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If any industry is likely to profit from the current turmoil
it will be our ICT industry. Our industry is based on change and innovation, and
in the past it has more than often been hampered by the conservative attitudes
of the vested interests and by the incumbency of old and archaic systems and
structures. The ICT industry thrives best in a disruptive environment, where
many aspects of the society and the economy are pushed to the brink and action
Those affected by the current turmoil (and who is not?)
should make change their objective and get on with the job. It should be seen
as an opportunity, not as a threat.
ICT is not the solution to the current problems, but none of the present problems
can be resolved without our industry, and we therefore will play a pivotal role
in the process of social and economic recovery.
The list of disruptive changes has never been so long and
so complex. It includes:
Shortage of people skills
Most governments accept that it is the infrastructure
projects that will form the basis of the economic stimulation packages, and
trillions of dollars will be poured into these. It is now up to our industry
to build strong cases to push ICT into the foreground of these new investments.
Global cooperation and collaboration are going to be essential to move forward;
we see this at the G7 and G20 summits, and also within our own environment. The
Obama Team has clearly indicated that it seeks international cooperation at all
levels and I am already very actively involved in the telecoms transformation
discussions that are taking place in the USA.
At a conference in Canberra last week Smart Grid Australia
decided that the activities taking place in America, Europe and Australia need
to be better integrated. In the utilities industry in particular pilot mania
has broken out, with virtually every energy utility around the globe testing
the same things with practically no collaboration and coordination.
It is crucial that we stop procrastinating, embrace
change and start moving forward.
This cannot be done without a genuine attempt by everyone
involved to work together, leaving aside past differences. Governments and
businesses need to combine their efforts as well - one thing that has become
clear is that regulations do have a place in promoting and protecting the
Some of the 'change' reports that we are discussing with
our American colleagues include:
Global - Investing in the Communications Revolution
"We feel that the audience in this channel
which is particularly women, is not often addressed this directly
by the automakers," says AOL spokeswoman Lori Dolginoff. The
travel category has also performed well - advertisers include
Spirit Airlines and Interacontinental Hotels. The home and
kitchen sections have outperformed some of the other areas on
Latino, she says.
Yahoo! targets Hispanics in the United
States primarily through Yahoo! En Español, although it also
sees traffic from U.S. Hispanics on its other sites - Yahoo!
Argentina, Mexico, and Spain. "We can slice-and-dice traffic to
all four individually or sell [in the] aggregate when we can,"
says Liz Sarachek, executive director of sales at Yahoo! En
Español. Sarachek points to a 10 percent annual increase in
Hispanics online as a sure sign that the Web is taking share from
other media. Offering the market a choice in Web sites is key,
she says, since not all Hispanics want everything in
"Out of 13.8 million Hispanics, English is
preferred by 7.6 million, and another 3.9 million are bilingual,"
Sarachek says. "Language really comes into play, and you have to
be cognizant of that when you're planning a marketing
Sarachek says Yahoo! portals offer a great
deal of entertainment content for Hispanic women like Launch En
Español, a dedicated music site. "We're seeing Hispanics
doing a lot of downloading and streaming of music and ring tones
online," she says. "A lot of these households now have broadband;
they're very tech-savvy. I think it's an undervalued market," she
The Players Sonora and Sarachek both say
that, while things have improved, getting advertisers to
rearrange their marketing plans to include a Hispanic component
is still a challenge.
"A lot of it right now is still educating
and evangelizing," Sarachek says. "It's an exciting time, the
buzz is out there and we're getting more Hispanic requests than
Sonora points to companies like Avon and
Sears as two that have done a good job awakening to the Hispanic
market reality particularly where women are concerned. "Sears has
turned the corner pretty much," she says, alluding to the fact
that the retailer runs Hispanic-targeted advertising, has
revamped the look of its stores and merchandise. Last fall, Sears
announced that nearly 100 of its stores would be revamped to
appeal more to "multicultural" shoppers. That included the
addition of new apparel brands with more crossover appeal, as
well as dedicated signage in markets known to have larger
Sonora says the signage issue is a big
deal; she expects to see more bilingual point-of-purchase
displays in the future. "Hispanic families shop as a unit," she
says. "You have to make sure grandmother can read [the signage]
as well as the teen daughter."
But quickie translations may not always cut
it, she cautions.
"Retailers have to take the tiny bit of
extra effort to use regional terms and know cultural
differences," Sonora says, using the example of the word "truck."
West of the Mississippi, it's troca; east of the Mississippi it's
camion. Marketers overlook such linguistic subtleties at their
own peril and risk alienating shoppers if they're not sensitive
to these realities.
Outlook Yahoo!'s Sarachek projects anywhere
from 25 percent to 50 percent growth in ad spending by marketers
targeting the diverse Hispanic marketplace; she estimates 10
percent to 20 percent annual growth for Hispanics
Sonora expects to see more companies "doing
their homework" to appeal to Hispanics and Hispanic women, in
particular. "Some of it, like what Sears is doing, is as simple
as the signage and using brighter colors and trendier fashions to
appeal to a diverse population," she says, adding that such overt
displays can inform the consumer about a broader corporate
The End of the Mass