Are we listening?
By djberg on Jan 22, 2006
So why am I blogging about what I am doing on a Sunday morning? Well I have an observation to share with you. First let me paint the picture for you. I am sitting at a fold-away table in the middle of a large building which is effectively located in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. No network, no cell coverage, no TV, nothing but the stray particle passing on its way from space. The room is packed with parents and kids from age 3 to teens. Around me are about 20 other overworked corporate sycophants and/or people who just can't live without their laptops. While their kids ski, the parents work. Right next to me is a man who was just joined by his son, who looks in his teens. I over heard the boy ask one simple question which formed the basis of my observation. "Dad, are you on the net?" That is it. However, the value was in what followed. Of course the father said no, as there is no network connection, but then the kid kind of went off on his father. He said "No network, then what are you doing? You can't read email, instant message, surf the net or find out what your friends are doing"
Now this may not be that interesting of an observation except from the passion and age of the person who pointed out the lack of the obvious. Kids these days (I sound like an old man don't I?) are more aware of the network and its benefits then any other generation in our history. They are the digital natives (unlike myself, a digital immigrant) and don't seem to be able to function without it. Not because they are computer junkies, rather they are part of a community that we current day adults don't seem to understand. Take a look at the likes of myspace.com, xanga.com and facebook.com. They all represent significant communities where conversations take place, needs and wants are developed and ideas are shared freely. You don't think so? Well the three I listed support a community greater then 30 million people.
All of this reminded me of an article in the December 12th, 2005 issue of Business Week. The article, "The MySpace Generation" by Jessi Hempel, was basically highlighting the generation of individuals that perform a significant amount of their socialization in the digital world. Let me point out some data included in the article: Share of 24 million American teens (12-17):
- 87% Use the internet
- 65% Instant Message (IM)
- 44% Go online everyday
- 29% Keep several IM conversations going at once
- 29% Have more then 50 buddies on their IM list
- 25% IM with people in the same room
Now the real question all of us in the technology industry should be asking ourselves is, "are we listening?" Are we paying attention to these communities? Are we listening to the needs and wants being expressed? I can guarantee that if we don't start listening, opportunities will pass by us faster then google became a recognized brand.
I will go on the record for the start of this year to say this is trend #1, Communities Matter. I am undoubtedly not the first person to recognize this, but I hope that you will see that we are the first major computing technology company to leverage and embrace communties.
What does all of this have to do with Services? Simply put we must find ways to serve communities and in turn the communities will serve us. How? Just watch us...