Author Archive: Ben Watson

Clienteer.TV launches on ClienteerHub

ClienteerTV – Episode 1 from Clienteer.TV on ClienteerHub.

ClienteerHub is all about sharing the ‘how’ of customer experience and brings together the best resources, stories and people, to help you better understand the ‘how’ of customer experience.

ClienteerTV’s mission is to share meaningful insights from those leading customer experience transformations.

Experience is a Management Opportunity

One of the things I think a lot about in terms of building great experiences are the cultural barriers and individual employee challenges challenging the shift to being customer focused.

We tend to talk about ‘Experience’ in two ways from a product and service delivery standpoint. We talk in terms of Customer Acquisition and Customer Service. But these broad-reaching, multi-org definitions cannot directly translate to specific tasks and roles without some investigation and application of theory.

Acquisition
One could argue that on the web, customers acquire the enterprise or customers acquire products and services – not the other way around. This subtle shift changes the way we present, compete and enable self-service touch points and the corresponding activities. We do need to help people from time to time, and the more complex the product or service, or the less intuitive the interaction, the more we will need to help them. For me it helps to flip the funnel upside down (or sideways) and then tackle it from the customer/end user POV. Map the steps and stages against what they are going through, not in terms of your view of the touch points, but in terms of the total customer universe. Then invert your relationship/engagement language into their terms and insert those tentacles into the new customer funnel.

You will see any gaps immediately.

From a service standpoint, lets keep mapping the points into the funnel. Now we will be starting to populate post-purchase activity as well as some pre-purchase investigation of service levels that customers will be looking into. We are defining the path to referral as the panacea but don’t fool yourself into thinking a perfect activity map will automatically lead to referral. Some customers will never refer anyone which is simply a permanent symptom of too many years of people getting this whole centricity thing backwards.

This new activity map should now be populated with only what you actually have in place today that works as intended 100% of the time. Work back and forth across the lifetime of a customer’s interactions on your sideways funnel and remove anything that does not always produce the stated outcome.

You will now see further gaps.

Finally, ask yourself what are you doing in your life to specifically help the people working on the front-lines to trust that product and service design have the same degrees of customer-centricity that they are being asked to deliver? Think across the organization and see if you can find other examples of what is being done right. Map the ROI of those desired behaviors into your new funnel. By the way, the list of answers to that question, that’s customer-centric teamwork. Go team.

Now ask yourself the million dollar question.

Where in those gaps you have uncovered and now want to fill do you see a lack of management focus on getting the gaps closed immediately?

That is where Experience is a management opportunity.

Putting the H back in IMHO

I have returned to Adobe after a 3 year walkabout. During this walkabout I had the pleasure of working on product strategy for the new ad platform at Yahoo!, rolling out a new website and eBusiness infrastructure as well as community tools for a software vendor, and helping to drive strategy and awareness for a flash-based interactive video startup called Overlay.TV.

I have returned as the Principal Product Marketing Manager, Enterprise User Experience in the Digital Enterprise Solutions business unit working on next generation customer and user experiences. I will continue blogging here…IMHO, it’s the right thing to do and I will do my best to keep the ‘H’ in IMHO.

My First Mashed-up Podcast now on Dr Dobbs

Dr. Dobbs just posted a podcast that I did a couple weeks ago – I guess that they must have figured it was worthy of distribution. ;-)

It’s the first part of a series that focuses on RIA (Rich Internet Applications) – should prove interesting to hear all the different vendors weighing in.

Do the Math

It turns out that SOA 2.0 might actually have been intended to be SOA 0.002 and it was simple mathematical error.

