Archive for July, 2014

The Tech, Logistical and Business Innovations of Internet 3.0

July 31, 2014


Throughout our age-of-personalization series, we reported on the evolution of the internet, with the 60s which brought on the decade of semiconductors, the 70s which was the era of the personal computer, the 80s, the with the prominence of networks, the 90s, the with the rise of the modern internet, and the 00s with the prominence of social networks, and asked the question ‘what will the next decade bring’?

As we pondered the question, while blogging, researching, interviewing and curating data through our series, we find ourselves focusing on identifying and supporting successful companies who are leveraging technology – networks, databases, aggregated information, sensors and processes –  people –  stakeholders and communities representing the voice of the customer – and processes – operations, logistics, methods and transactions, in order to more efficiently serve an ever more selective and discerning customer base, demanding the delivery of personalized solutions. This direction is both inevitable and pervasive, impacting industries ranging from retail to financial services, clean energy to healthcare IT, affecting all of us in every part of our day-to-day life, establishing a new reality.  The macro conclusions, observations and learnings to date are summarized below, with opportunity questions and comments.

Tech Innovations in the Age of Personalization

1. Data will only grow and get more complex. Yes, it’s about the data, we have oodles and oodles of it, coming out of our ears, detailing everything from our web search habits to buying and texting patterns, from time spent in a room to preferred heating temperatures, from average speed on freeways to average expenditure for each trip to preferred stores, in preferred months, at preferred times of day.

The key to adding value through data is to first capture and integrate data from multiple sources, generate an actionable report for targeted users, measure outcomes and impact, and correct as you go. Engaging a community will be key to generating data that is relevant and connect stakeholders who can work collaboratively to serve members of the community.

2. Sensors will become even more pervasive, not just in what-we-already see for everything from home energy monitoring to health diagnostic tools, but the integration of sensors between each other, and the embedding of sensors even within the body will change the way we live, work, play and think.

The standardization of sensor technology and the data generated from it will generate integration opportunities. The winners will be companies that can integrate multiple data input from sensors, sift out the noise of the data, and provide an actionable dashboard for paying users.

Logistical Innovations in the Age of Personalization

3. Companies that can efficiently deliver personalized orders to the door will reign supreme. Thank you Dell for revolutionizing the supply chain process, making it on-demand. Thank you Google and Amazon for raising the bar beyond that, and aggregating the delivery of products to the door so efficiently and conveniently.

The key to profitability is to aggregate standard, off-the-shelf products and deliver them in concentration urban areas, in relative frequency to ensure efficient and excellent on-demand customized orders are fulfilled with sufficient margins to command profitability for the organization.

4. With that said, there will be an opportunity for those who serve niche audiences and even rural locations. It will be difficult without the fulfillment centers of Amazon, the retailer relationships of Google, and the brand of both.

Perhaps SnapDeal, the largest ecommerce marketplace in India, can compete while focusing on another tech-philic and concentrated market. Perhaps other organizations can focus on high-volume, specialized, high-margin needs for another affluent niche market. Perhaps another successful company can focus on efficiently serving the specific needs for rural populations.

Business Innovations in the Age of Personalization

5. The way we look at revenues will change, and the lines will blur between transaction, membership, advertising, and subscription revenue models. The successful companies will find synergistic opportunities that will leverage the success of one revenue stream to fuel the momentum of another, while providing wins for all stakeholders. The key is not around the revenue opportunities, but about the way to better understand and serve the customer, the ability to build a community serving your customers, and creating that virtuous circle where serving communities and customers provides increasingly more value.

What can we all learn from the Amazon example: a $299 annual fee for Amazon prime, which includes free same-day and early morning delivery on grocery orders over $35 as well as free two-day delivery on select items, a free Kindle e-book lending library, and an unlimited video streaming through its FireTV solution.

6. The way we sell will be forever changed. No longer are we in an age of buying-what-you-don’t-need, with money-you-don’t-have, to impress people-who-don’t-care. Successful sales people will be more customer-oriented, more tech-savvy, more proficient with social media and communications in order to create communities and distribute information efficiently, more collaborative, working with other stakeholders internally and externally and more proactive, with a clear view of their value-add: understanding the specific needs of customers, and working to tailor solutions to address these needs.

What if we selected for people with this techno-philic, progressive mindset to lead our sales efforts? What if we successfully partnered these sales stars with marketing leaders to help them communicate the message to targeted audiences? What if we all sold, not matter what our title was? What will happen to those who can’t embrace this mentality?

7. Relationship management solutions will help people connect with each other, remember each other, and communicate with each other – for the benefit of both parties. Savvy professionals will also use these relationship management tools as communication platforms for their message and brand and target prospect and customer bases as well.

How are you using LinkedIn to grow your network and stay in touch with your network? How can Newsle help you keep tabs of members of your network who make headlines? How can LinkSV give you a bottom-up view of who’s who whether your target companies? How can each be integrated into your content curation and creation efforts? What new relationship management solutions and processes would be helpful to you?

The Needs of the Customer

8. Companies and people will find to elegantly navigate regulations and policies, making it seamless for the customer throughout the prospecting, sales, integration and support periods. In addition, savvy organizations will make it easier for customers to work with them, while remaining in compliance with their own regulations.

Navigating policies and regulations are inherently a part of local and infrastructure solutions, whether it’s related to city, state, national or international requirements. Making it easier for companies to provide and deliver service locally will drive the economic development for these regions. And leaders who welcome simplified procedures and processes leveraging technology to remain in compliance will support the development of regions and organizations alike.

9. Deputizing passionate customers to deliver products and services is an interesting new trend which may take off. Whether you are enlisting vetted passengers to become drivers as in the case of UBER or Lyft, or whether it’s creating pre-ordered, recipe-d, nutritious, customized meals through services like Blue Apron, the key is that local, talented people with time and desire are blurring the lines between customer and provider.

What if we brought this concept to healthcare . . . if doctors or nurses offered concierge services and even made house calls to check in on you or your aging parents?

What if you had an on-call tech support person to fix or configure your home network and entertainment systems?

10.  Delegating the small stuff will get BIG. If we’re all so busy between work and play and life, who will do the essential little stuff for us, from feeding the family to walking the dogs? We need not just a Siri on your phone who may answer your questions or add to your task list, but someone who might actually pick up a few items at the store, get the oil changed on your car, and make sure that the kids get from school to activities and back.

Technology can help calendar and coordinate and find the best resources, but it takes physical bodies to get things done, and competent, reliable ones to get them done well and efficiently, and business acumen to scale concierge services that would be attractive for busy professionals. 

Couple this need with the concept above of deputizing passionate customers and where’s the win-for-all business? How will it scale and continue to serve all?

In conclusion, as we emerge into the Age of Personalization, the leaders will be those who can cost-effectively deliver customized products and services to the door of discerning users, leveraging technology to collect and analyze data, and to optimize the distribution of same. Tech, logistical and business innovations will be core to that successful solution, and the focus on the customer will remain more important than ever.

E-mail us at with your thoughts.


Embracing Change

July 31, 2014


Change is a way of life, as inevitable as it gets. Sometimes it’s change you want and have pushed for. Sometimes it’s sudden, sometimes it’s welcome. Sometimes it’s long-overdue, sometimes it’s for the better. Regardless of what the change is and how it takes place, embracing and welcoming the change is a growth opportunity in general. Below are some suggestions for how to accept and integrate the changes in front of you, and integrate them into the next leg of your journey.

  1. Accept that nothing is permanent, that everything will pass, no matter how good or not-so-good it is.
  2. Push yourself to grow and evolve and change. Explore the uncomfortable, go for stretch goals. Consciously welcoming change will help you accept the changes that happen, regardless of whether you had a role in making them come about.
  3. Surround yourself with people that aren’t quite like you. Do things that stretch your horizons.
  4. Fondly remember highlights and accomplishments and think of current changes and challenges as a stepping stone to what’s next.
  5. Laugh when a life lesson keeps coming back to you, and you finally hear the message.
  6. Combine two disparate things in your life or connect two very different people in your life and see what new synergies arise.
  7. Surprise someone by doing something differently than you’ve ever done before. Do something backwards or sideways to get a new perspective.
  8. Pretend that an unwanted change is exactly what you were looking for, until it actually becomes just that.
  9. Remember times when unwanted changes winded up better than you had expected.
  10. Make the next change an opportunity to find the next new you.

May the next changes in your life lead to opportunities beyond our imagination.

Leveraging Social Media for Work and Play

July 12, 2014


FountainBlue’s July 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Leveraging Social Media for Work and Play. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives for our panel, women leaders representing marketing, strategy, management, diversity, and social responsibility. They are impacted by social media through their daily work and working with internal staff, executive management, as well as customer communities. Their vision and leadership drive social media successes for their companies, and they generously shared their advice and wisdom with the audience.

1. Social media will forever change the way we communicate – respect its power and its impact, and integrate it into your everyday work and play.

  • There is no avoiding social media. People will use it and develop an opinion and perspective because of how you and your company are perceived. So embrace it and learn how to integrate it into your daily life.
  • Communication is two-way and immediate – more a conversation than a mandate.
  • Impact is probably broader than you intended.
  • Impact is immediate and can spread rapidly.
  • Impact will probably live longer than you expected.
  • Messages will reach people you don’t know.
  • Whether or not you know someone, he or she will have an opinion of you based on what you communicate on social media.

2. Given the above, be strategic about how you leverage social media in work and in play. Make sure that the message is clear, is in alignment with your values and your goals.

  • Leverage social media to get the word out, cost-effectively, engaging communities strategically.
  • Know your audience and be clear what your message is to that audience, and what results and engagement you’d like from that audience.
  • Focus on the business objectives for the social media campaigns/messages and deliver measurable results.

3. Leverage the power of social media and the analytics behind it to amplify the voice of the customer, to translate their desires to your internal teams, to connect one with the other.

  • Know what you’re measuring and why. Communicate that to the right people and plan accordingly.
  • Don’t count on automation and reports for making judgment calls about the community and what they are saying.

4. If a social media message brings negative response:

  • Develop and communicate a social media triage plan.
  • Leverage your relationship with the people who are responding badly.
  • Understand where they are coming from, and make them feel heard.
  • Diffuse the situation.
  • Decide whether it’s best to take a conversation offline, respond directly, ignore it, etc.,

5. Respect the person delivering the message.

  • Don’t try to control or over-manage the way people communicate. Let her/him have an authentic voice.
  • Do help them keep in alignment with corporate policies and strategies.

6. Train your internal staff to embrace social media.

  • Have clear policies in place.
  • Set up templates.
  • Provide materials and examples.
  • Encourage execs to lead the way.
  • Leverage what they are already doing, already comfortable with to bridge into social media communications, brand and message.
  • Refresher courses and ongoing tips would help most people more successfully embrace social media.

7. Build engagement and involvement within the communities, connections across communities.

  • Nurture your most involved community members and convert them to become advocates.
  • Deputize members of your team to represent different perspectives in the community. For example, having developers manage developer communities would make sense.

8. What you say across social media platforms will impact your brand, how others perceive you, so be proactive about understanding, communicating and managing your brand.

9. Connect with a larger group of people – across generations, across cultures, through the power of social media.

10. Create campaigns that leverage the power of communities and social media to spread the word, while saving money and increasing impact.

The bottom line is that social media is not a fad, it’s here to stay, changing the way we communicate and connect with each other, blurring the lines between personal and business, between employee and customer, and broadening and expanding and engaging all.


Please join us in thanking our hosts at Visa and our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Leveraging Social Media for Work and Play:

Facilitator Natascha Thomson, MarketingXLerator, Co-Author of 42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing Book

Panelist Christina Gleason, Director, Global Digital Strategy, Visa Inc.

Panelist Pegah Kamal, Social Media Marketing Manager, Aruba Networks

Panelist Petra Neiger, Senior Director, Integrated Marketing, Polycom

Panelist Keren Pavese, Program Manager, Western Division Office of Sustainability, Community Outreach & Diversity Councils, EMC Corporation

Panelist Mary Anne Petrillo, Strategic Marketing and Media Partnerships for Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility