Cloud Company!

Time to make it public: we’ve decided with Teemu Arina to write a book that deals with the ongoing paradigm shift in organizations from closed, hierarchically led autocracies towards more open, flexible and democratic models. The book is christened Cloud Company – which relates of course to cloud services that just about every self-respecting technology vendor is now offering. The book however doesn’t so much focus on technology and software (service-based or not). It focuses instead on cloud-inspired management, work and marketing mindset, practices and tools – of which software and online services are only a small (but naturally crucial) part. Our goal is to show how to design open and democratic models for management, work and marketing that result in the company being able to function faster and smarter – and ultimately to gain power and momentum in the market by sharing and distributing it to staff, external actors, customers and the general public.

The book will be out this winter/spring and we’re currently investigating options to publish / self-publish.

Stay tuned for more!

Hotter, colder, hotter, hotter…

Location. The most hyped of the final frontiers. Google finds over 40 thousand hits for the word combination “location based advertising”, but I have yet to see one location-based mobile app that would be widely applicable, well functioning and above all beneficial to the user (Yelp gets close but is no use in Finland). As a result location marketing at least here in Europe has remained a curiosity and a future promise.

This may change this year – again.

Naturally the march of user friendly mobile devices that are usable for more than voice and SMS is one key factor that has opened up the opportunity over the last couple of years. But what’s really been lacking is a service concept that would be highly engaging to the users. The U.S. based Foursquare has however caught my attention for five reasons:

Easy (at least via iPhone): Fire up the application and you’re instantly displayed by a few understandable options to choose from: check in to a lcoation, find places and services nearby, check out the tips in the area, shout like Twitter, or see what your friends are doing.

Social: More interesting to you than what you’re doing is what your friends are doing and where. Foursquare lets you see your friends locations, their tips, their statuses etc. The ultimate point is of course the ability to boost your own ego with stuff you do that’s visible to them – social media being very self-centered in the end.

Game: Expose people to supervision and watch their behavior change. The supervision with Foursquare is positive and game-like in nature. You get points for visiting places, adding content, and other activities, which swell your status and gain you badges. Badges are awarded for a constantly increasing array of categories, so ultimately any individual interest has the potential to earn a badge. This guarantees a constantly developing and enriching game content.

Rewarding: Content and promotion partnerships aim to offer Foursquare users something very tangible and beneficial to work with.A very intriguing detail is the Mayor status. Visit some place more than anyone else and you become a mayor in that location, and will receive more incentives to visit, such as VIP invites or promotions to deal to friends. I envision a future where there is a furious competition for Mayor statuses in e.g. nightclubs and fashion stores.

Facebook Connect: No more signing on to yeat another useless community. Your Facebook account handles this so you can focus on the content.

I’m sure that the recent surge in traffic is at least partly thanks to some or all of these features

We’ll shortly see if 2010 finally is the year of the location. Or will we say these words again next year.

We can’t help you if you…

Want to make your brand more human – but won’t commit any human resources to the task

Want to achieve something outstanding and out of this world – but require us to fit it into traditional formats

Want creative media usage – but cast media budgets and types in stone a year earlier

Want to create discussion and interest – but abandon anything emotionally charged

Want to get people participating – but prohibit participation that might ‘harm’ your brand

Of course, in reality there are always many ways to help you. It’s just that tackling the aforementioned will get us to better results.

Volvo leaps into Facebook age

At a time when Facebook is already a favorite hangaround for the young and influential, Volvo has discovered a nifty way to gain attention for its recently updated S60, which will be unveiled next year in Geneva. The company hired a known artist to paint the car and recently published the piece. The interesting thing is that the artist, Esref Armagan had never seen the car as he’s been blind since birth.

On a well-made video on Volvo’s Facebook page we see Esref working with the car, showing small details of the car in numerous close-ups as the painters hands glide on the surface. The campaign has also a participatory perspective in accord with the times: Volvophiles could ask the painter to paint specific parts of the car, which were made into their own videos. The end result is a compilation of small parts of the whole that are quite good at rising expectations and inspiring your imagination. At least my interest got aroused.

Of course Volvo also relies on more traditional PR, taking the story to editors of magazines to build awareness (I read about this from Wired). However, the story wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting without a very creative approach that inspires a discussion (the blind artist) and a modern approach to utilizing the communications system (Facebook and people’s requests of which details they want to see) that preceded the magazine articles. On the age of speed and networks PR and marketing are ever more frequently leaping into each others’ territories and we as marketers and communicators need to appreciate this convergence.

My colleague Riku recently argued that in the future there are only two forms of marketing, on the other hand there are cool extravagant events, and on the other a rigorous system run and maintained by robots. I kinda agree but would like to make a further note. In more and more of effective marketing, we constantly need both: First we need creative ideas that are compelling and don’t fit into any of the boxes we so often like to draw around them. Second, we need a network, a system that we use to communicate our idea. And although there are communicators of our idea external from us in this system, it doesn’t mean that we couldn’t proactively plan and manage this participation – it just needs some scenario planning and reactive processes alongside one-way communications design. This creates the ability for us to react in timely and effective way to all developments, planned or unplanned, as they unfold.

Now ask yourself: do you still do press releases or are you already an active member of the network?

UPDATE: seems the S60 can now already be seen in full as well.

On Finding Zen

I’m pretty much a classic case of the kind of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Perhaps not the clinical kind but the kind caused by the modern western society – with the overflowing abundance of things to do with our lives. I usually feel the need to try just about everything that comes in my path just for the sake of having tried it. Usually, this ends up e.g. in trying and abandoning a new hobby after just having scratched the surface.

There are two exceptions though. In private my love for martial arts has not waned over the years (there was a big gap of not training though – because I was busy with ‘other things’). At work my interest for marketing and business through active participation and two-way interaction with customers, employees and partners continues to be a source for inspiration so grand that I’m now starting my dissertation on the subject.

However, the point was that in the midst of all this activity overload, it’s really refreshing to see some people that can truly drench themselves into an activity that has no function whatsoever, other than the search for balance, beauty and perfection. One such person seems to be Bill Dan, who’s clearly devoted to setting rough-shaped and amorphous rocks standing in full balance in perplexing configurations.

Reminds me of the zen masters of old and their search for enlightment e.g. by pursuing the perfect way to conduct a tea ceremony. Although anybody having tried standing a stone on its head knows that tea-making is easier to get started with…

Advertising = Recycling

As everybody knows, despite it being commonly cited as a ‘creative’ industry, advertising is in essence collecting, analyzing, recycling, fusing, mixing and matching existing events and phenomena in pop culture, music, current affairs, movies, great moments, comedy, horror, job, relationships – life in general.

Sometimes advertising can also be directly recycling other advertising. Or what do you think (click images for larger versions):

“It’s the hat.” (Hut Weber)

“8 GB of classic comedies.” (HP)

“8 GB of political speeches.” (HP)