Category Archives: Owen

Innovation: A recipe for success

Interesting post today on Richard Branson’s blog by one of his colleagues who talks about how innovation was the key component behind making the Virgin brand so successful. My favourite line is right at the bottom:

One of the key things I have learnt from Richard over the past 15 years or so is always challenge. Challenge your business to innovate by asking the unaskable, challenge industry norms and always ask, why? And then more importantly, why not?

I concur with Jayne-Anne, who wrote the post, about how innovation is sobranson1Virgin Millionaire Richard Branson doing a quick photo with outside of a Bloor St. Press Junket during TIFF '08metimes lumped together into the same camp where technology lives; but in reality can apply to anything that disrupts the status quo. Anything that prevents a process from following the same linear motion that has been running for days, months or years has the potential to provide you with competitive advantage. Don’t get me wrong, there’s always risk attached to change. But without change, challenge or questions a business stagnates, ends up living in the past and is doomed to failure (The recent demise of Woolworths is a case in point here). You can read the whole post by Jayne-Anne Gadhia here.

So, the question is .. when was the last time you were disruptive?

Make sure you have backups

I was speaking to a Phil, a friend of mine who runs a limo service here in the Isle of Man and who’s had a spot of bother with his PC. He had trouble for a few days, tried a system restore and ended up in a worse situation than he thought, with his Internet not working and all his applications messed up. Finally, he tried messing around with his Windows CDs and accidentally wiped his PC clean. And when I say wiped, I mean he deleted all his files, his photos, his videos, his emails, everything. And guess what … no backup!

What he really needed was an external USB drive to backup things to. And it wouldn’t have cost the world either. I was looking at the sale on and saw a 1Tb Iomega Desktop Hard Drive for a whopping $129.99 (at least that’s the price this week). With a hard disk that size you can take backups as many times as you want, and even take a few extra just to be on the safe side. It even comes complete with a license for some backup software that’s designed to make your life easier. Setup should be no more complex than plugging in a cable into one of the USB sockets in your computer.

So Phil, next time may sure you have a backup!

Social Networks – Changing the way we work

I came across some great research into Social Networks carried out by Dynamic Markets on behalf of AT&T. They surveyed over 2,500 people from a variety of industries (from commissioning steel buildings to selling automated OS recovery packages) in 5 countries and here are some findings that they published:

Some things uncovered in the study include:

  • 65% of employees surveyed say that social networking sites have made them and/or their colleagues more efficient
  • 63% say they have enabled them and their colleagues to achieve things that would not otherwise have been possible
  • 46% say they have sparked ideas and creativity for them personally
  • External collaboration sites on the web and internal blogging sites (both 11%)

The Top 5 social networking tools being used as part of everyday working life are:

  1. Companies’ own collaboration sites on intranets (39%)
  2. Internal forums within the company (20%)
  3. Company-produced video material shared on intranets (16%)
  4. Online social networks, such as LinkedIn and Facebook (15%)

Leveraging Social Media

Leveraging Social Media

What do all these people love?

Yup, you guess it, we’re all big fans of Pringles. Ted Murphy from Izea posted to Twitter that he was looking for some Pringlish pictures for his presentation at Cincinnati AMA Digital Marketing Summit and he got responses from Drew, Corrin, Connie and yours truly. It was great fun to do and Ted’s presentation went very well. Here are some comments from the blogosphere:

From: R.O. Why! Marketing:

Ted gave some very helpful pointers on how to get started in the maze of social media opportunities. While we’re all caught up in traditional brand development and the interactive marketing programs we’ve always done, there’s an entire ecosystem out there right now of consumers, fans, critics and their conversations that happen whether we participate or not. It’s time to get involved, and to start influencing the conversation.

My key takeaways:

  1. Start listening -What is currently being said?
  2. Create some goals for your social media efforts
  3. Determine what content you can draw from -Text, video, photos, audio, etc.
  4. Find content you can capture -Customers, partners, employees
  5. Decide what you’re willing to share
  6. Choose your platforms
  7. Participate in other conversations, don’t just broadcast -The most important conversations may not be those you start. Seek out conversations about your brand & add value to them.
  8. Create your own storm of social media content

Really great event, and I think Ted’s talk helped make some sense out of the social media storm, and gave everyone a few clear steps to getting involved.

From The Future Value of Business:

Ted’s message about blogging was all about making a personal connection with your customers. Blogging allows a company to show its human side. A company no longer has to be just a name and a logo. A company blog shows your customers the passion, excitement and intelligence of the employees who contribute to the blog. The company now has feeling and a pulse. The company can now show their customers that employees are engaged, content, and willing to share their work experiences. Great Companies inspire Great Work.

From Pimp My Keywords:

His topic, “The Social Media Symphony” was subtitled “Harness the power of social media to drive traffic and sales.”

Far too many people are unaware of what social media means and Murphy explained it well pointing out that social media is a platform and distribution channels that provide scale to reach millions of people.

Consider this: Murphy said five years ago only a few people would have viewed a video of him snoring in the backseat of a car. Today, however, that video can be easily viewed by millions of people. The potential is unlimited.

Today, with Web 2.0, the difference is “social” and is now about people, conversations, interaction and community. A huge difference.

According to Murphy, the way social media works is to “listen.”

Listen for mentions of your company or brands. Understand what your customers are saying.

Listen for mentions of your competitors. And, listen for mentions of subjects related to your industry.

These “conversations” are happening at:

  • Facebook
  • Friendfeed
  • Twitter
  • Utterz
  • Plurk
  • Brightkite
  • Tailrank
  • Techmeme
  • Digg
  • Google Blog Search
  • Technorati
  • CoComment

Murphy added that once you have located a discussion, you need to conduct your research (Who started the conversation? What is their relationship with your firm? What is their goal?), then determine your goal and never ever go straight into a sales pitch.

While social media does take time (and who has “time” these days?), you have to start somewhere and do what you can to get involved and participate.

Sounds like it was a great talk. I wonder if the slides are available for download anywhere

Microsoft acquires Geenfield

Speculation is rife as to why Microsoft has decided to purchase GreenField Online, on online research company. The answer seems to be it that it was really after Ciao, a leading European shopping comparison website that has a large community of follower who shop and leave reviews on the site. This is due to the fact that Microsoft is really planning on selling off the Online Survey division (which incidentally contributes pretty much most of the revenue Greenfield makes) while retaining control of GreenField. They managed to beat another potential buyer (Quadrange) who also had their eye on GreenField.

This may seem strange, however when you consider that Microsoft is sitting on a massive cash mountain you can start to factor in that eyeballs are more important to them than cash. This acquisition gives them access to a European consumer market which they have struggled to penetrate. We’ll see how it pans out; some say that Microsoft will try and push their own products using Ciao, but I think they’re more interested in the audience than in promoting their wares. I would guess their first step would be to integrate Passport with Ciao to consolidate user identities across the two platforms.

The Joys of Scaremongering

According to a report I’ve just glanced over, 9 out of 10 websites are “sitting ducks”. The article lists a whole range of problems that websites ranging from Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) exploits to Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF). With such a range of issues most websites seem to have, it’s a wonder there’s any sites still around on the Internet!

Obviously, White Hat Security, the company who came up with the report recommends taking action as quickly as possible.

It’s reports like that that give security companies a bad name. It’s preposterous to claim that it’s only a matter of time before most websites will be run over by vermin and spontaneously combust. And if you don’t have alarm system monitoring you’d never even know about!

I agree with their assement, it would be good advice to follow:

.. finding and prioritizing all Web site properties by designating their importance to the business and a party responsible for their security; finding and fixing Web site vulnerabilities by assessing them for weaknesses with each code change; remediation of vulnerabilities done on a schedule based on severity; implementing a secure software development process using an organizational standard development framework; and implementing an in-depth Web site vulnerability management strategy.

But if I had to choose a company to supply my security services White Hat Security would be the last company I hire!

What is Link Bait?

Internet Gurus will know what it is, but many that are new to the internet an e-commerce will not.

What you have to do is:

Think of a topical piece of news, that concerns you and your readers.

They will return the link because they think it is interesting or funny what you have written.

This is one of the keys to getting listed higher in google or social networking sites.

Then link in all relevant parties who have been discussing this.

It could be a list of your favorite websites, or list of resources.

Then let people know that you are linking to them. Like this one to Owen