“The Futurists” Panel looks ahead…to 2013

It was great to participate in the Triangle Interactive Marketing Association (TIMA) 4th Annual “Futurist’s Panel” held at the great new space co-working space at HUB Raleigh on January 9, 2013. We made predictions, talked about trends, and things we want to see our business accomplish in 2013.

The panel moderator was Steven Keith, senior business strategist at Centerline Digital |@stevenkeith. The full panel included:

  • Digital marketing: Zach Clayton, CEO of Three Ships Media | @zsclayton
  • Reputation management: Andy Beal: CEO of Trackur | @AndyBeal
  • Online advertising, PPC & media buying: Mark Rockett, CEO of RockettInteractive |@markrockett
  • Online community development & open source advocate: Jason Hibbets, Red Hat, CityCamp Raleigh, Code for America, southwestraleigh.com | @jhibbets

One of the first questions was about a bold prediction for 2014. “What headline will we see on the cover of the Wall Street Journal next year?” asked Keith. Beal talked about mobile. But then he said “it’s been mobile for six years” and redirected to talk about new advertising platforms. Rockett said that tracking and attribution will be a key focus.

I talked briefly about the open hybrid cloud and how companies will be able to build private clouds and then be able to move applications and data between public and private clouds. I also said that responsive web design where websites are being designed for multiple devices such as traditional desktop/laptop, mobile, and tablets. The site reacts to the device screen size and displays the appropriate layout. No more mobile-only websites! (Hint: don’t waste money building mobile sites.)

We had some great interaction with the audience and took some of their comments and questions. A theme that emerged from the attendees was around the customer journey. By the time the conversation got to me, it had shifted to growing your audience and the fact the the customer journey is no longer linear. Which was perfect. On opensource.com, I often talk about something I call the nodal effect.

I started by saying that Red Hat’s bread and butter has been to sell free software. And in my role, I like to think that I sell free content about open source. We grow our audience by publishing content on a variety of topics, but with a common theme around the open source way. As we publish new topics, our hope is to attract new readers to our site. For example, we published an article about open source aviation. The idea is the that we’ll keep a portion of that new audience—the nodal effect.

We were asked what’s on tap for 2013. I immediately responded with community! But I clarified is that this year will have a renewed focus on community. We’re looking to launch a new events calendar that would promote any and all open source events, user meetings, webinars, and more. Then we’re considering a community moderator/advisor program to amplify some of our top contributors.

Another topic we covered was some of the toughest challenges for 2013. Clayton focused on talent, saying that finding and retaining top talent is really hard. Three Ships Media spends a lot of time searching and hiring talent. They are adding perks like free home cleaning for all employees.

I said two things. First, information overload. For both us as workers and also our consumers. Second, community building is a long and intensive process. It takes a lot of one-on-one interactions and if there was a good way to multi-cast for community building, community managers would be all over it.

Thanks to Triangle Interactive Marketing Association for bringing a good crowd and being a great host. I was excited to be a part of the panel and learned a lot by listening to the other panelists. More importantly, even though we all had different backgrounds, we all face similar challenges for 2013 and beyond.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, attributions Jason Hibbets.

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