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Differentiate Based on Service and Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Sep, 11, 2018 @ 17:09 PM

 

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It was great to hear Joseph Pine II of Strategic Horizons, LLP at the TIBCO NOW 2018 conference. Joseph is the author of The Experience Economy and spoke on “Innovating Beyond Goods and Services.”

Joseph began his presentation talking about the Wizard Gumball Machine which was introduced in 1993 and provides an experience for kids to pay 25 cents for a gumball. It's essentially a slot machine for kids where they'll get a quarter from their parents for a gumball. Watch the gumball go around and out the bottom of the machine and then ask their parents for another quarter.

The Wizard Gumball Machine is a great example of the progression of economic value that all commodities go through. Today, most goods are commoditized to price and services are being commoditized. Goods and services are no longer enough. To differentiate your product or service, you need to move to a new level by staging experiences for customers providing a distinct economic offering.

Create a memory which is the hallmark of the experience. Experiences are where we need to innovate.

Starbucks has driven innovation in the coffee drinking experience = Starbucks and now Nespresso is attempting to do the same thing by getting coffee drinkers to prepare their daily breakfast drink at home with the tagline, "the best café is your café." Nespresso innovated the capsule system. They designed their Nespresso machines to be an experience, and they innovated in their stores – a.k.a., espresso boutiques. They provide a service with an espresso club which replenishes your supply before you run out.

Coffee is a great example of the progression of commoditization. The grower of the beans gets two or three cents for the beans necessary for a cup of coffee. Maxwell house gets 10 to 15 cents a cup for providing a product. While the Starbucks experience is anywhere from three to seven dollars a cup.

Disney is the world’s experience stager. If selling B2B you need to provide an experience. The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is Disney for adults. Case Construction Equipment has an "Experience Center" in Tomahawk, Wisconsin where prospects can come and try the equipment in a veritable playground for construction equipment. According to Case, 20% of prospects that go to a dealer close. The close rate is 80% if the prospect goes to Tomahawk.

We’re living in an experience economy – design accordingly. Provide distinctive experiences. Make the customer's life simpler, easier and better. Distinctive experiences are memorable, reach inside, engage, create memories the customer wants to share with others.

Convenience is the antithesis of this. Services are about time well saved. More and more people spend time and money on experiences they enjoy – they value the time they spend with you = time well spent.

Las Vegas is the epicenter of the experience economy. The iPhone is the antithesis of the digital experience economy. Once you get the iPhone in your hands you customize it with your contacts, pictures, email accounts, and apps. Everyone's iPhone is unremittingly unique. That's the power of customization, it turns a good into a service.

If you customize a service you are providing an experience – a memorable experience. Progressive Insurance takes a negative experience of coming to your accident and delivering you a check on the spot along with a rental car thereby turning a horrible experience into a positive and memorable one.

We have been living in the age of mass customization. We have a portfolio of customers and everyone is unique. We offer a portfolio of capabilities. Customers get what they want at a price they are willing to pay. Anything you can digitize you can customize. That’s how you lower your cost – only give the customer what they want, nothing else, don’t overwhelm with too many choices

Know who everyone is to mass customize around each individual guest. Creating a learning relationship with every interaction. Learn > Customize > Benefit > Innovate.

If you don’t stage experiences for individual customers you will be commoditized.

Tags: customer experience, customer service, CX

How Analytics Can Help You Improve Your Customer Experience

Posted by Kayleigh Alexandra on Mon, Aug, 13, 2018 @ 12:08 PM

Image credit: Pixabay

 

The importance of exceptional customer experience (otherwise known as CX) continues to rise proportionately alongside usability standards and the surfeit of consumer options in the ecommerce world. Today, any given site must contend with more viable rivals than ever before, and provide a level of functionality that would have been top-end just a few years ago.

 

To adapt to this hotly-competitive marketplace, retailers must consistently identify and implement improvements, whether to their content, their technical configuration, or their operational procedures — and improvement wouldn’t be possible without digital analytics.

 

It is rich digital analytics that can tell you not only how your business is performing but also how each segment of your setup is contributing to the whole, and if you’re planning to bolster your CX, you should start by delving into your analytics. Here’s how they can help:

Attributing value

For ecommerce, product value is obvious and easy to follow. The price is on the page, and an order logs a set value on the system — simple. But what about the value of everything that goes into yielding that order? What is a lead worth, or a form submission? What kind of traffic matters the most?

 

Using your analytics platform, you can create custom goals with values of their own to make the distribution of value through the sales funnel infinitely more understandable. For instance, if you can see from the stats that 1 out of every 100 Twitter visits results in an order, and that the average value of an order from a Twitter referral is $100, you can attribute the value of $1 to each Twitter visit.

 

Why is this important for customer experience? Because it allows you to direct your attention where it matters. While customer experience should surpass a certain baseline of quality across the board, it’s perfectly rational to work harder to keep the most valuable customers happy, and being able to see a clear value split that takes your whole funnel into account will equip you to allocate your people-pleasing work accordingly.

Highlighting weak points

Since everyone likes and dislikes different website elements, personal tastes gets involved in websites assessments far too commonly. Perhaps a developer personally feels that a particular piece of content is underwhelming, and concludes that it needs to be removed or reworked — but the system isn’t there for the staff, it’s there for the users.

 

Assuming correct configuration, analytics will make it abundantly clear which parts of the site are working effectively and which are driving people away. Simply looking at a page funnel will quickly and unambiguously indicate which pages are losing customer interest and which are performing excellently.

 

Armed with that awareness, you can then commit time and resources to shoring up the overall chain by rehabilitating the worst performers, knowing that the investment is fully justified (as opposed to making improvements on a whim and hoping that they’ll prove significant). Since there’s no such thing as a perfect digital design, working efficiently is essential.

Revealing demographic information

If you’ve previously glossed over your analytics, then you’ll have a very unclear notion of the people using your website. You might even have extrapolated wildly-inaccurate notions of your user base from occasional support tickets, direct enquiries, or social media mentions. And if you don’t know who’s using your website, how you can provide them with an optimized experience? Beyond the basics, difference demographics have markedly different preferences.

 

By installing Google Analytics (or using an existing installation, as is more likely given the ubiquity of the software), you can take a deep dive into your metrics and find out more information about the people who spend time on your site. You can then glean insight from the commonalities about what you need to do (you may be best served using an integration-rich webstore package to start from scratch, or you may need only minor adjustments).

 

Here’s an example: the older your user base skews, the more important it will be to provide accessibility features (such as adjustable font sizes and robust support sections) and legacy compatibility (ensuring that your site is functional in old versions of Internet Explorer, etc.). However you achieve it, you must attune your system to those who’ll ultimately use it.

Identifying opportunities

Analytics grant tremendous insight into user searches, pulling data from on-site search systems and external search engines (albeit to a lesser extent in the case of the latter), and that insight is invaluable for plotting your future content and feature updates. Every case of a user searching on your site for something that isn’t there is an opportunity for growth.

 

And the prospective expansion might not even require all-new content. Suppose that your analytics showed that many of the visitors to your site were searching for a non-existent guide to using one of your products. Since product pages often feature basic instructional information as it is, there’s a good chance that you’d be able to quickly throw together a decent guide using existing copy and images, and plug that search gap with minimal effort.

 

In some cases, you may not have a clear idea of what your users are looking for with particular searches, but then your analytics data can serve as a jumping-off point for some community consultation. Reach out to your customers through social media, your website, and/or email surveying and ask them what improvements they’d make, then align the feedback with the analytics for confirmation.

 

Trying to create a great customer experience without taking full advantage of analytics is like trying to complete a puzzle in the dark. It’s technically possible, but extraordinarily unlikely, and you won’t even know if you achieve it. Only through keeping a close eye on the data can you achieve the consistent improvements that deliver consistent results.

 

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to keeping people informed about everything relating to entrepreneurial ambition and online startups. Check it out for the latest insights and stories, and follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

 

Tags: customer experience, big data, CX

The Five Senses of the Brain

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 10, 2018 @ 13:08 PM

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As a student of consumer insights, I am fascinated with the findings of NeuroFocus in “The Buying Brain” by Dr. A.K. Pradeep.

Here’s how the five senses are related to buying:

Vision

About one-fourth of the brain is involved in visual processing.  The easiest and most successful way to capture the brain’s attention is through great visuals.  Be sure nothing obscures you customer’s view of what they are scanning for.  Overly tall shelves that obscure the landscapes behind them, signage with dense text and no visuals, and narrow aisles all detract from your product and frustrate the brain.  To avoid being lost in the clutter, emphasize clean clear  lines delivered at eye level.  This affirms what designers have told us for years — white space if good!  For signage, outdoor and print ads place the object you are selling at the top of the ad.  Use puzzles that are easy to solve to draw in and entice the brain.  Brains will discount information that is incongruent with the visual stimuli it receives.

Smell

While only one percent of our brain is devoted to smell, smells are strongly linked to our emotions and memory.  Always take into account the smell of your offering.  Even if it’s the best tasting product in the category, it will fail in the marketplace if the package causes it to smell fake or plastic.  Women are more sensitive to smells than men and are far better at putting words to olfactory experiences.  Whereby men are particularly  sensitive to the smells of their beloved, perhaps correlating with the popularity of perfume for women.  Smell is the most direct route to our emotions and memory.  Being linked to a pleasant, iconic smell can significantly improve a product’s success in the marketplace.

Taste

Taste tends to correlate with smell.  If the sense of smell is lost, there is a serious reduction in the overall taste experience (i.e., flavor).  Anytime you show an appetizing product, be sure the consumer can see someone enjoying it.  Give food and beverages a visual “voice.”  Don’t display fake items around food, they detract from the realism and thus the appetite of the consumer for the product.  Tasting is one of the brain’s great pleasures hence the number of food brands offering taste samples in the retail environment.

Hearing

Hearing is vital to survival but it also allows us to generate deep nostalgic memories associated with highly emotional moments accompanied by sound.  We mark our traditional passages (e.g., weddings, funerals and graduations) with music.  The sounds your product makes and the background “noise” of the shopping environment are critical to the image of your brand.  Likewise, the sounds that accompany the user experience are critical to its enjoyment and to retention in memory.  What we hear is specialized and tuned to what interests us.  The brain will ignore distracting or disturbing noises.

Touch

Our largest sensory organ is our skin.  The most sensitive area of our body are our hands, lips, face, neck, tongue, fingertips and feet.  Products that touch those areas should be soft, sensual, pleasant, soothing and inviting.  We are sensual beings that loved to be touched.  Any product or service that is tactile must excite and invite the sense of touch.

Which of the five senses can you leverage to improve the results of your marketing?

 

Tags: consumer insights, scent marketing

Is There Still Money To Be Made With SEO?

Posted by Jennifer Dawson on Fri, Jun, 15, 2018 @ 09:06 AM

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Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

 

SEO has been at the forefront of the marketing sphere and web development for many years now. Some business owners have started to question the relevance and effectiveness of investing in either in-house SEO experts or outsourcing SEO tactics to an external agency. However, the Internet is still the fastest, easiest way to reach audiences, and there is still plenty of money to be made by employing strategic SEO practices.

In fact, so many companies in the U.S. have recognized the value in SEO, that leading annual SEO spending has increased steadily every year over the past decade - from $11.44 billion in 2008 to $72.02 billion in 2018. Even though digital marketing strategies like social media are now the hot topic of marketing teams, start-ups and small business owners recognize the massive value in cutting-edge SEO practices. On average, Google processes 40,000 search inquiries per second—adding up to 3.5 billion searches every single day. Clearly, your ideal audience’s online experience will likely begin and end based on your website or brand’s SEO, making it more important now to your profitability than ever before.

How SEO Has Shifted in the Past Few Years

Focusing on SEO best practices is essential for boosting your overall profitability, but the way you approach SEO must reflect the most up-to-date standards in order to make money. In the past, it was enough to simply publish webpages with the knowledge that it would build back-end visibility in organic search engines queries, leading to new paying customers and leads. Now, major search engines like Google have become more strategic in ranking websites so as to reduce the amount of regurgitated, fake or false content.

Just as the search engines have become increasingly strategic, your business must also delegate SEO tactics to experts that are aware of the best practices of this year. Though it is exciting that the Internet is always evolving, this means that marketers and SEO experts must stay on top of their game and be sure to incorporate the latest trends, software, and processes to their strategies in order to rake in the big bucks. The SEO practices that worked in 2016 simply do not work anymore—it is no longer about generating as much web content as possible. Instead, being in touch with current trends—such as creating long-form, keyword-rich content that can be disseminated through various inbound strategies—is critical to your company’s SEO, profitability, and overall web presence.

What Your SEO Strategy Must Now Encompass

To remain current and increase your sales, there are several updates to SEO best practices that you must be aware of. One is Google’s mobile-first indexing, which began in 2016 and continues today. Google’s mobile-first index allows Google to give content that performs best on mobile devices a higher ranking. Page load speed is therefore extremely important, so be sure to check your image sizes and browser caching before you send out content online.

Another change to SEO is that you can no longer rely entirely on back links to boost your rating on search engines. Instead, optimizing your content should be the foundation of your strategy for link building. Return links are simply not as important anymore as unique, idea-driven content is. If you have engaging content to share, chances are this content will be noticed by industry leaders—who may even share the content themselves, adding real value to your brand.

Although the best practices for SEO has shifted in recent years, it is still a highly relevant and paying technique for business owners and marketing teams to take into consideration in order to grow a company’s visibility and brand online.

Tags: SEO

The Rising Role of Email Analytics in Events Management

Posted by Jennifer Dawson on Fri, Jun, 08, 2018 @ 08:06 AM

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Photo by Slim Emcee (UG) the poet Truth_From_Africa_Photography on Unsplash

 

Big data is shaking up the business world, with revenue expected to quadruple from $33.5 billion in 2017 to around $134 billion in 2021. Despite this, most of this revenue comes from IT and tech companies, with traditional businesses struggling to wrap their heads around the analytics. If your company is in events management, then you need to start using big data to inform decisions if you wish to get ahead of the competition. Your Google SEO plan should begin with email, since this is the most effective way to advertise events services. You can improve results by investing in big data and crunching the numbers to help boost profits.

 

Emailing the Right People

Marketing experts agree that email has the greatest return on investment, ahead of social media marketing. When selling your events services, you are more likely to receive a customer through their email inbox than by taking out a paid Google or Facebook ad. However, you need to analyze the market trends in order to ensure you are reaching the right people.

 

Only a subsection of people will be interested in the events that you can provide, so don’t waste your time emailing everyone. Check the data to see which kind of people are opening your emails. The chances are, it is people who already previously expressed an interest in your service. Analysing the data allows you to pinpoint your market and target your emails more narrowly.

 

Beating the Spam Filter

Another factor big data analysis can reveal is whether your emails are getting through. You could be putting together a brilliant events newsletter with all your best offers and sending them to interested parties, but they may fall at the last hurdle and end up in the junk folder. You can adjust your marketing strategy to determine what increases delivery success rates. If you specialize in weddings, you’ll need a different strategy to a business which organizes festivals.

 

Emails should generally only be sent to potential customers who actively opted in to your services. The newsletter should then have an easy, one-click unsubscribe option. This will help the algorithms to view your email as not spam. Giving the option for users to opt out ensures you are targeting your emails more efficiently towards people interested in the events you offer.

 

Studying Action Rates

Finally, analytics will allow you to see your action rate statistics. Are you aware of how many emails it takes to get a click onto your website? Big data will tell you this. It will also reveal how changing a marketing strategy affects results.

 

For instance, you may find that scheduling your emails to go out in the spring is more effective for advertising weddings, but won’t be clicked on by people looking for events around the winter olympics. You can also view how other factors affect action rate. Perhaps some subject lines work better than others or including special offers at the top is more appealing than having it hidden in the text.

 

Events management is a changing industry and it needs to keep up with the tech giants. Big data suppliers and analytics tools are out there to help anyone with a digital marketing team. Use email for the greatest return on investment and use analytics to effectively target the right people and increase the chance of events business succeeding.

 

Likewise you need to deliver a great customer experience so consider what trade show decorators you will use to communicate a consistent brand message.

Tags: email, SEO, keywords

How Important is Live Chat? (Infographic)

Posted by Websitebuilder on Tue, Jun, 05, 2018 @ 16:06 PM

Nowadays, everything moves forward with the help of technology, so in order to be up to date with the latest trends, companies started using a software called LiveChat. Launched in 2002, LiveChat is an online customer service which offers you support and also web analytics. 
 
The online shopping market is worth more than $1.9 trillion, so being in touch with the potential customers is of utmost importance. That's why over 21,000 companies from 118 countries, aware of how much customer service is important, opted to use LiveChat. Amazon, XBOX, Nordstrom, The Bank of America, etc., are among the most famous brands that use this software.
 
According to the American Marketing Association, quality live chat applications for B2B businesses in the US increases conversions by at least 20%. 
 
The customers are the ones spreading a good word about a company and by using LiveChat the companies gain the trust of the customers. People want to buy from companies which have a good reputation because they expect that the product they chose would justify the amount of money they paid.
 
Cutting costs is another benefit that the companies will have, since it is less expensive than phone support by 400%, and the average chat agents can do the work of 15 email support employees. 
 
A fun fact is that companies get the option to see what the customers are writing even before they send the message. 
 
We can summarize that having a really good customer service is quite important for a company and LiveChat is the most convenient to customers. 
 
Please, feel free to read more interesting facts in the infographic that follows. 

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Tags: customer service, integrated marketing, omnichannel marketing and customer service, CX

6 Ways to Empower Your Employees to Be More Productive

Posted by Sylvia Giltner on Sun, Jun, 03, 2018 @ 16:06 PM

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Being a manager or a team leader can be difficult to process. While you are in charge of a group of people and have the place of authority, you also have a duty to your employees. In most cases, productivity and employee motivation is a direct reflection of their manager’s mood, experience and overall character.

This can make it difficult for young, inexperienced managers to effectively motivate employees to be engaged and  productive. Luckily, employee motivation isn’t anything new in the corporate world, so let’s take a look at some actionable and effective tips that can help you raise productivity and morale across the board.

  1. It’s not about the money

It’s true that we work for money and the ability to sustain ourselves in a modern capitalist society. However, most employees are unmotivated and lack productivity for very different reasons.

Low salary is very rarely the reason for a lack of productivity, which means you should steer clear of “bribing” employees with bonuses. Instead, communicate your displeasure with their overall (not individual) productivity.

Don’t point fingers at anyone (even if you might know who the real detractors are) and focus on the bigger picture instead. Emphasize you are also an employee like themselves and you are there for them if they need you. This will create a good starting point for your relationship and a foundation upon which productivity can be restored.

  1. Happiness versus Motivation

Don’t misinterpret employee happiness with motivation and productivity. For example, if you give your employees a box of chocolate each, they will be happier – but not more productive.

Productivity is often associated with professional development, working environment dissatisfaction, coworker misunderstandings, too much overtime, etc. It’swise to openly discuss these topics with your employees in order to determine what the real issue is.

Remember you are also under the microscope of your own manager or CEO. If the employees aren’t productive, the results will reflect that, after which you will have to explain what is going on. Make sure to have the right answers for your own boss and start communicating with your coworkers as soon as possible.

  1. Be a role-model

As we’ve mentioned before, managers and team leaders are often seen as role-models. Your coworkers, employees and office staff will most likely have aspirations for professional development. This means that they will pay close attention to the way you walk, talk and act with those inferior to you (professionally speaking).

Veronica Wright, CEO of ResumesCentre says: “The better the managers are at their own work, the better their employees will be for it”. Make sure to arm everyone with relevant company information, take your position and job description seriously, as well as smile to everyone. Sometimes all it takes is to look in the mirror and ask yourself what “you” are doing wrong instead of looking for a culprit on the office floor.

  1. Voicing concerns

It’s quite common for employees to keep their mouths shut when they have something to say – the prospect of being punished is too much to handle. This means that there is often a lot left unsaid and coworker relations tend to tense and buckle under the pressure.

People that don’t talk to each other will often work poorly together, not to mention the fact that important projects rest on their shoulders. Try implementing a feedback-oriented working environment in your office starting with yourself. There is no better way to break the ice than to simply start from your own experiences, thoughts and fears.

Employees that share common issues, goals and clear the air through professional communication are far more likely to be productive. While it may seem silly for grownup people to share thoughts around the table, clearing the air like this can completely transform your office’s workflow.

  1. Level the playfield

Most office conflicts stem from misunderstandings between employees and management. Managers often forget where they started their career while employees constantly claim their managers doesn’t understand them.

This catch-22 is quite common in the corporate world and is a root cause of poor productivity, low retention rates and a lack of morale. Managers that want to boost their employees’ productivity should work to leveling the playing field between management and employees. Remember you are all employees of the same company – the difference is only in your job description.

If you claim that you are “better” than your staff, it will likely end in a disaster. Pull up a chair, ask your employees how they feel today and ask them if they need help. Chances are that their eyes will widen with disbelief at first, which will lead to a much healthier professional relationship between you.

  1. Showcase and reward

Lastly, it’s important to share in your successes and take responsibility for your failures. The best and most beloved managers know when to reward someone and when to take the blame. Pointing fingers when going gets tough and claiming the rewards when it strikes gold will quickly erode your employees’ morale and productivity.

Be the example that your employees can really look up to and try to reward their productivity in small but significant ways. Even an “employee of the week” system with a collective clap from everyone can drastically brighten the mood.

James Scott, CEO of EssaySupply notes: “Do what you can to make sure that your employees feel important and that they matter to the company. This is the best way to increase productivity and company loyalty across the board. It will not only make your results shine but also put you in good graces with your own manager for the good work you have done.”

 

Long-form empowerment (Conclusion)

Employee empowerment only works if you take definitive action – a long-term commitment with a constant risk of failure. However, being on good terms with the people you work with is worth fighting for.

You will not only bring good results to your company but also create friendships with the people you work with. Being casually professional can work just as being strict and to-the-letter. Make sure to strike a good balance and be there for your employees when they need you.

