Wired Magazine Editor Provides Five Clues for the Mobile Future

Greg Williams, the executive editor of Wired Magazine, was the keynote speaker at Bentley System's Be Inspired Awards Event in Amsterdam this week. He delivered a summary that explained how the mobile society is being transformed today and how mobile devices will impact society tomorrow. He believes that the next three years will see mobile tackle three key areas: payment, search and shopping.

"Our connected devices have become our primary interface with the world and it’s something that mobile is really, really good at, said Williams. He stated that global mobile internet traffic will increase 18 times between 2011 and 2016. "Africa is coming online fast; China and India are maturing. It’s a world gone mobile."

Williams also reminded the audience that "In the old world, content was meant to be protected [but] the rules of value creation have changed." As such he said that we don't need much to distribute content anymore and in fact remarked how little we depend on TV or traditional publishing.

Williams delivered five key clues to what the mobile society should expect tomorrow and what is truly happening today:

  1. The web has allowed us to break outside of institutional boundaries. People will communicate independently of official channels. However, some companies have taken the approach that social media, when brought internal to the organization, can eliminate certain roadblocks to communication among employees. For example, Salesforce's Rypple is a social media platform built for work team evaluations and communications. The traditional way of evaluating employees antiquated. Rypple allows employees to build a continuous resume of work-related kudos from superiors into a simple portfolio based on communications with work teams and managers.
  2. Individualized conversations. Social media means that the transaction is just the beginning. Customers, clients and team members seek relationships that go beyond the merely transactional. If you run a business, communication with clients and stakeholders is now driven by social networks. If you are a brand manager, you need to be a part of the fabric of your business which means doing much more to communicate with customers with social media and outside mainstream mass marketing. One example of building a more effective internal communication solutions was adopted by Lockheed Martin Corporation. They built an internal microblogging site to foster employee interaction, called eurekastreams, that Lockheed has found helps workers, especially in a company as large as they, find more immediate answers to questions.
  3. Act in real time. Have you noticed how people tweet while watching TV in order to become part of the experience of watching a new episode or a live sports event? Williams feels that we are going to need to scale this enormously in order for the data to flow. Williams pointed to the example of how Ushahidi became extremely useful during the earthquake that hit Haiti. It became a real-time platform for information distribution where things like SMS texts were geolocated to determine areas where immediate help was needed.
  4. Williams quoted Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of Wired and former publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, who said that, "Access is better than ownership." People want "interaction without friction." As an example, Williams point to "zopa" a peer to peer micro-lending site where people can lend or borrow money. Individual lenders set their own rate of return and risk exposure while borrowers have less hassles than with a bank.
  5. Finally in an era where there social networks have encouraged avoiding institutional channels and conversations are "individualized," Williams final suggestion was to "design for loss of control" because social networks allow people to follow their passion no matter where they are.

Good advice in this nacient era of social networking.

Disclosure: Bentley Systems supported travel to the Be Inspired Conference.

Published Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Written by Joe Francica

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