Instagram and $1 Billion: Facebook’s Answer To Mobile


It is hard to knock a company looking set to debut in the public markets with a $100 billion valuation and 845 million friends, but if we did, Facebook’s mobile technology is an easy target. Put simply: Facebook’s app just doesn’t work very well.

Apple iOS users and Google Android users both complain. It doesn’t load at worst. At best it is slow and jerky.

This would seem like an easy fix, and why wouldn’t Facebook just do it? They have the funds to invest. Mobile matters, of course, when you’re business is connecting people and content, real-time.

But then think of the underlying complexity. Facebook is relaying us a lot of information very quickly. Some these data spurts are trivial; some aren’t. Feeds of all sorts of shapes and sizes that are changing constantly. Elegant apps tend to be much more simple in what they actually deliver us. Facebook likely faces a real challenge here.

So perhaps a deep mobile understanding is one of the things Mark Zuckerberg sought out in spending what seems like a tremendous sum, $1 billion, on the photo sharing app Instagram.

Sure, the company didn’t have revenues, which on the surface makes the $1 billion valuation laughable and perhaps the surest sign yet techland is frothing. But talent is expensive in Silicon Valley these days and competition is fierce. Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s CEO, really knows mobile and specifically sharing on mobile. His big goal for Instagram as he put it to Digg founder Kevin Rose was to the place where you could “tune into anything on Earth”. Instagram’s success so far has been thanks to a fine combination of technology know-how and the right attention product detail. Those are highly prized skills right now.

Already we are spending a fifth of our Facebook day just commenting on other people’s photos, per the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Photos are a core part of the Facebook experience, and perhaps the starting point for a revamp of the site’s mobile approach.

And so Zuckerberg nailed down one of the smartest guys in a category Facebook has struggled to perfect. He has also prevented other rivals, notably Google and then Twitter, from grabbing that same talent. Will this deal look cheap in two years? Probably, if Facebook works on your phone.

“British Pakistani” or just “British”

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing a lot of media attention about the British identity. What does it mean to be British? A notable programme show on Channel 4 – Make Bradford British – is an example of the media attempting to use a “reality TV” format to root out the answer to an increasingly popular question.

While watching some of these programmes, I came across something a good friend of mine helped to produce and research.

Acclaimed journalist and author Anatol Lieven joins a distinguished panel to discuss the relationship between Britain, Pakistan, and the British Pakistani diaspora. With Jahan Mahmood, historian specialising in the role of Muslim soldiers who served in the British military; Anwar Akhtar, director, The Samosa; Rubia Dar, journalist, Pakistan International Peoples Association (PIPA); Zachary Latif, PIPA; Dr Max Malik, doctor, author of Butterfly Hunter and winner of the Brit Writers Award.

Here’s the video.


Does technology help or hinder your business?

Dachis Group Collaboratory: Experience TV

Link to Dachis Group :: Collaboratory

Experience TV

Posted: 24 Feb 2011 01:38 PM PST

Experience TV | Stuzo

[This post is a re-posting of a blog from the Dachis Group]

In my last blog post I wrote about TV ads being flat.  I feel that the entire TV experience needs improving and that none of the big players have gotten it right.  In this post I’m going to lay out what is missing and what I think the TV experience should be.

TV should be social and have a lightweight Experience Layer that enables consumers to engage with what they are watching in a semi-passive manner.  The application platforms by Samsung, Sony, et al. as they are today don’t have what it takes to transform the TV experience.  All of the apps that I have seen interrupt the native experience of watching TV.   More importantly, TV manufacturers lack the data needed to create a truly seamless and engaging experience.  In order to create an experience that is both semi-passive and truly enriches the native TV experience, there needs to be a meta-data layer that unlocks the signal and content.  Information bytes such as what channel am I on, what am I watching, who is that character, what is that object in the background, and what is happening at this minute in the program are the missing links.  Access to this type of data lies with the cable and content providers, who have, unfortunately, not yet realized what a powerful experience and business value they can unlock by working together.

The other major piece missing is the social graph.  The TV needs to know who I am and what I care about.  As such, Facebook should be the identity and relationship management platform of the TV. Just as cell phone makers are integrating Facebook deep into their phones, so should the social graph be deeply integrated into the set top box.  Consumers should have a profile with preferences just as they have on Facebook and those preferences should carry over throughout the TV watching experience.

The last thing that needs to change is the remote control.  Where is my Like button? Where are my Info or Buy buttons?  Where are the swipe actions?  This type of a remote could be replace the current remote types or be powered by a stand-alone mobile app.

Now that we have all of the pieces, let’s get to the fun part: the experience.  The platform that I am envisioning is not a completely open platform.  Anyone can build an app/experience, however, the cable providers and most notably the content owners will have the final say on what can and can not be integrated with their programming.  For those familiar with how Facebook’s platform works, think of the set top box as being the Facebook Platform, the program (show or movie) being a brand owned page on Facebook, and the networks being the corporation that owns multiple brands. Anyone can build an app on Facebook, but not every app will make it onto an owned media channel, a brand owned page on Facebook or in the case of the TV, a program.  Below, I am going to highlight three types of experiences that provide tangible value to both the consumers and brands:

1. A commercial (Super Bowl ;) )
Imagine the Darth Vader Volkswagen commercial:  what if you could roll over the car and Facebook Like it; what if you could roll over the car and be presented with the option for a 360º view and complete specs, or to set up a test drive at a local dealer; what if you could roll over other items in the commercial and find out more information about them?

2. A movie
Let’s take one of my favorites, The Thomas Crown Affair:  what if you could hover over Catherine Banning’s favorite green drink concoction and find out what it was; what if you could buy the movie soundtrack with a swipe of your remote; or what if you could find out the back-story about the house that they snuck away to in the Caribbean?

3. A sporting event
Think about watching a baseball game on a lazy summer afternoon:  what if you could hover over the player and get up to the minute stats; what if you could, with a click or two of your remote, check to see if tickets are available for the next time your favorite team is in town; what if you could find out more information on the products that your favorite players are using?

Would brands find integration into the above-mentioned experiences more valuable? Would consumers find value in them and the overall TV experience more engaging?  Is there tangible business value to be unlocked here?  I think yes to all.  The difference between what I am describing and what exists today is that the experience is a semi-passive, seamless one that is integrated directly into and overlayed on top of programing.  There is no unwanted intrusion. Consumers only engage with the experience when they want to, in the way that they want to.

The possibilities abound.  In the end I’m not sure how it will all play out.  However, I know that the TV manufacturers are not going to win this one.  The winner in this game is either going to be a new startup, Facebook, the cable giants, or a combination thereof.  Experience TV FTW.


The New IT Survival Guide: How to Thrive After the Recession

The worst of the recession is over, and IT management is coming to grips with the “new normal” of slender resources and pressure to make “alignment with business” more than a buzzword. The demand for technical skills is still strong, but if you want to succeed in this “new normal” environment, you have to offer more to your employer — a lot more.

Consider the career of Ginny Lee, who in 2008 became Intuit’s third CIO in just four years. Her predecessors, says the man who hired her, CEO Brad Smith, had the requisite technical chops but lacked a clear understanding of how IT could contribute to the company’s overall success. They didn’t keep their jobs. “In the world of SaaS [1], SOA, social networking, and mobile [2], IT is no longer just about great technology,” Smith says.

[ Get sage advice on your IT career from InfoWorld’s Bob Lewis in the Advice Line newsletter [3]. | Learn why running IT as a business is a really bad idea [4]. ]

Lee, a former investment banker with no formal training in computer science, exemplifies a tectonic shift occurring in the world of enterprise IT. Today’s CIOs — and by extension, everyone who works for them — are living the “new normal,” an age where budgets are recovering but still constrained, and where IT is responsible for generating moneymaking ideas and applications. The “new normal” means that business skills are essential if you want to climb the ladder to IT management, and you’d better understand that the days of IT being merely a support organization that just keeps the network running are over.

