Verizon Wireless announced today that they are opening up their network.
Verizon Wireless today announced that it will provide customers the option to use, on its nationwide wireless network, wireless devices, software and applications not offered by the company. Verizon Wireless plans to have this new choice available to customers throughout the country by the end of 2008.
I suppose many would like to think that this is PR move or a reaction to Google's recent announcements (e.g., Android, 700 MHz) or Sprint's (Xohm), but it has likely been in the works for a long time as these things often are. The GSM operators are a bit more open already in that you can bring your own device to their network. Sprint announced (ok, build plans could be on hold and a lot of uncertainty here) their open network. This left Verizon among the largest players here in the US. I think it's less of a reaction and more of an acknowledgement of the inevitable. It's better to manage change than to react to it once it's too late.
I shan't translate today's Japanese blog entry into English. I think that my "subway series" metaphor for the Rudy vs. Hillary battle might not impress you English speakers...
But I will make my observation that Social Computing has grown tremendously in significance since the "Deaniacs" of 2003/2004 used online networks to get young people engaged with a political campaign, raising funds and assembling like-minded people behind their candidate.
Fast foward to 2007 --Today, you only need to Google the name of a candidate currently vying for the Republican or Democratic nomination to find a gamut of Facebook pages, MySpace pages, Twitter feeds and other Social Computing tools. To an outsider like me (I'm British) it appears that the US candidates cannot ignore the power of online communities of interested voters.
By contrast, I think that Japan's electoral machines are still stuck in the era of the stump speech. If you visit Japan during a pre-election period, you will see trucks with loud speakers outside all major stations, from which the political candidates deliver their amplified message toward the commuters and passers-by. I can't believe that it's an effective strategy for motivating voters.
Like my flights to and from Barcelona, this blog post is rather late...
On Friday morning, I spoke about the need for us to reconsider customers on a social level. As marketers, we find ourselves relying more and more on consumers to impact others in their purchase decisions. Evaluating customers based only on their business or financial value - such as my much-loved Life Time Value, or an operation's ROI - is *has been*.
I called for marketers to integrate a second dimension - the social value - into their thinking. What's social value? I've simplified it into 3 components:
1) A customer's knowledge and involvement - in short, his level of expertise and interest in the category and brand.
2) How he participates, and the value of his connections - what social activities is he involved with (both on and offline) and where (on what networks is he active). The value refers to the value of the connections themselves: are the communities more tightly-knit or diffused, are they public or more intimite.
3) The number of contacts the customer has in each network.
The first time I used Web analytics, I mean "really" used Web analytics, was to end an argument. I was running the technical and eCommerce department for an online retailer, a really amazing online gadgets Web site, and the creative director and managing director were near to shedding blood over the following business-critical issue: Should a button on the home page be blue or purple, or maybe it should blue plus purple (blurple), as opposed to purple + blue (purue)? Two hours had gone by, and eight people sat in the room while the two worked themselves further and further away from rational thought and principles of civilized behaviour. I feared for the health, safety and sanity of my work colleagues.
So, I think it's safe to say that I used Web analytics for the first time as an act of sheer desperation. I used to it end the argument once and for all -- I logged in to our new Web analytics software while the two fought, and was able to show them that not only did the customers not care what colour the button was, but in fact, not a single customer had used the button in 6 months.
If you've never been to Barcelona, you may not know that the local language here is actually not Spanish...it's Catalan, the native language of Barcelona's region: Catalunya. Children here are taught in Catalan, and while many also learn Spanish and likely English, I've run into several locals who speak only Catalan. And then of course, since the attendees at our event are from all over Europe, there are dozens of languages filling the air during networking breaks and one on one sessions.
I mention this because it struck me that as the world becomes a smaller place (easier to travel anywhere you like, similar businesses/foods in different regions around the world, even the same pop-culture icons and references), cultures are becoming fiercely proprietary about the things that do define their culture from another: like language. What a perfect thing to establish who is qualified to be a member of a given community? If you speak our language, you must be similar enough to us, and proud enough of our heritage to be in our community. Language then, isn't just a mode of communication; it is also an expression of identity.
[Guest post by Mary Pilecki, Senior Analyst, Financial Services]
This morning, Mats Torstendahl, CEO of Danske Bank Sweden spoke about the bank's efforts to stand out among many competitors and grow market share. Over the past ten years the bank has redefined its branch strategy to focus it on advice, rather than transactions. Over 65% of the bank's customers perform transactions through e-banking, and are turning to the branches for face to face advice on their finances. Danske Bank is targeting entrepreneurial type people to manage their branches, and empower them to price products as needed -- as long as they meet overall financial goals. They've also resized branches to be smaller and more boutique-like, placing them in less expensive real estate such as the second floor of buildings, and on the outskirts of cities, rather than in prime commercial space. Customers have embraced the new approach, preferring the better parking facilities in outlying areas, and the VIP feeling when they have to be "buzzed through" the locked doors of branches.
Jay Stevens is the Vice President of Operations for MySpace Europe. He's got a long background in the internet industry, and shared with me his background in communications and the web.
Key nuggets from his presentation:
History of MySpace: Launched in Jan 2004, by Tom Anderson and Chris de Wolfe. Grown from roughly 1MM uniques throughout Europe to more than 24MM today. There are currently 175 employees in 10 European territories.
What's a social network? Individual profiles, semi persistent public commentary on the profile, a traversable public articulated social network displayed in correlate to the profile. -From Dana Boyd