November 18, 2012
Sprinklr's e-Book of 30 Essays on "Social at Scale”
The eBook provides advice from social media leaders on how to scale social media in the enterprise world.
I was invited to participate with 29 others, including Rohit Bhargava, Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan, Jason Falls, Joseph Jaffe, David Meerman Scott, David Armano, Peter Shankman, Mack Collier, Michael Brito, Jay Baer, Edward Boches, Nilofer Merchant, Ted Coine, David Weinberger, Shelly Palmer, Mark Earls, Augie Ray, Brett Petersel, Ted Rubin, Sarah Evans, Jeff Bullas, Amy Vernon, Matt Dickman, Thomas Baekdal, Venkatesh Rao, Richard Stacy, Hugh MacLeod, and Doc Searls. Sprinklr termed the group the “Social Media Dream Team”. Go figure.
Aside from insights, there are also tips, useful checklists and a “readiness assessment.” Download the ebook here.
October 08, 2012
Don't Die a Slow Death in a Mountain of Business Cards: Try inTooch!
When I learn about new products or services, these are my two go to questions: would I use this today and does this solve a real problem that I've had for awhile?
When inTooch co-founder and CEO Julien Salanon gave me his pitch and suggested we work together, I was at first skeptical about their promise: to eliminate the business card problem.
While it's too early to tell since there are so many variables in this business not to mention human behavior, as a fellow entrepreneur, I couldn't help but be intrigued by his idea. And besides, Julien has one of those personalities that is impossible not to like.
He shared a story with me as we sipped tea at one of my favorite haunts in San Francisco's SOMA. Nearly ten years ago, he was at an important conference and forgot his business cards and a result, important connections were lost.
Over the last decade, he said that he tried several apps to solve this business-card issue, but none of them worked. They still don't. Don't even get me started with BUMP btw, an app that peer pressure forced me to download yet it only worked one out of ten times I tried it. And, frankly, the whole concept of crashing two phones together doesn't quite gel with me.
Julien said, "whenever I didn't have a business card or they didn't, I ended up calling the other person to leave my mobile number. And, that’s when I got the idea to enhance those natural connections with inTooch.”
While I may not call every person I meet at a conference, when I do meet someone I want to stay in touch with and we don't have a pen or card, what happens? They call me so the number is saved in my phone. What I don't have in that scenario of course is their name or email automatically, but it's a process that works in a pinch.
inTooch takes it a step further allowing you to email or call them on the fly which automatically sends a link: this link is the conduit which allows that exchange of information to happen. The beautiful part about the app and why it stands a strong chance of taking off, is that both parties don't need to have the app to work.
Intrigued that perhaps I'd soon have a client with a product I'd ACTUALLY USE, I decided to be the evil dragonness to avoid any surprises later on, so I started drilling him with questions.
What about categorization I asked? Not in the first version he said, but it's coming. What about social networks? Built in he said. What about privacy and personalization? Built in he said. Hmm, I wanted categories of course given that I have nearly 100,000 contacts in my database, but also realize that I'm not your average Nelly when it comes to contact management.
As my friend Steve said, "you're not normal, you're in the business of needing to mate with the world. In fact, you love to mate with the world." I had to laugh. He's right. I love meeting people and no one seems to come home from an event with more business cards than I do.
AND, he said, the ability to add contacts to categories is coming. They already have the ability to separate personal and business contacts.
I'm a realist. Anyone who works with early start-ups needs to be a realist. Rome wasn't build in a day and most apps when they first go to market don't have every single detail or feature you want built in in their first version. As long as the team has it on the roadmap or thinking about it, it's good enough to give it a shot. If we didn't trust that process, real innovation wouldn't happen and we wouldn't be where we are today.
Unlike so many social apps that are Web 2.0 features rather than solutions to problems, I thought to myself, "inTooch would actually take care of a huge pain point in my life."
And so, we embarked on a journey in early September. Forward wind the clock. Julien took People's Choice Award at GigaOm's Mobilize in mid-September when he pitched a panel of VCs on stage.
Then, he officially launched inTooch on the DEMO Stage on October 3 with Dave Mathews in an amusing skit that included the duo tossing 2,000 business cards into the DEMO audience as they shouted FREEDOM, FREEDOM, FREEDOM.
At one point, I thought Julien might start dancing when the music came on. OR, maybe it was one of those Halleluja moments.
Consider this: did you realize that of all the people you meet at a conference or even in a personal situation, you won't stay in touch with 85% of them? Without sounding too trite - inTooch to the rescue.
Trust me, I want to be rescued and I think most of us do. I can't keep up with the volume of contacts and there are always people to want to follow up with and just don't have the time. There are also people's contact information I'm trying to locate months later and realized I didn't have time to enter their data.
There are 4 cool features I personally love about the app:
1. The Mobile Geo-Location Piece: since I travel a lot, I often think about people (and their faces) based on 'where' I met them. Oh yeah, that was John who I met at this festival in Louisville Kentucky, or that was Jeannie something and we hung out at CES in Las Vegas. Using geo-tagging, inTooch lets you search for people by location and their photo appears as well to jog your memory. Sweet!
2. Seamless/Fast: additionally, if I don't want to call the person or they don't want me to, I can shoot them an email and the inTooch connector still works. The other cool thing is that both parties don't need the app for the exchange to happen. Obviously the process is even faster if both people DO have the app, so I'd encourage everyone to download the app. Let the seamless exchange of data begin!
3. Social Network Exchange. So many people I meet under the age of 30 either don't have a business card (even in a business setting), give me their Twitter handle or say connect with me on Facebook. (as if I'm going to remember their name or handle the next day or a week later when I'm back home).
I'm always amazed that they think I'll take the time to jot down their data with a visual queue of our conversation. It's too much work. What's great about inTooch is that you can opt to include the exchange of your social network information as well. It currently supports LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
I've known Chris Taylor from Mashable for years and for some odd reason, didn't know he was @FutureBoy on Twitter. Ever try to Google a "common name's" Twitter handle and not get so frustrated by the fifth click that you finally give up? Don't get me started on the poor search functionality within Twitter itself although I know they're improving it all the time.
4. Augmented Reality: for personal encounters, inTooch brings augmented reality to your connections, alerting you to all the things you have in common with another person (friends, places you visited, music, movies you like, social network info, check-ins, interests you share) so you can instantly engage in mutually interesting conversations.
Bottom line, it's been a fun ride so far and we're only a month into it. Free to use, the app is available now for iPhone (except iOS6) and alive and ticking for the Android as well.
Support for iOS6, other platforms and mobile devices are also coming later this year.
So, give it a try. Don't die a slow death in a mountain of business cards like poor Matt Marshall here! Everyone has their limits.
Below is a video shot by Jean Baptiste Su of their demo presentation.
October 8, 2012 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Conference Highlights, Events, On Mobile & Wireless, On Social CRM, On Technology, Social Media, Videos, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
April 09, 2012
Billfaster Makes it Easy & Fast to Manage Money, Invoices & Your Business
I come across new start-ups on a weekly basis if not a daily one and when you are introduced to as many as I am, its easy to glaze over the details because so many of the pitches sound the same and are in similar categories trying to do the same thing.
I met with the founders of Billfaster recently who are working on a solution for real businesses with real problems around invoicing, accounting and money.
It is not a widget. It's not a social media or analytics tool and it's not some web app or vertical search engine that is likely to get crushed by Microsoft or Google.
Billfaster is essentially online accounting software as a service that targets small businesses, startups, freelancers and professional service contractors.
They offer a quick, easy and fast way to keep track of and manage money, as well as handle businesses and individual's accounting. You could say pieces of what they provide compete with QuickBooks yet it cleverly does things a little differently and the interface seems to be incredibly simple, at least from what I could tell from an in-depth demo in Austin last month.
Take a look at an overview of Invoice transactions from their system and you'll see what I mean:
Below is a screenshot of how you enter an expense with Billfaster and note the tax bracket piece that you can customize with a drop down menu:
For people on the go with busy schedules (that'd be me), they provide 7 second invoicing, 3 second expense tracking and automated accounting to enable users to be up and running quickly. (It made me think of the fast food ads from ten years ago - if you're not out in 10 minutes, the meal is on us). This is a compelling pitch and offer for those who struggle with complicated user interfaces that require skills of both an accountant and an engineer to figure out how to use.
They offer a free version that includes unlimited invoicing and clients, with premium versions providing more robust features such as reporting, CRM and inventory management.
Said CEO Rod Condell in an interview, "over 25% of our client base is in the U.S., with the UK, Canada, South Africa and Ireland next in line."
How did they succeed globally so quickly? Co-founder Chantel de Paor says that rather than customize tax forms and processes for each individual country, they have a generic tax form so it can be used anywhere.
Although they have a free version, their paid versions are reasonably priced. For $4.95 a month, you can customize forms by uploading your own logo. You also have access to tax reports, expense reports, cash in and out, and pending invoices. Below is what their cash management page looks like where you can view accurate daily, weekly, and monthly cash, sales, and expense reports.
For $9.95 a month, a mini-CRM system is integrated if you want to keep track of customers and customize invoices. It also includes simple Paypal integration which is useful for small businesses, particularly those doing business in multiple locations and who have a lot of online transactions.
Their top of the line is the Gold Edition, which is only $14.95 a month. Here, you get Accounting Journals, support for multi-users, cash planning, order processing, the ability to add and customize categories, and more. And what's also great is the added benefit of free support. Check out this page for more about their features and pricing plans.
It was refreshing to meet a startup focused on solving real problems and with a business model that makes sense. They actually charge monthly fees yet their fee structure is inexpensive...and, the math makes sense, especially given the fact that they have made it easy to go after global customers.
November 28, 2011
Israel On Destination Branding: Giving a Place its Human DNA & Voice
Ido Aharoni of New York's Israel Consulate (aka @israelconsulate) spoke on the BrandsConf stage in late October about a project they did to "humanize" Israel.
They conducted something they refer to as the "House Party" study where they had survey participants create images of what they saw in the "house" of various countries around the world, including Israel.
For example, in the Brazil house, there were images of parties and dancing, in France, symbols which represented romance, Las Vegas, images which represented sin. In the Israel house, there were no images of women and children, but of guns and military.
People were not describing normal every day life in Israel, a clear indication that they had a global perception issue, one which could be rectified with clear communication and engagement to educate people on what Israel was as a "destination brand."
He asked us, if Tel Aviv were a person, would it be a male or female, skinny or fat, fun or serious? "It's important first to learn how your customers perceive you, what they see as your strengths, your weaknesses and your core values," says Aharoni.
Every place has a personality and a DNA and how you determine what it is versus what you want it to be is generated through multiple sources of research, not just one.
For them, they wanted to create a "celebration of core values" for Israel, such as hoping, connecting, family and creating. As a result of the survey and "House Party" study, thjey identified six core areas that were relevant all over the world within the realm of humanizing through broader niche conversations:
1. Hi-Tech and Science
2. Lifestyle and Leisure
3. People and Heritage (diversity). How many people know that there are so many cultures living in Israel -- from Somalia, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Egypt among countless others?
5. International Aid
6. Culture and Arts
He says that they believe in the future of micromarketing, i.e., narrative over argument, engagement over dictation....humanization through targeted exposure events.
Finishing his talk, he emphasized the importance of identifying how you're perceived as a destination brand so you understand where it fits globally vis a vis others. "It's competitive out there," he notes and place branding is not just one country versus another, but it's also perception of a place between counties, cities and regions."
And adds, micromarketing will be key to engaging with your influencers in a world of social media, emphasizing what your core beliefs are, which translate into your brand voice, in their case, a destination "brand" voice.
November 25, 2011
Branding: Unique Voices & Humanization of the Web
Brands are trying to figure it out and get their "head around" community. Yet, community managers don't necessarily communicate with corporate marketing or PR. Someone said on a panel at BrandsConf in New York City in late October that customer service doesn't belong in PR.
