It must be true , I saw it on the Internet!

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Two pieces of info crossed my desk this week, two vastly differing pieces of info which initially I thought were not related. After mulling the contents over for a few days I have decided that they are, if only to underline the ‘gold rush’ nature of the Internet. One would be excused for thinking that we are too refined and sophisticated to be working in uncharted water…but we are.

Why this matters to us is because we are all using a level of metrics which does not necessarily demonstrate our worth in the marketplace. I have a good friend , whom I might have mentioned before, who has been and is a successful businessman. He always asks two questions when he reviews a strategy, namely;”what would the judge say?” and ” do the numbers ever lie?”.

OK , so what am I driving at here? Well , if everything you do in business is correct and above board then you never need to worry about what a judge would say about your dealings, meaning that the decisions made need to be made for correct reasons and be able to withstand the cold harsh reality of subsequent examination in the future.

“Do the numbers ever lie?”, when we look back on our work , when we plan our work , when we evaluate our work one thing always remains constant….numbers! In business we need to demonstrate with numbers how we are doing and use numbers to validate our next move.  OK , fine , we get that! 

My question is this , ‘what numbers are we looking at and for what purpose?’ If we are historical number crunchers who live by the ‘history tells us everything we need to know about the future’ mantra then I can predict that you will never lead anything, you will only follow. If on the other hand you look at numbers to see what is happening in the future, if you use them to identify trends and then think creatively to provide solutions to problems we do not yet know we have…then you are a leader, others will follow you.

It is a big world out there and we are bombarded every day with staggering numbers telling us that , almost by default, if we can just get on to the Internet all our problems will be solved.
Whoa there horsey!

Not true, increasingly so as every day goes by this idea is proven incorrect….the Internet is only a part of our armoury, as each additional website is launched so the effectiveness of the other sites is put in jeopardy. Like cable TV offering us more choice, reality is that it only offers us more junk and more work sorting the wheat from the chaff. At some point we will stop looking for new things and expect those things to find us…. many of us are at that point right now! Look at your favourites and history tabs to see how limited a choice of websites we use on a daily basis…I know my daily sites remain very similar to the list of sites two years ago, what about you?

So imagine my laughter when I saw this:

98% of Americans Distrust the Internet

Wow! Why? Do they expect be to believe this? After all they did put it on the Internet!

This survey by Harris Interactive highlights the enigma that the Internet has become, on the one hand it is the fountain of all knowledge and on the other it is to be feared and distrusted…….go figure!

A few months ago I wrote about the micro-funding growth in India and Africa , basically making the point that if we think the Internet is all about the USA and Europe then we should think again.

Necessity is the mother of invention and in fact the countries that we traditionally think are behind us in social developments and business practices are often leading the way with innovation and invention. If you have not noticed the seismic movements in China, India and Africa with to a lesser extent South America recently then you need to come out from under that rock and smell the coffee! Lack of infrastructure and an educated workforce is always used as a put down to less developed countries as a way of explaining why they are of no interest to more developed countries; OK to some extent that is understandable BUT we are in a world where putting that infrastructure in place is not the mind boggling task it used to be. We are not always talking about buildings and water supply here, we are talking about intellectual property and creativity , which when I last looked did not need a three lane highway with street lighting to become a reality.

The Internet and all its madness has opened up the whole world, the numbers are immense and the ‘chatter and noise’ has increased but we still have to cater for the growth.

All our metrics need to change, it is not just the volume of people we can reach that matters but the volume at which we reach them.

We need to find out how our messages and our ideas are received and accepted by people we may never see or speak to yet people with whom we expect to do business on a regular basis…. surreal?
We no longer have the luxury of playing a purely numbers based game , we need to be more discerning with the content we distribute… in short , if you are struggling….get a professional!!

Look at this interactive graphic from the BBC detailing the growth in physical broadband cabling around the world since 1999…… look not only at the scope but pay attention to the proposed areas for development, it is these places that will supply our business , our talent and will redefine our perspective on how we use the Internet.

So if all this takes place and the proposed lines are implemented we might see this;

and if we do see this we need to remember…… it is what we say and to whom we say it that will determine our success not the mere fact that we can say a lot to many who may not care or even be listening.

see you on the long and winding road…… Patrick

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