digital strategy, early adoption

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
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..
early adoption, linkedin, schalk, social networks, using social media in job search

Early adopting Linkedin: Member no. 39,974 out of 100 million users

I received a lovely letter on March 25th from Reid Hoffman, Co-founder and Chairman of Linkedin.    He wrote to personally thank the first 100, 000 linkedin members as Linkedin secured its 100th million user last week.  I was member 39, 974 – in the top 0.03% (so better than top 1%) of early adopters for Linkedin.  Okay – so my ego is stroked.   Honestly though – its not just ego – but I feel strangely validated for having promoted Linkedin to scores and scores of colleagues over the years.

Here is a copy of that letter:

Dear Laurie,

I want to personally thank you because you were one of LinkedIn’s first 100,000 members (member number 39974 in fact!*). In any technology adoption lifecycle, there are the innovators, those who help lead the way. That was you.

We hit a big milestone at LinkedIn this week when our 100 millionth member joined the site.

When we founded LinkedIn, our vision was to help the world’s professionals be more successful and productive. Today, with your help, LinkedIn is changing the lives of millions of members by helping them connect with others, find jobs, get insights, start a business, and much more.

We are grateful for your support and look forward to helping you accomplish much more in the years to come. I hope that you are having a great year.


Reid Hoffman
Co-founder and Chairman

*Your member number is the number embedded in your LinkedIn profile URL (after “id=”).

I started using Linkedin over seven years ago mostly because as a mobile IBM worker, I had no desk and so keeping a rolodex wasn’t digital enough for me.    I was also using Friendster, encouraged by a friend in Hong Kong, well before Facebook took over my personal social life and I tried Plaxo for a bit before I gave up.

I really only grasped the huge value of Linkedin, however, when I took my first maternity leave in 2005 only to return 12 months later and instantly be able to find my marketing network because each person had updated their own profile.   Heaven.

In 2009, when the market took a dive and I was laid off in my twelfth month of my second maternity leave (after hiring a nanny), I turned to linkedin to better position me and my business.  I used Linkedin strategically – optimizing not only my profile but how I used the tool in order to make connections, update my network and secure information.

In the year of exponential social media growth (still in 2009), I had a lot of friends in career transition.   Many of whom were not on Linkedin or if they were, not using the tool well.  So I started to trade drinks for lessons with friends.   I got pretty good so I made my community give back to volunteer at employment centers around the city to teach disadvantaged people how to use social media to find a job.  I taught close to 700 people how to use Linkedin.   During that time – I started to win business through Linkedin – some quite sizable deals – not to mention provide social media education & consulting across the gamut of networks.  I often asserted that too many companies forgot Linkedin as a potential B2B strategy.

(Its at this point that I fear readers think a personal usage of Linkedin formed the only foundation for my social media expertise… no actually my eight years in emerging tech at IBM and years in marketing – contribute far more)

This is all a long way of saying how grateful I am for this relationship with Linkedin.   And it certainly was nice to see correspondence from Linkedin outside of their proprietary messaging system.