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2012: The Year in Graphics

Great work by NYT. Graphics and interactives from a year that included an election, the Olympics and a devastating hurricane. A selection of the graphics presented include information about how they were created. HERE 2012: The Year in Graphics

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The end of the two year smartphone contract

Good article by Andrew Arnison addressing another area where operator need to find new business models: the 12/24mth contracts.

However, I think this model is changing, as consumers increasingly balk at the idea of being locked into a particular smartphone, network or tariff plan for two year periods. Instead there is a growing trend for consumers to finance the purchase of their device themselves, without requiring a network operator device subsidy.

Read the full article here.

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Chic Engine Helps You Find That Dress You Saw on Pinterest

It is not new but the story behind impresses me in terms of idea creation and also it represents new ways how information can be found closer to the real-life search approach: "I saw this white dress the other night, and want to get results for a this type of white dress and not just a dress which has the same shape." Jonathan Allen wrote about Chic Engine on searchenginwatch.com:

What does breast cancer screening have to do with fashion? More than rubber bracelets or ribbon broaches.

Adrian Rosebrock, from Catonsville, Maryland, has put into action insights from his day job as a developer at the National Cancer Institute unit to make a visual search engine.

Working in the breast cancer screening unit, Rosebrock has been developing metrics to detect cancer in images and taking those learnings about computer 'vision', namely histology, and applied it to the problem of shape and color in visual search in the fashion vertical.

His project, Chic Engine, matches the shape and color of any image led query you input, either via a image file upload or a hosted image URL – provided you are looking for clothing matches. Currently the index of returned products comes mainly from ShopStyle but what is available so far is an impressive demonstration of how visual search could be something to look out for.

Full article

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Life is too short to be busy

"A 'Busy' Trap" is a great article for the NYT by Tim Kreider which everyone should read.

[...] It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.”

[...] Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

[...] Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.

(via nytimes.com)

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5 Things Every Presenter Should Know About People, Animated

This video already shows how one should present. It might be more work to think of visuals to be put on slides but worth the effort as people consume better what you say / the message is clearer. Just watch this video by Dr. Susan Weinshenk. I wish I could draw as awesome though.. [vimeo http://vimeo.com/44267609]

  1. People learn best in 20-minute chunks. There must be a reason for the successful TED-sized talk format.
  2. Multiple sensory channels compete. During a talk, you engage both the auditory and visual channels — because we’re visual creatures and the visual channel trumps the auditory, make sure your slides don’t require people to read much or otherwise distract from the talk.
  3. What you say is only one part of your presentation. Paralinguistics explores how information is communicated beyond words — be aware the audience is responding to your body language and tone. Record yourself presenting to get a feel for those and adjust accordingly.
  4. If you want people to act, you have to call them to action. At the end of your presentation, be very specific about exactly what you would like your audience to do.
  5. People imitate your emotions and feel your feelings. If you’re passionate about your topic, this excitement will be contagious for the audience. Don’t hold back.

(via brainpickings.org)

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Salesforce Acquires Buddy Media for $689 Million

Buddy Media currently works with “nearly 1,000 of the world’s largest companies,” including brands such as Virgin Mobile, HP, Matte and L’Oreal. “The idea behind the deal is simple. By combining Buddy Media with the rest of salesforce.com’s products, including Salesforce Radian6, the leading social media listening platform, we will be able to deliver the first comprehensive Marketing Cloud that will allow customers to listen, engage, gain insight, publish, advertise and measure social marketing programs,” wrote Buddy Media founder and CEO Michael Lazerow in a postcommenting on the acquisition.

It’s an interesting time for social media management platforms. Just last month, Salesforce’s rival Oracle snapped up Vitrue for $300 million. Like Buddy Media, Vitrue focuses on helping brands manage their social media presence using CRM-like tools and dashboards.

Full article

(via mashable)

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Bump Launches Payments App Powered by PayPal to Share Money

Bump, the app that lets users "bump" smartphones together to share contacts and photos, is launching another service to let users pay the same way. It's called Bump Pay.

