Monday, August 31, 2015

eCommerce Must Put Mobile First

In my mind there's no doubt that the main device to design a company experience for (both now and in the near future) is the smartphone.... especially as far is eCommerce is concerned. This is what Forrester calls "The Mobile Mind Shift" - the customer need to browse, buy and engage with a retailer vie their device of choice. And these days this is typically their mobile phone.

Consumers are increasingly demanding online experiences that work on any device at any time.  But with smartphone decision making and purchasing on the increase... the mobile web must now be the primary concern of any retailer. 

It's my observations that:
  • Regardless of where the customer is (at home, at work, on the go, in a store, etc.) they use their smartphone to shop. Sure, they may still use a tablet or desktop & laptop PC, but the mobile is what they have immediately to-hand... literally.
  • The customer is often either cautious about downloading retailer apps or doesn't update them often when they have them. This is different for essential apps they my use day-to-day (e.g. Social Media platforms) which preoccupy their mobile time.
So where does this leave a retailer that doesn't deliver a site that works correctly on the small screen?

Lagging behind.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Smileys, Emoticons and Emojis

Using just words to convey your thoughts or ideas can be difficult. It's even more tricky when you only have a small number of characters, such as when you send a text message or when you tweet & post to your favourite social network. How are those reading to know when you're being serious and when you have your tongue firmly in your cheek? 
Because you intersperse additional icons and images into your words. A smiley, an unhappy face symbol or something more complex. 

Back in 1963 Harvey Ball invented the smiley in an attempt to improve employee morale at The State Mutual Life Assurance Company in Massachusetts. Harvey was only paid $45 for the 10 minutes of work it took to create the design, but neither him nor his employer copyrighted the design. The idea blossomed and the little yellow smiling face he created have been used for many things including the symbol for the acid house dance music craze of the late 1980's (apparently by adopting the smiley face badge image from the 1986 graphic novel 'The Watchmen'). 

emoticons are a digital way to create Ball's smiley online my using plain text (they don't need a specific font or even a high resolution screen). 
Their use first occurred in September 1982 when Scott Fahlman a computer scientist using the Carnegie Mellon University message board first proposed that the two symbols :-) and :-( could be used online to distinguish jokes from serious comments.
The emoticon theme has been extended over time into creating other well-known symbols, such as one winking, one poking out its tongue and one being sick.

Despite looking similar, emojis are different from emoticons in key ways: 

- they are not created by using plain text to represent a face or other icon
- they are created when technology companies agree on a reference for an image
- they can be implemented slightly differently by each technology platform or smart phone operating system builder

Emojis haven't been around as long as emoticons. They were created in the late 1990's by the Japanese communications firm NTT DoCoMo. However according to a study from The University of Bangor, the Emoji is now the fastest growing language in the UK and evolving faster than ancient forms of communication, such as hieroglyphics.

Friday, August 14, 2015

News Corp Blames Digital Again

News Corp's CEO Robert Thomson has been out attacking Google, Facebook and Linkedin once more, this time accusing them of "Kleptocracy, Piracy and Zealotry".

Yes, the organisation that: breaks into voicemail, publishes fiction as truth and plays politics with its publications...has claimed that online social networks are spammers that help themselves to content without paying for it.

He also publicly stated that “The words Intellectual Property don’t appear in the Google alphabet."- but far be it for me to tell a journalist that you can make any words from the alphabet.

Thomson went on to further attack the new media sector by saying "None of them actually create content, and they certainly have little intention of paying for it, but they do redistribute the content created by others – they would argue that such redistribution is a natural extension of their role as social networks. I would argue that much of the redistribution is an unnatural act”

All this smacks of hypocrisy... especially given News Corp in 2005 bought MySpace, then a leading social network that in June 2006 surpassed Google as the most visited website in the USA... before watching over its decline and its sale in 2011 for less than 8% of its purchase price.

Also... given that News Corp has only recently decided to change the direction of its WSJ and Dow Jones publishing sector to focus on digital media efforts and that its own Social News Agency Storyful is responsible for finding and redistributes news stories (and apparently hiding Rebekah Brooks in their offices)... methinks they need to keep their insults to themselves.

Full story here: 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Finding Google Tag Manager a little hard?

I've worked with Google Tag Management System (also called GTM or Google's TMS) on several different client implementations and still admit to being a little confused by some of the more complex functionality. It seems that despite setting up a Google Tag Manager Fundamentals online training course and certification, it is still pretty hard to do anything beyond the basics.

Furthermore, with the recent introduction of GTM Version 2, things have been moved & renamed in the user interface.

Luckily Google seems to have appreciated this too and have got the people behind the product to star in a couple of short videos about it.

Hopefully these short resources will help.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Can a car have too much technology?

I'm a gadget fan and love my in-car audio or 'infotainment' systems, especially when they have a decent user interface.

However, the new Audi TT comes with some of the most impressive and also unnecessary computer technology I've seen... including a virtual cockpit that changes between views of dials to a full screen Google maps overlay.

It does therefore beg the question of whether a motorcar can actually have too much technology.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

That’s Not My Digital Strategy

Those readers who have read with their children may well be familiar with the “That’s not my…” series of books. 

For those who have not had this privilege, the repeated concept of every book is a series of pages that all say what something is not, in an effort to explain what something actually is.
e.g. “That’s not my Dog…(to a sheep)... it is too fluffy” or “That’s not my car…(to a space ship) it is too shiny”.

Given I have spent a fair amount of time on this blog, consulting and in other ways attempting to explain what Digital Strategy is and how to correctly implement it… I thought I’d adopt a different (and slightly more childish) approach and explain what Digital Strategy is not.

A New Website:
That’s not my Digital Strategy, because it is just the implementation of a customer-facing front end to your organisation.

A Business Transformation:
That’s not my Digital Strategy, because a business transformation programme has responsibilities beyond the implementation of the projects or work streams that deliver a digital strategy.

A Digital Platform:
That’s not my Digital Strategy, because although a Digital Platform can have the capability to provide online functionality across your organisation… it is not the thought & business case preparation beforehand nor the subsequent use and commercial measurement of that activity.

A Digital Marketing Strategy:
That’s not my Digital Strategy, because it is just focused around the acquisition and retention of online customers, not the whole concept around the delivery of useful features such as self-serve functionality.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Who Digitally Mentors Your Board?

I see a growing trend in many organisations (both large & small), where an increasing number of staff are becoming digitally savvy and utilising their online knowledge in their daily roles. But who is providing the necessary board-level guidance to a company? Who is equipping your senior team with the skills and advice necessary to drive forward the digital change?

It's not just a case of showing your CEO how to Tweet (her teenage daughter has probably already shown her how to do that) . It's a case of making sure the board and other executives have the capabilities & understanding to be able to seize the power that digital change can deliver.

In my experience & opinion there are four different approaches to providing these skills and experience directly into your C-Suite (A Chief Digital Officer, A Digital Non-Exec, A Change Director or External Consultancy). However each situation is different and in reality your solution to this may be a combination of two or all of them.

Whatever route is chosen, this injection of senior level capability typically has to help the company leaders through a fast-paced delivery of new products, services, processes and technologies.