Archive for the ‘technology’ Tag

Well @MeshCon, It Seems We’ve Crossed the Chasm

Mesh Marketing 2011 did not disappoint. Eloquent speakers sparked intelligent conversation. The camaraderie of the geek community was deeply felt. And yet, there was something different about this year’s edition. It seemed…calmer…mellower… in a good way. And I think I know why.

I think we’re out of the gee-whiz-isn’t-this-cool phase of digital marketing and social media. The social media/web 2.0 whatever you want to call it revolution is beyond the new normal, it’s just plain normal. We’ve crossed Geoffrey Moore’s chasm into the early majority phase. Instead of chasing shiny new objects, we’re into  more sober topics…like how to operationalize social media communications into business processes…and what to do with all that data?

Joe Fernandez‘ influence rating service, Klout, sparks mixed feelings among many but his appearance at Mesh disarmed a lot of cynicism. He doesn’t want to recreate high school popularity contests, he’s just trying to show that a lot of people have more clout (with a “c”) then people recognize and he’s trying to do it with 20 terrabytes of data a day! And seeing him in a panel with the inventor of Watson, Rod Smith, was amazing to see.

But the show stealer of the day was Marcus Sheridan. If you need proof that digital in part of the DNA of everyman, read his blog and watch his videos. The Sales Lion injected some straight talking street smarts to a conversation dominated by geekspeak. Finally someone makes it clear that SEO is still immensely important and that digital and social serve to generate leads and sales. Sandra Gornall has an excellent summary of his solo talk here and I can’t wait to link to the video.

A big thank you to the @meshcon organizers and volunteers for a great event.

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Old Philosophies, New Technology

In a recent article in Wired, Kevin Kelly remarked that “the frantic global rush to connect everyone to everyone, all the time, is quietly giving rise to a revised version of socialism.” He’s got a point. Wikis, peer-to-peer file sharing, and creative commons licensing do seem to follow the “for each according to his ability, to each according to his need” creed. And it’s rather ironic that the fruits of entrepreneurial dot-com capitalism would spawn such collectivist eco-systems.

Or have they? I think the digital eco-systems to which Kevin Kelly speaks isn’t socialism at all but more like a hallmark of American democratic capitalism. Back in 1831, Alexis De Tocqueville observed that Americans displayed a peculiar fondness for civic associations,

Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite. Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave, futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small; Americans use associations to give fêtes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools…I have often admired the extreme skill with which the inhabitants of the United States succeed in proposing a common object to the exertions of a great many men and in inducing them voluntarily to pursue it.

(Democracy in America Volume 2, Chapter 5)

Sounds a bit like the meetups and tweetups we have today only the invitation comes electronically. So what motivates us to organize? In Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky defined three ingredients to a successful self-organized group. A plausible promise, something big enough to mean somthing, but not too big that we can’t picture ourselves achieving it; the tools to connect us (i.e. social media); and and finally, an acceptable bargain for all participants that settles the tension between personal desires and group goals. For De Tocqueville the terms of that bargain is dictated by something he dubbed “self-interest rightly understood”. See, because we live in societies with other people, we all have to get along with one another, so it’s in our slef-interest for everyone else to also have their self-interests fulfilled.  “[Americans show with complacency how an enlightened regard for themselves constantly prompts them to assist each other and inclines them willingly to sacrifice a portion of their time and property to the welfare of the state.”


What we’re seeing isn’t a “new socialism”. What we’re seeing is old school, made in the USA, enlightened capitalism where we help ourselves by helping others. Social media has simply heightened our awareness of this principle.

Why IT needs to think like HR

IT people are the unsung heroes of the corporate world. Without them, we couldn’t run our businesses, yet we only see them when something’s going wrong (printer’s out, internet’s down, emails aren’t coming through, etc.)

Maybe because of their relative invisibility, they’re treated as a cost centre and given that incentive, IT managers tend to be relentless cost-cutters i.e. bulk buyers. Hence, all employees end up with the same machines, the same monitors, and the same mobile devices at work.

But what if IT managers were to invest their money instead of spend it. If IT devices are productivity tools, what if the measure of success for IT was employee productivity. 

I was told of an organization that decided to abandon their policy of standardized mobile phones and let employees choose which smartphone they’d be issued. Some chose Blackberries, some chose iPhones. Yes, some extra time and money was spent making sure the internal systems were compatible; but guess what happened? Employee productivity went up. When people enjoy the device they’re using, they use it more often and they use it smarter.