Following the logic “Do the Math” on this advertisement I was able to unravel this long-standing much debated mystery – http://www.integratedmar.com/gartner/itcv/admailer/ITCV-admailer_090806.pdf

Reference:
3,394,000 impressions at a cost of $7,950 would net the cost per impression at $0.002342368886269888037713612256924, not $2.34

One AJAX dev speaks out…

I found this interesting review of FlexBuilder by an AJAX developer, Anthony G. Cyphers – http://www.envieddesign.net/blog/?p=71\

“Flex comes packed full of pre-built controls. I mean, damn, how many more could they have possibly packed in there without jacking the price up over $5000.00. It’s got everything, MenuBar, Accordian, ComboBoxes, ListBoxes, Panels, TitleWindows, DatePicker, ColorPicker, DataGrid, and a bunch more. This makes it so easy to use that the thought of not building at least one small web app in it just made me sick to my stomach. They’ve obviously put many MANY man hours in to this, and it’s evident that this platform isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. I urge anyone reading this to get the trial, take it for a test drive,…”

Nice. Thanks!

That’s still a lot of trees…

Recently in a local business journal that monitors government contracts and spending, I came across a series of contracts that were awarded to multiple vendors for toner cartridges – remanufactured toner cartridges. The total spend was in the millions for these refurbished cartridges, far in excess of any of the IT contracts in the same publication that would indicate a move away from the endless reams of paper that are generated by the Ctrl-P or Apple-P or Command-P functions.

It strikes me that the use of the computer has probably generated even more paper usage and waste than we thought we would save by replacing our pen with a keyboard and our dayplanner with a productivity suite. So I did some really bad journalistic investigation to see what I could find out.

First I compared some Google search terms.

– “toner cartridge” generated about 8.7 million responses
– “paperless office” generated about 700,000 responses
– “printer” topped out over a billion responses
– “monitor” returned about 670,000 responses

The good news was that PDF returned about 2 billion responses so at least we know people are trying to reduce paper usage by turning documents into PDF. But then we print PDFs all the time – so if each PDF response was printed out 5 times and averaged 2 pages that would account for 20 billion sheets of paper or 2,400,096 trees or 3524 acres of forest.

In the end, we know it has nothing to do with technology preference, choice or anything like that. It is still all about lifestyle, choices, safe thinking and preservation of ritual. We need the chainsaws running if we are going to keep up with the advances in technology.

Sad, but true.

Some more helpful but somewhat useless facts to help you determine the impact of Ctrl-P:

– 1 ton of uncoated virgin (non-recycled) printing and office paper uses 24 trees
– 1 ton of 100% virgin (non-recycled) newsprint uses 12 trees
– A “pallet” of copier paper (20-lb. sheet weight, or 20#) contains 40 cartons and weighs 1 ton. Therefore,
– 1 carton (10 reams) of 100% virgin copier paper uses .6 trees
– 1 tree makes 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,333.3 sheets
– 1 ream (500 sheets) uses 6% of a tree (and those add up quickly!)
– 1 ton of coated, higher-end virgin magazine paper (used for glossy magazines like National Geographic and many others) uses a little more than 15 trees (15.36)
– 1 ton of coated, lower-end virgin magazine paper (used for newsmagazines and most catalogs) uses nearly 8 trees (7.68)
Source: Conservatree

Here are my suggestions to get this on track:

– Stop printing emails
– Get a better monitor (for $200) so you can read things online
– Only print the parts of a PDF that you need to read on paper
– Use best practices in web design to allow font resizing and optimizing layouts for print
– Stop printing ppt – you hate ppt shows, why print them out?
– Keep all the things you print out in your laptop bag each week – this should make it clear if you have a printing problem
– Make all your graphics and illustrations 72 dpi or 96 dpi – that way they look great on screen and they suck in print

And finally, check to see how much your local government is spending on printing things out, and see if you cant find some opportunistic technology solutions to help them address this obvious atrocity at the expense of the taxpayer.

On Top of Enterprise Services

Winners of the SAP TechEd DEMO JAM are posted here

Matthias Zellar of Adobe, took second place with Using Adobe Flex to Build Rich Internet Applications on Top of Enterprise Services. Matthias’ demo extends the demo he presented at SAP TechEd ’06, “Exposing Web Services in ABAP, by enriching an ABAP web service with an Adobe Flex-based user interface. In the demo, Matthias activated a web service of the popular sample flight database. He then consumed the web service with the Adobe Flex Builder IDE and developed a dynamic data grid. Finally, Matthias compiled and ran the application in the Internet Explorer browser.

