Turbotodd

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

Archive for February 2013

Online Retailer LabelSneak Leverages IBM Smarter Commerce Technologies To Glean Mobile/Social Insights, Bolster Sales

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LabelSneak teamed with IBM and IBM Business Partner CSI Solution to connect with the growing marketplace of consumers who prefer to buy across online, mobile and social channels. IBM Smarter Commerce precision marketing is allowing consumers to choose which sales promotions they want to be alerted to or when their favorite clothing item goes on sale via text, tweet, Facebook post or email. This can be a more effective sales method as smaller retailers can deliver a level of personalization and a more tailored marketing campaign to the individual consumer.

LabelSneak teamed with IBM and IBM Business Partner CSI Solution to connect with the growing marketplace of consumers who prefer to buy across online, mobile and social channels. IBM Smarter Commerce precision marketing is allowing consumers to choose which sales promotions they want to be alerted to or when their favorite clothing item goes on sale via text, tweet, Facebook post or email. This can be a more effective sales method as smaller retailers can deliver a level of personalization and a more tailored marketing campaign to the individual consumer.

There’s some new news on the Smarter Commerce front from IBM.

Earlier today, IBM announced a collaboration with LabelSneak, a small online retailer of discounted designer men’s wear, which is using IBM Smarter Commerce technologies to create a unique shopping experience aimed at the millennial consumer.

As a result, LabelSneak has seen 148 percent growth in revenues, tripling sales in less than a year.

For The Fashion Conscious Male

LabelSneak is an outlet store aimed at brand aware males, and offers discounts of up to 75 percent on fashion and sportswear, alerting its consumers via social channels to personalized, limited-time sales offers.

With new deals updated regularly, the site generates tremendous amounts of data, including Tweets, Instagram photos, Facebook comments on popular sales items and conversations between consumers on favorite brands through social channels, mobile and tablet devices.

LabelSneak’s challenge was this: To capture and glean insights from all this big data to better understand what consumers were saying about the latest promotions, which items were the most popular and at what time and in what circumstances sales were most effective.

They also needed analytics to better target and mold online sales campaigns and to decide which social channels effectively communicated its message to attract new customers.

LabelSneak teamed with IBM and IBM Business Partner CSI Solution to connect with the growing marketplace of consumers who prefer to buy across online, mobile and social channels.

With access to IBM Global Financing within minutes, the small retailer is now using IBM Smarter Commerce technology to handle high volumes of transactions as well as the large volumes and variety of data, CSI’s RapidCommerce Cloud Managed Service Solution has helped LabelSneak create a site to more effectively target the digitally savvy millennial consumer with an integrated brand experience across all devices.

To date, the platform is supporting a rapid pace of growth, enabling the client to focus its time and resources on growing the business such as conducting sales promotions, gleaning insights from Facebook comments or tweets.

The Competitive Challenge

Fashion companies of every size and style are vying for a slice of the men’s wear market. To compete with more established retailer brands, LabelSneak needed to better understand men’s online consumer behavior, create a more tailored marketing campaign and deliver the right merchandising mix.

Not only is LabelSneak gleaning insights from data analyzing which brands to carry, but they also are seeing how consumer preferences for certain brands in men’s wear are connected to a favorite sports teams or music.

Background On IBM Smarter Commerce

IBM Smarter Commerce precision marketing is allowing consumers to choose which sales promotions they want to be alerted to or when their favorite clothing item goes on sale via text, tweet, Facebook post or email.

This can be a more effective sales method as smaller retailers can deliver a level of personalization and a more tailored marketing campaign to the individual consumer.

IBM Smarter Commerce provides intelligent automation of marketing, sales, customer service and procurement to help chief marketing officers, chief procurement officers, sales, e-commerce, supply chain and customer service executives do their jobs more productively and efficiently.

Go here if you’d like to do some shopping on LabelSneak.

Do You Yahoo?

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Here’s the question of the day: Do you Yahoo?

