Shazeeye's Blog Thoughts on User Experience, Technology and Business

31Dec/101

Useful Frameworks to Drive your Business Strategy – Part 1 of 2

Over the past year I have learned a few useful business frameworks that can be applied to any industry. I have divided this post into two parts as it would be too long to fit 8 frameworks in one post. Each framework is explained with a case study. All case studies were done as part of my MBA coursework at University of California, Irvine and are not endorsed by the companies mentioned in these two posts on business strategy.

What is business strategy? Business strategy is about planning how an organization will achieve its goals; about winning; choosing activities different than rivals; deciding where to compete and how to compete

1. Porter's Four Corners Analysis: This framework is used to understand your company's drivers, assumptions, current strategy and capabilities (4 corners) as well as your competitors' strategies and thus better position your future strategy. Future strategies can be based on a specific scenario or a specific market. For example the case study below analyzes GE's strategy to win the contract for China's Smart Grid (specific market). The second presentation shows how GE would change it's strategy if  China decides to own 33% of all GE's Smart Grid patents (specific scenario).

2. Judo Strategy: This is a market entry strategy and how to win against bigger competitors with agility and nimbleness, hence the name Judo Strategy. Its typically used by smaller companies who value skill over size and strength. Large companies use it to unite superior skill to move into new areas where powerful opponents exist.

3. Network Effects: This strategy is specific to the hi-tech industry. The value of the product/service increases as more people use it. The size of suppliers (one side of the network) influences the size of consumers (other side) and thus the value of the network. For example, increasing the number of games/applications built for the iPhone was one reason for the increase in iPhone users when compared to other phones. This also applies to Groupon - more restaurant tie -ups = more consumers compared to other location based advertisers.

4.  SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for a company gives a good overall picture of what internal and external factors to capitalize on and what to watch out for. These reports for almost every company are already available on Datamonitor (online database of company reports, news, etc) but if you don't have access to such reports you can always create your own. Google's SWOT Analysis from Datamonitor is available on the right.

Frameworks 5-8 can be read in the next post.

28Nov/104

Networking 101: How to market yourself to get the job you want

As my job search intensifies so do my learnings on what works and what doesn't. I'd like to share a few things that have worked so far.

1. Do what you love: It's tougher to market or sell a product you don't believe in so if you're marketing yourself love the work you do. Most importantly, people will find you if you are great at your work. It helps to surround yourself with family and friends who also share and reinforce the same beliefs. I'm deeply grateful to my family and friends for their support.

2. Face-to-Face Networking:  Events, conferences, association meetings and alumni gatherings are some ways to network in the real world.

Events and Conferences that I've attended recently: ProductCampSocal, Health 2.0 (saved $1000+ in registration fees by volunteering) and SVPMA. One that I would have loved to attend but couldn't afford was Web 2.0.

Associations I belong to: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Usability Professionals' Association, American Telemedicine Association, Silicon Valley Product Marketing Association and Girls in Tech. I try to attend as many meetings as I can as I always learn new things and meet new people. I've listed some tips on networking below:

  • Start with family and friends as emotional investments have high pay offs. In my class at business school more than 75% of students said they got a job due to family or friends.
  • Real world interactions are powerful and do not substitute online interactions.
  • It is important to stay in touch not just during the job search but at other times too as on average a person looks for a new job 4 times in his/her career.
  • Before an event or conference go prepared by learning about the companies coming to the event and the jobs being offered in that company. Select the ones that interest you so that your time at the event is used efficiently. Use some of the tools listed below to differentiate yourself from the competition (example: business card with target position that interests you).
  • Follow up with a thank you letter or a reminder. Don't forget to thank the person who helped you get in touch with your contact. If there is one thing to take-away from this post this is it.

