Real estate and the power of mashups


You’ve got to love this. For those who doubt the power and value of the internet, have a look at the map below, which shows the density of single women across San Francisco, together with their earnings. For example, in Pacific Heights near Alta Plaza Park, more than a third of the residents are single women, with average incomes of over $80,000. Or if you’re looking for eligible husbands, go to Property Shark where this map was taken from, and click over to find the distribution of single men and their earning capacity across the city. There are any number of other choices available on the web site to gain insights into where you want to live in any city across the US.



The first famous locational mashup was of course Chicago Crime, which in 2005 started using Google Maps to create maps showing where crime was occurring across the city. Not surprisingly, among the first users were those selecting where to live in the city. In our Future of Media Report 2006 we showed that 47% of mashups were based on mapping, indicating the power of location in bringing together disparate data sets. Google Maps unleashed the domain, and now it has spread far beyond. Almost all real estate websites now use mapping mashups – this is something of great value available online that high street real estate agents don’t offer (though they’d better get access to something quick if they want to continue to get people coming in off the street). Zillow has quickly become one of the top property sites by providing estimated valuations, Trulia has some great heat maps of recent property sales activity, RealEstateFu shows trends in Bay Area housing prices over a number of years, and many others explore different facets of how to decide where we want to live.

The characteristics of high-performance personal networks


Research has consistently shown that high-performers – in terms of both career success and contribution to their organizations – have personal networks that are different from others. Observing people’s personal networks is one of the best ways to predict success. Building on ideas and references from an earlier post I made, here are some useful ways to understand high-performance personal networks.


People who are high-performers in their organizations and build successful careers have been shown to have different personal networks to their peers. Their personal networks have the following characteristics:

Diversity. Their networks are highly diverse, across organizations, personal background, gender, hierarchy, area of expertise, and personality.

Awareness. They are aware of who in their organization and beyond has particular talent, experience, and expertise.

Visibility. Their own capabilities and expertise are visible in their organization and beyond. Others are aware of what they can do.

Dynamic. They recognize that their personal networks need to and will change over time, and they make the time to create new relationships rather than simply maintaining their existing pattern of relationships.

Investment. They continually take the time and effort to invest in their networks, both in maintaining existing relationships from their past and immediate work environment, and in building new relationships.


Energy is created in networks by collaborating to achieve worthwhile outcomes. When people interact with an energizer, they feel energized about possibilities and opportunities. When they interact with a de-energizer, they are more likely to feel deflated and unenthusiastic. Energizers are the real leaders in an organization, by creating positive momentum and activity.

There are six key behaviors that create energizing relationships:

Have and communicate a compelling vision. Energizers can effectively communicate that there is something worthwhile that people can achieve together, and that it is achievable.

Seek and acknowledge quality contributions. Energizers don’t think or say that they have the answer – they always actively seek out the best possibly contributions, and acknowledge those contributions to the group’s efforts.

Interact constructively. Energizers focus on issues not personalities, and always look to build positively on people’s contributions.

Make and fulfil commitments. Energizers do what they say. They recognize that if people see that others are doing their part, they will feel compelled to do theirs. However if people see that others are being slack, they will find no energy to do their allocated tasks.

Give genuine attention to people. Energizers pay attention when people are speaking, listen to comprehend, and engage with others. They are interested in people and what makes them tick. They give time to people and their feelings, and do not treat them solely as a means to an end.

Connect others. Energizers are alert to opportunities to introduce other people. More than trying to connect themselves, they see where people should be connected, and they make those valuable connections.

One of the great things about helping people enhance their personal networks is that it benefits both the individual and the organization. I am now consistently seeing leading organizations focus on helping their staff develop their personal networks. One of the best ways to use the characteristics of high-performance networks above is as the basis of a workshop, something which can also be done on a large scale at an offsite meeting. Done well, this builds people’s awareness of their current behaviors, and helps identify specific activities that will enhance their networks within their organization and beyond. Far better is to perform a social network analysis on the organizational group, so people have the data and comparisons to see how their networks are currently structured relative to their peers, and what they can do to enhance their own success.