Data Explosion iGuide[5]

Yes, things are different, but the world of enterprise IT has not turned upside down. Although it’s trendy to think that the days of the big CRM and ERP deployment [6] are past, that’s not the case. There’s been a noticeable uptick in sales of major enterprise applications this year, fed in part by the resurgent merger and acquisition activity, says Mark White, a principal with Deloitte Consulting. Indeed, Oracle had one of its best quarters ever recently with a big boost from the sale of new licenses for business applications.

There is, however, strong demand for IT hands who have the skills to help deploy a new generation of cloud-enabled applications, virtualization, social networking, and mobile services. And predictive analytics is building on the legacy of traditional business intelligence and data mining to become an essential tool for older businesses and Web-centric companies alike that need to move faster — and at lower cost — than ever before.

Above all, the “new normal” is about accepting change. “IT is afraid that its value proposition will go away — and that’s a real fear,” says Steve Sterns, a senior manager of IT at Cisco Systems. “Internal IT needs to transform, and it’s not fightable. Either adjust and learn the new skills [7] or fail,” he says.

The moneymaking CIO
With 40 million customers using its tax, accounting, and payroll products, Intuit generates immense amounts of data. A traditional CIO would view that digital mountain as an asset to be managed and guarded. Lee says her job is to monetize it: “We’re responsible for execution, of course. But we also have to ask what is the business opportunity that we see.”

Backed by a cadre of data analysts, many of whom sport doctorate degrees, Lee looks across product groups to see what data can be mined and exploited. Here are just two of the revenue-generating projects her IT department generated:

  • Data from Intuit Online Payroll is used to produce the company’s Small Business Employment Index. What’s more, some of the same payroll data can be used yet again by employees of those firms when they file their taxes using TurboTax.
  • Data from QuickBooks online is aggregated, made anonymous, and melded into a feature that lets small businesses compare their critical metrics, such as margins and days payable, to those of competitors. Because the data is so granular, customers can drill down to compare themselves to businesses within a particular vertical and a particular geographical area.

Lee is hardly the only CIO chanting the mantra of monetization. “We’re calling this the era of the moneymaking CIO,” says Gartner analyst Ken McGee. McGee recounts a recent conversation he had with Terry Kline, the CIO of General Motors. When asked his top priority, Kline did not talk about security or network efficiency. “My top priority is helping GM sell cars,” he told the analyst.

For IT to build business, it must first build a new relationship with the business units. Tata Consultancy Service, for example, guides clients to make CIOs a part of the company’s core management group. One customer has added a business relationship manager to work in IT to bridge the gap between the techies and the business groups, says Harcharan Sing Rajpal, head of Tata’s IT application services for North America.

Within five years, that kind of cooperation won’t be optional, and McGee predicts that by 2016 compensation for IT mangers in Global 200 companies will be based, at least in part, on the amount of revenue driven by their departments.

The new IT in action: Applying analytics
It’s not coincidental that IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft have all made massive investments in BI, or business analytics [8], in the last few years, largely through a series of billion-dollar acquisitions. Oracle bought Hyperion [9] for $3.3 billion; SAP acquired Business Objects [10] for $6.8 billion; IBM bought Cognos [11] for $4.9 billion in 2007, paid $1.2 billion for SPSS [12] in 2009, and plunked down $1.7 billion for Netezza in September.

IBM, for one, is projecting is projecting $16 billion in business analytics and optimization revenue by 2015. To see why Big Blue is so bullish on the sector, consider Infinity Property and Casualty, or IPACC, a supplier of auto insurance with a network of more than 12,000 independent agents and revenue close to $1 billion. Large as it is, once IPACC weathered the worst of the recession, the company realized that it had to find significant efficiencies in the claims process, says senior vice president William Dibble.

A cornerstone of the cost-cutting effort is the use of new technologies, ranging from the simplicity of a cell phone camera to the complexity of advanced analytics software. Instead of sending an agent to take pictures of damaged autos, IPACC encourages its customers to photograph the wreck themselves, saving money and time.

