China rapidly becoming largest e-commerce economy in the world

Forbes contributor Frank Holmes explains:

> Even though Cyber Monday sales were spectacular this year, as online sales surged 20 percent and beat Black Friday receipts, the day didn’t top November 11, Singles’ Day in China. Singles’ Day is a day of celebration for people who are single and has become popular among the young in China…Online transactions have grown so quickly in China over the past few years, the country may have surpassed the U.S. in becoming the largest e-commerce market in the world…while many U.S. investors are getting excited about the growing number of initial public offerings in the tech sector, they would be remiss if they didn’t look beyond Silicon Valley

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Smile you’re on Glass: How Google will fuel the privacy debate


While all of the early adopters anticipate Google Glass’ imminent launch, and try to convince Google why they should each get access to a pair, one conversation has been missing. What about privacy? Sure, the Glass wearer can turn the recording and capture features on and off with voice commands, but what about everyone else in their vicinity? Knowing that someone near you is wearing the Glass device, how will we begin to (re)act? Do we all now become characters in someone’s reality show?

Author Mark Hurst (@markhurst) writes:

The real issue raised by Google Glass, which will either cause the project to fail or create certain outcomes you may not want (which I’ll describe), has to do with the lifebits. Once again, it’s an issue of experience.

The Google Glass feature that (almost) no one is talking about is the experience – not of the user, but of everyone other than the user. A tweet by David Yee introduces it well:

“There is a kid wearing Google Glasses at this restaurant which, until just now, used to be my favorite spot.”

The key experiential question of Google Glass isn’t what it’s like to wear them, it’s what it’s like to be around someone else who’s wearing them. I’ll give an easy example. Your one-on-one conversation with someone wearing Google Glass is likely to be annoying, because you’ll suspect that you don’t have their undivided attention. And you can’t comfortably ask them to take the glasses off (especially when, inevitably, the device is integrated into prescription lenses). Finally – here’s where the problems really start – you don’t know if they’re taking a video of you.

Now pretend you don’t know a single person who wears Google Glass… and take a walk outside. Anywhere you go in public – any store, any sidewalk, any bus or subway – you’re liable to be recorded: audio and video. Fifty people on the bus might be Glassless, but if a single person wearing Glass gets on, you – and all 49 other passengers – could be recorded. Not just for a temporary throwaway video buffer, like a security camera, but recorded, stored permanently, and shared to the world.

To some extent we’ve all come to accept being recorded in most places by security cameras. And the growth and spread of Youtube memes – The Harlem Shake meme is now being used to protest in Egypt – shows that more and more people are embracing the video medium whether they are doing the capturing or are the subject of it. Today, individuals still have to make a bit of an effort to capture an experience, but tomorrow, with stylish  Warby Parker frames embedded with the Google Glass technology, barriers to unwanted surveillence are all but gone. And once that becomes more of a reality, privacy advocates will raise the red flag higher and governemtns will have to move quickly to set laws in place. Once again personal technology advancements are rocking the privacy boat and will certainly spawn brand new cultural bevahiors.

What do you think? Is the privacy fear warranted?

Turn a smartphone into a deadly weapon? Here’s how.


Note: If you’re a paranoid about the future, here’s a happy place….Ok, now for everyone else feel free to read ahead.

For some people, technology’s impact on our future brings visions of the Jestons and for others the future is more Terminator/Matrix-like. I’d say I fall somewhere in the miiddle. 

Two articles I ran into recently gave me a realistic view on the down sides of technology. The first is this article fron the December issue of Vanity Fair “Look Out—He’s Got a Phone!“. The article outlines how during a recent conference, a security expert and researcher from a company called IOActive demonstrated a way to hack into an pacemaker with his smartphone and make the pacemaker overheat and malfunction!!

To engineers, the advantages are clear. Smartphones can relay patients’ data to hospital computers in a continuous stream. Doctors can alter treatment regimens remotely, instead of making patients come in for a visit. If something goes wrong, medical professionals can be alerted immediately and the devices can be rapidly adjusted over the air. Unfortunately, though, the disadvantages are equally obvious to people like Barnaby Jack: doctors will not be the only people dialing in. A smartphone links patients’ bodies and doctors’ computers, which in turn are connected to the Internet, which in turn is connected to any smartphone anywhere. The new devices could put the management of an individual’s internal organs, in the hands of every hacker, online scammer, and digital vandal on Earth.

Crazy stuff to consider, but does that mean we need to halt health care innovations being pioneered by folks like Rock Health?

The second article by software architect Troy Hunt, gives a great perspective on how the Internet of things opens users up to possible danger. In his post “Inviting hackers into our homes via the internet of things“, Hunt says:

Clearly these “things” have the ability to improve our lives in all sorts of wonderful ways, but frankly, that’s a bit boring. Well at least it’s boring compared to the potential for misuse. That’s the exciting frontier; it’s one thing having your passwords breached on a website, it’s quite another when bad guys are controlling physical devices in your house. Let me speculate on just where this might be leading us…

Hunt goes on to outline a litany of possibilities of how the connected devices which made big news at the CES show last week could be turned against it’s users. It’s a good read for optimists like myself to ground us in the alternative uses our new shiny objects.

