Posts Tagged ‘Digital Marketing’

Is Apple Cooling or Transitioning to a Techno-Luxury House of Brands?

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Blog graphicThe recent announcement that Apple is acquiring Beats Electronics for its streaming audio and electronics capabilities has caused consternation on Wall Street in terms of whether this is an indication that Apple’s renowned ability to innovate in-house is cooling and that the company is beginning to stall.

Most of the attention around the Beats acquisition has focused on its streaming capability and whether it offers as good a service as Spotify or Pandora. The potential that this joint team brings for developing future offerings in the broader entertainment landscape, including video, should not be ignored.

Other key benefits for Apple include Beats’ wealth of aggregate knowledge of the entertainment, music and electronics industries, as well as its connection with the youth culture – something that many other companies seek to emulate. Beats is considered to be a relatively strong U.S. brand with a youth flavor and one that, when attached to Apple and its global market presence and subscriber base, could infuse a stronger linkage with their younger purchasers, further extending their cool image and status.

At the heart of this transaction, however, is the issue of “the innovation divide”, where larger process driven companies are not always as flexible and in tune with the rapidly changing technologies and consumer demands that startups seem to easily tap into. This is why we have seen Facebook acquiring WhatsApp and Oculus. as well as Google acquiring Nest.

The real challenge faced when executing such acquisitions is being able to blend the cultures and mindsets of the new company with the dominant corporate culture that prevails. This may seem easy but the reality is that the founders and creative thought leaders who drive the acquired company usually leave fairly quickly. What can Apple do to prevent this happening and also create a mechanism and process for future acquisition and expansion going forward? The key may be keeping them as independent operations and brands supported by the power of the Apple global logistics, branding and design machine.

Are there other reasons that Apple should be considering this broader transformation? At the recent DLD NYC Conference, Scott Galloway identified that technology is a terrible business to be in because: “If you don’t reinvent it every year, your stock gets hammered”. He stated that “you want to be in a business that leads with your heart not your head, as it results in irrational wants and needs which in turn lead to larger margins”; he believes that the investment community has recognized this, giving Cartier as an example of having a larger market cap than Deutsche Telecom. Galloway identified that “the best neighborhood in the world is luxury” and although, in his opinion, Apple is the best house brand in the world, it’s in a bad neighborhood which can be a “terrible stock strategy”. He believes that Apple needs to transition its business into the luxury neighborhood in order to become a great iconic luxury brand and, in so doing, become the first trillion dollar market cap company. There seems to be strong evidence that Apple has already initiated this transformation with the appointments of Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry, and Paul DeNeve, former CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, into key positions within its organization.

The possibility is that the acquisition of Beats could be Apple’s fledgling step to creating not just a single luxury brand but a house of brands, similar to LVMH, with multiple appeal points for a broader global audience, rather than limiting their offering to a single brand or a single technology. The creation of a new techno-luxury house of brands supports Apple’s quest to become the first trillion dollar market cap company, and the company’s transformative strategy indicates a return to its historic reputation for unpredictability!

Steve Bell, President, 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 or visit our website at
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

The digital paradox: 5 questions to address

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

We identified in our last blog that CEO’s face a huge paradox: how do they adapt to new digital technologies and adopt social media but at the same time not lose momentum, market share or profitability?

Good inter-departmental collaboration is crucial, and we addressed how social media strategy shared across a company can act as a catalyst for change and engagement. Another more critical problem that organizations have to wrestle with is that their resources have been stretched thinly as the severe economic conditions of the last three years have forced them to focus on efficiency and effectiveness. Processes and systems have been tightened at the same time that personnel has been slashed, resulting in fewer people having to take on more.

The crisis occurs when these fully stretched, 100% loaded systems need to be fundamentally changed in order to adapt to new business model requirements brought about by the digital economy. It’s one thing to introduce a new system but if you don’t have the time and resources to provide the training and support to upgrade and develop necessary staff skills and knowledge, the business will likely implode.

No one is saying that this change is easy but it’s possible to plan and manage this transition effectively with forethought and assistance from external expertise. The key is for companies to have a clear vision and game plan that they can share, communicate and implement internally in order to be able to make this transition run smoothly.

The following are 5 initial questions that you should be asking as you consider embracing digital technologies and adopting a social media strategy for your business:

1. Is your organization structured to engage your customer base and respond proactively to your customers, or will it be you who has to react?
2. Do you have policies to guide & enable your staff to interact, monitor and evolve the message that you want delivered with social media?
3. Will your new digital business strategy and IT systems be architected to allow Marketing to have flexible best-of-breed tools, and at the same time enable integration into existing information solutions that ensure secure data storage?
4. What process will you use to capture ideas from social media , incubate them and determine future strategies?
5. What training & support will you provide your workforce to be better able to listen, analyze and use the information gathered, and at the same time cope with this change?

