” over our own image is happily traded for the benefits offered by social networks. But the choice is individual – and the challenge we all face is to be informed. And it’s bound to become more challenging in 2013.

Light Up Someone’s Life This Holiday with Moore’s Cloud

Support the Moore's Cloud Light project on Kickstarter

Admit it. You’re more than a little geeky. There is a drawer somewhere in your house with old mobile phones, cameras, and pieces of technology. For all I know, you probably have a Newton gathering dust under your desk.

Support the Moore's Cloud Light project on Kickstarter

If this sounds like you, then you may just want to add Light to your Holiday wishlist this year. The Kickstarter project turns a stylish 52 LED light into a Linux powered, web-connected device that can be controlled by your iPhone or iPad or from the other side of the world via the web interface.

It’s “illumination as a service” – or the “internet of things” come to life. There’s only 15 days in the Kickstarter campaign to go – and it needs your support. Choose a pledge package and get behind this innovative startup. It’s even been named CNET’s Kickstarter project of the week. Sign up for a package – you’ll be glad you did.

And while I like this video, I reckon they should have gone with a different soundtrack. More like this one!


Mobile Isn’t Just a Marketing Conversation

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  • “Mobile first” won’t cut it – businesses need to think “mobile only”
  • It’s time for CMOs to climb aboard the technology bus
  • CIOs need to buy-into the marketing conversation

Could it be that 2013 will indeed be the “year of mobile”? Mobile internet traffic is now accounting for 20-30% of total web traffic working from a 5-7% base only 12 months ago. These usage patterns, when combined with strong demand for mobile devices (smartphones, tablets etc), indicate that businesses are going to have move quickly to address this changing engagement landscape. eMarketer suggests that “mobile first” will be a priority for 2013, but recent research by Constellation Research Group indicates that this will not be enough – that brands must consider a “mobile only” landscape.

Digital disruption is impacting every industry – from retail to financial services, mining to tourism and everything in-between. Driven by the five forces of the consumerization of IT – social, cloud, mobile, big data and unified communications – CMOs are challenged to respond to the rapidly changing business landscape. And for those who are not already engaged with technology transformation, it may be too late. As a matter of priority, marketers must not just consider and evaluate technology – they must grapple with it, engage and implement. In short – it’s time to get on the technology bus or look for a new role.

This, however, is more easily said than done. Mobile isn’t just a marketing conversation. IBM’s new Worklight solution highlights the fact that mobile is also – rightly – part of technology strategy. And that means talking with the CIO.

Innovate 2012 – Start Now for 2013 Success

Many businesses are now planning for 2013 projects. But if the consumerization of IT has taught us anything, it is that your customers move at the speed of social, not the speed of enterprise. And that means, executing now and executing again later. If you want to be successful in 2013, you cannot afford to wait until Q1.

IBM’s Innovate2012 event showcases the transformational aspect of mobile devices and platforms:

  • There will be 10 billion devices in market by 2020
  • 61% of CIOs view mobile as a priority
  • Businesses are seeing 45% increased productivity with mobile apps

CMO to CIO – It’s Time We Talked

But CIOs cannot hive off mobility as a technology-only direction. Just as CMOs must start to engage with the nuts and bolts of technology, it’s also time that CIOs bought into the marketing conversation. CIOs have the experience of delivering large scale, high value technology projects with enterprise level governance and business change management. CMOs can benefit from this experience and expertise. Conversely, CMOs are experiencing unprecedented pressure to deliver customer value. This means speed to market. Collaborating around these challenges will see massive benefit for marketers and technology teams.

CMO to CIO – It’s Time We Talked

When we crowdsourced the first The Age of Conversation book back in 2008, the idea of working from the outside-in was untested. Over 100 marketing innovators from 15 countries shared their thoughts and early experiences and Drew McLellan and I produced a book that would go on to create a community, showcase the early adopters and leading social media practitioners and ultimately raise around $50,000 for charity.

People like David Berkowitz wrote about participation and its ephemeral nature in a connected world. Toby Bloomberg peered into the future, suggesting that business was personal and that technology is fueling emotional engagement. And Katie Chatfield told brands to prepare themselves for a party.

Several years on, however, how many brands are ready to party? How many can scale their digital interactions into some form of customer engagement? And how many are prepared to turn conversations into something more than a link or a like?

