Have you ever shopped online and wished that you could physically see or feel an item? Have you ever shopped at a store and wished that the associate could understand precisely what you wanted? Companies are now moving in a direction in which both of these needs, and more, could be met. Businesses need the combination of digital and physical marketing to thrive in today’s competitive market. It is for this reason that the convergence of bricks and mortar into digital is one of the most significant marketing trends today. This integration of offline (bricks) and online (clicks) is referred to as “click and mortar.”
The overall idea of the trend is to track consumer habits more closely to provide companies with information, and eventually sales, on products that behavioral data suggests an individual would want to buy. The marketing trend benefits firms while also enhancing a consumer’s overall retail experience. Improving the consumer experience helps a company to establish a positive brand image in a competitive market.
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.
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.
Technology and telecommunications are at the basis of this new phenomenon. Indeed, the Internet has created a new definition of ‘work’. It has revolutionized the traditional 9-5-job routine. Focusing on one’s career is not an excuse anymore to say no to travelling. Thanks to the huge digital development that happened in the last decade, a growing number of digital nomads are now independent, and are able to work from anywhere. Even teams are successfully leading this lifestyle.
You delivered an amazing and very inspirational pitch this morning, in which you said “technology changes our behaviour; it does not change our needs”. What do you mean by that?
Technology is something you are holding that has changed your behaviour. In fact, I saw a photography piece done recently: an artist who had taken out the divisors to see how people’s behaviours have changed. The result is amazing! We’ve had these touch screen devices for less than about 10 years now, and look how our behaviours have changed. I was thinking about it yesterday: I have all these photographs of people that are completely not interacting and they’re missing actual connection because they think they’re connecting elsewhere. We have a generation of people that are head down. We’re going to end up with some sort of syndrome
I’m sure! But this is almost a disconnection; that’s changing the behaviour of what we are
doing. Now does it change our need? No, we still need to connect. So a younger generation is actually connecting more digitally at physical events like sporting, because they still have a need to connect. They’re just doing it differently now, they’re doing it digitally.
You mentioned something that really struck my mind as well: “the current generation has more to do with their grandparents’ generation that they have with their parents”, how can you explain that?
The values that they have are definitely more in tune with the grandparents’ generation. They understand consciousness, they understand things like organic and eco. Read more →
This weekend is a very special one. On October 18-19th, 2014 quite a few pioneers from all over the world will gather to debate about what the real Internet of things really is about and other subjects which are all listed per below. They are all being invited by Youstice, the leading start-up which is revolutionising customer relationship management all over the world [disclosure: Youstice is our client]. Here are the invitees of this meeting, amongst whom we find Ether Dyson (1st head of ICANN and one of the first persons I saw on Channel 4 in 1994 talking about the Internet) and Doc Searls (one of the co-writers of the obligatory cluetrain manifesto still available at http://cluetrain.com). I will keep you posted at visionary marketing and LinkedIn about the outcome of these discussions and what we have learnt from these pioneers of the Internet about the Internet of things and a few other subjects.