Author: @depsilon

About @depsilon

Strategist @sensisagency

How #Cross-Cultural Trends are Influencing the Evolution of Music

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For the past 50 years it seems as though America has under gone a cross-cultural phenomenon without taking notice.  The growing evolution of minorities has silently permeated into the U.S. Census figures, yet the majority of Americans are not recognizing from a self-awareness perspective, the positive contributions that cross-culturalism is having on American culture.

Oftentimes, we take for granted many of the things in our world that would have never even existed if it wasn’t for the mixing of diverse cultures. Take the sound and art of music, music is universal and it is an art form that has evolved incredibly over the years precisely because of the influence of cross-cultural exchanges. Today, more than 81 percent of Billboard Top 10 best-selling albums are now made by non-white or mixed-race groups of artists, according to research done by DraftFCB.

(This chart shows the racial breakdown of the general population vs. the racial breakdown of Top 10 pop artists since 1950)

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Let’s take Salsa music, for example, which is a dance that came to be as a result of the cultural exchanges between Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrant communities in New York City during the seventies. Willie Colon, Bobby Valentin and Hector Lavoe were some of the prominent pioneers of this music. Today, Salsa music has become popularized all over the U.S. and Latin America and has permeated into the majority of pop-cultural night clubs in all the major big metropolitan cities.

It’s even more inspiring and exciting to see how cross-cultural music trends are even being leveraged to influence political elections.  You don’t have to go to far back down memory lane to remember the powerful “Yes we Can” campaign song that President Obama leveraged during his run for U.S. President in 2009. But of course, it wasn’t just about the lyrics, but the combination of cross cultural artist that very much conveyed a much more relevant presidential candidate that understood  today’s new American society.

Yes We Can

Today’s heavy minority influence in pop-music has become the norm & we are seeing an amazing evolution right beneath are very own eyes.  Hopefully, society as a whole will start to recognize the cross-cultural opportunities that are out there just at the music industry has done in the last fifty years.

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The “Measured Life”: A Belief Worth Counting?

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There was a time when the idea of everyone having a personal computer seemed out of this world.  Everyone knows that perception was proven wrong and shortly following, tablets were doubted as well to replace the  desktop computer.  Oh… how times have changed.  Haven’t consumers learned their lesson yet to  never sell technology short?  Today, parents can now measure their baby’s health through data in real time.  It’s a new trend which has married itself to the notion of “The Quantified Self Movement” and taken shape as a new belief in measuring ones life. Like many, the movement has its skeptics, many claiming that it would never extend beyond ‘geeks’ or those ‘weirdly self absorbed” consumers who obsessed over their own personal data.  However, the truth of the matter is that this new movement has turned mainstream, and brands like Nike + are helping shape the narrative.

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In 2009 only two news articles appeared mentioning “The Quantified Self”: one in the AmericanLife Science Weekly that reported a study on the relevance to healthcare of self-tracking, and the other in the Canadian Globe and Mail that discussed “The Quantified Self Movement” and people involved in it. But today the number of articles published has risen to over 188 news articles discussing the quantified self.

The movement has gained popularity at an accerlerated pace…but WHY?

The idea of measuring things to chart progress towards a goal is commonplace in large corporations, companies measure their turnover, profits and inventory.  Suprisingly, technology has found a way to marry data with self improvement- which has caused consumers in believing they have the ability to control of their health—a concept and approach which has been clearly adopted by fitness fanatics, technology evangelists, personal-development junkies, hackers and patients who suffer from a wide variety of health problems.

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Self-tracking may look a little over the top for some or even geeky, epecially with parents now tracking their new borns with data analytics but the same was once true of e-mail and the personal computer. And what geeks do today, the rest of us often end up doing tomorrow.

The Collision Between Technology & Corporate Marketing

In today’s modern business world, there is a collision taking place which is causing tension between the marketing & technology professions. With that said, the definition of the marketing manager is being re-defined, triggering an identity crisis for many conventional “Marketing Managers”.

It’s not surprising that in a recent business survey among CEO’s,  21% answered that they wanted CMO’s to have more technology & technical experience as opposed to only 13% who placed higher interest for those with “Agency” experience.  Ouch… but a pretty good warning sign and head start for those willing to accept the inevitable.

Truth be told, the results aren’t that shocking but they do point to a shift in mindset.  I’ll attempt to explain, today’s CEO is looking towards the future and cutting their losses.  Year over year margins are smaller and CEO’s are bearing witness to the innovators dilemma.  New technologies are forcing them to revisit how they run their business & marketing models and place the waterfall model on ice.  The premise is not that  all conventional marketing managers should be dismissed but that the new environment of marketing is urging CEO’s to secure talent with both marketing and technology  skills.