It's a simple solution, powered by PayPal, and designed to solve the headache of splitting drink or dinner tabs. Similar solutions exist, including one from Venmo and even PayPal's own Bump-enabled app which came out in 2010. (ING Direct's tech is also made possible by Bump.) But now Bump, an app that's been downloaded by more than 80 million users, has decided to introduce a new app, rather than update its original.

Read the full article on FastCompany

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9 things Lady Gaga can teach us about community management

This week, Lady Gaga became the first person to exceed 20m followers on Twitter.

These are huge numbers, but volume rarely means anything on its own. The interesting point here is that this community really are her 'followers' - in namesake and in the way they respond to her.

They are more loyal than a brand could ever dream of, but there are some lessons that we can all take on board and implement when trying to build a community either online or off.

  1. Look at existing behavior and run with it One of the biggest mistakes brands make when entering into the world of social media is a lack of response. Whether we’re talking about social customer service, or just engaging with people who love your brand;  it’s very hard to do either well without there being some kind of interaction.
  2. Invest and incentives Not only has she personally invested in Backplane, a technology-based community platform, but she also uses Fancorps – another platform from which she leverages a street team of over 25,000. Fancorps incentivises people to share the word of Gaga both online and offline, people are rewarded with points to be used against tracks or albums, tickets, collateral, virtual gifts and more.
  3. Show your flaws Instead of taking this popularity, and shying away from it, keeping things behind closed doors – she’s embraced it and flung open the doors. There are messages from her bedroom, videos shot backstage, interviews where she’ll open up about being scared about performing. The whole shebang.  
  4. She's true to her brand It might be ever-changing, chameleon style, but Gaga’s brand knows itself like no other. It know its stance on equality, sexuality, friendship and more. These might not be issues that every brand needs to consider, but working out what your social voice is.  
  5. Change Keeping people engaged for longer periods of time means exciting them. Sadly, attention spans are much shorter than they used to be, and so there’s a need to create a richer content plan now more than ever.
  6. Authenticity There are no holds barred with Gaga. What you see is what you get, she’s the one doing the talking.  You can tell this by the candid images and videos, to the way she talks online. She’s the one running the show.
  7. Targeting like-minded people To properly build a community, a scattergun approach will not work. There are too many forums, networks, games and apps for people to get involved with, and suck up their time.For years, the benefits of mass-niche communities have been shouted from the rooftops, but now, this is tipped to be the 'future' of networked society. 
  8. Gratitude Without a doubt, the power of Gaga is her fans. Her crazy, loyal, would-do-anything-to-support-her fans. She knows that, and she tells them regularly. It’s the most simple aspect of her community management, it’s free and it takes no time at all.
  9. Collaboration Co-creation and collaboration is the name of the game at the moment. Well, it has been for a while really, but it’s matured enough to be of real use to a brand. Nokia’s just announced that it will centre a large of its international marketing strategy around this, just to show you how it’s evolved as a concept.

See the full article on econsultancy.com

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Artists from the hype machine

An interesting article on Economist.com about new born artists raising up from the internet:

AMERICA’S well-documented independent music scene once valued tour-van mileage, lean living, anti-commercialism and a layer of sonic inscrutability. The DIY work ethic of the 1980s and ‘90s meant everything from booking your own gigs to pressing your own debut single, if necessary. Would-be scribes wrote criticism in Xeroxed zines, published in copy shops. It was more concerned with a grassroots revolution in sound than SoundScan figures—the pre-internet gauge of sales.

In the past decade, indie music blogs—often American, each fancying itself like a mini-NME—have become increasingly influential. Pitchfork and Stereogum, in particular, had the power to break bands from independent labels with every thumbs-up they give. Acts such as the Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes owe much of their commercial viability to enthusiastic online editorial coverage. The online hype machine—which drops new tracks and videos along with breathlessly excited text, plus the usual reviews and interviews—can easily make a musician that has never played a live concert a buzz-worthy act over night. Often the more mysterious the act, the better for the site that breaks it. Traditional media blogs have restyled themselves along the same lines—Rollingstone.com for instance. In this day and age, that online hype may not translate into massive sales, but it can mean a career in music with potentially lucrative touring and licensing. Publishing and live performance are the profit centres in the industry these days.

Nothing illustrates the conflict between the power and influence of the blogs and their romantic notions of an indie music work ethic better than the Lana Del Rey affair. In short, indie music blogs initially championed her “Video Games” single/video via YouTube and covered her as a rising star in the tradition of Cat Power, an underground darling. But then they outed Del Rey as an ambitious pop-star wannabe, who had already released an album to little fanfare under her given name. She had management, a label and the business savvy to reboot as Del Rey with a signature look (a retro brunette bombshell that rarely smiles) and the blogs felt duped. Del Rey wasn’t the undiscovered organically grown rare orchid they had hoped. Rather, she was nurtured in the corporate hothouse. But it was too late to put the genie back in the bottle: Del Rey was already on the way to a major label release, an appearance on Saturday Night Live and a number one album on iTunes in 11 countries.

What Del Rey illustrates is that indie cred, and indie values and credential checking is a useless exercise in this day and age—if indie was a private party, the bouncer has long since left the building. Del Rey wasn’t the first career-oriented songwriter to reconfigure herself with an indie scene-friendly look; acts like the Drums had already done that. And the artists that are given carte blanche on the hipster blogs are just as likely to employ powerful publicists and booking agents, and license tunes commercially as those working the industry showcase circuit and toiling away with songwriting teams. And music industry insiders, who once might have ignored bands playing the basement-show circuit, are combing the blogs, SoundCloud and of course YouTube looking for the next sensation. The walls have been broken down for years, and it is a good thing that they are unlikely to go up again.

Del Rey’s new album isn’t quite worth the kerfuffle. Outside of the unique and downbeat “Video Games”, which contrasts a schoolgirl fantasy of glamorous life with a humdrum chore of keeping a boy interested, "Born to Die" only bears modest fruit. We’re given a heavy dose of Gangsta Nancy Sinatra on songs which wed trip-hop beats, sweeping strings and near-raps. Often, she’s playing a gold-loving, retro-styled vixen that savours the thrills that come with bad boys but ends up bored and conflicted. The lounge filler in “Diet Mountain Dew” and elsewhere lends itself to a gangster moll storyline, but altogether, Born to Die is more pop curiosity than a youthquake. Never fear. With the hype machine humming along 24-7, something else will come soon.

(via Economist.com)

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Google added 750 people to its Manhattan office in 2011

The internet giant has expanded heavily with 4 new NY offices and adding 38% more staff in the recent years, especially in New York City. After acquiring four New York companies and going on a hiring spree for its media and advertising arms, Google now has about 2,750 employees in New York City, a 38% increase from 2010, the company told The Wall Street Journal. Check out the new offices designed after the city below. Not sure if I could concentrate with all the playground around but certainly a great environment to foster ideas and creativity. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpm_LIyMtMY]

(via wsj)

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America's incredible mobile year 2011 or the clamor for more spectrum

The US isn't the largest developing and consuming country when it comes to wireless technologies you would have said in the last few years compared to Europe or Asia, especially Japan or India. This has changed looking at the figures of 2011 (from mobilefuture.org): 8.8 trillion texts were sent which presents 15% more than the year before, the data traffic soar by 1800% in the past four years (!), 166% increase of Facebook Mobile users in the first half of 2011 only, 103m wireless tweets posted each day, more smartphones were bought than PC. Short video with more facts about the year: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKAIzU90zA8]

In fact, the market with its smartphones and user behavior is pretty hungry but the mobile network is currently running out of airwaves (know as spectrum crunch). On 14 February 2012 America's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rejected the possibility to increase the capacity consistent of the proposal by LightSquared to use airwaves formerly used by satellite operators. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) stated that LightSquared technology would interfere with navigation equipement used by planes and operators (see recommendation).

(via cnnmoney)

Heads of AT&T and the FCC are currently discussiung new and different approaches to the spectrum crunch at this years Mobile World Congress currently running in Barcelona, reports pcmag.com: 

Not surprisingly, Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, pushed for a more market-based approach to spectrum allocation here at Mobile World Congress, while FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski expressed concern that a recent spectrum auction deal in Congress might decrease the agency's power on the issue.

One spectrum crunch option that recently made its way through Congress is voluntary spectrum auctions, with broadcasters selling unused, excess spectrum to carriers. The FCC would oversee the auctions, providing some of the proceeds to the participating broadcasters and the rest to the U.S. Treasury.

Earlier this month, AT&T argued that the FCC should not be allowed to impose restrictions on the auctions - namely, the commission should not be able to limit how much spectrum the larger, more wealthier carriers could snap up.

One of the concerns about not having FCC oversight of auctions is that the biggest carriers like AT&T and Verizon will buy everything, leaving nothing for the smaller providers. To that end, T-Mobile and several consumer groups recently asked the FCC to stop Verizon from purchasing $3.6 billion worth of spectrum from the nation's top cable providers.

Verizon defended the purchase in a recent blog post.

"Rather than waste time arguing about spectrum efficiency, let's focus on the issue on which we all agree: America's wireless consumers face a spectrum crunch that won't be relieved by Verizon's spectrum purchase," wrote Charla Wrath, vice president of Verizon policy development. "It's up to the industry, as well as policymakers, to help ensure that more spectrum reaches the marketplace soon, so America's wireless industry remains the global leader in innovation that it is today. I'm sure T-Mobile would agree with that."

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Do more of what makes you happy

Sounds easy, but often we let ourselves get distracted by other things which we think is better or more prestigious, by what we should do or by what we think brings in more money. This applies to companies or business cases too. However, I am personally convinced that if you do what you love and where your passion lies in, without listen to other people around you, then everything else follows: prestige if you want, money, success, happiness, self-fullfillment.. As for companies, I believe if the basic customer need is fullfilled and how the customer wants it, then everything else follows too (success, money, brand value, sustainable relationships..) - just look at the iPhone and the time before the iPhone in terms of accessing the internet. Maria Popova from Brain Pickings put together a great list of seven thinkers on these ideas - here a snapshot of the full article:

  1. PAUL GRAHAM ON HOW TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE "Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like. If you do anything well enough, you’ll make it prestigious."
  2. AlAIN DE BUTTON ON SUCCESS "One of the interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means. A lot of the time our ideas about what it would mean to live successfully are not our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we’re truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along."
  3. HUGH MACLEAOD ON SETTING BOUNDARIES "28. The best way to get approval is not to need it. This is equally true in art and business. And love. And sex. And just about everything else worth having."
  4. LEWIS HYDE ON WORK VS LABOR "Work is an intended activity that is accomplished through the will. Writing a poem, raising a child, developing a new calculus, resolving a neurosis, invention in all forms — these are labors. There is no technology, no time-saving device that can alter the rhythms of creative labor. When the worth of labor is expressed in terms of exchange value, therefore, creativity is automatically devalued every time there is an advance in the technology of work."
  5. STEVE JOBS ON NOT SETTLING "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle." [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc] 
  6. ROBERT KRULWHICH ON FRIENDS "If you can… fall in love, with the work, with people you work with, with your dreams and their dreams. Whatever it was that got you to this school, don’t let it go. Whatever kept you here, don’t let that go. Believe in your friends. Believe that what you and your friends have to say… that the way you’re saying it — is something new in the world."
  7. THE HOLSTEE MANIFESTO

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Linsanity

I am sure you have read about this 23 year old guy, he's an incredible talent and does not only elute basketball fans after his 38 points in the game against the Lakers. The Knicks try to hold up with merchandising as online sales rocket by over 3000% through Lin! [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iWWFk6TX18]

CNNMoney (article) writes that Asian-American basketball and media phenom Jeremy Lin now filed the term "Linsanity" for trademark. "Lin's trademark application includes more than 50 consumer products on which he would own the rights to "Linsanity." However, Krugman said even if someone tries to file for a trademark on a product not named in Lin's application, there's a good chance he would be able to block the competing application given the breadth of items in his own filing. Lin merchandise has become some of the hottest items in the world of sports, though it's so recent that hard sales figures are not yet available."

"Linsanity" section on Wikipedia: After he became a starter for the Knicks, the Associated Press called Lin "the most surprising story in the NBA". Bloomberg News wrote that Lin "has already become the most famous [Asian American NBA player]". Knicks fans developed nicknames for him along with a new lexicon inspired by his name, Lin. Time.com ran an article titled, "It's Official: Linsanity Is for Real".[186] Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson said, "The excitement [Lin] has caused in [Madison Square] Garden, man, I hadn't seen that in a long time." He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline "Against All Odds", which The New York Times called, "the greatest tribute". He also made the cover of Time in Asia; Forbeswrote, "Congratulations Jeremy. You have now made the cover of Time the same number of times as Michael Jordan. Linsanity reigns on." Lin's story was also on the front-page of many Taipei newspapers.

The Knicks' success due to Lin's play reportedly contributed to the end of a dispute which had for 48 days prevented Time Warner Cable customers from watching Knicks games and other MSG Network programs. The team quickly began selling replicas of Lin's No. 17 jerseys and t-shirts, and the sales and traffic for its online store increased more than 3,000%; Lin has had the best-selling jersey in the NBA since February 4, 2012. Both Nike and Adidas introduced Lin-related athletic apparel, and expected that his fame would help sales in China. His popularity was attributed with growing the NBA's popularity there since Yao Ming's retirement in the offseason; the audience for NBA games on television and online in China rose 39 percent over the previous season.

Within three weeks of his first game as a starter, at least seven e-books were being published on Lin, and the Global Language Monitor declared that Linsanity had met its criteria to be considered an English-language word. He appeared on a second consecutive Sports Illustrated cover, the first New York-based team athlete and the third NBA player in the magazine's history, after Jordan and Dirk Nowitzki. An airline advertised "Linsanely low prices", bids for hisrookie card exceeded $21,000 on eBay, and the press circulated rumors—denied by Lin—that he was dating Kim Kardashian. Foreign Policy speculated on his potential impact on Sino-American relations. Despite his sudden fame Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart stated, “I knew [Lin] before he was Linmania. He’s still the same humble guy. The guy has not changed a bit, which is real special for a young man.”

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Brands get physical to build trust

This piece goes along with what we learn in marketing classes that a person is more likely to buy a product/convinced of a product when he can touch it rather then just smell or even only see it on a picture. However, the sensory experience can yet be a bigger differentiator as we become substantially more digital. Further, customer's touch points with a brand are opportunities to make a trustworthy relationship. Fast Company has an interesting article on this:

From handshakes to hardware, intimate signals constantly affect us in life. As the world becomes increasingly digital, we are losing many sensory signals that once moved us. Here's what can companies do to reclaim these touching moments. [...] We’ve come to depend on a whole new set of tones as we key in numbers on an ATM or a cell phone. [...] we need to find a way to compensate for the absence of touch.

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Marlboro car projection mapping (Audi)

  [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=837NcHMtlvU]

10.12.11, Moscow Client: Marlboro Agency: ATOMIC Advertising Agency Presentation of a new car branding Car projection by Radugadesign: motion: Anton Novosad, Yuriy Izmailov, Weaponer sound: Ibenji art-direction: Ivan Nefedkin stage design: Mikhail Egoshin technical direction: Alexander Polonskiy

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