It is well accepted that the pace of change in the last 20 years has outweighed any such period before – mainly due to the ubiquitous penetration of the mobile phone, computers, high-speed Internet and, most recently, social media and mobile.
And so, we have finally reached 2013 the year of ‘The Drop’ – so called by Jim Stengal, P&G’s former Chief Marketing Officer. The word ‘social’ should be dropped from ‘
social media’ as all media is social – and we should drop ‘digital and mobile’ from ‘ digital and mobile marketing’ as all marketing should encompass ‘digital and mobile’ being integrated with traditional business building plans. Jim extends this to dropping ‘advertising’ from ‘advertising agency’ as their future is in helping clients creatively realise opportunities – and dropping ‘global’ from ‘global marketing’ as all marketing should be global in thought and intent. Finally, we have entered an era of integration and simplification as people want coherence, impact and help from those who lead brands.
So let’s wind the clock back 20 years… In 1993, I had a mobile phone – analogue, on Securicor’s network with no texting, no roaming and very high calling rates. To note, bundled minute packages and caller line ID came with the advent of Orange in 1994 (to whom I moved to very quickly). I did not have an email address back then – and we did not use computers at college/university in the UK. After a ‘false dawn decade’ of the mobile internet (remember WAP and BTCellent’s optimistic ‘mobile internet’ marketing messaging in the late 1990’s) – we are where we are today: truly connected with instant access to ICET-APMA (not the best acronym but: Information, Communication, Entertainment, Transaction – Anytime and Pretty Much Anywhere… given battery life, Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity!).
For me, the reality of today can be traced back to 13 years ago. Back in February 2000 – I was part of a dozen strong team from Orange who went to the GSM Congress in Cannes. Our visionary and unconventional CEO, Hans Snook, opened the congress and welcomed everyone to the “wild west” – as he strode onto the stage in his customary t-shirt and leather jacket to the sound of cowboy music and a western film backdrop. Hans stated “In the original Wild West, the catalyst for much of the continent’s early growth came from gold rushes… In the digital Wild West our growth has also been fuelled by gold rushes, but today’s gold rush is not about panning for gold in river beds.” Hans thrust aloft his hand clutching a mobile phone: “Today’s golden nuggets are these… As they say in the movies, ‘there’s gold in them hills.'” Hans was also referring to the growing band of Internet millionaires and dot-com start-ups that were changing the way the world communicates and transacts. This is most evident now with the plethora of social media sites and mobile apps facilitating our personal and professional lives.
Hans Snook presented the ‘Orange World’ video set against a music backdrop of Blur’s The Universal. This video showed a vision of the world which we are just, only now, seeing realised: mobile phone apps controlling household devices, in-car telematics data being transferred to garages, near field communications being used to pay for goods, GPS location services being used to track movement and sharing all of these and other events or news with friends and family across the globe. Hans and Orange were well ahead of their time – but it has taken more than a decade to see that ‘Orange World’ vision fully realised given advances in mobile handsets, other technology (such as GPS and NFC), broadband Wi-Fi and 4G wireless Internet, wireless applications and of course, social media applications.
On a separate note, in 1999, Orange had been acquired by Mannesmann – with Mannesmann in turn being acquired by Vodafone. Soon after the ‘Orange World’ presentation in Cannes – France Telecom acquired Orange as Vodafone could not keep Orange given it already had its Vodafone presence in the UK. Indeed the ‘future was bright, and the future was Orange’. I will save the value destruction that happened to Orange in the intervening years for more well-versed corporate finance and investment commentators. But the premium value of Orange pre 2000 lay strongly in its product innovation, strong growth and its enticing, integrated and seamless vision of the ‘social and mobile’ future.
So there we have it – my personal view and journey of where we are today. I was privileged to be in that special position with Orange and could not have envisaged that it would take so long to realise that vision – and share it via my mobile device in a cafe on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or the social media site of your choice.
Looking back on social media in 2012, we saw significant interest in image based sharing sites (such as Pinterest and Instagram), simple fun sharing games (such as Draw Something) and sharing location based activities (checking in on Facebook and Foursquare). However, the big thing now is that of sharing on mobile. Mobile is an imperative part of social media moving forward and the organisations and websites that will do well will have mobile at their core. The first incarnation of the web lacked ‘sharing’ and the second lacked ‘mobile’ – these are two essential elements now.
And so, the lesson for all organisations (B2B, B2C, not-for-profit, private sector, public sector) is that, at last, social media, digital and mobile marketing should be integral to all their business building plans and extend across all departments be it Sales, Marketing, PR, Operations, Advocacy, Finance or Investor Relations (more on this later!).
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