Sure, the Oxford English Dictionary declared post-truth the word of 2016. Our take? There’s no doubt that the post-truth analysis is serving a useful purpose right now. But post-truth doesn’t change the global, rapid and epicly powerful onward march towards a future of ever more reliable, useful, instantly accessible information. The future is still truth. Or, more specifically, transparency!

You already know that in 2017, the default setting is: ‘why can’t I know everything about this government body/institution/brand?’ Billions, yes billions, of people worldwide expect to find out pretty much anything they want to know, often instantly. And that includes anything about you.

In a recent survey of over 10,000 consumers from around the world, 78% of consumers said it is ‘somewhat or very important for a company to be transparent.’ And 70% said that ‘these days I make it a point to know more about the companies I buy from’ (Havas, February 2016).

We don’t need to spend long on the deep driver here. Just take a moment to consider that over half of all humans now use a smartphone.

It’s not as if people just have access to a smartphone. Usage is increasing dramatically. In fact, global monthly data traffic topped 7 billion exabytes at the end of 2016. And no, we didn’t know what an exabyte was either. It’s a billion gigabytes. That means the average smartphone uses 1.9 gigabytes of mobile data a month. Insane, right? Fueled by this, the truth that is transparency is going nowhere.

One tiny fragment of this connectivity-fueled hyper-transparency? Peer reviews. Yep. Sure, trend people like us and you were talking about them back in, what, 2005? But look at the growth of peer reviews on Yelp in just the last couple of years. It took Yelp two and a half years to get to its first 1 million reviews. In the last year and a quarter, 10 million reviews were posted. Peer reviews are only really taking off now, and there’s plenty of road left to run.

So how to ground your next innovation in the epic truth that is transparency? Here’s some food for thought to take back to your team…


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Four quick thoughts on how to respond to the extreme transparency you’re now faced with:

– Your internal processes, culture and values are public property – and part of your brand. Just ask Uber ;)

– Speak the language of your consumers: fast, actionable, informal. Because they have way too much information to deal with information that’s irrelevant or impractical.

– Connect consumers to their peers, because they trust the information they get from them more than that from you.

– Think expansively. The expectation that you should embrace transparency towards your customers is established. But are you making everything in their lives more transparent? Including those things that aren’t even thought of as opaque…until you shine a light on them. It’s not just Google’s responsibility!