Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why future is bright for content creators

WSJ ran an article about management's dilemma of employees on social media.  Because anyone with email address can open free social media accounts and start writing, management teams are concerned that there will be inappropriate content that reflects poorly on their corporate image.  Even worse, employee's writing may unwittingly leak information to anyone who care to search on Internet.  We've all seen how fast bad publicity can travel on social media.

Source: WSJ

But these risks are small when compared to benefits that content creating employees bring.  Benefits are of many folds.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mobile app developers: Fill out privacy policy URL

United, Delta, and OpenTable got a note from California Attorney General warning them that they are violating The California Online Privacy Protection Act.  According to the COPPA, any online application that collects user's personal information must conspicuously display a privacy policy.  Without compliance to the COPPA companies can face $2,500 fine for every violation.

This got me wondering how United, Delta, and OpenTable violated the COPPA.  What exactly did United, Delta, and OpenTable do or not do?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trying my first Github example: Crumble

I've been seeing many Github projects from the sideline. Not having coded for considerable time, I did not have context to jump in and try Github project myself. That's been true until today.

I saw a nifty tool called Crumble. It's flexible tooltip that can guide users through sequence of steps. I thought it might be interesting to test it out since it would be useful to guide visitors through my blog.

The result is what you are seeing on this blog entry. I thought I wanted to share the cookbook style how-to for non-technical bloggers.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Quiet your mind to be a better leader

I read Bill George's blog entry, Mindfulness Helps You Become a Better Leader.  There are two points that touched me.

1. Don't let someone else define your own measure of success

"I was caught up with external measures of success instead of looking inward to measure my success as a human and a leader. I was losing my way."

Many people have not spent time to define their own values.  Instead they define their success by what others around them define their success.  Money, title and fame are often what defines most people's success.  Problem is that people don't create their own values and measure their success by the values.  When we take away all the noise about how we are recognized by others, we get to see how we think of ourselves.  What we need is how we are measuring our own selves.  The question should be "What is it that we value and how is it that we want to be successful in promoting our values?"

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Product Management: Product quality

Software product is constructed by lines of code.  But quality code does not necessarily make quality product.  Quality code makes it easier to produce quality product because it's easier to evolve the code to reshape the product to solve a compelling problem (and also easier to fix reported bugs).

What does it mean to have a quality product?

At the core of quality product there is communication.

Quality product responds to user's command in a responsive manner, set a correct expectation and consistently behave according to the expectation.

Product quality is different from code quality.  But code quality begets product quality.  That's because it takes lot of experimentation and learning to figure out what compelling problem a product needs to solve, exactly what needs to be communicated to users, how to set the correct expectation, and how to deliver consistent experience to users.

It's a journey to produce a quality product.  No product gets launched as a killer product.  Every product leaves something out to get it out to the market in time.  The trick is to focus on a key problem and deliver the consistent and responsive experience to users.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Code quality

I have been always fascinated with saying more with less.  Some people go on talking for hours without saying anything.  Some can utter just a few words yet say many things about the subject.  When you are trying to convey an idea it always is a good practice to think about what you want to say and how you want to communicate.

I believe the same applies to coding.  When you write code, you want to be as concise as you can be without losing its functionality.  Coding is like writing a poem with lot of refrains.  Good code often reuses common routines and they hit on key points without wasting reader's attention.

Why I believe college education is ready for disruption

I believe that college education is ready for disruption in the next 5 years.  The disruption will force colleges to drastically change how they attract their future students and the way they educate them to prepare for the fast changing work environment.  Here's why:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Identity hijacking on social media

As most readers have heard, Apple announced iPad Mini yesterday.  My news feed has been plastered with iPad Mini reviews from tech bloggers, industry analysts, and newspaper columnists.  Among them, I saw one interesting article on my Google+ Explore feed.  It caught my eyes because no one other than Tim Cook, CEO of Apple commented on the post.

They were comments to Armando Ferreira's video blog
reviewing iPad Mini in comparison to Android tablet.
You can check out the review at the link below.

