What we read this week (22 Mar)

On what it means to be a cyborg, machines chatting to each other on Twitter, human individual curiosity vs. organizational curiosity, Nike’s clever accelerator program and how the internet is making TV better.

Quote of the week

It’s a paradox we call reality / So keepin’ it real will make you casualty of abnormal normality.

Talib Kweli

Articles of the week

Week 118

To kick off the new year, Johannes is looking at some recent announcements from Nike and why it will be a good company to learn from in 2013.

And we’re back. I hope you had a good start to 2013. Igor and I have been back at our desks since January 2nd for a quiet kick-off of the new year as most of our clients and partners were still hitting the slopes or just taking it easy. We took the time as usual to look around for interesting developments, especially as the new year is always a welcome opportunity for companies (as much as people) to change directions a bit or try out new things.

Nike is doing it right

One of those companies is Nike, who excited us at the end of last year by announcing their startup accelerator program in partnership with TechStars, which will bring companies over to Oregon to build products and services on top of their Nike+ platform. We think that this is an amazingly smart move. Part of that announcement was that they will open the Nike+ developer APIs to the public any day now. This will put Nike at the heart of the Quantified Self movement with the best initial position to take it mainstream. It’s really clever to make the platform a utility for the fitness community that others can build on. It’s a long-term approach that will energize their business for many years.

It also puts them into the category of smart businesses that weren’t tech companies from the start but who understand that their future needs them to embrace technological capabilities. Every business will become a tech business at some point. Just look at Starbucks and Burberry. Both companies are innovating in the tech sector to better sell their core product. Starbucks is creating new payment/ordering/loyalty solutions for the devices of their customers and has a Chief Digital Officer. Burberry is now as much a digital media company as it is a fashion brand. It uses livestreams, holograms and many other new approaches to make its fashion shows more interesting, and promotes them via Instagram and Twitter to a much bigger audience. And now Nike is another example of a company that becomes a tech company to sell their core product. It will be interesting to observe how their understanding of their “core product” might actually change.

And then just a few days ago, it became public knowledge that Nike would take its social media management in-house, an approach that we have always encouraged. We think that relationships with customers and fans are a key asset for every company and should never be outsourced. The insights and opportunities that can be gained from this relationship are far too valuable to give them away and risk losing them.

One might say that it would be a smarter business decision for us as a consultancy that helps companies with their social media strategies to encourage them to give us their social media management. But we’d rather see them do it on their own and not need us anymore. Since we are not part of our client company, we can’t have their conversations for them, and so we wouldn’t be able to carry out this task with any authenticity. Also, in this scenario, our customer wouldn’t learn how to converse in social, which would at some point become a great setback for them. As always, we aim for long-term success, and now we can add Nike to our best-practice decks as an example of a company that supports that view.

So if you need some inspiration for how to approach 2013, look at Nike.

Into 2013

For Third Wave, we’re looking forward to a productive year. We will be focussing on strengthening and slowly growing our business. We will continue to publish our observations and pass on all the stuff that’s inspiring and challenging us. And as always, if you need some help making sense of all that’s happening in technology and communications, drop us a line. We’d love to help.

What we read this week (20 Jan)

In this week’s reads: Facebook wants to get into your car, Nike tracks your heartbeats, Apple’s iBook Author shakes the bookshelves, and William Gibson makes a not-unusual cameo appearance.

Quotes of the week

Metaphors are useful, as they enable the thin skein of connectivity between bodies of thought; yet they are also a leaky mechanism, potentially losing much richness from original concept to translation.

Dan Hill

Is serendipity just the playing out on the human level of the same emerging, patterned self-organization that drives evolution?

Simon G. Powell

Articles of the week