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For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

Archive for September 12th, 2007

How Do I Move Preferences for Desktop Apps to a New Machine?

Posted by Bob Warfield on September 12, 2007

Scott Schnaar writes about the pain we’ve all suffered: the pain of getting a new machine to look just like the comfortable old nest the last machine had become.  Having just upgraded to a dual core to keep up with the Multicore Jones’s, I say, “Why deal with it?”

For me, the apps I had on the web were immediately ready to go, just as I had left them.  I approached the apps on the desktop the way I always do: I install and configure them On-demand.  If I need one, I install it, but I don’t try to get ahead of the curve. 

It’s amazing how many of the desktop apps drop off compared to the online apps that I keep right on using because there is no effort. 

Posted in saas, user interface, Web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »

Is a Social Graph Without the Social Objects Worth Anything? (Musings on Lock-In)

Posted by Bob Warfield on September 12, 2007

There has been a huge amount of activity on the web having to do with creating Open Social Networks.  A good set of links to give a deep overview of where this stands would be:

I’ve been following it all, and generally really liking what I’ve read.  I like it because I hate the idea that there can only be one or two social networks, be they MySpace or Facebook.  I’ve nothing against either one, by the way, but as soon as the world settles down to the One Monopoly, innovation tends to stop.  Even that can be a good thing if we’re truly done innovating, but I don’t think we’re even close to being done on the Internet.

Moreover, there is something strangely wrong about all these Dark Web Walled Gardens.  The great thing about the web is that is it an integrated community.  It’s cool to have speakeasies where you have to utter a password to the big gorilla behind the viewslot to get in, but we need to make sure there can be as many of these speakeasies as people want to create, because the other cool thing about the web is you shouldn’t have to have an already established monopoly to be able to create a cool web property.

Open Social Graphs mitigate the network effects that can deliver and sustain a monopoly.  Two posts this morning really made me sit up and take notice.  First, Scoble was commenting on how there’s no possible way he can switch blog readers because he has too much information locked up in Google reader to ever start over.  That’s a classic case of lock-in.  Then I read Joshua Porter’s thoughtful post The Social Graph and Objects of Sociality where he makes the point that the graph isn’t worth a whole lot without all the objects that created interaction between the friends on the graph.  Spinning it around the other way, the value of a Social Network has as much to do with the content and other activities being shared as it does with the exact people and who they say their friends are.

In retrospect, this should not be so surprising, so I thought I’d walk through a quick example of how this would all work.  Think of an Open Identity system and Open Social Graphs system as creating a form of proxy.  Suppose I belong to 3 different social networks that are all based on the same open standards (or at least standards that interoperate).  For the sake of example, let’s use names of real services even though they’re not currently architected that way:

  • Facebook:  I have a casual social presence on Facebook
  • LinkedIn:  My professional persona is on LinkedIn, and BTW, I don’t let many people know the relationship between my LinkedIn and other personas.
  • Flickr:  I’ve got a bunch of photos on Flickr.  Some are public, but a lot of them are private photos of family and personal interests

I meet someone on LinkedIn who I want to give access to my Facebook and Flickr personas.  They’re currently not a member of Facebook, and they have no desire to join.  They do belong to Flickr.  I want to orchestrate all of this within LinkedIn, and I want to do so without my new friend having to go through a lot of pain to join a sevice they don’t to join, yada, yada.

So, I add New Friend to my friends list in LinkedIn.  Part of the capability there is that because this functionality is based on the open standard that cuts across sites, I have the ability to grant my New Friend access to more than just LinkedIn.  He’s a member of Flickr, but not Facebook.  But that doesn’t really matter.  What matters is he has an identity that is part of the Open Social Network standard that all three sites respect.  Therefore, he actually is a member of Facebook even though he didn’t go to all the trouble of signing up for it and building a friend graph on it.  Now isn’t that a cool thing?

It’s a classic single sign on Federated Identity Model at work.  Since lock-in around media created is going to be a forgone conclusion, making it easy for folks to gain these proxy styles of access to the media is essential to achieving the goals the Open Social Networking crowd want to get to.  It also makes it a lot better for you to play around in sites that are amenable to the open standard.  You’ll be expending effort like Scoble did that will ultimately lock you in.  Why not make sure that the place you’re locked into is open so there are no regrets later?

Posted in Partnering, strategy, Web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »

The Cluetrain Manifesto and Conversation Marketing: More About Not Shouting at Customers

Posted by Bob Warfield on September 12, 2007

Dan Farber has a great post on the Cluetrain Manifesto.  The manifesto was published 8 years ago and likens markets to conversations.   It contains 95 theses worth considering about how to conduct marketing as a conversation.  Examples include:

  • The purpose of conversation is to create and improve understanding, not for one party to “deliver messages” to the other. That would be rude.
  • People in productive conversation don’t repeat what they’re saying over and over. They learn from each other and move topics forward.
  • Conversational marketing is carried out by human beings, writing and speaking in their own voices, for themselves—not just for their employers.
  • All excellent advice, and all aimed at moving beyond the traditional marketing mechanism of “Shouting at Customers.”  If you’re having a hard time thinking about how to approach Web 2.0 marketing in terms of messaging, try reading through the Cluetrain Manifesto and imagining one of these conversations about your product.  In terms of media, consider my Web 2.0 Personality Spaces approach.  I recently wrote about how entities as disparate as Dell and Fred Thompson are putting together strategies that embrace a number of Personality Styles.

