Is this Future Shock?

musings on how technology is changing my business environment

Archive for November 2007

Lots of Web 2.0 bits

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Since I started using Facebook regularly, the most interesting things I’ve found are:

  • blog posts written by others, that lead me to find out more about what’s happening in the internet area (OK, I’m failing to avoid saying Web 2.0)
  • bits in people status feeds that make me think “I wonder what that is?”

Some of the things I’ve found recently (yes, I know they’re all probably old hat)

Twitter – letting folk know your presence/activity

Jaiku – another presence/group/blogging monitoring thing, with the ability to add “channels”

Spinvox – does voice to text stuff, but lets you update Facebook/twitter/Jaiku by phone, which is fun

Tumblr – which allows you to rapidly add links, quotes, text, photos to a stream – and you can add channels, too. I use it for grabbing links, which I RSS to my blog

Tabblo – a photo/text/story/printing site – lets you *easily* bring photos in from Flickr and fairly easily from Picasa; let’s you produce interesting photo displays that you can print as PDF; locally; for free …

Picknik – which lets you edit *online* phots on your PC, Picasa, Facebook, Flickr. Very nice.

Pandora – recommends – and plays – music for you based on characteristics of music that you’ve indicated you like. Lots of fun, and works differently to last.fm which I also use

I think I’ll probably edit this as I recall/use more bits ‘n bobs.

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Written by SteveEllwood

November 27, 2007 at 10:30 am

Posted in blogging, Facebook, VRM, Web 2.0

So, how’s your outsourcing going?

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If you look back, perhaps you can occasionally learn what the road ahead may bring.

JP Rangaswami, MD of BT Design used to work at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, and was a believer in outsourcing – as are we all in this day and age.

He had some useful warnings, listed here:

http://www.watersonline.com/public/showPage.html?page=129216 

But what about outsourcing, which has become Wall Street’s cost-saving darling? Isn’t this one way banks can rid themselves of routine tasks? Rangaswami warns investment firms of the seduction of supposed cost savings. “What I lose with offshoring is far more than I gain,” he says of DrKW’s own experience, which was “focused on the war for talent rather than wage arbitrage. With outsourcing I may reduce the core execution cost but I pay for it by increased coordination and training costs.” DrKW found in some cases that the local offshoring staff had to be spoon fed and that the typical attrition rates of 40 to 50 percent meant they were often training staff to ultimately benefit others.

Rangaswami also urges firms who do embark on outsourcing contracts to “clean up their garbage first,” rather than dumping it onto the vendor, who will most likely charge a considerable premium for the cleansing. “In the current climate, we cannot afford to feed the mouths of outsourcers. The focus has to be on getting rid of the layer of fat and then parceling it off neatly to someone who has the critical mass to provide economies of scale,” he says.

Sensible really. Work out what you’re outsourcing; why; and what the likely true return is.

Written by SteveEllwood

November 23, 2007 at 10:37 pm

Posted in JP, Management

Do you want transactions, or relationships?

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JP’s blogged about VRM a few times.

Recently, he mused

I believe in VRM. I believe that in the 21st century, product-driven advertising is fundamentally flawed. Personal recommendations, whether direct or via collaborative filtering, count for a lot more. Recommendations from people I know and trust, recommendations that scale now that I have the tools and the technology to discover the recommendations and act on them.

I followed the link, and ended up with a discussion of the scenarios that result depending upon your answers to 2 questions.

Q1: Who controls the interactions between vendor and customer?
Q2: Are the interactions focused on transactions or relationships?

having looked at these, I found I much preferred The Global Village or
The Matrix (Blue Pill).
Why? Because it centres on relationships. These relationships tend to benefit both parties…

… which is why we should strive to build our relationships as strong as we can.

In my mind, who controlled the interaction, was much less important.
I’m interested in the views of others.

