Celebrating 30 years of World Wide Web

History of the Digital Revolution

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century led to enormous increases in population, expansion of cities, and a boom in technology. Tremendous wealth was created by some; however, remarkable hardship was felt by others as mechanization eliminated their jobs. The real winners were the entrepreneurs who capitalized on the emerging technologies to create products, solutions, and services that did not exist before. With technological advancement, productivity increased, leading to decreased reliance on expensive human labor. Then came the Jet Age, the Atomic Age, and the Space Age. All of these were part of the Second Industrial Revolution, and each created tremendous wealth for a privileged few. For millions of others, it meant new competition and, eventually, obsoletion.

In the 1980s, a shift began from traditional industry to an economy based on the manipulation and exchange of data and information. Whereas the Industrial Revolution created tremendous wealth by allowing the mass production of goods, the Digital Revolution, referred to as the “Third Industrial Revolution” by some, has created an even greater opportunity to generate wealth.

Here are a few examples of how far we have come over the past 20-30 years:

• Vinyl records gave way to CDs, then MP3s, and now to streaming audio.

• The VHS tape gave way to the DVD and Blu-ray, and now to streaming video.

• Payphones gave way to cell phones (Motorola created the first mobile phone in 1983).

• Dial up Internet gave way to high-speed digital cable.

• The typewriter gave way to the computer.

• Mail evolved to the facsimile, then to email.

• Film photography transitioned to digital photography.

• In 1993, the World Wide Web was released to the public, and by 1996, the Internet was part of the mainstream consciousness. Many businesses listed websites in their ads.

• By 1999, almost every country in the world had an Internet connection, and more than half of Americans used the Internet on a regular basis.

After revolutionizing society in the developed world in the 1990s, the digital revolution spread to the developing world in the 2000s

YearCell Phone SubscribersInternet Users
199012.4 million2.8 million
20001.1 billion631 million
20104 billion1.8 billion

Hence, industry is becoming more information-intensive and less labor-and capital-intensive. This means that more and more traditional barriers to success in business are being removed.

According to the World Economic Forum, we are witnessing:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution emerge in a series of waves: the digital consumer, who enjoys more interactive and personalized experiences thanks to SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) technologies; the digital enterprise, which leverages SMAC technologies to optimize the cost of corporate functions and to transform enterprise collaboration for greater productivity; and the emerging digital operations wave, where  companies are truly revolutionizing business with the use of artificial intelligence, robotics, cognitive computing and the Industrial Internet of Things.

Fueling Newness to your brand…Lacoste paving the way

Rebranding is a risky business… A very risky one…However, it might be highly needed to sustain your presence on the red carpet of business.

Most successful companies ranging from startups to those enlisted on the Fortune 500 have had rebranding attempts. Companies might realize that they need to strengthen their perception in the eyes of their consumers and to keep up with the new heights they have reached. The current brand might not be compatible with the sought identity. A very important point to consider is the new demographic target you need to hit. When talking about the apparel industry, millennials have proven to love the athleisure segment which many glamorous brands haven’t established yet. This in addition to emergence of new competition, technological shifts or taste trends justifies and urges top brands to fuel newness…Otherwise, obsolescence is the fate. 

Accused of confusing messaging over whether it’s a fashion brand or an athletic wear brand, driven by enthusiasm to stay relevant, Lacoste started a strategy of fueling newness to its brand. Thierry Guibert who was appointed as a new CEO in the year 2015 says that “Lacoste was, some years ago, considered an old-fashioned brand, like your father wore Lacoste”. This justifies the need to be more urban, cooler and more casual to better appeal to the young guys and to the native digital citizens.

Lacoste faces a challenge of being chic enough to be desired and available enough to be accessible. Very lucrative combination to be achieved. From a critical perspective, Lacoste accessibility strategy had some flaws which raised a red flag. Lacoste was over present and more is less for a differentiated brand. This overexposure is considered a misguided attempt to be a fashion brand.

Driven by image elevation and bringing sales back to their own stores by eliminating less-expensive alternatives, Lacoste pulled out of many of its department-store doors, including Macy’s and Nordstrom locations.

