Results tagged “value”

Mesh, morph, swarm: Life with impermanence

Interesting vid of my old boss talking about a theme we uncovered in a "what's next" project.

The first 5 minutes are rough going but when he defines "life with impermanence" in terms of three service design prompts "mesh, morph & swarm" it gets really interesting (also, knowing what came before, it's really interesting to see how he synthesizes across industries, audiences, needs etc--he does a really good job of defining a vision for potential change. I'm less bought into the idea of creating a "vocabulary" to spread the word in a corp. environment but nice work).

At Vodafone I worked on a number of transactional prototypes based on the "impermanence" concepts and while these may seem a bit wanky fartsy bollocks they're actually happening all around us and will increasingly colour how we compete in the marketplace.

If our ecommerce platform used mesh thinking we might be completely distributed across Europe and be resilient enough to withstand peak without going belly up.

If our website architectures were based on swarm thinking we could be adapting in real time, from displaying products or groups of product areas on the basis of local, current needs and be more likely to convert some of the huge numbers of Currys visitors.

Actually, I'm hoping the Rich Relevance dynamic product recommendations we're testing in January will take us a little bit closer to a swarm-driven experience.

Also, re new stuff, if we experiment with ways to involve the crowd and the cloud in merchandising (group buying, price negotiation and transparency, individual deal structures etc) we could probably do worse that thinking along the lines of the Mechanical Turk (imagine the Turk scanning for price matches and returning value estimates of the items customers propose for swap or part exchange--could be very cool).

Project 2012 theme candidates

(for those that are curious I've uploaded the PDF of the "themes for 2012" document that was our team's contribution to "life with impermanence")

SEO landing pages - food for thought

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I've spent a few minutes looking at a typical user flow from the point of view of a comparison shopper and wanted to share some thoughts based on landing pages. In this case Washing machines

A user lands on a generic listing page of relevant products which succeeds in the first golden rule--answer the question!

Some thoughts I had for the future, maybe in conjunction with a MVT integration, would be to make the page stickier for comparison shoppers and provide more reasons to purchase with {brand} and not another site.

Whilst most shoppers may compare by price alone, it's worth considering other emotions involved in the buying psyche.

  • Why book with {brand}? USPs provide the user reasons to use your brand, beyond price alone.These may be reputation, product offering etc.
  • Comprehensive guides. Positioning yourself as a expert in an area will create confidence in your customer.

Beyond these fairly simple quick wins, I've listed a few ideas for landing pages which may be worth considering as you see fit.

  • Incorporate reviews / review score into listing--customers can quickly establish high performing products.
  • Allow the customer to filter their results further. These could extend to review score, home delivery, reserve and collect etc
  • Cross-sell relevant items (ie) tumble dryers with washing machines
  • Competitor pricing--(one for legal) whether {brand} is cheaper or equal to your competitors pricing
  • Emphasis on urgency--There are {x} items left "order now to avoid disappointment"

Just a few more observations, please use as you feel appropriate--you now the business better than I.


Objectified, the movie

Paul Rand's cigar box

For the benefit of those of us who are not diehard design nutters, the cigar tin above was created by the man who defined IBM's entire visual language and created the iconic IBM logo. He did loads of other stuff as well (of course) but this is one of his weirder efforts.

This is an attempt to work the meaning native to a product experience (that in the 1950s a way of sharing the joy of a baby's arrival was to share cigars) into the product design itself. If you can park your horror at seeing a baby on a tobacco product for a second, you can appreciate the boldness and insanity of the experiment.

Another interesting thing about this effort is that it points to how important context of use is (in many cases I believe this is a more important and more useful tool than market segmentation). One of the reasons men shared cigars is that they were excluded from the birth itself.

I've compared the experience of my first child's birth with my Dad's experience of my own birth. While I was alone in the room (for two minutes) with Nicki pushing and watching the crown of CLF's head showing, my Dad was alone in his car wondering what it all meant.

As the context of our experiences changes, so does the experience of the products and services we allow into our lives. In the future, I hope we will be working closely with others in the business to create product narratives that will allow us to work much more closely with our customers (and sell a whole load more tellies).

I'm just about to download the film Objectified and if it's half as good as his other work Helvetica I expect it'll be an inspiration to anyone who makes a living out of asking people to buy stuff.

The enraged mutton is back in business

BulkRegister was the last major U.S.-based pure-play registrar in the market. Its acquisition by eNom marks the end of an era in the history of domain names and the Internet as a whole. (more info here)

Wow, I knew Bulkregister was good, but I had no idea the industry was evolving in that direction. It's a shame, I've had great service from Bulkregister over the years, but recently the new owners Enom have really been making a pig's ear of the domain registry service.