Tara Hunt in her Dear World of Marketing post pointed out that

Truly long lasting brands are those who build RELATIONSHIPS with their customers, who then go off and recommend them to others they have RELATIONSHIPS with. …

Believe me, this VRM stuff is not only good for customers, but it is good for YOU as well. It puts you firmly in the position of being exactly where you need to be (available) when the customer has money in hand, poised to purchase. It puts you in the role of helpful sidekick. It makes you indispensably useful.

(She’s fairly damning about corporates setting up Facebook pages, mind, but I bet she’d expect them to react to try and retrieve relationships)

Written by SteveEllwood

November 23, 2007 at 2:39 pm

Posted in VRM

How should corporates engage with Facebook?

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Facebook has now started a wide range Business Services, and a number of businesses are establishing Facebook Pages.

One I know relatively well, was a firm called Plusnet ( a wholly owned subsidiary of BT) , who set up their pages at Facebook on November 9 – (the link won’t work unless you’re a Facebook member, but the closed model isn’t the point of this posting).

They’ve decided to set up an official presence there, in addition to their engagement with an “unofficial” PlusNet group. How’s it working? Difficult to say, they have attracted about 100 odd fans in the couple of weeks since the group has been formed. How are they going to interact with people with issues? Well, on their user forums, they do actively engage with their customers. I hope they’ll do so in Facebook, too.

Why do I think it is important?

Well, in a Web 2.0 world, the way companies do business, largely through their marketing, is changing, and we have to step up to it.

In 2001, Idris Mootee discussed a new 4P’s in High Intensity Marketing. This was pre-Web2.0. He talked about

the “New 4Ps” model to supplement the traditional marketing 4Ps. They are Personalization, Participation, Peer-to-Peer and Predictive Modeling. …

The first “P” is the simple idea of “Personalization” which now takes on a whole new meaning … I was focusing on customization of products and services through the Internet.

The second “P” is the concept of “Participation”, it is to allow customer to participate in what the brand should stand for; what should be the product directions and even which ads to run. This concept is laying the foundation for disruptive change that we have yet to see the full impact. Looking back I was grossly underestimating the degree of democratization brought about by this idea. By enabling each of us to create and publish our own stories, the power of deciding what we read; listen and watch has spread from a handful of media companies to anyone with a camera, a connection and a computer.

The third “P” is “Peer-to-Peer””interruptive” which refers to customer networks and communities where advocacy happens. The historical problem with marketing is that it is in nature, trying to impose their brand on the customer. This is most apparent in TV ad, which pushes out its own idea of what brand is without engaging the customers. These “passive customer base” will ultimately be replaced by the “active customer communities”. Brand engagement happens within those conversations.

The last “P” is “Predictive Modeling” which refers to neural networks algorithms that are being successfully applied in marketing problems (both a regression as well as a classification problem).

His recentish post about this highlights changes

strategic marketing theory, concepts and practices. In this “experience economy”, strategic marketing now plays a different role. It is now “conversation-driven”, “social network-powered”’, “technology-enabled” and “information-intensive”.

Miss the conversations about you on Facebook… miss the pressure points you need to hit.
Don’t engage with your customers where they want to enage with you, they may not stay your customers.

If you want to be 1st for Customer Service, you need to be hearing what your customers are telling you.

After all, how do you want to hit the headlines in a Web 2.0 world?
“They talk to me from Facebook” or “I complained via YouTube

Most big corporations have a High Level/Executive Complaints team; maybe they could actively pursue service improvement opportunities that are made in similar public spaces. After all, why haven’t the normal routes worked?

The Cluetrain Manifesto has a few thoughts about how people might interact

  • We like this new marketplace much better. In fact, we are creating it.
  • You’re invited, but it’s our world. Take your shoes off at the door. If you want to barter with us, get down off that camel!
  • If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.
  • We’ve got some ideas for you too: some new tools we need, some better service. Stuff we’d be willing to pay for. Got a minute?
  • You’re too busy “doing business” to answer our email? Oh gosh, sorry, gee, we’ll come back later. Maybe.
  • You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.
  • Your product broke. Why? We’d like to ask the guy who made it. Your corporate strategy makes no sense. We’d like to have a chat with your CEO. What do you mean she’s not in?

