Archive for December, 2013


December 31, 2013 Leave a comment
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Why Wearable Tech Will Be as Big as the Smartphone

December 31, 2013 Leave a comment
Google Glass was just the beginning. A new generation of wearable tech is coming—and it will transform the way you experience the world.   Ian Allen

Data will not help you if you can’t see it when you need it. For Dan Eisenhardt—a competitive swimmer for more than a decade, beginning as a 9-year-old in his native Denmark—the data he needed in the water, what he could never know in the water, was his splits. His event was the 1,500-meter freestyle, the longest slog in the sport, a near-mile of grinding exertion divided into 15 laps of 100 meters apiece. As with every distance sport, pacing is all; lag your target time on the first two laps and you may never catch up, but accidentally beat it and you’ll load your tissue with lactic acid, doom your endgame. How fast was his last lap? How did it compare to his usual pace? His coach up on the pool deck could know, his parents in the stands could know. But Eisenhardt, at war in the water, could only guess.

The rigors of engineering school eventually forced Eisenhardt to stop racing. He worked for a while as a management consultant. But later, during business school, while he was spending an exchange semester at the University of British Columbia, the problem nagged at him again. For a project in an entrepreneurship class, he pitched a business plan: data-enabled goggles for swimmers like his former self. He teamed up with some other students, and they soon concluded they had the wrong sport. Swim goggles were too small to support a screen, plus the athletes were too few in number—and too unaccustomed to shelling out for expensive gear. Close at hand in wintry Canada, though, was a better idea. In January 2008, after a year or so of tinkering, four of the classmates founded Recon Instruments.

Their first product, Recon Snow, is a heads-up display for skiers and snowboarders. From the outside it looks just like any set of ski goggles. But tucked below the right eye is a little display, controllable by a simple remote—snow-proof with big, chunky buttons—that clips to a jacket. The main screen is a dashboard that shows speed, altitude, and vertical descent. There’s also a navigation view that uses the built-in GPS to plot position on a resort map, as well as an app screen that offers access to a camera. Through Bluetooth, the display integrates with a smartphone, letting skiers play music, answer calls, and see text messages or other notifications. Recon has sold 50,000 of the Snow so far, and the second generation, Snow2, came out in November. The company’s next product—Jet, designed for cyclists, with voice control and gaze detection for hands-free use—will ship in March.

Recon Heads-Up Display | From the outside, the only real sign that anything’s different about these Oakley goggles is a tiny red logo on the right. On the inside, though, the Recon Snow2 (starting at $399) sports an ingenious display that lets skiers and snowboarders stay connected on the slopes. With an armband-mounted remote control, users can toggle between a few simple screens showing speed and more. Friends using Recon devices at the same resort can keep track of one another on a map. Recon sold 50,000 pairs of its first-generation goggles, and the company’s second product—Jet, designed for cyclists, with voice control and gaze detection for totally hands-free use—goes on sale in March.  Ian Allen

Technically, the Recon doesn’t do anything that the average smartphone couldn’t. The lavish array of sensors in today’s phones can chart speed and altitude; social networking apps can find friends and set up voice or video chats; any number of map apps can navigate users down a mountain. That is, a smartphone would do those things—if users could access it on a ski slope or cycling run. But they can’t, at least not without risking a crack in their screen or their head. What Recon sells is the ability to see all the crucial data, and only the crucial data, at times when it would otherwise remain locked away. It brings the power of the smartphone out of your pocket and into your field of vision, accessible any time you glance its way.

Dan Eisenhardt, 38, started Recon with three MBA class­mates to create a heads-up display for snow goggles. Dan Goldman

This is the promise of wearable technology, and it’s the reason—after more than 20 years of tinkering by cybernetics enthusiasts—we’re finally seeing an explosion of these devices on the market. It’s the reason Google has poured millions into an improbable set of eyeglasses, why Samsung has unveiled a companion watch for its smartphones, and why Apple is widely rumored to be exploring something similar. It’s the reason tiny companies banked thousands of preorders last year for smartwatches, gesture-controlled armbands, transmitting rings, notification bracelets, and more. A new device revolution is at hand: Just as mobile phones and tablets displaced the once-dominant PC, so wearable devices are poised to push smartphones aside.

In purely technological terms, the wearable revolution could take shape much faster than the mobile revolution that preceded it. Thanks to what former WIRED editor in chief Chris Anderson has called the “peace dividend of the smartphone wars,” sensors and chip sets are cheaper now than ever, making it easier for small companies to incorporate sophisticated hardware into wearable devices. And while smartphone manufacturers had to master the tricky art of providing dependable mobile Internet service, wearable manufacturers can piggyback on those innovations using simple Bluetooth or other protocols to communicate with a smartphone and thus with the outside world. With all that prebaked hardware and wireless connectivity—and huge preorders from crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter—it has become possible for tiny companies to dream up, build, and sell wearable devices in competition with big companies, a feat that was never possible with smartphones.