Wait.  Did I see that right?  Apple CEO Tim Cook is on Google+?  Apple just removed YouTube and Google Maps from iOS6.  Tim Cook cannot be on Google+.  Tim Cook won't be leaving comments like that on a tech blogger's unflattering review of iPad Mini.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why collaboration is a must

Today I had a chance to think a bit about why we need to collaborate.  Simply put, we need to collaborate because all of us have unique perspective.  Everyone brings their own background and different assumptions to the table, and companies cannot afford to learn these lessons again when there is someone in the team who can steer them clear of the obstacles.  It's too costly to ignore and suppress people from sharing their ideas to create the best possible strategy.

There are three aspects in implementing this highly effective collaboration in an organization.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vending machine gets gamified

On my Google+ Explore tab I saw a YouTube video of Coke promoted vending machine shared by Mashable.  Before I explain and spoil the surprise, let me share the video:

It's a great marketing idea.  One it encouraged people to interact with Coke vending machine, but also while encouraging people to interact with the machine, it also introduced element of game mechanics.  If participants get the dance moves right, they get an immediate reward as bottles of Coke.

Ideas like this are all around us.  We have pieces of technologies that are ready to be applied to solve problems that we might not even realize that we have.

The future of our economy depends on how creative we are in applying today's technology to create cool user experience.  To do that we must encourage innovation by everyone.  No one has monopoly on creativity.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

You must change your mind when things change

The other day 37signals wrote about Jeff Bezos' advice.  Smart people often change their minds and seem to look inconsistent.  When conditions change and new information is known, smart people revise their thinking to take the new piece of information into account.  They are not afraid to challenge their own thinking and come up with new solution.

It seems a perfectly logical thing to do.  When more facts are known, you want to change your answer to reflect the newly discovered information.  But it is often difficult to change your earlier decision for many reasons.  It may look like you are admitting that your own wrong and undermining your own acumen.  You may be perceived as a flip-flop who cannot be trusted to make a firm decision.

Not so smart people who have self-doubts are often discouraged by these concerns.  Once decision is made, they often look away from newly found information and focus on marching towards earlier decision.  They would rather bury their heads in the sand and pretend that the new information does not exist.

Don't be afraid to make changes.  When ground shifts, you must re-examine your earlier route.

One academic example: Say you have three cards lying face down on a table.  One of the card is a joker, and a dealer asks you to make a correct guess as to which one of them is.  You pick one card.  Without turning your card over, the dealer reveals one card that is not a joker.  Then a dealer gives you a chance to switch your pick.  What should you do?

Answer is to switch always because you have more information known about the cards.  Your original answer has 33% of chance of success.  Yet switching your answer gives you 66% of chance of success.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Product Management: Copy or not to copy?

There are many advises that you can find about whether to copy your competitor's features or not.  When you launch a product, it's invariably true that sooner or later you'll find competitors entering the market.  Competitors may have better technology, faster architecture, and sleeker design.  You hear they are picking up customers and start to show momentum.  You may even hear that they are looking to pass your customer base and revenue.  What do you do?

Do you look at their product and start copying their features?  Or stay with your roadmap and continue cranking out what you believe are the right features?

It depends.  There are so many hidden assumptions in a question like this, so it's impossible to answer as is.  But the general rule is this.

Your reason for implementing a feature cannot be "because my competitor does."

Not only it's a fallacy to think in bandwagon mentality, but from customer's perspective your product may solve different problem than your competitor's even if they are in the same market.  If customers are using your product for a reason that is different from your competitor's product, then you have to examine whether the feature will make sense for your customers and prospects.  If it's not adding enough value, then it will just bloat your feature set and make it more difficult to evolve your product.

So answer to the question is, if the feature makes sense for your customers, absolutely.  Not just copy but build on the feature to make it better for your customers.  If it does not, don't even copy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I have been a PC guy... so far.

I have been a PC guy.  I all my work on my PC, yet like a lot of you, I use iPad, iPhone to consume content during my downtime.  But I'm not sure if I will go for Windows 8 devices.  That is because it's not clear to me whether it's a work machine or data consumption machine.

Here's the thing.  We all have multiple computers.  We have smartphones to connect with people on the go, we have tablets to consume content and browse the web, and we have laptops to do our work.  What I see happening with Windows 8 is mixing a tablet with a laptop user story.  To add to that, Windows 8 has introduced new UI standards that no one is used to.

Thursday, October 18, 2012 is growing up to be a platform

I haven't been paying much attention since I signed up for access several weeks ago.  But when I logged back on to the network, I was pleasantly surprised that it had the application directory service called Directory.

It already had about a couple of dozen applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, PC and even Windows phone.  It's great to see that is living up to its original promise of becoming a truly open social streaming platform for all application developers.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1 billion smartphones in use

Next time you take public transit, take a look around.  See how many internet-connected devices that you can count.  In U.S. about 50% of all mobile devices have internet connectivity.  The number in the outside of U.S. is little lower.  According to the latest  research from Strategy Analytics, there are about 1 billion smartphones being used in the world.

What is remarkable is that number of smartphones is expected to reach 2 billion within the next 3 years.  Considering that it took 16 years to reach 1 billion smartphones since the first smartphone's launch in 1996, Nokia 9000 Communicator, adoption of internet-enabled devices is expected to accelerate by more than four times.

.The first smartphone ever, Nokia 9000 Communicator.
It featured dual screen with qwerty keyboard when flipped open.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

LinkedIn: Your on-line professional profile

Out of many recent social media IPOs one company that is bucking the downward trend is LinkedIn.  LinkedIn has debuted at $45 per share, and as of close today it was at $111.18.  Compare this to Facebook and Zynga's performance, you can see the difference.  What's behind LinkedIn's success?

There are good reasons why LinkedIn has been doing much better than the other social media sites.  It comes down to this.  

LinkedIn has the most compelling content.  And that content, in case you haven't noticed, is your profile.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dennis Crowley's Foursquare

Foursquare is still going.  Under Dennis Crowley's leadership it has persevered on despite many challengers.  One of the most formidable challenge was from Facebook.  Back in August of 2010 Facebook launched Facebook Places, and became a direct competitor against Foursquare.

Crowley recalls how he reacted to Facebook entering location service market.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Felix Baumgartner sets two records

Felix Baumgartner had made a historic jump breaking the record of longest free fall jump.  While he was shattering the record, he also set another record.  His jump attracted the most number of live viewers on YouTube to date.  There are 8 million YouTube viewers watching the live cast of the jump.

To put this in perspective, this is 16-fold increase from earlier record of 500,000 viewers watching London 2012 Olympic Games, and it took less than 3 months to break the earlier simultaneous streaming record.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

How social media will change the way we work

With 1 billion Facebook users and counting, end users have bought in on social media to keep up with friends.  So how would that change the way we work?

There are many changes to come.  But we are still far from seeing the full impact of social media to enterprise.  Here is where we are moving to and why the changes are coming slow.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Product Management: Why great product works like magic

We call it magic when you see something that defies the laws of Physics.  It looks impossible yet the trick happens right in front of our eyes.  Why?

It's because we make assumptions without even realizing that we do.  By nature we are bounded by our own perspective, past experiences and our mental model of how world works.  When these assumptions are violated, we are amazed.

Same is true with great product.  It looks like a magic because we assume it's not possible.  It has not been done before.  Never before we've seen a product that solves the problem that we had or in some cases never knew that we had.

Great product manager are aware of these hidden assumptions.  They constantly challenge these assumptions and tries to break them by stretching what has been done before.

Look around you.  Whenever people make assumptions about what can or cannot be done, there is an opportunity to make a great product.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Random bits of social media trivia

Let me share some random bits of social media trivia.  These are things that I found while keeping up with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.  Note that they will change as social media evolves and adapts to new challengers, such as, Tent, Path, etc.

  • LinkedIn likes/comments do not make a post go viral because the post does not appear on my connections's Home page.
  • There is a way to send tweets to Facebook updates, but no way for tweets to be displayed on LinkedIn automatically.
  • Twitter provides the most comprehensive set of APIs among Facebook and Twitter yet it has the most restrictive language on API terms of use.
  • While Facebook and Twitter allows a post to be deleted via API, LinkedIn does not allow the post to be deleted via API.
  • While LinkedIn and Twitter supports private message via API, Facebook does not support private message via API.
  • Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ require users to have one account with their real name, but Twitter does not.
  • Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ support follow model (i.e. one-way subscription) although it was first popularized by Twitter.

Please let me know if you see any error, or things that you want to add to the above list.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Product Management: If you see something wrong, don't let it go

Earlier I talked about how Product Manager should be the owner of the product.  One of the ways to become the owner is not letting things that you know about slip by.

When you own a product, it means that the product has your name on it.  You professionally and personally stand by the product and do whatever it takes to make it successful.  When the product succeed, you succeed.  When the product fails, you fail.

If you become a true owner, you don't let things slip by.  When things are not working and does not feel right, you call it out and fix it.  You never lie to yourself or settle with yourself and rationalize it by coming up with whatever excuse you can think of.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Politify: Presidential choice made easy

Social media has changed many things.  Now we can be world apart yet just pull out our mobile device and be instantly connected with friends all around the globe.  I think that there are many ramification of this instant connections with people around us, and ability to share information in a way that people can easily consume.

One thing that I'm very must looking forward to is how social media will change our political discourse in United States.  It is now cliche to talk about how dysfunctional U.S. political discourse has become in recent years.  Two dominant parties in U.S. politics have gotten too polarized to have constructive conversations and compromised decisions with the nation's interest in mind.  Both parties have been increasingly resorting to political maneuvering, and effectiveness of our political system has been spiraling down.

Monday, October 8, 2012

LinkedIn is courting influential bloggers

It's been a little over three months since Twitter decided that it has outgrown LinkedIn as a federated network partner.  If you recall, Twitter used to not only allow LinkedIn to post its status update to Twitter, but also tweets to appear as network update on LinkedIn.  But on June 29th Twitter stopped its tweets showing up on LinkedIn.

Since then LinkedIn has been working on its counterstrike.  Starting last week we are beginning to see how LinkedIn wants to fill the gap left by Twitter.

LinkedIn wants to be the network of business content and the means to promote the content.  Last week LinkedIn launched its blogging service.  It's available to famous influencers on each subject area, and not to everyone.  The idea is to get these influential members to create original content within LinkedIn platform and allow them to promote them right on LinkedIn.

I wouldn't be surprise if these people were getting paid
to produce original content.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Facebook is like a free printing press for all

Facebook released their ad created by Wieden & Kennedy last week.  It compares Facebook to chairs, and emotionally connects with audience that Facebook is more than just a website and mobile app that people use to communicate with friends.

It's shot and edited beautifully.  It eloquently explains what Facebook wants to become.  Yet I thought it over-reached a bit when it tried to account for the reason why we want to connect with others because of dark universe.  If you haven't watched the video, here it is:

Once the Facebook ad got released, it immediately created lot of discussions and reactions from many.  And, thanks to social media, meme machine got in to action and started publishing parodies.  Here is the one that compares Facebook to toilets:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Product Mgmt: What I learned from a good sales guy

One of the things that I've learned while working was that there are many things to learn from a good sales guy.  I've learned many lessons working with many sales guys, and I thought I might share one of them.

Before I begin let me state that I have engineering background.  Many engineers, myself included, do not know anything about sales when coming out of school.  Engineers think that if there is a great product, that product will sell itself from the day one, and mistakenly think that sales is the easiest thing in the world.

Not true.  Because all you have is your own ability to connect with customers and win their business, you have to be extremely reliable and trustworthy.  What separates bad sales guys with good ones are entirely about ability to communicate, be trustworthy, and be likable.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Interview for soft skill and communication

I found an interesting interview question posted by Kevin Morrill.  He shares that the most revealing question that he has been using with candidates is to give open-ended question on how to tackle a simple problem with time constraint.  An example that he gives is describing a hobby of interviewee that interviewer does not have any background info within 5 minutes.  He allows interviewee to prepare before beginning and observe how the candidate tackles the problem.

He describes there are two types of people.  There are ones who jump right into describing the hobby and ad-lib their way through the explanation and others who takes time to think about how to best explain within a limited amount of time.  He makes it even more interesting by interrupting the candidates and see if they lose track of the objective of helping the interviewer understand about their hobby.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How Facebook hopes to make money off of 1 billion users

Facebook has reached 1 billion user milestone in September.  Mark Zuckerberg made a brief announcement on Facebook to mark this occasion.  To put this number in perspective, there are about 7 billion global population, and about 32% of them are on Internet.  That's about 2.2 billion people who are on Internet.  This means if you pick an Internet user at random, you'll have about 45% chance that user is a Facebook user.

With this new milestone, Facebook has been announcing their new ways to make money: make money by asking users to pay for services.  Promoted personal post is one such example.  Under $50 gift to share with people is another.

Now there is a way for you to promote your own post to get your friends' attention.
I don't know whether these new monetization schemes are going to work with users.  But Facebook is demonstrating that they are not just looking at advertisement as their source of revenue, and I think they are doing the right thing.

Facebook's main strength is its user base.  As long as Facebook continues to serve user's need and remains as the social backbone of Internet, Facebook will have many chances to get the monetization model right.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Social CRM MQ by Gartner

Gartner released Magic Quadrant for Social CRM the other day.

Since the early days of social media, people have been focusing on listening through social media and engaging directly with their customers.  Hence extending CRM system to cover social media to manage all interactions with customer made lot of sense to many.  A problem is that most enterprises already have CRM system they are using and they wanted the social media interactions to be integrated with existing CRM system.

As Mitch Lieberman points out on his blog post, it's this integration that enterprises are looking to do.  Integrating social media into existing CRM tool is the first option for these customers.

I think because of this integration need we are seeing greater demands for API.  Most enterprises have in-house development team and always interested in providing the right solution that causes the least amount friction to adopting the new feature and meeting the exact business requirements laid out by lines of business.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Airbnb works

When my wife and I were searching for a weekend getaway to host our family friends from Korea, we searched Priceline and Travelocity to find good last minute hotel deals.  Because there were two families traveling, we had to look for suite with two rooms.  We quickly realized that there wasn't a site where we could search suite with multiple rooms.

That's when I suggested that we tried Airbnb.  We set our location, price range and date range, and hit search.  A few moments later we were able to find several cabins that matched our search criteria.  After a couple of email exchanges with one of the owners, and I must say that it worked out very well.

We were able to our latest minute trip out to Lake Tahoe, and had fun time getting away for the weekend.  Airbnb works.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Ideas are cheap. Here are a few for Facebook.

Facebook made a blog post about joint study with Datalogix showing that clicks don't really matter when it comes to Facebook ads.  What matters more instead, Brad Smallwood says, is number of times it's shown to unique users at optimal interval.

Facebook Director of Pricing and Measurement, Brad Smallwood, basically says
to trust Facebook and Datalogix because they know how ad works on Facebook.
Don't know you, but it doesn't sound like a winning strategy...
Here is the Facebook's problem.  Marketers are comparing Facebook ads with Google Adwords.  Although Facebook ads are in different category all together, marketers are used to dealing with and understands Google Adwords model.  The key difference between ads from two sites come from what users are looking for when they visit the sites.

Users come to Google to look for something, whereas users come to Facebook to catch up with their friends.  Many more users are open to discovering new things when they visit Google than Facebook.  As Susan Lyne summed it up, 'selling things on Facebook is like selling things in a bar.'

So here are some cheap ideas to solve this problem: