jump to navigation

Learning from a Master June 12, 2010

Posted by fredillies in Communication, Design, eBusiness, Gadgets n Gizmos, Presentations.
add a comment

While you may be tempted to pass over this post because I’m an unabashed fan of Steve Jobs and Apple, doing so would mean that you might miss out on a great learning experience…. from the Zen Master and Black Belt in Kung Fu of Business… Steve Jobs. Invest the time to watch the full Keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (http://tiny.cc/tfzsj).

You’ll see why Jobs is the master of presentation zen (ie. one of the world’s great communicators). How he lays out his story and articulates the “why they did things this way” and what it will mean for the human beings who will use their products. Notice his grace as a presenter. You can do that too – IF you break your gagillion bullet points down into the essence of what you want to communicate. You see, if you do all THAT work during your preparation and have your message broken down into a few key ideas, you’ll find you are much more relaxed giving your presentation… because then it can be truly conversational.

T4G is a great place to work because we have passionate leadership and a culture of thinking different and doing the right thing. Sound familiar? Watch this video and see if you can list some of the Apple Values. Listen to the way Jobs describes they didn’t include some things in the OS right off the bat (like Copy & Paste or Multi-tasking) because they wanted to wait until they got them to work “just right”. And the way Apple doesn’t just release a feature, but also creates software to make a delightful experiential benefit of that feature for humans (cases in point: iMovie for iPhone & Face Time Video Calling).

Oh, and for those of you interested in seeing the future of mobile advertising, check out the incredibly engaging iAd from Nissan. (oh yeah, and the part about how Apple has sold $60 Million worth of iAds to some of the biggest brands … in 8 weeks. That’s 48% of the expected worldwide expenditure for mobile advertising for the second half of 2010… and they still have 6 months to sell more)

Jobs is famous for using the term “remarkable”. IMO that word aptly describes what he has done with Apple – by having an incredibly focused vision (To make insanely great products) and to have had such success in creating an organization that lives by that mantra, delivers on it in spades, and for having truly created what our friends at Harvard call the “Virtuous Cycle”.


Kosmix – Nice Content Aggregation April 4, 2009

Posted by fredillies in eBusiness.
add a comment

picture-103 Although it’s not new, I just discovered a site called Kosmix. It’s a web search that aggregates all kind of relevant information on your search topic and presents it to you on a one page “dashboard”…. wiki info, videos, images, products, tweets, news, opinion, forum comments, etc. I really like it. Very impressive technology, and REALLY useful.

[the following from wikipedia entry] For a key word or topic that a user enters, “Kosmix gathers content from across the Web to build a sort of multimedia encyclopedia entry on the fly. By scouring the Web, the company has built a huge taxonomy, a set of nearly five million categories on topics from people and locations to car models, music groups and types of cheese. The taxonomy includes millions of connections mapping the relationship among those categories.

Another FAIL for aircanada.com February 17, 2009

Posted by fredillies in eBusiness.
1 comment so far

picture-13So last night I attempted to book a flight on aircanada.com.  All the direct flights were full, so I booked a flight that had a connection in Chicago.  I got through the arduous process only to be told at the very end that they could not complete the transaction… gave me som website error code, and told me it was a credit card issue.  (they even thought they would help by saying that if the transaction failed due to insufficient funds it may go through in a few days if the account was cleared up).  Only problem is I knew there was no problem with the credit card.  When I called Visa, they said the transaction had gone through and they even gave me the authorization code.

This morning I called Air Canada and after about 30 minutes (and a call to Visa), they admitted that they took my money but that the reservation failed because there was not enough time between planes @ O’hare.  What they said was “the system won’t let you book that flight because there isn’t enough time between the connecting flights” (like this was MY fault).  When I asked why their website DISPLAYED THAT AS A FLIGHT I COULD BOOK, they said that they ‘were only the reservations team’, and ‘they don’t program the website’.  Talk about a grade of FAIL.  Oh yeah.. and when I asked them who I could voice my disatisfaction to, they pointed me to a link on the site that wasn’t even there.

Now I get to start again and hope that the connecting flight I try and book is bookable in Air Canada’s system. Sheesh.

Google Mobile App Voice Search November 19, 2008

Posted by fredillies in eBusiness, Gadgets n Gizmos, Society & Culture.
add a comment

googleIt seems like not a week goes by without a new iPhone app being released that fits my definition of MAGIC.  There’s the app that listens to any song on the radio and tells you the name of song, artist and shows you the album art (Shazam). There’s Ocarina (Smule) that turns the iPhone into a wind instrument and shows the coolest location-based animation of the music floating up from planet earth while it’s playing the music that other people played on their iPhone.  And now…..drum roll please….  The Google iPhone App updated to include VOICE search!  Magic indeed.  I read somewhere that Google said it’s not that they have better algorithms than they used to… they just have so much more data to go against.  Just wait till Google starts selling this technology to online retailers!

