Morgan Stanley wealth advisors to start using Twitter and LinkedIn
Morgan Stanley wealth advisors are now allowed to use Twitter and Linkedin to communicate with their clients and generate new businesses, according to Mashable.
Previously, financial institutions have stayed far, far away from social media in a bid to stay within stringent regulations. What kind of disruption could this bring to the private wealth industry? And more interestingly, how will the about-to-retire financial advisor at 59 cope with using Twitter? How soon before we see newsfeed that will embarass the employer, or worse, their clients?
On a different note, is this another missed opportunity from Twitter to monetise its services??
Mashable listed some great examples of how crowdsourcing is making the world a better place, from microfinancing to the search for local volunteers.
I think crowdsourcing might become overcrowded - will people contribute data, time, resources, and effort in exchange for nothing forever? How many services will people put up with before they run out of energy or time?
Nevertheless, it’s great to see crowdsourcing is used to improve local communities. I hope there are enough participants to make these programmes work!
You’ve probably heard many GPS-related horror stories, through newspapers or perhaps even first hand tales, about drivers plunging into a ditch or off a cliff because they were following their trusty sat-navs. There have been increased activities amongst mountain rescues in the UK, where hi-tech hikers bring nothing more than their iPhone trekking up a hiking trail only to find themselves without battery and lost.
To the “older” generation, these stories show the sheer idiocy of people who are over reliant on technology. But with the next generation growing up in cities who use the likes of Tom Tom and Google Map to navigate, it is only a natural extension to apply technology to their exploration of the world, without giving second thoughts to the the dangers like inaccurate satellite reading or running out of batteries. After all, such scenarios in a city are not usually life-threatening.
It is time for educators to consider the importance of teaching “offline media” like how to read OS maps and basic survival skills like starting a fire in a rough terrain. New technolgoy is great most of the time, but when battery runs out will the next generation know what to do to survive?
An interesting article from the NY Times looked at how some schools are using social media like Twitter to further encourage students to participate in the classroom. Follow the article to see the pros and cons.
I think it’s an great concept to encourage the usually silent kids to “speak up” and ask questions they would normally keep to themselves. But teachers are only humans; can they respond to Twitter questions as well as pupils raising their hands? Would you need different types of teachers to respond to different learning styles? In this case, perhaps it’s not just a matter of adopting social media into the classroom, but having different types of learning environments for different types of students.
Mobile (R)evolution with Google's Amanda Rosenberg at #iwexpo London Internet World
Statistic - 1bn mobile user worldwide. February 2011 - sales of mobile phones surpassed PCs. 36% of UK users have smartphones. Globally, 23% of web browsing done on mobile. 125 years of Angry Birds played everyday. 40% of all tweets come from mobile. 40% of Google maps usage while mobile. M-commerce predicted to reach $119bn by 2015. 94 bids a minute from mobile on eBay. $1bn in sales by Amazon last year.
More stats yet. 600% growth in mobile sales since June 2010 by House of Fraser. 40% of UK users reach for their phone when they see an ad they like. 800% yoy growth on search for local data.
(Enough ludicrous data already!!)
Trends (at last, thank goodness).
QR codes. (What?? Google is dumping this in favour of NFC!?) Cited CK’s QR billboard to download an ad that was too steamy for TVs.
Augmented reality. Cites example of Wimbledon where members can watch a stream of centre court game when pointing phone to the court.
Check-in’s. Time sensitivity.
(Everything in parenthesis are my opinions. The speech was originally to be hosted by Ian Carrington as per the time table, but the chat was done by Rosenburg as though pitching to a Digital Marketing 101 course. Eye-popping statistics and no commercial insights whatsoever. “I don’t know where the idea came from that you have to choose between two platforms [to develop your apps]. You can do both.” Uh, budgets!?
She was probably told to do this last minute as her superiors are busy with Google I/O in the states. Nevertheless she put on a show with a brave face. I’m sure the next time she does it there will be next ‘ums.)
Rosenburg demonstrates how Google ads are very innovative, controllable via Android devices. (Unfortunately I switched off after those mind boggling stats. I guess Google didn’t particularly take London Internet World all that seriously…)
"Cloud Marketing" with Mindshare's Norm Johnston at #iwexpo London Internet World
Mindshare shares with the audience 5 things to think about in the new age of advertising.
TV has not died. Statistics indicate that people are watching more TV, and especially by teenagers.
Reasons? People can do it anywhere through a multitude of devices. “Number one topic on Facebook is about TV shows.”
TVs are becoming connected. Behaviours are changing too.
Demo of Microsoft Media Box. All shows are on demand but also covers live events. There are recommendations of shows. Linked to Facebook - what your friends are watching.
Click on ski report - a 30s ad comes up above the report - a highly targeted ad since demographics and profiles are known. An item advertised can be bought directly from the platform.
Plays a clip of Gordon Ramsay, linked with “Kraft’s Kitchen Sync” which checks metatags of items in your fridge and add items you don’t already have into shopping basket.
Mobile is the “integrative device.” QR codes - expanding as they are integrated into new phones. QR codes on magazines or outdoor ads (cites client Nike where scanning QR code directly puts on user’s social feeds). Tesco in UK has implemented barcode reading into mobile app.
Demoes an example where a print ad comes to live with augmented reality and mobile. Singapore has history re-enacted on AR.
Google Goggles - image recognition. The challenge is what do we want the search results to return? Advertisers can perhaps take advantage of this?
Clip of Layar played. Another demo of AR - more opportunities for advertisers that so far have been under-explored?
Data, data, data. So much of them! Data strategy should be important aspect of businesses.
A lot of data are coming from consumers! “3,254 pieces of personal info into databases every week.” Self-regulation in the industry needs to be evident before government regulates to the advertiser’s demise (take away cookies!)
Ethical marketing? Target specific niches with some 900 variables in consideration by Mindshare.
The vision is to tie in all the devices - eg search for a product online, a targeted ad might appear on tv/computer when the user log on next.
MRC - managing real time customers. A study shows that youths ring doorbells with thumbs because mobile phone and Nintendo DS has changed behaviours.
Cites client The Impulse Diaries who moved their CRM to Facebook. Video clip on how Impulse worked with the band Saturdays and social network content for a long term campaign on Facebook.
Cites example of @twelpforce - Best Buy has baked customer service into Facebook and Twitter.
Bakery in London tweets everytime fresh baked good comes out of the oven!
Offering value or entertainment to consumers. Kraft’s website in the US all about how to cook (with Kraft products). Charmin sponsored SitOrSquat app. Unilever’s Axe (Lynx) - Axe wake up service. Every morning the user is awakened to beautiful Axe girls in Japan via mobile app with a different clip each day that gets increasingly more provocative!
Web 2.0 heavily relies on crowdsourcing. Think Wikipedia - it depends largely on wisdom of the crowd for its information to stay current. Tripadvisor - it relies holidaymakers to leave good and bad feedback on places they have been. Yelp - it needs members to write about the restaurants they have just visited.
That’s great for large media companies that have an established user base visiting and willing to contribute. But with more companies and services that rely on the people’s goodwill springing up all over the web, when will people think that enough is enough, why should I bother?
Perhaps companies like Gigwalk is taking advantage of that eventual plight by offering a conduit between data users and data providers. In this case, companies that need local data can recruit and pay someone to get the little gem of information, without paying for a full-time staff and transport cost. For users, they get a small sum of money for their troubles. Win-win situation. Oh, except for all the Web 2.0 services that rely on crowdsourcing for them to actually work.
"Future Innovations in Search" with Yahoo!'s Jon Myers at #iwexpo Internet World London
Three key areas for today’s keynote speech - trends, vision, and innovations.
Primary objectives for online media spending on search? A decade ago it was ill defined. Is it direct response and measurable ROI?
Interactive Market Online survey shows majority response is “increasing brand awareness.” And that is no longer confined to text ads.
Advertisers are looking for…
- branding - matters for search marketers
- brand awareness
- boost online campaign performance
What is Yahoo doing to help boost brands? New product called “rich ads in search.”
Promo video comes on. Search results incorporate rich media like photos and videos, deep link into other parts of sites within one result, as well as other data like postcodes, stories, and blogs. Ads can target users by geography, demographics, and time of day. Data suggests 25% increase in click through rate.
Cites 888 case study who ran a 60 day ad campaign. Brand CTR up by 300%. Brand conversion increase by 83%.
Yahoo’s vision? Search Alliance - partnership with Microsoft - 10 year deal working together to drive innovations in search.
"Early indication shows ROIs are great so far in the US" where it’s been implemented. Single platform for marketer to control search management across both sites from one platform. Searchalliance.com for more information.
Why did Yahoo do it? Partially to drive up market share to fight against Google. “Most importantly” to give advertisers a “new choice in search.” Transition globally by end of 2012, although partnership is not arriving in UK until next year.
Last topic of the keynote speech - how do we change the search experience? Innovation used to be about speed - how fast you can get a user in and out with the right information.
Now things are different! Yahoo has a lab team that looks at the longer term innovations, investigating different media into the results.
Social media and real time search is a hot topic at the moment with indexation of real time content. Moving towards giving an answer without clicking through to a page is the ultimate goal.
Yahoo innovations - delivering the answer, not blue links. Yesterday’s search experience of query to result page, and Yahoo wants to change that by incorporating history, social aspects, location to give a search experience with discovery, entertainment, and smart choices.
Demo of “intelligent shortcuts” - constantina display allows for horizontal scrolling of different content types including social content.
Demo of “search direct” already operational in the US. Real time trending queries with “search assistance” that gives latest trend in a drop down box - let users find the right things more quickly. Yahoo is working to integrate it’s various properties in the drop down too. For example a search for a particular stock code would give trending terms and the stock quote/ graphs with link to Yahoo! Finance. This service to arrive by end of 2011 in UK.
Key trends for Yahoo!:
- move to answers, not links
- collaborating to give new adverstising opportunities
- listen to users and conduct research to add value for advertisers and users
"App Economy" with Conduit's president at London Internet World #iwexpo
Quick note on Conduit. 29th largest web property in the world. A platform of apps such as tool bars and apps for various devices including smartphones, tablets, and now web apps. “3bn interactions with consumers every month.”
Onto the show…
Consumers driving a big change - they want content whenever and on whatever devices.
Conduit estimates $4bn market in apps for phones, tablets, and browsers, excluding other platforms like TVs and fridges.
Why is app market growing so quickly? No barrier to entries. Everyone building their own app market places. Easy to use devices.
Proliferation of platforms - not great for content provider who will have to programme in several languages.
Advertising industry also helped push app market.
New tools are now available to quickly and easily build apps, not to mention the analytic tools behind developments and improvements.
Downside to app markets? Platform segmentation - so many devices - not enough resources to develop apps for all platforms - slowing down the industry.
Discoverability is an issue. Viral pick up is but one method. SEO doesn’t really work. Grassroots marketing and blogs seem to be the way at the moment - discoverability is an unresolved issue at the moment.
Cross platform functionality isn’t available. If you use iPhone version of an app, the Android version won’t know who you are.
There is also a lack of data on how consumers are using the apps.
How money is made?
- sales and subscriptions
- pay per install (leveraging with another well-distributed app)
- virtual currency
- digital or virtual goods
- in app purchases
How does distribution network makes money? A cut of commission from app’s revenues.
Focus on consumer and availability of data to make incremental improvements - factors behind apps successes.
Games industry sets an example on how “things should be done” as they have been successful in attracting and retaining customers. Study their successes.
Who’s making money? Mobile shopping, content,social media and productivity. Gaming is doing very well. Infrastructure providers also benefitting - Apple, Salesforce, Appcelerator, Conduit, Google, Microsoft.
Key to success?
- cross platform functionality - can be done but very hard!
- engagement - apps must provide long term value.
- data available to improve the apps and make the right decisions
- sharing amongst friends within apps AND marketplace
- new platforms coming out for different devices and browsers
- HTML5 web app - great theory but not likely to be a panacea since companies like Google and Apple have vested interest in their own platforms
- non-Apple tablets especially Android
- connected, interactive TVs (will it be through PC like Mocrosoft, via tablets like Apple and Google, or by tv sets like Samaung and LG)
- web apps
Agency2's advice on integrating social media in businesses at Internet World London #iwexpo
Agency2 - first social media agency in the UK. DMA is self regulating body of social media.
A short note on Agency2:
Social media services include:
Research & analysis.
Customer relationship, training and recruitment.
Brandadvocacy - ambassador network to get people to talk about a brand.
On to the presentation…
How businesses can use social media?
- Branding. Offer an experience to consumers in order to change consumer perception.
- Revenue generation.
- Cost savings. Recruitment, such as police force.
Social media - more conversational approach - dialogue rather than a hard sale. For example recent client MasterCard app - not a push to using MasterCard credit card, but rather how to save money aboard an other handy advice.
Facebook is the darling platform because of the ability to target by interests.
Problems for consumers looking to buy a new product - research leads to even more choices available to be considered!
Consumer decision process is a virtuous cycle: initial consideration - active evaluation - moment of decision - post purchase experience - loyalty.
Client example. Royal Carribean cruise wanted to target 40-50 year old women to take cruise holidays. A blog was created to talk about cultural activities and sights in Europe; no talks about the cruise or prices, but the blog entries converted to lots of brochure downloads. No direct sales conversions due to booking via travel agents.
Another client - HP. SEO optimisation where “laptop computer” returned HP as #1 result on Google.
A brief mention on Google’s Panda update that seems to bias social media results like Twitter and Facebook.
A brief mention of Q&A site and how they could be used to get customers to actively engage with the company such as feedback and suggestions.
Best Buy was cited as an example with it’s Twitter account @twelpforce, where any of the 2,000 employees can answer questions from customers. The Twitter account positions BB as an expert in the field of consumer electronics.
Now to touch on legal issues of social media. Trading Regulations Act of 2008 has 31 principles, some of which covers social media. For example, marketing has to be open and fair, so if HP paid bloggers to write about its products, it’s a legal requirement to disclose the relationship.
Platform rules and regulations - T&Cs by platform providers that users must abide by, otherwise risk losing the social media account.
- E-commerce and social media will grow. Cited statistics that 75% of 18-26 use social recommendations prior to purhase. (no source; I beg to differ!) Interface is a bit clunky on F-commerce at the moment though.
- Mobile will become primary interface, even at home. Content on social networks will need to be optimised for mobile screens.
- Real time search, especially pulling data from social media.
Barclaycard on mobile payments and NFC at London Internet World #iwexpo
Future of Payments by Chris Harris (head of partner and channel development) of Barclaycard Global Payment Acceptance at London Internet World, May 2011 #iwexpo
Recurring theme - e-commerce converging with m-commerce.
A quick note on Barclaycard - owned by Barclays bank with 21m cardholders. The business acquires and processes card transactions for over 40 years - lots of data to understand consumer transactions.
Barclaycard was innovative through its history - 1st in Europe to launch credit cards, ATM cards, loyalty scheme, etc. - demonstrates how the company has customer in mind.
Later this summer, partnering with Orange and iPhone for NFC payments. (Is that a hint that iPhone 5 is launching with NFC in summer 2011? Or just a slip of the tongue?)
Harris just cited Mintel’s e-commerce forecast of €90bn in select European countries.
UK’s e-commerce market is relatively matured compared with other European countries like Germany, Italy, France, and Spain. The latter are growing much faster than UK’s market.
