Archive for the ‘Digital World’ Category

Is Apple Cooling or Transitioning to a Techno-Luxury House of Brands?

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Blog graphicThe recent announcement that Apple is acquiring Beats Electronics for its streaming audio and electronics capabilities has caused consternation on Wall Street in terms of whether this is an indication that Apple’s renowned ability to innovate in-house is cooling and that the company is beginning to stall.

Most of the attention around the Beats acquisition has focused on its streaming capability and whether it offers as good a service as Spotify or Pandora. The potential that this joint team brings for developing future offerings in the broader entertainment landscape, including video, should not be ignored.

Other key benefits for Apple include Beats’ wealth of aggregate knowledge of the entertainment, music and electronics industries, as well as its connection with the youth culture – something that many other companies seek to emulate. Beats is considered to be a relatively strong U.S. brand with a youth flavor and one that, when attached to Apple and its global market presence and subscriber base, could infuse a stronger linkage with their younger purchasers, further extending their cool image and status.

At the heart of this transaction, however, is the issue of “the innovation divide”, where larger process driven companies are not always as flexible and in tune with the rapidly changing technologies and consumer demands that startups seem to easily tap into. This is why we have seen Facebook acquiring WhatsApp and Oculus. as well as Google acquiring Nest.

The real challenge faced when executing such acquisitions is being able to blend the cultures and mindsets of the new company with the dominant corporate culture that prevails. This may seem easy but the reality is that the founders and creative thought leaders who drive the acquired company usually leave fairly quickly. What can Apple do to prevent this happening and also create a mechanism and process for future acquisition and expansion going forward? The key may be keeping them as independent operations and brands supported by the power of the Apple global logistics, branding and design machine.

Are there other reasons that Apple should be considering this broader transformation? At the recent DLD NYC Conference, Scott Galloway identified that technology is a terrible business to be in because: “If you don’t reinvent it every year, your stock gets hammered”. He stated that “you want to be in a business that leads with your heart not your head, as it results in irrational wants and needs which in turn lead to larger margins”; he believes that the investment community has recognized this, giving Cartier as an example of having a larger market cap than Deutsche Telecom. Galloway identified that “the best neighborhood in the world is luxury” and although, in his opinion, Apple is the best house brand in the world, it’s in a bad neighborhood which can be a “terrible stock strategy”. He believes that Apple needs to transition its business into the luxury neighborhood in order to become a great iconic luxury brand and, in so doing, become the first trillion dollar market cap company. There seems to be strong evidence that Apple has already initiated this transformation with the appointments of Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry, and Paul DeNeve, former CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, into key positions within its organization.

The possibility is that the acquisition of Beats could be Apple’s fledgling step to creating not just a single luxury brand but a house of brands, similar to LVMH, with multiple appeal points for a broader global audience, rather than limiting their offering to a single brand or a single technology. The creation of a new techno-luxury house of brands supports Apple’s quest to become the first trillion dollar market cap company, and the company’s transformative strategy indicates a return to its historic reputation for unpredictability!

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

The Power of Six in a World of Digital Change

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Power of 6 finalFor the last six years I’ve been examining and commentating on Digital Life Renaissance 2.0, the term that my partner, Steve Benton, and I coined to describe the world as we saw it emerging in late 2008, following our escape from corporate life to become independent analysts, advisors and entrepreneurs.

There’s probably never a good time to start a journey in life like this and, looking back with hindsight, this was probably the worst time we could have chosen! 2008 was the start of the global meltdown and, as a consequence, everyone was narrowing their focus on how to survive over the next 3 months. It didn’t matter whether you were a corporate CEO or employee, uncertainty and fear were a daily reality back then.

One of the most significant theories of networking is that everything is connected and that we’re only ever six connections away from someone or something. I was recently invited to DLD (Digital-Life-Design), an interesting “invite-only” conference in New York. This conference was initiated ten years ago by Yossi Vardi, a legendry Israeli entrepreneur, and managed by Steffi Czerny of the Hubert Burda Media Company; it has become a must-attend preamble to the Davos World Economic Forum. This year, DLD crossed the Atlantic for the first time, offering a high profile speaker and attendee list, and the conference covered an eclectic assortment of digital life topics from economics, monetization, media, brands, music, arts, to Internet of Things, neuroscience and consciousness.

