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Archives for: October 2013

There were 64 posts published in October 2013.

Cloudify Your Business with Google Docs & MS Office Web Apps

If you are the average small to medium sized business (SMB/SME) owner or manager who needs to decide on what type of office document management system to adopt or transition to, the major factors in your decision should be cost, ease of transition, security and backup.


As a technology consultant, I am amazed at how many of my clients are still using Windows PCs or laptops to run their business and, worse, are only doing a backup to one external hard drive on a sporadic basis at best. In the event of theft, fire or a random power surge, they are risking catastrophic data loss. Realistically, as far as security goes, the physical loss or theft of your device is a much greater security risk than the infinitesimally small potential for a breach of data on a cloud server.


Most cloud systems function only as a synchronized backup for systems using specific software or hardware. If you are a SMB/SME, you now have two completely web based office suites to choose from, which offer fully interactive cloud computing. Google Docs and MS Office Web Apps both allow you to work live, in real time, in the cloud environment. And, with either system, you are not required to buy software or use any specific type of computer hardware. Google Docs are available in Google Drive and MS Office Web Apps are available in Microsoft SkyDrive, both at no cost to the end user.


Backup Issues Solved


With either platform, you can now create and edit all your docs online. With Google Drive, all you need to do is open a free Gmail account to access Google Docs, which is built right into your account. Google Docs (a.k.a. Google Apps) gives you document, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and form apps that are fully compatible with MS Office and feature complete download & upload conversion. If you go to, you can open, view, edit, print and email any document you create online without the use of software on your computer or device.


Or, you can open a Windows Live email account and access Microsoft’s web based version of MS Office via their Office Web Apps at This option gives you a scaled down version of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint along with One Note and Excel Survey. Once again, you are working interactively in the cloud, so all of your data is stored off site, not on your computer. For a smaller business, this solves the age old problem of data loss in the event your hard drive should seize up or fail, as all of your documents are backed up right up to your last keystroke.


Goodbye Windows PC?


Google Docs and MS Office Web apps are accessible from any device that has an internet connection, whether it’s a PC, iPad, iPhone, Android phone, tablet or laptop. You no longer have to buy Microsoft Office software or even use a PC or Laptop that runs Microsoft Windows. This allows you the flexibility of using, Apple, Android, Linux or almost any other non-Windows operating system.


Mobile Productivity , Anywhere


Google Apps makes your docs, calendar and email easily accessible on your mobile device, as Android and iPhone have a mobile app that allows complete synchronization, live online viewing and editing capability. Skydrive also has similar capabilities, but the mobile viewer does not allow document editing. As long as you have an internet connection, you can now stay productive working from anywhere on Earth.




On either systems, you can invite others to have co-access to the same document and can give them edit or view only rights. Viewers and editors all have live, real time access to the same document.


Synchronization = Easy Transition


With Google Drive file sync, you can also backup and synchronize all of your existing docs that reside on your hard drive to the Google cloud, just like Microsoft Sky Drive. This makes transitioning to a completely cloud based environment simple. Once synchronization is complete, you are no longer chained to that one, primary laptop or PC that holds most or all of your essential data.


Similar, additional features:


  • An often overlooked feature is the publishing option available in the dropdown menu of any Google Document. This allows you to publish to the web instantly and share the URL. This is superb for adding information to an email blast, social media or blog post. Microsoft offers a similar capability with its “get a link” option.
  • Both systems offer instant conversion to Adobe .pdf format.
  • While Microsoft allows 7GB for storage, Google’s free storage is huge at 15 GB
  • While both systems are free, they can be used with your domain name for a low monthly cost per user, and both offer free service to qualifying Non Profit Corp’s.


For a small business, Google Docs has the advantage in terms of storage and seems better suited for the mobile environment at this time. However, if you are a medium sized enterprise that is already running a Microsoft server, Skydrive is the better option to leverage the seamless interface with Office Web Apps. No matter which option you pursue, adding the option of interactive cloud computing will greatly reducing the chance of data loss while making your organization more efficient and easier to manage.


Cloud is the Platform for a Lean Digital World: How Do You Fit In?

The cloud is the new global engine for economic growth. It has transformed every industry, business model and job (see below). It displaced real consumer and business assets with digital information assets.


Digital assets are now valued higher than physical assets. It has allowed big and small companies to become lean and manage a global workforce like it was a local operation. As one continent of workers goes dark another one springs to life providing continuous product development and customer support operations. Millions of workers are now virtual employees using cloud-based applications to deliver services.


Change is accelerating. Major disruptions are announced every day, particularly from San Francisco Bay Area companies. Product cycles are measured in weeks, not months or years. The result of this explosive rate of creative destruction is a huge backlog of new, economical, virtual, skilled jobs. The good news is that not all jobs are for coders. There are 10-20 sales and service knowledge jobs for every coder. The new non-tech workers can overcome cloud industry, company and product knowledge curves. Companies need “skilled workers” that fit into their cloud industry and company “culture”. Thankfully, these skills can be taught quickly.


Let’s review the major disruptive cloud-based forces creating a lean digital world. We are just touching some highlights.


Cloud Logistics 2.0: Robotics and Home Delivery


Product inventory is now moving at high velocity from manufacturing to delivery to your home or office by Amazon’s local robotized warehouses and cloud services. Forklift drivers have been replaced by machines. Amazon has become the #11 top retailer in the world without a single retail store. They are now threatening the grocery industry by offering local delivery of goods in large urban markets. The future is home delivery of anything from online stores like Amazon’s “Everything Store.” I envision a world where small, driverless vehicles will ultimately make frequent deliveries. The concept is being tested in Brazil where congestion in cities is being reduced by the use of small delivery vehicles. DHL, a global express delivery service, and others have been using small, daily delivery vehicles for years. Google, eBay and others are testing this form of local delivery of retail goods to replace the need for the consumers to go out to shop.


Cloud Manufacturing 2.0: Sofware-Defined Products


Manufacturing was the first U.S. industry to automate using the cloud. It first started with design collaborations between U.S. and Asian operations in the context of outsourcing. Recently, they brought some manufacturing back but use advanced lean inventory systems and robotics to reduce assets and laborers. I invented a patented process for automating supply chain network physical inventory and assets with information that are still in use today. We saved companies hundreds of millions by 2004. Defense logistics has employed similar techniques to save more than $2B. Information is quickly replacing assets and inventory.


The next step of the lean world involves software-defined products. Mobile applications have replaced untold physical things, including music players and cameras. 3D printers using cloud-based content and services are replacing the design and manufacture of toys and other goods.


Cloud Retail 2.0: Sears Roebuck Catalog Model Redux


Sears invented the catalog sales model back in the 1800s. They set up local showrooms along rail lines for consumers to browse and order products from their catalog for shipment. Amazon created online catalogs along the digital rail line. They ship directly to homes. History repeats itself — Sears is now going back to their roots in a digital manner and expanding digital catalog sales with shipments to home.


These changes are also disrupting local tax revenues and retail business models. Retailers and local communities must adapt to the new digital consumer and provide personalized services. Sadly, many local retailers are not digital and will be replaced by a new breed of hybrid, local, digital retailers by 2020.


Cloud Industry 2.0: From Lean Enterprise and Lean Startup to a Lean World


By 2020, all businesses will be digital, according to Gartner Group. The lean world was created by the cloud industry. It is forcing everyone to adapt their careers and businesses. The big cloud (Google, Amazon, Microsoft) companies provide the infrastructure for both big and small companies. They have achieved cloud computing utility economies of scale. Assets, including web servers, computer rooms and software licenses, are now owned by them; not you as a consumer or business. That changed all businesses to a lean business model. Companies do not need to own assets or labor. Workers could work from anywhere – home, coffee shops and virtual workspace locations anywhere in the world. Teams could collaborate with webinars, Google Apps/Hangouts and Skype, among many other tools. Teams would frequently include temporary virtual workers engaged to work on tasks or projects.


The next wave of the internet is 1000 times bigger than it already is, according to the CTO of Ericsson. It is creating another wave of disruption for the current generation of cloud companies and industries. New companies are emerging to create personal household and on-premise business hybrids, using the cloud as the mediator.


Lean World: Millions of Cloud Tech Jobs Available. Where do you Fit In?


The real brake on our economy is the severe shortage of social, creative, skilled workers (see chart below). Our cloud-based economy needs 10-20 other knowledge worker roles that are as equally important as coders. These knowledge workers need to know how to collaborate with developers, customers, partners and investors — some examples include creative UX designers, product managers, program managers and sales/customer service professionals. They need to speak the same language and conform to the digital lean world culture.


We have the talent pool of creative individuals who have the potential to overcome the industry, company and product learning curves. What we need to do is to accelerate their training, especially in San Francisco and Silicon Valley where there are thousands of unfilled jobs and lots of underdeveloped talent. Everyone fits in with the right preparation. Everyone fits in.




Top Startup and Tech News Today: 7 Things You Missed Today

1. Facebook may start tracking your cursor as you browse the site


Facebook has studied your likes, comments, and clicks in order to create ads that are more targeted to you. Now, they are considering tracking the location of your cursor on your screen. Facebook analytic chef Ken Rudin told The Wall Street Journal about several new measures the social media giant is currently testing in order to improve its user-tracking. One measure is seeing how long you hover your cursor over an ad and whether or not this leads to a click. The data gathered using these methods could Facebook create more engaging advertisements. While these methods are not uncommon, Facebook hasn’t gone very deep in behavioral data management until now. “Facebook should know within months whether it makes sense to incorporate the new data collection into the business,” reports The Wall Street Journal.



2. Apple discovers ‘manufacturing defect’ causing iPhone 5S battery woes for some customers


New tech, new problems. Apple has confirmed to The New York Times that some iPhone 5S owners are experiencing very poor battery performance. “We recently discovered a manufacturing issue affecting a very limited number of iPhone 5S devices that could cause the battery to take longer to charge or result in reduced battery life,” said Apple spokesperson Teresa Brewer. “We are reaching out to customers with affected phones and will provide them with a replacement phone.”


3. Google donates 17,000 Nexus 7 tablets to help New Yorkers still affected by Hurricane Sandy


It’s been a year since Hurricane Sunday, but the northeastern section of the US is still feeling its impact, in the form of facilities and jobs that never re-opened. Google hopes to help alleviate this problem by donating 17,000 Nexus 7 tablets to the New York State Community Action Association. This non-profit will then hand out the Nexus 7’s to community centers, libraries, and business development groups. Some will also go to senior centers to help older residents communicate with friends and family. Whether or not this is a charitable action or a giant PR stunt, this act will undeniably help out people in need.


4. BlackBerry and Facebook met to discuss potential buyout, reports WSJ


Facebook has showed interest in buying out BlackBerry. Last week, BlackBerry sent representatives to California for a meeting with Facebook executives to discuss a potential bid. It is unclear how serious Facebook is about this, or if Facebook is actually considering entering a bid to begin with. But, Zuckerberg has expressed a strong interest in getting Facebook on as many phones as possible, and purchasing BlackBerry may reset Facebook’s embarrassing phone-fiasco, when their HTC First failed to impress consumers.


5. SoundCloud and Instagram partner to turn your photos into album art


Today, SoundCloud, which many people call “the Twitter of music” announced a partnership with Instagram that will let Instagram users upload their photos as album art onto any of their tracks or playlists. Soundcloud explained that the square format of Instagram photos was a good match for record and CD sleeves. Since Instagram provides no easy way to save photos on a desktop to upload to other services, this feature has generally been warmly received.

6. Twitter timeline becomes more visual with previews of images and Vines

Up until now, if you want to see an image attached to a tweet, you have to actually tap on the tweet. This has been putting Twitter out of step with visually-based social networks, such as Facebook and Instagram. However, Twitter is catching up with an update that inserts previews of images and Vines directly into tweets on the web and on Twitter apps. If you want to see the entire image or the Vine, you tap on the preview image. This update makes the timeline more interactive by allowing users to reply, retweet, or favorite tweets without leaving the main timeline.

7. NSA reportedly tapped into Google, Yahoo data centers worldwide without telling either company


MUSCULAR: a top secret plan between the NSA and the UK’s GCHQ that has been used to access Google and Yahoo data centers around the world. MUSCULAR was revealed by documents released by Edward Snowden and confirmed by sources at The Washington Post. This breach of privacy could affect hundreds of millions of users, as neither company was aware that their data centers were being accessed. Google said that they were “troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and [they were] not aware of this activity.” Yahoo said they had, “strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and [have] not given access to [their] data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency.”




The 6 Scariest Things About a Startup

Startups are exciting, but they also can be scary. There are a number of things that you need to be aware of in order to navigate the path to getting your company off the ground.


