A Call for all "Digital Coaches"…

Hat Tip to Jan Wilkening!


Seth Godin, hammers the nail firmly on the head with his post on digital coaches.  Seth notes the following:

1. Digital technology, especially computers and cell phones, can dramatically increase productivity.
2. More and more users of digital technology are small firms or individuals.
3. The vast majority of users of digital technology are totally lame in getting the most out of the investment of their time and money.

Typical responses…..

“Oh, I didn’t know I could do that.”

“You mean I don’t have to manually type my address book in by hand?”

“There are graphs in Excel?”

“Gmail is free?”

Seth makes the point that we need need more “digital coaches”. Not techies but driven, motivated and switched on enthusiasts. These people are are “Gifted Amateurs”

Gifted amateurs use technologies such as blogs to easily communicate with loyal customers. They also use sites such as Technorati to actively “listen” to conversations surrounding their own businesses on the web.

Are you a gifted amateur or digital coach?. Show yourself on Seth showcase for digital coaches…

Books for January 2008 – Seth Godin & Nick Carr

I’m looking forward to reading Seth Godin’s new book, “Meatball Sundae – How New Marketing Is Transforming The Business World”.

What is a meatball sundae? It’s something messy, disgusting and ineffective, the result of combining two perfectly good things that don’t go together. Meatballs are the basic staples, the things people need, the stuff that used to be marketed quite well with TV and other mass market techniques. The topping is new marketing: MySpace, websites, YouTube, and all of the magic that CEOs wish would shine atop their companies.

The problem? New marketing is lousy at selling meatballs.When confronted with the myriad opportunities presented by new marketing, people usually ask ‘How can we make this stuff work for us?’ This, as Seth Godin explains in his remarkable new book, is exactly the wrong question. Mapping out 14 trends that are completely remaking what it means to be a marketer – and by extension transforming what we make and how we make it – Godin shows how the question for any thriving 21st century business must be: ‘How can we alter our business to become an organization that thrives on new marketing?’ Meatball Sundae is an essential guide to the fundamental shift taking place in the marketing and business world, and shows you how to align your business to it.

Hugh has posted a great interview with Seth regarding the new book

The other book I’m really looking forward to is, “The Big Switch – Our New Digital Destiny”  by Nick Carr

In this eye-opening look at the new computer revolution and its consequences, Nicholas Carr explains why computing is changing and what this means for all of us.A hundred years ago, companies stopped producing their own power and plugged into the newly built electric grid. The cheap power pumped out by electricity providers not only changed how businesses operated but also brought the modern world into existence.

Today a similar revolution is under way as companies dismantle their private computer systems and tap into rich services delivered over the Internet. Computing is turning into a utility. The shift is remaking the computer industry, bringing competitors like Google to the fore and threatening traditional stalwarts like Microsoft. The effects will reach further as cheap computing changes society as profoundly as cheap electricity did. In this lucid and compelling book Carr weaves together history, economics and technology to explain the “big switch”.

Get your pre-orders in.

More Web 2008 Predictions

With thanks to Hugh for the heads up via Twitter

The BBC’s Peter Day talks with Mark Anderson, chief executive of Strategic News Service, to find out more about the trends that might turn out to be big news in 2008.

Check out the podcast below

Battelle’s 2008 Predictions

John Batelle publishes his predictions for the year ahead. What’s so special about that I hear you ask?  John has a very good track record of predicting future web trends.

So what are the trends in 2008?

John predicts that web-based advertising businesses will in fact enjoy significant gains in 2008. These gains, however, will not be evenly distributed. The markets will reward innovation and growth in new forms of advertising, and punish those who are seen as not having a strategy. (Recall that Google took off as an advertising business in the doldrums of 2002-2003).

This means it will not be an easy market for major public debuts. But we will see at least one, if not two new IPOs (for more see below).

2008 will also be seen as the year that proves Conversational Marketing as a new form of advertising and by the end of the year, adding value to a customer’s life through marketing will be seen as a necessity as opposed to an experiment. This is the logical extension of the search marketing revolution to all forms of marketing, well beyond direct response and the fulfillment of declared intent.

2008 will be the year of integration indigestion for the majors, and as such, it will mean M&A will slow down for those companies. All those advertising-based acquisitions in 2006-7 will have to start to pay off, and the results will be uneven to say the least. For specifics, see below.

Another trend we’ll see is the continued erosion of the traditional mobile oligarchy. But despite the best efforts of Android, not much will get done this year. Don’t worry, though, by 2009, we’ll finally see a mobile web worthy of a serious development economy, one that looks a lot like Web 2 looked in 2005.

