Feeds:
Posts
Comments

New TBB

The Brandbuilder blog is dead. (Long live The Brandbuilder blog!)

Here’s the short of it: this blog was in serious need of an overhaul, a redesign, a rebranding, and a more appropriate url. I always found reasons to put it off (though in all fairness, I have been pretty busy with other things) but sooner or later, you just have to push the go button on things. It’s been a long time coming, but I am super excited to be able to announce the launch of olivierblanchard.net today. (I have a lot of other pretty cool news to share with you, but one thing at a time.)

I hope that you’ll enjoy the new blog format (3 instead of just one): business topics (not just social business and brand management), general topics, and writing. (You’re about to find out part of the reason why.) The other sections are about me and the work I do, so pay them no mind. ;)

Before you all run on over to check it out, I want to thank you for your hundreds of thousands of visits and the gazillion insightful comments over the years. You’ve all taught me a lot. Here’s to many more years of great discussions. Cheers to all.

Now get out of here and check out the new site. Go on. Shoo!

While the new site is being built and I am on a well deserved workation, here is a piece from the vault that you will find just as relevant today as it was when I first posted it. Back by popular demand, Game Change: Moneyball and the reality of social business.

I finally watched Moneyball over the weekend. I’m not a big baseball fan but it held my interest, partly because it was based on a true story and partly because the movie really wasn’t about baseball at all. It was about old thinking vs. new thinking, about industry politics vs. the heresy of innovation, about dinosaurs desperate to hang on to a failing model that sustains their livelihood even when that model is clearly broken, ineffective and no longer relevant.

The scenes in which Oakland As’ general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) locks horns with his cadre of coaches and scouts over how to do more with less, about how to break the cycle of mediocrity plaguing their organization, about how to get results again is brilliant, not because of the writing or the acting but because it is spot on target. How do I know this? Because I have been in that meeting hundreds of times. Well, not that particular meeting, but in others exactly like it. And every week that goes by, I find myself sitting in that meeting again and again and again.

In the US, in Europe, in Asia, the same meeting goes on almost daily. The conference table is always basically the same, the fluorescent lighting too. The players, they’re the same as well, everywhere I go. Only the vocabulary changes, the industry lingo, but the meeting, it’s the same and it goes pretty much like this:


Billy Beane
: Guys, you’re just talking. Talking, “la-la-la-la”, like this is business as usual. It’s not.
Grady Fuson: We’re trying to solve the problem here, Billy.
Billy Beane: Not like this you’re not. You’re not even looking at the problem.
Grady Fuson: We’re very aware of the problem. I mean…
Billy Beane: Okay, good. What’s the problem?
Grady Fuson: Look, Billy, we all understand what the problem is. We have to…
Billy Beane: Okay, good. What’s the problem?
Grady Fuson: The problem is we have to replace three key players in our lineup.
Billy Beane: Nope. What’s the problem?
Pittaro: Same as it’s ever been. We’ve gotta replace these guys with what we have existing.
Billy Beane: Nope. What’s the problem, Barry?
Scout Barry: We need 38 home runs, 120 RBIs and 47 doubles to replace.
Billy Beane: Ehh! [imitates buzzer]

What we see in this scene is a roomful of insiders with a century and a half of industry experience between them, and yet they haven’t figured out that their model is outdated, that their “experience,” is no longer enough to keep moving forward. They carry on day after day, season after season, doing the same thing over and over again, half-expecting a different result, but then again, maybe not. Worst of all, most of them have no idea what the problems plaguing their organizations actually are. A lot of it is just operational myopia. Some of it is also ego: they couldn’t possibly be wrong. All that experience and intuition, the entire industry’s decades-old model… how could things have changed that much, right?

And yet they are wrong, the model isn’t working anymore, and instead of listening to the guy in the room who sees it and knows how to fix it, they treat him like a punk. When he wants to do something about it, they push back. Hard. In Moneyball, he’s their boss. Imagine when he is just a Director or a VP, or even just an account manager. Imagine how quickly he gets overruled then. I’ve seen amazing people get shut down and pushed out of organizations over this sort of thing. I could give you names and dates. I could make you ill with true stories of stupidity and petty politics, of wasted opportunities and complete operational failures that turned what could have been huge wins for companies that needed them (and customers who demanded them) into case studies in wasted potential. And as tragic as  these stories would be, they are no different from the opportunities that will be wasted this week, and the next, and the one after that, always for the same reasons, always because of the exact same thinking and business management dynamics.

I see that scene, that meeting, that discussion being played out almost everywhere I go, especially when it comes to social media and social business: guys sitting around a table, treating social like it is just an extension of the same old traditional digital marketing game they all understand and desperately want to stick to. And so they make strategy decisions based on models that don’t apply at all to the social space, they insist on using measurement schemes that aren’t the least bit relevant to it or the business as a whole, and worst of all, they make hiring decisions that absolutely make no sense at all for the new requirements of social communications. Why? Because even though the game has changed, no one in the room wants to accept that it has. No one in the room wants to adapt. No one in the room wants to look reality in the eye and do what needs to be done to actually win. Talk about it, sure. Use cool new words like earned media and engagement, definitely. But actually change anything and adapt to a new model? Nope. Not happening. The change management piece that comes with social business integration, the piece that is absolutely vital to it actually working, that piece is still DOA.

