I’m pleased and excited to have this opportunity to introduce Ali Hossaini for tonight’s conversation about connectivity and how we can use technology to better connect our communities, to build new communication channels, and to aggressively activate our public spaces.
I’m sure Ali will talk tonight about a variety of ideas, devices, installations, displays, kiosks, etc., but, to me, the singly most powerful tool for connection ever devised is the cell phone and I believe we’re just beginning appreciate its power. You may regard it as a calling tool, but we think of these devices (to which we are now permanently tethered) as digital trackers.
They will serve and disturb us forever more. To give you just the slightest, but most telling example, consider this – the average response time for an email is 90 minutes while the average response time for a text message is 90 seconds and the open rate on texts is 98%. We’ll never be free again.
But – make no mistake – we’re all willing accomplices in our own torment because we’re willing to trade our peace and privacy for convenience, savings, and speed. Throughout the day, as we go about our ordinary business, each of us creates a massive stream of descriptive data and it’s this very output that increases the value and the power of our devices.
Today, we’re all digital immigrants, but our kids will all be digital natives - connected almost from birth by this most immediate and intimate device. In fact, for our kids, it’s virtually a second brain. When it’s used properly, it can make us all more productive, more aware, and better decision makers because it provides us with (a) what we need; (b) when we need it; (c) wherever we are; and (d) increasingly, without asking.
And again, this process is just beginning. Places and spaces like the Pier will tell us stories – draw us in - motivate and guide us - and deliver a highly customized experience with rich media and content which is engaging, relevant, and - most importantly - delivered at the right time and place. Everything today is about creating immersive and compelling experiences. Attention spans are short – interest is fleeting – you’ve got to be there when the buyer is ready.
We call this concept “contextual commerce” or I Want What I Want When I Want It. Building systems to deliver real-time results and experiences like this and doing it well isn’t easy. It’s all about creating and sustaining active consumer and customer engagement through data-driven systems which help us establish an ongoing and growing relationship with each and every individual which is at once (1) authentic; (2) immediate; and (3) personal.
The good news is that these aren’t expensive and complex systems and even the simplest of them can learn and improve their accuracy and their responsiveness (and therefore their value and utility) with every interaction.
The bad news is that we’re never going to get to where we need to be if we don’t get started right now. In fact, I like to say that if you’re not in a hurry at the moment, you’re probably too late.
But speed alone isn’t very helpful if you’re headed in the wrong direction and, if you don’t care where you end up, any road will take you there. What we need is a guide and a map for the journey ahead. And, as luck would have it, we have just such a person with us tonight.
I give you Ali Hossaini.