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The Amazing Networked Society

Last week I attended Business of Design Week 2014 in Hong Kong, an annual conference featuring a diversity of creative, technological and strategic content. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality and there were some good presentations and a handful that were outstanding and thought provoking.

One in particular that got my attention was given by Fredrik Magnusson, Director of Brand, Design & Experiences from Ericsson. For many people when they see the name ‘Ericsson’ they think of mobile phones. Not unnatural since Ericsson was such a big player in the history of mobile telephony once dominated by Scandinavians in the days of 2G. But not today… Today Ericsson is not in the handset business. It is in the ‘Networked Society’ business, enabling change and change makers of every kind you can imagine.


In his presentation Fredrik showed how it took one hundred years to connect one billion phones, 25 years to connect five billion people, and by 2020 it will have taken just twelve and a half years to connect 50 billion devices. The key tenet of his presentation was to say that we have not even begun to imagine the possibilities for massive societal change for the good when the world is truly connected. The 'internet of things' is here.

Remarkable film

A problem for Ericsson no longer being in a business with a tangible product you can touch, is how to design a mental image of connectivity and all it can do. The company has made a remarkable brand film to do just that. It is cleverly designed in that the base film is under three minutes long but contains elements from 61 cases that illustrate the amazing possibilities that can be entertained once you imagine the immensity of the networked society that is emerging. The clever bit is being able to pause the film at any point and in the window below you can then dig deeper into a case with another short film just about that. It could be anything from bringing internet to remote mountain villages in Nepal to a DJ asking his fans to contribute to his next single.

Understanding the possibilities of the ‘Networked Society’ could lead to extraordinary improvements in everything from medical services in remote parts of Africa to a 75% reduction in the number of journeys by bin lorries if each day a route is worked out automatically that enables crews to only collect full bins with huge efficiency savings and reduction in environmental impact.

Take a look at the film on the Ericsson website here.

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