Here’s another conversation that also goes on “offline” at every company (agency or brand) around the world right now in regards to hiring decisions that touch on social media management. Here it is again, through the filter ofMoneyball:

Peter Brand: There is an epidemic failure within the game to understand what is really happening. And this leads people who run Major League Baseball teams to misjudge their players and mismanage their teams. I apologize.
Billy Beane: Go on.
Peter Brand: Okay. People who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs. You’re trying to replace Johnny Damon. The Boston Red Sox see Johnny Damon and they see a star who’s worth seven and half million dollars a year. When I see Johnny Damon, what I see is… is… an imperfect understanding of where runs come from. The guy’s got a great glove. He’s a decent leadoff hitter. He can steal bases. But is he worth the seven and half million dollars a year that the Boston Red Sox are paying him? No. No. Baseball thinking is medieval. They are asking all the wrong questions. And if I say it to anybody, I’m-I’m ostracized. I’m-I’m-I’m a leper. So that’s why I’m-I’m cagey about this with you. That’s why I… I respect you, Mr. Beane, and if you want full disclosure, I think it’s a good thing that you got Damon off your payroll. I think it opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities.

Every company has a Peter Brand either on staff or sitting in a stack of CVs. Not necessarily in the sense that they are geniuses with statistics  but in the sense that they see the forest from the trees, that they see what needs to be done, but every time they open their mouths, they get shot down. Worse, if they open their mouths too much, they’re gone. And if their CV doesn’t have the bullet points and keywords that hiring managers were trained twenty years ago to find relevant, they don’t even get considered for the position.

If I see one more social media leadership position go by default to candidates with “big agency digital experience” or “big brand digital experience,” I am going to throw my pencil at somebody’s head. There is the medieval thinking in action, right there. There’s the primary reason why almost every social media program on the planet is failing to produce results, why three fourths of companies still can’t figure out how to calculate the ROI of their social media programs, why most brands see less than 1% of engagement from their followers and fans after the first touch, why “content is king” is failing, and why increasingly, “social media” strategy and budgets are shifting to ad buys on social networks. That’s right: For all the talk about earned media and engagement and conversations, social media account roles are starting to go to media buyers now. (Here’s some insight into it.) Everyone loves to talk the talk. Almost no company is willing to actually walk the walk. That sound you’re hearing is the banging of traditional marketing hammers pounding nails into social business’ coffin.

You want to know why most big brand social media programs aren’t gaining real traction? Why they don’t work without a constant influx of ad spending? Why nobody sticks around when the “free iPads for likes” promotions are gone? Start there: no one in the room gets it. No one in the room wants to get it. And when someone in the room does get it, he or she doesn’t keep their job for very long. You think most companies are going to hire, promote and support change agents all on their own?

So the real question is this: Do you want to actually score some real wins or do you just want to spend big marketing budgets and play at being a digital big shot?

It’s a real question. In fact, it’s the most important question you might ask yourself all year. Because the answer to that question will determine whether or not you still have a job in two years. No wait… I misspoke. The answer to that question will determine whether or not you have the job you want in two years, and yes, there’s a difference. A big one.

When you find yourself looking for your next gig (and you will eventually,) do you want to just be the guy who was SVP digital at (insert big brand/agency here) or do you want to be the guy who took (insert big brand/agency here)’s theoretical social media and social business programs, and turned them into the new industry standards, into the business model that everyone will be copying and basing theirs on for the next decade? It’s a real question. Which guy do you want to be? The dinosaur or the pioneer? If the answer is the latter, then are you going to have the huevos to go against the grain? To take chances on whom you hire, what kinds of programs you launch, where and how you invest your budgets? Are you willing to stick your neck out and do it right? Or is it more likely that you’ll just play it safe, hoping that the system will just carry you for another decade or two, that the CEO or CMO you will interview with next won’t notice that your job was basically to spend ad dollars and shuffle digital board pieces for the CEO’s monthly show-and-tell meeting?

Who do you want to be? What do you want to build? Do you want to just wear the jersey or do you want to win? Hold that thought. Here’s another key piece of dialogue from the movie, after Billy Beane’s gamble has paid off, after he has started turning some wheels in a big way. He responds to an invitation from John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, who tells him this:

John Henry: I know you’ve taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall. It always gets bloody, always. It’s the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods, it’s threatening their jobs, it’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people are holding the reins, have their hands on the switch. They go bat shit crazy. I mean, anybody who’s not building a team right and rebuilding it using your model, they’re dinosaurs. They’ll be sitting on their ass on the sofa in October, watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.

And a couple of years later, they did.

So let’s talk about our world again for a minute. Let’s talk about what’s coming, about tipping points, about momentum: Ford not only hired the right guy (Scott Monty) a few years back but gave him the authority to build a solid program there. The result: some serious wins on just about every front, from customer perceptions to purchase intent to customer loyalty and recommendations. Evencar design was impacted in 2010 by the importance of social communications in the Ford organization. Edelman Digital seems to be doing something similar (I keep running into some pretty solid folks there, notably Michael Brito and David Armano). Want to see something cool? This is one of the things they’re working on. Starbucks caught an early train with that too. So did Dell. What sucks is that in 2012, virtually no one else has even tried to keep up with them. For all the money being spent and all the “case studies” being pushed around the conference circuit, most companies are still fighting it, still refusing to accept that the game has changed – worse, trying to keep playing with old methods, with old thinking, with old, outdated skills and CV bullet points. But there will come a day when someone will be given the authority to build out this new model, when it will blow everyone out of the water, and when the blindfolds will have to come off. That day is coming. What side of change do you want to be on then?

