business transformation creativity digital internet media organizational technology

#himc – a cheap first step towards changing a bit

For a very long time, Hyper Island have been using the #himc tag, which stands for hyper island master class, to share think pieces, concrete advice, brain food and absolute must-reads.

Many organisations need help and advice on how to make better (business) sense of emerging technologies and possibilities – and more importantly subsequent behaviours and implications for business and brand strategy – and I, personally, do a lot of work in that area (both as occasional hyper island collaborator, but primarily under the funny you should ask flag).

In all honesty, just by following the #himc tag (which cost nothing but a few minutes of attention), as they live by the sharing is caring rule of thumb, any company looking to better navigate an increasingly complex reality would benefit greatly. It doesn’t have to take much, but what is a required first step, is to start letting new perspectives, inspiration, opinions and realities through that filter called business as usual.

brand business business transformation digital organizational planning strategy technology

business transformation before digital transformation

MITSloan presented some results from a survey about the need for digital transformation (companies face an imperative: adopt new technologies effectively or face competitive obsolescence as the study states). Results include an interesting, but not so strange, paradox:

  • 78% say achieving digital transformation will become critical to their organisations within the next two years
  • Only 38% of respondents said that digital transformation was a permanent fixture on their CEO’s agenda

I think this circles the most pressing issue and bottleneck; the interchangable use of digital transformation and business transformation.

Looking at digital technology (in whatever shape or form) from the level you stand, will not help you transform the business. Albert Einstein said that “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”. If you are expecting business transformation, you need to work on where that transformation might be going before you look at digital technology. Multiple answers will do too, scenario planning and future creation are exercises in plurality, but you simply cannot view things like you used to.

Despite growing acknowledgment of the need for digital transformation, most companies struggle to get clear business benefits from new digital technologies. They lack both the management temperament and relevant experience to know how to effectively drive transformation through technology.

Brand therapy in order to aim business transformation

So It’s backwards. Technology won’t give you the new future and reveal possible business benefits, it helps reach it and to an extent anticipate it. Companies need to revisit their entire reason for being, the meaning of them in peoples’ lives. Turn it inside out, because whatever you are now was created in a reality which is no longer. You need to go to brand therapy. Looking at yourself through the same old eyes simply cannot reflect a transformed image. You need a new level of self consciousness which means you have to have the guts (and realise the scope of a transformational process like this) to question old truths. You have to be prepared to redefine what you do (the business) as opposed to how you do things (the tools).

MITSloan survey, barriers to digital transformation

What I say is missing from this is the lack of a clear purpose and new self consciousness. The pieces that help give change a clear direction, reason and fundamental meaning.

digital internet just a reflection media technology

annotations as visible but passive moderator

Comments and commenting on the internet is great, but a nagging issue at the same time. It’s the missing aspect to journalism, seen as it’s societal glue, voice and protector (the good journalism, that is).

The experiment over at Quartz is interesting. Reframing reader input/feedback, ever so slightly, as annotation. Annotations referring to specifics within a text (written text, but this can be applied to any text such as audio, video or any container or format).

Comments and discussions often derail because there’s a delay in one or many comments – from people who get off topic or express out of bounds ideas (bounds being decided both by the editors’ AND the readers’ norms). Before you know it it’s to late to nudge it back.

Reframing comments as annotations keeps discussions, individual comments, much closer to the intentional piece commented on. Feels like there’s something in that. Sort of local hyperlinks, making the comment and commented very visible and chained together.

Keeping it close to subject is important in discussions. Live discussions are often kept on topic by some moderator.If discussions wander off, it’s dealt with quickly and guided back to topic. Impossible in other situations (even video based discussions are hard, due to both technical noise but not seldom a feeling of “they’re so distant so I’ll go on, the risk isn’t huge”), but it feels like annotations is one that might work well for recorded texts.

digital internet technology what is around us

The invisible impacts of paying a premium price or not

Amazon in Rugeley for the Financial Times Magazine

Photograph by Ben Roberts
From Portrait of Amazon Fullfilment Center, in FastCo Design

When I pay a bit extra for organically grown tomatoes, I know why. When I pay a bit extra for a pair of Nudie jeans, It feels right. When I buy a pair of Crockett and Jones, in 2 years I’m reminded of why.

Many premium prices are strategically and purposefully explained and charged with answers to questions of “why” and “for what”. Quite simply premium brands. The tomatoes are better for me, that feels comforting. The jeans say something about me, which I feel I need for some reason I probably can’t explain very well.

“When you buy something from an independent retailer, you might pay more than Amazon, but that extra bit is an investment,” Roberts explains. “When you pay it, you’re investing in the quality of not only your own life but the life of the community around you.”

– Ben Roberts

But premium prices (can) also do something for others. All businesses impact greater society and hence our purchase decisions. This portrait of an Amazon Fullfilment Center so vividly shows the backside, if you will, of everything that I love with Amazon.

It would feel so much better knowing that only robots were hurt, while paying the lovely low prices, enjoying the frictionless delivery and follow-up of the many books that I buy.

I admit that I feel a bit better when I’m reminded every month of the village and child that I support. But the thing is, of course, that we support (or not) individuals, communities and society in every purchase decision but it’s all invisible.

In a world of increasingly quick and rich feedback loops, personal data, interconnected systems, transparency and information accessibility – I’m waiting for better ways of reminding me of the invisible back-end of the products I buy. In context. Not by way of bi-yearly reports on worker conditions in developing countries and/or what’s happening to our farmers seen as we’ve never payed less, proportionately, for food than today.

I want a friggin connected dashboard on the tomato cans I buy. How’s the farm doing?

digital internet technology ways of use

do you still rss?

IFTTT trigger service

These two posts:
Douglas Rushkoff – Not Out, Through: The Best Way to Deal With the Onslaught of Technology
Russell Davies – Big up to the rss massive

made me think about me being one of those who’s had to have a good think about what to do after a Google Reader shutdown. I’ve not worried about not finding a good alternative (although probably not as good as the original reader pre-gplus integration). It’s all sorted out-

RSS is one of the best web technologies, if you will, that never hit the masses, and now it seems even more unlikely. When, in fact, it should be the opposite. It’s very much the solution to volumes of crap, irrelevance and time consuming sifting through.

“I love blogging without tweeting about it. I know who I’m talking to – you lot who still do RSS. You’re my people.”

– Russell Davies

I like these things (, that I’ve just started mucking about with. A more consumer friendly version of Yahoo Pipes in a sense. If/Then sentences and triggers – the most low-level form of programming. That, I think many people who are unknowing, would actually love and benefit from, and now it’s getting simple and hence useful.

Delicious to Evernote trigger

advertising brand business digital marketing

Being Agency Of Record

A while back there was an ongoing discussion about the future of the advertising agency. That time it was not about them moving into service design and products, the way it is now (agencies are always needing to change into something else it seems, or at least talk about it), but it was about digital agencies vs. tradtional agencies as “agency of record”. Did the traditional ones get it? Would the digital ones grow up? It turned out it wasn’t so dramatic, and I would say that the agencies acting like good consultant are probably the ones still referred to as AOR. Why? Because good consultants don’t have one truth, as in It’s all digital now or social media is where it’s at or TV is dead – X is the answer etc.

No, good consultants start with their clients and then look for what seems to be true for clients’ situations. Quite nuanced. Less of an agenda, other than end results. More open and likely to identify connections and not just dots.

This is why Heiselman thinks that advertising will become a sales tool not a brand building one. The only way to clinch the deal is to offer a deal, and that is my big concern. If people are constantly bombarded with special offers, they will soon become sensitized to them.
– Nigel Hollis, in Will advertising become a transactional tool

> Data driven, contextual (dumb or otherwise), centered around offers.

Advertising vehicles that allow you to “engage” and have “conversations” with your brand’s heavy users by promising precision targeting provide very limited opportunity to grow your business. In fact, they often distract you from your proper objective – attracting new customers.
– Ad Contrarian, The Hidden Danger Of Precision Targeting

> On the belief that people want to engage with brands. For some, often few, that is the case, but it’s definitely not be all end all.

What are people’s aspirations? How does the brand play a role in it? I would employ anthropologists and psychologists and look at cultural analyses. We should be doing that with channels and places and spaces that consumers are engaging with every day. While advertising has tended to be more channel-orientated I’m not sure we, as strategic planners, have been putting the same emphasis on understanding as we should have. That’s what I’m hoping to bring.
– Abigail Posner, Head of Strategic Planning, Agency Development, Google, on “How brands can humanize their digital experience (PSFK)

Those consultants, agencies and other companies who want to understand how things relate, that don’t love specific tools and solutions more than others, are the AORs. By understanding what needs to be done while not necessarily being able to do all themselves.

creativity design digital technology video clip ways of use

design as building invisibility

government uk screen shot

“Something we’re trying to do in particular is let design get out of the way and let the user get to what they want,” Terrett says. “You shouldn’t come to the website and go: ‘wow, look at the graphic design’. We haven’t yet achieved that in most web interfaces; they’re still getting in the way [and] you can see the graphic design everywhere. We need to get past that.”

– Ben Terrett, Government Digital Service, UK

Design is a multifaceted word/occupation/skill/mindset/purpose/tool/thing/etc. Being much about removing as much as possible, making things invisible, takes it into a very interesting place. A place where Google has been for very long, but very few brands would consider worth going. A place where many art directors would freeze to death, yet a place many artists have lived. A place where minimalism is a close relative.

“I don’t know if I want to make any strong predictions, but I hope that technology disappears more and more from my life and you forget that you’re using it all the time instead of feeling like you’re burdened [by it].”

– Alexander Chen, Google Creative Labs

Whether or not this makes you sad, it kinda indicates what you pride yourself in doing, and what design is to you. If design is making things prettier or more useful. One designer (definition 1) could design useful, human centric service, and another designer (definition 2) could make that design “pretty”. Both say they’ve done their “design duties”. Personally, working in strategy, and creativity that activates that for brands, I’m very much for being purpose driven and hence defining what you do by what happens, the outcome. Everything in-between is a means, and really quite unimportant for very long in a project. The in-betweens, for all I care, can be invisible.

“We’re trying to get design out of the way” from Dezeen on Vimeo.

creativity design digital technology video clip ways of use

brutal focus, simplicity and consequence

An example of brutal simplicity and great (for some) value is this little alarm clock that goes off if it’s sunny, and you really should get outside, and doesn’t if the weather is shit. Perfect for weekends and holidays.

Nivea Sun, Sun Alarm App from AgênciaClick Isobar on Vimeo.

do your exercise or experience blackout

Slightly more advanced idea here, but brutally focused and determined to actually work. Many digital services can fail at solving the real “flesh life problem” because they can be forgotten about, overlooked or – due to laziness and self-deception – not used enough or discontinued altogether. Sure, positive motivational drivers can be effective or maybe even more effective than threat of loss, but that’s another discussion.

From PSFK:

The FitBit tracker is able to monitor and log in various activities such as steps taken, amount of sleep, and calories burned. The hack works by connecting WeMo, an Internet-controlled power outlet, to the FitBit device. When a certain goal isn’t achieved, the power outlet automatically turns off, shutting down connected electronic devices like a gaming console, computer, or even the fridge.

The online/offline marriage is really interesting when the two, if you will, have real consequences and effects for each other should [criteria] not be met. The quantified-self-fork from this years’ CES is one example where this is highly relevant. Let’s call it real life gamification, where the game ain’t necessarily all fun…

digital internet just a reflection social media technology video clip ways of use

another kind of 2.0

I’ve recently come across quite a few articles and posts about technology, social media and how we use it and how it effects us. Not seldom in a negative way. Unsurprisingly there’s an upswing at the end of a year and beginning of a new. Wise to stop, and reflect over life in general. How to get more time over. Stay in better contact. Or the opposite. There’s this post (swedish) about digital downshifting and how it’s a trend and this post about Adam Brault quitting Twitter for a month, reflecting over the Dunbar number and how twitter is “outsourced schizophrenia”.

Twitter is outsourced schizophrenia. I have a couple hundred voices I have consensually agreed to allow residence inside my brain

In conversations about interfaces, interaction and the roll of the internet in peoples’ lives, I keep arguing that the most used interaction method will be close to invisible. I don’t agree with those saying “touch is the ultimate method” because it demands of me that I’m interested in interacting.

Walking around on a sunday thinking about maybe going to the modern museum doesn’t mean that I want to interact with my fingers – all I want to know is the opening hours and what exhibitions are on. All I need is an answer. In a far future, when a chip is in my brain, and the internet knowledge is indistinguishable from my “flesh knowledge” questions thought are questions asked – and answered. Internet – interacting.

So I found this film very interesting. A very true 2.0 about technology is more about it being a bit boring. It’s when most of it is invisible. When it’s so obvious that we all can do almost everything but why should we.

Connecting (Full Film) from Bassett & Partners on Vimeo.

design digital just a reflection technology ways of use

urbanized technology

Some interesting thoughts, on the urban design note, from this year’s Picnic festival; urbanized technology. How cities “hack” technology that doesn’t take the context, i.e. city, into account. One example being the car, which isn’t utilized in the city in a way that the technicians behind it would have prescribed, if you will. Kind of makes sense. The new cars of today, the hybrids and the electrical ones, can be said to much better take this context into account. A hybrid runs on batteries in city environment and city driving; made possible not only because we have to cut down on fossil fuel usage, but because we know what city driving is like and so technicians and engineers take that into account.

It feels like much of the technological advancements we’re making today is about urbanizing technology. Or perhaps better explained; making technology contextually interactive. Giving data based on usage, and taking in data based on context. Urbanized technology is kind of the next step in every technology used. So we haven’t failed before, we just haven’t been there. Technology has been sand-boxed, whereas now it’s acting in an “object oriented programming” type of way. Manipulating other objects, and being manipulated by them.