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Showing posts from 2013

Email is now just another stream

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This post was also published on TechCrunch.Only a couple of years ago, pundits were predicting an end to email. But instead of fading away, there’s been ever-increasing email volume and usage. Rather than being replaced by Facebook and Twitter streams, email is actually becoming a stream itself.Mail systems are evolving to match the new volume of email, and users will increasingly see only algorithmically vetted emails. Some other emails may be shown below the vetted email, and the rest will flow away into temporal oblivion, just like uninteresting social posts from a few hours ago.Implications for marketers are significant. The days of the average AOL or Yahoo! mail user scrolling through every email in their inbox are rapidly fading. Email has been especially important in e-commerce sales and customer re-engagement. For e-commerce in particular, email marketing exceeds the performance of social advertising. Large-volume email senders will need to make a greater effort to send email…

Rebooting the Bay Bridge: a classic rewrite story

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This post was written with Mathew Spolin and published in VentureBeat.From the smallest startup to the largest multi-national company, the ground-up software rewrite is the unicorn of organizations. At some point, a software system needs to be rewritten from scratch, usually for one or more of three reasons:Architectural flaws inherent from the onset.External market conditions that the software can not meet.Too much deferred maintenance such that the software is unstable and unchangeable.Software is sometimes hard to understand as it is abstract. However, we have the ultimate physical, real-life rewrite on our doorstep here in San Francisco: the rebuild of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.Architectural FlawsThe eastern span of the Bay Bridge, first opened in 1936, had a significant architectural flaw in that it could not survive a high-magnitude earthquake. The magnitude 7 Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 caused a 76- by 50-foot section of the upper deck to collapse onto the lower de…

How to sell to the CIO, Part 3: Closing the deal

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This post was also published in the Wall Street Journal's CIO Journal.After almost two decades of selling enterprise infrastructure to IT organizations, I have spent the last two years on the other side of the table as the CIO/CTO of CBS Interactive. This is part three of a three part series on how to sell to CIOs.In part one, I provided tips for getting into an account and in part two I discussed how to navigate the sales process. Now it’s time to close the deal.TimingDeals are going to take as long as they take, and there is really not much a vendor can do to make all the stars align within a big enterprise. A sophisticated vendor understands that large enterprises have a lot of processes in place to close deals and an aversion to new vendors. There is generally no shortcut through legal, finance and other internal approvals.When a vendor asks for deviations so that they can make a number or close the deal in Q4 as they promised the board, it makes them seem weak and engenders …

How to sell to the CIO, Part 2: The sales process

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This post was also published in the Wall Street Journal's CIO Journal.After almost two decades of selling enterprise infrastructure to IT organizations, I have spent the last two years on the other side of the table as the CIO/CTO of CBS Interactive. This is the second of a three part series on how to sell to CIOs.The tips I laid out in part one helped you get into an account. But getting the meeting is just the beginning. Now it’s time to sell your product.Sell the ROIThe question enterprise IT has for the salesperson during a sales meeting is, “Will your product save or make us money and does it have low risk?” As Founder and CEO of Upstream Group Doug Weaver writes, “They’re not thinking about helping you out or what kind of day you’re having. ‘What’s in it for me?’ is the order of the day.”A vendor needs to have a very clear and verifiable return on investment (ROI) story with measurable metrics. There are times when companies buy software or services without evaluating ROI, …

How to sell to the CIO, Part 1: The initial pitch

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This post was also published in the Wall Street Journal's CIO Journal.After almost two decades of selling business infrastructure to technology companies, I thought I knew it all. But since spending the last two years on the other side of the table as the CIO/CTO of CBS Interactive, I realized how much I didn’t know about selling to enterprise IT.The way to truly understand how and why an enterprise purchases technology is by gaining the ability to understand how IT departments at medium to large-size organizations work, how decision-making actually happens and how vendors can avoid getting in their own way.Based on my experience on both sides, the following guide aims to help salespeople and companies become more efficient for both their clients and themselves.Be clear what it is you doA pitch, whether from a small startup or a multinational corporation, should always concisely state the following:1. Description: What the offering specifically does, how it’s different from compe…

In mastering machine intelligence, Google rewrites search engine rules

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This post was written with Cameron Olthius and published on TechCrunch.Google has produced a car that drives itself and an Android operating system that has remarkably good speech recognition. Yes, Google has begun to master machine intelligence. So it should be no surprise that Google has finally started to figure out how to stop bad actors from gaming its crown jewel – the Google search engine. We say finally because it’s something Google has always talked about, but, until recently, has never actually been able to do.With the improved search engine, SEO experts will have to learn a new playbook if they want to stay in the game.SEO WarsIn January 2011, there was a groundswell of user complaints kicked off by Vivek Wadwa about Google’s search results being subpar and gamed by black hat SEO experts, people who use questionable techniques to improve search-engine results. By exploiting weaknesses in Google’s search algorithms, these characters made search less helpful for all of us.We…

To cloud or not to cloud

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This post was also published in the Wall Street Journal's CIO Journal. Cloud is all the rage in IT right now, offering nearly instantaneous time to value, continual feature upgrades, and reduced cost. However, it is important to delineate different types of cloud offerings and what should and shouldn’t run in the cloud. There are also several contractual issues CIOs should consider when dealing with cloud vendor. Software-as-a-Service is mainstream and cost-effective Among the very first cloud offerings, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions such as Salesforce.com Inc. and ServiceNow Inc. are very compelling. The offerings are completely self-contained, turnkey and offer rich feature sets that are continually enhanced and refined by the vendor. Often SaaS vendors integrate with each other which makes it easier to piece a stack of software together. When selecting a SaaS vendor, CIOs should ensure that the vendor has a high standard of data security and offers an interface by wh…

Android challenges the iPhone in every category

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This post was also published on CNET and VentureBeat.The new breed of Android devices exceeds the iPhone 5 in every way, including hardware, operating system, and apps. For the past month, I have been using an HTC Droid DNA, which has similar specs to the rumored upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4. People approach me at grocery stores, airports, coffee shops, even on the street and ask me about the phone. The device is indeed quite compelling, even from a distance. The HTC DNA has an amazingly bright 1080p HD display with a higher resolution than Apple's iPhone 5 Retina display. The operating system is modern with dynamic widgets that tell you at a glance what's going on. The apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and such are equivalent to those available to iOS, and Google Apps such as Google Now, voice recognition, and Google Maps are sleek and modern. This is hands down a better device than the iPhone 5, and people seem to intuitively recognize it. What phone would I recommend for my m…

2013: The Internet of Things, delivered via smartphone

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This post was also published in VentureBeat.Virtually every electronic device has now gained a smartphone controlled equivalent over the past year. The well known products in this category, such as the Nest thermostat and Sonos music system, have now been joined with smartphone controlled light bulbs, door locks, refrigerators, security systems, home theater remote controls,game consoles, weight scales, and even vacuum cleaners. Services such as teleconference systems that used to be controlled just by touch tones are now controllable by smartphones. There are even smart device powered telepresence robots.Historically, these types of devices had unintuitive control panels, small, hidden buttons, and other such complex interfaces. The smartphone ecosystem makes is easy for manufacturers to deliver mobile apps as control systems, and for users to intuitively control devices by using a familiar interface.The tech underneath it allThis device revolution has been powered by a new generati…