Watch out! The intimate details of your life will be visible forever more…


I usually am interviewed by the business press, but unusually I have appeared in the pages of the November issue of woman’s magazine Madison, in an article luridly titled: “This woman was sacked for having sex – Is your boss watching you right now?”

They quote me as follows:

Futurist and technology expert Ross Dawson says businesses banning social networking sites are not only stifling goodwill, they’re missing out on potential benefits. “When you are hired, your contacts are a drawcard. Many of our friends are people we meet through work. Some companies, like IBM, are even encouraging staff to get on Facebook to foster those networks.”

However Dawson warns we should be very cautious about what we post. “During the hiring process employers are routinely searching the net for anything you’ve done,” he says. “Personal blogs, what you got up to last night – all this is visible. And that’s where this grey area between personal and professional comes into play again. I don’t think a lot of young people, particulary teenagers who are naturally putting their lives online, would be presenting the best image for, say, an investment bank that wants to hire them in the future.” Many people are also unaware that a quick Google search may turn up something that they posted years before – their attitudes and lifestyle may have changed radically, yet they’ve left behind a permanent and highly accessible record for anyone who cares to see.

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The emergence of the naked start-up – why are entrepreneurs behind corporations in creating the open economy?


When you go to networking events in Silicon Valley and ask people what they’re doing, you’ve got around a 50-50 chance of a “we’re in stealth mode” reply. Lots of nascent start-ups, and all of them afraid that someone will steal their idea and get to market before them. It kind of makes sense, since ideas can be copied in a flash, and whoever gets there first has got a head start, however fleeting.

Turning that thinking on its head is Path 101, which is “live-blogging” the start-up from even before the company was incorporated. Full details of everything the start-up is doing, from its core positioning through to the memos of its Monday strategy meetings (complete with Digg this! buttons), are online. Sometimes what they write about makes obvious sense to post to the world, such as what they want from LinkedIn to be able to build a good complementary product. Other times, they write about details of their strategy and activities that go far beyond what most entrepreneurs would want to discuss.

The thinking behind this approach is that your lead before you are copied by others is evanescent anyway, whereas exposing what you are doing brings attention, useful feedback, relevant connections and more. What is truly differentiated these days is not so much ideas, as the ability to generate ideas. No doubt if someone tried to copy exactly what Path 101 is doing, they’d always be behind the new insights the founders were generating. The other truly differentiated foundation of the economy is relationships, and being open is one of the strongest relationship-generators there is. It builds exposure and trust.

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Sir Martin Sorrell: WPP mimics Google and Microsoft, driving the PR industry


Yesterday I heard Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, speak about the Changing Nature of PR and Communications. I attended as a guest of the organizer Frocomm. Given Sir Martin’s experience and seminal role in the communications industry today, I thought it was well worth going along. His very big-picture thinking was in evidence, alongside manifest ability to change his thinking on issues. What I’ve captured below is a pretty fair reflection of what he said, in his own words. I’ve added some notes and thoughts, as quite a lot of what he covered relates to issues I’ve been thinking about and developing.


The WPP group has 100,000 employees, revenues of US$12 billion with annual growth of 5-6%, and market capitalization of US$17 billion, which places it as the largest communications group, ahead of Omnicom. Australia provides total revenue of US$ 600 million, making it fourth in size of WPP’s country operations, so it is disproportionately important to WPP.

WPP has three major objectives:


Currently 37% of our revenue is in US and 37% in Europe. Our objective is for Asia to grow from 25% to 33% of our revenue. Half the world’s population is in this region, and by 2013 it will be two thirds. China and India will once again account for 40% of global GDP. Goldman Sachs’ original BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) document is seminal and drives our strategy and thinking.

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The State of the Nation in Australian emerging technology


Chris Saad, the hyper-energetic co-founder of Particls, Engagd, APML, Media 2.0 Workgroup and probably many other interesting initiatives I haven’t had the time to hear about yet, has added to his plate editing Blognation Australia. Blognation is a very interesting set of blogs covering technology developments in 13 countries, which can be used to provide country-specific or an aggregated global view into what’s happening in technology.

To launch Blognation Australia Chris has written a State of the Nation: Australia post, which provides a fantastic overview of the state of emerging technologies in Australia, covering People, Companies, Capital, Politics, and Leadership/ Community. The intention of the blog is cover Australian start-ups with a global perspective.

It’s well worth reading the full post, however here are a couple of extracts:

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Official: Give staff Facebook ‘or risk losing them’


The other day I wrote a post titled Implementing Web 2.0 is critical for attracting talent.

I just saw this newspaper article titled: Give staff Facebook ‘or risk losing them’

CONSTRUCTION giant John Holland says allowing employees to access social networking site Facebook can play a role in attracting and keeping young workers.

The building company has been hit hard by the current skills shortage, with group managing director David Stewart highlighting engineering as a profession experiencing an “extreme” shortage.

…and goes on to describe why John Holland decided banning Facebook was dumb.

Thanks for the pointer from James Dellow. Yes, you’re right James, I love it!

Delivering Tomorrow’s Newspaper: The view from 2020


This is something you just have to see. Richard Watson of Future Exploration Network has created a fabulous article on the future of newspapers titled Delivering Tomorrow’s Newspaper, written from the perspective of 2020.

The article, dated October 18, 2020, appears in Changing Times, an “Initiative of the Indo-China European Union”, in its “Marginally Leftist version”. Click on the image below for the complete article (1MB pdf).