And my answer is…yeah, well, sure, but only when I’m in the office.

Because, you know, and we all know, that a cubicle farm is the perfect venue by which to instigate and channel creativity and innovation.

Just ask Dilbert. He’s been stuck in that cartoon cubicle for nearly 20 years, and he’s doing just fine.

I’m referring, of course, tongue in cheekly, to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s new edict that all Yahoo employees must come back to work in the mother ship and that there will no longer be telecommuters.

In her memo, Mayer wrote that “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

To which I would ask, “Show me the money.”

I’ve spent the better part of the last two decades working at IBM, and I would say that my career has been about evenly split: Half in an office, half working from home.

Upon reflection, I’m not sure I could say there was more productivity or innovation that could be attributed to working from one location or another.

While I’m not discounting the serendipitous opportunities for mixing it up that can come through working in a physical office with colleagues, I can attest as well that it can have the opposite effect — too many interruptions, too many meetings, too much lost productivity.

For me, work is a state of mind and being, not a location. It’s something that I do, not a place that I go.

The technologies that IBM and others have built have eliminated the perceived need for constant physical proximity.  Using IBM Notes, Sametime, and Connections our world is one big virtual office, with more than enough software capability to bind us together in a seamless fabric, one that increasingly transcends both space and time.

And perhaps that’s another key difference.

In a global company like IBM, we typically work daily with people from around the world.  But I can’t wake up Monday morning and decide I need to drop by the office in Bangalore. That’s typically a 20+ hour journey from Texas, and as far as commutes go, that would probably be on the outer boundaries of long commutes!

But I can virtually stop by Bangalore daily, chatting with colleagues via instant messaging, or at minimum exchanging emails or posts in our internal IBM Connections platform.

The Wall Street Journal’s AllThingsD columnist Kara Swisher writes on this topic this morning, with the headline “Despite Yahoo Ban, Most Tech Companies Support Work-From-Home for Employees.”

She calls out IBM in particular, citing that “IBM was one of the first global companies to pioneer programs to reduce employee commuting. It has sustained these programs for nearly two decades. Two key aspects are its (a) work-at-home program and (b) mobile employees program. Today, more than 128,000 (29 percent) of employees globally participate in one of these programs. In 2011, in just the U.S. alone, IBM’s work-at-home program conserved approximately 6.4 million gallons of fuel and avoided more than 50,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.”

To that point, I figure in the 10+ years I’ve been working remotely, I’ve probably saved close to $20,000 in gasoline and auto maintenance costs.

I’ve also been spared the agony and utter un-productivity of wasted time spent in traffic. That’s at least another 500 hours saved over ten years, time that I can either give back to myself or, as is often the case, back to IBM.

Of course, I recognize Yahoo is also an exceptional case at the moment.

Marissa Mayer is trying to turn a culture around that has been stagnating, and through this announcement she will no doubt drive people away from the company that the company may well be better off without.

On the other hand, I’m not sure wrangling the herd of Yahoo cats back to the home ranch is going to serve as the needed combustible recipe that puts the innovative spark back in the Yahoo innovation engine.

In a year or two down the road…and I mean that quite literally…I can’t help but think the answer to that wonderful, brand-promised question: “Do you Yahoo?”

The answer’s going to increasingly be, “I used to, but I just got sick and tired of the commute.”

Written by turbotodd

February 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm

IBM, Nokia Siemens Networks Announce World’s First Mobile Edge Computing Platform

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I’m not in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress which kicked off there today, but it seems like just about everyone else is.

Please, give my regards to Gaudi, have a few tapas and sangria, and I’ll aspire to visit the fair city another day.

Of course, when I say everybody else, I’m including some of my IBM colleagues, all of whom will be front-benching IBM’s recently-introduced “MobileFirst” strategy at MWC.

As I indicated in a prior post, IBM is putting some big bucks in mobile, and rightly so.  And one announcement from earlier today in Barcelona demonstrates the ramping up of that commitment.

