What the world will be like in 2020 (extrapolation)

4 Comments 10.08.15

In 5 years (2020), we’ll each be sharing 32 times as much data as we are today (“Zuckerberg’s Law” Sharing doubles per person each year), and each computer will be 8 times more powerful than it is today (Moore’s Law: computing power doubles every 18 months).  Those computers will be processing that data in networked clouds of thousands of computers, full of apps made of algorithms and intelligence designed to make predictive recommendations and take automated action based on the insights derived from your data. 

Some of those actions will be taken online and some of them, thanks to robotics, drones and other connected devices, will be taken in the physical world. It’s a combination of multiple, mutually amplifying, new developments, each individually capable of driving exponential change.

So what do you think your business will be like in 5 years? I’m going to start asking people that in conversations.


Image by Frank Diana

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Foresight today is systematic, participatory, and focused on intelligence to impact the future 

0 Comments 10.04.15

As I work through business decisions I’m experimenting with foresight inspired models to try to think through all the things.

I came across a great summary of the state of foresight research since the turn of the 21st century and an expansion of the field beyond a primary focus on quantitative models and prediction.  I summarized it below and thought I’d share.

State of the art foresight practice:

  • Is systematic
  • Is participatory 
  • Combines considerations from science, technology, economy & society
  • Gathers intelligence about the future to inform short and medium term decisions and questions
  • Isn’t just about predicting the future but managing and influencing it

I really like that. It’s from a paper titled Future of the Polish Textile Industrial Sector. An Overall Analysis of the Empirical Research Performed with the Delphi Method within the Project Foresight ‘Modern Technologies for the Textile Industry. A Chance for Poland

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NTEN helps nonprofits learn to use the web effectively.

Two challenges in facing the future: past & deserved success

0 Comments 10.02.15

Reading Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive over my morning coffee, I took note of the following and thought I’d share.


Two of the biggest cost centers are things that used to work but no longer do & things we think deserve to work but for some reason don’t. Instead of presuming all initiatives should last forever, it would be better to assume that every initiative is temporary unless it proves it’s worth continuing after a short period of time.

Dealing with the fallout from the past is always the biggest part of the day, but redirecting energy toward the future is key. Cutting out efforts that no longer deliver is key. The successes of the past  always linger beyond their productive life. (End paraphrase.)

I really like that and am adding it to my set of things to think about when I think about facing the future.

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NTEN helps nonprofits learn to use the web effectively.

Klout kills Perks, influencer engagement 1.0

1 Comment 10.01.15

TechCrunch reports that Klout has killed its Perks program and will replace it with a more sophisticated platform called Klout perquisites. Just kidding about the perquisites part.

There was a time when influencer marketing was presumed to start and finish with nothing more than finding popular people, giving them free stuff and hoping they’ll say your brand’s name to a lot of people on the Internet.

Above: Two Days in Seattle seemed like the coolest Klout perk, I almost participated but decided against it.

Klout blazed a trail but now there’s a fork in the road. One path leads to paid endorsements and the other path leads to a world of other approaches to influencer marketing, like:

  1. Developing authentic relationships with relevant thought leaders and earning their public endorsement by keeping in touch and doing good work.
  2. Observing independent influencers for early detection of trends and opportunities. Then making strategic or editorial decisions based on what you learn from them.
  3. Analyzing communities of influencers, including how they are segmented, and advertising to them and their audiences in a way that combines relevance and scale.

Personally, I find all of those to be a lot more interesting.  All of those are things our customers are doing.

What’s most exciting to me is working to build a future where the social web is taken so seriously by businesses that they seek competitive advantage in finding and efficiently engaging with the very best minds in their market online.

Sometimes sending people stuff, but a lot of times not.

Rest in Peace Klout Perks, you were an important first step in making influencer data actionable.

I want to make sure you know about NTEN - the Nonprofit Technology Network.

NTEN helps nonprofits learn to use the web effectively.

Yes, getting retweeted does drive revenue growth.

0 Comments 09.21.15

“Getting your 100,000th ‘Like’ on Facebook, or having your latest pearl of wisdom retweeted 200 times is all well and good, but are these activities driving revenue? ” so asks McKesson marketing leader Rohit Prabhakar in a post on his otherwise excellent looking blog.

Common question. The answer is YES.

Getting retweeted does drive revenue, if people want to buy what you’re selling on the website associated with your social profile.  More people see your work with your name attached to it, they click on your name, then they visit the website you’re affiliated with and then they buy your stuff.  You’ve got to be good at it and do it a lot or it won’t work.

