New insights on the future of search, privacy and the inevitability of social media

Last week I had the honor of attending a “B2B Marketing Huddle” in London organized by Kerry Bridge, Neville Hobson, and Simon Hughes.  The content was fantastic and I wanted to share with you a few highlights from one of the keynotes speakers, Dave Coplin Chief Visioning Officer – Microsoft. Here are a few quotes from this presentation that I think will get your synaptic connections firing:

dave coplin

Dave Coplin of Microsoft

“The Internet has fundamentally changed the way we work and communicate so why do most people have a better user experience at home than at work? How many people try to access the web at work and get, “Computer says NO.”  How can any company block the social web today?”

“Companies who build up all these policies and firewalls to keep people from using the Internet at work are just wasting their time.  Are they frisking you for Sudoko books? Here’s the real reason for these policies: They don’t understand, so it’s easier to just shut it off. Social media is inevitable. There will be a tipping point for every single company.”

“It’s time to end the Era of the Dumb User. These are the people who wear their disdain of computers like a badge of honor. Today, that’s like bragging that you can’t read.  IT people have helped create this because they try to control it. We need to unleash the power to everyone.”

“It seems that every year is declared the ‘The year of mobile’ but I really do think it is the year of mobile. Look at it this way.  I will lend you my computer but never my smartphone. This a truly personal device that delivers personal services. It gives you a window to the digital world wherever you are, whatever you are doing. This fundamentally is changing the way we work right now.”

“Bing is blending search results with the social graph. If you don’t have relevancy you have a cold, binary, alien algorithm. Web search is a needle in a billion haystacks. Can you even find a photo on your own computer?  Blending search with relationships can make the search warmer.”

“Apps and search will be merging to create entirely new offerings. Apps keep search in context. It doesn’t take you where you don’t want to be. Wouldn’t you love to have “Dave’s Friday Night App” to lead you to exactly where you want to go without being at the mercy of ‘www?’ ”

“Having access to big data is going to lead us to fundamentally different conclusions about the world.  Data science is the new rock and roll. Understanding how data comes together will be important for every single business of every size. This will be a key competitive advantage for those who are early on and master it.”

“Technology will eventually disappear into the background. Screens will disappear. Social TV will connect all the screens but that is just the beginning. Every single flat surface will provide contextual information.  In a few years, Minority Report will be nostalgic. Information will not be plastic and glass. Every surface will be interactive, including your skin. Your arms and fingers will be the input devices.”

“The human side of social technology is behind and this will have to evolve. It has taken 20 years to start mastering cell phone etiquette.  People feel anonymity makes them safe but it makes them bullies and stupid.  It’s not funny.  The lack of civility jeopardizes the potential of the technology.  Facebook does not cause bullying. Shitheads cause bullying.”

“Privacy is a really difficult issue because the line between personal and private is different for every person. All we can do is be transparent about what we do. The ultimate search service is like getting the ‘usual’ at your favorite restaurant or pub. You can have local, personal service wherever you go, whatever store you visit.  We all need to approach privacy as a journey and we are all involved in that.”

“The educational systems are not keeping up with the real world.  We need to be teaching SKILLS not tools. If all you do is teach tools, you will continually teach obsolescence.  Your education will be useless. We must be educating children for jobs that do not yet exist.”

“Critical thinking is the most important skill as we move forward and we’re losing it. Are you going to be satisfied living a Wikipedia life or will you seek to lead life that is based on something that is true?”

“Be human. Nobody cares about your company. How do I convince people to wake up and care what the second biggest search engine is doing today? We got our biggest Twitter following ever when we told jokes during National Cheese Week. I can’t talk about search all day every day.  Don’t just engage — enchant. Do the unexpected. Connect on a level of basic human emotion — to our friends, our partners, our customers.”

“Here’s a wonderful example of a company being human. Marks & Spencer took a suggestion from one of their customers that they feature a Downs Syndrome child as a catalogue model. And they did it. Beautiful, moving. Human.”

I hope these quotes get your brain turning as much as they did for me.  What has an impact on you? What got you thinking? Share a comment, won’t you?

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  • jennwhinnem

    I like it, a lot. I want to end the era of the Dumb User!

    What would Dave say about banks, the financial industry? I interviewed for a position at a bank in 2010. They wanted to “do” social media – but their frontline employees weren’t allowed to use social media. They couldn’t even use their personal email! This was all in the name of protecting customer information. I felt extremely torn about this.

  • One of the best pieces of insight I’ve read in a long time. It all makes so much sense too. I’m hoping to do a lot of work via my new consultancy with businesses who are looking to break down this barrier that sits in front of social. So many organisations are massively silo’d – social media tech and principles can stop that.