To maintain its edge and to make better appeal to the new generation, Lacoste has done the following rebranding attempts:

Lacoste Joins Influencer Marketing Strategies via the legendary tennis player Novak Djokovic who is known for the values of sporting elegance, fair play and determination which he shares with the founder of Lacoste Rene’ Lacoste.

Lacoste has transacted its distinctive crocodile logo for one of 10 threatened animal species on a series of limited-edition polo shirts, designed to bring attention to the global state of biodiversity. The French brand made 1,775 polo shirts in total which corresponds to the number of individuals known to remain in the wild. This change happens for the first time in the brand’s history. The socially responsible purpose is saving our species.

Lacoste has given its buyers the chance to express their style and customize their polos with the croc, colors and initials of their choice. The customer is the playmaker.

Lacoste and Disney celebrated their milestones together. The prominent crocodile-logo-adorned tennis brand observes its 85th anniversary, while Disney celebrates the 90th anniversary of its charming Mickey and Minnie Mouse. So both brands eventually joined forces to create an anniversary collection of their own putting their iconic figures together… The result according to many fashion lovers was Pure magic!

Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag, who are a design duo and award-winning French art created a two-tone geometric alphabet to reinterpret the legendary crocodile and create pieces targeting the youth.

Lacoste announced recently that British fashion designer Louise Trotter will join the brand as its new Creative Director. This appointment marks a historic milestone for Lacoste as Louise will be the first female creative head in the brand’s history. Louise is eager about writing a new chapter in its history of the brand

Rebranding, uplifting or even reinventing your brand can be your panacea to maintain your glamour and edge. It is a very challenging task since your identity might be jeopardized. Lacoste has done it right so far with a driving force of fueling newness. Brand Manager Fred Abou Adal tells our blog that fueling newness can be through a strategy of changing the perception of an old item. He adds:

“Fueling newness is essential for any brand in order to constantly attract customers and especially Millenials. Lacoste’s winning strategy to renew the image of its iconic Polo has been through storytelling, giving this timeless item a strong heritage to the younger generations.”

When asked about Lacoste’s strategy, Haifa Najjar who is communication manager of Holdal Group, the distributor of Lacoste in Lebanon, says that targeting young consumers who look for chic uniqueness and promoting feminine styles to match “On the Go” needs was a smart positioning direction. Haifa adds:

“This also comes in line with Holdal’s vision to keep up with the market fast-moving needs and trends.”

Why I decided To Blog

One of the virtues of teaching is that it instills in you the love of sharing knowledge. Eleven years of academic life have put me in direct contact with more than 10 thousand students at five different universities. Seventeen years of professional life have endowed me with the prerequisites of being an authority in my field. During this journey, I myself was learning and experimenting my knowledge with a generation which has witnessed the digital revolution and another one which has witnessed the SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) revolution. Year after year, I have noticed that the mode of grasping knowledge is on continuous change and the life cycle of information is being shorter than ever. One of the paramount challenges in my academic career is speaking the language of the digital citizens who will soon be admitted to universities and making a change in the mindset of the older generation to keep pace with the trends without compromising the quality of knowledge.

As a student, I have discovered what it takes to be a boring professor and I decided to take a different path. I have discovered that students do not identify or feel engaged when being passive learners and when being bombarded solely with theories. Hence, besides being an academician, I decided to be a practitioner. I was keen about putting a rich experience on the table. Being a “practademician” is my cutting edge. Speaking the language of the current generation is indispensable. While accumulating my experience at different fronts ranging from university teaching, working with several UN bodies, consulting private and public sector major players, writing a best seller book and investing in research, my profile became more appealing and sought after. This has created interest to different stakeholders to invite me to talk at top national, regional and international conferences and summits, deliver workshops and organize events which have become the talk of the town. When invited to TV interviews, the content I provide and the mode of delivery receive a very positive feedback. My academic experience dictates on me being a lifelong learner which gives my professional life an added value. The outreach of this combination has become wider. My digital presence has augmented and has injected more enthusiasm on my side to maintain this added value and to keep on sharing knowledge and engaging my followers.

Starting a blog has always been an idea which knocked my door but I wasn’t welcoming because I know the commitment and consistency it requires. Today, I feel ready more than ever and I don’t want to deprive myself of the bigger reach I can attain via blogging and neither do I want to keep my ideas to myself in this Knowledge based economy.

Leveraging on the aforementioned, hasanyouness.com will be my new blog which resembles me; a true representation of what I do and what I speak of. It will include topics related to business trends, sustainability, branding, PR and marketing, communication and business etiquette among a plethora of topics. I will be analytical in some blogs, narrative in others and critical when required. When talking about some trends, I will show case interviews with the trend setters and the leading business people in a particular industry. I will capitalize on my excellent network with the business community to share exclusive material on top brands and the people behind them. My appearances in the leading events will be archived and shared with you in the aim of creating interaction and exchanging some insights and probing others.

A new platform is being created today. I pledge on making it unique, authentic and original. I rely on your interaction and on the content that you will create. At the end, I am blogging not lecturing…

It takes two to blog.

Why Trends of Business?

I have always perceived the marketplace as a glamorous red carpet. Stepping on this carpet requires being trendy in order to capture the spotlight and trigger the camera flashes. Being photogenic and appealing cannot be taken for granted; it requires gigantic efforts, which, once exerted, make you glow. In the marketplace, the glow is the edge or added value a company creates with respect to rivals.

When your rivals are numerous and the competition is fierce, your spot on the red carpet is always jeopardized. The glory of the past won’t help you in sustaining your market share since your global competitors are becoming more innovative and entrepreneurial each day, and the consumers you have spoiled have gained unprecedented bargaining power. The only possible solution for keeping your glamour is keeping pace with the new trends of business. You ought to keep pace, or else you would become obsolete, old fashioned, and incompatible with the requirements of the carpet on which you have chosen to tread.

A pattern of gradual change in a condition, output, or process is what defines a trend. Since the needs, wants, preferences, and tastes of consumers are constantly changing, following the pattern of trend change is not optional. Out of the dozens of trends prevailing, I think that the most impactful ones are the following:

  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • Digital media and Big Data
  • The Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship (appreneurship, social entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship)
  • Leadership in its new forms
  • Marketing in its new forms
  • Trends of management, finance, and marketing, among some other select trends.

These trends shape the market mechanism and future careers, determining the products and services we consume (including the food we eat, the coffee we sip, the music we listen to, etc).

In brief, these trends sculpt our lifestyle. These trends have an impact on all the particularities of our lives and on corporate sustainability or obsolescence.

Today, the topic is more timely, crucial, and interdisciplinary than ever. Talking about these different trends will prove the point of this book and will make the red carpet more appealing. What about being trendy? Is there another choice?

Leadership in an Uncertain Environment: The Case of Fouad Zmokhol

Performing the basic managerial functions might be within the ability of any individual who climbs the organizational ladder. However, exhibiting the ability to lead is exclusive to the select few who can stand out and have an impact. Some environments impose more challenges on leaders, especially those fraught with uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity. Lebanon is par excellence one of those countries passing through constant turmoil, and Dr. Fouad Zmokhol is one among the few who were able to survive, adjust, and grow in such an environment. President of the Lebanese Businessmen Association for six consecutive years, CEO and founder of successful businesses, and a professor of management and entrepreneurship at several universities, Zmokhol says that leadership is an integral part of all the roles he assumes, even as a father.

Being left with the responsibility of running a business after the death of his father at the age of 19 and being faced with the challenge of sustaining and growing this business made entrepreneurship an integral part of his soul. “Such a challenge accelerated my entry into adulthood and triggered my sense of self-actualization,” Zmokhol says. Dr. Zmokhol finds that living a life of leadership is necessary to be a good academic, nurture a family, have an impact on the public sector, and grow a business diversified in terms of both geography and products and services. He quotes Lao Tzu who says, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say,‘we did it ourselves.’” Gaining acceptance and being trusted are prerequisites for exercising your leadership style.

Zmokhol adds that flexibility and agility are highly required in an environment characterized by uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity. “My strategy is built on clear objectives. It starts with where we are now and where we want to be at a certain point in time, based on the tangible and intangible assets we have.” People are the primary assets, according to Zmokhol.  He emphasizes that strategies can fluctuate based on the environment, but direction shouldn’t. With such an environment, your style of leadership should be based on being responsive and adaptive.