By considering these questions and having a strong game plan in place when embracing digital technology, it will mean reduced overload and more efficiency for your workforce, as well as more flexibility and adaptability for your organization. Once you involve your staff in the process, show them how simply the end result can be achieved and the benefits to both themselves and the company as a whole, they will be more willing to participate in helping you achieve this goal.

The ultimate outcome of these questions and decisions will be a transformation strategy to move the existing one dimensional business model into the multidimensional digital world in order to take advantage of the opportunities enabled by convergence technologies. Would you like a better understanding of these opportunities or do you need help addressing the challenges associated with this digital transformation? We’d be happy to assist you – just contact us at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

IT and Marketing – why is collaboration key to digital survival?

Monday, April 25th, 2011

In many businesses there is a raging distrust between IT and Marketing, resulting in a lack of communication between the two functions. As a CEO or business owner, you should be asking: why is this and what can we do about it?

The converged digital marketing channels (television, radio, Internet, mobile platforms, social media) mean that marketing strategies not only have to be cross-channel, they have to be deployed rapidly to keep up with competition and the demands of Digital Life consumers. Decades old marketing approaches to measuring, testing and analyzing such aspects as direct mail and telemarketing have to adjust to the reality that social media plays across multiple channels, as companies now have the ability to interact directly with their customers in real time.

At the same time, due to the growth of cloud computing, there has also been a pronounced shift in the IT landscape. IT professionals are now having to move away from their traditional role of standalone systems, largely servicing finance and supply chain functions, to focus on more integrated and optimized service provision for the entire business, using both internal and cloud sources. Their challenge is to manage the highly complex data that’s being generated by each element of the business, and to integrate it into user-friendly and flexible solutions to drive the business in real time. This involves a holistic understanding of all the digital components, requirements and strategies of the business, as well as the opportunities for using external services to deliver capabilities beyond those of traditional marketing departments.

It was reported in “Information Week” that nearly 2/3 of marketers said they had problems with implementing marketing software; the number one reason given was the low priority that IT gives to the marketing function. It seems that many marketers would prefer to deal with outside marketing specialists than intimidating IT departments! Very often marketing doesn’t consult with IT when selecting marketing software. Marketers don’t think that the CIO understands their objectives, and as a result many prefer for a third party to manage and analyze data for them.

Back to the CEO’s of companies – they face a huge paradox: how do they adapt to and adopt these new technologies but at the same time not lose momentum, market share or profitability? At KeySo Global, our research and experience has convinced us that the secret to success lies in breaking down the barriers and fostering better collaboration between all departments within an organization. Even more significantly, companies will be better able to respond to their customers’ needs as identified via social media; it’s almost impossible to orchestrate an effective response when departments become silos, and refuse to share information.

An effective accelerated approach is to encourage Marketing and IT to create a joint plan for social media that embraces the new emerging digital technologies, and to hold them jointly responsible to share and communicate their plan with the entire organization. They may need some facilitated help initially to achieve this goal but having a coordinated inter-departmental plan will become essential; particularly since the next major impact of digital technology on business will be the deployment of mobile technologies and eCommerce across the enterprise as a whole.

The next two years will be a very exciting time for many companies, and those that approach the challenges collaboratively will see greater and more rapid benefits; those that don’t will face some very tough issues and difficult decisions. As a business owner or CEO, it’s going to become crucial that you have a better understanding of the impact that digital technologies will have on your business, and we would be pleased to advise you on options and solutions that we at KeySo Global can help you with. Don’t hesitate to contact us at or give us a call at +1 847-478-1633 for an initial discussion and assessment. Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Is iPad off target and Nook Color in the sweet spot?

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Has Barnes and Noble accidentally stumbled upon the sweet spot in the converged space between PCs and smartphones?

Their Nook Color device, with its Android operating system, is a significant step above just being an e-reader but it doesn’t have the pretension or the price of some of the tablets that are due to arrive, or are already, on the market. The device, in addition to providing excellent reading and media experiences, can also act as a storage facility for sharing presentations and other material. I’m a convert! It’s lightweight, easy to use and read and, as I have said before, has instant-on capability, so ideal for the moments when you feel compelled to share that key slide in a quick sales pitch!

A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group implies that Barnes & Noble could have a real winner. BCG’s report, released just before Apple’s announcement of a second generation iPad on Wednesday, finds that the consumer’s growing preference is for multi-use tablets over e-readers but says that the “sweet spot” for pricing will be below $200. The fact that the Nook Color appears to be an enhanced reader and is priced at $249 indicates that it’s very close to that sweet spot.

The ability to access the online bookstore, participate in magazine subscriptions and have special offers focused on reading and leisure interests is supplemented by a growing number of applications that are available on the Android market. The Android application developer community is the secret weapon and truly enhances the value of the Nook Color to its users. According to an Engadget review, Barnes & Noble plans to launch its own Android tablet app store in the first quarter of 2011, providing a consistent, compatible application experience.

Barnes & Noble could also have the upper hand due to the fact that Apple is increasingly leveraging its iTunes store’s quasi-monopoly to extract value from the ecosystem. The most recent announcements of the 30% tax on all media content sold via the store means that the company is penalizing consumers and increasing the total cost of ownership for the iPad experience.

Barnes & Noble, with its existing books, magazine and media distribution capability, is in a strong position to offer a compelling and competitively priced reading and entertainment experience on a device that also provides Internet access and a wide variety of online applications. Combine this with an opportunity to create an enthusiastic community of users who also like to frequent the bricks and mortar stores for coffee and special offers, and the Nook Color could be the best thing since the invention of the paperback for the publishing, media and bookstore industry.

If you would like to learn how to holistically assess the market place and take advantage of Digital Life opportunities, contact us at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at

Can your business be WikiLeaks proof?

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The recent release of embarrassing U.S Government State Department cables by WikiLeaks and selected news media have been followed avidly by mainstream media. Now Forbes magazine has published a scoop interview in London with Julian Assange, the leader of the organization behind the leaks. In this interview Julian identifies that his next focus, for what he describes as Mega Leaks, will be big business. WikiLeaks is no stranger to exposing corporate wrong doing, as shown by the revelations about the collapse of Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank and the funneling of money to the proprietors and companies that they owned, or the Swiss Bank Julius Baer’s offshore tax activities. In Julian Assange’s words “WikiLeaks means it’s easier to run a good business and harder to run a bad business and all CEO’s should be encouraged by this.”
In today’s interconnected world of increased social networking, democracy of information is becoming the new standard. The concept of trust and brand become very critical to a company’s reputation in social media. As an example, the take away from the whole BP Gulf of Mexico issue is “walk the talk”. Despite BP’s best, and in some cases desperate, efforts in social media to contain the situation its focus on its brand image of being green and “beyond petroleum” was never matched by its actions or its commitments; it became hooked on its own brand myth. Environmental groups point out in the blogosphere that BP spent more on branding than renewable energy resources. Now the question of safety protocol violations, after three of the largest oil-related accidents in the past five years, means that BP’s management’s integrity is at severe risk, especially if there are any WikiLeaks.
As a result of the above, C suite executives may have been concerned about the impact of social media and what messages were being broadcast about their business into the digital world. WikiLeaks, however, has just upped the ante on the game completely! With several of our clients, one major problem area that we have identified is that they are not integrating social media as a unified element into their overall business structure and strategy. Brand messages and activity in the real world, online and via other media channels have to be consistent. Dialogues with consumers and business partners have to reflect the culture of the company, the strategic direction and positioning that management is trying to establish. For this to occur it is necessary that employees see a congruency between internal dialogues, external messages and actions taken. Without this congruency, the possibility for misalignment of intent, message and action increases. With the media driven awareness of the prevalence of secure and anonymous WikiLeaks drop boxes and of an organization committed to investigating and exposing unethical, dishonest or inconsistent actions, the opportunity for disgruntled or frustrated whistle blowing employees to ensure democracy of information just exploded exponentially.
In reality, no organization is WikiLeaks proof, despite the best promises of IT and cyber security companies. Today more openly accessible data is being generated within organizations so that it has become impossible to effectively contain and secure it. The best possible line of defense is to maintain consistently open and ethical behavior. CEO’s and boards should give serious consideration to their company’s digital footprint in terms of what their family and friends would think if its behaviors were to become public knowledge tomorrow… because they will!

Should the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) be concerned about HR creating “brand terrorists”?

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

In this global recession, when millions have lost their jobs and are seeking new employment, how many times have you heard the complaint that people apply online for a job with a reputable global company and never hear back? They go to the website, submit their resume and it disappears into the bowels of the corporation with no way to track it or follow up on it. You are at the mercy of the global HR system!

Most job applicants in this situation react the same way as consumers who have become disillusioned and frustrated by poor service or failing products. Understandably, they do not hesitate to tell family and friends about their frustrating experience. Worse, in these days of social networking, they are sharing this experience in online networking groups. This paragraph should be sending shivers down the spine of any CMO reading it!

Most HR functions will argue that they are inundated with applications and have too few resources to respond. Contrast this, however, with the challenges that most CMO’s are facing in this depressed economy. Traditional marketing tools fail to deliver and CMO’s struggle to engage with influential consumers in key social networking groups.

Most social networking and media research indicates that peer recommended brands will be those that succeed in the future. This should be a time when Marketing joins sides with HR to ensure that they are fighting the same battle and not inadvertently creating “brand terrorists” of the future.