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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

I don’t need it. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but I’m confident that all my communications, entertainment and computing needs are currently met, perfectly happily. If anything, I have a surplus of communications and entertainment tools and media. Too many ways to get in touch. Too many ways to watch TV, film, see photos, listen to music, read books, email, call, Skype etc., on the move.

But damnit, I’ll bet that whatever Apple release tomorrow I’ll want. Because smug and self-satisfied as Mr Jobs is, his company is awesome at design and fantastic at getting us to ‘need’ things for no reason other than they’re beautiful and elegant. I’m not a Mac, though… that’s one thing I’ve managed to hold firm to.

Cross posted at Division6.

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Great article from Econsultancy on Marks and Spencer’s social media strategy here. Sienne Veit, business development manager of the retail giant, talks about how M&S has implemented a social media strategy, where it has been successful, how it deals with difficult issues (such as Busts 4 Justice), Twitter and how it measures success. Interesting case study.

boobed

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I can’t help but be slightly disappointed by the lack of Windows 7 promotional tie-ins here in the UK. Microsoft has truly outdone itself this time around with a number of bizarre link-ups that put most other software launches to shame.

For example, the US gets an advertising free episode of Family Guy featuring show favourites Brian and Stewie installing the new OS (an episode which incidentally may never see the light of day here due to product placement regulations):

Japan takes things one step further with this incredible Burger King promotion – the seven (yes, seven) burger Windows 7 Whopper:

Windows Whopper

Meanwhile, here in the UK we have to make do with a PC World trade-in offer. Come on Microsoft, if you want me to upgrade you’ll have to convince me harder than that.

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Everyone knows how cool the downloadable applications available on the iPhone are. That’s a given. With an app to suit every occasion, tube journeys need never be dull as long as you have your trusty iPhone/iPod Touch.  With so many apps out there, I thought I’d just focus on one I discovered a few weeks back: the deadmau5 Touch Mix.

deadmau5 (pronounced ‘dead-mouse’ don’t you know, not ‘dead-mow-five’ like I called him for months) is a world renowned DJ – hot on the heels of the likes of Justice and Daft Punk – and is sampled left right and centre.

Pay £1.75 or thereabouts and you can mix just like him. The deadmau5 app includes a top-ten hitlist of his most popular songs, two of which can be played simultaneously and mixed together. You can do all sorts of cool things with the tunes: loop sections, increase/decrease the track tempo, bring specific parts of the songs to the forefront, to create some fresh lyrical beats of your own. All these elements and tune-tinkerings, my flatmate DJ assures me, are crucial ingredients to the real world of mixing.

One major difference is that, once you select a section of music to play, the app brings this in automatically at exactly the right moment – removing the need for what separates the amateurs from the pros: musical timing and a sense of rhythm.

Nevertheless,  I’ve had the app for weeks and still haven’t got it.  It’s somehow hard, even when everything is made easy.

The clip below may not sound that incredible, but they have really mastered this little application.

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The study I trailed yesterday on my personal blog has been published and reported on today. The full Broadband Quality Study from Cisco (my client) and the Oxford University Said Business School is available here.

The reason I care so much about this topic is that I truly believe that for societal and economic development, quality broadband connectivity is essential. The things you can do – from the simple act of being more connected to friends and family on Twitter and Facebook, to high-resolution video calling, photo & video uploads, & (in the future) interactive engagement in virtual environments (I still don’t quite believe in Second Life, but I do believe in what it and services like it will become) – dramatically change relationships, the way you learn, the way you interact, the way public services are delivered and much more.

I’m pleased that there’s so much development globally in terms of policy and infrastructure investment, particularly in the UK obviously. Keen to see wireless infrastructure development move on apace so we can bridge the urban/rural divide and get fibre-like broadband quality out to more people, more cost effectively (and get to a point with pervasive broadband connectivity across devices). I’d love to see more fibre too, but can’t help but feel that the days of multi-billion pound massively government subsidized infrastructure investment might be behind us for the time being… but we’ll see!

Cisco’s study looks at how broadband quality varies internationally – quality rather than pure speed as latency, the other factor weighted in when considering quality, effects the usefulness of a broadband connection in delivering certain services – e.g. realtime video communications, as opposed to video downloads, the former of which requires low latency (delay), the latter of which is a little more tolerant. The UK ranks in at number 25, which isn’t too bad when you consider that most of our telecommunications infrastructure was built out in the middle of the 20th century and we have aggressive targets for improvement in the future thanks to the recent Digital Britain commitments. We also do well for broadband penetration thanks to our universal service mandate, which bodes well for my eventual move to the countryside…

Have a read, let me know what you think.

Crossposted at Division6.

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Ok, so this came out at the end of last week but it remains one of the most popular technology stories on the Telegraph website so thought it might be worth a post. The article looks at things that are being killed by the internet – anything from polite disagreement to Sarah Palin to dogging. It is pretty funny and well worth a read.  I particularly miss Ceefax and page 302 for football news.

Speaking of popular articles on the Telegraph, this is proving popular – how 20 of the most popular websites in the world looked when originally launched. Interesting to see how they have developed.

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Someone once said to me that technology is what you call something that doesn’t quite work properly yet. Many of products we now take for granted were once referred to as technology in their infancy – fridges, showers, cars, planes – are now simply called by their monikers. Presumably a chair was once considered technology but maybe that is pushing the argument too far!

Outside the bosses in the technology-oriented industries, do the c-suites buy ‘technology’? Or do they wait until it is in such common usage amongst their peers that it is no longer perceived as risky in any way? Moreover, how can suppliers of technology products and services accelerate this process?

Many of the companies we talk to stress the importance of reaching the c-suite but it is an extremely hard task to accomplish. A few years back we held a seminar where the Deputy Chairman of Goldman Sachs, who dealt with CEOs every day, came to talk to us and our clients about the key c-suite issues. Technology hardly rated a mention in his view! Although we now have a generation of CEOs who started work with a PC on their desk and who use technology everyday so one would guess this is rapidly changing.

The best way to accelerate the transition from ‘early adopter’ to ‘majority’ is to get as many existing customers as possible to talk about their usage of the product and its benefits. There isn’t a company around that wouldn’t buy that statement but it is far too rare that they really focus on this requirement.  The Brands2Life client that, in my view, did this best in recent years, in my view, had a dedicated customer relationship manager within the marketing team who managed the key clients day-to-day from a PR perspective and ran an annual customer excellence awards scheme that culminated in the winning customers receiving their award from a member of the English Rugby World Cup team at the Natural History Museum. Needless to say these customers were always available to endorse the company!

I reckon that, far too often, the request to get customers involved in PR comes from the sales manager at the end of the meeting as a throwaway comment. The customer contact probably recoils in horror at the prospect of their name in lights proclaiming huge investment and/or cost-cutting and the subject is quickly dropped. It doesn’t have to be that way.

So here are some key tips on how to maximise your chances of getting customers to participate in PR:

  • Get the CEO to champion the programme, ideally get customer endorsements into their KPIs
  • If possible get a member of the marketing or PR team to have some dedicated (and ring-fenced) time to focus solely on clients
  • Brief the sales team properly on the process and the benefits – show them how other companies have implemented these programmes to their financial benefit
  • Pick the customers that have a corporate goal to communicate their innovation, collaboration or operational excellence – and map your proposal to that goal and language – this can often be found in the Chairman’s Statement in the Annual Report or in the Year-End Analyst presentation
  • Pick the individuals within those customers, who want to raise their profile for some reason – we had great success with the procurement team of a large bank once who needed to promote their role in a successful post-acquisition integration and were being ignored by their in-house PR team
  • Make sure that the customer understand their potential role in the PR process in its entirety – we have a document we use with clients for this and it invariably helps to avoid mis-understandings
  • If resources allow, allocate a PR person to look after each client and hand-hold them through the process. This will avoid any doubts entering their minds and de-railing the process
  • Make sure that any resulting coverage and/or results are quickly fed back with accompanying information on the audience – this will help them to position their role in a positive light before anyone else in their organisation sees it
  • If at all possible get the CEO of the vendor to thank the customer personally for their involvement by phone, email or letter

It is a substantial investment to put all these things in place but, if the money and resource can be made available, I think it will make a considerable impact on the speed of the journey from Moore’s early adopter to ‘majority’.

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