Archive for October 2009
Dear Google, Eric Schmidt recently said, "CIOs are trapped in a 1980's architecture." Actually, the world is trapped in a 1970's architecture: a financial architecture that was designed for a bygone era, without the prosperity of future generations and the natural world in mind. So here's my challenge to you. The global IT market is worth a few hundred billion bucks. But you're (still) the most innovative company in the world — and there are bigger fisheries to rescue. A better global financial architecture is worth 10x more: at least $12 trillion, if the amount spent on the bailout is any indication. Can you build one?
Prior to leaving Forrester to join Altimeter Group, Jeremiah Owyang, along with Josh Bernoff, Cynthia N. Pflaum, and Emily Bowen, published a report that attempted to bring the future of the Social Web into focus. If we viewed the content of his research as a social object, the conversations that would transpire could in fact expedite the development and implementation of the most valuable predictions and observations contained within.
Viral marketing — the technique of wrangling word-of-mouth to create a buzz around your product or idea — has been a powerful tool since the first caveman started the first rumor. Spreading the word person to person is the stuff of Avon dreams — and Bernie Madoff nightmares. And it requires the confidence to lose control of the message by setting it adrift. The modern age of viral marketing began in the mid 1990s with (of all things) a cultish, childish cable TV show that defined “guilty pleasure” way before Beavis and Butthead. The producers of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (the premise of MST3K is almost too ridiculous to articulate) knew immediately they had something viable, new and remarkable, and that their best marketers were the show’s smallish but loyal audience. In those dark days before streaming media, they encouraged the show’s viewers to videotape their copyrighted shows, and pass them along to friends — creating that sought after word-of-mouth buzz.
Signs of an improving economy might be in your kitchen or bathroom cupboards. Consumers are showing a willingness to pay a little more to get Colgate toothpaste, Kellogg's Frosted Flakes and Gillette Fusion shavers. That's good news for the economy and the multibillion-dollar companies that make those products and have been battling to keep shoppers from trading down to store brands to save money. Procter & Gamble Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Kellogg Co. all gave upbeat earnings reports and even stronger outlooks for next year on Thursday, a day that also saw the announcement that U.S. gross domestic product rose for the first time in a year.
The other day I got an email press release from a technology company crowing about a partnership with another organization. It read, in part: "We believe the alliance between xxx and yyy represents a synergistic win-win with significant value add for both solutions, allowing each to utilize and leverage their unique strengths in the market." Huh? If the news was worth covering, I couldn't tell, because the press release was stuffed to the seams with jargon-filled corporate-speak. I deleted the email almost immediately, sat back in my desk chair, and thought about EB White. EB White was, of course, the author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. But he was also the co-author, with William Strunk Jr., of The Elements of Style.
Procter & Gamble Co.'s new chief is ready to deal. Facing mounting pressure to boost sliding sales and recalibrate his company, P&G CEO Robert McDonald is stepping up the hunt for acquisition and divestiture candidates, people close to the company said. Since assuming the chief executive role in July, Mr. McDonald has been trying to shake-up P&G's slow, process-heavy culture. He has increased scrutiny of P&G brands including Braun small appliances, Iams pet food, Duracell batteries and Pringles potato snacks. While those businesses have long been considered extraneous to P&G's focus on beauty, health and nonfood household staples, Mr. McDonald now is presenting an ultimatum: The leaders of those businesses are on heightened notice to prove their brands' prospects or face a sale.
The Amazon Mechanical Turk is, as Wikipedia puts it, "a crowdsourcing marketplace that enables computer programs to co-ordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks which computers are unable to do." It consists of thousands of people who stand ready for tasks send them by Amazon or others who may wish to use Amazon's MTurk service. MTurk "providers" work alone, often in their spare time. Standing in line at a 7/11, they can bang out a few turns. They get paid a small fee for each decision. No one gets rich working in a mechanical turk, but many find it interesting.
Global consumer confidence is rebounding, and in the United States has risen for the first time since 2007, amid signs the world economy is picking up although spending is still restrained, a survey showed on Wednesday. Confidence was highest in India, followed by Indonesia and Norway, and was weakest in Japan, Latvia, Portugal and South Korea, although in Korea it had improved markedly, according to a quarterly survey by The Nielsen Company, conducted between September 28 and October 16.
Private label is at something of a crossroads. Rising out of the shadows of its humble, “no-name” generic past, private label today has blossomed into a $100 billion industry. While the media and analysts are fixated on sales numbers and growth expectations another story frequently gets little air play: Private label has the freedom (and not the baggage) to seize opportunities to leapfrog name brands in such critical areas as ingredients, flavors, preparations and even packaging. Looking through the lens of contemporary consumers and shoppers, we see that the rapidly changing private label landscape is far too complicated to be adequately explained by aggregate sales or customer transaction sales data alone. Our Private Label 2010: Redefining Meaning of Brand report moves beyond simplified discussions of sales data to present a holistic consumer and shopper perspective on private label that accounts for the role of the economy, new meaning of value, distinctions in retail formats, product categories, name brands and, of course, private label brands.
A U.K. firm is set to launch a camera to capture every moment of a person's life. While you may reel at the privacy implications, I'd wager that the high price of not capturing and sharing every moment of our lives will soon dwarf the cost to our privacy.