Yelp leaps into the underserviced consumer review space in Australia

Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp, is in Australia for the launch of Yelp Australia. I was invited to interview him on Monday (embargoed until today) as part of a major media campaign to kick off the site.

Australia is the 13th country where Yelp has launched, with up until now all the action outside North America being in Europe. Stoppelman said that they are patient and take the time necessary to get quality data from the outset, so that users’ initial experience is positive.

In this case Yelp in July announced an exclusive deal with Sensis, the Telstra subsidiary that operates the Yellow Pages in Australia. This deal provides Yelp with the initial data to launch, plus a partner for monetization, with Sensis’ sales staff offering customers Yelp advertising options. Local search is a highly sales-intensive business, so the Sensis deal means Yelp can effectively build presence and monetize with limited local staff. It is in the process of hiring community managers in Melbourne and Sydney, where it is initially focusing.
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How technology is transforming events

One of my speaking bureau just asked me to provide them with a few quick ideas on how technology is changing events, as one of their key clients is having an internal meeting to discuss their future use of technology in events.

I only had 10 minutes free to write something, so it’s far from comprehensive, but I thought worth sharing here.

Before events:
– Connecting with speakers and others attendees
– Identifying who you’d like to catch up with at the event
– Arranging meetings with sponsors or other attendees
– Voting on content to be covered
– Surveys to gain insights into participants and their experiences and views
– Sharing content relevant to the event
– Getting recommendations for people to meet with similar interests, projects etc., using tools such as introNetworks
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The future of high-value relationships

Last week I spoke at the annual meeting of a division of a major bank. It was a one-hour event, with a live audience of several hundred, and a few thousand who worked in other locations watching via a live webcast. Given the pace of change in their business and their overt focus on innovation, they had me speak for 20 minutes on the future, followed by the top two divisional executives for 10 minutes each on what they expect in the business moving forward, then the entire leadership team plus myself up for 20 minutes of Q&A. It was a first for them to use an external speaker for the event, though given the success of the format they will undoubtedly do it again. Bringing external perspectives can be invaluable in stimulating new thoughts on the business and where it can go.

My presentation quickly skimmed through the implications of shifting demographics, work dynamics, social expectations, financial and economic structures, and technology, framed in terms of how to think more openly about possibilities, challenges, and opportunities.

However in the final Q&A session I was asked about the future of business relationships. Given commoditization and competitive pressures, what would happen in relationships?
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Open strategy: News Limited shares its inspirations on the future of paid content

Early this year I caught up for a coffee with Stephen Browning, Director of Corporate Affairs at News Digital Media and The Australian. During our conversation he told me about a weekly digest of what’s happening globally in digital news and paid content that he compiled for executives at News Limited, to keep them informed about all of many rapid changes in the space.

In the wake of News Limited’s recent blogger briefing on its paywall plan, which showed a dramatically more open attitude than the company had evinced in the past, it is now making its internal business intelligence report available to the general public.

Anyone can sign up for the weekly update at its Future of Journalism site. There is of course no really good reason why a company wouldn’t share with the world its internal business intelligence reports. However the reality is that almost none do. So once again hats off to News Limited for sharing this useful information with the world at large.

Below is the latest update from earlier today, showing the most interesting developments in paid content over the previous week, from the perspective of News Limited. (Apologies if the formatting doesn’t work properly – I just pulled in the HTML.)
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The future of retail: the rise of omnichannel marketing and sales

This year I have been drawn significantly into the retail industry, being the lead technology advisor for a major study on the long-term future of shopping centers, and giving keynotes at a number of public and in-house retail industry events on topics including the future of retail shopping districts and social media in retail. We are now considering creating a detailed report on strategies for the future of retail next year.

The current edition of Harvard Business Review includes an excellent article titled The Future of Shopping, which echoes many of the themes we are seeing. Its frame of ‘omnichannel retail’ is a useful one.

