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It’s Not Charity: It’s Social Enterprise-investing in the future

It's not charity, it's social enterprise

When I give money to charity, I look closely at the aims of the organisation. I listen to the story and look for the downstream impact. And I look at the finances. I am keen to know how much of the money that is donated goes to programs and how much goes to administration.

Over the years my giving has changed. I noticed that I became more focused on this programs/administration split. I would stop supporting organisations as the admin component grew. In frustration, I eventually shifted my entire focus away from larger organisations to Kiva and to Vibewire – a youth arts and media not-for-profit. Through Kiva I have funded almost 100 loans now and continuously roll them over – I see them less as charity and more as social enterprise. In fact, that is what they are.

The same can be said for Vibewire which is entirely focused on providing a launchpad for young change makers.

But through my work with Vibewire, where I also serve as President, I have also learned about the need for administrative – or core – funding. Sure it is important to support programs and to impact individuals, but not-for-profits run on passion, enthusiasm and commitment. The money simply keeps the doors open. In general, NFPs stretch every last cent out of their available funds. On the surface, this is great. But in doing so, they find themselves with very little capacity to innovate.

As a result, the impact of change is more like a ripple than a tidal wave.

And yet, when we give to charity, we want and EXPECT to see that massive, transformational change. As Dan Palotta explains in the video below, charities are rewarded for how little they spend, rather than on the results that they achieve. Surely this should be the other way around.

So next time you are giving to charity, think about your actions and expectations. What happens when you think of your giving not as a GIFT but as an INVESTMENT in the future?

That’s the way I think of Vibewire (which is easier since it works specifically with young people). See what happens when you change the way you think about charity. What impact do you want to see and how can you make it happen – beyond the transaction of donating/giving? Take an additional step. Contribute skills. Expertise. Get involved. After all, it’s your future too.

What’s in Your Startup DNA

Christmas DNA

There’s plenty of hype around startups – and around the founders of those startups. We buy books (books, really? Yes!) written by startup entrepreneurs, attend talks, download podcasts and go to  conferences. Sometimes it can feel like meeting a rockstar rather than a business person.

But for every startup, there are countless others, often behind the scenes, who have helped drive those startup successes and the failures that they are built on.

This great presentation by Yevgeniy Brikman is the view from the front row. It talks about the nitty gritty of startups. It’s not the big ideas or the grand plans. It’s the stuff that makes the business tick. And it makes you think … what’s in your startup DNA – and how deep does that go.

Image: Creative Commons License Kevin Dooley via Compfight

Vibewire’s 6 Under 26 – Australia’s Hottest Young Innovators

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When we think and talk about innovation our attention naturally tends towards a vision for the future.

But more often than not, that vision of the future is being set by middle aged women and men. Leaders of political parties, “captains of industry”, and community leaders of every size and shape tend to achieve their status not only through their commitment and enterprise but also due to their age. And often, I wonder, where is the voice of youth? Where is the perspective of those young people who will have to live with the decisions made now?

That’s why I am excited to share the great work of Sydney, Australia-based not-for-profit, Vibewire. Today they have announced the 6 under 26 – Australia’s hottest young innovators to watch in the year ahead.

The young innovators tipped to make the world a better place come from a broad range of backgrounds, from indigenous youth empowerment initiatives, sustainable food movements to programs that foster social entrepreneurship in high schools to organisations that encourage young women to take up engineering and technology.

Over the last 12 years, Vibewire has helped launch over 90 startups and kickstarted the careers of hundreds of young people. But this type of innovation does not occur in a vacuum. It requires incubation and support.

You can help Vibewire support more young change makers by joining this crowdfunding campaign. With a one-off donation from as little as $10, you will be contributing to a vision of the future that young people have a hand in creating. Support this great organisation here.

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”:

InstagramRights

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.

DiffusionOfInnovations

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.

Socialcast-SocialMediaAtWork

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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