With that said, not everyone in marketing needs to be a technologist , just like not everyone in marketing needs to be a creative-  the reality  is that technology must become apart of Marketing’s DNA.

Which leads me to last point.  The NEED for developing new Marketing Technologist.

As you can see below, the media technology landscape has exploded and become even more fragmented and overwhelming for conventional marketing to solve.

As a consequence, this has exposed the technology gap in marketing departments.  Scott Brinker, author of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog recently stated in an article for Advertising Age that, “Marketing has become deeply entwined with technology” and he goes on to say this didn’t happen overnight; “it’s been sneaking up on us for a while.”.  He makes the point that because technology had been so tangential to marketing management for most of our history, the organizational structure of marketing has been slow to adjust to this new technology-centric reality. Obviously he was right, we’ve reached a tipping point. To fully be effective in the digital age, marketing must officially embrace ownership of its technology platforms and strategies. And the first step of such ownership is to hire someone to lead it. As Scott Brinker states, “Enter the chief marketing technologist”.

Marketers today can’t afford to view emerging technology as the shiny object , it’s already become a key multiplier in the world of advertising and the brands that are doing right are propelling their brands on a global scale. With that said,  the marketing funnel today needs to be approached in 3D- for lack of a better expression, marketers need to take into perspective software platformssocial media, storytelling, design, CRM, marketing automation and listening platforms.  In an environment where where technology seems to change every month,  brands runs the risk of being perceived as out of touch with culture & society.  While its entertaining to think new technology is a fad in the marketing context, it’s a an illusion to think marketers will remain effective with a conventional marketing approach.

Memo to marketing managers: We aren’t in Kansas anymore, it’s time to embrace your jobs as marketing technologist and adapt at the speed of culture.

Datapalooza: A Fearless Concept and Cultural Movement

It seems that lately, our culture is throwing a “Datapalooza” party.  Big Data revenue is estimated to reach $53.4 billion by the year 2017 while the 2013 SAP report cites there will be an estimated 50 million things connected to the Internet in the next seven years.  Today, the average American household has 5.7 Internet connected devices and a whopping 6% of American households already own 15 Internet connected devices or more. My premise is that the 6% currently represents the early adopters but can soon symbolize the adoption curve will reach the masses. Thus, the future will be driven by Big data propelled by the invisible Internet we inhabit; and like it not, Big Data will only get bigger.

A  BLINDING WORLD OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE:

  • BIG DATA, what  is it? It’s the merging of the Internet, digital recording technologies and a profusion of small-scale wireless sensors creating an exponential increase in stored data
  • New devices, new programs and new infrastructures all rising up, with little time to comprehend their intent or their meaning.

THE ERA OF BIG DATA HAS ARRIVED:

  • Walmart handles 1m transactions per hour
  • Google processes 24PB of data per day
  • At&t transfers 30PB of data per day
  • 90 trillion emails are sent year
  • World of Warcraft uses 1.3PB of storage

THE END OF BUSINESS AS USUAL… 

  • Transformation of Retail: We’ve gone from “Big Deals” and “Sales” to Data driven  pricing recommendations
  • Transformation of Online marketing: from gathering leads to leveraging the cloud (salesforce), google analytics, social media (Twitter and Facebook)
  • Transformation of IT: from logging files to optimizing operational intelligence
  • Transformation of Law Enforcement: from getting a call from 911 to google crime hotspot prediction models

TEACHING A COMPUTER HOW TO DRIVE: 

  • The Idea: Google is combining big data and real time analytics to create the first driverless car
  • The challenge: Cars are still cognitive little kids but soon they will process algorithms as fast as the human brain
  • The opportunity: Imagining the car as a platform rather then an individual vehicle just like Apple did with iTouch/iphone/ipad- think of the value for humans…

CAN IT ELIMINATE DOUBT AND REPLACE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORLD?

  • Not quite so… but it’s not a fad either
  • Data has no voice, it takes human insight and intuition to uncover a cause
  • You  need a model and context in which to interpret the data
  • Lastly, data needs imagination for without it- its useless… could have Big Data created DISNEYLAND???

Coming Full Circle

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Change, it’s the only constant in life but for many in my generation, it’s happened to fast.  What’s more, we feel the speed of technological change has a personal vendetta against us and our future plans.

20121208_WBC606From the New York Times to Times Magazine, we hear constantly how technology has displaced jobs, companies, and even whole business categories. Although these headlines may seem like only 21st century challenges, Europe experienced it two hundred  years before our generation.

When we look back to the late 18th & early 19th century, we see Europe living in a time of transition. A transition in-which caused a war against  “Man” vs “Machine”.

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It is the construct of “Man” vs. “Machine” that propelled  the Industrial Revolution and influenced the creation of special group named the Luddites. They were passionate defenders of the spirit of the human artisan and protectors of the intrinsic values they offered to society. However, man was no match for machiene and soon the human worker in Europe had to accept the changes that were inevitable.

It’s a fact that we cannot predict our own destiny but not too long ago we could predict closely where  we would be in our lives, today we no longer have that luxury.  Nonetheless, we should keep in mind we are not the first to live in a period of uncertainty.

When we put into context and compare our 21st century challenges vs the challenges of the Industrial Revolution , we discover that there are more similarities then differences.  We see this with a simple reality when we  visit any CVS retail store, where instead of a seeing a human being at the cash register, we are greeted by a computer that will complete our transaction.

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Ultimately, despite our resistance to change, our curiosity will always influence us to evolve, nonetheless when change is unaligned with human connection, it can spark counter-intuitive change. For example, in Germany, were seeing an emerging trend take place in which an influx of blogging, tweeting and iPad swiping has led to a cultural counter movement.  Trendy Berlin restaurants and night clubs have already begun implementing strict no-tech policies.  Are countries in Europe again turning its back on technology?

Despite the counter trend that is taking place in Britain,  it shouldn’t lead to our generation into periods of digital sabbaticals.  More likely than not it will spark our generation to find  reasons of reconnection with their their fellow peers as opposed to solely digital interactions. What better example to see this take place than none other than the famous digital conference of SWSW.

Why would thousands of digital natives want to go to a digital conference when they could easily stream via their laptops – or in  the luxury of their own homes ?  If you ask me, it seems more like a reason to re-connect and be in the presence of real people.

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The Exodus Trend: The Latino Search For Real Estate

It was just a few years ago that the whole country had suffered from the biggest housing bubble in our country’s history.  It was in 2008 alone, that the United States government allocated over $900 billion to special loans and rescues related to US housing.  All told, roughly four million families lost their homes to foreclosure between the beginning of 2007 and early 2012.  Today, the housing crisis is still is a heart wrenching topic for middle class Americans, but not not a negative one for those rich foreign investors living south of the border.

In 2008 and 2009, the city of Miami experienced unprecedented condo foreclosures that it closely resembled a luxury war zoneToday, Miami which was once one of the hardest hit US housing markets has been reignited by foreign cash.  Miami, which has long been considered the gateway to Latin America is currently the international buyers paradise.  Across the city, home and condo sales jumped by a record 46 percent last year, the Miami Association of Realtors reports.  Their motivation and rationale to purchase homes in the U.S.? Unbelievable low real estate prices, close proximity and easy access to  Latin America and a city that embraces the Latino culture.  However, for domestic American’s, Miami’s real estate situation has been nothing but a hopeless nightmare but for Latin America’s affluent, it’s an economic opportunity and a bargain.  Interesting to identify, this foreign exodus and real estate phenomenon isn’t only trending and isolated in Miami, but in many other important Hispanic DMA’s.

Just 1100 miles west of the city of Miami, the city of Houston is also experiencing an explosion of foreign Latino investors.  It compliments the migration trend for what I have coined the “Mexodus”.  In contrast to the Miami foreign real estate explosion, affluent Mexicans are not being driven by real estate bargains but by safe haven opportunities.  The desire from affluent Mexicans in moving to Texas are out of a result of Mexico City’s woes of crime, pollution, and escalating cost of living and political problems.  A good example where this phenomenon is taking place is in the city of Woodlands Houston Texas.  According to Nathaniel Karp, chief U.S. economist with the Woodlands-based BBVA USA, Affluent Mexicans living in Woodlands, made up 7.7 percent of The Woodlands population of 65,744 last year.  Image

But beyond real estate and housing implications, this is an interesting phenomenon that is taking place.  The United States has historically witnessed a certain type of immigrant demographic for the past 50 years.  Historically, immigrants that have come south of the border have come from low income, low education, and rural backgrounds.  If this affluent Latinos exodus continues, we could be witnessing a complete demographic transformation of the immigrant profile.

In retrospect, the U.S. could be positioning a perfect storm of reasons for affluent Latino Americans to move to the U.S.

