Getting over it: the economy is no longer an excuse

So, based on the 2009 IBM Institute for Business Value CRM Research, 80% of us are thinking we will survive and nearly that amount expect recovery by mid 2010.

What that means is that you cannot go into your 2010 plan still saying the market will be bad.  For one, it will mean you won’t get your fair share of the money to engage and manage customer relationships.  For another, you’ll still be accountable for results, so there’s not a win strategy in continuing to blame the bad market.  In the US, 93% of us said we could survive – so guess what?  Senior management is not going to let you off the hook, whether you are in sales, service or marketing.  And those who a CxO title were more bullish than everyone else.  No getting around it.

who isn't as important as where

Next year, as well as for the next three years, you told us you are likely to still view the economy as a concern (57%), and that capital pressures (27%) will continue.   I don’t disagree in theory.  However, where I think that leads us is fundamentally different.   Three areas take the stage for me:

1.  There are a lot of business models pushed to the breaking point.  Newspapers specifically, but media overall, travel, financial services, healthcare.

2.  Consumers have fundamentally moved on – and are now way out ahead of most of the companies they do business with in terms of sophistication and smartness

3.  Digital channels have changed the game and will continue to change the game even more, and some companies are still stuck on the “go” square of the monopoly board.

So, as you’re planning, here are some facts and thoughts for you to turn over.

No part of the organization has undergone greater change in how they work or what they do than those in charge of managing customers.  From interactions, to experiences and even products used, the rise of smarter customers has changed the work of CRM.  Smarter customers are using a myriad of technologies, almost none of which existed 10 years ago.  More than 50% didn’t even exist just five years ago.

The social universe - big bang...
The social universe - big bang...

Yet adoption of these types of technologies is accelerating faster than at any point in history.  While it took almost 10 years for the internet to cross the 100 million users threshold, Facebook crossed the 200 million users in less than 3 yearsApple reports in its first year of operating the App Store, users have downloaded one of its 65,000 offerings over 1.5 billion times.  While it takes a company 3 years  to deploy SAP, whole new business models and engaged customers can change the world in less time and with greater impact.  (Okay, so I might get in trouble for saying that, but it’s true! Remember folks, I work for IBM but this is my opinion)

Business Models in Crisis

So let’s look at those business models for a second…in the actual whitepaper we spell out 9 at risk, but for space reasons, I’ll only go for 3 here.

Airlines are grounded: Business travel declines, the rise of even greater deal hunting and the awful “stay-cation” place incredible burdens on a capital intensive industry.  Even profitable airlines like United are experiencing declines, and others have it even worse.  My employer claims to have saved $320,000 on one meeting hosted in Secondlife.

Financial Services, the New Cable Companies? Sentiment for banks continues to erode.  Only 35% of bank customers remain highly committed to their bank this year, down from37% in 2008 and 41% in 2007 according to J.D. Powers.  Given the private/public partnership that banks are operating under, and the growing dissatisfaction, banks face extreme challenges.  However, this NYT quote just seems to say it all for me: 

“…banks never seem to tire of dipping a little deeper into your wallet…they are keeping most fees at record highs, and eking out slight increases on others like overdraft charges”
Can making money by penalizing your customers really be a viable model?

Newspapers:  The Fourth Estate Sale, With nearly a 30% drop in 2008 on top of 16.5% drop in 2007, newspapers aren’t just at risk, they are asking for government bailouts.  At the end of January, French President Nicolas Sarkozy approved a 600mm Euro package of measures to save the beleaguered French press

But the best case for Business Model Innovation I saw came courtesy of with this on Nichepapers, describing potential new models.

So, my friends, it’s everywhere.  And while it was exacerbated by the crisis, some of this was prevalent before.

The Smarter Consumer

Aside from my colleague Susan Duncan’s simply fabulous work as to what is going on in the mind of financial services consumers, my favorite sources over at Pew Research gave us some interesting datapoints as well.  Making the case that the Luxury Goods market is way off (which you could do just as well by checking out,,, etc) or the fabulous  We actually created a study graphic to support this:

And then there is the Economist offering this:   there are good reasons to think that what promises to be the worst downturn since the Depression will spark a profound shift in shoppers’ psychology.

Digital Channels:  The New Game

So, you’ve gotten this far, and I know you believe in Digital Channels, I will keep this part of the program brief.

