A busy May and even more exciting June…


May is going to be a very busy month for me – lots of interesting things on. In a few hours I fly to San Francisco where among other things I will be presenting at the Future of the Enterprise TEDxAdvance event and generating momentum for our Future of Influence Summit to be held August 31.

Next week I will be in Perth to do the keynote at CPA Week on The Future of Global Business: Implications and Opportunities, a speaking topic which I am experiencing a lot of demand for at the moment.

The following week is a packed week in Sydney, including launching The Insight Exchange Lunch Series with The Power of Influence on 19 May, which promises to be a very exciting event, and the keynote at Information Technology in Aged Care conference.

At the end of that week I fly to Abu Dhabi to do the closing keynote at the MegaTrends conference, with Paul Krugman doing the honors for the opening keynote. My speech will take similar themes on opportunities in the global economy in the next months and years, tailored to a Gulf States audience.

A lot happening in between all this – announcements coming soon.

And my second child is due on 13 June (!), so there will be a slowdown from travel for a bit, though we’re planning to all go to Fiji or somewhere equally nice for a bit of a relax a few weeks after… It’s quite a year!

What will Australian consumers pay for 100Mbps with the NBN?


Last night SBS World News ran a segment on the Australian National Broadband Network plan, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the leader of the opposition debating its merits, and a piece on how much broadband is likely to cost consumers, which took some snapshots from an interview with me.

Unfortunately the small quote they took from me and its positioning in the story seemed to imply that I thought that $100 per month was acceptable pricing. Here are the points that I made while I was being interviewed:

* While some analysts have suggested that consumers will have to pay $100 per month for broadband access to make the project commercially viable, there are highly questionable assumptions in their methodology.

* Consumer telecoms pricing has been and will increasingly driven by bundling and integration with value-add services. As I pointed out yesterday, telcos need to shift to value-add services, including content, and this will drive how services are priced.

* People will be prepared to pay a little more than they currently are for vastly superior services. Not three times as much, but a little more.

* The pricing of any service is only meaningful in a market context. Pricing has to be set relative to demand and competitive alternatives rather than the cost of provision, and the landscape for broadband offerings is rapidly evolving.

* The Australian government, if required, is likely to effectively subsidize consumer broadband access. There is no reason to think at this point that it will be necessary, but if so this will likely be an investment that will yield substantial and commensurate economic and social returns.

* This all comes back to the politicians’ argument as to whether commercial entities will want to invest in the project, which is clearly fundamental to its success. The government says they will, the opposition says they won’t. While there is still a lot of number-crunching to be done, my bet is that there won’t be a problem getting investors, not least because there will be significant strategic benefits of being involved in this project. Let’s see.

Eight key issues in understanding Australia’s National Broadband Network


Yesterday was a busy day. I was called early to come in to the Sky TV studies to respond to the government’s announcement from its National Broadband Network tender, got stuck in traffic and arrived half way through the announcement, and was then immediately put on Sky Business live TV to give my thoughts. I was then interviewed on the separate Sky News program, a multitude of radio stations, and my comments ended up appearing in the New York Times, Forbes, and The Guardian among other global press, fitted into a busy day of work commitments.

So just now getting a chance to write a few quick thoughts.

1. Overall this is an exciting and very promising move.

If one of the bidders had won the tender it would have been a fizzer. 12mbps by 2012? That would probably not have kept Australia at its middling to poor ranking in global broadband connectivity. Fiber to the home and 100Mbps to 90% of premises is worth playing for, and could provide the connectivity that will drive Australia’s economy forward. I have long argued that for a geographically isolated country such as Australia living in what is truly becoming a global connected economy, connectivity (both the infrastructure and the attitudes) are fundamental to our future. I now have more reason to be optimistic about our country’s future than I did early yesterday.

Read more

Updated keynote speaker video – excerpts from speeches on the future of business


We are in the process of revamping my keynote speaking videos. While we were intending to do this anyway, a recent trigger to bring this forward was Brightcove closing down its non-professional site. We had initially used Brightcove for my videos because of the quality, however despite YouTube’s lower quality it is more visible.

You’ll see that the quality of some of the video excerpts is rather poor. We are continuing to gather footage as I do more keynotes, and we’ll gradually bring in new material so that the video reflects my current work. In fact we have a fair few video excerpts in store that we will integrate into the next version of this video.

We will also continue to release excerpts from individual keynotes. We recently posted me doing a keynote on The Future of the Network Economy for Sun Microsystems, and there are a number of other keynote videos we’ll launch soon.

All of this content is available on my RossDawson.com website, which covers my keynote speaking and strategy leader work. The keynote videos page on the site page covers the videos we have up – more coming soon!

This keynote speaker video includes:

* Excerpts from half a dozen keynotes

* Brief excerpts from TV interviews

* Global keynote locations

Wealth Adaptation Syndrome (WAS): a defining malaise of our times and the opportunities that stem from it


I was interviewed last week on social trends in 2009 for a feature story in the Sunday Times magazine in Perth. In order to illustrate my ideas, I coined a term, Wealth Adaptation Syndrome, or WAS.

(One of the great things about the growth of Internet content and search engines is that when you invent a phrase you can check whether anyone has ever written it before. This post is the first ever appearance of the phrase ‘Wealth Adaptation Syndrome’. However note that Sudden Wealth Syndrome (a quite different phenomenon) was commonly referred to during the dot-com boom.)

Wealth Adaptation Syndrome is, quite simply, the process of adjusting to significantly different perceptions of your personal wealth. This applies quite differently depending on starting levels of wealth, but in all cases requires adjustment of not just wealth status, but also social status, and usually behaviors including spending patterns.

Read more

Upcoming Keynote at MegaTrends in Abu Dhabi: Four trends transforming society


[UPDATE:] The conference was rescheduled to 25 May – my keynote presentation is here.

In early February I am delivering a keynote at the MegaTrends conference in Abu Dhabi, one of three international keynote speakers together with John Naisbitt, who sold over 9 million copies of MegaTrends and created an industry, and Dr Lynda Grattan, author of Living Strategy and Professor at London Business School.

I recently did a press briefing by video for journalists in the UAE, touching on some of the themes I’ll cover in my keynote at the conference. I chose to speak briefly about four massive trends that will impact business globally and in the Gulf region in years to come. I’ll give more details on the speech content before and after the event.

1. The Rise of the Global Talent Economy

Talent – long recognized as the key driver of companies and economies – is becoming a highly dynamic global market. Top professionals are increasingly choosing to work independently, retired executives are making their skills available, and connectivity means we can access expertise from anywhere on the planet. Companies will as a matter of course engage and work with staff, professionals, and suppliers all over the planet. And those that do this better, beating their competitors to get the most from a world of available talent, will win.

For more, see writing about the global talent economy.

Read more

9 practical steps to getting great outsourced design on 99designs


As I wrote last week, I decided to use the design exchange 99designs for our new logo for Advanced Human Technologies. We received over 140 logo submissions, including many very high quality designs, going through a highly iterative process to get an excellent outcome.

Click here to see the submissions and winner (however quite a few designers have withdrawn their designs so they are no longer visible – the full field was a lot more impressive). The winner of the competition is below, created by designer kn. Note that this is not yet our official logo (that will be when our website is relaunched early next year) and may be tweaked further before it becomes our final logo.


Here are nine lessons we learned on how to get great results on 99designs:

1. Know what you are looking for

The questions asked when you post your contest, in terms of what you do and don’t want, are important to think through. To a certain extent that becomes clearer when you can respond to specific ideas, however the more you know beforehand, the easier it is. In particular for logo designs, you need to be clear on what identity and connotations are associated with your company.

Read more

Design our new logo – get rich and famous!


The existing logo for Advanced Human Technologies was designed in 1997. Not only has the world changed a lot since then, it is now becoming a very different company. It is time for a complete rebranding, starting with the logo, and including a complete redesign of the website, which is also sorely out of date. More on all the updates later – in brief Advanced Human Technologies will go far beyond being a consulting company to also being a publisher and supporting several new start-up ventures.

I have chosen to use 99designs to get the logo done. I have long written about and explored online service exchanges such as elance, Guru, and vWorker. In fact the subject of my next book is about the global talent economy. As such I’m keen to try new models, and since 99designs seems very interesting, I’m giving it a go.

The way it works is first you put up your brief for a design such as a logo and you set a budget for what you’re prepared to pay. The interesting part is that all of the designers’ submissions are visible to all, and you rate them and give feedback on them until there is a winner. See How it Works.

This iteration process with multiple designers promises to give better results than the process on the other service exchanges, where you have to go through that process with one designer. In one case I selected a bid on elance to design a flyer, and it quickly became apparent that no amount of feedback would create a worthwhile result, so I paid the bidder half the bid amount to close out the arrangement.

SO: If you are a designer, please submit your ideas. Or if you know designers who would be interested, please let them know.

Click here to see our logo brief and submit your designs.

Read more

Scenario planning: strategy for the future of global financial services


For my keynote at the Vision 2020 Financial Services conference last month in Mumbai I prepared some ‘quick and dirty’ scenarios for the global financial services industry landscape in 2020 from a technology perspective. Below is an overview of the content I used in my presentation. The complete slide deck from my keynote is also available, though it needs the explanation as below.

WARNING: These are scenarios prepared for a presentation, so they are far from rigorous or comprehensive. True scenarios should have fully developed storylines that evoke the richness of how the scenario unfolds and could actually happen. To be truly valuable, scenarios need to be created for a specific organization or strategic decisions – generic scenarios are of limited value. Always work with someone highly experienced in the field – most consultants that claim to do scenario planning are making it up. The Driving Forces and Critical Uncertainties identified below are highly summarized, and would be presented and aggregated very differently in a real scenario project. OK warning over, on with the content…

Scenario planning

Scenario planning recognizes that beyond a certain degree of uncertainty forecasting is of limited value (or can even be detrimental to good decisions). The process of creating a set of relevant, plausible, and complementary scenarios (more than the scenarios themselves) can be invaluable in creating and implementing effective, responsive strategies.

The heart of the scenario planning process is distinguishing between Driving Forces (consistent long-term trends) and Critical Uncertainties (unpredictable elements). Once these are identified, they are brought together to create a set of scenarios that reflect both what you know and what you don’t know about how the environment will change.

The image below shows a sanitized version of the process for a scenario planning project I ran for a major financial institution. This was quite a streamlined process relative to a comprehensive scenario planning project, however was designed to bring the insights directly into the existing group and divisional strategy process.


Below are the scenarios in detail:

  • Driving Forces: Global Financial Services
  • Critical Uncertainties: Global Financial Services
  • Scenario Framework for Global Financial Services
  • Four Scenarios for Global Financial Services


1. Economic shift

Economic power is shifting to the major developing countries. The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) together host close to half the world’s population, and their pace of economic development means that before long there will be multiple economic superpowers. In addition, global economic growth is shifting to the virtual, and developing countries will gradually wean themselves from primary and secondary industries to be significantly based on knowledge-based services.

Read more

Keynote for Optus Business: Five Driving Forces of Connected Business


I have just completed delivering keynotes in six cities as part of a national roadshow for Optus Business. Optus’ annual client event, this year titled Beyond 08, was a morning event for its clients and prospects in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra. The sessions began with my keynote on Surviving and Thriving in a Connected World, followed by Optus executives presenting insight and client case studies on mobility and IP convergence. Each event included an exhibition featuring Alphawest, the ITC services firm Optus acquired three years ago, and a broad array of Optus Business delivery partner organizations.

Rather than try to run through my entire keynote presentation here, I thought it would be useful to include the key content from just one of the five sections, on the Driving Forces that are transforming a connected world. The rest of the keynote describes in detail what connected business looks like, winning strategies for organizations in a connected economy, and finally the action that needs to be taken to succeed.

The five driving forces of Connected Business are:

1. Connectivity

Increasing connectivity is an overwhelming force, shaping society and business. We have come a long way since the first mobile phones that weighed less than a brick in the early 1990s and the birth of the graphic web browser in 1993. As we shift to pervasive connectivity, giving us access to all the people and information resources of humanity wherever we go, entirely new possibilities are emerging on who we are and how we live our lives. As messages flow rapidly between us, the people on the planet are becoming connected as tightly as the neurons in our brains, giving rise to an extraordinary global brain in which we are all participating.

Read more