Chapter 11: WRAPPING IT UP — THIS IS FOR YOU
Yeah, you got it. The world is on the verge of massive change. And of course you want to be a winner moving ahead. Obviously you have every chance to be so — but in return a lot will be asked of you. You have to dare to do the impossible, and you have to aim in all directions. So let me give you a last piece of advice for the road.
Following his new book on digital strategy How To Become A Digital Marketing Hero, Rufus Lidman is now translating all his knowledge to the most revolutionary field in the world. A field in desperate need of a digital strategy. In a series of articles, we will get an upclose view of this new mind-blowing market, seen through the eyes of a digital strategist.
>> Chapter 1: The Revolutionary Technology That Will Change Your Life
>> Chapter 2: The Birth Of The Future
>> Chapter 3: A Real Revolution In Practice
>> Chapter 4: A Metamorphosis You Are Not Prepared For
>> Chapter 5: The Apocalypse Of The Establishment
>> Chapter 6: The Secret Recipe To Reach The Absolute Top
>> Chapter 7: The Simple Answer To The Global Problems
>> Chapter 8: Crypto Hits Rock Bottom — But Is It Really That Bad?
>> Chapter 9: Let’s Innovate — Not Regulate
>> Chapter 10: The Winner Takes It All
We have thus arrived at the final answer. But first a little recap. We started this journey with a background of the blockchain, gaining some insight into what the heck everyone’s talking about. We then got a sense of its more speculative parts, starting with the early days of the cryptocurrencies, to the explosion of crypto and ICO’s we saw last year. We even looked into some of the reactions it provoked from the old dinosaurs.
After that, we noted a number of indications of the impending revolution and what it entails. The first ripples on the surface, as well as more substantial applications showing us the road to what’s to come. All of which will be giving us a rude awakening from some of the largest forces in the world.
Moving ahead even further, taking a look at the applications that are not yet here, but lingering around the corner. Applications possessing a level of data integrity and security that will make you richer and the gorillas poorer, and that will eliminate every middleman that has been skimming off the top thus far.
Then we broadened the analysis and saw what consequences all of this will have on a broader scale. Not only for the old decentralized corporations, but for the most centralized entities of them all — the nations themselves.
Further on, we went over the goals that the blockchain will fulfill, where we in the first chapter touched upon the level the blockchain has the potential to reach. On the one hand seen how Europe, aside from its 50 unicorns of today has every structural advantage to spawn its first digital $10 billion dollar company, its first gorilla. We have on the other hand seen how principally the US, but also China, has infinitely better cultural advantages to do so.
Third, we have seen that we now have a golden opportunity to change this relationship once and for all, by using game changing ABC technology in general and blockchain in particular.
…IF we can muster the cultural atmosphere to affirm these incredible opportunities. IF we can focus on the bigger problems in the world instead of the pecuniary.
We have after that looked at what happens when you don’t just engage your wallet, but also your heart in analyzing this situation. We have seen what occurs when you, armed with a fresh perspective and a new kind of humanism, refuse to deal with the problems in terms of victims and victimization, but instead enabling. And doing so, by using a technology that discourages doing “what we’ve always done”, but instead inspires us to think outside of the box entirely. And by getting rid of the middlemen as soon as possible, to ensure that those in need receive the aid they crave in the safest way possible.
After overseeing the goals of the blockchain, we listed the means that are needed to realize these goals. In the first chapter, we saw the bumpy road that constituted the first wave. Later we examined the artificial life support systems of the existing corporate and social systems of today. Finally, we could state the absolute need of a second wave — both to repair the damage of the first wave, but also to ensure the final disruption of the current systemic pathologies.
In the second chapter, analyzing the means needed for the blockchain to achieve its goals, we looked at the societal defense mechanisms in terms of ”guilt by association” and ”blame gaming”. We also observed how our reptile brains offer feedback in terms of craving rules and regulations, stating how this only really acts as excuses to avoid tackling the real issues. Issues that the blockchain is finally possible to tackle — giving way for a second wave to implode the existing centralized systems. Tear them apart, piece by piece.