I thought, are you kidding? If PR doesn't care about the customer, then companies are hiring the wrong PR people. If PR doesn't live and breathe to make the customer happy because it's something that makes their hearts sing, then they're not in the right job. PR should be instrumental in shaping that "human voice" on the web.
How do brands arrive at their human voice on the web? Dan Neely (@dneely40) CEO at Networked Insights, IBM's Ed Abrahams (@ibm), Oglivy's SVP of Digital Influence Gemma Craven (@gemsie), Jeff Simmermon (@jeffTWC), Director of Digital Communication, Time Warner Cable and Rachel Tipograph (@racheltipograph), Director, Global Digital and Social Media at the Gap discussed highlights, lowlights and provided some of their own tips and lessons learned.
Says Jeff, "The data is just about how stories get told. There's a story that your customers are trying to tell you and when you listen, then you deserve to tell a story back. If effective, you can either be a hero or a loser."
Says Ed, "Your marketplace will tell you what your value is. Secondly, stay true to your beliefs and third, do not be defensive, but rather use that feedback as leverage."
Says Dan, "Make sure your goals are wrapped up in business metrics, not social media metrics. Be real and listen for what your customers want, integrating that into your plan."
Says Rachel, "Define your shared interest in your community and listen to what they want, then deliver that to them."
November 03, 2011
What is REAL Influence? Will Klout & Other Tools Define & Control You or Will You Define Them?
There's been so much buzz -- on and offline -- about Klout's decision to unveil a new formula which supposedly recalculates scores more accurately, the result of which brought most people's "popularity" scores down a few notches, including my own.
While I think what the guys over at Klout are trying to do is admirable and truth be told, we need really smart analytics and measurement tools to break through the noise, what we have today simply isn't accurate enough or "whole" enough to give us the real truth on who's influential and more importantly, in what circles and why.
Wouldn't it be more interesting to know who had a Klout score of 80 in food and wine, 80 in social media, 80 in fashion, 80 in politics and so on?
Wouldn't it also be more interesting if tools like this took into consideration a person's offline influence as well as other things they may have done, such as a bestselling book or created a program that made an African village sustain itself?
Part of the issue is that we're early and all of the vendors trying to innovate in this area are trying to figure it out. I spent time talking to Klout's CEO and founder Joe Fernandez in Dublin recently at a web conference and I think he's a great guy who's trying to do the right thing.
I jokingly complained that I've seen 21 year olds who are new to social media, new to Twitter and new to business whose Klout scores have been higher than mine on some days. There are many things they take into account when dishing out a Klout score, including the level of engagement. Crikey, if you're my niece's age and have thousands of Facebook friends who have a ton of time on their hands and can chat away all day with their friends, regardless of how big the circle is, then no doubt, that online "activity" gets engagement brownie points which goes into the Klout analysis.
While engagement could be high in this 'circle', it is its own ecosystem and the real question is: will this voice influence a certain number of people to buy a certain product or take a certain that builds brand awareness?
I have 3 Facebook pages attached to my name, all of which are mine, but I don't get credit in the Kloutsphere for any of them because they can only give you points for one Facebook account - your personal one. When I asked Joe about this, he had a logical explanation. There are far too many people managing a celebrity or brand's Facebook fan page and they shouldn't get credit for that level of influence when the page is about someone else. Fair enough. But what about those whose Facebook pages are legitimately connected to themselves? Small business owners would also fall into that category.
Yet, despite the fact that the numbers aren't accurate or "whole," tons of vendors and brands are jumping into the lions den and testing things out. Frankly, there's nothing wrong with that. With every evolution and revolution, you need to learn by trial and error just like we did with email after fax, blogging after websites and Twitter after AOL IM.
One of my issues is how much credence we (as an industry) give these early tools and how much of a time waste they are for so many I know including me at times before I kick myself back into perspective, nevermind the cultural impact which has quite honestly turned into a popularity contest. I feel as if everyone is competing to be Ken or Barbie and we're back to high school behavior in a way that's not healthy.
Scores are one way for brand marketers and PR folks to create a list of targeted bloggers and tweeters they can go after, aka a list of the most influential voices who must hear about their product or service. I get it as I've been on the pitching line - both in front of it and in recent years, on the receiving end with We Blog the World.
As Geoff points out, the most influential people in any given sector aren’t necessarily on social media. They hire other people to serve as community managers. As one example, Klout only gives President Barack Obama an Influence Score of 48.
While we do need analytics and tools for measuring, they need to take offline influence into consideration as well as more complex elements and texture that can extracted from people's social graphs.
It's time to bring in the socialogists and anthropologists. One of the best talks I've heard in awhile on a Web-something stage was in October at Web 2.0 Summit by Intel's Genevieve Bell, an Australian born anthropologist and researcher. She is the director of Intel Corporation's Interaction and Experience Research and her talk was begging the question: what if we built data for humans rather than devices?
Looking at data from an anthropoligical and "human" perspective (bring on more women please), means that we can take the science out of the analytics just long enough to get the pieces that make up the multiple facets of what makes someone who they are into the "measurement" pool.
Christopher Poole (aka @moot69 on Twitter) also raised the point at the same conference that who we are online may not necessarily be who we are offline. In other words, my social graph online may be very different from who I am in my personal life or frankly want to be...the games we have to play with social media to be part of the conversation -- authentic voice or not -- in order to keep up with metrics and measurement are currently robotic and linear at best.
Relationships are what really matter and building them take time. I've been working on (yes, while I LOVE it, it's work and takes time), building relationships for over twenty years and yet, my Klout score is lower than someone who's barely been in business or is even old enough to have a relationship with someone longer than a few years of their adult life.
Geoff also refers to this in his post: "without a relationship, it would be extremely hard to get that high scoring influencer to invest energy into your effort. Instead you would have to focus on the magic middle and build your own influence from the ground up."