A significant body of research has been done into energy in networks over the last few years. If you’re interested in delving deeper, the best starting point is What Creates Energy in Organizations, a paper by Rob Cross, Wayne Baker, and Andrew Parker that appeared in MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer 2003.

Insights from network analysis of the Australian media industry landscape


Network analysis provides powerful insights into how social groups, organizations, industries, and economies are structure. More pointedly, it also can help identify the leverage points that will enhance strategic positioning and improve outcomes. Over the last few years of my work in the network space, I have focused primarily on social networks and organizational network analysis, however I have also spent time on applying network analysis to industries, and in particular strategic positioning within industry landscapes.

I first came across Laurie Lock Lee in the mid 1990s when he was working at BHP, and one of the first people worldwide to apply social network analysis to enhancing organizational performance. We’ve shared much thinking over the years, and on occasion worked together. Laurie has fairly recently left his role at CSC, and set up a consultancy, Optimice, together with some talented colleagues. Check out the interesting resources on Optimice’s web. Last year Laurie did the fascinating media industry network analysis that we included in our Future of Media Report 2006. Laurie has followed up on that work by writing a great paper, New Ways to Explore Australian Media Ownership Opportunities and Threats. In it Laurie explores how network analysis can be applied to understanding the media ownership landscape in Australia.

Laurie uses the data on media ownership maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and without any special industry knowledge, begins to pull out some very interesting insights. The first chart below shows the network of media ownership, from which it is clear that there are two quite distinct networks. The central tightly-connected cluster is comprised of a few television stations, related radio stations, and a diverse array of owners. Outside this central group there are a string of highly centralized clusters, such as the Macquarie group on the top left, that are connected by one or two common properties or owners. Two owners – Southern Cross Broadcasting and Tri-com Radio’s stake in Consolidating Broadcasting (WA) are responsible for linking the upper and lower parts of the industry network.


Australian TV and Radio Media Ownership Networks

Source: Laurie Lock Lee, Optimice

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Interview on connecting spaces and our interstitial world


Maria O’Donovan is a very interesting commentator who is currently doing a Masters in ICT and learning at Aarlborg University in Denmark. She recently interviewed me for her Enabling Spaces blog, and has transcribed our wide-ranging conversation. Things that I discuss in the interview include:

• Media as an interstitial phenomenon

• Lead consumers and the diffusion of innovations

• The diversity and passion of online conversations

• The different implications of blogs and social media tools

• The long tail, scale free networks, and how those that have get more

• Success through creating value for the entire community

• Identity and the aggregation of reputation

Dreaming of new business models for content – may the best one win!


Last night I had a fascinating dream. In some off-street parlour people were being offered a fantastic immersive experience. They could step into a world that would be tailored to them in every way, catering to their interests and tastes, creating what for them would be the most entertaining experience imaginable. And it was entirely free! However the producers inserted advertisements into the experience, which you could choose to skip for a payment. What actually happened was that people were so entranced by the experience that they continually skipped the ads, distraught by the idea of being taken away from their entertainment. As such you regularly had people racking up bills of over a million dollars. I, as many others, was sure I had the fortitude and self-discipline to be able to handle the ads and time away from my entertainment, so I could experience this wonderful entertainment for free. Yet I was aware many who thought they could do it ended up paying fortunes to skip the ads. I entered the immersive experience, and found that I could direct my character how I wanted, interacting in an amazing world. I recall thinking that the personalization of the entertainment left something to be desired, and that it needed more development, but it was certainly a fabulous experience. By the time the ads arrived the dream had taken another turn into the fantastic, so I wasn’t able to test my resolve.