A few things that I have seen that change the game:  Best Buy offering Twelpforce – this is Amazing. I know some people are concerned, but the model is a perfect response.

The Royal Opera House in London tries to create an opera through Twitter I sent in my thoughts…wonder if they made the final version.

Kia brings us Go Hamster Go on Facebook.  New tech, engaging approach and the customer doesn’t even see herself gaining brand affinity

Evian rewrites the rulebooks – and their website with Skating Babies

Air New Zealand creates a campaign so different they decide to redo their safety video to echo it – and 4mm people drop into watch it.

Reviews, and comedic talent make an item the number one seller in its category on Amazon.

Progressive does what seems near impossible, makes Auto Insurance somewhat less painful to purchase.  They also include what was out of range.

Cadbury designs an advert so weird, Brit TV host Lily Allen pokes fun at it.

So, it’s time to move on – and get ourselves on the path forward.  Don’t be afraid to check the review mirror, it’s okay.  But, as one of my favorite videos puts it, the only way is up

Let me know what you think.   -c-

Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz


The Final Pew Research Post – Digital Rights – they still have all the power

Ah, the last and final of our Pew Posts for this round. This week, we cover our last theme on digital rights management and sum up where we have been over our quick trip in the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the Future of the Internet in 2020. We’ve discussed the rise of the device, privacy, augmented reality and now we can focus on our last theme – Digital Rights.

Digital Rights, content and Robin Hood syndrome. There will always be those who want to take from the seemingly rich (read: organizations) and give to the seemingly poor (read: individuals), or simply believe that content should be as free as speech. And to them, the study offers one of its more visually engaging quotes:

“You cannot stop the tide with a spoon. Cracking technology will always be several steps ahead of DRM…” – Giulio Prisco, chief executive of Metafacturing Second Life, formerly of CERN.

This is one of those issues people just lie about out. Partially because we put them in situations where they feel they must.  I can’t say I know anyone under 30 who think the current approaches to rights management are normal.  I also know a number of people over 30 who feel similarly.  The best “selling” album on Amazon in 2008 was free:  Trent Reznor and his band Nine Inch Nails made more money giving content away.  And for those of you, like me, who follow the band, this must make the management types really feel like they have a head like a hole.  ReadWriteWeb actively chronicles the stories here )

Generation We, Y, Millenials
Generation We, Y, Millenials

Categorically stated, there are hosts of people who feel that content controls and rights managements structures not only reduce creativity, they impede collaboration (Construct attributed to Rob Salkowitz).   When we list the proponents of aggressive rights management, no one except the media conglomerates wants to shake their fists and rant.   Their approach to rights management was tractical when music was more expensive to distribute.  But when they have been so vehement, it’s hard to say “oops, we f*ed up. Never mind.”  Especially of course when there is any kind of cash on the table.

Producing and releasing content is actually a lot easier for the media company now as well, however that has not impacted their pricing models. No wonder many people feel that media companies perceive an entitlement to which they are NOT entitled.   Artists and other professionals, and even the companies supporting them do have a need to be compensated for distribution in some manner. But the vehemence only fans the flames of discontent against the entities that distribute – the companies, not the artists.

Change however, must come:  Tech Analyst Gartner predicted that Christmas 2009 will be music-CD free.

Based on IBM’s Institute for Business Value Ananlysis, the music industry will have lost 35% of its revenue – with even more of that shifting to new players.

Ok – so I never downloaded “free music. ” I bought all of mine but only because I expect technology to make what I need to do easier, not necessarily free.  And I love music. I have thousands of songs. All purely legal – something good and yet painful when I think of the investment.

What I find interesting, is that content sharing models actively point out the systemic flaws in the free or paid battle. Free content has a greater value the more its shared. If it is viewed by precious few people, you can say its free because it has little value.   However, recently, there are three youtube videos I have been talking a lot about. They are: 1. The Message 2. Generation We 3.  Insurance Company Rules . I haven’t paid a cent for them, but I have told hundreds of people about them.  The value of that content is determined by how broadly it is shared.  Does the same hold true for a piece of music or is the value determined by how much I paid for it?  I may listen to the song one time or 762 (preferably not all in one day.) Are we truly misaligned on how value accrues to content? When I look at models like Zuda Comics where the community tells the company how valuable something is, I think there is a better demonstration of market forces…

What’s more:  how far can rights management go in this “everyone’s an author” world?  Are the online reviews I write about books or shoes mine? Photos I put up on Facebook? Are they really mine? My tweets? If someone forwards any one of those things, should I be entitled to recompense?  How about the biggie here:  I am referencing a study created by Pew and adding my own spin – does that make it mine?


I remember when Wired magazine put out a CD designed to let you rip from it. Their argument was that content should become freer  and combinable in some way shape or form.   That was years ago, and technology has enabled so much more than the sad constructs we still live under.  Since media has become a consume-produce-share model, (paraphrasing something Clay Shirky said), we need to rethink how content is valued, dramatically reducing distribution costs.

On the flip side, even as users create and share content, there are still costs to exposing it.  We have to pay – or someone does – somewhere.

And as far as that IP goes…our team in IBM recently had a set of slides for a major study ripped off by a competitor.  Righteous indignation set in, as it does at big companies, and the lawyers went to work.  Is a PowerPoint slide IP? Lots of people will contend it is. I know I am not allowed to share some content I create. I also know that lots of it ends up out there. I often see other consultants presenting with slides I know I made first (or am deluded enough to think I did). Am I going to rush out and claim no fair?  Nope – it’s a free world.  Share and Share alike.


Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz

View from the Pew 3, Augmented Reality blurs all the walls

The third of four in our series around the Future of the Internet from Pew Research: Point Three: Digital places and traditional places give way to “augmented realities” changing what we know as “real life” and meaning a complete rethinking to what an entity – almost any entity “is.” How we handle these transitions will be important, and we will no longer be able to bifurcate our lives.

We’re back after our brief privacy stopover (and I thank your indulgence both on my being late with this post and my digression).  We return to working our way through the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the Future of the Internet in 2020.  We’ve discussed the rise of the device and privacy, now we can focus on the third theme   Quick reminder:  Pew leveraged scenarios that detailed how people might behave and asked for the opinions of experts on how likely that statement was to be true: 56% of the experts said Augmented Reality will be very engrained in how we operate and view the world.  The impacts for education are huge, but not exactly what I spend time thinking about.  It’s important that we do that thinking – I am just not covering on the train ride back to PA from Boston.

Point Three:  Digital places and traditional places give way to “augmented realities” changing what we know as “real life” and meaning a complete rethinking to what an entity – almost any entity “is.”  How we handle these transitions will be important, and we will no longer be able to bifurcate our lives.


Retail: how far away is the day when I can create my own virtual shopping mall, with 10-15 stores fully of my choosing and perhaps of my creation.  My “shopping-bot” Buster (who looks like a Boston Terrier and sniffs out deals as effectively) barks from my computer alerting me he has found new items for me.  I immediately send a voice chat to the voice-to-call service embedded in my home office computer to my friend Kate, arranging a shopping trip.  When Katie picks up, her avatar pops up in the lower left of the PowerPoint presentation in which I am working, displayed on the oversized wall monitor.   Our avatars exchange a hug while the actual people plan logistics.  Katie has her shopping-bot configured differently:  she has to launch it so she can set appropriate parameters to control her spending.  After a few hours, our avatars display the results of their shopping together.  I use two fingers to increase the avatar window size, offering it a little more of the screen while I retire back to my desk for a lunch-hour shopping trip. Unsurprisingly, our avatars look like us.  It’s not a lack of creativity.  It’s easier for shopping.  What if we could then go to the actual shopping center, have a real life face- to-face to lunch tomorrow to pick up our purchases?  CPK, here we come.

While we’re there – in the real live world – she realizes that she wanted an eyeshadow.  We run by Sephora.  She wants to ensure that the color she’s chosen is not like other colors she has.  She logs into her own personal cosmetics master and checks to ensure that Bruised Ego – a yellowy purple – is in fact fully differentiated from prior purchases.

Once home, I scan the tags and codes of any items not already in my personal code reader on my iPhone.  This provides purchase details at my fingertips, preventing from buying too similar an item.  I love that it helps me shop for good prices and displays available offers either sent to me or sensed by the phone.  Last, it syncs my wishlists and makes recommended pairings, removes redundant items.

Utilities: What would you possibly do differently if you could take a digital walk through of your house with your last six months of utilities bills and say – hover over the dishwasher, displaying its electrical consumption?  How about that continuously plugged-in computer on your desk?  How much water that slightly leaky faucet in the bathroom is wasting?  Would you potentially change your real world behavior when you can see it right there?  I think I might.  Yes, someone can come in and do a home energy audit manually right now.  So why do it electronically?  To have a better set of data to work with and benchmark to provide better information over time.

Business instead of pleasure: Almost all phones are camera-equipped.  As more computers have built in cameras as well, the ability to have a “face-to-face” dialogue improves.  If my colleague Tom can’t join the rest of the team for a meeting, can we put Tom up on a screen in the room and kind of feel like he’s with us?  Yes.  What’s more, I would like an automatic recording of meeting proceedings that I could take over to a free public data visualization tool, many eyes, and get a word tree or wordle out of it.  You’d know how effective your meeting was at delivering the expected results.

I wouldn’t mind even the simplest application where I could see even the pictures of people on the phone at the bottom of my oversized wall monitor.  I’d love to be able to slide my phone into its slot on the computer and have it autosync all the details I need between the two, with a few touches of the buttons – especially files – so that I was taking the phone and not the computer with me.  Phone light – computer heavy.

3D Internet: and while second life has been dead, resurrected, potentially killed by the economy again, the category of rich 3D applications will have much closer to nine lives.  And it should.  Being able to experience an item in rich 3D does change the tactile perceptions of the individual.  The rich graphical renderings available now make it possible for experiences to spring off the page at us – looking like they will jump into our lives.  How does that transform business travel?  I have said the cost constraints of today will be with us for quite some time.  I think that this is one with some staying power.


The rise of information and service through digital channels has been transformative, if invisible.  Do I care that the person rating my next cell phone is a teenage boy if he has aggressively played with its functions?  No ,if he’s good at it, I expect AT&T to share with me the unvarnished truth according to that kid.

How important is it to me that the person walking me through my credit card billing issue comes across my screen with an Avatar of Barney the dinosaur?  I do not.  Do I care if my attorney is an elf on Worlds of Warcraft in his spare time?  Nope.  Some people, however, might.

Would I care if my 8 year old child were communicating with 15 year olds?   Yup.  Unless it’s a tutor, or his cousin, or someone else very carefully cleared, I sure would care quite a bit.  Yet, I know that in multi-player gaming (MMORPGs), this is likely.  And yes, that’s scary.  Meeting online can lead to many things in the offline, real world.

The Big Game, Business : Each digital place will have some part of our new definition of reality and none will hold the total.  This form of co-creation of experience – having dimensions that you design yourself, that other people design alongside you, will give rise to different rules and different truths that shall be applicable to a particular “where” and not necessarily every “where.”

However, such “gameplaying” will become more prevalent in business as forecasting receives a much needed injection of innovation via tools that resemble Jane McGonigal’s approach at the Institute for the Future .

As companies use the new economic environment to redefine their spending, leveraging augmented worlds may become more mainstream.  Business and life in general will adjust similarly.  My “shopping bot may find 16 new pairs of shoes for me to review when I am ready, bringing them to my personally designed shoe salon, which will look like my comfy living room, only neater.  Is this augmented?  Is it virtual?  Does the line between the two really matter?  The retailer’s ability to provide a salon of my choosing is not far fetched.  We could do it today if there were demonstrated dollars and sense.

C.R. Roberts a Vancouver based technology reporter notes in the Pew study that there will be “virt-free zones where reality is not augmented.”   I know I’ll have moments that I don’t want to share with anyone who is no personally invited to share my time and space continuum like at a nice restaurant for dinner.

Similarly, as automated and bot enabled worlds serve basic needs effectively, will there be a premium for places where F2F matters more?  Many of our service interactions are evolving toward automation and self service.  Airlines and grocery stores, online bill payment, reservations and reminders all make interactions less expensive and easier to deliver for the most part.  Kiosks ensure our deli sandwiches are right (or at least we screwed our orders up ourselves.)  And soon iPhones can order your coffee –and pay for your coffee.   With the basics fulfilled, will I have more time to spend with the real live Buster instead of his shopping-bot counterpart?  I hope so.  I really hope so.

PS – Check this out:  the message

View from the Pew – Privacy Pit Stop

This post details 5 core discussion themes around the government and privacy and is in follow-up to the last post on privacy and transparency.

A quick detour this week:  we will have two postings, one on Monday and a second on Wednesday.  The Wednesday post will continue on our insight reduction of the 137 page Future of the Internet from Pew Research. However, this new posting was tied too well to the last post not to follow up on Privacy.  So indulge me for a quick stop, please, for more relevant information.  I promise, we will continue our journey.

One of the things about working for IBM is that you frequently encounter people thinking about the same things that you are, albeit slightly differently, and often in a good deal more depth.  Such was the case when IBM’s Institute for Business Value (the IBV, of which I am a part) released its new whitepaper on Privacy from the government angle, Resolving the “Privacy Paradox”: Practical strategies for government identity management programs (link)

The government holding our data is nothing new.  Its emerging role may be very different indeed.  Can our governments step and become a trusted partner in our lives: both in their traditional functions and increasingly in commerce?

I had the privilege of hearing John Reiners, one of the study’s authors present this first-hand.  I asked him to help you explore the paper quickly in 5 points that can make it accessible fast.  He kindly obliged with the following:

1) A key challenge facing online commerce (and all sorts of other online activities) is identity authentication. Currently there are too many methods (accounts, cards etc) and people don’t have confidence in who they are dealing with online. Creating trusted, secure identity tokens by governments (e.g. ID cards, Health cards, driving licenses), based on common standards could complete a missing link in the digital infrastructure – leading to increased efficiencies in commerce and government – (note re economic stimulus, “digital infrastructure” is more than broadband)

2) Privacy will remain an issue for a long time – people won’t grow out of it. It is likely to remain a minority who express concerns about privacy – but that minority is significant particularly when schemes are universal or people don’t have an option whether to participate (e.g., driving licenses, passports, health records ID cards etc). So when governments intoduce such programs, they need to have an answer to the Privacy issue.

3) Technology to protect privacy is now becoming available – but it is also about how this technology is implemented (e.g. using open standards, collaborative development)

4) There are some good examples where personal data is collected and managed and there are also very high degrees of customer satisfaction. We need to learn more about what they do right.

5) Common themes are good technology, plus an attractive business model (e.g. incentives to participate) with some degree of in built privacy controls + a number of additional safeguards when things do go wrong.

Recently, I also learned about a Government agency that does EXACTLY what is raised in John’s point 5, Service Ontario (link). Imagine a government agency that rebates you when your marriage certificate, driver’s license or other document is not prepared according to their stated promises?  Imagine if they were to rebate you the fee they charged?  It exists.  Would you trust them to keep their promises more?  I would.  Would you trust them to use technology wisely?  I would.

I cannot for one be sure I trust my government not to be hacked and have my data secure yet, but organizations like Service Ontario give me reason to at least say I might believe.  Organizations like the example in John’s paper – about the Denmark government health agency that manages individuals’ electronic health records and delivers improved access and more efficient services , give me reason to believe. I know this is true especially when I see examples similarly like the Vanderbilt Health Systems online patient-centric record system.

With our governments stepping into banking more and more in the US, UK, Switzerland and others, governments will need to get with the program very quickly.  They will have vast data stores at the ready (this might imply that they did not in the past, which I am not entirely sure of, but that’s a different blog post at the least).   I think I will want to know that they are using the data in a “fit for purpose” manner  – to protect my safety, credit lines and mortgage, even as they seem to ignore in large part my privacy.   Where does security end and privacy take over?  I have no answers, save my own perspective.   I suspect there are as many opinions as there are readers of this blog – and then some.

I have made the case for Stewardship – organizations that go above and beyond to protect data integrity and privacy as part of their corporate social responsibility.  This will have to expand to governments as well, who have more data – and more varied data at the ready than any one company does.  They may well have my cell phone records, my tax documents, my credit card and bank detail and travel itineraries.  They will need my trust as much as anyone else.

Opinions anyone?  Examples?  Thank you dear reader.  I look forward to returning to our regularly scheduled programming in which we shall explore the merging of digital and real, actual places on Wednesday, which will dive into customer experiences.  Until then – keep thinking about our digital world and the far reaching impacts we will have.  After we finish up with this series, Neal berg and I will be exploring “big data” and “nano-bytes” and their impact on our future in the google-esque world we have a new perspective on what all that data can mean to us as consumers and businesses.  Stay tuned… -c-

hermione1 on twitter,

PS – new Pew Research – friending mom and dad… (link)

Pew Research Review Part 2: Privacy & Transparency for the Digital Age

What do you think, dear reader?  Let me know.  -c-

As we started to discuss in the last post, we are working our way through the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the Future of the Internet (click on the text for link) in 2020. In our last thread, we focused on the device – as the new means of delivering internet content. In this entry, we are going to focus on the second theme out of the study, around privacy and transparency. In this area, there was far less agreement on the future, and I can see why. In discussions amongst my IBM colleagues and my friends, we couldn’t reach a consensus either.

Pew used a series of scenarios to draw out opinions. In this case, they offered the premise that in the future the web will increase the transparency of people and organizations.” As I said, a lot of debate ensued around whether this was good or bad.


So, let me start by saying that Gen Y/the millenials/ Gen We, by any name grew up with a totally different notion of the world than those of us who came before, no matter how enlightened we in other generations consider ourselves. They share things more readily and don’t have the ascribed notions – or even expectations – of privacy of the generations that came before.

Here are the scenario specifics directly from the study’s recap on page 5:

Transparency heightens individual integrity and forgiveness. In 2020, people are even more open to sharing personal information, opinions, and emotions than they are now. The public’s notion of privacy has changed. People are generally comfortable exchanging the benefits of anonymity for the benefits they perceive in the data being shared by other people and organizations. As people’s lives have become more transparent, they have become more responsible for their own actions and more forgiving of the sometimes-unethical pasts of others. Being “outed” for some past indiscretion in a YouTube video or other pervasive-media form no longer does as much damage as it did back in the first decade of the 21st Century. Carefully investigated reputation corrections and clarifications are a popular daily feature of major media outlets’ online sites.

Of 578 Experts, 45% agreed, and only 44% of the 1,196 total respondents

Whether drawn from their participation in social networks or their desire to create content and share it, it’s probably true that digital natives are more willing to share information. Other research indicates that in general, a Gen Yer considers providing personal information only if it will be of assistance in DOING something specific for himself (or herself).  It’s not a lack of altruism – it’s a different privacy orientation.

There are a number of dimensions under which to consider this concept of forgiveness: person to person, person to community, person to company, company to person, company to community…So, does this mean we forgive Comcast all their poor policies so lovingly displayed on You Tube? Or the automotive industry as they issue public missives and ask for forgiveness? How about Walmart and the flog from a few years back? It seems that the world has voted with its dollars and in the scope of things, a fake blog is not so heinous in exchange for good prices and fair selection of necessities.

My position is this: an increasing amount of visibility is a good thing and will benefit those who embrace it. There is a social contract we make in participating and as more data is available in the digital world, we as participants – whether company, government, citizen or consumer, must act accordingly. That means we must do our best to protect our rights and ensure safe places – whether they are digital or otherwise.  We must acitvely manage our online brands as people and companies.  That concept of Stewardship of doing well by doing good is a personal as well as business imperative.

Referring back to an earlier point, that device in my pocket will be able to tell you I am in Starbucks, which is next to a Gap clothing store. Does that give the Gap by right of proximity to send me a coupon offer? No. In this way privacy can be controlled. Does it give the local police force the right to detect that a convicted thief is near a house he does not live in? That depends on your beliefs, I guess. All this data, so many ways to use it.

Let’s say, as was recently covered in the news, someone takes provocative pictures which are then digitally transmitted, without the knowledge of the other party. Information is being created and shared everywhere, irrespective of the privacy of the people involved. What happens if the woman involved were to refute it in cyberspace? And what happens if her next employer Googles her and finds a reference to it? Can they use that information in evaluating if she’s a good fit for their organization? Will any retraction truly count? Can all the potential digital threads be erased? There is not a giant global undo button, at least for now.

Once that horse has left the barn – or has been posted wherever it might be, it might not be possible to undo it. There are no classes on how to maintain a balanced digital lifestyle. There are no blaring red lights to say: you don’t know where that picture of you with the beer funnel is going to turn up so don’t let it be taken. We all have to consider what the new social contract we intend to have will be – and behave accordingly. (or at least my Gen X view tells me that’s the right course of action).

With all these devices tracking our movements both in the virtual and real worlds, one has to think some level of forgiveness will be needed.

View from the Pew – findings on the Future of the Internet

This is the first of a few blog posts detailing the findings of the Pew Internet and American Life Project survey on the Future of the Internet in 2020. In this post, we discuss the first finding, which I refer to as the rise of the device

On December 14, the Pew Internet and American Life Project released its findings from their third global survey of 578 experts and 618 stakeholders on the Future of the Internet in 2020. While I would not call the topline content surprising, the underlying comments and thoughts it dredges up are – and I hope will cause you to think about what it means to us as participants and creators.  Over the course of a few entries, I’ll share my perspectives on their findings and the key points of contention.

So as to be crystal clear as to what is directly drawn from the study, if it is in quotation marks and in dark red type, it is from the study. This will save the pain of annotating everything.

A quick recap their findings, paraphrased here, and I hope accurately captured.

· “The mobile device will become the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world by 2020.”

· “This will increase the transparency of people and organizations.” There is sizable debate of whether this is good and bad, and over the course of 2009, I will talk about Stewardship – which to me is the human and organizational construct of doing right and doing good. I am hopeful we will see more examples of Stewardship.

· “Voice recognition and touch interfaces with the internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.” This will open the internet up with not only more accessibility, but a greater richness. The technology can go in lots of different directions and the pundits are not aligned as to what will win, but are they ever?

· “Intellectual property” will remain an “arms race.” This is interesting not only because of people trying to hack in, but because I think it will lead us to more open models of sharing information. The conundrum I call ‘art value versus useful value’ will continue to change. and in that time frame, I think possibly find a metric that convinces people that open collaborative and sharing models have greater benefit

· “The division between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased.” They contend the “results will be mixed for social relations.” It has to be mixed – different people will have different expectations. We will invariably come to new models of how we define the benefits and the drawbacks and manage those accordingly.

· “Next Generation engineering of the network” will continue versus starting a new architecture. As the new US administration looks at infrastructure for investment, I hope they will look beyond highways and examine means for building the accessibility bridges that can erase socio-economic and education differences in pursuing these next-gen networks.

There are a few other important preliminary notes. Some experts involved in the study were actually invited through Facebook. For researchers, this is important to note. Facebook does have business applications, whether we want to accept them or not. Incrementally, I mentioned Pew went after two groups – experts as well as stakeholders. The stakeholders are people who are actively involved in the internet through business or interest. The study looks at their results as well, and in most cases does not find a great divergence between the experts and the stakeholders. The pundits and the laypeople are both, in many cases, on the fence.

Throughout this, all I want to do is raise the dialogue, actually. I think I want to give you things to think about so you can create your own perspective by adding your own examples to my thought starters. Having said that, here goes:

Point One: The Rise of the Device. I’ve used this expression for 3 years, but I still think it holds. This is not a bias from having worked with mobile carriers, it’s simply a reality. We already have voice interactivity on our phones and improved touchscreens. Easier to use devices will continue to advance. More web content is becoming device-friendly every day, aided and abetted by legions of application developers providing new applets. This will continue, and finding ways to take a piece of that content pie will further enable new business models. The price of smart devices is going down for the consumer.

One other thing to consider: your access device could also become an input device to other devices. The device, as it carries so much of our lives, will not only be able to interact with some other device to order your coffee and offer payment – something we are capable of today – it will go beyond that. It might allow a physician to upload your x-rays, your health journal, pedometer tracking and recent vital stats into your health profile seamlessly, allowing the doctor to give you better care.

The device, in its current design may be nothing like what we have in the future. We may have a smart card we enter into other fit-for-purpose devices, but there will be some means of carrying our communications media with us, at least for now. The ability to switch to decent-sized keyboard may enhance usability, especially for those who are challenged in using the undersized keys we currently have. I am fine with them, for now. However, watching my mom with them, not so much…

One place we might see government intervention in terms of devices is worthy of note: it might not be one laptop per child. It might be devices per household. The potential for success of government programs and entities in interacting with its citizens may be dramatic. Let’s take a current possibility. If I recently lost my job and am looking for a new one, and my phone might tell me local opportunities in real time, how does this change the ability to find new employment? Couple this with the ability for voice interface.  People who are functionally illiterate but still capable of great contributions can actively participate without being marginalized by the system.

This ability to boost up the bottom should be critical to the success of the “rise of the device.” or at least that’s one of my wishes for 2009…Until then, may this begin a year of surprise and delight, of wonder and joy. –c-

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback. Please reach me at any of the normal places (Facebook, Twitter – hermione1, and