In my childhood, New Year was one of the four occasions that merited new clothes. We used to choose the fabric in one shop, the lace or piping in another, then the buttons and thread in yet another. Took it home and my mother spent a week stitching it. Oh, the excitement! Christmas was when we baked cakes, fried murukus, diamond-cuts – all again entirely from scratch. And I wore my hand-knitted sweater and played with hand-made toys (I miss the match-box furniture). And if you were lucky you feasted on home-made jams, pickles, squashes and gulab jamuns. Lest you wonder what the men did, my dad was pretty handy at making furniture, fixing electrical goods and er, machine embroidery (he had been a Singer salesman once). This was not a rarity – till the 80s much of what you wanted had to be made, not bought. This year I’ve been hearing a lot of people worrying about “what will we do when the robots do everything”. Chill. Though all the work that I described earlier is now performed by machines, we find ourselves busy. So don’t worry. Just as caveman found new stuff to do once he figured out farming and domestication, we’ll figure out something to replace sending emails and staring at our phones 🙂
I’m more worried about the fact that I’m living in an algorithm driven echo-chamber on the one hand, and that technology is being used to stifle the voices of dissent on the other. The two together are powerful in changing the way we learn about the world around us, express ourselves and even how we are governed. This year has certainly been interesting! Trump triumphed (and yes, our office is in a building called Trumph Tower, I kid you not). Cash is no longer king (in fact, the wrong sort is likely to get you into a lot of trouble.) Biometric is no longer some futuristic technology but identification for the masses. IoT and AI are going mainstream and marketers are rapidly becoming marketologists. Lots to look forward to in the new year!
Some of you have asked us what Paul Writer does – in a nutshell, we enable B2B organizations to run sustained outreach programs for a community of clients and/or prospects. These are end-to-end programs that cut across consulting, content, education, outreach, conferences, digital presence. We also eat a lot of donuts, cookies and cup-cakes, but I don’t suppose you’re interested in that 🙂 As part of this community outreach we host a number of programs on behalf of our clients and get to listen to a lot of CXOs. One of the key changes I’ve noticed this year is that a lot of CXOs are in a hurry to transform. It’s not about the next big thing but about the here and now, and there is a sense of urgency in getting new tech on-board as soon as possible. As someone poignantly said there are no ‘best practices’ just ‘next practices’. SaaS (software-as-a-service) is a boon for getting going fast and reducing CAPEX and even SMBs get access to super duper tech in an affordable manner. Technology for marketers is finally becoming mainstream too.
I’ve also noticed a change in how companies get awareness. Old-style organic PR seems to have declined for most, replaced by digital and inorganic media. It’s really important that marketers and CEOs understand the legality and compliance issues involved in paid communications across digital channels as companies are still evolving their global policies for this, and what’s a no-no in other countries could be legal in India but still get you fired. Artificial Intelligence – that holy grail of Computer Scientists of my vintage – is now mainstream and your phone probably has it. IoT is next up – you can look to have consumers adopting this next year for areas like home and office automation and grocery reordering. The phone will become a central player in consumer automation.
The world is a messy place – here’s a recent review I wrote about the book “Messy” by Tim Harford. And in case you missed it, my views on whether Polo (the sport, not the mint) is likely to make it big in India.
Now a very unmessy topic – we need a finance/accounts executive. If you know anyone (freshers ok too) that you think fits the bill.
In 2017, I hope you go where noone has gone before, conquer new fears, slay trolls and keep an open mind.
Best wishes for a warm, happy and digitally prosperous New Year!