Connected Car – hip or hype?

The tendency with disruptive technology and an ever changing media landscape is the hype around the concepts versus the true value – take the ‘connected car’ for example. Whilst embedded, tethered and integrated services have existed for some time I believe the genuine value lies in the ability to connect the dots between the various experiences and provide meaningful and useful insight(s) both to manufacturers and the driver.  The obvious are the safety features, for example when fatigue signals are detected from the driver the driver will automatically slow down or raise and internal alert to capture the drivers attention.

Tesla is a great example.  Having coffee with a senior Advertising Executive the other day, he related how the brand garnered feedback from their customers on a certain driving feature they wanted tweaked


based on their customer feedback on a certain feature of the car

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Social technology and enterprise

Economic pressures, demographic shifts and new technologies are some the key factors re-shaping enterprise work in profound ways.  If you think about it, social technologies are already embedded into our daily lives; these technologies integrated with mobile tools, big data and cloud enablement are now moving into enterprise.  And to be clear, this NOT saying ‘let’s do Facebook..’ but rather more fundamental.  Think how we now communicate, shop online, bank, game, book holidays.


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Do you ask the right question?

A few nights ago I was at a panel discussion on ‘Starting a Business.  The panel was made up of entrepreneurs, and by this I mean people who had already exited at least one company!  Discussions ranged from growing and scaling the business, to funding, selecting a Co-Founder and other poignant issues

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Why failure and stubbornness

Last week I had the good fortune of meeting someone I admire and respect in business – Dame Stephanie (Steve) Shirley. WiTT


My ability to cope with failure and my stubbornness to succeed was key to my success” Dame Stephanie

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Do you know what politicians, technocrats and excellent comedians have in common?

Photo credit: Kevin Dooley, Flickr

They all engage with people and tell a story, but one has the ability to story tell and engage, connect and influence their audience.

I was at Anticipating 2025 futurists event recently. Mark Stevenson put this brilliantly in his talk on The Shift: Why our systems are failing us and what will replace them, saying why we should all have a bit of brilliant comedian in us.  He compared good comedians to scientists and technocrats, they tell you jokes they think are good and want you to hear i.e they give you the facts as they are, whereas great comedians are like politicians, they might have a different agenda, but tell you what you want to hear! 2010 MP expense reform vs current shameful Maria Miller debacle…..Enough said!  The excellent comedians are the ones that make a difference – they tell you what they want to say but express it in a way you want to hear it!

Whether we like it or not, we are generally always selling something, be it in a business development capacity for a company, a start-up idea to investors or yourself to a new employer. I was recently talking to David Rose (inventor of glow caps) and Chris McRobbie at an @iotlondon event. I asked Chris, given the challenge of adoption to new or disruptive technology what made it possible for them to sell in their #IoT innovation at scale years ago when it’s only starting to become more topical and pervasive now. His answer: Storytelling!  He said that David has a great ability to knit together the story of what his invention is and why it matters to the customer based on their needs. True to form, his talk was entitled “Enchanted Objects” and although everything about his innovations is technical he created magic in telling the story!

So here are 3 practical considerations to storytelling:

1. Do your research

Great design begins with great research. Whilst human-centred design may have become the latest victim of cliches there is validity to the practice. Understanding your customers pain points or potential issues will enable a better designed product or service. David was saying during their development of the glow caps, they initially created the trendiest haute-couture medicine dispensers which users loved but their customers (large scale pharma distributors) didn’t! The standard medication bottles were never going to change and their innovation had to work within the existing parameters or they would never have the sale or scale they needed to succeed.

2. Have something to sell

In February I had the privilege of meeting someone I greatly admire and respect – Dame Stephanie Shirley. This 80+ lady still full of life, passion and thirst to learn & improve personally. I was talking to her about an edtech venture of mine and there were two great pearls of wisdom that I held on to; you never know where the market will take you and the difference between great ideas and success is the ability to execute. True words!

From now until 2025, there will be seven 18-month “Moore’s Law” generations, resulting in a 128-fold (2^7) increase in computing power. That will enable devices that are, for example, five times more powerful, five times cheaper, and five times smaller (hence requiring five times less energy input) than today’s computers. We are living and operating in a different era than when Dame Shirley pioneered the first software company providing part-time employment to women with dependents. Time to market is crucial and agile processes and iterative design make this possible. You need to turn your idea or concept into something ‘tangible’ quickly. The reality is that if you don’t do it, your competition surely will.

3. Be Human

“People, buy from people”. We cannot disregard the human factor in engaging with our prospective customers, investors or new employees. If you’ve done your homework and understand the nature of the market, the needs of the customer and have developed a product or service that makes a difference you already have the ingredients for the story. You add the magic by telling them what you want to say in the way they want to hear it!

So don’t be a politician, scientist or good comedian when it comes to telling your story, but rather make magic and be an excellent comedian!

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Why Converged Media matters!

As consumer media habits change, brands require media ubiquity. Some research suggests that some customer journeys could have as many as 75 digital variances combining varying content source, channels, and screens per touchpoint.  If this is the case brands need understand how to best influence key touch points and experiences to ensure they retain the business. For example, in the Automotive shopping experience, according to Google Automotive 71% of car buyers are uncertain about the brand (e.g. Ford) and 72% on the model (e.g. Fiesta) with 50% having switched brands.*  Advertisers need to find the ‘right’ medium be it paid, owned or earned along this highly dynamic customer journey to influence the purchase decision. This means there needs to be more synergy and integration between the Paid, Earned and Owned Media.
The following give an overview of Converged Media and the interdependencies between the media.
So what factors should be considered for a converged success criteria?
A. Strategy
1. Reaching your target audience
This is about understanding their converged media consumption and patterns. It is necessary to have a multiple media strategy for reach and efficiency
2. Developing a converged media strategy
Based on the results and performance of channels, you can successfully architect strategies around Paid, Owned and Earned Media; a three legged stool is more effective than a two legged one!
B. Organisation
3. Earned at Scale
Of the three, earned is the most difficult medium to achieve particularly at scale. A content strategy is crucial as content is important to nurture and build earned media.
4. Aligning Agencies & Vendors
Most large organisations work with a myriad of agencies. It is imperative that these agencies receive coherent briefs on Owned, Paid and Earned media and work together to integrate activities.
5. Departments & Teams
There needs to be clear policy and guidelines within the organisation for participation in a social media strategy which is not the sole responsibility of the marketing and sales department. If buzz monitoring of social conversations is picking up product or customer issues this needs to be looped back into the customer service department. If the business is positioned as a thought leader, then the CEO should be setting the tone with thought-leading blogs and PR pieces.
C. Production
6. Integration content, design and channels
Whilst it’s somewhat stating the obvious there needs to be consistency across the messages and mediums particularly Paid and Owned media.
7. Real-time capabilities
Paid, owned and earned media are most effective when responsive.
8. Managing the mix
Whilst one channel may lead to convergence, no channel will retain prominence indefinitely, and the channel balance can rapidly shift without warning.  It is imperative to monitor performance and nurture channels and account for the multiple channels at planning stages.
9. Pollinators
Not all earned media is created equal! It is important to identify, nurture ‘influencers’ who are critical to amplifying brand messages and building earned at scale. Budget for earned media should also be included in the planning
D. Analysis
10. Social listening
By having a system in place to monitor conversations in social and earned media you will gain insight and ideas for responding to customers or enhancing or optimising your approach.
11. KPIs
KPIs, as with any marketing initiative, should be defined at the outset of campaigns or initiatives with clear objectives and a system for measurement to measure if goals and objectives are being achieved.
In an increasingly complex and fragmented purchase cycle, brands must aim to influence the key touch points within the journey to retain the customer or win the sale, if you don’t your competition will!
*Netpop research 2010

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Failing Forward

An inspirational video of this kids determination in building an experiment.  Interestingly, he views and incorporates failure as part of his learnings!  It’s a great lesson for us in how we incorporate, build and establish a culture of innovation in our businesses or workplace.

I have discovered the better my process in defining a problem the more effective I am at generating ideas and solutions.  Very often our processes are limiting and don’t foster rapid prototyping to explore broader fields of ideas and or encourage collaboration across different levels of stakeholders.  Whether a start-up or established business developing empathy for your ‘users’ is always a great place to start and establishing processes to rapidly finding ways to solve the needs of these ‘users’ potential revenue and retention channels!

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Asking the right question!

Ben Yoskovitz recently summarised a data workshop with the following statement: “Ask the right question” A very simple but profound truth. With all the hype around ‘Big Data’ it’s easy to loose focus on what really matters.  Asking the right questions is a lot easier said than done.  It takes great insight to get to the heart of the matter and avoid getting distracted with superfluous ‘shiny objects’.  This sentiment was echoed by a former MoD health physicist that I was talking to over dinner last night.   He had fairly strong views on policy making and freedom of information, which probably better not to mention here (!) but fundamentally his view was if businesses, governments, organisations asked the right questions (of subject matter specialists) they would be (better) equipped to navigate ‘new terrains’ and put in place ‘effective’ policy and regulation; less about control and more about managing freedom of information.