In partnership with Nokia Siemens Networks, IBM announced a collaboration to deliver the world’s first mobile edge computing platform that can run applications directly within a mobile base station.

This new platform allows mobile operators to create a truly unique mobile experience, relieve the ever increasing strain on network infrastructure and bring completely new solutions to market.

The new platform can accelerate the delivery of media-rich services by delivering content directly from the base station, ensuring enhanced quality of experience for consumers in the face of ever increasing data traffic growth.

The platform also enables a new generation of low-latency services with device presence to be delivered to consumers, creating new possibilities for mobile gaming, augmented reality, smarter traffic and public safety offerings, and more.

Improved latency can enable high-value vertical solutions that rely on big data-driven analytics to work on very large amounts of information in real time.

For example, IBM’s City in Motion solution can analyze radio information to estimate how people are moving through a city, identify their mode of transport, and configure a cities transport network in real time to ensure optimum performance.

If you’re in Barcelona for MWC, to see a demonstration at Mobile World Congress, visit IBM (Hall 3, booth 3B86) or Nokia Siemens Networks (Hall 3, booth 3B14) at the show.

For more information on Nokia Siemens Networks’ mobile broadband capabilities, including a video overview, follow this link.

And go here to learn more about IBM‘s communications industry solutions.

To share your thoughts on the topic, join the discussion on Twitter using #MWC13 and #ibmmobile.

Dont Not Look Back

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It’s a rare feat that I’ll sit down and watch the entire Academy Awards ceremony end to end, but that’s exactly what I did last evening. 

I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other about Seth McFarlane as emcee going into the evening, but after seeing the reports of his apparent Twitter lynching, I’m sure glad I stayed off social media for the most part during the event.

Of the entire evening, I have to say I was laughing way out loud in my living room at the sock puppet rendition of the Oscar-nominated Flight. Coke sniffing, tequila swilling sock puppets flying a plane upside down?  All they needed was the Pets.com sock puppet to fly in save the day (although we saw how well THAT worked out for Pets.com!)

I thought McFarlane struck a fine balance between properly insulting the Hollywood clerisy and appropriately celebrating the film arts.

On which topic, I wanted to debrief on a particularly notable celebration, the Honorary Awards, one of those awards that were awarded prior to Oscar night. This year, one of those awards went to D.A. Pennebaker, a pioneer and downright legend in documentary filmmaking circles.

Arguably, Pennebaker’s work, and the work of those he influenced, has had a resultantly more powerful historical impact than many of the celebrated filmmakers in attendance last evening.

Pennebaker, along with a small cohort that included the likes of Richard Leacock, Robert Drew, Albert and David Maysles (and a handful of others) in the form of Drew Associates helped to create the notion of cinema verite, or “truth in film.” In 1960’s Primary, Pennebaker and team documented John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey’s campaigns in the 1960 Wisconsin Democratic Primary (and which resulted in one of the most famous “stalking” shots in cinematic history of then candidate JFK). 

With this film, Pennebaker and crew also demonstrated the power and impact that could be brought about with the synching of film and sound (using the then relatively-new Nagra tape sound recorders) on the move — that is to say, where the documentary filmmaker could “follow” their subject in the field.

Pennebaker has also been a pioneer in making a record of musical performance, starting with his filming of Bob Dylan’s 1965 English tour, entitled Dont Look Back, but also other important artists including Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie.

Dont Look Back was the first draft of the basic script for music videos nearly 20 years before they exploded onto the scene with MTV. 

And love him or hate him for it, Pennebaker helped paved the way for what came to be known as “reality TV” — one could pretty easily connect a straight line from Pennebaker’s cinema verite work to Cops — although Pennebaker’s contributions to the documentary medium have been much more substantive in terms of subject matter and thoughtfulness, and it’s a shame that the medium hasn’t evolved more broadly with the promising foundation that Pennebaker and his associates laid down fifty plus years ago.

If you’re interested in checking out his work, I would certainly encourage you to screen Primary and Dont look Back. There’s also Monterey Pop and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

And, of course, that ever campaign-insider flick, The War Room, which took us inside the first Bill Clinton presidential campaign “war room,” where the likes of James Carville and George Stephanopolous worked to keep the Clinton campaign spinning and vibrant. 

To steal from that early campaign slogan: “It’s the documentary, stupid.” 

Written by turbotodd

February 25, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Captcha Gotcha!

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Houston, we have a problem.

And I want to hear from anyone else out there who has had this problem. Because I fear it may be an increasingly prominent one in our always-connected, increasingly cloud-based cyber existence.

I was in meetings last week in NYC…you know, with actual people…and I was trying to look someone up on Twitter.

You know, on the actual Twitter web site, not a Twitter application.

Only to discover I apparently no longer knew my password.

So I set about trying to recover my password from Twitter.

But my account had been blocked, because apparently I tried to get
into it too many times.

Shame on me. Trying to get into my own Twitter account! What kind of psychopath, am I?

So then I tried to have Twitter send some info to my email and/or phone number.

Nothing ever showed on my cell phone, a number I’ve had for years.

And I assumed the account was set up so long ago, that I probably included my Hotmail email address.

So now I went to Hotmail to login.

And guess what happened?

Of course. I know no longer knew the password.

So I tried to recover the password.

And that’s when the Captchas stormed the castle.

You know, those cute little boxes where you enter characters that no mere mortal can read, much less interpret, so you can try and access what you assumed to be your account?

The person who invented those? They’re now officially on my most wanted list. Right up there near number one and closing fast.

So then I thought, perhaps my Hotmail address became a Live.com address.

So I tried that.

More captchas. No success.

I refused to throw down my sword, I was going down fighting.

Especially considering this was Microsoft!

So I tried to sign up for a new Outlook cloud account. I would simply start over, begin anew, smell the spring roses of the azure fields.

It wouldn’t likely help me in the pursuit of reclaiming my Twitter ID, which I’m pretty much has been hacked and is now manned by some pimply-faced 14 year-old Twerp somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Now I’m starting to get paranoid, thinking perhaps Microsoft has me on their hit list.

Because when I tried to submit the new Outlook account request, it was kind of like the Internet equivalent of the Windows hourglass.

And people laugh wondering why in the world I said earlier in the year I was going to break out my Underwood manual typewriter!

Written by turbotodd

February 22, 2013 at 3:24 pm

It’s Snowing In Tucson

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Okay, golf fans, the Accenture Match Play tournament has finally moved from being one big snowball fight in the parking lot to an actual competitive golf tournament.

I had turned on the TV late yesterday afternoon to check in on the supposed first day’s play that I had recorded on the DVR, only to discover that play was slowed to a halt by a snowstorm…in Tucson. In the desert.

I’m not making this up.

For you golf novices, match play in golf is very different than the traditional stroke play you see on your typical weekend golf tournament.

In match play, think about how the 64 brackets in the NCAA basketball tournament break down, and you’ve got the gist of it.

For the Accenture, sixty four players are grouped into four super brackets, and in each, one player faces off another player in the first round.

Whoever wins the most holes out of the 18, wins that match and, like in college basketball, moves on to the next round.

It’s also an entirely different kind of golf strategy. When your opponent makes a mistake, you work to seize on that mistake by not screwing up yourself, so each match can be akin to watching a dance — the only question is, who will step on who’s golf shoes?

In the finishing of round one that just got underway mid-afternoon Tucson time, there have been a few surprises.

South African Charles Schwartzel, a favorite going in, lost 1 up to rookie Russell Henley.

Spaniard Sergio Garcia almost gave away a commanding lead to Thai golfer Thongchai Jaidee (who, by the way, saw his first snow ever yesterday…also in Tucson!), and they battled it out into extra holes until Garcia took the match 1 up.