After six years as an independent analyst examining the world of Digital Renaissance, I’ve clocked up well over 20,000 hours of knowledge and expertise in the area; I was therefore amazed to discover at the DLD conference two weeks ago that, as much time as I’ve invested here, I’ve only been skimming the surface of the phenomenal change that’s occurring. This was the first time that I’ve witnessed the real breadth of this change so succinctly exposed and exquisitely showcased as work in rapid progress.

The overwhelming impression that I came away with from the DLD conference is that there is not one aspect of the life that we’re living today that is not, has not or will not be touched by the digital force that’s consuming human thinking. The opportunities and possibilities have never been greater, and the urgency for us to understand and harness this knowledge is paramount.

So what is the “power of six” beyond my six years of learning and the six degrees of separation? “The Power of Six” was the theme of one of the DLD conference sessions that focused on the power of reductionism, to simplify and clarify in times of chaos. It’s the ability, as Hemmingway advised other writers, to “boil it down” and “know what to leave out”; the six word tag line of advertising that captures the essence of an idea. It’s translating this to Twitter where, if you can’t express your idea in a tweet, then you really don’t have an idea. In other words, with such rapid change occurring, it’s vital to simplify in order to help people grasp and understand what’s going on.

The power of six also refers to the persistently interruptive world that we have created with social media, email, messaging and online marketing that consumes our lives. Today, six seconds is often all the time you have to grab someone’s interest, and the six images that convey a broader story and context around those six words could well be critical to your success. The ability of the human brain to interpret and absorb images in order to comprehend the whole is greater than with words alone. Additionally, these images will probably be delivered on a screen of six inches or less, confirming that this really is a digital mobile world.

At the DLD conference, Scott Kurnit, CEO of Keep Holdings, identified that it took thirty seven attempts for him to repeat his message before his company finally embraced mobile, as opposed to relying on digital and web-only mechanisms for change. To me, this is “six to the power of six plus one”. In other words, I believe that persistence is the true key to success, particularly when faced with the evangelical task of converting people to a mobile mindset, and this has become my goal and the prime focus of my company, KeySo Global.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC.

Technology Scouting and the Catch 22 of Innovation

Monday, October 14th, 2013

I came across what I would call the “catch 22 of innovation” the other day while working on a project that’s tipped to disrupt an entire industry.

Every major city now has the desire to become a smart city and to use digital technologies to provide better services and products for its citizens. However, as anyone who reads the news understands, the majority of this innovation in digital technologies is coming from small startups, not from the larger more established companies. One of the services that KeySo Global provides is technology scouting to large companies and for exactly this reason; they are not innovating broadly or rapidly enough, and are beginning to recognize the urgent need to partner with smaller startups that have the technology capability to enhance their more traditional offerings.

So the “catch 22”, as we see it in this context, lies in the request for proposal (RFP) / request for quotation (RFQ) process that cities use when looking for new technologies and solutions to meet existing needs. In most RFP’s and RFQ’s there is a statement that says “we are open to new ideas and technologies that will provide services to enhance the process or reduce the cost of providing those services”. However, buried deep within the RFP, under terms and conditions, is a sentence that also states “any company proposing a solution must have been in existence for at least 3 years, provide a list of existing clients and show financial capability to support the project through its anticipated life.” How many startups do you know that can meet these criteria?

The real drawback of this is that true innovation is unlikely to come to a city near you at any time soon. Of course there are ways around this dilemma but most of these are not straight forward. The technology scouting service we provide at KeySo Global can help by offering new and innovative startups the hybrid solution of partnering with more established companies so that together they can leverage the digital components needed for a thriving smart city infrastructure.

The process of scouting, filtering, evaluating and on-boarding technologies is crucial to an organization’s future success but it can be challenging as well as time and resource consuming at a time of restricted budgets. The option that we offer is to partner with a team that has successfully performed similar roles and created transformational processes at Motorola, Sony Ericsson and TRW. We offer a unique blend of experience, insight and proven processes to achieve this outcome. Our strategic review process and implementation framework enables us to rapidly partner with clients to successfully find, evaluate, acquire and on-board innovative technologies. A significant aspect of our approach is to help the startup and the established company understand one another’s’ mindsets. We use the “two weeks analogy” to help frame the fundamental differences in perspective of the two:  two weeks to a startup can mean life or death whereas to a large company it’s just a meeting!