InterAKT with Adobe

Awesome news finally out today that we acquired Romania-based software firm InterAKT, the folks responsible for some of the most useful Dreamweaver extensions in the business and that sweet little Javascript editor, JSEclipse.

Officially speaking, the acquisition will enhance Adobe products, including Macromedia® Dreamweaver® and Adobe® Flex® software, and bolster Adobe’s presence in Eastern Europe. Don’t ask me for any specifics on the deal, but it is obvious that commercially this represents some exciting opportunities to extend Dreamweaver’s capabilities for web application development and to simultaneously expand the Flex lineup.

Alexandru Costin and Bogdan Ripa have created a terrific team who really get web application development and they have put out some exciting technologies, and these will either be provided via Adobe Labs, discontinued, or available within Kollection – a newly expanded version of MX Kollection Pro, InterAKT’s most popular product.

Specifically, JSEclipse should be posted on Adobe Labs in the next little while, and Phakt will be posted for free on the Exchange.

I know that James Governor will want to weigh in about our continued unhealthy obsession with Java, but IMHO it just got a whole lot healthier. At least it weighs less, runs faster and generally looks healthier from an R&D perspective. Call me superficial….

Airport Demo Etiquette

The more I travel, the more I detest airports. But recently I have found a way to really make the best of it – Airport Demos.

This emerging tech space is a great way to win new customers, more temporary friends, and get your message out to a very captive audience.

I was in the Boston airport last Friday night heading home when such an opportunity presented itself. Let me frame this so that you can extract useful tips and clues to success.

The guys next to me were talking about a bug in Visual Studio. I tried to sneak a peek but couldnt see the screen, and being a former Visual Studio product manager and having spent a few years on MSDN and evangelizing .NET I was highly curious to see this bug. So I asked, and they showed me.

Tip #1 – Bugs are a great way to establish a connection and start a common dialogue.

After laughing at the bug (sorry you wont get the details on that here – sort through the error reports, MS) and talking about our destinations and what we were doing in the airport, etc…I told them that I was working for Adobe and we had just launched a new IDE. They had never heard of Flex, smirked at the mention of Flash, and that was all it took for me to start wangling towards a demo.

Tip #2 – Developers battle it out on the IDE front, even if they are hardcore notepad users they still have an opinion. Picking the IDE as a common ground is much more effective than referring to yourself as “nuts about Flash” or “hardcore ABAP dude”.

I asked them if they wanted to see what we had just released, indicating that I might have some stuff on my laptop that would be interesting. They were instantly interested and a small group started to form to “check out the stuff from Adobe”.

Tip #3 – Don’t let people know that you have a full suite of demo applications – keep it casual, let me see what I’ve got…that way there isnt a lot of pressure.

After booting up and launching WebLogic (thanks for the 2 minute start time BEA!) I launched into a few demos that I “happened” to have kicking around on my laptop – a banking app, a consumer portal, AJAX/Flex datagrid comparison, charting, real time communications/messaging demo, and an end to end Flex and LiveCycle demo.

Tip #4 – Dont stop, keep moving. They arent going anywhere until the plane boards, so why waste any time with setup, storytelling, etc…just the facts, just the tech please. If you can, keep your app server running while in sleep mode, this speeds up the “getting started” part.

The demos went pretty well – got some good feedback like “wow, this is cool” and “I had no idea Adobe was doing stuff like this” and “thats amazing” etc. I then told them they could get the Flex Data Services for free from the Adobe website, and that there was a trial version of the FlexBuilder IDE that they could download as well. They seemed interested, but they werent going to get a job building Flex apps over the weekend, so we had to set up some type of followup.

Tip #5 – Save something that you have to send your new audience. That way you get a card, email address, etc and you can follow up. Developers dont change languages or IDEs over a weekend (unless they were no good at the old one they were using) so this allows you to follow up and get a dialogue going.

That”s all there is to it. All in all, this new tactic seems to be a highly productive use of my time, and I am sure you will enjoy countless hours of fun and engaging interaction doing airport demos with unwitting captive developers on your trips around the world. Keep up the delays, United – it’s good for business!