Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Economic Forecast

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Economic ForecastI covered the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Economic Forecast last week, where all speakers issued this refrain: “More of the same.” Key economic indicators have been stuck in neutral—the proverbial “sideways” movement—so the consensus in the room was one of faint frustration tempered by gratitude. Everyone had lived through worse.

The current “recovery” is underperforming any other in recent memory according to many measures, especially employment.

The conference was very well organized and featured expert presenters. Reading between the lines, I perceive significant opportunity that will surprise most people. After my notes of speakers’ remarks, I’ll share my thoughts on 2013’s opportunity that is evident when one regards “the economy” from a different point of view.

Everyone wonders what kind of presents we will open in 2013 (right).

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Knowledge Economy Products and The Future of Manufacturing

Knowledge Economy Products[UPDATED] Several profound market forces are preparing the ascendancy of Knowledge Economy products, which result from collaboration among designers, artists, engineers, customers and firms. This represents one of the Knowledge Economy’s most exciting-yet-disruptive elements: “products” will cease to be dominated by monolithic factories that mass produce virtually all items that people use and consume. Moreover, people have an inherent joy when they can make things for themselves, their friends and their families—and a dramatic new wave of creativity and innovation is imminent. To help you wrap your mind around Knowledge Economy products, this post will recall what happened to mass media and entertainment industries.

Knowledge Economy products are conceived, designed, prototyped and fabricated in the Social Channel. Best practices in open source, Agile development, design and Web development will unleash continuous innovation at a scale and pace we’ve never seen before. Knowledge and innovation will be free in the Knowledge Economy because all supporting processes will become an order of magnitude faster and cheaper. Firms and brands that do not recognize and respond quickly enough will become irrelevant.

Most brands can […]

Size and Value of Bank Branch Networks

Banks are under intensifying profit pressure, so all are reexamining the size and value of bank branch networks. In How Many Bank Branches Do We Need in the U.S., posted in Celent Banking Blog, Bob Meara offers a brief discussion of the concept of “branch flexing,” as coined by Oliver Wyman to describe optimization. It’s no surprise that banks are questioning their massive branch expansions during the 2000s, especially in light of increased capital requirements and regulatory costs, which increase cost of operations. Moreover, margins are razor thin as interest rates are at historic lows.

What does this mean for branches? I’ll offer a surprising alternative.

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The Social Channel of Value [Executive Summary]

The Social Channel of Value explains our era’s drivers of economic transformation and how leaders can use them to strengthen their careers, organizations and communities. Profound shifts in human beings’ means of production restructure society and business because they alter the amount of “value” human work can create as well as the type of “products” that encapsulate people’s work. Individuals and organizations that notice, observe and understand these shifts early on can improve their relevance and competitiveness. Many of those that do not respond quickly enough go down with the ship.

Since the Social Channel is so important, I have published the Social Channel Trilogy, which is summarized here. Find even more information on the Social Channel home page.

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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 […]

Local 2.0: Trends & Opportunities in Re-localization

conversationsThe fascinating post in the Read Write Web outlines a new trend, “Relocalization” or the inevitable “Local 2.0” that’s a backlash against malls, industrial “retail” and online “community.” It predicts a resurgence of “face to face” interaction, and people paying a premium for locally produced products and “townish” community.

It’s a new synthesis: people increasingly don’t believe in commuting, and many workers are accustomed to working “from home” or in Starbucks or other public coworking spaces. Local 2.0 carries a strong green, anti-carbon tinge as well. And it’s not at all incompatible with periodic jetsetting, everything can interoperate. Definitely worth watching!

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, […]

Transforming U.S. Health Care via Consumer Empowerment

Regina Herzlinger Keynotes Chicago Healthcare Executives Forum 35th Anniversary

Five-Point Prescription for U.S. Health Care—Involving Patients

healthcareCHEF Chicago’s hospital executives listened raptly to Dr. Regina Herzlinger‘s impassioned message for transforming U.S. health care at their 35th anniversary celebration this month at the J.W. Marriott in Chicago. Dr. Herzlinger is respected and renowned for her message, so there were few surprises. The most distinctive element of her point of view is her strategy for taking a retail-led approach to transforming health care. She is very market- and consumer-focused, which is refreshing because it relies on the market and customers at least as much as the government. “Who Killed Health Care?” is her latest book, and she is a regular advisor to federal and state government officials.

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