Gavin Heaten refers to Granovetter’s “strength of weak ties”. While the original post is now a few years old, his point is still relevant. "Social influence and its impact on action is determined by a large number of “weak ties”. So those blogs which are built around an identity which is well-known to its audience (strong ties) is less likely to carry social influence."
Yet, buzz agents, PR people, marketers and large brands are deciding who's influential or beyond that, who can move their brand or sell products inside that brand....all based on these scores.
I went to the Travel Blog Exchange (known among those in the biz as TBEX) in Vancouver for the first time this past year and it was loaded with travel vendors, resorts, hotel chains, restaurants, retailers and more vying for travel blogger's time and ultimately "ink."
While I spend a few hours a day nuturing a travel and culture blog, I also run a business. Many of these bloggers are doing this full time so are spending a lot of time gathering content from the world's most popular destinations and there is an inherent value in that. Yet, many of these 21-25 year old bloggers are enjoying free trips around the world on some brand's dime based on Klout scores and other things like it.
Fair enough, trust me, I wish blogging were around when I backpacked through SE Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe when I was 22. But I think some other form of value will be necessary in the future as online publishing is being rewritten.
I often wonder if I were blogging and tweeting at 22, whether I would have spent less time chatting with a villager next to a fire on some remote mountain had I been loaded down with technology? When I went on those adventures, I wore nothing but a mid-sized rucksack on my back and an old Fujica AX3. My main consideration was making sure my film didn't get roasted in the Southeast Asian sun or when I went through security lines at airports.
Today when I travel, Foursquare and Twitter (via Hootsuite) are close companions. I often tweet in real time as I'm walking down an escalator and see something interesting and at times, can get so wrapped up in following streams, that sometimes I forget to have a conversation with the guy from Chicago or Tokyo standing next to me.
It's far too easy to get caught up in check-ins, status updates and Klout scores and there's no one who can disagree, that its addictive. It's precisely what makes gamification a godsend to marketers today. And yet with all these distractions, what are we losing and are we forgetting what "real influence" and "real relationships" are in the process?
Refer to my Google+ blog post which talks about data overload and over consumption.
Two decades ago, I would have had a Klout score of zero in the travelsphere and yet by the age of 25, I had been to more places than many travel writers at magazines and newspapers I met along the way.
I didn't spend any time building relationships with influential 'travel sources,' but with the locals I met en route and here is where I captured magical stories, most of which were written down in an old fashioned diary every night by a fire or from a rickety bed.
I would argue that in a world where the lines between marketers and content creators and publishers are muddy, that large brands should ask for more than a little link love, or a certain number of tweets. How about strategic feedback based on years of valuable insights, experience and perhaps connections to people where both sides benefit in a mutually positive way? Airlines take note. It's not rocket science, it's called listening to your customers, and not just those with high Klout scores. Pay attention to what customers are saying -- on and offline -- and implement changes so they're singing your praises alongside your marketing department.
Another example of a missed opportunity for "influencer collaboration". This past summer, I was flown out to a conference with about six other bloggers and while I was given hashtag and Twitter data as well as the program in advance, I had no knowledge of who was attending the conference so I could connect with people who shared similar interests and passions in advance.
Imagine the power of my writing a story about the work of a few of the attendees as well as their speakers? Ammunition for selling tickets the following year, especially if a new initiative formed as a result.
At events where everyone is interesting and has a story to share, the magic of what can be discovered doesn't always happen on the stage. 90% of my best stories are gathered off the stage and compelling input is often found from those who are not asked to speak or haven't written a book.
And, did those speakers who authored books know the bloggers and journalists who were attending? They should have known in advance so they could have taken the opportunity to send us a copy of their book to read before their presentation. Insights would have been much deeper and after-the-talk conversations much more powerful.
Sure, we all could have done our own homework and sure, if we were interested in a particular speaker over another, we could have proactively ordered their book on our own. That's not my point. In a world of over data and over pitching, we need aggregators and curators, and human ones are often the most powerful ones.
Proactively faciliating those connections in a way that is more powerful and intimate increases the likelihood of more stories, especially ones may include more depth and texture.
I think that marketing and PR people have to not only become content creators on multiple channels but also strategic faciliators, aggregators and curators as well. I also think that asking bloggers, tweeters and other online influencers for input into their processes, products, services and ways of communicating will be critical to making this new ecosystem purr.
Events like TBEX for the travel industry, BlogWorldExpo for bloggers and social media addicts, TED for those who thrive on ideas and innovation, DAVOS for those who are participating in the global economy in some way, the national auto show for those who live and breathe cars and thousands of others were created for a reason. Sure, someone thought of an event that would draw people together including sponsors and they could profit from the outcome.
But the real draw for those who attend, even those who fork out the money to host, is the networking and the value of that "in-person" networking over the years. It was one of the reasons people were so upset when COMDEX died, the largest computer show of its kind in the U.S., an event that drew together anyone and everyone who mattered in the industry once a year in the ugly sprawling city of sin Las Vegas.
There, we built a community, and old timers still talk about memories they shared -- in the flesh, not online -- where stories, drinks, food, dancing, ideas, demos and deals were all shared. TED is a great example of a community which has been created both on and offline, and now extended through TEDx events throughout the world.
Relationships are built by investing time in people. In Dublin recently, a group of us were brought to the Irish President's residence and a day earlier, we all listened to the Trinity Orchestra at a college older than the U.S. - there's nothing in an online world, social influence or not, that can take away from those shared memories and moments, some of which may have showed a precious vulnerable side to someone you dare not share online for online is not where that "exchange" belongs.
A deeper dive into what really makes up influence, which includes trust, will improve the current ecosystem we now embrace. It may also change the cast of characters we currently hold in high esteem when honesty, real openness and "human influence" replaces old schoolXYZ networks that keeps things in status quo, maintaining the same dozen voices we hear from again and again, particularly in the online publishing world.
Here, Geoff is spot on when he says "when we focus on influence rankings — tools that quantify a media form’s participants like it was run by journalists — we walk away from the basic truth about these particular types of media. They are relational. They are SOCIAL media.
