This from the FT site today. A Q&A session between a panel consisting of Tom Glocer of Reuters, Trevor Butterworth, a contributor to the FT Magazine and Roger Parry of ClearChannel, answering questions from the public. Maybe it’s me, but I felt schizophrenic when I read it, as they moved from things I fully agreed with, to things I violently disagreed with. An unusual experience, but still worth a read to see what others think.
I was listening to some of my favourite sixties tracks last night while musing on things. And I heard “I’ve got some real estate here in my hand” and thought of identity and information. Then it went “She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy; I said be careful, his bowtie is really a camera” and I thought of privacy and confidentiality.
So I did the sensible thing, and switched from Tom and Jerry (thanks for the lyrics, guys) to Leonard Cohen before going to bed.
While on the subject of Simon and Garfunkel lyrics, I have never failed to smile when hearing “Wish I was a Kellogg’s cornflake, floating in my bowl taking movies…relaxing a while, living in style, talking to a raisin occasionally played LA, casually glancing at his toupee”. Punky’s Dilemma. Nonsense lyrics they may be, but they uplifted me. Like Lear and Carroll. And I always thought the cornflake wore sunglasses and a beret, never figured out why that image stuck.
Imagine we live in a war-for-talent environment, because human beings don’t scale enough, and have yet to achieve Moore-Metcalfe-Gilder-influenced price-performance network-effect virtually-free-bandwidth existences.
Imagine that every “firm”, whatever such things will look like in five or ten years’ time, suddenly realises that grandma was right, that First Hire Good People, Then Do the Right Thing actually made sense.
Then imagine showing the graduates we’re trying to hire what we are used to, the core ERP and SCM applications we’ve replaced our clerks with, and the spaghetti of spreadsheets we’ve brought in as glue.
Have you ever seen a kid using a spreadsheet? or a presentation tool? Really using one? Maybe today’s college generation are just about willing to put up with analogous tools. But not tomorrow’s.
They don’t want separate logins and structured list menus that can only be accessed in specific ways, even if the firm concerned has managed to discover digital certificates and virtualisation and platform/device independence. They don’t want end-of-day reports. They don’t want it so much that they’ll find somewhere else to work, something else to do. And they’ll go where they like the “user experience”. It’s only old fogeys like me who will continue to use terms like user experience, for them it will be normal and expected.
They are an incredible resource in comparison to my generation. They already know how to use the technology of tomorrow. No training needed. Provided the applications work like the world they know, not the world we know.
Which means there is no longer any difference between SAP and BBC News and Wall St Journal and iTunes podcasts. Just published content that they can subscribe to and receive in a time of their choosing, on a device of their choosing, and in the way they want.
Does this mean we are going to replace all our core systems overnight? We couldn’t if we tried. But what we can do is make sure that the content we create and publish gets to them the way they expect to receive it.
Is it time to think about an Intention Market for information? Is that what syndication and alerts become? I declare my intention to acquire some form of information by subscribing to feeds and enriching the flow with profiling information and feedback loops; I discover them through some form of aggregator service, and then choose to transact with the information that best meets my interest.
The applications of tomorrow actually compete to give me the information I want the way I want it. They overlap in terms of content, but so what? We have applications today overlap, and we hire an army of people to keep it that way. It’s called reconciliation. They overlap in terms of functionality, but so what? They do that today, but we call it silo and regional thinking. And end-of-day reports is like telling tomorrow’s staff that the news can be seen at nine o’clock and at no other time.
The applications of tomorrow will have to deliver the content to a myriad of devices using a myriad of connection styles and types. 802.11 alphabet soup. And guess what, the devices won’t be locked down on to the desktop at the office either. These devices will probably be personalised and “skinned” and stickered and whatever else. Do you really want to look at the applications of today through mobile device form factors? Okay, I confess, I have seen people read spreadsheets on blackberry. But there’s a different answer to that. It’s called counselling.
Can you imagine rolling back the years and being a graduate wet-behind-the-ears and starting your first job, and being told you can only use company-issue pens? That’s what we will sound like when we tell tomorrow’s staff they must use our devices and our devices only.
And the price they will pay is their time and their attention.
There’s a lot to think about, and a lot to do. Comments and flames welcome. If this post doesn’t get flamed then my site must be down.
Malc picked up on a post I’d made earlier, and what he has to say is well worth a read. You can find it here. [And yes Malc, I should have used CoComment, but I haven’t installed it yet…]
One excerpt, an amalgam of Malc and Hugh, intrigues me:
It is, or should be, a truism that there is always someone faster and smarter than you are (c) Hugh. If you post on a blog is is likely or possible that this person or persons will read your post and respond. (The italics are Malc)
My assertion is that one of the main reasons to blog is to find that person or persons. And engage in conversation with said person(s). And learn as a result. And that blogging reduces the search and discovery costs for finding such people, as the net grows.
I’m just looking for pointers here. Most of the time, I use my power (?) of moderation to get rid of splog and spam, and to ensure that material that could be considered generally offensive is kept off. Occasionally, I’ve had to remove comments that were essentially off-topic, driving the conversation somewhere way beyond “a blog about information”. These comments (and there have been a handful) tended to move very quickly from information to freedom of speech to human rights, and focus more on the human rights aspect than on information. And my gut feel was that, while these were valid topics for discussion, they were not what Confused of Calcutta was about. I went with my gut.
Somewhere deep inside my head, I guess I felt that comments needed to be related directly to the post rather than meander away into the wild blue yonder. Yet serendipitous connections are an essential aspect of blogging.
Did I do right? Who else has faced this, and what can I learn from this?