Finally we could safely say it is a do or die process, with extreme focus on utility.
“Then it’s inevitable that people look at you and what you’re doing and label it as ‘impossible‘ or even a ‘pipe dream’.”
The 5 Strategic Building Blocks
To summarize, everything can be boiled down to five general strategic building blocks, no matter what level we’re talking about here.
When I was a career-chasing earnest student of economics a couple of hundred years ago, we were taught all about the re-engineering-model. How to think anew, tabula rasa, when it comes to processes. This has followed me ever since, with particular focus on not being afraid of examining something in entirely new ways. Even re-conceptualizing the very notion of strategy itself. Customer satisfaction, value proposition and packaging are all purely abstract terms in the digital world, after all.
By always being the earliest adopter, of both whatever innovations your colleagues and competitors come up with, or however your friends and co-workers speculate, you have a billion times greater shot at not just making a difference, but actually changing the world entirely.
Then it’s inevitable that people look at you and what you’re doing and label it as “impossible” or even a “pipe dream”. This past year, that’s what I heard over and over again, reiterated into my ear by investors, friends, colleagues and rivals alike. Last winter, I first heard it from a Valley investor with billion dollar exits to Yahoo and Alibaba. He said, one of our three mega-contributions to the industry during the spring to follow was “extremely complex and challenging”. My reply?
Otherwise, it would already exist and I wouldn’t have a raison d’être in the first place.
An hour later an Asian superstar and PhD-dropout from Oxford tells me they researched another one of our three goals and said it was close to impossible.
As a parallel, I recently got hold of a new research paper on quantum computing. An elusive and thus far remote technological revolution of the future, quantum computing has nonetheless seen some experimentation today. Based on the few basic principles that we currently understand with some measure of certainty about quantum physics, data in quantum computing is based on subatomic entanglement, as well as the concept of superposition and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Does that sound like Chinese? Ok, let’s simplify it a bit. The smallest particles that constitute matter as we know it, have some unique properties. Namely quantum states and entanglement. The former is well-documented using electrons. These electrons will, much like the famous light experiment, be simultaneously a particle and a wave, and reside in an unknowable superposition until directly observed. This means qubits in quantum computing need not necessarily be 1 or 0 as per traditional binary code. Instead, they can stay in a superposition until observed, effectively doubling the possible information per bit.
Entanglement, on the other hand, is a phenomenon wherein two quantum particles will be linked, no matter the distance. While they may remain in superposition until observed, once one is observed and it’s observable position set, the other entangled particle will correspond exactly the same, no matter where it is located. This provides an instantaneous, faster-than-light method of transferring information anywhere. Effectively it’s a kind of teleportation of data. Networks have already been built using entanglement as a means for data transportation. And elections have been held with entanglement-based voting machines.
This recent quantum computing research paper by Rajan, D. and Visser, M., focused on just that. Quantum blockchain using entanglement. By entangling particles in time as well as in space, the theoretical physics involved would signify that information through the blockchain could theoretically be sent to the past. A quantum time machine.
How’s that for close to impossible?
My response during discussions about UX/UI and coding often devolve into simplistic statements such as KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and “less is more”. But when it comes to our internal level of ambition, we will never, ever lower the bar. No matter the circumstance. No matter the cost. We will always stay right there, skirting the edge. Aiming for the “close to impossible”.
At a Friday seminar, when declaring the goal marker and strategy of AIAR, one of my team members hit the nail on the head. The conclusion was that I don’t actually like doing something “close to impossible”. I have throughout my years only ever wanted (and shockingly often achieved) “the impossible” itself.
