The Tough Side Of Tech – Knowing When To Call It

Have you heard of X – the moonshot factory?

X is a diverse group of inventors and entrepreneurs who build and launch technologies that aim to improve the lives of people around the globe. A division of Google LLC, founded in 2010, they take a creative and people-centred approach to the objectives and processes of a traditional corporate research lab.

For example, the Loon Project at X set out to change the world’s internet connectivity problem – the fact that the internet has become such an integral part of the daily lives of many, but still only half the planet is connected seemed like a problem they could solve. And they had just the the idea – weather balloons.

The Loon Project encountered many challenges. They had to build a robust prototype that could survive harsh atmospheric conditions, they had to find a way to launch the balloon safely and quickly and they had to help it navigate the stratosphere, sailing the places it is most needed.

They also achieved some astonishing firsts!

In 2013 they enlisted the help of some friendly New Zealanders who were the first in the world to connect to the internet via a stratospheric balloon.
In 2017 they navigated balloons to the disaster regions in Peru and Puerto Rico where critical ground infrastructure was knocked out and provided emergency connectivity to hundreds of thousands of people.
In 2020, Loon and partners launched the world’s first internet-via-balloon service to unserved regions of Kenya.

Despite their wins the Loon Project was discontinued in 2021. But their progress is all recorded in The Loon Collection – a catalog of Loon’s technical, operational, and scientific insights which will help future projects build on their noble goal.

Just as marketers, brand managers and SME owners are faced with overwhelming tasks that we do our best to tackle, sometimes, like the Loon Projects, we just need to gather what we’ve learned and fall back. Go back to the drawing board so that we can live to fight another day.

Even the execution does not go as planned that does not mean that the idea was a bad one. Good ideas and innovative practices are often ahead of their time. Here, we need to to remember the importance of record keeping. Every campaign needs to start with a goal, we will record how we plan to achieve that goal, watch carefully and record why our methods didn’t work.

All the work we do will live on, not only to achieve the overall goals of our brand, our company and our team, but the marketing industry as a whole. These technology advancements are coming at us from all angles, so we need to keep up with the changing world and apply it to our own objectives.

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