Category Archives: Marketability

BigData’s Invisible Hand

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Technology is wonderful, especially for us, the nation of consumers.

We have a flair for commercialism, created by businesses that once mailed catalogs to our homes, for free.  Thoroughly enticed by their colorful pages of merchandise, we became browsers and took turns flipping through the pages, earmarking the most viewed pages with sugarplum wishes.

It comes as no surprise, that as the holidays approach, technology’s Internet of Things is offering a smorgasbord of possibilities to further delight us, and to make our lives better!   Some finger swipes across a touchscreen, from social media to products purchased to services rendered, will organically link us together, without a common purpose.

Because in a digital world, engaging impressions like Selfies, Tweets and Likes, will be collected and gathered.

Bigdata, the invisible hand of real time analytics, will store, sell and re-distribute free consumer swipes of  creature habits once unattainable due to privacy rights.  Now freely associated with intimate interests, it will link us into smaller demographic groups and create marketing tools in “Consumer Nation”.

Disruption is good when it separates the mediocre, that which isn’t sustainable from the bad, that which might’ve been overlooked.   Sometimes, being lulled into a false sense of security isn’t the worse of it; things like changing your password each month, might be the least effective thing to be done.  Not because of peeking eyes, but because we keep forgetting the new password.   Use your big eyes to see a bird’s eye view.

We are, after all a nation growing older and that’s another issue…  pitfall.

But at some point, when new technology has replaced all of our passwords with retina and fingerprint identification, the old patterns that made us feel secure, will also come back.   Cataracts and wrinkles might undo what’s achieved, but by then we might be backwards compatible.  Bringing back the need for stronger passwords.

Disruption can be like that…

It’s like being asleep in your warm bed, having a lovely little dream.  When suddenly, you’re violently shaken and forced awake by screams, “the house is on fire!”    You’re not mad, you’re grateful.  It’s that scenario that makes you realize that disruption can be a good thing. That the dream, as lovely as it was, was simply in your head… the same place where technology began.

Today’s petri dish for successful startups with new products and new ways to do old things is a joy.   So internet sales rejoice, there’ll be less cars on the roads; less pollution in the air and gas prices will go down.  Less travel on the road equates to more time that we can stay home and watch television, mindlessly swiping our touchscreens and learning the words to catchy jingles.

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Filed under Big Data, Consumers, Eyegalsses, facebook, gadget, Internet, Internet of Things, Marketability, small business, social media, tech, technology, Telephone, Television, Twitter

Tech Savvy and Served

1 Tech Platter
Word of mouth sales are no longer limited to the “picket fence” conversation between neighbors. Social media has empowered consumers, but it also weakened the position of “the customer is always right”.

Not so long ago, when you purchased a gadget and it didn’t work, you’d complain. There was an expectation of satisfaction; and sometimes this was guaranteed in writing. It was understood, that if you kept the store receipt, a return within seven days of the purchase, with original packaging would guarantee you an equal exchange or a full refund. No questions, no arguments and without a restocking fee.

Back then, the link between a business’ success and a customer’s satisfaction were closely woven. It was a mature market that kept loyal customers loyal by making good products. The operative word “good” implied integrity– a Maytag machine, a Craftsmen tool and a Peterbilt truck were made to last.

I can’t say when this changed, but it did. Technology with its lightening pace warranted change, and miniscule sizes pushed out products that had their own legacies, called generations. And while the housing remained the same, the processor inside changed.

Generally, the improvement wasn’t fully tested but the product was released and onto store shelves; along with slight glitches and other failings, that if passed under the consumer radar was an “oh, well” shrug of doing business.

Now we accept updates, even expect there to be a few with each new product. Those patches that fix new technology have effectively blocked my complaint in mid-sentence. So, the consumer’s displeasure mostly goes unnoticed, because the problem was already logged and acknowledged before the products were shipped out!

The only thing left for me to complain about is how my smartphone’s battery doesn’t hold a charge. And it’s not because I’m always talking, texting or checking status, but instead it’s the result of all those push notifications that the companies send out in an effort to patch and update my cellphone… to keep it smart and me dumb.

Customer service served.

