Why E-Commerce Still Isn’t Easy To Do Wed 10 Nov 10

Recognizing the difference of the Internet is key to online sales success

Shopping Cart Misshap Wiedmaier Doing business over the Internet, whether B2C or B2B, is not the same as the traditional pre-Internet methods.   I’m sure the typical response to this is “well, duh!”  That simple statement is taken as a given by most people.

Amazingly there are still people and businesses that haven’t grasped this seemingly simple concept.  The most recent example was when I ordered a meal to be delivered to my workplace for a late meeting.  I dutifully collected everyone’s selection, went to the website and entered my account information along with the credit card details.

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Apple: Less Hype, Better Products Wed 03 Feb 10

The company needs to focus more on solid marketing and product development.

WizardOfOzApple's long anticipated launch of the iPad became a rather interesting twist in the Apple/Steve Jobs saga, and it may signal a shift in the future of Apple.

After all the hype and hysteria of the iPhone roll-outs, everyone was expecting true magic. However, despite Jobs' proclamation of the iPad being "magical," the general response was a rather dismayed, "That's it?" It was something of a letdown as Apple fed our expectations and did nothing to dampen all the speculation.

It reminds me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her friends stand quaking with fear in the great hall intimidated by the billowing flames, booming voice and majestic presence. Only when her dog Toto pulled open the curtain and exposed Oz as a mere mortal did reality sink in. The Wizard's exhortation of "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" was too late. His secret was out. And so it may be for Jobs and Apple. However, in the end this could be beneficial for Apple.

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Twitter's Corporate Message Wed 18 Feb 09

Using the microblogging service to connect with customers.

Twitter is a microblogging service where people answer the question, "What are you doing?" in a 140 characters or less. It started about four years ago, has experienced phenomenal growth and is now one of the most popular social networking services on the Internet. You can follow other people's postings, or "tweets," as they are called.

Hindenburg_burning I held off using Twitter because, frankly, I just didn't see the point. I had no interest in reading about what TV show someone was watching or what kind of coffee they were drinking. And to be honest I really couldn't imagine anyone being interested in what TV show I was watching.    To paraphrase Herbert Morrison, "Oh, the inanity!"

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Career Management With The Help of Technology: Branding & Marketing Yourself Wed 11 Feb 09

This is the third in a series of four posts regarding managing your career with the help of technology.  I've chosen the title words very carefully as I wanted to talk about the life-long process of career management not to be confused with the job search process.  Oh for sure, the job search process is a part of this but the management of your career should not start and stop with each job search you go through.  I am eager to learn what has worked well for you.  Please leave your comments and suggestions. 

In the first post in this series I talked about "Who You Are" which on the surface sounds like it is about your "brand", but it is different.  Think about Chevrolet and Ferrari.  Who are they?  Well they are both car companies.  What's their brand?  Ah, big difference!  Your brand is what distinguishes you from all the other people in the same role.  Think about the group of programmers or analysts you work with.  Through their actions they've established a brand as "the go-to guy in an emergency", "the plodder", the "yeh, I can make that work", or the "that can't be done" person.

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Selling Web 2.0 To IT Wed 10 Dec 08

IT departments are still skeptical of social networks, wikis and widgets

Web2 One of my favorite bloggers, Eric Brown, recently wrote a great post, "Web 2.0 in the Enterprise." He states that even though companies are using more Web 2.0 technologies, such as social networks and widgets, to reach employees and customers, there aren't a lot of successful implementations so far.

"Why are so many organizations failing at Web 2.0?" Brown wrote. His answer: "Poor technology strategy and a poor understanding of what value the available technologies can really bring to the company."

Based on that statement, I left a comment referencing some of my past columns [See "Why Companies Need Web. 2.0"] that suggested ways Web 2.0 could be used in the enterprise. I also stated that I believe IT would need to "sell" this concept within the enterprise.

How do you plan to sell Web 2.0 to IT? Let us know in the Reader Comments section.

Brown agreed and responded to my comment by saying, "If we sell it correctly, the enterprise should pick it up well."

However, he then went on to say something that gave me pause. "The problem is that I've found is many in IT don't understand the power of Web 2.0 and many are even scared of the technologies," Brown wrote. "I think we need to sell Web 2.0 into the IT groups, then sell it into the enterprise."

Wait a minute! We're the technology guys. We shouldn't need to sell technology concepts to our own. I mean, of all people, we get technology. Don't we?

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The Un-Marketing of IT - The Survey Results Wed 29 Oct 08

Questionaire_kim_pierroIn my last post, I discussed the issue of IT restricting the use of the very technology we provide and how this is received by our user community.  I suggested that the limits we impose has an "un-marketing" effect that undermines our efforts to promote IT as a strategic partner.  Although these limitations may be necessary for a number of valid reasons, they can create a very negative perception of IT.  As the old saying goes, "Perception Is Reality," or at least, a user's perception is his reality.

I also suggested a few things we can do to improve that perception.  In addition, I included a survey to get your thoughts on the subject.  I thought I'd review the results of the survey to see what they may indicate.

The survey results are as of Oct. 25. Each question received between 230 and 275 "yes" or "no" responses. I had suspected that IT providers might have a distinctly different view of the issues than consumers do. We received fewer responses to this question than others due to a software glitch, but in general the people who answered the survey seem divided pretty equally between IT providers and consumers--suggesting that both groups have similar views on these questions. Thank you if you took part in the survey--and if you haven't voted yet, please click here.

Now for the results:

1. Do you believe IT unnecessarily limits the use of the technologies it delivers?

Yes 74%,  No 26% 

By an overwhelming response, it is clear that you think companies limit the use of technology unnecessarily.  That is not to say there isn't a good reason, but rather most of you don't believe, or are not aware, there is a good reason.  This is a subtle but important difference.

2. Does IT limiting the use of technology create a poor impression of IT?

Yes 87%, No 13%

By a ratio of more than 6 to 1, people feel that limiting technology use leads to a poor impression of IT.  It is interesting to note that the same proportion of IT providers and IT consumers agreed on this. Clearly, our approach does un-market IT, and IT might be its own worst enemy.

The next 3 questions dealt with how we deal (or perhaps do not deal) with the impact of these technology limitations. 

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The Un-Marketing of IT Wed 15 Oct 08

Dont_use_your_laptop_while_eishierIt is generally accepted that CIOs need to "market" information technology inside a corporation to get other executives and employees to think of it as a strategic area of operations and not just a cost center.

What concerns me is that these marketing efforts may be undermined by efforts to "un-market" information technology. IT seems to be the only area of an organization that I can think of that actively discourages people from using its "product" even if they use it properly. Tobacco, liquor and gambling all have warnings to discourage use, but even they don't seem to take it as far as IT. I don't imagine any of us ever thought of IT as a "vice." Some examples:

  • We promote the use of e-mail but then limit the amount of inbox storage or the size of files that can be attached to e-mails.
  • We tout the Internet as a data goldmine and then we block people from visiting so-called non-business sites. Sometimes it is human resources pushing this, but sometimes it is IT.
  • We provide people with a PC as a tool to make their job easier but lock it down so they can't add programs or even choose their own wallpaper.
  • We warn people of the dire consequences of not using the application properly, threatening them with legal action every time they use the application or start their PC.

The warning is especially aggravating as it serves no real purpose. Someone intent on using our systems for illegal purposes isn't going to be intimidated by those warnings. The warnings only insult the honest user and promote an image of the "IT Police." What's the point of that?

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CIO Job Description And The Need For Technical Experience Mon 22 Sep 08

Geekyderek_penmachineLast month Laurie Orlov had an interesting article on CIO.com. Her article "Why Specific Tech Experience Shouldn't Define the CIO Resume" has been rattling around in my mind (as things so often do) since then.

Laurie was commenting on CIO job descriptions "that demand skills in configuring servers, designing the website, creating a long-term strategy, 20 years of experience plus a deep track record in a subbranch of financial services. Or that specify knowledge of an arcane, perhaps obsolete technology."  I can relate to this as I've seen job description calling for the CIO to have specific programming skills in the latest technology and even list specific programming languages.  In short, these types of job descriptions focus on tactical, technical skills. 

The irony in all this is as Laurie correctly points out is that "They want CIOs they can understand (no techno-speak, please) and who understand business. So even if a CIO enters with a laundry list of technical experience that matches what the company asked for in the job description, chances are she's going to spend virtually no time in the new job using those skills."

The part of all this that been rattling around in my mind is -- Why?  Why do people write these kinds of job descriptions.  After giving it some thought, the answer that I come to is rather straightforward and simple -- they don't know any better!  I'm not trying to be mean or belittle anyone but state this very plainly.  The people that write these job descriptions (probably someone in Human Resources) and the hiring managers don't really understand what a CIO can or should do. 

We can argue about who's fault this but that is not helpful.  Rather than argue about fault we should ask the question -- What can we do to change this so people understand what CIOs do?

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Using Widgets To Compete - Companies must use Web 2.0 technologies to stay ahead of rivals. Mon 18 Aug 08

Your best customers don't want to come to your Web site.

If this isn't true now, it will likely be true in the future. This especially applies in the business-to-business arena, but is also true, perhaps to a lesser extent, in the business-to-consumer arena. Upsetting, isn't it? And you probably think I'm crazy too.

Here you've spent all that time and effort developing your site and I'm telling you that your best customers don't want to come see it. You put extra effort into making it look good and easy to navigate. You've probably loaded it with all kinds of goodies--up-to-date information, order tracking services and perhaps even some useful applications. What's not to like?

To be sure, you've probably made all the right moves and really do have a good Web site. The thing is, competitors have good Web sites too. Having a site is no longer unique and competing companies' sites often have many of the same features.

The frustrating thing about technology is that it is very difficult--some would say impossible--to maintain a technological competitive advantage. The competition can do the same things you did. And if you were the trailblazer, rivals might be able to learn from what you did and accomplish it more quickly and less expensively. Sad to say, life just isn't fair.

The good news in all of this is that customers want all of that information--they want those cool applications--they just don't want to come to your Web site to get it. They want you to deliver it to their Web sites or intranets.

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Should We Make Customers Pay For The Convenience of Doing Business With Us Over The Internet? Mon 05 May 08

Astros_tickets_3Yesterday, I took the family down to Minute Maid park to watch the Houston Astros play the Milwaukee Brewers.  It was a  great day.  The weather was beautiful, I got to spend some quality time with my family and enjoyed a great ball game.  The Astros won!  My daughter's favorite player, #9 Hunter Spence, hit a 2-run walk-off homer in the 12th the win it 8 to 6.  Oh Baby!

Like a lot of other things I buy, I bought the tickets over the Internet.  Buying over the Internet is nice.  I could buy them when I wanted, not just when the box office was open.  It was easy and fast and I could print my own tickets.  Without question buying tickets over the Internet was very convenient.

At the same time it is a good thing for the Astros too.  Making it easer for customers to do business with you is always a good way to promote increased sales.  It also reduces costs.  When customers print their own own tickets the Astros' printing expense is reduced.  Likewise the staffing costs for the will call and tickets sales windows are reduced.  The more people that buy over the Internet the lower the Astros' costs.

So although this would seem like the classic win-win situation there is one little catch.

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