Monthly Archives: October 2010

Thin Is In The Clouds – Apple’s Market Innovation, Execution, and the MacBook Air

Steve Jobs holding a MacBook Air (at MacWorld ...

Image via Wikipedia

Mark my words — The recently announced MacBook Air is going to be a game changer in ways that market analysts haven’t been speaking about.

We’ve all heard about cloud computing and the future being in the clouds, right?

Until the rise of cloud computing and resources, operating systems, utilities, etc. have been relegated to disc based delivery methods that have precluded innovation in technology hardware.  Laptop and Desktop manufacturers have been forced to restrain (or worse, refrain …) innovative prdouct development and launches because the delivery mechanism of software vendors was still in the proverbial dark ages of technology from the 1970’s.  If a manufacturer’s laptop or desktop didn’thave an optical drive then it couldn’t load software and be functional.

HP and Sony both introduced super slim, HD and SSD (solid-state drive) machines that lacked an optical drive in the early 2000’s.  (Great Article from Brooke Crothers here:  http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20020535-64.html ) These machines were bleeding edge technology that were expensive and lacked an install base potential market other than the early-innovators and early-adopters.  Cloud computing (whether Amazon’s Cloud or Red Hat or Rackspace, etc.) was in its infancy and software firms were wary of delivering their goods outside of traditional distribution methods like CD’s or DVD’s – thus the clund infastructure for software needed by the innovative HP and Sony hardware didn’t exist and the products were doomed for mass market failure.

5 years later …

Apple’s introduction of the Mac Air re-introduces the innovation to the marketplace and is priced for early-adopters and innovators once again.  Apple’s entry into this portion of the market fast tracks software manufacturers into the cloud (example:  Microsoft’s Office 2010 is available for download as the preferred method of sale and delivery) and sets the stage for deeper market penetration as the cloud infrastructure grows and a new service delivery model is adopted by leading software firms.  The fact that SaaS (Software as a Service) has been infiltrating the B2B market for well over a decade as a precursor solidifies the market adoption notion and readiness in the B2C or Consumer market.

Apple is not the innovator in this market.

In my opinion, Apple is the hands down, strategic execution leader in this market.  Apple let other manufacturer’s foot the R&D costs for this type of technology platform (via HP and Sony), waited for a B2C SaaS marketplace to exist (and created one virtually with the iPod and iTunes), and for economies of scale in manufacturing to lower SSD pricing to a level that would allow for mass market penetration. The iPad (entertainment and no keyboard) set the stage for B2C SaaS computing and the MacBook Air delivers the full experience (with keyboard).  Other manufacturers, including the market innovators like HP and Sony in 2004, are going to be in catch up mode for the next two years.

While Apple has superior innovation ability, the past decade has seen the company transition into a superior marketing execution strategy that was missing in the 1990’s.  It learned the hard way and nearly landed in bankruptcy by playing the innovation superiority card in the 1990’s and has found itself the darling of Wall Street and the envy of Fortune 500 Boardrooms and CEO’s by developing an execution strategy that had been delivered (near) flawlessly in the past decade.


QR Code Branding and Marketing – Say What?

Enabling consumers or candidates to actively engage with marketing collateral or messaging is the execution piece that many organizations completely miss.  A lot of time and money is spent developing social media strategy, marketing messages, and establishing or maintaining brand presence and awareness without thought to the opportunities to enable the sought after engagements!  Did you know that by 2012 or 2013, more mobile devices (phones, gaming devices, netbooks, ipads, etc.) will be sold than traditional PC’s?

While candidates and consumers will still be leveraging the Internet and will have access to marketing collateral on Search Engines, Facebook, Twitter, SEM, and PPC campaigns … the PLATFORM for engagement has fundamentally CHANGED.  Thus, the question … how are you executing your marketing strategy and enabling access to your content easily?  The secret is QR Codes.  QR codes galore!

Consumers and candidates can simply scan your QR code with their mobile devices and be taken to landing pages, social media sites, etc. – wherever your marketing campaigns or collateral resides.  And get this – you can track and measure everything.  What more could a marketer ask for?

Think of the possibilties from a personal branding perspective as well!  Rather than shooting resumes around via email or pointing people at specific URL’s like a LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Blog site, etc. – you can centrally store all of your contact points, information, and background (or CV) collateral in a central location like Gravatar  and allow people to choose which channel they’d prefer to leverage to interact with you.  And all they have to do is scan your personal QR code.  Nifty, huh?


I’m Going To Tell You A Personal Branding Secret

“No matter what you did.  No matter who you are.  No matter where you’ve come from … You can always change … Become a better version of yourself.”   – Madonna

Change is a very difficult concept to practice effectively.  While organizational change in our professional lives is an almost constant occurrence, personal change continues to be astonishingly difficult to embrace in practice.

Change is more than switching things up “a bit”.  Change is more than being different from the norm.  Change is an ability to reflect upon the past …  right now … as an opportunity to influence your future.

I’ve been influenced professionally and personally via conversations and interactions in the past few years that would never have occurred without technology like social media.  Our paths are bound together as the distances that have separated all of us in the past become shorter and shorter through social media interactions on a global perspective. For example, personal branding is a global initiative because of Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Google, etc. Your reputation and influence extend further than IRL (in real life) because of technology.

Change is globalization – at both an organizational and a personal level.  We need to think much further than outside the box in order for change to be effective – what’s beyond the box?

The secret is quite simply – knowing that what we were is no longer what we are and taking advantage of the global opportunities that now exist to re-create ourselves …  as a professional organization, as a local networking group, or as an individual.


Cebu Pacific Airlines Does The Safety Dance

Cebu Pacific Airlines is getting a lot of attention via viral videos featuring their pre-flight safety presentations from crew members dancing along to Lady GaGa, Katy Perry and Men Without Hats.

The amount of marketing exposure as news channels, blogs, Facebook friends liking, and Twitter users retweeting is immeasurable.  Out of nowhere, a relatively unknown air carrier from SE Asia has gained brand awareness in markets (like the U.S.) that it doesn’t currently service.  They have instantly gained attention in an overcrowded advertising space that is too often full of “me too” spots focused on price points.

I don’t know about you – but an advertiser that focuses on an interesting and unique value proposition (like setting the tone for a fun flight experience via Cebu Pacific’s ads) instantly garners not only my attention – but the attention of an audience that is willing to try a new product or service based solely on differentiation of the experience associated with the brand. Cebu Pacific could expand into routes outside of the Philippines, China, etc. based solely on social media viral ads like this and be successful. Seriously!

Bonus Point #1: The fact that this attention is coming ahead of an IPO?  You can see the dollar signs getting ready to add up.

Bonus Point #2: The passengers are engaged for the entire safety presentation.  That doesn’t happen in the U.S. – ever.

If a U.S. airline embraced something DIFFERENT like this system wide it would be a game changer in the industry.  I’d love to see Delta Airlines or United Airlines or Southwest Airlines start having some fun again.  Check out the video:


Social Media Lessons From Africa

 

A social network diagram

Image via Wikipedia

 

“In Africa, wealth is counted not only in currency, but in the number of people to whom you are closely linked.  The idea is that in times of need there is reliability within your social network – that within networks, members will aid one another on request.”

… J. Fadiman (1994)  “African Management Principles:  An Overseas Marketers Guide”.

Remember the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon deal from a few years ago?  In principle, we are connected or interconnected to everyone on the planet within six links or degrees. This is interesting – but how are U.S. businesses acknowledging this as they pursue globalization or simply look to grow revenue stateside?

The rise of social networks like, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo! Groups, etc., presents an interesting dichotomy for U.S. based businesses.  The U.S. is long steeped in quantitative measurements in the short term while most of the world outside of the EU focuses on long term qualitative measurements of success or wealth (like Africa in the quote above).

The true value of human capital to an organization must include the wealth of knowledge and interconnections that lay outside the typical organizational structure and within social networks.  It is within these diverse personal and professional networks that interactions and  engagement  occur and from which an organization can benefit from a robust knowledge base (for a knowledge based economy) rather than limiting the full organizational value of human capital.

The measurement of success can be quantified only if the qualitative aspect is appreciated.  Too often U.S. businesses fail to understand that embracing the qualitative will lead to quantitative success and find themselves on the periphery of true network engagement (as depicted in the picture above).  Organizations that do not leverage social media or social networking in the same manner that the telephone, internet access, etc. are utilized have artificially limited their quantitative success in both the short and long term.


The Shift Has Hit The Fan (Atlanta Style)

I’m looking forward to speaking at SHRM Atlanta’s Annual Conference in less than 2 weeks!  I’ll be presenting an updated version of “The Shift Has Hit The Fan”  which details a variety of significant shifts (organizational, workforce planning, human capital acquisition) that have occurred specifically in the field of Human Resources over the past couple of years and where the shifts will continue to occur in 2011 and beyond. Click the picture to check out the rest of the agenda and to see who else is speaking.

 

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Marketing Engagement = You Really, Really Like Me

We’ve all been enamored with bright shiny objects or flashy this and that at least once in our lives.  Yes, even the so-called experts in social media strategies can be led astray by something as simple (yet, flattering …) as “followers”.  Who doesn’t want to be the “popular kid”, right?  Social Media has re-introduced the concept of the high school popularity contest via the ability to actively garner and publicly display the amount of your social media platform followers in a B2C or B2B environment.

Question:  How many of your followers on Twitter are contributing to the conversation?  How many of your Facebook fans are posting wall comments or recommending your company to their followers?

From a true strategic perspective – who cares how many followers you, your brand, your company, your whatever has?  I immediately question the validity of social media marketing efforts if the number of followers is mentioned as the first criteria for success.  Social media is a significant opportunity for consumer, candidate, or client engagement.

Engagement leads to revenue.  Engagement leads to a succesful new hire.  Engagement lands new business.

It’s the quality versus quantity game.  Active and Passive engagement (discussed in a future post) need some degree of interaction that leads to an action.  And yes, you do need both types of engagement but I digress.  5,000 or 5,000,000 followers doing absolutely nothing in return to push marketing efforts = nothing more than an immeasurable branding exercise. 5 or 500 followers consistently interacting with your company, your brand, or simply YOU = opportunity … whether personal or professional.

And yes, it’s that simple. IMO.  Your thoughts?

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