Category Archives: Technology use

Preparing for the Citizen Developer Revolution

I recently researched and wrote about the Citizen Developer revolution for Daitan Group, a company that provides high-quality software development services to significantly accelerate time to market for global technology companies.

Over the past five years, enterprises have been undergoing a fundamental shift in how they are run and operated. Market forces are driving them to improve customer service and accelerate how they embrace agile business innovation in their applications, products and services. The emergence of the digital enterprise reflects this transformation.

A common thread runs through these changes: the desire to accelerate business innovation, improve customer service and empower people at the business operational level to deliver on agile innovation without delay. In this context, the API Economy emerged. Applications powering today’s digital enterprise have been forced to ‘open up’ to allow third-party applications to access the valuable data, events and insights they host. I also researched the topic of the API Economy, and digital enterprises, for Daitan Group.

Now there is a third wave evolution — indeed a revolution — occurring. That of the Citizen Developer. A revolution that has come about entirely as a result of the digital enterprise and API Economy transformations. With it comes a new set of challenges, and significant new business opportunities for the ISVs powering today’s digital enterprises.

Now we can all be Citizen Developers!

This investigation was empowering. Mostly because I realize that I am, myself, now officially a Citizen Developer! Finally I can call myself a Developer! (Of sorts.) I signed up to use IFTTT when it first came out. I’ve self-studied Salesforce integrations. I’ve started to investigate Zapier Zaphooks to, for example, expand my usage of Hubspot marketing automation. It continues to be a wonderful time to be a marketer!

Read the Daitan Group White Paper for more information.

Renovate to innovate – how mediated APIs and microservices are delivering faster innovation cycles

Every company today that wants to reach employees and customers in a highly-connected ‘digital’ world, must invest in new technology, business models and engineering processes that result in rapid innovation cycles and create greater value. This is how the world competes today.

As the speed of innovation accelerates, every technology executive works to keep pace with competition and increase business. This movement for faster innovation is driving fundamental changes in companies across all industries — from consumer-facing to B2B models.

While the demands are the same for all companies, it bears mentioning that for technology organizations with existing applications and products, the challenges are more complex versus a start-up that carries no baggage from legacy systems or technical debt. Startups can move quicker and impact market share of an existing enterprise or ISV, so the urgency for established companies to ‘transform’ is exacerbated.

That said, at the other end of the spectrum, large organizations like Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, eBay and others have already been “digitally transformed.” They led the charge by pioneering, launching and operating wholly new architectures capable of handling their super-connected world of customers.

I recently researched this topic for revolution for Daitan Group, a company that provides high-quality software development services to significantly accelerate time to market for global technology companies.

I looked at how Daitan has presented approaches successfully deployed on multiple occasions for both mature ISVs and enterprise environments faced with the business imperative to accelerate innovation and leverage their existing assets without disrupting operations of an existing application. How they, in short, help their clients ‘renovate to innovate.’

Read the Daitan Group White Paper for more information.

The potential of enterprise APIs to embrace new digital intiatives

APIs are increasingly allowing organizations to embrace new digital initiatives and build new revenue streams by making their data and services available for consumption—both to developers and partners outside the enterprise, and to internal teams within the organization.  This last month I completed this White Paper ‘The Potential of APIs for Rapid Service Delivery‘ on behalf of my client Daitan Group for whom I am developing an on-going series of white paper and blog content to support their marketing and business development initiatives.

IoE — “it’s as if the world is going to reboot.”

In her keynote @ThingsExpo in New York this month, Cisco’s VP of Cisco Consulting Services, Manjula Talreja, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike.

“It’s as if the world is going to re-boot … the world becomes hyper-aware … and insight is today’s currency.” Joseph Bradley, Cisco.

Whether you use Gartner’s definition of the Internet of Everything: “The Nexus of Forces; ” or Cisco’s definition: “Internet of Everything;” or IDC’s definition: “The Third Platform;” or GE’s definition: “The Industrial Internet,” it’s all about social, mobile, video, data analytics, security and cloud coming together.

  • In 2012, we created more data than in the previous 5,000 years.
  • By 2020, we will have 50 billion objects connected to the Internet.
  • In 2014, 77 billion apps were downloaded.

Yes, it’s fearfully big. And it’s moving fearfully fast.