Recon Heads-Up Display | The display’s main screen shows speed and other key metrics. Another shows your progress on the trail, while a third shows notifications.  Ian Allen

It may seem laughable to suggest that people will soon neglect their iPhones in favor of amped-up watches, eyeglasses, rings, and bracelets. But then again, 10 years ago it seemed laughable to think that people would use their smartphones to email, surf the web, play games, watch videos, keep calendars, and take notes—all once core tasks of desktop PCs. We can already see how wearable devices might peel off some of the phone’s key functions: One study of smartphone users indicates that on average we unlock our gadgets more than 100 times a day, with some of us pawing at screens far more often than that. Internet analyst Mary Meeker estimates that as many as two-thirds of those uses could be handled with a wearable device.

To get there, though, pure functionality won’t be enough. After all, people could surf the web on their BlackBerrys; smartphones didn’t really take off until the advent of the iPhone, a device that launched an aesthetic transformation in the tech industry, as design went from an afterthought to a corporate necessity, a core competency prized no less than the ability to make a faster chip or stable operating system. Wearable devices—technology that people will want to display on their bodies, for all to see—represent a new threshold in aesthetics. The tech companies that mastered design will now need to conquer the entirely different realm of fashion. And that could require technologists to unlearn a great deal of what they think they know.

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2013 survey of Higher Education’s CIOs

December 31, 2013 Leave a comment
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Sony reportedly thinking of launching Windows Phone

December 31, 2013 Leave a comment


  • The Information reports Sony (SNE -0.1%), which (like many OEMs) has focused its smartphone efforts on building Android hardware, is thinking of launching a Windows Phone (MSFT +0.1%) as soon as mid-2014.
  • The site also reports Microsoft, hungry to expand Windows Phone’s OEM support, is “making new moves” to win over ZTE (ZTCOY) and other vendors, such as slashing licensing fees. The Verge reported three weeks ago Microsoft is thinking of offering Windows Phone and RT for free, and monetizing the platforms via ads/services.
  • Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Nokia’s phone business has fueled concerns third parties will now be reluctant to license WP, particularly since Nokia is the market’s dominant player. AdDuplex just estimated Nokia hardware accounts for 92.1% of the WP installed base. But OEM concerns about becoming too dependent on Google could leave Microsoft with an opening.
  • Though IDC estimates WP only had a 3.6% Q3 global smartphone unit share, Kantar Worldpanel believes the OS is faring much better in Europe, assigning it a double-digit share within the EU5. That might be of interest to Sony, whose smartphone ops depend heavily on European and Japanese sales.
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Invisibility Cloak Hides From Microwaves

December 31, 2013 Leave a comment

Invisibility Cloak Hides From Microwaves

December 30th, 2013 | by Charles Q. Cho 


Over the years, researchers have been making slow progress working out how to make the devices, which work by guiding light waves completely around objects so they zip along their original paths as if nothing were there. But such advances have generally been limited to cloaking objects in very narrow bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.

A major challenge to creating more intriguing cloaks has been that these early prototypes have each been limited to working against narrow ranges of wavelengths for various types of waves — a cloak against green light would likely not also work against red or blue light, for instance.

Indeed, electrical engineer Andrea Alu at the University of Texas at Austin and his colleagues recently discovered that although cloaks make things invisible to certain wavelengths, all cloaking techniques employed today essentially render objects more visible overall, not less, if one considers visibility over all wavelengths. For example, making something invisible to red light may also make it bright blue. If one looked at all wavelengths of light, the cloaked object would actually be more visible than the uncloaked version.

Now Alu and his colleagues say they have designed the first electrically powered invisibility cloak that works over a much broader range of light wavelengths than ever before. Their battery-powered cloaks, they say, may overcome the challenges faced by its predecessors, though so far they’re advance is still limited to the microwave part of the spectrum.

“I believe this is an important step to provide a real impact for cloaking applications, which have been so far limited to narrow bandwidths,” Alu says.

Passive materials to active electronics

Until now, the cloaks that scientists have designed have been passive structures known as metamaterials and metasurfaces that do not draw energy from an outside power source. Instead of using these static, fixed structures warping light like current invisibility cloaks employ, the researchers suggest making future cloaks using active, dynamic electronic components.

The cloaks that Alu and his colleagues have designed involve arrays of square metal patches on a surface connected by a network of electronic amplifiers that need little in the way of power. This helps warp light over a broader range of wavelengths. Moreover, such active cloaks might be thinner and less conspicuous than standard cloaks.

“We found a way to combine the newest technology in active circuitry with cloaking in order to significantly broaden the bandwidth of operation of invisibility cloaks,” Alu says.

Such active cloaks might help mask objects from radar. They may also have a number of applications beyond camouflaging, such as improving wireless communications by suppressing extraneous signals.

The active cloak the researchers devised works against microwave-range wavelengths, not visible ones. “We are far from having an impact on invisibility to the human eye,” Alu says.

However, “there is a lot of interest at the moment in realizing active metamaterials in the visible,” he says. “Our results may possibly inspire new active cloak designs at visible frequencies with broader bandwidths than what are available today.”