Our favorite European Ryder Cup nemesis, evil-eyed Ian Poulter, stepped away from his Twitter account long enough to take out Stephen Gallacher 2-1.

But the matches much of the golf world are holding their breath for are those featuring Tiger Woods v. Charles Howell III, and world ranked number one, Rory McIlroy, matched against fellow Irishman Shane Lowry.

The big question on my mind: Has McIlroy adjusted yet to those new $90 million Nike golf clubs? Rumor was going into the tournament, he had already switched back to his faithful Scotty Cameron putter, but then I’d read Nike had added some weights to his custom “Method” putter so he’d switched back to all Nike, all the time.

Switching clubs is not always a seamless transition, as I recently discovered, and I don’t depend on my clubs to make a living. McIlroy’s first three holes today would suggest they’re good enough (he was 1 up after 3 last I checked).

Tiger…well, Tiger’s just been on, and he probably also just beat the leader of the free world by a good 20 strokes last weekend (President Obama), so his confidence is probably high.

Could it all come down to Woods v. McIlroy in the championship match on Sunday (or, Monday, assuming the snow delay pushes out the finish)?

Methinks the golfing gods won’t be THAT generous to we fans, but I’m certainly willing to send that energy into the universe to try and make it so. CBS will never have seen golf ratings so high so early in a golf season.

Written by turbotodd

February 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm

IBM Unveils Comprehensive Mobile Portfolio

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IBM Mobile First

Click to enlarge the infographic.  As the first new technology platform for business to emerge since the World Wide Web, mobile computing represents one of the greatest opportunities for organizations to expand their business. Based on nearly 1,000 customer engagements, 10 mobile-related acquisitions in the last four years, a team of thousands of mobile experts and 270 patents in wireless innovations, IBM MobileFirst offers an array of solutions that helps businesses connect, secure, manage and develop mobile networks, infrastructures and applications.

 

IBM is going big on mobile.

Today, the company unveiled “IBM MobileFirst,” a comprehensive mobile strategy that combines security, analytics, and application development software, with cloud-based services and deep mobile expertise.

Using IBM MobileFirst solutions, businesses can now streamline everything from the management of employee mobile devices, to the creation of a new mobile commerce app that will transform their entire business model.

Today’s move by IBM builds off of its experience helping nearly 1,000 customers become mobile enterprises, and takes advantage of its thousands of mobile experts and 270 patents in wireless innovations.

IBM has made 10 mobile-related acquisitions in the past four years alone.

IBM also announced an expanded relationship with AT&T to provide developers with tools to create faster, richer mobile apps and services for customers. For instance, organizations can now quickly incorporate payment and messages into their apps.

With this expanded partnership, the AT&T API Platform, featuring IBM Worklight Adapters, will enable the more than 31,000 members of the AT&T Developer Program to quickly create and securely deploy enterprise apps that improve subscriber engagement and customer loyalty.

With these adapters that support AT&T’s ecosystem of APIs including those for speech, SMS, device capabilities, notary management and payment, developers can quickly and securely create rich, business-ready apps across a variety of platforms including iOS, Android and Windows.

Through IBM MobileFirst, IBM is providing companies with the essential tools to take advantage of new business opportunities being enabled by mobile.

A Broad Portfolio of Mobile Solutions

To be successful in embracing mobile for driving revenue growth, clients must have an integrated strategy for mobile, cloud, big data, social business and security. Today’s announcements from IBM help clients harness these complex technologies to drive innovation and growth.

IBM’s mobile solutions portfolio provides the key elements of an application and data platform with the management, security and analytics capabilities needed for the enterprise.

