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The Future Is So Bright…

November 7, 2011

If you spend any time watching the news about Greece, our deficit, the unemployment rate or the economy in general, it can be pretty depressing.  But last week, I took a break from all that and attended both the Seattle Interactive Conference (#SIC2011) and TechStars Demo Day (@TechStars).  If you want to lift your spirits about innovation in America, then you need to look no further than Seattle to find many people (entrepreneurs really) taking advantage of the most dramatic changes in technology happening in a generation.

Some key takeaways from the event:

@jeffbarr of Amazon Web Services said that EC2 cloud storage costs $0.14/GB/Mo.  That is cheap, but not that much cheaper than 10 GB of storage on iCloud, which costs $20/year…still cheap.

@scottlipsky of Photorocket gave an excellent talk on UX Innovation being Business Innovation – we must focus on the total customer service and interactive experience.  Customer service is user experience.  Some examples he gave of outstanding user experience:  CraigsList, Amazon, iOS, DropBox, Twitter, UrbanEars and Virgin America.

@shayang, co-founder of Zoosk described some of the lessons learned at Zoosk about building the next generation dating platform on social.  One of the most interesting ideas he talked about was building your own social graph.  The thing is, I didn’t get it.  I’ve gotta look more closely at my notes…

Will hunsinger, CEO of EVRI (@billykid) moderated an interesting panel entitled “The Transformation of News Media”.  Panelists included @johncook of GeekWire.com, @mikeindustries (Mike Davidson) of Newsvine, @markbriggs of @King5, and @curtwoodward of @Xconomy.  Key takeaways:

  • Most news is 90% AP (Associated Press) content.
  • Appetite for long-form news is dead or dying.  (Agree but for some news articles, long-form is necessary…try understanding the Greek/EuroZone situation).
  • Mobile TV is about a year away.  (WHAT?  I can watch King5 in HD on my iPhone?  That’s what was said by @markbriggs.)  
  • Community engagement in news helps shape the facts and the story, with short stories on blogs being driven, perhaps, from CPM advertising.  Traditional media never got this.
  • People consume news 15 times a day for 3 minutes at a time on their phones.  However on tablets, people spend 20 minutes at a time.
  • Crowd-sourcing or crowd journalism is growing FAST.
  • A more informed public will be the result of these trends.

I tried the new EVRI iPad app and I think it is quite good.  A few improvements are needed but it appears to be a more comprehensive platform than Flipboard.  The improvements needed include:

  • From the homepage, sometimes a news article will say something but when you click inside, there is no news article that touts such headlines.  This is frustrating.
  • Like in Flipboard, I want the ability to reply to a comment directly in the app, or share with LinkedIN, not just Twitter and Facebook.

@ShaunaCausey, beach vball player, VP of SMC Seattle, digital strategist who manages social media for @nordstrom gave an interesting talk on how conversation sparks innovation.  Key points:

  • 95% of companies don’t answer questions on Facebook.  (WHAT?)
  • Don’t delete comments on Facebook (look at Chapstick case study – TOO FUNNY!)
  • MyStarbucksIdea.com is a great example of using the crowd to innovate.
  • @sethsays “How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts in our generation.

Ben @Elowitz, co-founder and CEO of WetPaint was perhaps the most inspiring and intriguing presentation.  @Elowitz writes a very interesting blog on http://digitalquarters.net/.  Key takeaways (not including Ben’s 5 steps to know and serve your audience):

  • In the last year, Facebook usage by individuals has increased on average 69%.  Everything else has declined by 9% (WOW!).
  • 75% of interaction about TV shows happens on the day the show did not air.
  • Customer segmentation in social is critical.  For WetPaint, that is interest-based segmentation.
  • Google+ does not add anything new.  Only about 40 million users (us techies to understand it) are using it.
  • WetPaint is about being an expert at Social Distribution.  (How can you use them?  Is there a services play around WetPaint???)
@sicarter Shannon Carter, Director of Design for the Zumobi Network, gave us 5 principles for designing mobile apps (applicable to any app, really – but especially mobile).  Some takeaways:
  • Zumobi apps get 200MM page views, all outside the google ecosystem.  WOW!
  • Design patterns for tablets must be different because usage patterns are very different – longer.
  • The five principles include:  Make it personal; make it focused; make it fresh; make it lucrative; make it flexible.
@DerekHalpern says on his twitter page, “I’m 99% useless, but that 1% when I’m not, I’m dangerous. Find out how I’m dangerous by checking out Social Triggers.  http://socialtriggers.com”  Derek gave a super short presentation on social triggers.  Key takeaways:
  • Nobody cares about you or your product, they care about what you can do for them.  (DOH)
  • The allure of NOW is irresistible.  Add NOW to all your messages like “you can save 1 hour today if you try this product”.
  • FOCUS on doing one thing well.  The HALO effect will help you to sell other stuff to satisfied clients.
  • Give people fewer options and they’ll make a decision.  Do “chunking” – 3 choices, then 5, then a few.
  • Make a claim, show the proof.
  • Switch your message from benefits to fear of loss messages.  Focus on what people will lose by not using you, perhaps painting the worst case scenario.
Finally, @TechStars Seattle, with @AndySack and crew, put on a most incredible demo day.  Over 700 companies applied for TechStars Seattle with only 10 chosen and it appeared that nearly all of them were on their way to gaining funding.  To read more about these promising companies, visit GeekWire.
The future is so bright in Seattle “I gotta wear shades”.
My notes from the conference, taken on Note Taker HD for iPad:  SIC2011

RIM Gets the Gist

February 14, 2011

Gist.com, founded by TA McCann, announced today that it has been acquired by RIM.  Congratulations to my friends at Gist, who last fall touted 100 million professional profiles in their database.

Around the web on the Gist/RIM hookup.

Executive Vision: Technology

November 29, 2010

Replay from CNBC – A must see for ANY executive, not just in technology!

Technology has morphed beyond chips and bytes into a tool powerful enough to fundamentally redesign the human species, creating a new DNA for how we live, work and socialize. CNBC’s Simon Hobbs gathers renowned experts to tackle the challenges facing technology today.

http://plus.cnbc.com/rssvideosearch/action/player/id/1614209333/code/cnbcplayershare

Process Measures – The Passion

November 19, 2010

Today’s business environment demands a new way to think and even more important, a new way to act.  Improved performance happens in a moment we like to call “NOW”.   And while most complex organizations today have some kind of process definition for various parts of their organization, without measurement, really, what is the point?  We believe that driving value in an organization first requires measuring processes, sub-processes and outcomes.  A secondary value of defining the tolerances for these balanced “scorecards” is the teamwork, understanding and disciplined focus it provides for the team and individuals involved.

I recently attended a half-day process/outcome scorecard development session for the leaders of a human resources process group.  Without boring you in the details, the most significant part of the day for me was a closing statement made by their Sr. Vice President of Human Resources who said, “Can you just imagine where we were five weeks ago, doesn’t this feel amazing?”  And one of the lead managers replied, “I am looking forward to this becoming ingrained as part of our daily routine.”

People who are implementing The Mother of All Processes are passionate about the simplicity and in feeling the improved teamwork even during the planning and development process for NOW.  Are you ready to Manage in the NOW?

I Need Me a Management System

October 6, 2010

By John Bernard

The fact is EVERY organization is run by some form of a management system, whether its existence is consciously recognized or not, whether someone designed that system or it simply evolved. Most organizations operate under an informal momentum-driven management system that few, if anyone, in the organization really understands.

How do I know?

I often ask people in organizations—even CEOs—what their system of management is. Most often in response I get a blank stare and at best, a few words–after they take a few seconds to think.

Management system? What’s that?

In fact, there are most often multiple systems in a given organization, which ultimately creates the fractures that lead to disengagement, the biggest enemy to individual and organizational performance.

And whose job is it to determine the organization’s management system? The top executive! We need to start helping them.

Many Reasons Startups Don’t Get Funding

July 25, 2010

There are many reasons a startup won’t get funded. Before you raise money for your business, ask yourself how investors will not only get their money back but how they’ll get a return on their investment.

So what are some of the main reasons a company does not get funding?

Lack of a compelling story.
Being unprepared to take the next steps with investors.
Having a lack of clear goals or objectives.
Lack of preparation for due diligence.
Little or no knowledge of the funding process.
Relying on other inexperienced and/or greedy business people.
Selecting inappropriate funding sources.
Many entrepreneurs perform little or no due diligence of their potential investors.

If you need advice, engage with one of our advisers today!

“What’s LinkedIN?”

June 23, 2010

At the post office today, a woman with curlers in her hair asked me, “where’s the courthouse?”  I wasn’t sure but then she asked what I did for a living.  When I told her, she asked me for a business card and said she was in marketing.  I said, “send me an invitation to LinkedIN,” and she asked, “what’s LinkedIN?” And this woman is in marketing?  I think I want my business card back.

Now, about that other social networking company that couldn’t find an email address…

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