  • Wow. Some brilliant stuff. Thought-provoking. Inspiring. Challenging. Visionary. Could discuss all this stuff for hours (in the pub). I particularly like “don’t just engage, enchant” – really need to think about how to put that into practice. Thanks for sharing this, Mark.

  • Some really inspiring ideas there, Mark, thanks a lot for sharing.

    Many companies are certainly way behind in their policies but I think Dave also gets to the nub when he says “The human side of social technology is behind and this will have to
    evolve. It has taken 20 years to start mastering cell phone etiquette” – technology can make Minority Report nostalgic but it is always how the technology is used (or isn’t) that ultimately defines how it moves forward and changes our lives (or doesn’t).

    Great stuff – I’m going to be reading this several times before I will have absorbed all of the implications !

  • I would say a _lot_ about the banks and the financial industry – and a lot of other organisations who have yet to really understand the potential of social media. I empathise with the security dilemma, but there are always ways and means. Some of the most secure organisations in this country have found ways to make this work, sure it’s never perfect but it’s always possible. My biggest fear is of those organisations that hide behind these excuses rather than face up to the organisational change that is _already underway_ inside their organisations – people have such a rich experience of technology in their personal lives, it’s only natural they want to share those experiences in how they do their day jobs. You can only hold this back so far and for so long. Remember how only a few years ago, only one person could access the internet at work? How would these business run today if that was still the case? Well, my perspective is that we are doing exactly the same thing with social media (and other new ways of working). Time will tell, but it is up to all of us to make it happen inside our own organisations. I get that it can sometimes be hard work, but we owe it to ourselves and to our colleagues to get it right.

  • Interesting, exciting stuff, a vision of major leaps… which requires, like all leaps, a good look beforehand. What we really need to examine is his/business’ self-excusing assumption that ” All we can do is be transparent about what we do.” That’s not going to be good enough in an era when corporations invite consumers to use their bodies as part of the interface corporations at least partly control. What is required is also being completely transparent not only about what corporations do but what they are, and what their goals within the social relationship are. At this point, they exist to enhance shareholder financial value within what Don Peppers of Peppers & Rogers very aptly refers to as a mindset of “short-termism.” Corporations, to enter into a higher level of trust and honest relationship, versus a heightened sense of consumer manipulation, will also have to work hard to redefine the internal and external understanding of shareholder value, expanding it beyond purely financial terms. That, as you might imagine, will be a major cultural shift of heart and mind that is likely to lag behind the breakneck pace of technological advancement.

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  • Dave, thanks so much for chiming in. Jen, I wanted to add a point here too. Yes, these rules are real, but for a lot of bansk they are hiding behind myths because they are afraid. I once had a student who was a financial adviser who was not even allowed to have a LinkedIn profile. I asked him — Does your company allow you to attend netwprking meetings? “Yes” Do they control what you say? “No.” The why dont they trust you on Twitter? He took my class and this started him on a one man revolution and today he is leading a social media implmentation team for his company.

  • Good to hear Mike. Look foward to hearing of your progress!

  • I’ll take you up on that pub visit Hugh. Definitely a pub-time discussion!

  • Glad the post had an impact on you Matthew! Thanks for commenting.

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  • I guess i”m not too optimistic about this Chuck. Of course there must be some measure of community activism expected from companies today but at the end of the day they are still to make money and/or create stakeholder value. No customers = no company. I don’t see that changing in my lifetime.

  • John Bottom

    Dave – some great thoughts here, particularly how they are expressed. Most people in this community know and appreciate many of these points, but we all struggle to convince others (clients) – some of your arguments and phrases are very compelling. We can advise people that they need to change their mindset, but it’s so hard to find the phrase that scores a direct hit on their consciousness. It’s like the Gary Larson cartoon “What people say, what dogs hear”. It’s tough getting through. So I am grateful for the clarity and pithiness of: “teaching skills not tools”, “”I will lend you my computer but never my smartphone” and “don’t just engage – enchant”. Very useful.

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  • Thanks Mark, appreciate that.

  • kathikruse

    This is simply fantastic. “Don’t just engage…enchant.” Mark, this is the first thing I read this morning and it’s such an inspiration! What a great way to start my day–knowing there is hope. I have so many people DAILY wearing their disdain for computers like a badge of honor. So many car dealer conferences teaching tools not content strategy. Thanks for starting my day off right!

