Innovation Is About Keeping Our Options Open

4 visions of innovation with Censhare’s Dieter Reichert

Innovation is on everyone’s lips except that what we see is hardly what we get. For innovation is, primarily, a matter of vision. Technology is nice and it travels fast, but what is it to us who can understand so little about it? It’s as if we, modern day Frankensteins, had invented new creatures and as they come to life, we barely understand what is going on. As the frightful Swiss in awe with his newborn wretch, we run around like headless chickens, trying to embrace these new technological objects of ours or merely trying to survive them. What if the answer were in the hands of the Indians of an obscure tribe in a Mexican desert? I tried to find out while interviewing Dieter Reichert, CEO and founder of Censhare, a worldwide software house set to redesign the way we handle information. And God knows there is a dire need for this.

Visions of Innovation can be found in the way native Americans perceive the world around them, Reichert says
Visions of Innovation can be found in the way native Americans perceive the world around them, Reichert says

Dieter came to visit me some time ago. We had decided I would interview him about software and we came to talk about his background and experience. Talking with entrepreneurs is always a fascinating experience. One gets to understand how they innovate, how they lead their business in their daily lives, how they overcome whatever obstacles they encounter. This is a very worthwhile experience, especially when you are are yourself an entrepreneur. Talking to Dieter for a few minutes, I realised that our interview would be on a totally different level. His was not the experience of an average businessman, but a real journey through life, deeply rooted in experiments. Well, all kinds of experiments, so to speak.

Vision of innovation 1: don’t do what’s expected of you

Dieter started in a way that wouldn’t appeal to most Parents, by flunking school at the age of 18. He wasn’t “cut out for that”, he admitted. By “that”, he meant reading books, and learning with a teacher locked up in a schoolroom. He was one for larger spaces, he fled to India. There he learned Yoga, then became a teacher and eventually, got bored, because “not much happens in India” he said. Not one for contemplation, Dieter, but much of a rolling stone.

He left India soon after that to live among Mexican tribespeople. Columbus had mistaken them for Indians and named them after others, Dieter went on to live with them. He liked it a lot. In actual fact, living with them shaped his vision of life and innovation. His vision of time and understanding the cosmos. He thinks he can understand innovation better than us because of this. This is a life-shaping experience, not just any kind of experience.

So here went Dieter, from adventure to venture, from the Mexican Indians to the creation of an events organisation setting up symposiums with the Dalai Lama and other celebs, then to the creation of a drugs rehab centre, all the time working with and for Apple. Meditation being the link between these things, most probably. “Think different” is certainly a motto that Dieter could live with. For he is a very different kind of person.

Vision of innovation 2: one day, computers will be less dumb

I liked his views on IT too. It’s true that computers aren’t that smart. This is an understatement. The more we are sold new versions of AI and self-driving cars, the more we have to reboot our machines, circumvent bugs and even live without the features one used to enjoy (where has the old Phatware ICR – intelligent character recognition – feature in our year 2000 PDAs gone?) They are just miniaturised versions of their bulky elders, even though we have gone quite a long way from the prehistory of IT, I readily admit.

Yet, exactly 26 years ago to the day, I was tip tapping away on a computer just like the one I have now in front of me. It’s true I was one of the happy few to be equipped with a laptop computer, its battery life was not going beyond 1 hour and a half and it was black and white (two years later I pawned it in exchange for a brand new colour Zenith PC). Having said that, it was a PC nonetheless, with an older but reasonably functional version of Office by Microsoft. Not much less powerful than the ones we have now and certainly less bug-ridden.

Read more

5 Social Media Insights For Businesses In 2017 And Beyond

In 2013 I recorded a video on behalf of Hootsuite in which I was introducing the concept of social mass media. Judging by the number of tweets and interactions we had on our post, I sense that we had struck a chord. We are wrapping up the 2016 version of our Hootsuite/Visionary Marketing barometer of social media use by marketers in France. The insights we are deriving from it are showing clear signs of a maturing market, and indications that there is still a long way to go. In this piece, I will make a few guesses at what this maturing social media landscape could look in 2017 and beyond.

NewImage

Insight #1: Some tools are born and others disappear

One thing struck me when looking at the results of our new barometer: the list of social media tools quoted by marketers is evolving. Exeunt Vine (definitely killed by Twitter this year), Viadeo or Xing (cornered to very definite geographies). Enter Periscope, Facebook Messenger, Facebook live and Snapchat. Snapchat is appealing more to B2C companies and is also attracting attention, but many businesses are still struggling with its unusual features and unwieldy interface. It will take time before the dust settles but a new social media giant may be born. My hunch is that businesses will be increasingly experimenting with live video. It has already become a usual tool in live event streaming. We are also experimenting with it as a means to increase engagement in webinars (thanks to this, in one afternoon we managed to get a record 117 job applications for the cloud computing arm of local telco Orange). As 2016 is nearing its end and speculations on the survival of Twitter abound, Periscope may well prove to be a real opportunity for the struggling social network we like so much.

NewImage
Figure 1: social media is one of the main tools for Word of Mouth Marketing, this needs to be remembered and understood

Insight #2: more Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) and UGC (User Generated Content)

The old mantra of brand engagement in social media has been often repeated but not always understood by brands. Most of them have struggled with this idea that users, be they employees, customers or the average Joe, would talk about their brands on their own social media pages rather than go to the brand’s account page. Social media is still seen as the old way of bringing eyeballs to an owned Web asset, rather than as a major WOMM tool. But things are changing and I see more and more businesses attracted to inbound marketing. B2B companies seem more mature in this area. Few B2B players have the means of investing in advertising. To them, UGC and WOMM is a credible alternative. Besides, inbound marketing is a major source of lead generation, mostly when it is coupled with marketing automation. As Facebook announced it would diminish the amount of advertisements in its timelines, Word of Mouth and UGC are bound to play an increasing role with brands.

Insight #3: social selling will thrive

Read more

Must businesses have a social media presence?

Some think that B2B and social media don’t mix. That is wrong: They perfectly do. It is very interesting to look at this aspect of social media presence. There are many questions that people ask themselves when it comes to B2B and social media. Must businesses have a social media presence? Can a major business avoid being on social networks today? Does that concerne businesses in the manufacturing sector? In your opinion, is Space a trending topic on social networks? All these questions are answered by Yann Gourvennec in this article, during his visit at Thales Alenia Space

Must businesses have a social media presence?

Most B2B brands are deemed “under the radar”. This means that there are few or no spontaneous conversations on the Web about them. Social Media makes it possible for small hyperactive communities of like minded professionals to engage in passionate discussions about their subjects.Is is important to creating conversation and content on social media. Why? Because it can help you motivate your community to discuss different interesting aspects about your company. Possibilities are endless: the future of your business, best practices, the evolution of your services etc. Imagination is the limit.

There is one intriguing paradox in this: the less you’ll talk about your products, the more clients will buy from you.

 

Can a major business avoid being on social networks today?

Read more

A Picture Is Worth A 1000 Words: In Content Marketing Too

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a 1000 words.This morning I came across a presentation by Wakster’s Philippe Ingels. Wakster is a British agency dedicated to the use of illustrations for Marketing. I though the topic was particularly relevant to our readers and so I am sharing his presentation with you. Rather than try to bore your readers to death, why don’t you try something different? That’s the meaning of Philippe Ingels’s presentation and also the gist of our work at Visionary Marketing.

A pciture is wortha thousand words
I used Philippe Ingels’s picture above. You will find others in this piece. His presentation is available hereafter

On the web and elsewhere, advertisers tend to believe their own dreams and their motto is “if customers cannot hear our message, let’s shout it out a wee bit louder!

A picture can make you stand out from the crowd

However, the results are poor. Users hate advertisers for being insistent. The more they are the more they hate them. So both advertisers and publishers are trying to lure readers into reading their uninteresting messages by throwing more and more banners at them. I even counted up to 4 layers of banner advertising on one particular website. These publishers’ web analytics platforms will add up all these “readers” into their stables. But it is an illusion. For readers have averted their eyes from that content for a long time. Big data and a big illusion too.

A picture is worth a 1000 words

Read more

Inbound Marketing: lost in translation

Inbound marketing and a certain lingua franca

Inbound marketing isn’t as easy as it lay seem. We are currently working on a content marketing deal which involves writing content about “web to store” technology. Our text is written in English and has to be translated into Spanish and French. “Web to store” is what the French are calling it and the terminology makes perfect sense. The only issue is that the term, in plain English, doesn’t exist or isn’t used. This, in a way, is a bit of a conundrum. Should we, or should we not use it in our English pieces? We have been torn on that issue, and still are. But there are many more issues with translations.

About inbound marketing, translations and adaptations

I used to be a translator interpreter for the French Army Staff (well, that was quite some time ago, but the lessons I was taught were not lost on me). In essence, I believe that translation is one of the most difficult exercises for the mind. Much more difficult than solving an equation. In fact, it’s a bit like solving two symmetrical equations expressed in two different languages and trying to get back to a near perfect transposition of the original text. That kind of exercice may sound easy, mostly when common languages are involved. But it’s far from being the case. As a matter of fact, languages aren’t equations. They cannot be fed into computers – or only imperfectly. This is due to the fact that a) rules are imperfectly expressed (sometimes I read French grammar rules and I can’t understand everything in them) b) a language is not only based on a choice of words and grammar, it’s based on colloquialisms and the choice of expressions which not only seem right to readers, but also sound vernacular c) because translations aren’t just translations, most of the time they are adaptations (all references to local things must be either changed or explained. In our retail example, if I mention Asda or Argos, no Frenchman would understand what I am talking about. Conversely, if I write about Casino or Leroy Merlin, chances are that most Europeans would have no clue that these are retail chains unless I explain it).

inbound marketing is key
Translation is like a key. Any translation would open any door. But the real issue is how to open one particular door when you don’t always have the key and need to forge one yourself

Regardless, we have decided to translate all our blog pieces carefully, both in French and Spanish, in order that the right terms appear in the right pages for the right search engine(s). This is a tad counter-intuitive in an economy which is supposedly globalised, with English as the world’s modern lingua franca. And French and Spanish for other parts of the world.

To an extent, this isn’t new. Assuming that in Roman times, everyone was speaking Latin in the exact same way would be foolish. And the bastardisation of the Empire’s language gave birth to Church Latin (which the French facetiously name “Kitchen Latin” to show you that, well, it isn’t Latin per se). That’s the funny thing about a lingua franca: being a universal language means that many speak it, but this doesn’t guarantee that one will understand it. That’s how certain Canadian films like the hilarious 2011 Starbuck is subtitled for French audiences (honestly, unless he/she has a trained ear, a fluent French speaker would not understand many of the lines spoken in that film, mostly because most are stressed. With received pronunciation, French is spoken flat, it is almost impossible to catch anything when words are stressed in the English way (and conversely when English isn’t stressed properly). Read more