Blog Post: Race For Better Data

Control over data, regardless of the type, is where power truly lies today. Even though it is my body, I don’t really have control over my medical files. The content I create on social media is not something I have power over (unless I jump through a million hoops). 

So what does that mean for data ownership? It lies in the collectors.

This article from All Things D references the kind of data we are collecting today in the digital age and how gathering more isn’t the answer. It argues why and how better data could procured. Problem is, it uses antiquated thought processes behind the hangups.

We haven’t owned our data in years. Some types aren’t thought of the same as others, but it doesn’t change the ownership. We are fine with credit card companies owning and selling our purchase data (get your head out of the sand), but we don’t want Apple and Google telling advertisers where we are currently.

I am going to be inundated with advertising messages until the day I die. Maybe I am different than most, but I’m fine with it. Some products out there are awesome, and I would like to know about them. If data that my devices record are going to help deliver more of what I’m looking for currently so I can make better purchasing decisions, bring it on.

The company that finds the best way to craft that message and gets us all to drop the faux upheaval over privacy and ownership of data will print their own stacks of cash. This company will easily collect, aggregate and transmit the information I need advertisers to use. They will know where I am, what I am interested in buying, and tell me how to do so.

I can’t wait.

Blog Post: Race For Better Data

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Blog Post: Can You Design For Collaboration?

Even though they are not in the same industry segment I inhabit, everyone in the Agile world knows Zappos. Not only are they one of the top companies to work for in the US, they continue to rethink and innovate their internal processes. 

In this post on the InVision App site (great prototyping app for mobile dev teams, I recommend), Donny Guy from Zappos discusses how they designed their offices for more than fun. It’s laid out with the express intent of encouraging collaboration.

Again, just like culture, many decision makers think this concept can be casually decided upon. Where the coffee maker or eating areas can actually hinder people working together. Maybe you have too many (or not enough) breakaway rooms. The game room could actually be seen as a bad thing depending on where you put it.

I could go on, but Guy’s words are worth reading about. Regardless of your building’s space requirements, you have options. Did you know that Zappos figured out that the more space we have to stretch out individually, the less we collaborate? They are actually making efforts to put teams closer together, forcing interaction.

Sound crazy? That’s your old mindset telling you that this is weird. 

Take your team and shake up the room they sit in this week. Work for a day at a Panera Bread (or IHOP, I don’t judge). Ask someone new to lead the meeting. These little things can really help increase collaboration (and by proxy, engagement).

What will you try new this week?

Blog Post: Can You Design For Collaboration?

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Blog Post: Latest From ComScore Tells Mobile Users Much

Everyone latched on to the headline of this latest top 10 ranking from ComScore, with Facebook taking the top spot in terms of unique visitors, but I don’t think this is by far the biggest takeaway for developers. With the hiccup in users while Google Maps was moving from a native iOS app to third-party, it’s understandable this would happen. The fact that everyone is sharing this story shows how we just look for headlines.

The bigger takeaway is despite which mobile platform is utilized, Google is ruling mobile traffic. I don’t even want what the rankings would look like if you used traffic coming from mobile browsers (personally, I use YouTube in Chrome as opposed to the native app), or other applications (anyone else read their Gmail on the other mail apps too?). What you are reading is correct, after Facebook the next top five apps have the word “Google” associated with it.

On top of that, the biggest surprise for me is how over 36 million people use Yahoo messenger on their mobile devices. I thought everyone used texts, Facebook, and Twitter to communicate these days. There is something to be said for branding inertia carrying over to other platforms. I will be very interested in seeing where Yahoo Messenger’s traffic trends in 2013. The same could be said for Pandora, which many have argued was on the decline in streaming media. With Spotify utilizing it’s own streaming radio, again we will see what happens this year.

Blog Post: Latest From ComScore Tells Mobile Users Much

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Blog Post: I Am The Vine, But Who Are The Branches?

By now, many of you have heard of Vine, the new platform to share your animated GIFs. For those that don’t know what an animated GIF is, Google is your friend. There’s only a few terabytes of data set aside for you to view.

Granted, the biggest news that Vine has made in the last few days has been related to how Facebook hates it and has put a pox upon it’s soul. Besides that, we are left with what could be the end of the 30 second commercial.

In terms of television advertising, I don’t know if we will ever be through with the 30-second spot. For decades, we have been spoon-fed product ideas for that length of time and I don’t see that medium changing course any time soon. Recently, Internet marketers have tried to add value to the advertisements they place by adding time (often in strange increments) to the spots placed online. 

Vine may change all that with their six-second clips.

Imagine being able to flow through your feed, whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or any other desired framework. It’s filled with still images (for the most part) begging you to click on the image or link for more information on the next great product in your life. Instead, imagine that same feed with small commercial clips, telling you about products in six-second-looped clips. More information could be parsed quickly and easily than ever before!

Will this require some innovation? Of course! When it comes to the great minds that have transformed ads into every possible medium provided, they haven’t failed us yet.

Keep your eye out for more of these “Vines” in your social media feeds. My guess, is that you will see more and more of them in the year to come. A new standard could be on the horizon, and we are watching it pass in short loops.

I am Jack’s interest piqued.

Blog Post: I Am The Vine, But Who Are The Branches?

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Blog Post: Integration, Integration, Integration

My developer friends either just threw up in their mouths or rolled their eyes at that title. For those uninitiated, the integration part of developing software is for most the most challenging and rewarding part.

According to the survey in this article, 60 percent (think about that for a few minutes) of small businesses are having an issue integrating their data across multiple networks. Meaning, businesses that store their sales, finance and marketing data in multiple sources. That should worry us all right?

Wrong, it provides an opportunity.

New platforms are launching every day. Sure, they start out as decent apps. What separates them from a culture-altering platform is users. That’s how Salesforce, Quickbooks and other amazing platforms became household names. As much as we would like to think the software small business owners purchase are going to work as smoothly with their other programs and platforms, data shows differently.

This is leverage we as entreprenuers can use to make better platforms that can actually personify the word “seamless”. Of course, this requires people with the insight and architecture to handle all of this information. Partnerships are needed; deals to be struck. For all of the so called “partners” that companies like Salesforce has in tow, people still struggle to integrate with platforms such as theirs on a daily basis. 

There are times I get frustrated on my team during the integration stage of a sprint. Nothing like the action of weaving new code into your framework to point out the flaws in your design. Of course, I’m not the one doing the work so I trust them to sort their own side out. To further integrate all of these wonderful ways of accumulating data in the modern business world, we must strive to integrate better.

I can think of a few friends of mine running said small businesses that would be appreciative.

Blog Post: Integration, Integration, Integration

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Blog Post: Can We Be Truly Efficient? – Inadvertently, I started posting cool videos on Fridays, so I think I have decided to try the tradition out. So welcome to the first official Video Friday.

It is really cool to see people take a concept and truly apply it to their life. If you want to know if someone really believes in what they are selling, see if they do it in their home. This designer defines “practicing what you preach” with his NYC apartment  It would be really easy to be dismissive with his design or say, “well that only works because…”.

We can’t put qualifiers on ideas that work. If we want to be truly agile in our thinking, we take the great ideas and see how they can integrate into ours. I would highly doubt the architects or designers of this apartment to expect us to exactly follow this concept for the idea to be successful. Bottom line, we can’t expect to build a better world if we don’t start sampling great ideas and make them our own. 

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Blog Post: What Have You Assumed About Mobile?

When it comes to the Web, nobody is a bigger authority and innovator than Smashing Magazine. This article is evidence of just that, pointing out current myths that some decisions makers may have made about the direction mobile is headed. If I may, I wanted to provide feedback and also steer a few in the proper direction.

First, it’s brilliant to assume that we think of mobile users in terms of the platform or device that accesses the amazing new features product development managers are thinking of. However, it’s just the tool and not the end point of the discussion. Simply put, mobile is about the user. 

While easily stated, it is very difficult to define. Users tell us more about who they are in the types of data they search for and record instead of the browser they perform these tasks on. It made Google a leader, WebMD a household name and Facebook a giant. Want to know more about your potential customers? Look at the data they hold dear and find a way to give it to them in an easier manner.

Another assumption made is that everything needs to move to iOS, or at least start there if you want your app to succeed. It’s absolutely true, but one mindset I would love to be a part of changing is that we need to focused on which platform or user experience is better. 

Apple enjoyed dominance until the Android platform burst on the scene. I have read many articles on how users either use their devices differently or expect them to behave differently. This is a very wrong-footed approach. Developers should be caring about to create a unified experience regardless of what device users pick up. How incredible would a service be if users could pick up any device (Samsung phone, Apple tablet, Asus laptop, Pebble Smartwatch, Sony television) and everything was a single experience? It starts with designers design with the user in mind, not the platform.

In that same vein, I can’t in good conscience endorse the idea that apps are just a fad. More and more Internet traffic is flowing from mobile devices every day, and it’s not through mobile browsers. Part of the reason is web designers still don’t employ responsive design in it’s truest form. So, until that paradigm shift occurs in web development, we are going to use our apps. 

In the end, however, these are just my thoughts. I love that we can engage in conversations about this subject to build a much better mobile and connected world.

Blog Post: What Have You Assumed About Mobile?

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Blog Post: This Is How We Innovate?

So let me get this straight: when you and your biggest competitor are working on updates to the same product, the idea is to wait until they release and then try to beat it? Not only did Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai decide this would be the approach for his company’s pending release of the PS4, he announced it for all to hear!

Granted, I work on product development of smaller pieces in the grand scheme of the technology industry. After the longevity the Play Station has demonstrated in the gaming industry, it’s hard to look at what you are doing in terms of a minimum viable product (I dare you to find a product manager who doesn’t know what MVP stands for). I still find it hard to believe that this is in any way a smart decision in terms of product development.

I can only imagine that blogs and tech journalists are going to lambaste Hirai for publicly admitting this, as will some rationalize the statement. Regardless, this is a statement made from a position of weakness instead of power.

So many people aren’t willing to stick their necks out there when it comes to big decision making. Smaller, safer decisions don’t get you fired by themselves. As a result, we go with the safer call. It happens if you are building a product, a company, even a professional sports team. 

Don’t let yourself make decisions from a place of weakness. Do your homework, inform your decisions, then put it out there.

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Blog Post: The Value of ‘Enterprise’

Did anyone see the new Samsung commercial this weekend? In it, a gaming company announces they will allow employees to bring any mobile device they want and use it in the office. There are some of the usual advertising tactics of making the cool kids the one using Samsung devices and the also rans. At the end of the day, the leaders of the company announce they will launch in four weeks. Guess who are the ones excited about such a short window? 

The Samsung users. 

Granted, this kind of commercial doesn’t draw the ire it used to. Whether you are promoting a soda, smartphone, clothing, or any other product, this is the theme your commercial will probably have at some point in time. Having played with a few of their offerings, I’m even inclined to think in that a Galaxy device might be a pretty cool thing to have.

Let’s not kid ourselves, however, Android is a long ways away from catching iOS in the realm of the enterprise.

Today’s link comes from Apple Insider (yes I know, consider the source) that argues this very idea. What I think many of us will realize, is there is a lot of truth hidden in these words. With the decline of RIM in the last half decade, it is only fair to assume the iPhone took the crown away from the Blackberry. Whether they intended to or not, Apple’s walled garden approach to hardware was made for big enterprise.

The value is of course tremendous. While many companies do not provide phones or devices, they would be more likely to select an iPhone over a Galaxy SIII if they did. Will it always be this way? Of course not. There is something to be said for developing a little residual inertia and riding it out. Microsoft made billions off of that principle.

It’s hard to say what device my kids will want to play with once I let them own one of their own. Thankfully, those days are far, far off. Regardless, if you want to be successful in enterprise products, you have to take a page out of the Apple playbook. Because of that, Android is going to be playing catch up for a while.

Blog Post: The Value of ‘Enterprise’

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