Is Email the Darth Vader of Modern Business Communications?

In a world where instant communications and engagement is rapidly becoming the norm, email is taking on all the traits of a dark lord in the making.

Email started out as a powerful and useful tool that brought speed and (for the most part) brevity to industrial and corporate communications. However, it is rapidly transforming into the disgruntled jedi of communications.

Email is a dark art of the new wee. A 1.0 workplace solution. A habitual norm. Administratively heavy, it sucks previous time and resources from your everyday.

and yet… for all its operational inefficiencies it still seems to work for the majority.

Mobility has ensured access to the dark lord of ICT communications. Smartphones have ensured access to webmail a standard… in effect minimising the mobile digital divide, by giving cross-generational comfort on these new platforms and devices.

In this form, email is the connector. The access point for new media platforms and devices.

Convergence can only occur where comfort resides.

For the first decade of ‘social’ it has been email, but what’s next…? 

What’s able to fill the void? Is SMS or IM enough? or is non-regulation the biggest obstacle here…?

Non-regulation, poor regulation and the non-specific zones of the internet environment are our biggest foes.

Not just for business, but for governments and citizens as well.

There are no robust legal structures in place that currently nurture nor protect the individual online, let alone small business.

In over a decade there has been very little movement towards reform as monetising the internet remains the priority.

LinkedIn – the largest professional network where people have been putting their personal information for free for the last decade is now owned by a multinational corporation in Microsoft.

I find it strange that no one is questioning the personal cost of such a merger… perhaps for the majority of us, we’re not switching on to the reality of the evolution of the social networking platform that profiled, connected and enabled market transfers in human terms…. at what cost are we willing to earn a buck?

Let’s hope someday in the not too distant future we all start thinking about and directly addressing the cost of how we ‘settle’ the wild west of the internet.

What are we really willing to relinquish in order to earn a buck?

If so, what is the true cost to the individual, team or organisation… society?

Sadly, it’s a question very few are willing to articulate, let alone address with a view to answering

Why?

Because in order to do so, we’d have to acknowledge and address not only email as the Dark Lord of the internet, but the deeper, now embedded commercial practices of digital decadence and the new norm of dumbing down and relaxing acceptable standards of entertainment, operations and performance.

Let’s stop being happy with average and strive for great and the impossible again.

 

 

Up all night thanks to Online Gravity

Earlier in the week I received an inmail via LinkedIn from the overachieving Mr Paul McCarthy, letting me know his new book, Online Gravity  had been released.

Very generously, he forwarded a copy via post.

I first met Paul at a social media conference we were both presenting at last year and I was suitably excited for him.

Last night, before heading off into the land of nod, I thought I’d have a quick look through the newest arrival to my bedside reading collection.

This would soon prove possibly the most enjoyable mistake I’ve made in a long time.

Online Gravity is proof red bull now comes in paperback.
After flying through the first couple of chapters, my eyes were closed for less than 20 minutes before my brain sparked its first ‘must write down’ idea.

Wrestling out of bed and into the office to ‘brainstorm’ said idea, attempts to return to bed proved futile.

What is Online Gravity?
Paul McCarthy’s concept of the phenomenon of Online Gravity – an invisible force driving development (form and behaviour) in the age of the internet (online world) – is brilliant in its simple logic.

Online Gravity – the book,  demonstrates what the phenomenon does, how it develops and how it can be harnessed by individuals.

It marries the science of the universe, technology and business in easily digestible chunks – that makes you want to keep reading, to keep questioning and in consequence promotes deep and diverse, critical thinking.

With the unprecedented rates of change expected in global business structures, processes and workforce in the next five years thanks to digital ubiquity and the Internet of Things, Online Gravity is a tool every good educator should want to share with their students today to prepare them for a more evolved and much changed tomorrow.

While I still have a couple of pages left to read (full review to follow in due course), what I do know is Online Gravity should be on every digital media, communications and business syllabus.

It is an articulate, accessible guiding text on what we as digitally dependent individuals and businesses can expect in terms of process and practice. While articulating as a workforce, how best to harness the phenomenon of online gravity.

It is what true thought leadership looks like on paper and in practice.

What Online Gravity has given me
As someone who has been struggling with refining my PhD research question (just part of the joy of the process so I’m told), thought leadership such as Online Gravity motivates this humble researcher to stretch beyond convention in articulating the synergies and antagonisms of the new social business frontier and beyond.

As the principal mentor at How2Social.com, Online Gravity feels like a supportive hug as I jump off the new business precipice, confident in my ‘hunch’ of the ever-present need for and cultural importance of proactively enabling humans in and around new social and digital technologies.

Thank you Mr McCarthy for sharing the phenomenal read that is Online Gravity!

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Online Gravity is published by Simon & Schuster Australia and is available in paperback ($32.99) and e-book($17.99) formats.

If you are looking for a copy to call your own, Paul’s website provides the following guidance:

A number of eBook versions are also available including:

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How do I shut down Twitter?

The mere question rings alarm bells.

Moreso when reports out of the recent HMV experience suggest they were the words of HMV’s marketing director as HMV’s official twitter account was hijacked by disgruntled staff.

I’m no lawyer, but there is a reason internal communications are structured and handled differently than its external counterpart. There are legal, political and economic repercussions for businesses, hence why corporate messages are often ‘crafted’ and ‘approved’.

Now before you get all indignant about ethics and freedom of speech, it is timely to remember these are common, respected practices and behaviours of business men and women (of all ages) within the global business community.

However, for the rest of corporate Australia (and elsewhere) now is not the time to look down your nose at HMV management or their disgruntled staff and keen tweeters (I’m sure HR and engaged lawyers will cover that debate sufficiently).

It is however, time for management the world over to do an audit of strategic web-based marketing communications operations, focusing on process, procedures and governance.

Not sure where to start?

1.Start by acknowledging a title doesn’t determine superior knowledge. While it should reflect experience, in the constantly evolving world of ICT communication (embodying web-based, digital and social communications) a few conferences, or campaigns, an expert, it does not you make. (Not sure why, but Yoda seemed appropriate all of a sudden). Most companies are placing juniors in charge of digital communications (web and social media). I cringe every time a first or second year student seeks guidance for a job interview in social media which starts with: ‘how do I use it for business’ only to tell me the following week they are now the social media manager!

The savvy traditional marketing communications ‘experts’ (a term I cringe at whenever I hear it) are ‘dipping their toe in’, and playing it safe by applying the age old ‘suck and see method’ based on hunches, recommendations and gut instinct. When in doubt, this is a sensible, albeit soon to be dated approach (especially, if they’re outsourcing it!). More on that later…

2. Ask yourself, do I know who we (brand/ business) are?
That’s right, take it back to basics and ask yourself point blank, do I know who we (brand/ business/ team) are? You’d be stunned by how many successful business practitioners (and their staff) have NO IDEA how to answer this question comprehensively and succinctly.
If you’ve just discovered you’re one of them, then you have you’re opening question to your senior management team brainstorm right there.

3. Where are your team members in the great cycle that posits their professional life with your business/brand life cycle. Are they complimentary? Where are the gaps? Opportunities for growth? How and where can you best provide the necessary supports to lift your team as individuals as well as, a well-oiled marcomms machine to support your business…?

4. If you’re one of the few who answered question #2 with relative ease, then congratulations. You’re off to a great start. As the lead executive, ask yourself how you communicate down through your team, department, business and across key target markets and media. Be sure to identify the key points of variations within those communications, your teams’ response (as individuals and a group) and where they may be improved upon.

This step takes time, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve realised you’re moving a littler slower all of a sudden…

As senior leaders, this is actually our FIRST real step in the process. It’s the one that exposes whether we have the entrepreneurial mindset that enables agility in strategic thinking and multi-channel campaign design. Thinking that drives market-leading specialists. It also enables clear aims, researched objectives and practical processes to be successfully married to the prerequisite sense and intrinsic response.

This is skill that in acquisition, is challenging and demanding in the most honest of ways. Don’t worry, if it doesn’t come straight away. It’s a skill that develops overtime.

A process that enables you as a professional to reflect on how you can better contribute to the success of your team and your business through applying thought leadership to management practice. A process that does not include (at any time) the question: How do I shut down anything.

Why? Because you saw the potential problem before it had the chance to arise.