The researchers are now exploring building a prototype of their design, “but it presents some challenges,” he says. The circuit technology such cloaks relies on “is evolving very fast, and we hope that in the near future we will be able to integrate these elements directly into our metasurfaces.”

Alu and his colleagues Pai-Yen Chen and Christos Argyropoulos detailed their findings online Dec. 3 in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Top Image: Camouflage via Shutterstock.

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eMarketer Marketing Automation Roundup December 2013

December 30, 2013 Leave a comment

eMarketer Marketing Automation Roundup December 2013

Automation now touches more of the marketing landscape than
ever before, and business-to-business and business-to-consumer
marketers alike are taking it up to improve their businesses.
eMarketer has curated a roundup of key trends, statistics and
information relevant to marketers looking to automate anything
from lead generation to CRM and beyond.

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The High Cost of Free Video

December 27, 2013 Leave a comment

The High Cost of Free Video

Did you know that one third of consumers who experience buffering issues report that they will abandon a video rather than wait for it to resume?

What some brands don’t realize is that while their content may be high quality, if the presentation of the video experience has issues, viewership will suffer and their content strategy will fall short of meeting objectives.

We recently partnered with a third party research firm to conduct a survey of more than 1,200 consumers who watch online video a minimum of two times per month to understand their expectations of video experiences. Check out our compelling results.

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New California Laws Will Affect the Workplace in 2014

December 27, 2013 Leave a comment

By Deborah Belgum | Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ringing in the new year means ringing in a raft of new employment laws that take effect on Jan. 1.

For the first time in six years, the state’s minimum wage jumps up more than 10 percent after being in a holding pattern for six years.

Apparel factories are under particular scrutiny in a law that requires them to post at the entryway pertinent information about their business.

Other laws address a wider range of issues such as anti-discrimination, leaves of absence and protection of undocumented workers trying to earn a fair wage.

Here’s a summary of the state employment laws that will influence California companies in 2014.

Minimum-Wage Issues (AB10 and AB442)

The minimum wage in California has not risen from its $8-an-hour benchmark since 2008. That will change on July 1, when the minimum wage goes to $9 an hour. Another increment occurs on Jan. 1, 2016, when the minimum wage rises to $10 an hour. In San Francisco, the minimum wage inches up on Jan. 1 from its current $10.55 to $10.74 an hour. San Jose’s minimum wage inches up from $10 to $10.15 an hour.

Garment Manufacturer Requirement (AB1384)

A new law creates a civil penalty for a garment manufacturer’s failure to display his or her name, address and registration number at the front entrance of the premises.

Leave of Absence for Reserve Peace Officers and Emergency Rescue Personnel (AB11)

If you have employees that are also reserve peace officers or emergency rescue personnel, a new law mandates that employers with more than 50 employees must give temporary leaves of absence not only to volunteer firefighters for training but now to reserve peace officers and emergency rescue personnel. A leave of absence can be up to 14 days.

Paid Family Leave of Absence (SB770)

Up until now, employees have been allowed to receive up to six weeks of state disability insurance to care for an ill child, spouse, parent or domestic partner or build a relationship with an adopted or foster child. The latest version of the law now allows employees to take time off to care for a seriously ill grandparent, grandchildren, sibling or in-law. This law takes effect July 1.

Leave of Absence for Crime Victims (SB400 and SB288)

Current law prohibits adverse employment action against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault and needs to take time off to seek relief. A new law (SB400) expands that protection to victims of stalking and also provides that those employees be provided for requested safety while at work.

Another new law (SB288) prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who is a victim of a crime for taking time off from work to appear in court to testify at related proceedings. This applies only to specific crimes that include solicitation for murder and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Whistleblower Protection (SB496)

Protection has been expanded to allow employees to make an internal report to a supervisor about an alleged violation of wage and hour laws without fear of retaliation by an employer.

Immigration Status (AB263 and SB666)

Two new bills protect undocumented workers from retaliation or adverse actions when they file employment-related claims or complain about wage theft. Employers cannot threaten to contact immigration authorities about a worker’s legal status in the country because of the complaints. A penalty of up to $10,000 per employee can be issued to the employer per violation. In addition, state authorities can pull an employer’s business license for reporting or threatening to report a worker’s immigration status in response to an employee’s wage complaints.

Compensation (AB 1386)

A new law requires that the amount due under a Labor Commissioner order, decision or award that has become final shall create a lien that the Labor Commissioner may record on the employer’s real property.

Attorney Fees (SB462)

A new law states that employers who win wage-claim lawsuits may recover attorneys’ fees and costs from the employee only if a trial court finds that the employee filed the lawsuit in bad faith.

Recovery Rest Periods (SB435)

California law currently requires employers to give employees who work outside in weather exceeding 85 degrees five-minute cool-down periods, or recovery periods, in a shaded area to protect from overheating. Under an expanded law, employers are prohibited from requiring employees from working during a recovery period, and they must pay them one additional hour of pay for each workday a required recovery period is not provided.