Most of my experience comes from startups that have been born outside of the incubators in the valley, so if you are like most with an idea and want to get it to market without the support they provide, take note! Just in time for Halloween, here are the 6 scariest things you need to know about getting into the startup space.


1. It will take longer than you expect


Having worked with a couple of dozen startups and early stage companies over my career, both as an outside consultant, and as a partner getting them off the ground, there is one thing that you can rely on. Things will take longer than you expect. This is probably the most important thing for everyone to understand going into a startup together, from your partners to your investors. Manage your internal expectations and don’t make the mistake of making a commitment to external parties or events that you are not 1,000% ready for.


2. It will cost more than you expect


Even with having “expert” business plan writers on board to help develop your business plan and put together your budgets, there will be things that come up that you have not expected or anticipated. From things that the CTO missed to the cost of printing the tickets for your launch party, there will be small things that come up and you need to be prepared for. So make sure to keep things lean and plan for the unexpected as you are getting things ready to go to market.


3. Not everyone you start with will be there when you finish


This one, you are probably not going to believe. When a group of people come together with an idea everyone is pumped up and excited. I have had people leave companies I am working on (some I really wish who hadn’t). It happens. You are thinking about how your idea is going to change the game… help people… the big payday. It’s a long road, and not everyone will make it. People fall apart at many stages of the game: some decide that they bit off more than they expected, people’s personalities clash and they can’t work together, and more. Blending creativity, technology, marketing with the pressure of lots of work and not much money, not everyone will make it.


4. Competition will appear


Be ready to have other people take your idea or version of it to market. We launched a company and, within 2 months, there were 3 other players in the market doing a version of what we were. It happens. Take your idea to market and plan a rollout of features that will keep making your product better, and better, and better over the next year. It’s always great to have new things to talk about, and sometimes holding things back will keep your competition from seeing everything you have up your sleeve when you launch your company. This is especially true if your idea can easily be duplicated by another company that has the financial power to market the heck out of it.


5. Changes will happen with other companies API’s and platforms


Just when you think you have everything figured out from a technological standpoint, be ready to get the rug pulled out from under you. It will happen when you are ready to launch or roll out an awesome new feature — everyone is excited and you are ready to go… All of a sudden, your cool new Twitter feature no longer works, your Facebook integration is busted or the standards for an app submission change because of an iOS update. It’s really important that you are watching what all your partners and 3rd party APIs are planning and have coming down the pipe. You really need to know what can change and be prepared for it so you can plan around it.


6. Kevin Costner is not on your team


Maybe he is, but too many people in the space fall back on the “If you build it, they will come” mentality. You need to be ready to market your startup and get people talking about it in order for it to take off. Finding the right marketing and PR people is critical to getting the word out, so people can learn about what you are doing and be interested enough to want to try it! Build the relationships with influencers and writers in the space so they can help you, especially if you can’t afford to outsource your PR. If you can get a publicist on board, do it, but ask for some references before you start writing them checks. A good publicist is worth his or her weight in gold — or in this case, users!


There are a lot more little things that can scare you and your team in the startup space, but these are the top 6 in my book. There is nothing I find more exciting or fun than creating something from nothing and having people start to use it, and seeing how you have somehow added value to their lives. In order to avoid the scariest startup nightmare of all, make sure you are working with great people, as you will be spending almost every waking hour of together. Follow these tips and you will be off to a good start!


Using Competitive Intelligence as a Rearview Mirror

Would you ever drive your car without checking your rearview mirror at all? How many times have you seen a speed car racer coming from behind, driving faster and see the leader try to block them in a NASCAR race?


Running a business against competition is no different. You would never take the seat of a racecar and not have rearview mirrors – it would be too easy for your competitors to pass you by.


Competitive Intelligence is Your Rearview Mirror

In business, the only and true way to check your rearview mirror is to have competitive intelligence (CI). CI will give you the tools and metrics that will allow you to measure the competition. You will be able to see when someone is coming fast and also measure how you are catching up to the market leader (yes, CI can be both a rearview mirror as a radar for your business). Without comparable metrics for all the players out there, you are forced to rely on subjective analysis and opinions that can be completely misleading when it comes to sizing the performance of your competition. If you can see them coming, you will be better prepared to handle them and position yourself in a way that will prevent them to bypass you.


