I invite my readers to see a stunning video from Z Corporation on their newest 3D printer in this website. On the right side of the screen you'll find the video. To me, it seems like science fiction but it is real.
The implications of this development are interesting. Printing 3D personal objects and avatars from virtual worlds like Second Life or Laguna Beach comes to mind.
Marketing, branding and communications will become more about
Values (practice what you preach)
Open Source Marketing (the mass innovates for you)
Proof, sharing evidence and information (instead of propaganda)
Permission-based, opt-in, pull conversations (instead of push broadcast messages)
Contextual, behavioral relevancy
Social networks/viral effects (instead of market mechanisms)
Platforms (instead of campaigns)
Innovation and Excellence (instead of promotion)
Coalitions (instead of fully homegrown solutions)
""People are interested in what they are interested in," he says. "The magical
part of social networking like Ning is the people [specific category] advertisers are
interested in are magically coming together." And they're trackable all the way
down to the individual user, so why waste anyone's time with what co-founder
Gina Bianchini calls "undifferentiated aspirational messages"? As for how
you serve the information once you've gotten the audience's attention, the
digital tools for doing so get ever more impressive.
eye-opener, from Vancouver, Canada, is VideoClix, a hypervideo application that lets the user roll
over any part of the image -- a car in the background, for instance -- and click
for information about make, model and so on. A second click directs the user to
the manufacturer, retailer or whatever. It's like VH1's old "Pop-Up Video" show,
only the user alone controls what to pop up. Thus, it exploits the online third
dimension, beyond audio and video: info-depth. "It's a layer of
information," says founder Babak Maghfourian, "that people will demand.""
The Institute For The Future (IFTF) - one of my favorite sources for deep views on our future - has a post on Green Business which I totally agree with. I would like to add two intertwining trends that reinforce the two trends stated below from this post from IFTF:
Increasingly, companies define themselves by clear values. Corporate identity is more important for all stakeholders, especially employees and customers. These values are more authentic, practiced and embedded relative to previous similar branding and positioning claims. Ecology, sustainability and green business are a key theme right now due to Al Gore, Clinton, IPCC, Stern and many others. During the last World Economic Forum in Davos sustainability was by far the number one topic for the decision makers in the world (Evidence by this great post by Peter Schwartz on Edge.org). Its both sound economic sense as well as humanitarian/ecologically/spiritually driven.
Increasingly, consumers and customers use mobile devices scanning products realtime for their environmental impact by means of barcodes, RFID tags, QR codes and other tags.
"The critical thing here is the proliferation of both knowledge about the environmental impacts of goods and services, and
the growth of choices in how to deal with those impacts. And all the
indicators are that consumers will have more of both in the future.
Now, however, consumers are slowly getting access to more information
about the energy required to produce or transport goods, and the
environmental impacts of goods and services. As an article on labeling notes, just as food products are labeled with calorie and nutritional
information, consumer products are beginning to bear details about
their environmental impact, like the amount of greenhouse gases
produced in making, transporting and selling them. The evolution of the concepts of "food miles" and
"carbon footprint" don't just represent a growing general awareness of
environmental impacts of agriculture, industry, and modern life in
general; they also reflect an attempt to make sense of information that
wasn't easily available in the past.
Where the choice used to be buy or don't buy, other options are
emerging. Utilities are starting to offer access to green power,
subsidies for installing solar panels, or rebates for conserving
energy. Expedia offers travlers the chance to buy carbon offsets with
their airline tickets (and doubtless some airline will soon claim to be
greener than competitors, thanks to their modern fleet of planes,
in-flight trash reduction efforts, etc.). Terrapass offers drivers the
option of zeroing out their car's emissions."
Chris Anderson and his readers with very insightful comments discuss DRM, piracy, (viral) marketing, digital content, cross media packaging, economics and more in this post on the Long Tail blog. I really digg the last quote below with the innovative audiobook bundle.
"As Tim O'Reilly puts it, obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.
In principle, I'm in favor of free. Free digital products can be
great marketing for a superior (or at least complimentary) analog
version. In music, free digital songs can create demand for concerts. In my case, a free ebook can created demand for the actual print book or my speeches. Cory Doctorow gives away his books and says that it's a clear net positive, and even business authors such as Seth Godin have tried it for the promotional phase of a book release with success.
But an audiobook is not as clear a case for free as an ebook. Perhaps the best compromise would to be to have a code printed in each
hard-copy version of the book that would allow the buyers to download a
free audiobook, so they could choose whether to read the book in print
or just listen to it in the car, saving the hard copy for reference.
This would cost practically nothing and presumably there'd be very
little overlap with the dedicated audiobook buyer, who usually don't
buy the hard-copy version."
“Transmedia storystelling is the art of
world making. To fully experience any fictional world, consumers must assume
the role of hunters and gatherers, chasing down bits of the story across media
channels, comparing notes with each other via online discussion groups and
collaborating to ensure that everyone who invests time and effort will come
away with a richer entertainment experience. The new knowledge culture has
arisen as our ties to older forms of social community are breaking down.
Think of these debates as exercises in popular epistemology. As we learn how to live within a knowledge culture, we can anticipate many such discussions centering as much on how we know and how we evaluate what we know as on the information itself. Ways of knowing may be as distinctive and personal as what kinds of knowledge we access but as knowing becomes public, as knowing becomes part of the life of a community, those contradictions in approach must be worked over if not worked through.”
A new book called Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams will extend and deepen (some of) the ideas from the great author Yochai Benkler in his milestone book called Wealth of Networks. More in this post from Yahoo.I strongly believe these collaborative efforts will impact more companies, sectors and economies moving forward. At the end of the day we will witness in my view a rebalanced economy with markets, hierarchies and (especially) networks. What we can see emerging right now, is that the non-profit nature of these open source initiatives evolves into monetary rewards for the greatest problem solvers and idea generators. As a result, this will strengthen the trend towards globalization of individuals and their enterpreneurship. This book will become a bestseller I assume. Recommended by Eric Schmidt / Google. "When Rob McEwan became CEO of Goldcorp, he and company geologists
knew that their property contained untapped resources "thirty times the
amount Goldcorp was currently mining". But with 55,000 acres, nobody at Goldcorp could figure out where to
look for the buried treasure. To avert a wild goose chase, McEwan
shared on the Web Goldcorp's geological data going back to 1948 and
offered $575,000 in prizes to those who could come up with the best way
to find and extract the gold.
Participants in the contest found 55 drilling targets Goldcorp had
not identified. Eighty percent hit pay dirt. "In fact, since the
challenge was initiated, an astounding eight million ounces of gold
have been found" and in four years Goldcorp's cost of production
Tapscott and Williams say Goldcorp took advantage of a new economic
paradigm they call wikinomics: a word combining economics and Wikipedia
- the online encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute. This model of
wealth creation is based on collaboration and sharing the authors call
P&G is near its goal of sourcing "50% of its new innovations
from outside the company." It says that for every good scientist on
salary, there are 200 outside whose skills should be harnessed.
InnoCentive is a website where companies offer money for solving
scientific problems posted online. Freelance scientists can earn up to
$100,000 per solution."
This post by Yme Bosma focusing on the economic valuation of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook touches some important themes like closed versus open systems, the revitalized IPO and M&A markets, the future of social software/social networking sites and Identity 2.0. Below his own vision on this topic which I agree with completely, especially his historic reference to AOL.
I might as well extend it a little further. My thesis is that social networking functionality has the most value when specifically linked to a certain offline or online event. In effect, this means the (diminished) role of central social networking sites will migrate to discovering and sharing more general stuff. Furthermore, we will see goods, services and experiences in which the social value will be more important than the product or experience itself. Think Starbucks. Think Tripmates.com. Just like on the web itself right now as Web 2.0 is about connecting people, about the social web in which content (photos, videos, books, music) is an enabler for communicating and sharing. The content is key for generating traffic to these sites but the essence and emotional value is in the sharing/connecting. On a more abstract level, this relates strongly to the vision of Gerd Gerken - a German marketing writer in the nineties - in which branding is not so much about positioning a message in a top-down, one-to-many manner but more about creating offline and online environments and events in which consumers and prospects relate to one and other. The cultivation of relationships between the customers is the most important process in this respect that embody the values of an advertiser or company in a indirect, honest, non-controllable and non-intrusive way. This is branding in a bottom-up, many-to-many way that resonates with the thoughts of Michael Moon (more here on Michael, speaking 26th of October in Amsterdam, highly recommended). In sum, in my view the decentralisation of social networking functionality in the online world will increasingly extend to the offline world and facilitate the implementation of modern branding and positioning thoughts.
"People will increasingly be part of multiple online networks that will be attached to other things. Sports, school, work, hobby, etc. To put it differently, there won't be just one network doing everything for everybody. Of course you can start a new network on Facebook for your basketball team, school, work and hobby. But it is more likely that these different networks will be connected behind the scenes so that it will be easier to become a member of one without having to create yet antother username, password, profile and friends list. So it's not one-size-fits-all, but it's a vision that's more in line with what Marc Canter is trying to achieve with his PeopleAggregator. Large social networks like MySpace and Bebo won't disappear (something Metrick is afraid of), but they will be facilitating this future because these were the first online networks people joined. And if they don't do this they will end up like AOL when they were trying to hang on to their walled-garden approach in a different era. Facebook made a serious first step in the right direction, Yahoo! too, and also some of the work around OpenID is interesting in that context. However, this all means that a lot of the advertising value will shift towards more niche oriented social networks. And therefore a $15 billion valuation for MySpace is nonsense. There won't be a winner-takes-all situation and that's a exactly what this valuation is based on."
Reinier Evers from Trendwatching.com - one of my favorite trend newsletters and the physical seminars are insightful and leading edge as well - shows us a good overview on the rise of Creativity and Transformation within our cultures and economies. I invite you to read more in this post. It reminds me that we really are in a new world right now. In my view this is not about specific audiences, cultures, products, sectors....it will be pervasive, driven by youth culture and quickly assimilated by others. A world of globalisation of individuals - besides nations and companies - with a focus on creating, remixing, organizing and sharing, with a renewed interest in transformative capabilities, workshops, do-it-yourself sessions with self development and soul searching as the driving forces. Maslows famous hierarchy of need fully realized. See emerging video websites like JumpCut (YouTube with Remixing and Video Editing !), Bix (Idols on steriods on the Web with karaoke on the go) and Dabble (organize all your videos) on top of YouTube. Personally, I really love the Status Skills trend as it shows the diverse creative insights of amateurs besides professionals. It just reinforces my opinion that all content will be on demand due to the richness available these days. It just all adds to the juice of life, diversity that is. The latest eTech event highlighted remixing of content (audio, video, graphics, text etc.) as the leading trend as well. During the dot.com craze at the end of last decade we saw interesting initiatives like HowTo, Learn2 and HowStuffWorks. Now it all ads up to something much bigger. It's very similar to the evolution and adoption of a lot of other new Internet concepts from 1997 and 1998. Too early back then, now in prime time. Witness Group Buying (LetsBuyIt), Push-technology (PointCast and Marimba, now RSS), Social Software (SixDegrees, now MySpace). Timing is everything.....indeed ! So it is time to say to you this post is highly recommended....and I look forward to hear your comments on this one. Thanks.
"In economies that increasingly depend on (and thus value) creative thinking and acting, well-known status symbols tied to owning and consuming goods and services will find worthy competition from 'STATUS SKILLS': those skills that consumers are mastering to make the most of those same goods and services, bringing them status by being good at something, and the story telling that comes with it."for now, let’s focus on how entrepreneurs and brands around the world are already incorporating STATUS SKILLS into their customer interactions. For this briefing, we'll concentrate on:
Entities that are exclusively dedicated to helping consumers to acquire skills
How brands are assisting consumers in acquiring skills as a way to make the most of their purchases from that brand (so-called ‘corporate classes’)
Ventures that enable consumers to show off their skills
As always, there’s the inevitable anti-trend, and in the case of STATUS SKILLS the anti-trend doesn’t differ much from most other trends involving any kind of creation and participation: it's LACK OF TIME. Where on earth will consumers find the time to actively acquire these new skills? First of all: STATUS SKILLS will not matter to all consumers, so first figure out who this appeals to most. The above examples, from a multitude of industries and brands, should be a good starting point. Secondly, if a shift towards greater appreciation of skills does continue, then some consumers will trade in ‘consumption time’ for ‘skill time’. An obvious example is young consumers mastering new gaming skills in lieu of watching TV, or people trading in fun shopping for more targeted purchases and accompanying corporate classes. Some simple advice: as a brand, to make the most of your new STATUS SKILLS offerings, first help customers make/find the time they thought theydidn’t have."
Linda Stone - one of the visionaries I like - demonstrates value in this post on our evolving needs concerning technology. The below quote resonates strongly with the thinking of Howard Rheingold, Michael Moon (Trust Networks) and Chris Anderson. The Long Tail shows us the different ((filtering) tools for connecting niche demand with nice content will be more important in the future. Examples: recommendation engines, ratings, reviews, rankings, search etc. Linda Stone agrees with that but shows that The Long Tail probably in most cases won't expand the demand curve significantly as people will increasingly see the value in being disconnected and be more selective in their (technology) consumption. And that in particular resonates with the current countertrend of spirituality and stillness which in my view are in many ways key to the bring the Creative Class to the next level. Protection can enhance creative capabilities.
