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Inner Circle was a series of small gatherings of senior marketing executives from Australian and Kiwi brands, getting together to share ideas around their digital marketing challenges this year. Common themes across the 4 cities included data, the importance of winning the moment and the challenges in getting the right skills available for an increasingly broad set of program needs.

Thanks to some clever work from our visual scribe, we ended up with some great visual summaries of the conversations, here are a few.


Exact Target_Inner Circle_Sydney


ExactTarget_Inner Circle_Melbourne

Here’s a quick video summary from the Melbourne event.

Listen carefully during a particularly quiet meeting and you will hear the quiet buzz of application notifications pleading for the diverted attention of their owners. If you’ve spent time growing out your network, you probably find you need to allocate time in your day just to process birthday notifications from not only your calendar and facebook but now also from linkedin networks. All of these seek only momentary attention, but overwhelmingly fail to connect in a moment that matters.

According to Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins, this is only the beginning. Mobile advertising is largely under-represented when compared to time spent with other channels such as print, TV and online, representing a $30B gap in spending. Social networks, on-demand video platforms and other forms of new media will soon start to close the gap and increase the demand for mobile attention.

Is your next executive assistant an app?

Recently I started noticing notifications from the LinkedIn Connected application just as I was preparing for meetings with a linkedin connection. These represent a new type of just in time intelligence which inspect personal calendars, social networks and email inboxes to help uncover patterns and use data to inform the delivery of more relevant alerts.

Connected App Screenshot

For example, RelateIQ develops relationship intelligence by first looking at who you communicate with via your organization’s email server, you don’t need to perform data entry to prioritize your contact relationships as the algorithm learns who is important to you when its time to make contact again.

The Sunrise app brings together your personal calendar with your apps showing your foursquare checkins, where you are going on TripIt as well as if that band you like is playing on the weekend from Songkick.

Salesforce1 Today was originally conceived as “project Joe” and is designed to emulate the real life whispering of CEO Marc Benioff’s ever present executive assistant. The Today app works by connecting your phone calendar to the CRM system and an intelligence engine to show information on contacts and history just in time based on what you need to do today.

It would be great to have your own Joe, but perhaps a smart phone and a clever algorithm might now be the next best thing.

Is your app smart about how it communicates with users?

According to Google’s Our Mobile Planet tool, global smartphone users download an average of 26.1 apps. Now that 47% of marketers have invested in a mobile application, if you haven’t built intelligence into the way your app communicates with its users, you may be facing relegation to the dreaded phone folder or even deletion.

The good news is the same segmentation and relevance engines that are used for websites and email marketing are also available for mobile apps, just by hooking your app into a cloud based marketing platform you can start using the behavioral data you gather through your mobile app, web analytics or CRM to drive the notifications your app presents in a much more relevant way.

In addition 70% of marketers with a mobile app are not yet using one of the most obvious drivers of mobile relevance, location. When you are thinking about scenarios start with retail presences to connect when customers come near your store and then explore more creative usages such as when your customer attends a festival, gig or fun-run.

Keep adding more channels to your marketing team’s toolkit, but remember there is only one cure for message avoidance and its relevance.

It was great to bring the big show to Melbourne for the first time and to see the 2000+ friends we have developed over the last 10 years in Australia.

Also featured at the event was a great new Australian story from Hills.


Will facebook be the identity layer which ties you to the 100s of connected sensors and devices which will make up your day in the Internet of Things? According to Quentin Hardy, Mark Zuckerberg thinks so, just like Jeff Bezos thought beyond books to monetize the underlying computer science platform behind, Facebook is looking to solve the big problems of tomorrow like wireless connectivity, connected cars, homes and things using the infrastructure it has constructed to deliver underwaterdogs.

In a recent visit to the Philippines I was amazed at the impact on a large part of society without access to the internet including basic functions like email who through wholesale agreements between telcos and social networks, have become hyper-connected on facebook and twitter and have almost skipped a step in technological evolution.

Statements from super-telcos BT and AT&T, as well as Cisco at Davos suggest that these kind of deals where connectivity is included with your device ALA kindle will be more prevalent this year. Combine this with the dropping price of network sensors and we are entering an explosive era of growth for hyper-connected things.