My view is that technocal like other innovations – e.g. the printing press, steam engine, and even fire – has a greater possibility to change our life for the better. But in the wrong hands, these same innovations can create a volatile society. Does that mean we should err on the side of innovatiors or laggards? Do we prevent harm by keeping things the way they are?

I watched the 1st episode of Downton Abbey (yes, I’m late), a British period drama set in the early 1900s. In one of the scenes, Lord Grantham walks into a room. His elderly mother Countess Violet Crawley turns to talk to him and immediately holds a black hand fan to her face, blocking the light from the indoor bulbs. When asked about her getting some electricity in her own house someday, Countess Crawley says “I couldn’t have electricity in the house. I couldn’t sleep a wink. All those vapours seeping about.” I laughed and scoffed at how ridiculous she sounded. Then I thought about it a bit. Would I have been the same way? Would you?


Big Data still needs human insights…for now


As everyone goes about their every day life in 2013 using platforms like automatic fare payment systems, Facebook, and mobile phones, we all contribute to the growing deluge of data for individuals and organizations. Hence the term Big Data is a hot topic these days. Smart organizations are looking at this as an opportunity to optimize and innovate products and services to better serve their customers without breaching their privacy. And how do you separate the signal from the noise to get real actionable insights? Thats the hard part and the human touch still has the machines beat.

Gartner says that Big Data is moving from small, individual, and focused projects to an enterprise-wide architecture. All this requires a breakthrough when it comes to current approaches for leveraging Big Data….Beginning in 2013, the market will be looking for innovation. Product-centric companies will begin to disrupt the patchwork of services-centric solutions that currently exist. The product-centric companies will deliver the speed of data-to-insight conversion with a compelling economic business case. The business case will include the time-value of data and the measure of its useful lifespan, which gets smaller as the data gets bigger. Hence, there is a compelling need for automation and a product-centric approach to Big Data.

Those businesses that start adopting the product-driven approach to Big Data early will have a significant advantage in their experience curve – leading to more enterprise-wide analytics usage. This will lead to competitive advantages in both the short and long-terms.

(via The Need for a Product-Centric Approach to Big Data | Emcien)

photo: Eric Fischer on Flickr

How to recognize and take advantage of disruptive opportunities

I recently came across this very interesting video on “How to Recognize Disruptive Opportunities” featuring a conversation between author/Altimeter Group’s Brian Solis and Mark Suster (@msuster), serial entrepreneur turned VC. In about 18 minutes, the conversation covers a range of disruption-related topics from open systems (Twitter) vs. closed systems (Facebook), to how to get enterprises to innovate. Mark has a ton of experience and insights on innovation and many are spot on. I particularly liked his views on the need for digital natives in the board room. In my experience, innovative ideas are wasted on an organization which doesn’t have the people and resources to implement it. This is not to say that innovative ideas shouldn’t be explored, but equal attention must be paid to the “how” of the new product or system. Disruptive innovation is never about the biggest idea. It is about the effect the idea has on the industry it’s released within, and that can’t be seen until it’s rolled out in some form. The sooner an organization can start prototyping and beta testing, the sooner the innovation can become disruptive. The idea of prototyping and iteration is hard coded (hehe!) into the work-style of digital natives and this perspective is key to bringing disruptive innovations to life in today’s industries. As Mark mentions, the uncertainty and hesitance to pursue a disruptive opportunity is softened by having a digital native on the executive team. Oh, and what makes a digital native? Well, it’s NOT their age, but rather their experience and perspective.

How to start a socially connected movement


A few weeks ago I attended the always inspirational annual World Innovation Forum held here in New York City. One of the speakers was Russell Stevens, partner at SS+K, one of the most imaginative, innovative, and widely acclaimed marketing and communications agencies in New York. Stevens is an expert in generating creative social engagement. He’s most famous for his role as the architect behind the social engagement strategy for both the Obama 2008 election campaign and Lance Armstrong’s original Livestrong campaign. During his talk Stevens gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the thinking and structure of both campaigns and what made them viral. He outlined a simple methodology which could be used by companies and community organizations alike to create a viral movement in today’s socially connected world. Here are the four phases of his new rules of engagement:


  • Find their passion points
  • Say something to inflame/excite them


  • Drive relevance by fueling discussion
  • Be a vehicle for their self expression


  • Consider people your best media
  • Empower them as spokespeople

4. OWN

  • Make it easy
  • Choreograph spontaneity
  • Empower them

Here’s video of Russell Stevens talking about how Obama won in 2008 with the help of a solid youth social engagement strategy.

Using Technology to connect Communities of Color around Health

The most important source of information for people making a day-to-day health decision, in many cases, is not a website, or even a clinician, but another person who shares the same condition. As mobile, social tools spread throughout the population, people are connecting with each other. Why not harness those tools for health?….Pew Internet research shows that when someone has a mobile device connected to the internet, they are more likely to share, to forward, to create, and to consume online information, from text to photos to videos. They are more likely to participate in the online conversation about health…Just like peer to peer file sharing transformed the music industry by allowing people to share songs, peer-to-peer healthcare has the potential to transform the pursuit of health by allowing people to share what they know and connect with other people.

This is an area I’ve been watching and thinking about for a while. I guess it’s somewhat related to my previous post on digital illiteracy. My theory so far is this: As communities of color become the majority in the United States, and digital communications and online communities continue to play a large part in accelerating conversations, health issues which are unique to those communities will take the spotlight and shift the domestic health and wellness industry. There are already signs of this happening, but it’ll be a while longer before the weak signals fuel a real shift. Any thoughts?

Access Isn’t Everything; From ‘Digital Divide’ to ‘Digital Illiteracy’

As access to devices has spread, children in poorer families are spending considerably more time than children from more well-off families using their television and gadgets to watch shows and videos, play games and connect on social networking sites, studies show…This growing time-wasting gap, policy makers and researchers say, is more a reflection of the ability of parents to monitor and limit how children use technology than of access to it…“I’m not antitechnology at home, but it’s not a savior,” said Laura Robell, the principal at Elmhurst Community Prep, a public middle school in East Oakland, Calif., who has long doubted the value of putting a computer in every home without proper oversight.

When will we learn that it’s not what you have access to, but rather, how you use it. The race to develop and release new technologies cannot exclude the development of systems and processes which guide us in it’s use. As a technophile, I struggle everyday with defining the effect such rapid iteration has on my own life. It’s hard enough for me, so I can imagine why others swear off technology all together. But burying your head in the sand is not the answer either, just ask Blockbuster. One thing is clear to me, we’ll increasingly need more processes and systems which are solid enough to give us stability, while being flexible enough to anticipate and adapt to change. As the saying goes, “the horse is out the gate” and we have 2 choices : 1) stand still and risk getting trampled or 2) think of a way to not only get out of its way, but end up in the saddle. What do you think?

Radio took 38 yrs to get 50 million users, Angry Birds Space took 35 days [Infographic]

I recently came across this tweet from OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter:

Reading about the amazingly meteoric rise of their Draw Something app and subsequent sale of the comapany to Zynga, I got to thinking about the speed of adoption of technologies these days. It used to be that 50 million users was a milestone, but these days analysts like myself watch these stats pass without blinking. In the time it took me to write this post Rovio’s Angry Birds Space edition app surpassed Draw Something by reaching 50 million users in 35 days, setting a new record. Within the past 30 years, I’ve seen vinyl albums with only 6 songs give way to iPod nanos with 2000 songs. In the past 10 years alone technologies which were barely an idea before ahve infiltrated and disrupted whole industries almost overnight. It’s still easy for some to dismiss companies like Google and Facebook as anomalies, but when you look at the bigger trend, the truth can be scary for the unprepared. I put this infographic together to help me visualize and analyze the larger trend. Of course, much is omitted from the story like geography, infrastructure, governing laws, demographics etc, but the trend is amazing nonetheless. Feel free to use the infographic it if it’s helpful for you.


How long does it take to reach 50 million users?

Telephone ~ 75 years

Radio ~ 38 years

Television ~ 13 years

Internet ~ 4 years

Facebook ~ 3.5 years

iPod ~ 3 years

AOL ~ 2.5 years

Draw Something app ~ 50 days

Angry Birds Space app ~ 35 days


Notes: Agencies as Incubators (Ad Age Digital 2012)

Here are some notes and ideas from the “Agencies as Incubators” session at last week’s Ad Age Digital Conference in NYC. More to notes to come:

[View the story "Agencies as Incubators (Ad Age Digital 2012)" on Storify]

Agencies as Incubators (Ad Age Digital 2012)

Notes: Eric Johnson, President & Founder of Ignited

Storified by G. Kofi Annan · Mon, Apr 23 2012 13:49:05

@Ignited started Ignited Labs to fund internal & external marketing technology start ups; now not only agency but also incubator #aadigitalVenturingEmergBrands
Ignited LabsGKofiA
Ignited LabsGKofiA


Lesson 1: It takes leadership 

Lesson 2: Need multiple benefits

                    – ROI, Clients, Inspiration

Lesson 3: Play hardball 

Lesson 4: Driver was more about sharing ideas with peers

Lesson 5: Change the mindset

                   - Foster a creative & entrepreneurial environment

                  – They bring in speakers like Tim Westergren (Pandora), Jana Steadman (MTV), Simon Sinek (“Starts with Why” book)

Lesson 6: Start-ups feed growth; it’s a cycle

                  – Maintain organic growth

                  – Start new business

                  – Invest in new business

                  - Offer new agency services

                  – Consider acquisitions

Lesson 7: Pitch selectively 

                  – balance time & capital investment between new business pitches & start-ups

ROI of pitching not good; involves high costs & low chance of winning; tough to make money back #aadigital Eric Johnson @ignitedVenturingEmergBrands
Agencies must start investing in innovation & experimentation to thrive – @ignited now puts1/2 of our time & money into startups #AADigitalIgnited
How to stir up innovation within agency? Foster a creative and entrepreneurial environment – Eric Johnson, pres of Ignited #aadigitalgatsdee
Ignited LabsGKofiA