Anti-Discrimination Laws (SB530 and AB566)

Currently, state law restricts employers from considering certain criminal records in making hiring choices. Now, employers, under SB530, are prohibited from asking a prospective new hire to disclose information about a conviction that has been dismissed or ordered sealed unless certain limited exceptions apply.

A number of current laws prohibit employment discrimination and harassment under a variety of protected categories. AB566 extends that to employees with military and veteran status.

San Francisco Family-Friendly Workplace Ordinance

San Francisco passed a “Family-Friendly Workplace Ordinance” requiring covered employers with employees working in San Francisco to consider requests for “flexible or predictable working arrangements to assist with care-giving responsibilities.” The ordinance also protects employees from adverse action based on caregiver status. The ordinance requires a poster informing employees of their rights.

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Tech pioneer reinvents pro basketball team as a social network

December 27, 2013 Leave a comment
When you’re a professional athlete and you play your home games in a place called, I kid you not, the Sleep Train Arena, you’d probably be thankful for anything management tried to jolt awake the public’s attention.

Thus, the guys who shoot, dribble, block and rebound for the Sacramento Kings must be full of gratitude for their new owner Vivek Ranadivé.
Those of you who follow the heavy blocking and tackling of information technology might already know Ranadivé as the guy who founded TIBCO Software, known for transmitting financial data and other rapidly changing and numerically intense material – like sports scores – across networks.
Ranadivé purchased the Kings earlier this year for $534 million, endearing himself to local fans by promising keep the squad in Sacramento for 35 years. Other prospective owners might have uprooted the tall ball players and plonked them down in another city, as is the peripatetic money-making ways of the sports business.
But this was no ordinary acquisition. As Wired magazine notes in a feature story, Ranadivé, with his technology, hopes to redefine what it means to be a professional sport team. He wants the Kings, who play in the National Basketball Association (NBA), to lead a new “NBA 3.0” as they become a social media network, raising global awareness and loyalty – and revenue from merchandising and all those other things.

“We have an opportunity to make basketball the premier sport of the 21st century,” Ranadive says. “Kind of like what soccer was in the 20th century (writer’s note to U.S. readers – soccer yes soccer is the world’s most popular sport). “With technology you can expand social networks, you can give people an opportunity to participate and identify with it in ways that haven’t been done before….When I look at the business of basketball, it’s more than basketball. It’s really a social network. You can use technology to capture that network, expand it, engage it, and then, obviously, to monetize it.”

Wired describes the plan as “a complete rethinking of how fans interact with and follow the game, especially in the developing world.”

Here’s a taster of how it work, a described by Wired and Ranadivé, who believes his plan will turn the Kings into an enterprise worth far more than $534 million:

Ranadive, the first Indian-born majority owner of an NBA franchise, believes that’s a fraction of what the franchise will eventually be worth. He’s wasted no time implementing his plan. He had TIBCO build an app for the team. It includes a tab for Royal Circle, a social media network specifically for Sacramento fans. Interacting with the team digitally earns points that can be redeemed for tickets and Kings’ merch. Ranadive believes this “loyalty science” puts the Kings above others who have tried to use social media to engage fans.

“We are the only people to have actually created the science of understanding what it takes to provide the right psychological experience,” he says. “We know the action to take to convert sentiment into intention and then intention into action. That’s key to turning customers into fans.”

While the Kings draw noisy – although not always large – crowds to the Big Sleep, Ranadivé now hopes they make a much larger din down the data pipes.

For the Sacramento team, the future could be nothing but Net.

Cover photo is from CLopez63 via Wikimedia

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Infographic Alert: The Way We Shopped in 2013

December 27, 2013 Leave a comment


December 27, 2013 – ecommerceEditor’s Choice –

E-commerce has exploded… and we have the numbers to prove it.

According to a new infographic from National Positions, the space has grown by 13% in the last year alone, online purchasing growing from $231 billion in 2012 to $262 billion in 2013.

With year-over-year growth like this, it is no wonder that U.S. online retail sales are expected to hit $370 billion by 2017.

Here are some more stats from the infographic:

–       20% of online purchases are made after perusing through social media sites

–       $119 billion in goods and services will be purchased via mobile in 2015

–       In 2013, 71% of businesses planned to increase their digital marketing budgets.

Check out the full graphic below to see just how we shopped in 2013:


Deanna Gillen

Deanna graduated from Marist College in 2010 with a double major in Political Science and Journalism. Her journalistic experiences include covering the 2012 New Hampshire primaries, acting as a field reporter at OWS, and working behind the scenes as an interactive producer at News 12. Prior to joining to WBR as Digital Content Manager and editor of the Field Service Blog, she worked as a journalist for, Talk Radio News Service, WNBC News Channel 4 and News 12. She will be writing about what’s happening in the Field Service industry, and educating her readers about best practices employed by the leaders in the field, bringing their words and advice straight to you. When not at work, Deanna enjoys drinking wet cappuccinos and dry humor.

