Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Must Amazon Keep Reminding Me It’s Stupid?

Don't get me wrong; I love Amazon. I’m Amazon Prime, and Proud. But they’ve come down with a seriously intrusive case of “My TiVo Thinks I’m Gay.”

A few years ago, that became first the hip, then mainstream, way to label the problem of personalization gone awry. Since it’s more than a year old, now it must be passé. So it goes.

At least TiVo’s suggestions sit unobtrusively in the (appropriately labeled) TiVo suggestions folder. I never see them unless I seek them. What Amazon has done to me the last few weeks is as if TiVo sent me a daily email saying, “hey, we think you’re gay and here’s a gay show about gays being gay. We’re sure you’ll enjoy it.”

The Amazon problem started with my wife’s iPhone 4s. Soon, I had Siri envy (my iPhone has a year left on contract). Well, not Siri, exactly, cause we still haven’t got the hang of talking to that big brain in Cupertino in ways it responds to effectively. But I am in love with the voice-to-text translation integrated into texting, email and notes (to mention a few). Downloaded Dragon onto my iPhone, and it translates great – but not integrated with apps, so nearly useless IMHO.

But it got me to thinking about voice translation on my Mac. So I bounced over to Amazon, found the Dragon version for the Mac, and read the reviews. Wow. Non-starter. Synthesis: PC version great, Mac version, er, never mind.

You see where this is going. Since then, I get an email every couple days offering me all sorts of deals and discounts if I’ll only come back and close the deal. Today’s email subject line: “Amazon.com: One-Day Sale on Dragon NaturallySpeaking Software.” Right – one day after yesterday’s sale. Among the worst parts is that they don’t even bother to get my version right. Don’t they check my machine’s browser (Safari) or OS?

So Amazon won’t stop parading to me the fact that it’s really a simpleton, and doesn’t know me well at all. Or, it thinks I’m the stupid one, and will buy a product even after a quick perusal of its own reviews makes that purchase a non-starter. And it just won’t stop. Shouldn’t the algorithm have some sort of cut off? Wouldn’t it be smart if after a couple tries it started sending me offers for other kinds of voice recognition products? That I could respect.

But in the end, you gotta look at the whole enchilada. Amazon is my superstore, I know how to use it (even if it doesn't know how to deal with me) and I get a whole lot out of our relationship. At the end of the day, I love Amazon. I’m Amazon Prime. And Proud.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

IBM Patents, er, Patenting

When sophisticated members of the digerati are "astonished" by a story I guess it's worth me restarting my blog after a more-than-a-year-hiatus.

IBM has filed a patent application for its patent process. The patent is called "Intellectual Property component business model for client services" and yes you can read it by clicking on that link.

After a year in which the smartphone wars went to patent court and patent trolls went on a rampage, capped off by Paul Allen and Nathan Myrvold trying to sue everybody, what's astonishing is that we still have the ability to be astonished.

As Tom's Hardware explains, the patent contemplates software that would manifest a patent process, from development of the idea all the way down through filing to suing infringers. And Techeye.net says, "If you can't beat the trolls, patent the process that creates them.

I'm so delighted that even though I've sort of moved beyond media, I still make my living synthesizing, strategizing, and writing about technology. I love this business!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Intel's Retiring Chair's Zen Business Rules

Often, because the workload is too heavy, I'll clip an article I want to read and hold off reading it because I deem it's not urgent. That's why I'm sending you this link two weeks later to "From Moore's Law to Barrett's Rules", from the May 16 WSJ (registration required). The thing that strikes me hard about it is this: When you read Craig Barrett's Rules, you discover that each one is like a Zen Koan. Here are two examples:


    * "The business is bigger than the business."

    * "Consensus is good--except when it isn't."


Each of Barrett's Rules (not just these two) is ambiguous, in and of itself, or in its application.


And yet at the same time each of them are powerful and, at some level, obvious.


Before the end of the article, strangely, I was thinking about IFRS - International Financial Reporting Standards. I do a bit of thought leadership content creation for a household name professional services firm, see, so I have to think about stuff like this from time to time. There is a transition going on in US financial reporting from GAAP to IFRS, and at least in part it is a transition from "rules" to "intent", if you will. It seems like now is an apt time for that change. 


Everyone is talking about how so many markets are in flux right now, and that there are "new rules that haven't been written yet." But what if that concept is totally off base - it's just as far as our poor minds are able to go, for the moment. Perhaps the truth of what's happening is that our future will have no "rules" in this sense; instead, there will only be intent, and behavior. The rest you have to figure out as you go along, as each new situation, opportunity and market emerges. 


I realize at some level that Barrett is grandstanding a bit in this article as he sits on the brink of retirement (his last day was May 20). Somehow, that did not lessen the impact of it for me.


From Moore's Law to Barrett's Rules


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is business really personal?

Tony Uphoff, CEO of TechWeb, has always enjoyed saying that business *is* personal. And now he's posted on the topic, and on how social networking intersects his philosophy, and you don't want to miss it. Click here to go to Tony's post.

What fascinates me about Tony's discussion of "personal" vs. "business" as it relates to "Enterprise 2.0" is the connection it made in my head to a conversation with my own client last week. We were brainstorming about how the impact of internet-based social networks will reshape business. And she pointed out that at this particular moment, it is just like the beginning of the sexual revolution decades ago, when the introduction of the birth control pill caused widespread reinvention of social norms and mores - but before any of the new rules were understood or written down.  
And I thought wow, what an excellent insight - and yet it was from way out in left field, applying the most personal example possible to the reinvention of business models. 

Fascinating.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Brand and Demand Survey

My partners at Stein Rogan + Partners have launched a much-needed research survey into the relationship between brand and demand. I strongly encourage all of my B2B marketer friends and family to click the link below and share your knowledge - and get back more from the crowd in return. Here's the gist:

Stein Rogan + Partners Research is very excited to invite you to participate in a groundbreaking survey among top B2B marketers and agencies. The survey is designed to quantify how and to what extent brand building impacts demand creation - and vice versa.

Understanding the value of brand strength/momentum as a demand driver - and finding the right balance in terms of brand/demand initiatives and investment - are imperatives for every marketer. This survey will provide new and actionable insights in these regards.

The survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. All of your responses will be kept strictly confidential and will only be used for research purposes. 

In exchange for your valuable time, you will receive a copy of the final survey findings as soon as they are completed. You will also be entered into a drawing for one of five $50 American Express Gift Cards. Simply complete the entire survey and enter your email address where requested. 

Click this link to begin: Brand and Demand Survey 

Thank you in advance for your thoughtful input. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

A New Search Engine? Can anyone make sense of this?


I just don't know what to make of this new search engine from Financial Times called Newssift, a new business-oriented search engine. The beta is at www.newssift.com.


I read the stories and press release and I TRIED to use the beta site but it is way too complicated to parse out. They are trying to add value to business searches, but I think they have way overthought the problem. They are forcing users to navigate through the FT's own view of what a hierarchical path of information needs might be, instead of allowing the user to define his or her own path with their search string.


But after reading that sentence, the flaw seems so absurdly obvious that it is hard for me to believe it is possible. I keep thinking I'm missing something, but so far I haven't found it. What do you guys think? 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Eyestrain and your monitor

I spent this past weekend completely revamping my desktop in real life, not my computer, in order to make optimal use of the new Macbook and 24-inch monitor I brought to my home office. 

I was astonished to learn that a computer monitor should be a lot further away from your face than I ever thought, or than most people (including myself) ever place it. This article, Viewing Distance at Computer Workstations, explains the physiological science behind it and how distance effects eyestrain. 

But the bottom line is you want the screen about 30 to 40 inches away from your eyes. It's better to place the monitor further away and make your screen fonts larger than to have the screen too close to your eyes. I've been following this logic for a few days now and I think I feel the difference!