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New Facebook privacy settings and other relevant links

A TechTroll.tv video explaining the new Facebook privacy settings

Other privacy tips:

Hope this is helpful.

Google Street View in 3D

When talking about innovative companies, it is really hard not to give Google as an example. One of their most recent releases is the extra feature of viewing Street View with 3D glasses

I’m sure it is not available everywhere and that they are testing the idea right now. I also know that by being one of the most innovative companies in the world, Google is what it is now.

Get your 3D glasses and try it now!

Categories: innovation, Random topics Tags:

Innovation vs. Best practices in Marketing

I recently got into a conversation with a fellow marketer about why an online campaign didn’t move forward. He then explained that his client’s offline campaigns where doing good enough to try something new.

Despite the new online campaign represented (probably) less than 5% of their offline spending, the client decided to focus those resources doing what best practices of marketing spending suggest (which by the way consisted on sending trash over the mail).

“Best practices are the antithesis of innovation*”, you can’t expect to get different (or better) results if you do the same over and over again, that is Einstein’s definition of insanity.
Innovation today is what will dictate the best practices of tomorrow; innovation is what will give a head start against your competition.

Why should they try something new if what we are doing right now is proven to be successful? Well, if you don’t search for new ways to do things, your competitors will, beware if they find something before you do.

And now the question is: How is your competition innovating? Is it with new technology, new processes, new markets? How do you know when your best practices have become old practices?

So, are you following best practices or creating new ones?

To finish this post I leave you with a quote from Machiavelli’s The Prince:

“…And let it be noted that there is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful in its success, than to set up as a leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new. This lukewarm temper arises partly from the fear of adversaries who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who will never admit the merit of anything new, until they have seen it proved by the event. The result, however, is that whenever the enemies of change make an attack, they do so with all the zeal of partisans, while the others defend themselves so feebly as to endanger both themselves and their cause.”

What do you think?

* This blog post was inspired by a presentation by Christian Haas, a group creative director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, at OMMA Global San Francisco, the premiere online media, marketing, and advertising expo.

Jesse Schell: When games invade real life

Great presentation with an interesting view of the near future, hope you like it.

How many of you use Foursquare? Is this the first step towards Schell’s vision?

Categories: marketing in general, Random topics Tags:

Lean & Agile Methodologies

February 26th, 2010 No comments

This article was written in collaboration with our primary Lean & Agile consultant, PhD Carlos Mondragon.

As a company with a culture focused on continuous improvement, we are constantly looking for ways to better serve our clients and our employees. With Lean & Agile Methodologies we have been able to better serve both, through collaborative partnerships that instill and promote communication, efficiency, and empowerment.

Lean and Agile practices are helping the software development industry address problems of changes in requirements, timing and efficiency, and they can be applied to general practices as well. One of the several reasons why agile techniques are so effective, is that they reduce the feedback cycle between the generation of an idea and the realization of that idea.  This not only minimizes the risk of misunderstanding, it also reduces the cost of addressing any mistakes.

The basic principles for effective lean practices include:

  • Eliminate waste: Everything not adding value to the customer is considered to be waste.
  • Amplify learning: The best approach for improving an idea-generation environment is to amplify learning. The learning process is sped up by usage of short iteration cycles.
  • Decide as late as possible: As design is always associated with some uncertainty, better results should be achieved with an options-based approach, delaying decisions as much as possible until they can be made based on facts and not on uncertain assumptions and predictions.
  • Empower the team: There has been a traditional belief that managers tell the workers how to do their own job. Most experienced project managers have simply stated the key for a successful project – “Find good people and let them do their own job.”

Agile Project Management is growing in popularity as a method to more tightly involve the customer in the process of delivering a product. Customer involvement is key to Agile. Without frequent customer interaction, the value gained by constant customer inspection and validation is lost. An important agile process is short development cycles; it is much easier to change a three-week cycle than a nine-month design effort.

The agile manifesto states that it is more valuable to focus on individuals and interactions over processes and tools, customer collaboration over contract negotiation and responding to change over following a plan.

Applying these principles effectively result in the following benefits:

  • Rapid Learning
  • Early Return on Investment
  • Satisfied Stakeholders
  • Increased Control
  • Responsiveness to Change

Lean and agile methods have proven to be advantageous to organizations as a result to increased productivity, higher quality, and responding more rapidly to market demands.

Categories: marketing in general, Random topics Tags:

Lets Stick Together

February 26th, 2010 No comments
Stick Together Now

Stick Together

With the heartbreak caused by the devastation in Haiti, came an outpouring of worldwide support. In an effort to further drive this support, Leo Burnett and our parent company, IA Interactive, partnered up early this year and created a site that enables donors to personalize their donations with messages of encouragement. This effort has been updated to also include support for Chile with their recent tragedy.

In difficult times, it is always good to hear someone cheering you on. Donate today and send YOUR message of hope by visiting Stick-TogetherNow.org

Haiti and the power of social media

January 18th, 2010 No comments

Donations for Red CrossIt is certain than in times of crisis we stretch our capabilities to find sources of strength where we thought we had none. This time social media and mobile devices shined as the best tool to collect donations to help Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake in January, 2010.

For the few of you who didn’t see it, here is how it looked on Facebook, Twitter and other sites:

You can donate $10 to Haiti relief by texting “Haiti” to 90999.

As a result, social media helped spread the word about how to make a donation to the Red Cross, yielding a $8 million total donation in $10 increments in less than three days, coming from all corners of US. (here is a map of donations by state on mobile devices)

I see three huge reasons why this worked like magic: It’s simple, relevant and it involves emotion.

I leave this post with my most sincere empathy to the people in Haiti, wishing them a swift recovery, and thanks to the rest of the world for showing that the human spirit will prevail amidst tragedy.

Domain names revolution

November 3rd, 2009 No comments

Soon people will be able to type domain names in non-Latin characters, for example Hebrew, Mandarin or Thai.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), will allow the creation of domain names in different native languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet and will start receiving applications in November 16, 2009. Currently, people who’s language uses non-Latin characters have to switch their typing mode to enter a web address because the only way to do so is in the Latin alphabet , but this will no longer ought to be.

The ICANN was formed in 1998 and is dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.

“Over half of the 1.6 billion users of the Internet today are born in a language group that does not use Latin scripts,” says Rod Beckstrom, the president and CEO of the not-for-profit public-benefit corporation.

If you live in a western country you may think this is not important nor relevant, but could you imaging typing a web address in a language that you are totally unfamiliar with? This can be a problem specially if you don’t spell the word correctly because you could easily be a victim of “phishing” scam.

Moreover this will help the internet to become more accessible for everyone regardless of their language.

For the official press release follow this link, ICANN Bringing the Languages of the World to the Global Internet.

Internet Neutrality = Internet freedom

October 25th, 2009 No comments

Internet Service Providers have total control of what runs through their networks even to the point of slowing down certain sites. This has become a popular practice when the site accessed competes with ISP’s core business, like phone and cable TV. For example Verizon’s slowing down access to Skype servers or Comcast slowing down video streaming pages such as Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, Boxee, or MLB.TV

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently decided to stop it with a “network neutrality” regulation, being written as you read and expected to be passed by summer 2010.

This is not the first time the FCC gets involved. Last year it ordered Comcast to stop blocking BitTorrent users, an on-line file sharing service. As expected, Comcast is appealing such decision arguing that the federal agency have no authority to dictate what they “discriminate” on their networks. Apparently Comcast believes they do have the authority to impose what we – the users – can access on the Internet.

I strongly believe that internet should be free for you to use it as you please, specially now when devices such as Roku, Apple TV will provide more online content –probably better than cable – streamed directly to your TV.
What do you think?

Web Apps you should NOT be developing from scratch

October 14th, 2009 No comments

I’m going to start with an analogy: Building some web applications (listed below) is like building a dresser yourself.

Let’s say you want a new dresser in your room. After thinking about it for a while, you decide to build it yourself because only you know what you want, but not only that, you have specific needs no one has had before. So you take the measurements and head to a hardware store. First of all you have to buy the tools, then some wood, steel or maybe plastic. For the drawers’ guide rails you notice that commercial versions are not to your specifications, so you end up trimming them to your own needs.

After a week or two of hard work and several trips back to the hardware store due to miscalculations, you are finally done. But the dresser is assembled in your garage, not in your room, so you have to move it up the stairs and have to call a friend for help because it’s really heavy.

Assuming everything went well and you didn’t hurt your back pushing this thing up, you finally have a new dresser, with some rough edges but it’s built to meet your needs. But you are not that happy because you just realized you can only put two and a half rows of clothes instead of three, that the guide rails get stuck really often because you trimmed them and that the whole structure is a little bit wobbly. Then you call a carpenter… who will recommend to build a new one himself.

I can continue the analogy, but I think you got it. After all you just spent more time, resources and money on a problem someone else already spent a great deal of time solving and making sure the solution is optimal.

What if you try a regular/commercial/popular dresser, at least if you don’t like it you can return it, or make small changes to make it work the way you want to.

Here is the list of the ones I hear more often:

  • E-commerce sites: usually what a entrepreneur with new products need. Plenty of options, from free to hosted with all payment options and even inventory and shipping integration.
  • Blog: the most popular. Great tools out there, with great plug-ins if you need extra features.
  • Online video players: do you want a playlist? Maybe votes? Different sizes, combinations, search engine friendly? It’s all there.
  • Online audio players: pretty much the same as video players
  • Social networking and group pages: do you want them private or public? Professional looking maybe?
  • Affiliate programs: this is a big one. If you want to run your adds, manage advertisers and channels, and distribute revenue, you can do it. Can be as cheap as 30 bucks.
  • Photo albums: again… what can you think of that nobody had the idea before?? Scrolling images? Fades? 3D? sort by date, size, keyword?
  • Wikis: What I’ve found here is that people don’t know the name of it. Usually they describe it as: [I need] a way to have a document that several people modify constantly at different locations, and I want also keep track of the changes. Basic wikis do this, and more…
  • Newsletter systems: what do you need? Tracking? Ease of use? Ability to manage your contact list? Design? Avoid being marked as spam? You got it!
  • CRM and sales software: free, hosted, open source, you name it.
  • Content management Systems: This one is a little tricky, because you can use a blog, a group page. Depends on your needs.

Let me know if you know other applications that should be on this list, or tell me about your personal story.