AniBlurbs (Column)

Anibal's thoughts on Online Marketing Strategy, Service Design, Tech, Innovation, Business and more…

2009: Service Design, Privacy and The Cloud?

The slide -embedded below– is a comprehensive-yet-easy-digestible presentation, sensibly touching upon The Cloud, the hype and misconceptions surrounding it, and the biggest issue the Tech industry will face in 2009: Privacy.

“The Biggest Issue the Tech Industry will face in Two-Oh-Nine is Privacy.”

Nat Torkington from O’Reilly Radar has rounded up a whopping 191 slides on the Future of the Cloud and how this ties together with our online privacy; food for thought as we approach enter The Year of Change

[Note: Expand the presentation to full-screen so you can read the accompanying notes]

As Social Media reached its Tipping Point in 2008 (judging by the Web 2.0 supercharged, grass-roots powered, landslide victory of Obama in the US Presidential Elections, and the explosive growth of Facebook) claiming that Twitter and RSS feeds will break into the Non-Digerati mainstream in 2009 doesn’t seem to be a farfetched forecast for the New Year -at first sight.

Some other predictions: 2009 will be remembered as The Year Of Privacy, Authenticity, Relevancy (in Marketing), Personal Branding & Change Management. Invoking Trust and investing in Innovation will also be two key cornerstones and challenges on which businesses will have to focus in the coming twelve months. WIRED has an interesting post, zooming in on Six Tech Trends.

Yet, as Seth Godin rightfully points out in one of many brilliant posts this month, backed by the outbreak of the Subprime– & Credit Crunch and the Financial Crisis between August 2007 & September 2008 and the ensuing events; long-term predictions tend to fall flat on their face. Often. And in a very ugly matter actually.

[If you’ve always wondered how any non-gamer/marketer could have fallen eyes wide shut in the Farce that Second Life inevitably turned out to be (even though it was fairly obvious to gamers that it had “FAIL” written all over its face), see the video directly below.
It perfectly communicates what definitely won’t be happening in 2009 or what has obviously already come to pass in the past years, all presented by a “Trend Watcher” preaching otherwise.]

Trends FADS In 2009

Now if there’s one thing -the outcome of- the Obama ’08 Campaign strategy should have proven to Old School Marketers and Agencies, it’s that releasing control over your brand is actually a good thing and even if this casus doesn’t convince them, the word on the streets is that The Crowds seized this “control” ages ago.

Another fact that should have become crystal clear to even the most obstinate of naysayers, is that in 2009, traditional advertising agencies -and newspapers- will have to either sink or swim in order to survive the Interactive Marketing Tidal Wave: The days of the Mass-Media-Interruption-Marketing-Only approach for immeasurable branding purposes are over, as are the days of unaccountability and vaunted effectiveness of artistic-award-winning-yet-incomprehensible advertisements.

In its place we’ll welcome Neo Marketing [jpeg, 69.75 KB (71428 bytes)]

Neo Marketing = Permission Based Marketing, meaning that we’ll only approach people, humans, individuals -and not “target audiences”- with relevant conversations if and when they see fit; taking in their feedback directly, treating it with respect and giving it some order of priority, all the while keeping a sharp eye on Conversion Rates or Task Completion Rates by Primary Purpose, when speaking of the web specifically. Very transparent, results-driven and opt-in actually ;)

Utilizing Neo Marketing is the most effective, consumer-centric way of building and retaining your business/brand in this day and age. A sound investment by any measure.

“Sending one-size-fits-all messages using mass media, as 20th century marketing bibles and preachers would encourage and even declare as The Truth, has now definitely and officially become an unaffordable waste of precious resources, time, effort and money. Time to move on.”

Note: Branding won’t become obsolete any time soon, it’ll actually become a much stronger focus in your communication plan with one key-value to communicate: Trust.

So, the corporation has taken a step down from its pedestal, in order for the consumer to be seated on her rightful throne: Thus the internal process (the rules behind which mediocre employees tend to try to hide behind when running from responsibility) or technical system setbacks –“IT department doesn’t allow me to help you out with this problem, even though you’re not the first client facing it and it’s pretty obvious that we’re the cause”– shall no longer be the driving- or leading force behind the way we operate our company or engage with our customers.

Instead servicing the end-consu -serving people shall become the core mindset around which the constellation of your organization shall revolve, as it always should have been the main focus of your Service Strategy.

Some more knowledgeable professionals say some of the developments sketched above will be powered and spurred on by the rise of Enterprise 2.0 (Yup, I’m aware of the “Yet Another Two-Point-Oh Suffix”), and the global economic downturn shall see to it that such (r)evolutionary innovations will come to fruition in the coming year, requiring some serious change-management skills (but also a change of culture and heart for our friends from the “Behind-The-Company-Firewall-Within-The-Current-Software-Platform” IT department, putting the employees needs first in its stead).

[Side note to all skeptics- (“But you lack data backing this thesis”) and pessimistic- or conservative detractors out there questioning the coming fall of the current Corporate/Advertising Status Quo:

Please do bear in mind that the Financial Armageddon of 2008 was impossible to foresee by even the savviest and clued up of Economical Analysts anywhere in the world.
Also try to remember that the concepts of Democracy, Freedom and Individualism as we know them today, didn’t exist once/not too long ago either, yet they’ve become more widespread than any medieval Feudalist could have ever feared, the 44th President of The Free World being the crown jewel supporting this thesis reality. And so on, and so on…]

Furthermore, results-driven Contextual Marketing (powered by the Semantic Web) and data backed analyses shall give us unprecedented REAL and actionable insights into customer behavior (only with their consent!) & their TRUE wants, allowing for even better segmentation and targeting.
Social Networks will further position and consolidate themselves as the new market place where we can meet up, connect with, and empower our customers and prospects, hopefully turning them into brand ambassadors. But only when THEY see fit; it’s their territory after all, see.

This year, the challenge for your organization lies in trying to be available for your consumers and prospects whenever and wherever they feel like reaching out to you, or:

“In 2009 Brands need to become truly ubiquitous in their interactions with consumers”

Brands need to become truly ubiquitous: If prospects or clients wish to ask you a customer support question via Twitter or show their brand loyalty by joining your Facebook Group; then please, by all means, let them have it :)
And if there’s a heated debate on a forum about your product, service or your brand in general; don’t hesitate to join in (Think Vodafone‘s WebCare Team). Social Media Tracking tools like Trackur can help you, giving you a dashboard on what the latest talk in e-town is concerning your brand.

To be able to do so, you’ll have to learn to actively participate and interact in those spaces first.

[UPDATE: The Air Force has updated their Social Media Diagram]

Air Force Blog Assessment

Just as “doing a Brand Activation” through TV and Radio in conjunction with print has become the holy trinity for Fortune 500 advertisers in the second half of the 20th century, the post-modern marketer should let go of The Fear of losing control or actually becoming -God forbid- Accountable and add the online platform and all of its interactive channels in the mix as well.

Conclusion: The internet shouldn’t be treated as just another pillar in the marketing mix; it’s a whole New World of communication opportunities next to the Offline world.

The Break Up

We must try harder to convince our peers, decision makers and conservative marketers that the only other option is to face losing out to the competition; remember this crisis is a catalyst for a long overdue change in not only marketing but business acumen as well.

All in all it won’t be an easy ride though: In the end, if your product or service doesn’t manage to live up to your story, then your organization and all of its stakeholders -CEO, shareholders and employees alike- will have to deal with the harsh consequences, now more than ever.

In the coming months, (enterprise sized) brands will have to show their human face to invoke trust and through this process the Personal Brand will have its mainstream breakthrough.

Employers will have to find a way to somehow incorporate this into their Marketing Strategy fast, as their Corporate Brand, as well as their Employer Brand, will benefit from this -if handled in an authentic way: Forrester Sr. Analyst Jeremiah Owyang has a post touching on Personal Branding vs. Corporate Policies, as always carefully and thoroughly approaching it from different perspectives.

And all the above somehow, mostly ties in to that omnipresent “Privacy Issue” that we’ve got to take into account as well, bringing us full-circle to this excellent presentation by Nathan.

Happy New Year  :)

[Update 13-01-09: link to & US Air Force Blog Diagram v2]

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