In my recent post, 2011: Year of the Wave, I proposed that digital applications, experience layers, game play, and social commerce are massive, rising waves, elevating brands who understand them out to new heights, potentially crushing others that don't.
Today, my co-worker, and [wire] stone's analytics guru Wendy Ertter found an eConsultancy blog post full of account planning presentations (here). Sorting through the fluff lurked an intriguing-yet-simple framework from Zigurds Zakis called "Account Planning in the Digital Age" slideshare:
Looks pretty simple, right. The big issues, interconnected. Technology is clearly now a key part of the account planner's formula, as Zakis represents here. Adding "technology" to the standard mix of people, culture, and economy -- the general landscape -- is a major step forward. The right planning perspective.
Viewed through the account planner's lens, however, there's a lot more to consider. There's a problem with the word "technology" -- it falls short in capturing the essence of how transformational technology has become. Technology change moves faster and in many respects is the catalyst for cultural, economic, and human behavior change at an increasingly faster pace, some would argue with a more pervasive scope.
Clay Shirky's prescient review in Foreign Affairs argues that social technologies are have become the catalyst for driving political transformation -- amazing that he published literally within a month of 26 year-old Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation. Paul Saffo recently quipped, “Connectivity has become like oxygen. If you don’t have it, you notice its absence at about two seconds,” and has for years projected a vision for human behavior change transformed by digital technology -- "We're going to put eyes, ears and sensory organs on our computers and our networks in absolutely unprecedented ways. We're going to ask them to observe and manipulate the physical world on our behalf.”
For years, account planners trained themselves to look at the world through the eyes of the brands they serve; really talented planners honed an innate ability to construct 360 degree views of the environment within which brands connect with people -- key social, cultural, political, economic, and scientific inputs. No small task. And none of this has changed. Except to say that the planners universe has become infinitely more complex, on orders of magnitude, by the tsunami of digitization and the spinning, convulsing "waves" digitization continues to create.
I'm a planning hack, like most of us trying to figure it all out. My gut tells me, though, that "technology" just doesn't capture the essence of it all...that we need a new word. I'd propose replacing "technology" with "digitization". From artificial intelligence; to cracking the genome; to validating string theory via the LHC (which might actually happen); to the elevalation of women's rights in the Middle East; to Watson winning on Jeopardy; to bio-engineering; to virtual worlds; to transforming the way we teach and learn...the common thread among all of these things is the digitization of everything, along with the interconnectedness created from it.
To ensure we truly capture the breadth and depth associated with our task of bringing a 360 view to our business, account planners must see a the new lens of "digitization" as the filter that provides perspective beyond the nuts and bolts of new digital hardware and software -- to truly "be insightful", we must grok how human behavior adjusts and responds to our increasingly digitized world.