I use Gmail as the backbone of everything digital that I do. I use the app as well as the email service. If an important attachment comes in an email that I might need in a meeting, I store it in Google Drive because I only carry a phone and almost never a laptop or tablet. If I carried a laptop I would store attachments in Dropbox, which has been my principal storage/backup since the day Dropbox came out of Beta. Anything really important is stored in Dropbox. It is much easier to store a Gmail attachment in Google Drive than Dropbox, although it can be done. I take all my notes in Evernote, which is probably the best product I use.
I have been a particularly confirmed user of Dropbox and Evernote since the day Google cancelled Google Reader, their RSS reader. I read about 200 blogs more or less ever day and moving that "library" after Google Reader died was important to me and not trivial. From that day on I have no archive of my information with Google, Apple, Microsoft or another mega-app provider.[I don't consider the Gmail archive of emails to be very important.] I prefer my critical apps to be from single app companies, companies where the sole purpose of the company is a single app.
This strategy may now be in question. Google and Evernote have announced an agreement whereby Evernote can access Google Drive files. Is Google the camel putting its nose under the tent of Evernote. Is Evernote independence now in question? Will Microsoft swallow Dropbox next? As sad as it would be to lose Evernote to Google, it would be a tragedy for Dropbox to lose its independence. In my mind Dropbox is the app that made the mobile device era when it permitted the most simple way to synch documents across multiple devices.
A few things I find interesting.
This article on cooperation in VR (virtual reality) between Samsung and Six Flags, the amusement park operators, prompted today's post.
Technically I think the cooperation is in augmented reality because the technology supplements the actual ride experience. The user wears a VR headset during the ride so it is more than traditional VR. I digress.
The point I took away from the article is why do I need to go to a theme park. I can duplicate the experience of the park rides with just a headset. Maybe I would need a chair hooked up to the VR to duplicate all the physical sensations, but I think the combination of headset and chair would be compelling.
VR today suffers from the same problem personal computers had in the early days--no use case. It was not until spreadsheets came along that personal computers took off. We need to find Excel for VR or else it will stay a niche technology. Spreadsheets worked because they served a very basic need-mathematical computation. What very basic need can VR serve (after which it can proliferate into hundreds of other use cases)? My guess would be something related to music. (Almost every Apple product launched on the back of an innovation related to music.) Perhaps allowing the users to share the perspective from the band's point of view during a concert would be compelling. Maybe sell that experience on a subscription basis for a well known band's world tour.
For some time I have been looking for a phrase that describes what I think is the future direction of software. Frog Design provided the phrase in this story, "We Are the Builders of Tech Revolutions. Why Are They Still a Surprise?" Frog predicts that software will be "self-organizing" by ~2030. Whether Frog and I agree on the meaning of self-organizing is not important.
I define self-organizing to mean that the software has sufficient data about the user combined with well developed artificial intelligence sufficient to predict an experience equal or better than the user could do. The experience might be a purchase such as a vacation trip or a list of recommended books to read or know who of your friends to send an article to. In the work environment your archive of information would dynamically connect with co-workers around the world who show the same degree of seriousness about a subject and create meta tags (or whatever is in use then) so that similar articles are more easily available to you regardless of how one person tagged them.
The information capture about you is already there. Note the Facebook ads you keep getting until well after you buy the new bag you researched at Michael Kors. The AI software probably needs a bit more time to reach the standard of designing a vacation as well as you would do it, but another ten years should be sufficient. A lot of data is being run through that AI software in ten years and the software keeps learning.
Given the amount of writing I do, I had to sign up for a free trial. I took it for a test drive using a chapter from my next book. The chapter deals with how complexity theory applies to opportunity identification in entrepreneurship. Not a simple subject so I thought it would be a real test for the AI. A sample screen of the app, my prose and the comments is below.
I think the comments are generally excellent with very few computer style mistakes. The software is targeting a very high standard of writing, which I [modestly] define as better editing than I could do myself. I cannot figure out why editing comments are classified into seven categories, but I would guess it has something to do with how the software learns.
The setup is clunky. Just signup, ignore all the tutorials and just upload a document. It has MS Word type logic that we all understand. It will take a few minutes to get comfortable but when you realize that clicking on a comment takes you to that section of the prose, you have basically mastered the software. I am not yet confident that format is maintained.
One funny note--a computer style mistake. The computer commented on a Howard Gardner quote in my prose. Howard Gardner is a very famous education professor at Harvard. The computer did not know not to edit a quote (the edits would have improved Gardner's writing).
