While my time spent playing has declined significantly, video games and the gaming industry still fascinate me. From Valve demonstrating open platforms and continuously useful products to perfection to communities and the Free-To-Play (F2P) model pulling great games back from the brink of extinction, gaming is a source of inspiration. Even in-game economies and the ways the community creates its own value are amazing.
You can find me on Xbox LIVE as Jovial Fish playing an FPS or talk to me about generally solo pursuits like strategy games and RPGs.
Basketball’s statistical revolution
I first read articles in Grantland about the way measurement is changing basketball (1, 2) and now see it pop up everywhere there’s intelligent sports discussion. It’s fascinating that the movement of people is being encoded and classified into numerical value to determine their strengths, weaknesses and value to the team. My dream is to deploy these cameras in pickup basketball games.
The connection of unexpected things
Moving beyond expected and immediately useful objects like thermostats, monitoring devices and smoke alarms connecting to the Internet of Things, all kinds of objects are now making their way to a monitorable state. For example, Connected Sharks now warn you they're close and Connected Plants tell you how their growing conditions look. Basically, if brands can think of a benefit to connecting something, it can probably be done and may pave the way for a new brand asset.
Open systems and brands as platforms
All the rage right now with the current business focus on innovation, companies like Valve, Google and Amazon are building platforms that give others the power to build something on top. It's a popular method of creating value and brands in a way that evolves over time and ensures consistent innovation, but at the cost of control. It seems to be very tough for established companies to either 1) take advantage of open systems or 2) build their own open system. In a way this method of thinking is an evolution of social - a way of thinking most brands and companies are still struggling to fully incorporate.
Online community value creation
Within every community, there are different evaluation metrics for social currency. Sometimes it's an "actual" currency like Dogecoin or Coinye, other times it's having news first or a new cool experience. The great part about this value is how useless these bits of social currency are outside of their respective communities. For evidence, just think about the reception of a photo with an NBA fan favorite (outside of super stars) on r/NBA vs on a mom forum. This has huge implications for brands trying to scale their social presence as while each community is very clear about what's valuable, there's a massive amount of fragmentation to overcome.
The increasing expectations all brands are facing
It’s really tough to prove, but it sure looks like people want more out of the companies they interact with. Maybe the pace of technological change and declining barriers to entering many markets have made it so we always feel like a better service is lurking around the corner? Or maybe this is the quality of life improvement from innovation that people like Naveen Jain have championed before? The ease and importance of word of mouth certainly has something to do with it, but it seems to come from a deeper place inside many people. Could our brains be recalibrating based on what brands are offering?
What seems clear is that if brands aren’t constantly about to come out with a product, service or tool that makes the experience better, they’re probably in trouble.
Determining the value of social and mobile interactions
Given the amount of money being thrown around in mobile and social marketing, it’s surprising that many organizations don’t seem to have a good handle on what those interactions are worth. This casts doubt on what’s the best approach in these channels for the desired outcomes and leads to optimization around metrics such as likes and downloads. Very useful signs of activity, but not of actual business success.