As this infographic from Socialcast shows, many businesses continue to restrict access to social media in the workplace. At the same time, social marketing agency Awareness suggests that better customer engagement was a top business objective for social media.

  • Social Media Governance a Major Concern for CIOs: The gap between the business objectives and needs of two vital organisational units – technology and marketing appear at odds. Robert Half Technology’s survey of 1400 CIOs indicates that governance concerns are high on the CIO agenda – citing security, legal liability and bandwidth as reasons for blocking social media.
  • Social Media Generates Productivity and Creativity Payoffs: The “micro breaks” offered by social media may actually increase productivity. But this pales into insignificance against the business value of bringing the outside-in. A recent McKinsey Global Institute report suggests that cross-enterprise collaboration is estimated to unlock in excess of $900 billion across four industries.
  • CMO to CIO – Let’s Talk Timing: The competing needs of the CMO and CIO are often seen through the lens of conflict. Customer demands and revenue expectations drive a marketing agenda while risk management, compliance and governance occupy the minds of the CIO. Yet, the opportunity for collaboration exists. CMOs need to understand the challenges of governance and technology and CIOs need exposure to the “front office”. The answer lies in planning and timing. And having the right conversation.

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Book Now for Creative Innovation 2012

ci2012 For every wicked problem there’s a great opportunity. But it takes leadership and courage – and that’s the theme for the upcoming Creative Innovation Asia Pacific conference this November.

Held in Melbourne, Australia, November 28-30, 2012, is setting a transformational agenda for business and organisational leaders alike – how do we adapt flexibly and rapidly to a world that is constantly changing. To address these challenges, founder Tania de Jong has curated a program of international leaders such as Baroness Susan Greenfield and Wade Davis to business leaders like CSIRO’s Megan Clark and Telstra’s Steve Vamos, innovators such as Ruslan Kogan and a cast of creative connectors from Katie Noonan to Gavin Blake.

There are many more speakers worth seeing – far too many to list independently. I’d encourage you to take a look for yourself.

But more than this … I’d encourage you to book now using the code WICKED to receive a 10% discount.  And if you do so before SEPTEMBER 16 you’ll be able to take advantage of the EARLY BIRD pricing for the conference AND workshop packages.

And if you need some help to justify your attendance – take a quick look at the reasons to attend. You’ll be glad you did.

With Mobile Commerce, We Are All Retailers Now

Closing DownThe early days of eCommerce were a hard slog. The technology was cumbersome and unreliable, the gateways were expensive and the business community was sceptical. And the shoppers … well even the early adopters were hesitant – concerned about credit card numbers, identity theft and having to pay for goods in advance that may never arrive.

But over time most of those issues have been overcome. And even those that still concern us – like identity theft, security and so on – are traded for convenience. After all, we are generally happy to share our credit card information when a deal is ready to be done.

Mobile commerce – or mCommerce – however, has been able to ride the shirt tails of eCommerce. In many ways, the success of sites like Apple’s iTunes and Amazon have not only changed our sense of trust – they have changed our consumer behaviour. Just think, for example … when was the last time you bought a DVD or a music CD from a shop? For many of us, digital experience is at the core of our understanding and acceptance of so many brands.

And as we follow the bridge of convenience through our mobile devices, we will find ourselves using what businesses call mComerce (though we will just view it as convenience). And this makes me think again – that for the future of our brands, we need to think mobile first but with a social heart.

But our businesses challenges do not stop at the mobile gateway. In fact, they are just the start of a business trend that is going to transform our industries. A couple of years ago, well respected content marketing evangelist, Joe Pulizzi  urged us to think about EVERY business as a “publishing business” – but now in the same way – we have no choice but to consider ourselves RETAILERS too. We are always on, always connected and always SELLING as the infographic from BigCommerce, below, shows. The question is … are you ready?

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Another View on Retail – Rohit Bhargava’s 12 Big Ideas

Over the last couple of weeks I have been writing and thinking a lot about the future of retail. I’ve been interested in exploring the state of Australian retail and understanding why a sector that was once driven by innovation now seems so bereft of it.

In many ways, the seeds of the current retail malaise were planted during the dot com boom. At the time I was working in the IBM eBusiness Centre and can recall many meetings with retailers. There was confusion, hype and hubris (obviously a bad combination). eCommerce was still in its infancy – and was expensive to implement – back then we didn’t have the online shopping plugins for WordPress, shopping cart modules or “cloud based” online commerce providers that we do today.

Effectively the problem was one of technology.

And as the dot com boom came and went, it seemed that most retailers breathed a sigh of relief. Talk of the “death” of the bricks and mortar shopfront had been over exaggerated, and in the washup, retailers felt justified and went back to business as usual.

But innovations never rests … and the retailers took their eye off the ball. And in the background, new innovations were sweeping the global marketplace. Recommendation engines, social proof and social networks were transforming our notions of trust and technology was becoming more robust and secure.

Those retailers with an eye on the future and a toe in technology experimented, learned and innovated. They created new markets and corralled new audiences. And the whole game changed.

Now here, in Australia, after decades of neglect, condescension and bloody mindedness, the scramble is on. It seems there is a belated recognition that “online” is somehow connected to “in-store”. But it’s hard to catch a market that has been evolving and experimenting for 20 years. What can be done?

Rohit Bhargava shares 12 trends that might just provide some direction.

Did You Try and Fail? Then It’s Time to #flearn

At the recent FailCon conference in Sydney, Pollenizer co-founder Mick Liubinskas threw a challenge to the audience. “When it comes to startups, let’s redefine the language around failure”.

FailCon was a day-long event bringing startups, innovators, supporters and investors together to share stories and experiences. And while there was plenty of goodwill and intention from the folks in the audience, it wasn’t until Mick pulled out a live Google Document and started challenging the audience and putting names against action items that things started moving.a  Taking on the role of facilitator, he fired questions at the audience – what do we need to open up debate around failure and startups? How can we talk about success? How can we remove the stigma?

Here in Australia we not only have the “tall poppy syndrome” which aims to lop the head off anyone who becomes too successful – we also have what I call the “failure undertow” – where even a sniff of failure can drag your reputation deep into the depths of business obscurity. That leaves a very small area in which new entrepreneurs can navigate. And that, in turn, lowers our sense of reward and capacity for risk taking.

The folks in Silicon Valley have a completely different view of failure. In the startup capital of the world, entrepreneurs who have not survived a business failure are often considered amateurs. In fact, Dave McClure, founder of incubator 500 Startups considers his business a Failure Factory.

As Mick prowled the stage at FailCon waiting for audience input – a voice from the back of the room rang out. We were talking failure and we were talking learning. What if you combined them? What if we could talk about “FLEARNING”?

And it was done.

Over the last couple of weeks, Mick Liubinskas, myself and FailCon organiser, Josh Stinton have been putting our heads together to build a place to share our failures and the successes that follow. We have been talking up the concept of “flearning” and are now looking wider – for stories and experiences of failure that we can share with the wider Australian startup community. We’d love to have you involved.

Take a few minutes to check out FLEARN.ORG and let us get this conversation started. You know you want to get that story off your chest – and now’s your chance.

CommBank Reaches For a Piece of the Mobile Pi

commBank-albert We have all been there … a crowded table, a busy restaurant and service staff under pressure. On the one hand there’s orders for the bar, on the other new customers ordering meals. The challenge for most restaurants and cafes is to maximise the yield – to get your customers in, fed and out as efficiently as possible.

But then comes the bill.

Everyone wants to pay by card. Some want to split bills. Some want to tip – others don’t. Eyes start to roll. A great experience has come to an end – and all you want to do is give someone some money. It should be easy, right?

So I was interested to learn more about the Commonwealth Bank’s “revolutionary” solution that they are claiming will be the “future of business”. Based on CommBank’s platform known as Pi, it allows developers (including retailers, businesses and vendors) to create business apps that run on the Android powered secure device unimaginatively named “Albert” (they claim links to Einstein).

The fact that CommBank have engineered a finance focused software platform should be enough to send chills up the spines of software vendors around the world. With an already trusted relationship with their merchants there’s a real chance for simplification of business systems here. In fact, the launch video suggests ways forward – inventory and stock management, customer relationship management and customer loyalty.

Interestingly, they’ve taken a mobile first strategy which puts them ahead of the game – not just locally but globally. There’s even a touch of “social” potential in some of the “out of the box” apps – with a micro-donation option available for those times where customers want to “round up the bill” and donate to a worthwhile cause.

Leading the Sector through Technology Innovation

1342483960 Over the last two years or so, I have liked the market positioning that CommBank have been taking. Their aggressive use of consumer technology with apps like the Property Guide App and Kaching have differentiated them from the rest of the sector. So this announcement follows a pattern of technology innovation … with the main difference that we’ll have to wait until 2013 to see Albert up close.

An App Store to Rule Them All

Effectively, CommBank are creating and delivering their own App Store for a proprietary device. It’s an interesting move up the vendor chain – working with Wincor Nixdorf on the hardware and IDEO on the human-centred design. In a clever move, this will lock-in Commonwealth Bank merchants across the country and will also serve as a platform for product cross- and up-sell.

It’s still unclear how the App Store will run, but it seems that it will follow the model set down by Apple and Google – with developers registering and having their apps certified before release. I presume there will be options that allow developers to create apps for specific merchants – I’m thinking of the larger retailers like Myer or David Jones – but there is huge potential here for franchises as well.

Thinking Outside the Square

Apple pioneered the “own the ecosystem” approach – connecting data, identity, analytics, content and proprietary devices via the “cloud” – and CommBank seem to be reading from the same hymn sheet. And when it comes to banking and security, there’s a clear case for this sort of approach.

But the question has to be asked … why not just partner with an organisation like Square – the card reader that turns an iPhone into a mobile payment gateway? It seems that the answer is Leo (yes, as in DaVinci) -  a “strap on” or cradle for iOS devices like iPods and iPhones. This allows for access to the secure Pi platform.

And while this works for the bank – I’m wondering does it work for the customers of the bank’s customers. John Pironti, security and risk advisor with the Information Systems Audit and Control Association in the US suggests that smartphones may well be more secure than our PCs:

It’s pretty easy for banks to use GPS co-ordinates, SMS text messages, phone calls or some combination of these things to make mobile access to your bank account more secure … Plus, banks can in turn use the smart phone as a type of Swiss Army knife for security — employing the various apps and embedded features in their authenticating mechanisms.

Evolution or Revolution?

There may be a kernel of a revolution here … though it’s not in the device. For all its sleek lines, Albert is an evolution of the ubiquitous EFTPOS device found in most stores across the country.

The real value lies in the platform. As we know from social networks, power always accrues to the platform – and the underlying data – the patterns of purchase, customer relationships, business process enablement – could represent significant value to small businesses. And if CommBank could swim up the value chain a little further to deliver customer experience analytics not ONLY to the small business but to the consumer, then they may be onto something.

The thing to remember, is that in a world where business innovation arises out of the customer experience – it’s your customers who are creating the demand-pull for business innovation. And that’s where disruptive technology like Square come into their own. So, if I was the CommBank, I’d be already thinking of version 2 – and wondering just how I could put the power into the hands of its customers customers.

Sometimes Open Source Software Just Wins

When I first came across open source software I was amazed. I could hardly believe that good quality software could be made available for a minimal cost. Sure there could be issues with support and maintenance from time to time, but the flexibility and pure value for money equation was hard to beat.

My first real experience with open source was about 15 years ago implementing Norwegian CMS developers ezPublish. Not only was their content management system way ahead of most of the commercially available providers, it was built in a way that was collaborative and had a strong developer community around their various solutions. And – almost intuitively – they had built in community / social networking features which many other CMS platforms still struggle to deliver.

As I put the business case together, I remember laughing as I entered a software license line item. I knew it would generate questions – and sure enough I was called in to speak with the CFO. “Did I make a mistake in my costing?” I assured him that the figures were correct – but that there were trade-offs that came with open source.

Two years down the track, the software was still powering our corporate website and had transformed the way that we thought about the web, our customers and the distribution of our corporate information.

These days it seems that open source is a corporate norm – with 98% of enterprises using open source software in some form. As the folks from Source Ninja point out, it’s not just about lower acquisition costs – flexibility and abundance of code are vital elements when it comes to choosing open source software for business.

But the question for you is … does this ring true? Are you using open source in your business? Why?

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