A challenge today is cross border transactions - language, local payment instruments rather than global cards like Visa and MasterCard.
There are many payment transfer entities in Europe, some of which specialises in vertical markets like leisure or retail.
"Internet Wealth Index" - relative value of broadband penetration, propensity to shop online, and population shows Germany with highest e-commerce growth.
Multi-channel shopping. Consumers are not just shopping on home or work PC but also on the go, even in a shop but via a mobile.
Cross channel interaction is driven by mobile. By 2015, half a billion people will pay for transport contactlessly in the world.
Banking via phone - becoming pervasive amongst consumers. Apps that interact with point of sales? Lots of data; could be used to offer local deals at a relevant location, for example, using geo-location and past shopping history. Interactions on a localised level.
Impact of social media highlights the changing relationship of consumers with businesses. Transactions via mobile will be a growth area.
Consumers want a change to the sequential payment system. Other key trends - always on connectivity gives businesses opportunity to track and target at localised level. Trusted payment system to emerge. Convergence of e- and m-commerce.
Questions from from the audience.
Trade off of convenience vs. security for consumers. No answer as yet, but consumers will drive the direction of how much risk they are willing to take. Eg everytime a transaction over £100 from unauthorised device should ask for authentication from consumers.
Handsets and merchants for NFC. 55,000 merchants already participating in contactless payment but no details on handsets.
Convergence of social media and commercial transactions. Technology already there, especially in the US but lack traction so far.
Mobile wallet services - “interesting area” to filfill role in consumer experience. PayPal has been successful. Consumers will shape the directions.
The paper suggests that the wealth of information behind queries of Google Maps Directions could be used to calculate the popularity of destinations. It’s akin to asking people where they intend to go and inferring from the collective results where people are heading to, and to some extent what for.
It’s fascinating that after the recent privacy blunder over GPS tracking data with Apple iPhone and, to a lesser extent, other smartphone platforms, there is in fact already data that look at how people are moving.
It’s also interesting how more of our “privacy” is chipped away without our knowledge. When we ask for directions, our intentions are in fact in the public domain.
Confused.com's take on CMS at the Internet World London #iwexpo
Putting Things Straight with Confused.com’s Tom Beverley (digital marketing director) and Chris Lewis (dev team lead)
Confused.con - pure play digital. Spends £3m/month on marketing. 120 price comparison ads seen by consumers each month!
Challenge - building loyalty with email campaigns and content channels. But so are competitors like Compare the Market.
Confused.com runs off of Microsoft Technology Stack.
Why adopted a CMS? Competition heated up and company needed to get relevant content out to consumers.
Adopted channel based landing page strategy. Increased 5 landing pages to over 200 landing pages which are channel and campaigns specific. CMS allowed for workflow tracking, more robust designs, better testing environment, and simple change process to keep up with FSA regulations and compliance. New CMS (Sitecore) was publicly implemented about 3months ago.
Landing page gives relevant content to the user performing a search on search engines. Content sites an important strategy to SEO marketing for the business.
In 2009, Confused.com’s content management exposed HTML codes to the editors! Hard to use, & IT involvement, wasting time and resources. Also changes across the whole site had to be done manually on each page - cumbersome and time consuming. Editors were sharing the same log in, so auditing was impossible.
What makes a CMS good?
Users doing what they should be doing - editors work on editing only, not designs or coding.
High content reusability - RSS and multi-lingual capabilities.
Rich native feature sets.
Intuitive user experiences.
Good project management.
Project is 7 months in, with 75% of sites converted to new CMS. Highlights SEO capabilities.
Lessons learned - choose the right platform! Choose the right parts of website that needs it.
Future plans - user engagement. MVT. Personalised experience base on cookies and other data. Mobile.
Cisco's CEO of UK and Ireland Phil Smith - "Internet of Things" keynote speech to Internet World London, May 2011 #iwexpo
Presentation starts with some interesting stats. 4,000 photos will be posted on Flickr by the end of this 30-minute presentation. The world is running low on IP addresses. Mobile devices are a threat to businesses.
Smith comes out to say hello with a joke about “well behaved crowd” filling in the theatre from front to back.
A bit about Cisco… $40bn company. Motto - changing the way we live, work, and play.
Smith highlights the recent royal wedding. 4,000 tweets a second!
A decade ago, 56k Internet. Now UK government looking at 100mb/s by 2015. Broadband - “a fabric of everyday life.”
Access to information today is phenomenally different to even a decade ago. Eg collaborating with classmates via Facebook.
Cisco - the infrastructure behind the many, many exobytes of data. Mobile data is 40% compound growth annually - even a bigger problem!
Huge demand for how things should be connected. What do people expected to be connected? TVs, voting, access to medical consultations, phone calls to space.
1994 - 16m people on the Internet. Now 2bn users with 5bn devices to go online, like transport and fridges! 1tn Internet connected devices in a couple of years time.
Phase 1 - 97-01 - bussinesses going online
Phase 2 - 03-07 - consumer push changing businesses
Phase 3 - now - networks and platforms. Industrialisation of the Internet. If the network is down, business shuts down too. Internet and networks is the fabric of cities and of lives.
4 megatrends to change the world.
World is urbanising. 500m people to move to cities next year. 100m new cities to emerge. Negative implications for environment and green house effect, but positive for country’s productivity.
