How to Survive the next Alien Technology S-Curve


Watching in shock as the reigning Premier league champions Man City got thrashed by Leicester, I pondered on how quickly the almighty bedrock of the status quo gets pushed around so easily and so unexpectedly sometimes. It is like a little success and stability precludes us from believing in anything changing ever again. Our brains yearn for a stable knowable world that is unchanging – even in such a changeable thing as football.

It is very similar in business. Market leaders sit back and fall into a lazy belief that current success and profit equals future success and profit. They forget to listen to the market and their customers. Then their customers’ buying behaviour changes in reaction to new technologies and boom! suddenly there is a new incumbent and they are playing catch up.

It seems too much winning breeds too much confidence which then becomes the seed for future failure.

The key to getting ahead and staying ahead is innovative reinvention. But not reinvention for reinvention’s sake – but reinvention squarely based on anticipated future technologies and customer behaviour. Listen, learn, invent, change, listen, learn, invent, change etc. It is a continual process of change.

Mass products and services are always behind the curve – that is their natural place. But the curve now changes with such violent speed that companies can find themselves behind so quickly that unless they have invested in good strategic R&D they will not catch up.

Technological change is now so quick and so unexpected that companies need future vision and strategy to react with speed to this ‘alien technology’ that emerges from nowhere. They must be forever expecting alien entrants to their market and must be prepared through visionary R&D spend.

In short, get ready for an alien invasion!

R&D spend is crucial for every company in every industry in the Digital Age because it is the only way to prepare for future customer behaviour change brought about unexpected technological advances. No company can now solely rely on incremental improvements to current products & services. They need strong strategies in their back pockets ready for new s-curves and the technological and customer behaviour changes that give market disruptors competitive advantage. In digital, strategic vision is everything.

The equation is simple : No visionary R&D equals no answer to market disruptors

If a new technology suddenly appears in your market, how will you react? You can’t suddenly turn into an innovative company – innovation takes vision, strategy and investment over a period of years.

Innovation is not reactive, it is predictive.

Kodak had two very big tech s-curves to deal with in their market – digital photography and the camera phone – both of which they did not take seriously. And both of which radically changed their customers’ behaviours and ultimately bankrupted Kodak. They went from an innovative company to an incumbent trying to protect the status quo. They lost.

How do we prepare for this? How do we create and keep a mental state of siege in the culture of our company so we are ready for an alien s-curve?

S-curve blindness is a common trait of incumbents. This needs to be replaced with a type of s-curve hyper-anxiety – the feeling that any disrupting innovation outside of our industry is an immediate threat to our future and needs to be prepared for.

We need to prepare ourselves for the emergence of alien technologies – and build our companies around this type of thinking.

Ultimately the question is – would you survive an alien technology s-curve in your industry? If the answer is no I suggest you get a skunk works funded and up & running immediately. Your days may be numbered.


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Greyhound transformed!


See the amazing work I led at Greyhound from strategy, ux to design and build through to content and service design. The whole kit and kaboodle.

Such a great brand, and such a great company that is on its way back.



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Ramblings of a Strategist: The Brand Challenge & Opportunity



The Brand Challenge

The next ten years will see the continuing ferocious acceleration of change in how companies attract and build loyal customers.

One of the key drivers of this change is the disruption caused by the digitalisation of our world through technology, and the accompanying changes in customer behaviour and needs.

Digital channels and platforms will soon be the main and only brand touch-points and therefore will become the critical space for brands to engage customers.

Interactive brand experiences will become the new competitive advantage, and the depth of digital engagement delivered by the experiences will become one of the key measures of brand value.

These changes promise to disrupt markets, bankrupt the status quo and reward brand innovation and dynamism.

The Brand Opportunity

Digital has created amazing opportunities for brands to reach customers on a 1 to 1 basis, creating interactive personalised experiences that have the potential to build loyal and valuable long-term relationships with customers.

The humanisation of brands through digital means that all brands must understand how to act and react in interactive spaces. Trust has become the new brand currency – and has led to the opportunity for real, digital, value-led brands that represent their products & services authentically at ground level, to disrupt markets.

The opportunity for brands to stay ahead and innovate using digital platforms to quickly create, test and learn new product & service ideas and enhancements has never been greater and easier.

Digital now affords organisations with the will the potential to quickly and easily build a rapid fire innovation mentality within previously staid and static brands and create innovative digital experiences that deliver deeper and more long-lasting customer engagement.

 The Digital future is brand led  – and companies that can deliver consistent brand experiences across all channels will earn the continued loyalty of their customers over generations to come.

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Global PlayStation – transformed!


See the great work I led at PlayStation in Detica case study below. Doesn’t really do it justice – but was one of the best projects I have had the pleasure to work on. I did the full global experience strategy and ran the ux, design and build of the global sites.


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Digital Strategy – a question of life and death?


So, you’ve got some decent players, you have a team name and colours and a nice crest. Everyone knows what they have to do – go forward and score.
But hang do they go about scoring? What are the tactics? And what are the opposition going to do?

What formation will you play? What players in what positions? Which channels will they play through?

In football, just being on the pitch guarantees nothing. Just being able to kick the ball forward towards the goal does not mean you will score. You need a strategy. Much like Digital.

Like an England team 1-0 up in the World Cup Quarter Finals with 30 minutes to go, many companies have a ‘kick it away and hang on’ attitude to digital strategy too. A kind of ‘siege mentality ’ approach. These companies generally get buffeted by the winds of innovation worst than most and not surprisingly suddenly find themselves at the bottom of their group about to be dumped out of the tournament. Kodak, Blockbuster, HMV have already been through that – and there will be many more to come.

Digital is building up a hurricane of change for a lot of industries. Many mistook the initial calm they experienced as they watched other industries being decimated as meaning the storm had passed them by – but they have since discovered the calm was actually the eye of the storm. Now, as they look around at the carnage, it is too late. They must rebuild from scratch.

The trinity of the digital revolution is – 1. business model innovation, 2. technology upgrade & integration, and 3. customer behaviour change. And like a 3 legged robotic monster, this triad of change is roaming the business world causing havoc and reducing once successful businesses one after another to dust with no respect for reputation or history.

As Bill Shankly might have said had he become a Strategist and not gone in to football,

‘Digital Strategy? It’s not life and death, it is much more important than that!’

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The Old…they wanna buy stuff and be cool too!


The Old – they may be closer to getting their one way tickets to space…but they still want to buy stuff and feel cool. And they have the money…and nothing to lose.

Why do middle-aged middle of the road middle managers in the Advertising industry insist on excluding the old? Is it too hard a job to convince them to stop using the old brands they used when they were young?

If Superdry can convince a whole generation of 40 year old men to dress like their 6 year old sons..then surely we can get those 40 year old’s dads to dress like their 40 year old sons?

Surely advertising, if it wanted to, could make the old cool again?

Wouldn’t that be a challenge worth taking instead of selling them 2 pairs of faux leather shoes for £9.99?

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The Death of Interruption Advertising & The Birth of Opt-in Always-on Partner Advertiser Brand Experience Moments – A Future History

April 2015

Mono-channel interruption advertising dies! (sniff sniff – some mustachioed people cry but most don’t notice)

 Oct 2015

Brand storytelling in a fragmented world becomes the massive challenge

June 2016

Multi-platform brand narrative experiences are the answer and become the norm

Aug 2016

Brand advocates are suddenly worth their weight in gold (average weight of a brand advocate generally around 75 kilos – price of a kilo of gold is £27,372.37….you do the math!)

Dec 2016

Awareness through Amplification of Activation is the bomb! and is found written on many Shoreditch pub toilet walls (sometimes including a mobile number that no one has ever called).

April  2017

Finally, after more than 100 years of using the marketing funnel the wrong way up (because men don’t read instructions) – the funnel is finally inverted meaning marketeers begin to spend more money on creating advocates out of current customers than trying to carpet bomb disinterested consumers with messaging while they look down at their phones!

Sept 2017

‘Moment marketing’ – a phrase coined in Farringdon to describe how advertisers need to use data to only advertise at the right moment in the right time in the right place  –  becomes the new buzz word across the world and Harvard immediately sets up an online YouTube Masters degree in the subject.

Jan 2018

‘Parallel Partners’ (another term coined in Farringdon  – every monkey has his day and writes a Shakespeare play, and this one is Farringdon’s it seems) describing the way advertisers must become their customer’s life partner only nudging them towards products & services in the right place at the right time in the right way  – goes viral and Harvard Town twins with Farringdon in recognition of its awesomeness.

March 2018

Opt-in always-on partner advertiser brand experience moments become the only acceptable form of advertising. All other types of advertising is ignored and sometimes worse, it is ridiculed and the creatives responsible are kidnapped by mobs and paraded in squares across the world and have their mustachios shaved off on live television.

July 2018

Advertising is now a parallel experiential world that brand advocates opt-in to for weeks at a time. All other advertising messages are blocked out through advertiser controlled preference settings on iContact lenses.

Jan 2019

Advertising finally returns to its local  1 to 1 relationship marketing roots – Mom and Pop become the new Creative Heads of the World Advertising Agency (WAA)…

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