So, by focusing on lists and not dialoguing and adding value through relevant content and investment, a practitioner is not present. Their effort is bound to have fundamental weaknesses. Building relationships in real life at events, meetings, and through social media are the ways to cultivate better influence.
And oh man, I love his ending: "what is the real reason to quantify big social media influencers? If relationships are your desired outcome, why waste time?"
We've paid so much attention to data for data sake and the last century has paid an unfair advantage to scientific knowledge and stats, that we need to rewrite the rules of what holds value in and out of the boardroom. Francis Cholle in his book The Intuitive Compass takes 223 pages to tell you why our intuition (the quadrant which is defined by relationships and creativity) is critical to succeeding in the next century. (book review coming on We Blog the World before the end of the year in the Books category).
A fundamental question to think about is this: will Klout & other measurement tools like it define and control you or will you define and control them? If we are to innovate, shouldn't we step up and tell the data what really matters? In a Genevieve Bell world, we'd start with humanity and relationships and build up and out from there.
Photo credits in order of appearance: Garagehangover, Obama shot unknown, John Ryan & Associates, a Facebook stream, Selfleadership.com.
November 3, 2011 in America The Free, Europe, Magic Sauce Media, On Blogging, On Branding, On Geo-Location, On Innovation, On Journalism, On People & Life, On Social CRM, On Technology, On the Future, PR & Marketing, Reflections, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 18, 2011
Web 2.0 Summit Kick Off: Twitter, Yahoo, eBay, Bluefin, Intel, Salesforce & More
Web 2.0 Summit kicked off yesterday afternoon at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. John Battelle and Tim O'Reilly are master curators of some of the best minds and storytellers in the technology industry, throwing CEOs of major corporations on stage to answer business and technology questions together with start-up entrepreneurs, an Intel anthropologist and a fireside chat between John Heilemann and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.
I spent my time listening, shooting and tweeting more than I did taking comprehensive notes, but here's a few memorable quotes and takeaways from day one.
Sean talked about how much easier it is for the independent artist to get noticed using social networks today. "You can take an artist to a number one position fairly quickly. I don't understand why any artist would sign on with a record label today. As an artist, if you're functional and don't have a drug problem, there's no reason why you can't pull yourself up as an artist today.
Artists today can be in charge of their own destiny. Maybe later on, you can sign on later on for distribution on Amazon and foreign markets, but not at the beginning."
He says that Spotify is an attempt to pick up where he left off with Napster. Parker also shared his thoughts on social networks and Facebook in particular, denying a down and dirty fight with Zuckerberg on Hollywood streets. On Facebook, he says that there's a balancing act between active and passive sharing and felt that they don't give users enough control. He adds, "the concept that the best content rises to the top can only work if there's a conscious definitive and targeted decision about where your content actually ends up."
He was very deliberate about where he sees eBay playing today and in the future. He says, "eCommerce and retail are crumbling fast. People can now access information with red laser and do product exploration in the store in real time. We're taking all of our properties that we have and putting them onto one open platform so developers can build.
Consumers can now take a photo of a UPC code using Red Laser and see what retailers have it locally. With one click, you can buy it locally or click on Paypal and order online. This is huge innovation in retail which hasn't really moved at all in twenty years."
He continues to reference an example of how bad the search experience is today for fashion. "You don't go to Google and type in blue shirt and expect to get what you want. You can search by images today and get "like-products" based on an image you choose and like. Image-based search will be huge in the future, especially in fashion."
On how they compare to Amazon, he nailed it from a marketing perspective. Rather than get caught with his pants down on what they're not doing right, he fixated on the fact that they don't compete with retailers so they're knocking at their doors. He says "we are not a retailer and never will be. Technology is having a huge impact on their businesses and they need help. We can provide that." He also noted how huge mobile has been for them and will continue to be, throwing out a staggering stat: eBay sold 2,600 cars from their mobile app alone in a day.
"You can make a direct connection between user interest and engagement," he says emphasizing how important social media is and will continue to be for their enterprise customers.
"Companies must embrace social media or embrace the consequences," noting that when issues arrise today in corporate America, crisis is accelerated in a very public way via social media that didn't happen ten years ago, even five years ago.
Marc told Toyota that they should have a car called the Toyota friend. "I want to have a conversation with my car...car manufacturers should have social cars."
Aside from his emphasis on getting their enterprise customers to not just adopt but take social media seriously, he added that he has bought into gamification as a layer on top of businesses and the increasing importance of it in the future.
Ross said he joined Yahoo for a very specific reason: to build great products, build them across platforms including their own, personalize those products for their users and then program those products. He also noted that its the best job he's ever had, "not easy, but the best."
"A black box won't solve everything...there has to be a human touch.
The signals we give off today are about getting the right content to consumers and the right opportunities to advertisers."
When asked What is Yahoo today, a question that arises at nearly every industry conference, Ross says: "Yahoo is a really rich premium, personalized experience for consumers on every platform." Yawn.
Marketing spin and well rehearsed but it doesn't really paint a rich textured picture of who the company is nor does it show me a sustainable business model. Onward.
Poole focused on identity and the mediocrity which has been created around it. "Who am I on stage is very different than who I am in my personal life," he says.
"There are so many lenses of who I am but Google and Facebook wouldn't want you to believe that. In their world, we're merely a mirror.
Facebook treats our identities like mass market fast food. I have more choices in the eye of a toothbrush in a shopping aisle than I do in how to express myself online."
Strong statement and at that juncture, I wasn't sure where he was going, but his message got stronger. On Google+, he is spot on. "They've just copied the same broken model that Facebook created. You can incorporate identity without giving up quality, but give users a choice."
He goes on, "Facebook and Google (with Google+) are dictating how we share our identity and our creativity...consolidating our identity and making us so much more simple than we really are. We deserve choices and options. Over time, our identity is being eroded by large industry players and how can we, as an industry think this is a good thing?" Hear hear Chris. Hear hear.
In other words, Silicon Valley and other early adopters, stand up to the giants and demand higher standards than what we're being dished today, including how we're told to behave, what we can share, how we can share and with who, down to the exact number of "friends" we're allowed to have.
Deb showed some very cool visualizations of what they're doing with TV data in case you ever wanted to know what TV programs diet coke lovers watch. He says, "it is now possible to link impressions to expressions."
They take content from TV stations and build out a semantic content graph of TV and the social web, resulting in what they claim is the most comprehensive semantic index of TV online today. They call it the TV Genome.
Through their live feeds, they're adding 200K shows, 2 million ads and 40 million links per month. Show by show, they can create graphs that show the number of impressions versus expressions, focusing on expressions whereas Nielsen focuses on impressions.
He says, "this view is a different window of consumer behavior and their mindset than what has been offered in the past, which will be a game changer. We're building out a data audience sentiment, so that within the TV Genome, brands can decide where they want to put their time and effort."
I loved what Geneieve brought to the table, which was a look at data from a human perspective. As an anthropologist, she asked the question, "who is data? rather than what is data?"
There are things in our life which will only want to be physical data, she notes, not digital data, such as buddha statues for example.
"Data loves good relationships," she says. "And, data needs to be social, have a country (a home) and be feral. By this, she means that data will run wild, beyond the current boundaries of what we now imagine. We will have to think about privacy and security differently within this framework.
She also adds that "data has responsibilities. We have to tell a story in the right spirit, in the right place, and to the right people. Data also likes to look good. People are always actively choosing how we represent ourselves online," noting that in the online dating world, 100% of Americans are known to have lied on their online profile. In the UK, it is about 60%.
She ended her presentation with a provocative question which I felt could have been a talk on its own (a nice, long healthy interactive talk): "What if we designed for data the way we design for people rather than for devices?" All I could think of was "crikey, we need more women in this business."
Brad centered his whole talk on the differences between digital marketing strategy and digital business strategy and what it means to have both.
"The first rule is around social," he says. "You can't buy friends, even if you give away lots of free things to get them.
You have to ask yourself when you make decisions on social networks to buy influence - 'what does that mean for my business long term?' Business success is driving engagement to your properties if you're a company with many," using MTV as an example.
His best line of the night: "the data has to burst out of its silos and make sense for your business and show an impact. How does it affect your business strategy?" He adds that mobile must be key to your strategy moving forward, suggesting that when you think out your mobile strategy, think about how customers can motivate your brand from a mobile device.
Spoken like a true marketing guy he ends with this: "Today's CMO who owns digital and understands customer intimacy will be tomorrow's CEO." I happen to agree with him.
On how Twitter is going to play and compete in the marketplace, Dick says, "we're going to offer simplicity rather than complexity. Apple thinks about the world the same way.
It's much harder to edit out than add features. Bradley Horowitz talks about Google+ and the fact that they're going to compete on and add more features. Our focus is to compete on simplicity."
There's a lot of signals coming from each tweet. Battelle asks if this is Twitter's biggest challenge? Noted as a significant challenge, Dick says of the 250 million tweets a day they see, that they need to surface that data into something that is more meaningful: global things that matter to everyone and regional things that matter to your own community.
Dick says, "when you only offer authoritative tweets on a topic, then you lose the roar of the crowd. When we do that, we are sucking the life out of an event (i.e., world cup) by taking the volume out. We have to show the volume while also separating the signal from the noise. The key is showing this visually in a way that is compelling and simple. And, we're working on that."
One of their core values says Dick is to "respect and defend the user's voice. Not using your real name means that in countries where you can't speak as freely as you do here, you can speak up." He noted a situation in Tunisia as an example. "We're the free speech wing of free speech," he adds referencing the words of their lawyer.
He ends with more of their core values, getting away from money questions and other controversial topics: "Rather than focusing on a $8 billion market cap, we think about whether we're doing things that we can be proud of as a company and whether we're building things that are sustainable and scalable."
October 18, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Geo-Location, On Mobile & Wireless, On Social CRM, On Technology, On the Future, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
September 16, 2011
DEMOfall 2011: From Online Death & Fashion Augmented Reality to Music Robots & Reid Hoffman
DEMOfall kicked off this week simultaneously with a bunch of other industry events in Silicon Valley. A host of 80 companies presented on-stage and held court in the pavillion at the Santa Clara Hyatt.
They also did one-on-one fireside-like chats with a host of industry illuminaries, including LinkedIn and Greylock's Reid Hoffman (left) and Intuit's Chairman of the Board Bill Campbell (interviewed by Brad Stone from Bloomberg's BusinessWeek).
Brad Stone asked Bill what he learned from Steve Jobs. The very first thing Bill came back with, without hestitation was product....having a great product.
He spoke with a sentimental voice as he talked about Steve Jobs and his legacy he has left the industry with so far, obviously referring to his recent step-down. Bill also talked about the importance of product management and having a great team in place. "The real role of the product manager is getting the product design right," he says. "Simplicity is key. Keep the UI simple...." He paused. "That's what I learned from Steve Jobs."
Cloud was covered on more than one occasion, starting with a panel discussion on how mid and large-sized companies are adapting to the cloud. Matt Marshall interviewed Cisco's VP Sheila Jordan and John Petrone, CTO and Senior VP of Autobytel.
Below is Geoffrey Moore, Managing Director, TCG Advisors/Venture Partner, Mohr Davidow Ventures.
Another cloud technology discussion happened with Accel Partner's Chuck Ganapathi, Jive Software's David Gutelius, Microsoft's Dan'l Lewin and The Founder's Institute's Adeo Ressi. Enterprise technology sages Larry Augustin from SugarSRM, Tom Gillis from Cisco and Paul Santinelli from North Bridge Venture Partners were interviewed by IDG Enterprise Senior VP John Gallant.
"When you go enterprise, go BIG if you're doing a start-up," says Tom Gillis. "Think of virtualization of the data center and video, which are going to be big and disruptive." While there was an emphasis on encouraging start-up founders to focus, Larry Augustin added a potential danger in getting too focused.
"Don't let focus focus focus restrict you and narrow you into small company mentality and thinking," says Larry. All agreed that while consumer start-ups have to think about the social and user experience and getting user adoption, focusing on the customer is what is most key for enterprise companies.
Think of it as an enterprise platform which automates the discovery of expert coworkers based on expertise, experience, connections and responsiveness. Whodini delivers the right person, right away. It's a cool concept and received a positive response from the audience and panelists.
Also high on the list was Fluxx from Fluxxlabs, who someone said of its capabitilies: I like the information processing part of it, but it really needs to include my inbox."
OLogic, Inc. brought their new robot onto the DEMOfall stage. (there always seems to be at least one robot at DEMO each year). A.M.P. is what they call him, an Automated Music Personality, which they call the world's first two-wheeled, self-balancing smartphone accessory. (wow, that's a mouthful, no? Call it a robot which delivers great music - it's a helluva lot simpler).
The other cool thing is that this self balancing “robotic” music player can be operated using a Smartphone (only android for now). The price point they say is about $400 or potentially less. (reasonable for a product in this category).
MashOn, Inc. announced Dabble which they refer to as the "Cure for the common shop." CRIKEY, this is their explanation of Dabble.
"Dabble is an HTML5 patent-pending embeddable web application that provides a comprehensive product personalization and customization platform and “on-demand” manufacturing solution for shop owners operating on the leading eCommerce platforms. Dabble’s Cart Adaptor technology, Fulfillment Adaptor, Product Customization Tool, and Self-Service Administration Dashboard work together to provide “The Cure for the Common Shop.” WHOAHH Nelly. Are you kidding? Simplify baby, didn't you hear Bill Campbell's message?
Then, there was one of my favorite apps which of course threw me (and everyone around me) when they first walked on stage. I-Memorial.com has a place where you can leave your legacy after you die on i-Tomb.net. Imagine a place where you can set up your messages, videos, photos for people to see after you die. He walks on stage and says to the DEMO audience, "we are here to transform death." Half the room laughs, while some are likely uncomfortable. Is this for real we're all thinking. Yup, and after I listened to their pitch in detail, I began to think, "what a great idea." From the traditional grave to the virtual tomb, they are allowing every person to build their own immortality: the resting place of the deceased. i-Tomb is a collection of videos, text and photos of the deceased, in other words, life after life. You can leave virtual flowers, a candle for someone or share your feelings about your son or daughter on video that they can listen to after you pass away. You can also leave your "death wishes" in a particular section on the site such as how you want to die, flowers and music you want at your funeral and so on. They are launching in 14 languages and targeting people aged 40 years and older. The other demo I liked is Schedulicity, which is an online appointment scheduling app, aimed at helping small businesses save hours a day and increase profitability by eliminating the hassles of scheduling with pen and paper. By offering online service scheduling 24 hours a day through multiple digital channels, businesses are able to easily and effectively attract new business, increase the frequency with which their current clients book appointments, decrease cancellations and concentrate on providing the best possible service during their business hours. They have also integrated with Facebook, so small businesses can receive bookings through their Facebook page using Schedulicity’s scheduling widget. trueRSVP did an alpha pitch, demonstrating how frustrating the RSVP process is today by using a woman in a wedding address whose husband-to-be didn't show up at the altar. It is the first RSVP system that’s flake-proof. By providing five RSVP options and multi-faceted algorithm factors in attendees’ reliability, event planners can now get a more accurate estimate of how many people will actually show up. Create virtual outlooks, mix-and-matching items from different brands and collections from all over the world. Try it on and share this experience with your friends and stylists to get advice. Below, see an example with Topshop. Below is a video of the panel on consumer technology sages: SofTech's Jeff Clavier, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Ellen Pao and Aileen Lee, Menlo Ventures' Shervin Pishevar and Nextdoor.com's Nirav Tolia. Below is a group shot of the DEMOfall "demo god" winners on stage on the last day. Here's a link to the DEMO flickr set so you can go on a visual journey of this year's fall event. Photo credits: Stephen Brashear
September 16, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Mobile & Wireless, On Search, On Social CRM, On Technology, Social Media, Videos, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink
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AND, since I'm a bit of a fashionista, here's a call out to Fitting Reality. Female Russian CEO - Inga Nakhmanson, did a great job explaining the simplicity of the service on stage. Using VIPodium, which is based on Augmented Reality technology, you can virtually try on clothes either at home or in the store.
Other things about the event and their company "gives." Demo offers full scholarships to 20 companies who are "bootstrapping it" and have raised $500,000 in funding or less. Within the 20, there are several specific charters that are supported by the following sponsors:
September 08, 2011
Imagine a place where you can set up your messages, videos, photos for people to see after you die. He walks on stage and says to the DEMO audience, "we are here to transform death." Half the room laughs, while some are likely uncomfortable. Is this for real we're all thinking. Yup, and after I listened to their pitch in detail, I began to think, "what a great idea."
From the traditional grave to the virtual tomb, they are allowing every person to build their own immortality: the resting place of the deceased. i-Tomb is a collection of videos, text and photos of the deceased, in other words, life after life.
You can leave virtual flowers, a candle for someone or share your feelings about your son or daughter on video that they can listen to after you pass away. You can also leave your "death wishes" in a particular section on the site such as how you want to die, flowers and music you want at your funeral and so on. They are launching in 14 languages and targeting people aged 40 years and older.
The other demo I liked is Schedulicity, which is an online appointment scheduling app, aimed at helping small businesses save hours a day and increase profitability by eliminating the hassles of scheduling with pen and paper.
By offering online service scheduling 24 hours a day through multiple digital channels, businesses are able to easily and effectively attract new business, increase the frequency with which their current clients book appointments, decrease cancellations and concentrate on providing the best possible service during their business hours.
They have also integrated with Facebook, so small businesses can receive bookings through their Facebook page using Schedulicity’s scheduling widget.
trueRSVP did an alpha pitch, demonstrating how frustrating the RSVP process is today by using a woman in a wedding address whose husband-to-be didn't show up at the altar. It is the first RSVP system that’s flake-proof. By providing five RSVP options and multi-faceted algorithm factors in attendees’ reliability, event planners can now get a more accurate estimate of how many people will actually show up.
Create virtual outlooks, mix-and-matching items from different brands and collections from all over the world. Try it on and share this experience with your friends and stylists to get advice. Below, see an example with Topshop.
Below is a video of the panel on consumer technology sages: SofTech's Jeff Clavier, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Ellen Pao and Aileen Lee, Menlo Ventures' Shervin Pishevar and Nextdoor.com's Nirav Tolia.
Below is a group shot of the DEMOfall "demo god" winners on stage on the last day.
Here's a link to the DEMO flickr set so you can go on a visual journey of this year's fall event.
Photo credits: Stephen Brashear
September 16, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Mobile & Wireless, On Search, On Social CRM, On Technology, Social Media, Videos, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
SOcial, LOcal, MObile, the Power Behind LeWeb's 2011 Start-Up Competition
SOcial, LOcal, MObile is the new black for startups this fall say the Guidewire Group who are powering this year's LeWeb'11 Startup Competition, centered on the SoLoMo theme (that's social, local, mobile, for the non-geeks who haven't memorized yet another acronym).
The annual showcase of emerging companies will honor the Top 3 startups creating state-of-the-art apps for the SoLoMo consumer or business markets. They are looking for the most exciting and innovative ideas that exploit the power of social engagement and location awareness of tablet and mobile phone devices. To be eligible, startups need to have less than €1M of investment.
Applicants will use Guidewire Group's forthcoming G/SCORE Analytics platform to profile and take a G/SCORE assessments. Those assessments, along with Guidewire Group analyst and community input, will be select 16 finalists to pitch for a spot among the Top 3 at the december conference in Paris.
To learn more about the competition, visit LeWeb's start-up competition page.
September 8, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Europe, Events, On Geo-Location, On Innovation, On Mobile & Wireless, On Search, On Social CRM, On Technology, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
June 17, 2011
ReadWriteWeb 2 Way Summit: LBS, Gamification, Kidgenuity & More
RWW2Way, an event by ReadWriteWeb at Columbia University this week, combined keynotes (Fred Wilson, Betaworks' John Borthwick) with one-off hour long presentations from folks like Dr. Jeffrey Jaffe of the World Wide Web Consortium, dana Boyd, Chris Dixon from Hunch, Flipboard's Mike McCue and a team of folks from The Onion, which seemed to amuse and entertain the audience.
Comedian Baratunde Thurston has tried to push the envelope of web platforms. Whether personifying The Swine Flu on Twitter or treating a Foursquare mayor battle as legitimate politics or live-blogging his experience clearing an exit ramp on Lakeshore Drive during Chicago's epic blizzard of 2011, he's found ways to do more than post photos and beg for followers. He shared this with humor to the RRW2Way crowd.
Other topics included gamification, location-based services, teen sexting and its impact on business (boyd), productivity tools for collaboration and sharing and building in more sharing and openness into the Enterprise. For example, will future employee recognition on collaborative platforms take the shape of badges, ratings, and leaderboards?
There was a session entitled: Kidgenuity - what we can learn from kids in business and how to apply it to building technology tools that get us out of our traditional (and linear ways) of thinking.
Foursquare’s head of products Alex Rainert and ABC News Radio’s Dan Patterson talked about the present and future place in the location game. Whenever I talk about check-ins or any of the players in the geo-loco space with anyone outside the technology industry, 95% of them give me a blank face. Others who have heard of it on the business side remind me how small the numbers are as a “real business,” yet these are the numbers that Facebook and Twitter started with too.
While checking in isn’t interesting in itself, and frankly for my generation, badges aren’t all that compelling either, new value-adds that brands and venues can offer may change the game within months not years. Their addition of leadership board and tips while you check in offer a little more value than the service did six months ago, particularly when you see where you sit among your friends on the leadership board. People love score cards – it’s something that motivates sales guys vis a vis each other and it’s the reason why tools like Klout are so popular among the early adopters. Game mechanics and location will continue to work together in more compelling ways to engage people with brands.
Speaking of gaming and other "popular apps," the ReadWriteWeb crew chose companies to participate in a Speed Geeking session where developers, creators and founders gave 5 minute pitches at tables and you rotated quickly over the course of an hour to get the scoop on each of them.
Social games are growing and there were at least two free apps I personally saw that have aspects of social gaming, social sharing and social viewing. PeopleHunt is an interactive people discovery game. The goal is to meet and bump phones with as many players as possible, to win points for some awesome prizes and to have interesting conversations with amazing people.
They then calculate your cartoon persona based on the a custom-built algorithms that measure the psychological traits of conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness, extraversion and stability.
Soup founder Christopher Clay showed us a demo of their latest “app,” still not quite ready for launch, but they expect to have something to show in more depth within a few weeks.
Storytelling is the Future: (it’s also our past)
Storify co-founder Xavier Damman showed a demo of their latest and game examples of how people are uniquely curating digital-rich stories in other parts of the world.
Enterprise Gamification isn’t a Fad:
Salesforce.com Chief Scientist JP Rangaswami says Enterprise gamification isn’t a fad and it’s not going away anytime soon. It will continue to increase with more integrations in multiple industries, bringing us out of our outdated lateral thinking and managing.
Social Media for Middle East News Coverage:
In the midst of political uprisings in the Middle East over the last several months, seasoned journalist and social media maven Andy Carvin has transformed himself into a near superhuman newswire, providing online audiences with a Twitter-fueled, real-time and harrowing glimpse into the heart of revolution.
Carvin's curatorial approach to real-time reporting is helping to transform how other news organizations report disruptive world events. Columbia University Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism Emily Bell interviewed him on day one.
It was a great event and a welcome retreat to meet up with New Yorkers and other east coasters making things happen outside Silicon Valley. Kudos to Richard, Marshall, Shamus and the ReadWriteWeb team for pulling it together.