Wednesday, January 5, 2011

If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it

So I got through the Christmas shopping ordeal pretty well this year. Sometimes good gift ideas just flow but if you are like me then there are plenty of times when you you need to get a Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary present and just draw a blank.

My mate Yabba (sorry, no shout out this time Trentles, flashmobs are soooo 2009) once told me about an idea he had where people in his office could list presents they got and rate them. It was about 10 years ago so I am pretty sure the extent of the idea would have been on a whiteboard or maybe extended to a spreadsheet. I always thought, in theory, it might have some legs but would need to be on a bigger scale.

My mind wandered the other day, probably because I was listening to Gerry Harvey whinge about how hard he has it (read as “I have no idea how to innovate or understand what my customers needs are so I need to get someone else to fix it) and I was thinking about how, if they end up surviving, shopping centres/malls could help out shoppers who need guidance. I started thinking about the Minority Report.

While I was looking for the above example of the Minority Report scene I also came across the 2nd

video posted about 9 months ago.

I am reading the 10th anniversary of the Clue Train Manifesto and there is a comment in there that says that advertisers just drooled over the internet as another way to push messages/ads. At the moment, the technology in the video is just another way for brands/advertisers to yell at you. Sure the technology is kind of cool but where is the innovation?

Imagine if you walked into a mall and up to one of the directories they have, it scans your face, recognises who you are and asks “how can we help?”. You speak and outline a few important elements of what you are looking for i.e. wife, 20 years old, likes exercise, romantic movies, reading, has a 2yo kid, hates anything tacky etc” Then it gives a sample of a few items and you nominate “Yes” or “No”, maybe even why “No” i.e. too cheap, too girly, already has one etc and then the directory refines its search and suggestions.

Then when you are happy it gives you a list and points you off to the shops.

This could probably even be an iPhone app that you could run through in your own home before you even get to the shops? And easily order online if you are one of the freaks who gets this organised before December. (stop press – just found a few but they seem to be more driven by you logging your own ideas for people and not them being targeted suggestions).

There probably needs to be some sort of personalisation to assist such as a card/file/app that tracks your friends/spouses shopping habits and allows even more targeted suggestions. Yes, yes, privacy etc is a concern but lets not let details get in the way of an idea. Einstein did say that “If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it”

So, what can you add/suggest to the idea?


James Duthie said...

We're starting to get there as Facebook shares social graph data with third party web sites. I'm using Tripadvisor to plan a trip to the US at the moment, and its pretty heavily personalised based on Facebook data and the places my friends have visited. It's pretty cool, albeit not nearly as useful as it may be in the future.

Interestingly, I also saw another 'update your privacy settings' scare campaign going around Facebook yesterday warning people to block Facebook from sharing data with third party web sites. I wonder if people would be so quick to block if they actually understood how it was being used. I think it's awesome, but I may be biased...

Daniel Oyston said...

@James, I don’t think people would be scared at all if they got to choose which 3rd parties. However, Facebook doesn’t provide any middle ground regarding sharing with 3rd parties. It is just “yes” or “no”.

In saying that, the middle ground, which would probably look like us needing to approve each 3rd party would be painful to say the least.

Have you read the Clue Train Manifesto? This is exactly the type of problem they talk abut where we are forced to provide info over and over and over to each company if we want to interact with them. This is opposed to companies we choose to deal with being provided with our info from a storage place that we own/control/update