If you do serious writing and do not pay for editing, WriteLab is definitely helpful. Recommended for any considerate students :-)
WriteLab is further evidence that last week's story, "AI is the Paradigm Shift", is going to turn out to be correct.
Note: I rejected two changes proposed by WriteLab for this post but accepted 8 other comments.
Business Insider reports that Royal Bank of Scotland is testing Facebook at Work as an email alternative. RBS cites the better functionality of the experimental Facebook at Work as the reason for the choice. What the Bank really mean is that we have learned to communicate in a new way, Facebook, and we now prefer that way. Interesting that consumer-focused Facebook realized their attractiveness as a business product....or maybe they wanted to get ahead of the other messaging powerhouses.
This quote from Inside Intercom may explain it.
"Given so much of our work is based on the back and forth exchange of ideas, it’s not surprising designers are imagining a new generation of messaging products, with dialogue at their center. Conversational UIs are breaking out of messaging apps and into products we use every day.
The cause of this shift is simple: human nature.
We’re innately tuned to converse with others. It’s how we share knowledge, how we organise ourselves, and how we share emotions. Language has been part of our makeup for hundreds of thousands of years. So of course we message all day long in bursts and binges, with family, friends, and colleagues. Messaging has become a layer through which daily lives are conducted."
I have been using Slack for about a month. I am not impressed. WhatsApp did not impress me either. I look forward to seeing FB at Work.
A few years ago I had the pleasure to work with Yves Behar at fuseproject. He was the designer for the One Laptop per Child laptop and then the tablet (the project I lead). Yves has many talents, as would be expected from a world class designer, but what I always noticed was his unwavering focus on understanding the customer.
This story from the fuseproject blog, "On Crafting Wearability", makes the customer focus clear. I inserted the bold to show the insights about the customer in the reprint of the story below.
"Wearables represent an immensely excited and daunting design challenge. There are very few things, let alone electronic devices, that we wear on our bodies 24/7. In fact, we entered wearables because we felt that, in addition to our technological assets, the key to true success would be creating something inspired and unique -- something you would love to wear. Delivering on these principles is not easy. It takes time, commitment, invention; these combined with great engineering and never tried before manufacturing methods has led to a new collection of UP2 and UP3 offerings.
UP2, already the slimmest and lightest wearable on the market, has been reimagined with a new style strap, making it look even smaller on the wrist. The rope-like TPSIV rubber band with a polished metal hook is a new style that is extraordinarily comfortable and graceful. The open strap gives more breathability on the wrist, while looking complementary next to a watch or jewelry."
Would you have researched wearables well enough to draw the insights bolded above? I particularly like the insight about the wearable looking good with a watch or bracelet.
This was one of Thursday's tweets.
Fast Company describes the buttons:
"The adhesive one-touch buttons instantly order predetermined refills of detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags, and other household items. They cost $5 apiece and cannot be customized by brand: Each one is tied specifically to names like Gatorade, Bounty, Tide, and even Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Amazon currently offers 18 such buttons, though there are a multitude of product options within the individual brands."
My thoughts on the buttons are as follows:
I think these buttons represent a new dimension in considering how to develop a customer experience.
I have stopped doing panel discussions, but I am happy to be a moderator if the panelists are interesting. In the last two weeks I have watched several panels on very interesting subjects with great panelists that completely flopped. They all flopped because of the moderators. If you are moderating a panel my advice would include:
Someone needs to provide a free training program for moderators.
The key to creating a great product and company is to create value for the customer. Value is that unique combination of emotional and economic benefits that motivate the customer to purchase. In the best situation the product enables the customer to create their own additional value. In an even better situation, value for the customer is derived from the value/content that the customers create. An example may help.
Options 2 and 3 allow for multiple opportunities to create value beyond just the code base from the platform.
If we examine Twitter, it is not clear there are use cases developed by the users or by curating the user content. So it is not required to be successful, but I think the more value creation the more attractive.
On a related theme, the proprietary code should be for the principal value creation for the customer. The remaining code in the stack can come from the open source community. This idea is explained very well here.
This quote in a story in Fast Company caught my attention:
"...a system in which a program can be written to find an answer—or to execute a smart contract that can buy something, sell something, or do something. In aggregate, a group of smart contracts could run what is known in Ethereum-speak as a "decentralized autonomous organization" (DAO) or a "distributed autonomous corporation" (DAC)—in other words, a corporation distilled to its most basic tasks, and operated by little more than code and the logic of if this, then that." (emphasis added) Companies will have a single asset, a code base using AI, that will enter into transactions with independent service provides to create, deliver and capture value.
