Thursday, January 9, 2014

Flipping The Script

Barbering Shop

I’m here for a haircut but it looks like I would need to wait in a queue longer than expected, due to many people in line here for their turn. I’m the sixth person now. What a way to start the New Year, probably everyone here had haircut as their first New Year resolution.

First of all, I see the cleaner with his white earphones on, connected to his phone, nodding his head as if he’s enjoying the dusting more than the music – obviously some good music is beating in his eardrum. Everyone, except the kid sleeping on his mum’s lap is engaged on their Smartphone. The newspapers and magazines lying on the center table for customers and visitors are just for decorations, at least, for now.
This makes me wonder; would there ever be a generation who would read only digital content from school text books, novels, etc.? Yes I suppose. OK, then how would the physical libraries and bookshop function? 

Digital Natives vs. Immigrants

But make no mistake, we live in a world of digital natives and digital immigrants. 

The former are made up of Mavis Beacon typing students and alumni who prefer typing to writing. They also prefer reading all materials on screens while flipping, tapping, scrolling and performing all kinds of finger gestures on the screen. The latter tries to adapt to their environment but always retain, to some degree, the "accent" that reveals they keep one foot in the past. Examples are people who are not fully comfortable reading books on screens but prefer books they can physically touch, smell and taste. 

Digital immigrants print out e-mails (or have a secretary print it for them —an even "thicker" accent); print a computer-composed document in order to edit it; and bringing people into their office to see an interesting website (rather than just sending the URL to them). I hope you get the point I’m putting across. I agree with Marc Prensky that digital natives cannot go backward, so digital immigrants have no choice but to migrate, adapt, and innovate. If anyone should come back alive from say early 90s, the mention of Facebook may end the person in a local bookshop or library to get a copy. 


Do you agree that CVs (Curriculum Vitae) may fade away soon? Well, not the name CV but the traditional way of building the CV. I’m referring to the one, two, or even more page document divided into educational and professional written experiences. Look, if you want to stay competitive today and tomorrow, you’ve got to be present online. I’m not talking about only appearing in search results after your name has been entered on a search engine. You need to find a way to demonstrate your experiences, skills or interest online.

For example, if you write, you can blog – if your skills can be demonstrated, show it on your YouTube channel. Beside been part of a professional network site like LinkedIn, you could also join and engage in various discussion groups of interest or forums online. These social tools are free and most recruiters or managers first search to find out more information about potential candidates before even inviting them for interviews. CVs now are turning into documents with hyperlinks to publications or featured skills. Very soon if no one finds you on Google, then you do not exist in the 21st Century.

Look, school is no more within a block structure with a teacher in front of a board. School today is with us anywhere there is internet, same with jobs. And if you think education is expensive, wait till you see how much ignorance cost. Some of us spend our lives acting rationally in response to a world we recognize and understand but which no longer exists.

Big Data

Are you aware of big data? Well, Big data has arrived and not a fad. Hold on, I’ll explain in brief shortly. 

“Who here uses the cloud? Please just raise your hand”, this was the question I asked my audience (about 50 in number) during one of my business presentations. Surprisingly, no one showed up, even though it was an audience of IT professionals. So I assumed either they didn’t hear my question or they were not paying attention. So I asked again, “who among you uses a Smartphone or any smart device?” Well, you probably know the feedback now, everyone showed up with hands. If you have a smart device and you use it connected anyway for data from the internet, most, if not all of the data is in the cloud.

The fact that so many people are connected onto the cloud via Smartphone also means a whole new generation of apps around entertainment, education and social life, affecting the way we live, communicate and learn. We forget too soon; the mention of gigabyte some few years back was like “Wow! The whole world information could go on it”. 

These were the days of floppy disks, but time has changed that we now put gigabytes in our pockets. Every data accessed on a screen resides on a memory or disk. So more access to the internet means more information with more different data sets which eventually lead to more memory and disk capacity requirements. These different data sets gave birth to big data, as I mentioned earlier, it is one of the new terms in computing. Now the interesting challenge is the ability to perform analytics on different data sets to discover patterns for decision making in various field of endeavors. 

Consumers Today

If you’re a company offering products or services and you do not pay keen attention to social media, start counting your doom days if not dead yet. As Gary Hemel
 put it, “somewhere out there is a bullet with your company's name on it. Somewhere out there is a competitor, unborn and unknown, that will render your strategy obsolete. You can't dodge the bullet – you're going to have to shoot first. You're going to have to out-innovate the innovators.” Look, technology puts power in communities not institutions anymore. 

What I mean is that, consumers trust word of mouth and consumer generated media more than any other information source. Customers today are more in control of their media experiences than ever. They decide what they want to hear, see or read and when they want it. Technology tools including Really Simple Syndication (RSS), enables consumers to choose and subscribe to the information that interest them. With the global expansion of internet access and smart devices, consumers are looking elsewhere for information; from print to online and from institutional media to online consumer communities. If you are the type of person like me who first check online for consumer reviews or ratings of new product regardless the brand or company, before committing to purchasing the product, you’ll get what I’m trying to put across. 


The basic rules or norms we used to have are changing. A very interesting one just occurred in the music industry with Beyonce’s new album release. Did you hear about that? She changed the rules completely; let me be more urban here, she “flipped the script”. 

The initial rule was that, first put the music on radio, followed by promotion and a big release day. But Beyonce surprised the entire music industry by releasing her latest album “Beyonce” on iTunes – with no initial radio play, no promotion and no launch parties. But her new album quickly became number one selling on iTunes, selling more than 1million copies worldwide in just the first week (more of this story on CNN). Think for a minute how much money Beyonce saved from promotions and launching, yet making it hit on top of the chart. 

Barbering Shop

Well, it’s almost my turn to get my long awaited haircut. Would you consider yourself as a digital native or immigrant? And what else do you see as technology changing the way we live our lives? Please share your feedback. 

Thank you.

Harry Tetteh | .

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