  • Great real estate bargains and business opportunities
  • Safety for their families from kidnappings
  • Access to great Universities for their families
  • Close proximity to relatives via air or technology (Skype)

If the country continues to experience slow economic growth and Latin American countries continue to experience increases in kidnappings towards the affluent, the U.S. will be their ideal location to settle.  This in effect will have direct implications on the U.S. culture, economics, and bilateral business evolution which will be propelled by communication technology.  All in all, the U.S. could eventually become the center of gravity for the affluent Latino American class.

Mexican Migration: Perspective Grounded In Context

The noisy debate over immigration has once again resurfaced on to the mainstream media. Many of the issues driving the resurrection of the immigration debate are propelled by a combination of recent developments in migration patterns and political interest but some would argue that media is only telling part of the story.

Allow me to share a few important media headlines that have appeared as of lately…

– Net Zero migration from Mexico

– Historic levels of deportations

The recent headlines are driven mostly by the media’s interest but surprisingly as well from the business world. The finding, which comes from the Pew Hispanic Center is grabbing the attention of many chief marketing officers. Since news broke out from the Pew Hispanic Center, the business world has begun to question their strategic investment in the recent booming Latino market. After all, the Latino population already represents 16% of the total population and wields a spending power of more than $1 Trillion dollars. CMO”s quite don’t understand why net zero migration is taking place but they are beginning to re-evaluate and consider their approach if the recent immigration narrative is true.

According to the press, the reason for the migration slowdown is a direct consequence of the supposed trend that Mexican’s no longer believe in the “American dream”. It’s a narrative the media has been selling and it also provides a segway to my next point that could explain better why migration has slowed from Mexico. In the past 4 years, the United States has witnessed a historic number of illegal immigrants deported. In fact, the U.S. government set a historic record in 2011 by deporting over 400,000 illegal immigrants along with their family members. By putting these deportations into the overall context, it reveals that over half of illegal immigrants were involuntarily deported back to their home country. In sum, nearly 1.2 million have been deported in the last 4 years which would provide context into why immigration numbers have flattened in the last 4 years. Now, after considering these figures, the media’s conclusion that immigrants are giving up on the “American dream” maybe should more likely be rephrased… to, “America is giving up on the dream”

Still, the deportation numbers have led me to beg the question, has the slow down in immigration come off the heels in the lost hope of the “American Dream” or simply as a direct consequence of cultural evolution? My research leads me to believe that other factors played a role beyond historic deportation levels in the impact of migration slowdown from Mexico. Below I have listed a few other factors playing a role in the leveling out of migration from Mexico.

  • The cost and risks have risen
  • Demand for labor in the U.S. has fallen
  • Growth in Mexico’s labor force has slowed
  • Mexico’s society has seen a gradual decline in birthrates

An another interesting observation to identify has been the position CNN has taken on the immigration debate. Just like other media players, CNN as well has attempted to sell the notion that “Mexicans are giving up on the American dream It’s as if CNN is trying to claim that immigrants believed more in an illusion vs the reality. If immigrants are giving up on the American dream than our country has much more serious challenges than immigration debate.

Immigration has always been a top seller when it comes to positioning a provocative story but the digital trans-media world has taken it to the next level. While researching and gathering different perspectives for this post, I felt guided by my curiosity to understand the digital pulse on this debate via google’s search engine. The results were alarming … over 2 million results appeared in google within 0.25 seconds. Which leads me to reaffirm that the national debate about immigration may be top of mind on TV but it’s on steroids via the virtual world….

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In retrospect, after identifying some gaps in healthy perspective on the issue, I don’t believe that immigration has been given the right amount of thorough analysis it deserves. Yes, migration has slowed but not because the American dream is fading but because of socio-economic evolution. Mexico’s economy believe it or not is improving, birth rates are declining, Latinas are becoming more and more educated here and south of the border and deportations have seen a record breaking historic high in U.S. History. Combined, these factors are the reasons why migration is slowing…. or should we assert returning to normal…. which leads me to last concluding point and most important takeaway.

Despite migration from illegal Mexicans flattening out in recent years, legal Mexican travel north grew. According to data from the Mexican Migration Project, it indicates that the rate of undocumented emigration is nearing zero. Meanwhile legal migration rose through the roof: 517,000 Mexicans entered the United States as legal temporary workers in 2010, while 880,000 entered on business VISAS and 30,000 arrived as exchange visitors. In other words, Mexicans are coming to the United States to work as eagerly as ever, but they are doing so legally. This is a pretty compelling narrative and different perspective on immigration, leading me to conclude and agree with the New York Times article that identified this point of view that immigration from Mexico to the United States has returned to a healthy circular pattern.