Archive for February, 2004

Break time

Friday, February 20th, 2004

Taking a short (one week) break from the regular blog beat. The hope and intention is that the gap will refresh the brain and body.

Not necessarily improve it, mind you–just refresh it. You know, kind of like those expensive skin creams that are supposed to remove wrinkles (excuse me, the “appearance” of wrinkles–I love that one, don’t you? Talk about marketing gibberish). We can always pray that refreshment will lead to new discoveries–we all have so much hidden treasure inside. I’m going to bet on something cool happening.

No idea, of course, what it might be. But stay tuned.

Enjoy your week and read some good blogs. Back at ya in March.

Spreading like wildfire

Thursday, February 19th, 2004

The mainstream press (Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Chris Seper and Chuck Yarborough are just two local examples, and then of course there’s Chris Thompson at CrainTech) have joined the blogging frenzy. The old saying, if you can’t beat ‘em… Now a local professional association for IT people has done so: the Akron chapter of the Northeast Ohio Software Association (NEOSA), at the capable hands of Anita Campbell (one of our original blog case studies has become a blogging entity. Check it out here.

You know, when some of the smartest people in business start using blogs for everything they’re involved in, there’s no way you can ignore the tool. Just remember–as a very wise and successful business friend said today–I want to be sure I can keep the content fresh and lively and not turn it into just another marketing tool.

Well said, Drew (EYEMG – Akron). We know it will be a top-notch place to visit once you make the decision.

Do blogs bust monopolies?

Tuesday, February 17th, 2004

Just lost a post. Oh, brother. It’s tough when that happens. Time is short enough as it is without having to re-do the work we’ve already done…

Anyway, it was about the sale of AT&T Wireless to Cingular. Talk about the giants playing ball… The New York Times reports, “…in a daring game of brinksmanship, Cingular’s parent companies, BellSouth Corporation and SBC Communications, hastily convened board meetings by conference call at about 1:30 A.M. in New York — in some cases waking up the company’s directors — and decided to approve the submission of a final knockout offer for AT&T Wireless while most of Vodafone’s [a British company also in on the bidding] management and board were still sleeping.”

Amazing. Who would think there would be ANYONE in the world who could afford to buy AT&T anything? Well, let’s see, we busted up the Bell telephone monopoly, then we had this strange SBC taking over. Now we have that stranger and a suspiciously similar BellSouth buying up…I can’t keep track of these huge players.

But I’ll bet you one thing. The employees at those companies are not blogging. And for sure there’s no one in management thinking of doing so. That would be too much like genuine communication with their customers–probably not what these communications companies are all about anyway.

RSS the new email?

Monday, February 16th, 2004

An RSS feed called Newsgator is the subject of an interesting article in a recent eWeek. First introduced to use with blogs–to allow people to copy a piece of code into their site and have your blog entries appear there–RSS feeds have been tough to use as enterprise tools because they worked only on individual machines.

Now a new product called NewsGator Online Services lets you make a personalized collection of news(RSS) feeds viewable from any computer anywhere–in your hotel, home, work, on a Mac or Windows, etc. You get all the information you want, when you want it, without being tied to a single machine. Business people are heading toward using this idea instead of subscribing to newsletters–keeps their inboxes clear for direct communications requiring quick attention on current work items.

Author Brian Livingston says some companies are getting excited about using RSS instead of email for workgroups that have to communicate frequently. Saves everyone the time of prioritizing every item that comes into the inbox–a process that cuts into the productive time of every person in business today.

Here’s what a VP of product development at a software company says: “The nice thing about web logging is it does sort discussions into topics,” says Mark Madsen of Network Clarity. “Unlike unstructured discussion groups from the past, XML and RSS allow us to slice and dice those discussions, search them, and attach other information and responses.”

Hurry, hurry, hurry. Blogging is going mainstream, folks.

Guerilla success

Wednesday, February 11th, 2004

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to
success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
~ Albert Schweitzer

How can you argue with a guy like Al? Why would you want to? The truth of what he says is proven daily in business. The people who love their work are the ones making discoveries, getting the job done, and feeling good. That kind of positive energy contributes mightily to the common welfare–a state of affairs I’d define, in my perhaps offbeat way, as success…for all concerned.

And these successful people are often in the trenches, practicing guerilla marketing. The term “guerilla,” according to BtoB interviewee Drew Neisser of New-York-based Renegade marketing, means making up for what you can’t buy with imagination and hard work. That’s one of the many ways I would describe a blog for business. Imagination and hard work. Low to no cost. Commitment. Love for your work. Those ingredients guarantee “success”–meaning loyal, profitable customers finding you.

If you love your work, try a ‘guerilla’ blog. You won’t be sorry.

Upscaling email

Tuesday, February 10th, 2004

Just want to share this little tidbit about email. Alison Overholt, this person who just got back from a two-week vacation (who the hell gets those anymore?) writes in Fast Company that a new product is BETTER at email than Outlook.

I don’t know how you feel about your Outlook, or how much you use it for contacts, appointments, etc., but I personally have not found it terribly user-friendly (as these things go). Grab this: Bloomba (huh?) is a new email program they’re calling “the Google of email clients” that uses search engine-style filing. Instead of folders (think about the implications of this now) you can simply type in a couple of keywords for what you’re looking for.

Stop. Think. This is really big. No more filing? Who is good at filing? Are you? Is anyone you know? I personally stink at it. I have been in semi-nirvana since they invented “search” in computer folders, websites, and email. But I haven’t found it foolproof by any means–especially in email.

But imagine being able to type in anything you can remember about an email and being able to select from a few highly relevant entries. I’m having trouble–it’s almost too good to be true…

Here’s what Ms. Overholt says about Bloomba 1.0: “incredibly innovative” – “searching–not powerfoldering–is the wave of the future for email” – “not yet ready for prime time” – BUT with a more robust version – “Outlook may finally have serious competition.”

Version 2.0 due out Feb. 16–next week. Heck, if you’ve got an hour or so, Bloomba is worth checking out. Please let us know what you think.

The winds of change…

Thursday, February 5th, 2004

Okay, the MyDoom virus has now cost corporate America an estimated $22..6 billion (yes, that’s a “b”) in lost productivity. The only virus to cost more–the Sobig virus–sported an even-more-terrifying price tage of $37.1 billion.

What’s going on?

I think it makes sense to write again about a brilliant entrepreneur whose amazing new proprietary method of writing software has been facing the typical NIH (not invented here), ostrich-head-in-the-sand attitude that many of us take when confronted with the idea of having to change our comfortable habits. Dr. Steve Belovich kept trying to solve the same problems over and over for his clients–a lot of them related to security. So one day he just decided to invent a new way to write software–that would prevent the old ways of getting infected with viruses and getting broken into by hackers

Trouble was, nobody wanted to hear about it. Throw out our tried-and-true hardware? Throw out Windows? Are you crazy? people said. Well, as the security issue takes on ballast and becomes a major force upsetting the even keel all the way to top guys who don’t normally have much of a clue about technology, the doors of resistance and ignorance are being forced open. EWeek writes in the latest edition that a top IT executive puts it bluntly: security isn’t just a good idea anymore. It’s an imperative.

With Linux making inroads and companies losing billions to viruses, it’s clear the time has come. Check out Smart-Data.

Pay in–and reap the reward

Wednesday, February 4th, 2004

Upon my having missed a few days…

If you’re a small business owner who gets very busy, you might find it tough to keep your blogging up. Once in a while your readers won’t mind. But as one personal blogger said, once you’ve missed this many times, it gets easier to miss that many times, and pretty soon you’re out of the habit.

Don’t let that happen to you. Assuming your blog contains valuable information (most of the time) or at least interesting reading, once people have begun to recognize and trust you for it, many of them will come to rely on you. What a compliment! You owe it to your readers–who either already are your customers or are people you hope will become your customers–to deliver what you set them up to expect.

Even when it’s tough, find a way. Whether it’s a blog or a newsletter or other regular communication, keep it up. It’ll pay off–just like putting money in the bank.