Written by SteveEllwood

November 23, 2007 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Facebook

Tagged with , , ,

Wikis and intranets

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In an ongong bid for speed and agility, my company are changing the way we manage resources on the intranet.

I’m a proselytiser for social networking and wikis (I love my TiddlyWiki, FWIW) so I’m hoping we’ll see significant changes.

Lars Plougmann has written in a couple of places about what you could do if you have no intranet. In If your organisation has no intranet: An opportunity

He suggests some of the disadvantages of an intranet

  • Information changes quicker than the intranet team can update it. No content is static.
  • When the perception is that the information on the intranet is not up to date it stops being the first source for vital business matters
  • The intranet structure typically reflects the shape of the business as of yesteryear
  • The process for updating information on the intranet involves finding out who is responsible for a particular page, then describing a proposed change in an email which gets added to a work queue. Most people only involve themselves once in that process if they don’t see the page updated within a short time
  • Ownership is often skewed: When only a few people can edit stuff on the intranet, an “us” and “them” culture arises. In the worst cases, the intranet becomes the object of blame and ridicule.

and he suggests that a wiki can address many of these shortcomings, with use of tagging, links and *search* – surely a key component of any Knowledge management system.

If you tie authoring in a wiki to ID, then control is easy and if someone screws up… revert the change.

In How to avoid mysterious golfing cart accidents he develops this further and   suggests he has a client who wants to replace their intranet with a wiki. Why?

  • To cut the publishing cycle from days or weeks to minutes or seconds thus ensuring that the content is more relevant
  • To move from content nobody wants to read written in corporate speak to information about what is really going on written in a human voice

He point back to the Cluetrain Manifesto for a lovely quote

“The intranet revolution is bottom-up. There’s no going back. If a company doesn’t recognize this, the top-down intranet it puts in can breed the type of cynicism that results in ugly bathroom graffiti and mysterious golfing cart accidents.”

More wikis; more involvement; more openeness; more benefit – like the Cluetrain says

  • What’s happening to markets is also happening among employees. A metaphysical construct called “The Company” is the only thing standing between the two.
  • Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman. “

Go and re-read (or read if you haven’t) the 95 theses.

Written by SteveEllwood

November 16, 2007 at 4:28 pm

Posted in blogging, wiki

Tagged with , , ,

Email and its effectiveness…

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At work, we’re having another periodic set of valuable exhortations about email overload – and there are various good practice guidelines coming out.

Valuable, too. But I like the 10:1 email rules from Lars Ploughman

  • 9 people read the email
  • 8 people file the email (in their private folders, thereby duplicating effort)
  • 7 people are interrupted in their work or thoughts when the email arrives
  • 6 people will never be able to find the email again
  • 5 people didn’t actually need to know about the change
  • 4 people joining the project in the next phase wouldn’t have received the email
  • 3 people will be able to find the email again, should they need to
  • 2 people will check back to the email at a later date when they need the information
  • 1 of them will understand the email in context, be able to find it at a later date and action it

So, does that mean more wiki working; more proprietary software; or social networking.

Me? for a project? I’d go for wiki, with links to a controlled repository.

Written by SteveEllwood

November 15, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Posted in email

Facebook keeps on rolling…

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Stowe Boyd, a key blogger on social networking inter alia is suggesting that corporate blogs may wind down in favour of Facebook Business pages?

Is he right? He’s actually experimenting

“So I think I will try an experiment. I will retire /Messengers — maybe permanently — and set up shop on Facebook. The existing content at /Messengers will be migrated to /Message, and some bits of it might be repurposed for the new page at Facebook for Stowe Boyd And The /Messengers. Go take a look.

… but I am interested to see if my biz presence fans out through fans. Fan me!”

I’m still working on how we could usefully interact with our customers on Facebook; looks likely some other folk will be thinking about that, too.

Some commenters think *less* companies are going to allow Facebook interaction.

I think they are wrong.

Written by SteveEllwood

November 15, 2007 at 5:39 pm

Posted in Facebook