Comfortably numb inside the Golden Cage?

The Golden Cage? Probably yes.

Intrusion capitalism paves the way for what has been called the ‘ convenience economy ‘. And like billions around the world, we are almost comatosed into not only acceptance but to dig deep and stay there. The numbness of convenience, shall we say? And apart from the occasional murmur or a sporadic protest, life goes on.

We don’t have to go very far but look at a few examples. Let’s begin with one of the usual suspects-brands like Amazon, Amazon Prime and their accompanying eco system that touches the lives of millions of customers around the world every day. For about US$ 10 a month( if you are in the US), you get a vast pool of content, priority door step delivery at the most economical value for zillions of products. And with Alexa(another Amazon wonder) taking root as a serious tool for search and e commerce, the cesspool of dependence has only gone deeper and broader. Since there is no better reason( or a better alternative by far), we as customers are happy to be remain comfortably domiciled.

With 2.2 billion users every day around the world, Facebook is a monster drug(combining its repertoire of Whats App, Instagram users) and there is no saturation in sight as the time spent on these platforms seem to be only increasing. Data theft, brand safety, privacy intrusions etc have not stopped the eccentric growth of this juggernaut. Sometime back, the powers that be at Facebook actually mentioned that they are addressing the privacy and data theft concerns and they are prepared for a 95% success. Very recently, under pressure from several quarters, the commitment went up to 99%!!! It’s akin to an airline saying that we are 99% sure of our landings. 1% can be seriously debilitating and you don’t have to look further than the New Zealand shooting which went live to understand what I am trying to say. But, just like the case of Amazon, there is no mass exodus. On the contrary, the clamour to get in is only increasing. The absence of a viable, palatable alternative definitely helps the cause. People are staying put!


As Steven Van Belleghem espouses in his book Automation, AI and the Customer Experience , just as there is a mandatory audit of all corporations’ financial statements both internally & externally, there has to be a regulation in place calling for ‘ algorithm transparency ‘. Because, presently only the outcomes are understandable while there is no clarity on the inputs- especially the bias and the prejudice that gets fed into the codes to manipulate outcomes. I think this is a clarion call for a basic ‘ code of conduct ‘ and the earlier it gets put into place, surveillance capitalism will have some guard rails.

Till then, the (algo)rithm is going to get you! And it’s quite possible that you go blue in the Face(book).

ENDS

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The ‘ Expertise Burden ‘

The X Factor might make you an ‘ ex not to be factored ‘.

Contradicting yes. Certainly so. How can expertise ever be a burden? It is what gets normally equated with leadership abilities and high performance. But when we look around, you will find instances where expertise comes across as unwanted baggage, thereby halting progress, impeding momentum.

Look around and you will scores of cases where expertise has been a trap for many an organisation and individuals alike. Kodak was at the frontier of imaging technology and photography and remained glued to the thought that things would remain the same.

” You press the button. We do the rest “, quoted George Eastman. Steve Sasson was the engineer at Kodak who invented the digital camera in 1975. US$ 10 billion in sales way back in 1981. However, Kodak failed to recognise the rise of digital photography, decline in analog camera sales and the rise in digital camera sales. Eventually, the brand filed for bankruptcy in 1992. The ‘ expertise trap ‘ played its part. The hunter became the hunted.

Let’s move onto Microsoft for a bit. When Apple introduced the iPhone(without the conventional Qwerty keypad), then CEO Steve Ballmer(steeped deep in PC and connected computing business), never gave it a chance. The legacy of expertise has played its part and things didn’t look too ‘ smart’ for Microsoft as iPhone made history. Windows had shut the door on a big opportunity as the Explorer stopped exploring.

And so goes the case with stalwart retail brands who stuck to the coat tails of merchandise, brick and mortar, store design and alterations to the marketing mix- erstwhile pillars of retail success till such time Amazon came in and broke the mould completely.

While expertise has several ticks in the box, it can also lead to individual thinking that is narrow( Why upset the applecart, we have always done it that way), resting on past laurels, ignoring the dynamics of the market place, the emergence of new thinking and technology( AI, the power of algorithms that replace rote tasks very easily) and behaviours that leave a gaping distance between colleagues and business partners, causing loss of confidence and trust. Over time the very expertise that led to our success can leave us feeling unhappy, unsatisfied, and stuck.

Some examples that might trigger counter intuitive thinking is when ‘ experts ‘ realise the need of the hour and wake up to smell the coffee. Who would have thought that automobile technology, ones exemplified by brands like Mercedes, BMW and their ilk would ever get upended. And how. Till such time Tesla disrupted the space with a vengeance and driverless, autonomous technology hit the road and put them in a MUSK DO situation. Real soon, the established brands were investing their billions into the new self driving technology to keep up, send out a signal and get ready for their future. They didn’t hang on to the ‘ expert ‘ in the field narrative. They let the new rubber hit the road. Good for them.

