Technology improves our lives in many ways, but overreliance on it can cause us to "dumb down." Technology has a tendency to fill in or take over certain tasks for the consumer, relieving us of cognitive activities that we once did ourselves. These cognitive activities get weak or atrophied. We get lazy and dependent on the new technology to do our work for us. We become dumb.
Facebook innovated its way to become the dominate social network with 600 million users in just six years since launch. What will it do for an encore? More importantly, how will it continue to innovate? For this month's LAB, we will apply the Attribute Dependency tool to demonstrate how Facebook might continue re-inventing itself.
To use Attribute Dependency, make two lists. The first is a list of internal attributes. The second is a list of external attributes - those factors that are not under your control, but that vary in the context of how the product or service is used. Then create a matrix with the internal and external attributes on one axis, and the internal attributes only on the other axis. The matrix creates combinations of internal-to-internal and internal-to-external attributes that we will use to innovate. We take these virtual combinations and envision them in two ways. If no dependency exists between the attributes, we create one. If a dependency exists, we break it. Using Function Follows Form, we envision what the benefit or potential value might be from the new (or broken) dependency between the two attributes.
Here are attributes of the Facebook experience:
It's official. Pinterest has joined the elite group of social apps along with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and Google Plus. "Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard that lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web." How popular is it? It is the fastest site ever to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark. A report by Shareaholic claims, “Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.” As of March 2012, Pinterest was valued at $1.5 billion.
There are many creative ways to use Pinterest. New apps are emerging around it much like what happened with Twitter. But to maintain growth, Pinterest needs innovation. For this month's LAB, we will apply Attribute Dependency, one of five techniques of Systematic Inventive Thinking, to Pinterest. Our goal will be to create new innovations around Pinterest as we did with Twitter and Facebook.
Five companies are slugging it out in what may be the most competitive and unique business battle of all time. It is larger in scale with more at stake than battles in other industries including transportation, energy, and finance.
More remarkable is how different the combatants are from one another. Instead of similar companies competing (Toyota versus General Motors, for example), these companies hail from different business bases: an electronics manufacturer, a lifestyle computing company, an online retailer, a search engine, and a social network. In order: Samsung, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. I call them the Fabulous Five.
Google, Apple, Facebook, Samsung, and Amazon are in a mad scramble to enter new territory and cover gaps in their strategies. The one that gets ahead and stays ahead will earn bragging rights in what may be the most significant business battle of all time. These companies are the Fabulous Five.
Let's look at how each company is placed in the following domains: hardware design and manufacturing, software development and integration, consumer retailing, mobile, voice and digital communications, social, search, and entertainment. Why these? I believe the company that covers the biggest footprint across these domains and integrates them in a way that touches the most consumers will become the dominant lifestyle company. Notice I did not call it B2B, B2C, or even the dominant tech company. The battle being fought here is to become a part of the consumer's life in a way that allows the company to learn key insights that can be monetized. It is the battle for the consumer subconscious in a way.
Loyalty is defined as a strong feeling of support or allegiance. Companies fight for it because it correlates well to product sales. The Fabulous Five (Google, Amazon, Apple, Samsung, and Facebook) are waging a spectacular battle against each other to earn customer loyalty.
A key to winning is to understand the types of loyalty. Professor Christie Nordhielm describes three types as part of her marketing strategy framework, The Big Picture: