Recently at our home, we purchased a new laptop, which came with Vista on it. Sadly, it didn’t come with Microsoft Office on it, and I was not able to open any word docs, excel, or powerpoints. I asked the store how much it would cost to add office, and they suggested in was $175. This seemed like a lot of money for a software system that I’m used to seeing as a base line image on most computers.
As a result (and being web savvy, of sorts) I started to use Google Docs, an online, ‘free’ version of office. Google offers an online spreadsheet tool, as well as an online document word processing tool, all with collaborative features that I could share with others.
As I continued to use these Google docs, I started to infect others, evangelism runs within my veins, and soon my wife started to use it, and I used it for a variety of documents within my new employer. I’m not sure if it’s becuase of me, but other colleagues in my team are using Google Docs for team collaboration. It’s not just Google either, Zoho is coming around the bend quickly, and had quite a presence at the recent Office 2.0 conference in SF that attendees were wondering why Microsoft was not present.
I wonder if Microsoft is missing a major opportunity here by: 1) Not providing these basic tools on the OS that buyers are not willing to purchase and 2) Not being agile to see how information is moving to the cloud and thus offering tools for the online office. When I do a google search for Microsoft online office, it results in thanksgiving colored templates.
Talking to Rafe of Webware (they believe in the web as a platform) he mentioned to me that the internet has made boxed software irrelevant, as users can now download them from the web, or use web versions of products.
What other software companies are missing an opportunity because of the web?
A few weeks ago, I met some SF folks at Lunch 2.0 in SF (see pics of this rooftop party.
Randy Fong is a Flex champion and evangelist and gives us his reasons why he prefers to develop there. He tells us about the differences between Flex, Ajax, and Silverlight, and answers which one he thinks will have a faster development time.
I probed him about measurement, which has been a point of contention for many web strategists, he gives his response.
There’s a lot of web strategists reading this blog, tell me about which technology you’re using for rich user experiences and why.
Editor in Chief (I flubbed the intro) of PC World Harry McCracken (personal blog) loves Flock, so much so that he gave me 2 minute of his time to tell me why. If you want to read his full review, it’s on PCWorld. Previously, I was unconvinced there was room for three browsers in my life, but downloaded it and gave it a whirl. The jury is still out, it takes me time to see if it will really integrate into my lifestyle. I received some feedback about it on Twitter, such as Dennis Howlett tweets “you realize Flock’s OPML import is utterly borked, rendering it almost useless?” amid a mixture of other responses.
One of the best part of the experience is the truly human experience, it’s so common that large and small companies are so visibly unhuman in their website experience. If you’ve any questions about flock, or need quick answers Evan Hamilton the community ambassador (who stepped in after Will Pate moved on) is available. Next time I see him, I’ll get him on video to find out how he’s enjoying being a community manager.
I met up with Harry at Eastwick Communication’s halloween party in Santa Clara, had a great time, met a lot of folks, pics are in flickr of the party.
Have you tried the latest version of flock? It has social features that hook into Facebook, Flickr, Blogging platforms, and Twitter.
VoIP and Live Streaming, in my opinion, have revolutionized the communication industry. Anyone with computer and internet connection can connect with anyone else on the planet, for real time voice and video communications. The clincher? Such tools require a few dollars and commodity internet access –nearly everyone can get in on the conversation.
Skype connects a family
Recently, an Uncle and Auntie of mine recently moved to the Middle East for a off country teaching assignment, in a city known for violence, assassinations and unrest. Yesterday, during a local family get together we were able to arrange a time to call them, and we piped over a video stream to them. We could hear their audio only. I was able to briefly jump into this real world communications with them, as they were half way around the world, and wouldn’t be returning to us anytime soon.
My cousin showed him around the house with the video camera, although the wireless network connection would sometimes drop, they got to experience a virtual tour of what we were doing. Although not perfectly setup, we continue to lower the barriers to communication in real time, and the medium gets richer with each passing year.
Live streaming the human life cycle
I recently spoke with Chris Yeh, the CEO of Ustream (live interactive video), he tells me that in addition to people broadcasting live births on the web, that families are live-broadcasting funerals. Morbid? Not really, some family members who couldn’t be at the service get to participate in the grieving process, in this virtual way to be with their family.
It’s just a matter of time before our traditional home entertainment systems become IP enabled, allowing for PC to TV real-time video and audio to be transmitted. It would be interesting to see the adoption of these tools each holiday season, year after year.
Has VoIP or Live Streaming impacted your family?
There’s so many examples of how these tools impact business, but have you had an experience where these tools impacted your personal or family life? VoIP, live video streaming, what? Share with me in the comments.
Leon writes a blog called LifeHack (not the same as lifehacker), and has a Technorati rank of 38! He focuses on helping people make their lives easier by using the web. We’re in Hong Kong’s central distract on the night of the blogger dinner.
I ask Leon three questions, hear how he responds by watching the embedded video above (Some feedreaders or emails won’t show this, so access the post directly)
1) With the flood of so many web 2.0 tools, how does one figure out which is right for them?
2) Email is broken. How do we manage the overflow?
3) Instant messaging, is it a productivity tool or waste of time?
If you’ve any questions for Leon, cruise over to his blog and fire away!
There are quite few challenges for online newspapers, ranging from the reality of multiple authors and the usual workflow issues to creating editorial process. Christina Wodke, of Public Square, discusses some of the challenges facing digital newspapers (find out what she means by “Boxes and Arrows”).
A Web Strategy must balance all three spheres
What’s a Web Strategy? It’s the balance between the three spheres for effective long-term planning of a website. This person is a hybrid of a few roles, and may have emerged from any of the following spheres. A Web Strategist is responsible for the long-term planning and decision making of a website, but must balance ALL of the following three spheres:
1) Community (formerly Users)
The Web Strategist must understand (by using a variety of techniques and tactics) what users want. This is commonly known as User Experience Research which will create and craft a ‘mental model’. In addition, the strategist will need to be in tune with the community in which their website is part of, this is greater than just users, as it will include competitors, partners, and prospects.
Skills: User experience (UX), usability, information architecture, social media skills, customer support, community marketing, marketing, product marketing, ability to listen and be empathetic.
The business sphere requires a strategist to understand the long term objective of a website and it’s goals. This sphere also requires ability to internally maneuver within an organization and maximize the persistent limitation in resources. A website that is not aligned to business or market objectives is ultimately doomed to fail. The User and Business requirements will often match, but will rarely ever be a perfect fit. The Web Strategist) will need to obtain business requirements from stakeholders, whether that be execs, sponsors, sales, or even shareholders. Understanding the market, competitors (and key milestones) and other external forces are also required –a business requirements model will be formed, these are your objectives.
Skills: Marketing, advertising, media, management, measurement, ability to evangelize internally, process management, resource management, obtain objectives, product development, product management, savvy in political maneuvering
Lastly, a Web Strategist needs to know how each and every tool and technology work, they’ll need to know the strengths, benefits, limitations and costs. This also applies to human capital, and timelines. Often technical limitations will reduce the scope of User and Business needs, so you’ll need to incorporate this going forward.
Skills: Software Development, Web Development, Web Architecture, Industry Trends, experiments with web technology, but understands how to extrapolate and harness a tool.
Can’t master them all? Be able to Learn or Delegate
It’s unlikely he or she is a master at all, but most importantly, has the ability to learn and delegate. In my career, I’ve tried to have a balance in all these spheres (former UI Designer, Marketing Degree, and worked in software engineering group) keeping up with all spheres is nearly impossible. Therefore two skills become very important: 1) The ability to quickly learn, and extract value, 2) Ability to find talent and delegate, no really, I mean really delegate, which requires trust.
If you have other skills to suggest, please leave a comment, and I’ll add.
I originally introduced this concept August 25th 2006, just about one year earlier, and am now making these amendments. This was primarily spurred by Johnathan’s suggestion of looking at the user sphere as greater than just a customer base, thanks Jonathan, you’re an excellent strategist. Also, Robert suggested I try to incorporate more of a visual representation in my concepts, which I think is a great idea.
Did this post interest you? See all posts tagged Web Strategy, or watch the supplemental Web Strategy Video Show.
I’m getting asked a few times a week to recommend a White Label Social Networking Site by excited entrepreneurial or the corporate evangelist. I mainly get asked because of this list I made of the players, and my frequent commenting on the topic.
Given that there is over 60 of them, I don’t believe anyone has an accurate idea of which one ‘is the best’ and considering they are releasing upgrades are versions a few times a year, keeping up is a full time job, there’s where an industry analyst can step up and lead.
I can never answer you over email or over a single phone call, why? Because there are different tools for different needs. It would be very irresponsible of me to recommend SoNet without first understanding your business objectives, your community needs, and gathering your technological requirements.
Every company has different business, user and technology needs. I’ve observed that the different White Label Social Networking vendors are starting to segment into different strengths and focus, therefore there is no “perfect” vendor
So I recommend the following checklist before you get started on this very important decision (How important? This is the infrastructure for your customer base, you’d better choose wisely)
Questions to answer before contacting any White Label Social Networking site (feel free to add additional checkoff points below)
1) What business problem are you trying to fix? What’s broken? What does success look like (without mentioning features)
2) There are different tools for different problems, Are you sure a Social Networking site will fix this?
3) Where are your community/market/users currently?
4) Not sure? Then look again, don’t proceed farther until you find them.
5) Have you considered joining that community before creating your own? You know of the Walmart 10 week fiasco right? Trying to recreate MySpace doesn’t make sense because it already exists.
6) How open/closed to you want your community? Think about long term, does it scale?
7) What incentive are you creating with this SoNet that will drive users to your site and share?
8. How do you plan to kick start your community, you know that just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come
9) Consider joining the Web Strategy Group in Facebook to meet other web decision makers, you’ll be able to ask questions in the forum.
10) Leave a comment below if you’ve suggestions.
I’m a big believer in using my blog (a one to many communication tool) to make my life efficient, so I may refer you to this post in request.
Consultants please read
Are you a consultant that focuses on evaluating, choosing, and implementing a solution? I encourage you to leave a thoughtful comment below that adds additional knowledge that will showcase and impress others, please no raw pitches. Perhaps add some addition points a buyer should look for.
Lee from CommonCraft brings another great ‘understanding social media video’, I can’t thank him enough for this, I hope many of the corporate folks who are trying to understand these tools (often Digital immigrants) watch this series.
You can see other videos they’ve created on this wrap up post, great job, but I’ll have to agree with the folks in the comments, we want that signature “Boo” and “yeah” in every video.
This post is a focus on the very front end of the adoption curve, long before the masses come, there’s many different groups inside of the “early adopter” persona. There’s been many extensive studies on the adoption curve and the different personas that emerge, but I’m just going to share what I see, as I’m close or in the epicenter. (I’m in Silcon Valley, and many of my friends are pebbles, or the CEOs that create these products demo in our office)
I see a pattern, and have grouped them into stages and patterns. For the purpose of this observation, I see a trigger area which I’m calling the ‘epicenter’, the point of an activity. There are many epicenters, in fact one or more for every product, and multiple companies having products. Individuals can often be many of the personas for each different product.
[Within the bleeding edge are different personas of adopters who all centralize around the epicenter: The Pebble, Swimmer, Surfer, Boater, or with the Fleet]
The Five Personas of the Early Adopter
The Pebble: One away from Epicenter:
First hand demo, for many truly first adopters, they will get a first hand demo from the originators of the product. They are hunted by marketing, inventors and PR professionals to be the key infuencers that will trigger the avalanche. In Robert’s case, his video show gets him access to just about every inventor and CEO. For example, Stewart from Flickr showed the product to him before many saw it.
These are the pebbles that gets dropped in the still lake.
Swimmers: Two away from Epicenter
Many folks are two degrees away, they watch a group of influencers and once a small critical mass has started (folks from group 1), they jump on. These are the hallway demos, or informal conversations using MicroMedia.
Surfer: Three away from Epicenter
Folks in existing connected networks that wait for several people in their peer group to move first, they are waiting for group gestures. We’re now looking at new social networking tools like Facebook. The interesting feature is that we can watch adoption of tools of folks on our network without directly interacting with them. The Facebook ‘news’ page has become a gesture model. By watching this flow of adoption we can see where the masses start to adopt tools, talk about them, and integrate them into their lives.
Boater: Four away from Epicenter
These folks wait for confirmation signals from the larger bubble to trigger them, they may not have time to experiment with tools, and will look for signals from blogs or industry news. This is not mainstream sources by any means, these are posts from blogs, podcasts, or email invites from friends. For many of the early adopters the signals from this group are often useful confirmation of what’s already happened.
With the Fleet: Five or more away from Epicenter
This is outside the bleeding edge. These group of folks adopt once the mainstream press as we know it, the NYT, Business Week, or when someone at their workplace or peers convince or show them. By the time they get to the tool, a community and network has already formed by the early adopters.
Many tools are not kept
Half of the shiny tools that the “One away” adopter get dropped by the way side, why? They find something better, or when they see folks from group three or four, they now consider it ‘uncool’ and feel compelled to move on.
Usage of tools for communication
There are different tools for different needs. It’s clear to me that email is one of the slowest, blogging is becoming more sluggish as new tools and MicroMedia start to take hold. Networks among the early adopters have already formed and solidified (like Facebook’s friends, Twitter, or Pownce) and the inner circle can quickly break and share news. It’s also worth reading Jeremy’s self-analysis as an early adopter Pebble or Swimmer. Also read Forrester’s research findings on Technographics to learn how mainstream adoption can be characterized.
My adoption style
I’m a bit more conservative (within the inner bubble within the bubble) of my tool adoption, only a few tools have I adopted and not kept up, I’m carefully watching the folks in group one, and often pull the trigger as a member of group two or three. I interviewed Chris Yeh, CEO of Ustream about a completely different topic, and he showed me Ustream a few days before Web 2.0 Expo (see meme). Now, I get many emails of beta products, way more than I have time to review, so I often go down this ladder. In many ways, I was very late to blogging (Boater) but I really grabbed it and focused a lot of energy into it, this domain you’re reading is just over a year old but has moved quickly.
Video Blogging: With the Fleet
Pownce: Swimmer then quit
SecondLife: Boater then quit
I watch these early adopters, watch how they break tools, and then I adopt. I mainly want to understand these tools so my clients won’t have to break them, but rather use them right. This means I don’t move in as fast as others, and come in and want to use these tools right. After telling Robert this he replied that he’s moving to “get away from people like you”, in his mind, being two or three from the epicenter is a late adopter, go figure. So what’s on my radar? I’ve been asked to be in group one for several products (some I’ve tried, and some not) and am even getting emailed or asked about yesterday’s topic on a bloggers union, which I’ll be sure to be in group four or more.
What Persona are you? The Pebble, Swimmer, Surfer, Boater, or with the Fleet?
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