Marketing and doing business in the digital age

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Stimulating? Exciting?  Scary? Each of these are words that came to mind this morning as I listened to Google National Industry Manager, Seth van der Swaagh's presentation to members of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) on Google's Digital Vision - The Acceleration of Everything.

Accelerate with AIM

The topic and the speaker were an interesting choice when you consider that AIM represents companies in industries that have been around since the Industrial Revolution.  Yet, one of the conversations I had prior to the meeting shed light on how the Digital Age affects everyone.

Manufacturing in Massachusetts

The man with whom I spoke runs a manufacturing plant that is operating at full capacity.  In fact, he's even importing ball bearings to other parts of the world.

This came as a surprise.  After all, isn't this a down economy?  Isn't MA a high cost state?

Manufacturing in the digital age

As the manufacturer explained to me, he  runs a high tech operation.  Ten percent of his employees are engineers.

Because he has almost-fully automated his operation, his quality is better and his costs are only slightly higher than factories that produce similar parts elsewhere.

Skilled work forces make the difference

With currency fluctuations now in his favor, and long lead times in China, demand is outstripping supply.  His main problems are keeping up with the technology and finding enough skilled workers to maintain production.

Experience Google's vision here

So, after helping ourselves to coffee, we settled in to hear about the Google's vision-and what "the acceleration of everything" would mean for each of our businesses.  Just click  here to read what we heard.

The presentation was excellent-and itself fast-paced.  I highly recommend reading it-and perhaps exploring some of the links-before continuing.

The media is the message

One of the main messages I took away was that the media is truly becoming the message. By the time Seth finished, I think everyone in the room was worrying about their business' mobile and video strategies.  Without new media strategies, Seth warned us, our content would neither be relevant-or engaging.

Whither brands?

The other significant takeaway was that everyone and everything is moving toward commoditization-now that consumers can comparison shop anytime and anywhere.  According to Seth, even TV stars with strong brands are at risk.

He pointed out that a pre-teen amateur named Fred has a larger following on YouTube than does a famous late-night comedy host on broadcast TV.  Although after viewing his performance, I have no idea how he accomplished this feat.  That said, I don't stay up late enough to have viewed the competition...

Now what?

So, what does that mean for the rest of us?  Seth says his advice to his own kids will be to explore broadly, stay open, and try many things before going deep.  After all, he noted, when he graduated college Google didn't even exist.

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