Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for November 2012

(Not) Home For The Holidays

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I’m pretty happy I don’t have to travel today.  I’m going to wait until tomorrow, when all the turkeys have gotten off the road.

Of course, watch out for Wal-Mart and other big retail parking lots.  The consternation about having to work on Thanksgiving is pervasive, and I wouldn’t want to see any customers attempt to play Frogger in those big parking lots.  It’s dangerous enough just trying to get through the doors and into the store!

As always, my wise counsel is to shop from the comfort of your couch.

Walt Mossberg, the ever-dependable tech journalist with The Wall Street Journal, has written an article about “Making Sense of All the New Laptop Flavors.”

He goes on about the various flavors of Windows 8 PCs and tablets, before concluding that the “least costly Mac laptop” is the 11-inch MacBook Air, for $999.

I bought one just about a year ago, and I maintain it’s still the best, fastest, lightest, most dependable computer I’ve ever owned, and I’ve owned plenty.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have splurged for more SSD, but that’s it.

If you want to make sure your personal shopping engine is fully revved before Black Friday, Gizmodo’s providing its Ultimate Black Friday guide for geeks, grouping deals by category, and offering a list of when every retailer is slated to be open on Black Friday, just in case you prefer shopping in a mosh pit.

As for an update on my new Apple Mini-me “mini,” otherwise known as the 5th generation iPod touch, I can only say I have no buyer’s remorse, even now after having seen the iPad mini in the flesh.

The retina screen and the small form factor on the newest touch are working perfectly for me thus far. I bought a new “Need for Speed” racing game just to be able to check out the graphics in full force, and the retina screen is simply stunning (as are movies and Netflix streams). I’ve always read what a great gaming platform the touch is, but playing that racing game has cemented it.

Over the next several days, if you want to keep pace with IBM’s annual holiday campaign “Digital Analytics” benchmark, just follow IBM’s e-shopping analytics guru, @jay_henderson (a fellow Texan!).

Jay and his team will be working and posting reports throughout the weekend and into next week to keep us all informed how the holiday e-retail season is going. Jay’s already indicated we can expect to see growing numbers on the mobile and tablet shopping footprint this year.  You can read Jay’s holiday set up piece here.

That said, don’t ignore those retail emails piling up in your in-box — email continues to be the e-retail Trojan Horse, with lots of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals already being distributed. From Amazon to Golfsmith, I’ve received a number of holiday email deals, and it’s all I can do to keep my credit card filed away in my anti-scanning wallet!

If you’re looking for gainful employment this pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday, you might want to try somewhere other than LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s Website had a “service unavailable” message this morning, and TechCrunch has been reporting a LinkedIn site outage.

As for me, I’ll be (mostly) disappearing from the cyber maze over the course of the next week. It’s my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, and I’m taking them on a cruise in the Caribbean to celebrate. I may send a post or two via email if I’m so inspired, but mostly I’ll be spending some quality time with my parents and some extended family, and gazing out at the Gulf of Mexico in a pina colada-induced haze (virgin pina coladas, of course).

For all of my readers here in the United States, I wish you a very happy and restful holiday weekend. For those of you outside the U.S., enjoy the email and conference call silence from your U.S. colleagues…it won’t last long!

CMO Talk: What If Everything You Knew About Marketing Changed?

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Click to enlarge. The practice of marketing is going through a period of unparalleled change, putting CMOs everywhere to the test. However, you can seize the opportunity to transform your marketing function. The combined insights of the 1,734 senior marketing executives participating in IBM’s Global CMO study point to three strategic imperatives that can strengthen your likelihood of success, as outlined in the graphic above.

Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t all know one another at IBM.

I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, considering there’s only 400,000+ plus of us — you’d think we all knew one another, but we don’t.

But the good news is, we’re always making new acquaintances inside IBM.

That was the case at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Summit I attended last week in Vegas, where I finally got to meet face-to-face my colleague, Carolyn Heller Baird.

Carolyn is situated in IBM’s Global Business Services organization, and for the better part of two years, Carolyn served as the Global Director for our Chief Marketing Officer study, which was released late last year (and for which I wrote an extensive blog post, which you can find here.)

Carolyn was also in attendance at WOMMA, where she presented the CMO findings in some detail before a sizable audience.

I sat down with Carolyn to talk about the study’s findings in more detail, and to also try and better understand the implications for marketers in general, and social media practitioners in specific.

Before I hand you off to our interview below, I want to highlight the fact that the study results are still available via download here.

As the study concluded, half of all CMOs today feel insufficiently prepared to provide hard numbers for marketing ROI, even as they expect that by 2015, return on marketing investment will be the primary measure of the marketing function’s effectiveness.

There’s a gap to close there, and Carolyn’s comments in the video provide some actionable insights on to how to start to close it!

Austin’s F1 Debut Gets A Checkered Flag

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Britain’s Lewis Hamilton celebrates his Formula 1 victory in Austin yesterday Texas style, after overcoming two-time world champion Sebastian Vittel in a sneaky pass that Vittel never could recover from. Austin’s F1 race was the first held in the United States since 2007, and the first at Austin’s new “Circuit of the Americas” track. Over 200,000 fans from around the globe attended this first-of-its-kind event in Austin, many of them giving our fair city glowing reviews. To which I say, this was only our first, and it will only get better from here. (Photo: Getty Images)

Myself, along with a lot of other Austinites, learned quite a bit about Formula 1 racing over the weekend.

Though I didn’t get out to the track myself, I watched the entire race on TV.

Of course, I also did a bit of research leading into the race, and also interacted with some experts via social media during the race, which made the experience all the more helpful.

My general impressions are wow, those are some bad *** cars! What really struck me about F1 was the “Formula,” where the tinkering with the cars is limited mainly to that, so the focus is instead on strategy and tactics by the “constructor” crews and the drivers themselves.

One tank of gas, two sets of tires, the track (in this case, the “Circuit of the Americas”), and your pit strategy.

That seems to me to equalize the competition in a way you don’t see in every sport, making the viewing experience that much more compelling.

Lewis Hamilton from the U.K. took the top of the podium, forcing Sebastian Vettel to wait until the 20th and final race of the season to determine whether or not he’ll go “back to back to back” and win three straight F1 championships.

As for Austin’s ability to host an event of this size, so far, the reviews are pretty flattering. We were expecting over 200,000 people over the long weekend, and despite the expected traffic challenges, the event went off quite smoothly.

The virgin track certainly had some gripping challenges, but that actually made for a more scintillating race, and certainly didn’t keep the drivers from doing some aggressive passing. And the weather was simply perfect.

To my mind, it really starts to cement Austin’s reputation as an “international” city, and I’m looking forward to our hosting future races.

As for me personally, it’s official: I’m a converted F1 fan, and will be making it even more official by adding a new section to MyESPN home page!

Written by turbotodd

November 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Holiday Shopping Chatter

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If you’re interested in gaining some insights into the upcoming holiday retail madness, you need to mark your calendar.

This coming Monday, November 19th, the IBM Smarter Commerce team, in partnership with Direct Marketing News, will host a Twitter chat.

Featuring IBM’s holiday retail analytics prognosticator, Jay Henderson, IBM’s Enterprise Marketing Management Global Strategy Program Director, and Richard Feinberg, Purdue University’s Professor of Consumer Sciences and Retailing, the Twitter Chat will be held Monday from 1:00-2:00 PM EST via the #smartershopping hash tag.

Allison Schiff, web editor for Direct Marketing news, will moderate from the @DMNews handle.

The topic? Key retail holiday trends, ranging from online sales to mobile and social trends, which Jay has already predicted will become even more dominant this holiday shopping season.

No need to line up outside your Apple store, or navigate the mobs at your local Wal-Mart.

Just open up your favorite Twitter client and follow the online retail mob into the far reaches of all things holiday shopping.

Jay’s already pulled out and dusted off his holiday shopping crystal ball in a post for the IBM “Building a Smarter Planet” blog.