Zmokhol, whose company is a major player in the printing and leather industries in Lebanon, and who owns diversified businesses abroad, says that Lebanon is a business laboratory. Through this lab, one can test their rivals, other people, and the uncertainties one faces.  Zmokhol believes in a “3 Ds Strategy”. The first “D” stands for the development of oneself, other people, and one’s products. The second “D” is diversification based on the opportunities that emerge and should be seized. As for the third “D”, it is delegation. Talking about delegation, Dr. Zmokhol believes in distributed leadership based on the fact that a leader creates leaders who might emerge from any hierarchical level based on the power of knowledge, innovation, and expertise. Based on this belief, Zmokhol deals with his team after gaining their trust and acceptance.

Walking the talk is very challenging with the temptation of abusing power always looming large. However, the success story of Zmokhol in all the areas in which he is involved and his being looked up to as an exemplar of practicing what he preaches makes him a true and influential young leader.

Onlivery: A leading Lebanese Appreneurial Story

Like any other startup, Onlivery’s main trigger was the massive need that was in the market. Everyone was caught up in the old traditional food ordering tools, facing the same question day by day when lunchtime strikes, “what’s for lunch today?”

Although almost everyone says they want to try something new every once in a while, the problem is that a lot of people don’t even have the needed information required to try out new places, be it about nearby restaurants that deliver to where they’re at, restaurants’ price range, cuisine type, or any other prerequisite for any customer to take this leap of faith and try out something new.

There, the Onlivery Guys saw a need! And their main objective was, still is, and will always be to fulfill this need and help every Onlivery user to have all the needed information available whenever, wherever.

Providing convenience, Onlivery’s main USP as a concept is not only limited to instant access to hundreds of up-to-date menus whenever needed, but also providing a tool where customers can hand over their “food ordering mission” to someone else.

“Without knowing it, every time you order food, you’re on a mission; Onlivery makes sure your whole mission is taken care of; every time… From A to Z,” says Abed Majzoub, COO of Onlivery.

It starts from searching for menus, figuring out if the needed restaurant delivers to your location, getting the restaurant’s phone number, calling the restaurant, which will most likely take a lot of time as restaurants’ lines are almost always busy, until at last you order and have your food delivered to you. Order your food online and leave the rest to us!

Although they do provide an easier way for people to order food, yet they are changing trends and breaking habits.

“One of the hardest challenges we opt to face is getting people to step out of their comfort zones and try this new ordering tool! Our main challenge is to get people to shift from a tool they’ve been using ever since they started ordering food to a tool introduced newly to the market; Overcoming this is our main challenge,” says Daniel Kofdrali, CEO of Onlivery. Kofdrali, one of the leading appreneurs in Lebanon, developed this friendly and innovative application that is available on the mobile phones of more than 200,000 users, with a great monthly increase in the number of users and market value. “Enhancing user’s offering, convenience and geographies” is the next milestone according to Kofdrali.

A Lebanese success story founded by an appreneur who has resigned from leading positions in MNCs and resisted the temptations of stability and steady paycheck to implement his vision, talking with Kofdrali, you immediately discover that many ideas are being cooked and a serial entrepreneur is being born.

Nicolas Sehnaoui: Guru of the Lebanese Digital Economy

An entrepreneur by nature and a change catalyst who aims at creating and pivoting ecosystems capable of accelerating the sought change, he assumed several position in the private and public sectors, leaving the numbers to speak on his behalf. Nicolas Sehnaoui served as the Minister of Telecommunications of the Republic of Lebanon between June 2011 and February 2014. He successfully upgraded Lebanon’s telecommunications infrastructure, rolling out 3G and 4G, securing redundancy on international connectivity, launching a national Fiber Optic Backbone and Beirut Digital District, to name only a few of his accomplishments.

His efforts were crowned by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union that ranked Lebanon in the first place regarding progress out of 157 countries in the 2012 ICT Development Index, all while reducing Internet and mobile costs by over 80%. By June 2013, with the infrastructure well on its way to recovery, Sehnaoui turned his attention to Lebanon’s knowledge economy, more specifically its digital economy. While actively working on elevating the entrepreneurial spirit in the digital economy, Sehnaoui was instrumental in the lobbying that helped bring about Banque du Liban Circular 331, a groundbreaking $400 million equity investment guarantee initiative that transformed Lebanon’s banks into VC-oriented institutions. He now chairs the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, a Banque du Liban and UK Embassy common initiative that aims at creating a corridor between Lebanon and England to allow Lebanese Information and Communication Technology (ICT) entrepreneurs to access the world supply chain through the London platform.

Listing the achievements of the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, Sehnaoui says,

We have contributed to the creation of 138 new jobs, $7.4 million additional revenues to the companies we supported in 2015 and 2016. Our accelerated companies have secured $4.4 million in funding and additional Investment. Our workshops, events and signposting services have helped 482 companies and 1,338 individuals, between professionals and students.

 Sehnaoui helped in internationalizing Lebanon’s entrepreneurial momentum. The Hub helped to engage sixty key members of the diaspora, acted as Lebanon’s National Team for the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and ran nationwide surveys as per the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) methodology. Sehnaoui proudly says that the GEM index for 2015 identified Lebanon as one of the top 20 entrepreneurial countries in the world.

 “Our ecosystem is beginning to be noticed on the global map and I am confident it will soon shine like a beacon of success, which brings a lot of joy and satisfaction to the teams of the many enabling entities working relentlessly to make it happen,” he adds. With the aforementioned infrastructural changes, Lebanon aims to become the tech gateway of the Middle East. A blueprint has been prepared to create 25,000 ICT jobs and a $7 billion boost to GDP by 2025. Lebanon is identified by its huge growth potential in financial technology (FinTech), well-being (healthcare, fitness and food lifestyle), and retail “visualization” technology. Finally, since its establishment in 2012, the Beirut Digital District has nurtured a generation of tech entrepreneurs. The tech sector, which has grown 8% a year, has been labeled the “Silicon Valley of the Middle East.”

Rima Frangieh: An Avant-Gardiste in Social Responsibility

A new chapter in her life started in the year 2003. After a media career which introduced the audience to a charming lady, a U-turn in the life of Rima Karkafi took place back then after she officially became Rima Frangieh. Being married to one of the major political players in Lebanon and being a celebrity in her own right, the camera could not get enough of her, and anything related to her became an instant hit that was eaten up by the voracious media. Frangieh wanted to leverage on these factors to unveil her socially responsible character in a marginalized Lebanese region.

Believing in the organic approach and having faith in the enthusiasm and innovative ideas of the youth of the north, Frangieh decided to create a spontaneous think-tank or a series of brain storming sessions with five hundred fresh graduates whose interests varied but who all had ideas that would contribute to changing the status quo of their northern hometowns. The graduates were divided into groups based on their fields of specialization and interests, and they set out to answer Frangieh’s intriguing question, “how can I make things better?”

The different ideas that materialized were gathered under the umbrella of a newly developed NGO, “Al-Midan.” This NGO covers a wide array of activities, and since its emergence, many innovative ideas and initiatives have popped up.

Another very well branded program that aims to celebrate life was the Ehdeniyat International Festival. This festival focuses on developing rural areas, attracting more tourists to the fabulous area of Ehden, and bringing people together around music, in addition to introducing culture and art to the region. All the profits of this festival go to different humanitarian causes in Lebanon. Ehdeniyat 2016 was a green festival introducing the 3,500 attendees of every concert to sorting at the source.

Cinemaiyat, a student film festival that started out of Frangieh’s belief in the cinema as an industry in general, and in the Lebanese talent in the seventh art, which, according to her, can “charm the world.”

Christmas by the Lake Festival is one of the initiatives to celebrate the Christmas season around the astonishing lake of Bnachii. The Christmas tree of the year 2015 was voted as the sixth most beautiful tree around the world. This is accompanied by initiatives like “Let’s Green,” an environmental program that spreads environmental awareness, implements ecological projects, and initiates environmental practices. For instance, sorting at the source will start September 2016 in twelve villages, targeting 1,700 households and 300 commercial institutions over a period of six months to implement the concept of waste management. The North Autism Center (NAC), which is a specialized autism educational center, is an indispensable initiative that started after an assessment of the needs of the region. Besides raising awareness in the north and all over Lebanon, a new milestone in the center is launching a sensory gym that kids with autism could benefit from in unprecedented ways.

