Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Gerd Leonhard interview: Embrace user empowerment or fail

Gerd Leonhard, the well-known media futurist and CEO of The Futures Agency, took the time to talk to CI just before heading to Hong Kong for the CI World Congress.

At the world’s biggest consumer activists’ gathering, he will be speaking about “consumer empowerment in a networked society: opportunities, challenges and future scenarios,” and he gave us a taster:

“Basically, the entire world is becoming networked via mobile devices, social media, video, and location-based offerings. The 'other three billion' are coming online at a blinding pace, and with connectivity comes not just a rise in GDP, but also a drastic rise in empowerment. Connected people behave differently, communicate differently, buy differently, learn differently and 'vote with a click' on their device.

Learning process

“Content companies, governments, businesses of all sizes and sectors, technology platforms, media companies and entertainment providers must adapt to this rapid change: participate or be participated. Engage or… whither. But then again, 'the people formerly known as consumers' must also start to understand the new responsibilities that come with new powers - and we are still very early in this learning process. As Marshall McLuhan said, the global village is not about peace, harmony and quiet, but about deep involvement and discussion.”

See the full list of speakers at Consumers International World Congress

Those who don’t go with the flow will fail, according to Leonhard: “I will talk about why all businesses (and organisations or governments) that don't embrace and facilitate user empowerment will fail (with very exceptions). Closed systems are nearly impossible in a networked society as they are parasitic (mostly), and eventually just get pushed out as 'damage'.”

Inspiring Congress

Gerd Leonhard will not be in Hong Kong just to give his insights; he hopes to get something out of this unique event for himself too: “I hope to learn from all of them and expand my horizon, see some inspiring speakers and personalities, connect.”

As for the delegates themselves, he thinks that his presentation, and the event more generally, will help them “get inspiration, encouragement and some key foresights that will make them take action; releasing some viruses, really”.

See the full Consumers International World Congress Programme

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