Getting Mobile Right – Guiding Principles November 6, 2008

Posted by fredillies in eBusiness, Gadgets n Gizmos, Uncategorized.
1 comment so far


nytI’ve been thinking a lot about mobile apps lately. As many of you know I’m a huge fan of the iPhone… and from the day the iPhone SDK (software developers kit) and App Store were launched, I’ve been convinced that most people had no IDEA how much this was going to change the game in the mobile arena.  I sat through a session on Mobile Commerce at the Internet Retailer conference in Chicago this past summer, and the pundits from the research companies put up countless boring slides about what % of the mobile market Nokia had, and the infinitesimal % of online sales that were coming from mobile.

When it came time for audience questions, by FAR the majority of them were retailers (large & small) wanting to know about what impact they expected from the iPhone now that native apps were possible.  The “experts” on stage looked like  deer in the headlights… mumbling about “it’s still too early to tell”.  The thing was, all there presentations were about what happened in the past… not what was going to happen in the future as a result of the METEORIC adoption of this powerful and elegant device (and IMHO the first usable mobile interface).

Fast forward to today.  The number of iPhone apps is growing fast (and we can’t even SEE the real numbers because corporate apps for small numbers of users don’t need to be distributed through the App Store).  We do know that as of this summer, 35% of Fortune 500 companies are developing internal apps for iPhone (and that % has surely grown since then).  The opportunities are enormous. Which leads me the point of this post: what makes a great mobile app? What guiding principles can you follow that will guide you as you dip your toe in this raging river? (BTW, iPhone is not the only platform that will drive the growth of great mobile apps… Android promises to grow the pie even more)

1.  Its all about UTILITY.  I’m on the go, and I want specific information quickly. Although the iPhone offers the best mobile browsing experience, having your customers visit your regular website from a mobile device is not what gives utility to mobile users… that will just frustrate them.  What you need to do is think about what types of information would be most useful to your customers/consumers while they are mobile and build what amounts to small “Applets” that deliver a very small feature set very well and very quickly.

2. Once you’ve got #1 right, the next thing its about is having the DEPTH AND RELEVANCE OF DATA. This is what is useful to the mobile consumer. Being able to tap into useful data (from your systems and other public data) and create a “mash-up” is how you can really differentiate.  The ability to integrate all this on the back end is critical of course.

3. Finally, it’s about THE USER EXPERIENCE. It’s about having a simple interface (the more it can look like the elegant Apple iPhone apps the better… because the UI seems transparent to the user).  #1 above is about figuring out what small window into your massive data that you’ll expose for optimal utility. It’s the user experience that will determine what that window looks like and how easy it is for your mobile consumer to interact with all that useful data.  If you get this one wrong…. you’ll lose because you could have well-defined and focused functionality, but if it’s cumbersome for the user, they’ll move on to a competitor as fast as you can say “delete”.

Good luck with your mobile apps!

Where’s FileMaker? September 4, 2008

Posted by fredillies in eBusiness, Gadgets n Gizmos, Simplifying your life.
add a comment


As a long-time fan of both FileMaker & Apple, I’m amazed at the absence of some form of FileMaker for the iPhone.  Some time ago FM discontinued their lame FM Mobile product, but have yet to come out with a replacement.  Considering the relationship with Apple and FileMaker, I would have thought it would be a natural fit…. an elegant database “of the people” on the ultimate “smartphone of the people”. But no such luck.  I’d love to hear from anyone in the know of FileMaker’s plans in this area (maybe a super-secret project underway)?

For years I’ve created my own database solutions to make my work or life easier, and now that I have an iPhone I really want to create a version of my solutions that would work on iPhone.  Tough luck for me.  There is some good news… I’ve been folowing the development of an iPhone application called FMTouch.  It lets you sync your FM DB onto the iPhone and interact with records.  Although this is being rapidly developed with superb support from the developer, it’s still a really early stage product, and (for me anyway) has some deal-breaker limitations.

I’m not a cocoa or Objective C developer, so no matter how user-friendly the iPhone SDK may be (read “developer-friendly”) it’s not for the average (or even advanced) FM developer or hobbyist.  So the choices I’m left with are make due with an FMTouch solution, or enlist the help of an iPhone developer. Stay tuned.

On again… August 29, 2008

Posted by fredillies in eBusiness, Simplifying your life.
add a comment

Now Pageflakes is back up again…guess I better record what I have there just in case!

PagesFlakes…Yikes! August 27, 2008

Posted by fredillies in eBusiness, Simplifying your life.