Tags: empowerment, employee engagement, employee empowerment, loyal employees

Connect by Looking Up

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, May, 29, 2018 @ 16:05 PM

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Thanks to Okta for bringing us Dr. Mae Jemison, Engineer, Physician and Astronaut, as the closing keynote speaker for Oktane18. In addition to being the first black female astronaut, she is principal of the 100-Year Starship Experience because thinking bigger results in greater progress.

 

Following are my notes from her presentation:

  • Pursuing the extraordinary tomorrow, provides a better today.
  • "The future doesn’t just happen, it is created" – William Gibson
  • I was fortunate to grow up at a time when our potential was unlimited.
  • We all have the right to participate and help make decisions in the world
  • Partnerships and collaboration are important -- "Even the sharpest knife can’t cut its own handle."
  • We are creating the future.
  • Maintain a perspective on science, technology, and society because they are interrelated.
  • The problem set we see is constricted by who is involved in solving the problem:
    • Datasets
    • Methods
  • If we don’t have the right people solving the problem then we’re going to miss something.
  • What we find is what we’re looking for - that's why it's important not to have preconceived notions.
  • Our ambitions color what we do.
    • They affect what we design, code, and do.
  • When they were trying to reach the moon we were trying to reach the village.
  • Space exploration has resulted in tremendous leaps forward in technology = GPS, health, earth observations, social media.
    • The same algorithms used to show abody in a magnetic field were used for remote sensing of Venus.
  • It’s all about people pursuing the extraordinary.
  • Let’s try something really difficult . . .interstellar:
    • Requires capabilities in 100 years.
    • It pushes what we know how to do.
    • It requires something fundamentally different than we used to get to the moon with chemical propulsion.
    • Scale of travel to another star.
    • The extreme nature of interstellar hurdles requires something different.
    • Radical leaps in humanity.
    • How do we get people to work together as teams when they are far apart (geographically dispersed workers).
    • The challenges around interstellar travel are not that different than the challenges we face today.
      • An inclusive audacious journey transforms life here on earth and beyond.
    • The pathway to the stars leaves footprints on earth.
  • Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or destroy it.
  • It’s important for us to use our place at the table.
  • We have to do more than we trained for.
  • We have to work with the things that are common for us.
  • "Science has found no remedy for the worst evil of them all – the apathy of human beings." – Helen Keller
  • We have enough knowledge to be able to do incredible things but we don’t.
  • We’d rather spend more on defense than on the education of our children.
  • A major stumbling block is a lack of shared understanding of our connections across time and space.
  • How do we treat the earth in a way that doesn’t affect the environment to maintain our species?
    • With science and technology.
    • With generational activision.
  • For a truly extraordinary future we need a vision that endures across generations.
  • When the noise of things that separate up are louder than ever before.
  • LookUp
    • What is above us, actually unites us.
    • We can see ourselves by looking up.
    • LookUp is a project that asks people to look up and record what they see on August 28, 2018.
  • All the work we do will be for naught if we don’t figure out how we are all connected.
  • Each of us needs to be comfortable in our own skin.
  • Don’t take other people’s issues and make them yours.
  • Some issues are how others see you versus your own perception of yourself.
    • Do not tie yourself to someone else’s stumbling block
  • We’re all connected to the entire universe.
  • Be comfortable being any place with the universe – we need to connect with one another.

 

Tags: empowerment, vision, innovation, inspiration

Are You On Track With Your 2018 SEO Plan?

Posted by Jennifer Dawson on Mon, May, 28, 2018 @ 17:05 PM

 

It's no surprise that Google will remain the top referrer to websites in 2018 and with a referring rate as much as 5 times that of its nearest competitor, it’s vital to website owners to stay on top of trends. 2018 is bound to throw out a few interesting tricks and if you’ve missed out so far, here’s how to do a quick catch up on SEO trends.

Voice assistants are here to stay

Companies such as Google, Apple, and Samsung have spent millions on research and development to streamline the voice search technology.  For advertisers, harnessing the power of voice assistants is critical for survival. When they do this, it will inevitably lead to greater traffic which has a higher chance of generating more sales. SEO is critical in order to rank higher and the strategy should be more aligned to voice search as opposed to the typed search options. A few tweaks and changes to the search phrases combined with carefully placed snippets will play a big role in ranking higher in 2018.