I felt the greasy end of their incompetence over the weekend and even after a lengthy bout of support ticket ping-pong they refuse to do the right thing. So it looks like I'm in the market for somewhere sensible to maintain my domain registrations.

I guess prices have cooled off a bit in Europe so I might try a UK shop this time. Has anyone got any recommendations?

Value exchange and P2P currencies

Great piece on the WSJ blog on P2P currencies

"You're going to see inexorably, the movement towards peer to peer finance," Stan Stalnaker says. "People will trade individually and independently among each other, all around the world. It's going to happen, there's no denying it"

v. exciting :-)

Another link to the hughtrain

I frequently receive emails at work with reports that measure the value of brands (likely to involve voodoo and pixie dust, but makes a good read). Happily my employer seems to do quite well in these listings, but every time I read them I am reminded of Hugh's Hughtrain of 2004 and wish I could talk about it at work without sounding like an ideologue. Still, finding a sense of purpose is a fine thing:-)

Here are the first few lines from his archive:


  1. We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary.
  2. We humans want to believe in our own species. And we want people, companies and products in our lives that make it easier to do so. That is human nature.
  3. Product benefit doesn't excite us. Belief in humanity and human potential excites us.
  4. Think less about what your product does, and think more about human potential.
  5. What statement about humanity does your product make?
  6. The bigger the statement, the bigger the idea, the bigger your brand will become.

A university professor describes the educational experience in terms of value creation. What do residential college students require to get the most value out of classes and how does the experience compare in value generation to online competion?

This is real interesting stuff. One of a residential college's traditional propositions is the lecture. Common wisdom would dictate that university planners should continue delivering this proposition to market.

José A. Bowen explains that the value that a university can compete with isn't in the lecture anymore. Given the context of cheaper, higher quality online lectures from Harvard or Stanford, the average college can't compete (as Bowen puts it, most of the lectures on his campus are crap").

Instead, Bowen draws a value map which clearly identifies the competitive value as being not the lecture but the co-created value that is generated by a roomful of students ardently quizzing the lecturer.

I think most businesses could probably benefit from applying this value-mapping framework :-)

John Wilbanks on yesterday's NESTA event. Gotta say, I left I was BUZZING. John's talk was real shot in the arm, he describes collaborative markets in biotech where heterogeneous networks are built to buy and sell assets not available from any one supplier. Exciting stuff:-)

Open innovation is a phrase in danger of being misused. It's a catch-all sometimes for "we don't know why our systems aren't working and what we need to do" - you can just say "we need open innovation" and hide behind it. But this meeting gave me hope that the systematic efforts needed to enable Chesbrough's vision of open innovation may be possible.

If we're going to achieve that particular vision of innovation, it's important to remember its tenets. Knowledge must move - "purposively" - in and out of organizations. There must be investment in the external capacity of the market itself to generate useful knowledge. And we need business models that are capable of surviving in an open environment.

The old theory of doing business as a hermetically sealed entity was never really true. Knowledge leaked, at conferences and in bars, in phone calls and in passing. And the pharma industry essentially practices a form of open innovation already, through its constant forming and reforming of alliances and mergers and restructuring. But it's not practicing open innovation at scale, with efficiency, or with purpose.

Energy, in the right direction

These words from David Bausola really resonate as I navigate my way around Vodafone internet services...

There is very little value in using digital as a promotional tool compared to using the aesthetics of networks, manufacturing and communications for devising new markets. I'm particularly interested in temporary markets as the frailness of this form of economics creates a stronger network of merchants, which in turn pushes invention, rather than innovation. This is what sustainability demands - frailness.

Even more so as I am currently investigating temporary markets :-)

Interesting piece by Tim Brown on the migration from an economy of consumers to an economy of creators. He mentions a few of the likely casualties that are likely along the way, one of them being the record industry.

This is interesting stuff and is close to research I've being doing for a while now. He concludes with a nicely put statement on the nature of value definition:

We get more of what we measure. If we measure consumption we will get more of it. If we measure participation we will get more of that and we might just find we are already far wealthier than we realize, or perhaps far poorer. More importantly if our economy measured different types of value we could focus on designing things that created growth without automatically requiring that we consume more stuff.

I had this to add on the RIAA and fellow conspirators...


If we could value the increase in the amount of music being listened to, or the social connections that sharing music creates, or the increase in the number of music creators, or the meaning that an individual gets from creating their own music would we find that instead of the destruction of value we had instead experienced a significant creation of value?

You've highlighted something I struggle to explain in my everyday consulting. The destruction of an industry doesn't equate to the destruction of the value creation that industry one enabled

People have been using music to build tighter bonds, promote happiness and produce babies for millennia. For a few years in the Nineteenth century Ricordi managed to turn Opera publishing into a business and for a respectable chunk of the Twentieth century the record industry managed to leverage talent growth and distribution into a viable industry.