Rearview Mirror is Used More Often Than Once a Year

You would never just check you rearview mirror once a year – so why do you do this with CI? While we will work on analyzing competition for a yearly or quarterly meeting, we should never underestimate them —each of our competitors are doing things everyday to improve their business. They could be planning a new product release, expanding in a new market, hiring new people, approaching new market segments, etc. Competitors never stand still while you are busy working on your business. As much as you can be active, your competitors are doing pretty much the same. I am sure that the better racecar drivers check their mirrors all the time while staying focused on what’s ahead of them.


Look for Early Indicators

Waiting too long before recognizing a competitor in our rearview mirror can be quite damaging to your business. You should leverage CI to capture as many metrics available and to be alerted to anything that changes significantly. It could be change in traffic growth, social media activities, and sudden increase of job postings or new trademarks being filed. You need to put a system in place where it’s easy for you not only to capture as many of your competitor’s vital signs, but also to be able to frequently measure any changes. And you should be worried if many metrics are all moving at the same time – it’s hard to block someone with momentum, and the sooner you can see it coming, the better you can adjust your own business.


Only the Paranoid Survive

We have seen too many companies in the lead suddenly becoming laggards or even going bankrupt: Silicon Graphics, Palm, MySpace and Blackberry are a few names that come to mind. It’s fine to be proud of being the market leader, but you should never assume that no one is gunning for your throne. Leading companies should be the ones that worry the most about their market position and need to be even more vigilant when it comes to competition. This also applies to any of the cars in the race as there are new entrants coming in all the time – the bigger the opportunity, the more people are trying to get a share of it.


Is Asia Ready for a Sharing Economy?

Borrowing can be better than buying. Access can be more important than ownership. The rapidly rising number of global converts to the “sharing economy” suggests that temporary hires, peer-to-peer rentals, and other forms of “collaborative consumption” are the wave of the future.


The sharing economy helps would-be buyers save money on items that are too pricey to purchase, helps those with underused goods to share make money, and helps to conserve the planet’s resources. While this may have always been true in limited settings such as for car rentals or staying at a bed-and-breakfast, today’s technology has changed the game by making transaction costs cheaper and available to more people in a larger worldwide marketplace.


Europe and the United States have been eager early participants in the sharing economy, followed by Latin America. These are the biggest markets for online community Airbnb, which offers accommodations in 192 countries, according to Airbnb’s co-founder Brian Chesky. Yes, while you might expect that Paris, New York, or other heavily visited cities might be the largest travel regions, Bangkok and Southeast Asia is the second-largest travel region in the world—and the fastest-growing one as well.


Recognizing this trend, Chesky told Robert MacPherson for AFP that Airbnb’s service started this year to ratchet up its presence in East and Southeast Asia, opening an office in Singapore: “Asia is still pretty new, except for Australia,” said Chesky. “We are focused on Tokyo and Seoul and Southeast Asia. It’s one of our fastest-growing markets.”


In MacPherson’s article, Chesky added that there were some “cultural hurdles to overcome in Asia in getting homeowners to warm to the idea of renting out their unused spaces to strangers.” But, Chesky explained, “What I’ve been surprised by is not how different people are, but how similar they are. There are certain types of ‘Airbnb people,’ and they are in every city in the world — it’s just that in some cultures, there is more of a generational divide.”


So what will it take to bring Asia more fully into the sharing economy? As a region known for its many micro-entrepreneurs — from street vendors, tour guides, and tuk tuk drivers to small farmers and hand craftsmen — it seems that the sharing economy holds great potential.


Sharing resources offers travelers the ability to experience Southeast Asia’s unique culture. Withlocals, for example, can empower hosts to enrich their own lives while helping others. As hosts use their own knowledge and skills to build their businesses and create a better livelihood for themselves, they, at the same time, provide personal and authentic travel experiences to visitors. The sharing economy does away with the middlemen, passing on the savings to travelers and giving hosts in Asia the ability to sell directly to tourists. For all of these reasons, the sharing economy can help those who most need it in these regions.


Although Chesky pointed out certain cultural hurdles that may serve as barriers to the quick adoption of the sharing economy in Asia, there are other cultural suggestions that Asia is ripe to get swept up in the movement. It’s a family-oriented culture that takes care of its own be they family, friends, or neighbors and cares for its elders rather than turning first to nursing homes.