Use Google changes to your advantage

Quite a lot of buzz is happening around mobile indexing and with good reason. Google has found that too many high-ranking websites aren't mobile-friendly. This is not something that sits well with the search engine giant, as many users have embraced mobile technology for their day-to-day internet browsing. Mobile users have overtaken desktop users in terms of internet usage, which is why there is the high focus on getting mobile ranking right. Although this new measure is still in the testing phase, website owners should jump on the opportunity to increase their accessibility in order not to miss out. Another new feature that’s getting a major overhaul is the Google News feature, which will be far more aligned with the search terms. Those who wish to rank there will need to do in-depth keyword analysis as old tricks will no longer fly with ranking.

They do store customer data after all

For years Google assured consumers that they only use the search data for research and training purposes but now that search data populates user intention fields. It takes the information it has on the user and defines the search results according to past responses. This means that two different people entering the same search terms may land up on different choices, based on their previous searches.

The recurring themes for 2018, which website owners should already be on top of, include embracing technology and providing an organic solution to customer searches. Ranking will be far more difficult to achieve if the SEO strategy takes a cookie-cutter approach as customer’s natural requests are used to define the searches, instead of just stand-alone keywords.

Tags: SEO

President Obama's Views Post Presidency

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, May, 28, 2018 @ 16:05 PM

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Thanks to Okta for inviting me to Oktane18 and giving me the opportunity to hear President Barack Obama - truly a "life experience."

Todd McKinnon, CEO and Co-founder of Okta hosted the hour-long question and answer session.

Following are the points made by the President with the parenthetical notes my own:

  • We live in culture today where everybody feels the crush of information and collision of world’s in a way previous generation. haven’t felt.
  • Previous generations knew 100 or 150 people.
  • How many people do you know today? (Thousands thanks to social media and CRM systems).
  • Today, there are rural villages in Africa in which everyone has a phone.
  • We have the ability to absorb information in ways that can be confusing.
  • While there are a lot of questions around technology and social media, the U.S. had a head start in trying to figure it out because we’re a people that came from everywhere else.
  • We've had to figure out how to work together since the country was founded.
  • The challenge today is how to maintain sense of common purpose, how to join together as opposed to splinter and divide.
  • If we don’t figure it out it will be hard for our democracy to survive (just what the Russians are fomenting in social media).
  • There is a misperception that government doesn’t work, and people don’t work hard based on their experience of getting their driver’s license renewed (everyone laughed knowingly).
  • The public sector has extraordinary talent and does a lot of things really well.
  • There is a big gap in technology, especially with responsiveness and nimbleness. A lot of this has to do with government's antiquated procurement requirements.
  • In a host of areas, like taking government data and putting it out there so organizations can use to improve people's lives, we made real progress during my term.
  • We tried to create, re-architecture and replace legacy systems in the FDA.
  • There is a need for big data sets to achieve the promise of personalized medicine.
  • We made inroads in a few of those areas; however, the political system is not being as responsive as it could be (because we are divided rather than united).
  • Creating a framework that’s agreed upon and transparent, most people understand is a challenge we should welcome and approach it in a systematic and transparent way (however, little in Washington is transparent).
  • We need to be proactive identifying the questions we have to grapple, with the tools we have to protect information, and be transparent about what consumers are giving up (Google, Facebook, et al).
  • There is a big lag between how we’re thinking about the social organization and technology.
  • We underinvest in the IRS because no one likes it; however, it can be a great deal more efficient.
  • As a consequence of no one wanting to give up their write-offs, we discovered the basic IT infrastructure of the IRS is held together by string and bubble gum.
  • If you made no changes to the tax structure you could make interaction with the IRS more user-friendly, but it requires front end investment no one is willing to make.
  • Business identifies the essential problem and hires good people to solve business problem.
  • Government procurement requires you to identify the problem and allocate a budget up front. That's not how a successful business works.
  • We need a good conversation between the tech community and people in Washington for ongoing deliberation and exchange.
  • There should be bias towards making voting easier not harder, there’s a legacy that dates back to Jim Crow to disenfranchise voters and it is being perpetuated.
  • If we can secure the voting process, and there’s a paper record generated along side the electronic vote, I believe it will come to pass but it will take awhile.
  • Laws are structured to make it hard for people to vote.

 

How did you instigate change?