Ms Talreja counseled the largely retail and financial audience to think about the higher order business problems that can be solved across three critical vectors:

  • Machine to machine (homes, cars, things connected to the cloud)
  • Person to person (remote communication and collaboration enabled by the cloud), and
  • Machine to person (the new opportunities that happen when things — like your FitBit or your Smartphone — are connected to a person)

In all this, context is king.

Amazon knows a dramatically large amount of things about me and my changing lifestyle and shopping habits since I became a customer in November 1999, when my first triumphant purchase was a hardback copy of Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel. (Yes, I went back and looked.)

And the way Amazon creates value from that knowledge is by applying the following four pillars to that knowledge:

  • Process
  • People
  • Data, and
  • Things

So what does this mean? Ms Talreja says that the biggest change for most companies (and Amazon has already figured this out) is in people and process.  And to become innovative, and to capture value, companies must be hyper aware, predictive and agile.

“All companies that are capturing value right now from IoE have to hyper aware, predictive and agile.”  Mangle Talreja, Cisco.

What’s hyper aware? Knowing in real time what is going on.

What’s predictive? By optimizing assets, data and operations based on what’s going on now, and what’s going to happen next, not by just looking back. We cannot any longer only collect all the data in one place, in a central location, and look at it historically. Today, it’s about having data available in real time. Data analysis has to be predictive of the future, not just look back at trends.

What’s agile? Ms Talreja says it’s by being quick. I take issue with that description though. Agile is often confused with quick. Agile is nimble. It’s a different thing, IMO.

But I agree that for companies to capture value right now for IoE, they have to be hyper aware, predictive and agile, because that’s how innovation accelerates a company’s competitiveness.

Particularly when it come to being agile. Ms Talreja cautions us that when traditional top-down hierarchy of burdens decision making, it’s hard to be agile. Companies need to unbundle traditional teaming structures, and facilitate access to the experts that can make it happen. And that may not be in a centralized HQ.  For example, in the retail use case, it’s about knowing what stock is on the shelves right now, and when it’s getting below 25%. Retailers need to know it the moment it  happens. Not 20 days after it happened.

Shining a light on  ‘dark’ assets

A term I particularly liked in this keynote was the concept of ‘dark assets’ and the opportunity to shine a light on those assets. What are dark assets? They are assets — and through them market opportunities — that are under- or un-utilized. They might not be physical things, as we might understand the traditional meaning of the word to be. They are instead contextual moments and consumer behaviors that become the catalyst for business opportunities.

Financial use cases for lighting up dark assets

For example, only the world’s very richest people — 0.5% — have real time access on the phone, or in person, to a financial expert to help them adjust financial portfolios. The rest of us have to ‘make do’ with online access and going into high street banks. That’s a dark asset — people without access. WealthFront is shining a light on that asset.

Another example: Acorn — a company I hadn’t heard of. Using Acorn, you can ’round up’ a $5.05 purchase at a coffee shop, and put the $0.95 into an investment pot. Once that pot reaches $5, Acorn will start investing it for you. The dark asset here is the coins and change we carry around and occasionally (as I do) take to Coinstar a couple of times a year. Because who can deal with paper coin tubes? Not me.

Cisco referred to more than 60 vertical use cases they had built for IoE, and surveys conducted to highlight those vertical use cases. They conducted surveys with regular folks over multiple national geographies about their financial habits. 75% of those surveyed said they would move financial institutions if some of the typical friction was removed — the kinds of friction described in the examples above.

For example: what if you went into your bank, and it knew, from your phone or your face, who you were. You got a push notification to your phone to tell you that there was a seven minute wait to see a teller, and then gave you a $5 coupon to get a coffee around the corner at Starbucks while you waited. Bloomingdales in Silicon Valley does this. Personally, I’d expect that from Bloomingdales, but my natural cynicism would question why a bank would want to buy me a cup of coffee. I’d rather hope they save the money and give me a better deal on my banking. But hey ho. Point taken.

Another example: what if you conducted a FaceTime chat with a mortgage advisor. Then, when you went into the physical location, the bank used location-aware branch recognition, to continue the discussion, so you didn’t have to repeat the entire conversation? Now that I could get behind. The idea of applying for a mortgage, or re-mortgage, is daunting in the extreme. All that paperwork. I’ve done it. More than once. And it’s a miserable, friction-filled experience.

Cisco estimated that by removing friction and lighting up some of these financial ‘dark assets,’ a $10B financial institution could generate $392M of growth, even accounting for implementation costs.

Retail use cases for lighting up dark assets

In the retail world, Google is beginning to know as much about you and your shopping habits as Amazon. With their driverless cars, and/or drones, they’ll come to know what you want to eat, and when. They can be predictive. Safeway isn’t predictive. At all. Even though I use a Safeway Club card, and presumably Safeway captures my whole shopping history, they don’t know when I walk in the door of Safeway and don’t change behaviors as a result. They can’t predict that the things I buy aren’t on the shelves. If big box stores can predict — from car traffic patterns, from location aware devices, from tags on shopping carts, from video cameras — how shopping changes in real time and accommodate those changes accordingly, it can rack up big savings. A store can move staff from the back warehouse to the front to avoid queues.

Using some proprietary technology that Cisco has built in combination with big box retailers (they didn’t say who), they have combined, and patented, video cameras with video analytics to send a very specific alarm when a particular item is running low in stock. Typically these kinds of alerts have been very imprecise, and ‘stock out’ is big business. It can have an 8-12% impact on the bottom line, so retailers care very much about it. Being hyper aware in real time of stock out means money.

Another example in the retail store environment: Cisco is also working on tablets that help associates alert when a line is getting long much faster than relying on a supervisor’s line of sight and a tannoy system.

In both these use cases, Cisco showed that the big box retailer they worked with got a revenue increase of $98M, and a reduction cost of labor of $94M. No indication of which retailer, over which time, and for which number of stores. But the savings were real.

Similarly, she spoke of a ‘global coffee house chain’ — is there more than one? — that is using video and video analytics to understand their ‘balk rate.’ This is the rate at which customers enter a queue, over the rate at which they leave a queue. This chain wants to know when, why, and what demographics come and go — which gender? which age group? how long they stay? Knowing this information can help predict how to solve the problem.

Overall, an interesting talk, which though it lacked real hard core specific data, for obvious reasons, underscored the massive sea-change we are going to witness with how companies and brands interact with us as consumers. (And the consequent privacy questions raised.)

I will be better served, more understood, prodded, peered at, offered all kinds of things I want but don’t need in the coming years. Will I be a happier customer? I hope it will result in a better experience than I get today with the bludgeoning I feel from blunt instruments of spam emails and re-marketing ads. But the knife-edge of privacy and personalization is going to be a serious challenge for businesses to balance upon.




Re-discovering your social compass — old rules for the new digital world

Social Media is lost without a social compass.”  So says Brian Solis in a thoughtful, and thought-provoking article written as a foreword to the new book “The Ethical Practice of Social Media in Public Relations,” by Marcia W DiStaso and Denise Sevick Bortree.

Here’s the thing.

Just as you would advise any newcomer to the social (digital) world — from teenager to grandparent — not to say anything you wouldn’t say face-to-face, brands need to follow the same guidelines.

Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to a consumer face-to-face.

Continue reading Re-discovering your social compass — old rules for the new digital world

70 Percent of digital users cross from device to device. Can your online biz handle it?

I just bought a new iPad. I can’t believe I’m saying that because when I bought my first iPad I thought it was the most expensive, frivolous toy I’d ever purchased. Then it became my new best friend. I became so attached that when my son began borrowing it regularly to use iMovie and watch […]

from Marketing Pilgrim – Internet News and Opinion

It’s an exciting time to be a graduate… Steve Blank’s commencement speech

When I graduated college, I don’t even recall there was a commencement speech. Presumably there was. But I don’t recall a single nanosecond of it. Nothing was said to kick me into the world, all fired up and ready to change it when I got there. So, not having anything better planned and no better offers, I left London for America, and ended up in Silicon Valley in the mid 1980s, working on software for the newly launched Apple Macintosh.

Lucky me.

Steve Blank’s commencement speech to ESADE speaks to global business leaders of tomorrow, but could just as well be spoken to anyone starting out in the world today.  To those who don’t have the wherewithal, or the courage (yet) to start their own company. Or to those who are joining companies that are started by those who do have that wherewithal and courage. Or to those who are working inside the stodgy organizations of yesterday and wondering why they feel so unempowered. Or even to those who just don’t know where they are going next.

