Information technology, gadgets, social media, libraries, design, marketing, higher ed, data visualization, educational technology, mobility, innovation, strategy, trends and futures. . . 

Posts suspended for a bit while I settle into a new job. . . 


Enterprises and User Experience

And how. Think about the interfaces/systems your company makes you use, and then compare those user experiences to those of nearly every system/interface you use in your personal life -- Gmail, Amazon, your bank's app, Dropbox, Keep, Starbucks, Twitter; even for a service as complex as Evernote.*

*Not iTunes; as a user expereince, it's a train wreck, I think. 

See this piece in TechCrunch by Todd McKinnon that captures -- in part using as an example -- the problem enterprises have: not focusing on what users want to do, versus what IT wants users to do. 

Perfecting The Enterprise End User Experience

Posted [February 2, 2014] 

Editor’s note: Todd McKinnon is CEO of identity management firm Okta. Follow him on Twitter @toddmckinnon.

Everyone talks about user experience. It’s often referred to in terms of how “sticky” an app is: how easy it is to use, how engaging it is, how relevant it is to what users are doing, etc. All are elements that contribute to a compelling experience, regardless of industry or app type. But while user experience is well understood and has always been core to the development and success of consumer-facing apps, the same is hardly true in the enterprise world.

So why is that and what are we – as enterprise software companies – doing about it?

To make a lasting impact and to drive change within it requires an entirely new way of thinking about software development and large-scale technology projects. It’s also one that suggests we look to our consumer counterparts for guidance on how to put the user first and build technology second.

If we mimic companies like Uber and GoPro – resisting the temptation to simply recreate old experiences in a new environment – we’ll enable entirely new, powerful use cases. We’ll move away from the old standard of iteration to a new standard of true innovation. We’ll create business value that didn’t exist previously that ultimately makes companies more competitive. We’ll make the economy stronger. We might even make the world better.

It’s a massive challenge, but it’s also a massive opportunity.

Article continues at link. 



Social Media Skills for Leadership

McKinsey, the consultancy, publishes a piece in its McKinsey Quarterly (a publication I recommend; see here to subscribe) about the perspectives leaders should have vis-a-vis social media. 

My own perspective regarding "organizational media literacy" -- to use McKinsey's construct -- is subsumed to my philosophy regarding communication generally; namely, that 1) it's a core value for leaders -- both internal communication (within the organization) and external communication -- and 2) it's a management expectation -- managers are expected to integrate good communication throughout their work, and not expect that some other part of the organization will worry about it. 

Six social-media skills every leader needs

Organizational social-media literacy is fast becoming a source of competitive advantage. Learn, through the lens of executives at General Electric, how you and your leaders can keep up.

February 2013 | by Roland Deiser and Sylvain Newton

Few domains in business and society have been untouched by the emerging social-media revolution—one that is not even a decade old. Many organizations have been responding to that new reality, realizing the power and the potential of this technology for corporate life: wikis enable more efficient virtual collaboration in cross-functional projects; internal blogs, discussion boards, and YouTube channels encourage global conversations and knowledge sharing; sophisticated viral media campaigns engage customers and create brand loyalty; next-generation products are codeveloped in open-innovation processes; and corporate leaders work on shaping their enterprise 2.0 strategy.

This radical change has created a dilemma for senior executives: while the potential of social media seems immense, the inherent risks create uncertainty and unease. By nature unbridled, these new communications media can let internal and privileged information suddenly go public virally. What’s more, there’s a mismatch between the logic of participatory media and the still-reigning 20th-century model of management and organizations, with its emphasis on linear processes and control. Social media encourages horizontal collaboration and unscripted conversations that travel in random paths across management hierarchies. It thereby short-circuits established power dynamics and traditional lines of communication.

We believe that capitalizing on the transformational power of social media while mitigating its risks calls for a new type of leader. The dynamics of social media amplify the need for qualities that have long been a staple of effective leadership, such as strategic creativity, authentic communication, and the ability to deal with a corporation’s social and political dynamics and to design an agile and responsive organization.

Social media also adds new dimensions to these traits. For example, it requires the ability to create compelling, engaging multimedia content. Leaders need to excel at cocreation and collaboration—the currencies of the social-media world. Executives must understand the nature of different social-media tools and the unruly forces they can unleash.

Equally important, there’s an organizational dimension: leaders must cultivate a new, technologically linked social infrastructure that by design promotes constant interaction across physical and geographical boundaries, as well as self-organized discourse and exchange.