Some warning signs that you may have fallen prey to the expertise trap:

Have you fallen into a creative rut?

Do you feel “old” and out of touch in your job?

Do others seem uncomfortable challenging your assumptions and ideas?

Are market developments beginning to take you by surprise?

These are just a few of the warning signs.

All hope is not lost. Rediscover the path to new thinking, new learning and growth. Embark on a new journey and as the Buddhists call it ‘ embrace a beginner’s mind ‘.

That’s why we are happy with our ethos at ISD Global where I work. Be hungry, be foolish. The more you know, the more you realise how much more there is to know. Changing for the better and bettering the change go hand in hand. And all the ‘ trappings ‘ be blown!

ENDS

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POVer Shift:From POV(Point of View) to POV( Power of Vulnerability)

Moving the Needle from From POV(Point of View) to POV(Power of Vulnerability)!
In today’s context, to say that social( in the sense of the term social media) has gained significant currency would be a gross understatement.It’s all pervasive, inescapable and deep rooted, one can safely assume.
Once upon a time the theory(espoused by Kevin Bacon) that was floating around was about ‘ The Six Degrees of Separation ‘ where one individual could connect with any other individual in the world irrespective of level, status or complexity through a chain of six human connections. That seemed a feat in itself. The advent of social media networks like Facebook apparently brought that number down to 3.57.
Now add another theory to the above. We are the average of the five people that we spend maximum time with is what we are being given to understand for some time now.That was in a physical world. Now, move that to a virtual scenario wherein our social media contacts run into hundreds if not thousands of connections and we are all observing, contributing, silently following one another and not always for the right reason because the swell of opinions and information is just too over powering for one individual to withstand. Distilling the wheat from the chaff is easier said than done. There is ‘ status anxiety ‘. There is the FOMO at play(Fear of Missing Out) as well. In the relentless avalanche that straddles social media platforms, where is the real ‘ you ‘, the individual? Is your POV(Point of View) actually your point of view? Or conditioned(by AI/Machine Learning etc), pulverised, calibrated, engineered, manipulated to suitably conform, comply, stand in? Or are we falling constant prey to the supposed ‘ wisdom of the crowds ‘?
Have we moved our butt so much from but naturally to bot artificially?
We seem to be in a sordid vortex of an ‘ authenticity drought ‘. Trying to project a chimera that is certainly not a wilful representation of our true self. The power of ‘ onlyness ‘ that creates the distinct individuality the world so badly needs from you is just a fleeting mirage.
Given the context, a huge opportunity looms large. That is embedded in another similar acronym POV but with a radically different meaning. Power of Vulnerability. The true you, with all it’s mortal encumbrances. With the courage ‘to stand naked in your own truth’. No excess baggage of trying to be whom you are not. The YOU that only you can be and WANT to be.Where failings and weaknesses are welcomed as normal just as all the super Machiavellian in us. Where the human is permitted and motivated to be humane. Can we circle back to leverage the opportunity that is unfolding?
For organisations, brands, marketers, behavioural economists and all of those involved in ‘ social listening ‘, data science and analytics, what option would you prefer? An ambiguous amalgam of over, untrue or misrepresentation or a predictably irrational version of what we humans normally are. The jury is out!
Tribe mentality‘ is absolutely fine. That is the way we have evolved over the centuries.  But don’t let that scuttle the ‘ onlyness ‘ in you. As you move ahead in life, don’t forget to take yourself along with you in the journey! That is the only baggage you may need. And there won’t be anything ‘ excess ‘ about it. It will be all ‘ access ‘.
ENDS
 
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The Secret and Being Human!

It’s the weekend (in this part of the world) and I want to let you in on a Secret..

We are all looking for self help advise(at least I am) and it tends to reflect the beliefs and priorities of the era that spawns it. A decade ago, the reigning champion of the genre was “The Secret,” published by Rhonda Byrne. All of us would recall that book being the rage of the age. Byrne combined a literal interpretation of select verses from the Christian Bible—notably Matthew 21:22, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, ye shall receive”—with the acquisitive gospel of positive thinking.

In our current era of non-stop technological innovation, fuzzy wishful thinking has yielded to the hard doctrine of personal optimisation.What self help gurus are selling is metrics. It’s no longer enough to imagine our way to a better state of body or mind. We must now chart our progress, count our steps, log our sleep rhythms, tweak our diets, record our negative thoughts—then analyse the data, recalibrate, and repeat.

With so much for us mortals to do,it’s no secret that AI and Machine Learning are calling the shots…

Being Human is getting difficult? The Law of Attraction is being re written..

ENDS

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