Perhaps this novel idea caught my attention because I had spent the weekend reading about datafication, which is explained in a study by Ericsson "The Impact of Datafication on Strategic Landscapes". Digitalisation is the evolution of IT starting in 1950 which brought us apps, mobile devices and a focus on IT for productivity improvement. Datafication is the new approach to IT which recognizes the changes coming in IT from the large number of physical objects capturing or generating data. The differences in digitisation and datafication (from the Ericsson study) are summarized below.
Now, as every aspiring entrepreneur knows, one must understand the customer and their problem to successfully start a new business concept. The question one should be considering is whether datafication provides sufficient information for the code based AI company to successfully identify a large need and develop a solution. Ericsson believes the answer is yes and the data source will probably be your cell phone, which captures and generates data on your entire life. When a company with no humans is analyzing data about you, it brings privacy issues to a whole new level.
Maybe the solution to the problem of the morality of capitalism is to replace the human managed companies with "no humans" companies. Might be more socially aware :)
Instead of robot challenges every weekend, maybe we should have challenges for best code to autonomously operate a company.
BCG.Perspectives has a very interesting new article, "Navigating a World of Digital Disruption". The article focuses on how the BCG clients (F500) can be disrupted and how they can position strategically and tactically to improve their performance. However, I found the more valuable parts to the article to be:
I really liked the graphic below. One point to note, I think you can only strategically focus on one "architecture" at a time for an line of business. For example Amazon uses communities to do book reviews, but the Amazon strategy is a platform strategy for its original business. I THINK A LOT OF STARTUPS TRY TO COMBINE PLATFORM AND COMMUNITY AND THAT IS WHY THEY DO NOT GET FUNDED. YOU CAN ONLY BE ONE.
The article also has an interesting proposal for how NGOs and multi-laterals could re-organize agriculture to be more sustainable and effective through big data.
This is an article worth reading slowly and not speed reading. Thanks to @John_Menenzes for the heads up.
I spent yesterday at the eMerge conference in Miami. While there was a nice list of speakers, I spent most of the day talking to the early stage companies exhibiting and catching up with people in the entrepreneurship community in Miami.
My takeaways from the conference:
Today Nancy Dahlberg has a nice recap at Starting Gate of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, which I judged. Noteworthy was this year's winner in the high school category, Teenography. I very much like the idea of teaching entrepreneurship to high school and junior high school students--not checkbook management or accounting, but real business concept development and go to market strategies.
Teenography operates an exchange/marketplace/platform (pick the word you like) that enables young (high school) photographers to offer their services to clients in need of photos for events, marketing materials, etc. Average charge rate is $40/hour compared to professionals who charge $100/ hour in South Florida. Why the difference of $60/hour. You might say professionals versus amateurs but the real reason is what economists call asymmetry of information. Information on photographers used to be difficult to find and incomplete, the asymmetry, because there was no easy way to find out about amateur photographers. When information on amateurs becomes available through Teenography and more complete information is the norm, the price per hour of photographic services drops by $60/hour. Reducing the premium created by the asymmetry represents the business opportunity.
In markets where there is an asymmetry of information, there are two new business development strategies:
As is obvious, the Internet and ubiquitous information make it possible to profitably eliminate the asymmetry. A trend I see emerging is for such exchanges to bridge service providers in developing countries with clients in developed countries. One example of this is Behance, which enables third world graphic artists, web developers and designers to showcase their work to the world. The site allows for the service provider to be contacted but not for a contract to be consummated...yet. Customer service from India is not so far from the exchange model nor is artesans in Africa posting their wares on a web-based exchange where socially motivated buyers can pick what they want to purchase.
This business model of the exchange that bridges the developed and developing world ('bridging marketplaces") I think will become very common. The timing is excellent because low skill jobs for immigrants in the U.S. are being taken over by robots. Fruit picking and nursery work is now done by robots, according to this post in Marginal Revolution. If there are no jobs in the U.S. to attract immigrants, then I hope these workers find bridging marketplaces that provide local employment.
If someone had good open source exchange software, one group of socially motivated people could focus to organize the local service providers and another socially motivated group could focus on marketing the exchange products or services. A little imagination and we crowd source to fund the marketing.
For more on the relationship between developed and developing markets, read this excellent article from the Washington Post, The Great Unraveling of Globalization.
A friend is promoting a boating safety course this weekend sponsored by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Monica Bruguera Foundation. As part of the last push to boost attendance, my friend put up a post on Facebook. Facebook offered her three alternatives to share the post:
Maybe everybody knows about this third option, but I just learned about it and thought it was a great way to promote community events.
Send me a Tweet (@rhhfla) and I will provide more details about the free class.