David Frederick's | iAIR BLOG

Consulting, Innovation, Strategy, Vision, Education, & Ideation

The Future of Mobile is Content

Forrester recently came out with a new report called CMO: The Future of Mobile is Content. While this is a no brainer to many of us in the content and technology space, and certainly didn’t need a report to articulate this seemingly obvious trend, it does shed some interesting light on this topic. So lets take a quick look.

In the report, Forrester discusses how consumers will adopt and use convenient services and products. On mobile devices, this means services that offer immediacy and simplicity through a highly contextual experience. This is nothing new and was one of the key drivers for web 2.0 solutions. It’s now and not surprisingly moved to mobile devices.  Context — the sum total of what is known about an individual along with what he or she is currently experiencing — is a moving target that will pull consumer expectations of convenience with it.

This is an interesting paradigm in that it creates a two-fold challenge – privacy concerns for the consumer/user and a voluminous amount data that a marketing executive will have to define, capture, parse, track, analyze/understand and act/respond to -KPI’s, etc. If they want to be successful. Most executives have a very difficult time understanding and defining their data, determining what data to look at and what to do with it, so marketing leaders will need to clearly define and deliver highly contextual experiences to build mobile relationships with customers that drive engagement and ultimately sales or the desired response. Not all marketing executives need to move at the same pace to embrace new contextual information, but marketing executives must orchestrate, define and enable collaboration across all the members of their organization to build effective contextual mobile offerings.

The report covers a variety of topics and demonstrates that:

  • Mobile Phones Will Be Your Customers’ Preeminent Digital Engagement Channel
  • Contextual Experiences Will Define Mobile Success
  • Technology Innovations Will Drive Context Capability Forward
  • Reaching The Right Level Of Context Will Take Time And Strategic Alignment

The report also provides the following key advice and conclusion:

  • Aspire To Mobile As The Primary Digital Medium for your business.

What does this mean to the consumer and content provider?

  • The Cost Of Convenience Is Privacy
  • Supplemental Material will be needed
  • A voluminous amount of data can and will be captured. How do you define what you need and how do you use the information to create the desired response from consumers.

As I said, if you have been alive in the last 10 years and were involved in the content space, you would know much of this. Still, the report provides a strong case for the dominance and explosive growth mobile devices play in our everyday life. In the not to distant future mobile devices will control and enable a large part of our everyday life – shopping, banking, navigation, entertainment, payment and payment collection, communication, control of remote devices….wait….they already do that today! So if they already do that, imagine the further intrusion or shall I say integration, these ubiquitous devices will have on our everyday experience.That means two things. For the consumer – empowerment and convenience. For the marketer a new and highly intense real-time engagement with the consumer to drive revenue, brand support, engagement and more.

Mobile devices, platforms, and content will be the dominant tool for humanity in the coming years as well as one of the most powerful revenue generating models. From medicine to finance. Finance to entertainment. Supply chain to shopping. From Shopping to, well you get the point. Check out Forrester’s new Report. It has some interesting data points that truly validate this explosive trend.

-DF

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Written by David Frederick

July 30, 2011 at 8:51 AM

Here’s A Cheery Thought!

Here’s a cheery thought…

According to the latest daily statement from the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. government had an operating cash balance of $73.8 billion at the end of the day yesterday. Apple’s last earnings report (PDF here) showed that the company had $76.2 billion in cash and marketable securities at the end of June.

In other words, the world’s largest tech company has more cash than the world’s largest sovereign government. That’s because Apple collects more money than it spends, while the U.S. government does not. According to the CBO and U.S. Treasury, if you taxed everyone in the U.S. at 100% tax rate, you would not put a dent into the $14.5 trillion dollar defect. Still don’t think there is a spending problem in Washington?

-DF

Written by David Frederick

July 29, 2011 at 9:08 AM

Competent Management

I have been fortunate in my career to have managed some great employee teams as an executive and when I look back at what made my teams so successful I have identified several areas that have made the difference. One key area is following these tips below:

  • Trustworthy. Trust is grounded in competence and character. You should know what to do and how to do it. And, you should always do what you say you will. This should be a no brainer but all to often and regrettably, it is as foreign to managers as the chemical and mineral compounds found in martian surface soil are. What a novel idea – competence and character.
  • Influential. Your people rely on others to get their jobs done. Therefore, you need to cultivate relationships with those beyond your immediate group who make your people productive. This is especially true in larger organizations where other inter-company constituents have an impact on your employee’s performance, their success and the company’s overall success. Building solid and mutually successful relationships with other inter-company constituents will go a long way to driving success.
  • Team-focused. A good boss knows that a team is better than the sum of its parts. To bring your group together, give them a compelling purpose, clear goals and plans, and a culture of “we” not “I.” To many times management, especially those in executive management focus on “I” and not we. A strong manager and executive always fosters an environment of we both in success and failure to do otherwise injects resentment, lack of trust, lack of communication, and distance between manager and employee. Nothing can disrupt a company more than lack of purpose, goals and plans. I would also add communication to this list as well.

Properly managing people is hard. No doubt about it. But you can go a long way with some basic common sense. However, many managers seem to lack this trait. These three points are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to effective and productive management. Like most things that are effective, keep it simple, clear and concise. This will go a long way to building a successful and mutually beneficial relationship with your employee team. Remember, without employee’s you don’t have a team. Without an effective leader, they don’t have management, just some jerk they report to everyday. It takes both parties to be successful personally, professionally and for your company. At the end of the day, that’s what everyone should strive for.

-DF

Written by David Frederick

July 21, 2011 at 10:16 AM

S Curves Everywhere

If you have ever worked with predictive models and trend mapping you are no doubt familiar with the S curve. The ubiquitous S-curve (also known as the sigmoid function) has long been recognized by economists, technologists, and scientists as a strong tool for understanding patterns. Now professor Adrian Bejan at Duke University, with collaborator Sylvie Lorente from the University Toulouse, has developed an exiting new theory that explains the reason for the prevalence of this particular pattern throughout nature and the man-made world.

Their research shows that this phenomenon can be predicted entirely by recognizing in it a flow. The flow is not by diffusion alone, rather it is a combination of tree-shaped “invasion” by convection, followed by “consolidation” by diffusion perpendicular to the invasive lines. The S curve is not unique: its scales depend on the relative magnitude of the speed of the invading lines and the diffusivity perpendicular to the lines. Tree-shaped invasion covers the territory with diffusion much faster than line-shaped invasion. The predicted S-curve flow architecture unites the designs of spreading flows and collecting flows (e.g., mining, fossil fuel extraction, Hubbert peak) in all the realms of nature: animate, inanimate, and human-made.

Economic trends, population growth, the spread of cancer, or the adoption of new technology seem to follow certain patterns, says Bejan. A new technology, for example, begins with slow acceptance, followed by explosive growth, only to level off before “hitting the wall. Rebecca Henderson – one of my favorite MIT Sloan Professors who is now at Harvard Business School had some very interesting theories and practical models for working with S-Curves when developing a successful product and technology strategy. You should also check out her work as well.

Bejan’s theory, known as the constructal law, uses a large river basin as a visual description of flow systems, growing fast and far, with smaller branches growing laterally from the main channels. It is based on the principle that designs of flow systems develop over time by facilitating flow access — reducing and distributing friction or other forms of resistance.

  • A new technology, for example, after a slow initial acceptance can be imagined moving fast through established, though narrow, channels into the marketplace. This is the steep upslope of the “S.”
  • As this technology matures, and its penetration slows, any growth, or flow, moves outward from the initial penetration channels in a shorter and slower manner.

If your involved in predictive models, product development, technology development or analysis this is a very interesting study and I recommend you check it out. You can get the study below:

-DF

Ref.: A. Bejan and S. Lorente, The constructal law origin of the logistics S curve, Journal of Applied Physics, 110, 024901 (2011); [DOI:10.1063/1.3606555]

Written by David Frederick

July 21, 2011 at 9:49 AM

The Six Steps In Cost/Benefit Analysis

I am always amazed at the confusion, misunderstanding and ineffectiveness of middle and senior management when it comes to conducting meaningful and actionable cost/benefit analysis.

Either the effort is to high level or mired in too much data which ultimately produces inaccurate and non-actionable outcomes.

We all know it’s easy to make an investment decision when the benefits obviously outweigh the costs, but few people understand what really should go into the analysis. So here are six steps to help you produce a meaningful and actionable CBA.

