Friday, July 28, 2006

Fingers crossed...

Capital Soccer :: Senior

It's been 6 weeks since we played a game of football and I'm going quietly mad. No cancellations or rain yet this week - We're 4th in Division 7 at the moment and need to pretty much win remaining games and have a couple of results go our way if we get to 4 titles on the trot.

Luckily we have the top team to play twice so 2 wins there and we're in with a shout.

All it takes is one bad Apple to ruin the lot

I admit I've been a bit of an advocate of Apple of late (at least the last 2 years) in that I just *love* the way they implement new technology but I'm dark on them at the moment. The main cause of this is the iPod nano which I have been holding off opening. Decided last night to load it up as I'll be getting some Nike + iPod kit early next week (thanks to Philip Ivanier for the rapid sourcing job) and wanted to get myself all sorted. What should have been a 30 min exercise ended up being a 2 hour exercise in frustration usually reserved for Microsoft products.

I followed the instructions to the letter (my first mistake?), installed the software,restarted the PC and then connected the iPod. From here the following sequence has occured

1. iTunes recognised the iPod but wouldn't sync claiming nano didn't have enough capacity - supposed to recognise that nano is smaller and to autofill based on this. No such luck..

2. Found that there is a software update for the nano so downloaded that.

3. Installed software and restarted again.

4. Software noted nano connected and 'upgraded'

5. Subsequently restarted again (*yawn*)

6. On restart, PC recognises nano but iTunes sees nothing. On every end of connection, nano restarts

7. Can't force disconnect the hardware - apparently its in use but i'll be damned if I can see what's using it

Given PC has worked reliably with other iPod devices I am thinking I have a dud. Trying on a mac tonight - but it would be fair to say that I am less than excited about the pending arrival of a MacBook Pro (new home laptop) as all of sudden Apple is down to the same level as other technology providers. Especially after reading this. Worse case scenario is that I have ordered a nice looking machine which is more expensive that similar PC devices - ouch...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Interesting Folks

Really interesting day yesterday - 3 lots of people from diverse areas who are thinking about how we might use the talents around us to drive great customer experiences

1. A conversation with the Telecom graduate group (well, some of them at least) about how we can use them to test our thinking for new technologies and services. Apart from the conversation varying from being a bit geeky (err - sorry..) and paradoxical (one participant who said what we were doing wasn't exciting yet couldn't explain what would be exciting - I'm all up for critiquiing but have some substance please) I think we have a great set of young people who are fairly representative of the emerging market we offer services to. Can't wait to use them more. Know someone who wants to be part of this next year? Grad programme and cadetship details are here

2. Steve Rush from CSB came to have a chat about Unlimited Potential - I went to one of their sessions a couple of weeks ago. Great bunch of people with great diversity - everything from Gaming to Home Automation to nanotechnology - wicked. A really rich network to be a part of - we're looking at a sponsorship deal with them currently. Need to get some more Telecom folks along to this in future.

3. And lastly another guy from CSB, Joe Raeburn. Had a great conversation about self-service, and how that could tie into a common identity framework. Would mean that we could communicate with our cusotmers over the channel and with the context that makes sense for them (as opposed to what makes sense for us). Turned into a conversation about how you could use Virtual Reality contact lenses at a VJ Rave so the VJ could project different scenes onto the specially provided T-shirts worn by the ravers. Wonder what that would do for the drug scene?

Stoked to be able to get inside these people's heads - really reinforces what an exciting industry we're in.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Customer focussed music service

OK - this post is probably a bit self-serving (more than the rest, I hear you ask?)

Yesterday we launched a fantastic extension to the Telecom Mobile Music service. Now any song that you download on your mobile, you can also download a copy to your PC. PC file is WMA so will play on a variety of Plays for Sure devices. The usual industry rules apply (Up to 3 PCs, 3 Offline devices and 5 CDs)

Here's why I like this...

1. A customer only has to make a single purchase to be able to listen to a track pretty much anywhere - online or offline. No other music store in NZ comes close to this

2. It's a really powerful step towards 'listen to your music where you want'

3. It ensures that the files are optimised for the best listening experience on whatever device you're listening on (ie Mobile file is compressed for rapid delivery, PC and Media Player files are 128k industry standard)

4. Even though we've had to go with industry standards on numbers of PCs, devices, CDs etc, as long as you maintain your mobile number (and keep a copy of the song) you will ALWAYS have the right to play that song. Can't think of many other systems with that power.

I'm sure we'll get lots of questions about why it won't play on an ipod. Would love to be able to deliver this - pity Apple aren't up for that.

Congratulations to the team involved in delivering this enhancement - it's taken a lot of persistence but they've made it!

Of less direct customer interest, but of significant future value, is the fact that you can now access these services online using a customer ID based on your mobile number (ie don't need an xtra account). You'll see more services coming out like this. CallerTunes was re-launched with this capability which means you can now search for Tunes on your PC, order them, have them set-up and then charged to your mobile. That to me is convergence - making stuff easy for customers.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Digital Natives Part II: Rules

So on yesterday's ramble about Digital Natives I referenced a piece about Natives being taught by Digital Immigrants which indicated that it's not really going to work that well.

AS part of the NetSafe Symposium today there was a lively debate about how we need to make the Net safe for our kids and control access. This is a classic case of Immigrants thinking they know better and trying to set rules for Natives who can...

a. bypass the rules really easily
b. have probably already worked out what the risks are and put in their own levels of trust and protection (in their own inimitable style)

It's also a case of people trying to see the new world in context of the old - they're just too different and you can't control it.
The sooner that the rule-makers talk to the Natives about what they are doing, the happier we'll all be.

Malcolm McLaren said as much on Campbell Live tonight - pretty much hit it on the button

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Digital Natives and corporates

I've been writing a presentation I'm giving on Mobile Futures for the Netsafe Security Symposium in Wellington this week.

As part of it I'm going over some themes which I think will shape the services of the future and come up (again) on the general theme of Digital Natives (or Digiborigines) . To be honest I had heard the term before and hadn't equated it with my own belief that there is another generation of people coming behind us who have grown up around digital technology, who intuitively pick up new services or devices faster and see possibilities (and rubbish) faster than we do.

The wiki definition does it some justice but the original piece of thinking about it is much more insightful for me. Mark Prensky does a great job of distinguishing between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants (those who have immigrated to the new world). His thoughts on accent and education are really compelling and explain a lot. How could a teen who lives on the Net possibly take anything seriously from a teacher who doesn't have a PC at home, teaches from books and is completely linear in his thinking ? It's much more than a generation gap at work here.

If you take this a step further and apply it to corporate structures in technology companies it means a few things(what the hell, I'll use Telecom as an example)

1. The people who run strategy teams come from classic backgrounds (ie linear thinking) and while they are incredibly intelligent, probably think when they see kids communicating online 'they're just playing with stuff - we'll never make money out of that'. None of the work on services that a Native would use gets past strategy unless it pays back in a classical sense.

2. If you're lucky, the exec team members have kids who are the pre-teen and teen level who are starting to live their life online and see the trends but think 'well, these are kids of people who are earning several hundred thousands per year, so that can't be normal'. They get the fact that things are changing but can't translate it into actions.

3. There is a real need, in at least the next 3-5 years for 'translators' to sit at senior decision making levels who can see what is happening with the Digital Natives and ensure that investment and product development is happening in the right areas. This is a massive responsibility for the new GMs at this layer - and will fundamentally decide if Telecom is ready for what will happen in 5 years time when the Natives are not only our customers but also the people running the company at this level. If those people don't have these skills, they will need to recognise it quickly and put in place people around them who do have them. Get it wrong, and there will be no market for what we are selling.

The danger of where we are at presently in NZ is that there a lot of people who think they can translate between the Immigrants and the Natives but actually can't. I'll take the example of speaking another language - I can speak French ok, I learned it at school for 5 years and have had lots of practice speaking with other French speakers here and in France. Putting aside the fact that it takes me at least a glass of red wine for my accent to sound right, and I get really tired after about an hour of full on speaking, there are some key questions that need to be answered.

Does being able to speak French make me French, with all the cultural differences between being kiwi and French? Nope.
Does that mean I can see deep insights into what would resonate with a Francophile ? At a push - if I see the nuances correctly - and it requires all my other skills in reading people and behaviour to make that happen. And don't forget it's only ever a snapshot because I don't live in that world and see it evolving.

It's why I think one of the smartest things Wayne Boyd is doing at the moment (and watch the video on who he is looking for) is looking for new Board members with very specific skills in FMCG and Media. We need to know how to speak these languages (as a minimum) and translate (as an optimum) to make sure we keep pace with the competition.

Taking this to its extreme, possibly the smartest thing that Fairfax have done in buying trademe has not been keeping the marauders from the gate of their advertising revenues for a few more years - they've got someone in Sam Morgan who at least understands Digital Natives and, if they could keep him interested without the corporate rubbish, have someone who could (and should) shape their direction so they are well placed when the Natives get out of school and start spending large like we all do...