Digital / Social Emerging Trends for 2014.. Siri, artificial intelligence, chats, emoticons & avatars

Every once and a while – I am lobbed the classic emerging trend question.
The one that asks you to peer into your crystal ball and reach for something a little extraordinary that isn’t on someone’s radar.  Something grounded with a hint of evidence but not yet here in the marketplace.  Something useful.  Patterns not yet present.

“What emerging trends or technologies have you seeing?”

and when I answer – sometimes I get nods.  Sometimes I get the ‘you’re a few bricks short of a load’ look.
Here is what I answered with recently..
Typically, I start these conversations by taking off a shoe and detaching the high heel – thereby demonstrating the  sheer engineering genius of my dearest friend Tanya Heath and the most innovative wearable invention to hit the shoe industry in a thousand years. Tanya designed a shoe with detachable heels so women can move from short to high heel.   I extremely proud to see her shoes in Paris, Australia and Portugal as well as a brand new Yorkville location.

TANYA HEATH – detachable heels #wearable

Detachable heels! From TanyaHeath.com

The rise of artificial intelligence and self learning virtual agents an obvious development. (something I’m currently dabbling with – with the amazing @alexglinka - who talks about probabilistic to predictive analytics with Strategy Mag ) i  Have you noticed the maturing of SIRI yet?   I rely on SIRI to call people – often asking her to call “mom and dad”.  About 4 weeks ago, SIRI asked me “Is this your mother?” – and for first time, SIRI collected specific data on me.  Of course, SIRI has a long way to go.  She stills asks me which number to call when I only ever use one of the two numbers I have for my mother.   Still – the future is in learning about me – who I call mother, when I call, what I ask for – both implicit and explicit data is coming.   Over time – connected with my cell number – a system will learn a lot about me.   Its all rather minority report ish.
I also am fascinated with the rise of chat – particularly with LINE and its brand extensions.   Here is a massive Korean messaging / search company with no need for an IPO.  It has released LINE PLAY- with ability to create an avatar that looks like you and play games with friends *and*  LINE PAY – the chat that lets you pay for things.. including a cool ‘dutch pay’ function so you and friends can go dutch.   It already has 1.2 Million subscribers!

LINE CHAT emoticon language

But what fascinates me is also the emergence of emoticon based languaging – a language with no words.  Could we be moving to a cross cultural language?  One that transcends lingual differences?  Yet — our North American emoticons are so different from those in Asia.  Ever wonder why?  Great 2007 article on this..
Also fascinating is the re-introduction of avatars - the ability to design your virtual self.  I speculate that second life was six years too soon.   This interest led me to @RamonaPringle ‘s Avatar Secrets - an interactive documentary for the ipad and a very multi-dimensional take on storytelling.

Ramona Pringle’s Avatar Secrets – available for download in itunes

At which point.. I got a bit of blank stare..

.@TwitterCanada features a Twitter activated vending machine by @wonderMakr at their #OneTweetYear Party

I was lucky enough to attend @TwitterCanada’s #OneTweetYear birthday celebration last night and really enjoyed the twitter activated t-shirt vending machine dispensing by @wonderMakr.  It was quite the focal point at the beginning of the evening – a great photo of it in action by @JamesClarkeCA (below).   See more photos with @wonderMakr who captured many @TwitterCanada celebration photos.

Here is how it worked – first you had to follow @TwitterCanada, then using a series of hashtags – you had to tweet to a message containing #OneTweetYear #special_4_digit_code_from_pushing_a_button_on_the_machine and #W1 (a code related to the tshirt size that you wanted -codes displayed internally in the vending machine.)

I was equally lucky to meet (IRL) Mark Stewart – managing director @wonderMakr – as we talked about the rise in #trendingvending innovations we saw at SXSW 2014.  Like the Benefit cosmetics’ vending machine in the Austin (or was it Dallas?) airport.

Certainly, @Oreo’s fantastic innovations come up – not just the #eatthetweet 3D printed oreos but also the lesser known partnership with WeChat and a mobile operated vending machine.  Read more in Fast Company.

Suffice to say the vending machine re-emergence is well noted!

Cognitive Cooking and #IBMFoodTruck: My Review of #Food at #SXSW 2014

Social activation to drive the menu choice at SXSW2014

Social activation to drive the menu choice at SXSW2014

One of the most impressive displays of data driven innovation and equally of the best stories of social media campaign hacking at SXSW 2014 came from IBM’s Cognitive Cooking efforts.

IBM created a small, rather understated pop-up space just steps from the Austin Convention Center.  Inside there was small food truck serving one of six select menus including #chili, #dumplings, and #burritos. [hearty southern food!]

