By APNWLNS payday loans
April 30, 2013
“Maybe Microsoft suffers from too much leadership.”
That surprising statement came from an industry analyst with one of the major groups. We were recently splitting lunch and enjoying some obscenely great Silicon Valley weather, discussing the tech industry as a whole and wondering if Microsoft might soon be known only as “The Xbox Company.” We mutually marveled at how seemingly inept Microsoft has become, with one market disaster after another. Since we both had experience with start-ups and big vendors alike, the discussion focused keenly on leadership and ossification.
You never want to be the leader for the former.
Microsoft has two primary problems when it comes to innovation, the first of which is that they remain consumed by former glories and the old ways of thinking. This same analyst told me that – at least until recently – Microsoft sized their markets based on the number of PCs in an organization, not the number of information workers. Like the IBM of old where all activities revolved around the mainframe, Microsoft revolves too much of its thinking around desktops. Given mobility and Microsoft’s late/flawed strategy for making mobile work, it may be that their PC inertia is throttling their other ambitions.
This is sadly amusing given that mobile is a very personal computing experience and Microsoft started as a personal computer company. To flounder so badly at this fundamentally personal computing pivot point would be perplexing were it not for historical comparisons. The most vivid is IBM, who despite bringing Microsoft to fame via the original PC, was myopically focused on their mainframes. Indeed, much of IBM’s PC business was constrained by making the little machines part of the mainframe ecosystem, not letting it evolve and profiting from that evolution. One could argue (and I will) that Windows 8 was an attempt to bridge mobile to maintain desktop superiority, and failed both markets.
This may be why my analyst friend thinks Microsoft suffers from too much leadership, for they led the Microsoft troops into creating a digital Frankenstein monster that was universally repulsive.
The intersection of markets, trends, leadership and management is conceptually simple. An organization is either ahead or behind a trend (really great companies create trends out of stuff thinner than air). This is where leadership is essential, because leading requires creating and communicating a vision of something that doesn’t exist. Even Microsoft demonstrates this from time to time as they did with their Xbox project, which was so tangent to desktop computing that Microsoft had no choice but to let the Xbox team take their own path.
Management is the essential antithesis of leadership. It is a more mechanical process, one driven by numbers and bureaucracy. Leadership into new markets requires decentralization and flexibility, whereas maintaining a product line leans on management. The tangent problem herein is that management can be infected by inertia, such as Microsoft counting PCs and not people as their market. For Microsoft to have a chance requires delivering different products to different groups, and this requires different groups within Microsoft lead by different visionaries, bridging teams only when necessary. It is a really good to have a single underlying software architecture, but leave the user experience and marketing thereof to decentralized team leaders. After delivering a core OS, separate servers, desktops, mobile and games entirely. Leave the applications group to decide on which platforms they can make a buck.
Microsoft may not have too much leadership, but what they have is too highly concentrated in a single place.
February 5, 2013
Say goodbye to television (I tossed all mine in the recycling bin several years ago … quite a liberating experience).
Broadcast TV’s days are numbered, though when it will fade into distant technology memories is uncertain. Market forces can never be denied, and we are witnessing new and highly profitable ways of wasting people’s time (seriously, have you ever seen an episode of The View?). Broadcast TV’s demise will come both from consumer preference and the profit motives of providers and advertisers.
Is there any way we can speed-up the process? Please!
Broadcasting has always been a limited medium. Necessary in pre-digital and bandwidth poor eras, broadcasting was expensive and required people to be couch-bound at specific days and times lest they miss their favorite mental gruel. The high cost of entry isolated many creative people and separated viewers from buckets of new and potentially tastier gruel. Even starting a local television station, much less a national network, was expensive beyond anyone’s dreams. Cheap satellite bandwidth and cable affiliations went a long way to dropping barriers to entry, but it still required herculean effort to launch a TV channel.
Now anyone with a PC can do it on YouTube, and low-budget blockbusters are appearing on the likes of Netflix.
As with all things, following the money will tell you what will be profitable in the future. Netcasting (to hijack the term) is the tsunami that will eventually relegate network television to has-been status. Already people of all ages are migrating to non-broadcast consumption (that my daughter and father both consume non-broadcast media is an indicator of how viable and rapid this shift is). There are a number of customer, vendor and advertiser advantages that make netcasting an inarguable next phase in the numbing of human minds:
Asyncronisty: People have complex lives and non-aligned schedules. Netcasting allows them to consume content at their leisure, which makes them a more obtainable audience (larger viewer share).
Social: Office water coolers were broadcast television’s social media, and were thus limited to whoever was at the water cooler. Netcasting has built-in social sharing, and thus drives consumption faster, wider and deeper.
Targeting: Since people happily give some information to providers like Netflix and Amazon, it is easier for providers to attract advertisers since they can precisely target ads to the viewer (my wife and I get different ads even when we watch the same program – I get truck ads and she gets beauty product ads).
Modeling: Providers teaming with advertisers are tying big data on the back ends to model viewer behavior and consumption, making everything from A/B testing to remarketing fast, cheap and effective.
Scale: Try to scale any of this with a broadcast model. You can’t.
Say goodbye to the likes of ABC, NBC and CBS. Punt Big Bird to Roku. Turn your cable provider into a cheap bandwidth vendor. Say hello to being tightly identified, monitored and tracked so that you are compelled into buying more than ever before … and loving it.
July 11, 2012
When it comes to marketing, is your company a guru, sportsman or warrior?
This may not be an exhaustive list of psychologies, but these three traits cover most go-to-market plans and mentalities I have encountered in B2B marketing. They can be as individual as the CMO or corporate-wide traits. Each has its own operational MO and they apply well to different markets. Pitted against one another, any can win depending on the market they seek to exploit. With some overlap, market dominating mutts can be whelped.
Gurus: Passive marketing, which these days is largely typified by social media marketing, is nearly spiritual. It seeks to affectionately coax buyers to come forward — encouraging, not pushing. Gurus play the long game and seek actual relationships with customers, and are willing to take time, invest effort and wait for returns.
Sportsmen: These are people who keep score. Market share, quarterly revenues, and win/loss ratios. For them the thrill of marketing has little to do with happy customers or even market dominance. They are in the game for the same reason amateur rugby players give blood on the weekend — the thrill of competition.
Warriors: Total market domination, bordering on bloodlust, it what drives these marketers and companies. It is not enough to win; their competitors must be deposited in unemployment lines, run into bankruptcy and dumped in the dead pool.
Start-ups routinely choose marketing chiefs without regard to the type of drive they display which will, by the nature of start-ups, infect the entire organization. Start-ups in early markets can both afford and benefit from the guru approach. With few competitors and buyers requiring education, long evaluations and a lot of handholding, guruism has benefits.
Fast moving but not-yet mature markets require hiring sportsmen. Constant advancement is the goal because these markets are foot races. Since there is no way to wage war against multiple nimble competitors, start-ups in these markets need to grab as much land as quickly as possible to stake a beachhead.
Warriors tend to do well in any market, but thrive in crowded and mature markets. For them winning is everything and no (un)reasonable means of draining life from competitors will be ignored. Warriors can where white, black and gray hats and change headgear as needed. They can poetically sing their product’s value propositions one moment, then pump FUD into media ears in the next.
Warriors with any armament (budget) are the most dangerous competitors and have high success rates (Larry Ellison is a market warrior and has created a dark empire based on total market dominance desires). They actually enjoy reading about competitor failure and pop champagne when another goes nipples-up. Their eyes even look a bit sinister.
Ask yourself which phase of maturity your market is in. Then ask which psychology works best for the next few years and if your marketing squad is headed by the right personality type. If lucky, you hired a marketer with multiple personality disorder who can switch between guru, sportsman and warrior as needed.
February 22, 2011
Who wants $29B a year?
The ubiquity of cell phones has not gone unnoticed by anybody, even the stodgy old banker down at your local branch (though he merely finds his daughter’s monthly texting charges aggravating).Â Even the most primitive of modern cell phones is a small computer with wireless data capabilities.Â With cell phone penetration nearing 80% in the United States, and emerging nations adopting cellular as their first telecommunications infrastructure, soon a cell phone will be owned and operated by every homo sapiens and a few lower order mammals as well (cats will not deign to dial themselves … that’s what they keep humans for).
Thus, folks who earn a dime from financing a dollar are interested in using any technology to speed payments.Â In our fast paced modern world, waiting behind someone using an ATM card at Starbucks seems like an incredible waste of time.Â Hence the rapid move by nearly everyone to engineer Near Field Communication (NFC) payment systems.Â The credit card companies want to, because they know NFC will eat away at their earnings ($39B between American Express, MasterCard and Visa alone last year).Â Apple, Google and Nokia want a slice of that too, though instead of the industry standard 2.16%, Apple will likely demand 30% of each transaction.
The math is compelling.
A little more than half of the world’s nearly seven billion people live in industrialized areas, and most have cell phones or are too old/young to enjoy being annoyed at every hour of the day and night.Â Shortly, 80% of these 3.4 billion industrialized people will have a handset, just like the U.S.Â Assuming that the average Joe, Jane or Jinjing makes a mere three small transactions each day, and that a single penny was collected for financially facilitating (and expediting) those transactions, there is about $29B to be made by implementing cell phone based payment systems.Â Much more money is at stake when we get realistic about the number and size of each transaction and the service fee collected for them
That’s not chump change, not even to Eric Schmidt.
Hence every handset and mobile OS maker is racing to engineer, certify and deploy NFC, which allows a payment to be made simply by putting a cell phone near a cash register and authorizing the transaction.Â No card to swipe, no PIN to enter, no slip to sign, no change to be given back.Â It is a win-win for everyone involved, which is why each technology and financial business wants first-mover advantage in order to keep everyone else from succeeding.
Which is why Android, again, is an interesting marketing lesson.
Unlike Apple (where the OS, hardware and overlording is supplied by one vendor) or Nokia (where the dismal duo of them and Microsoft are way behind), Android is growing virus-like by design.Â Google wanted fast, wide and deep Android penetration (fast as in “roll out a new cell phone design tomorrow”, wide as in “every vendor in every country” and deep as in “every possible cell phone price point”).Â This is why a mobile OS that was unknown two years ago is now out-shipping all others.Â Hence, Google is best positioned to leverage mass adoption of an operating system (on which they make no money) for services, including payment services.
An oft repeated marketing lesson at Marketing Memos is that ubiquity brings tangent rewards.Â Google could have cloned the Microsoft model and charged per-instance licenses for Android, and it would have been as popular as toe fungus.Â Instead, Google worked long, hard and gave away Android in order to make money later, in advertising, in impulse sales and in NFC enabled payments.
Technology exists to achieve something.Â The computer, OS and word process I use was purchased in order to communicate to you.Â Android was developed and disseminated in order to earn $29B later.
February 15, 2011
Next Page »
Mobile is a microcosm for market mechanics.
In recent weeks we witnessed the mobile market churning in seemingly random directions, but each has actually affirmed fundamental and very mechanical aspects of every market.
When Nokia makes a bold move by adopting Microsoft’s mobile operating system, it asserted one market imperative. When HP and Google forced Apple to blink, another market realty was at play. As Google’s Android OS heads toward ubiquity, yet a third force of marketing was displayed.
Commoditization: All markets commoditize over time as competitors provide similar or identical features. In the mobile market, Google is the major force toward commoditization as they emulate what Microsoft did with desktops (indeed, the rumor that Android and webOS will one day appear on phones, pads and laptops has caused Microsoft to publicly panic). More to the point, Google is forcing features down the price chain, assuring that Apple, HP and Microsoft follow, reducing differentiation between mobile environments.
Differentiation: With Android now leading mobile OS shipments and displacing Nokia’s Symbian OS as the top platform, Nokia sought differentiation without ruinous investments. Adopting Microsoft’s mobile operating system provided them market differentiation because, frankly, nobody else was using Windows Mobile. Nokia had only a few options aside from being assimilated into the Android universe, and one of those options — continued development of Symbian — was not working.
Whole product partnerships: Content will drive much of the mobile market as witnessed by music, e-books and magazines. Apple, as they are want to do, tried too hard to control content, hoping to get a slice of everybody’s pie as they did selling tunes. Magazine publishers (part of the mobile whole product mix) resisted, insisting that Apple share subscriber information. Google and HP (webOS) took the other path, giving publishers subscriber info and a larger piece of subscription revenues. Apple was forced to do likewise, reverting back to the industry norm that every participant in a whole product gets to do it their way, keeping control and money.
The marketing lesson herein is that market mechanics and forces are always stronger than any vendor. As strategists, we always maintain awareness of each market force and pick alternatives that ride market forces, not fight them. Nokia will attempt to ride a differentiation wave, Google drives the commoditization wave, and Apple bows to whole product realities.
It is as predictable as a politician’s promise is unreliable.