In it, Jay posed some key questions we might just expect to get some answers for in the coming chat, such as whether or not mobile shoppers will continue take the lead this holiday season, and whether or not they’ll expand their use of social media.

Jay also mentioned that the latest IBM Retail Online Index for Q3 showed renewed growth with overall online sales increasing by 3.1 percent over the second quarter.

But to keep those numbers growing, Jay writes that consumers will expect personalized shopping and tailored promotions this holiday season, and those retailers “who can deliver an easy, integrated and personalized shopping experience both in-store and online” will be the ones who cash in on holiday cheer this year.

Follow the conversation Monday starting at 1:00 PM EST at #smartershopping

As a prelude, check out my interview with Jay at IBM’s recent Smarter Commerce Summit in Orlando, Florida, where Jay explained how marketing is in chaos and some of the course corrections retailers can make to adapt to this rapidly-changing consumer-centric world.

The World’s Last Twinkie

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I awakened today to some disturbing news on the consumer packaged goods front: Hostess, longtime maker of Ding Dongs, Twinkies, and Wonder Bread — all three of which provided me sustenance through much of my mispent youth — is going out of business.

In a Wall Street Journal

Irving, Texas-based Twinkie maker Hostess looks to be going out of business after a recent and extended labor dispute. Texans everywhere are now crying out in wonderment at what possible replacements they’ll have to fry at their annual Texas State Fair. First Big Tex burns, and now no more Twinkies…it’s too much for most Texans to comprehend.

story earlier today, it was reported that the “maker of iconic treats such as Twinkies” and other products is shuttering its plants and will “seek to liquidate the 82-year-old business.”

The story goes on to report that a work stoppage that began on November 9th affected about two-thirds of Hostess’s 36 plants, and made it “impossible” for the Irving, Texas company to continue producing baked goods.

It’s hard to imagine a world without Twinkies.  Or Ding Dongs, for that matter.  What are we Texans going to fry at the Texas State Fair, if not Twinkies???

Of course, what woke me up today was the endless barrage of helicopters.  The F1 Grand Prix race weekend has arrived in Austin, and some 200,000 race fans are expected to make a pit stop here to check out the race.

This is the first Grand Prix to be held in the U.S. in some five years, and though an F1 may not seem very Austinish, I say bring it on.

It’s expected to have an economic impact of some $220 million, and hey, it helped bring Aerosmith and Cheap Trick to town for a concert tonight, so it can’t be all bad!

I just hope folks using the Apple Maps apps are able to find their way out to the track, because Google’s new Map App for Apple devices is still in test mode.

I never thought I’d write that we may be finding ourselves not in a great browser battle, but rather, the Great Mobile Map Wars of 2012.

Kind of has a nice ring to it, eh?

Let’s reflect on the tick tock: Apple released the new iOS 6, in which it replaced the Google Maps app that was preinstalled with its own mapping software.

People complained they couldn’t get where they were going with the new Apple map app. Apple CEO Tim Cook said he was sorry, then fired his software lead, Scott Forstall, after he refused to say he was sorry.

And now we wait.

Both for the new Google map app (which is said to have turn by turn directions), and the improved Apple map app.

Me, I think I’ll stop by the truck stop on the way out to the F1 track this weekend and just pick myself up an atlas.

I just hope it will provide good enough directions to lead me to the world’s last Twinkie.

Written by turbotodd

November 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm

New IBM Global Financing For Business Partners

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Click to enlarge. As the graphic itself explains, innovation starts with appropriately allocated capital. By investing in the right projects and by promoting sound corporate governance, financial development helps increase the rate of technological innovation and productivity growth. IBM today announced a major new financing program today that helps IBM Business Partners and their clients make such investments.

Hello there. I’m back in Austin, Texas, and no worse for the wear.

Las Vegas was…well, Las Vegas. Although I must say, I was most impressed with Wynn Las Vegas.

Steve Wynn has been a lightning rod of controversy during his reign as a resort mogul in Las Vegas (and, now, Macau), and having only seen him in interviews on “60 Minutes,” I can’t say as I had much of an opinion one way or the other.