The need for smart & connected communities. A chance to develop new ways to connect a city - improved energy efficiency and growing GDP. One common infrastructure to control various elements, like electricity management, telecoms, transportation (in SF, traffic light turns green for buses so they don’t have to brake; or in the US traffic management to turn right as much as possible so truck drivers don’t have to stop fully for turns - saved 20% fuel costs), emergency response systems, and building operations. Smarter demand and supply management.
Another interesting connectivity example - Ford Focus as a WI-FI hub for its passengers. In fact, he cites example of his 14-year old son and his disbelief of no Internet connection in the car on his laptop. Internet is ubiquitous in the next generation!
Today’s buildings have different control systemn for different elements - lights, internet, water, etc. What about just one central control via centralised network?
Cisco is implementing smart and connected communities worldwide, eg in Amaterdam’s Smart Working Centres - allow workers to work at various centres to suit their needs. New connective technologies are also used to revitalise cities, such as Barcelona.
Songdo City - Korean apartment - promo video showing how smartphone is used to control everything - opening door, open the blinds, turn on tv. Connected TV accesses doctors, English tutoring lessons. The possibilities!
Moving to the office - tele-presence. Collaborations via teleconferences. Bagalore facility to control all the various elements of the city, like utilities.
"New era of connectivity" - Cisco is also transforming London as a sponsor to the Olympics. The network is 30x more powerful than that built for Beijing simply because of higher demands for video streaming.
Facebook's Jon Harvey addresses Internet World 2011 in keynote speech
Social web, social design, and social marketing.
Coming together of recommendations on the Internet.
FB platform being rebuilt around people.
Brand and friends coming together to make recommendations.
Evolution from browse to search to discover. (90s, 00s, and now).
Businesses other than FB are transforming too. Social experience in shopping online. Spotify - friends can recommend tracks or share playlist.
Marketing around people. Two way dialogues between consumer and brands, but actually many billboards at the moment. FB - how to Market around people?
FB page - social recommendations. Ads with friend on it - 1.6x recall from consumers.
Social by design. Placing consumers in the middle - new way of thinking? eg, photos product on fb. Explores all the photo services, but limited engineering staff. Introduced new service - allowed tagging - made product social by design. Largest photo depository in 6m time. 1.4m pictures requested per second from their server!!
Gaming. Major players like Capcom and EA a few years ago - movie like quality game. Zynga came along - graphics lacking but placed consumers at the heart of their games. People like to see their names, actions on the game, leaderboards.
Auto manufacturer. GM - FB learned about their business and sector. Wanted to reduce mobile uses while driving. GM wanted to reinvigorate their brands. FB launched new product. Chevy saloons with read out loud status update. Social by design in their products.
BT Adam and Jane campaign. How they can incorporate social by design? Asked viewers to log on to FB to influence wedding. 180k people voted. Consumers engaging with BT instead of complaints.
1 put people first. How to getpeople involved from the beginning. One can lead to many.
2 make sharing easy.
3 make sure friends are there.
Social marketing. Ads either paid or owned media, traditionally. Now it’s about earned media.
Measuring media? FB has analytical tools.
How fans are the beginning of FB pages. Typical fan page - x people connected to a brand - good? Half a million people are then connected to 6m people - brand need to talk to their friends so the followers are influencing those connected but not to your brands.
Sponsored stories. New way of scaling word of mouth.
1. User like a page.
2. That is shared in user’s feed.
3. Brand should maximise that link.
Virtuous cycle of building a page, engaging with customers, and amplify the good work - allow fans to share with their connections.
Check-ins and Places products. FB working with businesses at the moment to develop the product and gamification, possibly.
FB is a monopoly in terms of dominant position in social networking. Protections for businesses who use FB? Redress/complaint process? Harvey points out free service that connects some 14m people - you can get value out of it. New products are coming too to help businesses analyse their efforts.
This short video gives us a glimpse into how unions and stubborn regulations disrupts “common sense” economics. It highlights the power struggle and greed in society; how people in charge would refuse to accept new technology to safeguard their jobs, even though the new technology could help more people (and thus a larger percentage of the population).
An interesting study conducted by Vision Mobile with statistics pointing to how Facebook is intertwined with the “offline” life. No wonder there’s so much rumour about Facebook creating a Facebook-centric mobile phone.
The $300 House Open Design Challenge is now opened, hoping to use wisdom of the crowd to find a design that would lead to building affordable houses for those living in abject poverty. Until 31 May, anyone can submit a design for a chance to win $25,000 and even see their designs implemented.
Some of the designs already submitted are ambitious but unlikely to keep below the sub-$300 budget. In fact, sub-$300 dwelling is less likely with each passing day owing to the effect of inflation and rising raw material costs (unlike falling costs of technology components which resulted in the sub-$100 PC, cost of housing material isn’t going to see the same trend).
Nevertheless, attracting talented individuals to dream beyond the box is the right direction to help those living in dire poverty.
It’s great that the UK government is really giving a big push towards digitalisation of the state. But why re-invent the wheel with Alphagov to replace DirectGov? With the lack of public funding, why not re-design behind an existing brand instead of running two systems concurrently until one is old and knackered, while the other is never near perfection?
Celebrity + Charity + Social Media = Everyone Wins
Lady Gaga is using both her fame and fortune philanthropically, donating $1m to the Robin Hood Foundation and simultaneously leveraging her existing fan base to support the charity by giving her fans a reason to “like” its Facebook page. Fans of Robin Hood Foundation on Facebook will vote and ultimately decide how the money will be split amongst the five underlying charities.
People who didn’t particularly cared for Lady Gaga’s music or attires perhaps now have a genuine reason to like her. There are a lot of celebrities out there who misuse their fame and fortune, but I am glad Lady Gaga is setting a good example for this generation especially at a time when public funding to charities is harder to come by.
This partnership helps the charities in question, and everything has been fluidly connected by social media services. Internet users don’t even have to dig into their pockets at this stage to be altruistic.
A fine example of how, when put together in the right equation, social media helps make the world just that little bit better.
Would you give up personal data in the name of charity?
A friend of mine who works for a US non-profit organisation recently urged me to vote for her organisation. All I had to do was “like” Macy’s Facebook page, create and send an e-card via Macy’s Thank-A-Mom, and choose her non-profit as recipient of $5 donation from this giant retailer.
Great, I thought. It’s free to me, I help a friend, and more importantly a worthy national organisation gets a little more funding in the current time of austerity where public fundings are harder to come by. I can even choose one of four other charities if I was so inclined.
But when I tried to choose a design for my e-card, I was confronted with a request for permission to access my personal information.
I cannot decide whether I am willing to trade my personal information to a retailer for the sake of $5 to a worthy cause. Knowing how valuable and expensive data could be, from Macy’s point of view perahps $5 per set of user data is a cheap price to pay for marketing purposes. But what about to me? Is selling my personal information for $5 a worthwhile trade for me?
If I don’t grant this request, I could always uphold my morals by donating $5 out of my own pocket (unfortunately no tax benefits for me since I live in the UK and the organisation is based in the US) and I get to keep my data, but this scenario is also unlikely to happen.
What do you think? Would you give up your personal data for a price?
Government to issue electronic identities for its citizens
Malaysia is gearing up to issue an e-mail account for every one of its citizens above the age of 18. The main selling point at this moment is that account holders will receive secured statements, bills, and notices from the government.
There are criticisms over the project’s cost and how the money could be better used to improve basic infrastructures like clean water or better broadband access. Of course, there is no guarantee that the project will actually materialise, having recently seen the ambitious national ID project in the UK scrapped by the new coalition government citing concerns over privacy and costs.
The creation of uniquely identifying e-mail accounts is one step closer to a cyber ID, akin to what the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace in the US is up to at the moment.
Privacy concerns aside, it makes sense to have an electronic ID. When I open a bank account or start a new job in the UK, I have to provide my National Insurance number. Similarly in the US, if I want to apply for a mortgage or apply for a place in college, I would have to provide my Social Security number. They are unique identifications that are portable across a nation so that a prospective lender, employer, or school can make sure you are the actual person you say you are.
Of course, people steal NI or SSN details to assume a new identity or commit identity fraud, and equally a cyber ID can fall into the wrong hands. But if there is some way to work out as much of the kinks as possible, it makes sense to have an electronic ID, whether national or international. It helps to hold people involved in online transactions (monetary or not) accountable for their actions. Knowing that a seller on Craigslist is the real person as they say they are adds a little bit extra peace of mind in this digital age fraught with cyber dangers.
Acknowledgement is half the battle – UK’s fight against cyber attacks
Since October 2010, “hostile attacks upon UK cyber space by other states and large scale cyber crime” has been classified as a top priority threat by the National Security Strategy, up from a tier-four category.
It’s very important to spot when [cyber-attacks] have happened and to have plans in place and the skills to implement them. From my perspective, we don’t have all the skills in place across the public and private sectors to do that.
Acknowledgement is half the battle, but without concrete actions in place to find or train essential staff to counter this threat, the battle could never be won. In this age of austerity with public funding dwindling faster than before, how is a sustained and heightened alert actually going to help the situation?
E-mails from the dead, courtesy of cloud computing?
Over the past year or so, my mailbox has been filling up with spam from e-mail addresses that I recognise. They were old e-mail addresses of friends, classmates, and colleagues who have abandoned their juvenile accounts provided freely by AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, and the like. Although left behind by the users, there lie valuable data within each of those accounts - a full set of address book containing many, many e-mail addresses.
Spammers have taken over these inactive accounts and started sending to everyone in the address book curt messages and Facebook links that in fact point to, well, spammy content. For those caught unaware, it could look like a short message from a long lost friend reconnecting via Facebook.
My spam filter is pretty good at recognising these e-mails, but a couple of days ago I received a similar piece of junk into my inbox that made my heart sink. The e-mail address was one left behind by a friend who has passed away about a year ago, and in this case I cannot simply write to my friend’s new e-mail address or phone him up to say change the password (which can in fact be done since spammers usually don’t bother changing the password on infiltrated accouts).
Whilst this episode brought back a pang of sadness and disgust, it also makes me ponder over personal data and privacy of these data stored in the “cloud.” In this case, service providers may have very robust system to protect against hackers, but people like you and me may fall victims and have our personal data stolen nevertheless.
Yes, we’ve all been told to be careful with our passwords, especially in public places, but how many of us have heed that advice every waking hour? How many of us have left our Facebook profile open and have our friends vandalise our accounts with rude messages? But what about sabotage on our LinkedIn profile that destroy your businesses? Or accessing confidential business details on FellowUp, which pulls together contacts across several social networks with the option to add personal notes?
Just how secured is cloud computing, even if the providers have robust fail-safe mechanisms in place?
It’s great to see that the UK Environmental Agency is applying lessons learned from the recent earthquakes in Japan, where although many lives were lost in the subsequent tsunami, many were alerted to the earthquake via their mobile phones for a bit of preparation.
But 8% is better than naught, and if all 8% do indeed bother to use this app, then 400,000 could potentially be forewarned of flooding dangers. I am sure in due course, the Environmental Agency will provide an Android app, helping another 400,000+. But hopefully the agency will cast a wider net and implement an SMS service, like they have done in Japan, so that the old and the poor can still be alerted to flooding in a timely manner.
Jacob Riis grew up in New York City in the late 19th century and documented the squalor in which immigrants were living. His flash photography brought forward legislative changes that transformed the tenements of NYC.
Today, photography is no longer limited to the rich and the professionals. DSLRs have dropped in price, micro four thirds have been invented, compact cameras keep getting smaller, and mobile phone photography is on the rise, with iPhone 4 about to take over as the top camera on Flickr.
Apps like Instagram and DailyBooth further popularise social photography. I love sharing photos of myself and the world through my eyes, but sometimes it feels a little bit superficial… a little bit empty. Apps like Color is meant to bring strangers closer together through shared photography, but do I really want to see what someone I don’t know sees in a place I am already at? Superficial… and a little bit empty.
What about using photography for good causes and sending powerful messages? How can we turn picture-a-day into a campaign for health? Can we fight poverty by documenting the plight we witness, from homelessness in our hometown to starvation in the first and third worlds alike?
We might all feel like the iconic Annie Leibovitz with a camera in our hand, but who will be the Jacob Riis for our time?
Some organisations aren’t willing to share their data, even though it would be a win-win situation for everybody and we would do much better in tackling the problems we need to tackle. Last April, the World Bank caved in and finally embraced an open data policy, but the OECD uses tax money to compile data and then sells it in a monopolistic way. The Chinese Statistical Bureau provides data more easily than the OECD. The richest countries in the world don’t have the vision to change.
I call this the ‘database hugging disorder’. To heal it, we have to instil a clear division of labour between those who provide the datasets – like the World Bank, the World Health Organisation or companies themselves – those who provide new technologies to access or process them, like Google or Microsoft, and those who ‘play’ with them and give data meaning. It’s like a great concert: you need a Mozart or a Chopin to write wonderful music, then you need the instruments and finally the musicians.
”—Hans Rosling, in Google’s first issue of Think Quarterly.
Google’s latest quarterly results have shown rising costs from recruiting new staff.
Local deals services like Groupon are expensive to run because of the salesforce required to strike agreements with local shops. No doubt part of the rising recruitment cost is going towards this area, as Google attempt to capture some of the group-buying market.
Let’s see if these initial investments pan out for Google on the long run…
How Hot Are Tablet Computers in, Say, Kuala Lumpur?
I’ve just returned from a two weeks holiday in Singapore and Malaysia and hence the lack of posts last week (for which I do apologise!).
Whilst ambling along the streets of Bukit Bintang, the shopping and entertainment district of Kuala Lumpur, I accidentally stumbled into Low Yat Plaza, a six-story shopping mall dedicated to electronics and related accessories. What a dream for a consumer technology analyst, although my other half begged to differ and was thoroughly bored before we managed to reach the third floor…
Nevertheless, it was interesting to see the types of consumer electronics that Malaysians are selling and buying. The two floors I had the pleasure of window-shopping were dedicated to a host of mobile devices, including laptops, netbooks, and mobile phones. What surprised me was the poor showing of tablets, which seems all the rage at the moment, at least in the US and to some extent the UK.
What surprised me more was that the few shops that offered tablets for sale were selling either iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab only. Where were the cheap alternatives and knock-offs? I mean, in the UK you can get a variety of no-name or store-branded Android tablets from stores like Robert Dyas and Next, so how come I didn’t actually spot any in one of the largest electronics mall in KL?
Could it be that Malaysians are picky about tablet performance? Was the mall catered towards big brands only? Or perhaps if I had simply ventured up another floor where the retail space might be a fraction cheaper I would have stumbled upon a floor of retailers sporting tablets of all sizes and makes?
I guess I will only find out if I return to the mall (or maybe a local can spare some insight), but it was nevertheless an interesting experience that provoked my previous assumption that the tablet market is red-hot, prolific, and over-saturated in all of Southeast Asia.
In reality, Apple dominates with its first mover advantage producing the first experience-friendly tablet, and Samsung has left a mark as well. In a very unscientific observation, those who did carry a tablet were toting an iPad. Of course, this position may not stay as such forever, especially as Malaysia’s most popular notebook brand Acer recently announced its launch into the tablet arena. Give it a few more years and the market will look very different indeed.