Old thinking will not score wins here. Old tactics, old hiring, old measurement, they’re all wrong for these new marketing, communications and business models. They just don’t work anymore. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. Keep watching your margins erode. Keep watching your digital dollars go to waste. Keep laying people off and outsourcing every last business function you can’t afford to keep in-house anymore. Keep pretending the world is the same today as it was five years ago, and that what you were doing five years ago will still be relevant five years from now. Whatever makes you feel better. Keep doing the same old thing that used to work, back before people carried smart phones and iPads. Keep thinking that the guy you just hired because he spent ten years managing digital for a fast-food brand knows fuck-all about building capacity and traction for a social media program, let alone produce concrete business results for you. Keep coloring the same old boxes with the same old crayons and see how far you’ll get.

_ Okay good. What’s the problem?

We need to fill a VP Digital role.

_ Nope. What’s the problem?

All right… Whatever. We need to fill a VP social media strategy role.

_ Nope. What’s the problem?

We need to hire someone with proven global digital management experience, Billy. Someone with Disney or Nike on their CV. Someone with serious digital campaign experience.

_ Nope. What’s the problem, Barry?

The problem is, we’re not growing our Facebook community fast enough, and our content isn’t seeing the numbers we want. We need a…

_ Nope. [Imitates buzzer]

Get unstuck. Watch Moneyball and let the light bulb go off in your head. Then go find your Peter Brand and hire the shit out of him before someone else does. If you’re lucky, you’ll save both your career and your company in the process.

*          *          *

Here it is. A whole book on how to make social media work from a business standpoint. ROI is covered, along with a lot of process elements that tie back to it. If your favorite social business “expert” doesn’t seem to get this stuff yet, don’t feel bad about sending them a copy. Knowledge is never a bad gift.

CEO-Read  –  Amazon.com  –  www.smroi.net  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Que

A few weeks ago, social media “personalities” and tech gurus were so busy trying to out-swoon each other over Google Glass that no one seemed to want to ask the most obvious question everyone should have been asking about Google Glass: Why should I care?

No, I mean seriously. Why should I or anyone care about Google Glass?

1. The Emperor’s New Clothes: Tech Edition

In order to understand the problem, you have to go back to its source. Let’s do that.

The review that earned Google Glass the most attention was one put forth by “tech guru” Robert Scoble, even though it basically boiled down to paragraph after paragraph of mostly vacuous and at times incoherent babble. You can go read the entire thing here. I hope you won’t mind that I cut and pasted it here as well (to save you the trouble):

Here’s my review after having Google Glass for two weeks:

1. I will never live a day of my life from now on without it (or a competitor). It’s that significant. 
2. The success of this totally depends on price. Each audience I asked at the end of my presentations “who would buy this?” As the price got down to $200 literally every hand went up. At $500 a few hands went up. This was consistent, whether talking with students, or more mainstream, older audiences.
3. Nearly everyone had an emotional outburst of “wow” or “amazing” or “that’s crazy” or “stunning.” 
4. At NextWeb 50 people surrounded me and wouldn’t let me leave until they had a chance at trying them. I haven’t seen that kind of product angst at a conference for a while. This happened to me all week long, it is just crazy.
5. Most of the privacy concerns I had before coming to Germany just didn’t show up. I was shocked by how few negative reactions I got (only one, where an audience member said he wouldn’t talk to me with them on). Funny, someone asked me to try them in a bathroom (I had them aimed up at that time and refused).
6. There is a total generational gap that I found. The older people said they would use them, probably, but were far more skeptical, or, at minimum, less passionate about the fact that these are the future, than the 13-21-year-olds I met.

So, let’s cover the price, first of all. I bet that +Larry Page is considering two price points: something around $500, which would be very profitable. Or $200, which is about what the bill of materials costs. When you tear apart the glasses, like someone else did (I posted that to my Flipboard “Glasshole” magazine) you see a bunch of parts that aren’t expensive. This has been designed for mass production. In other words, millions of units. The only way Google will get there is to price them under $300.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Larry went very aggressive and priced them at $200. Why would Google do this? 

Easy: I’m now extremely addicted to Google services. My photos and videos automatically upload to Google+. Adding other services will soon be possible (I just got a Twitter photo app that is being developed by a third party) but turning on automatic uploads to other services will kill my batteries on both my phone and my glasses (which doesn’t have much battery life anyway). So, I’m going to be resistant to adding Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Evernote, and Tumblr to my glasses. Especially when Google+ works darn well and is the default. 

Also, Google is forbidding advertising in apps. This is a HUGE shift for Google’s business model. I believe Larry Page is moving Google from an advertising-based company to a commerce based company.

The first thing I tried that it failed on was “find me a Sushi restaurant.” I’m sure that will get fixed soon and, Google could collect a micropayment anytime I complete a transaction like reserving a seat at a restaurant, or getting a book delivered to my house, or, telling something like Bloomingdales “get me these jeans.” 

There is literally billions of dollars to be made with this new commerce-based system, rather than force us to sit and look at ads, the way Facebook and tons of other services do.

When you wear these glasses for two weeks you get the affordance is totally different and that having these on opens you up to a new commerce world. Why?

1. They are much more social than looking at a cell phone. Why? I don’t need to look away from you to use Google, or get directions, or do other things. 
2. The voice works and works with nearly every one and in every situation. It’s the first product that literally everyone could use it with voice. It’s actually quite amazing, even though I know that the magic is that it expects to hear only a small number of things. “OK Glass, Take a Picture” works. “OK Glass, Take a Photo” doesn’t. The Glass is forcing your voice commands to be a certain set of commands and no others will be considered. This makes accuracy crazy high, even if you have an accent.