Serving up #Poutine at SXSW 2014

Serving up #Poutine at SXSW 2014

This was a menu created with the help of Watson – IBM’s renown self aware computational genius of a computer.    IBM input the chemical food structures of over 10K foods (or so I was told at the food truck).  Watson then matched foods coming up with new combinations based on flavour profiles.  Now add a partner like New York’s Institute of Culinary Education – who took the new favourful combinations and made a menu.

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Peruvian Potato Poutine – an IBM Food Truck creation in collaboration with the Institute of Culinary Education and Watson

On the day that I was sampling the #IBM Food Truck Fare, I interviewed the chef to understand if Watson’s involvement took away any of his enjoyment.  The chef revealed that whereas Watson recommended the food combinations, the computer did not give a recipe, amount of ingredients to be used relative to other ingredients nor information on how to prepare the food.  And so he felt there was a lot of territory to explore as a chef.   With that, he gave me a sample of Peruvian potato #poutine.

Well the poutine was a fine combination of potato, roasted cauliflower, spicy tomato sauce and goat or feta cheese on top.  It was amazing!  Who thought to add roasted cauliflower to poutine?  Watson.   As I wandered around the IBM Food Truck, I noticed an extraordinary number of Quebeckers also enjoying poutine.    So I interviewed one to see if the poutine lived up to her expectations..  [coincidentally the wife of someone I really enjoyed working with in the JWT Montreal office]

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.36.19 PM

Full credit to @TP1 and @nvanderv – who twitter hacked IBM’s cognitive cooking contest by inserting a ‘fake’ entry and winning. Absolutely brillant

Talking to a few IBMers at the booth - I learned the onslaught of Montrealers was no accident.  Having #poutine on the menu was a beautiful hack to IBM’s cognitive cooking campaign.  You see – to add a layer of social activation for SXSW, IBM marketed the six menu choices, each with their own poster, and encouraged South by Southwesterners to vote by hashtag on what menu they wanted for each day.

That’s where @TP1 and @NVanderv enter.  They created their own ‘fake’ poster, entered it into the socialsphere and voila! They gained so many ‘votes’ that IBM agreed to make #poutine.    If you can read French, this is really explained much better in the Minimal Blog “Informatique cognitive et fromage en grain”.  Anyhow – I just love how you can create a campaign but the audience might take over – in a hack that is so much more than IBM could have ever planned.

What a working mom can offer to her kids

I’ve not been publishing posts lately.  In part of my busy schedule, the maturing of my role, the dedication to my family time.  But also, my vigilance to not share what #agencylife can not be shared.  It concerns me to share too much.

This past Friday was a PA day – and I was asked if my kids would join in some field work.   I’ve long admired @mszego – my former boss of integrated strategy.  One of the things that @mszego always encouraged was the importance of getting personally connected to a category.  This doesn’t generate a focus group of one – just the opposite.  It opens our minds to the possibilities of the category.

Anyhow – here is my thank you letter to the amazing planning team at the agency that welcomed my kids this past Friday.  It is raw, heartfelt and interesting in its own right as a window into a working mom’s soul.

There are times, as a working mother, that I feel like I just can’t keep up to the stay at homes.   Choosing to work over staying at home is a decision you might know is right but often feels painful.

I can’t make paper mache pinatas, I don’t send personalized family portrait holiday card ornaments, I can’t even sew my daughters brownie badges on her brownie strap.  I’m a bad day time volunteer for my kids’ school pizza day – having stood up the school three times last year.

But I was quite certain this past Friday – that I was a mom who rocked both in my eyes and my kids eyes.

Who else could offer their kids focus group experience [doing xxxx], then a pizza movie and gifts.  Where else could my daughter run the halls with a little friend and my son terrorize the 3rd floor …  [judgement aside please -  They have received a taste of my working work - work, inspiration, energy, my coworkers and the environment.  I know they will remember this for a long time.]

For this, I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart.

You have balanced the scales for me.

Measuring non-profit contribution: @JaimeStein ‘s impact on #Climb4Cord

Jaime Stein represents a new breed of non-profit campaign contributors – one whose efforts can be easily hidden by traditional fundraising measurements.

A 2013 Case Study in Non-profit fundraising [or should we call it contribution raising?]

@JaimeStein is deeply involved in #Climb4Cord; a fundraising event where a select group of executives climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the Canadian Blood Services ambitious project to raise funds for a national public umbilical cord blood bank.  This event just happened in August 2013 and the whole team raised an impressive $350K.

By traditional measurement, Jaime was listed as the third top fundraiser (last time I checked)  - a wonderful achievement given the aggressive goals and fundraising achievements of his colleagues in #ClimbforCord.  [let's give pause to recognize all of them who signed up to climb the side of a massive mountain and committed to raising >$1K]

Climb4Cord

I first became aware of @JaimeStein ‘s efforts – as he announced his 6 – 8 month long training program and invited friends to sign up in a Google Calendar for one of his weekly training hikes in Toronto #KiliHikeTO.    I had the pleasure of walking with @JaimeStein on April 11  <- his blog captures this.

I count Jaime among the new breed of social wunderkind – who are as active outside of their emploi as they are inside it.  Folks who expertly leverage social media or technology partnership to advance their personal ambitions  ( like the impressive @sneiditee @hessiejones @mmonaa @helenandrolia @natandmarie or @greenwooddavis ).  Among his many efforts, Jaime participated in #BeerHikeTO evenings with friends, secured awareness, commitment and generous donation from ING Direct and worked with good folks from Roadpost to secure satellite technology ( DeLorme inReach satellite communicators) to test and send progress of his trek back through social media channels.  [Jaime’s blog post on the very cool technology here].   He no doubt contributed to the over 3100 mentions on twitter, 27 blog posts and over 192 news articles covering the climb.  [sysomos for #climb4cord, #beerhikeTO, #kilihikeTO in the last 12 months].  The folks tweet sharing Jaime’s climb messages included some great Canadian twitspokespeople – the @CEO_INGDIRECT, @DaveoHoots, @CTVCanadaAM, Erica @YummyMummyClub.

Jaime created tremendous awareness and consideration for #Climb4Cord – of course, he was the lead for social media efforts for the climb – but still contributions well beyond revenue.  I think someone like Jaime is needed on every major non-profit fundraising (contribution) drive.  The trick will be to identify the ‘influencer’ properly (recommended reading of @DannyBrown @SamFiorella ‘sInfluence Marketing book as a great start)

But in reviewing the donation website, I was stuck that Jaime’s other efforts were not affecting his ‘rank’ as a fundraiser – and yet – by blogging, running Twitter events, inviting Canadians to joining his personal training – he was likely creating far more impact than revenue.    Most fundraising goals are clearly expressed in dollars — and yet, for a non-profit that also relies on generating awareness of a new cord blood bank and encouraging personal cord  (and blood) donations, non-revenue metrics must be valued as much as generating revenue.   I’m certain Jaime’s efforts are not lost on Canadian Blood Services – they have come across influence marketing in its truest form.  Jaime is personally connected to the cause and happens to be a brilliant marketer (in social and otherwise).  It may just be the website and measurement had not yet caught up to fundraiser like Jaime.   Yet, I am left wondering if there are other non-profits who have yet to measure efforts like Jaime’s  - who is ushering in new levels campaign contribution.

Let me know your thoughts.

@LDillonSchalk

My snarky advice to buying likes & followers…

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Sometimes my emails make great blog posts.

A respected friend of mine was recently asked by his client if they should personally buy likes and follows.  Noise maker that he is, he invited our thoughts on the matter.

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After a number of emails flew by… I entered the debate.  I decided to add my two cents.  To which, proud moment, @schnitzelboy said “and that’s why i wanted LDS to weigh-in.”

My response:

“Okay.. time to waft in..

I absolutely *hate* these get rich quick schemes.  Of course, I do support paid ad support for social – not from bots but from ad placements with users self selecting their participation.

In the early days, when I won some social media management business back in 200x – we were horrified to discover hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of nonsensical twitter followers & following that had naught to do with the brand advocacy, current consumption or future intent WITHIN  Canada.  Although they did not use a get rich quick scheme as your website below – they followed anyone who even mentioned the brand, anywhere in the world.  We learned quickly that year how to dump a following – note – Twitter has limits!

I think having some sizable critical mass goals are admirable and necessary for starter brands but these schemes are not the way to do it.    I don’t think going ‘organic’ alone is the way either.  Social media grows exponentially and the first part of the hockey stick is long & boring without some kind of interference.  Some targeted paid, integrated marketing, very clever content can help shorten the hockey stick.

If this is an individual asking, slap them on the side of their head.   Those with experience can look at the velocity of their accounts – no. tweets vs. followers, etc – and see something is amiss.  Social can do a lot of brand / reputation damage when you fake it to make it.

Happy Anniversary to me

WordPress’ kind badge on my seven years in blogging!

This blog replaced the one I left behind at IBM Canada back in 2006. IBM had a magnificent internal blogging tool – and about 1% of IBM employees were blogging. When I left IBM in 2006, I feel the pain of leaving a blog behind.

I always feel like my blog is like a neglected child – in that I think of so many posts but life prevent too many words from reaching my blog.. I guess that is what twitter is for..