As for the Web 2.0 world, we’ll see a ton of venture funded companies go by the wayside. This is healthy and normal. It’s been a few years since the funding wallets opened, and it’s quite normal for companies that couldn’t get lift off by year two or three to close their doors. We’ll also see an uptick in acquisitions, as the boards of companies that that thought they were worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars decide to settle for decent returns. This will be particularly true for media and advertising related businesses, who will find home at large media companies that are traditionally not eager to pay significant premiums.

Now, given these trends, on to the major advertising- and search-driven Web companies:

2008 will be the year Wall Street gets frustrated with Google. The company has incredible numbers, and will continue to impress, but analysts, tired of bidding up the stock, will start to question the company’s myriad ocean-boiling projects – after all, it’s merely trying to reinvent Health, Energy, Telecom, IT (both consumer apps and OSes), and a few other major portions of the GDP. Look for a few querulous analyst reports and even a few downgrades by the end of the year, as Wall Street finally comes out of its honeymoon stage with Google and demands that the company consolidate its control in marketes where profits are secure: Search and Adsense. Look for complaints about profits and integration (or lack thereof) with regard to Doubleclick, and at least one major product flop that gets analyst tongues wagging. Google will continue to struggle with its display advertising business, at least as it is traditionally understood, in part due to a culture conflict between its engineering-based roots and the thousands of media-saavy sales and marketing folks the company has hired in the past two years.

Yahoo, meanwhile, will spend most of 2008 trying to figure out what to do with what it bought in 2007, and attempting to articulate a strategy that is anything but "we have 500 million users, so we must be important." By mid year, it will have succeeded, in part due to a clarification of its approach syndicated advertising (ie, how it will beat Google by delivering better than AdSense can to key partners). All the the big players in the advertising platform business – Yahoo, Google, AOL, Microsoft – are looking to monetize the magic middle of web traffic – high volume, but low CPM. Yahoo has access to a ton of this traffic, but in 2007 it couldn’t seem to figure out how to make it pay (more). Right Media, Blue Lithium, etc, are all plays to this (as are aQuantive and Doubleclick and Tacoda and Quigo and…) In 2008, Yahoo will figure out a promising start. This is critical, because Yahoo will finally admit to itself that in the battle between Microsoft and Google, it is an increasingly minority player, and will need to bulk up to compete. By year’s end, Yahoo will have combined in a major way with another third party, and it won’t be either of the two aforementioned companies.

In 2008, Microsoft will fail to gain much traction in anything that is Web related. This will frustrate Wall Street and Microsoft’s employees to the point of several key executive defections. Sound like last year? Yes, with one key difference. In 2008, Microsoft will finally figure out what do to with aQuantive, and by the end of the year, it will be clear what the company must do with it: Let it free. Yup, but this time, it will be as a public company that is majority owned by Microsoft, with fresh contracts to execute against MSN’s inventory, both owned and operated (O&O) and syndicated (Digg, Facebook, etc.). Yeah, I’m going out on a limb here, but what the hell.

Now, what about current media darling/punching bag Facebook? Ahhh, this is a tough one. First, the company will suffer from a serious identity crisis, as it realizes it must change its core DNA from tech- and founder-focused startup to media-focused Real Company with Lots of Employees. This is not a new story, Google went through it in 2003-2005. But not many companies make the transition without serious collateral damage. Second, the company will find itself stuck in the hell of pre IPO preparations, again, like Google in 2003-4. This will frustrate company leaders to the point of looking for a CEO whose job is, in essence, to talk to Wall Street. But until Facebook figures out a way to justify its lofty valuation, this hire will be stymied. In short, the most important short term focus for the company in 2008 will be solving for the Social Ads quandry. (By this I mean how to build the equivalent of a AdWords and AdSense for the "social graph.") Though it will take promising steps, the company will fail to get it just right, at least by the end of the year and all by itself, but it will still find itself profitable and on the path toward an 2009 IPO. By mid 2008, there will be very serious rumors about an acquisition battle over the company between Google and Microsoft. But Facebook will play the middle, and most likely cut a deal with a third party, which despite the strong relationship with Microsoft, could well be Yahoo or a smaller but growing company that looks a lot like Facebook. Also, look for Facebook to make a run at NetVibes.

And AOL? As with aQuantive, Platform A will go public, if the markets allow (see trends). The rest of AOL will be sold or folded into Time Warner in ways that, regrettably, will finally signal the end of the original Case-ian dream.

Finally, what to make of Newscorp/FIM? Major problems will become apparent by early in the year, and those problems have to do with structure: Who is really in charge of "Fox Interactive", and what does that mean? What about Dow Jones? There will be a battle for control over all of Newscorp’s interactive assets, one that will limit the company’s ability to execute any clear strategy. That said, MySpace will make a comeback of sorts, and look for it to cut a very important deal in 2008 with regard to its future. This could even be – yes I’ll say it – a spin out of the company as an independent public entity.