Tag Archives: Theodore Levitt

Digital / Social Transformation = CRM = Big Data (About Old Wine in New Bottles, Darwin and Levitt)

26 Jul

Enid Blyton Gypsy

My biggest comfort reading STILL is Enid Blyton’s books. I was reading one the other day, and realised that the word “gypsies” (In Enid Blyton’s debatably bigoted world, Gypsies were the bad guys – generally robbing and stealing!) was now replaced by “travelers”! (read this article on changes to Enid Blyton’s language)

It started me thinking on how concepts evolve with time – and how they get nuanced depending on context.

Look at our world of Social/ Digital Media.

First there was listening, then there was engagement, ofcourse then people started talking about ROI, then folks started talking digital transformation…and now about social integration.

Its a fairly normal evolution – you take piece parts of a whole process, and start attacking it from small angles, then the small piece parts coalese to form a larger part – which you can then make sequential evolution like a process. Then you bring the whole piece together and start talking the big picture – till you then leapfrog into next level applications etc.

We saw this in devices – the whole unification piece arising out of networking -> convergence -> wifi. (I did write an earlier piece on this). The world view that arises from this is that of the super connected/ “always on” world.

The good news though with the whole social/ digital piece is that after a lot of “wandering in the wilderness” and marketers and the C Suite looking upon it as the new kid on the block and not “real” marketing; then viewing it as stand alone another element in the marketing mix; now most folks are realising the ubiquitousness of the medium and figuring that “social business” is almost a way of life – for people personally, and therefore for enterprises. This is leading to integrated social marketing in the true sense of the word. Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism is a good example of a visualisation of an integrated world!

Conversation Prism

Evolutionarily, it first started with social media integration tools – how do you cross post/ make sure you don’t replicate/ undertake SEO for your Social Content etc. A look at some of the tools for this can be had here . But now you have some interesting campaigns that truly integrate many diverse elements so the consumer sees ONE brand/ ONE entity – and so do the employees – and so do the vendors/ suppliers and other stakeholders!

The case with Big Data is a bit similar. While it is greater volume/ velocity/ variety, it is ultimately about crunching vast masses of Data – something that actually gave rise to computers!! Also, if you then start looking at its applications, its the same ole same ole (old wine in new bottles) – CRM being a BIG one. So, ultimately, Big Data helps you compute, quickly and cheaply, thanks to the cloud.

The point, however, is, that its no longer smart to talk “Computing”, or even “Analytics” – you say “BIG Data”; just like you no longer say “Listening” – you say “Digital Transformation” (I’ve seen some folks calling it “Social Integration”, but as the economists and social scientists would know, THAT is more about social/ cultural amalgamation of immigrants into their adopted mileu :).)

But, think about this evolution – Darwin and his theory of natural selection actually applies to the technology/ data front as well! (For those who have forgotten Darwinism – I found this cute animated video tutorial – a bit long, but a nice refresher!). It basically states that living organisms evolved through a process of adaptation to surroundings, following “survival of the fittest” – hence, while computing is still the fossil, Big data is the evolved mammal. I did on my favourite facebook page I fucking love science today see a picture of this amazing fish – which is amphibious!


Coming back to business, in a way Theodore Levitt and his concept of “Marketing Myopia” – implied a bit of an evolutionary path too – from photo paper to duplicating machines to business process and document management (Xerox); from Time Keeping and Weighing Machines to Smarter Planet (IBM); from Petroleum to Energy (Shell); From Fast Food to “I’m Lovin’ It” (McDonald’s); from making movies to “entertainment” (Hollywood) and from paper to “connecting people” (Nokia). It was about evolving your business/ broadening its spectrum to serve your consumers’ basic needs!

marketng myopia

You think about it then – concepts evolve, just as language evolves (etymology being the science of how words evolve – just so you know, “Digital” – seems to have taken the following path : “of or pertaining to a digit or finger” –> “resembling a digit or finger” –> “manipulated with a finger or the fingertips eg a digital switch” –> “displaying a readout in digital form”

etymology of mother

To wind up, think about some stuff that used to be called something else in the olden days :

Motivation = gamification
Beauty parlour = Salon
Step cut (a particular hair style) = Layers
Fund raising = Crowdsourcing
Bribery = Lobbying
Plagiarism = Research 🙂

Some that have changed with the technology: (These are called retronyms):
Phone –> From Landline to mobile
Guitar –> To acoustic/ electric etc.

Some where our influence changed (in India, that implies becoming more American from being more British) or we became more politically correct/ less racist etc..:

Biscuits = Cookies
Toilet = Washroom
Merry Christmas –> Happy Holidays
Negro –> African American
I’m fine, thank u –> I’m good

In the end, evolution notwithstanding, look at where Homo Sapiens has got to, thanks largely to digital/ big data etc etc:

Human Evolution Retro