SXSW was quite an experience. It completely changed my understanding of the world, of the opportunities and of the possibilities that are open to us. It utterly highlighted the increasing pace of change. This is going to be one hell of a ride and the world as we know it will be changing faster and more profoundly than anything that we have experienced before. It won’t be linear, it will be stellar change. Lots of our current modi operandi need to be completely overhauled and new ones need to be invented to keep up with this technology driven change. Just imagine, in around 50 years we will see the merging of man and machine. But before we look 50 years ahead, let’s look 3 weeks back: Here are my key outtakes from SXSW.
Everybody knows each other. Well not everybody, let’s rephrase it – all the Americans know each other; not only in the category, but across the digital and interactive sphere. That’s an incredible advantage, as ideas don’t stay in silos but are enhanced by sharing, are being adapted and adopted, merged and morphed, tried and tested in new and different environments. But it goes beyond the creation and execution of new ideas, as it also helps in the quick resolution of existing problems. While we in Europe speak with the customer service /account manager in the UK, they speak directly with the VP or somebody who can actually make a change. As everybody is at SXSW it’s a great way of deeping already existing connections and building a whole host of new ones. Events are the anchors for all social media activities and Social Media enhances events.
I have used Foursquare for a while, but only now using it at SXSW do I actually really get it and it’s wonderful. As everybody is checking it, you know where your friends are, so it’s a bit like Harry Potter’s Marauder Map and that is so helpful at an event of the scale of SXSW. At the same time, it’s a fantastic crowd-sourcing tool that shows you what’s happening where and when. The tips give a really good indication about the quality. Business in the US have really embraced it and sensibly moved on from just focusing rewards on Mayors to first time check-ins, size of the party, etc. Foursquare is going to be massive & in comparison to other companies at the same stage of maturity they have connected business and individual in a meaningful, simple yet elegant way.
Location based Service
LBS is the next big thing, at least if you speak to VCs. Everyone I talked to, looks at investing into mobile or location based services. But it wasn’t contained to the moneymen, as every session with location based in the title was oversubscribed. I can understand the craze, but at the same time I believe that everything will be built with LBS in mind and as the underlying platform. People will demand it, as they want tailored and relevant information and will increasingly use on the move computing devices. But enhancing an offering with location based applications is only half as sexy as launching a pure location based driven service.
Collaboration is somehow a logical consequence of the global and direct connections that are being created. It’s only at the beginning, but with ever better technology and the change from financial value creation to people value creation, this will gather momentum. The social gaming aspect of do and adapt will become even more forceful and defining, whilst at the same time challenging the status quo of production and ownership. As everything starts but nothing ends – it’s a permanent change, a permanent improvement through instant feedback – ownership becomes a warped concept. With ownership being thrown in doubt, present day monetisation standards are useless.
Technology around normal life
Technology is increasingly morphing around human behaviour and life in general until finally man and machine will merge. Mobile, Microsoft’s Kinetic and augmented reality are only the beginning and the merging of these three in gaming gives us a good understanding of its power and potential. The divide between physical and virtual world – already an outdated concept – will be finally kicked to the curb. Access won’t be via a PC on the desktop but via bio signals. I really recommend everybody to read Kurzweil’s book “The singularity is near”.
It’s all about people
All of the above have one common denominator: People. From products and services, we will truly move to a people economy. Obviously, the way we will work together will be so different from everything we know today and it will be better. But recruiting will be right at the heart of the new reality. But as discussed on this blog before, the emphasis will move to collaborations and recruiting of ‘free agents’. The consequences (Jake Brewer and Rick Marini both gave fantastic presentations about this at SXSW, that I whole heartedly agree with) for organisations will be massive: Instead of sustaining an organisation, it’s about building open and transparent networks – get people to work on what they want to do instead of sustaining the organisation. Instead of culture, think and act like a movement, bring energy and resources around project and ideas and then release it to the next project.