"Which is why, just as we made a shift from productivity—all about
me—self-expression in 1965-1985 to connect, connect, connect and the
network as the center of gravity from 1985-2005, we are on the edge of
the next shift. And a new set of opportunities. Connect, connect, connect has brought us to a place where we feel overwhelmed, over-stimulated and unfulfilled. We want protection, we want more filtering, we want a sense of
meaning and belonging—this is the pendulum shift that emerges. These
qualities characterize the products and services we want, the marketing
messages that resonate with us and the types of leaders and corporate
cultures that engage us. We have gone from an era of creating
opportunity in 1965-1985 to scanning for opportunity in 1985-2005, to
now, discerning opportunity in 2005-2025. We have gone from asking what do I have to gain to asking what do I have to lose?
We want to protect and be protected. We want to sort through noise
effectively to find signal. We want Tivo. We want to wear an iPod as
much to listen to our own playlists as to BLOCK out the rest of the
world and protect ourselves from all that noise. We want to TRUST the companies we buy
from. People (eg, Technorati) are starting to talk about networks of interconnected communities—a little more manageable than the me and the rest of the world network we've been mixing with.
Whether it's products or services, recruiting strategies,
leadership, marketing or coporate cultures, we will increasingly be
inclined to resonate with messages of meaning, belonging, protection,
For the last two decades, give or take, ease of use has been the
mantra of every technology columnist, every product manager in every
high tech. company. It's good. But it's no longer good enough. The new mantra, the new differentiator, the new opportunity for all of us is: improves quality of life.
Does this product, service, feature, message—enhance and improve our
quality of life? Does it help us protect, filter, create a meaningful
connection? Discern? Use our attention as well and as wisely as we
Dee Hock, back in 1996, said:
Noise becomes data when it has a cognitive pattern.
Data becomes information when assembled into a coherent whole, which can be related to other information.
Information becomes knowledge when integrated with other
information in a form useful for making decisions and determining
Knowledge becomes understanding when related to other knowledge in a manner useful in anticipating, judging and acting.
Understanding becomes wisdom when informed by purpose, ethics, principles, memory and projection.
Seems to me, our opportunity is to move from being knowledge workers to becoming understanding and wisdom workers. Quality of life: the new benchmark."
Yme Bosma had a very powerful post about an article in the Harvard Business School on avatar based marketing within 3D online worlds. Highly recommended reading due to the high impact nature for marketing, branding and digital media in general. From my perspective we can witness the convergence of the following concepts and trends in digital media:
Web 3.0 worlds like OpenCroquet and Second Life
Augmented Reality/GeoWeb games like MOGI in Japan connecting the online/mobile worlds with the real world
GeoWeb tools like Google Earth
These 3D virtual worlds connect with the thinking of Sherry Turkle in her book called Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. I strongly believe these 3D worlds will enhance the transformation of individuals and even organizations by taking the concept of ENGAGEMENT to the next level.
"Whom do your marketing efforts target? The flesh-and-blood Second Life members who gave their credit card numbers to register for the game—or their Second Life avatars residing in the virtual world? Sure, the real-world human controls the real-world wallet. The avatar, though, arguably represents a distinctly different “shadow” consumer, one able to influence its creator’s purchase of real-world products and conceivably make its own real-world purchases in the virtual world. At the least, it may offer insights into its creator’s hidden tastes.
Such questions aren’t academic. Second Life is just one of a growing number of three-dimensional virtual worlds, accessible via the Internet, in which users, through an avatar, are able to play games or simply interact socially with thousands of people simultaneously. By some estimates, more than 10 million people spend $10 to $15 a month to subscribe to online role-playing environments, with the number of subscribers doubling every year. Millions more enter free sites, some of them sponsored by companies as brand-building initiatives. Many users spend upward of 40 hours a week in these worlds. And as the technology improves over the next decade, virtual worlds may well eclipse film, TV, and non–role-playing computer games as a form of entertainment. That’s because, instead of watching someone else’s story unfold in front of them on a screen, users in these worlds create and live out their own stories.
Movies are even made in these worlds, using computer game technology, a form of filmmaking dubbed “machinima.” Avatars take on scripted roles, thus creating in these plays within plays characters that are two steps removed from their real-life creators. You might call them avatars’ avatars.
For starters, avatars are certainly useful subjects for market research. “Marketing depends on soliciting people’s dreams,” says Henry Jenkins, head of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program. “And here those dreams are on overt display.” For instance, a company could track how inhabitants of a virtual world use or otherwise interact with a particular type of product, noting choices they make about product features, wardrobe mix, or even virtual vacation destinations."