Natural user interfaces - notes from the field

Last week I was once again hustling through a brutal travel week (10,000 miles in the air and two packed red-eyes) when I came across something really interesting. It was ~ 9 AM and I'd just gotten off AA flight 4389 from Toronto. I was a bit bleary eyed from a 4 AM call with a Finnish customer and was just trying to schlep my way to the Admiral's club for a cup of coffee when I stumbled across Accenture's Interactive Network display at the juncture of terminal H and K.

 

THis is a picture of a screen for the Accenture Interactive Network, at American's terminal at O'Hare

 

So what? You might ask, it's just a big screen and we already know our future is minority report -right? Yes - those of us in the echo chamber might know that, but what really struck me was watching my fellow travelers and how they interacted with the display. I sat and watched for about 10 minutes (while forgetting about the sorely needed cuppa joe) and just watched people as they started to walk past, then pause, then go up to the screen and start playing with it. On average folks would stay for a few minutes and read some of the latest news feeds, then hurry on to their next stop. But what I really found intriguing was how they interacted with the system:

 

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The Information Workplace Gets Social

"Super, then you'll have plenty to talk about!"

                                           Greg Marmalard, Animal House

Collaboration and social technologies continue to be hot in 2010. In Forrester's 2009 Enterprise Software Survey, we asked respondents to rate the following on a scale of 1-5:

How important are the following software initiatives in supporting your firm's current business goals?

          -Increase deployment and use of collaboration technologies

58% answered 4 or 5. In conversations with clients, it's clear that as we exit the current recession and enter a new economy, firms are betting on knowledge workers to drive competitive differentiation in the same manner that they bet on technology to drive efficiency in the early to mid-90's. The trend is particularly strong in North America and Western Europe where big bets are being made on innovation, design and other differentiation that will derive from more efficient, better connected knowledge workers.

This trend indicates high level, organizational goals and is likely to be more dependent on sociology than technology. The truth of the matter is that firms that have made large investments in collaboration, particularly social technologies, and have not made an accompanying investment in driving organizational and cultural change, have struggled. Why then, the trend toward investments in collaboration technologies?

The answer is that technology will support the efforts in a very significant way. And, in the case of social technologies, 2010 will be a break out year. Why? The market is clearly hungry for solutions and the vendors are poised to deliver.

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Integrating Social Media Into B2B Marketing Strategies: A (Final) Webinar With Harte-Hanks

Four years ago, I waved good-bye to my Pharma industry research and began writing about B2B marketing best practices, as part of Forrester's marketing and strategy research group headed up by Elana Anderson. Harte-Hanks sponsored my first Webinar in this new role -- called "Improving the Maturity of your Lead Management Process" -- and Elana and I teamed up to present the webcast that aired on June 7, 2006. At that time, my research on lead management best practices was only beginning and social media was an emerging concept that Charlene Li had just started to explore in Forrester's seminal research, the "Social Computing" report. A lot has changed since then.

Through an amazing coincidence, my life as one of Forrester's top B2B marketing analysts begins and ends with Harte-Hanks. Tomorrow, March 30, I will broadcast my last Webinar with Forrester and I am so very pleased to do so with folks at Harte-Hanks who helped me launch this journey.

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Word of Mouth and Social Media: A Tale of Two Burger Joints

AJ Bombers

Image by tray via Flickr

I moved to the Bay Area from Milwaukee about five months ago.  Among the things I miss from my hometown are my two favorite burger restaurants--AJ Bombers and Sobelman's.  Both have used Word of Mouth (WOM) to become successful small businesses, but while one built its buzz over 10 years, the other used social media to become a success in just one year.  The stories of these two businesses can provide insight and inspiration to much larger brands seeking to create benefits with social media.    

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ROI, Wal-mart and SKU reduction--and what we may learn about Social Media ROI

I've recently found myself in interesting discussions--one might call some of them debates--about ROI and Social Media.  In recent weeks, Social Media ROI was the agenda for meetings with several clients, the focus of a panel on which I participated at Digiday Social, and a lively topic of discussion at a dinner of marketing leaders in town for the OMMA Global event.  And today I read an article about Wal-Mart that got me to thinking about the dangers of too narrowly defining ROI.

 

It's interesting to hear the wide range of attitudes toward social media ROI.  Some companies measure quite a bit about their social media activities but do not evaluate ROI in its most literal definition:  The financial return generated by a specific monetary investment.  Others go through a great deal of effort to measure ROI, creating complex models to calculate an approximation of financial return. 

 

Some in the direct marketing space are beginning to value their social media efforts much as they do their PPC campaigns--assessing the cost of participation compared to the clicks, conversions and sales generated from trackable links seeded into tweets and Facebook posts.  This sort of measurement is essential and inevitable for companies that sell direct to consumers, but it's important companies not become overly narrow and begin to assess social media as just another click-generating channel. 

 

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My blog: The End of the Road or a Change of Lanes?

In three days, it will be the two year anniversary of my first blog post on Experience: The Blog.  Originally intended to be an exploration of experiential marketing strategies, my interest and focus quickly turned to social media and how the growth of the peer-to-peer groundswell creates challenges and opportunities for marketers.  It is apt to recall how my blog started as one thing and became another, because change is in the air again.  I'd like to reflect on that change, put it into context and invite you to join me as I shift my blog publishing to a new address.

A month ago, news broke that Forrester would be altering its blog policies and analysts would shift their industry-related blogging into a new, common platform on Forrester.com.  I posted at the time that I believed aggregating Forrester's thought leadership in one place made sense and that I was eager to continue blogging, sharing news and building my reputation within the new Forrester blog. 

The reaction was swift and emotional.  Hundreds of tweets and blog posts weighed in on the topic; a few supported the new blogging policies, but most did not.  One person tweeted I was "licking the boots of (my) corporate paymasters," and a friend sent heartfelt condolences at the loss of my blog.  I ignored the tweet and assured my friend that I was not progressing through any of the stages of grief (unless bemusement was one of those stages.)

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The Secret Of Successful Social Communities: 4 Social Needs

Ever since I first started working with online social communities I've been thinking about just what it is that makes some communities successful while others fizzle and die. In particular I'm curious why collaboration communities seem to be so hard to make work.

Of course we have plenty of research into the strategies and tactics involved in setting up and running a successful social community, and we continue to publish new research and insights each month. But what do we know about the real reasons why individuals take the time to participate in these communities? What motivates them? And if we can understand what motivates them, is there a connection to figuring out why some communities are more successful than others?

While doing recent research on social computing initiatives I got to thinking on this problem again. Recently I made the connection to Abraham Maslow's work on the hierarchy of needs

Maslow suggested all people are motivated by a desire to fulfill basic human needs in an ascending hierarchy. He also suggested that unless the lower-order needs are fulfilled, the higher-order needs are not motivators of behavior.

The primary needs Maslow identified fall into five groups:

  • Physiological: breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion
  • Safety: security of: body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property.
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How Do You Keep Mass Influencers Engaged? An Example from TripAdvisor

In the Forrester report, Tapping The Entire Online Peer Influence Pyramid, we introduced the Mass Influencer, a category of online influencer comprised of people who create most of the peer impressions about about brands in social channels.  Although just 16 percent of the online population, Mass Influencers create 80 percent of all peer impressions about products and services.

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