Category Archives: Information Technology

The Marketing Technology Landscape

I’m not 100%  sure how to address the growing complexity of the marketing function, except to suggest that you take some time to re-evaluate and redefine what marketing is about. Consider layering in your technology mix along with your media and marketing mix. Then bring together a team of mobilists, technologists, data analysts and creative folks and you can get the ball rolling.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

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The Zettabyte Era: A Brave New World of Devices

Cisco VNI 2011

 
Big Data is getting bigger. Here are some top findings from Cisco’s latest VNI – Visual Networking Index:
 
IP traffic will increase worldwide 4x by 2015, reaching 966 exabytes or just under 1 Zettabye (which is 10 to the 21st power).Factors that are driving this growth, include:
  • Video, as it is increasingly a part of nearly every networked experience.  By 2015, one million minutes of video – nearly two years worth – will cross the network every second.
  • More devices are connecting to the network – we forecast more than 15 billion will be on the network by 2015, making it on average more than two devices (whether it be a PC, phone, TV, or even machine-to-machine) per person for every person on earth (and if you’re like me, you’re an “overachiever” on this number, with well over a dozen devices connected to the network…by the way, just how many network connections are you responsible for?)
    • More people will be using the network – a total of 3 Billion people will be on the network in 2015, compared to 1.9 Billion estimated in 2010, due to increased broadband penetration – much of it mobile – and accessibility of lower cost devices.
    • Increased speed – overall connectivity speed doubled from 2009-2010 from 3.5 to 7Mbps and is expected to increase 4-fold to 28 Mbps by 2015.  This is relevant because when people can do more with the network, they tend to do so… video usage increases all the more which starts the cycle all over again.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

 

Ahead of the Curve Behind the 8-Ball

It wasn’t long ago that the clamoring for CEO’s to get with the latest program by using Twitter and various social media platforms, reached a feverish pitch.  As usual, those forever looking for shreds of evidence that ‘social media’ pays out a clear cut ROI, would trot out lists of companies (and their CEO’s) who ‘got it’. Funny thing was, most of those lists, and many related cased studies were  mainly of obscure companies in the early stages of growth. Naturally, a 500% growth rate as a result of using Twitter, was impressive though less so when the base number for that growth rate was near zero, the kind of stats that investment fund advisors like to use when people have little appetite for buying stocks following a market meltdown. 

There have been case studies, some from reputable technology analysts, touting remarkable cost savings. Beyond the headline, the data showed a savings of $4M over 3 years for a certain USD$100B technology provider using social media as a collaboration tool.  In the end, this seemed a bit on the light side. No pun intended here but greater savings might have been had by turning the office lights off when people left for the day.

There has also been a lull in those declaring their location. Shout outs for Foursquare and various locational platforms seem rather muted of late. The initial interest seemed to be focused around luring people into retail premises by pushing discounted offers out to the latte-rati, more recently up-sized to the Starbucks version of 7-Eleven’s Big Gulp. Adoption hasn’t been that broad and one wonders if location-based applications are still looking for a real business problem to solve.

Lastly, not to make too fine a point, recent press by ‘those in the social know’ are now suggesting that too many offers, tweets, friending by brands for the sake of friending and a general overloading of Facebook fan pages by some brands, has started to turn some people off. Mashable had some recent thoughts on this issue of why people are unfollowing certain brands. I also expressed in a post from last year, building on a thought piece by the Economist, that there is so much data out there, one wonders what is to be done with it all – and that was when YouTube, Facebook and the like where just getting ramped up with the posting of video and photos. Clearly, when a brand fails to deliver on the promise, even CEO tweets can’t come to the rescue, GAP logo changes notwithstanding. Again, ask yourself, are we solving a business problem or just creating stuff to do because we’re not sure exactly what to do?

If you’re indeed feeling both ahead of the curve implementing certain technologies and behind the eight ball in terms of getting measureable business results, consider this: any organization that undertakes a transformation, in this case toward the Social Enterprise, cannot achieve success by leading with technology. This is what happened to early adopters of CRM in the last decade. Success can in fact be achieved, notably for companies that are truly customer-centric (culture/process/technology) who understanstand those things that deliver value to the customer relative to competition re. the “Outside-In” approach. IBM, Ford, McDonald’s, P&G are a few companies who do this consistently and have the financial results as proof.

This is not news, in fact, it’s an old principle advocated by Peter Drucker some 50 years ago. While it’s tempting to drink the latest elixir of technology, it pays to stick to managerial fundamentals, much like accountants use GAAP methods to keep track of every dollar earned.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Media: The Sum of Its Parts or Something Else?

Reductionism says that a complex system is nothing but the sum of all of its parts and understanding those parts can tell us everything about the complex system that they belong to. This idea was supported Thales of Miletus, the first known philosopher of the western civilization circa 580 BC.

Shortly thereafter, in 2010, the ‘Galaxy of Media Choices’ (a term coined by The Boston Consulting Group) presents us with a complex system of communication with a series of moving parts.  There are some 70+ media choices, or parts if you will, including traditional (television, radio, outdoor, POS and print) and the Internet (digital,  mobile, geo-location, video, QR codes, SMS, social networking platforms etc.) – no need to list everything here.

The advent of Internet and digital technology in combination with the amount of time we spend on media is what makes the media system so fascinating and correspondingly difficult to grasp. Why? Because, like space, it is seemingly infinite.

How do the parts help us understand our complex media system?

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Marketing Technology: Mobile People & Portable Brands

The idea of mobile communications is not something new, it’s just that things have progressed immensely since the days prior to the Internet and PDA devices.

What lies ahead is a huge opportunity for brands to get closer to their customers daily lives by  becoming integral to their cutomers’ processes. For me, the idea orignated when I was at IBM where self-serve technologies, such as the ATM and airline check-in kiosk were beginning to take hold. One of my colleagues quipped “Yes, it’s really about the customer saying to the brand ‘come into my process’ but I will remain in control of the transaction”.

This was compelling as it freed the customer not only from delays (lineups at the airport) but it suggested that the customer could transact when and where they pleased – on their own terms.

With mobile devices – PDA’s if you will, customer (and brands) can enjoy more freedom than ever before. No longer encumbered by a fixed location to transact, bank customers can now do their banking from wherever and whenever they choose. The same goes for those who travel by air, say, using Air Canada or Virgin Airways.

Mobile applications can and are being developed for many brand categories. Pharmaceutical apps can help patients with prescription continuance and information on disease states; automotive dealerships send service alerts so that maintenance schedules are adhered to; transit systems can notify passengers when the next bus is about to arrive at a stop.

At the end of the day, its about people who are mobile, devices that enable ‘anywhere computing’ and brands that are portable – the ultimate engagement & collaboration.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Social Networks: The Unseen Dangers

SOCIAL NETWORKS: THE #1 MALWARE SOURCE – Last year, I predicted that the web was the battleground and social networks would get ugly. Both those predictions proved true. This year’s threat is no different – just more specific. Social networks have in fact become so ugly that they will be the #1 source of malware infections. Why? Nielsen Online says social networks have become more popular communication tools than email. Also, social networks by their very nature are gathering places, which tends to imply increased levels of trust. Finally, social networks leverage complex, Web 2.0 technologies that can suffer serious security vulnerabilities. When you add those factors together, it’s no wonder that social networks will become to malware what email used to be to the virus; the #1 source of infection.Corey Nachreiner, WatchGuard® Senior Security Analyst, CISSP www.watchguard.com

I spent a few years working for a technology services company that provided online detection of various forms of malware that posed a security and privacy threat to both consumers and business. Some of the work spanned various industries such as financial institutions and insurance companies as well as law enforcement agencies to detect fraud, counterfeiting and cybercrime in general. This was well before Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter became universal social networking platforms. Clearly the problem is much worse today as underscored by the above quote.

One thing that users seem to be oblivious to, whether they be business managers or consumers, is that social networks are cloud computing applications. They sit out on the Internet, a relatively open and unsecure environment where all types of predators lurk – identity thieves, terrorists and scam artists. Their ‘corporate’ vision and mission is carried out with the sole intent of stealing your identity, emptying your bank account and infecting your IT system with malware and harmful viruses, all without a shred of moral fibre or social conciousness. Beneath the surface are some very social criminals that want to be your ‘friend’ in a most unwarranted way.

It is unfortunate that social networks platforms do not, as a rule, provide disclaimers or warnings for people before they sign on. While the premise of ‘friending’ or ‘following’ people is innocent enough, there is little in the way that protects people from the possibility of online identity theft, fraud or in the worst cases, stalking and surveillance. The most egregious cases come from those who arrogantly declare privacy as a thing of the past, knowing full well that those who profit most are those who engage in online criminal activity.

It’s not surprising that many business are reluctant to take up social networking platforms. These software applications, mostly free, do not have the security safeguards that would prevent unwarranted intrusions into an enterprise’s data bases or email systems containing confidential and proprietary information. Security Solutions is one of the fastest growing areas of IT services and a facet of corporate governance that has taken on strategic importance in the digital age. As much as social networks have seen incredible growth in the past 5 years, so has online fraud. Concurrent with this has been the growth in security solutions such anti-malware applications, vulnerability assessment and penetration testing.

At some point, marketers and social media advocates need to wake up and understand the risks inherent in open and unsecure software systems. In doing so, they might be a bit more successful in moving their social media agenda forward. The responsibility to ensure that consumers are well out of harm’s way needs to be a serious consideration.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

(Cross-posted at http://www.cloudave.com)