Quick question: What do digital strategies and bankruptcy filings have in common?
Answer: Nothing, except that if you don’t have the former, you’ll likely end up with the latter. Don’t believe us? The list of companies that have “reorged” during the last four years is a veritable who’s who of entities that failed to make the leap to digital.
In retail, think Thomasville/Lane Furniture, Brookstone, and Loehmann’s. In education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Cengage Learning. In publishing, Gatehouse Media and Reader’s Digest. In manufacturing, Kodak, Exide, Oreck, and Hawker Beechcraft. Even in the technology world we saw two pioneers fall: SSD maker OCZ and venerable video game creator Atari.
Some blame the recession, but technically that’s been over for two years. In fact, if you strip out the real estate and financial firm bankruptcies typically associated with the downturn, most sectors are trending up. However, there’s a catch and caveat. Retail, manufacturing, distribution, publis
A recent Yeoman study of over 1,500 items sold on Amazon from a leading US manufacturer found a whopping 70% contained errors or did not follow Amazon’s best practice recommendations for providing product details. This study further showed the same level of inaccuracy on Google and Bing product searches. This is a maddening problem that plagues manufacturers in every industry. Once a product is “out there,” resellers, partners, distributors and reviewers end up shaping and revising the product details that your customers are going to use to make their purchase decision.
Products sold by Amazon definitely had better data quality, but less than 4% could be considered 'optimized' with the proven best practices for any item:
- Descriptive title at least 50 characters long (including brand, purpose, color, and set/quantity info)
- Multiple images of product
- Bullet/summary list of product features
- Complete description that includes product benefits, usage instructions, what's in the box, and e
Haptics (touch) technology has been around for a while (think about how you can "feel" the buttons vibrate when you tap on your smartphone), but now is being developed with more real time control and feedback between fingertip and touchscreen. Companies like Tanvas are finding new uses for this technology. Tanvas Touch allows the user to "feel" different textures - such as grainy, silky, wavy and more - on a smart screen. It has also been used to simulate different fabrics, wood, stone and grass. Users have reacted differently to this - with some being very impressed and others "not feeling it" as much. Haptics technology could have a lot of really neat applications - it could allow users to "feel" fabrics before they purchase clothing online, it could be used in immersion gaming, and it could also be used to help the visually impaired when they use smart technology. It will be interesting to see how this technology develops over time and what new applications people create for it.
Amazon continues its growth as a 'product search' site, but revamping its popular affiliate program. This program let's websites link to Amazon and get a commission on sales. Not only have their made it easier to link, they've also updated their API and created a set of responsive ads that can flex with the user (ex below)
Researchers have discovered a way to create biocrude oil from human waste. Hydrothermal Liquefaction (HTL) mimics the geothermal conditions Earth uses to create crude oil - applying high pressure and temperature to raw sewage - they can create biocrude in about 45 minutes. The biocrude can then be refined to make gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. Scientists estimate that HTL could produce up to 30 million barrels of oil per year.
This is a pretty amazing concept and an interesting way to reduce and recycle human waste. We don't know yet what size or scale this technology could be applied to - if it would only be used at wastewater treatment plants, or if it could eventually be used in homes. And I have to wonder...how does this new fuel smell when it's burned in an engine?
This new source of alternative energy could be ready as soon as next year.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner, so it’s time for manufacturers to do a prep-double check. Most manufacturers are thinking "my job is done, it's all up to retail and my partners". Think again. Today original manufacturers can make a major impact on holiday sales - regardless of whether you sell direct or not.
It’s not too late! There are still a few key things you can do to help boost holiday sales.
1. Make sure your main website is ready for prime time
A recent study found that 65% of shoppers visit a manufacturer's direct website to research a product prior to purchase. Your website needs to present your products in a clear, salable, format—whether you take sales or not.
This starts with polishing your product details. A full 70% of manufacturer sites we’ve studied have missing or inaccurate product information on the main site. This includes everything from inaccurate specs to missing images and even missing products. The time is NOW to do an audit and g
At the moment, if you perform a Google search from your phone or from your computer, you'll see the same results. But in a few months, the company is set to launch a new mobile search index that will be more up to date than the desktop index (mobile pages will be indexed separately from desktop pages). It means that mobile and desktop searchers will end up seeing different results.
It also means websites and online publishers will have to make sure their sites are mobile friendly, if they want to be properly indexed by Google.
We’re always looking for efficiencies and steam-lined workflows to save time, be more productive, and stay organized. CRMs are designed to help us, but how do you get the data in so that you can effectively manage your leads and customers?
A company called Vision-e makes a few plug-ins for Salesforce that may help, including a map feature and a business card scanning solution. The map feature allows you to organize your contacts on a map to effectively plan your travel schedule. The scanning solution allows users to scan business cards, QR codes, bar codes, etc and have this information upload into Salesforce (one report states that 88% of business cards never make it into your CRM, making it pretty challenging to keep track of your contacts).
What do you use? How do you organize and manage your business contacts?
The demand for software engineers in the US is forecast to be 1.4 million within the next decade and only 400,000 trained people to fill them. Companies are trying to fill the gap by importing foreign trained graduates (H1-B visas) or shifting operations outside the US. 3 Venture Capital firms (Trinity, AME Cloud and Partech) have invested in the Holberton School, a 2 year program training future software engineers.
At the Holberton School, there are no formal teachers and no formal courses. Instead, project-based and peer learning is used. It is a physical school, open 7 days a week, located in San Francisco. Holberton School is open to anyone, whether a high school graduate or not. No programming experience is required. There is no upfront tuition cost or fees. Instead, they charge 17% of your internship earnings and 17% of your salary over 3 years once you find a job.
Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) are coming to a vehicle near you! HUDs were originally developed for military aviation, but are now being designed for consumer use.
Hudly is one company that has created these devices. It works by connecting with your phone, then projecting the phone’s video output onto a transparent glass mounted on your windshield. So information from your phone will appear in your line of sight, and you will still be able to see the road in front of you because Hudly is transparent. You can then use voice commands to access and control the data you see.
This is an interesting concept because – in theory – it reduces distracted driving by putting the information at eye level and helping us keep our eyes on the road. However, it is another gadget for us to fool with and be using when we should just be focused on driving. Hudly works with iOS and Android and will work on all cars with an OBD2 port or a cigarette lighter adapter.
You can read more here:
My kids love Legos and they love playing on the computer. Big companies are looking to the future and are training today’s kids to be tomorrow’s programmers by combining these two ideas. There are lots of fun coding programs for kids available online, but now there are coding kits children can use with iPads that teach the basics of coding using building pieces that are placed manually. These pieces interact with an app that runs what they created on the screen. The building process works similarly to Legos and engages the children by using more of their senses than if they were just using a computer.
Below are a couple examples.
OSMO is available now: https://playosmo.com
Scratch (MIT) + Google is working on a prototype:
Nixie is the brain child of a Google Alumna and a PhD in experimental physics. This small camera-equipped drone is worn around your wrist, and can be quickly deployed to capture you and your besties at your best. When activated, Nixie unfolds into a quadcopter, that flies away from you (in one of its pre-programmed modes) to take photos or video and then returns to you when it's finished.
Even though this is a high-tech gizmo the likes of which neither Dick Tracy nor Jean-Luc Picard ever dreamed of, the company is going with a classic/throwback venture capital fundraising model to get it to market.
It will be interesting to see if they change it up and opt for a pre-order scheme to raise money when they are closer to launch.
If you were going to launch a new product, would you go for a kickstarter campaign or hit the fundraising trail?
What do you think about pre-sales as a fundraising technique?
Join Yeoman Technologies Mike Healey on Thursday March 17th for a VentureBeat roundtable webinar on Marketing Cloud systems. If you're like most marketers, your marketing cloud probably looks more like a Google spreadsheet. And that's a shame. Marketing clouds offer feature-rich platforms to deliver a complex and fully fleshed out marketing team experience. Essentially, they do the heavy lifting for you. But marketing clouds are pretty new -- and we're not seeing a huge penetration right now, partially due to a layer of complexity that could be off-putting to some. But the marketing cloud landscape is changing -- and if you're clever, you'll want to get in on the ground floor.
Marketing clouds encompass smart emails and SMS messaging; social targeting; integrated call center and customer relationship management (CRM) support; data-supported marketing; smart apps, and more. Because they incorporate all data an organization knows about each customer, these cloud-based solutions empower
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