Category Archives: Business Models

“The world has lost an amazing human being.”

Hard to forget, the first PC I ever owned was the Apple Color Classic*.

But apart from giving many of us in advertising and marketing a simple (as in non-geeky) on-ramp to computing, we remember him for his vision, and his humanity.

I found this statement from him, made in 2005.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share…

…Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent.”


*I have not used a Mac for the past 15 years. 

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Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Business Models, Disruptive, Technology


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Crowd-sourcing is fine, until you bump into control freaks

I ran into a great post on Crowd-sourcing,by Sid Roy, at an ad agency blog, PO Box. I was very impressed because this is the kind of topic that agency types who –at least the traditional ones — used to be very suspicious of: outsiders invading their turf.

The gist of the post is that is that co-creation, collaboration and open sourcing are here. And that marketing models that worked fabulously well in a world of scarcity would be ‘severely challenged to work in a world of abundance.’

Challenged is an understatement, isn’t it, Sid?

(You probably wanted to say ‘crushed!’)

I pointed out that while it’s taken awhile for crowd sourcing to catch on (Surowiecki’s book on The Wisdom of The Crowds, notwithstanding). There might be three reasons for this:

1. The ‘NIH’ syndrome. The team or department is often threatened by ideas that are ‘Not Invented Here’

2. Intellectual Property lawyers. Very recently Boeing and Apple rejected ideas from outsiders because they have been advised to not solicit or welcome ideas form people who might later sue them if the idea (or some flavour of it) is used.

3. Crowd-sourcing is somewhat anarchic. It’s not easy to manage the crowd in the traditional sense, since they don’t have roles, titles, proper compensation structures etc.

I can see why an ad/marcom agency might be reluctant to solicit and execute a campaign that came from a ‘bazaar’

Or why a school might not want to publish a text book based on knowledge sourced via Wiki platform

Those who control the distribution, creative and knowledge portals, and wear these hats aren’t ready to let the crowds run the show.

Full Disclosure: I used to work for Phoenix Ogilvy and Mather, publishers of the blog


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Listen to the blogosphere, or else….


My View | Bi-weekly Column in FT


Have you looked out of the window while your flight waited for takeoff and seen a small truck, barely the size of an airplane engine, pushing a huge 767 into position? It looks so ridiculous. But this small vehicle has the capacity to move a massive hunk of metal carrying hundreds of people and thousands of gallons of fuel. Not to mention luggage!

Sometimes it’s a bit like this in our world of communications. Social media humbles us when it demonstrates the power to give a big behemoth a bit of ‘pushback.’ And yes, there’s an airplane involved in this story –the Boeing company.

Continue to PDF of article – FT Online


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How ‘passive’ networks will make use hyper-active citizens

The explosion of sharing networks and apps are being primed for the mobile experience, anticipating a time when many of us will slip in and out of our roles as employees, Friends (yes, upper-case kind!) and corporate citizens.

These ‘social mapping’ services may seem more like games in their early iterations, rewarding users for certain tasks. But just as how Twitter looked like a status update service in its early days, these mobile-based services will soon let us do more than vainly record our location.

GoWalla, a location mapping app for the Android, iPhone and Blackberry, lets us check-in’ to locations, as does FourSquare., awarding badges and mayor-ships etc.

A term I have come across in some of these networks is that they “are only acting as a passive conduit for online distribution and publication” of user content. In other words, the intent of the application is to tether people and content.

We may be transitioning to that time soon. But we are still toggling between active, in-your-face social networks such as Facebook, and the passive ones. Someday these could be rich social spaces, albeit passive and invisible. Also reward-based.

Like to see where all this is going? Check out these four services:



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Weary of PowerPoint? Fire your imagination with Prezi

Sure, there are great templates for PowerPoint. But quite frankly I do better when explaining myself on the back of a napkin –with a little help from the book by the same name.

But this week I’ve started teaching myself a great new application for presentations, called Prezi.

Naturally my first one is for Public RadiusTake a first look

Here’s why I love Prezi:

  1. It lets you control the focal points and flow of the presentation -by tilting words, zooming in on words and images etc.
  2. Once you figure out how the striped control icon (the ‘transformation zebra’) works, you could add elements and move them around as you would when brainstorming on a scratch pad
  3. Because you can move laterally or diagonally, you could adjust your story line on the fly as new ideas emerge.
  4. It’s easy to embed other digital content –video, audio etc –something I will get to in the next phase
  5. The best part is your presentation on this platform is designed to be connected to other social media venues. Which is exactly what Public Radius is all about–connecting the dots!

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How to track warm bodies flocking to your site

A few days I saw how one organization is using what’s known as a ‘heat map’ to track visitors. It’s called Crazy Egg (a name that gives you no clue about the neat service) and lets you see what links on your web site are glowing, and what parts of the site in general are on fire, so to speak.

The beauty of a heat map is that it shows the intensity of those warm bodies clicking on links in real time!

It sounds more creepy than it really is.

All it does, a bit like Google analytics, only more visually, is to give a communication manager a quick snapshot of what content (links) visitors are attracted to most, the sites referring to this link, the browsers used to get there etc.

So let’s say you create a micro-site for an event or a new program. You could basically beta test a variety of layouts for a few weeks by inviting people and watching the glow in real time. Then you could pick which layout is achieving the desired actions, and adjust the placement of those links.

Because it is a visual thing, this connection between data and navigation makes it is easy for people with different backgrounds –product marketing, e-commerce, web design, content creators – to respond to.

The service can be used on a month-to-month basis. Give it a try!


What if Starbucks ‘saw’ my review in real time?

I’m sitting here at Starbucks with a bunch of uber talented technology folk, discussing mobile apps and what it would take for a mobile device to play a  seamless–frictionless — part of role in ia community.

We experiment with the usual suspects (Facebook, FourSquare, Twitter, Flickr) the ships and shoes and sealing wax of community building, but it strikes me that sometimes the simple things might still work, and be a win-win for the marketer and the customer.

For example: I snap this picture with my phone, email it to my Flickr account and ta-da, it appears in my album. I’ve been doing this for years. If you look on the bottom right of this blog (at least this week) it shows up here too.

But what if the act of tagging the photo and uploading it triggers something that tells Starbucks marketing that there is a potential review going out from this zip code, and this mobile device. What if, by triangulating a Quick Response code on the cup of iced tea, my FourSquare signature, and my phone, they could send me a digital coupon?

A new lens. Marketers are often flying blind. Yes they fall back on market research, but they seldom engage in real-time marketing intelligence gathering. Tracking and sensing how people are using a mobile device to navigate through and interact with their service providers would be a boon to not just coffee shops. Book stores, movie studios (think ‘citizen critics’ using a cell phone to review a movie before the closing credits!), theme parks, airlines etc could look at the mobile device as solution to an opportunity they never even thought of. If only they can find ‘sensors’ that tell them who’s talking them up -or down.

And why do these opportunities rarely show up? Because they tend to be seen through the lens called ‘marketing.’ It’s time to switch the focus.

Screw on the lens marked ‘conversations.’


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Engaging employees plugged into the social web

Thought I’ll feature part of a guest post I wrote for the Employee Factor, a blog about Employee Engagement.

Managers don’t need proof to tell them that someone who’s more engaged is much more productive. There is plenty of experiential and anecdotal evidence to support this. For those who like some empirical data there’s always the long-term tracking study –the Q12 study– by Gallup that serves as “a macro-level indicator’ of a healthy workforce.

I tend to look at this through a communications lens. So when studies make a case for engagement, I see it not simply as good management strategy, but as great communication strategy. When they refer to it as ‘maintaining a line of sight’ I see it as keeping people on the same page. They sound analogous, but they have key differences.

Maintaining employee line of sight (L-O-S) involves bringing clarity  between actions and outcomes. But it also means doing away with too much hierarchy, unlocking the holds on information, and also creating an attitude that welcomes suggestions for how employee goals can match corporate vision. Keeping those employees on the same page has deeper implications in a digitally enhanced workplace. Not just via emails and web conferences, but a willingness to open up two-way conversations. Line of sight in today’s workplace is not limited to being able to see ‘up and down the chain of command’ but sideways and diagonally –much like the connections of a social web.

Continued here


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Quotes for the week ending 18 Dec, 2009

“engagement zombies.”

William Paarlberg on creating a strategy for understanding lurkers in social media.

“I uploaded (Panic Attack!) on a Thursday and on Monday my inbox was totally full of e-mails from Hollywood studios”

Fede Alvarez who uploaded his short film”Ataque de Panico!” (Panic Attack!) featuring giant robots invading and destroying Montevideo. He was offered a $30 million contract to make a film.

“It’s not inconceivable that some creative hacker could use Twitter to get into a key business application at some juncture …The more Twitter focuses on the business market, the more it will have to focus on security.”

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet

“Fencing the internet is not going to help anybody”

Andrea Servida, deputy head of unit at the EUs Information Society and Media Directorate General, on the Chinese proposal to meter international web traffic.


Quotes for the week ending 12 Dec, 09

“However Mr. Jobs, now that you got into this mess …You are the only person who can get our APPS ‘everywhere.’ despite the fact that their MAPS have blanketed the country.

Commenter named Gary of Chicago, on the Advertising Age story on how Verizon Wireless created buzz for the Droid phone –a distinct shift in the way a carrier is advancing the popularity of a handset.

“And, the warning? Don’t read too many blog posts like this.”

43 Folders, on NaNoWriMo

“Living Stories,”

Google’s experimental project to save newspapers, featuring content from New York Times and the Washington Post

“Our role is actually stronger than ever, because we are more than  just a magazine … to promote travel around the state.”

Robert Stieve, editor of Arizona Highways magazine

“When you’re using search engines, you’ve got to be diligent. You can’t trust that just because it’s Number 2 or Number 1, it really is…”

Jim Stickey, on how fake web sites trick search engines which become ‘unwitting accomplices’ of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

“Industry Listening Program”

One of the four recommendations by Rohit Bhargava, who advises companies on easing into listening via social media by keeping an eye on keywords rather than brand mentions


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