  1. Understand the cost of status quo. You need this to measure the relative merit of an investment against the “do nothing” option. Sometimes doing nothing is the right decision.
  2. Identify costs. Consider up-front costs as well as any in future years. Almost any initiative will have up front cost. Most people get hammered when they fail to consider the upfront costs or hidden costs.
  3. Identify benefits. Ascertain what additional revenue or return will come in from the investment. This is dicey because you need to define an ROI. The challenge is how to define the ROI. Remember, ROI to one constituency may be efficiency. To another it may be revenue. To another it may be market share, etc. ROI is subjective and you will need to consider all perspectives and ROI definitions to truly get a true benefit picture/metric.
  4. Determine the cost savings. What can you stop doing if you make this investment? Sometimes its a trade-off. If we do X, can we stop using Y. That’s another hidden variable that many forget about. If you stop doing Y because of X that cost savings could exponentially increase the benefits of doing the initiative.
  5. Create a timeline for expected costs and revenue. Map out when the costs and benefits will occur and how much they will be. This is critical for two reasons. One, expectations. By having a defined timeline you can align and define expectations of all interested parties. Two, understanding the timeline allows you to plan for the cost and revenue impacts to your operations thus empowering you to better manage and adjust course accordingly if things change.
  6. Evaluate non-quantifiable benefits and costs. Assess whether there are intangible benefits such as strengthening your firm’s position with distributors, or costs such as creating unnecessary complexity. This kind of goes back to point 2. It’s important to understand the benefits from all perspectives including tangible and non-tangible. Benefits or ROI are subjective understanding and accounting for them are key. Defining non-quantifiable benefits and costs i.e. emotional toll, work load, disruption to the enterprise, client or market confusion, etc. can all impact the overall benefit and cost of the initiative. Even if you don’t include these variables in the actual equation, as a responsible leader you should consider these issues in full to ensure you have a complete grasp of the impact on the project and can manage the initiative effectively and productivity to a successful outcome.

I hope you find these tips helpful but remember, when conducting a CBA be careful of data overload. While considering all the data to make an informed decision is important, you need to balance the effort so you don’t end up with paralysis by analysis. The ultimate objective is to make in informed and actionable decision based on a reasonable and responsible CBA.

-DF

Written by David Frederick

July 14, 2011 at 8:47 AM

What Google’s Quiet Failure Says About Its Innovation Health

I wanted to share this interesting article from Michael Schrage with you. Michael is a research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, and is the author of Serious Play and the forthcoming Getting Beyond Ideas. Michael is considered one of the top minds in innovation and I found his recent blog post/article very insightful and interesting. Check it out.

-DF

What Google’s Quiet Failure Says About Its Innovation Health

Let social media mavens debate whether Google+ will succeed as a ‘Facebook killer’ where Buzz did not. I think they’d benefit from a quick look back at a failed innovation Google quietly DNR’ed. It offers a sobering reality check for anyone who believes that great people, great skills, great wealth, a great brand, and a great opportunity invariably lead to great innovation, They don’t. Not even for Google. There’s a valuable lesson here.

Google Health should have become yet another of the super search engine’s high-impact, paradigm-busting successes. All the essential ingredients were there. A huge global market consistent with Google’s espoused mission to ‘organize the world’s information.’ An increasingly info-centric industry rife with inefficiencies achingly ripe for transformation. The chance to bring algorithmic ingenuity, superior scalability, and simpler user interfaces to individuals and institutions overburdened with complication. No dominant incumbents but intense interest from serious rivals such as Microsoft to spur competitive creativity. A controversial and humongous health care reform initiative in America to promote top-of-mind awareness and concern. Literally hundreds of billions of dollars of opportunity.

Rarely do the post-industrial stars align so well for an entrepreneurial enterprise hellbent on market revolution. Between the ongoing digitalization, consumerization, and personalization of health care delivery, Google was supremely well-positioned to have as big an innovative impact on medical informatics as it’s had on mass media. Admittedly, Google Health’s original conception and execution as a ‘personal health records’ portal wasn’t particularly sexy or exciting. But then, that’s what many naysayers had said about search and maps. Google had the skills and resources to iterate its way greater impact. Everyone understood that organizing the world’s health care information was a worthy business ambition squarely in Google’s innovation sweet spot.

The market reality proved sour. Nothing much happened. Barely three years after the service launched, Google announced its demise. Health officially dies in January; all whimper, no bang. By virtually every metric that matters, it’s been a stunning disappointment. The service may not have lost Google much money but, relative to opportunities and expectations, Google Health transformed nothing. No paradigms were nicked or even nudged. Genuinely talented people with top management support and technological brilliance don’t even have the satisfaction of a successful failure. (Google Wave, for example, may have been a market failure but even its critics acknowledged its innovation chops.) One of the world’s most innovative companies didn’t just fail to innovate as a business, it dramatically underachieved even as a technical innovator in one of the world’s biggest, most dynamic, and most important industries. What happened?

Some observers say that regulatory and privacy concerburns deterred participation. Google insiders point out that an internal champion left the company to launch a digital healthcare company of his own. External critics complain Health’s initial user interface was clunky and that the burden of inputting personal health care data was a discouraging bore. Even more damning are accusations that Google Health’s ‘records management’ value propositions simply weren’t compelling enough to command commitment from either health care organizations or individuals. An upgrade last year didn’t meaningfully shift momentum.

No doubt each of these points have elements of truth. But none of these reasons comes close to explaining ‘the why.’ Here are mine:

Google Health failed both as a business and as a product because Google ignored — rather than embedded — the innovation sensibility that made it successful. Google Health failed because it wasn’t designed to deliver the fundamental value proposition that Google has done best. Google Health failed because it betrayed the very Web 2.0 ideals that made it both a technology and market leader. Access to great talent, great tools, great technology and great markets collectively couldn’t compensate for Google abandoning its computational core competence

“A true Web 2.0 application is one that gets better the more people use it,” noted internet infopreneur and publisher Tim O’Reilly, whose team coined the phrase ‘Web 2.0’ over five years ago. “Google gets smarter every time someone makes a link on the web. Google gets smarter every time someone makes a search. It gets smarter every time someone clicks on an ad. And it immediately acts on that information to improve the experience for everyone else. It’s for this reason I argue that the real heart of Web 2.0 is harnessing collective intelligence.”

Simply put, Google Health was never a true Web 2.0 application. Google Health didn’t get better the more people used it. Google didn’t get smarter every time someone made a link or search. Google certainly didn’t ‘immediately act on that information’ to improve the Google Health user experiences. The real heart of Google Health certainly wasn’t a harnessing or harvesting of ‘collective intelligence.’

Contrast that with the ongoing success of Google Maps and Gmail. For an even more compelling case, look at how Android — formally launched after Google Health — and its Open Handset Alliance evolved. Android was a true Web 2.0 innovation platform in every way Health was not; Android enabled a true Web 2.0 innovation ecosystem in every way Health did not. Android was predicated on empowering Web 2.0 user experiences in almost every way Health did not. Indeed, where were the Aetnas, Kaiser Permanentes, and British National Health Services in adding ongoing value to the Google Health experience?

Web 2.0 innovation isn’t just about who uses the application, it’s about who is trying to make it better. Because Android truly embraced and embedded the Web 2.0 ethos, Google was able to do for handset manufacturers what it proved unable to do for health care companies. Google Health never became an innovation ecosystem where users, usage and partnerships combined to continuously create new value. It didn’t have the Web 2.0 heart for it.

But the very reasons for Health’s failure help explain why Google+ deserves all the attention it’s been getting. Social media platforms like Facebook can’t succeed unless they, too, honor the commandment to creatively harness collective intelligence. Google’s renewed efforts to compete with Facebook force it to revisit its most fundamental Web 2.0 innovation sensibilities. Google’s future health depends on learning the right lessons from Google Health.

Written by David Frederick

July 13, 2011 at 12:11 PM

3 Ways To Predict The Future of Technology

It’s expected that today’s CIO’s, CTO’s and even CEO’s are able to see deep into the future so they can make reliable and actionable predictions (in an ever-changing world) about coming technology needs and trends. If, like most CXO’s, you don’t have a crystal ball, try using these three tactics to better see the future:

1: Rely on more than one source. Don’t depend on one consulting firm, no matter how well-respected. Turn to a variety of internal and external experts to predict
what’s coming. This can also include industry peers, case studies, competitive analysis and more,

2: Go to more than the customary events. Widen your sources (internal and external) by going to a variety of conferences, industry education events and trade shows. Mingle with vendors, customers, venture capitalists, and academics to see a breadth of views. You should also engage with leading universities that specialize in technology to see what is being done, new technology solutions and application/usage trends. I highly recommend MIT, MIT Sloan School of Management, University of Advancing Technology,  Cal Tech, etc.

3: Look down. Rather than turning to people who have more experience than you, seek out junior people. The younger crowd often spots trends in technology long before even the best CXO knows of them. This is a model perfected from the Military. Everyone knows who has ever served in the Military that the Chief’s and Sergent’s run the show and usually have the greatest/diverse experience and solutions to both current and over the horizon tactical and strategic challenges.

For more information on this topic, I recommend you check out Robert Plant’s The CIO as Corporate Psychic.

-DF

Written by David Frederick

July 13, 2011 at 11:38 AM