In addition to meeting mobile-specific requirements, the portfolio provides for rapid integration between social and cloud services as well as back-end technologies that help secure and manage strategic business processes. Key aspects include:

  • IBM MobileFirst Platform – New updates include expanded capabilities of IBM Worklight to simplify deployment. It also features single sign-on capabilities for multiple applications. A new beta of the Rational Test Workbench for mobile helps to improve the quality and reliability of mobile apps.
  • IBM MobileFirst Security – IBM extends its context-based mobile access control solutions and expands mobile application vulnerability testing with support for Apple iOS apps with the latest release of AppScan.
  • IBM MobileFirst Management – New updates to IBM Endpoint Manager include enhanced support for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs and increased security standards that are critical to governments and regulated environments.
  • IBM MobileFirst Analytics – IBM is expanding its Tealeaf CX Mobile solution to give enterprises more visual insight into mobile behaviors so they can better understand where improvements are needed and create exceptional and consistent consumer experiences across mobile devices.

To provide organizations with maximum flexibility and accelerate their adoption of mobile computing, these solutions can also be delivered through cloud and managed services.

A Deep Set of Mobile Services for Clients

Enterprises are embracing the mobile revolution at a rapid pace. IBM has thousands of mobile experts to help clients understand how industries will be transformed in a mobile world, based on client engagements across more than a dozen industries.

The IBM MobileFirst portfolio features several services to help clients establish mobile strategies, design and implement mobile projects. These include:

  • IBM MobileFirst Strategy and Design Services – Clients can tap into IBM expertise to map out a mobile strategy for employees and customers, and key experience design skills from IBM Interactive to build compelling mobile experiences. IBM’s new Mobile Maturity Model can assess how a business is progressing towards becoming a mobile enterprise, while new Mobile Workshops help clients develop applications, architect infrastructure and accelerate their mobile progress.
  • IBM MobileFirst Development and Integration Services – IBM offers services that help organizations roll out a mobile infrastructure and manage mobile application portfolios and BYOD environments. Enhanced Network Infrastructure Services for Mobile provide IT network strategy, optimization, integration and management. Mobile Enterprise Services for Managed Mobility help manage and secure smartphones, tablets and devices across a business. Mobile Application Platform Management helps speed deployment of mobile infrastructure to develop mobile applications more easily and quickly.

An Expansive Set of Mobile Resources and Programs for Business Partners, Developers and Academics

According to IBM’s recent Tech Trends Report, only one in 10 organizations has the skills needed to effectively apply advanced technologies such as mobile computing.

To help overcome this skills gap, IBM is rolling out a series of resources to help its ecosystem of developers, partners and academics tap into the mobile opportunity and augment existing skills or develop new ones.

These include:

  • Developers – IBM today is announcing a relationship with AT&T that will enable developers to enhance mobile apps by using IBM Worklight to access AT&T’s APIs in the cloud. Now, developers have another tool with AT&T to quickly and easily create apps with rich features such as speech recognition and rapid payment. IBM is also rolling out new technical assets on developerWorks and CodeRally, a developer game community.
  • Business Partners – With Ready for IBM MobileFirst, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) can also embed mobile technologies into their solutions and Software Value Plus now provides mobile certifications, workshops and incentives for resellers and systems integrators.
  • Academics – To help train the next generation of mobile developers, IBM is offering new faculty grants for curricula development. IBM is also making IBM Worklight available, free of charge, for the classroom and via online training to teach both students and faculty to develop for mobile environments.

IBM Global Financing, the lending and leasing arm of IBM, can also help companies affordably transform into mobile enterprises.

Credit-qualified clients can take advantage of simple, flexible lease and loan packages for the IBM MobileFirst portfolio — some starting at as low as 0% for 12 months with no up-front costs — allowing businesses to acquire essential technology and services while managing cash flow more effectively.

To learn more, visit the IBM MobileFirst site.  You can also follow @ibmmobile, #ibmmobile on Twitter, and see IBM MobileFirst on YouTube, Tumblr and Instagram.

Also, watch the video below (3:46), for it paints a broad, comprehensive, and gorgeous “picture” of the enterprise mobile opportunity and challenges.

IBM MobileFirst Announcement Coverage:

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