Much more complex, though, is the task of quickly deciding which claims are probably not the fault of its policyholders. “We want to go after the low-hanging fruit first,” says Dibble. With the help of IBM software, IPACC developed an analytics application that sorts through incoming claims, looking for keywords and phrases like “parked” or “garage.” Claims with phrases that indicate the customer probably wasn’t at fault are fast-tracked, freeing up adjusters to deal with more complex cases.

Even more challenging is a still nascent effort to use an IBM analytics tool that prompts claims agents to ask the right question. For example, Dibble says, a client may mention that he’s miles from home after an accident. As the agent enters that fact, IBM SPSS Decision Management will prompt the logical question, “Would you like me to arrange a rental car?”

The really difficult part of the application is dealing with unstructured data, says Dibble. But the payoff could be substantial. “Unstructured data is the richest unmined vein,” says White, the Deloitte consultant. Indeed, finding ways to make use of unstructured data [13] is a key task as IT departments look for ways to leverage corporate data into cost savings or, better still, revenue-generating uses.

Better budgets will help IT transition to the “new normal”
If the recession that started some three years ago was a hurricane that blew away IT budgets, business is now living with calmer but still unsettled weather. Instead of cuts, increases of 2 or 3 percent are common now. But mundane “run the business” expenses are taking a backseat to initiatives, particularly around cloud computing [1], that will save money in the not-too-distant future, says Tata’s Sing Rajpal.

Sing Rajpal has probably never heard of Steve Davidek, but the Tata executive and the system administrator for the city of Sparks, Nev., are speaking the same language. Sparks, with a population of about 88,000, was hit hard by the recession, and when it came time to trim services, the IT department was in the cross-hairs, losing 6 of its 14 full-time employees.

During the very worst of the budget crunch, Davidek’s budget for new projects was zero, and it was all he could do to keep the city’s network up and running. Things are looking a little better now, and if the recession doesn’t go double-dip, he expects to launch projects that will modernize his infrastructure and keep costs down. “Running leaner is my new normal,” he says.

First on Davidek’s list is upgrading his 45-server data center: “We’re about half virtualized now, and it’s been a really positive experience.” He plans to virtualize more of it, and then initiate a desktop-virtualization project. One reason: His inventory of PCs is getting old, but rather than replace them, he may use them as clients. Or, if the money is there, he’ll buy thin client machines. Either way, he figures on significant savings.

Davidek knows that desktop virtualization [14] has not really taken off. But while his budgets were frozen, he made a point of being active in Connect, an independent user group for Hewlett-Packard customers, and says he’s gotten encouragement from other members to take the plunge. He even brought in a vendor to virtualize one PC as a test, and the results were excellent, he says.

Embracing the “bring your own tech” culture
Meanwhile, Davidek and other IT executives are also embroiled in a culture war over the use of personal technology (think smartphones and iPads [15]) and social networking in business, the “bring your own tech” movement [16]. “We want to hire a younger group of people used to using that kind of technology. We can’t be the roadblock,” he says.

In the old IT, where marketing would see a business opportunity and HR would see a way to hire younger, hipper employees, IT would see security threats and threats to job security. Larry Miller, who has headed IT for large retailers and legal firms, saw this conflict firsthand: “Our marketers wanted to use social networking [17] like Facebook and Twitter; IT was afraid of it.” Although Miller has been an IT hand for more than two decades, he comes down on the side of the new technology. “IT shouldn’t get in the way of business. It should build it,” he says.

Such “old IT” conservatism is being challenged from the top, says Cisco’s Sterns. “CEOs read about [new technology] in the inflight magazines. They hear that they can get results for an eighth the cost and they ask IT why they’re not doing it,” he says. Sterns was referring to cloud computing [1] (which is both a form of “bring your own tech” and a form of outsourcing), but the CEOs are of course bombarded with news about iPhones [18], Twitter, and the like and thus want to know why their companies are being left behind.

The acceptance of adopting new, consumer-oriented technologies and supporting the heterogeneity of “bring your own tech” [19] won’t happen over night, particularly at very large enterprises, but it’s a battle that “old IT” will lose in the long run.

The value of soft skills
Not everyone who succeeds in IT leadership will have a résumé like Intuit’s Lee — and hard-core technical skills remain critical in many positions. For example, “everyone wants to use virtualization [20],” says Sean Dowling, manger of recruiting for Winter Wyman, a technology contracting firm “Also at a premium are UI skills [21] and the ability to take mobile apps across hardware platforms,” he says.

But senior executives like Adam Rice, vice president of Managed Security Services for Tata Communications, says when he hires for high-level jobs he’s looking for the “soft skills” as well, such as risk management, compliance, and the intangible “business acumen.”

Intangible? Maybe, but Intuit CEO Smith explains how he wants his IT mangers to think: “When something goes wrong, the purely technical person tells management that the network was down for four minutes. But the business-oriented person says the network was down and 55,000 customers couldn’t reach us, and our call center was backed up for hours.” That’s the “new normal.”

This article, “The new IT survival guide: How to thrive after the recession [22]” was originally published by


How Job Seekers May Use Social Media in the Future

Back in the day, companies posted jobs in the newspaper, on job boards and spread them by word of mouth. All of those methods still exist today and continue to have a certain level of success.

But in today’s fast paced and competitive business market, companies are learning that using social media allows them to cast a wide net. And recruiting is no exception. So, if job seekers want new opportunities, they will eventually have to learn where companies are posting positions. Then follow.

If the future of recruiting is social, then job seekers need to get social. Read below for a look at some social media success strategies for conquering your next job search.

Add your own thoughts on how job seekers will use social media in the future in the comments below.

Going Where the Recruiters Are





To stay in the job search game, job seekers should make an effort to learn how companies in their desired industries are posting job openings, and then peruse those areas often. Ever more often, social media is playing a part in the recruiting process. So, job seekers, keep your eyes on your dream employer’s tweets, posts and updates.

Jason Mitchell, owner of Movement Strategy, a digital marketing agency that helps brands such as the New York Knicks and Whole Foods with their social media strategies, explains how social media is his first stop when trying to recruit:

“We have everyone in the company post on their FacebookFacebook and TwitterTwitter accounts that we are hiring. Pretty much every time we do this there are multiple friends or a friend of a friend who sees the post and is very interested in the position, or who knows someone that would be a great fit.

“We always prefer to hire people that are somehow connected to our personal networks, because they tend to be more reliably good employees than people who we find on job posting websites. Often this is because they had one of our friends vouch for them or they are one of their friends and so they want to prove themselves or not make their friend look bad.”

Another company that agrees with getting out on social media is the accounting firm, Grant ThorntonPaul Peterson, national talent resource manager, shares the company’s tactic. “One of our key strategies is simply to engage more. Our people are playing an active role in using social media for recruiting, which I think is fantastic. When everyone gets involved, it seems like we have hundreds of part-time recruiters working across the country,” he says.

Getting Better at Search

There are more than 200 active social networking sites, according to WikipediaWikipedia. That number might not seem very high, but from a job search perspective, that’s 200 places a company could share a job opening.Gina Kleinworth, social media coordinator at HireBetter, a talent assessment solutions company, says her firm “currently utilizes LinkedInLinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and SkypeSkype along with the usual job boards and groups, like Yahoo Groups, to post jobs and network with potential candidates. Since we work with clients in a variety of areas, it is incredibly beneficial to have a network that reaches well beyond our immediate circle.” She adds that as the firm grows, it might begin to leverage FoursquareFoursquareHabboHabboBeboBebo and Ning.

This means there’s a vast amount of information available. Job seekers will have to learn how to find the data they are looking for… and fast. While Boolean search (using phrases that limit search results, such as AND, OR, NOW and NEAR) is a very good technique to know, it might not be practical for everyone. If you need some help refining searches, check out the Search on the Go iPhone app and’s series of articles on web search, which can be of assistance. While the Search on the Go app is marketed to recruiters, anyone needing help with search can benefit from using it.