Do you remember VHS? I still remember the good old days, when I recorded Home Alone 2 off the television onto VHS so I can watch it again and again on the weekends.
As I grew a bit older blessed with a little pocket money, I watched films in cinemas with friends. I still remember my first cinematic experience without my parents, staring at the half naked Kate Winslet in Titanic.
Then I found out it made economical sense to rent DVDs from Blockbuster, which was only a short walk away from where I lived during my high school days. By the time I was in university, I rented DVDs by post through Tesco in the UK.
Nowadays, streaming movies is all the rage, or it certainly appears to be the case in the US where I have read accounts of tech-savvy consumers ditching cable television altogether and getting all their entertainment through the web. In fact, a colleague of mine here in the UK recently remarked that there’s no need for a TV license in his household anymore because he can get all his TV fixes through online streaming.
Whilst online distribution of films isn’t that prevalent in the UK, in part due to the creaking broadband connections throughout the country, streaming television is gaining popularity especially with BBC iPlayer. If and when the UK government decides to upgrade the digital infrastructure, companies like Amazon and Netflix will no doubt be touting the benefits of streaming movies. Watch a high quality film – any film – at the comfort of your own house right now without having to go outside at all.
But with more consumers using internet streaming for television shows – whether for catch-up service or just slotting a show in at a time most convenient to them – pretty soon consumers will get wise to the idea that streaming films online is a pretty great service to have. We will no longer need to drive down to the nearest Blockbuster (yup, they still have these in the UK, so far) to pick up a film, which is great considering how much petrol costs these days.
The problem for the UK is this transitional flux, where the digital infrastructure isn’t capable of supporting every broadband-connected household to stream videos simultaneously. With the government trying to patch up its budget deficits, cuts to public spending mean no immediate plans to upgrade the networks. But more and more consumers will demand video streaming and, without big companies aggressively selling the advantages of film streaming (and thus reaching a sufficiently wide audience to lower the costs for everyone), consumers will be tempted to turn to illegal film streaming sites where they can get low quality films for free.
Economically, film companies lose out, but so does the government in forms of tax receipt. Capital investments are hard to justify in time of austerity, but without proper infrastructure in place the UK economy might just fall a little further behind.
Google Music, a web-streaming music service, is being tested internally by Google employees. Spotify has been successful in the UK but they have had a pretty tough time cracking the US market. Maybe this is another reason why Spotify’s launch in the US is perpetually delayed, with major record labels opting for the familiar and trusted brands.
Chegg has been very successful since students like to save money for the more important, social aspects of college life. But as iPads become a bigger part of academic life, would students skip the textbooks altogether and go digital?
Of course, iPads are still pretty expensive and not everyone can afford the initial investment. Even if you can save 30-40% off of college textbooks over four years by going digital, some may still find it more economical to just rent or buy used textbooks through services like Chegg.
However, there is no reason why Apple, or other tablet makers, won’t create cheaper tablets just for interactive, educational products, taking out or replacing expensive elements to suit a variety of budget. Or maybe students will buy a second-hand iPad off eBay for digital textbooks.
Chegg might have already seen this coming, having in the last year acquired CourseRank and Cramster to diversify its business. Maybe it will look at the Lendle model and and work out how they could rent out each e-textbooks 26 times profitably?
I wouldn’t. But there are some sceptics out there.
I’m referring to Samsung’s latest line of tablets slated (hah!) to come to the market this summer. Hot on the heels of Galaxy Tab launched last year, which has a 7-inch screen running Android 2.2, Samsung is getting ready to launch two Honeycomb tablets with 10.1” and 8.9” screens.
And I am eyeing the latter model longingly.
But not everyone agrees with this peculiar in-between size. Apple has defined the tablet market with its 9.7” glossy screen, and whilst there are lots of fans out there, some users are leaving their iPads at home as it’s not agile enough. After all, you can’t quite fit an iPad on your person (unless you go for one of these ultra geeky apparel…) but you can just about squeeze a Samsung Galaxy Tab in your coat pocket.
I myself have a 7” tablet (one of those cheap Android tablets that will soon be relegated to the back cupboard) which is easy to carry but just a tad bit small for what I want to do, mainly check e-mails, browse the internet, and read an e-book when I am commuting to and from work. On the other hand, the iPad seems so ungainly, and internally I am forever giggling when I see a fellow commuter watch a film or play a first-person shooter game on the iPad. It feels like they have brought in a personal entertainment device that they want to keep to themselves but invariably the six people surrounding him are staring at his every moves.
Maybe I’m just not ostentatious enough to carry off an iPad as my mobile device, so what is a girl to do when the 7” is not quite big enough…? Go for something bigger, but not so big it hurts!
Well, for one thing, women carry purses. If the small tablet is too small to get any work done, and the big tablet too heavy and cumbersome, why not go for something in between with all the capabilities, functionalities, form factor, reasonable weight, and size that fit into our purse?
Like Kevin says, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to the right tablet size. Every consumer has different needs. Creating so many sizes does create their own problems – how do consumers choose? Who will make the accessories? And how will Android apps cope with so many different dimensions? On the other hand, the tablet market is so fresh that even consumers and manufacturers aren’t quite sure what they want. If Samsung can afford to play around and offer different sizes, in time market data will tell them just which size is the most lucrative.