Here’s a comment I posted that I wanted to turn into a blog post. Feel free to refer to this answer the next 100 times someone within earshot of you asks the same question.

I’d argue that having your pearl of wisdom retweeted hundreds of times is going to increase your visibility and credibility online, will drive visits to your website by qualified parties interested in learning more and thus will grow leads that it’s your job to close as sales. That’s how it works at our business. So yes, tweeting can drive revenue! 😉


Follow up: Mr.Prabhakar replied to my comment on his blog with this comment. “I agree with you as in your case you are backing this activity with lead generation and sales closing as you mentioned. These questions strongly apply to an organization that is doing lot of effort on web and social but not following it up with lead generation and closing with sales team.”

That seems like a real missed opportunity, for companies to relate to social that way.

I want to make sure you know about NTEN - the Nonprofit Technology Network.

NTEN helps nonprofits learn to use the web effectively.

How to do influencer marketing so it drives tons of business opportunity

1 Comment 09.17.15

I read a pretty good post titled How to Succeed at Influencer Marketing: Ten Tips From the Experts and I thought I should write down my approach. This is a simple and enjoyable, if challenging, way for people and companies to drive tons of business their way using social networks.  This is how I built my career, how a bunch of the biggest companies in the world have come to our company’s website and how many of our customers do it. You can do it too.

4 steps! (And the 4th one is just “repeat”)

Step 1. Find well-known people who you find interesting and who are sharing things publicly online.

Step 2. Talk to them about the things. Try to be interesting when you do.

Step 3. Make sure when they notice and turn to look at who you are, you’ve got an dignified, credible, interesting web presence.

Step 4. Repeat.

Repeat until you find yourself in public and private conversations with the leading voices in your industry. They will engage back with you in time and they’ll share your work with their audiences, once they know you, if it’s good enough.

All this conversation will lead to you showing up in search results, you showing up in other people’s social timelines, and more traffic to the website where you offer things for sale. 

Those conversations will lead to you getting offered business opportunities and you hearing about other opportunities early. 

The social web is an abundant place for those who make consistent, good faith, high-value contributions to it.
Our company automates step 1 above and makes step 2 a lot easier.  These steps are good to do at all and great to do really well.  Step 3 you’re on your own for and step 4 is just “repeat.” (Easier said than done, though.)

I hope this has been useful. Please share your thoughts with me. Thanks.

I want to make sure you know about NTEN - the Nonprofit Technology Network.

NTEN helps nonprofits learn to use the web effectively.

What will businesses do with data 2 years from now?

0 Comments 09.16.15

Trend-spotter-spotters and the next step of competitive data science in business

“What we think will take ten years will likely take two or less,” says Frank Diana, Principal in Business Evolution at the $80B IT services firm Tata Consultancy Services, in a recent blog post

I think the near term future will be characterized by…
* Overwhelming media & tons of choices   

* On-demand economy

* Automation, AI, and personalization 

* Post-scarcity (effectively, for some), price wars, and tiny profit margins
In these circumstances, the value of a source of future knowledge will grow. So the best data will be data that points toward a source of data in the future.
In fact, as the future gets ever-closer to the present because of accelerating change, foreknowledge of the future will be valued like fuel that’s necessary to get there.

Today, big data is largely focused on personalized targeting of future buyers of products. Based on correlations and past behavior, that’s a finite set of data and seems like it would have diminishing returns.

I think the focus of data science in the future will be less about slicing a prospective customer up a thousand ways and more about foresight into what emerging things more prospective customers will be interested in across months and years into the future.

Analogy: You know how all the fast food restaurants are now competing to be the healthiest, the most ecological and the most comfortable? In the future, they’ll compete to identify those forthcoming trends as early as possible and they’ll compete to find the best experts on identifying those trends as early as possible.
2 yrs from now, I think companies will seek the best independent minds for advice on fast-moving markets, like today they seek advocates to sing the praises of their brand on the social web.
Today’s equivalent influencers would be Chetan Sharma or Kirk Borne – master synthesizers.
As the accelerating pace of tech and cultural change collapses the future into the present, businesses will compete over knowing now what they will compete in directly later.  They’ll compete in searching for the best algorithms and the best thinkers with foresight.

I want to make sure you know about NTEN - the Nonprofit Technology Network.

NTEN helps nonprofits learn to use the web effectively.