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Filed under Consumers, Marketability, profitability, social media, tech, Telecommunications

On Track To Pink Coding

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The Digital Age, like the Industrial Age has exposed gaps in the skilled labor market, that if left to their own vices will effect a businesses’ bottom line. And those shortages need to be addressed before demand outmatches supply.

But while companies like Google are interested in funding initiatives for girl’s who code, not every girl is interested in coding.

In the ninety-four years since women were given the right to vote, there has been one female democratic vice-presidential candidate* (Ferraro 1984), there has been one female speaker of the House of Representatives (Pelosi, 2007); one female nominated for the Democratic Presidential Primary (Clinton, 2008) ; one female Vice Presidential Republican nominee (Palin, 2008); One female four-star U.S. General in the Army (Dunwoody, 2008); one female four-star General in the U.S. Air Force (Wolfenbarger, 2012); one Female four-star admiral and Vice Chief of Naval Operations (Howard, 2013). And we’ve yet to see a woman president.

The slow process of closing the gender gap in America is systemic. It has as much to do with status quo, as it has to do with nation building– that other job, of having babies. And just as not every girl is interested in coding; not every girl is interested in having babies. The truth is that finally, girls have a choice and it’s more than trying out for cheer-leading and not making the squad. It’s a real life choice, one that puts them on a track towards greatness; with real consequences and unmitigated outcomes.

Coding should be taught in the school system, as part of the core curriculum in classrooms across the country. So that all children, particularly girls can be exposed to it and perhaps discover a real interest, which a teacher can then nurture. Teaching our girls is different from teaching our boys, so it mustn’t be competitive.

But if we are going to allow companies to recruit our girls and teach our daughters coding; to essentially allow a business to restock the labor pool to their own specifications, shouldn’t we demand that it be done in good faith? And wouldn’t that include the closing of the gender wage gap that exists? And shouldn’t that include legislation?

I’m only asking, because history is gnawing at me. The legacy of businesses who shuttled and carried unskilled laborers across borders and over the seas. Who cheaply laid down railroad tracks and mined coal and fired the steel used to build skyscrapers. The un-named Chinese, German and Hungarian immigrants who helped to build this great nation, but who barely fill a chapter in its history books.

Not every girl will want to code, but we owe her the chance. Let it be in a classroom of her peers. In the end she may not become a coder, or a neurosurgeon or the conductor of a high-speed train; but society has a need to prepare her, to teach her and then to welcome her into the Digital Age.

*I neglected to include Ms. Geraldine Ferraro in the first posting. My gratitude and thanks go out to Dan for bringing the oversight to my attention. In addition to providing the link http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/geraldine-ferraro-dies-75-woman-vice-president-candidate-remembered/story?id=13228533

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Filed under Code, Coding, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, Google, Marketability, profitability, technology

Virtually, You Are Here

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If you are reading these words, then you are, by default here.
An effective writer can do that, through the clever use of words, similes and metaphors. By carefully stacking letters like blocks of code, until BLAM! You are here.

Reading creates a state of mind, without circuitry, or silicon, or bits and bytes of data organically designed. Like technology, it fulfills a purpose, sharing and entertaining passages that tell a story and “Once upon a time” is the crossing line, the threshold. But sometimes the reading material doesn’t begin like a fairytale.
Sometimes, it’s boring and repetitious and in our rush forward to all the great apps that the digital world has to offer, we hastily finger swipe our touchscreen and assume, the wording to be correct. Because we’ve become familiar to and insensitive to legal verbiage, the Terms of Use:

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING TERMS CAREFULLY. BY CLICKING “SIGN UP” ON THE SITE OR BY DOWNLOADING, INSTALLING OR OTHERWISE ACCESSING OR USING THE APP(S) OR THE SERVICE, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah…
For the next six or seven paragraphs, the font will grow smaller and pretty much, it will read like all the other Terms of Use, and all written with capital letters—the equivalency of screaming in a hell and damnation kind of way– we’re “BOUND BY THE FOLLOWING TERMS, INCLUDING THE PRIVACY POLICY.
And this, the usage of terms like Privacy Policy seems benign, and so it might be when used with apps; but there’s another side with far-reaching consequences, like the information stored on our things, like cellphones, tablets and soon to be Internet of Things (IoT).