Contact us  for more information and to find out how we can help accelerate innovation.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

 

Wealthy in a Virtual Nation State

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Having lived and worked outside of England, my home country, for a total of 23 years – in Germany for 8 years and most recently for 15 years in the US – I’ve come to appreciate that the concept of the nation state is a very unique and real phenomenon but that most people don’t understand exactly what it is or how the digital world is forcing it to change.

A nation state is defined as a political unit consisting of an autonomous state inhabited predominantly by people sharing a common culture, history and language, and this concept dates right back to the treaty of Munster, Germany in 1648. Today, however, television, the internet and the expansion of mobile communications are forcing increased globalization of culture and language to occur, and as a result the original concept of the nation state is being constantly challenged and, in some cases, eroded.

If, like me, you have been fortunate enough to live and work in multiple countries, you cannot help but appreciate that each one has its own national workplace culture.  In a Financial Times article earlier this year about the cultural challenges faced by foreign CEOs, Rob Goffee of the London Business School identified that a key ability is to understand how to adapt without abandoning ones original values:  “the skillful executive balances who they are with where they are”. This has become especially relevant as an increasing number of executives from my home country are relocating to head up US based companies, and a wave of UK start-ups are crossing the Atlantic in search of broader market opportunities.  But just because we speak the same language doesn’t mean that it’s all smooth sailing!

From an early age,  Americans are taught self-advocacy and a strong emphasis is placed on self-belief. We Brits, on the other hand, are known for our self-deprecation (even extending to our sense of humor) and this can be a challenge for us in the US workplace. As Alex Kelleher, founder of Cognitive Match, was recently quoted as saying in an article in the Financial Times: “the market here (in the US) definitely likes the confident, self-assured “winner” approach… and while sometimes self-deprecation can be seen as endearing, it may not be ideal in a competitive environment over here”. I couldn’t agree more! I’ve come to realize that, in an increasingly globalized world, it’s very often the small, subtle cultural nuances that still exist but tend to be overlooked when businesses think about relocating, hiring or partnering overseas.

I was also reminded of an article by Adam Haslett that appeared in the Financial Times in 2010 where he identified that, as a Brit living in the U.S., he had “always felt a pessimist among optimists in the U.S. and as an optimist among pessimists in Britain”. In the past, I myself have experienced a sense of not belonging to any one specific nation, of being almost “mid-Atlantic”. Today, however, with the rapid and widespread growth of digital technologies across geographical boundaries, I now find myself experiencing a new phenomenon of living in a “virtual nation state” where language, cultures and political philosophies merge, and openness of thinking is the currency of success. I feel wealthy; not in financial terms, but because of the breadth of knowledge and the degree of perception and understanding I’ve acquired from experiencing different cultures, both first hand and “virtually”. The enviable challenge that I face is how to share this “global mindset” and enlightened world view with people who can make a difference. Perhaps self-deprecating humor really is the way forward!

Having worked in a variety of geographical areas across the globe, we at KeySo Global have acquired the flexible mindset needed to understand and adapt to the different business cultures that we have been part of. We are eager to share our experiences with you and help you guide your business through the often turbulent waters of overseas expansion. For more information contact us at info@keysoglobal.com.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Is Higher Education Set to Cross the Digital Frontier?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Change usually only occurs when competing forces conspire to cause it or behaviors are adopted that necessitate it. Higher education and universities are ripe for change but they also have a tendency to resist it. These institutions have a long tradition of establishing prestigious courses and faculties, the cost of which in recent years has become prohibitive for the average student. The traditional model of students receiving instruction from and interacting one-on-one with learned professors has gradually given way to large over-crowded lecture halls, compulsory reading lists and standardized testing, as economics not excellence has shaped university education..

The impact that the digital age is having on everyday life is changing consumer expectations, and consequently challenging the established educational model. The widespread availability of wireless broadband, mobile devices, video lectures and online course material is facilitating the “massive online open course” (MOOC) which is accessible to large and diverse groups of students. The high cost of full-time education and the uncertainty of employment mean that many young people today are looking to work and study in parallel – and MOOC offers the ideal solution. It also supports those who are looking to supplement their existing education and skills and are more interested in gaining knowledge than qualifications.

Tablets and e-readers, according to McGraw-Hill, have the ability to transform not only the textbook and the individual educational experience but also the whole testing process. During a presentation at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, McGraw-Hill described “LearnSmart”, their new adaptive technology program where a student reads a digital textbook on a tablet or e-reader and is asked a series of on-going questions that assess their understanding of what they have read. Subsequently their reading materials are adjusted according to their level of knowledge and understanding.  On this basis, a room full of students or an online group reading a text will all be receiving highly personalized and tailored instruction to help them attain the same required level of understanding. By tracking the results, answers given and also a student’s keyboard strokes it is possible to ascertain and validate their individual performance for the purposes of testing and certification.

The digital and online world is reshaping our cognitive capabilities and, according to some experts, using the Internet to search for information is causing us to “externalize” our memories rather than having to use them to process and store information. While enhancing our logical capabilities, the online world is also hindering our ability to develop the skills of empathy – an emotion that has apparently shown a decline in young people. Empathy is learned over time through social interaction and by reading others’ facial expressions, so if face time is replaced with Facebook time, the implications for enhanced interpersonal skills and moral decision-making could be significant.

One of the advantages of a traditional university education is that it enables young people to interact and develop social skills. In a recent article about Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City,  it was pointed out that an average C-student attending Johns Hopkins University in the early 1960s – which he was – could be transformed into a social and political star through the interactions, experiential learning and networking skills that are an integral part of a four-year residential education. With increased applications for MOOC courses, the new digital educational environment needs to be reconsidered and other options need to be examined. These could include the utilization of enhanced virtual reality conference facilities that enable virtual face-to-face experiences and networking opportunities that supplement real-world social interactions.

Whatever happens, the shape of education and learning from pre-school through to university and beyond is likely to change dramatically over the next five years as the pace of technological progress continues to accelerate and people adopt it more readily into their lives.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

Consumer Electronic Trends to Watch – Live Report from CES in Las Vegas

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Shawn DuBravac,  Chief Economist and Director of Research for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) identified in his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas yesterday four critical trends that will shape the future of the consumer electronics industry.

The Post Smartphone Era

Penetration of smartphones in the U.S. has surpassed the 52% mark but more significantly tablets have doubled their penetration in just 12 months, moving from 22% to 44%. In today’s digital world where multiple devices are commonplace in every household, these effectively act as hubs. They are mechanisms for accessing additional technologies, from door locks to health and fitness applications, and act as “second screens” for controlling security, domestic appliances, cars and TV’s. DuBravac referred to smartphones and tablets as “viewfinders into our digital lives”.

The Age of Algorithms

Prior to 2001 most information captured was analogue. With the continual reduction of cost for processing and sensors, more and more devices now have the capability to collect, communicate and share information digitally. In the U.S. there will be 350 million IP addressable devices sold in 2013 and about 1 billion worldwide. In reality, the cost curve of technology is enabling the “sensorization” of devices. The challenge in the future will be curating the enormous density of data-strings that will be generated as sensors proliferate.  Participating at this year’s CES are a record number of automotive companies, reflecting the growing interest of the industry in the role of sensors and connectivity. The fact that the Google car drove 300k miles last year and that Audi, Lexus, Ford and several others are focusing on this area of technology is an indication of how significant it could become. The Chairman of Continental has said that a driverless commercial solution is possible by 2025. In this age of algorithms, data is the new currency which raises ever more concern about security and privacy.

Contextual Connectivity

In recent years, the mood of the industry was captured by the advent of smart TV’s that could connect to the internet. Now the focus is on using intelligence received from sensors to make the interaction between the smart TV and the consumer more relevant and appropriate. One example is the use of cameras that monitor who is watching a program to ensure that appropriate advertising is screened when children are present; another are glass panes in store windows that display information tailored to the individual who is walking past that store, based on their smartphone details shared via social media, store card check-ins or through NFC payments.

Changing the Flow of the Story

The prevalence of “second screens” indicates that we are becoming digital omnivores who consume secondary information while watching a primary screen or previews prior to selecting a program. With household penetration of tablets and smartphones hitting 1.4 per household in the U.S. in 2012 (compared with 2.9 TV’s per household), the second screen is a real phenomenon.  In fact sales of small screen TV’s have declined 20 to 30% in the last 3 years. The concept that engagement starts on the second screen means that the paradigms for use-case scenarios are rapidly changing and need to be understood by the content providers, networks and advertisers. The story may not start on the big screen but when it reaches it the challenge is to maintain engagement and interaction on the second screen. Interestingly, sales of jumbo screen TV’s for main living spaces are on the increase in the U.S.

What becomes evident from these trends is that consumers’ rapid adoption of technology into their digital lives is changing their expectations and forcing business models to adapt accordingly. It appears that, even in the consumer industries, many large companies are being slow to respond and the bulk of innovative ideas and add-on products are being generated by hybrid start-ups.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

Catalyst Technologies and their Global Impact

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

In this third blog we look at the implications of the catalyst technologies we identified in our last blog, and determine why they have become so important. In his book “What Technology Wants” Kevin Kelly identifies that “the ever thickening mix of existing technologies in a society create any supersaturated matrix charged with restless potential”. We have written extensively about the digital world which is the combination of technologies that are shaping our world and digital life which is the effect that these technologies are having on everyday life. Kelly again reinforces our perspective when he says that we as a society are “symbiotic with the technology” and that as fast as we invent technology, we change our behavior and become dependent upon it.

Instant Markets

The current global economic turmoil did not come about by accident, but is in fact a consequence of today’s society being able to instantly communicate and share information. In other words society has changed behaviors and has become increasingly dependent on converged technologies. The use of internet trading platforms, for example, with Twitter users virally sharing the latest snippet of information is compounding the application of sophisticated trading algorithms (flash trading). The fact that the U.S. is now leading the way in the deployment of 4G mobile Internet makes the realities of the 2008/2009 Wall Street collapse pale into insignificance as the next wave of technologies facilitate “anytime, anywhere, anyhow” trading and speculating based on viral information.

Controls Lag

More recently the global LIBOR banking scandal, on top of the Euro crisis, points to the fact that we as an international society are struggling to come to grips with and learn what control mechanisms will work in this volatile and real-time world. Compounding this is the problem that we have not yet come up with a common language to document the necessary global beliefs and values that are required to guide policy regulation, monitoring and correction of this 24/7 digitally trading world.

Inextricable Interdependence

The U.S. has struggled to interpret the current rapidly changing and unpredictable global situation, mainly because it finds it hard to accept the fundamental changes that have been occurring on its own soil. A recent Financial Times article identified that the U.S. is now significantly more interdependent on the global economy than it was 31 years ago, at the outset of the shift to Digital Renaissance 2.0.

At that time, in 1981, the U.S. was a relatively closed and self-sufficient economy as measured in terms of trade of goods (import/exports) as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product. U.S trade represented only 21% of GDP and was made up of 10% exports and 11% imports. By 2012 this had grown significantly to approximately 32% of GDP – exports accounted for 14% of this and imports 18% – putting the U.S. on a par with the global average as an open economy.

Consequently the U.S. belief in self-reliance and independence now needs to be replaced with the realization, not only in terms of stock market indices but also as an economic reality, that it is inextricably tied to the Euro crisis, the emergence of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the struggles in Africa.

Collaboration & Knowledge

The original Renaissance in Europe resulted in the disappearance of principalities and kingdoms, and ushered in the emergence of a nation state, which was followed during the industrial age with the emergence of overlapping market states. The question is how will the world evolve and will market states be the future societal organization? There are a number of theories about the organization of society going forward (Philip Bobbitt, David Ronfeldt, are two such theorists and this article compares their position with those of others). Regardless of which theory prevails, it is highly likely that in the world of Digital Renaissance 2.0 networking, collaboration and knowledge will be critical components of its underlying architecture. It also seems probable that global communities, digitally connected and potentially proactive, will coexist alongside and within hierarchical organizations, both in government and also in industry.

Ren 2.0 Man – Techno Artisan Craft Society

Digital Renaissance 2.0 was founded upon four enabling technologies and was exponentially accelerated by the catalyst technologies that released the restless potential of other technologies, such as cloud computing and Web 2.0. Ren 2.0 is now embracing a raft of emerging technologies, like NFC, voice recognition and kinetics, which are giving rise to business models not previously conceived. For instance 3-D printing is enabling designers / entrepreneurs to create new product concepts from digital files more rapidly and cost effectively than ever previously thought possible. Coupling this capability with global internet access and mobile commerce, Ren 2.0 now allows others to market this product concept globally.  Personalized products for the “market of one” are created by transmitting customized product specifications to printers anywhere on the planet and in close proximity to the consumer. To a large degree these hybrid technology and commerce systems facilitate the reincarnation of the craft society that got lost in the industrial age. These techno artisan craftsmen are in many respects the Digital Renaissance 2.0 men/women of the new digital era who are living, working and trading in global communities of trust, practice and purpose.

In prior blogs we have discussed the concept of “digital agents of change” and shown how critical this role has become in today’s digital business world. In some respects we all now need to become digital agents of change for the global society, or to use the words of Mohanda Gandhi “we must be the change we wish to see in the world”.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

What Spawned the New Digital Renaissance 2.0?

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

This article is the first of a trilogy in which we share some of the more intriguing aspects we have uncovered about digital technologies and the dynamic impact they are having on our business and personal lives. This first blog examines the unique origins of the new age Renaissance – what we call Digital Renaissance 2.0™ – and its impact on today’s global economy.

Previously, we identified the four “enabling technologies” (cell phone, PC, Internet, Walkman) that rocked the world and pointed out that they all emerged on the scene around the same time – 1981. We also pinpointed 2010 as a “year of convergence” when 3G, 4G and the Cloud all came together. It was only recently, however, that it became apparent to us that 2007 was the year that the “catalyst technologies” facilitated this convergence and, with it, the advent of the new digital age.

My colleague, Steve Benton, and I coined the expression Digital Renaissance 2.0™ (Ren 2.0™) to capture the concept that a fundamental shift is occurring in the way that information is now being accessed and shared. In the original Renaissance era, the enlightenment of Europe occurred due to the introduction of the printing press which led to the democratization of books.

During Ren 2.0™ the Internet has led to the democratization of information, now freely available to everyone – anywhere, anyhow and anytime – and as a result, the collective knowledge held by society is expanding exponentially, both actively and passively. The Internet has enabled information to become much more “transparent” as silos of data are shared between continents, countries and corporations, and on a significantly broader basis. This in turn has facilitated the global cross-pollination of ideas and concepts on a scale never seen before.

The four enabling technologies referred to above evolved rapidly and converged to facilitate the emergence of the Mobile Internet age. In our paper “Introduction to Digital Life Renaissance” (contact us to obtain a copy) we determine that this change is occurring at an unprecedented pace and show how it is touching all aspects of society, as well as governments and global economies.

The magnitude of these digital world changes in economic terms is captured in a chart we compiled that shows the global economy growing from less than $10 trillion in 1981 and accelerating to over $60 trillion by 2010. In a recent blog article in the Economist it was identified that between May 2011 and 2012 the global economy generated $65 trillion of trade (GDP), and that by September 2013 it will add a further $10 trillion to achieve a global GDP of $75 trillion.

The case can be made that global saturation of cellular and expanding penetration of mobile broadband access are primarily responsible for this rapid, worldwide distribution of information, which in turn is fueling economic growth at an unprecedented rate. Concurrently, this transformation is impacting the lives of individuals in developing and developed countries, and their awareness and expectations are growing as they become more exposed to vast amounts of new, previously inaccessible, information. As human behavioral patterns and methods of interaction change, so do their needs and requirements, which in turn are generating an abundance of new business and service opportunities.

It is our belief that the reinforcing cycle of continued innovation, based on the application of new digital technologies, is facilitating an increasingly interconnected planet which will, in turn, strengthen economic growth and favorably impact our digital lives.

Look out for our next two blogs in this series and find out exactly what the “catalyst technologies” are, what their significance is today and the powerful impact that they are going to have on our business and personal lives going forward.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

The Emotional Pull of Technology

Monday, July 9th, 2012

What could be easier than shopping for a cell phone, especially when you already know what you want? My wife had already decided that she wanted to upgrade her old Blackberry Bold so, being with T-Mobile, off we went to their store.

We wandered around, looked at and played with the two Blackberrys on display and asked a sales associate for advice. The youngster seemed technically competent but totally disengaged, probably having given the same spiel to customers a thousand times. It was obvious that, to him, our purchase was purely a transaction.

The Blackberry Bold was priced at $650 but as “loyal customers” we could purchase the phone for $360 with a $50 mail in rebate from T-Mobile. For this price my wife would have an upgraded phone with both touch screen and keypad, a faster camera, plus newer technology enabling the downloading and interaction with apps that hadn’t been possible on the older version. Ok, great – mission accomplished! I was getting ready to pay and leave.

My wife had other ideas. She was clearly not impressed with either the price or the salesperson. He had failed to connect with her and convince her that she was getting the phone she really wanted. She decided to “think about it”.

Our next port of call was the Target store. They hold wide range of phones – just no Blackberries. A very pleasant and competent salesperson explained that Target could no longer get hold of Blackberry devices. She empathized totally with my wife’s apprehension about transitioning to a large touch screen smartphone and explained that she herself had handled the switch over with remarkable ease. On her own phone, a Samsung Galaxy S11, she demonstrated with verve the swipe mechanism for texting, enthused about the high capability camera and beautiful images displayed on the large screen. She took time to answer questions and form a relationship with my wife, making the whole purchase exercise a fun and informative experience. Who would’ve thought that you’d find this degree of engagement at Target!

Ok, so what about the price? This was going to be the killer. As it turned out the Samsung Galaxy S11, after a trade-in refund for the RIM device and a loyalty discount for Target customers, retailed at … $137. That’s all it took to convince my wife – the offer and the phone were too good to resist!

So what are the “walk aways” from this experience?

  • Firstly, purchasing a cell phone is not just a technical sale; it’s an emotional one as well. Even when a customer’s requirements are clearly voiced, the engagement with this customer is crucial and can result in surfacing and satisfying unmet needs.
  • Secondly, RIM has a very hard job ahead if most retail stores do not have the product available to satisfy brand loyal purchases.
  • Finally, mobile operators had better start thinking about improving their retail business model and experiences to compete with Target-type competition; otherwise Vodafone’s proud boast in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress 2012 of being the 8th largest retailer in the world could very quickly transition a precious asset into an expensive embarrassment.

After much apprehension, my wife is now an avid fan of the larger, touch screen smartphone and after only two days of intense interaction, became a total convert. Who says technology doesn’t evoke emotions? Not me!

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

RJUH4TQGAZXM

Digital Life – Rubber Band Forces that Prohibit Change

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Why change at all? Why embrace what is new and intimidating instead of holding on to what is tried and true? The natural inclination of most people is to resist change, and when it begins to happen we tend to snap back to the shape of the things we know best, just as a rubber band that is stretched will revert to its original shape when released.

Digital Life is very new and can be scary. It is also here, now – right now – and is impacting the world in ways that can seem confusing, often even contradictory to what we have learned, accomplished, and know. Why would we want embrace it? 

Maybe your company actually can embrace the changes brought about by Digital Life. I mean really embrace change in ways that transform your business into a digital metamorphosis that propels it into this century; effectively reshape the rubber band by altering your business model to capitalize on the wide range of opportunities presented by Digital Life. However, I doubt it, unless you have some seriously sound “digital change agents” within your company to help you achieve this transformation, and unless you’re truly wanting to change.

Change is disruptive, which is what makes it so scary. Go back to your roots for a second. Think about those things that seemed exciting to you when you were willing to explore new ways of doing things, and those things that made you what you are today. What was new, intriguing – and yes scary – back then now seems safe. Your business faces the same challenges with embracing Digital Life that you faced growing up into the person you are today.

Digital Life demands that we embrace change and growth on a scale never experienced before. The advances and convergence of technologies are changing almost every aspect of how we do things. Smartphones, tablets, laptops and notebooks provide us with unparalleled access to the collective knowledge of the world. Social media tools and social networking sites enable an amazing new capability for us to share our own knowledge, interests, likes and dislikes with our friends, family and colleagues.

For your business to embrace the changes brought about by Digital Life, you need to accept – and convince others – that the shape of your corporate rubber band must change to match these changes. If you don’t, then no matter how hard you push for change and stretch the familiar boundaries, your employees will revert back to what they see as safe – in other words, the rubber band will snap back to its original shape.

At KeySo Global we have developed methodologies, models, and tools that can help you to change the shape of your business model so that it can adapt to Digital Life. These inform and guide you through a transformation that will propel your business into the Digital World, and ensure a competitiveness and profitability that will match your aspirations.  Please email us at info@keysoglobal.com, call us at +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com to find out more.

Steve Benton, Principal, KeySo Global, LLC