So for those of us who don’t have the genius brain of Yoskovitz or a physicist, what are the best practices for managing data and analytics?

Yoskovitz and Croll define analytics as ‘a measurement of movement towards your business goals’.  If what you’re measuring is not helping you understand how your business or organisation is reaching its end goal then you probably need to go back to the drawing board.  Within your business what is the one metric that matters?  Determine what this is and build in key metrics that support this.  Remember, if a metric won’t change  how you behave – it’s a bad metric

This summarised lean analytics presentation outlines some good best practice, but worth highlighting the different types of metrics:

  • Qualitative (discovery) vs Quantitative (proving)
  • Exploratory (the cool stuff) vs Reporting (the necessary stuff)
  • Lagging (Start here) vs Leading (try and get here)
  • Correlation (find) vs Causation (test)
  • Vanity (feel good, superfluous)  vs Actionable (these good, change behaviour)

In summary, when working with data Martin Squires (Head of Customer Insight at Boots) approach is useful in structuring the data management:

What? (the data)                                                                                                                  So what? (the insights and analysis)                                                                                Now what? (the actions that should follow)


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5 Top Tips on Big Data from Kenneth Cukier

Great short video by Economist’s Data Editor Kenneth Cukier on the risks and opportunities of ‘Big Data’.  He gives 5 tips for businesses to consider in turning their data into economic value.

Large companies have the challenge of processing larger volumes of data and careful consideration should be given to the various options available especially given the different open source solutions available.  Regardless of the scale or systems used, the value in data is less about the number crunching but the human side of creativity, intelligence, insight, risk-taking.  Your data should be creating a story that communicates a message be it to your customers or providing relevant information to the various stakeholders in a business in order to aid decision making.

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Are you a ‘responsive bandwagoneer’?

To be or not to be – responsive or not…. Should responsive (adaptive) web design be the standard even when there may be user experience reasons to go with alternative web design standards?

Surprisingly, not many businesses (or their agencies…) know the answer and instead there seems to be a ‘sheep’ mentality where many jump on the band-wagon (or off the cliff!) of developing a responsive or adaptive site without really understanding if its the best approach for their business.

Fundamentally, I believe there are two important areas that should first be considered before the development of mobile for your brand; data and content.

Data, or rather the insights the data provides, will provide crucial information about how your customers or prospects are using your website and mobile site (if you have one in place) for content requirements; device and OS segmentation, location etc.  A site audit will provide you with this information.  The insights of such an audit may reveal that you require a phased approach to a longer term optimised web and mobile solution as the current web IA (information architecture) may have fundamental UX issues for example.

Content, whilst we know is a key area tend to overlook the importance.  Typically what information are customers expecting when they use different devices.  If they want in-depth information from your website but their mobile consumption is more about location based services or specific information or transacting, then rendering web content to a mobile request may not be appropriate and will only serve to irritate them as they have to scroll down until they find what they are looking for.

Looking at these two areas will already begin to point the way to the preferred solution for your customers with one of following 3 mobile SEO solutions:

Dynamic Serving, Responsive Web Design and Mobile URLs.

It must be emphasised, the argument of single URL vs multiple URLs is now redundant with Google introducing switchboard tags (Google can understand which site should appear when regardless of  URL site structure) therefore responsive web design should not be championed because the assumption is that its better for SEO!

Adapted from mobile specialist Bryson Meunier, the following give you a guideline as to whether mobile URLs or dynamic serving are preferred options to responsive web design:

1.  When the desktop doesn’t contain categories mobile searchers are looking for e.g. specific model types

2. When the desktop site doesn’t contain keywords mobile searchers are using e.g. you mobile searches may use the term ‘nearby’ which is less likely on laptop which doesn’t have GPRS

3. When responsive web design increases load time significantly

4. When target audience primarily use feature phones or when specific mobile features are required to complete task e.g. scanning or camera

5. When it prevents innovation that improves the user experience e.g. J P Morgan Chase mobile solution

The following chart from Bryson Meunier clearly visualises this:

The ideal mobile solution is a hybrid of responsive web design and mobile only pages, but that’s ideal not necessarily what’s best for your business.  So, do you know which of the three your business has developed and if so is it the best for your customers?

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