  • Change is hard in personal live, it's hard for groups, it's hard for institutions.
  • The U.S. evolved from an agricultural-based economy to manufacturing-based economy over a period of 120 years.
  • Today we're evolving to a technology-based economy in just 20 to 30 years and that's hard for everyone to accept.
  • Principles for effective change:
    • Talk to people whose lives will be disrupted so you appreciate who they are and insure they are heard before you instigate change.
      • Listening is a good starting point for change.
    • Every issue you are dealing has probabilities.
      • Get the best info available.
      • Have, and listen to, diverse voices around the table.
      • Understand the different perspectives.
      • Have people who can argue all of the sides of the issue.
    • I set up processes so that by the time I made the decision I could say, with confidence, I heard all the voices, had all of the information, and made the best decision I could.
    • Initiating change requires enough situations like that, even when there are disruptions. where you can anticipate the disruptions and be prepared to address them.
    • There will be disruptions with technology (There already has been and there will be a lot more).
    • People are going to be resistant if their jobs are threatened.
    • Anticipate this and be prepared to address the change.
    • Ask people “What do you think?”
      • I would catch people by surprise and they would tell me what they really thought, rather than a prepared answer.
      • Deliberately reach outside the bubble of obvious decision makers.
    • I had a good b.s. detector, if a question wasn’t answered with confidence I’d drill in until I learned what the person was really thinking.
    • Insist on people delivering on bad news quickly.
      • Part of the culture we tried to build, these are human enterprises, they’re going to be flawed when you do screw up or you can’t solve something bring it to me and let’s solve it together

 

How did you go about vetting and hiring people?

  • The government has two million employees or so, only 3,000 are political appointments.
    • The entire process during transition, gathering names, going through folks who have the qualifications we were looking for, as well as interest in the position.
    • Tech is where we had a problem because tech pays much better than the US government.
    • So, we set up US digital services – a SWAT team of amazing tech folks who, like the Peace Corps, would come into the US government for six months to two years to work on a particular problem – example of the need for more creativity of how we staff government and non-profits.
  • Think of creative ways for people to take leave and make an incredible contribution.

 

What advice did you receive going into office that was useful and what wasn't?

  • Advice not useful and slowed us down and hurt effectiveness early on was the sense that somehow now that you are president there are certain ways you should do things that had to do with traditions but were not effective.
    • During the campaign, we communicated in a way that was fresh and accessible. That changed when we moved into the White House – it made the team feel more conventional than we should have. We corrected this near the end of the first term. There were a lot of fires to put out immediately when we got to the White House..
  • The best advice a number of people gave us was to maintain your humanity. Michele and I, partly because we didn’t want our girls to get weird from being in a weird environment, were very focused on this. It was important to make sure we did not lose ourselves, that we stayed intact in what we believed in and how we treated people, expectations of ourselves, kindness, honesty, being useful, and taking responsibility
    • People given great responsibility, power, and wealth begin losing a sense of what’s important, who they are, and holding on to what they have rather than responding authentically. We did not lose that, we came out intact.

 

What are your greatest observations post presidency?

  • I don’t miss the trappings of the presidency.
  • I get more sleep now versus five hours a sleep each night for eight years.
    • That's what's required if you are going to stay up to speed on all of the issues and consider different points of view.
  • There is a physical and mental element to being president if you are serious about the job.
  • Everything now seems to move in slow motion.
    • Today it takes two weeks to set up a meeting rather than two hours.
What are you and Michele going to be doing with Netflix?
  • I would not have been president if I had not learned early on the importance of stories.
  • As a community organizer I learned instead of telling people what they should think, I needed to ask people about themselves and their stories.
  • If you listen, people will tell you their story.
  • Discovering those stories creates relationships and committed people.
  • I continue to believe if we are hearing each other’s stories and recognize ourselves in each other that our democracy works, if we don’t then our democracy doesn’t work.
  • We want to identify people doing amazing work and create platforms for them to tell their stories.
  • We have all these amazing story tellers and we want them to continue to tell the stories we think are important, lifting up talent to identify the connections that we have between all of us.
  • We want to train leaders around the world to tell their stories.
  • We’re all human and have basic needs, wants, and desires for our families, for our children.
  • The country can go in one of two ways: 
    • We can go tribal, go ethnic, pull in, push off, think "us versus them," think power-first, view life as a zero-sum game, and have a need to dominate.
    • Or, the other narrative is a more fragile, newer notion that we can think, reason, connect, and set up institutions based of the rule of law, dignity, and the worth of every individual based on science and facts. This narrative is one the human race has pursued, and America has been at the forefront of, since World War II.
  • We’ve made progress in all of these areas in "fits and starts." Now there’s a clash in the two alternative ways of seeing the world.
  • Part of the political polarization is if you watch Fox News and read the New York Times you are viewing two different realities (this is divisive rather than inclusive and not in the best interest of democracy).
  • Obviously, I believe the second of the two ways is we need to proceed if we are going to be united.

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