When asked about the networking efforts that take place between NGOs and corporations, Frangieh considered that a lot more could be done, as this kind of synergy is not mature yet. This does not negate the fact that there are a few networks established with embassies, international NGOs, ministries, and some corporations, in addition to the sponsorship provided by some banks and companies to the big festivals and events or even to the above-mentioned sensory gym. “However, the present needs require further networking,” says Frangieh. Listing some examples about this kind of cooperation, Frangieh mentioned the partnership with Grand Cinemas that opened its cinematic theaters for three weeks for screening the winning film in Cinemaiyat’s competition, supporting the talent of Lebanese fresh graduates on the national level. “Let’s Green” is collaborating with local and international NGOs and receiving grants from international donors such as LRI, which is funded by USAID, and Mercy Corps, which is funded by Ukaid.

Rima Frangieh has become an exemplar in Lebanon for starting innovative social initiatives that have an impact. Such initiatives can be even more impactful when NGOs rub elbows with corporations, who, in their turn, have solid CSR programs. Such cooperation is indispensable to offset the government’s deficient role and to soothe the needs of many communities.

Communication: Hillary Clinton in Action

This present case study intends to focus on Hillary Clinton as one sample of how social media is being utilized to communicate on a large scale in our world today. It aims to show how the Clinton campaign perceives itself and how views its rivals when it comes to social media, regardless of whether this self-perception has always been echoed in the views of the target audience.

 The rivalry between the Republicans and Democrats in the race for the American presidency has been manifesting itself in the virtual and the real worlds alike.  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both rely on social media to appeal to American voters while promoting themselves and offending one another in a very well-established social media strategy.

Jenna Lowenstein, digital director for the Clinton campaign, works with a team of more than 100 content creators and social media strategists. The campaign closely follows the debates, appearances, and political stances of Clinton, as well as her counterarguments to the very controversial Trump.

The heated tweets between the two sides reached their peak when Hillary tweeted, asking Trump to “[d]elete your account.” At the time of this writing (July 2016), the tweet had gained 636,000 likes and 482,000 retweets. Her tweet, which was seen around the world, was only one of the most viral examples of her newly adopted aggressive strategy to take the 2016 fight directly to Donald Trump on his favorite social media platform. Lowenstein says the tweet reflects the efforts of a talented staff of writers who love the art of riffing—and know how to cultivate a voice on the Internet.

The social media efforts of Hillary’s campaign aim to bring forth donations, volunteers, and voter turnout. In July 2016, the campaign launched a Spanish-language website and Twitter account, a Facebook Live of staffers reading the case names of more than 5,500 lawsuits associated with Trump, a Snapchat filter trolling the Republican National Convention, and a social media tool called “Trump Yourself” that allows users to overlay Trump’s most controversial statements on their Facebook profile photos.

Even the “Trump Yourself” tool—a smart way to produce user-generated content with an oppositional message—captured demographic data and email addresses. In a few weeks, TrumpYourself.org had been viewed 1.2 million times by 800,000 unique visitors, half of whom imported their photos to the website.

 “What we’re seeing is a shift toward political attention being driven by social sharing processes. I think the Clinton campaign is very clearly aware of these new dynamics and has worked very hard to be on many different platforms,” says Daniel Kreiss, associate professor in the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

When content is not directly written or assigned by Clinton, Lowenstein’s team channels her personality by focusing on their candidate’s values, sense of humor, and communication style, which is direct and to the point.

“There are two ways to get compelling content out on social media,” Clinton’s campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in an interview. “One is to be over the top, insulting, and saying outrageous things—otherwise known as the Trump strategy. And one is to be fair, accurate, targeted, and informative. That’s very much what we’re doing.”

In any case, these two viral campaigns leave the world with two critical questions. Does media generated by campaigns come at the expense of traditional media outlets? Does the candidate who wins on Twitter and other social media platforms win in reality? The results would definitely be an indicator of the extent to which the real and the virtual have become intertwined!