Tag Archives: Microsoft

Playing Dungeons & Dragons on Microsoft Surface? Geektastic.

I played Chess, browsed news and otherwise enjoyed using Microsoft’s table-sized touchscreen computer at the “NERD” offices in Cambridge last year. Fun, but not quite mind-blowing. Interactive Dungeons and Dragons? THAT I could get into:

You can watch another demonstration by the team from Carnegie Mellon University working on the Surfacescapes project, courtesy of CrunchGear’s hands-on review.

Pretty cool. Geektastic, in fact. Now if Microsoft could just do something about that $21,000 price tag for the hardware.

Hat Tip to @StevenWalling: “I’m trying to Force Orb a Dragon over here.”

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Video: A vision of the future from Microsoft Labs

Video: Future Vision Montage

The president of Microsoft‘s business division, Stephen Elop, showcased a video from Microsoft Office Labs at the recent Wharton Business Technology Conference. The five-minute long video more than hints at what Microsoft imagines mainstream information technology will look like in 2019. Pure awesomeness. Saw it in March and publishing it now ’cause it’s still worth viewing if someone happened to miss it.

[via TechTree.com]

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What is the ROI in Social Media? Humana, EMC, MarketSpace, Communispace at MassTLC

Partial map of the Internet based on the Janua...
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A forum organized by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council addresses one of the hottest questions in social media: how do you measure the return on investment (ROI) for these platform? The panel, part of a “Social Media Summit” hosted in Microsoft’s Cambridge offices, was moderated by Dave Vellante, co-founder of the Wikibon Project and featured Fred Cremo of Humana, Leslie Forde of Communispace, Chuck Hollis of EMC and Katrina Lowes of Market Bridge. The panel followed danah boyd’s keynote on “social media evolution and digital ethnography.”

Chuck Hollis kicked off the panel by defining the challenge of measuring this kind of interaction and usage. “How do you measure a good conversation? A good idea? You guys are measuring the wrong thing.”

Lowes, whose focus on results and specific case studies throughout, put ROI in the context of creating relationships with Medicare recipients. The campaigns she has been involved with have been razor-focused on measuring all of the interactions, including what people are interested in. She described a partnership with Eons to host and provide discussion groups. Using them, they watch what people are talking about. As people move towards trigger point for Medicare, they watch more closely. As Lowes noted, “you get one chance to get a 65 year old into Medicare. If you can get people interacting with you three times before 64, you become relevant. That will have an impact on conversion rates.” At present, they’re taking a research-based approach to measuring impact utilizing a control group for direct mail and comparing it to the conversion rates of different groups based on a mix of social media presentations.

After a while, the audience grew restive, looking for a measure of hard ROI that could be used to justify social media use. The panelists understand the issues, especially at a large enterprise:

“When executives ask about social media ROI, they’re asking about risk. Why should I change decades of experience?”-@ChuckHollis

Hollis noted, in following, that managing risk in social media is challenging but possible: “negativity is passion that needs to be channeled to constructive conversations,”

Forde also sees the challenges for engagement marketing. With consumers (and users in general on the public Internet, you simply don’t know what you’re going to hear. (Note the Skittles experience). As she noted “in opening dialogue, you get serendipity & surprises.” For instance, Forde cited a case study provided by Kraft. People on their discussion boards were talking about weight loss through portion control. “Why can’t you make a tiny bag?” Kraft listened — and in the first six month, Kraft’s “Calorie Pack” earned more than $100 million dollars of revenue. Forde noted that the marketing campaign and manufacturing cycle in a one third of the time.

Forde noted as well that “It’s amazing how self-policing communities can be.” In her experience, community managers rarely have to step in and intervene. It is necessary, on occasion, to send private emails or direct messages and pull aside members to assert norms. How do you manage risk? Hollis noted that “EMC had a governance board for each project. They met once — and never met again. We never had a problem – but the structure was there to address it if necessary.”