I continue to be amazed with the camera. It totally changes photography and video. Why? I can capture moments. I counted how many seconds it takes to get my smartphone out of my pocket, open it up, find the camera app, wait for it to load, and then take a photo. Six to 12 seconds. With Google Glass? Less than one second. Every time. And I can use it without having hands free, like if I’m carrying groceries in from the car and my kids are doing something cute. 

I’ve been telling people that this reminds me of the Apple II, which I unboxed with my dad back in 1977. It was expensive. It didn’t do much. But I knew my life had changed in a big way and would just get better and better. Already this week I’ve gotten a new RSS app, the New York Times App, and a Twitter app. With many more on the way.

This is the most interesting new product since the iPhone and I don’t say that lightly.

Yeah, we could say the camera isn’t good in low light. We could say it doesn’t have enough utility. It looks dorky. It freaks some people out (it’s new, that will go away once they are in the market). 

But I don’t care. This has changed my life. I will never live a day without it on. 

It is that significant. 

Before I go on with the actual point of this post, let me share a few observations:

Scoble opens his review with: I will never live a day of my life from now on without it (or a competitor). It’s that significant. 

What’s bizarre though is that Robert Scoble never actually explains why the product is so significant or why he will never live a day of his life from now on without it. I looked for a reason. Any reason. All I could find was this:

There is literally billions of dollars to be made with this new commerce-based system, rather than force us to sit and look at ads, the way Facebook and tons of other services do.

When you wear these glasses for two weeks you get the affordance is totally different and that having these on opens you up to a new commerce world. Why?

1. They are much more social than looking at a cell phone. Why? I don’t need to look away from you to use Google, or get directions, or do other things. 
2. The voice works and works with nearly every one and in every situation. It’s the first product that literally everyone could use it with voice. It’s actually quite amazing, even though I know that the magic is that it expects to hear only a small number of things. “OK Glass, Take a Picture” works. “OK Glass, Take a Photo” doesn’t. The Glass is forcing your voice commands to be a certain set of commands and no others will be considered. This makes accuracy crazy high, even if you have an accent.

Once you get past the 5th grade sentence structure and grammar (or lack thereof), what Scoble tells us is basically that this amaaaazing product he will never live a day of his life without ever again is awesome because…

a) Billions of dollars can be made from its mobile commerce system. Okay… Except this is identical to mobile commerce on smart phones. The goggles don’t actually offer a new model of e-commerce or m-commerce. It’s the same exact shit, only with an interface that you wear on your face instead of one you hold in your hand. Also, as a user, why should I care about the billions of dollars retailers and tech companies will make from mobile commerce? It isn’t a benefit to me as a consumer. So… we haven’t been presented with any concrete consumer value for Google Glass yet.

b) It can’t find sushi restaurants for you, but it will someday. Yes. Amazing. Siri can do that now. So can pretty much any car equipped with a GPS system, any smart phone with a browser, and every tablet connected to the interwebs. Moving on…

c) They are much more social than looking at a cell phone? Um… no. Browsing the web and reading emails while you pretend to pay attention to someone while they talk to you isn’t “more social”. It’s the epitome of tech douchebaggery, actually. It’s both rude and antisocial, which is the exact opposite of social. Turn the goggles off and actually participate in the conversation. Make eye contact. Give a shit about someone other than yourself for just five minutes. That’s what “social” actually means in the real world. So… no. Again, zero concrete reason to not go a day without Google Glass has been presented as of yet.

d) I want you to consider the following passage for a minute. Are you ready? Here we go:

The voice works and works with nearly every one and in every situation. It’s the first product that literally everyone could use it with voice. It’s actually quite amazing, even though I know that the magic is that it expects to hear only a small number of things. “OK Glass, Take a Picture” works. “OK Glass, Take a Photo” doesn’t. The Glass is forcing your voice commands to be a certain set of commands and no others will be considered. This makes accuracy crazy high, even if you have an accent.

Once you have gotten over the suspicion that this entire review was either written by a non-English speaking intern or generated by the same Chinese algorithm that sends SPAM directly into your inbox 139 times per day, what you garner from that paragraph is this: Google glass is voice activated but it isn’t super intuitive. If you don’t know the right commands, you’re kind of screwed.

Well, hot damn! Why didn’t you say so? You can sort of talk to it, and sometimes, it does what you tell it to? Sign me up! Unfortunately, just as we were starting to get somewhere, Scoble adds a little more magic to his sales pitch:

Yeah, we could say the camera isn’t good in low light. We could say it doesn’t have enough utility. It looks dorky. It freaks some people out (it’s new, that will go away once they are in the market). 

Oh. Shit. Just when I was getting excited about yelling into a pair of goggles with a comprehension problem. So… the camera kind of sucks, it doesn’t really do anything yet, it looks dorky and people who aren’t trying to be quoted by Wired or Mashable or score a pair to review on their blog are suspicious of it to the point that they will run away if you even start walking in their general direction (especially when you happen to be trolling public bathrooms in search of cool photos to post to your Google Plus stream). Awesome.

So now I have even less reasons to go out and buy Google Glass than when I had zero reasons to go out and buy Google Glass. Fortunately, our favorite Tech Guru du jour attempts to redeem himself in the end with this eloquent and deeply thought out breakdown of why Google Glass is the best thing since the invention of fire:

But I don’t care. This has changed my life. I will never live a day without it on. 

It is that significant. 

Ah. Well, okay then. I can see why so many people swooned over this thing as soon as Robert Scoble professed his undying love for a product he couldn’t quite manage to talk about coherently.