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This is just the beginning of social networking for professionals


The current issue of BOSS magazine has an article titled “MyWorkSpace” (unfortunately not available online), with an intro: “They’re the new places to see and be seen, and the hottest social networking sites are also places to forge business”.

It quotes me as follows:

Ross Dawson, chairman of the research group Future Exploration Network, says social networks are becoming an important vehicle for engaging with employees and customers. “If appropriately harnessed and designed, they can be extraordinarily valuable tools, both within organisations and for engagement externally,” he says. “Facebook has become as much a professional networking tool as it has a personal networking tool.”

Reuters, for example, has released its own social networking platform for financial professionals, while software companies such as IBM and BEA have developed their own social media software so that these same tools can be used internally by enterprises.

“We’ve reach the point where professionals will find it harder if they are not on these networks,” Dawson says. “These are where people are spending time, and it is an easy place to reach out and build relationships. If we think five to 10 years fowrard we can’t say what it is going to be like, but we do know that social networking tools will be central to our professional lives.”

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Microsoft teams up to improve its Enterprise 2.0 offering


Microsoft has just announced at the Web 2.0 Summit that it is partnering with Atlassian on its enterprise wiki product Confluence and Newsgator on its newly released Newsgator Social sites, which is “a collection of site templates, profiles, Web parts and middleware”. Both products will be integrated into Sharepoint.

This is a very interesting announcement on a number of fronts. It shows that Microsoft recognizes that its Enterprise 2.0 offering (what Microsoft calls “social computing”) needs bolstering. Sharepoint is fundamentally a collaboration and document management system, and in fact provides both the underlying capabilities and many of the functionalities required in applying Web 2.0 approaches inside the enterprise. However these are not always easy to set up and use, which is a requisite of Web 2.0 technologies. For example, since Sharepoint is among other things a richly-featured document management system, wiki-style functionality is a core part of the offering. However it is not an out-of-the-box capability, meaning administrators usually need to configure the setup, at least in the first case. RSS, another staple of Enterprise 2.0, can be enabled in any Sharepoint document. However again this is not an intuitive end-user function.

In this case, Microsoft is choosing to partner with leading companies in the space. Atlassian was featured as one of our five showcased companies at our Web 2.0 in Australia event, and ranked second on my list of top 60 Web 2.0 Apps in Australia earlier this year. Atlassian is the leader in enterprise wikis, saying 4,000 organizations globally using their wiki product. Its ease of use is one of the major advantages over the current Sharepoint wiki offering.

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Professional services are the future of the economy


When I was in Singapore recently to deliver a keynote for a client, I was interviewed by Radio Singapore International.

Click here for the transcript and podcast of the interview on the Radio Singapore website – the complete interview is also below.

While it was a brief interview focused on professional services, a few themes emerged. One is that the economy is shifting to be predominantly based on professional services. Products and technology-based services are increasingly commoditized, however specialist expertise is becoming more valuable. If a professional has truly world class expertise, it doesn’t matter where he or she is located. However collaboration – or what I term knowledge-based relationships – is what makes that professional expertise valuable.

In short, the future of the global economy will increasingly be focused on professional services, not in the narrow sense of law, accounting, consulting and so on, but in the broader sense of deep specialist expertise applied to create value. The art and science of managing professional services firms and economies is a critical domain.

Here is the interview transcript:

Join me, Melanie Yip in Business Ideas this week as I speak with Ross Dawson, CEO of international consulting firm Advanced Human Technologies to find out.

RD: Traditionally, professional services have been what we think of as professions – law, accounting, consulting and so on. Yet, more and more professional services are becoming a larger part of the economy. Today, 82% of the US economy is professional services. It is also a wide variety of other services. But what professional services are about nowadays is the application of specialist knowledge. As the economy advances, and more information is available, a professional is one who has deep specialist knowledge. And it helps their clients as a result of that.

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Implementing Web 2.0 is critical for attracting talent to legal and professional firms


A recent article in Lawyers Weekly magazine titled Firms warned to embrace Web 2.0 opens as follows:

AUSTRALIAN LAW firms risk losing clients as well as talent if they don’t make use of Web 2.0 technologies, an expert warns.

Ross Dawson, chairman of Future Exploration Network, said that Australian firms are lagging far behind their US and UK counterparts, which are leading the way when it comes to adopting new web technologies.

“If you look at the corporate sector globally, the industry that has been one of the first to take up blogs has been the legal industry, primarily in the US and UK. So you’ve had a proliferation of blogs that are both external in terms of providing clients with information and internal ones used for a wide variety of means including project management, knowledge management, and effective internal communication,” Dawson said.

“One of the fundamental issues is that organisations in Australia tend to be conservative. And while it’s arguable the legal industry is also quite conservative in other countries, that can certainly be said about the Australian legal industry.”

Dawson, who specialises in assisting major global organisations to develop future strategies and innovation capabilities, said technologies such as blogs, wikis, social networks, RSS feeds and social bookmarking are of most direct relevance to information- and knowledge-centric organisations such as law firms.

“Ultimately [if you don’t embrace these technologies] you’ll lose to competitors in terms of their use of these tools and their ability to bring people together and collaborate. There is now a whole suite of technologies and tools and approaches for this purpose and if organisations don’t take that up they are not as competitive or effective as others.

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