As marketers, we know behind these things are people. This hyperconnectivity is an amazing opportunity for us to find new ways to deliver value and create a connection the like of which we have never attempted, turning consumers to customers. A binding identity is a key piece of the puzzle.

Its clear that facebook is a key player in connecting people, but will we trust them to connect our things? Fun times ahead

Original article in NY Times by Quentin Hardy

photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read via photopin cc

An interesting chat between network, hardware, software and content leaders on the future of digital.

Some key takeaways:

  • Hyper-connectivity is here this year through many network connected sensors and devices and accessed through your mobile
  • The opportunity for marketers is to turn consumers into customers and form value based relationships using these new type of connections.
  • Trust is a key commodity in the battle for this new connected economy, governments need to adapt to this need. Vendors need to be empathetic.
  • The connected car, home and self are key areas of focus.
  • Recalcitrant sectors like education, healthcare and government have the opportunity to rapidly advance and deliver incredible value to the world.
World Economic Forum 2014 - New Digital Context

world economic forum 2014 – New Digital Context

Forgive me my filipino friends, but on my last visit to the Philippines in June 2013, I was confronted by the country. I flew into the old terminal which is severely run-down, hailed a cab (rookie error) with a less than reputable driver and stumbled my way to glossy Makati (the financial district) through the ramshackle streets and traffic.


I met wonderful people thanks to my hosts at AllFamous including the great people from Rappler an independent media company innovating in social media and many major brands. Then I ate a bite of good food and then zipped back onto the plane home.

Having visited and enjoyed Mumbai and Bangkok before, I was disappointed in myself for feeling a sense of unease from Manilla. Which is why So I was pleased to be able to return to Manilla again 6 months later. I was keen to understand the feeling of people, since November 2013, when the Philippines was hit by Typhoon Haiyan which caused so much devastation and destruction. This time I booked my car in advance and chatted with my driver about the country.

We chatted about the friendship of Filipinos and Australians and our mutual admiration for the features of our respective countries. We discussed Filipinos incredible hospitality which is often misinterpreted as subservience (and sometimes abused for less than wholesome purposes). My host agreed if you ask something of a Filipino, the answer is always “Yes” or at least “I will try”. This goes for family most of all but also friends old and new. This is certainly my experience of my Filipino friends in Australia, they are beautiful, caring, people.

However my hosts immediate emotion was fear-fullness, fear that disaster will strike again and fear that the government will continue to fail its people in the areas of reform. There was also hope,  in the rejuvenation of charitable foundations due to the attention from the typhoon and hope in the power of technology in the form of mobile devices and social media to be a force for change in the country.

“… in the past, a crime was committed on the street, people felt they could do nothing. Now they take pictures with their phones and post immediately to social media.”

the empowered citizen journalist seemed to be a great source of hope for him:

“Now the government, it has started to fear the people. It is harder to hide corruption.”

For Brands and multinationals the opportunity of a growing middle class in a country of 100 million is immense, the adoption of technology and social media is impressive, the people seem to be skipping a number of phases of technology evolution and running straight to hyper-connection. Famous Filipino service is now available on demand via Twitter and Facebook.

What will you Stop Doing, Start Doing and Keep Doing next year?

This simple reframe is a great way to approach the often maligned new years resolution. This was also the topic of the SKS14 event hosted by datarati, where I attended as a guest.  I quite like the event format that the guys from Capital-E and TenAlphas coordinated, its partially live, partially webcast and results in a very dense amount of content, learning and networking in a short amount of time. One of those events where every attendee had a solid handful of takeaways.

Here’s to a year of productivity next year.


Full content here

MAD Week

An enjoyable afternoon at the MCA, overlooking the quay and chatting innovation in digital. A lively and sometimes possessed Faris Yakob set things up with a thought provoker. The afternoon continued with tech, debate and the inevitable questions are we innovating enough and who pays for innovation given the existing agency funding model.

Funding was a source of anxiety as agencies struggle to structure agreements which allow flexibility to fail while delivering the goods in a competitive and changing market.

For my part, I shared observations on salesforce’s journey so far to becoming (according to Forbes) the worlds most innovative company.

How to Build Innovative Culture (BandT MAD Week) from Derek Laney

Our last post dealt with observations on the higher education industry, in this post we look at solutions.

salesforce perspective

Over the last 6 years working in one of the fastest growing technology organisations where the majority of our workforce is ramping, I’ve made these observations:

  1. Just because information is shared on a social network or intranet doesn’t mean individuals will seek it out before needing the skills for their job. There is still a need for guides and teachers.
  2. In addition though self service knowledge is efficient, colocation creates strong ties and networks that can be leveraged into the future. At salesforce we use a bootcamp program to ensure new recruits form strong ties quickly.
  3. those who communicate stories well, are more effective than deep experts. Dr Karl is one of my favourite pop-educators and within our organisation it is these great communicators who consistently achieve in enablement. To aid understanding we should take the techniques we learn in content marketing and translate them into internal education or even better, just make our internal education materials public by default.

Our Learnings

For Universities

Similarly universities have a number of key competencies:

  1. A strong network of knowledge and coaches
  2. A dense cluster of like minded individuals who share similar needs and bring diverse experience
  3. Clear mapped pathways and widely recognised badges for achievement (Dip, MBA, PHD)

Utilising technology institutions can connect in a whole new way.

Connected Institutions

College fraternities know the benefit of intense shared experiences, hazing is still a popular process due to its power to bind individuals together to mutually support each other (make up your own mind if the end justifies the means).

Education institutions need to use technology to connect in a whole new way

  • with their students to bridge the experience gap, to listen to needs and provide personalised  pathways.
  • with faculties to provide consistent experience and joined-up learning
  • with other providers to provide life long learning pathways
  • with courses – MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) provide a tantilising vision of what taking the best knowledge and connecting it with social directly to student devices can do

originally posted on

Whatever your politcal persuasion, it was great watching Andrew Bleeker on ABC Big Ideas replayed on the weekend as a study in organised execution, you can watch the recording here or view the slides here. Below are my favourite points:


1. Using “Big” Data

Our core problem was not getting more data, it was bringing our silos of data together to be person centric  and unify sources from different channels. We want to move from demographics to modelling our audience, we needed to reach specific voters in key states like Ohio and Florida we modelled your liklihood to vote and your liklihood to vote for us and made it usable across channels.

2. Creating a Drumbeat of Interesting Moments

News drives search and social. There are not enough natural moments to fill a content calnedar.

Memes (inside jokes that everybody knows) are a great way to create interesting moments when there is nothing else to talk about.

Create an influencer outreach program where you can use a private channel to activate influencers when you have a story.

Use paid media to amplify your social impact. Using ad space to place your social content near your audience.

3. Managing to the Content Plan (Message)

Have a single message, break it into campaigns. Hold back information, make it bite size and use it in a rythymn which all aligns to your campaign. Even real time response and newsjacking needs to tie back to your campaign or why do it?

4. Activating Advocates

There is a distrust in authority, but I’ll trust my friend because I assume they do not have an agenda.

To activate your fans, provide clear instructions and consider delivering your message via personalised private comms i.e. Email.

5. Nuturing Relationships

You dont wake up wanting to take a brands call to action.

Start with easy high reach content and then draw through a content funnel. Starts with pictures of pets, moves to highly visual expressions of data. Make sure your facts are credible with a date and source.

6. Closing The Loop to Create Loyalty

We constantly say “share this”, “buy this”, but we also need to focus on rewarding loyalty by telling people why they are in our community, rewarding them and letting them share success of your joint goals.

7. Using a Spectrum for Issue Response

Your PR playbook needs more tools than the corporate hammer, create a spectrum of spokespeople and twitter handles that can respond at the appropriate level so issues don’t escalate further.

8. Prioritising Personalisation

Now we have more segmentation than we can create targeted content for. Hone in on the key variables to get full value from the production bandwidth you have.

Whatever your political persuations, a campaign team is an impressive enterprise, for more info on how the team ran their systems in the cloud, check out our customer story here.