Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The speed of change


I’ve been in this mobile world now for 13 years almost and I’ve seen many changes in the industry. Everyone talks about how fast it’s moving, how everything changes so quickly and the technology moves on apace. Others complain that they simply can’t keep up. Others simply don’t want to keep up – this new stuff is just too much for them and they’re hanging on to the old ways of doing things.

I do get asked pretty frequently what changes I’ve noticed over the years and I’m not sure that the changes are as profound as sometimes we think they are. I’m still having the same conversations with potential clients about the power of mobile marketing that I had 10 years ago with very similar objections that I encountered when I first started working on ZagMe back in 2000.

I’ve also just spent the last few weeks in my hometown of Worcester (that’s the one in England for my US readers). My neighbour’s wi-fi aside keeping me sane, this appears to be the land that the internet forgot. Everything pretty much happens the same way that it happened when I was living here 25 years ago. I don’t see people glued to their mobile screens in the same way I do in London. Wi-fi is available, but not readily. Although lots of businesses promote themselves on Facebook, it’s done half-heartedly and they don’t have many followers – but when you walk past the businesses, they’re busy. Local restaurant websites don’t have their opening hours listed, have menus on their sites from three years ago and don’t seem to see the need or benefit from keeping this stuff updated.

People also still read newspapers here – the printed kind. Ones that you might pay for as well as the freebies (which just seem to be property listings). And there appears to be a thriving market for glossy, local magazines too which I was surprised to see. I’ve picked up at least three in the last week in local cafes and another one arrived through the door this morning.

There is also barely any networking here. Well, not what I would recognise as networking at least. I think it’s related to the local populace being connected in real life rather than virtual life perhaps and it’s probably also linked to the fact that mobile signal is absolutely appalling in the city (no really, my signal routinely drops out here *for hours* at a time.) The networking you’ll see here are the generalist networking breakfasts and meet-ups that are organised by the likes of the local Chamber of Commerce but not a lot else. I could be wrong here and all this stuff is organised outside of Google’s ability to index it in a way I can find it and connect with it to meet new people and interact with the local community, since I will be spending more time in Worcester in the coming months.

So it got me thinking about the speed of change, and the difference between what was then and what is now and the differences between locations in, even a small country, like the UK? The future most definitely is not evenly distributed.

Whilst I was pondering this, I discovered that Cybersalon has been resurrected. This was one of the very early meet-ups looking at our digital world. They’ve been on hiatus for some years now, but they’re back with a series of really interesting events. The web world has been pretty notorious for not embracing mobile early and rubbishing the idea that the web viewed on mobile will be bigger than the web viewed on desktop or laptops. But that has indeed happened. So I was curious to find that Cybersalon had published a Mobile Manifesto back in 2000. It makes for a very interesting read. And going back to my first point about what has changed, it appears to me that what they were talking about 13 years ago is still very relevant to our mobile world today. Have a read and let me know what you think.