Simple use of video to explain the most complex (The School of Life)

Funny, just when I needed it, this video by The School of Life showed up: a glistening example of how simple video can explain a complex idea:

There you go: everything you needed to know about Heidegger in a neat 4.17 min package.

I’m not suggesting this was done on a shoestring, but there’s enough use of stills and tight-shot studio video to make you realize this is within the grip of anyone who has a smartphone and a few well-chosen props. That gives way to a truth of modern life: the technology to produce media is as prevalent (and often the same) as that used to consume media. It’s down to us to explore the possibilities of production and get jiggy with it.

Finding a Google+ numeric ID

If you are working with the Google+ API for tracking or other purposes, you may have noticed that you need to match against the numeric ID for the G+ user account.

This isn’t the easiest thing to find and took me and a vendor quite a while so let me share what I figured out.

There are effectively 2 ways:

1) Via the URL of the profile page

This one is pretty straightforward Winking smile For some accounts, clicking on a profile will take you to a URL like this:
https://plus.google.com/116376707133710026460/posts

Here the numeric ID is 116376707133710026460.

2) Via the link URL in posts

Now, for some G+ accounts, the URL structure is different. For instance, if you click on my G+ profile, you end up here:
https://plus.google.com/+darylpereira/posts

So, how do I get to my numeric ID? You go to one of the user’s posts (you need to have public posts for this to work) and right-click and select ‘Copy link address’ or ‘Copy URL’ or whatever the option is for your browser:

Google Plus Numeric ID

If you paste this URL into a doc, you’ll see it’s in this format:
https://plus.google.com/112665405531807287877

So, the numeric ID for my account is: 112665405531807287877. 

Voila! I hope this helps if ever you have a service which needs numeric Google Plus IDs.

Comments on ‘Advocate Marketing Explained’ (@briangladstein)

I like the way Brian Gladstein makes his point in this presentation on Advocate Marketing:

It’s interesting that Brian focuses on the customer as advocate and not other groups such as employees or partners. That said, he does make the case why customers are increasingly important for SaaS providers whose customers can switch services at the drop of a credit card.

What struck me as interesting:

  • You should think way beyond just social media activation, but consider engaging advocates for product innovation, speaking at conferences, training.
  • Buyers get 57% of the way through the buying process before they talk to a sales rep. I’ve seen similar stats for the amount of time purchasers spend off-domain before they visit your website. Bottom line: you need to externalize as much of your marketing as possible. 
  • The agreement is one that should have mutual benefit. Make sure you are giving as much as you are getting!

If you want to find out more about Brian and this area, check out Explorics.

Don’t undervalue the power of the dorm room citizen developer

One of the big findings from the 2014 IBM Business Tech Trends study was the fact that companies are finding more value from attracting armies of developers who had no previous affiliation with themselves (who we call citizen developers). For instance, IBM in partnership with the City of Honolulu opened up a platform to allow local programmers to build useful mobile apps based on information such as bus timetables and walking routes:

Anything new? At one level, barely. After all Linus Torsvalds energized a body of developers to build the Linux OS and revolutionize the software industry almost 20 years ago. Since then, we’ve seen the rise of Kaggle, Kickstarter and hackathons in just about every major city bringing ‘citizen developers’ to work on all kinds of projects. 

However, at another level, we are now seeing businesses big and small really start to engage the citizen developer. Why? Huge amounts of compute power are now available via the cloud. Mobile has simplified the distribution and consumption of applications. Analytics helps organizations understand which services are most popular and prioritize those.

Get it right and businesses can get many more solutions faster to market than they could ever do with their internal teams. Also, many times citizen developers build apps that are useful to themselves and by extension a broader audience.

So, if you’re bought in this far and wondering how you get hold of a bunch of citizen developers, I’d suggest there’s two great places you should look: inside your own walls and inside dorm rooms. Look for a follow-up post on the employee as citizen developer. Right now I want to focus on the student developers.

Why do students develop code?

So, what’s their motivation? They are itching to build a name for themselves. They often have more time on their hands and they may be to some degree suitably disgruntled with the status quo. Enough to try and shake it up.

In an excellent post in the New York Times, writer Ariel Kaminer, looks at students that have been building apps to make college life simpler using available college data, many times without the knowledge of the college. Based on the work of these student citizen developers:

“Students now arriving for fall semester may find course catalogs that they can instantly sort and re-sort according to every imaginable search criteria. Scheduling programs that allow someone to find the 47 different classes that meet Thursdays at 8:30 p.m., then narrow them down to those that have no prerequisites, then narrow again to those that count toward requirements in two majors.”