As it evolves, digital retailing is quickly morphing into something so different that it requires a new name: omnichannel retailing. The name reflects the fact that retailers will be able to interact with customers through countless channels—websites, physical stores, kiosks, direct mail and catalogs, call centers, social media, mobile devices, gaming consoles, televisions, networked appliances, home services, and more. Unless conventional merchants adopt an entirely new perspective—one that allows them to integrate disparate channels into a single seamless omnichannel experience—they are likely to be swept away.

Most retailers think of themselves as primarily physical or online, with just a few thinking far beyond that to creating a fully integrated approach to the customer experience. ‘Clicks and bricks’ is a highly dated view in a world where there is continual channel proliferation.
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How Scott Berkun crowdfunded and self-published his latest book

Author and speaker Scott Berkun has some great books out, including the very well-known The Myths of Innovation.

For his latest book, Mindfire, is a collection of his essays and articles.

Before its release, Scott wrote Why I’m self-publishing my next book, giving some really good reasons:
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Next year your entire desk will be a computer control device

I have long said that table tops will embed video and that we will use every possible means to interact usefully with computers.

Software and device vendor ExoPC has announced EXOdesk, a computer interface that will be laid on your desk, offering digital keyboards, a variety of colorful keypads, sortable RSS feeds, and even a piano, as shown below.


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Our shrinking degrees of separation: heading down from 6 to 3

In Chapter 1 of my 2002 book Living Networks I wrote:

When did you last say or hear someone say “what a small world”? People have an unquenchable fascination with how richly we are connected, never ceasing to be amazed by the seeming coincidences of how one friend knows another through a completely different route. Yes, it is a small world, and growing smaller all the time. The well-known phrase “six degrees of separation” suggests that we are connected to every person on the planet by no more than six steps.

After explaining the concept, its origin, and how ‘small world theory’ is helping us to understand the nature of social networks, I continued:

From six degrees, we are moving closer to four degrees of separation from anyone on in the world, with the possible exception of a few isolated tribespeople. We live embedded in an intensely connected world.

That prediction is being borne out today. A paper just submitted to arXiv titled Four Degrees of Separation, says that a study of the entire network of 721 million Facebook users with 69 billion relationship links shows an average distance of 4.74 degrees of separation.

Source: Four Degrees of Separation. Note: it = Italy; se = Sweden; itse = combination of Italy and Sweden; us = USA; fb = all Facebook.
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Tear the walls down: Jericho and the future of enterprise tech

Yesterday I gave the keynote on The Future of Information Technology at the Local Government IT2011 conference in Coffs Harbour, which this year had the theme of mobility.

Given the ambitious scope of my keynote title, I covered a lot of territory including fundamental technology shifts and the evolving shape of organizational technology. In looking at how to respond to the forces of the ‘consumerization’ of IT, power to the user, and mobility I raised the ideas put forward by the Jericho Forum. I asked for a show of hands, and no-one had heard of it, which I hope is not representative.

Jericho Forum, as the name implies, is intent on bringinging down the walls that surrounds enterprise technology. The key concept is “de-perimeterization“, which is basically a multi-syllabic way of saying tear down the walls. In a world in which users are anywhere, connecting from any device, it is crazy to try to put up and defend walls. The boundaries of organizations are blurring beyond recognition, which I and others have been saying for over a decade, so it is completely dysfunctional for technology to try to maintain boundaries. As Jericho Forum puts it:
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[VIDEO] The flow of Twitter around the world

Twitter has created a nice video showing how much and when the unique moment of 11:11 on 11.11.11 was mentioned around the world last Friday, as below. They describe it:

This clip is a visualization of all the Tweets mentioning 11:11 on 11.11.11. Each “1” is a location that moves with the conversation on Twitter. Their scale varies depending on the volume of Tweets posted from the location they represent. You can see the main wave move from right to left, and then a second one that occurred at 11 p.m. around the world.


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