Monthly Archives: April 2011

Typewriter goes by the way of the Dodo bird

According to Mashable the last manufacturer of the typewriter has closed its doors: click here for article. I am dating myself, but I remember taking typing classes on…typewriters! I did not  have a fancy iPhone or Android phone so was not born with a qwerty key board in my hands. I used to have to write my essays on paper…gasp. I had to wrestle with a typewriter when I was applying to colleges, making sure my paper applications aligned properly with the keys, now kids just fill out simple on line forms! When I was in college I was able to borrow my friends word processors, the technology savvy cousin to the typewriter. I spent many a late nights staring blindly into a light grey screen with simple text. In graduate school I finally moved up to a full blown computer – granted it was a  Compaq desk top not a fancy laptop.

Today I type on my iPhone, my laptop, my iPad and even my television screen. I think there is an old typewriter somewhere in my parents house, I will need to find it and send it to some museum or just keep it so I can one day show my grandkids what I had to endure to publish a document. Where it actually took some physical strength to put words on paper and where Courier was the only font one could choose!

The end of the typewriter is a reminder of how quickly technology moves. The first patent for the typewriter came out in 1868, that is a pretty good run for technology. Because of its mechanics we are forever (well at least for the foreseeable future) destined to type on a qwerty keyboard, rather than one where the keys are more efficiently positioned.  The typewriter is also a great case study for the value of open standards – how many devices have a non qwerty keyboard? The typewriter had its day in the sun, and will forever hold a place in the halls of game changing technologies. However, like the VCR, rotary phone, Atari and countless other technologies will make way for newer, faster, cooler and more powerful devices and technologies.

What technology or device do we have today that could last for 100 years in its existing form?


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Filed under Current Events, Technology

Customer service…learn from Starbucks

Okay, this is a blatant plug for my local Starbucks, but this morning I experienced great customer service and made me think about how other companies and industries could learn from this. The situation – I ordered my coffee drink, which was served to me barely tepid, and it was suppose to be hot. I informed them of this problem and was immediately told I would get a new, hot drink. No surprise there.

What was pleasant was the other worker who was running the cash register overheard this and immediately fished into the food case to give me a complimentary pastry. Now let us put aside the fact I did not need the extra calories nor sugar, but ensuring client satisfaction was exemplary. Regardless of having to make me two drinks and give me a free pastry, Starbucks still made margin off my sale and I knew that, but the anticipation of what might become a disgruntled client is a lesson we can all learn.

Thinking back to my former life in supply chain, that is one of the promised capabilities with good supply chain planning, execution and monitoring. For example, you are a computer chip manufacturer and realize that you will have a shortfall with delivery of your product to certain consumer electronic manufacturer. If you had good front and back facing visibility you could reach out to that consumer electronic manufacturer’s end client and offer a 10% rebate on their next order…or pay for the shipping due to delay.

Not only will you make the end consumer happy – you anticipated a delay and gave them something of value – but you also make your client happy since you made their customer happy. Oh and you gain some brand recognition with a client who otherwise might not know about you.

Of course companies will need the appropriate systems in place to anticipate and act on such situations. Something to think about next time you are at Starbucks or wondering about how to generate better customer service.

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Filed under Supply Chain

If you can’t buy them for $6b…try to beat them!

On the heels of the new Google social bonus structure, it appears that Latitude (Google’s answer to Foursquare and Groupon) will integrate local deals with the check in options. The fact that Google was slow to game with this feature – Foursquare bolstered their deal function earlier this year – reinforces the reality that Google is playing a bit of a catch up game in the social space.

Maybe Google should add some coupon type functions to the web location as well…you search for the latest Adidas Predator boots for your weekend soccer team, Google brings you to a few vendors…give the user a discount for “checking in” on those web sites. Play to your strength of search both for physical locations as well as web locations.

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Filed under Location Based Applications

Google’s quest to be more social – the carrot

A recent  memo from Google about integrating a bonus multiplier tied to their social strategy demonstrates one of two things:

  1. Google gets the need to embrace the social wave and is at the forefront by integrating a multiplier into employees’ bonus that is directly tied to social.
  2. Google has tried everything in the social sphere and failed…this is a last ditch effort.

I think it is a bit of both. The fact that Google will elevate the importance of being more involved with social into compensation puts this on par with other metrics such as revenue, cost savings, customer satisfaction to name a few. Kudos to Google to understanding the importance of a social strategy.

Yet there is also a sliver of caution, Google is still struggling to find success with their social strategy. This is not for a lack of trying; click here for a walk down Google social memory lane. Of course there is also the most recent social failure from Google, when Groupon said thanks but no thanks to $6billion! Google, much like Apple, has failed to find a viable option to challenge Facebook in the social space. This latest internal change from Google demonstrates an understanding of the importance of social but also the failures of the search giant in the space.

Kudos to Google for elevating the importance of social within their company, but just giving your employees a bonus multiplier for being more social does not mean you will become a social software force.

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Filed under Social media, Technology

Online surveys….give us a map!

Okay this might be more of a rant than anything else, but I recently took a trip on Jet Blue. My first experience with the airline and was overall happy with the flight. It safely took me to my destination and back. At the end of the day that is the essential, look at what happened with Southwest!

Like other vendors, they sent me an online survey to ask for some input on my experience and because I am a marketing “professional” I decided to take the survey. Which I proceeded to abandon, at what point I have no idea! And that is my point. A simple map or status update for online surveying is BASIC. So you know where you are in the process, do I have 3 more pages? 10 more? Almost done? There is nothing more frustrating than volunteering to take a survey and then getting that feeling you get when you are moving out of an apartment or house…there is always something else to pack always another item to move. I think that online surveys are wonderful tools and a great way to get valuable data and feedback. However, when you are creating one remember a few simple rules:

  • Those who take the survey are doing YOU the favor so make it as easy as possible – let survey takers have a guide of where they are in the survey.
  • Respect the survey takers time – give a sense of how long the survey might take 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 1 year?
  • Do not waste time asking questions you should be able to extrapolate based on other questions…for example: “What kind of tablet do you use?” No need to then ask “What screen size is it?” if you know that the Motorola tablet has a certain dimension and the iPad does…why ask the second question?

Come on JetBlue you are better than that!

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Filed under Marketing