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Rehumanizing Artificial Intelligence

The news media has been abuzz with hand-wringing reports about how ChatGPT will undermine academic integrity.  However, the Artificial Intelligence genie is out of the bottle. AI is happening. It will scale. Its applications will extend to many aspects of daily life, including education. (Microsoft is banking on this, having just invested $10B in OpenAI, the red-hot AI lab behind ChatGPT.)  Every minute we spend romanticizing how things used to be is time we’re not designing ways to harness change.  We heard similar laments years ago when students started using Google Search instead of the encyclopedia; when parents began tethering their kids with mobile phones; when social media became an addictive currency. Over time, we learned to harness something positive from each – access to knowledge; safety; a generation of creators – while remaining vigilant about their dark sides.  Even before ChatGPT, the quality of writing seems to have been deteriorating for decades, at least within the c
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Let's rehumanize marketing!

Every new marketing model seems to move farther from a fundamental truth – there’s a human on the other side of the screen. We can sense this growing chasm in marketing's increasingly de-humanized vocabulary – addressable markets, cohorts, targets, segments; we can sense it in blunt, one-size-fits-all multicultural definitions and generational tags. Despite being awash in data and analytics that tell us what customers did, most companies don’t fully understand why their customers behave the way they do.    A Harvard Business Review Analytical Services study found that just 23% of executives believe their organization understands their customers’ motivations. (Even if this has doubled since 2019 that's still not great.) Customer Experience, or CX, comes closest to embracing a human-centered truth. Yet here we are in 2023 and CX remains siloed in many organizations.  Being human-centered is not about going analog. Far from it! Data and marketing technologies have given us super

Will this be your first recession rodeo?

In a previous article I referenced Mark Twain’s quote, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”    If true, then this is a poem about marketing in a recession by reflecting on lessons which I will attempt to freshen... Ok, no more poetry. I recently revisited the WikiBranding articles I wrote during the 2008-2009 meltdown that spotlighted best practices from a range of marketers.   It struck me that  those of us who guided businesses through The Great Recession can  share  lessons we learned with managers for whom this downturn might be their first.  (Bob Barrie, Stuart D’Rozario and I had just co-founded BD’M; learning how to navigate the recession was not a choice!)     Who decides if we’re in a recession?     Spoiler alert:  the consumer decides.   News stories about the economy lead us believe we’re in a recession – the “R-word” is having its moment.     Economists might say otherwise, based on their often used definition of a recession, i.e., two consecutive quarters

We are the supply chain problem.

We can’t go a day without hearing, or sharing our own story, about a seemingly simple purchase that is taking eons to arrive, an impatience that has heightened in a next-day culture. In casual conversations we hear people cite the cause as having something to do with lazy workers, politicians, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, or myriad other heard-then-repeated explanations. Turns out, we are the problem: Our business models, our disconnected systems, our labor practices, our personal shopping choices. We are the forces straining the system. That’s why this WSJ video is so fascinating . It starts with the sobering truth, that global demand is greater than what supply chains can handle. From there it unpacks the thorny thicket of disconnected problems raging through the system – i.e., through factories, ocean shipping, ports, trucking, and distribution centers – all made worse by rapid changes in DTC business models and the resulting shift in consumer shopping behavior. And, spoiler al

Are EVs in the dial-up phase?

Several comments on my x-country EV roadtrip travelogues questioned whether the growth in the charging network can possibly keep up with increasing EV sales ( a question also posed in this CNBC article ). This is where the lesson from Moore's Law comes in handy: We should expect battery capacity and range to increase exponentially, concurrent with network growth. There was a time when the internet was shiny and new that we connected to it via dial-up. (If you're old enough, you'll undoubtedly remember the noises your modem made and how loooooooong it took to connect!) Back then we had no clue about the next-gen technologies – connectivity accelerants such as Broadband, Bluetooth, WiFi – that would soon emerge and radically change how we'd access the web. The point? It's risky to predict the future based on today's technologies and infrastructure.

X-Country in an EV: Day 5...the home stretch!

Today is Day 5 – and the home stretch! – of my x-country drive in an EV.   I set out to see firsthand if “range anxiety” is a valid pain-point that will stop broader EV adoption.   After five days driving from Detroit to SoCal in my Mustang Mach-E, EV range and the ability to easily recharge is not a problem.   Charging stations are everywhere.     Electrify America and Walmart have partnered well to ensure a fast charger is never out of reach.   (Though there’s so much opportunity to upgrade the CX at the charging stations, as I’ll outline below.) The connectivity between the FordPass app and my Mach-E’s NAV system is seamless – the app mapped the route and charging stations and sent that itinerary to car’s NAV system.   Oh yeah, my “fuel” bill is cut by more than half! But let’s face it:   Driving an EV long distance requires more stops.     The Mach-E has a 270 miles range, yet I never stretched it to that limit, opting instead to charge every 200 miles or so.   This added time to o

X-Country Drive in an EV: What's unfamiliar is actually familiar.

Welcome to Day 4 of our cross-country drive in the Mustang Mach-E. Austin is in our rear view mirror this morning, destination El Paso.   A great foodie and music town, Austin remains one of my fav cities in America, bringing back tons of fun memories with Bob and Stuart from when we’d visit our clients at Dell.   Sarah and I took this southerly route to visit my sister and Tesla-driving brother-in-law, Denise and Steve, who planned a great night at Llama Kid, an off-the-chart delicious Peruvian restaurant.   As an added bonus, Sarah got to spend time with Leah and Craig who were up from Houston for a wedding.    And as much as Bailey is a great roadtrip companion, it was great to take a break from sleeping in dog-friendly hotels. (Bailey is eyeing me with scorn as I type this…) Days 2 and 3 took us from Nashville to Dallas, followed by yesterday’s short hop to Austin. I think I learned more about driving an EV these last two days than I had in the last two months.   For example, late