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Microsoft's Intolerable Windows 10 Aggression
May 27, 2016
Microsoft seems to have gone off the deep end with its tricks to get unwilling customers to upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8 to Windows 10. Doesn't the company realize this will hurt it? Does Microsoft think it can be abusive and win? Users are complaining loudly. Why doesn't Microsoft care about the disruption it is causing? A slice of the Microsoft marketplace wants to move to Windows 10. Fine. Many of them absolutely love it. That is not the problem.
The Traction Gap
May 26, 2016
My friend and a partner at Wildcat Venture Partners, Bruce Cleveland, along with his associates, has come up with an idea that helps explain why some early-stage companies thrive and thus raise more capital, while others die on the vine. As a venture capitalist, he is always trying to figure this out, trying to determine who gets another round of funding and who doesn't.
Using the Scientific Method to Pick the Best US President
May 23, 2016
I've been thinking a lot this week about what it takes to select a strong CEO and being annoyed by robocalls from the different campaigns. On one such call, when asked what I'd do if given the choice between Clinton and Trump, my response was "move to Canada." That apparently wasn't what they were looking for. Boards often have to select from a very small pool of CEO candidates, and they don't get the "move to Canada" option.
Gadget Ogling: Speedy Tortillas, Racing Robots, and Real-Time 3D
May 20, 2016
Flatev is a pod-based system for instant tortillas in the mold of a Keurig coffee maker. Insert a pod of fresh dough -- you have several choices, all organic -- then adjust settings for type of dough and desired crispiness, and 90 seconds later you'll have a fresh, warm tortilla. There's a heated drawer to keep your tortillas warm while you make as many as you need.
Selling Imagination in the IoT Era
May 19, 2016
If you love studying technology trends and imagining what they will do for your business, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that you have a vision of how things will be, while many of those you need to partner with to achieve that vision still are trying to master the reality of today. Congratulations -- you have a combination of curiosity, prescience and nerdiness that will serve you well.
Marketing and Loyalty
May 17, 2016
The CRM industry is shining a bright light on digital marketing, and it is a sign of how early we are in the digital marketing boom that few vendors are championing the idea of using marketing in any way other than for driving sales. Based on recent events by Oracle and Salesforce, it appears that the focus on driving more sales makes perfect sense for organizations just getting their feet wet.
Could the Next Disruptive Consumer Product Be a Flip Phone?
May 16, 2016
Smartphones appear to be losing their luster, and the king of smartphones -- Apple -- clearly is not having a good year. Suddenly, I'm hearing that there is an upswing in flip phones, making this feel a bit like a Game of Thrones episode, when a believed-dead king returns to seize the throne by surprise. Clearly, the market is looking for the next big thing.
The Why of Customers
May 13, 2016
SAS Institute introduced SAS Customer Intelligence 360 at its recent Global Forum meeting. Intelligence 360 has some good ideas baked in, though some of the messaging I heard wasn't up to the level of the product or at least its intention. I suspect that will come, and it's an easy fix. The product set is divided into two major components, Discover and Engage.
The Emergence of Managed IoT Services
May 13, 2016
With every market forecast predicting rapid growth of the overall Internet of Things, industry and investor focus shifts to specific market segments that will experience the quickest adoption. While most of the attention is on applications and technologies, managed IoT services will be one of the biggest market opportunities. One challenge to widespread IoT adoption is the lack of skills.
Warehouse Clubs Ignore Customer Relationships at Their Peril
May 13, 2016
Like many, I have a love-hate relationship with warehouse clubs like Costco, Sam's Club and BJ's. I've criticized them several times over the years, but it's worth noting that some of these clubs have been improving. Others not so much. I have some ideas about what these companies are doing right and wrong, and how they can fix things to improve customer relationships, sales and profits.
Bill Gates' Open Letter
May 10, 2016
It has been 40 years since Bill Gates wrote his open letter to the software industry complaining that computer hobbyists were stealing his BASIC program. That was so long ago that Wikipedia has a picture of the source code for "Micro-Soft" BASIC on paper tape. A lot of things have changed since then. In the 1970s when Microsoft was getting started, it was common for people to copy, swap or donate software simply because they could.
The Interesting Dell + EMC Stories You Haven't Heard
May 9, 2016
I spent last week at EMC World talking to customers and both Dell and EMC employees, on the lookout for interesting stories that others hadn't picked up. I got a bunch that I think are fascinating -- stories about women in technology, billions of dollars of currently untapped revenue, and why every EMC and Dell sales rep effectively will have a dartboard with Meg Whitman's picture on it.
Sliding Revenues
May 4, 2016
Apple's earnings disappointment thudded into view last week in the middle of briefings at Oracle's Modern Marketing Experience conference. It gave me a lot to think about -- especially the difference between a one-time earnings disappointment and something more serious. I have a feeling that Apple is only the most visible instance of the wheels beginning to wobble on the truck of tech.
Gadget Ogling: Digital Doodles, Magnetic Lighting, and Alexa Everywhere
May 4, 2016
Orée's Stylograph pen, which is made of copper, can transmit your scrawls and doodles to an iOS or Android device. It houses an accelerometer and a camera on the tip to capture what you're noting. You can get two days of use from an hour's charge, and if you're away from your smartphone or tablet as you're sketching or writing, you can store the data and transfer it later.
The Customer Experience Tipping Point
May 2, 2016
Sometimes, it takes something drastic to change a business' behavior. Standard procedures can remain in place long after they've become detrimental, but sometimes it takes a tipping point to drive home the fact that failing to change is the surest way to fail. For example, the Ford Pinto's easily ruptured fuel tank could have been remedied with changes that ranged in price from $11 to $1.
Under the Shadow of Steve Jobs: Why Trump May Be Unbeatable
May 2, 2016
One of the frustrating things for me during Steve Jobs' time was that most of the folks who watched Apple go from nearly dead to the most valuable company in the world didn't seem to see anything really unusual. It was more like they were watching a great tennis player and seemingly concluding, "damn, what luck!" However, it requires a particular set of skills to do what Jobs did.
Get Ready for the Mobile Pay Explosion
April 29, 2016
Who is leading the mobile payment race? There are several players competing today. PayPal started the revolution 15 years ago, and Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay have joined the fray. Many newcomers are entering this space on a regular basis. The traditional money space has undergone change with innovations like debit cards and ATM machines, although they took a while to catch on.
Gadget Ogling: Electric Nightmares, Cold Coffee, and a Smart Clothespin
April 28, 2016
I'm quite possibly the worst person in the world at waking up, without exaggeration. As a boy, I slept through a gas explosion that destroyed a home around 100 yards from my bedroom. All too often, I rely on my partner to shake me out of my slumber, as my own alarm clock rarely does the trick. I need something a little more forceful. The Shock Clock may be just up my alley.
App Dev Today
April 27, 2016
Last year, I researched the impact of the proliferation of cloud computing on business. I know it sounds like a dry topic, but if you are a CIO or an application development manager, the results can have serious meaning. Cloud computing has deeply penetrated the enterprise and SMB ranks, and 46.3 percent of respondents said they had four or more cloud applications in use.
The Successful B2B Relationship: It's About Time
April 25, 2016
Respect is a vital ingredient in any mutually beneficial relationship, and that's never truer than in the case of business-to-business buyers and sellers. The most elementary way a seller shows a commitment to a healthy customer relationship is through an ongoing display of respect. That means a relationship in which the seller shows an understanding of the buyer's needs.
Why Is the PC Industry Trying to Kill the PC?
April 25, 2016
Every time the "PC is dead" topic comes up, an old Monty Python movie comes to mind, and I'll bet you can guess which one. PCs are on almost every desk, and the installed base is measured not in the hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands -- it is measured in the hundred millions. Brian Krzanich last week announced a massive layoff at Intel, and once again the alarm sounded.
Gadget Ogling: A 360-Degree Cam, a Leveled-Up Kindle, and a Space-Saving Home Gym
April 21, 2016
Facebook has unveiled its latest push into hardware -- an open source 360-degree camera. Bearing 17 cameras and Web-based software to render footage in 360-degrees, Facebook Surround 360 is more of a design than a commercial product. It would cost around $30,000 to build one as is, Facebook said. The idea is to allow creators to iterate on the design to create their own cameras.
Zuora Moves to the Center
April 20, 2016
Zuora, the company that made its bones in subscription billing and payments, held its annual Subscribed user meeting last week and staked out some new turf. It always has been focused on the back office, but its latest messaging included elements of the front office. Perhaps it's no surprise given CEO Tien Tzuo's history as an early luminary at Salesforce, rising to the CMO position.
What the Traditional Car Companies Don't Seem to Get
April 18, 2016
Two interesting events took place this month. Tesla announced its Model 3, a relatively affordable electric car, and it attracted around 180K preorders on the same day. That was before the company actually revealed the car. There were more than 250K preorders in the first 36 hours. Oh, and the run rate is about 1,500 per hour of pre-orders for this car right now.
Publishers vs. Brave Software: Battle for the Ad Viewer
April 14, 2016
Brave Software is a startup that has ratcheted the ad-blocking game to a new level, and it is raising a lot of stink in the online community. For many people, Web-based ads have become an intolerable, costly distraction. That has led to a variety of ad-blocking approaches. The use of ad-blocking software is growing, because users feel they are being attacked by distracting Web-based ads.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Notes, Livelier Virtual Reality, and Bigger In-Flight Movies
April 14, 2016
We've for some time had Moleskine's Smart Notebooks, which allow you to jot down your thoughts and upload them to Evernote through an app. The new Smart Writing Set takes that idea and elevates it to a new plane, letting you quickly turn scrawled notes or doodles into digital files you can edit using a computer or any mobile app -- no smartphone camera required.
Fake Loyalty
April 13, 2016
There's an interesting connection between customer relationships in subscription businesses and loyalty, Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo wrote recently. His article had particular resonance for me, since I just wrote a book about customer loyalty myself. My research is full of old-style approaches to customer loyalty that aren't really about loyalty so much as they are about, shall we say, customer coercion.
Learning to Love Virtual Reality
April 11, 2016
At Nvidia's technology conference, I saw a variety of new technologies showcased. From deep learning systems -- computers that arguably are smarter than we are -- to self-driving cars that can drive better than we can, the technological advances on display made me feel just a tad inadequate. One way to get over my sudden concern over obsolescence was to check out the virtual reality showcase.
Disrupting Software Development in an On-Demand World
April 8, 2016
The idea that software is eating the world has become a generally accepted dictum. Everywhere you look, industries and institutions are being disrupted by the unprecedented power of software. Now, the world is demanding a new way to develop software to keep pace with the pace of disruption. The greatest poster child for the brave new world of software-driven business is General Electric.
Please Hold the Music
April 6, 2016
Remember when your mother used to yell up the stairs to get you to turn your music down? Sometimes, in the age before sensitivity awareness, your dad would do the yelling and he'd substitute noise for music. Ah, the good old days. Too bad they aren't here right now yelling at vendors. ConsumerAffairs.com is the brainchild of James R. Hood, a former Washington, D.C., journalist.
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What do you think about Hillary Clinton's use of private email servers during her term as Secretary of State?
She broke the law and should go to jail.
She violated guidelines -- the issue is overblown.
She placed important state department information at risk.
Her servers might have been more secure than the government's.
I really don't care one way or the other.