Monthly Archives: February 2010Blog

25 Decade-Shaping Technologies

This presentation from eWeek documents 25 key technologies that quickly became mainstream during the last ten years, reshaping our lives in the process. As you view the list you’ll likely recall how you first heard about, and then started using many of them. What’s interesting is that each of these technologies either gave us new and more powerful ways to use the Internet, or brought the ‘Net closer to us in our daily lives. The result is that we’ve quickly become dependent upon many of these technologies as our lives have become more and more interactive.

The internet itself helped speed these technologies along. Technology tends to beget technology, and a technology that people find useful takes on a life of its own. We may look at something today and call it a novelty, but before we know it we’re placing the order or creating the account, and catching up to the early adopters. This list provides a pleasant bit of nostalgia, but it also teaches us to be nimble. The next 25 game-changing technologies likely will take far less than ten years to proliferate.

View presentation: http://bit.ly/bOxg0x

Why Is Facebook Important?

The Facebook phenomenon continues. According to a recent ClickZ.com report, FB’s unique visitors in January 2010, at a total of 133.6MM, was second only to the mighty Google. Indeed, throughout 2009 FB’s unique visitors climbed at a record pace through June, then leveled somewhat, but rose nonetheless through the remainder of the year to surpass Yahoo (132MM unique visitors in Jan 2010) and pull up snugly behind Google (147.8MM). (ref: http://www.clickz.com/3636533)

Why is this important? The numbers above represent people who are using FB every day. These are not people who merely signed up, or have accounts that lie dormant. What’s even more interesting is the amount of time these active users are spending on the site. “Data from Nielsen says that U.S. Facebook users now spend an average of seven hours per month on the site. The time spent on Facebook in January grew by nearly 10 percent in a one-month period. Meanwhile, the average time spent on Google (GOOG) dropped 17 percent to around an hour and a half.” (ref: http://bit.ly/aETMUK)

Why are people spending so much time on Facebook? They are building their networks, connecting with friends and family, keeping in touch, etc. But much more importantly, they are using the site to do things that they used to do on several other sites or with software on their desktop computers. This includes chat, commerce, posting photos and videos, and even email. Why go to other sites when almost everything you need, and all the people you want to share things with, are right here?

Which brings up the final point: With upwards of 300MM registered users (depending on whose numbers you believe) almost everyone is now at least part of the site. Odds are more likely than ever that if you want to find/connect/communicate with someone you’ll find them on Facebook. And where there are people, there are markets.

Clearly, in the Internet age markets are moving online. Now that people are so readily available and active on Facebook businesses must move with them. But “going on Facebook” requires learning the values, rules, behavior and mores first. Businesses that successfully do this will find they have the best advertising possible — in fact, the only advertising that will succeed in the not-too-distant future, and that’s word of mouth (or more accurately, “word of mouse”). With everyone connected we’re all going to need our customers to be our sales force, because they’ll be very quick to tell others the story about how well we’re serving them.

10 Things Apple Doesn’t Want You to Know About the iPad

I must admit, I’ve been taken by the iPad. It’s another beautiful device from Apple that comes with a world of promise. But it’s not without it’s detractors, many of whom have insightfully pierced the hype to point out some notable weaknesses. A Flash presentation from eWeek, below, is a good summary of the arguements against becoming blindly enamored with the iPad.

For my money, the real test will be the content deals Apple makes for the device. Everyone knows that Apple excels at producing beautifully designed, eminently usable products. But what they’ve also become very adept at is creating markets for digital products. The fact that the iTunes store and the iPod turned illegal file swapping into a billion dollar business begs the question, can they do the same thing for print publishing?

Newspapers and magazines are languishing with steadily declining circulation and lame efforts on the web. A killer reading and media experience on the iPad beyond what’s currently available on the web, along with a viable advertising model, could make tablet devices like the iPad invaluable for consumers and publishers alike. Of course, prices must come down substantially before the masses will carry them — but isn’t that what happened with smartphones after the iPhone launched?

View presentation: http://bit.ly/dsY3nP

What Sources Do Executives Listen To?

From Mark Hurst, GoodExperience.com

Decision makers need information before they make decisions, right? What sources do executives listen to when gathering information? Here are a few that are typically followed, if somewhat dubious, and one that is always reliable, but not always considered:

– the technology press, whose job it is to report on the newest and flashiest trends, not necessarily what actually works in the long run

– bloggers, many of whom are technophiles who enjoy playing with, and writing about, Internet trends and gadgets

– investors, who often want quick results, and look to the press and bloggers to point the way

– technology conferences, which tend to invite speakers who will draw attendees from the three groups above

Another voice, by the way, is that of industry colleagues, who can be very helpful, or may indulge in one-upmanship about whose business has gotten more exposure.

One voice not on the list, ironically enough, *can* point the way forward, both in the short-term and the long-term. Who is it?

The customers.

Most companies still don’t conduct meaningful research with the people who they’re ostensibly working for. No customers, no business; and yet the customers are often nowhere to be found when strategic decisions are made.

How does your organization chart its way forward: by following the herd, or by listening to customers?

Six Key Customer Characteristics

In a world where everyone is hyper-connected and hyper-committed I thought this summary of the modern customer’s mindset really hit the mark:

1. Customers only buy two things: solutions to problems and good feelings. The first step in creating value is to identify the biggest problems your customer faces and then demonstrate how you can solve it.

2. Customers want things fast. To be leading edge, learn to compete in time. Anticipate customers’ need and fulfill before they know they need it. Some vendors are now linked electronically to their major customers, which allows for ‘just in time’ service.

3. Customers like convenience. In any society there is a strategic shortage for which people will exchange money. Today the strategic shortage is time. Convenience has become more important than ever. How easy is it to do business with your company? How accessible are you to those you support? Can they count on a timely response?

4. The customer defines quality. Manufacturing and marketing say the product is terrific. The customer thinks it stinks. Guess whose opinion counts? The best place to begin marketing is by asking the customer how they define quality.

5. One size doesn’t fit all. The mass market is dead. Customers are demanding more options. They perceive their needs to be specific and unique. Factor ‘uniqueness’ into your sales and marketing strategy.

6. Would you like to be one of your customers? People won’t necessarily buy from us because they like us, but they’ll refuse to buy from us if they don’t. In every interaction, treat customers with the utmost respect and courtesy.