Impact on business and society

The recent cryptocurrency development had put a serious dent in the crypto space. The bubble is clearly burst — very clearly. Speculative investors took quite a hit and the money flow from unknown and possibly dubious sources is drying out. What looks like a disaster to some is a very welcome clearance to others.

I’m a Crypto Valley Association Member and an investor and board member in Blockchain Valley Ventures, sitting right in the heart of Crypto Valley. Most recently I received tons of questions — “Where is it going?” “Is blockchain dead” “Is Bitcoin at its end” “Shall we sell?” “Is now a good time to buy?” So let me share my thinking and why I see a more positive future now than a year ago — when everything was just too glossy.

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly

Yes — some lost millions of Dollars

Remember what happened when the Internet Bubble burst? It wasn’t the Internet that bust but the greed of many investors who just hoped that the craziness would never end. But the Internet itself was never hurt. Today we have not millions but billions of Internet users. Because the Internet makes total sense.

Fast forward, 18 years later, the crypto bubble burst. It’s not the Blockchain that burst, but the investor craziness in a currency that has never shown any value in itself. In the future we will have millions of Blockchain users, using public and private blockchains. Because the blockchain itself makes total sense.

The Future of Blockchain & Crypto

The Crypto Valley Community is working feverishly on the next big steps, the evolution in blockchain technology and crypto currency. Like the software people in Silicon Valley, the blockchain people in crypto valley have a very clear understanding where things will go — because we are creating that future.

Demystifying Blockchain Technology

I feel it’s about time to demystify the blockchain technology. Unlike many people postulate it is NOT this magical architecture running on hundreds of thousands of servers simultaneously and consuming gigawatts of energy just to hide some data in an insanely complex security algorithm. Well you can use it that way — but I actually care less.

Innovative and disruptive smart contracts

The true innovation and in particular disruption to both the software world as we know it and the business process world as we have it, are so called “Smart Contracts”. And this is also why Crypto Valley is so much ahead of the rest of the world. There is a reason why nearly half of the world’s ICOs happened here.

Smart contracts is the actual ‘brain’ of the Blockchain. A Smart Contract does what general software never did: It executes a process autonomously. Very similar to Artificial Intelligence, it is an autonomous vehicle running through the net. And that creates the ultimate power of the blockchain. If an order is entered into a classic ERP system, it requires human action in every single step of the process. Entering the order, processing the order, confirming the delivery, reviewing the payment, observing the shipment and so forth. It makes it extremely slow, error-prone, and costly. The magic of the smart contract that it processes an order completely autonomous based on defined triggers, times, sensors, inputs and no human can intervene or manipulate that process. There is a good reason why IBM, SAP and other big player invested enormously and early on in the blockchain technology. They obviously understood the power of the smart contract technology — which in return requires a blockchain architecture to work in a trusted manner.

The dent in the wallet of a speculating investor will have no effect on the future of the blockchain. And all the current projects here in Crypto Valley show where this technology is already going. We also see why Etherium had such a peak in the meantime: It’s development tools, libraries and APIs had proven to be the most attractive to developers. Also, this will not change.

Shift To New Disruptive Blockchain Applications

As an Investor we obviously are the first to see new companies, new business ideas and possibly new technology shifts. But what we are also seeing right now, is a serious shift in startup quality. A year ago, we have been flooded with whitepapers, which all too often have been a copy of a copy and just yet another crypto currency. That has changed. Today we are very fortunately back to normal. The flood turned into a healthy stream of well thought out and disruptive business ideas. We no longer see the applications that allow a global government be run off of a blockchain but interesting applications in sectors like, supply chain, medical records, pharmaceutical logistics, gamification, business process optimization, IT security, trading, sales and marketing applications and many others where the autonomous processing of smart contracts play a key role for a serious new way of doing business.

Mega shifts on the Crypto side

The clearing air over the cryptocurrency side shows a very interesting development. We will have in the end two types: Security Token and Utility Token. For those not so familiar with the — so far very confusing — crypto side of this world a few words: Cryptocurrency was the “funny money” that transported rewards with the smart contract. If some contractual actions have been completed and confirmed “rewards” or crypto money was paid. That crypto money, very much like the points and other rewards in games or miles, have quickly become so valuable that its value started the craziness that we had until very recently.

In the next evolutionary steps, we are already seeing, we have those two, mentioned above, currency types:

Utility Token

These have a reward characteristic like air miles, points you collect when shopping and so forth. At one point there may be an option to trade it into something or allows you to use it for other features like renewing a software, getting a free flight and so forth. The universal character, the way we can possibly use them across platforms or even trade them makes it a much better vehicle that what we have today. Today’s situation is a convoluted mess of rewards, points and benefits that are so terribly different in their handling that it is actually almost cheating on the consumers to even offer those “benefits”.

Security Token

While they handled inside a blockchain very much like any other token, the purpose of a Security Token in the real world are fundamentally different. These are created to actually have a asset or money equivalent characteristic. Startups can offer shares in their company by using security tokens. The big advantage is that a security token can be traded globally at its designated value and a startup does not need to worry about countless currencies. BUT THAT is highly regulated here in Switzerland and very soon in the US and in the next months or years in other countries. The regulations are by order of magnitude as complex as an IPO but strong enough to prevent money from money laundries enter the ecosystem and will bring the sought after seriousness and investor protection into the game. This major milestone may actually have been the biggest reason for people to pull back their “money” from the crypto world of yesterday and cause the burst.

Looking forward to 2019, the birth of the Butterfly.

@AxelS

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Technological – Business – Societal  – Impact Development Timeline
The era of AMs – Autonomous Machines

2020 – 2025
We will see a rising number of products mainly chat bots, entering our day to day world. At the same time the work on “General AI” will be intensified and we are getting better and better results – yet no real products – despite the rapid development. The business impact will be substantial because access to knowledge will span all industries and will be substantially easier as conventional text search. Search engines will be either UI-less (meaning no keyboard, mouse, looking through lists but you speak to mic anywhere).
The societal impact will begin to bring a dark cloud. The start of significant unemployment in all kinds of call centers, info centers, support center…
Science Fiction movies may become rarer. Our development is faster than a movie maker can write a script, produce the movie and bring it to market. Ex-Machina II may possibly still not come out ;)

2025 – 2030
Technology development towards general AI will be in full swing but not yet really mainstream. Millions of engineers from around the globe will work on AI solutions. That includes Universal AI, multi purpose AI, single purpose AI. AIPU s (artificial intelligent processing units) will become more widely available. New Memory systems may arise. With that I mean silicon embedded intelligence to address memory content. There was a technology developed called “Content Addressed Memory” that may come to new life – now there may be a need for it.
The number of AMs (Autonomous Machines) such as AI Based self driving cars, AI based autonomous robots, AI based autonomous devices, AI based autonomous computers will rise significantly. By then everybody will sell their products with AI-Based XYZ. AI is like Internet in 1998. Widely used but still not fully developed. But everything will include AI one way or the other.
The unemployment rate will rise to very uncomfortable 100+ Million across the globe. Countries will start to TAX AMs in order to finance unemployment aid.
Unemployed will most likely not be able to find a new job. It’s when the wider public understands that AI is different to any other new technology: AI is used to make machines autonomous – rather then needing new skills to use the new technology by humans. AI is not even a technology, software, microprocessors, robots, cars everything existed, but a completely new way to use technology.
As a result, a significant shift in our society will begin. The makers movement will explode, social workers, nature-observers and protectors, artists, musicians, coaches and so forth will rise. We will move from “employed humans” to “autonomous humans”. We will grow more self determined across all levels of education and with a higher value to our society, environment and future evolution of humankind. A major societal inflection point may surface. Those who still need to “work” will push the AI development forward, knowing that if their jobs will be replaced, they can – like all the others – do what they really like to do and receive a UBI (Unconditional base income).

2030–2040
The AMs are substantially advanced. AI development languages and AI operating systems will become a standard in the tech space. Under the development systems the graphical application design tools may dominate as they can be used by pretty much any generally educated business manager. Just pointing and selecting data set sources, algorithms that analyze those data sets, selecting processors (neural networks) to pump it through and so forth. It will be the beginning of broadly available general AI. The number of AI based applications will grow faster and bigger than all conventional software together. The old software world is fading away.
The number of applications and functionalities leveraging IOT, sensor techniques, and robots will enter into all kinds of industries replacing ever more people. It will now be apparent – also for the last human on earth – that industrial work will be completely eradicated. Industrial unemployment will be raising to over a billion people in the next 10 to 15 years. Whether its office workers or manufacturing workers, AMs will take over the jobs. Everybody who is working on repetitive products or services can be replaced by an AM. Artists, will still keep creating Art any creative work that creates a unique ‘thing’ will obviously not be replaced because it would simply make no sense and cost too much. Those AMs work 3 times as long (8 versus 24 hours), no social cost, no vacation. Unemployment aid will at the very latest now become an unconditional base income for everybody, funded by the earlier implemented Value added AM tax. Autonomous Humans will now become the majority.
We also reached another interesting inflection point. Product costs are no longer determined by the amount of labor cost – back to raw material cost based pricing. But the raw material may actually sooner or later come from other planets. Science Fiction? No – this is now becoming reality. Not only because we understand that renewable ENERGY is limited but also recyclable MATERIAL is not infinitely available on earth. A billion cars with Lithium Batteries would require more Lithium after the first few replacement than we have on earth.

