I Attended SEO’s Funeral, and It Was Beautiful

Ever since clever people got even cleverer online, the Who’s Who in the digital world has been throwing around the term ‘SEO’ like they courted it over a romantic dinner the previous night.

And then it went and died on us.

Or so you would believe, listening to businesses go on about how “he done me wrong” when referring to some SEO specialist they’d contracted to make them The Best Business in the Whole Entire World…on search engines, at least. Now, convinced that search engine optimisation is nothing but another internet marketing scam, they’ve boxed being on page 1 of the search results in the ‘Dark Magic’ box, and nothing more shall be said about it.

Are you in a position where you want – or desperately need – to up your SEO tactics? Google’s started up a whole zoo with Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird, ready to whip websites into shape all kung-fu like, ensuring that the Internet of Things enjoys awesome user experience free from desperate black-hat tactics and ALT tag-bombs.

Far from enjoying the afterlife, hand-in-hand with Internet Explorer and cheap-looking web design, SEO’s simply morphed into another body…and a good-looking one, at that. SEO’s also gone and upped its values, going from sleazy one-night stands with those “specialists” who claim to get you onto page 0.01, to beautiful relationships rich in understanding, value, and mutual benefit.

Isla Paradiso, isn’t it?

  • If you’re willing to invest in your business, it is.
  • If you’re serious about building your brand, yes.
  • If you’re dedicated to bringing the best to your industry, absolutely.

Content marketing is a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand.

These days, SEO prefers going by the name of ‘Content Marketing’. And like all grande dames, we are charmed to meet you, dear.

How did SEO resurrect itself? Read and weep. Tears of joy, damnit!

This post was first published on NadjaBester.com, where Nadja muses digital when she’s not making magic with other people’s marketing departments.


Don’t Envy the Player, Play the Game

Ah, content. The stuff any keeping-with-the-times marketer’s dreams are made of. The stuff any business’ marketing budget should be full of. The stuff the internet (i.e. the people you want buying from you) is simply, totally, absolutely in love with.

Have you looked at Big Business and wondered how the heck they do it, anyway? (And did you notice, while you were at it, that it’s far from just Big Business doing it these days?)

Every piece of content you create goes through a miraculous little process of getting life breathed into it. Whether your content marketing is in-house or outsourced (here’s why outsourcing digital marketing is awesome), the content creator(s) sits hunched over the data, engrossed in bringing your company’s message to the fore and make it rock. Hours pass by, in which life slows down to a flicker of a heartbeat. And then, finally!, ‘Save’ is pressed for the last time, ‘Export’ and ‘Email’ is gleefully finger-jumped on, and voila! another content marketing masterpiece is born.

Ha. If only. The reality is that there’s a whole lot of legwork to be done, once you have that golden (content) ticket in your hands…ehrm, inbox. Content marketing’s great in that it lends itself to being recycled and upcycled, effectively making your ROI totally worthwhile.

But for that, you gotta get off the sidelines and become a team player.

Here’s how.

This post was first published on NadjaBester.com, where Nadja muses digital when she’s not making magic with other people’s marketing departments.


Business SOS: How to Not Suck This Year

If you’ve been in business for a number of years, you’ve probably seen a lot of trends come and go. Some of them, like typewriters, had their quiet burials. Others, like the office robots we all wish we had, which would do everything from unlocking the front door to auditing the yearly financial statements, all for a quick daily battery boost, don’t (yet) exist.

The thread that holds it all together, nowadays, is technology. From personal productivity to office automation, most of us are quick to jump on the bandwagon whenever the latest and greatest new tech development is unrolled to our nearest corner store.

The king of these is the wonder known as the internet. Never before, in the history of humanity, have people been able to empower themselves to such an extent as the world wide web allows them to, every minute of every day. Where before information was

  • unknown (consider the informational database of your average caveman),
  • misguided (flat earth, anyone?),
  • coveted (if you were rich and/or gave your occupational life to the Church, you were eligible to learn how to read, and thus one of only a few who knew what the heck was actually going on in the world), or
  • limited (how long do you think it took for a New Yorker in the 1920s to find out about a tsunami in the Philippines?)

today we have the world at our fingertips, and the ability to buy from any business we so choose, as long as we’re able to find them online.