3. Online Networking: Networking online helps you meet many more people in a specific time frame compared to networking offline and it's free. The best part is that you can target your search to groups you want to attract. Some effective ways to attract online traffic are:

- Write a blog so that people can read your thoughts. It also helps to comment on blogs (remember to add a link to your blog with the comment) in the same industry and thus redirect their traffic to your site. This gives you access to at least 200 readers/month.

- Write a column or an article for an online magazine. For example, my article will be published next month in UXMatters. This gives me access to at least 5000 viewers/month with similar interests.

- Use Twitter and LinkedIn to direct traffic to your portfolio or blog. This is very effective as approx. 20% of the traffic to my blog is from Twitter and LinkedIn. Ensure that you are adding the right people and that you have frequent updates to get the most from these social media channels. TweepSearch and Twitter Analyzer are a few Twitter tools to help you target and monitor your traffic. I always add the people I meet offline on LinkedIn. You could also use LinkedIn's  job and people search to add people to your network.

- Show up in the top 3 searches by improving your ranking on search engines (Google, Bing, etc). You can do this by getting a custom URL on LinkedIn (in Edit Profile>Public Profile>Edit) and adding targeted keywords under specialties (see mine). If you have a blog you can do a lot more. A few suggestions are add your blog to LinkedIn and write posts such that your content (words) reflect what people are looking for in your industry. Google's Webmaster tools shows you a list of keywords (left column in image) that people type into search engines to come to my site and the right column shows the most relevant keywords on my site. Thus, you would tailor your content accordingly. Add plugins such as All in One SEO Pack to your blog so that people find your blog in the top 3 search results. In my case, I have used my name as a unique keyword for my blog to ensure I come up in the first 3 search results.

In my experience the success rate of getting an interview is as follows: Online job sites (1 in 15), LinkedIn job application and follow up with a recruiter from that company or an employee at that company (1 in 10), conferences or events with recruiting booths (1 in 10), asking a friend or family who works in a company that interests you (1 in 5). My estimates may be conservative and the numbers change depending on recruiting cycles and macro economic factors.

Tools to help you: Blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, follow up log (excel sheet with names of contacts to follow up with respect to positions I've applied for and I use Google Docs to share it with people in my support group-very helpful), support group (people to keep you motivated when things look bleak especially in this economy-very important), business card (I usually add the position I'm interested in - great value add and it indicates you've done your due diligence), resume, cover letter and visual resume.

All the best if you are looking for a job or plan to in the future! Feedback is appreciated.

12Nov/104

Web Analytics to Track your Blog

This post is dedicated to my loyal readers! Thank you for patiently waiting for each post (yes I know it's just 2 posts/month). So the question is how do I know I have loyal blog readers? I know because I am tracking my blog with software and I'm here to tell you about it. As of now all the tools listed below are free and the scope of this post of this post is limited to free blog tracking tools. Let's get started!

1. Google Analytics - my favorite free blog tracking tool as it has a wealth of information. With this tool you can answer the following questions.

Content metrics: Which posts interest my readers? Which posts do they spend more time on? Which posts do not interest users? For example, the image on the right shows content metrics for the first month of starting my blog. Readers were most interested in my portfolio (most page views) followed by my bio (about me) and the post on 'trust and e-commerce homepages'. A further look shows  that the post on  'listen to your customers' was not as highly viewed (22 vs. 81 views) as the post on 'trust and e-commerce homepages' but readers spent more time on 'listen to your customers' (4.17 minutes vs. 1.39 minutes) and it had a lower bounce rate (bounce rate= when someone immediate leaves the page/blog after they have come to the post) which is also a critical metric of interest. Bounce rates below 30% for any post or blog are preferred as it means your audience is engaged in your content and is not leaving the blog. Bounce rates can also be high if the audience is not your target audience though your content is good. Page Analytics shows  readers clicked (in pink on image above) on my blog's home page more than my portfolio and bio page. This will help you understand which links get more attention from your readers.

