Archive for December, 2008
This year, Optiem worked on dozen of website and e-marketing projects. No two projects are the same, because no two companies are the same or have the same needs.
However, a common theme did emerge throughout all of these projects. Most online marketing initiatives are doomed when there is not a strong sense of team building or a web savvy team leader in an organization.
Companies of any size struggle with the question – who should own the website? Is it something the communications team should manage, or does the technical nature of the website mean the IT staff should be the ultimate owner.
For every organization, it is going to be a different answer. There are two major things that make websites successful in an organization:
- The senior management team understands that a website is an incredibly powerful marketing tool. It is a tool that should be central and forward to strategic marketing plans.
- There is not one group who can run a website without the teamwork of the knowledge owners. If you want to market a product or service, you need the help of the person who owns that product or service. That intimate knowledge is what you need to move to the website.
Of course, you can’t have #2, without #1. When I started looking for some research to back up this post, there was a massive void of information. The only decent article I found was from 2004 and stated The days of a Web site as an afterthought are coming to a close. Maybe in the agency world and few agile companies, but most larger corporations struggle to make the web work.
It is a law of diminishing returns. You would think that by throwing more money and more people at the website, that it would get better. Often, it doesn’t.
Big website projects are great for showing the cracks in a business and the back end systems that run that business. You might luck out and have a good agency to walk you through the horrors of web unification. Most often, companies are left with pretty pictures and very little thinking about the purpose of a website and how to architect a website to support a companies goals over the long term.
How do you start? Work to have the senior management understand how your company would function without a website to see its importance. Then, As Jim Collins said, First Who – find the right person for the job. Don’t promote someone to run the website – find a person who is a great fit and recruit them. It needs to be a person who understands both side of the fence – communications and IT. Maybe you can’t hire someone – then take the time to find a consultant or agency that demonstrates that they get it.
Until that part is fixed, the website will be riding around on a broken wheel. It might get you to where you are going, but it is going to be a bumpy ride.
Just a few items from around the internet that you might find useful.
- IamSaintNick.com – an online service that will call you friends and get their Christmas list
- The Cloud Player – create and share play lists and use your Google account. You can even create smart play lists based on genre.
- Spot.us – a website that publically funds reporters to investigate issues
- Hertz Global Car Sharing – the car rental company launches a short-term renting scheme
In mid-November, Major League Baseball (MLB> announced it was going to use Adobe Flash on its websites to deliver on demand video. It wouldn’t have been that big an announcement if MLB hadn’t previously been using MSN’s Silverlight.
Considering the scale of the MLB.com properties – 30 major league teams and other minor league baseball clubs are on the platform owned by BAM. I had made a previous post about open social and baseball that talked about BAM.
Along with the group of websites, there is an incredible subscription following. According to the MLB.com website: they stream more than 2,500 games annually . . . fans have accessed more than 1.8 billion streams of live and on-demand multimedia offerings on MLB.com, representing nearly 200 million hours of participation
With a 98.1% penetration for Flash version 9.0 in the United States, audiences will most likely not need to download anything to make it function properly.
I have to admit, I used Silverlight during the Olympics to watch coverage online. The initial setup was a bit painful and I think it never really worked in anything but Internet Explorer.
Google has done a great job opening up their maps application. It allows you to seriously personalize content by using annotation and associating interactive content.
If you have a couple dozen or maybe a hundred locations, it might be OK, but what happens when you get to a large volume of data points that is in the thousands? Google maps starts to get a little unmanageable.
There are some new applications out there that help to make sense out of all these data points.
Although I found a fair amount of plugins that extend Google maps to another application, I haven’t seen anything that reforms the data like Marker’s Fusion from Mapeed.com.
Marker Fusion take data from aggregated areas and bundles it as a summarized. I have done a screen cast that uses the demonstration part of the Mapeed site to show these functionalities.
For companies with thousands of locations like retail stores, starbuck or fast food restaurants, it is a great way to update mapping and make it more user friendly.
I was poking around the internet this morning looking for innovative ideas. I was trying to understand where these ideas come from and how people share them online. During this search, I discovered violet. – a company that makes products that try to span the real and virtual world.
I have to be honest, the website didn’t do a very good job of explaining how these products worked. It would be a great place to have video or why engineers do need to take speech communications courses.
The thing I found the most interesting was Ztamp. A user can attach it like a stamp to an everyday object, and assign applications, services, content to it.
When a user puts a Ztamp in front of a reader device (a Nabaztag:tag or Mir:ror by Violet), the assigned applications will automatically launch.
On the surface, I was thinking the idea was interesting, but how could you use it. Well, violet. recommended a few ways including:
- Paper files automatically open the corresponding files on your computer
- A books contain links to websites or videos that give additional info about their subject
- Your umbrella reads out the weather forecast and traffic information before you leave the house
- A souvenir trinket from Marrakech displays a holiday snapshot album
- A cigarette pack counts the number you’ve smoked today
- Car keys welcome you home and send whoever you like an email or twitter to let them know you’re back – great for kids
- Keep track of every time you take medication
It seems like it can be the virtual personal assistant everyone has been trying to create without the hassle of carrying a bulky piece of equipment around. By attaching it to common objects, users don’t have to change their habits, but program the ztamps to conform to their daily lives.
I am sure WalMart is trying to figure out a way to attach these to customers so they can track when they stopped in front of the Flat Screen TVs and email them with a discount coupon. Maybe they will start offering a ‘preferred customer’ card with the ztamp embedded in it.