But, after staying at his 60+ story hotel on the Strip these past few days, I can attest to the level of personal detail and attention he puts into his properties.

Upon arrival on Sunday, I waited a good 30 minutes just to check in. But, upon reflection, I guess that’s a good sign for Mr. Wynn and his couterie, and they were kind enough to bring me a bottle of water to myself and other customers who were patiently waiting.

But if hotels can do such a great job of enabling a streamlined checkout (video, phone check out, express checkout, etc.), there’s clearly still room for much improvement on better “processing” customers when they arrive. Smarter check-in, anybody?

But all in all, very impressed with the Wynn brand experience.

As for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Summit, I’m still processing all the great info I took in, and may dedicate a more thoughtful post on my experience about that later.

But, since I was pre-occupied for a few days, we’ve had some important IBM news that fell below my blogging radar.

The most notable announcement emerged earlier today, one for IBM Business Partners and their clients.

IBM announced today it is providing IBM Business Partners with $4 billion in financing for credit-qualified clients over a period of 12 months.

This financing, through IBM Global Financing, can make obtaining credit easier and more accessible to IBM’s global partner ecosystem and their clients to acquire advanced technologies such as cloud, analytics and PureSystems.

Also, IBM is launching a new mobile app as another step to simplify the way IBM’s Business Partners can apply for and secure financing for their clients within minutes via any mobile device.

This financing initiative builds on the $1 billion in financing IBM Global Financing made available through IBM Business Partners for small and midsized businesses in 2011, which resulted in 6,800 global companies using financing and enabling them to invest in some of these important emerging technologies.

To learn more, you can visit IBM Global Financing here.

Written by turbotodd

November 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Business On The Go: New IBM Mobile Computing Capabilities

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I’ve written numerous times over the past oh, I don’t know, few years about the ongoing mobile evolution (revolution?).

(On that front, which, I wanted to circle back and say how happy I have been with my purchase of the new iPad Touch (gen 5), which I bought instead of the new iPad mini. But I think I’ll have to write a whole separate post on that!)

The ubiquity of mobile devices is empowering consumers, businesses and their partners to more seamlessly communicate and build high-quality, meaningful relationships and transactions. IBM recently introduce a spate of capabilities intended to help organizations bolster their mobile enterprise strategies, which you can read in more detail about in the post below.

And it’s important to note, IBM has also been following this story closely, and responding accordingly.

And on Friday, the company unveiled a suite of new software and services that enables global organizations to build a comprehensive mobile computing strategy –- from securing and managing devices, to creating mobile applications and analyzing data.

These new offerings are part of a move by IBM to capitalize on the growing market opportunity for mobile that is expected to drive $130B in revenue for the IT industry by 2015, according to a recent study.

Mobile Becoming Integral To Business

As organizations increasingly view mobile computing as the next platform to conduct business, the market is evolving beyond just the device.

Business leaders including the chief information officers (CIOs) and increasingly chief marketing officers (CMOs) of global organizations such as airlines, retailers, governments and healthcare providers are among the businesses turning to IBM to ensure mobile services and solutions are readily available to constituents and in full compliance with IT strategies.

But, they need solutions that can be applied across any mobile environment and device — whether a laptop, smartphone or tablet — and can provide an underlying IT infrastructure that is always available, secure, effectively manages data, and integrates both front and back-end systems.

According to latest reports, more than 10 billion mobile devices are expected to be in the hands of consumers, doctors, sales leaders and the like by 2020.

Already, 90 percent of mobile users keep their device within arm’s reach at all times (guilty as charged!), and complete many kinds of transactions across these smart devices

New Mobile Software and Services Fuel Growth 

While the opportunities presented by mobile are significant, there are a number of challenges facing clients when adopting mobile computing.

This includes the management and security of devices and their underlying infrastructures, ensuring a quality mobile application experience for users across operating systems, new devices entering the market almost monthly, integrating data with the cloud, and analyzing insights captured in real-time.

