Cleve Gibbon

content management, content modelling, digital ecosystems, technology evangelist.

Technology Cost Declines

What is the best way to forecast technology cost declines? And why is that important?

Well if you can accurately predict cost, you can better plot growth. Moreover, if that cost is technology – a massive engine for exponential growth – we can make smaller and smarter investments, earlier and more often, to maximise future returns.

Forecasting technology cost declines is important. Wright’s Law and Moore’s Law have guided our technology industry here. So meet the minds behind them. Who are they and what did they say?

Theodore Wright

In 1936, whilst studying airplane manufacturing, Theodore Wright (on the left) discovered that:

For every doubling of airplane production the labor requirement was reduced by 10-15%

He stood on that observation for Wright’s Law, that states:

For every cumulative doubling of units produced, costs will fall by a constant percentage

Now units can be anything. Cars, pizzas, batteries, phones, transistors. Anything! Now hold that thought and let’s step over to Moore’s Law.

Gordon Moore

In 1965, whilst working at Fairchild Semiconductor, Gordon Moore came straight out and said:

Every two years, doubling transistor density would consequently result in halving of computation costs

And so the great race to cram as many components onto circuits began. And it has served the technology industry well, particularly Intel, for many years. Not any more?

What changed?

Transistor production declined. Costs plateaued. Consumer demand is changing. So research units started to question Moore’s Law. One of those units was ARK, a leading hedge fund. ARK found that a priced based on Wright’s Law is 40% more accurate than one based on Moore’s Law. Take a look at their data:

So, what are you looking at? We’re going back and re-applying both laws to semiconductor production. We see that Wright’s Law (above the line) is more accurate most of the time than Moore’s Law (below the line). But why?

Comparing the Laws

Moore’s Law is cost as a function time. Wright’s Law is cost as a function of units produced. Put another way, Wright’s Law forecasts technology costs declines based on tangible outputs. Not time. So, the more things you produce, the more you understand, the lower yours costs. And it’s proving to be a better way to forecast technology cost declines.

Closing out

We are all looking for exponential growth. 10% growth is good, but 10x growth great. Knowing where and how to apply technology to execute disruptive ideas is critical. However, demonetisation (make cheaper), dematerialisation (make smaller), and democratisation (make accessible) of technology requires that we get a firm handle on our costs, and where the future declines lay. In doing so, you are not predicting the future, you are helping to shape it.

Luvvie Ajayi

Have you heard of Luvvie Ajayi Jones? I had the pleasure of joining a zoom call with her at a company summit. She was awesome. A comedian. Writer. Truth teller. So, that is Luvvie.

Instead of me telling you about her, I highly recommend you watch her in action. She killed it in a ten minute TED talk. If you want more, read her books. So:

  1. Watch her TED talk
  2. Read her book on I’m Judging You
  3. Read her new book on being a Professional Trouble Maker

Enjoy!

Business agility

Twenty years ago technical agility unlocked smarter ways to ship software faster. Did you that Amazon.Com releases code changes to meet customer needs every 12 seconds? Now, after a year of living with COVID, business agility is now the next mountain to climb.

Business Agility picture of teamwork

Growth is the term of the day. It’s important. But let’s not get distracted. Long-term, sustainable growth depends up a business that changes to meet new challenges. Now that’s business agility.

So, there are five ways to grow a business:

•   Increase revenue
•   Increase new business
•   Increase existing business
•   Increase shareholder value
•   Decrease cost

Surviving a pandemic has taught everyone to do more with less. And so decreasing costs is table stakes for ongoing business success. Moreover, a healthy mix of everything drives additional value for shareholders. So, sustainable business growth really relies on increasing revenue through new and existing business. This leads us to sales and the four key ways to sell:

•   New Products/Services to New Customers
•   New Product/Services to Existing Customers
•   Existing Product/Services to New Customers
•   Existing Product/Services to Existing Customers

So that means there are only two important considerations for the business:

•   Customers
•   Product and Services 

We know customers are constantly changing. Knowing your customer requires every business to continuously invest to understand them. Next, products and services must always meet the ongoing needs of the customer. Simple!

Business agility delivers the right products and services to customers. Hard! But, it is a critical differentiator in today’s competitive landscape. If you cannot adapt your products and services to match customer needs, the market is unforgiving. And COVID has made the market even flatter. Products and services are borderless. Increasingly digital. And accessible from anywhere, by anyone, at any time.

Please Keep It Simple

It’s hard to keep things simple. However, simple things get things done.

I was a long term user of Evernote. I used it for one thing; to take notes. On my desktop. Through the web. When traveling with my phone. Seamlessly syncing between my all devices. Simple note-taking was bliss.

But Evernote grew beyond my comfort zone. It added new features. Tagging. Presentations. Chat. Imports. Attachments. Exports. Reminders. Smart editing. Weblinks. All important things that helped organize, scale and make note-taking better.

But here’s the thing. Collectively, they didn’t keep note taking simple. Evernote pushed up against OneNote and Word. It made me stop and think, why Evernote? I could the same thing with Word and Dropbox. Overnight I just stopped using Evernote and fell back to notes on Apple. Why? Because I didn’t want reminders, or slideshows, and advanced editing. Simple note taking is still bliss.

So therein lies the dilemma with (productivity) tools that extend in perceived areas of growth. As soon as remove choice by going all-in, you risk customers going all-out! Personal productivity is predicated on keeping choice firmly within the hands of the consumer.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying Evernote is a bad tool – far from it – but it doesn’t serve the same simple purpose I bought into nearly ten years ago; simple note-taking.

In Five for Five

Image that says later or now and checks the now box

I procrastinate. I know when I’m doing it but struggle to avoid it.

However, I hate not getting things done more than I love to procrastinate. So I found this technique to just get me started. I’m calling it the In Five For Five rule.

When you next have something you know you have to do but don’t ever seem to get round to doing it, try this:

  1. In five minutes, commit to starting the task.
  2. For five minutes, just do the task.
  3. After five minutes, stop doing the task if want to.

Here’s the thing, nine times of ten, you complete the task! In Five For Five gets you over your own mental start hurdle. It doesn’t matter what the task is – washing the car, writing an article, something at work, cleaning the oven, doing the laundry, shopping, organizing photos – you get it done!

Try it. At the very worst, you get five minutes of something you’ve been putting off for a rainy day done today!

And do let me know how you get on 🙂

The 05 meeting rule

I’ve updated my simple meeting policy to include the 05 meeting rule.

My simple meeting policy shortens traditional 30-minute meetings to 25 minutes and 1-hour meetings to 50 minutes. However, that didn’t stop some meetings from overrunning and eating into that all-important extra 5 mins we were trying to protect for everyone’s peace of mind.

Last week a kind soul passed along this genius fix. I’m calling it the 05 meeting rule. It works beautifully with our shorter meetings policy. Applying the 05 meeting rule means starting your meeting 5 minutes later. That’s it! In doing so, a meeting starting at 9:05 and running to 9:30:

  1. Eliminates overruns. Meetings always end on time.
  2. Protected 5 mins. Take the time at the start to set up for success.

For one hour meetings, shortened to 50 minutes, the 05 meeting rule means that they are bookended with 5 minutes of your time.

Love it! One thing to watch out for thought. Let people know you’re doing this. If they don’t pay attention to the meeting invite and you don’t show up for 5 mins, they may drop off the call before you arrive. I try to get there a couple of minutes beforehand and say hey, chill out – be human – without it now eating into valuable, yet shortened, meeting time. Win-win!

Intelligent Transformation is Here

As I was clearing out my computer over the Christmas break I stumbled across these images that literally blew my mind. In 1956, it took an army of people, planes, trains, and automobiles to transport 5Mb storage from one location to another. Today, it would take 200,000 of those monster drives to hold the same amount of data as a $100 1Tb SSD disk the size of your fingertip. Thankfully, only a thousand IBM 305 RAMAC systems were built and sold for $160,000 in 195 (that’s $1.3m today’s money). A textbook example of digital innovation: dematerialize (make smaller), demonetize (make cheaper), and democratize (make accessible).

So, storage is cheap, commoditized, and cloud-based. Digitization has successfully pulled vast amounts of data from across the enterprise and consolidated it onto various digital media formats held on smart storage solutions. Digital transformation has helped make data accessible everywhere.

However, we are still evolving. We are now entering the Intelligent transformation era. Making data accessible useful and useable requires understanding. Hence, the increased focus on artificial intelligence and data science to accelerate gleaning insights from data. In doing so, we can scale making smarter and faster decisions with confidence.

Really looking forward to what humans and technology will accomplish together in 2021, with the right focus.

My Simple Meeting Policy

This is my simple meeting policy. With more virtual meetings, we need more time to recover between meetings.

To any meeting organizer, I will commit to:

  1. Arriving on time.
  2. Leaving on time.

To any meeting organizer, I need:

  1. An agenda in the invite.
  2. Proactive management of the agenda to the allotted time.

To any meeting organizer, I encourage you to:

  1. Shorten your meetings (25min, 50 mins).
  2. Start your meeting 5 mins after the hour (e.g. 9:05 rather than 9:00)
  3. Adopt a simple meeting policy, like this one.
  4. Encourage others to do the same.

Nobody likes:

  1. Meetings that start late.
  2. Meetings that overrun.
  3. Poorly managed meetings.
  4. Running between meetings.
  5. Meetings!

So if you have to have a meeting, please, make it simple!

Content modeling revisited

I miss writing about content design. However, when I wrapped up my content modeling series four years ago (Oct 2016), I started getting mail. A lot of mail. From practitioners to managers, and the odd executive. All asking the same questions. So today, let’s revisit content modeling to see what was on their minds.

Advertising & Marketing

I work in the advertising and marketing industry. Brands implement data-driven processes to get to know you, the consumer. Research shows, and purchases prove that the just-in-time assembly. of content, to drive personalization, which delivers better customer experiences. Innovations in advertising and marketing look to reach target audiences with relevant messaging that resonates. Get it right and consumer engagement increases exponentially. Everybody is happy.

Web, mobile, social, and email are some of the more important channels to reach consumers. However, content that is relevant (across channels), resonates (on message), and has the desired reach (typically global) needs well-designed content to get everywhere it needs to be. And this is where the content modeling questions wanted specific answers that showed them how.

Insights behind the questions

So Cleve,

  • Where do we personalize the content within the model?
  • Can you design content so it’s shareable across email and web?
  • How does taxonomy fit with content modeling?
  • Should the content strategist own the content model?
  • What is the best way to overlay audiences with atomic content?
  • What tools are you using and which ones should be core?

Better questions requiring more in-depth answers. But look at them. The questions focused on how and who (modeling) rather than what (model). This told me that content models were being used. The industry had moved on.

So, whilst answering the questions, a few recurring themes kept popping up. I wrote them down as observations that the people asking the questions had. To be clear, they are not my observations, but I agree with them! For sure, we have all got smarter about content design. Take a look at what we thinking:

  • Copy and assets are both content, but with different lifecycles
  • CMS for Copy and DAM for Assets, obvious but important
  • Content modeling is an iterative and incremental design process
  • Designing for content requires a multi-disciplinary team
  • DO NOT leave content modeling to technologists
  • Content modeling is based upon tried and tested design principles
  • UXers and Content people still struggle to work together
  • Atomic content is not cheap

There were many more. However, I’d like to pick up on the last bullet as it always comes as a surprise to those responsible for funding well-design content.

Atomic content is not cheap

Breaking stuff is easy. Atomizing content so that it can be assembled, disassembled, and re-assembled into different forms, by machines is a totally different ball game.. However, it’s possible, if you design for it.

Designing content that is raw (channel-agnostic), self-describing (machine-readable), and modular (like lego) requires time and effort from everyone participating in the end-to-end orchestration of customer journeys. This is what costs the money.

A solid right-to-left plan helps you focus on the content design outcomes and outputs. Then test and break the model against real engagement use cases, with real audiences to ensure that the content delivers the right communication at every moment in the journey. Even if you build this, the test effort alone requires a significant investment of time upfront, and ongoing people and processes to run and operate effective content delivery.

Summary

For the record, I didn’t have silver bullet answers to the questions. My answers were merely confirmation of what they already knew, with a few tweaks.

The noticeable shift in thinking from how do we create a content model (design-time) to how to best apply atomic content (runtime) is clear. The need for atomic content is well known, however, the effort required to apply it, not so well understood.

We have moved from awareness to the adoption of atomic content within our people, processes, products, production, and publishing efforts. Leaders in the field are scaling up to liquidize their content fast. They are done with experimenting and are actively executing (read as connecting) across more and more channels. The laggards are not, and struggling to structure within existing channel silos.

Where are you?

Measure What Matters

Measure What Matters

So I read Measure What Matters. It was awesome. The book outlines a goal setting system that scales from small projects to the large programmes of work. Started at Intel, popularised by Google, Objective Key Results (OKRs) are widespread from Bono to Bill Gates. Today, OKRs are a proven approach to operating excellence that focuses teams to measure what matters.

My recommendation for anyone, particularly in managerial or leadership positions to read the book. It’s an example-driven, people-oriented account of how to bring order out of chaos.

Objective Key Results

The model is simple. Objectives define what we seek to achieve. They are directional. Sometimes aspirational. But always clear and concise in their description.

Key results are how to achieve objectives. They have concrete steps to success. Always specific, measurable actions, and within a set time frame.

Time for example. Here is a 4 year OKR from YouTube set back in 2012. It was further broken down into a set of rolling, annual objectives and quarterly, incremental key results.


OBJECTIVE
Reach 1 billion hours of watch time per day by 2016
KEY RESULTS
Search team + Main App (+XX%), Living Room (+XX%)
Grow Engagement and gaming watch time (X watch hours per day)
Launch YouTube VR experience and grow VR catalogy from X to Y videos


Plans, Progress and Problems Report

OKRs are your target and steps to get there. However, you still need to continuously track progress towards success. Weekly checkins with your teams are important. And that’s when I realised what was missing. Let me explain.

Back in 2013, I shared the power of PPP reports for effective communication of problems and progress against a plan. Plans needs clear targets, however, these were always difficult to standardise on.

But what if OKRs are the plans (objectives) with the milestones (key results). Combining OKRs with PPP reports, we suddenly have an framework to track progress and problems against clear plans, or OKRs.

There is definitely a bit of trial and error going on here, but I think it worth a try. So I decided to put this into action. Give me a quarter and I’ll share whether they are a match made in heaven, or not.

Summary

OKRs are simple but effective goal setting system. The simplicity comes from the investment in time and people to write good OKRs. They should not be delivered from on high (directors) to the little people (doers) with consultation. Instead, OKRs writing requires pro-active engagement of top-down and bottom-up thinking.

PPP reports provide a great vehicle to track and report progress against OKRs.

Get In Touch

About Cleve Gibbon



I'm Cleve Gibbon, CTO at Wunderman Thompson where we are passionate about digital content.

My sort of up-to-date cv tells you my past, linked in shows you my professional network and on twitter you can find out what I'm currently up to.