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

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