Perhaps one of the best business decisions of my life has been to voluntarily answer questions on one of the Google help forums. Some years ago, I recall my wife looking at me and saying: “Why are you spending so much time doing something that doesn’t pay you a cent?” She was correct, in that I can get obsessed with things and sometimes lose touch with the main issue for distractions.
(As a rather glaring and bad example, my business was faltering with an ill-managed international expansion, but I was spending far too much time exploring the mechanics of the Aeroplan program. Sure, we saved some travel dollars but I might have done better observing and correcting the disturbing negative trends in both sales and client satisfaction. Yes, I corrected the business problems, but almost too late. The Aeroplan knowledge is still handy, but thankfully consumes much less of my energy.)
The Google story has turned out to be somewhat different, however. In this case, I have ended up with moderator or “Top Contributor” status, and this includes annual expense paid meet-ups and summits, where I learn much about what is going on, all subject to a Non Disclosure Agreement. Enough years have passed so I can see matters discussed under NDA reaching public access — in some cases, the information and resulting implementation has had a span of four to six years.
I’d violate the NDA to directly explain what had learned about early, but can say there are powerful trends in artificial intelligence and mobile communication that anyone in the AEC world should take seriously. In a practical marketing sense, consider this advice: Think about the implications of mobile/tablet devices, social media, video and their integration with much more traditional one-on-one and personal communication and connections. Times are changing.