Which is why it’s somewhat unbelievable that the majority of brick-and-mortar business worldwide still do not have an online presence. What are we waiting for – Armageddon?

Another sad tale is that of a company who did do as business logic dictates, and got a website…only, it’s frozen in time, forever stuck in what has a dreadful 90s look to it. Would you want to buy from a fashion store whose window display hasn’t changed once since they first opened in the Stone Age? Neither does anyone who opens up a web browser and sees an outdated site.

Say your office or store had a broken window. How long would business continue as usual before you’d have it fixed? Pretty much immediately, I’d say. Why, then, would having a digital presence be your last priority?

And would your material of choice be whatever’s at hand, be it a piece of plywood or a taped-on refuse bag? Of course not. You’d buy the proper type of glass in the proper size at the proper price. Why, then, would creating, growing, and maintaining a top-notch digital presence for your business be any different?

Your target market lives in the real world. As you do. When they need a telephone number, they don’t trek down to their nearest pay phone because the donkey cart failed to deliver their copy of Yellow Pages last week. They simply whip out a smartphone and let that 3G connection do the walking.

As sophisticated consumers, we expect businesses to be online, and we expect them to look the part. When they’re not, or when what they offer is sub-par, we simply add them to the not-my-cuppa pile. And there they shall stay until they – unlikely – reinvent themselves to become relevant, relatable, and useful. In other words, until they’re online, and online in a way that’s at least as good as everyone else.

Your business will stop sucking when you stop thinking of its digital version as a nice-to-have that you don’t have the time or budget for, or (perhaps even worse) a necessary evil that can make do with a watered-down version that saves the biggest amount of buck.

Will 2015 be the year in which you do things differently?

This post was first published on NadjaBester.com, where Nadja muses digital when she’s not making magic with other people’s marketing departments.


Digital Marketing to the Rescue

Whether you’re a small, medium-sized, or large enterprise, going digital means having equal opportunity to compete in the global market. A business with a tight budget that nonetheless strategises and creates a workable digital marketing plan can be more successful at online sales than an international corporation that has no online visibility at all.

Digital marketing, as a whole, is far more cost-effective than traditional forms of advertising, with the added benefit that potential customers can be targeted regardless of their physical locality.

Digital marketing also offers a much better opportunity to track conversions than offline sales and advertising strategies such as trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail, broadcast advertising, or print ads. Digital marketing offers a business the opportunity to see how money spent on optimising digital channels is converting into sales and increased traffic. Key, however, is having the proper measurement tools in place. Simply having a website online won’t cut it. Your business needs an analytics-enabled digital marketing campaign that can track and measure your return on investment.

According to Kevin O’Kane, Google’s Asia-Pacific Head of SME, the Internet is rocket fuel for growth for small and medium enterprises. The ability to engage with targeted audiences all over the world, in real time, with the ability to analyse what is working and optimise what isn’t, is a hugely beneficial tool in the arsenal of any business serious about making their dent in the industry they’re in.

However, as is the case with any business strategy, your digital marketing efforts need to be specific, strategic, and specialised.

Gone are the days when merely having a site up could guarantee site visitors. Today’s digital market is sophisticated, and they expect business interaction and engagement to follow suit.

Digital marketing is about extending the core values your business was founded on – the secret to its success – to a dynamic, interactive, and ever-changing platform. It’s about gaining trust, fostering loyalty, and building awesome relationships.

There isn’t a fabulous success story or bad-press mistake your business makes that can’t be discovered through a quick online search. You need to ensure that your brand’s reputation is being strengthened by the digital marketing tactics you employ. This goes for everything from your corporate identity to how you handle lead generation.

To ensure that you leverage your digital marketing efforts in a way that gives you optimal return on investment that exemplifies brand building, grows leads-to-sales conversions, and gains the loyalty and trust of consumers globally, it’s cardinal that you make use of expert guidance.

Much as you most likely wouldn’t fix a broken pipe yourself, or employ a minimum wage-labourer to do the job, just so is your business worth the investment to call in a professional to get the job done right…the first time around.

Services I offer include:

  • Website development
  • Website design
  • Graphic design
  • Mobile optimisation
  • Mobile app creation
  • Digital marketing audit
  • Digital marketing strategy
  • Lead generation campaigns
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Pay per click (PPC)
  • Brand management
  • Corporate identity
  • Reputation management
  • Public relations

Happy Birthday, Content Marketing. You’re Too Old for a Cake Now.

For marketers (i.e. anyone with a vested interest in getting something out there — you don’t need a title after your name) 2015 is probably the most exciting, if not most challenging, year to date. Marketing is changing its mother tongue to digital, and you’re either with it, or you’re losing out.

Gone are the ‘easy’ days when an online presence, in and of itself, guaranteed those archaic site counters to spin ever upwards as visitors streamed to a site.

I can’t tell you how many websites are currently in existence because it increases by the second. (If you’re over trainspotting, let website spotting become your next hobby: Watch them grow.) Your website — please tell me you have one — is but a single drop in a very crowded sea, filled with 947,100,500 websites at this very moment in time.

In recent years, content marketing started making waves as the new go-to marketing strategy. “Content is king” continues to be trumpeted on every street corner. And it’s been great — at long last we as consumers were being respected enough, recognised as smart and sophisticated enough, to make lending our time to site visits worth our while.

However, as with all revolutions, the high needs to make way for an evolutionary comedown. Content marketing is still all that…but it’s changing face. Those in marketing industries and marketing professions realise that there’s far more to getting a return on investment than simply slapping a few paragraphs onto a blog.

Now that we’re getting into the groove of approaching marketing as a long-term relationship with people from whom we want brand recognition, trust, and loyalty — a.k.a we want to be The One and not simply a fling — we’re having to face facts:

1. Creating content isn’t enough

Without effective distribution channels, strategically executed, your great content is great invisible content. There are many a way in which to do this, and to become effective at distributing content will require you to learn to speak its language, or outsource to someone that does. If you’re going to invest in property, invest in the building as a whole…not just its foundation. Likewise, content without distribution is a null concept.

2. Social media goes premium

Social media platforms are the single biggest distribution channels that businesses make use of to generate traffic to their content.

Been noticing what’s happening with social media lately?

From Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn, ads and promoted posts are slowly — or rapidly, in the case of Facebook — taking over organic content. This holds significant implications for the small and medium-sized enterprise, and I predict that in future we’ll see the rise of alternative social media sites such as Ello, who has pledged to stay ad-free for life, which businesses will utilise to stay in touch with their audience.

For the moment, we go where our target markets are, and this means adapting to trends and jumping on their bandwagons, such as Facebook’s new Instant Articles roll-out. Something that is to hold a significant implication for content creation and distribution.

3. Content marketing really is the new SEO

While PPC companies are still falling over their feet to get you to pay for Adwords, search engines are prioritising high-quality, long-form content with popular social media stats. While PPC still forms an important part of the digital marketing strategy of keyword-specific businesses, web users click on organic search results more often than not. For the most part, it’s your rankings in organic search results that pave the way. Is your content up to the task?

4. Content doesn’t come cheap

Big business spenders are tactical. Just because there’s money in the bank doesn’t mean they throw it around left, right, and centre. Instead, they put their money where their targets are…and right now, their targets are consuming content.

It’s a sad fact that, if you haven’t started your digital marketing journey yet (and having a website is step #1 of about 769), you’ll be reaching into your pockets for more than just small change. Sad because this deters many businesses from entering the arena in a way that will deliver results. Instead, they make it off as something that “doesn’t really work” and so continue on an impending path to business doom.

Your digital marketing budget absolutely has to form a significant percentage of not only your marketing budget but your business budget as a whole.

In case you haven’t noticed, the world has moved online. For all its faults and flaws, the internet has made us a slave species in its name. I don’t know about you, but business aside, I’d be pretty darn lost without the net in my personal life. And so echoes the sentiment of your target market.

So to be a voice, make a dent, put yourself on the map in the Big Noisy Digisphere, you have got to be willing to swipe your card to get things done.

5. Email marketing is getting ready to reincarnate

If you’re anything like me (which, for the sake of your sanity, I hope you’re not), it’s not a strange sight to have multiple email accounts (I use about 10 on a weekly basis), and receive up to 200 emails per day.

Of course, I can’t really tell you what most of those mails are about, because they’re the result of having once subscribed to a website’s mailing list, either because I actually wanted to hear from them (rare), or because it formed part of their lead generation campaign and I wanted to get my hands on whatever product or offer was on the cards. And for a few days, weeks, or even months if they had what it takes, I’d string along — read their emails, click on their links, until I’d inevitably realise that it held absolutely no benefit for me to be on their list ad infinitum. Then, if I’m having an especially Hitler-esque inbox-zero day, I’ll unsubscribe. Alternately, I’ll click delete on all those unopened mails without even blinking.

Email marketing, an important component of content marketing, is no longer all that…instead, it’s jumping overboard due to too much (spammy) emails that deliver no immediate value and is usually no more than aggressive selling or a rehashing of content found on other distribution channels.

With no clear-cut answer as yet to what it’s shape-shifting into, marketers are stabbing in the dark, trying to piece together why this once Golden Ticket went down the squirrel-sorting drain along with all the other bad nuts.

Ultimately, content marketing — hailed the best thing since buttered scones — needs to be strategised for and adapted, as our audiences reach all-new levels of saturation. Much like any other business tactic, there’s an ebb and flow of easy come, easy go, and 2015 hails the mark when marketers need more than just a 300-word article to reach and captivate their target markets.

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This article was first published on Medium.

My name is Nadja and I’m a digiholic. Follow me on Twitter and G+ for regular digital marketing updates, connect with me on LinkedIn, or dig into my blog.


E=3rd World2

(Digital) Entrepreneurs in the Developing World

Ever wondered where the most entrepreneurs worldwide find themselves? Not in funky wallpapered-NYC lofts, it turns out. Uganda, at 28.1%, leads the worldwide trend in ‘growing your own money’. In fact, the “entrepreneurially spirited” United States hovers in the lowly 4-4.9% category. Not quite what you’d expected, is it?

A weak economy drives the pressing need for an individual to take matters into their own hands if they’re going to satisfy their family’s most basic needs, while a first-world country offers its workforce cushy jobs with medical, company picnics, and retirement funds. What sane person would want to break out into the scary world of being their own boss when you have a corner office – or a cubicle – to dust? And let’s face it – a business owned by an individual selling packets of crisps on the sidewalk could hardly be equated to garage-started giants the likes of Facebook (market capital of $231.6 billion) or Apple ($741.8 billion in market capital).

In fact, Big Business are nowadays all about technology. In a “boring” industry such as IT, arguably the most measureable tech-influenced industry of the lot, all of the Inc. 5000-listed IT companies made a combined $19.3 billion in revenue in 2014, and the industry’s three-year revenue growth rate is 122 percent. Apple, meanwhile is #12 on Forbes’ 2015 World’s Biggest Public Companiesranking, and #1 for market value. The influence of technology, and going digital, is hard to quantify, since it spans most processes in most industries across the business world, but we all know that there’s no turning back from it…ever forwards and upwards from here on out.

Enter the Great Equaliser. Developed countries, in a large sense, owe their exalted economic status to the triumph of technology on their home soil, a luxury that, historically, didn’t extend to their third-world counterparts. But while the US and Europe are walking around flashing their iDevices in between presentations to their middle-level managers, streetpreneurs are silently mobilising their own tech-enabled forces with such innovations as moWoza, a mobile app creating a supply chain between informal traders and taxi drivers in Mozambique.

Kenya, meanwhile, is on the Google Trends regional hotlist for the search term ‘internet marketing’, with India hot on Ireland’s heels for ‘digital marketing’, and South Africa tops with ’emarketing’. Kenya’s Konza Techno City, a public-private partnership that aims to be a sustainable green city enabled with smart technology, promises a middle-income status for Kenya by 2030 by generating $1.3 billion in GRP in Phase I. Morocco boasts Maroc Numeric Fund, which provides capital to internet startups, and Nigeria incubates its tech and internet startups through the Wennovation Hub, a business training and mentorship program.

According to The International Telecommunication Union (May 2014), there are nearly 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, equivalent to 95.5 percent of the world population. In developing countries, where the internet is accessed most often through handset means, mobile-cellular penetration was expected to reach 90% by the end of 2014, compared with 121% in developed countries, as per the ITU‘s 2014 facts and figures. 

The time is now for entrepreneurs across the developing world to go digital in their business approaches. After all, the journey to a successful (online) endeavour follows the same recipe for success whether you’re a (4-4.9%) UK startup or a (16.7%) Taiwanese be-your-own-boss.

To view the most and least entrepreneurial countries as expressed as a total percentage of the adult population, go to Nadja Bester Digital.

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Let’s get digital! Follow me on Twitter and G+ for regular digital marketing updates, connect with me on LinkedIn, or dig into my blog.


Oops, There Goes Your Job!

Jobs are interesting things. Some of them, anyway. There are those show stoppers at dinner parties that leave everyone at a loss for words as to what to say next (test this on your nearest accountant).

Up there with black hole investigators and those who mix paint colours (how many off-white selections can there be, anyway?), are futurists. These are the people who get peppered with liquorice allsorts type of questions. Not every day you meet someone who predicts the future without a crystal ball, after all.

So let me lead you down the rabbit hole to what a futurist might tell you, were you to meet one at a social event. Warning: This will be a sobering sort of discussion. Steer well away from them at wine tastings, if you’re so inclined.

Dude, where’s my job?

Should Thomas Frey be in the room, he’d soon make you choke on your entrée…since he’s predicted that 2 billion jobs, or half the jobs in existence today, will have disappeared by 2030.

What’s bad for you?

Unless you’re a black hole investigator, you might well soon be out of a job title. It does raise the quick question…how valuable is the thing you’re doing every day from 8 to 5, anyway?

What’s in it for you?

His prediction isn’t due to everything from stroking the cat to feeding the baby being replaced by machines. Technology, and the times, they are a’changing, and with that comes new opportunities for those on the lookout. Be one of those, and you’ll be just fine (or even more than, should you create something more addictive than checking friends’ feeds on Facebook).

Press ‘1’ for speech

Of course, while not *everything* will become mechanised, tons will. Robot employment was up by 40% between 2011 and 2012. This being 2015, it won’t be at all surprising if the stats are even more skyward by now. Ultimately, we’re already slaves to our electronics. In future, the manufacturing and service industries will continue to say goodbye to a lot of HR-managed workers as IT takes over care of a companies’ tin workforce.

What’s bad for you?

If it’s cheaper – and more effective – to automate your current job than to continue crunching the numbers on your payslip, then don’t expect to be CC’d on company emails much longer. You might well be on your way to being replaced by R2D2.

What’s in it for you?

If you have children, let them hone their tech skills. A STEM resume is one that won’t easily be overlooked. Someone needs to look after all those robots. If you’re needing to figure out how to feed your kids in the interim, keep up to speed with the latest and greatest in your industry, and get out of the horseshoe business before the corner supermarket starts selling cars. Most won’t. You’ll have an edge.

How do you open this thing?

Anyone who’s ever worked in the education sector would know that if it were up to teenagers, the world would be populated by doctors, lawyers, and rock stars. And not much else. We’re becoming increasingly blinded by our bubble-perceptions of the job market that hard skills will be left in the lurch.