IBM offers clients a variety of offerings to quickly adopt mobile technologies throughout the organization, from consulting services to software solutions and industry expertise, organic R&D to key acquisitions.

As global organizations struggle to keep pace with the opportunities that mobile computing can provide, IBM’s new suite of capabilities will enable them to overcome these obstacles.

Mobile technologies have significant potential to fundamentally change how businesses operate, and should be part of any multi-channel marketing transformation that helps CMOs make more informed business decisions based on this important shift in consumer behavior.

They include the following:

  • Mobile Planning and Strategy Services: Working with IBM consultants, clients can identify gaps and properly plan for the right mobile strategy.
  • Mobile Analytics: Through analytics capabilities, chief marketing officers (CMOs), e-commerce and app developers can gain real-time access and deep intelligence into customers’ online and app experience across mobile devices.
  • Endpoint Security and Management: With new software and managed mobility services, clients can embrace the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend by simplifying the processes to secure devices and empower employees to manage their own devices. These capabilities extend to the management and support of Apple (including iOS 6), Android, Microsoft Windows operating system (including Windows 8) and Blackberry devices.
  • Mobile App Development: Using the IBM Mobile Foundation will help clients better support native app development and make it easier to build apps that function in the absence of a network connection. New Lifecycle Management software will help clients quickly develop high quality apps across multiple platforms. New managed service capabilities will also provide organizations with support for deploying, implementing and managing their mobile apps and app stores.
  • Social Collaboration for Mobile: With new social business enhancements, an organization’s mobile workforce can use their mobile devices to blog, get live updates from their social networks, access and edit files. New remote data wipe capabilities also help protect company data in case a device is lost or stolen.

IBM has been steadily investing in the mobile space for more than a decade, both organically and through acquisitions, offering a complete portfolio of software and services that delivers enterprise-ready mobility for clients — from IT systems all the way through to mobile devices. This builds on IBM’s deep understanding of its clients and their evolving IT needs.

You can go here to learn more about IBM Mobile Enterprise capabilities.

Something Special In The Air

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There’s really nothing like the joys and vagaries of business travel.

Yes, I’m back in Las Vegas, this time for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Summit, but it was quite the chore getting here.

Never mind that my lowest offer air fair required that I leave at 7:20 AM on a Sunday… That I could deal with.

But as our airplane in Austin was taxiing towards the runway for takeoff, it became quite evident a disgruntled traveler was not a happy camper, and poised to potentially cause quite a bit of trouble during the flight.  He was being very rude to the flight attendants, and was allegedly pontificating about terrorism to his fellow passengers (he was seated a number of rows ahead of me, so I couldn’t quite make out the details).

Thankfully, the American Airline’s staff was on top of the situation, and they weren’t about to take off with this guy and his pontifications, who was refusing to follow simple and reasonable directives from the flight staff (like not getting out of his seat to go to the restroom on an active taxi-way).

So, AA promptly taxied the plane back down the active runway, where the gentleman causing the ruckus was met by some of Austin’s finest security officials and very politely escorted off the plane.

Then, the Captain came on to explain the situation: “Ladies and gentlemen, at American Airlines we strive to be attentive to ALL our customer’s needs, and the customer who was just escorted off the plane had some very special needs we felt important that he get tended to.  We’ll now be on our way to Los Angeles.”

I laughed out loud, as did a number of other passengers — in one quick moment, the captain reassured his very antsy set of passengers, explained the situation in just as much detail as was really needed, reassured us that the troublemaker’s baggage had been removed from the plane, and indicated we would be on our way shortly.

We could now take off with a clear conscience and no concerns.

So I want to say a big thank you to JoAnn, Queen, the Captain, the dead-heading AA pilot, and the rest of the crew of Flight 457 this past Saturday on the flight from Austin to Los Angeles (and on to Vegas).

Your professionalism and calm amidst that minor storm demonstrated to your passengers that you can only “Be yourself. Nonstop” when the planes are moving, and safely, and you made sure they did both on Saturday, and I just wanted to thank you for that.