Excuse me but what a massive crock of shit. Tech guru my ass. How about we start over, starting with this:

1. Before you can really be any kind of guru, learn how to string two coherent thoughts together in a cohesive sentence. Or don’t. Whatever. Evidently, nobody bothers to read any of this shit before sharing it and retweeting it anyway.

2. Stop blowing smoke up our asses for just ten minutes and look at tech products objectively, starting with Glass. If they’re great, explain why. If they aren’t, explain why. Is that really so hard? This whole social media/guru/pseudo-futurist-douchebags-spewing-bullshit-all-day-long culture of manufactured “influence” needs to come to an abrupt end. It isn’t healthy. It isn’t healthy for companies like Google, for VCs, for startups, for product managers, for marketing, for journalism, and it sure as shit isn’t healthy for innovation either. We are so busy trying to find ways to reward well-funded mediocrity that we completely overlook real successes in innovation. We are celebrating all the wrong things.

2. Product Management is about more than buzz and “influencer” marketing. It’s about 360 degree execution

Don’t get me wrong. Google Glass might be a great product someday (and I hope it is) but right now, it isn’t much of anything. It’s barely a prototype. It’s a first stage proof of concept. It is not a product. Not yet. The worst thing Google can do is believe its own PR. This product isn’t ready. Period.

Incidentally, if I hear one more tech writer or guru compare Google Glass to the iPhone launch, I am going to start getting angry. Here is a little dose of reality: when Apple released the iPhone, it wasn’t a barely functional prototype. It was a working product. It did things. People understood what it was. Its value was crystal clear. Google Glass as it exists today isn’t even remotely comparable to the state of the iPhone when it launched.

If you want to pinpoint the moment that Google Glass will truly become a product, look towards the day when Google finally figures out what Google Glass is. (If Google’s “let’s build something and figure out what it is later” pattern of behavior feels like a recurring theme, you aren’t wrong. Google+ is still trying to figure out if it’s a social network, a collaboration ecosystem, or a dozen other things. Google Wave was… oh, never mind.)

Even Robert Scoble wasn’t able to figure out exactly what Glass is or why he liked it so much, and Google certainly isn’t helping consumers figure it out yet either. Okay, sure, it’s a wearable computer. Awesome. IBM introduced the idea back in 1997, then again a decade ago in this commercial;  and I am pretty sure I have seen versions of this in a dozen sci-fi movies. So this isn’t exactly earth-shattering innovation yet. Right now, it’s more of a voice-activated camera glued to cheap eyeglass frames with limited computer-like interface capabilities. In other words, it basically takes some of the basic things your smart phone can do and repackages them into a shitty looking eyeglass gadget that doesn’t really do anything novel but costs twice as much.  Not exactly the game changer we keep hearing about from the tech gurus.

Let’s recap. Right now, Google Glass does this:

And this:

And this:

And as far as messaging goes, this is the most significant review of the product so far:

It’s the first product that literally everyone could use it with voice. It’s actually quite amazing, even though I know that the magic is that it expects to hear only a small number of things.”

Awesome. I raise my glass to that, sir. Mark Twain would be proud. Maybe Google might want to look into hiring product development and product management folks from companies like Nike, Oakley, Sony, LG and Rudy Project at this point, because this smells like amateur hour. Sorry. Glass deserves better than this.

3. First to market is not the same thing as first to scale: how Google could lose its grip on the wearable computer market

I really hope that Google’s product management team figures out what they want to do soon, because right now, outside of the tech hype bubble, no one is super impressed. The Glass team needs to find its legs fast, and here is why: other companies are already taking the wearable computer concept and actually moving forward with the development of real products. Cool products. Products with utility and a point.

Here are two of them that you guys should pay attention to:

1. Oakley Airwave GPS-enabled goggles: If you’re a skier, snowboarder or a downhill mountain biker, the Airwave’s heads-up display already allows you to track speed (GPS integration can accurately measure how fast you are moving down a slope), jump analytics (measures and tracks distance, height and airtime of your jumps), vertical travel (measures your vertical feet by run, by day and over the course of the season), and navigation (pinpoints your location on a map and finds the run or points of interest you’re looking for).

It is also equipped with trip viewer capability (it lets you review your performance stats like max speed, total vert and max air, in detail, run by run or for the whole day), and has a buddy tracking system (helps you locate and track friends that have the Oakley Airwave goggle or App on their smartphone). Last but not least, the interface lets you control your music, monitor incoming phone calls and text messages while you’re on the slopes.

Here’s a quick video of what it can already do:

For more info, check out Oakley.com/airwave.

2. Recon Jet: a heads-up display for cyclists, triathletes, runners, and so on. As a triathlete myself, I immediately see value in this technology for me. The idea that I might as some point be able to move my bike computer’s data to a heads-up display is genius. One aspect of this is safety: I like the idea of being able to keep my eyes on the road at all times. Every time I have to look down at my bike computer, I run the risk of touching someone’s wheel or hitting a pothole. Also, if an aerodynamic tuck, not having to look down to see how fast I am going or what my wattage is can save me precious seconds over the course of a race. Add to that the possibility of adding biofeedback (like heart rate) to the display and even GPS features (like course maps and elevation), and you really have a product that most competitive cyclists will gladly spend upwards of $300 on. There is real functionality there. Ergo: real purpose and value.

Bonus: We still aren’t looking at the style and elegance of Oakley or Rudy Project competition eyewear, but the frames don’t look like something out of a skymall catalog from 2003 either. They’re actually wearable.