  • I’m not too optimistic about it, either, and I think that lack of corporate change in this regard will limit the implementation of some of Coplin’s vision. On the up side, those few corporations who can honestly expand the idea of shareholder value beyond just financial value stand to gain.

  • Jenn, I was asking the same question you are 18 months ago.

    My suggestion is to start with a personal social media presence. (Do not have your company name on your Twitter profile; mine still isn’t but I am hopeful it will be one day). Be ready for the inevitable “conversation” with the dreaded Compliance Officer but don’t back down. If you are prepared for the industry barriers coming down you will be ahead of the competition.
    One of the biggest lessons I learned from Mark Schaefer was to make my social effort about people vs. product. I don’t know if I will ever see a profit from SM, but I have met and interacted with great people from so many interesting walks of life. Many of these people are across the globe but a growing handful are in my city and we even “gasp” meet for coffee.
    Good luck and keep pushing for sanity in an industry that desperately needs it.

  • Karen Highland

    This story reminds me of many like it… I think companies that are more open to input from those other than the top of the chain, ie. CEO, will adapt to social media implementation much quicker and much better. Kudos to the employee, financial adviser, who took the initiative, I hope his company realizes how valuable he is:)

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  • jennwhinnem

    Please let me respond to all of you (Jeff, Dave, Mark, Karen) – first of all, thank you for your generosity in responding! I appreciate all of your thinking on this topic. And let me clear something up – I did not get that position, and ultimately, I’m not too sad about it! Also, this bank did not prevent people from having profiles, but from using social media on work computers.

    I too know someone in the financial industry who wasn’t allowed to have a LinkedIn profile. All the reasoning for that restriction aside, that seems overly intrusive of an organization to regulate what a person does on their own time. I’m glad to hear that people are fighting that trend.

    And, I definitely agree that much of the “we can’t do that” rationale is often a weak prop used to hide fear. I’m of that school myself. I would love to hear more about how other industries have handled this. If I approach this as a financial customer, heck yes I would be concerned that someone would share information about me that could lead to an empty bank account. That’s scarier to me than someone knowing I just had a mole removed on my neck (the connection being that health information is also protected). I offer this not in disagreement but in thought.

    What strikes me in this conversation is that there is always so much fear when considering new things! No need to discuss the psychology of THAT. But aren’t the people who push past the fear the ones who innovate and ultimately get to patent something that makes them rich?

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  • Jeff I am so HAPPY you saw this and responded. You are my poster child for reason in that industry!

  • Thanks very much for commenting John. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Wow that means a lot Kathi. Glad it gave you a lift. I felt the same way when I attended the talk.

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  • Cheers John, loved the image that “What people say, what dogs hear” brought back – it’s a brilliant analogue to what we face. I find that it’s telling the same story different ways for different audiences that makes the most difference – the trick is to get the right story for the right audience – something I’m not yet mastered, but I am getting warmer 😉

  • For the record, and please don’t tell anyone, but I’m not too optimistic either but my philosophy is simply this, if we don’t push for a better, brighter future but instead settle for what we have now, well, guess what? We’ll end up with just what we have now. It’s the old “shoot for the stars and hit the moon” thing, or like my Grandfather used to say (to my Dad) “Strive for perfection – settle for excellence” – that’s what it’s really about.

  • This post got me to marvel about the science of search (it’s true … I can’t even find a picture on my own computer!) … to add a point to my presentation to students tomorrow (skills, not tools) … and to add a silly video to my Facebook wall. All great food for thought!

  • There are definitely a number of great quotes and I am letting them settle in my head. It would have been nice to have a tweet button to share some of these from your post.

  • Influence at work : )

  • Interesting idea but I aim for “simplicity” : )

  • I have seen this done on some other blogs and for certain types of posts – it could work very well. Still, your post was excellent regardless of a tweet button or not 🙂

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  • I like your family’s take on perfection/excellence… the issue at had seems to require that corporation attempt to perfect the creation of overall consumer value, versus only shareholder value. I asked Mark in a Twitter chat last evening if he really thinks that bottom line brands can “stop selling and be selfless” as he suggests in The Tao of Twitter. He pointed me to his recent post on Coke’s shift to content, summarizing their effort as trying to “transform one-way storytelling into dynamic storytelling hoping to add value and significance to peoples lives.” Adding value and significance… I hope they (and Microsoft and everyone) can do it, even in an imperfectly selfless way. That would be truly excellent.

  • Adam Petford

    Great post Mark – I think Social Media will change communication & advertising forever – your term the social influencer is a fascinating concept

  • To learn more Adam, I actually wrote a book on the subject called “Return On Influence.”

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