But just as the once great Ricordi family business was subsumed into other content-based businesses, just as the extensive Victorian industrial ecosystem surrounding the design, production and maintenance of steam engines shrunk to a niche business in the far reaches of Hunan province the record industry of 1980 must die. Well, it needs to shrink and adapt, but it's late Twentieth century form is obsolete.

It will die and be replaced by a different value creation ecosystem focused on making more babies, sharing more music and being happier while supporting the artists who choose to make music their primary income stream.

Exactly what the ecosystem will look like I don't know but I do know this. It's nothing to be afraid of :-)

interactive Orange window

Give to get:

The system does not promote Orange's text or phone packages at all. In fact, there is not a sales aspect to this interactive. It doesn't show devices, nor does it line up tariffs or offers in any way. You would have to go into the store during opening hours to access these. What the window does offer the passer- by is a fun experience, with free content and information services that may be of interest (eg. ITN news feeds, film clips, music videos etc).

from techdigest

Just saw Tim's piece on the Glasshouse blog on Orange Rockcorps and understanding the value of the social capital.

Rockcorps intro graphic

From there I had a quick look around and wow, quite a lot of negative opinion out there and a surprisingly downbeat response to the Orange rockcorps thing over at brandrepublic:

This is incredibly lame. The Orange 'I Am' campaign just limps from bad to worse. Busta Rhymes? What year are we in? 1999? I can't remember the last campaign from Fallon that was any good.

I guess there's a gap between the original and the Orange "I am" branded version? This is how the rc site describes the initiative:

RockCorps harnesses the power of music to inspire volunteering. We produce concerts for which the only way in is to volunteer 4 hours at a project we organize with non-profit partners. You can't win a ticket; you can't buy a ticket; you have to earn a ticket to a concert that becomes a celebration of giving back.

Tim reckons

If the company makes it work, it's the energy and community productivity generated that will constitute the value of the initiative; not the SMS bundles sold. The number of hours donated, or playgrounds renovated is a wholly inadequate proxy for the social capital generated by a campaign like this...

read Tim's whole post over at Glasshouse Partnership

Wow, I thought I'd be playing with RC5 for a while before getting the final release but no, the real thing is here. Go grab yourself a copy

With the long list of recent launch disappointments (with iPhone 3G by far the smelliest) I gotta say, Six Apart have not only delivered a hugely improved product (faster, more features) but a whole new license structure.

The new licenses are very much value co-creation engines. In a nutshell, let the mass of small businesses and bloggers use all the variations and toys for free, let them build on them, change them, and if they manage to scrape some revenue out of their enterprise, then ask them to buy services (primarily the excellent support) and pay for a commercial license.

I am very, very impressed and will be upgrading all my installations immediately. Great work 6A:-)

This is the modern world

daftnessYou know it doesn't get more cutting edge than this. First, after much stress and waiting, I jailbreak my iPhone and go in search of hot software. Great, open, free liberating productivity apps here I come and lo, I end up with the iFart, which pretty much does what it says on the can...

So yeah, post Jailbreak briccups (handset would cycle instead of turning off--made reseting impossible), have replaced iPhone and wait patiently for the 2.0 firmware to be delivered via proper channels and sync away with itunes and visit the app store and yes! I know have the iPhone light-saber app installed.

Surely our parents could never of conceived of such a wondrous world;-)

Eat updated

I think the nice man who went in search of my Identity theft woes last week would have liked me to update my previous post.

So here goes: according to his findings there is nothing wrong with either his payment-processing software or hardware and a review of staff at the branch revealed nothing untoward.

So just to confirm: all is well at Eat. You can pick up your soup and sandwiches safe in the knowledge that these guys pay attention to detail, act fast when required and are just generally a bunch of excellent people! get it right


Wow, when was the last time you thought you'd get a response as a result of filling in a form on the web (never mind a rapid response)?

Well, I had a little grief from the fraud protection mob at Firstdirect this afternoon and as a result posted this note in the feedback form on the Eat website (and I won't go into the domain name resolution issue on the site which means if you load the flash movie by entering the domain without the 'www' the links to the feedback form are broken--I wonder how much more feedback they'd get if that was fixed...)

At 14:31:55 on 27 June 2008 (roughly an hour ago) I purchased a soup and sandwich from your 15 Basinghall Street shop.

When I returned to my desk to eat my lunch I received a call from my bank (first direct) informing me that there had been fraudulent behaviour on my switch card.

According to their records, the transaction I had just made in the City of London was routed through a supplier in Equador.

The security guys at the bank where I work reckon this is a man-in-the-middle attack and that someone has tampered with the keypad in the store (similar to attaching card readers to ATM tellers, to harvest card details).

Please review this situation asap.

All the best,
Dug Falby

To be honest, I really didn't think I'd get an answer (strangely, the Flash front-end is what gave me this impression: If it's not a real html form, how can it yield real results?) but I did.

A nice man called Martin (I think he said he was head of business communications?) rung up to explain what was going on as a result of my note. From his description, I pictured a black helicopter appearing over Basinghall street and special forces whisking the card-reader off to a controlled explosion. It was very impressive, he said he'd frozen all card transactions at the store, notified the card processing supplier who are going to come in and refit the store tonight and would double-check records for staff access to card processing stuff.

He also made a point of checking that I had notified my bank and assured me he would get back to with with any progress relevant to my situation. Prompt, courteous and thorough, just the way it oughta be.

Which of course means I'll be all the more likely to go buy delicious soups and salads from Eat:-)

iPhone floppyware 2.0

OK so it's now Stevenote - 7 and my iPhone is stuck in an imap loop and when I turn it off it reboots instantly. Of course plugging it in and clicking "restore" (which theoretically wipes your iPhone and restores it to OEM condition) doesn't fix the problem so I'm sort of hoping the 2.0 firmware will sort this...

...but I keep trying to decide if I should continue to put up with the phone. So many aspects of it drive me crazy. Take the battery for instance. On my N95, when Symbian thinks it's the best mobile OS on the planet but gets it wrong, the phone lets me take the battery out. This is kinda like the handset saying "sorry" like a grumpy two-year-old, a good thing. When it turns out iPhone needs to be disciplined, Steve just repeats "no, mine!" like another kind of two-year-old, a very bad thing indeed:-(

Well, on balance I think my iPhone sucks, but it sucks less than the other twenty smartphones I've lived with over the last couple of years.

It's not all handset woes, take for example O2's brilliant Apple-approved billing structure. Unlimited data (unless you instal a demon in which case the fair-use policy kicks in) and a set number of calls for a set monthly price. That is (almost) exactly what I want except that when I call my bank, or the power company, or I want book a movie ticket or call a helpline I have to pay extra for the 0870 local-call number. Never mind that I haven't got the choice. Powergen hasn't got a local extension I can call so the word from O2 is "tough" :-(

Not a big deal you might say but my £45/month all-in contract quickly becomes an £80/month which is way way more that I want to pay for the service.

I thought O2's iPhone contracts might have jogged the other operators into finding some sense so I checked my fave, Orange (France Telecom) to see what unlimited data contracts they had for new users.

Well, surprisingly, as of 2 June 2008 not a sausage

Sigh... crap really.

Charging for wi-fi?

The DVD format is a fiasco born out of a desire to control the way customers consume the products they buy.

I can't imagine any parent out there who would be happy to fork out fifteen quid for a DVD full of extra features they will never have the free time to watch knowing that after a couple of weeks worth of little fingers it will become a worthless piece of unplayable plastic.

The value is the experience of your child watching the movie NOT the stone-age tech used to play it (and don't get me started on a format that lets the media owner disable the customer's menu features).

The smarter we consumers become (and the more we share our experiences), the more the techpants will struggle with their pointless offerings and hopefully, new value-creation networks will take over:-)

So anyway, I was just going to write about wi-fi before going off on one...

I just got a couple of tweets from a guy who was trying to get on the net from the brand-new Heathrow terminal 5. Unbeleivably, he was being asked to jump through hoops, fill in forms, and worst of all, pay! Now let me make this completely clear:

Charging for wi-fi is like charging for tap-water in a restaurant.

Hell, it's like charging for air conditioning, or light, or cleanliness... These are all infrastructure items that are factored into the cost of the main event.

So look, you pay for your airline ticket, you pay for your state and city taxes, you pay your airport taxes, you pay for your extra luggage, you paid for the cab to the airport. You paid a king's ransome for the latte the kid at the next table keeps threatening to spill on your keyboard so YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY FOR CONNECTIVITY!


And just so we're completely clear on this one, not only should you not have to pay with currency or credit, you shouldn't have to pay with attention or privacy. No landing pages, portals or branded content, just unfettered, universal access for all.

The worst part is we're all buying into this nonsense, the average Londoner can see five wi-fi networks from his sitting room. In a five-flat Victorian conversion counting neighbours on both sides that's 15 broadband contracts. If you just got together with your neighbours you could share a low-contention business connection for a fraction of the cost (think about it, you're collectively forking out £300 a month for a highly contended connection with no service contract or decent support while £50 split between you would secure a bandwidth-assured connection contract).

So if you don't mind, cancel your broadband and talk to your neighbours and in the meantime, disable your password and open up your wireless connection :-)