Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Google Gears - any guessing who will come next?

Google have announced a platform for building offline capable web applications (Scoble covers the details well). I think everyone has noticed the inherant problem that SaaS desktop applications only work online (in fact, even I posted about offline problems with SaaS a couple of months ago), but this now removes that barrier.

This is a huge deal - it really challenges he traditional software model - and Microsoft must be a little concerned about how this impacts MS Office!

Scoble, also just posted an update that someone else is "going offline" tomorrow. With all the talks of acquisitions lately I'm hoping that it's Now that would be something!

<update> So I guess I got that one wrong - looks like Real Networks have taken video content offline. I'd still love to see SFC do the same.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Google, Ireland and Yoshi

Seattle is a wonderful place. It's been my home for the last four years, and what a four years! I've got married, had a son and made many great friends. But with the implending arrival of Yoshi in November (we've nick-named him/her Yoshi in honour of the Flaming Lips song, not the Nintendo character of Super Mario fame) we've made the decision to return to Europe to be closer to our family.

Never one to make things easy on myself, rather than move back to our home-land (UK) we're actually going to start afresh in a new country - Ireland. I've been offered a job with Google in Dublin, and we're all very excited to be moving to such a vibrant, friendly and, let's face it, funky place (Dublin and Google).

We'll be arriving in Dublin on the 4 July, and I'm sure that I'll make a post or two on the move.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What do Star Wars and a famous river in Korea have in common?

I have a lot of respect for sub-editors.  Writing catchy headlines is a skill that amazes and eludes me (as evidenced above). With that in mind I have to take off my hat to the sub for the Benton Crier who came up with a wonderful headline to describe a high-wire act performing over a famous Korean river. The title? 

"Skywalkers in Korea cross Han solo"

What else :-)

How would Google build a customer reference program?

In a recent post Tim O'Reilly asked what would Google do if they were your bank or credit card? It got me thinking about Customer Reference programs, and how they would change if Google (or Amazon or any Web 2.0 company) built them. Most of the reference programs that I've been involved in have been run by the marketing department, and they gather the positive feedback of top customers and turn it into reusable material (like case studies, videos, podcasts or a customer-to-customer phone call). They essentially consists of a one way publishing process where the company controls the information and pushes it to potential customers (phone calls are a bit different, but the company still controls who's involved in the conversation).

In a web 2.0 world all of this changes. Jeremiah's written a lot on the subject of social media and reference programs, and I think that it all boils down to the fact that reference programs should be conversations with your customer, and they should be embedded deeply into your organization. Sure, if a customer says something great about you then it should be fed out to PR, advertising and sales. But equally if your customers have a problem with your product then the product team should know about it, and you need to be able to respond in a sensible way. In other words, you need to listen, as well as talk.

The LSE published an interesting study in 2005 showing the importance of dealing with negative as well as positive word-of-mouth. A 2% reduction in negative word-of-mouth has the same effect as a 7% increase in positive word-of-mouth. Those are pretty compelling numbers to encourage you to expand your reference program to deal with negative comments as well.

So what would such a program look like? It would impact the scorecard of every department in the company, it would provide instantaneous monitoring and response, and it would open up the company so that everyone knew the customer. Let's face it, it wouldn't be a customer reference program at all, it would simply be the way that we do business.

 There's one company that I've found that already implement programs like this - Satmetrix (in the interest of full diclosure, Satmetrix have been a client of ours in the past). They talk about the netpromoter number a lot, which is great, but I'm not sure how involved they are in the instantaneous monitoring/response side of things (I'm sure they can answer that).  Anyway, I'd be interested to hear what's really happening from all the reference professionals out there, and if there are any other companies who are doing a good job implementing their own (or other peoples) Reference Program 2.0.