system two

system two
start-up thinking in the enterprise

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Great companies...

Are either small or dictatorships.

They are therefore, by definition, temporary affairs....

Apple's share price will halve in the next 2 years.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I've been obsessed with Sherlock Holmes for years....



(although its probably not something one should admit) - I love the Guy Richie films....

One of my favourite Sherlock quotes "It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognize out of a number of facts which are incidental and which vital. Otherwise your energy and attention must be dissipated instead of being concentrated." There is much the world of brand and technology can learn from a data driven approach combined with a healthy dose of humanity,  intuition and joie de vie... 

Friday, 9 December 2011

Interesting post - a "moral" lens on social business


Thriving in the Collaborative Economy from Nick Jankel & wecreate on Vimeo.

As part of a larger group, Nick and I went to African together in the early 1990s. Probably fair to say we were all, profoundly changed by the experience - and I'm not sure some of the learning from that year isn't in this talk...

A very erudite, succinct and persuasive "take" on social business...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Do we really need our friends to help us discover things?

So much social network activity appears to be a desperate curation towards a more palatable version of an existence. Is Facebook's proposition of discovering things through your friends really so convincing?

Don't we have a biological need to go beyond our own borders?

We don't buy airbrushed existences offline - not sure we ever will on.

Monday, 28 November 2011

If Facebook is the internet - then count me out

What dreadful, stale silos most mass social networks have become. A fad of the early 21st century?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

What marketing could learn from baseball

I've written and posted about Moneyball quite a bit over the years - this is the text from something we've recently done for M&C's blog.


The forthcoming release of Moneyball – the screen adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book bearing the same name – is significant, not just for fans of Brad Pitt and baseball, but for marketing and communications professionals too.

Moneyball tells the story of the coach of the perennial under performing Oakland Athletic baseball team, Billy Beane, who transformed Baseball by using Wall Street style statistical modelling to buy better players for less money.

In a world where the aesthetic quality of a player (and his girlfriend) were deemed the best indicators of prowess on the field, Billy Beane understood that objectively analysing the data about a  players’ performance  (and not worrying too much about whether he was packing a few extra pounds) was a far more reliable guide to finding players who won matches. His winning streak was the ultimate demonstration of ROI.

The marketing industry, like baseball before Billy Beane, still uses aesthetic quality as its yardstick of success, and yet we have access to far more data than Billy Beane could have ever dreamed of. Data  with which the industry could – and will eventually - transform itself.

Change is in the air. IBM’s CMO survey, also out this week, shows 63% of CMOs believe demonstrating ROI from their marketing activity will be the most important measure of their personal success by 2015.

Latest figures from a leading Search and Selection firm servicing the marketing industry report an unprecedented rise in demand for roles with the words, "Data" and "Analyst" in them. Evidently some like Billy Beane, have already started to import data mining and statistical analysis techniques into their way of working

“Correlations coefficient” “Monte Carlo output”, “statistical noise” - strange words from a world many have yet to discover – but which for a growing number of us over the next 5 years will enter our lexicon and revolutionise the way we conduct and measure marketing activity.

In the meantime, here’s the
Moneyball trailer. See you in the queue.
(orginal text by Christian - with my edits)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

working long hours makes you biologically more likely to shag your secretary



Fascinating research on men's biological predisposition towards child rearing.

In short - the more you work and are away from your family - the less, biologically, you are plugged into your family.

A strong argument against a long hours work culture....

Friday, 9 September 2011

A correlation between the price of oil and the financial crisis



There is now talk of how world food prices are causing revolution - http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2011/aug/25/food-price-arab-middle-east-protests - which given food products reliance on petrochemicals - isn't massively surprising.....

Moneyball - one of the books that changed my life....






The objective analysis of subjective data - probably the most important thing in my life outside my kids and girlfriend....

We did the same thing for music.....

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

When everyone sells everything...

Where is the passion in a business? Where is the commodity club?

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The tyranny of choice



So it turns out that choice actually keeps us afraid....whoever would have guessed....

Monday, 27 June 2011

Country by country social behaviours....

Often we have quite a time explaining to clients user behaviours differ between countries. This infographic captures the point nicely. To be clear - the data on which this is based is "declared behaviour" - data from people filling in surveys as opposed to our approach, which is pure listening - actual.

The point being - people use the web very differently around the globe - the idea of a global propositon for a brand, that speaks to everyone in the same way (unless your'e a utility / platform - Google / Facebook) doesn't make much sense.


Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Social Business Value Map


There is a lot of talk about social business and how each department within a brand can harness social media.

To clarify some of the issues, I took front line social business units within an organisatiuon and described a single, basic objective for each department. I then mapped those onto some of the most widely understood startegies being used by different brands, to see which strategies supported which goals

Finally I mapped measures against each strategy.

Biggest take away?

Look how (relatively) balanced it is.

Social media really is impacting across the business. No wonder brands struggle when they leave it to the marketing department!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Reflections on the agency model

The world is changing for agencies. Revenues from traditional offline products and services are declining. Digital per se is not the answer. Much of what would be considered traditional digital work (website development, search, SEO etc) is now a highly commoditised offering wafer thin margins.

From the client perspective, the world is fragmenting. Meaning brands are finding it increasingly difficult to engage and retain customers.

A successful agency model would reconcile these 2 positions. Finding products and services that offer sufficiently high barriers to entry that margins won’t be eroded in the medium term, whilst offering brands a solution to their differentiation and customer engagement issues.

In a world where the “work” is a commodity, but understanding what that work is, is increasingly hard. An agency must then logically sell understanding.

That understanding is, at its core, the understanding of customer.

Some social experience principles....

“Brand as publisher" - content is the catalyst around which engagement occurs. Stands to reason, that content and content strategy become incredibly important. Good link here

Fish where the fish are - accept users often prefer to use 3rd party platforms and not necessarily a brands' own website - engage them on these platforms where they have indicated they’re comfortable here

brand authority - the sensitivity we must acquire in understanding our brands’ authority is often limited - in other words - our right to a voice is presimsed on our participation, often for extended periods of time, building credibility and trust here

Iterative / fail fast - embracing the notion that in a connected, engaged world, we must constantly iterate - push new thinking, content, applications etc into those networks where our users exist – growing tactics which resonate (and as importantly) quickly decommission those that don’t work. In other words, strategy is often a drip feeding of a larger number of smaller ideas, as opposed to less frequent, larger ones here

“Architectures of participation” (networks not destinations) - building a brands’ authority through the visibility it has within different networks – thinking of our primary marketing tools as our most engaged networks, not necessarily the websites or destinations we own here

Always on - as is often the case, when something is so intrinsic to a concept - it is often forgotten - social business / media / whatever is always on - you can't have a social campaign - if you invite people to a house party you can't send everyone home just because someone plays a song you don't like

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The end of brand and the last fan......

The cheapest pair of glasses in specsavers where the best design.....

As resources become more scarce and consumers poorer, the value option will be increasingly the option the majority of the market chooses.

If that's the case, then logic dictates that every brand needs to make its value product the best product, whilst making the rest of their range, less attractive.

Ergo....the concept of brand value is dead. Value has won again. The last 250 years were a blip.

I loved The End of History and the Last Man- it was so brilliantly, arrogant, short sighted and stupid. So 1992.....

There is perhaps a book to write, which riffs on the title of Fukuyama's inverted masterpiece (like Stiglitz did with Freuds' Civilization) and makes the same argument about brands instead.

Social experience design....

No brand marketing can exist in silos – however sophisticated and well designed those silos might be.

As a customer – a user – a consumer, the interactions I have with a brand, (most of which can be measured in seconds; barely fleeting thoughts passing through my mind) are triggered by activity in all “channels”, at all times of the day, in all locations.

For any brand to focus their marketing – their conversation with their customer – in any single channel and say “that is how someone will experience my brand” simply doesn’t speak to the reality of how we interact with the brands we live with…..
The fleeting conversation in the pub about the new mortgage, the tiny snippet of information gleaned from a friend, which leads to the ad-hoc search for the product on the bus, which happens to resonates with a 48 sheet about a competitors' product, which fits with the piece of content stumbled over whilst doing more formal research, which ties in with the debate at the supper party, which might eventually lead to a half completed application form, which leads to the argument with the partner, with leads to the form completed – and a product or service sold.......
Messy, disparate - and spread over every conceivable channel and platform – that is more often than not a “brand experience”. Being honest with ourselves about this, means we are more likely to be successful.

Social experience design – to place a clear understanding of different types of customers' actual behaviour at the heart of a planning process - to let ourselves off the leash - to be honest and brave - to let the stories we tell about how users will interact with our brand be real........

That is the genius of social  experience design. It is militantly honest – utterly engaging to develop – bloody hard to realise correctly.

Monday, 18 April 2011

3 chords and the truth....

TGI, 3rd party research, basket data, online sentiment and influencer analysis, site surveys, focus groups......all routes into the understanding of a brand's issues and challenges

Do you need all of them to develop strategy?

No, the more we have - the more complete the picture - but can we get 70% of the way with just one of them......course we can.

Friday, 15 April 2011

90% of what they're buying......

 has got nothing to do with what they're buying....

why does anyone think selling "the cloud" is a good idea?

no one outside of the technology community has a bastard clue what the cloud is?

marketing is about selling benefits

the cloud isn't a benefit, its an enabling technology


countries as personas

we have limited resources with which to process information

we default to short cuts, bequeathed to us by evolutionary advantage

this we know

one of these short cuts is our common tendency to distil entire countries into single personas

what does this do to our behaviours?

the brand story platform

Thursday, 24 March 2011

fCRM - Facebook customer relationship management

Why is any large scale corporation bothering to maintain the illusion of control over its data and customer relationship management?

Every client I encounter at the moment has a story about how....one day.....once they've spent x amount of cash they'll have 360 degree, clean customer data.

Its never going to happen!

In ecommerce we've accepted fCommerce because our ATG / SAP implemenations are clunky and Accenture take us to the cleaners us every time they change a page.

Lets now accept fCRM "Facebook customer relationship management".

Ditch your local customer databases and access customer data that is actively.....willingly maintained by all of us.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

blackberry and its appeal to young women

The meme of young people using Blackberry's is not  success – it is the ultimate sign of failure...

Blackberry was a device designed for the high spending business market which has been so eclipsed by its competition, that it has been forced to eek out an existence on the margins of a market, appealing only to a poor, barely literate underclass who use it out of necessity rather than design.

An abject business failure borne out in the hard data of their shareprice ...