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I'm trying to improve my blog and have hosted a very short survey (4 questions, 5 mins to complete) that gets displayed when you arrive on my blog. Please complete the survey and I promise to share results both good and bad. I will use your invaluable feedback to improve my blog. I'm already getting wonderful feedback. Thanks dear readers!

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Mobile Trends: Part 2 of 2

The Silicon Valley Innovation Summit 2012 showcased some exciting mobile startups. Some of them are listed below:

Moxie: Tom Kelley, President and CEO introduced his company as a communication/collaboration space that helps companies connect with their customers through Moxie's channels such as email, chat, phone, etc. It is growing at 40% and what differentiates Moxie from other communication spaces is the management of internal and external communication to build a repository of business intelligence.

BAMMTV: Chris Hansen, CEO introduced BAMM TV as a music startup that is creating, distributing and monetizing music of HD quality content for 3 yrs. It is different form other music startups as it does not need major label licensing as the artists are not famous and upload their own music. Profit is shared 50-50 between BAMM TV and the artists. BAMM TV also has global distribution rights.

Infinigraph: Chase McMichael, CEO compared Infinigraph to comScore and Nielsen – it identifies which customers are most relevant and helps in content marketing intelligence and how much content to create. Some of its customers as seen in the examples below have used Infinigraph to identify what content engages their customers and when (time of day/day of week) is it most engaging.

My Life: Jeff Tinsley, CEO introduced My Life as an online identity management tool to manage all personal and professional connections. It also finds new connections.  My Life has basic free services and advanced subscription services.

There were many other interesting companies to watch out for - here is a list of the top 250.

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Mobile Trends: Part 1 of 2

On July 23rd, I attended the Silicon Valley Innovation Summit, 2012 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.  It was on mobile trends and touched areas such as cloud computing, mergers and acquisitions, SaaS services and upcoming mobile startups.

One of the panels was on mobile trends, how existing companies can reinvent themselves for the mobile space and what mobile models are likely to emerge. The panel consisted of the following mobile leaders:

Host: Aaron McDaniel, Sr. Director Business Development, AT&T           Sanjay Poonen, Head of Mobile Division, SAP AG, SAP                                   Martin Frid-Nielsen, CEO, Soonr         Laura Yecies, CEO, SugarSync          Kathleen McMahon, VP, Sales & Marketing, SoundHound                                                     Ty Allen, President, MokiMobility

Question: Where are we in mobile industry life cycle?

Sanjay: Of 200,000 SAP customers we have a fraction in mobility so early stage              Martin: at the beginning where we emphasize on ROI and mobile productivity                      Laura: slightly ahead in terms of penetration but not in full usage/diverse usage potential

Question: Where are the most exciting areas of growth?

Ty: evolution in different purpose filled devices – non traditional form factors – example: device to control a tractor                                                                                        Kathleen – auto industry as it’s the largest mobile network and quicker iteration cycles                                                                                                                           Laura – prefers purpose filled devices but wants to stick to standard devices that act differently for various purposes – efficient and less costly                                                                  Martin – word mobility means lots of things (people here have 3 devices – tablet, phone, laptop) so cut down on extras; opportunity most on tablets                                             Sanjay – managing mobile security and diverse complexity; apps reduce paperwork will increase but include better fun filled easy to use interfaces; example: pilots suitcases have lots of paperwork that can be replaced with an iPad

Question: How do cloud and mobile influence each other?

Laura- mobile driving cloud...thank you Steve Jobs for not putting a USB on the iPad                 Kathleen – cross platform connectivity is attractive in cloud                                            Martin- share across devices is critical and cloud does that; cloud ties all devices together       Ty- MokiMobility has found a niche between mobile and cloud but there are tons more that are not explored                                                                                                               Sanjay – build a cloud infrastructure first instead of later

Question: How do existing companies reinvent themselves?

Kathleen – songs were heard first then recorded then we had Shazam and now we have Soundhound                                                                                                               Martin – definition of work is changing – people now work on the train and from home so existing companies should leverage that; cultures influence mobile behaviors like Japanese either work or drink so mobile TV and karaoke apps do well there

Question: Should we think of global first or local first?

Martin – 2 models - build vertical and solve a needor try different use cases and pivot           Laura- Europe was a little behind 10 yrs ago when I worked at Netscape but now it's not like that. If you decide to wait someone else will move into those markets                                  Kathleen – global mindset is a no brainer but what features and strategies to grow is local                                                                                                                              Sanjay – correlation between mobility and population growth – China, India & Brazil – fastest growth will be through phone not tablet in highly populated countries

Question: How do you see AT&T act as a bottleneck?

Sanjay – AT&T should build a network in developing countries                                              Martin – look for shortcuts to market, build awareness                                                        Laura – cost, battery life, security                                                                              Kathleen- bottlenecks are actually in consumer brain bandwidth – consumers concentrate only on 7 apps so to stand out we need to really differentiate, deepen utility one app instead of 7 Sanjay – telepresence experience maps on iPad

Question: What mobile models will emerge?

Sanjay – willing to listen to new models – freemium or free. We should throw traditional models out– models based on traction, engagement on Facebook and Twitter that are adapted to mobile                                                                                                                         Martin – consumer vs. business – willingness to pay for things so that data doesn’t walk out with employees, models flexible to include how data plans evolve, mobile operators have tremendous opportunity, hardware people struggling so many models to include them.                                                                                                                                                                                 Laura- interest and business should be aligned.  Example: monetizing through ads not in consumer interests so not the best model                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kathleen- top line revenue and diversification is key- people will pay for a free version in the future if that is achieved

Question: What is your advice for mobile entrepreneurs?

Ty – look for opportunities that customers are always asking for                                           Kathy – be design driven                                                                                                   Laura – look for life trends – people spending more time with family, etc. and then design                                                                                                                         Martin – use a simple strong use case                                                                              Sanjay – watch how young use (20s) and how kids use mobile apps/devices and learn

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Five Critical Skills for Success

There are many skills required to be successful but if I had to choose the top 5 I would choose the ones listed below. My list keeps evolving as time goes by so the top 5 list as of today is:

Asking the right questions:  Usually you have 30 minutes or an hour to make an impression at meetings with peers or management. It could also be the 5 minute elevator ride with someone you would like to impress so I list this skill in my top 5. It gives good insight into the person's understanding of a topic, his or her logical structure, perceptions and creative thinking. More importantly, asking the right questions is a valuable skill that helps us move in the right direction in solving many problems or defining the right strategy at our work. It can help us avoid many roadblocks just by foreseeing  problems by asking the right questions and ultimately save us a lot of time by avoiding the wrong strategy.

Managing expectations: We all have limited time and limited resources  to do the work we do. Thus, managing expectations is critical to ensure client satisfaction, exceed manager expectations and more importantly, manage one's expectations. Communication is just one part of the equation. Managing expectations while dealing with uncertainty is another. Finding a harmonious work-life or balance or managing family expectations is the final part of the equation.

Selling an idea: Selling an idea or convincing someone of your viewpoint is another very critical skill. It requires you to build a strong argument using many methods (triangulation and usage of metaphors are two examples) and present it in a convincing way. I have told you about expert and referent power to sell an idea but there are other forms of power that could also be used - legitimate, coercive, rewards and formal. You could read more about them here.

Storytelling : We all love a great story and many a time a simple concept is sold in the boardroom because the story was powerful. The underlying message was highlighted with a story that resonated with its audience. A bag of relevant stories that can be carried to the boardroom or to happy hour will help in sealing the deal.

Creating Value: We all have an overall goal such as increase number of visitors to the blog and there are many ways to get to the goal - SEO, Social Media, Content Strategy, etc. The individual steps create value and help achieve the larger goal. The tough part is identifying which methods truly create the best value in reaching the goal. If we had to focus our efforts on one or two which would they be? In the example here, it may be simple to answer but with complicated goals and limited information this is a challenge.

Dear Readers, please send me your top 5 skills for success. I would love to hear about them.


7Ps to help you institutionalize user experience in your company

At some point a tech company decides it needs  a user experience team to champion the voice of the customer. The smart ones start this journey early as it is more challenging to institutionalize user experience in companies with a few hundred employees. The following 7Ps will help you institutionalize UX in your company:

Posters : Use posters to communicate the critical components of the UX message - UX principles, customer segments, etc. For example, Walmart.com had posters of its customer segments on the walls around the office to always remind its employees who they were designing for.

Process: Define the UX Engagement process. Usability.gov has a well defined design process. This may vary based on how departments are structured in your company, resources available and team dynamics but a process is a start to including all the critical elements of the user experience.

Procedure: Create standard UX templates to define the procedure to conduct a specific aspect of the UX. Usability.gov has many templates. For example, a  moderator guide or guidelines to conduct and write a heuristic report will establish a set of standards and improve the consistency and quality of work.

Protocol: Create a UX repository on the company intranet to educate everyone in your company about the UX team and their work, how to engage with them, what to expect, timelines, schedules, etc.

Publish: Get noticed in the greater UX community by publishing research and presenting at conferences. This brings visibility and credibility to the UX group.

Proof of productivity: User Experience improves the customer's experience in many ways. For example, it could reduce time, reduce help desk calls, increase enjoyment and trust, improve safety, etc. It is critical to measure this improvement in productivity to translate the value of the UX activity and to communicate it to employees and management.

Partner: This is the most important step in institutionalizing UX in a company. Unless you have a partner in upper management to rally around the UX cause this would be a very difficult struggle. It is critical to get support to ensure the message does not get lost and more importantly give UX the attention it deserves. After all, some of the top tech companies have made it their mantra. Google says "Focus on the user and all else follows" while Apple uses UX to drive its innovation engine.

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