There’s value to the human signature and a quiet elegance to being able to write in cursive. It’s not an art form, it’s a skillset.

Some of the world’s greatest documents, The Magna Carter, The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, each a signed manifesto are reminders of the human condition, and hopefulness, as we press on.

There’s no lasting image to a swipe of the finger, it just can’t compare to the swirling ink of a pen. It’s little things like signatures that we need to hold onto. Especially as we enter the Internet of Things (IoT). When machines talk to machines (m2m) and massive amounts of data are transmitted and analyzed in real time. We may need the simple things to remain simple, like ink and it’s staying power.

By then, privacy may no longer be sustainable. Or attainable, as profitable markets shift, change and the economy adapts. What happens then? Will it matter?

The world is smaller than it was, thankfully we have social media. And in a virtual world, it brings us together. You are here.

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Filed under Big Data, facebook, Google, GPS, Internet, Marketability, Privacy, profitability, social media, tech, technology, Twitter

Consumers and Big Data Prep

IoThings
Big Data is here, with its streaming terabytes of information and its misleading name, it is every bit of big and then some; more accurately it’s humongous!

The Digital Age is triggered by more than just the Internet of things, those smart and intelligent devices that will be collecting and transmitting goo-gobs of data, it’s also analyzing that data. Adapting and recognizing the patterns and all of this, in real time.

Real time… Yes, those are dots in my sentence. Ellipses that are meant to indicate a moment of silence. Because the era of static data, as we’ve known it is passing and along with it, our swagger and our understanding of how it worked.

Back then, we knew that Google and search engines in general, like to collect data. We knew about cookies; about saved IP addresses and that our internet habits, were being stored. We knew that the static websites we visited didn’t change; and the way we surfed, registered and played on platforms was analyzable and vulnerable.

We might have never understood the logic in a public Beta release, but we learnt how to download apps to fix the inevitable bugs, inherent in an early product release. And even greater than this, we learnt patience. We knew and chose our game pieces, internet avatars to represent our likenesses. We smiled when days later, having been off the internet for a while, we’d log back onto the web and find our little selves still there, waiting for us.

Manufacturers are preparing to open the gates, to release the first products in the Internet of Things. Soon Big Data will be upon us. It’s a game changer and the key players are businesses. How they adapt, their scalability will determine the outcome.

We, the end users, the consumers of the Internet of Things are preparing to make our selections. It’s been estimated that each one of us will have approximately 6 devices. And each device will add to the stream of data collected.

I hope it goes well. I hope that businesses can gain insight and serve their customers better; that they turn a profit; and hire more women (at equal pay for equal work). I hope that business applications become more innovative and push forward and not sit back on their laurels.

I hope for the success of Big Data, because I’m an end-user and I know that when IT goes badly, IT flows downhill.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Big Data, Consumers, gadget, Gender Equality, Girls, Google, ipad, Marketability, small business, streaming, tech, technology, Women

Free Knowledge, Must Bring Your Own Container

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New gadgetry is allowing us to re-train the brain and learn all kinds of new things! And the Internet of Things (IoT) just made learning really cool.

If there’s a lesson book on the art of aging, I’ve never read it. But I do know that age has a way of leveling the playing field, that is no amount of toned muscle and body mass will make you a competitor in the next Olympics.

Wisdom keeps life in perspective. A subtle reminder that the brain, unlike the body is more forgiving; and old adages like, “You can’t teach old dog new tricks”, just aren’t true anymore. You can retrain the brain and learn. That is, you can teach old dog new tricks, but usually he’s just a tad slower on the uptake.

Enter a smorgasbord of technology, a Tsunami of technology from Machine to Machine (M2M) to the Internet of Things (IoT) this is real, it’s large and apparently we Baby Boomers have arrived just in time, because if we arrived later, it would’ve went “swoosh” right over our heads!

I recently visited the Home Booth at AARP Life@50+ and spoke with Nono Kusuma an engineer. He showed me quite a bit of HOME technology, those things that we wouldn’t usually associate with technology, say like a light bulb. Yes, there’s an App for that and “Hue”, a lighting system by Philips.

Home security systems, the Do-It-Yourself variety that didn’t but could be used in conjunction with a monitoring company, your cable provider or direct to your Smartphone. Yes, there’s an App for that, in fact, nearly everything that I suggested, from temperature control to venetian blinds that open and closed, had an App. The Internet of things is real.

