Effective governance unleashes the creative potential of Web 2.0 in the business


IT Business Edge has just published an interview with me on IT governance for Web 2.0 technologies, a topic I’m spending considerable time on in my consulting work with major organizations. The complete article, Set Policies to Unleash Creativity with Web 2.0 Tools, is available on their website, and the interview is reproduced below.

Hall: Just to make sure we’re on the same page, how do you define Web 2.0 technologies?

Dawson: Basically, they’re technologies that use mass participation to create value for the business. They can be wikis, blogs, social networking, social bookmarking, mashups and other tools, but [the term] also involves the underlying architecture behind those tools.

Hall: So what would IT governance for those tools look like?

Dawson: I look at governance in a broader context as having a full understanding of potential risks, potential benefits and having set-off structured policies and procedures where any risks are minimized and benefits are maximized, with a high degree of transparency and accountability for executives and other people in the organization.

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Keynote speech in India: The Future of Global Financial Services


It has been several years now since I have been to India, where I last ran some executive workshops on high-value relationships for some of India’s largest companies. I will be back in Mumbai next week to deliver the keynote address on The Future of Global Financial Services at the Vision 2020 Financial Services conference, run by Wipro and NDTV Profit, the Indian business news channel. The speaker line-up includes the top executives of many of India’s major banks. I am the only international speaker.


The event is highly focused on the future, creating a vision of what the financial services sector will look like in 2020, and in particular the relationship between banks and their customers in a world transformed by economic growth, social change, and technology.

The overview of my keynote on the future of global financial services is:

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Now a major trend: Information visualization for everyone


New York Times has a nice article on the collaborative information visualization tool Many Eyes. I wrote about Many Eyes in a post titled the magic of data visualization for everyone when the site was originally launched in January 2007. My post began:

Every day I am amazed afresh by the transformative power of the Web. Today I have discovered Many Eyes, a site hosted by IBM’s AlphaWorks. It combines open participation with a wonderful set of visualization tools. As such anyone can upload data sets, and then create sophisticated visual representations of those data sets, including scatterplots, tree maps, histograms, bubble diagrams, network maps and far more. Anyone can then either reuse the data sets, create new visualizations, add comments, or blog about the visualizations.

The basic functionality of the site hasn’t changed much since the launch, though it’s great to see not only that it’s being used extensively, but also getting significant attention and being used in new and unexpected ways.


Want to make sense of the latest political speech? Use the Wordle visualization tool on Many Eyes to pull out the themes, as in the representation above of Sarah Palin’s self-introduction as McCain’s running mate.

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Media is becoming everything


Photon Group, in their annual results presentation today (Revenue up 94% to A$376m, Net Profit up 33% to A$21.7m – go to ASX to download FY2008 Annual Results) used three quotes to support their “media neutral, consumer driven “ strategy:

“The current agency model, producing marketing programs built around 30 second television ads, is no longer relevant for today’s business environment”

Tony Palmer, Chief Marketing Officer for Kimberly Clark

“Today almost every business and social activity is a form of media. An increasing proportion of our social interactions happen across media channels”

Ross Dawson, Chairman of Future Exploration Network

“We will spend our marketing funds where the consumer will be and that is changing rapidly”

Craig Herbison, General Manager, Brand and Communication for Vodafone Australia

The quote from me is taken from the introduction to our Future of Media Report 2008, which has been getting a fantastic amount of attention globally since its launch in July.

I have spoken and written before about how media is beginning to encompass almost everything in the economy (for example in my speech on Enterprise 2.0 at KMWorld in Silicon Valley last year). I think it’s worth reviewing the first paragraph of the Future of Media Report 2008 below. I believe this view is central to how media, business, and society will unfold over coming years.

We are entering the media economy. The traditional boundaries of the media and entertainment industry have become meaningless. Today almost every business and social activity is a form of media. An increasing proportion of our social interactions happen across media channels. Every organization is now a media entity, engaged in creating and disseminating messages among its staff, customers, and partners to achieve business objectives. As the physical economy becomes marginalized and economic value becomes centered on the virtual, media encompasses almost everything.

Renai LeMay’s ZDNet blog increasing coverage of Australian start-ups


The flourishing Australian start-up scene is about to get yet more coverage. Renai LeMay, having returned to CNET (now CBS Interactive) as News Editor from a stint at the Australian Financial Review, has set up Bootstrappr, a blog covering Australian start-ups.

Below I have put his guide to getting coverage on his blog – an extremely rare instance where I respond to a request for coverage, since it’s in a good cause 🙂

So far excellent coverage of the Australian start-up scene has been provided by Vishal Sharma’s startup blog. I was one of the judges on his Startups Carnival earlier this year. Vishal has also just announced he is considering writing a book on Australian start-ups, which I think is an excellent idea.

Of course I also compile the annual Top 100 Australian Web 2.0 Applications list, which appeared in BRW this year, and which won’t appear again until around May.

Just the last 3-6 months have seen a real shift in technology entrepreneurship in Australia – there is far more activity and a higher level of sophistication. It’s great to see.

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Seven Driving Forces Shaping Media


I earlier posted the Seven Driving Forces Shaping Media framework below, which was one of the frameworks included in our Future of Media Report 2008. However the framework is designed to cover an A3 sheet, so while it looks great in the printed copy of the report it can be hard to read on a screen. In addition many people don’t click through to pdfs. So I’ve posted this content in a blog-friendly and more readable format below.

Seven Driving Forces Shaping Media (pdf 700KB):


Since the event I’ve heard that the seven driving forces have been used in a range of presentations inside organizations and at conferences, and also in some executive strategy sessions. Before I created the visual summary of the trends I’d used them in a variety of client offsites and found they were useful in framing strategic thinking, all of which suggests it’s worth providing these again in a more accessible format.

If you like this framework, also see our Future of the Media Lifecyle Framework and Future of Media: Strategy Tools framework.


1. Increasing Media Consumption


Humans are intrinsically media animals. As we get greater access to media and content, we are discovering that our appetite for information and entertainment is virtually insatiable. It is commonplace for people of all ages to consume multiple media at the same time, with television, internet, newspaper, messaging, and other media frequently overlapping.


Average total media consumption will exceed waking hours. Most media will be consumed with partial attention. Advertising impact will decrease.

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How smaller countries and regions can develop their film and screen industries – 5 key issues


One of the issues that I am increasingly shifting my attention to is how smaller developed economies compete in an intensely connected global economy. For example, in different sectors Ireland, Finland, Israel, and Singapore have had significant success in shifting their economic structure. While the large economies of US, Japan, and Western Europe as well as the emerging BRIC giants face their own issues, there are a particular set of challenges for smaller countries or regions. In addition to the general drivers of economic success in a hyper-connected world, there are a range of specific issues within industries, particularly in the media and technology sectors.

The Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development in the Australian state of Victoria recently commissioned an independent review of the screen industry in the state, which goes through to a proposed vision for the future of the industry in the state. Beyond this specific initiatives will be established. The review was performed by consulting firm Nous Group, and I was an ‘Expert Advisor’ on the review. The Screen Industy value chain (as below) on page 14 of the report was developed based on some of my thinking, including my Future of Media Strategic Framework.


The Victorian Screen Industry Review can be downloaded, and makes for some very interesting reading.

Below is a summary of the key trends identified in the report across sectors, followed by five key issues raised by the report.

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ABC Interview: Google as an advertising aggregator


I have said for many years that the best way to understand Google is as an advertising aggregator (I would argue that even with its diversification over the last few years). Building on its successful search engine, it has sold ads that are served both on its search results, and also on a broad array of non-Google sites, initially through its AdSense program. It has for some years also sold advertising for delivery on radio, television, and newspapers. This was described in our Future of Media Strategic Framework which appeared in the Future of Media Report 2006.

Back in March I was interviewed by the ABC’s Media Report program about Google and Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo! at the time. While some of the interview topics are a bit dated now, much of it is still relevant, including my description of Google’s role in the media landscape. I’ll expand on this in another post soon.

You can read the transcript on the ABC site and below (note that there are some errors in the transcript).

Antony Funnell: Now let’s stay with search engines for a little bit longer, and look at the business manoeuvrings of some of the big players. Google last week announced it’s beefing up its presence in Australia with a new headquarters, and it’s seeking to grow in a whole range of areas. It’s also announced that it’s successfully acquired internet advertising firm DoubleClick.

Meanwhile, in another online universe, Microsoft appears to be still actively stalking the second-tier search engine company Yahoo. What’s it all about? Well let’s ask Ross Dawson. Ross is a communication strategy consultant and chairman of the Future Exploration Network.

Ross Dawson: It’s important to understand that Google is not just a search engine, and that it is in fact, more than anything else, an aggregator of advertising. What it does is it goes to advertisers and says, ‘We can present information about you, not just on our own search engine, but also on many, many other websites’.

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Media Trends + Strategy: The State of Play


Media Trends+Strategy magazine (click on the link to access the magazine in interactive format) includes a piece titled Media: The State of Play – Expert Analysis which features edited interviews with a variety of participants in the media space, including John Sintras, CEO of Starcom, Belinda Rowe, CEO of ZenithOptimedia, Collin Segelov, Executive Director of the Australian Association of National Advertisers, and myself.

My interview is below. You can also read it and the other interviews by going to the magazine from the link above – my interview is on page 30.

Further context on some of my comments is available from the Seven Driving Forces of Media and Creating the Future of Advertising.

What does the ongoing consolidation In the industry mean for marketers?

The first thing to understand is that the most powerful broad trend in media is fragmentation and while mass media remains, it is becoming a smaller and smaller proportion of the overall media landscape. So within that context, what we see is that there is consolidation within particular segments and in some of the larger players. We have seen more and more cross media ownership as regulation has eased. One of the implications for marketers is that they are increasingly being offered media packages across different segments from the same owner. This is obviously not a new trend, but as we get more and more cross media ownership, more and more marketers are being presented with these offers to access an audience through a multiplicity of different channels. From a marketers or media buyer perspective , these can only be judged on their individual merits. It really needs to be driven by the media buyer as to what is the appropriate set of media channels to reach their audience with the right message, and that may or may not tally with what is being offered by some of the larger media owners.

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Fast growing companies are more likely to use social networking tools


The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research has recently released research on the use of social media by the Inc 500, which are the 500 fastest growing privately owned companies in the US as ranked by Inc. magazine. This is one of the first longitudinal studies, showing changes in adoption of social media tools from one year ago. The topline results are shown below.


The researchers point to the significantly higher usage of social media by these companies compared to the Fortune 500. A few thoughts on this point and the research findings generally:

Fast growth vs large companies. Fast growing companies by necessity are open to new tools and approaches, and tend to have a culture of adoption and innovation, meaning they’re more likely to experiment with social media tools. There are no studies I’m aware of comparing growth rates of companies and their use of social media, and the causality would be very difficult to unpick, but I believe that consistent rapid growth will be hard to achieve without social media tools to facilitate effective collaboration in the organization.

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