Traffic sources: It's equally important to monitor your traffic sources to attract traffic as it is to write great content. A summary of my traffic sources for 3 months (since my blog's birth) shows organic traffic (readers who type my name in a search engine to come to my blog)  and direct traffic (readers who open a browser and type my blog address) to be highest which is natural. I also get traffic from social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Stumble Upon and Hootsuite) and Blog directories (Blog Search and Blogged). The more effort I put into finding channels to send traffic to my blog the better my outreach but I should also be aware of targeting the right audience through these channels. For example, the bounce rates and average time on my blog indicate LinkedIn, Facebook and Organic sources to be good traffic sources but Twitter and direct traffic to not be good traffic sources. This could mean I'm not attracting the right audience on my Twitter and my readers want more frequent updates on my blog as they have nothing new to read other than the 2 posts/month. It's also important to monitor  the keywords that readers put into search engines to come to your blog. For example, the image above shows the keywords and the corresponding times spent on my blog. Google Adwords (not shown) identifies which keywords people most search for in my field.  Once, I identify these keywords I can tailor my content accordingly and thus get more traffic.

Visitors: My blog has about 50% new and 50% returning visitors. I am extremely interested in 2 metrics: visitor loyalty and visitor depth. The images below indicate that I have a loyal following and 70% of my readers visit my blog 8 or more times. 55% of my readers read 2 or more pages on my blog. Thank you my loyal and interested visitors!

2. Bit.ly- This tool measures the number of readers who clicked on a link that you shared. You could share this link on Facebook, Twitter or your Blog. The link could be an image, a link to a blog post or a video. For example, of all my links that I have shared on Twitter, Facebook, Shazeeye's Blog or LinkedIn the link that got the most interest (maximum clicks) was the one on "25 Most Influential Business Women in San Francisco" that I shared on Twitter (@shazeeye).

3. PercentMobile- a critical tool to monitor your mobile traffic. I have not done well in this area and I'm changing that immediately. For example, I had 39 visitors who came to my blog last month using 6 different mobile devices and unfortunatley as my blog was not easy to read on the mobile device 97% left immediately. I lost important traffic. Though I use a free wordpress plugin - WPtouch- to make it easy to read on a mobile device it has not worked well for me so I've finally decided to buy my first tool -WPtouch Pro.

4. Google Feedburner- measures the number of subscribers to your blog.

5. UserVoice- moderates and tracks user comments at a post and page level on your blog. These will be the orange tabs you see near my portfolio and bio page. Now that it's established that this blog has a few fans do you want to show me some love and post a comment using the comment form below. Thanks!

Where can I find these tools?

Google Analytics, Bit.ly, PercentMobile, Google Feedburner, Google Adwords and User Voice

Instructions to add these tools?

Google Analytics, Bit.ly, PercentMobile (sign up and it guides you through the process), Google Feedburner, Google Adwords and User Voice

If you know of any tools that I forgot to write about please let me know.

16Oct/100

SlideShare 2.0: The future of business-related collaborative tools

Although this project has been added to my portfolio I thought it was also worthy of a post. I spearheaded this project but its success is every bit a team effort.

Web 2.0 tools have done a great job in the social context (Facebook, Yelp, etc.) but not much in the business context. I created an evaluation tool (see below) with features that can also be applied to business-related, collaboration-dependent situations. For example, employees working on a PowerPoint presentation across many functional departments can add comments to a group presentation they are working on or add a new slide to the presentation or comment on others' comments.  I believe this tool to be the start of business-related collaborative tools. Possibly even SlideShare 2.0. Let me take you through the tool and give you some context as to how the idea came about.

At Infosys, the company I worked at before joining business school, the usability group was evaluating about 100 websites every year. Around 3-5 designers from a pool of 30 would judge the compliance of a website with regard to certain usability guidelines. For example,  one issue with a website could be the shopping cart button is not on the top right corner of the website violating user expectations. This process required 3-4 designers to evaluate the website individually and then collaborate their findings together in the form of a  heuristic evaluation report and mail it to clients. Some issues with this process were that it was time consuming, there was an overlap in identifying issues and there was a lack of consistency in terms of wording the issue. Thus, came the idea to develop a collaborative evaluation tool. Over 3 months, we gathered a lot of requirements, prioritized and developed the requirements and tested it over and over again with designers, clients viewing the reports and admins of the tool. The presentation (may need Firefox to view) and the video below should give you a fairly good idea as to how the tool works.


11Oct/102

Health 2.0 conference: Top 3 promising health 2.0 companies

I attended the Health 2.0 conference on Oct 7th in San Francisco. I would like to share with you my top 3 promising health 2.0 companies. Unfortunately, my views on this post could be biased as I only attended the first day of the two day event. The conference was an eye opener to me not just because of the sheer number of disruptive healthcare startups out there (Health 2.0 tracked 850 companies over its past 4 annual conferences)  but also because of the strides taken in empowering the patient.

So, what is Health 2.0? The shift from traditional in clinic, doctor-dependent healthcare to patient empowered healthcare via web-based and mobile technologies that harness collective intelligence and predictive analytics of user generated communities. Of course, with disruptive technologies that challenge the norm, its only a matter of time when an integrated solution for all these different platforms would provide a more comprehensive solution. I look forward to health 3.0 and the convergence of such platforms.

Coming back to the promising companies at the conference:Health 2.0, Wellness

1. Unity Medical's Health Risk Assessment (HRA): I chose this for 2 main reasons- first, it addresses the wellness market and second, its personalized health recommendations and innovative data collection method using video transforms patient engagement and education.

The wellness market is aimed at keeping people healthy and disease free. It's a huge market and is what healthcare should be about -keeping people healthy and not healing people after they fall sick. Basically, the tool utilizes a female guide that alks to you through video to collect some basic  health information thus increasing participation and ease of use by transforming a boring process of collecting information (usually with a form in traditional methods) into a more engaging process. The information is then processed and a set of personalized recommendations are given to you. This should increase patient engagement and reduce the burden on traditional methods of patient education. It's also iPad compatible and customizable for doctors that want to collect specific information.

2. Sharecare: Jeff Arnold, the creator of WebMD, has started Sharecare, a new venture, with Dr Mehmet Oz. SharMatt Holt, WebMDecare, according to Jeff, is the "next generation of WebMD". The value of Sharecare comes from a 3 tiered pyramid. At the top lies the user communities answering questions related to 47 nodes ranging from allergies to women's health. In the middle lies the greatest value of Sharecare which is the power of the Sharecare network. Jeff has signed celebrities such as Dr. Oz, authors, powerful health groups such as the American Diabetes Association, local hospitals such as the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Industries such as Walgreens and Colgate. They help in providing quality content to the questions while establishing their brand through a Facebook-like page dedicated for each of them to add videos, user testimonials, etc. At the bottom of the pyramid is the accessibility of this service which is spread through mobile applications and extensive sharing and search supported features.

3. HealthLine: I chose this company for its innovative method to educate consumers. Healthline has collabor3D health visuals to empower consumers to make better health decisionsated with GE to provide visually enriched stunning 3D visuals of how diseases affect the body. These videos make medical jargon easy to understand empowering consumers to make better health decisions. Healthline's health map is a visual search tool to better navigate the vast resources on the site. You can even customize and add notes to the medical information on the site.

Some other companies that piqued my interest:

- MedHelp: builds health related mobile applications such as I'm Expecting (to help you through pregnancy) and Sleep On It (to track your sleep patterns and optimal sleep time) and boasts of the largest online health community

- PatientsLikeMe:helps find patients with similar diseases to learn from their stories and to build a supportive network to help through the emotional turmoil of the disease

- Qpid.Me: helps people make better decisions before having sex, by verifying their HIV/STD results and communicating these results through text messaging

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