2040 – 2050
The AMs will evolve further, write complex algorithms themselves, beyond our own capabilities, create structures and construct products beyond our intellectual capacity. Humans, however, will also evolve further and deeper than we can imagine today, in 2018. Our brain will have more capacity for creativity because we will no longer need to remember when King Ramses built his empire, who his father was and so fort. We have that knowledge in our extended, collective, connected technical brain. Internet connection is omnipresent and guaranteed on every square inch on land or water on earth. Mass products in any way or shape can be constructed, prepared and produced by AMs. Only the decision, what we actually want to create, will still be coming from the human mind. And latest by then we will bring forward real self aware AMs (if not much earlier). There are many people including me working on self conscious AI concepts already. Yet even self aware AMs are far away from the human brain capabilities. The AI research will help us better understand what we are actually capable of. We will learn more about ourselves in these 10 years than in all the 300,000 years before. The human mind’s creativity is so complex that AI is still very far away from coming even close to it. We will have a far deeper understanding of the human mind than just our intelligence. We will understand that intelligence is just one power of our mind, similar to our power to move, the power of our muscles and the power of our orientation – which we have all augmented already some hundreds of years ago. We will understand artificial intelligence is no more than our artificial muscles, which we call tools.

2050 – 2075
Leveraging our added skills, collective knowledge our amazing machines, scientists will be replaced by those machines as well. Testing something new and prove a repetitive behavior to make it a scientifically proven fact, is much better done by an AI system than by a Ph.D. ‘system’. Science will be done by AMs across all factions. At the same time, innovative and creative ideas will explode, AM’s will analyze and verify those ideas in no time. AM owners will compete for those crazy but verified ideas and build it. AMs will help revitalize space exploration in a new and rather meaningful way. We will need other places than earth to harvest raw material and we need other planets for recycling or wast disposal. AMs, powered by solar energy are the best “people” to send to other planets or our moon to extract, produce, recycle, deposit. We don’t even need to terraform Mars for that. But we may safe Mars for exploring Terraforming together with AMs. Autonomous Machines and Autonomous Humans will build the most powerful synergy ever built. We will be depending on AI, more than on any other technology built so far. Most technology can be replaced by something else. But an AI system that can iterate through millions of ideas for any given solution in a few hours is something not only beyond what we built but beyond ourselves.

More details on how and why thousands of different jobs in 300+ industries, from around the world will be replaced in the next 30 years and how we manage the inflection point from the disaster of being “unemployed” to the luxury of becoming an autonomous human will be available on: Eliminating Work . AI

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In my work with artificial intelligence, thinking about the borderline between a perfect algorithm to perform a perfect action and the superiority over the human brain, I reached an area that made me think about the concept of perfection.

Hyper smart applets

In 1996 we were trying to design hyper-smart applets (applets was concept in Jave programming language). The idea was that applets travel through the internet autonomously, find receptors in routers or computers and have dialog systems in connected machines. It was a similar idea like smart contracts in a blockchain, but far more advanced in its autonomy. We were philosophizing: how far could we bring this? Would these applets become one day self aware? Would they be able to execute tasks not only based on our direction but also be influenced by incidents that occur while traveling in the net? For instance could they find their best path virtually on their own? Today’s AI discussion are a real dejavue for me. One thing we discovered at that stage: We have to allow the autonomous applets to make mistakes. We cannot predict every move and every situation. We have to add some sort of error correction mechanism and being aware that mistakes will come from probability of success calculations. This was the first time I realized that failure is not something we humans have because we are dumb – we have the behavior to make mistakes by purpose.

AlphaGO Example

20 years fast forward. The AlphaGo project 2016 showed very well that the AI system that learned to play GO, was incapable predicting every possible move in order to make a perfect moves. The variety of moves are so vast, that all computing power on earth could not perform this task in the next 10,000 years. So what AlphaGo did is taking a shortcut and calculates probabilities to win in percent from several possible and more logical moves. Obviously the way it does it was superior to how we humans can do it – but it is far away from being perfect (perfect as we humans use that term).

Permutation

I was reminded that permutation is a strategic concept of nature. We humans see permutation as a “mistake”, because we don’t know much about mistakes. We “instinctively” try to avoid mistakes at almost all cost. On the other hand we are triggered by rewards and any success is rewarded by our brain with “rewards points” also understood as joy.

Perfection

Humans are definitely imperfect. Our imperfection is mainly noticed by the mistakes we make and the joy we have when we succeed. However, the more we think about the reasons why we ‘must make mistakes’ eventually we come to a point where we understand that imperfection is the perfect scheme of development. The fear, that with the rise of AI ‘we are all gonna die’ because we are soooo imperfect, is definitely simply another mistake.

Imperfection Oxymoron

A “perfect system” that still develops makes the ‘perfect’ system being previously ‘imperfect’ or the development is a decay. Development or evolution including permutation can only be considered evolving if it is not perfect. The state of ‘perfection’ is the end of evolution or development.
Imperfection is the only thing that is perfect!

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I see this question popping up over and over again. At present it may look like Autonomous Machines will carry on the technological development and we sit and watch. Well – here is my thinking:

In 1980 the end of technology was predicted
I remember a day where my boss said “I think with the invention of the 8 bit microprocessor we are at the end of technology development – we will never see a 16 bit microprocessor in commercial use.” I was laughing but he was dead serious. Little did he know that we were not at the end but barely at the beginning of the micro computer revolution.

In 2020 the end of humanity will be seriously predicted
We are very much in the infant stage of AI. If we developed a fully autonomous and self aware AI system we are really at the beginning of a new technology era. Those machines will help us reach frontiers that even SciFi authors don’t see today but will fuel a whole new era of SciFi stories soon.

By 2030 We will see early tangible results
Imagine that we will be able to calculate the least possible effort to develop purified water for all humans on earth – and just do it. Be able to produce food for every single person even at 15 Billion population. We will quickly move away from plastic robots to fully biological material based robots.

By 2050 replacing general ‘work’ with AI Tax based income
By now we may need to / are in the luxurious position to replace 50 – 100 million jobs. By taxing Autonomous Machines we can fuel a pool of UBI (Unconditional Base Income) so those people will be covered and the ones how operate such machines can still do it profitably. Going forward most people in developed countries won’t have to find a job but can do what they are most excited about and evolve to “autonomous humans” in its own right.

By 2075 Smart material development may be in full swing
The very next big thing that already started is smart material and biological material. A Doctor in Germany developed the first artificial aortic ventricle of a heart made fully from biological material. This will keep going for at least 100 years. Smart material is changing its shape and even molecular structure based on electromagnetic impulses. Countless new applications.  The synthesis of smart material constructed and manipulated using – again – AI brings us to all new technological realms.

By 2100 We may reach a state of nearly abundant energy
We know that our sun is boosting unimaginable amount of energy every millisecond. Even our mother planet earth does that in its core. Today we still neither harvest that energy properly – let alone being able to emulate the phenomenon and create Terra Watts generated in a little box behind our homes.

By 2150 Body augmentation may get us to an age of 500 to 1,000 years
Then think about human body augmentation, Artificial yet biological “replacement parts” for virtually everything. Maybe not the brain by then but maybe even that.

By 2200 Terra-Forming
Again all new technologies, powerful energy generators, knowledge about space travel and planet construction. At that stage we actually need technology like AI to do a few billion iterations of possible ways to do what we want to do – a human being would never be able to do that. An AI system on the other side would never “create” the idea and suggesting:  “Hey human what do you think about the idea of making Mars an inhabitable planet”.

Between 2200 and 2500 longer distance space travel
We are not giving up on that one. And we cannot. Earth will be hit by a major asteroid in the next some 100,000 years and our human brain has further developed that we actually care. We will need to find ways to leave our paradise – one day.

Between 2,500 and 3,000 crossing parts of our galaxy
No, forget space ships and forget low speed travel of 100,000 miles per hour. It will be something entirely different – we still need to develop the very foundation of the necessary physics. By that time maybe we are able to develop our own chemical elements and the new Periodic Table is more like a book.

By 5,000 we may…
wonder what next and build a fully biological being, which only needs electric power to survive. We put it into a space ship and send it to Alpha Centaur, where it should start a life on its own – never letting it know where it came from, so we don’t get unexpected visits :) We just watch it develop from a safe distance. We may visit a bit closer – just hoping they don’t discover us and think we are a UFO with extra alpha centaurical live :)

So – NO, AI is not the last innovation it is actually the first of an all new technological, economical and societal era. We won’t hit a point with no more advancement any time soon. And IF, we will advance in a very different way and laugh about our neanderthal like toys including space ships, AI, terra forming and the other primitive gimmick.

Happy innovation

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Photo by IBM Quantum Computer

I just saw an interesting video on YouTube that helped me understand quantum computing – at least it is now easier to pretend I know :). Talia Gershorn from IBM explained Quantum Computing in a new and very powerful way. This post is actually a comment for Talia but I thought it might be interesting to see what other quantum computing physicists have to say. Failure Tolerance and Imperfection is something I got really caught up with and am fascinated to get opinion from others.

@Talia: You are looking for having fault tolerance. I fully understand because this is how we always looked at computing. The perfect 100% accurate result – any time. And I’m sure one day somebody will find the solution. In the meantime you may want to look at applications where this is not so relevant. Imperfection is a form of quality that we all see in nature and in the universe. It is indeed a quality. Only imperfection allows evolution, mutation, and variation. Without imperfection – funny isn’t it – we would simply NOT EXIST.

Here is how it goes: Think about a structure for an airplane wing that is ultra light, still strong enough that it holds the body of a plane, yet flexible enough that it does not break. Your brain comes up with a few ideas, you let it run through a computer, optimize the structure based on let’s say a heat map of issues and then build it. If it’s working safely, you produce it and we are all flying with it – actually for centuries. Guess what – the structure that was picked in the first place is absolutely imperfect, still too heavy but it just works. Let an AI system design it and go through a million iterations, It would come up with a perfect solution (see a video from @Maurice Conti in my recent post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/autonomous-machines-where-we-today-who-may-advance-most-schultze/ . IMPERFECTION however saved us time so we could have airplanes long before we even knew about the existence of AI.

Another example: Your own company (IBM) provided the computer to beat Kasparov in 1997 in chess. The software however was imperfect because it could not go through each and every possible move but used the ones with the highest probability to win. AlphaGO did the same with GO because here the possible moves where simply too many.

IMPERFECTION as a strategy.

How about letting the good old silicon based computers do their job and you focus on apps that doesn’t need that kind of perfection but an overall performance increase unreachable for today’s silicon based machines. Instead of computing a three dimensional image and simulating it to move, using silicon, take a quantum computer and ignore that few pixels that are lost or even whole frames that do not get perfectly represented. As we progress in AI with its more and more complex algorithms and neural networks, we may need to get used to imperfection in an even grander scale. Matching too humans has a great chance of being imperfect. But the meeting everybody from the opposite gender would and keeping the protocol for meeting each other would take approximately 5.5 million years if we allow one day for each person and assuming 25% of half the population is ‘available’.

Just a thought.

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My LinkedIn account states: Member since: June 12, 2003
My LinkedIn ID is 8573

2003 – In My 2003 Konstantin Guerke, one of the LinkedIn co-founders asked me to join the network and give some feedback. His primary interest: Get some executives into the network, which so far was primarily consisting of engineers. To be honest, back then I had absolutely no idea what value it provided and where this could go.

2004 -I was searching for a VP Marketing and looking for candidates. Konstantin asked me to try LinkedIn to find what I’m looking for. I did. After some tips and modeling I got a pretty good search model and found the perfect candidate. Kathrine Hayes was VP Marketing, not looking and in most of the recruiters databases listed as VP Sales, her previous position. I would have never found here and  neither would our recruiters. We agreed to work together and not only I saved $30,000 recruiting cost, I got a perfect match. That was one of the key events when I realized that social networking would change everything. Not only the way we look for candidates but the way we sell, market, engage, service, promote, learn – simply every aspect of our business world.

2005 – I started my own blog and was considered one of the first executives blogging. I remember it was a bit of a debate in one of the board meetings as nobody could imagine what a blog is and why one would do that. I didn’t care. More so I tried to incorporate social media and social technology into our products. It was pretty clear to me that social technologies are the future life blood of any business application. Little did I know that it will still take years to get there.

2006 – Social networking was growing very fast within those early adopters and it proved helpful once one kind of understood how to use it to maintain existing contacts, develop new connections, get business introductions and even generate new leads. We all developed different techniques and had different opinion. And we all knew, that this is going to make a huge difference to sales and marketing. Yet we realized that most executives are still far away from recognizing the potential and the impact that social media already has on their businesses.

2007 – I heard about Twitter and the opinion that this is dumb and a total wast of time. In early 2007 I tried it out and agreed. This was really stupid. There was no way to form a meaningful sentence with 140 characters, let a lone a message for the public. But when I read in Wired Magazine that being forced to cram your thoughts into 140 characters and as a result we all will be less wordy, I looked at it again and signed up with a new account in June. I was surprised that the network has grown from roughly 50,000 just a few month ago to some hundred thousand users. I made new friends and began to really like it.

2008 – With the presidential campaign here in the US being massively using social media, many business executives woke up and were looking to explore its potential for their respective companies. A few business friends of mine, mostly CEOs from other Silicon Valley companies asked me to share my thoughts and experience about social media or just hired my as a consultant helping them develop a social media strategy. I have never been a consultant and didn’t really want to become one – but that was a lot of fun. The biggest problem was that nobody within those companies actually understood what I’m talking about.  I decided to provide executive level training to help managers not only make sense of Social Media but being able to create a strategy, create initiatives, define resource and budget plans and everything a corporate executive needs to make a decision. And of 2008 we started the Social Media Academy.

2009 – I continued to consult a few large enterprises to develop their social media engagement. What we did however was very different from what most social media agencies suggested. We did not run any fancy Facebook campaigns or moved the old coupon business to the new media. Instead we developed customer engagement strategies where parts of the sales teams or parts of the service teams strategically engaged with customers or even with customers of the company’s competitors. We couldn’t hope for more success. By now some executives realized that social media was no longer “just another arrow in the marketing quiver” it was a business strategy that focused on “Customer Experience Improvement”, “Near Real Time Market Research”, or “Online Reference Selling” and other similar business topics with either an objective to cut cost, create a competitive advantage or expand on certain markets. But the number of businesses who understood to benefit from those advantages is microscopic small.