So is Asia ready for a sharing economy? While the jury is still out, cultural signs like these suggest that embracing a more global family may not be far off for the region—especially if doing so benefits one’s own.


No Fun and Games: DDoS Attacks Use Gaming Servers

Each day, 145 million people play online video games. Many of the servers they use are insecure and misconfigured, making online gaming networks easy to exploit by criminals who launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.


What does this problem have to do with non-gamers? DDoS attackers use gaming servers to enhance their attacks, but their targets aren’t limited to the gaming industry. Many attackers simply use this medium to make their denial of service attacks more powerful. Regardless of your industry, a malicious actor could use gaming servers to attack your business.


The attacks keep coming and new techniques keep evolving. Using gaming servers to strengthen DDoS attacks is not new. Gamers and those who exploit multiplayer gaming infrastructures have been up to bad ends for a long time – since at least the 1990s.


Denial of service attacks involving gaming servers are launched by both those who are outside of the gaming industry and gamers themselves. Each group have different reasons for DDoSing. Non-gamers use gaming servers to boost their attacks against non-gaming businesses, especially against (but not limited to) the financial industry. Disgruntled gamers, on the other hand, may use a DDoS attack to knock a fellow gamer off a game network as a strategy to gain a temporary in-game advantage. Other gamers may use DDoS attacks to target other gaming systems to damage the playing experience of gamers on rival platforms.


One common type of denial of service attack that often involves the online gaming infrastructure is called amplified distributed reflection denial of service attacks, or DrDoS attacks. This type of attack has been used for decades. Early DrDoS attacks that involved gaming servers took advantage of misconfigurations within the servers that hosted Counter-Strike, Quake and Half Life – and they still do. One of the reasons gaming servers are so popular among non-gamers is that gaming-server aggregators provide a good source of server IP addresses to employ in DrDoS attacks. Although aggregators exist to provide a legitimate service for players to find a gaming server to play on, criminals use the server addresses maliciously. With the IP addresses, an attacker can identify which of them can be exploited and cause them to produce outsized responses directed the attacker’s target, overwhelming the target with network traffic and slowing it or shutting it down.


Gamers tend to use different attack techniques. They often track down the IP address of an individual rival and use a DDoS method called packeting to slow or stop Internet service at the target. Although packeting attacks are relatively weak, gamers also have more sophisticated attacks at their disposal: For a fee, enterprising developers offer ready-to-use DDoS toolkits that are pre-configured to take advantage of insecure and misconfigured gaming servers.


Even non-gamers are at risk from DDoS attacks that abuse gaming servers. You can learn more about attacks and tools that exploit the multiplayer gaming infrastructure in Prolexic’s white paper, DrDoS and DDoS Attacks Involving the Multiplayer Video Gaming Community.


Top Startup and Tech News Today: 7 Things You Missed Today

1. Dell completes deal to go private


Dell, the computer giant, announced Tuesday that is has completed a deal to go private. This $24.9 billion buyout is led by the founder of Dell, Michael Dell. “Today, Dell enters an exciting new chapter as a private enterprise,” said Michael Dell “Our 110,000 team members worldwide are 100 percent focused on our customers and aggressively executing our long-term strategy for their benefit.” Stockholders will receive $13.75 in cash for each share, with a dividend of an additional 13 cents per share. Dell wants to transform itself after Dell missed the shift to mobile computing. Analysts say that transformation is easier without the pressure that comes from shareholders looking to make profits.


2. iPhone 6 with 5-inch 1080p HD display reportedly launching next year


Apple’s iPhones 5S and iPhone 5C aren’t even two months old yet, but there are already a plethora of iPhone 6 rumors popping up. The latest news report comes from a amazing called “Mac Fan,” which addresses the rumors that Apple is still playing with a number of display sizes for its next iPhone. Mac Fan states that the iPhone 6’s display is already set, on a full HD 1080p Retina display that will measure 5 inches. The report also predicts that the iPhone 6 will launch around September 2014.


3. Samsung posts record Q3 smartphone shipments


Samsung has shipped a record 88.4 million smartphones in their third quarter. That takes their global market share to above 35%, and is a 55% surge over the same period from last year. Apple posted a 26% spike in shipments over the same period but only to 33.8 million units. Strategy Analytics, an independent analytics firm, says that it expects Apple to make up last ground in the fourth quarter based on the high demand for Apple’s new iPhone 5S. Apple reported a quarterly decline in earnings on Monday for the third time in a row, while Samsung posted a 26% increase in third-quarter net profit.