For more info, check out jet.reconinstruments.com.

Do you see the difference between Google Glass and these two products? While Glass still struggles to figure out what it wants to be and relies on “tech gurus” to help them find their way (sorry but recording the moments of your life isn’t enough unless you’re Canon or Nikon), Oakley and Recon Instruments have already identified markets, purpose, and specific features and functionality to answer the needs of those markets. It won’t be long now before you start seeing other applications pop up specifically for law enforcement, military personnel, hospital workers, retail sales clerks, hotel and restaurant staff, automobile drivers, customer service reps, educators, students, tourists, and so on.

Do you know what the difference is between a gadget and a product? It isn’t features or branding. It’s purpose. Purpose matters. It strikes to the very identity of a product. “What is this?” is as important a question as “what is it for?” and “what does it do?” These three questions form the basis for “what will this do for me?” If you can answer neither, you don’t have a product. You still only have an idea, and at best, a prototype. If you can sort of answer it but not completely, what you have is a gadget. You’re in infomercial territory. That’s where Google Glass is right now. (“I can wear Twitter on my face? Awesome!!! Here’s my money!” Good luck with that.)

Unfortunately for Google, if you really want to see where this technology is headed, you may have to start looking outside of Google for the next year or two. If Oakley and Recon Instruments are already developing cool heads-up display products with a point, it’s probably a safe bet to look to companies like Bolle, Smith Optics, Nike, Rudy Project, Garmin, Polar and Specialized to follow suit. Basically any company that makes pro-quality athletic eyewear, GPS devices, heart rate monitors and head protection will find a reason to get into this tech. They will be the first to put these types of products on the shelves and see commercial success.

The second wave will come from startups and communications/data companies that plug into government and service industries, especially those that rely heavily on CRM technologies. The big question mark will be whether tech companies like Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, LG and even the Nokias of the world will get into the wearable computer game as well. If they do, assuming they care to invest in what is currently at best a niche product category, what will be Google’s answer to their slick design, smooth interfaces, purpose, image, utility, device functionality overlap and cross-compatibility? It’s a real question.

Google may be one of the players in this emerging market, but it certainly won’t be the leader if it doesn’t quickly start focusing on a) creating interfaces for specific verticals to create clear value props, scale and renewable revenues and b) developing designs that don’t look like something out of a K-mart version of a Star Trek prop that only a middle-aged tech geek would be caught wearing in public.

There is a market development model for this type of tech that, while complex, isn’t rocket science to figure out and put into play, but… well… right now, let’s just say that Google doesn’t really seem to be moving in that direction. It’s a shame too, because with the right team leading the charge, Google really could do something amazing with this. It’s kind of sad that it might all slip away for no other reason than a lack of direction, or an absence of product marketing leadership, or both.

*          *          *

Olivier Blanchard is the author of Social Media R.O.I.: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization. (You can sample a free chapter at smroi.net.) If English isn’t your first language, #smROI is also available in Spanish, Japanese, German, Korean and Italian now, with more international editions on the way.

CEO-Read  –  Amazon.com  –  www.smroi.net  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Que

A previous career – circa 1993.

From Wikipedia:

Memorial Day is a United States Federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who perished while in military service to their country. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action.

For me at least, Memorial Day is about much more than just cookouts: Without the courage of young American men who came to Europe to fight the Nazis, I would have been born in a German-speaking France. Or perhaps not at all.

Though I was born in 1971, I grew up in the shadow of WWII: My grandfather was a Cavalry Officer in both WWI and WWII. A hefty chunk of my family on my Mother’s side was killed by the Nazis. I grew up in France, surrounded by memorials, military cemeteries and the pockmarked landscapes of Normandie, Ypres and the Ardennes. Think old bunkers, craters and fields of white crosses like the photo below. My mother, who was 11 when Allied troops finally landed and remembers the war all too well, still – to this day – keeps an emergency supply of sugar and butter… just in case the Germans decide to give it another go, I suppose.

My grandfather's medals WWI

I grew up with the paratroopers’ prayer framed over my bed, and the annual ritual of having my father let me hold my grandfather’s medals (above). I grew up with countless stories of sacrifice and courage and bravery, and about a year ago, I discovered a stack of perfectly preserved family letters from 1917 and 1918 that gave me even more insight into what it was like to live in the midst of a world war, from both the side of the soldier and the side of the family who waited for him. I understand both the pride that comes from your family having a military tradition and the scars that such a tradition can leave behind. There are no heroes without sacrifice and no sacrifice without pain, and more often than not, the balance between those two things is just not that simple to manage.

If I grew up with a profound love for all things American, it must have begun with this: long ago, decades before I was born, thousands of American soldiers crossed the Atlantic to come save us. Between 1917 and 1918, and again in 1944, they came, and thousands died in our fields and on our beaches. Their graves are still there. I used to go visit them when I was little. Fields of white gravestones. It’s no accident that I ended up moving to the US. The seeds of that move were planted decades before I was born. How could I not want to live in a country of heroes? How could I not raise my children here?

What does this have to do with brand management, marketing or social business? Not one thing… but it’s Memorial Day and I never let it go by without thinking about the daily sacrifices made by men and women in uniform. To those who can’t be with their loved ones today, and to the families of the fallen, I say thank you.

And Thank You to all who serve and have served in the United States Armed Forces – not just on this day, but every day.

Je me souviens.

Cheers,

Olivier

*          *          *

Olivier Blanchard is the author of Social Media R.O.I.: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization. (You can sample a free chapter at smroi.net.) If English isn’t your first language, #smROI is also available in Spanish, Japanese, German, Korean and Italian now, with more international editions on the way.

CEO-Read  –  Amazon.com  –  www.smroi.net  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Que

74438_462318798529_7531723_n

Why I stopped blogging:

My last post here is dated February 25th. I wish I could say that was the last time I was genuinely interested enough to write and share something pertinent with you guys about brand management or marketing strategy or social business, but that isn’t true. If you scroll back through my posts for 2013 and the second half of 2012, you will probably notice that I was already kind of losing interest in blogging for the sake of blogging. Truth is, sometimes, even someone as outspoken as me just doesn’t have anything really all that pertinent to write about on a blog like this one, and though the discipline to carry on writing “content” day after day anyway is admirable in many ways, I found the exercise pretty much mired in futility.

A friend of mine in the industry told me about a year ago that I needed to publish something on this blog at least 3-5 times per week. He was pretty adamant about it, and I suppose he should know. He has 10x the readership and the twitter followers. He has published 10x more books than I have (I only have the one), he gets paid a shit-ton more than I do to spend half as much time on stage. He’s big time. Career-wise, he is in every way my better. I should listen to him. The thing is, I don’t think that post quantity or post frequency or even an editorial calendar’s consistency really matters. Traffic to this blog remains strong even if I don’t post a single thing for months. I have so many posts here that I could probably never publish anything again and my traffic would stay consistent for the next 3+ years. More importantly, I don’t really care about pulling traffic to my blog anymore. I used to. For ego, mostly. A 12,000 visitor day was like Christmas morning to me once. I felt important and validated. I look back on that now and ask myself what the fuck I was thinking.

Oh yeah… that’s another thing. I probably shouldn’t curse here. This is a business blog. Well, so much for that rule too. I live in the real world, and in that world, people say fuck. In fact, they get pretty creative about it. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but at least it’s honest, and there’s a lot to be said for people who aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

I have always prided myself on publishing quality content. As much as I hate the term “content,” I will use it here to describe what you are reading right now, if only to make a point: I stopped doing that months ago. I did. I was just going through the motions. Writing a blog post just because I am supposed to fill space robs a blog like this one of its value. Even though I never intended to shift from publishing quality blog posts to publishing “content,” it’s where I was headed. I woke up one morning and sat at my desk and realized that I was turning into just another social media asshole who publishes shit just to have something to publish. Just to get traffic to a stupid website. Just to see his name mentioned a couple hundred times in a Twitter stream and feel important and validated. That’s not who I want to be and it sure as shit isn’t why I got into blogging. I didn’t like where things were going, and since I didn’t know what else to do, I backed off and worked on other things.

Why some of my “peers” might want to back off for a few months as well:

Top 10 Ways to Create Successful Content

Why Net Promoter Score Is The New ROI

5 Strategies to Better Engage With A social Media Audience

8 Ways Klout Is Revolutionizing Business

11 Reasons Why Google Glass is the Most Important Technology in Human History

Stop. Just stop. Shut the fuck up. Really.

You want to feel important, go do something important, something that actually matters:

Help a company solve a real problem. (Selling them a product doesn’t exactly qualify.)

Help curb domestic violence in your state by even 1/10 of a percent.

Help create a digital bipartisan policy innovation exchange. (Holy shit! Using social media to depolarize discussions about real issues and even crowdsource real solutions to real problems? Shut. Up!)

Develop social business systems and protocols aimed at boosting customer retention (loyalty is a process, not just a marketing buzzword).

Do something. But for fuck’s sake, stop filling empty space with “content.”  It’s gotten so bad, even I was getting sucked into it just to keep up with this shit:

The CMO is dead. 

Digital is Dead. 

Marketing is Dead.

Advertising is Dead.

Print is Dead.

Stop. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re all just writing the same shit over and over again, and most of it is utter nonsense. There’s no value to it. Most of it isn’t even accurate, let alone helpful to anyone. Hell, it isn’t even entertaining. If any of you wrote even one of those blog posts as an email and sent it to your boss, you would probably be fired shortly thereafter for being an incompetent dumbass. So what makes a digital editor or a social media “expert” think it belongs on a blog (or worse, on major pubs’ blogs like Forbes.com or HBR.com or Money.com)?

Please, if you’re that kind of blogger/writer, back away from your computer and give some thought to what you’re about to write. Better yet, go find something relevant to write about. You’re making my brain hurt with this shit. Why are you even here? What are you doing? What value are you bringing to your industry? Stop. Go for a walk or a run or whatever, and think about what you should really be doing instead of throwing your very own personal turds at the same giant pile of turds everyone is already busy throwing their turds at. It’s big enough as it is. It’ll do just fine without your latest “contribution.”

An apology:

Even if my blog posts aren’t quite as awful as some, truth is that it’s been a while since I have contributed anything particularly intelligent or new or even special to our overall conversation. I woke up one morning and I realized I was just creating content, and it really turned me off from the whole thing. That break I just suggested, I took one. I’m not sure I’m really back yet, but I’m back today anyway, and I suppose that’s a start.

I don’t think I need to apologize for my physical absence since my last post on February 25. That was actually a good thing. What I do need to apologize for though, is my substantive absence since whenever the hell it was that I started posting “content” on this blog just to keep the wheels spinning. I let you guys down and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that to happen. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I got sidetracked. Burnout maybe? Caught in the momentum of a flawed trajectory… Maybe it was a bunch of little things. I’ll give it some thought and let you know if I ever figure it out.

