Ten thoughts of a contemporary junkie: clear highways and dead ends in tech, bussiness, audience & politics

Some people are tech junkies, others are political junkies. I’m a mix. What really interests me is real life: the combination of tech, business, consumers, politics and the future that they create. 2011 has been an amazing year for our company and for the world. Yes, the world is in recession, and we’re over-heating the whole planet, but the stuff that creative people are coming up with and the opportunities are fascinating. The key is to detect and understand them in a way that allows us to create new solutions or reaction patterns in all areas, and hopefully we’ll end up with a better society. Or at least one that’s able to adapt and rise to the challenges ahead. At InPulse Digital now The Story Room we have kept our focus on ‘Getting the audience’ and our clients took notice. We almost doubled the number of clients and grew 50% year over year. And most importantly, we’re having fun, we love what we do and we’re determined to keep providing more value and insights to our clients. However strange it may sound, keeping our focus means being in a state of perpetual movement and exploration. Obviously the perfect scenario is to be the one setting the trend, but as a company with such a strong social component, getting the feel for what’s happening in social media to get the audience for our clients, is vital to our success. Social Media in the US is reaching saturation point, and users are tending to share existing content more than create their own (with the exception of photos and video that keep growing). There is also a notable increase in the level of sophistication in the way consumers in general relate to each other, to brands, and products, and Facebook is reacting by automatically filtering the content you see. Navigating the current landscape requires a clear strategy and a discerning view of what really matters in the whole ocean of new important and not so important trends. So, to navigate with focus in this ocean, here’s a list of ten thing’s other people have said and I think are interesting trends that will affect the future: 1) There’s a war for software developer talent. Facebook and Google have been buying companies just so they can get access to the talent and, according to Forbes’ Venkatesh Rao, software companies will rule the future (not Goldman Sacks, or maybe not just). 2) Some investors, including Robert Scobble, are suffering from app [startup] exhaustion. How many apps can you use for dinner? (OpenTable, Oink, Foodspotting, FourSquare, Facebook, Path, Stamped). We’re probably going to see many of these disappear in the next couple years (remember Gowalla?). 3) Company culture has evolved and traditional corporations may be at a big disadvantage: Apple has a strong focus on liberal arts and creating new products that not even consumers know they need. Google hires engineers and PhD’s. They are willing to create products that fail and shut them down, generating GMail, Google Apps and Android in the process. Google is hiring engineers at neckbreaking speed, currently with more open positions than Facebook has employees. And Facebook has famously embraced the Hacker Culture, moving to their new ‘1 Hacker Way’ address. They grew with rapid coding sessions, deploying and testing new features with user segments; their challenge is to keep up the pace as they grow. 4) Say goodbye to RIM (Blackberry), Flash and Firefox. They’ll be around for some time (FYI, MySpace is still online), but they lost the battle. HTML 5 has won, which for once makes developers, users and most companies happy. 5) Social Media is going to mature, but I wouldn’t be surprised if time spent keeps increasing. 1 out of every 8 minutes online is spent on Facebook. For my wife, I’d say 1 of every 3. Facebook, e-commerce, gmail, that’s it. 6) 50% of visitors to an ecommerce site are logged in to Facebook. If you manage a site and you’re not already building Facebook Connect, stop reading this and get this fixed now! 7) TV, Phone, Internet are finally merging. Say thanks to Netflix, who was the first company to seamlessly integrate media on PC, Mobile and TV. And of course, to Steve Jobs, who gave us Pixar, the iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad, and arguably showed the importance of design and usability. Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook will increasingly compete in each other’s turf. 8) 2011 wasn’t the year of mobile. It was the year of mobile catch-up as companies finally put real efforts in having mobile friendly websites, apps, etc. 9) 2012 will see EMI, the last UK major label disappear; Citigroup sold it to Universal and Sony. Our company’s journey started with the music industry and specifically with EMI. The company was greatly transformed, but the leveraged buyout at the top of the finance bubble was too much of a burden (for EMI, and many others). 10) David Brooks told Charlie Rose ‘we’re going to have a bad decade’ referring to the US government’s inability to function. We need less uncertainty and if the government doesn’t achieve that, we’ll probably have a ‘lost decade’ (and you thought the 2000’s was the stock market’s lost decade). Thank you to each and every one of you, clients, partners, friends, for letting me be a small part of your life journey. So, here’s to a 2012 with more ups than downs, that finds you with your family, friends, and a world of new ideas from smart people that gives us the opportunity to have a creative and positive journey! And speaking of creativity and smart people, we’re looking to hire some new talent for our team. Find out more here.

The Story Room