Category Archives: Foresight

Australia’s Government 2.0 Future Part 3

I found that Venessa Miemis’s posting on Open Foresight helpful in thinking about how to address the issue of Australia’s Government 2.0 Future as there are some close parallels. Venessa described the ‘open foresight’ concept as being a process for analysing “complex issues in an open and collaborative way, and to raise the bar on public discourse and forward-focused critical thinking”. Surely that same process goes to the heart of the policy development potential of Government 2.0. And both ‘government 2.0′ and ‘open foresight’ share the same challenge in addressing the transformation being driven by communications technologies, and the emergent behaviours those tools enable.

In the context of ‘government 2.o’ I have paraphrased of the interesting questions that are raised:

  1. How are our notions of open government evolving?
  2. What role do social technologies play in the evolution of public opinion?
  3. What happens when Gov2.0 networks and collaboration teams form?
  4. What do these emerging Gov2.0 governance models look like?
  5. How do public servants build knowledge together and become more effective learners?

You may notice that I’ve not mentioned government agencies in these questions. That’s deliberate because I feel that the future of Gov2.0 is more about networks and issues, and less about government agencies. Citizens care about issues, not government agencies. Issues transcend organisational silos. Networks cross institutional, jurisdictional and geographic boundaries.

I’ll be given some more thought to the questions I’ve raised above, in particular on the potential for networked policy and networked regulation.

Mobiles and Social Web over the next 10 years: five megatrends

Having gone through some 22 forecasts about mobiles and social web from 2010 to 2020, I’ve collapsed them all into five transformative trends:

1. Mobiles will be used for more things, dominating other networks

Mobile devices (phones, tablets, laptops, netbooks) are not only set to come much more important for communication and broadband connectivity, there will be more content generated and distributed, more digital marketing, financial transactions, health care services and environmental monitoring over mobiles.  The cost of powerful smartphones will fall…and handheld form factors become old hat. Advertising revenues may exceed TV and the Internet by reach and by revenue.

2. Mobiles will change our reality, through augmented/mixed reality and location/person/object aware applications

New applications will be used for search, discovery, entertainment, gaming, healthcare and retail. In time, nearly every user interaction with mobiles might be location-aware. Advanced augmented reality and location-aware applications will become mainstream and core revenue earners.

3. The Social Web matures

The era of experimentation with social networks will end with users, businesses, governments and civil society embedding social networking and social media into everyday lives and business activity. User sophistication develops as filtering tools and techniques are applied and the relevancy and utility of connections improve. Collective intelligence helps to filter and respond to what is worthwhile to users. More control over what is created and done online is placed with individuals and their trusted intermediaries.  Porting data will become easier.

4. The Social Web transforms

Social networks online change the nature of work and generate new economic value and social benefits. Companies will function on social networks. Online reputation drives work and personal relationships. Most people expect social network connectivity and interaction to be real-time and available anywhere.

5. Applications re-shape the value-chain

The applications market continues to grow internationally, with more stores and more uses, within an open and innovative environment for applications development. Underlying networks and platforms provide utility access and connectivity.

Embracing the networked age

It’s December again and there’s the usual stream of forecasts for the new year.  I find many of them to be interesting, a few more than others. Goodness knows they seem to be latched onto by many people. Otherwise hide-bound by the stack of work in front of them, the new year is a time for reflection and contemplation for many. But 12-month forecasts are of limited value. What of the underlying drivers of social and economic change over the longer-term? Not so much is heard about them, even though they are so much more powerful.  So this posting is my contribution to the longer-term view, and what actions are more likely to be sustaining value over time.

Readers of this blog may well be familiar with the drivers of change that I’ll cover here. Those in businesses and in government who have adopted practices that embrace collaboration and co-creation  are already on message. So this posting is intended for others who are looking for a path forward in the networked age. So please share.

The Old Institutional Power Elites Will Adapt or Fade Away

By far the most powerful message is to those who cling on to institutional power.  I have some questions for you. Judging by your actions to date, what prospects are there for you to redress climate change and other, pressing environmental degradation? With the loss of confidence in financial markets and the efficient markets hypothesis, what policies do you have to renew economic and social well-being? Do you know the difference between innovation and competition? What faith do you have in resolving religious, cultural, social and economic divides? What do you think your legacy will be to future generations?

I raise those questions because of my concern that too many digital migrants are trapped in institutional mindsets that they find hard to break-away from. The thing is, there are too many divides, too many entrenched views held by people in inward-looking institutions, views that would otherwise be challenged by openness and transparency. For institutional power is being re-balanced with the networked power of the social web. Innovation, creativity and new forms of value now flow from networked publics formed on the social web. Not so much from stand-alone businesses.

The power of the social web is from people connecting to others, expressing themselves and sharing. Compare those things with institutional life, where the dominant features are siloed hierarchies, conformity to rules and to dominant actors, and hoarding information. Institutions tend to fence-off and shut down innovation, creativity and new perspectives.

The Rise of Digital Generations

Evidence of just how different those people born to the digital age are is very obviously in communications. Mobile phones, particularly smartphones with internet connectivity, are the dominant device used by young people for communicating with friends, for self-expression, finding, sharing or generating information, or for organising and managing activities. Digital generations seek out like-minded people and peer-groups to share stuff, to learn, and to create new things. Digital generations do things for themselves. They are far less reliant on institutions than their parents are.

In social networks online, they learn to take responsibility, and to collaborate with others, for economic, environmental and social benefits. They do not seek permission, but give themselves permission to build relationships, reputation and trust between themselves. They can do that because interacting online gives them the experience, the know-how and the power to act. Placing more trust in their own networks than with family or institutions, there is a re-balancing of power relationships in society.

Politicians, the media and brands are all finding it necessary to reach out to digital generations. They compete for their time and for their attention. Governments are finding that there are knowledgeable and informed stakeholders in the public who can and do contribute ideas and options for new policies and programs through interacting online. There is a new dawn for citizen engagement, empowered by the unprecedented ease of participation that the social web affords. That will lead to a re-balancing of power between representative democracy and more direct forms of citizen participation in decision-making.

The core competencies in interacting online are openness, transparency and collaboration. The new competitive advantages are to be found from collaborating across institutional boundaries through trusted relationships. But as I say, the scale of openness, transparency and collaboration online is unprecedented. Change has been so rapid, there are few models to guide people. So the digital generation has developed their own literacy, their own peer relationships and their own networks to operate in the networked age. They do so because of their interactions, and relationships and trust come out of interactions.

What a contrast

Oh, how different is the networked society that from the 20th century, where big business and big government dominated relatively passive consumers and passive citizens. Educated in prescribed syllabus schools, living in disconnected suburban communities, employed in specialised and meaningless work, consuming one-size fits all news and information and standardised government services, with families split by globalisation… baby boomer and Gen X lives have been controlled by others to a large degree. The old power elites controlled the generation and distribution of information; controlled the allocation of scarce resources; oversaw the degradation of ecosystems; and created artificial scarcity (such as in the supply of money and restrictions on the exchange of goods and services). Within their institutions, they ruled the day.

But that time is up.

For the enduring characteristics of social existence are in connections, self-expression and sharing. They also happen to be the underpinning values of the digital generation. Information is no longer scarce. Connectivity is no longer scarce. Bottlenecks have broken down. What was scarce is now abundant. It’s no contest folks.

Solving environmental and economic crises, resolving cultural conflicts and social divides will not be easy. But I have optimism that the networked age will find sustainable solutions.  In contrast, the old power elites just continue to show how inept their institutional frameworks are. A re-balancing is coming…are you on board?

Take action

If you and/or your organisation are inward-looking, independent and not already networked online, then get started. Experiment by reaching out to others. Learn what others are saying about you. Learn digital media literacy. Learn by doing. It’s OK. You can do it.

Sure, you will make mistakes. No one is perfect. The know-how will come to you. You will get better. You will get rewards.

So, get on to Twitter. Join Facebook, Sign-up to LinkedIn. Experiment with Ning. Create a blog. Subscribe to others’ blogs. Participate with your colleagues on Yammer. See what others are viewing on YouTube. Get on to Google Wave to see what real-time collaboration can do. Reach out. And above all, participate – get yourself engaged online.

Best wishes for 2010

Flexible organisation

Bob Johansen’s Get There Early is a very good read. Johansen’s message is that taking a long-term view helps make sense of the present, out of which comes learning how to act.  There is much in the book to take in. The main trust of this posting though is in reference to Chapter 9 Flexing and Flexibility. Using connections within social networks – inside and outside of organisational boundaries – provides flex and response to change.

There is growing awareness about how innovation and value is created by moving from hierarchies to collaborative, autonomous networks. Don Tapscott and Anthony D Williams, in  Wikinomics: How mass collaboration changes everything, say that online collaboration “can be mobilised to accomplish much more than one firm acting alone”. In
the digital economy, access to knowledge – within as well as beyond the firm – drives innovation and new value.

Mark Pesce has blogged about Web-enabled connectivity creating opportunities for people to develop new behaviour and techniques, and where these are successful, to have them disseminated widely and quickly.

Dave Morgan has bogged about the possible emergence of ‘people networks’ through the development of OpenSocial- a set of common APIs for interoperable social communication between social network sites and other web sites. Morgan suggests that while social networking would be distributed, organisation would be possible but largely through people networks.

It does not take long to realise that decisions about the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services could transfer to people networks. Seems to me that Facebook, Bebo and Google all realise that – and are getting there early. Those that are building large virtual connections between staff (such as IBM’s presence on Facebook) realise that, and are getting there early.