4. Adobe hack much worse than reported, hits 38 million passwords and Photoshop source code


Adobe reported that the information on 2.9 million customers had been compromised during a cyberattack first detailed earlier this month. However, it turns out that usernames and encrypted passwords from around 38 million active Adobe users were stolen, as opposed to the 2.9 million users Adobe released. The initial 2.9 million accounts that Adobe cited definitely had credit card information associated with them; Adobe didn’t clarify if all 38 million had credit card information associated with them as well. Besides account details, portions of the source code for programs such as Photoshop, Acrobat, Reader, and Cold Fusion were also taken. Some of this source code and information has already been posted online.


5. 20 million new BBM users in a week – what does it mean?


We’ve all sat and watched the fall of BlackBerry. But, with BlackBerry announcing that it has added 20 million iOS and Android users to the BBM messaging service in just a week, does this mean that BlackBerry has a chance to rise back? For any messaging app, getting to 20 million users in a week, and 80 million MAUs is a phenomenal task. Additionally, on its 9th day in the market, the BBM is still one of the top-5 apps in 101 countries. Grabbing 20 million messaging app users on iPhone and Android users gives BlackBerry a legitimate shot at becoming a relevant marketing and distribution platform again.


6. Q FactorrRaises $6.5M Series A to fix rich media delivery on mobile by eliminating the wait


Q Factor, a Us startup that aims to fix media-rich content delivery on wireless devices so there’s less of a wait time, has closed a $6.5 million Series A funding round from Sigma Prime Ventures and Venrock. The startup was founded back in 2012, but has been keeping things stealthy. Today, it’s becoming a bit more public as it announces its Series A and details its technology. Q Factor has built a software-only system to do wireless packet recovery that “dramatically” improves the delivery and viewing experiences of what is called “media-rich content” for wireless devices. The system locates the lost packets and replaces them to keep content coming and streaming, thus eliminating excess wait time when streaming a video, downloading a file, or accessing a large file on a phone.


7. Apple sold 33.8 million iPhones this summer, but faces tough competition


Apple announced record fourth quarter sales of the iPhone today. Apple announced 33.8 million sales, which is up 26% from the 26.9 million sales in the same quarter of last year. iPad sales barely changed, going from 14 million last year to 14.1 million this quarter. This 14.1 million though elads the tablet market, as Samsung only has 10.5 million tablets sold this quarter. Apple earned $7.5 billion on a revenue of $37.5 billion. These quarterly earning don’t include the iPad mini with Retina display or the iPad Air, and only account for one week’s worth of sales for the iPhone 5S and 5C, which sold 9 million units during their first three days.



Holiday Shopping Smackdown: Black Friday Vs. Cyber Monday

Forget the turkey — Thanksgiving and the days after it are all about shopping. In 2012, more than 307 million people headed to stores on Black Friday, according to ShopperTrak.


Forbes reported 35 million people took a break from football and eating on Thanksgiving Day itself to do some in-person and online shopping in 2012. Over the weekend, another 247 million people headed to stores. Whether you shop on Black Friday or hold out for the deals on Cyber Monday depends on your shopping preferences and willingness to hold out for a better deal.


Excitement vs. Comfort


Queuing up in front of the doors to the mall or a big box store can be pretty exciting. In 2011, Time reported that a couple decided to camp outside of their local Best Buy for nearly two weeks to be first in line when doors opened Friday morning. But all that excitement can quickly turn to fear. The stampede of shoppers into the store once the doors open on Black Friday has led to injuries and even deaths, according to US News and World Report.


If spending days or even hours sitting outside doesn’t appeal to you, Cyber Monday offers some comfort. According to SOASTA, 31 percent of shoppers in 2012 stated that they would rather shop online because the deals and excitement of Black Friday “bring out the crazy” in other shoppers. People talking about Cyber Monday in 2012 were more likely to be excited or happy about it, compared to those who reported feeling excitement but also impatience about Black Friday, according to SAP.


The Deal Hunt


Finding good Black Friday deals and deals on Cyber Monday is part of the thrill of holiday shopping. A number of retailers, including JC Penney, Target and Amazon let people sign up months in advance to be notified of deals via email. As the number of deals offered on Cyber Monday now closely rivals those available on Black Friday, according to CNBC, it can be a toss-up for consumers when they decide to shop. In 2012, Time noted that people could save 5 percent if they waited until after Black Friday and Cyber Monday to buy a television or camera.


Blurred Lines


The difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is becoming less and less apparent as technology develops. The use of smartphones and other mobile devices means that shoppers can comparison shop online while in a physical store. Forbes reported that people used comparison shopping apps such as ShopSavvy and RedLaser when shopping and that mobile devices funneled 25 percent of online shopping traffic on Black Friday.


Online deals aren’t limited to Cyber Monday anymore, either. In 2012, up to a quarter Cyber Monday deals were expected to kick off on Friday. The year before, the deals started on Saturday, according to CNBC.


Nor is Black Friday limited to Friday anymore. Plenty of stores, such as WalMart and Target, opened their doors on Thanksgiving night, eliminating the need for shoppers to get up at 2 or 3 in the morning to get to the store by 4 or 5 am. Some of the Black Friday Thanksgiving deals were also online, further blurring the distinction between the traditionally in-store Black Friday and the traditionally online Cyber Monday.


Best Practices for Standardizing Customer Experience

Most of us have been here. Your Internet connection goes down.  You call the old support number and step through new automated prompts. Since your provider has been acquired, the “system” no longer recognizes your account number. You ask for a customer service rep. Someone picks up. A real human! Unfortunately, the problem may require a new router. A technician comes out to the house and immediately repairs the router. The next week, your Internet connection goes down…You  cancel your service and opt for another provider.


While these service inquiries are common for any customer-facing organization, the potential for service hiccups is amplified when fusing two companies after a merger or acquisition. While financial, competitive and intellectual-property factors typically drive consolidation in business, what’s often overlooked is the impact on the companies’ customers.


Businesses often announce that mergers or acquisitions, “will help us better serve our customers,” but the reality is that uniting companies can yield a hefty load of operational and infrastructure issues if technology and operational plans aren’t in place to ensure that the customer experience is optimized when disparate systems and departments are consolidated.


In many industries, mergers have become less a question of “if” and more of “when.” Look at the telecommunications sector for example. Several major US wireless carriers, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint have all acquired or been acquired by competitors in the last few months.


On one hand, executives have to migrate and merge existing customer records across multiple systems and channels including billing, operations, and marketing, while often underestimating the amount of technical effort that is required. On the other hand, you have customers that are concerned that they will suddenly be faced with lower quality products or services, and higher rates. The ambiguity causes anxiety – is it necessary to become familiar with a whole new process or online account management portal just to do what they have always done? Are merged companies giving customers a reason to leave?


Mergers are tough on the customer to say the least. Just when a business thinks it has identified all the leaks in a boat in terms of service, customers let them know through social media and churn that it’s far worse – it’s the Titanic and it’s sinking fast. However, there are things companies can do to ensure seamless customer data consolidation while maintaining customer experience levels during and post integration. One critical aspect of a merger is to have a view into, and really understand, the customers’ experiences across the entire new organization — all the touch points, every interaction, the entire customer journey. That way, when a customer has a good interaction with an agent, but still churns, you know why: the cumulative experience can be anemic even when each touch point is optimized. At ClickFox, we’ve found that our Fortune 500 clients have optimized customer experience after a merger by:


  • Strategizing for future due diligence on the data: Ensure there are plans that take into account the cumulative customer experience across every customer touch point. If a company has a strategic data plan in place to encourage transparency across the organization, then customers are likely to not only have a positive individual encounter with the business, but be happy with the overall process.
  • Considering the complete journey: One of the biggest issues with any merger or acquisition is bringing together different technologies and cultures, so it isn’t simply the customer journeys that companies will want to track and measure. Employee journey data can provide great insight on how well everyone is executing according to the plan.
  • Using predictive analytics: With a comprehensive view of your customers’ experiences, you can better predict and track how they will react, and be prepared if a storm hits.


The most successful companies make a point of looking at the bird’s eye view while attending to each detail. You may have the most intuitive website or helpful employees in your retail stores, but if the process overall takes too long, or requires too much effort, you will have dissatisfied customers with little reason to stay. It is essential to have a holistic view and understanding of their experience. Only then can you develop a successful strategy for exceeding their expectations and increasing your bottom line.