Use of Non-Traditional Resumes





Once a job opening is identified, having a ready-to-go resume will be key. It only seems logical, if more and more organizations are going online with their job openings, that having a digital resume will be equally important for job seekers. Not only does it make sending an online resume easier, a digital profile allows companies to find job seekers. So, optimizing online profiles for search will need to be part of the development.

Cathy Nemser, a recruiter with Blue Fountain Media, a website design and online marketing company, shares how recruiters are taking advantage of the various ways candidates can present themselves to employers. “We are able to get fuller pictures of candidates by searching not only for a candidate’s LinkedIn profile and online portfolios to learn about work history and accomplishments, but also by viewing Facebook accounts, personal blogs, and — if they even have them — YouTubeYouTube accounts, to get a feel for a candidate’s personality. It has become much easier to get a broader sense of an applicant and cross reference any information that they highlight on their resume.”

Enhancing a job seeker’s online presence with a VisualCV or social resume has its advantages but can also be a double-edged sword. Nemser cautions, “While you can create an in-depth portrait of yourself, you have to be very careful about the type of information you are sharing. Off-color comments and drunken party pictures of yourself may just be raising eyes out there instead of thumbs ups.”

Constant Engagement

Pamela Slim, author of the blog Escape from Cubicle Nation, talks about the concept of the side hustle. These are secondary jobs used to try new business ideas, or they’re the backup plan if a person loses their job. If the world becomes a place where everyone will be looking for multiple opportunities (a.k.a. their side hustle), this changes how individuals approach the job search. Traditionally, there used to be two kinds of job seekers: active (“I’m looking for a job.”) and passive (“If someone calls me, I’ll listen.”). In this opportunity economy, we all become active job seekers.

Mitchell’s company is focusing more on interacting with potential hires even before it’s actively hiring. “That way we can get a great sense of a person and build a relationship with them and then when we want to hire we will know exactly who to go after,” he says.

Carolyn Goodwin, president of Cake Communications, an online branding and communications agency, offers advice on how any of us can start building those relationships:

“Position yourself as an expert. Be really proactive about what you want and reach out to the decision makers at those companies with helpful suggestions and constructive information. Support their work, and if you impress them, they’ll find a spot for you. Use things like blogs, websites, and social media campaigns to show that you are someone who believes in a cause, and utilize the skills and traits that make you an attractive candidate. Don’t be afraid to send results and proof of your accomplishments to top executives, and work to develop a relationship with them, both online and offline.”

Going Mobile





We all know that we can use our phones to connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Kleinworth mentioned that some of HireBetter’s clients are creating YouTube videos for their job descriptions. “I love this idea because it gives a good sense of the culture of the company before you even get your foot in the door for the face-to-face interview,” she says.

There’s a variety of job board apps available including Monster, CareerBuilder and Adecco Jobs. Companies like AT&T are developing their own mobile careers apps, as well. Organizations are using Skype to conduct interviews. And this week, Starbucks made its first hire via its iPhone app.

When the statistics show mobile use is on the rise and smartphone use is increasing, it’s only a matter of time before apps will allow us to take more of the hiring process online. Kleinworth points out, “It allows for real-time updates on positions and increased capabilities like scheduling interviews. As more people turn to social sites for the latest job postings, I expect to see an increase in referral candidates. The likelihood of someone seeing a posting that fits with a connection they already have is high. Already I see the decrease in the length of time it takes from the time we post jobs to the time we are scheduling interviews with candidates. Social media is certainly streamlining the processes and cutting lag time out.”

The future of work is very fluid. As such, companies and job seekers alike need to rise to the changes in recruiting, or they’ll drown in the sea of competition. New tools and updated strategies will help organizations fill positions quickly and with new employees who are a good fit for their corporate culture. Job seekers need to identify these new strategies and adapt their approach to take advantage of good opportunities.

Series supported by Gist





The Future of Social Media Series is supported by Gist. Gist keeps you better informed with less effort by giving you a full view of your professional network in one place bringing together information from across the web for all your contacts giving you the right information at the right moment to get a meeting, deliver an amazing pitch, or just find a better way to make a connection.