    Who wouldn’t rather have a dialog with a customer than shout at them?

    Related Articles:

    Scott Cook on having a conversation with your customers

    Posted in business, Marketing, strategy | Leave a Comment »

    Dell Touches the Web 2.0 Personality Spaces

    Posted by Bob Warfield on September 12, 2007

    Duct Tape Marketing’s Word of Mouse (cute phrase, eh?)  post got me to go take a look at Dell’s Web 2.0 efforts.  It’s pretty well done.  You need to go visit SB360, StudioDell, and IdeaStorm to get the full flavor.  This is classic stuff that represents my view of the least a big company should be doing around Web 2.0.  Big companies being what they are, Dell is ahead of most of the pack in this respect and snagged a 2007 Webby as a result. 

    Let’s analyze these 3 offerings from a Web 2.0 Personality Space Perspective.

    StudioDell is basically a bunch of videos you can tune in to, but there are some cool wrinkles that show a keen awareness of the Web 2.0 Personality Space concept.  First, they cater to both Interrupted and Deferred styles.  The Interrupted style prefers “push” media, and there are a ton of RSS feeds to tune in to so you can see new videos as they become available.  Deferred styles want “pull” media, and there’s a cool channel selector that lets you explore what’s available.  Customers are segregated into home users, small business, and IT Pros, so there is something for everyone.

    This is already a Rich media style, so no sense working too hard at keeping the Textual media crowd happy.  The Participator/Watcher dimension is well taken care of.  If you’re in the Home User category, you can even upload your own videos to contribute your stories.  There’s also a prominent spot for you to provide your own feedback on what you’re seeing, and you can create your own tags/social bookmarks on right in the IdeaStorm window.  It doesn’t get much more Participative than that.  At the same time Watchers can graze through the content as they desire without getting roped in to having to do too much.  Don’t you hate those sites where you have to tell them your life’s story before they give you anything back?  Dell doesn’t do that.

    For those that are a bit turned off on the Rich Media overload offered in StudioDell, SB360 is for you.  It’s a very textual oriented site that comes across a lot like a live newsletter or portal page.  It’s a bit busy to be regarded as a blog, but it’s a decent place for those who want a pretty straightforward web experience.  There are tons of articles structured along the lines of Top Stories, Technology, Business Resources, and Getting Connected. 

    Getting Connected is the haven for Participators.  The descriptions of what you’d do with each tool are just about right:

    –  Forums:  Share with other Dell customers

    –  Studio Dell:  Videos

    –  Direct2Dell:  Visit the Dell Blog

    –  IdeaStorm:  Where Your Ideas Reign

    Note the collaboration theme unfolding here.  This is the Web 2.0.  It is not about Shouting your message at prospects.  It’s about involving them in a collaboration that benefits both parties.  Dell does a good job providing lots of tools for everyone to play with in terms of establishing that dialog and making sure it’s 2-way.

    My favorite is IdeaStorm, probably because I’m a Product Guy.  It’s a cool collaborative experience where customers share their ideas about how Dell can do things better.  You can submit ideas, but even better, you can vote to promote or demote the ideas, you can write comments to create a dialog about the ideas, and you get to see how the idea is doing.  Now that gets right into the collaborative Web 2.0 experience and lets everyone have a little fun with it.

    This area is liberally juiced up with data feeds, rollover counters (7290 idea, 511738 votes, and 43509 comments), recognition for top contributors, categories for structures, data feeds, and a bunch of other cool stuff. 

    Crowdsourcing innovation using capabilities like IdeaStorm can lead to all sorts of interesting and unexpected consequences.  For example, users are now banding together to create campaigns around particular suggestions.  Some would be intimidated by that, and would feel they ran the risk of losing control of their business to their customers.  I’m not sure why “losing control of your business to your customers” is a bad thing.  Imagine how loyal those customers will be after they get done banding together and find they’ve actually convinced you to give them what they wanted.  It could be the start of a whole new way of partnering. 

    I’m sure Dell had to invest a huge amount of effort to create this Web 2.0 experience for their customers, but it sure looks like it would be worth it.  It’s only now starting to be noticed, but I predict we’ll here more about it over time.  Dell has always had a decent web presence given that this is their distribution channel, but they’re really trying to stretch and go further with these new sites.  Take a close look at these offerings.  If you’ve been wondering how businesses can leverage Web 2.0, Dell shows you one set of ways.  If your company isn’t doing something similar, it’s time to get started on it.

    And while you’re at it, think about using Web 2.0 Personality Spaces to make sure you’re covering all the bases!

    Posted in business, Marketing, user interface, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

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