We call this interplay of leadership skills and related organizational-design principles organizational media literacy, which we define along six dimensions that are interdependent and feed on one another (exhibit).

Article continues at link. 

The six skills are captured in this graphic from the article (click to enlarge). 



Trends in 2014: Frog

Frog is probably one of the lesser-known design (innovation) firms: "Founded in 1969 by Hartmut Esslinger, frog is a global innovation firm with an interdisciplinary team of more than 600 designers, strategists, and technologists. Frog creates products and services across consumer electronics, telecommunications, healthcare, energy, automotive, media, entertainment, education, finance, retail and fashion."

In this brief survey in Fast Company's Co. DESIGN, folks from Frog opine about 2014's tech trends. 

15 Tech Trends That Will Define 2014, Selected By Frog



Through a pessimistic lens, 2013 looked like the dystopian future we’ve been warned about. We learned the NSA can spy on our every word, right as Google shared a breakthrough product that could put a camera and microphone on everyone’s face. Amazon wanted to replace UPS with autonomous drones, but the humans who weren’t downsized would soon be driven door to door by an emasculating robot chauffeur. So what will 2014 bring? Frog design expects that this is the year of technological kickback, when privacy goes mainstream and we take the reins on our own quantified self, when artists tame 3-D printers and we learn to unplug. And yes...when drones, driverless cars, and the digital dragon that is China rise to change our economy, and our lives, forever.

Article continues at link. 

I like these three as interesting or likely, or both: 


San Francisco startup Uber has led the revolution of personal transportation: Click to order, and minutes later your personal, quality-checked driver arrives, with the payment taken care of behind the scenes. 2014 will see this “on-demand” model extend across other personal services, from home maintenance to dog walking. Appliance repair person? Your device says they’re only three minutes away. --Michael Robertson


How long you slept and how fast you ran won’t be the only quantified elements of your life. Quantifying your time at work will become the norm: How, when, and where you spend your time at work will be automatically captured and translated into timesheets, project management software, and analytics dashboards. Expect debates about privacy rights and coercive versus caring uses of the technology --Clint Rule


Technology has always helped us solve problems and extend our potential. Until now our technological tools were external add-ons, largely separate from our bodies. Today they are evolving on a new path integrating with our physiology; we are “hacking” the human body and the senses. Wearable technology, such as Google Glass, is an example of the first generation of consumer products that is changing the way we think about technology extending our potential. But it’s only the beginning: system-powered exoskeletons, and bionic arms, feet, and eyes, are the next phase. --Antonio De Pasquale


Benedict Evans

I cannot think of a single publication, newsletter, blog, website, whatever, about internet generally and mobile, in particular, as uniformly excellent as Benedict Evans' work. See his site.

Evans covers ". . . everything around mobile platforms, operators, technology, tablets, digital publishing, network economics and business models." He sends out an email newsletter every Sunday -- I've reproduced part of January 26's below -- comprising everything interesting he's seen in tech and mobile, with his view on what it means, together with a digest of his blog posts. (He also does a podcast.) 

Evans has just been recruited to join the venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz. He says he's going to keep publishing this newsletter; I sure hope he does -- it's the single best thing in my information stream. 


Wearables for 2014

I think smartwatches, as one type of wearable (others including wristbands and glasses), definitely has legs in the market, notwithstanding naysayers. . .

Via TechHive, here is a thorough, 25-slide survey of some wearables destined to come to market during 2014. Jon Phillips, the writer/compiler, wisely "generally avoided eyewear that isn’t designed to be worn throughout the course of a normal day [like the Oculus Rift and, arguably, Google Glass], as well as fit-tech devices with narrow, ultra-specific use cases." 

Prepare your body parts for more! 24 wearables to watch in 2014

Jon Phillips @jonphillipssf  Jan 14, 2014 

They’re coming for your foreheads and wrists

Don’t be alarmed. At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the tech industry effectively proclaimed 2014 will be the year of wearable gadgetry, but your body parts are still safe from exploitation—at least until all the gear in this slideshow begins to ship.

Follow along as I reveal the more intriguing wearables I saw in Las Vegas. This is by no means a complete representation of all the face- and wrist-mounted gadgets demoed at the show.

See link above. 

Here are three I find particularly interesting. (Click images for full size.) 

Sony Core Smartband 

Peeble Steel smartwatch (I really like my original Pebble)

Garmin Vivofit activity tracker