Friday, August 5, 2011

Aspen Trees or Jellyfish, it's All Digital Economy at PARCForum

Had the pleasure of attending PARC Forum talk yesterday by "How Technology is Recreating the 21st-century Economy" by W. Brian Arthur of the Sante Fe Institute. I assume they will also post the slideshare here.

Anyways, essentially Arthur argued that 100% of our economic growth comes today from the digitization of business processing, sprouting what he calls a 2nd, underground economy. His prime example is to think of all the digital transactions/look-ups etc happen between the time you swipe your ID at a Airport Kiosk and it spitting out your boarding pass. He uses the metaphor of an Aspen forest, where 10 miles of roots exist for every acre of trees. Not only that, the Aspen forest grows new trees from it's roots, like he says new processes are always invented, making the roots thicker.

I found a few things very interesting in no particular order:

1) This is the intersection of cloud computing and the "internet of things".

2) This is very likely a root cause of some of the new structural unemployment / jobless recovery we are experiencing, the job simply arent there anymore, think secretary, paralegal, ticket counter rep, is the death of process white collar jobs.

3) Arthur firmly believes are cars will drive themselves in 15-20 yrs. I feel like this is a bit unrealistic, not from a perspective of technology, but from both cultural/psychological and infra investment reasons, hmmm....

4) Depending on your view, this could be utopian (we are freed of all grunt work), dystopian (we look like the people in Wall-E*) or somewhere in between.

5) If Arthur is right when he says this is the BIGGEST technological disruption ever, wow, someone's gonna make a lot of money...

6) I'd admired Arthur's use of metaphor to communicate, especially the Aspen forest one. However, while he quoted some "stats" he had done, he didn't share his model, that would've been nice, I was left wondering...

7) I'd encourage everyone to view this content once the PARC folks put it up.

I've been to 2 of these in the last year, but really need to make a point of getting to more of them, PARC brings in some amazing Thought Leaders.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bridging Brand and Demand: Thought Leadership, the Missing Link

Walk into just about any B2B marketing team today, and you will see a very large focus on marketing automation. This is the tip of the iceberg that has been building since the dawn of Google and Direct email, or for about a decade, let's call that time AG for After Google. That iceberg is the maniacal focus on demand over brand, on lead generation over messaging, on revenue over valuation.

I have no qualms about this, driving revenue is what the whole marketing game is about but...

Let's face it, we've got a heard mentality going here. We bid up AdWords to the point of expense that makes us scratch our heads. We spend more and more on jamming "nurturing" touches to wring out pipeline from our marketing database. We hire quant jocks to build dashboards, optimize spend and score leads. We bow to the constant siren call of the VP of Sales, more leads, better leads, more leads, better leads. Oh, and now we nuture our brand on social media, and let's be honest, we don't really know how to do that well or even how to ask the right questions so we can learn...WOW, who wanted this CMO job anyhow?

I started my career in brand marketing at Intel. We spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year to build the Intel Inside brand. We measured our success in moving share, preference and all those other cool brand metrics. Was there direct marketing done too, of course, but in the days BG, the web was not the center of our universe. That world is long gone except for the biggest of big brands, and even they have adjusted dramatically.

Now, the hot topic is "Content Marketing". But in my exposure to practice, this is nothing more that nurturing programs where a bit more content is jammed down the prospects pipe, whether they want it or not. And this content is ALWAYS focused on the selling cycle and is rarely powerful enough to make a real difference.

Don't get me wrong, I think that Content Marketing is a good start, but it's missing a big part of the point. Without THOUGHT LEADERSHIP, content marketing will be lost in the same clutter as search words, competition for mindshare is enormous. We are in the world of short attention span theater, NOT Dickensian serial novel writing.

Thought Leadership, a term first coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman in Strategy Magazine, can be defined as "having a distinctively original idea, 
a unique point of view or an insight". ORIGINAL UNIQUE, RELEVANT, MEANINGFUL, INSIGHTFUL.

Thought Leadership marketing is the process of bringing Thought Leadership to your brand with ORIGINAL UNIQUE, RELEVANT, MEANINGFUL, INSIGHTFUL ideas that quickly break through the information overload and attention deficit AG world.

Where your content marketing is imbued with Thought Leadership, and your Nurturing campaigns utilize that content, magic happens. You build BRAND AND DEMAND, UNIQUENESS AND REVENUE.

Stay tuned in this space for more on the HOW of Thought Leadership Marketing.