What comes next for this blog:

Moving forward, The BrandBuilder Blog will have no set editorial calendar. Maybe I publish something every day for a week, and maybe I don’t publish anything at all for a month. It will all depend on whether I have something relevant to share or even the time to share it. If I have nothing intelligent or pertinent to say, I won’t waste your time pretending that I do. Believe it or not, I don’t have awesome advice to give every damn day of the week. Most days, I’m just like everyone else: busy, confused, and filled with far more questions than answers. I don’t need to pretend that I am an expert or a guru… and though I hope to become an expert at something someday, I sure as shit don’t ever want to be a guru. Robes aren’t a good look for me.

So anyway, stay tuned. I’ll be back with more. Thanks for your patience.

*          *          *

If you haven’t yet, pick up a copy of Social Media R.O.I.: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization. The book is 300 pages of facts and proven best practices to help you build, manage and properly measure your social media efforts against business objectives. (You can go to smroi.net and sample a free chapter.)

If English isn’t your first language, you can smROI is also available in Spanish, Japanese, German, Korean and Italian now, with more international editions on the way.

CEO-Read  –  Amazon.com  –  www.smroi.net  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Que

6e89ca3b2680041b003c8d519bde5f65

My post today is over on the Tickr blog and quickly explains how fashion labels are using social media to earn attention, create relevance and drive sales. Or you can just look at the above infographic sans-commentary, but you’ll certainly be missing out.

Bonus: the piece briefly mentions the Democratic Republic of Catistan, but you’ll never know why unless you go read it.

*          *          *

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Social Media R.O.I.: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization. The book is 300 pages of facts and proven best practices that cover many of the points I will be talking about in Austin. (Don’t take my word for it though: go to smroi.net to sample a free chapter first, just to make sure it’s worth the money.)

And if English isn’t your first language, you can even get it in Spanish, Japanese, German, Korean and Italian now, with more international editions on the way.

CEO-Read  –  Amazon.com  –  www.smroi.net  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Que

I probably won’t be able to stay for the rest of SxSW, but if you plan on getting to Austin early, I’ll be there on March 7th to speak at the Social Business Summit (#SBS2013) being put on by Dachis Group and Oracle. For more info, click here.

Some of the speakers announced already:

Doug Ulman - President and Chief Executive Officer of LIVESTRONG Foundation. Oversees the strategic vision and direction of the company.  Doug has earned a reputation as the “Most Savvy Health Care Leader in Social Media” for his innovative use of social media to create awareness and knowledge about cancer. His online community includes a Twitter following of more than one million.

Tony Hsieh – CEO of Zappos. Author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller,Delivering Happiness.  Tony has helped Zappos grow from almost no sales to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually, while simultaneously making Fortune Magazine’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list.

Marisa Thalberg – Vice President of Corporate Digital Marketing Worldwide for The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. Charged with supporting the development of world-class digital and social marketing across the company’s collection of over 25 prestige beauty brands.  Her efforts have helped propel the company to be ranked as having the highest “Digital IQ” of any global beauty company.

John Hagel – Deloitte. Nearly 30 years’ experience as a management consultant, author, speaker and entrepreneur. He has helped companies around the world improve their performance by crafting creative business strategies that more effectively harness new generations of information technology and shape broader markets and industries.

Erika Jolly Brookes – Vice President of Product Strategy for Oracle. Works on the Oracle Cloud-Social business to help guide product strategy and development.

Michael Brito – Senior Vice President of Social Business Planning for Edelman Digital. Provides strategic counsel, guidance, and best practices to several of Edelman’s top global tech accounts and is responsible for helping transform their organizations to be more open, collaborative and socially proficient.

Jeff Dachis – Founder and CEO of Dachis Group. Helped establish the digital services industry more than a decade ago when he co-founded Razorfish, Inc. out of a one-bedroom New York City apartment.  Now as CEO of Dachis Group, the world’s leading social software and solutions firm.

Brian Solis – Principal at Altimeter Group. Globally recognized thought leader and published author in new media. His book, The End Of Business As Usual, looks at the changing consumer landscape, it’s impact on business and what companies can do to adapt and lead.

Dion Hinchcliffe – Chief Strategy Officer at Dachis Group. Business strategist, enterprise architect, author, analyst, and blogger. He currently works with the leadership teams of Fortune 500 and Global 2000 firms to devise strategies to help them adapt their organizations to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Peter Kim – Chief Solutions Architect at Dachis Group. Responsible for the definition, development, and delivery of data-driven social marketing solutions for the company’s current and future clients.  Peter is also the co-author of the popular management book Social Business by Design.

… and me.

pres

 

So if you can, come say hello. :)

Between now and then, you might also want to check out the contest that Tickr (client) is running. The quick version: You sign up, Tickr hooks you up with a Command Center account, and you submit a small case study or summary of how you used their monitoring tool. You can make it as simple or as intricate as you want, but originality and creativity will probably be the biggest factors in determining who wins. Find out more here.

*          *          *

If you can’t make it but wish you could, pick up your copy of Social Media R.O.I.: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization. The book is 300 pages of facts and proven best practices that cover many of the points I will be talking about in Austin. (Don’t take my word for it though: go to smroi.net to sample a free chapter first, just to make sure it’s worth the money.)

And if English isn’t your first language, you can even get it in Spanish, Japanese, German, Korean and Italian now, with more international editions on the way.

CEO-Read  –  Amazon.com  –  www.smroi.net  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Que

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 50,847 other followers