Can you think of a better way for a CompSci major to stand out with their peers?

Ariel goes on to show how some schools have embraced and legitimized these kinds of grassroots applications, but in other instances these have caused a headache for unprepared colleges, bringing down parts of their IT services.

There’s a clear lesson here for business: if you bury your head in the sand and don’t think citizen developers (students or otherwise) can scrape your content and build applications on top of it, beware! On the other hand if you build a platform and enable the citizen developer, you may be pleasantly surprised.

As was the University of Stuttgart when they ran a hackathon on the IBM Bluemix PaaS platform. Within 24 hours student teams had built apps that “ranged from the photo-sharing via Twitter analysis to the weather-dependent wake-up call, the eventual winner app.”

Getting started

So, businesses can potentially get better by engaging citizen developers, some of whom are on a local campus. How can you engage them?

If you have a training arm or other part of your organization that works with educational establishments (even if it’s predominantly faculty you work with), reach out and see what opportunities exist. If you don’t have current links with educational institutions, you can look for on-campus computer science clubs or even reach out to specific computer science faculty members (many of whom are listed on college websites these days) and look for effective partnering opportunities, eg: 

- Engage in hackathons like the one in Stuttgart

- Embed cloud-based platform and data services into the classroom experience

- Bring students onto your premises to show them your development process

If you want to learn more about organizations that are partnering in inventive ways with citizen developers, check out the IBM Business Tech Trends 2014 On-Demand Presentation.

Finally, I’m using our internal slideshare: that is, IBM Docs!

You have to wonder why given the success of Slideshare (just ask its 60 million users), there there isn’t more of that kind of technology being used inside companies.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that as you progress upwards in an organization, the time you spend either producing or consuming presentations has a high propensity to rise. So kind of crazy that for a lot of us this means we’re still shifting around large presentation files using email. Email wasn’t designed for this and using file systems incurs all the costs of keeping data client-side.

So, heartened to see an executive recommend an approach that takes us a step closer to our own internal Slideshare: using our cloud-based document sharing platform, IBM Docs:

Like most of these online presentation tools (and the big daddy Slideshare), none of them do a great job of translating all the bells and whistles from PPT and keynote, and text boxes can take on a life of their own. However, there is a lot to be said for stripping presentations down to a simple, core message, and in this respect, the foibles of cloud-based slide sharing tools may actually get us to a happier place Winking smile

Obviously with this model you do get all the other advantages of collaborative software, such as the option to collaborate with others and make updates in real-time.

Hopefully we’re not too far away from that wonderful situation where all the key docs we work on are securely accessible from a wonderful, searchable cloud and the days of transporting large, unwieldy presentations are numbered (can you feel my pain?).

Try IBM Docs (part of IBM SmartCloud Engage)

Is technology helping you gain competitive advantage? (Cool use of Instagram alert)

At 1pm ET on Aug 21, the latest Business Tech Trends Study will focus in on how pace-setting organizations use social, mobile, cloud and analytics to stand out from the crowd.

As great as that will be, I do want to point out this great use of cloud/mobile/social in terms of these ‘Datagrams’ created as short Instagram videos…


Like it? Want one of your own?

Believe it or not, you can create your own ;) Unlike Vines which can only be recorded on your phone, Instagram allows you to upload your own movies. All you need to do is make sure you get the format right (including the box shape) and play within the 15 seconds you have and you can be off to the races. Check out this excellent tutorial from Photojojo for more info.

 

The impact of driverless cars on insurance

I had an interesting discussion with Lee Fogle a year ago who was them at Exigen. We talked broadly about some of the key trends in car insurance and it began to dawn what a different landscape we will have in this regard if driverless cars become the norm. Sure you can still have accidents, but now it will be the fault of the car software, not the hapless human driver.

This should leave insurance costs rapidly trending downwards. For example, there’s no reason why folks in New York shouldn’t pay the same rates as those in Idaho. Frankly, i’m surprised this didn’t come up as an example as this great article in the UK Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/10860036/Ten-ways-that-driverless-cars-will-change-the-world.html

Oh, and if you want to hear Lee share his thoughts, check out this video: http://youtu.be/Q9oDYX28Ceg