When queried about adoption of social media by enterprises, Lowes voiced a key concern: “Everyone is in love with the technology. They haven’t thought about maintaining the conversations.” In her view, a company needs to have someone passionate to engage people and answer questions. The issue that many organizations are having with community management and conversation curation lies in a widespread tendency to put lower-paid people customer service reps. It’s not about technology or governance. It’s about skills, behaviors and attitudes. In Forde’s view, it’s about “trust, transparency and demonstration of listening.” That means that organization need to allow customers to be heard, with the understanding that it’s crucial to nurturing a long term relationship. That means “building websites around their interests and preferences, raising awareness of a company as a trusted partner,” according to Cremo — not through pushing sales directly.

When I stepped out, however, I returned to a groundswell of pushback for the panel. Where are quantitative social media metrics? Hard ROI? “The problem with social media is that we’re all talking to each other,” as one audience member put it. He stated that the total social media spend is “0.4% of the total annnual advertising budget in Fortune 500.” (That number was cited as $250B). Where’s the real return?

In response, Katrina Lowes offered the most substantive response of the day. “Consider: I’ve got a video to put online or on broadcast. You need to calculate the advertising comparison impact between the two mediums… How much would I have had to pay to get this exposure in traditional media?” She suggest looking at click through rates (CTR) of a cluster demographic from a social media platform or campaign back to the launch page of your website. Measure “Media equivalent purchase value” and conversion traffic, in other words, when it comes to ROI.

Forde noted that it’s also key to consider cultural differences, especially overseas, particularly with respect to hierarchical processes. If decisions are made once a month by a small group, observe how that can be improved. For instance, asynchronous tools can help – a lot – with time to market for products or campaigns. She cited one client where a 52-week time to market was cut to 14 weeks.

Considerable concern still remained in the audience with regard to unleashing social media internally. “What about the sexting that’s going to happen in my company.” Executives are worried about risk.

They should be, as Lowes noted. By tracking & gathering people’s personally identifiable information (PII) at Humana, they’re liable under HIPAA. That’s a major responsibility. Given the longevity & permanency of data on these platforms, organizations must be mindful of measuring ROI in more than conversion; they need to consider the risks of the overall project.

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@Google visits Boston at Cambridge Meetup

Google Mug | Chrome color?

Google Mug | Chrome color?

I stumbled into Adam Lasnik in Harvest Coop in Central Square in Cambridge, Mass. last night on my way to Google’s first official Boston Meetup and asked him if he knew where Enormous Room might. I knew I was in the right general spot but hadn’t been there in a while. Plus, his fleece read “Google” on it.

I think asking Adam where something was may actually count as “googling” something in person.

And, true to his role as Google’s Search Evangelist, Adam was quite helpful.

I walked over and up to Enormous Room with him as his two other Google compatriots finished a snack.

Since I followed him, that may count as using a human version of Google Maps.

After a snagged a tasty “Blue Bear” at the bar, I started circulating and meeting the crowd of local entrepreneurs, webmasters, analysts, marketers, writers, IT pros and other Cambridge tech mavens. Good times.

Eventually, the Google organizer for the event, Nate Tyler, welcomed the packed room to the evening and then turned it over to Adam. He took questions submitted online using Google’s own moderator tool. (See all the archived questions here). Adam mentioned that Google itself uses the tool every Friday to collect questions internally. Great insight into corporate culture.

I tweeted the following posts during the presentation:

When the Q&A ended, the Google guys unexpected asked “Who is digiphile?” and noted I’d been busy on Twitter. They offered me a t-shirt or a mug. I went with the latter (above.

I met many new people, caught up with the local social media crowd that had traveled out west at SXSW in Austin and generally enjoyed the turnout.

Tom Lewis (@tomdog) was on-hand recording videos. He and I have been following one another on Twitter for many months but this was our first meetup “IRL” (in real life) — always satisfying to put a face to a name.

Tom recorded the following video from the event:
Bostonist @ Boston's First Official Google Meetup from Tom Lewis on Vimeo.

Note to self: As I mentioned to him earlier today, I need to remove the word “value” from my personal spoken lexicon and look into the lens more. The light on the HD video camera he brought was, unfortunately, bright enough to make that uncomfortable.

Tom blogged about the Google Meetup much more extensively at Bostonist:
Bostonist @ Google’s Boston Meetup

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