The message is the same: be an optimist. There’s opportunity absolutely everywhere.

When the taxicab or hotel business lobbyists run to the politicians to get laws passed that will save their business, you know Uber and AirBNB are onto something. It’s sad when a local bookstore closes down, but exciting when you can borrow any book at any time from your library on your Kindle, because Mr Bezos figured out something before anyone else.

These technology innovations are changing the rules of businesses that have for decades enjoyed market dominance. And there are many more begging for change. Because as consumers, we are becoming more demanding, and we won’t settle for the status quo any more. And we’re not afraid of change.

I asked someone yesterday “when was the last time you browsed live TV channels?” His response? “Probably about five years ago.” Same for me — apart from occasional, miserable experiments with “I’m bored, what’s on?…” that last maybe 10 minutes before the TV goes off and Amazon or Netflix goes on. Because live TV pisses me off.  The absolute unadulterated rubbish, interspersed by absolutely ghastly advertisements, on 500 channels that I don’t want to ever see. Ever. Ever. No love lost for me there.

The last time I went into the AT&T store to sort out my complicated mobile phone bill for a family of five, I came out thinking that I was being shafted at every turn. Every possible dime was being squeezed out of me for things I don’t think I need or know about. No love lost for me there either.

After both experiences, I know that the moment I can switch to a new, disruptive technology to replace my TV and my mobile phone, I will. Cable, AT&T and Comcast? You’re next.

It’s a truly exciting time to be a newly minted graduate.

Lucky you.

Walking to work life balance — thanks #FitBit, #Audible, #Withings, and #LoseIt

At Friend2Friend we’re shortly to be launching a very complex LinkedIn API integration on behalf of LinkedIn and Samsung, in our capacity as a leading Certified Developer Partner. Called “How Do You Match Up,” the campaign is designed to build awareness for the Samsung Knox phone.

Samsung "How Do You Match Up"
Samsung “How Do You Match Up”

One of the actions in the app is to ask visitors for tips on how they manage work/life balance. Presumably this aligns with the brand messaging for the Knox phone, which works as a personal and a work phone.  In testing the app, I naturally had to think of an answer, and that got me to appreciate the way technology has helped in whole new ways for me this year.

I was an early adopter of the #FitBit. I bought one almost as soon as it came out, and happily fell in and out of activity with it, regularly reaching 10,000 steps a day. But I did it alone.fitbit

2014 welcomed a whole new FitBit regimen.  With a small group of friends and family, I am now part of a FitBit ladder, where we regularly Taunt and Cheer who is at the top of the weekly walking list.  Having the FitBit, in combination with the ladder, has wholly changed my approach to my day. Small changes, like parking further away and always taking the stairs. One of our ladder actually empties the dishwasher one item at a time to get more steps….and wears it on her bath towel so as not to miss early morning steps. That’s some psychology at work.

But it has also encouraged huge changes, like my daily commute is now two hours of walking at what has been referred to as “a jaunty pace” for the round trip between home and Caltrain. At first this was a challenge, but now less so. I’ve discovered the family can wait an extra hour until I get home for me to cook dinner. And, actually, they can also shop well under instructions, and cook, so it’s even ready when I get home.

It’s all about psychology.  It’s amazing the difference ‘counting’ makes. And counting with friends is so much more fun. When I have done a studly 20,000 steps a day, I am cock-a-hoop. No doubt irritatingly so.

This has all added up to a huge difference in balancing work and life.  Instead of going to the gym, I walk and listen to books. I think about the day, and my plans. I make phone calls. I schedule appointments. I think of ideas for what to do this summer with the family. And I delegate parts of the running of the family to my capable teenagers. In combination with Audible’s impressive range of books, the walks are both invigorating for the mind, and the body. Finding the time is fun and welcome. And, finally, having linked together FitBit’s app with the Withings scale and LoseIt, I’ve also said goodbye to 15lbs since January.

This is wearable tech at its best.

I’m glad Google Reader has gone…

I have been lazily using Google Reader for years … probably since it first came out, though I’m not sure. But it wasn’t until I was forced to abandon the tool that I realized what I’d been putting up with. The experience was just as unpleasant as the Google GMail experience (solved recently with Postbox — excellent). I’ve now transitioned to Feedly and what a joy it is. So I’m going to ignore all the griping and whingeing and applaud Google for letting me go.