2010 – One of the challenges we were facing by engaging with a large number of contacts was the lack of capabilities to get quickly and proactively to those accounts. Keeping them in a spreadsheet was not an option. And so we built an application on top of XeeMe a tool that we created for internal use. To us and our clients, 2010 was the year where social selling made some major turns. We were engaging with clients using this new tool we called “Flights!”. While still in an infant stage, we came to realization that sales people are the most social  beings in any business and giving them tools to engage online in addition to phone, email and face to face will make a significant difference in the future. The downside of the new social selling possibilities is that sales teams will want to re-structure their sales strategy, become socially engaged in a much grander way, which in turn requires to restructure sales processes and eventually the commission structure. We knew this will be a long, long way to go. Rather than exhausting us with a decade long evangelizing battle we decided to help one company at a time – whenever they are ready to make a change.

2011 – This year the first partner channel organization thought about using social media to improve partner relationships, drive more partner engagement and help partners engage with their clients more than in the past. In particular in the tech space, VARs, Resellers, System Integrator are not exactly marketing machines. But they keep relationships with their existing clients. And the social web will not change this. But partner channels have a huge influence in the market and can be engaged perfectly to amplify a brand message. Also partners can leverage the social web to get grander exposure for their competencies and technical skills and capabilities. We are seeing the fist vendors including SAP to make a big step forward.

2012 – No question, businesses are moving fast now to leverage social media in their ongoing quest to create a competitive advantage and widen their gap to the competition. But the number of businesses doing so successfully remains to be small. Unlike any previous technology inception where a few leaders started and the followers came in with a year or two delay, the social media adoption is a slow process. Mainly because it is NOT a technology but a mind set and a way of doing business. Main topics remain to be “Customer Experience Improvements”, “”Widen Market Reach”, Improve Channel Partner Engagement” and so forth. Initiatives in those areas make the successful companies even more successful and the struggling companies remain struggling and focus on their business survival instead of customer happiness. In 2012 it was clearer than ever before: ignoring customer engagement opportunities will bring struggling businesses even further in trouble.

At the same time we were experimenting more and more with large scale social media buzz marketing. The largest initiative was for the annual tech conference of the European Commission, where we created a buzz campaign wit nearly 100 Million in reach.

2013 – We decided to focus our future business on the B2B space in here on three areas: High Impact Marketing, Customer Experience Management, Partner & Alliance Management. The launch of our Buzz product is a major milestone and goes hand in hand with the new Buzz Master Training.

Today the gap between online savvy and online illiteracy has widened to a frighting level. When I work with European customers I see the same behavior we saw her in the US in 2007 / 2008  – that means a six year gap between the US and Europe. Australia on the other hand is so close to the US it almost feels they are even a bit further developed in using the social web than in many regions in the US.

“It’s an age thing” – I hear this over and over again. Well – there is a correlation between age and online savvy but it isn’t the age – it is the inability to learn new things and evolve. We had people in its late 60’s in our classes delivering excellent results and others in their early 40’s just couldn’t let go what they learned and were almost incapable to adopt the new behavior.

Well – there is so much more to talk about but, I want to keep it at a Blog level – not a book :)

At this point I want to thank all the wonderful people who I met and made friends with in those extremely exciting 10 years. I’d love to list them all but since you will find them on my friends list on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn – I think it is much easier. THANK YOU my friends.

Axel
http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

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I love my yahoo mail account, which I use for spam and never have to worry it. Yahoo is so incredibly strict that most email doesn’t pass anyway. So I can actually find a response if I signup for a site I don’t know. Also I have set it up that all email older than 30 days gets automatically deleted. So I don’t have to sift through age old spam.

I use it primarily when I want to comment on a post from a traditional publisher such as magazines who are online now or the old news papers. Sure enough I get inundated with spam a few days after I registered. But who cares.

Nowadays approximately 96% of all email world wide is useless spam – up from 83% just a few years ago. On our corporate mail server we have strong spam filter, filtering roughly 90% of the companies inbound emails. My own spam setting filters an additional 75% and from the 30 email that finally make it each day, only 5 or 6 are actually really relevant. Out of – believe it or not 36,000 emails sent to my account every month. Plus the spam to my Yahoo account.

Now – if you are telling me email marketing makes sense, I just have a hard time to believe it. And the irony of all is that marketers trying to tell me email marketing is more popular than ever and the usage is constantly growing – ha ha ha – yes I absolutely believe it is.