Despite whatever lefty leanings you may think I possess, I have always held onto the notion of lifting myself up by the bootstraps as the means to success. Maybe then it’s not too surprising that I always appreciated that famous Muhammad Ali quote; “Impossible is not a fact, it’s an opinion”.
So, if you want to lead the way (rather than follow) into the wonderful challenges ahead, lift yourself up by the bootstraps. Because at the very least, things have to be “close to impossible”.
The second thing you have to do is certainly the hardest for those who are stuck in the muck of nostalgia and habit. Who are stuck in the world of the past. If you’re a rebel, anarchist or even a liberalist from the start, then yeah, you kind of have it in your blood. You probably already possess some sort of resentment towards needless patronization and almighty institutions.
But if you’re a member of the large majority of traditionalists, spending your days in huge corporations or organisations, then things might be different. History shows that it’s much more likely that you will have a harder time understanding complex revolutionary processes — such as the blockchain. Understanding the beauty of it with your heart, as well as wrapping your mind around how a decentralized blockchain system could possibly operate in your company. Minimizing risks related to interaction with nonconformists is probably a major part of your job, and even that of your organization itself. Up until now, hierarchies, middlemen and centralized regulations have been the only way to deal with the ecosystem you’ve been living in.
All of that is about to change.
To really fully comprehend this, you have to not only think ”high”, or even embrace the impossible. You also have think ”low”. You have to assume that the impossible feats will be moving on a lower level, in the interactions between people and parties all over the world. Without going through middlemen or centralized institutions, without all the bureaucracy and red tape.
It’s essential that we all let go of the safety blanket that many of us still cling to. It’s crucial that we think less of minimizing risks and more of maximizing opportunity. And to do so with completely re-engineered processes, on a completely decentralized level.
The relics attending the post-Davos conference proved to have a hard time doing anything but pay lip service to this reality. Because of their traditional corporate culture, because of their gigantic overheads and hierarchies. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t.
And this doesn’t just apply to companies, but all other organizations. When I earlier this year attended the ICO-summit in Zurich, there were many questions asked. Questions regarding whether countries with worse conditions to print money would be a possible market for crypto. And again, total defeat. We are here one state, with innate mechanisms for security and welfare. This “state” can not only control housing, schools and employment for its citizens, but also their financial transactions. With an encrypted currency where every single transaction would be documented in a joint, public ledger. How could any state resist the temptation to control the consumption of every single individual?
….So we drop the whole thought of the blockchain. Even with its completely anonymous and secure transactions between unknown parties on a decentralized level.
For the big dinosaurs and obsolete nations and governments, all other applications regard using new technology to repair old processes, rather than create new ones entirely.
And it’s just those kinds of attempts that are rendered completely pathetic. Neither old centralized companies nor ancient centralized states, have any chance of bringing anything of worth to the world we’re speeding towards.
“That’s where small, decentralized startup companies can absolutely slay with the best applications of AI technology at the lowest possible cost.”
If there’s anything a real strategist has in their blood, and what any serial entrepreneur undoubtedly learnt the hard way, is that no chain is stronger than its weakest link. In our context, we have to consider the entire spectrum of the ”ABC of tech”.
As a starting point, we have to take into account how AI could help your company and your industry to personalize products and services completely, in regards to your relationship with the customer. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a digital order of tea from India, knitted caps from Kurdistan or a customized laptop bag bearing your initials from Mali. It might be a new AI-DJ-composed money-back-guarantee offer of music on Spotify. Or perhaps a digitally tailor-made movie adapted to your personal taste. Maybe even a new custom-fit smartphone, or AR-glasses with pre-selected apps configured after twin data to suit exactly your preferences.
No matter if we are talking about digitally personalized products or analogue goods customized with digital stock, this is something the big centralized companies may try to get in on. But their huge internal competitive edge, the enormous size of their trained staff, won’t have much to contribute with, but high costs and added overhead. That’s where small, decentralized startup companies can absolutely slay with the best applications of AI technology at the lowest possible cost.
