The future of social media: Almost all commerce will become social


Earlier this month Air New Zealand ran its second Social Media Breakfast in Auckland, with close to 1,000 people coming to see Teddy Goff, the Digital Director of Obama’s campaign, and myself speak. The number of attendees had increased since Randy Zuckerberg spoke at the first Social Media Breakfast last July, and now Air New Zealand intends to run the event regularly through this year.

Below is a brief but nice highlights video of the event, including highlighted excerpts from my and Teddy’s keynotes.

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Our future depends on the humanization of work


One of the reasons that my focus is increasingly shifting to the future of work is that it is in fact a large part of the future of humanity. And if we don’t get this right it might not look pretty.

The two primary drivers of a changing work landscape in coming years remote work and work automation. Almost all work will be able to be done anywhere, and a growing proportion of today’s jobs will be supplanted by machines.

The replacement of human workers by machines is of course a large part of human history, and so far we have consistently created new jobs faster than old jobs have disappeared.

However machine capabilities – including robotics, spatial cognition, and natural language processing – are developing so fast that there is a real chance that there will be insufficient new jobs to replace the ones that disappear.

In the ebook Race Against the Machine, authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, both of MIT, describe the challenge of the inexorable rise of machines in the workplace, concluding with a rather gloomy view of our ability to respond.

John Hagel of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge has made a great video responding to the book’s ideas.

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We’re looking for 3D talent! …to help create a 3D free-form mind mapping tool


Those who are familiar with my work know that I believe in concept visualization to communicate ideas. In fact I first wrote about the potential of 3D for concept representation and communication 14 years ago, in the late 1990s.

For a while we have been developing specifications and prototypes for what I have been describing as a “3D free-form mind map” that will allow people to create and modify 3 dimensional representations of their thoughts on particular topics, unconstrained by the intrinsic hierarchical structure of a mind map. Users will be able to move around and fly through the 3D “thoughtscapes” they create, and share them with the world in a variety of formats.

I sometimes use the example of my NewsScape, pictured below, as an example of a concept map that anyone would very quickly and easily be able to create in the app.

The NewsScape
Click on the image to see large version
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Thinking about the future: Why predictions usually (but not always) have negative value


A few days ago I spoke at the opening dinner of a strategy offsite for a professional firm, on the topic of ‘Thinking About The Future‘. It is a very common style of engagement for me, being briefed to set the broadest possible mental frame for executives before their in-depth discussions on directions for the business. The session went extremely well in provoking some very interesting conversations during the evening, and I gather driving new thinking through the rest of the offsite.

Just before I spoke the executive group had heard from a well-known economist who was giving them economic forecasts for the next 10 years.

As such, in my presentation I explained why forecasts usually have negative value. I spent a long time working in financial markets, and I have seen market and economic forecasts tremendously abused.

The most important point is that almost all forecasts will turn out to be wrong. The future is unpredictable. Giving numerical values to future economic or market data can easily shut down useful thinking about the reality of uncertainty and the range of possibilities that may transpire.
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Parallel entrepreneurship goes mainstream


Back in the 1990s I became enamoured of Bill Gross’s IdeaLab, which was spinning off new web companies initially housed in its own support ecosystem. I loved that it generated and developed its own projects rather than looking outside for ideas.

Since then I’ve closely followed what I’ve thought of as “parallel entrepreneurship”, in contrast to the usual concept of serial entrepreneurship: establishing many ventures rather than doing them one by one.

Despite many leading lights saying that founders should be focused on one venture, I’ve always believed that it is possible – albeit extremely difficult – to launch and run multiple simultaneous ventures.
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The state of influence today: increasing marketing budgets and greater influencer professionalism


Back in the day, Technorati’s annual State of the Blogosphere reports were the reference guide to what was happening in blogging, before Twitter existed or Facebook was open to the general public.

Illustrating the shifts in the landscape and in Technorati itself, it has just launched the 2013 Digital Influence Report, providing insights drawn from surveys including 6,000 influencers (a term that is unfortunately not defined in the report), 1,200 consumers and 150 brand marketers.

Influence has been a key focus for me for many years, with our activities including our Future of Influence Summit and Influence Landscape. Influence is by now a pretty mainstream frame for much digital marketing, yet in the big picture it is still early days, at least to judge by the Technorati report.

The full Technorati document is well worth a browse. Here are a few of the highlights from the report:

Social is still just 10% of total digital marketing budgets, with 83% of that amount on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Influencer marketing is 0.6% of the total spend.
Source: Technorati Digital Influence Report
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The 6 capabilities that drive future business value from Staggeringly Enormous Data


I recently participated in a panel interview on SkyNews of “some of the brightest minds in business technology”, including futurist Mark Pesce, commentator Brad Howarth, and myself. It’s just come out on the web and having now been able to watch it I think it turned out to be a very interesting discussion.

To see the video click on the image below.


After covering some of the major trends of 2012 towards the end of the panel we turned out attention to what was coming in the year ahead. When asked what I thought needed to be on the business agenda, my response was Big Data, or as I more accurately described it, Staggeringly Enormous Data.
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The future of academic certification: universities, MOOCs, aggregators, and peer reputation


This morning I gave the opening keynote at the Virtual Universities: Impact on Accounting Education Thought Leadership forum in Adelaide, organized by the Centre of Accounting, Governance and Sustainability at University of South Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia. The audience was an invitation-only group of the most senior accounting academics and industry practitioners in the country.

My keynote was on the broad global context for the current changes in education. After looking at major technological, social and structural changes, the future of work, and shifts in learning, I turned to the role of certification and credentials.

The rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has helped bring into focus that universities have to date always bundled together three things:
– Education;
– Certification; and
– Networking.

The rise of Open Courseware and more recently services such as Coursera, Udacity and edX has now broken out (part of) the education piece.
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Analysis: US, Australia social network usage flat, New Zealand now the world’s biggest user of social networks?


On February 13 I will speak at Air New Zealand’s Social Media Breakfast in Auckland, together with Teddy Goff, Obama’s Digital Director, with an expected audience of close to 1,000.

Air New Zealand ran its first Social Media Breakfast in July last year with Randi Zuckerberg as key speaker, with the exceptional success of the event leading the airline to continue the series with the second breakfast next week. While Air New Zealand is the 36th largest airline in the world, it ranks 6th in its social media presence.

In preparing for the event I have been looking at data on New Zealand’s usage of social media. I was surprised to find that there is a fair chance that New Zealand has the highest rate of social network usage in the world.


The chart above shows a summary of data from Nielsen on the time spent per month on social networks in a variety of countries around the world.
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Judging the best visualizations of the future: Enter the BBC What If? competition


This year BBC is focusing on the future under the theme What If? and has just launched its What If? Visions of the Future competition.

Image source: BBC News/ Glenn Hatton
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