Because we started and lived a large part of our lives without access to data. If we went to a public library and thumbed through a well thumbed through encyclopaedia ( few Millennials and Gen Z’s will relate), it was our research, our experience. Our physical mailboxes delivered magazines like CSR (Competition Success Review), Science Today, and the almost ubiquitous Reader’s Digest. We would borrow and share within our circles and finding others who were similarly informed was serendipity. That today, is Google, Twitter and Wikipedia, and all show signs of age.
Q: Why do Millennials and GenZ’s share selfies, multiple times a day, when the previous generations would be happy to shoot nature, family, and monuments?
This is where Data-ism comes in. Among the Millennials and Gen Z’s, if it isn’t on social media, it hasn’t happened. It’s almost as if creating data is the sole object of the 2.5 Billion souls using connected devices storing away their lives, emotions and ambitions in the cloud.
And of course, there’s a perverse take on privacy, it’s easier to shoot oneself than ask someone else to pose for a Nat Geo style portrait.
Q: So, where do we go from here?
Let’s face it! People are far more adaptive to technology that is easy to use. Notice the war stories of deals, cash backs, promo codes, offers encashed by folks who don’t know how to negotiate in any language, but are adept at calculating on the fly the best deal on whatever e-com platform, and using the digital wallet of the day.
Q: So what do businesses do?
I remember when ‘Neutron Jack’, the legendary Jack Welch of GE fame, rebooted that organisation and became champion of ERP, BPR and other such acronyms that placed the previously unknown CTO on the boardroom in the nineties. The Noughties belonged to keywords like ‘knowledge management’ and ‘information economy’ and the CIO who had a brief reign, before being ousted by the CDO wielding words like ‘digital economy’, ‘disrupted purchase cycle’, ‘social media’, ‘reputation management’. But that’s so last decade!
As we prepare for the 2020’s, new winds of change are blowing. Much more disruptive than anything we have yet experienced, and a stark divide between people who are shaping tomorrow, and people who will follow.
Q: What the heck are you babbling on about?
Counter question- when was the last time you spoke to someone whose stated known languages are C++, PHP, Java, compiler and ML? If you don’t know this idiom, you won’t know what drives demand, adoption and change. Every new innovation first breaks ground in the tech world, and they aren’t looking for ‘look and feel’ and ‘bells and whistles’, what reaches you is ‘functionality’ that has been dumbed down to work among non-tech. So where does it leave advertising, marketing, PR? Isn’t the whole story about demand generation and reputation management all about people talking to people? It sure is! Except, opinions have already been made, people who know what’s under the hood have already seeded an opinion, and she’s not the ‘influencer‘ you hired for that promo campaign. These ‘dark hats’ are programming your newsfeeds, and writing the algorithms on which your ‘creative communication campaigns’ get discovered at the RoI you set.
And guess what, nothing gives these guys a greater high, than letting their algo’s and bot’s access to neural networks, read your social media, and attempting to create self- learning algorithms- AI, for short!
Q: So what can we expect?
Look at that WhatsApp forward again. That one about someone trying to teach Alexa/ Siri/Cortana/ Google Voice/ whatever else, a new language or a playlist. Notice that 2-year old, or 20, and know that ‘intelligent systems’ are almost ready to provide ‘serendipity’. And many more ‘Wow’ moments when you found answers you didn’t even know you were seeking. As the story goes, Apollo moonshots had less computing power than a ‘smart fridge’, now think of all the connected devices- at home, work or play, and the algorithms all around gathering data about everything.
Now does that give you a hint about what’s brewing and cooking? And if you want a glimpse of the future, and a role if any, in it, find the nearest coder, statistician ( now known as data science guy), market researcher ( now behavioural scientist) and learn. It’s better if they are Millennials and Gen Z’s, you’ll get a hang of their preferences and idioms.
And a hat tip to Harari- Whether I agree or not, Data-ism is here, and all those folks who wrote ‘Hello World’ in their first line of code probably have a ringside view into it. Have a great 2019!