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“Big & Small:Personalized Marketing Must be Able to Do it All”

December 27, 2013 Leave a comment


“Big & Small:Personalized Marketing Must be Able to Do it All”

Today, forward-thinking marketers understand the true value of personalizing the
e-commerce experience for their customers. But this innovative approach to
advertising can be difficult for even the most experienced marketers. According
to Forrester analyst James McCormack, “most global firms fail miserably. They fail to
recognize their customers as they interact across many of their channels..” How do
marketers overcome this pressing problem? By starting with a focused project, proving
ROI, and expanding from there. Then when one step of the personalized marketing
chain is mastered, marketers can expand their efforts by extending their reach to more
customers across additional marketing channels, engaging in cross-channel dialogs that
build upon past and current behaviors.

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How to build a profitable marketing strategy, in a nutshell

December 27, 2013 1 comment



By Peter Clark
 Given such rapid changes in consumer habits, how can marketing professionals keep up and win new customers, keep existing ones loyal, and increase profits? The answer lies, not surprisingly, with getting the basics right first…

There are many different aspects to marketing – all parts of the overall customer lifetime journey with your brand. Customers need to be attracted to the brand, encouraged to buy into its values and qualities, provided with a positive and satisfying customer experience, and given as many reasons as possible to keep coming back – to stay loyal to the brand.

True, part of that journey involves the customer, but the rest of the journey lies behind the scenes: the marketer has to ensure that customers are not only happy with their experiences and that all the basic entry level ‘hygiene requirements’ are met when customers interact with the brand, but also make sure that customers feel emotionally engaged with the brand, that the brand’s core message and offering resonates on a personal level with them, and that the brand treats them as real people, showing a genuine understanding of what they want and need from the brand.

And once you have a customer, you have to try to keep them. Customer retention is a function of customer satisfaction, engagement, loyalty, and trust. All of these aspects have to be monitored, measured, analysed, and acted upon if current customers are to remain exactly that: current customers. One of the keys to this juggling act is the idea of ‘customer centricity’ – putting the customer at the very heart of your marketing strategy, and focusing your efforts on what the customer needs and wants.

The customer can’t easily be averaged out, or broadly classified, either – which makes it much more difficult to understand customers on a generalised level; instead customers need to be understood in terms of similar segments or even as individuals. There’s no point marketing meat products to vegetarians just because they bought the same relish as non-vegetarians did.

And what happens when a customer is no longer as happy as they once were? They leave. But not everybody will take the trouble to tell you they’re leaving. In fact, most will go as quietly and possible and start dealing with a competitor, then tell all their friends, family, and colleagues about their bad experiences with your brand.

The final part of the customer marketing journey, then, is to try to win back those who have left – or even better still, to identify those who are at risk of defecting long before they actually leave, and then implement a carefully monitored campaign to win them back.

The Marketing Environment 
Marketing consists of many disciplines, each of which makes use of many different channels and environments. Although there is no one single best marketing environment – whether it’s the real (offline) world, the online world, the mobile world, or the world of social networking – there are times and places and circumstances in which each environment is the clear choice.

For example, a brand selling fashion products to teenage consumers will be in the offline world (with its retail outlets) but it will also benefit from a strong presence in the mobile environment (with a mobile app that perhaps suggests accessories or new trends) and the social environment (to help drive brand ambassadorship and word of mouth, and to tap into the social status of ‘trend setters’).

Meanwhile, an online music seller will have its primary presence in the digital world, and may benefit more from an additional strong presence in the mobile environment (for example, a mobile/tablet app that offers live streaming music playback on demand).

The Essentials of Marketing Operations 
At the same time, your marketing operations strategy – the flesh and bones of your marketing technique – is one of the most overlooked aspects of the marketing mix today. While major decisions are debated at length about how individual aspects of a marketing campaign are to be conducted, the underlying strategy – what approach to take, how the consumer will see and interact with the campaign, which channels and platforms to use – is often taken somewhat for granted. When a company has an existing loyalty programme, and wants to drive a new desired behaviour among its customers, it is generally assumed that something needs to be added to the loyalty programme to make it happen.

But savvy marketers are increasingly starting to think ‘outside the box’ and look at tools, techniques and strategies that aren’t even in their marketing mix yet. If you want to encourage customers to browse and buy from you via the mobile/tablet channel, you could add a mobile app for your loyalty programme… but you might get a much higher return on your investment – and even a more positive and permanent behaviour change – if you add an element of Gamification via mobile social media, or a geo-located offer engine that uses the customer’s smartphone’s GPS to make relevant offers when they’re in the vicinity of your stores.

If you want to gather more meaningful customer data to develop new insights, and you haven’t already started a customer loyalty programme, now is the time to do so. There are vast numbers of marketing techniques, channels and platforms available, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. The time has come to critically evaluate not whether you’ve optimised your current marketing mix, but whether you’ve got all the right operational tools to begin with – and then adjust the mix accordingly.

