While my day job is to make sense of these changes, the dots
seem to connect most intuitively at a personal level.
Apps continued to capture both my imagination and frustration. I
downloaded no fewer than 100, usually on the back of serendipitous
surfing or word-of -mouth. But, as happened in 2011, very few won a
second date. The ones that clicked generally made me feel like a
better, smarter publisher, or had really clear service
Pic Jointer, which bundles multiple images in a single photo,
was among my favorites. Word Lens -- an amazing camera-based
translation app -- helped me save face with the kids' French
SkiTracks, which diagnoses slope movement, made me feel like I
had Lindsay Vonn's Olympic trainer in my pocket. Tune-In Radio
brought me closer to my KROQ-obsessed youth in Los Angeles. Spotify
wowed, but also made me a tad self-conscious of cheesy-music
temptations being exposed to all.
Sporting-event apps made big progress in 2012, and attending my
first French Open would never have been the same without the
That said, I was underwhelmed by most of the Olympic apps. They
never quite captured the feeling of "real time," and the video
restrictions really got under my skin.
Let's stay with the Olympics for a moment. My Swisscom cable
package afforded me a global smorgasbord of Olympic content from
Germany, Italy, France and the U.K. I loved it, and I developed a
newfound respect for Olympic sports you rarely see in the U.S. And
I must say, watching near commercial-free Olympic programming via
local BBC channels bordered on being surreal.
On this point, let me add that I've yet to run away from TV. I'm
just getting the content from alternative distribution channels. I
devoured "Downton Abbey," "Mad Men" and "Homeland" (season one)
exclusively via iTunes.
Among gadgets, my now ubiquitous iPad keyboard topped my
favorites, and it's quickly rendered my laptop a second-class
I'm still working through the pros and cons of being a
five-iPads family. IPads have unmistakable benefits, and certainly
buy peace on road trips, but they also filter out the scenery.
I stepped up my digital-book purchases, and found the Kindle
reader for iPad crazy convenient. Best read of the year was Max
Hasting's World War II book "Inferno," which I downloaded thanks to
an online-video promo.
I broke 11,000 followers on Twitter, but I rarely generated more
than a handful of retweets, and too many of them came from vendors.
The best tweets I read were typically hand-picked by my
I bounced in and out of Pinterest, but just couldn't compete
with the home-decoration crowd. I'm taking a second look at
Facebook continued to delight and plow deeper into my online
repertoire. It warms my heart that a simple photo of my mom, now
struggling with Alzheimer's, took the 2012 prize for total likes.
And I love the fact that dozens of members of my extended family
have circled around a private group.
At the same time, I felt dissonance over live check-ins. I mean,
do I really want folks to know I'm away from my family? I also
tightened my privacy controls.
I continued to draw insights from my global travel. Indeed,
there's nothing theoretical about the mobile stampede, especially
in emerging markets. Indonesia blew me away on social penetration.
India continued to inspire with mobility and online community
management. And China humbled me with the growth of Weibo and the
fusion of social media and e-commerce. I came to appreciate Berlin,
Barcelona and London's budding digital startup culture.
This year was not without frustration. GPS driving apps sometimes
took me down the wrong roads (in the Swiss Alps, no less). I once
endured unbearable plane-boarding gridlock because a tech geek in
the front of the line had a dysfunctional QR code.
My efforts to opt out of email never seemed to bring peace, and
I often felt helpless in a pool of passwords. And let's not even
get started about the recent flood of LinkedIn recommendations and
I could barely keep up with the buzzwords. The digitally vogue
term "bespoke" especially got under my skin as I could never quite
figure out how to use it in a sentence.
Hotels still continued to disappoint with spotty and always
uneven wireless service, and "free WiFi" at airports came with just
too many strings.
Reflections on Leadership
All year I pondered sometimes ambiguous tension points I refer to
as "digital dualisms." A good example is "local vs. global" or
"leadership vs. management." The answers are never obvious, but you
can't be an effective digital leader without understanding
Work kept me incredibly busy, but I did manage a few external
speeches at venues such as LeWeb (Paris), ANA's digital confab and
the Word-of -Mouth Marketing
Association's annual summit.
In every speech -- internal or external -- I always came back to
a very simple theme: Trust your inner consumer.
We're all passengers in this exciting and sometimes confusing
journey of digital and social transformation. We touch, smell and
feel the changes ourselves. In the end, our own consumer
experiences and instinct will lead us to vastly smarter and more
enlightened marketing choices.
I've always believed that , and always will. Good luck in