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McKinsey & Company

McKinsey Report: The City of Atlanta Achieves Statehood!

Typically when I look at McKinsey‘s reports I take away some meaningful data which I file away in my head for future use, but in a recent Chart Focus piece I had more questions than kernels of knowledge to use.   I was really caught by the interesting assertions and regionalism based approach from David Court’s piece on the The Downturn’s New Rules for Marketing, but as I looked at the chart I got just a little confused.  Below is the teaser content which encouraged me to read on:

In previous recessions, many marketers doubled down on large, historically profitable customers, geographies, and market segments—an approach that may now be ineffective because economic woes are affecting consumers and markets in unexpected and very specific ways. Marketers should therefore toss out their historical expectations and look for emerging pockets of profitability.

In all fairness the piece that the chart comes from was originally published in 2008, so I suspect the backing data set is just a little stale, but my concerns with the hierarchical categorization still remain.   Even though the piece is a little aged, I’m pretty sure the concepts of regions, states and cities were fairly well defined by then.  Below is the graphic which indicates that Atlanta and Washington D.C. have achieved the functional equivalency of statehood for market analysis, which is just a little off from my perspective.

Now admittedly this just could be a bad graphic (that’s actually probably it), but it begs the several questions at least for marketers:

  • How should a marketer define a region?
  • How can a state have the same market qualities of a city?
  • What is the median income of the different zips analyzed in Jacksonville?
  • What are the deltas in Housing Values in the Jacksonville zip codes presented?
  • People allocate meaningful marketing spend in Montana which can be analyzed?
  • Would it have been more valid to only look at incomes, unemployment rates and zip codes?
  • Can any data set from 2008 really be used 12 month’s later when it comes to B2C?
  • Recession? What recession?

While the full piece asserts the probable impact of unemployment, the housing sector changes and other key indicators which would impact consumerism, it doesn’t provide any additional data sets of note except one manufacturer’s anecdotal experience in their customer base customer base, which means the piece mixes B2B and B2C for some unknown reason.  The main thing I take away from the piece, is that old models are broken.

Observation: Maybe, just maybe, it’s only about micro-markets now.

You wouldn’t understand, it’s a cultural thing: I want my MTV!

The first images shown on MTV were a montage o...
Image via Wikipedia

Cultural change is the most challenging for individuals and organization alike.  I’m currently reeling on my twins inability to spell anything close to dictionary version and their sheer abusive use of punctuation, but it is just a cultural gap, that I’m either going to get or or not.  Pop culture influences change – good and bad.  In my generation it was MTV.

Video ultimately didn’t kill the radio star, but 3 minute videos broadcast 24 hours forever was the initial promise of MTV and their innovative approach to delivering content over cable probably was the reason for the mass adoption of the word “edgy”.    MTV was delivering on the needs of an  extremely focused early adopter segment of young folks who were musically inclined or folks who just wanted some background noise – a new cultural phenomenon.  Social Media not dis-similar to the cultural change seen time and time again in society only, this one is changing how people work and how they WANT to work.

IT, management and corporations in general are always looking for new ways to improve productivity or how to limit access to content or activities which reduce productivity.  The emerging social productivity tools at the edge of adoption in the enterprise don’t have consensus on how they impact productivity.   Users or better put – workers needs are changing and how they work is transforming by their personal use of these tools and the benefits of thier networks.  This isn’t by any stretch of the imagination the majority, just a small segment today, since as a user sorta have to “get it” and the organization sorta has to be ready to accept/embrace these workers preferred engagement models.

Everybody Has an Opinion or a Functional Diagram

Productivity in the workplace leveraging social tools continues to get A-List street cred with McKinsey’s latest email of the Top 10 articles of the Quarter, which starts out with Six Ways to Make Web 2.0 Work, a top ten article I apparently missed.  I actually missed all of them – odd, I thought I had read a bunch of McKinsey stuff last quarter.

Interesting piece, it is written I suspect by a non-Kool-Aid Drinker and from a “big company” approach when the reality most companies are BIG and could use a little innovation and productivity lift, but it is an ok piece.  Their adoption graphic acknowledges the adoption curve has begun for social technologies, but as with most articles there aren’t metrics, just anecdotes.   This application landscape change is more about HOW folks WANT to work, than the benefits or metrics which can be tracked via social media tools.

It is often the PERSON who makes the tools productive.  How a person uses them, who is in their network and how THEIR network uses the tools.   I find that Facebook responses from business partners, industry collegues and coworkers are quicker than email and typically include an example link or hand off to another expert in their network.   What ever moniker is applied to this phase it is essentially corporate IT’s movement from machines to people.   The majority of the first generation investments were in delivering “systems”, databases, application integration and transaction management platforms – now it is people platforms which are looking for homes in the enterprise and promise productivity lifts for business.


(just guessing, but probably not to scale)

While I get the diagram below, it misses some of the high level B2B use cases, which is really all I care about as a B2B Product Marketing type, specifically Thought Leadership and Service.  Social media can increase personal, corporate and product visibility in the marketplace and improve service levels/customer satisfaction.   Perhaps the author rolled them under some of the other concepts, but the purpose of each should be a standalone set of metrics, goals and users.  With metrics as a challenge, the more you segment the use cases and owners of a use case the better you can gauge effectiveness of your social media efforts.


The artical did get the one thing really close to right:

The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top.

It is cultural, but it doesn’t involve the organization, it involves the emerging requirements of the workforce.   While today’s “I want my Facebook”, Bebo or Twitter in the workplace pleas seem somewhat trivial to some execs, these platforms are rapidly becoming the preferred collaboration tools for workers.  Risk considerations are often cited by many since these tools leverage not just internal expertise of an organization, but the networks of their employee and contractors.

It’s All About Risk

There is a time to embrace social media and a time to not, but I suspect the good outweighs the bad in the risk equation.  Risks: Perceived IP exposure, network security concerns or just plain slackerdom risk for some don’t outweigh the benefits, but the other choice for social workers is to use their personal iPhones or other PDA’s to accomplish the same tasks, only on slower connections and with less functionality.   What a drag, productivity drag that is…..for many folks social platform use is just HOW they work.

Access to answers, innovation and customers are just a click away, but only if your organization has a culture that provides access and encourages participation.

Now look at them yo-yo's, that's the way you do it
You play the guitar on that MTV
That ain't workin', that's the way you do it
Money for nothin' and your chicks for free
Now that ain't workin', that's the way you do it
Lemme tell ya, them guys ain't dumb
Maybe get a blister on your little finger
Maybe get a blister on your thumb
                                 -Dire Straits