Archive for August, 2012

What’s Leading To Personalization for the Masses

August 28, 2012

Personalization2The technological advances of the past few decades have brought us into this age of information, where the masses have easy, affordable access to the machines and technologies and to information. Whether it is with the laying of network lines and infrastructure, or with the access to the global network of information provided by the internet and the web, or with the pervasive databases of information for everybody and everything, it is a given that the common, educated, civilized citizen lives in the information age with easy access to volumes of information, easy connectivity to others from all around the world.

But we’re arriving at a point where the common man has *too* much access to information, where the information is more noisy than useful, where we don’t know where to turn for vetted, trustworthy, unbiased information most pertinent for our immediate and long-term needs. And customers from around the world are beginning to understand how technology can help personalize solutions to specifically meet their needs. And they are raising the bar for what they want and when they want it. Empowered by the information age, and the access to communities through e-mail, the web and social media, the voice of the customer is now more prominent, more demanding and more immediate than ever. And as companies succeed in meeting these needs of each customer, and delivers personalized solutions cost-effectively, they are raising the bar for others within and outside their industry to do the same.

As discerning customers continue to demand customized solutions for their individualized needs, it is dramatically changing not just the way business works, but also the way that *life* works. In all previous historical eras, personalized needs were reserved for the elite few, at a high cost of money and energy. This new age will turn that thinking on its head: The masses will be the equal of the privileged, the solutions will be delivered cost effectively to an increasingly larger customer base.

What does this mean, and what should you watch for? My predictions are below:
1. Data will be more prolific and available and come from everywhere, but it will have less impact – unless it becomes filtered and relevant.
2. Cloud will house that data, but of course!
3. Security will be more important as we have more data and rely more on the information we get from the data.
4. The empowerment of the consumer will impact the direction of products and services even more than it has.
5. Not only will consumers impact offerings, but they will begin insisting that products and services get customized to their individual needs.
6. This will first happen as classes of customers, and next there will be increasing demands by individual customers.
7. Social won’t be just for social sake, there will be a business benefit.
8. Mobile will be increasingly more pervasive.
9. Only companies that can quickly respond to the needs of the customer will thrive in the next age. This has always been true, but with this age of personalization, there is less time to respond and succeed.
10. Only leaders and staff who understand how and why to deliver personalization to the masses will succeed.

  • Learn about FountainBlue’s Pivot-or-Perish Approach to advising tech leaders.
  • Find out more about FountainBlue’s Head-Heart-Hands approach to executive coaching.

Politics in the Workplace: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

August 13, 2012

FountainBlue’s August 10 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Politics in the Workplace: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a range of perspectives on the panel, representing women who have moved from small companies to large, those who have remained at the same company, those who have stayed in one area, and those who have shifted from one to another. The panelists agreed that politics was everywhere, a fact of life. It’s about relationships, about communicating and working with people, about power and influence, and getting access to the people who wield it. It’s about getting alignment between people to make things happen for a shared cause, and also getting that it can’t always be done in the current company, with the current people. It’s about always knowing your values, your skills and your passions, and always delivering your best to yourself, your team, your company, and engaging with others to move things forward.

One of the core messages from these accomplished women is that in a corporate setting, when politics goes on, you must be clear about the motivations of others, and work to align stakeholders on objectives to move things forward. This in general involves managing your moods and emotions, and facilitating fact-based conversations, and bringing in an impartial party if necessary to settle issues. The panelists were clear that you don’t always have to like those that you’re working with, but taking the high road and acting professionally and focusing on delivering results will help you navigate most political waters.

And at times when it doesn’t seem worthwhile to work within a team or company, our panelists concurred that you should seek other opportunities within and outside the company. For you can’t change what others think and do, but you have full responsibility and obligation to yourself to put yourself in a position where you can thrive. Having thick skin and emotional intelligence as well as experience and saviness will help you see the motivations for what people say and do, and how they do it. And connecting candidly with others inside and outside the workplace to discuss challenges may help you see things from a different point of view.

Below is advice for navigating these waters:

  • Always focus on being productive and communicating strategically about your results, working with key stakeholders.
  • In a world that’s moving and changing so fast, navigating politics is about understanding what’s going to happen and why, being open-minded, embracing diversity, being flexible about how things should now be done and why, and aligning your team to the new direction.
  • It’s important to be passionate and engaged at work, but you should not always bring your whole self to work, and review your vulnerabilities to everyone in the workplace. Use your judgment about whom you can trust to cross over between professional and business relationships, and treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself.
  • In environments of scarcity and stress, people don’t behave in the way they normally do. Be forgiving and accepting of others who made bad choices under difficult circumstances, but also be savvy enough to make sure that you’re not bitten twice by someone, or know when someone is going to be untrustworthy under any circumstances.
  • Be a leader and provide an alternative option when emotions are running high
  • It’s always about relationships. Make deep friendships and relationships, so that you know what’s going on.
  • Don’t necessarily be someone’s yes man, you want individual value and brand to stand out. Be direct, transparent, open and communicative.
  • Don’t play the blame game; try to figure out what went wrong and fix processes and systems rather than chewing out someone within the system.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff, but focus on the larger, more strategic outside-in-view in any politically-laden, emotionally-charged situation at work.
  • If you have been stabbed in the back by someone who now offers you an olive branch, see the intent of the offer (is it to apologize and help you both learn or to set up another bad situation for you), mend fences when possible (it’s a small world/industry/company/team, who knows what he/she will be to you next), forgive, but don’t forget.
  • Communication is key. You are never off stage, so be careful about what you say, what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and how communicate it, via actions, voice, e-mail, social media, etc. It will have implications for your political landscape.
  • To get into the ‘inner circle’, know who is making the decisions, who is in the know, how things get done and develop a strategy for how to connect deeply with these influential others.
  • Your team and company need to have a common vision and work toward a common purpose. If it’s not, then help them envision a common future and make changes so that you can get there together, being clear that those who can’t get from here to there will not be part of the team.
  • If the political situation compromises your values or better judgment, disengage and seek other options. But never make a career decision based on an individual as things can change and quickly!

In summary, politics as a reality, and some waters are bloodier than others. We hope that the conversation and learnings helps you on your course, and that you connect with others along the way.


  • Career Warfare: 10 Rules for Building a Successful Personal Brand and Fighting to Keep It by David F. D’Alessandro (Nov 24, 2003)
  • Executive Warfare: 10 Rules of Engagement for Winning Your War for Success by David F. D’Alessandro (Jul 7, 2008)
  • Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why: 10 Things You’d Better Do If You Want to Get Ahead by Donald Asher (May 1, 2007)
  • Cubicle Warfare: Self-Defense Tactics for Today’s Hypercompetitive Workplace by Blaine Pardoe (Aug 20, 1997)
  • Brand Warfare: 10 Rules for Building the Killer Brand by David D’Alessandro (August 23, 2002)

FountainBlue’s August 10 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Politics in the Workplace: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at eBay.

Facilitator Jerri Barrett, Vice President of Marketing, Anita Borg Institute

Panelist Peggy Abkemeier Alford, VP, CFO, PayPal North America

Panelist Sridevi Koneru, Director of Business Development, Cisco Services

Panelist Sandy Orlando, Vice President Marketing, IP Infusion

Panelist Amy Rubin, VP Marketing and PR, ArcSoft


Innovation Through the Ages

August 1, 2012

The Age of Personalization

Innovation is not something new; it has been with us through the ages, in fact, a deciding point in the pivot points for each age. And we are at the cusp of a new age, emerging from the age of information to an age of personalization. Over the next several months, we will feature blogs about innovation, and the emergence of a new age, which leverages technology – networks, databases, aggregated information, community – connected through online networks worldwide, and the needs of the customer – ever more selective and discerning to deliver personalized solutions in industries ranging from retail to financial services, clean energy to healthcare IT. Our first feature of the series provides an overview of innovation through the ages.


Innovation Through the Ages

When we look at innovation through the ages, we will see not just that individual innovations changed the lives of the people directly and indirectly associated with the innovation and community, but also that it impacted the culture, the thinking, and the way of life for the community, and the possibilities and possibilities for everyone.

Beginning with the Stone Age, when we first used tools, and the development of our brains, so as a more intelligent species, we have an edge over larger, faster, tougher competitors. Next comes the Age of Agriculture, when we learned how to plant, grow and store crops and domesticate animals. This age brought us from a nomadic, follow-the-herd, gather-along-the-way culture, to one that is more sedentary, one where we can delegate tasks, collaborate with tasks, and take more time and attention to non-essential needs.

Technological advancements of the Renaissance of the 15th and 16th Century included the advent of the printing press, which changed forever how we communicate, the origination of double shell domes and other architectural innovations which changed forever the type of structures we build, and the initial use of linear perspective in drawing, which, along with other innovations in art, changed our view of the arts and culture for all ages to come. In addition, the continual development of agricultural practices, which allowed fewer people to produce more food, and the appeal of the cities, and the breadth and appeal of other professions continued to draw people from the countryside into the cities.

And the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th Century brought additional changes in agriculture (production, harvesting and storage), manufacturing (mass production with great precision, interchangeable parts), transportation (steam-powered ships, trains, combustion engines), and technology (telephone, wires, electricity), amplified this trend, further facilitating the departure from rural communities to cities and towns. There was an unprecedented swelling of the population and additional transformation of the social, economic, political and cultural conditions.

Going into the 20th century, we look at the Atomic, Jet and Space Ages, and the science and technological innovations which made the creation and detonation of the atomic bomb possible, and the economic, political, social, ethical and other implications of the nuclear age. Scientific and technological advancements also ushered in the jet age, which facilitated the connection of people from around the globe, but stopped short of doing it at ‘jet speed’ for economic reasons, and the space age, which brought astronauts to the moon and safely back, and even now exploring the market demand and business opportunity if this can be done cost-effectively.

With the advent and rapid adoption of the personal computer in the late 1970s, the advancements in broadband, networking and cabling, the swelling techno-philic populations around the world, and the rise of the internet and its ability to inform and connect and facilitate economic and other transactions, we are brought into the Age of Innovation. Technology becomes a pervasive part of the daily lives of educated people from around the world, further diversifying economic opportunities for the masses, and changing the economic, political, social development for all communities, and people together from around the world.

With the continued rapid advancements in computer processing, in networking, in hardware, with the phenomenal rise of content and applications, and a growing global community demanding more information faster, with advancements in other technology-driven industries including clean energy, life science, and the demand from non-tech industries from retail to restaurants for more information to empower and serve a diverse client base, with current successes meeting the customized needs of a privileged few, and targeted solutions for niche audiences, we are evolving into an Age of Personalization, and this blog series will explore the drivers for this revolution, the solutions currently being offered, and the stories behind today’s successful leaders. Our next blog will be entitled ‘The Drivers for the Age of Personalization’, and a future blog will profile top ten categories for personalized solutions.