Another great invention
As Cloud become more popular there all kind of flavors of Cloud coming about. Although variety is great but a lot of variety tends to add confusions. There still a lot of industry leaders still trying to figure out how Cloud would fit their needs. A lot of the popularity around Cloud has been in the small medium business space but there are some enterprises that not yet made the jump due to security or the lack of clarity in that context.
Enterprises want the flexibility of Public Cloud but also want the security and control provided by the Public Cloud. How do companies get such flexibility? Yes I agree private cloud address those issues but elasticity is lacking and it does not change the age old behavior for IT to overbuy hardware for those “Just in case” situations. Only to find out that the additional hardware purchased could not accommodate the “just in case” scenario”.
There is a third kind of Cloud and it is called “Virtual Private Cloud” . Virtual Private Clouds have the elasticity of the public cloud but all the administrative and security control of a private cloud. Even though some public cloud providers claim that their environment offers complete administrative control of the Application (load) in their environment in most case that is not the case. Virtual private Clouds allow for that flexibility and offer complete administrative control and has been customized to the need of the organization that wants to adopt the cloud.
The new “Hybrid” Environments .. In most cases hybrid environments allow organization to mix up both Public and in-house “Private” instance to establish cost effectiveness (for more information on Hybrid Cloud Environments ). Virtual Private Cloud add a new dimension and flexibility that an organization might have not explored. I have captured some of the basic differences between the 3 variants that I highlight in the blog. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
Virtual Private Cloud
Every now and then I hear that it is hard to find out what is the ROI in doing social media. Honestly I find such statement to full of baloney? The old adage “there is no such thing as a free lunch” comes to mind… why would a business take the time and money and do social media without knowing what the ROI is ?
Sadly most business think about social media is all about awareness… The problem with awareness is how do you know, what is working? And how do you know that because of a social media campaign people are coming and buying and how many more people are they bringing based on the experience they had on your website, your store, etc. Awareness is nice to have, but that awareness needs to mean something.
Before starting a social media campaign … understand what outcome you want to drive i.e. define success
Just like when you take on any new business venture there is a success criteria that you have in mind. You may not hit the target in a straight shot manner but you want to minimize the variance between you want to be versus where you get to … (which is why I have always wondered my christopher columbus is called a great discoverer because he was way off the mark on reaching India but that is a blog for a different day) . The same concept applies when you start a social media campaign… what is the outcome that you want to drive ? Is it to Maximize buyers of your product and services? Is it to minimize the time to discover you product and services or is it to make sure that influential people are talking about your product or service … So know the outcome you want to drive … and please let it not be “awareness”. Here are some examples of how can you calculate some elements of Social media ROI.
Net Promoter Score
When you start a social media campaign, the ideal state is to know the economical value of each of the followers you gain on twitter or have an additional like on your Facebook page. In order to understand Net Promoter Score.
Start with the baseline on where you are at before the campaign. Know when the campaign ends … please do not keep a campaign running for long time otherwise it is a useless process
My example of calculating a Net promoter score is as follows :
An additional follower on Twitter brings in 5 additional followers (amplification factor of 5)
NPS = Net increase in sales / Net growth of Twitter follower based on the campaign
Now you can know the amplification factor and you know the economic value of each follower
When you run a social media campaign, it is best to run a campaign with a special URL. Why a special URL ? Well thanks to the wonders of the web we have entered a new world of behavioral segmentation instead of the age old demographic segmentation. The web allows for great flexibility to learn and know exactly what potential clients are doing when they get to your site. When you run a social campaign have a customized URL and have your website instrumented with your favorite analytics tools. With your customized URL you can validate if you see increase in purchases based on the social media campaign.
Net increase traffic = Traffic after campaign – Traffic before campaign
% of Buying versus visiting = # of Purchases/ #Net Increase in traffic
A good barometer would be at least 10 % of visits generated are actually buying … but if your visits are just 10 people from the whole campaign …then there is something that is generally wrong with your site.