I was reminded of my old home security system, years ago we had the electric timer. We’d plug it into the wall outlet and plug the appliance, lamp or radio into it. We’d set the clock dial to AM/PM, pick the time and we’d head out in the station wagon to that cabin in the mountains. Voilà!

After a while we got creative and used two timers, at one end of the house we’d plug in a radio and at the other a light bulb. At night the empty house would have a radio on and lights would go out or vice versa.

Fortunately for us, we always came home to a tightly secured house. We’ll never know whether it was the efficiency of the blaring radio or the light bulb; or if it was just pure luck. But whatever the case, we did return to a house that was as we had left it, that is locked.

In fact, the only unpleasant part about coming home was that the house was overheated. But even that small inconvenience is a thing of the past, because the house temperature can be controlled by the Smartphone. Yes, there’s an App for that.

The business of learning doesn’t go away with age. It does however change, bringing its own set of rewards– coming home to a secure house that’s cool inside, that’s just one of life’s joys.

Free knowledge, must bring your own container.

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, gadget, Marketability, tech, technology

TEK Inclusive, Not Elusive

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Life doesn’t come with instructions.  Whether we’re pushed out or carefully extracted, we enter this world ill prepared for the journey ahead of us. 

In our youth, the journey was thrilling and eventful; we often jumped to conclusions and leapt before thinking and did so with little consequence.  But we’re older now and know better. 

Technology, is best used with knowledge, but sometimes it doesn’t come with paper instructions and just seems daunting. 

It wasn’t always that way.   Once upon a time, when you purchased a product it came with instructions that seamlessly guided you along, so that you could enjoy the device.  These were usually written on crisp white paper and after you read them, you were well prepared to use the device. Then you’d carefully fold the paper instructions and store them neatly away for future reference.

But the future came quickly, without warning the instructions began to appear on recycled paper.  These thin greyish slips of paper easily tore, and usually didn’t offer a grace period, that is a small window of time in which in complete frustration you’d ball up the instructions and promptly tossed them into the trash. Later, you’d retrieve them with a cooler head; logic prevailed. You’d get it, you needed those instructions.

And then the instructions changed form again, now they were being printed in multiple languages. English on one side and Spanish or Chinese on the other.  You were left more frustrated than before and joked about it; if you didn’t understand the instructions in English, then how could you possibly understand them in another language?

And then, without warning they had the last laugh, when they intentionally stopped putting the instructions into the box!

Instead a CD needed to be inserted and run on a computer. And that too began to change as you could only gain access to the instructions by visiting the website and downloading them.   A quandary if you didn’t have the knowledge to download a PDF, yet another acronym that popped into the English vernacular.

Which brings me back to the top of this page; that you’re not born with life instructions in hand; but perhaps you don’t need them to be.   After all, we have this unique ability to communicate, that is we can paint and erect a sign to prevent others from falling off a cliff. Technology shouldn’t be viewed as a cliff.

Besides, the journey of life is fun, meant to be enjoyed; teaching, educating and sharing knowledge are important to character, integrity and human development.

It’s nice to know that there’s still instructions included on things that smell good, like boxes of cake mix.  And if that changes and a cake mix requires a kitchen mobile APP, well it’s equally nice to know there’s a 50+ community available to help you.

Taking the fear out of technology and yes, there’s AARP TEK for that.

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Filed under AARP, Apps, Baby boomers, Consumers, Marketability, profitability, social media, tech, technology

Baby Boomer 1st Tweet

Baby Boomer economy 3 Hello world! I’m excited. It’s as if some part of me has just emerged from a cocoon, where for the past umpteenth years, I’ve been passively learning and today, all that changed. And if you were born between 1946 and 1964, well you’re about to feel excited too!

Because you’re a Baby Boomer, one of the 74.6 million babies that were born after World War II; you are a part of the largest generation to be born in American history.

The American Baby Boomer Committee (ABBC) wants to acknowledge us with some Baby Boomer trivia: The Boom peaked in 1957. If you were born that year, then you are 1 of 11,780.8 babies that were born per day in America. Yes, per day; that’s the equivalent of about 8 babies per minute! And if you were born in 1964, at the end of the Boom Era, then you’re one of 11,002.7 babies born per day in the U.S.

We fearlessly rode our bicycles and roller skated without helmets. We fell down and scraped our knees; but we got back up and were better prepared for life because of our bruised feelings. We played outdoors, partied and sometimes drank too much. Our “Been there done that” attitude helped build up integrity, without tearing down character.

We’re no longer buying diapers and saving for tuition. Our kids have graduated from college and while they’re trying to figure out their lives, we’ve discovered new ways to balance our household budgets and there’s money left over!

We’re the newest consumers on the internet, stabilizing the economy and finding better ways to use social media. Our impact will have far-reaching effects on a global scale, in politics and on the ecology. We’ll have a chance to eradicate racism and perhaps close the gender gap.

We baby boomers are a voting bloc, a movement that will drum out a new beat and our first tweet on Twitter will be: “Hello”.

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Filed under AARP, Apps, Baby boomers, facebook, gadget, Gender Equality, Marketability, profitability, Samsung, social media, streaming, Twitter

Baby Boomers Are the Next Old Big Thing

baby boomers 6d We didn’t need a new television.  I’m not sure exactly when we wanted a new television.  Or if there was a distinction made between the want and the need, but this past weekend we bought a new flat screen television. 

In our house, the fine line between household income and budget is a chasm as wide as it is deep.  For years, there has been no discretionary income and no such thing as surplus money.  But our daughter recently graduated from college.

Suddenly bills look less complex.  And I was only mildly surprised when we transitioned from the childish “wanting what we don’t need” to the decisive ideology, “It’s for sale, so I’m buying it.” 

My husband and I are both past 50.  We’re both fully aware of our responsibilities and require no reminders.  We don’t make purchases on a whim and aren’t easily persuaded to try a new product by watching a television commercial.  Marketing analysts already know this about us; in fact they haven’t targeted us in years.

In fact, other than the AARP magazines and television commercials that are aimed at our demographic group; we’ve pretty much been left to age by ourselves.   Although I’m sure all of that’s about to change, as we Baby-boomers are living longer and paying off our debt.    We seem to be heading into uncharted consumer purchasing power.  

Which is why the whole trip to BestBuy and the purchase of a large screen flat screen television was so extraordinary; I kept peeking around for a cameraman.  For surely this was being recorded for some reality TV program.

Here was my husband gleeful, if not happy to pay for HDMI cables (he fumes at the mention of the monthly cable bill).  And when the salesman said that the television was best viewed mounted on the wall, like a piece of art; my husband was okay paying for a wall bracket (he has a jar full of nuts and bolts that he’s saved for exactly this kind of project).

My husband sat down in the theater room, surrounded by huge flat screen televisions and surround sound, as the salesman walked away to process our purchase.

“What just happened?”  I asked myself, because I’m at an age when I talk to myself.  There’s never an answer but I’m always willing to listen. 

“It’ll look like a piece of art, once it’s hung up in the family room,” my husband excitedly whispered the salesman’s pitch, which he regurgitated perfectly.

Once we got home, we were faced with the daunting task of what to do with the old big bulky television.  You see, there’s nothing wrong with it and that did bother my sensibilities.  I’m a mother of two and unused to casting perfectly good things out in the trash.  Compounded by the fact that we could neither give away (no one wanted an old bulky television, even if it was working) nor throw it away with the weekly trash collection (it was an environmental hazardous waste).

 In the end, it cost us a small fortune to get rid of the old still-working television.   My family is delighted with the new television.   However, when it’s turned off it doesn’t look like a piece of artwork.  It looks like what it is, that is a big black rectangle that’s been mounted to the wall.

 I might better appreciate it, once I get ahold of the remote control.  If I sit in a lotus position for hours, holding onto it and watching television on, I’ll experience its wondrous power.   There’s a commercial on, Samsung’s cellphone, the Galaxy 5, they’re toting it as the “Next best thing is here”.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with my current cellphone.  But I’m watching that new television and thinking, why not… We baby-boomers are the next new old thing and we’re living longer.   Now, that’s power baby.  

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Consumers, gadget, Marketability, Samsung, technology, Television