If you pay $1 for an executive email address, and I get 36,000 emails a month, people paying over $700,000 a year just to send me their spam that I don’t even get into my inbox – let alone reading it. I’m sorry for the loss, so I thought at least I let you know.

Axel
http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

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In the 80’s people discussed replacing Mainframes with PCs. It didn’t happen – now 30 years later the mainframe business is as vital as it was in the 80’s.

In the 2000 people talked about replacing on premise applications with SaaS. 10 years later it didn’t happen. While the ASP/MSP/SaaS/Cloud industry has nicely grown to a Billion $ industry, traditional IT is a Trillion $ industry (1,000x the size).

By looking at the evolution pattern you may recognize the future trends: Read more

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Facebook will become the next Google which is the next Microsoft.

Microsoft never innovated any product. Windows was innovated by Xerox PARC, and so was the mouse. Word was invented by Wordstar and Excel like PowerPoint was acquired. Google didn’t invent anything anything either but built the most robust business model of advertising distribution, displacing traditional media. By accident it happened around a search engine. Also Facebook didn’t invent anything but took whats out there to the next lever, very similar to Microsoft or Google.

The next non inventor is probably 12 – 16 years old today and will build something on a technology that is out already but in an infant stage.

Like most others, it’s probably a high school drop off, a crazy guy, a nerd, whatever.

By the time Facebook is celebrating it’s 1 Billion’th user – probably in 2 years or so – Facebook will be the single most active software application ever built. By then open graph will help to make the Facebook ID the ultimate person identifyer to login anywhere and replace email as username. In five years from now people who argue about security breaches and privacy issues will be retired and no longer discussing things that an openly connected world just doesn’t find that relevant.

Microsoft wanted to be on every desktop. Check – done.

Google wants to distribute every conceivable bit of advertising. Pretty close.

Facebook wants to be the utility for every networker on the planet. Getting there

???  will be the application every human being is using from birth to death

What will it be? I have no clue, so we will see. But the pattern is already there. When will we see it? 2020 isch – I guess.

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Please listen carefully to this menu as the menu has changed. Your call is important to us but please leave a voice message. If you need more information go to www – dot – whatever dot com…

Sound familiar?

The intentions were good – yet the results are telling us we made huge mistakes. Automation didn’t really bring any progress in our business processes but alienated our most important asset – our customer base. Read more

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This week we introduced our first Social CRM solution, Xeesm/Edge!. A powerful social relationship management system with a touch of sales process. Are you confused? I guess so. And to be honest I’m not sure where the market will take us. Xeesm is a crowd source based product. And as such I’m sure the crowd will come up with a definition that is right for the product and understandable for the user.

Now let’s look at Edge!. It has all aspects of a CRM system. There are customers, there is the concept of an account, sales process, forecasting, closing deals… But architecturally the system and the way it is used are VERY different.

Xeesm/Edge! is Social Relationship Management at its best. The system is architected around people – not accounts. It is structured in a way that an opportunity can easily be shared with partners outside the four walls – even with customers to truly collaborate. And while there are still processes a person or team may consider following. the engagement and the system is dominated by relationship strength. The relationship strength then goes into forecasting in form of a predictive model. And if somebody is saying sales is all about relationships – here is your system.

So far so good. Now lets look at a B2B sales process: First of all it is more than ever before dominated by the buying process. In addition, not only sales people but project managers, engineers, experts and all kinds of people may be involved. This is where your traditional CRM system begins to rumble and steam and is just no longer good at it. A Social CRM or Social Relationship Management system is now firing on all cylinders. Xeesm/Flights! is a unique technology we developed that allows all involved people to work on a project, stick to objectives and ensure a great social connection.

In other words the line between SRM and sCRM will become very blurry. I guess only time will tell how this all will develop.

Axel
http://xeesm.com/AxelS

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Social CRM has two major and very different aspects:

1) The sCRM Product Solution Aspect

As CRM is under huge pressure from the open and collaborative social media space, CRM vendors (first was Oracle) decided to promote the idea of “Social CRM”. Even so there is no real product and no real product definition, it is the vendors interest to close the gap between the wide open social space and the very close enterprise software space. Other than integrating twitter streams and other social chatter, nothing has materialized, where an enterprise sales or marketing organization would fall in love with.

2) The Philosophical Aspect

Consultants in the sales and marketing field understood the need for a change. Not just an upgrade but a significant shift in the customer interaction model. sCRM sounded like the bridge between those tangential drifting continents. As such the definition is eroding more and more every day. To some it is a future product solution, to others it is Twitter, Groups and communities done right, yet to others it is just a “strategy” and again others see multiple facets of the above – and then there are groups who see it emerging without being able to exactly articulate what it may be in the future.

My personal opinion:

If $100 Billion in aggregate (SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Salesforce.com and about 20 other CRM vendors) now promote sCRM and do nothing but bolting the “s” in front of the CRM – the vision of the SCRM strategists will be overshadowed and no way of creating a more social business relationship with customers, prospects and partners will remain a dream.

If instead we work with a new vision, new business processes and as a result completely new products, we may see where the new world leads us to.

SRM – social relationship Management is an attempt to make that shift. As we define SRM and build SRM products, we also define new business processes. Not driven by efficiency or automation but driven by customer requests for a better business relationship with their respective vendors.

See the Definition of SRMAxel

http://xeesm.com/AxelS
(my social map)

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I just read a few articles about sCRM. One was a post on a blog where the blog doesn’t allow comments (very social). The other was talking about Ajax enabled technology that revolutionizes CRM (OMG) and yet another one described the advantage of getting Twitter streams and Facebook wall entrances all feed into the CRM system for better customer information (yes more data). Another system suggest that it takes everything a sales person ever needs so they never have to leave their CRM system (wow – how about leaving the company to actually deal with the customer?). The worst are the ones who still promote the “low touch sales model”. Automation is still the big word. Didn’t we automate already to death so that the customer doesn’t want to speak with us any longer?

NOW – CRM was always a hard nut to crack. Mostly beloved by executives to get data and hated by sales people who (in my personal opinion rightfully) prefer to deal with customers not with data administration and data analysis. I joined – really just for the fun of it – three sCRM and related presentations and was shocked what a sales or marketing person would have to do to “leverage” all the wonderful options of triggers, automated nurture programs, forecast granularity adjustments and a gazillion other options. Social CRM now feeds even more data to an already overwhelmed sales person. There is no word about the actual customer relationship – zero – nada – nothing. Is that how we bring the economy back?

A friend of my (a sales person): “Axel, that is today’s reality. We are customer data admins, not customer relationship managers. We manage the theoretic aspects of the relationship but I am about 10-20% of my business hours with a customer – at best.” What do you do all day long? “I try to reach customers based on a suggestion list, call and call and typically leave 10 voice mails – I know nobody will listen to, in many cases don’t even get to voice mail and one or two people I may be able to talk directly. If I’m on the road I prepare my trip, travel optimization, planning, arranging meetings which is a just an enormous task in itself and so forth. Weekly forecast review, weekly planning for the review meeting, again data into and out of the CRM system – the whole nine yard.” OK and 1 out of 8 hours a day with customers? – “As you can see now – AT BEST. Other activities are reviewing the lead process, the nurturing process, we have very sophisticated processes and it takes a lot to actually go through them every day”.

Bolting an “S” onto the CRM seem to make it harder not better. Of course in the days of Social Media companies need to do something. But sCRM seems to be the opposite direction. sCRM seems to be accelerating the disaster we have on the sales side. Not only because if the incremental information flow but also because of the farther automation instead of the social engagement. Living in a CRM system – that’s what CRM vendors like to see. But don’t you want to see the sales person be with the customer and spend only a fraction of the time with ANY system?

I love Brian Solis statement: “Take the C out of the sCRM”. As our networks grow exponentially, we also may need a good tool, but we need a tool that helps us with the actual relationship – not with the data we aggregate.

Social Relationship Management as it is is currently defined may be a solution to the problem as it focuses on the relationship – not at the data.

Axel
http://xeesm.com/AxelS

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How Teenagers Consume Media
the report that shook the City | Business | guardian.co.uk” ( This Link )

What is shocking to me: What pretty much everybody is talking about finally shook the British Guardian.

More shocking: There is no way to comment on this report. It is electronically “printed” with no way to interact. I have to admit I haven’t been on a news paper site for quite a long time and recognized that this seems still to be the standard.

At the New York Times you have to sign in to “recommend” an article. But also wait until all adds are loaded.

However on SF Chronicle you can provide a comment on pretty much everything. So why spend $200 Million on a new printing press?

Axel

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM

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Cisco, IBM, Walmart, Wholefoods, Starbucks and others invest millions in their social web presence. The investment is more on the human resource side than on systems. They don’t advertise what they are doing but they are moving fast.

The Social Media Academy provides some insight in this week’s complimentary webinar http://www.socialmedia-academy.com/html/introwebinar.cfm

– The impact of social media on businesses across all industries

– Identifying the largest pool of business opportunities

– Assessment of a company’s social ecosystem http://xeeurl.com/A0848

– Developing a comprehensive social media strategy

– Creating a social media plan

– Reporting and analytics in social media – over 100 reporting tools

– ROI, resources and budget considerations

– Social media as a cross functional business accelerator

– Competing for mind, – and market share

– Building a successful social media practice

This Friday 4/24 – 9:00AM (PDT) Online conference (no charge)

http://www.socialmedia-academy.com/html/introwebinar.cfm

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