How many users are returning ?? This question is usually looked over as we are usually smitten by net new transactions versus existing ones. Remember the existing clients are the ones that got you here and yes those new clients that you acquired via the campaign if they return to the site and purchase more, well that is good too. Thanks to Cookie technology on the web, marketers and technologists know whether you are new visitor or returning visitor. In this case you want to look at
% Returning visitors = #Returning visitors/ Net increase in total traffic
% Purchases made by Returning visitors = # of Purchases/ #Returning visitors
if the Returning visitors percentage is high (i.e. over 50%) that means the most responsive group to your campaign has been your existing client base .. which is a good thing … but then you have to ask yourself the following questions
Are these clients bringing new clients ? ( Going back to our NPS discussion)
What are the additional things are they buying ?
What is the average size of purchase for returning clients ?
These are the kind of questions that will help you develop and maintain a social media program and increase investment in social media outreach programs
Earned Media Value
If you end up using an agency to do your work… then it makes sense to hold them accountable for the work they are delivering. Thanks to Web analytics we can hold them accountable if there is a white paper campaign based on the business goal you have identified then make sure you have elements in place for the right attribution of such efforts and have identified the right KPI. Don’t just stop at looking the #of downloads or the # of Shares of your content … look how that actually impacted the overall sales or whether or not the link back actually helped your ranking on Google’s SERP results.. these things matter. You can also look at overall sentiment data as well such as
# of Negative Mentions/ # of Positive Mentions (High percentage means you have brand problem)
If you are resolving issues via Social media as in support then you want to look at things like
Avg. time to resolve an issue
# of complaints received/ # complaints resolved
Frequency of contact with the client on the complaint
These are just some examples of Earned Media Value. You are building a presence for your brand and with your community.
Cost of fan acquisition
This is also an overlooked element on social media campaign. People tend to forget that social media is an investment and it does not come free. There is work involved and the cost is not just promotional material cost. The cost of fan acquisition includes the following elements
- Cost of the team involved in Social media outreach (Companies that do this wrong have a common pool of social media “experts” or have one person dedicated to an entire brand). Remember with social media you reap what you sow.
- Time spent on researching the topic before developing the campaign ( there are ways to calculate this .. such as Looking at the hourly rate of the person hired and amount of hours spent on research)
- Then obviously campaign development
- Campaign execution and testing
On the last point of iteration… believe me you will be iterating a lot during the campaign. Although a lot of might be assuming that a social campaign can be time bound and it can be, but social program do not finish as the next social outreach starts as the prior one ends… all of this is all series a iteration.
This blog is by no means exhaustive… but it is a list of things that have worked for me. If you have any additional ideas and thoughts please feel free to share. I have value your opinion good or bad.
Don’t forget if you do social media with a goal and purpose in mind… you can have a lot of fun.
Future of Product Management in the context of SaaS
A combination of the rise of software as a service and the increasingly complex analytics available to companies will commoditize an increasing number of white-collar jobs. In the first post on this topic, we examined how several upper middle-class jobs within ‘outer functions’ such as HR, sales, and marketing would be eliminated by the growth and adoption of cloud technologies. In this article, we assess how the cloud could automate roles within “core” functions such as such as product management, IT, and R&D. We also examine the overall effect this commoditization will have on middle management roles.
Transformation of product managers into design experts
A product manager’s primary responsibility is to interact with customers, and distill their requirements into a set of prioritized features for R&D to build out. A product manager is seen as the ultimate owner of the product roadmap, and consequently, sets the schedule of when…
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Yes … In case you were living under a rock…. cloud computing is where it is at. I am sure you have you have heard all great analogies about how cloud computing is making computing utilitarian and it is the harbinger of new sets of innovations analogous to the innovations that came out of the industrial revolution when electricity and transportation became utilitarian, which meant people could put their respective factories up wherever they wanted instead of being close to waterways. Here is a picture of Ludwigshafen Germany in 1881. Imagine living here at that time period and thanks to the innovations that were brought about by utilitarian services
This is how we see Ludwigshafen today ….
So there are clearly some benefits that can achieved by cloud computing in the same vein … in the early 90’s you needed several thousands of dollars to start up a company today people can start companies in less than $2000 think about that for minute.
