Archive for May, 2011

Why Google should buy Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Article first published as Why Google Should Buy Barnes & Noble on Technorati.

The media is abuzz with the news that John Malone of Liberty Media has made an offer of $17 a share for 70% of Barnes & Noble, the last remaining bookstore in the US.

In the Financial Times the point was made that, being the last man standing, Barnes and Noble has the advantage of no competition, and the Wall Street Journal emphasized the value of the Nook software that could become prevalent across Android-based tablets.

There could, however, be a broader opportunity for a company with vision. In one of his recent blogs, Seth Godin challenged the concept of the current library as being a warehouse of dead books to being a place where “people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together”.

Why not extend this concept of reinventing the library to being a reinvention of the bookstore? Apple’s concept of successfully mashing 3 things together – a community (Mac / iPhone users), a platform (iTunes) and an experience (Apple store) – could be built upon to create a powerful viral marketing experience and exceptionally loyal fans.

If Google were to buy Barnes & Noble they could enhance the Apple model by blending communities (Android, Nook, YouTube) with platforms (Nook, Google Search, Chrome and Android), and provide opportunities for new experiences of learning, creating and discovering in an amazing distinct new mashed-up retail forum.

It could become the perfect living laboratory for integration of digital and real-world resources, and at the same time provide a mechanism for interaction with consumers; it would make the Google brand incredibly tangible across all its ventures.

Coincidently, it could provide the perfect forum for facilitating a nationwide open innovation environment that encourages the growth of entrepreneurism. In this new digital age, the Barnes & Noble Café could become the innovation catalyst, similar to the old coffee houses of Europe that used to facilitate the bringing together of creative and inspiring inventors and entrepreneurs. The Android and Nook platforms could be extended to enable a social networking community focused on education, innovation, creativity and fun.

The retail aspect of the B&N facility would also evolve offering a broad array of products and services that real and virtual associates could advise on and show virtually, while suggesting suitable additions that could be purchased locally or online with their Android devices and delivered when they want. The facility would then morph into a hub that brings Adwords to life, with context and location both physically and virtually on Android devices in the store.

In a single move, Google could totally revolutionize the face of retail, turn the tables on the Amazon business model by emulating and enhancing the Apple model – all for less than $1bn. Sounds like a deal to me!

We at KeySo Global understand the importance of reinventing business models and we’d be delighted to show you how converged technologies can be used to help your business run more efficiently and effectively. To set up an appointment, call us at +1 847-478-1633, email us at info@keysoglobal.com or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com.
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Will the mobile wallet become a major part of our digital lives?

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Have you ever left home, realized that your cell phone is still sitting on the counter top and felt compelled to go back and get it? I have, even though common sense tells me that I can get through the day without it…. or can I?

As a digital society, we’re gradually becoming more and more reliant on our mobile devices to make the digital lives we lead easier and run more efficiently. Even though many of us are reluctant to admit it, as our mobile phones become “smarter”, they’re becoming an increasingly integral part of our lives. And it looks as if our dependence on them is only going to grow!

2011 is tipped to be the year of the “mobile wallet’ as smartphones are given the capabilities to replace cash or plastic. Last Friday it was announced that a joint venture had been launched in the UK between Barclaycard and Orange which enables Samsung phone users to make purchases via their mobile phone using Near Field Communication technology. NFC is a short-range wireless technology which involves special chips being embedded in mobile phones that enable payments. Many new phones are now being manufactured with this technology incorporated.

In the UK, this service is being offered initially on a limited scale – only purchases up to a value of £15 can be made at one time, although phones can be preloaded with up to £100 – although predictions are that this service will rapidly expand as it is adopted by consumers. Among the 50,000 stores participating in the service at this time are McDonalds, EAT, Pret-a-Manger and some Boots stores.

Although the concept of the mobile wallet has been talked about for over a decade in the US, for a number of reasons its launch has been delayed. This is chiefly due to the inability of the mobile operators, the manufacturers and the banks to resolve such fundamental issues as what role each one will play, how each will get paid, and how to address security concerns.

The Financial Times reported in an article on May 25 that, at a New York press conference this week, Google and Sprint Nextel are expected to announce plans for a payment service that would turn Android handsets into mobile wallets.

Additionally, co-founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, announced recently that his company, Square, is making a smartphone “app” which will enable mobile payments. Retailers will replace their cash registers and credit card readers with iPads so that consumers with the app on their phone will be able to make a payment in that store via the iPad.

Mobile payments have taken off already in other parts of the world: a “pay-by-mobile” system already operates in Japan where people can go out to eat, watch a movie and catch the train home – with no wallet required! In Kenya, where bank accounts are limited, money is commonly transferred via mobile phone.

While the convenience of being able to buy goods, receive coupons and transfer money via a mobile phone is an exciting prospect, there are obvious concerns that would need to be addressed before the concept will really take off with consumers. Such things as ease of payment for purchases made when travelling overseas, a common platform across service providers to ensure a seamless consumer experience and making sure that extortionate charges are not incurred for purchases made, all need to be addressed. 

Consumer purchasing behavior will undoubtedly be changing in the next few years, and businesses would be wise to start considering the impact that this will have on them. One area that will evolve rapidly is mobile digital advertising which will enable retailers to customize their advertising to the individual consumer at the point of purchase.

If you need assistance understanding the implications and defining what strategies and systems your business needs to implement to address this new mobile technology, we at KeySo Global would be happy to help. Call +1-847-478-1633, email us at info@keysoglobal.com or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com.

Alison Bell, Social Media Manager, KeySo Global LLC

Are New Converging Technologies Challenging Your “Business as Usual”?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

In the emergent new age of advancing and converging technologies – especially those of consumer electronics, mobile devices, wireless, broadband, broadcast, ‘smart technology’ and the Internet (which is subsuming them all) – consumers, customers, & clients are all interacting and sharing knowledge and experiences with one another in near real-time, from nearly anywhere. We live in a Digital World of such advanced and converged technologies that nearly a quarter of the real world’s population is now online.

This places unique pressures on existing business models. To remain relevant, businesses must really listen, learn, and engage with their customers, constituents and partners in order to anticipate and provide for their needs and wants. There is no longer available time to compile deep market research, or push safe development and testing paradigms, with longer sales cycles. The risk of losing out to agile competition or new movers is tremendous as the vigilant and fast moving adapt to more unique opportunities presented in the new landscape than at any other time in the history of humanity.

Events from the past can be seen as influencers of today; many that can be used to identify relevant factors that will drive tomorrow’s possibilities. As the low-hanging fruit of today is consumed, the importance of locating the trees bearing the seeds of tomorrow’s fruit increases.

We at KeySo Global have identified many key patterns of behavior change that support this. No longer is mass-marketing working well; people are trusting the opinions of other like-minded people more than they do salespeople, advertisements, or other marketing efforts. They have the means to communicate with one another in real-time using apps that connect through the Internet, the mobile cloud, and use of social media technologies. They are participating in a converged “physical” and “virtual” world, and living a Digital Life.

In our blogs we focus on what we at KeySo Global see to be happening through the emergence of the increasingly complex, technology-centric, interconnected Digital World. We highlight events that have already happened (or are happening) and identify trends that we see as leading indicators of possibility and threat. We discuss and highlight success stories and lessons learned as enterprises and leaders of all walks struggle to understand and survive the rapidly shifting currents of Digital Life. Finally, we explore options and opportunities, and offer the tools and resources that business leaders need in order to arm themselves and their enterprises for success in the shifting landscape.

As an international hands-on consultancy, we at KeySo Global recognize how complex this rapidly changing landscape can appear and understand the hurdles that businesses have to overcome in order to navigate their way to a successful solution. Let us show you how this can be achieved. Email us at info@keysoglobal.com, call us at +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com.

Steve Benton, Principal, KeySo Global LLC

Social media boot camps – is that all it takes to re-boot your business?

Friday, May 13th, 2011

You can tell when the hype cycle on social media has reached its pinnacle when you see a Sunday newspaper running an advertisement for a “Social Media CEO Boot Camp”. In 90 minutes, this crash course is going to provide you with Social Media 101, successful case studies, proven strategies and tested techniques, and will result in generating new customers for you. And the reason that you’d be interested in this is because “your existing traditional advertising and marketing has stalled”!

The likely probability is that this course will tell you about social networks, including Facebook, forums like Yelp or Trip Advisor, and micro-blogging Twitter, as well as content communities like YouTube; perhaps it will also mention wiki’s and social search sites such as Digg, and the power of RSS. It will inform you about the explosion in social media created by users generating content and companies exponentially increasing their participation, while emphasizing why you must have a voice in this expanding universe. At the same time it will preach to you about the value of search engine optimization and, if the program is really good, it will stress the need to engage listening programs to hear what people are saying about your company and its brands. As a CEO, you will come away in one of two states: either total amazement and full of energy or, more likely, filled with concern about the ability of your organization to catch up.

The reality is that social media is one element of a larger movement resulting from the impact that digital technologies and social business have in changing the interactions of companies, customers and employees on a daily basis. It is no longer about monologue conversations between the company or its employees and consumers; it’s not about control and selling; instead the emphasis is shifting to community engagement, openness and participation.

At a recent seminar on social business run by IBM and “Information Week”, the following component pieces were identified as critical elements in social business architecture:

1. The ability to understand the market dynamics of the industry, including how competition, brands and customers are socially engaging.
2. The utilization of social software, including platforms, applications and technology.
3. The identification of social objectives, including customer engagement, employee empowerment, partner enablement and supplier engagement.
4. The determination of social output, including consistent social media, the creation of communities and the participation in social networks.

The key take-away was that a social business strategy is not just about the deployment of social technology and software but that it is about the organizational, cultural and process shifts that also need to be recognized and planned for.

The audience at this seminar was comprised of technology and information savvy subscribers of Information Week, and yet the majority of the questions related to these four major themes:

1. How do I work with IT so that they don’t stall implementation of our social media strategy?
2. How do I sell the need & concept of a social business strategy to my boss?
3. How do I ensure that my social business strategy addresses security and compliance issues?
4. How do I prevent organizational overload derailing my social business strategy?

At the heart of all this complexity and constant change, resulting from the increasing utilization of new technologies, software and business processes, is the need to take a holistic planning perspective and to recognize the need for good human relations and change management.

As a CEO, you are smart, flexible and adaptable but even you can’t keep pace with what is occurring, so don’t anticipate that a single individual in the organization can either. What is required is the creation of a community of people with the common purpose of acquiring the necessary knowledge and pushing forward with the transformation that is required. In this way you will facilitate, shape and ensure the success of your company in the digital world.

We at KeySo Global understand the importance of having a strong social business strategy and we’d be happy to show you how converged technologies can be used to help your business run more efficiently and effectively. To set up an appointment, call us at +1 847-478-1633, email us at info@keysoglobal.com or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com.
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC