If you're up to speed with the world today, skip the first two paragraphs ...
Who had heard of YouTube two years ago? And today, do you know anybody who has not heard of YouTube? Which medium grows at a rate of one millions members per year? Second Life. And what's next? Who dares to say? What will be the reaction of consumers when radio becomes interactive? How do you plug Windows Live Messenger into your marketing strategy? And will interactive television change the media consumption patterns of the average consumer?
We no longer watch television in front of the TV, PC's, iPods and even mobile phones increasingly substitute the old box. Making an international phone call is cheaper via a computer and emails are often read on mobile phones. We're in the middle of a revolution and the end is not in sight. Maybe it'll never stop. Blazingly fast evolutions in different technological fields make it impossible to even imagine what we are heading for.
In these seemingly chaotic times, there are two constants. Everything changes and at an ever higher tempo. Simple and transparent communication turns interactivity into the standard. Being at the forefront of innovation is therefore key to reaching the top and remaining there.
Dare to experiment. In a world where you can only plan ahead for a few months, you constantly need to find new roads, new strategies and new visions. And these are not to be found in the paved lanes of traditional business, but there where no one has ever gone before. Of course experimentation bears risks, but if we would compare the number of failed experiments with the number of meticulously planned upgrades and line extensions of existing concepts that turned out to be a failure, you can be sure these numbers would not be far apart.
This is not a plea to go around and spend money just like that, I rather want to promote the experiment as an investment. Start small and make a lot of mistakes, learn from the and make a new move quickly. Experiment intelligently. Use all available knowledge and intuition to choose from the many options that one of which you spontaneously feel the potential.
An that brings me to the second pillar: Intuition. I've always been a believer in the idea that a human being builds up intuition subconsciously through the experiences he or she lives through. Malcolm Gladwell explains this in great detail in his book "Blink". Just like human beings develop a sense for what will work and what won't, you can build intuition into a company. Build a network with other organizations and individuals which will feed your collective intuition. Then steer experiments from there. Bring people from different backgrounds together and let them think in an open atmosphere about all kinds of ideas. Develop these into something that can everybody can understand without too much effort; then confront your network with these concepts. Throw them in front of a group of bloggers, build them in Second Life or organize a poll. Any interactive medium can be use to change the direction of an experiment, or to delete it.
And if intuition tells you that one experiment is heading for the right direction, then do not hesitate to launch it. Even if the story is not yet 100% finished. Ask feedback from the public and correct where necessary.
An intelligent mix of experimentation and the opportunities of new interactive communication, is the way to go when looking for answers to the challenges of a fast moving interactive world. This column too is an experiment, so I invite you to express your opinion on these ideas.