Multi-tenancy Applications and Small Companies
Small companies are the first to gravitate towards multi-tenant environments since they have very little to product… their focus is primarily to get the product out and use whatever capability to get a robust product set . Multi-tenancy Applications are like a youth hostels where you may have a place to bunk but you have community showers or shared showers. For most small companies this is ok as long as their stuff is not exposed to some one else or someone else’s stuff is not exposed to them… but there is not guarantee that it might not happen. Please understand I am not saying that Multi-tenancy is bad … it is just that there are certain types of clients that will gravitate towards that. Now Sales Force is definitely an exception where they are making improvements to secure information of companies to appeal to Enterprise clients. But there are some barriers for Enterprises to adopt Multi-tenant environments, I have tried to explain a few (this is not a exhaustive list)
Issues with Multi-tenant Applications and Enterprises
Enterprises need to know where their data stored, especially non-US based enterprises that may want flexibility in where their data located. Thanks to the recent news around Edward Snowden and folks this has become a major issue with a lot of Enterprises. Suppose your competitor is also using the same service as you.. would you want your sales lead information be stored in the same server as your competitors ??? Think about that for a minute
Yes all cloud providers will say their applications are secure and that information is well protect. Imagine in a multi-tenant environment shares the same database, the data base administrator decides to implement a policy to which your company will not subscribe to. Remember how you feel when you get something that you really did not ask for and you really did not want but you got it …. Now you have to figure out you are going to sell this change back your management chain.
I am not saying that people are staying still and that their is no development happening here but not a lot has been about it so far..
3) Limited Power
Look around there are limits to how much data you can put or store in some of these environments.. Yes you can pay for more database space and more storage etc but what if it is was just a unique phenomenon. The other thing to add here some capabilities will be stunted because the provide the simplest common denominator. For example a Cloud provider can support multiple languages but not the one for the market you are going after… now what do you do ?
4) Could end being more costly
Yes.. you have low utilization rates.. but what about the cost of rewriting your application to support multi-tenant environments.. this stuff is not cheap, it is expensive. If you are in the business of continuous delivery you need to have significant ROI and client base to get even break even. What if you decide you want to change your provider what happens then ?
What could be better?
I am a big fan of virtual private clouds… Virtual private clouds address all the issues that I have identified. Think about virtual private clouds like a condo building where each unit has their own personality and has their own usage model and the kind of database, application you need etc. etc.
Now if you are enterprise or a small company that is trying to attract larger clients … virtual private clouds could be for you. What are the benefits though?
1) You are the master of your own instance
2) You can have the kind of applications or service that you want
3) You can upgrade when you like and you are not bound by the providers discretion
4) You can move your entire application to a different provider with minimal costs
5) In the long run it turns out to be a heck of a lot cheaper than being on multi-tenant instance (Another blog post on this later)
I am intrigued about your opinions and thoughts on this matter…
In the spirit of full disclosure, I believe multi-tenant applications will be get better but the future will be a hybrid of sorts, since I believe in the vision of Cloud so much… I have decided to join a company that provides such utilities to enterprise clients … please go check out the company and also let me know what you think ? http://wp.me/P3eSgZ-ly
This is an interesting analysis about Correlation is not Causation
I know there is a big business out there on helping clients get high ranking websites created (I do not think there is anything wrong with that). The problem that I have is that people treat SEO as if it is a way to outsmart search engines. In order to be relevant in SEO world the cardinal rule is that you need great content. With all the technicalities that are involved in building a high ranking site it actually comes down to 3 things. Yes I said 3 things and does not require the knowledge of any dark art (there are a lot of free tools out there that help you do this).
The Site needs to be “crawlable” by Search Engines
What do I mean by this? Well if you have spent the time to create a great website you need to make sure that the search engines can crawl the information and index your page. It is great that you want to have great AJAX and Flash apps on your landing page but if the search engine cannot read it then it is not useful.
The other element from an indexing standpoint is to make sure URL relevant having long and difficult to crawl URLs just as an example this URL will never work
I mean look at the URL it makes you cringe… do you have any idea what that URL means? now imagine what it would look to algorithm ?
So I implore you to create pages that can be crawled by search engines
Use Keywords that clients will use to search for the product or service
This is the other part people generally tend to ignore. There are plenty of free tools out there to show you which keywords people are using to search for products and services similar to yours. So you might be asking yourself why is this important ? Well making your site readable and indexed by search engine is just one part of the equation. You need to make sure you have right keywords as well. Keywords tell search engines what your page is about . This is important as it helps the search engine index the information in your page appropriately.
Caution: This does not mean you stuff you page with Keywords (search engine algorithms are pretty smart these days especially Google’s). You can have keywords or Keyphrase. A keyword is like “Pre-owned” and Keyphrase (or group) is like “Pre-owned Cars” the latter lets the search engine know that your page is about Pre-owned cars not pre-owned everything … Simple locations to include keywords are the following
- Title tag
- Meta tag description (this is the spot where most people stuff with Keywords please do not do that )
- headline tags
- Body copy
Make sure to have the Keywords or Keyphrase early on the web page to help with the indexing
Out of all the things that make your site rank high, this is the most important of all. Find the most important and influential site in your domain area and have them link back to your site. Since this is an important element it is also the hardest …. why ? because you have engage with some of the influencers on that the site and have them find your contribution useful to their site, so that they reciprocate in kind (although this is rare). This also means that you have killer content on your site that is meaningful. Natural links will occur over time as you engage more and also have structured content syndication plans. Having link backs from reputable pages is important as well (Pagerank or Web of Trust is your friend here). Search Engines are smart if you have artificially created linkbacks. One thing to remember have minimal amounts of links from the referring pages otherwise you can cause link dilution.
As you can see SEO is not a dark art, but is more implementing a methodical approach to reach the goal of your website (there is needs to be a tight alignment between SEO strategy and the reason to exist for your website). There are several books and resources out there but one the best place that has worked for is http://searchenginewatch.com which is a comprehensive site to help out people (I am not in anyway shape or form affiliated with Search Engine Watch team, I just like their product)
anyway enjoy the new year celebrations
Yes I know it is New years Eve and we all have festivities planned for the clock to midnight and ring in the New Year. Well as part of my goodbye to 2013 … I hope one day the media that charges astronomical amounts to air commercials goes away like 2013.
Just for the record I am not against commercials! If a commercial encourages someone to do something whether emotional or otherwise is a great thing. The problem I have about the medium airing traditional commercials is that the attribution model really sucks! Yes I have heard the excuse that certain commercials are “branding” or “awareness” campaigns hence are not measurable! I think that is just a bogus argument! For a “branding” or “awareness” campaign to truly work, there needs to be action that attributed to the campaign, such as more visitors, increase in sales etc. The problem with a commercial airing and the ensuing increase in sale is not directly implied it is best a proxy … which is ridiculous in this day and age. Why is it that the traditional media companies are charging millions of dollars for mere seconds ?
The reason I believe is because of something called value to media versus value to customer. Advertisers in general focus on impressions but there is very little ROI to show for (there is a fix for that but apparently a lot of folks have not made the leap yet). Traditional media companies thrive on impressions (whether they convert for business, that is a different matter) and because they own rights to certain events that guarantee eyeballs (i.e. impressions) to advertisers they charge for the medium not for the customer utility. I understand that Super Bowl commercials are an institution but really! What is the effectiveness of that medium (besides the proxy attribution world we have been living with)? How do you know that some one bought something because they saw a particular Ad on TV or because of a bill board on Times Square?
This is why I believe the web and mobile will change all this … we are gradually working towards a model where we can attribute what actions caused our clients to do anything whether buy, visit our site, interact with our mobile app etc. Some of the more effective Super Bowl Ads are by Coca Cola (because you get text something back the company). So if a customer found something valuable out a commercial they are willing to text something back … which then feeds into brand loyalty and potentially future acquisition of a Coca Cola Product.
In the past commercials relied a lot on the “Halo” effect of their commercials and the traditional media companies made a mint by charging an arm and leg. In the future traditional media companies need to revisit their business model in order to survive in the commercial world and figure out how they plan to incorporate the “value to customer” angle, “value of media” is going away just like 2013.
Happy New Year everyone !! Looking forward to a great 2014!
“No one can predict the future. Hindsight is required to tell us what works and what doesn’t. And while we’re waiting for the conditions to be just right, the beauty and excitement of life is flying right on by. So ignore all of that doubt-inducing information and be driven by curiosity and passion. Have the wisdom and courage to follow your heart” – Tom Asacker
Before doing anything there will be several sign posts out there asking you not to attempt anything. The worst thing you could ever do is not do anything at all so go out there and do something! Value is created by doing something not by sitting on the sidelines and watching the world go by…