Then we have the B, the blockchain. The blockchain can help your industry secure all transactions of services and products with customers, suppliers and third parties. This would give you a bulletproof distribution of your personalized products, without the need for middlemen. Again, big centralized companies are technically able to do this as well, if they got their heads out of the sand to aim high and low. But again, their competitive edge with their well-developed network of partners and middlemen, will only serve as a hindrance in an economy where transactions are just as decentralized as information and communication.
Finally, imagine how the last of the ABC, the cryptocurrency would help your customers to budget and plan their purchases. How token systems with paid reviews and sharing would even lead them to ”earn” on their purchases. And through gamification with reward tokens even be inclined to do business with you even more future on. With utility tokens, the money doesn’t even have to go through a centralized authority or bank. It can go directly to the tea merchant in India, the seamstress in Kurdistan, the bag maker in Mali or the digital startups that tailor music, movies and apps for you.
Think broad. That means taking the whole value chain into consideration. From the initial spark of curiosity to creating a lifelong and loyal customer relationship.
How would any of the giant centralized enterprises stand any kind of chance when using technology to create new processes like that? And take a look introspectively. How are your chances in a decentralized world? Don’t just aim high and low. Aim broad as well.
“If you don’t aim big, you’ll be overrun by the guy next to you who does.”
We now know to aim high in terms of thinking the ”impossible”. And by setting ”impossible” goals, we’ve learned to aim low in the sense that these inconceivable things will all happen on a decentralized peer-to-peer level. We also now know to aim broad, so that when we launch a business, whether it’s a product, a service or an entire strategy, we do so with the entire spectrum of ABC technology in mind. To oversee the whole customer experience.
Next step is to aim big. Because that’s exactly what this is. The whole revolutionary power in blockchain is so brutally huge, and there will be only a few gorillas or systems that will take command of each vertical area. If you don’t aim big, you’ll be overrun by the guy next to you who does.
It’s been a long time since we thought of rollout strategies and other junk that used to be the norm. If my company held a traditional board, dominated by old classic white-haired stalwarts of the old economy, our business plan would have been carried out quite differently. After AIAR’s immense success with our local Proof of Concept (PoC), I would have been advised to primarily roll out the rest of Scandinavia. Followed by Spain, Latin America, the UK and lastly perhaps the United States.
To acquire the knowledge of this chain of events, we would have completed a ton of research, customer analysis, market studies and a bunch of very deliberate choices in market establishment. We would have had deep discussions on how to locally adapt the product. And we would have dealt with retailers and marketing strategists for each individual market.
Now we didn’t have to go through all of that.
Instead we could aim straight for the goal. We did what an ABC-venture of the second wave would do, being ”born global” in 2017. We skipped all the rollouts, disregarded any kind of research or qualified guesses of which should be our primary markets, and how our marketing should be executed in these locations. Instead, we published 400 ads in every digital channel and attacked all the countries in the world (except for those behind lock and key, like Iran or North Korea).
This meant that, in a single stroke, the following. We became not only the second biggest app after Google in our field (we are), not only did we become the most beloved and well-reviewed app (we did), but we got an instantaneous foothold in 135 countries. This also meant we instantly gained a whole bunch of knowledge we otherwise wouldn’t have had access to. By thinking big and aiming huge, we now knew which markets were most valuable for us. If you’re curious, this was by the way Asia, with a complete explosion in India, Malaysia, Vietnam and South Korea — to mention a few. Since behavioral data always trumps marketing data, this isn’t something we ”believed”, but something we knew. And, not to forget, through our AB/MV testing, our marketing became also our survey system. We now know exactly which products and what kind of marketing work for different people, in different markets and in different channels.
And this goes for all businesses. The blockchain is completely global and those who don’t aim big might as well stop right there. Because you’ll never be able to limit yourself to think locally in a world that is getting connected globally in giant decentralized networks, irrespective of borders or boundaries.
The global village is finally here.
And the blockchain is what got us here. And it’s your aim, not just high, low and broad but also big, that will make sure of it.
“It won’t ever be done, there will always be new things that come into the picture and disrupt everything in the biggest way possible.”
So sorry, but this isn’t a future project that your country, your company or yourself can do as a side gig. It won’t work if this is a task you assign to a minor department or some staff to play around with, hoping for any kind of success.
It has to permeate through your entire organization. And make sure they don’t just aim high, low, broad and big. Make sure they think fast. Make sure they act at the speed of light.
So here we reach to what I wrote a dissertation on ages ago, the capacity to change. Because no matter what I utter about countries, companies or individuals, the most important condition is the capacity to change.
Even if what I’m saying is true at the individual level, that ABC and blockchain are the most revolutionary inventions since the birth of the internet. This still doesn’t mean anything is carved in stone. Nothing is carved in stone, everything is afloat. As always — but now more than ever. Even the most dedicated technician, the most rigorous laws and the strongest institutions only have their raison d’être as socially reproductive thoughts and actions. They can all fall apart in a split second. And because we’re social animals, it may take however long it takes for a revolution to happen. But the development can also take place at the speed of light.
Remember, you’re never ”done” in the world of today. You always have to learn and relearn, upgrade your competence and completely reevaluate your choices.
And if there’s anything I’ve want to send along with you on your journey ahead, it’s precisely that. Because no matter if you’re a follower or a leader, if you are in charge of your life or aren’t, if you’re in the driver’s seat or not, the same thing applies.
You’ll never be done.
It won’t ever be done, there will always be new things that come into the picture and disrupt everything in the biggest way possible. But you have to be open to someone else doing the same.
Most probably, this will be AR next (yeah, that is why they are the other two letters in our brand name, AIAR). But it could just as easily be something completely different.
Even if we don’t have to be humble, we atleast have to be ready to adapt. Not only chase ”future-proof” technology (sales talk bs), but also keep an open mind. Where we don’t put statistical strategies first, but work out of elastic, stretchable ”strategic framework”. Framework that will be filled continuously with new content, based on trends and innovations within our respective fields as well as outside of it.
I know a great deal will be asked of you. I know it’s kind of a lot to ponder over. You have to contemplate at a high enough level that nothing is impossible. You have reflect at a lower level to understand the whole decentralizing force of the blockchain. You have to reason wide enough to be able to realize the full potential of the entire ABC-artillery of the value chain. And you have to think big enough to understand the global scale you need to act on, to have any kind of success.
And, finally, you have to think fast enough to always be ready to rework an existing idea. To stay agile and elastic about your strategic framework and always be ready to find new solutions to unforeseen problems.
It’s a hell of a lot of things to keep in mind — high, low, wide, big and fast. And still, no link is stronger than its weakest neighbor. And the weakest link will surely be related to the ultrafast, rapidly changing world we live in. How it often requires action before forethought to achieve success.
Very often in this line of business, it’s common to use the expression ”good enough is perfect”. More so, than keeping every detail under scrutiny and comparing to a hypothetically perfect model.
This has become such a recipe for success nonetheless, that it can’t hurt to have a touch of ADHD. Historically, strategists put a lot of thought into a project (analysis), before developing it (action). Then again reanalyzing after final release (post-mortem). What’s bearing fruit today, however, is a continuous handing back and forth analysis-action-analysis-action-analysis-action. Thus making the basis for the project grow out of a continuous dialogue with the customer. That’s a system that actually works.
It’s somewhere here, in between the borders of the five building blocks and in the midst of a brutally intensive action phase, that the real revolutions are happening. And they’re no small feat either.
But it takes quite a few real winners, both in thought and in action, to make things happen the right way. The right way to fully ride that second wave to success. And these winners have to be breathing utility, utility, utility throughout.
Because this world will never be the same again.