What’s bad for you?

You might have to unclog your own underground pipes soon enough, if the career perceptions of the youth have anything to do with it. Or wait, there’ll probably be a machine for that.

What’s in it for you?

With everyone chasing a limited scope of careers, those who stick around building up their technical skills set will be among the top choices when teams are picked for Armageddon survival when those robots go all Matrix on us.

Grab it by the tail before it slips away

Jobs will come and go. You’d know this, based solely on the fact that you’ve never met a bowling alley pinsetter or a lamplighter. What will never go out of fashion is, stating the obvious, staying current. You’re not a racing horse – wearing blinders is not part of your professional repertoire. Look to the future, and adjust your place in the job market accordingly. 


The Importance of Being a Swiss Army Knife

Pondering the inevitable disappearance of your job title, the preferred response is not to panic (check if ‘What to Do When You’re Doomed‘ is currently on special on Amazon), or stick your head in the sand and continue selling typewriter covers, but to plug and play. Become a multiplug adapter of sorts.

As someone who’s been seemingly intent on turning career hopping into a professional sport, I’ve had my fair share of industry exposure, and I’ve rubbed brains with many job titles in many work settings.

Key takeaway?

Job security gets in the way of job security.

Most people prefer to stay in the same job in the same industry, year in, year out. It feels safe. Boxed into a role, they know what they’re doing and what’s expected of them. They might change companies, they might get a promotion, but their status quo, for the most part, remains unchanged. The reality is that this approach is far from safe.

Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore

Everyone is vying for your job. It’s not a dog-eat-dog kinda world out there anymore where your greatest competition is your ambitious new colleague. Instead, there are entrepreneurs intent on getting private island-rich who are rolling out technological solutions geared to make your very professional existence redundant. That’s if your dogged intent on niche-ing your niche doesn’t make you superfluous first.

Of course, I’m not suggesting an annual Round the Job Market tour. Having gotten many t-shirts doing just that, I can assure you it’s not for the faint of heart, and it sure doesn’t rake up a provident fund, either. Good for many things, but a sense of security – or identity, if that’s something your career needs to provide – definitely isn’t on the list.

However, within your field of expertise, there’s a whole universe of options. If you’re a copywriter, why should you not dabble in a bit of digital marketing, too? You never know where it might lead, but it will lead to more places than copywriting would, on its own. As a digital marketer, why not challenge your expertise by entering an industry where everything you know is toppled upside down? I recently did this by entering into pharmaceuticals, and I find myself having to rethink and reframe my entire digital marketing-mindset. The result? A better digital marketer will emerge, one not defined by industry or application but by all-round expertise.

To dance, you need to know your steps. Those with two left feet are usually left on the sidelines, sinking ever more into the walls of their wallflower-ness. And debt collectors aren’t gardeners or dance instructors…there’s no waiting for you to get the hang of it. To survive in the rapidly changing professional landscape, you had better ensure your ease at ballet is as good as your affinity for the tango.


Healthcare Has a Dirty Word, and I’m Using It

After a recent foray into the global life sciences industry, and in particular the pharmaceutical sector, I have since come to realise that I have found in healthcare the long-lost child I hadn’t known was missing from my life.

From a marketing perspective, the normal rules of Let’s Overwhelm the Consumer doesn’t – for the most part – apply here. Digital marketing, in particular, is no longer the easy rhythm ‘n rhyme I get to perform on autopilot. Which makes it challenging, but oh so fascinating, as it balances on the tip of an exciting global evolution into something unthinkable (as seen in the light of current healthcare systems).

What is becoming all the more evident to me is the fact that healthcare, arguably the most cardinal of service industries to humanity, has been the very industry to – by virtue of its irreplaceable role in the economy – indulge in the luxury of not having to try very hard. 

In the mood for an analogy?

As an A-student, not a school day went past that I felt necessitated to pick up a book and study. Major exam tomorrow? Oh, a quick revision session from 3 AM onward will be more than enough. Of course, I’d hear the usual disappointed teacher-humdrum: “If only you’d apply yourself!” I hadn’t a clue what they were on about. Isn’t winging it at the last minute as happening as it gets?

After frightfully high university bills, simply because I took no heed and so took no bursaries home, either, I started getting what my educators had been trying, in vain, to get me to convert to: If you naturally have the means and the resources, then you are about 700 steps closer to the finishing line than everyone else. Of course, by then it was too late. I’d already graduated.

The healthcare sector, as it stands today, has a similarly (spoiled) Golden Child mentality. Blame them? Nah. It’s good to be king. Heck, who wouldn’t want to be crowned and made Emperor of All-Everything? 

Ever since the advancement of modern medicine, life sciences have been at the forefront of biological cutting-edge and innovation, simply because they were its (only) drivers. So why not become complacent? You’re smarter than Narcissus: You don’t jump in after the reflection in the pond, you simply mark its existence as irrelevant. In fact, you delegate it to an admin assistant to mark as irrelevant, because it’s that irrelevant. You have proven, both in saving lives and in making the billions that come with the territory, that you are The Leader. You’re not superior, because that would imply that there are other players to be considered…you’re IT [‘all that’, not Information Technology!]. This isn’t something that’s exclusive to any one stakeholder within life sciences. Everyone considers themselves to be the mainstay of the game.

Which explains why D&T (so much better for your health than a G&T), or Digital and Technology, has been able to crouch upon healthcare, stomping feet and all. When you’re considered to be irrelevant, why would anyone sit up and take note? And that, then, is how we find ourselves at this very place in history.

Big pharma, with resources – be it monetary, manpower, or R&D – stretching all the way to the moon and back, is slowly opening a sleepy eye, still unsure as to what the fuss is about with all this online stuff. Healthcare practitioners are getting irate as patients no longer sit down and quietly do as they’re told, instead trooping down to the practice rooms with devices full of medical research in tow.

And then there are patients, and the ones servi(ci)ng them. Companies all over the world – with not a foot in primary care – are coming out of the woodwork and providing health and wellness solutions that consumers and patients alike want and, most crucially, need. Google has even gone as far as renaming itself to Alphabet so it can conquer the sky and very probably the healthcare of as many sapiens as possible underneath said sky. A can be for Arthritis and B for Bronchitis, and so their portfolio using ahead-of-the-times digital and technological trends will keep on growing. They got the bursary, all right. And they’re not alone.

The businesses and corporations who pride themselves on being the be-all end-all of health-on-earth? There might soon be hell-on-earth, as D&T start surpassing the traditional business models within this industry. Disruption is everywhere, with healthcare being no exception. Only, healthcare is being disrupted by players who come from different storylines, different games. Now that’s a shocker.

Dear Life Sciences,

Learn from my mistakes. Don’t wait until you’re graduated all the way out of the picture. Start using dirty words: Digita-life. Technolo-revive. Innovate. You know, the way everyone else is doing for YOUR patients. In YOUR space. (Your patients are loving it.)

Signed,

I who shall not resign myself. (‘Cos there’s hope for you yet.)

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Views are my own, which is quite obvious, but I thought I’d tell you anyway.


Create It or Break It: Innovate, or Go Extinct

The Uber Economy

It was when I saw a person – whose friends, I’m sure, least expected it from – share a post on Facebook about the digital reality in 2015 that I knew ‘the world’s largest taxi company owns no taxis, the world’s largest accommodation provider owns no real estate’ singsong had gone full circle.

Suffice to say that unless you haven’t picked up that computer-in-your-pocket lately (which could only mean you’re dead or trapped in a melting iceberg), you’ll be well on your way to realising that the world ain’t what it used to be, and it won’t ever be going back. The past is the past and all it’s good for these days is sharing nostalgic ‘Remember when’ or ‘You know you’re a child of the [insert decade] if …’ posts on social media.

Technology has seen our world revolutionised and, best of all, it’s continuously turning itself upside down all over again with the dawn of each new day. We are no longer merely human; instead, our behaviours, motives, and thinking patterns have evolved us into virtual beings. 

Case in point: While writing this on a smartphone that’s as big as those first heyday commercially available cellphones (yet about 49 million times as functional, lightweight, and thin) I unwittingly direct my son to wait for the hot water to “load” – a verb our devices have us well-versed in – instead of immediately declaring that he’s unable to shower but should, instead, go back to constructing a world in which he’s in complete control of his construed reality, playing a game that recently sold for $2.5 billion and in the process making a few really cool nerds very, very rich.

The Tumblr Generation

Yet it’s an ironic fact that, since modern technology is the great equaliser for business and financial success in the same way that the French guillotine was to democracy, it is the entrepreneurs and apppreneurs, software geniuses, hackers and makerspace-goers who are embracing tech on as limited a budget as most of them may possess. And they’re making a killing, or working towards it as we speak.

Tumblr, a company bought by Yahoo! in 2013 for $1.1 billion, was started by David Karp when he was only 21. What were you doing when you were that age? What will your kids be up to when they reach said proverbial marker of adulthood? Chances are, more than you were.

When most of us were growing up, the white-picket-fence dream was to make it big at – or at the very least be part of – a big corporation that proffered stability and shiny lights. The new generation’s idea of success has shifted to reflect venture capital acquisition afterparties at workplaces that offer unlimited annual leave and skateboarding lanes stretching from the bicycle parkings to the organic vegan canteens situated next to the in-house yoga studio. 

The Lion and the Mouse

Which leads us back to an innocent turn of phrase used earlier in this post … that relentless innovation is a positive thing.

  • As an innovator, absolutely – it’s the meaning of life.
  • As a savvy small- to medium-sized business owner, a blessing – how would you stay current if not through differentiating yourself in today’s competitive marketplace?
  • As a corporation? Debatable. Highly so.

Challenging the status quo is a luxury to be indulged in by those who do not form part of it. King Midas, however, feels there’s no need to learn to mine for BitCoins, since he sits atop the gold, and those pretty shiny things are rolling in nonstop. What Midas fails to realise – and in the process proving himself to be a worthy mythological fool, as those are the ones we retrospectively learn the most from – is that, much like the Queen could only exclaim “Let them eat cake!” for so long before her head would never again partake in tasting Black Forest, the gold is bound to run out. This will happen once the critical mass has embraced the concept of an alternative to gold. Just ask all those crash ‘n burn veteran CEOs of long-forgotten fax machine companies. And so, today more than ever, it’s the underdogs we look to for guidance on the next big thing in tech, the next best trend in marketing, the next built-to-evolve business model.

Big corps are catching on … albeit slowly and, one might argue, with naggingly bedraggled necessity. In a world where we find ourselves more surprised by the announcement of a multi-billion-dollar multinational such as Novartis developing an over-the-GP’s-desk instant diagnostic blood test for patient suitability of their products than the fact that unknown nobodies are producing 3D printed human organs for use in human bodies, you won’t find your Aha! moment through me highlighting that said technology acquired by a financial powerhouse like Novartis was originally developed by unknown nobodies.

A lion threatens a mouse that wakes him from sleep. The mouse begs forgiveness and makes the point that such unworthy prey would bring the lion no honour. The lion then agrees and sets the mouse free. Later, the lion is netted by hunters. Hearing it roaring, the mouse remembers its clemency and frees it by gnawing through the ropes.

Where does your business, your organisation, your mindset find itself on the innovate or go extinct-scale? It’s not too late … but it might very well soon be. Get moving. There’s a crowd of innovators way ahead of you, actively working on projects, businesses, and technological advancements that could soon make your monthly bill-paying income go poof! You’ve a lot to catch up to before you can start surpassing.

P.S. Chuck Hall. That’s who you should be thanking. You might get to wear him one day.

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