The next big market after ringtones: Download a new car engine sound


The inimitable Richard Watson has come up with what just might be a big (and unanticipated) market: car engine sound downloads.

Richard’s fantastic bulletins are now openly available after long being a subscription-only service, used by many of the leading creative agencies around the world. To read the latest issue, go to and click on the Orange “Current Issue” button at the top left to read the latest bulletin.

What just caught my attention was his article ‘Why we don’t want a quiet drive’ in the Automotive and Transport section, reproduced below.

Certainly electric car engineers have long been aware that cars being too quiet is a significant safety issue. And yes, absolutely, car sounds are personal statements. The sound of a Alfa Sprint (which I greatly enjoyed driving when I owned one) or a Bugatti motorcycle, for example, are unmistakeable.

When you start to need to make a car noisier than it is mechanically, the range of driving sounds will become infinite. You will be able to choose from the sound of any vintage car you wish, or use an entirely new sound, including those of various types of UFOs, choo-choo trains, or chanting monks.

Of course this market is a little way from taking off big time. And it’s possible that there will be regulation on what are acceptable car sounds. However in that case there should also be regulation on acceptable mobile phone ringtones, something almost everyone would agree on :-).

Why we don’t want a quiet drive

For anyone who was looking forward to the pleasant, gentle hum of electric/hybrid cars in place of the throaty roar of internal combustion engines, here is some bad news. The future is something called “synthesised engine noises”. Believe it or not, people want cars to sound like cars and – worse still – quiet cars have been found to be unsafe. Nobody hears them coming.

Read more

The Future of Sales is Social (the rise of social CRM)


Last week I did the keynote presentation in a webinar run by ITNews and Oracle on How to spark sales using social media apps.

My presentation was titled The Future of Sales is Social. The slides are below, and you can listen to the on demand webinar here (registration required).

Taken in the context of many people being unsure about the value of social media for business, it is worth looking at the many ways that social media are directly applicable to the B2B sales process. Just some of those are in this slide from my presentation.


I absolutely believe that the future of sales is social, and that social media in their various forms will quickly become central to the way salespeople and sales teams work.

Given my background in high-value client relationships as well as social media I expect to be spending a lot of time over the next while exploring precisely how sales teams can best use social media in successfully engaging with their clients and prospects. I’ll keep you posted.

ABC TV interview: The future of direct selling


In March I gave the opening keynote at the Direct Selling Association’s conference, talking about the breadth of opportunities in the economy and the role online social networks and communication might play in the future of the industry. From what I learned by preparing for and giving the keynote, I wrote a brief piece Six Key Insights into the future of the Direct Selling Industry.

Last week ABC TV did a short segment looking at the success of the direct selling industry during the downturn, and where it is likely to go from here, shown below. An excerpt from an interview with me was included in the program. During the interview I discussed the perception challenges of the industry, the role of generational change, and the use of social technologies in direct selling.

While it wasn’t included in the final TV segment, in the interview I discussed the emergence of ‘social commerce’ as the likely center of much economic activity, and the potential for elements of the direct selling industry as we know it to morph into creating real in that space. The opportunity is there, however we have yet to see whether the industry will take it.

Mark Pesce will keynote on Using the Network for Business Success


Among our awesome cast of speakers at SME Technology Summit, our opening keynote speakers Mark Pesce and Tim Pethick are two of the those whose insights I most look forward to hearing. Both have fantastic experience and insights into where technology is today and where it’s going.

Mark’s topic is below. Be sure to get along to see it!

Using the Network for Business Success

The past five years have seen an explosion in the ways we can connect with one another. Just five years ago email was a bit risqué – now people use Facebook and Twitter and Google Wave and don’t even give it a second thought. All of this ‘hyperconnectivity’ means we can be reached anywhere, everywhere, all the time. This has enormous implications for SMEs. More than just supercharging your rolodex, these network connections can become the channels to increased sales and productivity.

The network represents a new force, pressing down from the outside, as your hyperconnected customers (both satisfied and not-so-satisfied) use new channels to spread the word about your products. You need to be there, wherever those conversations are happening, whenever they happen. You really do need to have eyes and ears everywhere across the net. How can a small business afford to do this? New tools make it easier, but to make best use of these tools, you have to empower your employees to use them. Social media in the office is powerful – and a little bit dangerous. But with some simple ground rules, it can change your business.

Keynote: Network to win! ..for global professional services network Kreston


On Tuesday I gave the opening keynote at the 38th annual global conference of international accounting network Kreston International.

Kreston are a very interesting organization. With revenues across the network of over $2 billion, they are the 13th largest accounting network in the world. The day of the conference they made the final step in becoming a network according to the IFAC (International Federation of Accountants) definition of a network. One of the critical issues in determining whether a group of firms is deemed a network is whether they have common quality controls. The appointment of a Global Quality and Professional Standards Director is a key step Kreston has taken.

I have long been fascinated by professional services networks. I wrote about them in my first book Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, and in detail in Chapter 9 of Living Networks.

I am actively continuing to explore the nature of networks in professional services. How well they network very simply determines their success.

As such I was delighted to be invited to do the opening keynote on the conference’s theme of Network to Win. It took the format of a participatory workshop run over two 45 minute sessions, getting the attendees to reflect on and discuss how they can best enhance the cross-firm networks that drive results.

Below are my slides for my presentation, provided primarily for event attendees. Note that they are intended to accompany my speech, not to be meaningful in themselves.

Six ways technology is transforming small business


This article was written to frame The Insight Exchange’s SME Technology Summit in Sydney on December 1 – while many of the references are to Australia the issues apply globally.

Small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) are taking a larger share of the business pie, and increasingly driving economic growth. This is one of the most important trends in business today, and one that will shape the next decade of business, work and society.

This powerful trend is driven largely by technology and connectivity, creating a world in which smaller, more nimble, better connected companies can outsmart their monolithic larger brethren, competing globally and tapping opportunities as they arise.

At the same time, using technology well in business is proving to be one of the most prominent drivers of success. Almost every aspect of business is becoming driven by technology. This is obviously the case with services businesses ranging from graphic design to even house moving. However this is relevant to every kind of organisation.

Gardening and worm farm retailers Wiggly Wigglers in UK, Caminito Argentinean Restaurant in the US, Brasserie Bread in Australia , Martell Home Builders in Canada and many thousands of others around the world are examples of companies selling highly tangible, everyday products that have built outstanding success through the use of online social media.

There are six key ways in which technology is changing the very nature of how smaller companies operate today.

1. Findability

Customers look for and find businesses in very different ways than just a few years ago. Search engines, recommendations from friends on social networks, and online services exchanges are now how most companies are found. Marketing has completely changed.

Read more

Sky Business Tech Report: Interview on social media, online outsourcing, and how small companies are using technology to leapfrog big business


I was interviewed this morning on Sky Business Tech Report. Some of the things we discussed in the interview are:

* How social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many others change how companies engage with customers, become more efficient, and being competitive.

Read more

SmartCompany webinar next Monday to feature SME Tech Summit speakers


SmartCompany magazine is running a webinar on Monday 16 November at 2pm: How Small and Mid-Sized Companies are Using Technology to Drive Business Success.

The webinar will provide a preview to some of the outstanding content at SME Technology Summit.

Amanda Gome, Publisher of SmartCompany, will moderate the discussion and share some of her insights in running a young and rapidly growing company, as well in covering the best of what’s happening in small and mid-sized business in Australia.

Matt Barrie, CEO of, will discuss how companies can best take advantage of online outsourcing to build efficiencies, scale operations, and grow companies rapidly.

Suzi Dafnis, Community Director of Australian Businesswomen’s Network, will draw on her extensive experience in building online communities using blogs, forums and other tools.

David James, CEO of Brasserie Bread, will share how he has rapidly grown a real-world business using Twitter and other social media tools.

See the full SME Technology Summit agenda for details of what they will be speaking about and where they fit into the array of valuable content available on the day.

And be sure to register for the webinar to get these speakers great insights! There will be three complimentary passes to the Summit drawn at the end of the webinar.

The rapidly building wave of online outsourcing and crowdsourcing


The Age today has an interesting article titled Outsourcing on steroids that looks at the array of online technologies that are enabling the outsourcing of small tasks and the crowdsourcing of design, innovation, and other key business functions.

I’ve noticed that in just the last few weeks mainstream media coverage of online service exchanges and crowdsourcing tools is picking up. As the article in the The Age concludes, “it’s certain crowd sourcing is a key business trend for the future”. The

The article quotes me in two different sections:

Although odesk and similar sites such as are known for being a meeting place where businesses can access very low cost services, crowd sourcing is not just about finding the cheapest service provider possible.

Futurist Ross Dawson says: “Online services exchanges are places where anyone anywhere can get people to perform services; it’s about the development of a global talent economy. Some services are commoditised – you might want someone to count the number of tennis balls in a photo for the lowest price possible. But they also allow you to find the best person for the job and price isn’t always the primary factor why you hire someone, sometimes it’s more about finding talented people. I use odesk and the last person I hired wasn’t in Egypt or Latvia he was in New York.”

This idea of how best to tap the most talented – rather than the cheapest – professionals in the global market is the subject of my next book. I’ll be writing a lot more about this on my blog.

Later in the article:

Read more

Agency co-creation: very hard to make it work but that’s where the most value lies


There’s a great article in the latest issue of B&T Today on how Westpac, one of Australia’s big four banks, is approaching working with its advertising and creative agencies. Here are a few choice excerpts from the article, which is well worth a read in its entirety.

Jee Moon, director of brand and marketing at Westpac [said] that an agency roster based on co-creation, not simply collaboration, is key to establishing and maintaining a strong brand identity.

She added the “one stop shop”, integrated agency model in Australia had “never materialised” and that a rostered agency model based on co-creation in which agencies do not simply coexist but coproduce was key to developing and maintaining a strong brand positioning.

“At Westpac we have moved from a contractual agency model, which we had with the Red House when there was little to bind the agencies together apart from a piece of paper, to a system of collaboration where our partners work together as a community of experts, and are currently striving for a true, co-creation model,” Jee said of her agency partners The Campaign Palace, Yello and Lavender.

Read more