For quite a while now I’ve used PageFlakes as my homepage.  This Ajax-based site is similar to NetVibes and Google Home Page.  I had it tweaked perfectly… with tabs that held instant access to work related, financial related, social related, blogs I follow, news feeds.. the works.  

Since yesterday I haven’t been able to access my page cause their site is down.  Are they out of business? who knows.  I had read that they were not doing very well compared to Netvibes.  I picked Pageflakes originally cause I liked their templates better.  The thing about these homepage sites is once you make the investment of time in one, there’s no way you’re gonna want to switch… it’s just too much work.  I only wish I had taken a snapshot of what my pages looked like so I could replicate them in Netvibes more quickly.  Hmmm…maybe I’ll check the wayback machine…

Internet Retailer Conference July 21, 2008

Posted by fredillies in eBusiness.
1 comment so far

Funny how in Canada we wait so long for Summer, and once it’s here it zips by at some kind of time-warp speed.  (I mention this as a convenient excuse for not posting in a while 😉  … well, that and the fact that it’s been a very busy year work-wise!)

In June I attended the Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago.  Like the other major ECommerce conferences (like shop.org & eTail), it was a great opportunity to take the pulse of the industry.  For me the common thread was that online retailers are striving to increase their relevance to their customers.  Of course there were lots of updates on what online retailers were doing with social media, including: 

  • Many Facebook apps (Sears Holdings social shopping for prom dresses as an example);  
  • New shopping technologies (notably ShopTogether ™ which lets friends share a common area onto which they drag products);
  • Desktop widgets that provide value to the customer and a great opportunity to push RELEVANT additional information to the customer (notably Due Maternity’s Pregnancy Countdown Clock).  

ATG’s discussion about the power of personalization has undoubtedly contributed to their huge traction with major online retailers (and even with large non-retailers who have implemented ATG for the personalization technology).  The list of major customers they’ve signed up in the last 2 quarters was incredible.

There was an outstanding presentation by Lulu.com’s founder, Canadian entrepreneur Bob Young (who also the founded Linux software company Red Hat). Bob’s presentation was incredibly refreshing in that he had NO powerpoint, and he was witty, warm and engaging.  He spoke about the vision of Lulu, the worlds fastest growing producer of on-demand books.  Lulu is a fantastic example of a Long-Tail business.

I attended a Mobile Commerce stream, and here’s what I found MOST interesting:  how many questions there were from the audience about the iPhone as a platform that they were considering developing for.  AND that all of the pundits were kind of blowing that off as insignificant (their presentations were full of graphs about mobile usage, bandwith, etc.  from the pre-iPhone era). What the audience knew is that the iPhone is a tidal wave not just because it’s a cool gadget, but because of the SUPERIOR USER EXPERIENCE relative to other mobile phones/ smartphones.  The reason the iPhone platform will be so huge is that PEOPLE will flock to a great customer experience (think about the success of iPod in the face of a multitude of other MP3 players).  Online retailers know that customers are PEOPLE and will eventually connect the dots.  It’ll be interesting to see how online retailers take advantage of this wave (my opinion is that the iPhone platform is going to [finally] going to enable mobile commerce in a way that has been envisioned since the late 90s, but which has never been realized through the mobile devices released in the last decade).

iPhone Saga February 6, 2008

Posted by fredillies in eBusiness, Gadgets n Gizmos.
1 comment so far

iphone.jpgThere’s a good article in Wired this month about the extent of the impact of Steve Jobs iPhone triumph.  Also some great history about how the iPhone came about behind the veil of secrecy.  The Untold Story: How the iPhone Blew Up the Wireless Industry  The article echos some of the thoughts I had in an earlier post 

<rant> While we’re on the subject of the iPhone, when I got into the office today, a colleague told me that Rogers had finally come out out with an unlimited data plan!  At last the way would be paved to get iPhones from a Canadian carrier!  (I gave my co-worker a huge high five, and might have even shouted Booyah!)  BUT ALAS, when I looked into the details and restrictions, I knew that the plan would not apply to iPhones.  The restrictions are sad but true proof of the sad state of what passes for competition in the Canadian Telco industry.  “Here’s an unlimited data plan..but you can’t use it with iPhone or Blackberry, and it doesn’t apply to those that use EMAIL.” There’s a great discussion thread about it here.  Most of what I want to say has already been said in the flaming comments, but I’ll add one more:  I have a secret desire that some genius hacker (who is also a champion for competition) will hack the Rogers network and bring it to a screeching halt until they offer an unlimited data plan that can be used by iPhones.  Rogers is desperately clinging to the fat profit margins of business users who need wireless data access.  It’s pathetic and I hope they burn for it. </rant>  (And now back to my otherwise happy day 🙂