I.T. / Technology

Losing Klout: What Klout could be doing to earn my money – but isn’t

To start, a full, honest disclosure. I am a sucker for ego affirming gratification. Likes and RT’s and +1′s – and yes, Klout scores (mine is a 57 today, if you are comparing) – were designed to feed the neurotic needs of people like me: lowly creative types who pine for acceptance and acknowledgment. We love ourselves just enough that we want to prove that the rest of the world loves us too. We hate ourselves enough that we let silly numbers define our self worth.

I’ve watched my Klout score drop a point every day this week, and the big difference between this week and last is that I wasn’t as active this week. While I have no definitive proof, I am guessing Klout has deemed me less influential this week because I have been less active. Simple, and seemingly logical.

But is it? Should inactivity alone make you any less influential? Here are my thoughts – and what I think Klout should do to attract paying customers. Read More…

Just admit you’re in the technology business, already (or, beyond business and I.T. alignment)

I have designed some awful t-shirts in my life. In fact, I’ve started 3 different t-shirt companies in my life, my first at 16 (featuring some stupid quip about my virtual pet eating my family that even I don’t get anymore).  I realized today how much I have learned about business – and technology – in the eighteen years since I started out, and how different the relationship between the two is now. In fact, I posit that business and I.T. are now so intertwined that the companies treating them separately – with I.T. still viewed as a cost center, or perhaps as an execution arm – will get left behind, if they haven’t already. Hear me out.

When I started, the entire t-shirt business was pretty old-school. Yes, I sketched my artwork with a computer. But that’s where technology ended.  Everything else, from the printshop to the retailers I sold my designs through, were pretty much offline. Digital schmigital. People still paid by check. I still drove to the bank. My shirts were still sold in something called stores. The kind people actually drove to.

Today? A few years back I built a new t-shirt business from the ground up. I built an ecommerce site. I developed my own order and inventory management system, and a rudimentary CRM system to track my wholesale relationships. I integrated to shipping company API’s, built online order tracking systems, and drove visitors to my site through a tireless arsenal of paid search, social media, and press relations. I processed returns and customer service requests in a basic help system. My marketing database was tied to my customer order history and my email marketing system. All by myself, and all from behind a computer.

Whooptee freaking doo, right? Why does any of this matter?

Read More…

Steal this idea: Dynamic procurement

Why do I have to go to iTunes and Amazon’s music store to see who has the lower price on a song I want to buy before I purchase it? To be honest, I don’t care which store I buy it from – I just want it at the best price, and I want it to download seamlessly into my music library and obey my naming and organizational conventions.

This is an open plea for someone to build that app for me. Not a price comparison app, those still require me to make decisions. I just want an app that lets me browse for music, click “buy”, and it automatically procures my shopping cart selections for me at the very best prices. I configure it once with my account information for multiple music stores, and it does the rest. I’d pay 5 bucks for that, certainly.

Which brings me into the cloud for a moment
All this talk about cloud storage and cloud capacity and virtual machines lately has me thinking again, which means not sleeping enough and in general getting a bit dorkier every day (which my image can’t really afford, I’m afraid.)

But seriously. . . why shouldn’t cloud storage and processing (and whatever else you cloud people do in the cloud) be procured in the same way I point out above for music? Let’s look at an ITSM workflow for a crisp example of my thought process here:

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Steal these business ideas: #1 – 5

Sorry in advance for a long post. I’m not a big believer in hoarding ideas – I have many more than I will ever use, so I like to toss them into the public domain in the instance that someone else wants to steal one of them. If you use any of these ideas, feel free to throw a small equity stake my way :-)

I’ll be making this a regularly occurring series, as new ideas bubble up, so stay tuned.

I’ve tinkered with a ton of iphone and ipad apps in the last few years. You’ll know from my recent post on game dynamics that I’ve been keenly interested recently (thanks to a SXSW panel I attended) on how clever application designers are earning our loyalty (obsession / compulsion?) by employing the same principles that good games do to keep us enthralled.

Case in point: Apps like Foursquare, that reward us points for checking in to dining and shopping establishments, and increase the points they dole out to us based on frequency. The “status” game dynamic is strongly employed by awarding “mayorships” for the most loyal patrons, and often showering the mayor with freebies or exclusive deals for their loyalty. Players compete against each other to steal back the mayorship. Friends compete against each other to be the most active, checking in at the most places. In short, it’s an app that unabashedly rewards consumerism.

Swipely takes it a step further, allowing you to publish a news feed of all the places you swipe your credit card. Seriously. As I understand it, they leverage Yodlee’s API to gather data on the purchases you make and publish them to a feed that your friends can subscribe to, comment on, etc. Which might be great for a gal that wants to brag about some new Christian Louboutin shoes, but not so much for a guy like me who is likely to be buying an 8-pack of toilet paper and a Mountain Berry Powerade at Walgreen’s.

I don’t need any more help spending money, thank you. My wife and I spend enough money eating out to each month to seriously support another family altogether. It’s shameful, we know it, and while our kids will still get to go to college, they may have to check their textbooks out from the library instead of buying them, because mom and dad took everyone out for a few too many cheeseburgers when they were little.

Steal this idea #1: Don’t help me spend money, help me save it

Read More…

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