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The Global Social Channel: How to Compete Globally

Social Channel Three: Using the Social Channel to Defend Native Markets and Penetrate Foreign Markets

The global Social Channel will reintroduce “home court advantage” to national brands because those that use social business to compete globally by collaborating with users will have the cultural advantage; “foreign” firms may have better product features for the money, but they will not match home brands’ cultural fluency. Personalized service and attention are culturally specific, and deep cultural fluency directly correlates to intimacy. However, brands can only develop the home court advantage by practicing social business at an advanced level. Most have a long way to go and, meanwhile, they will get hammered when they persist in competing on product features in the Productized Channel of Value.

The blade cuts both ways: the home court advantage will make exporting to emerging markets much more difficult in the years ahead. The Social Channel will raise the bar because users in all markets will increasingly expect brands to relate to them and to solicit their input and advice. Brands will have to invest significantly in developing in-market social business […]

The Social Channel of Value

Social Channel Two: Understanding the Social Channel of Value by Examining Its Precedents

The Social Channel of ValueMeet the Social Channel of Value, the new arena where brands compete for user (customer, client) attention and loyalty. Product features are losing their ability to differentiate because they are copied so easily. Moreover, the Social Channel of Value will transform human decision-making, organizations and institutions because it digitizes sociality, a core human trait, and its power will dwarf the power of the product and the brand. CEOs, CMOs and CPOs have a very rare social business opportunity to harness the Social Channel ahead of competitors and remake their markets. These are strong statements, but bear with me and I think you’ll appreciate why I’ve made them.

The Social Channel is the Knowledge Economy‘s analog to the Industrial Economy’s assembly line, which led to today’s brands and mass-produced products. Where the assembly line made fabrication ten times more efficient, digital social technologies will boost human communication and sociality by an order of magnitude. The “Social Channel of Value” shows how product and service features will lose […]

Building Post-Product Relationships in the Social Channel

Social Channel One: Building Post-Product Relationships with Customers is how to Build Brands

The Social Channel of ValuePioneering brands are building post-product customer relationships in the social channel because they realize that product features are copied easily and serve as weak differentiators, which leads to pervasive commoditization. Moreover, people’s preferences for individualized information dealt mass media a lethal blow, and products firms will have a similar fate. Here’s why products will become extinct and how to guide your brand in building post-product customer relationships and profits.

I have predicted for years that mass customization would be the fate of “products,” and social business is bearing this out in spades, so here I’ll delve into how impersonal “products” will be rejected by customers in 5-15 years. More important, CMOs and brand stewards who appreciate this transformation will enjoy unusual advantage, and smart ones will prepare for it now. Brands that don’t get it will simply perish, and no one will even notice except their producers and vendors. Just think about the local papers and TV stations you have known.

This is Part One of […]

Steve Jobs Tribute: Behind the Fierce Competitor and Exacting Boss

Steve Jobs Tribute: Behind the Fierce Competitor and Exacting Boss, the ardent desire to serve connected the creator, the visionary and the executive.

stevejobs_portraitMuch has been written about Steve Jobs the creator, the technology visionary and the enterprise leader, but none of these personas entirely get to his essence. Steve Jobs was all these things, par excellence, but what deeply touched and inspired Apple’s customers and what made Steve bearable as a boss was an unconscious yet poignant feeling that he was there to serve people. He flew the flag of The Rest of Us. Unswervingly. Vehemently.

Without this higher calling, Steve would have been merely a successful tyrant. However, Steve’s commitment compelled thousands of brilliant and highly intelligent people to work for him and millions of customers to feel that Apple stood for something rare. Beige boxes and senseless software are optimized for profit, but Steve loathed mediocrity and its inherent compromises because they didn’t serve people, they acted at the expense of people. The desire to serve drove Steve Jobs, the creator, the leader and the innovator. Steve would never […]

Book Review/The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google

Curmudgeonly Looking into the Past to Divine the Future—That Nagging Privacy Issue—Debunking the Elephant

bigswitch_sm_bordrThe Big Switch is a valuable book that reflects what has become Nick Carr’s trademark role, heckling IT and Web enthusiasts, albeit from good seats. Carr seems to relish his role as “the fly in the ointment” of the idealistic IT-enabled world that Web missionaries espouse. Although this book has shortcomings, I recommend it for two reasons. First, Carr makes a convincing and useful argument that the “electrification” of business and society (the Edison part) has valuable lessons for the “computerization” transformation of business and society (the Google part) that is currently unfolding. This parallel provides context to think about some of the disruptions around your business, society and career. Second, Carr raises serious questions about possible privacy implications of computerization. He palpably weighs in on the dark side and seems to want the world to change course from the “googlization of life.” If you haven’t read The Long Tail, I would read these books in proximity because they are very complementary and both quick, important reads.

As usual, […]

2010 Reflections on the Global Economy: Have We Tilted?

At first, it seemed that the machine had tilted, its levers, bells and flippers having hit some kind of glitch, causing us to lose the ball and the bonus points.

collage_G20As the curtain rises on the second decade of the twenty-first century, we will see that the machine is actually fine, but it’s become a different game. Quite entirely. To put it mildly, “the economy” is proving to be quite a drama, its pungence largely dependent on where your company or career is wired into it. Although it is quite frowned upon in the U.S. to admit despair, some pundits have even flirted with the moniker, “The Great Recession” to describe the crisis, a faint nod to the Great Depression of the 1930s, but this comparison is off-base. As I have argued for some time, the 2007-2010 “financial crisis” has played a mere overture to the real story, a transformation of the global “economic architecture.” I first heard this deft phrase from His Excellency Shri Kamal Nath, India’s very diplomatic Minister of Commerce in 2008 (coverage here).

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Economic Disruption: How to Benefit Your Company and Career

Why 2009’s economic disruption will prove more pervasive and protracted than many experts think—and how you can guide you company. Guidance on using social networks to become more competitive and enhance your survival. […]

Noodle VI: New from the Unorthodox Exit Strategy Department—Acquisition by an Asian Firm

New Exit Strategy for Mature Manufacturers—Acquisition by Asian Firms shows how process excellence can inject new vitality into ailing manufacturers.

New Exit Strategy for Mature Manufacturers—Acquisition by Asian FirmsPicture this: you are the CEO of a venerable manufacturer that has been besieged by price pressure, increased imports and high capital costs. Revenue has been barely edging up, and profits have been negative three of the last five years. You have had to lay off a significant portion of manufacturing personnel, many of whom had been with you more than a generation.Your ship is still taking on water despite best efforts, and you do not know where to turn.

This was precisely the situation of several U.S. firms that took the unusual route of selling themselves to Indian firms that turned the companies around very quickly by applying sophisticated process and management expertise. In many cases, local employment increased because the companies became much more competitive. Here are two examples:

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Noodle V: Geography 3.0, What It Is and What It Means

Geography 3.0, What It Is and What It Means predicts a new synthesis in the Knowledge Economy—fast forward to the past—Plus, the fire

Geography 3.0, What It Is and What It MeansNoodles are largely driven by intuition and holistic mental doodling, and this one has been simmering a long time*. I believe that there is profound meaning in virtual and literal “mobility,” and I’ll explore its significance in terms geography and human relationships. Geography has always had a profound impact on how humans have lived and the organizations in which we have lived, and when its meaning shifts, our lives are transformed. This is of paramount importance because human relationships are currently transitioning from geography-based to interest-based. Many governments and businesses harbor business rules that assume geography-based relationships, and, unless they appreciate the shift to interest-based relationships, they will experience disruption’s spin cycle. Lose a turn. Don’t pass go ,^)

Before exploring how these things will unfold in Part II, let’s review three geographies and four economies here in Part I…

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Economic Outlook for 2008—Executives' Club of Chicago

U.S. Economy Due for Sideways Year—Special Effects by Presidential Election—Uncomfortable Long-term Questions Waiting in Wings

econ_fcast_eec-08The Executives’ Club of Chicago assembled an all-star panel to give Midwest business leaders their guidance for various aspects of the U.S. economy in 2008. Diane Swonk, Chief Economist of Mesirow Financial and Robert “Bob” Froehlich, Chairman of the Investment Strategy Committee, Deutsche Asset Management returned, and the mystery panelist was Jack Ablin, Chief Investment Officer, Harris Private Bank. They broke out their respective crystal balls for 2008, along with comedic effects. The session was brilliantly moderated by Terry Savage, Financial Columnist of the Chicago Sun-Times who didn’t miss a beat and extracted specific predictions from panelists.

Panelists agreed that the U.S. economy would struggle in 2008, but it would move mostly sideways, probably eking out a 1-2% gain for the year after an unsatisfying first half. All panelists predicted that the Dow would touch 14,000 sometime during the year. Froehlich again emphasized the importance of looking beyond the U.S. for investments. Swonk and Ablin were less outspoken but had high non-U.S. allocations in their recommended investments […]