March 1, 2011 § 2 Comments
– Participation is Obligatory. Your Choice is How –
By Doug Brockway
It’s fairly easy to find examples of presentations, articles, and videos that describe how to think about how and whether to participate in social media for your business. Similarly, it’s an easy thing to find a great deal of content about how Cloud Computing is changing everything and you have to start thinking about it. Most of this is fairly useful and very little is harmful. Little of it expresses the stark reality that mobile technology is now out shipping total PC shipments, that the entire planet has overtly adopted social media, that Cloud and related technologies are making any place you are right now a fully functioning business location.
For all intents and purposes all of your customers, competitors and influencers, and all of your staff either now have or soon will have a smart phone or a tablet and often both. These devices, always connected, are part of our daily lives. It’s not just that egotists can Twitter about their soy latte’s or that many people can’t navigate without their GPS’s but people are doing transactions with mobile technology using a social media metaphor wherever they happen to be located. 60% of the usage on smart phones is on things phones have never been used for until very recently: mail, apps, games, maps and GPS and the like. Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr calls it SoLoMo, Social, Local, Mobile.
This is true around the world. In Japan 85% of page views are from mobile devices today, only 15% from desktops and you can guess the trend. Global mobile data traffic, performing tasks like searching for data, sharing files, capturing and sharing video, and voice over IP is predicted to grow by 26 times over the next five years.
We don’t propose for a second that you must now consider what your mobile-to-mobile gaming strategy will be within your business (though that may make sense in YOUR case…) but we do believe that your customers and your staff, and your competitors, will be working in a SoLoMo fashion, changing their management practices, their tasks, the definitions of who does what, when and how and so will you.
Whether you’re planning for it or not all of your value chains, all of your processes, everything you do will either be mobile or be heavily influenced by SoLoMo over the next 5-10 years. You only need to look towards Tunisia and Egypt to see the potential effect. Whatever lines of communications you are used to, whatever hierarchies of who is aware of which data or trend, they are likely to come undone.
There are whole economies where laying down land-lines is not going to happen and an entire generation in the industrialized world that acts, thinks and lives as if land lines don’t exist (I’m using “land-lines” here as a metaphor for traditional business processes). And the SoLoMo vision isn’t new. In 1987 Apple produced this highly stylized video, The Knowledge Navigator, which shows the potential of an intelligent, widely networked, multi-purpose tablet device. People have been working in this direction for quite a while.
Start thinking about how to take advantage of the inevitable. One way is to make day-to-day activities of management and staff far more responsive to day-to-day information. A metric driven business improvement plan starts with the definition of key business metrics (e.g. a certain improvement in new product introduction rate), ties them to operational metrics that actually create value (e.g. the speed with which new product production is brought on line) and then are used in a combination of ways to do work and to solve problems (quality issues, cost overruns, faulty orders):
Now design your implementation of your plan assuming that the key business metrics and the operational metrics can be displayed on management and staff smart phones and tablets, not just their PCs or in reports. Update the information as it happens. Embed in the tablets analytic tools, use the smart phones to capture video of processes as they happen, use the tablets to run improvement workshops and directly adjust the operational metric standards. Since your staff is living in a SoLoMo world use it to embed a team problem solving culture in your business. Since its networked, whenever possible and prudent involve your suppliers, partners and customers directly in the process.
An enormous amount of technological change is happening all around us. Seize the [data]!
Doug Brockway, a Principal with The Plexius Group, can be reached at (617) 834-0067