Thursday, June 30, 2005

Is it the End for email?

The email era may be coming to an end because replacement communication means such as Internet messengers, mini-homepages (dubbed "one-man media") and SMS are wielding their power (in this case, I include the Blackberry - it’s email but it isn't, really). As a consequence, the stronghold of email, once the favorite of the Internet, is being shaken from its roots as a social means of communication.

The ebbing of email is a phenomenon peculiar to Korea, the leading Internet country. Leading the big change are teens and those in their 20's whose perception is that "email is an old and formal communication means".

A poll conducted by Chungbuk University in Korea surveyed over 2,000 middle, high school and college students in Gyeonggi and Chungcheong provinces. It revealed that more than two-thirds of the respondents said, "I rarely use or don't use e-mail at all."

I tend to agree. C'mon, the new generation hates agonizing and waiting and tends to express their feelings immediately. The decline of email is a natural outcome reflecting these characteristics of the new generation. And remember what I said a few entries ago about memetics.

The ebb of email is confirmed by a diminishing trend in email page views. Daum Communication, the top email service in Korea, saw its email service fall over 20 percent from 3.9 billion in October last year to 3 billion in October this year. By contrast, with SK Telecom, the nation's No. 1 communication firm, monthly SMS transmissions skyrocketed over 40 percent in October from 2.7 billion instances last October. Cyworld, a representative mini-homepage firm, witnessed its page views multiply over 26-fold from 650 million instances in October last year to 17 billion in October this year.

Let's face it, emails efficiency falls in terms of promptness, convenience and credibility. Most of the time, I email at work but I always SMS my friends.

With the continuous emergence of new technologies and social awareness, communication formats will develop even further in the future. Advertising and media standards are adjusting. Social behavior will be affected next.

Thing about how this applies to news alerts or relationship management programs. Maybe their right. It's time we start thinking again.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The True Key Performance Indicator for Technology

I was discussing with a couple of Key Account Managers yesterday, Dan French from Consider (collaboration software) and Ralph Heinzelmann of BEA (portal solutions). We were discussing the true value of technology and how we should measure that value.

We tend to look at traditional, single point ROI measurement that are filled with assumptions about a certain ‘call to action’ or other KPIs that indicate an economic benefit for the company. In my world of integrated channel communication, these assumptions have built in elasticity that are effectively self-prophesying. In short, they are wrong and are used for budgetary support, if you catch my drift...

These are very complex measurements and there isn't a single solution but, in essence, what are we really trying to do? What do we really want?

My proposal is that we want our organizations to think faster, be a proactive competitor and react faster to competitive behavior, truly understand our customers better, take more calculated risks that results in lower failure rates and most importantly, trust each other so that we are more open and honest with our decision making.

Isn't that the real purpose of introducing technology into an organization.

Complexity theory is an emerging field of study in science and technology. Fundamentally, a system is complex when it is linear understanding, simple cause and effect relationships, and beyond analysis by the standard methods of systems analysis. This can be seen in 'siloed' organizations.

Complex systems are ones in which patterns can be seen and understood, but interplay of individual elements cannot be reduced to the study of individual elements or measured by single point ROI tools. Web metrics are a good example. A website has no value in itself. How it integrates into your communication efforts and positively changes a readers behavior is the value. The measurement has to be done along the whole decision making pathway ... from, 'I have an ache to I have a prescription' and from offline to online to offline. It's that pathway that represents the true ROI measure, not the individual stops along the way - they only 'support' the true ROI.

Organizational intelligence and knowledge management refers to the capacity of an organization to gather information, to innovate, to generate knowledge, and to act effectively based on the knowledge that it has generated.

The human side of knowledge management is very important. The term knowledge capital is sometimes used to describe the intellectual wealth of employees and is a real demonstrable asset of organizational value. Clearly, there is a major role for information technology in managing organizational change to a knowledge organization, and in enhancing and supporting the resulting intellectual capital and knowledge capital.

For a learning organization, organizational intelligence is greater than the sum of the knowledge of each individual in that organization. Organizational intelligence includes historical knowledge inherent in the organization and generative intelligence that results from collaboration between organizational members. Organizational intelligence is a major competitive advantage of a knowledge organization.

My conclusion is that: (1) the potentially most productive use of complexity theory is in the generation of new possibilities for technological innovation, and that these possibilities require new ways of thinking and new models, and (2) that organizational knowledge and results are a strong function of the ways in which organizational processes result in action and learning.

This often run completely counter to the trend towards increasing fragmentation and specialization. They certainly does here where I work.

I hope I have stimulated interest in a broad synthesis of knowledge involving mathematics, computational sciences, physics, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, social science, economics, political science, and engineering.

This awareness will impact how and why we introduce technology into our organizations. We need to understand the interdependence of technology and human/organizational learning, including knowledge creation and management. In a broader sense, positive organizational change is directly supported by technology, information, and systems management capabilities. This is what we should be measuring, positive organizational behavior, when we measure technology. The true KPI.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Future of Communication is in New Media Strategies

Here's a new one... c\net reports that fake commercials are spreading online.

The concepts of new media strategies and of new media technologies have been exploring resurgence. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen in all industries ... yet. From the book by William Gibson, called Pattern Recognition, he explores some of the more powerful techniques in new media strategies. New media strategies include the entire mediasphere and not only the world of television, film, the radio, PR and advertising.

New media strategies include a powerful and savvy attention towards online strategies, new media intelligence, and -- obviously -- less traditional public relations and more of a focus on the obvious tools of new media strategy: memetics.

In order to allow new media strategies to evolve, we need to focus on online communities, the blogosphere (the powerfully new media newspaper organ, the web log), portals, chat rooms, IRC, and the next big thing (at least in the USA, we have had this for a long time in Europe) in new media strategies is SMS (Short Message Service). Of course, everything is about memes and memetics, anyway.

In introducing new media strategies to the marketplace, we all will need to leverage fully the virtual world. Targetted communication to special groups (In my case, patients, scientists and regulators)has to be supported by senior management. No, I take that back, not only supported but 'understood'. This is my challenge and perhaps a few of you can contact me and help me out. I would appreciate it.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Is the Great Disruption Coming ?

Interesting discussion at this morning's session in Davos (World Economic Forum) entitled "Is the Great Disruption Coming." Not just because of the expected list of predictions of the I.T. evils that could fall on us -- but in a short discussion at the end over what could be a fatal flaw in the structure of the Net. That is its heritage of being based on trust. When it began the architects were the first users and they knew -- and could trust -- each other. But as it has grown at an unprecedented pace based on the trust model, it's becoming clear that many participants aren't trustworthy.

Some who join the community bring back-alley practices that truly threaten further adoption by legitimate users who must trust the system before they will expose themselves and their businesses further. If the open model can't ensure security -- and piling on endless box-based devices is surely not the answer -- then a fundamental fork in the road will appear, and many who could build on the public Net may to bypass it with their own private networks. And that will limit the benefits to all users.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Does Technology Make Us Happy?

Thanks to the several people who commented on my first posting this year (I am still trying to retrieve my archive, sorry). I agree with mostly with 'ric' but I want to discuss this in a social context.

Technologists, businesspeople, and most politicians assume so, celebrating its ability to improve our persons, experiences, and material circumstances. And ordinary human behavior seems to answer the question: if technology doesn’t make us happy, why do we spend so much time, effort and money developing and buying all the stuff? I get a lot of this at work ...

But the answer is not so simple, as James Surowiecki explains in “Technology and Happiness.” People are irrational about what will promote their well-being, and they arena’t very good at anticipating their future preferences. Considering how many decisions about choosing new technologies are based on little (or even erroneous) information, perhaps we sometimes get stuck with technologies that don’t make us happy.

The social sciences have been nearly silent on the subject and more frequently economists have turned their attention to the question of the complex relationship between wealth and happiness. Some of their insights can also be usefully applied to technology.

Despite the fantastic increase in the prosperity since the 40's, most people are no happier today than they were in then (check Google for 'happiness surveys'). Indeed, according to social scientists, the numbers of Americans who say they are “very happy” has actually fallen since the 1970s, even while the average income of someone born in 1940 has increased 116 percent. I live in Basel, Switzerland, and it seems to be the same here.

It turns out that when everyone’s income swells, people’s subjective sense of what they minimally require to be happy inflates, too.

Cognitive psychologists call this “hedonic adaptation”, a term I picked up at CMU — and it works for technology as well. We become desensitized to our good fortune. When international telephone calls, jet travel, or wireless broadband while I'm sick at home first appeared, they were wonderful things that seem to clearly make our lives better, but as their price fell and they became commonly available, they quickly seemed quotidian. In no time at all, we were irritated when they did not work perfectly.

So are we happier for new technologies? In one sense, you betcha! In another sense, notta. Happiness economists have shown that there is a kind of decreasing return to increasing income. Except for the very wealthy (the Forbes 400 consistently report that they are very cheerful indeed), people who strive ardently to become richer don’t report any significant increase in well-being. Some happiness economists suggest that 'inconspicuous consumption — that is, investment in health, family, or your community — tends to have a better return in happiness than buying bigger cars or a chalet in the mountains.

It is the same with new technologies. Purchasing lots of the latest gadgets is unsatisfying: you know that in a few months there will be new, improved versions of the things. Ask my girlfriend, Nadine, about her 'maximizer' boyfriend.

But some technology consumption is less conspicuous. Internet technologies like search or social networking are informational and affective networks that expand our knowledge and relationships. They’re the better buy.