When I woke I thought immediately of the extraordinary book Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. In the book, a film titled Infinite Jest is so entrancing that anyone who sees it watches it in continual loop until they die in ecstasy. Some saw off their fingers in order to see it again. It is difficult for content creators today to make content as compelling as Infinite Jest. But perhaps they should be aspiring to do so.

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Web 2.0 in the enterprise is far more than just talk


Two pieces of research just out show that the implementation of Web 2.0 in the enterprise is far more than just heady talk – there is already solid investment, and the intention of doing more with these technologies. In via Read/Write Web, Forrester has released the results of a survey of 119 CIOs on their use of Web 2.0 technologies. The headline results are that CIOs want to deal with the big boys. As IBM, Microsoft, Sun, BEA and their ilk release full suites of Web 2.0 tools, the CIOs are getting comfortable and buying. I wrote earlier in the year about how IBM’s releases of social media for the enterprise was driving acceptance in the corporate world. It seems this is indeed a key driver of uptake.


Source: Forrester

Separately, Nick Carr writes that McKinsey & Co is releasing the results of a similar survey tomorrow, so presumably this is pre-release info. In this case 2,800 exeuctives around the world responded about their current and planned investment in Web 2.0 tools. While the figures are “only” a third or so of companies, this certainly contrasts with the same few examples of Enterprise 2.0 being trotted out time and again at conferences. There are many, many companies implementing these technologies while being very guarded in talking about it externally. While I haven’t seen the full Forrester data, apparently this contrasted with the McKinsey results in showing wikis and RSS as being more popular than social networking and blogs.


While the two surveys are revealing different aspects of the situation, the unescapable conclusion is that there is a lot more happening in this space than is apparent to those reading the press and seeking specific examples. Many large corporates are implementing Web 2.0 tools, and this is a rapidly accelerating trend.

Chapter 6: Implementing key client programs


I recently pointed to the launch of the second edition of Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, including the free download of Chapter 1 of the book. Following on from this, the other free chapter from the book is

Chapter 6 – Enhancing Client Relationship Capabilities: Implementing Key Client Programs.

Over the last decade most major organizations have implemented key client programs or strategic account initiatives in various forms. Technology and institutional financial services organizations got there a little earlier in the piece, while most large professional services firms have developed solid initiatives just in the course of this decade.The fundamental issue is how organizations continually enhance their capabilities at client relationships. Whatever their organizational abilities at client relationships, they must develop these further over time. Increasingly the field of play that distinguishes competitors, particularly in professional services, are the firm-wide capabilities in engaging in collaborative, knowledge-based relationships. In this chapter I look in detail at the five domains that organizations must address to enhance their client relationship capabilities, as illustrated in the diagram below.


However the most vital issues are in the realities of how key client programs are successfully established and implemented. The majority of these initiatives experience limited success. The chapter goes into detail on launching programs, selecting key clients, segmentation, remuneration, developing client strategies, establishing client action plans, and more of the nitty-gritty of making key client programs work. Have a read.

Keynote speech on the future of investment


I’ve just found out that there’s a video stream of a keynote speech I did last year on the future of investment at the Brillient PortfolioConstruction conference. At the time I wrote about one of the key frames I used for the presentation, focusing on population growth and economic growth in the period from 1600 to 2050. We are at a key inflection point in human history, when population growth is slowing after an extraordinary acceleration in the second half of the 20th century. The vital question now is whether economic growth can be maintained as population growth slows.

Another interesting perspective I highlighed in my talk was how recent price stability is an aggregate phenomenon. There is in fact strong deflation in many sectors, such as clothing and durable goods. A massive drive to commoditisation and extreme price pressures in many sectors of the economy is being facilated by global sourcing, automation, and supply chain efficiency. At the same time there is strong inflation in sectors where supply is driven by local labor, or reflects aspirational consumption. Where people are spending discretionary income to improve their quality of life, prices will continue to rise.


Some of the other issues I touch on in the keynote are:

• Drivers of commoditization

• Pervasive connectivity

• Media everywhere

• The modular economy

• The quest to spend

• Greater consumer expectations

• Augmented humanity

I then cover some of the specific implications for portfolio managers. I’ve been interviewed before on the issue of why we will need new investment vehicles as economy activity becomes more modular and shifts away from listed companies. Another significant issue is that as industry boundaries blur, portfolio managers are finding it harder to identify discrete investments that represent industry sectors or underlying trends. Click here to watch the video of the complete keynote.

Business models, scalability, and how advertising value is distributed from the head to the long tail


As now happens frequently, mainstream media has taken a blog discussion, written it up, and sparked off more interesting debate. Media symbiosis continues to develop. A blog post by Jeremy Liew of the VC firm Lightspeed Venture Partners on how to build online media businesses with at least $50 million in revenue triggered an article in the New York Times titled Popularity May Not be Enough. In essence, he says that there isn’t enough money in advertising for more than a handful of content businesses to make good money. Mainstream media can still price their advertising at a reasonable price, but not the emerging players. The piece explores some of the key issues, including other possible business models, with some interesting comments from Tim O’Reilly.

I think part of the point is being missed here. A VC may only be interested in businesses that earn $50 million annually, but other people will be very happy with a healthy personal income to effort ratio. The entire economy is being modularized, and we mustn’t forget that part of the fundamental dynamic at play here is the growth of many smaller businesses to complement the media monoliths. Allen Stern makes essentially the same point.

As such we are beginning to see how the head, the long tail, and what is in between becomes populated by media and content. A couple of years ago I used the following diagram in a keynote I did at a public relations conference. I’d probably create it differently now, but the point remains that there are different segments along the power law curve along which all media and content creators are distributed. Different business models will apply at different points on the curve.


Kyle Reddinger suggests creating “niche monopolies” is the go, which aligns with the “topic specialists” I proposed. Matt Terenzio says that we will move towards “true value” in how advertising dollars are allocated. It’s very hard to think why this won’t be the case in the long term. However Scott Karp seems to believe that value has got misaligned, with Google a possible culprit in driving down advertising revenue. Mathew Ingram thinks a “measure of engagement” will help identify the value of pricing. There is indeed great value in developing the mechanisms that allow us to understand how value is created in online advertising. But in the meantime there will be vagaries in advertising pricing. All the while new business models will emerge along the curve. VCs love “scalable” business models. However there’s no reason why all business models should scale.

Museum 2.0: bringing our heritage to the people


Last year Sebastian Chan, web services manager at the Powerhouse Museum, and I were interviewed together on ABC Radio about social media and its implications.

In the context of our Web 2.0 in Australia event, Sebastian just emailed me about what the Powerhouse Museum has been doing. He says:

Basically our collection database plays on the notion of serendipity and allows users to tag objects to help others find them more easily. Under the hood we also do a lot of search tracking which allows the collection database to make recommendations based on the search choices and search language used by others. For example, a search for ‘cricket’ now recommends other related ‘sport’ searches . . . something that is the result of user interactions with our site, not a centrally stored thesaurus. The new collection search has tripled web traffic to the museum in 10 months and now represents nearly 65% of our monthly site visitation.

We have been getting a *lot* of coverage in the cultural sector both locally and internationally and are being looked to as an example of a new approach to making museum and gallery content discoverable online. A lot of libraries are very interested as well. It continues to be built in house.

The only other museum tagging projects are and that has not gone live with a ‘all of collection’ implementation and the Smithsonian’s photo collection which is in a very early stage. The value of it all, of course, is better public access to collections – using the langauge the general public uses (rather than specialist museum speak) etc.

Very nice stuff. It’s well worth checking out what the Powerhouse is doing here, as well as Sebastian’s blog. It’s important to remember that Web 2.0 isn’t only about start-ups. These technologies also can be valuable tools to help us engage as a community with our cultural heritage.