Written by turbotodd

November 12, 2012 at 6:35 pm

New IBM Study: The Business of Social Business

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IBM’s recent study on “The Business of Social Business” revealed three major areas where organizations can most effectively apply their social business investments. The study surveyed more than 1,100 businesses worldwide, and included extensive interviews with more than two dozen widely recognized leaders in social business. You can find a link to a downloadable version of the study later in this blog post.

If you’ve been looking for a study that will help you better understand how organizations around the globe are viewing the opportunity social business presents as a fundamental way by which to rethink and overhaul how they conduct their business operations in the social age, IBM has something for you.

Earlier today, we released the new IBM Institute for Business Value study entitled “The Business of Social Business.”

This was a survey conducted of more than 1,110 businesses around the world, and with extensive interviews with more than two dozen recognized global leaders in social business. Many of those executives explained to IBM that, in fact, social business is gaining traction in their organizations.

Top line, 46 percent of the companies surveyed increased their investments in social business in 2012, and 62 percent indicated they were going to increase their expenditures in the next three years.

As the executive summary of the report stated, “The question surrounding social media today is not whether you are doing but, but whether you are doing enough.

Getting your 100,000th “Like” on Facebook, or having your latest pearl of wisdom retweeted 200 times an hour is all well and good, but are these activities driving revenue, attracting talent, and bridging the collaboration gaps in your organization?”

Is your use of social media allowing your organization to engage with the right customers, improve their online experience, and tap into their latest insights and ideas?

And does your social approach provide your customer-facing representatives with the ability to search the globe for expertise or apply learnings?

For far too many organizations, the answer are, “not yet.”

What IS Social Business?

IBM defines social business as embedding tools, media, and practices into the ongoing activities of an organization. It enables individuals to connect and share information and insights more effectively with others, both inside and outside the organization.

Social business tools facilitate engagement in extensive discussions with employees, customers, business partners, and other stakeholders and allow sharing of resources, skills and knowledge to drive business outcomes.

And what’s the upside? Top-line growth for social business users can improve between 3 and 11 percent, according to a recent study from the McKinsey Global Institute, and productivity can be enhanced by between 2 and 12 percent.

I’ll hand you off to a link of the full study later, but to net out the findings, IBM’s survey and interviews revealed three major areas where organizations apply social business investments (see graphic above):

  • Create valued customer experiences
  • Drive workforce productivity and effectiveness
  • Acclerate innovation

Shifting Towards Sales And Service

For those who have been involved in the social media realm to date, it’s important to note that social business is about moving beyond basic promotional activities to encompass the entire customer lifecycle, including lead generation, sales, and post-sales service.

The IBM study had a sub-sample of clients with some social business experience which revealed that while the percentage of companies expecting to use social business for promotional activities will rise slightly, from 71 percent today to 83 percent in the next two years, the number of companies expecting to use social approaches to generate sales leads and revenue will increase dramatically.

How companies are using social business capabilities is evolving rapidly. As you can see in the graphic, it is moving beyond basic promotional activities to encompass the entire customer lifecycle, including lead generation, sales, and even post-sales service.

Today, 51 percent use social approaches for leads and revenue, while 74 percent plan to get on board in the next two years.  Post-sales support is also expected to increase, from 46 today to 69 percent over the next two years (see graphic entitled “Users of Social Business”).

Getting Started With Social Business

Regardless of where your organization is in its own social business journey, the use of social business practices is a transformation that leads toward new ways of working.

IBM’s research revealed three essential actions to be taken across the enterprise, from the CEO’s office to the farthest corner of the organization.

  1. Develop social methods and tools to create consistent and valued customer experiences.
  2. Embed social capabilities to drive workforce productivity and effectiveness.
  3. Use social approaches to accelerate innovation.

If you’re interested in reading the full study, you can register to download it here.

As IBM’s vice president for social business, Sandy Carter, explained in the video interview below during our recent interview at the IBM Interconnect in Singapore, “culture eats strategy for lunch.” Sandy offered up some great advice on world-class social business practices, as well as how companies and individuals can better establish their brands in an increasingly crowded social marketplace.

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