Marketing Support 
Behind you all the way, however, will be the board of directors, the executive officers, and the shareholders – all wanting to make sure their investments in marketing are paying off. Accountability for marketing spend is an increasing concern for every company regardless of its size, and the recent recession has brought this point home with great force. As a result, marketing departments are in ever-greater need of both tools and techniques to help them prove to the board of directors and shareholders that they are performing as well as they should, given the budget they have been given.

Moreover, marketing is a fast-developing science combined with a ‘human art’ that requires constant development, innovation, fine-tuning, and new technologies if the company is to stay one step ahead of the competition. This requires not only more money in the budget to cover the costs of developing new techniques but also a certain amount of money that will be ‘at risk’ without any certain ROI (return on investment). While most forward-thinking FDs (finance directors) and CFOs (chief financial officers) accept that development is an ongoing and unavoidable cost of business, most will also demand that the marketing function can pay for itself in other ways – with an increasing ROI, for example.

As a result, the days of analysis and reporting for the sake of simply monitoring the success (other otherwise) of individual marketing campaigns are over, and marketers must now show not only their smaller successes but also their overall contribution to the bottom line, brand equity, and corporate well-being. The importance of statistical analysis and proper management reporting cannot be understated.

At the same time, the business case for any customer loyalty or rewards initiative you want to invest in needs to be well supported and justified, not only in the planning stages but on a continuing basis after implementation, and during development. The application of solid mathematics, statistics, and scientific measurement is the only way to prove the effect the programme is likely to have on profitability and the customer base. And the application of regular and meaningful management reporting is the only way to monitor all the factors involved both before and after implementation of the programme.

The Marketing Guide at the end of the rainbow 
Published by The Wise Marketer, one of the internet’s longest-running and most respected marketing research and news journals, ‘The Marketing Guide‘ report explains exactly how to achieve all of those critical business goals. In the report we explain both emerging and traditional marketing techniques, technologies, strategies, best practices, accountability, and provide support for all the key marketing models.

Find out why customer engagement is so essential and how to actually achieve it, why customer experience is becoming the next retail battleground, how to be customer-centric, how to spot at-risk customers and re-engage them, what your customers want and don’t want, and what really drives their purchase decisions. Learn how the marketing landscape is developing, what others are doing to succeed, how to build a growth strategy for the future, plus all the trends, forecasts and strategies needed to cope with rapid changes in the digital world. Explore the worlds of social marketing, gamification, mobile marketing, web analytics, retail intelligence, customer loyalty strategies, voice-of-the-customer initiatives, coupons and incentives, cause-related marketing, and hundreds of other ingredients for a profitable marketing mix.

This annual report can be put on subscription to save money and get pre-publication copies, or you can simply buy any edition after it’s published for only £397.

For pricing, subscriptions, and single copies, visit:

The Marketing Guide distils all the marketing best practices, do’s and don’ts, practical how-to’s, research and wisdom of The Wise Marketer and its panels of experts from all industries, geographies and fields of marketing worldwide.

Be the best informed marketer you know 
The report is a must-have for marketing professionals in every market, everywhere, packed with up-to-date facts and figures, as well as how develop marketing strategies that really work, boost your brand’s revenue and market share, measure your return on investment, and increase profits. Find out what works and what doesn’t, who’s succeeded and how they did it, and how the world’s top marketers and brands keep their competitive edge.

It walks you step-by-step through all the know-how, best practices, advice, metrics, reporting, analysis, and bottom-line effects of different marketing strategies – both traditional and emerging – and provides expert help from thought-leaders in every major market. Find out the best ways to gather, analyse, and act on customer data to increase profitability, build your brand, empower your customers, beat out the competition, reduce churn, and increase customer frequency, spending, and share of wallet.

Benefits you’ll reap from the guide 
Among the hundreds of insights and walk-throughs, you’ll learn:

  • Why customer engagement is essential to the marketing mix, what it really means, how to actually achieve it, and how to increase engagement through email, the web, social media, the mobile channel, and loyalty marketing
  • Factors driving the customer experience, how to improve and manage the customer experience to increase its effect on the bottom line, and how to develop a customer-centric strategy and develop real customer trust
  • How to spot when customers are about to defect, re-engage them, and stop them leaving, and how to lessen customer effort and to win back customers who have already defected to competitors
  • How consumers feel about brands, what they really want from marketers, what they’re happy about, what they’re unhappy about, and what factors really drive their everyday purchase decisions
  • How consumers differ from each other, and how they should affect your marketing strategy
  • How the retail world is developing, what retail marketers are doing to succeed, the latest evolution of retail marketing strategy, and how retailers can build a solid and secure growth strategy for the future
  • The evolution of online retail marketing strategy, what digital marketers are doing to grow their brands in the face of competition from giants like Amazon, plus trends, forecasts and the strategies needed to cope with rapid changes in digital marketing
  • Trends, forecasts and the evolution of mobile marketing, the impact of new mobile technologies, and how to solve the key problems facing mobile marketers
  • Arguments for and against social media marketing, and the metrics needed to measure its success or failure, plus the evolution of social marketing strategy and the combination of social media with other channels
  • A new model for word of mouth marketing, plus the evolution of Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes
  • How to build a fiercely loyal customer base, and what’s involved in a robust customer loyalty marketing strategy, plus the latest loyalty trends, forecasts, and insights
  • The business benefits of loyalty marketing, and how to avoid the main problems with customer loyalty initiatives, plus examinations of how loyalty’s being leveraged in the retail, travel, financial and other sectors
  • New developments in the customer relationship management (CRM) space, and how to build a long-term CRM strategy
  • The latest trends, insights and developments in coupon marketing, branding and advertising
  • The benefits and pitfalls of business-to-business (B2B) marketing techniques, including the key drivers of B2B client loyalty and the different models for B2B loyalty initiatives
  • Metrics for digital and traditional marketers, including a detailed guide to customer value and loyalty metrics, plus a practical primer on statistical measurement
  • How to convince the board about marketing’s value, produce vital management reports (including the famous Bathtub report and many others), and the trend toward increasing both traditional and digital marketing budgets to help counter the recessive economy
  • How to collect and analyse customer data ethically, segment your customer base more intelligently, and extract even greater business growth and value from your existing customer data Click here for full pricing, single copies and subscriptions.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional who wants to stay ahead of the game, or just starting out and want a springboard to get your strategy right first time, The Marketing Guide gives you all the essential ideas and techniques for profitable and successful marketing, plus expert guidance on planning, executing, measuring, analysing and future-proofing your strategy.

Available as a subscription or a one-off licence, The Marketing Guide (a.k.a. the ‘Orange Owl Guide’) is carefully researched and written every year, and published as a searchable, printable, simply indexed PDF document. Each edition contains brand new ideas, techniques, best practices, facts and figures, research and practical know-how. And these 350+ pages of unrivalled marketing intelligence will sit happily on your desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone or even a memory stick.

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Email volume increased markedly in Q3 2013

December 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Email volume increased markedly in Q3 2013


27 Dec 2013


According to Experian Marketing Services’ 2013 Q3 Email Benchmark Report, overall email volume increased 12.7% in Q3 2013 over Q3 2012. Unique open rates increased 6% year-on-year in Q3 2013. The report’s spotlight on transactional emails revealed a rise in open rates if a brand’s name is included in the subject line of transactional emails (such as shipping and order confirmations, order cancellations and return confirmations). While the use of this tactic varied widely, brand-name inclusion in only shipping confirmation emails produced significant gain with a 7% increase in unique open rates. Unique click rates for shipping confirmations that featured personalisation reached 13.5%, compared to 8.3% without personalisation. The strongest cross-selling results came from emails that featured dynamic product personalisation; order confirmations saw the highest increase in transaction rates, from 0.65% with static cross-sells to 0.97% with dynamic cross-sells. This article is copyright 2013




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Consumers don’t trust brands with their data

December 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Tuesday December 24, 2013  

Consumer trust in corporate data security has hit a ten-year low with over 10% of consumers suffering from a personal data loss of some kind and only 9% having any faith in brands to protect their data and 29% reporting a decline in their level of trust over the past year, according to a study by Fujitsu and One Poll.

Despite the technological evolution that has taken place over the last decade, allowing companies to personalise data and give a unique experience to each individual, consumers are more wary of data than ever before. Consumer trust has fallen in each and every sector, both public and private. 69% said this decline in trust was solely down to a lack of trust in the organisations that hold their personal information. This decline has been particularly acute for the public sector; almost two thirds of consumers said that fears over Government’s ability to safeguard their information has contributed to an overall erosion of trust around data. This article is copyright 2013

Social media companies, in particular, felt the wrath of the consumer, with 31% having ‘zero trust’ in the sector. Financial Services fared only marginally better, with only just over a third (36%) trusting companies in the sector, a fall of 15% over the decade.

“Consumer tolerance for data loss is at an all-time low. With consumers battling to understand the impact on their personal information if a company is hacked, there is no room for error any more,” warned David Robinson, chief security officer for Fujitsu UK & Ireland. “To remain ahead of their competitors, and to be trusted in the eyes of the consumer, brands must ensure they are robust in their security. The effort required here is industrial, as companies are no longer fighting against individuals but a sophisticated criminal industry designed solely to access their data.”

However, despite consumer angst around the data issue, there is a lack of ownership by the general public toward it. Only 32% of consumers recognise their own involvement in keeping their data secure. Instead, consumers blame individuals, with over a third expecting to see repercussions for the member of staff deemed responsible and almost 10% holding the CEO personally responsible. Fully 20% said they would inform the police of any data loss, seeing it a criminal offence.

Show them the value
Trust is also being hampered by the fact that consumers are failing to see the results of the data they provide. This point came across throughout the survey, but none more so than when it came to the vertical sectors. Here it became apparent, with over a quarter of respondents believing that telecoms and utility companies use their data solely to extract more money from them.

Only 15% of consumers see any value from their data being used, with 63% commenting that they do not want organisations to use their data to improve their experience. This was apparent in the financial services sector, where less than a quarter thought they were being served better thanks to the use of their data. In fact, nearly a quarter said their personal information was represented incorrectly on communications. This was an issue faced similarly by retailers. There, over a third received incorrect communication, with 40% saying they still have an impersonal experience – despite their data being collected.

Organisations are failing to capitalise on the data they have available, and, as such are failing to showcase and educate consumers on the tangible benefits of data collection. This is partly due to the fact that there is simply too much data available nowadays. Many organisations, in the absence of a data scientist (or an outsourced team of experts) are being caught out by the white noise of the volume, and are unable to cherry pick those golden gems which will both provide the consumer with a personalised experience, and help them grow revenue.

To truly change consumer opinion, organisations need to show value. That can, and will, only come when the public and private sector educates itself on data and recognises that investing money in testing, targeting and segmentation will more than pay for itself in the end.

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Phase-Change Mug Promises To Keep Coffee At The Perfect Temperature

December 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Phase-Change Mug Promises To Keep Coffee At The Perfect Temperature


December 26th, 2013 | by Rachel Nuwer

For those of us tied to a desk for hours each day, the bitter charms of lukewarm coffee are an unpleasant reality of the job. But a new startup called Joeveo says, “No more!” The hot-beverage-loving founders developed a mug that uses phase-change materials to keep drinks—coffee, tea, hot chocolate or even mulled wine—at a scrumptious 140-145 degrees Fahrenheit for up to three hours after it’s been poured.

“Your coffee only has a drinkable window of 10 to 20 minutes—maybe 30 at most,” says Logan Maxwell, vice president of Joeveo. “That’s really not much time to enjoy your beverage right where you want it: not too hot but not too lukewarm.”

Maxwell, a tea drinker, first realized the need for such a product while pursuing a chemical engineering degree at North Carolina State University. In his rush to consume freshly brewed tea before it settled into lukewarm mediocrity, he’d inevitably burn his mouth. “I have really sensitive lips,” he says.

Place problem in science, let steep

Engineering and materials science could solve this problem, he realized. He teamed up with fellow students and began tinkering with ideas for a temperature-stabilizing cup for their senior project. At first, they tried to create a ceramic mug with a hollow space for inserting a hot water jacket, but this didn’t solve the too-hot-to-drink part of the problem.

As a solution, they turned to materials that shift from a solid to a liquid—a process known as phase change—at the target temperature. The material—which Maxwell refuses to name but claims is non-toxic and “could be eaten if you wanted to”—has a wax-like consistency at room temperature. After a hot beverage is poured into the mug, however, the material begins absorbing that energy and melting into a liquid. When it reaches the perfect beverage temperature—an inherent quality of the material the team selected—its atoms begin to slow down, resolidify and release energy back into the beverage as heat. A vacuum insulation layer around the outside of the mug prevents heat from escaping or entering.

The team modified their formula many times over until they had a workable product to present to their classmates and professors. Others approached them after they presented the idea and urged them to pursue it professionally. Only Maxwell followed that advice. “The rest of my team was like, ‘Meh,’ and then went their separate ways,” Maxwell says. He decided to spend the summer seeing where the idea would take him.

Not the first on the block

As it turned out, he was not the first to think of such an invention. Entrepreneurs dating back to the 1960s have attempted to solve the problem, but their efforts usually stalled during design or production. Coincidentally, Maxwell discovered that one fellow innovator who had not given up on the idea, Dean Verhoeven, lived a mere 20 minutes away, in north Raleigh, N.C. Maxwell introduced himself, and Verhoeven, who had been tinkering with the concept for years, invited Maxwell to join his one-man team. “He had solved problems already that I would have run into trying to get this thing designed and manufactured,” Maxwell says. Verhoeven had also developed a slightly better formula for the phase-change insulation layer.

A couple other beverage-warming products are already on the market, including Joulies, a product whose bean-like beads coffee drinkers can throw into their cup, andPureTemp, a mug that uses phase-change materials embedded in a contraption built into the lid. The Temperfect mug, Maxwell says, is cheaper ($40, including shipping) and has a practical, conventional mug design, so he thinks it will have a leg-up on the competition.

Betting that the Temperfect mug could find success, Maxwell decided to defer enrolling in a doctoral program he gained admittance to for a year to see where things go with the company. Maxwell and Verhoeven have completed a prototype of the stainless steel, 16-ounce mugs embedded with their mystery material, and the design patent is pending.

Maxwell says they’re ready to begin manufacturing at a North Carolina facility they’ve picked out, which they will support with a Kickstarter campaign. “Dean’s been working on this for over a decade, so I was like, ‘Ok, Dean, it’s time to launch,’” Maxwell says.

Caffeine addicts have responded enthusiastically to the project; the campaign has surpassed its $23,500 goal and has quickly reached six figures. He says the pre-sold mugs should ship out by June 2014 at the latest.

Top Image: Joeveo’s Dean Verhoeven (left) and Logan Maxwell (right). Courtesy Logan Maxwell.

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