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The Age of Augmentation

Brilliant piece by Tim on how technology will Augment us. Kevin Kelly made this point well at Cannes – the best chess player isn’t the best machine – its the best machine and best human player together.

Sure, there will be jobs that are entirely replaced (not looking good for truck drivers or warehouse workers). But for jobs where efficiency or productivity are less important, such as in science, the arts and human experience, – they will be primarily a human territory. “You don’t rank Picasso on how many paintings per hour he is putting out,” Kelly said. AI is not man versus machine, it is humans working with machines. “The best medical diagnostician in the world is not Watson and it’s not a human doctor, it is a team [of humans and AI],” he said, adding: “You will be paid by how well you work with AI.”

Augmentation isn’t about elimination, it is about creation. That’s where the action will be. Tim puts it well:

Technology lets us rethink the very structure of how we do things. Consider, for example, the way that Uber and Lyft have transformed urban transportation. There were connected taxicabs long before Uber — but all they did was to recreate the old process. What we got for our connectivity was a credit card reader in the back, and a small screen showing us ads. What Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick realized was that humans were now augmented by location-aware smartphones, and so you could completely rethink the way you summoned a car. It would be utter magic to someone from the past — that you can click on your phone, and summon a car to where-ever you are, and to know just how long it will take for a car to pick you up.

But when Uber started talking about self driving cars, they lost the plot and started talking only about cutting costs and eliminating workers. Rather than crowing about how they’d finally get rid of those pesky drivers, they should have been talking about an experiment that they’ve run since 2014, delivering flu shots. “Sure, we won’t always have drivers. But just imagine how many other jobs we can restructure and make more magical and on demand once the transportation is even cheaper and more convenient!

Kevin Kelly’s book is well worth a read.

And, somewhat shamelessly, you can read more in Augmented

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Thrive… Really?

Going to be interesting to see how Telstra play’s out its new brand position. Telstra is a brand I’ve been hyper-critical of. Great brands don’t start with marketing – they start by architecting remarkable product and service experiences, then they overlay those experiences with great marketing. In this respect, Telstra’s marketing team have their work cut out for them.

Telstra largely peddle products they don’t make, and the bit they do make – the network and service experience – is (based on my frequent and recurring experiences) lousy. It’s a brand that has been well polished over the years but I just wonder if every dollar spent on marketing would have been better spent of a massive rearchitecting of their digital, service and network experience. 

Thrive is one of the most well used brand positions out there. Nearly every country has a major brand using the language. We even use it at times. So, not a fresh position and the work seems to tread a very well worn path. The result is pretty work that is largely uninteresting and not likely to have much carry. Liked the poetic/rap voiceover. Other than that, just wanted to scream – “please god, fix my broadband, please”.



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Does New Media Act for the Brand

FT points to the massive dominance Facebook and Google have over digital spend – about 75% of all new digital spend in fact. And that soon digital will eclipse television in terms of spend. Paul Frampton, chief executive of Havas Media Group UK, says they are “black boxes” that have too much power.

“They don’t give agencies or the brands access to their algorithms and the data being mined are for Google and Facebook — and not for the brand.”

Yes, except we as advertisers have access to massive amounts of data from both. As a result we can do fine grain targeting and drive ever increasing efficiency even as prices increase. So, perhaps it’s a grey box. 

Not touched on is whether the increase in share of media wallet is a result of us doing more in digital, or, significant increases in prices. Both are happening. What we are doing is moving more within the digital wallet as well – less to Yahoo!, Linked-in (barely noticeable at Cannes), Bing and others.

I’ll let you read the rest but what amazes me is how absent the marketer is from these conversations. Lots of agency folk, buyers and consultants. The reality is the shift is being driven by clients.

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Reads, Feeds & Looks


I’ve got so much reading going on I normally fail when someone asks me to recommend something I am reading. So, will start posting here on great current reads.

Top of the list is: The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks, Joshua Cooper Ramo (Little, Brown and Company, 2016; nonfiction).

Good list from McKinsey here. And don’t forget to read the latest book I was lucky enough to collaborate on.

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Sanzaar is a Mess

Greg Thomas isn’t just a poor spokesperson for Sanzaar, he’s a mouthpiece for an organisation that has become clearly biased to serving Sth African rugby. As if the slanting of semi-finals and final locations weren’t enough, we then have the debacle where the Crusaders can’t even get to Sth Africa with a reasonable rehabilitation window – clearly favouring the locals.

Then today, Greg feels it’s his and Sanzaar’s job to rule on the quality of a team. Where local players serve their country on the field that clearly shouldn’t impact their eligibility to play in the tournament. I can see how their ruling would be fair as applied to players joining from other teams, but where it involves national representation across the code its a cynical view to hold. To suggest that the players they’ve selected are better than Messam is, well, ridiculous.

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