robert scoble

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Google Reason.

I’m a big fan of  tech pundit Robert Scoble. (Wish he would start blogging again in earnest.) Robert has been head down lately on Artificial Intelligence. Part of his reduced visibility is because he’s trying to live a life but it’s also because AI isn’t fully baked.  

That said, the oven is coming to temperature on AI. Google unceremoniously announced a brand strategy shift yesterday.  Sundar Pichai, CEO, referred to Google as an “A.I. first” company.  This, at the launch of new Pixel smartphones, Google Home devices and VR and wireless headsets.  The NYT used this event to question Google’s hardware chops, and they’re partly right; but they are also missing the point.  AI is the haps. The incipient haps. And Google with its flattening-the-planet search business , Android OS and new data collection devices will feed that trough like no one else.

Big Data ain’t shit without reason. And reason is the reason Google and Alphabet and Amazon, don’t forget Amazon, are in business today. Might as well add IBM to the mix. Amazon isn’t overt about its plans, but rest assured they are in the AI biz.

I like to say it’s going to be a fun ride.  It is. Google is going full-on in AI. The apps to come will be ridiculous (millennial definition). And Mr. Scoble is going to be quite busy.

Peace.

PS. Oh, and Google Reason will be a brand.

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It has been a while since I watched my technology hero Robert Scoble on a video. He disappeared for a while, doing some Augmented Reality work, writing a book and living his “real world” life. Also he somewhat replaced Scobleizer.com with posts to Facebook. Anyway, I received an email from him today promoting a newsletter that will aggregate his last 5 Facebook posts and he is back on the radar. And it couldn’t be a minute too soon. I’ve felt out of tech touch. When you have more Snap stock than Snaps, something is wrong.

Pixie (getpixie.com) is a new AR tool one can load onto an iPhone to scan a room for your shit. Shit to which you’ve affixed a physical tag. If you put an electronic sticker on your keys and fire up the app, you can locate them. Near field I believe.  For peeps of a certain age (me), this will be a fun app, especially when the stickers get smaller.

I just moved to Asheville, NC, having downsized. In other words I got rid of a lot of shit. But I still have a lot of shit. Trend-wise, I think we Americans are reducing our domicile footprints but accumulating more shit. The Pixie is a neat app to help. It’s probably not the killer AR app we will ultimately cultivate but it’s a start. The killer app will likely be in the marketing realm me thinks.

Stay tuned to AR and what it portends.

Peace.

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There’s a famous David Belasco quote that goes something like this ‘If you can’t fit your idea on the back of a business card, you don’t have a clear idea.’ David was an impresario of Broadway plays.

A number of years ago I worked at a web start-up run but a mad code scientist. He was a drag-and-drop genius. Like many entrepreneurs he fancied himself the head of marketing (my job). He wrote a draft of the home page copy which my pops would have called a “doggy’s dinner” of claims, goals and marko-babble. Suffice it to say it wouldn’t fit on the back of a business card. That didn’t keep us from winning Robert Scoble’s Demo of the Year.  It did, however, keep us from becoming bah-millionaires (billionaire slash millionaire). due to feature creep and poor consumer usability.

A good brand strategy – defined as an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging – will fit on the back of a business card. It might not make you a millionaire, but it will make you an articulate marketer. And hopefully it will make your customers similarly articulate about the product. Of course that’s in the execution…which will be a topic for another day.

Peace.

 

 

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I’ve had my NYTVR (New York Times Virtual Reality) cardboard box for months but never used it until I bought an Android Phone two days ago. To say the experience was mind blowing would be an understatement. I watched the beginning of “All who remain” a VR film about the conflict in South Sudan and initially didn’t know what to do.  Watching the screen for a few minutes it seemed just an average movie, albeit with very interesting subject matter and landscapes. Then I turned my head. And realized I could look up down and all around and see my full environment. Talk about Wow out loud.

The experience was a bit trippy and the definition far from high, but the marketer in me actually saw what my brain foresaw in theory years ago.

Robert Scoble has been a fan for a while; now I see why.

Brand strategy is about creating an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging. The experience part of the equation just opened up as never before.

This is going to be some ride. Remember when 200 social media agencies open in NYC 5 years ago. We ain’t seen nothing yet.

Peace.  

 

 

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Yesterday, for a friend at Reputation Management, I wrote about brands and reputation management. Today, I’m going to take a crack at “malicious comments and trolls.”  I was director of marketing at Zude back in 2006-08, a web start-up in the social computing space. We were a drag-and-drop web authoring tool — that the brand brief referred to as “the fastest easiest way to build a website.”  Zude earned Robert Scoble’s demo of the year and we had lots of big stories on Tech Crunch, Read Write Web, Giga Om, ZDNet and more. When you get that type of pub it brings out the trolls.

Dave Berlind a key blogger and confidant at the time, told us “Correct false information immediately, but don’t get dragged in to long harangues.”  Some people just love to type and argue. Don’t give them a forum. Another time, when director of marketing at an education company – and trust me educators like to type and argue – I was careful to allow different points of view, but never attempted to tit-for-tat them. Trolls bore easily and will find new people to pester.

In Social Media Guard Rails, is a key caution that applies to trolls and malicious comments, “Don’t anger the angry.”  It’s good advice.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

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Blog Better.

I’ve written over 1,800 blog posts here at What’s The Idea? I would love to tell you it has made me rich, or famous, or a better writer. Perhaps I’m a marginally better writer. The reality is, I do this for all the above reasons yet the main reason I blog is because I like to. I like brand building. I like communications. Marketing. And I believe in the thesis that an “organizing principle for product, communications and experience” is a sound way to drive improved sales and profitability. I’m not going to go all “passion play” on you. The word is overused today.

Many blogs today are chores. They are shared by numerous writers. They are simply writing and posting. Searchable tags under the guise of an idea. Some social media tools are a lazy man’s blog. Poop out simple short snippets and drive traffic. A blog is best when an ongoing narrative with connective tissue.

To companies who feel the need to blog I say find a writer who loves the company, topic or category. Someone close enough to actually have a sense of humor about it, a sense of indignation, love and feelings. As much as I talk about good marketing being educatory, don’t use teachers to blog.

Blogs become good if they are interesting. Interesting, contextually relevant, alive and immediate. I miss Steve Rubel. Robert Scoble. Joseph Jaffe. Come back to blogging sirs. Kandee Johnson never left and her work moves the world for her readers.

Peace.

 

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slack logo

Mike Troiano, CMO of Actifio, pointed to an article today about a company called Slack that just got another round of funding, this time for $160M.  Slack is an office instant messenger, Drop Box sharing, productivity app. I’m sure there is more to it, but it does sound familiar. Anyway, Slack will take this money, bank it, then go out and buy a number of Aeron chairs, a distressed oak conference table, and 6 interactive flat screen video panels. Also lots of servers and next year’s head ware. (Last year was the fedora, this year the knit cap.) What they won’t put on their shopping list is a brand strategy.

They already have nice videos and graphics. A good logo and copy, but the most fundamental strategic document they can own, won’t even be on their radar: a brand strategy. Business plan – check. Mission statement –check. Founder’s vision – check. Cultural manifesto – check. But unless one of the founders has a brand planner as a friend, there will be no check next to brand strategy. Their VCs should know better but they don’t.

This is not meant to pick on Slack. I worked at a start-up (Zude.com) that Robert Scoble and TechCrunch loved. We failed and had a brand plan. This is not me as a furniture salesman saying every company needs new furniture. This is me as a house builder saying every house needs a design and a plan.

Good luck Slack. Get yourself a brand strategy, approve it, and stick to it. (BTW, it’s not a marketing plan.) Peace.

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Okay, there’s not an app for Christmas but there will be one for Christmas shopping.  You know how hard-to-shop-for people “Oh, I have everything I need”? It’s often true.  So how do you find a nice gift that they really want? That they like and need?  Big data.

I was watching Robert Scoble interview some big data dude yesterday on the web and the interviewee happened to mention that soon there will be 100 times more data available about consumers than ever before.  Once available, you will know I get Good and Plenty in my stocking, a rock and roll tee shirt from my kids, and shirts from my mom (16.5 neck).

It is enjoyable to find the perfect gift for the right person, but it is hard. I smell an app. The app won’t average a person’s demographics it will actually know consumption behaviors. Wear out and maybe even refill speeds.  “Dear Mr. President, please don’t collect private information on the populace – unless it’s to buy better gifts.”

Peace on earth!

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God forgive me but I’m going to disagree with Robert Scoble, my technology pundit hero. I do not think Microsoft should be split in two: one side about the enterprise and software, the other consumers and devices.  

Mr. Scoble’s logic, and it seems some Wall Street finaciers agree, suggests the business side is “crushing” it (thanks Techmeme), while the device business growing modestly at 4%. Split the company, they say, and let consumer people handle the devices and business people handle the enterprise. I say bullshit. Together there is way much more to learn. And business and marketing is all about learning. Together there will be tensions that are hurtful, yet hopefully transitional. Brothers and sisters argue but they care about the family. And if the tensions are insurmountable, there is always mother (CEO).

Microsoft has so much cash, so much penetration, and enough smart people that it can continue to innovate and make an occasional misstep.  Como se Kin?  And though Microsoft’s brand diaspora is a problem, it is getting better and is certainly fixable.  Mother?

Microsoft is a living organism. It feeds itself while feeding upon itself, yet it is still better as one. With all deference to Mr. Scoble and the financiers and lawyers, the latter motivated by a pay day, let’s not break apart the machine that is crushing it.

Peace.

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Engage Maslow.

Is it easy to engage the angry? Of course it is. Toss a match. Is it easy to engage Zen-ed out lovers of life? Sure, toss a petal or feather.

Talking sports with a sports guy, Pearl Jam with a Ten Club member, Common Core with a teacher – these are topics about which people can easily engage; even people who don’t know one another. When it comes to selling, however, engagement is not so easy.  That’s why the word “engagement” is such a popular topic in marketing.  Fred C. Poppe, often wrote about engagement in the 70s and 80 and it did him well, but today engagement is almost a cult-like pursuit. 

People are not always consumers.  Sometimes, they are just people. When you treat people as consumers you treat them differently. And they can smell you a mile away. Pop marketing suggests we need to give people things of value with our marketing and communication to earn their interest. True this. But everyone’s definition of value may change by time of day, stage of life, and as Robert Scoble will talk about in his upcoming book situational context.

The best marketing is based on a full-duplex model. A two way model. One way marketing is over. The days of things sticking to the wall are over. Today we are talking to people. People who are twitching away from our messages with increasing speed.  Planners who search for people value – think Maslow – are the best searchers. Peace.

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