Friday, August 31, 2001
Business 2.0: Falling Idol - The story of Jake Winebaum and the slew of failed dot-coms he's managed underneath the umbrella of eCompanies, LLC. And I won't be suprised if Business.com, his flagship company, bites the dust in the next year or two. At initial glance it just doesn't have enough to offer to take me away from the combination of MyYahoo!, Google and the Moreover News Portal.
Fortune.com: Inside the Revolution: Smart Mover, Dumb Mover - Think the first-mover advantage is a myth? You're wrong: Most pioneering dot-coms failed not because they were first but because they were dumb. (via bBlog).
Thursday, August 30, 2001
A blog with a purpose: OPENSEWER.COM - The Enema of The Information Age. Although this probably isn't a blog I'll visit on a regular basis, I'm linking to it because I'm very impressed with how they've used a blog as a tool to organize a cause. The blog is their open forum to voice opinions about how one lives within this world. The blog also serves as a way to organize face-to-face meetings, or gatherings, in which people from half-a-dozen cities get together to discuss issues. Previous gathering subjects included: Opensewer 9: The American Dream and Opensewer 3: The Media. Once the gatherings are finished, an archive of the discussion points is posted. Anyway, I just thought I'd point this out because I continue to try and find ways in which blogs are utilized for more than just personal commentary or online diaries. In this case, the blog has a distinct purpose and it seems to be very effective in achieving its goals.
USA Today: Online journals popular with the opinionated - Through articles like this, blogging continues to get more public exposure. In the article, Evan Williams is quoted as saying "blogging is one of the few things on the Web that hasn't been taken over by commercial interests — it's still a grassroots movement." I wonder win this will change. Can it continue as a grassroots movement? (via Blogger).
WSJ.com: Fed-Up Workers Try to Muffle The Din of Open-Office Plans - Sounds like Dilbert cubicle-ville is on the way back! Well, not quite, but workers are looking for ways to muffle the noise that results from the open office architecture.
Line56.com | The Business of e-Business - Great resource for B2B articles and reports.
Wednesday, August 29, 2001
strategy+business: Why Cisco Fell: Outsourcing and Its Perils - A caution to those that think outsourcing is king and vertical integration is bad. Actually, it doesn't fault "outsourcing" for Cisco's problems, but rather points out the risks that can come from heavy reliance on contract manufacturing. As we (Steelcase) look more and more at becoming less vertically integrated, these are risks we need to be aware of.
Spent a couple hours reading magazines at the local Barnes & Noble last night. Found one publication that I think is worthy to add to my list of "Sites I Frequent." It's called strategy+business. The publication is put together by the folks at Booz - Allen & Hamilton, Inc. According to its about page, strategy+business is a thought leadership publication for the Chief Executive Officers of Fortune 1000 companies — and the people who influence them. These are men and women who understand that in a world transformed by new, globalizing technologies, ideas are their most significant competitive weapon.
I'm ready for the critics to start slamming them again, but now matter how you look at it, the launch of Amazon's computer store makes a ton of sense. The big reason? No inventory.Amazon will be the merchant of record but will not manage its own inventory. After logging a sale it will buy the machine at a wholesale price from Ingram, which will also ship the product direct to consumers. I did a quick price comparison and Amazon sells the new 500 MHz iBook DVD for $1499, just like Apple. Granted, you'll be able to find it cheaper at a discount outlet or catalog retailer but that has been the case for everyone of Amazon's products. People, however, are willing to a pay a bit more for the customer service that Amazon delivers.
Tuesday, August 28, 2001
ZDNet: Google clones: Search with a twist - Just had a long post about this article vanish into never-never-land. The long and short of it - Google has competition: Teoma and Wisenut. It doesn't appear that either have significant differentiators when compared to Google. If not - they face an uphill battle against an intensely loyal user base.
Design Interact's latest site-of-the-week is 10socks.com. I love its simplicity - from the design, to the URL, to the limited ordering options ... and to top it off, shipping is free to anywhere in the world. Granted, I could spend much less than $55 for 10 pair of socks at the local mall ... but hey, they wouldn't have the numbers on them that help keep each pair matched.
E-Commerce News: For Dot-Com Workers, Double Trouble Post-Bubble - This rings true. I have friends, family and former collegues that are having a difficult time finding jobs since their dot-com crashed. And those that have found jobs aren't finding them quite as fulfilling as the "dream jobs" they held before. In addition, many are finding that the salaries they commanded from vc-backed net companies are no longer in alignment with the pay structure at established companies that pay the "market average."
Monday, August 27, 2001
Business Week Online: A Tale of Two Entrepreneurs - One company is succeeding - the other failed. Both, however, now understand ...what it takes to have a successful startup. The fact that one learned it by way of his company's success and the other learned it by watching his company fail might, in the long run, be less important than the lesson itself.
Wednesday, August 22, 2001
Won't have time (or access) to blog over the next few days. Taking a few days off with my family for a much needed break at the Sunset Bluff Resort in Luddington, MI.
Norlin's last few pieces in ClickZ have been pretty good. His latest:The Advent of the Amateur, argues that ... The Internet as marketing vehicle, selling machine, instrument of our great branding -- it's a farce. The Internet is the great canvas of the amateur ... marketing, as I see it, is blind to the movement of the amateur. Marketing will have to change course. Not sure if I agree 100% but it is at least thought provoking.
ClickZ: To Blog or Not to Blog... That's a Good Question - Finally ... an article advocating blogging as a corporate marketing vehicle. It'll be interesting to start seeing these pop up now. For many companies, however, the urge to control and influence a blog's contents will spell it's death. As conveyed in the article, a corporate blogger needs a clearly defined audience and clearly defined goals, but, most importantly the blogger needs to be let loose. Monitoring is ok - micromanaging is not.
New blog on the scene: SherpaBlog - Emarketing industry notes from Anne Holland, Publisher & Managing Editor of MarketingSherpa.com. I've been enjoying Marketing Sherpa lately so I'll start following Anne's blog as well.
ZDNet: 50 smart--and profitable--Internet companies - You'd think I'd get sick of these lists ... it seems like they're all the same now, whether it's from Upside.com, Business 2.0, Business Week or Red Herring, all these lists have the same take - namely - highlighting web savvy NON pure-play Internet companies. As it has on many lists, Enron is #1. Our pr-savvy competitor, Herman Miller came in at #10 thanks to their streamlined supply chain that supports the build-to-order office furniture model.
I remember when Buy.com came onto the scene a couple years ago and almost every media pundit declared the death of Amazon.com. Buy.com's model was to sell products at break-even and in many occasions, at a loss, with plans of making it's money off advertising to the countless eyeballs it would attract. Well, we all know how that business model has fared as of late. It now appears that Buy.com may be on its final leg as its relationship with its credit cart transaction handling partner is set to end. One less competitor for Amazon to worry about.
Marketingprofs.com: Dont Be Fooled, You Do Need Marketing Theory - Think you can just run your marketing plan by the seat of your pants ... relying on practice rather than theory? Think again. It's good to know that the classes I took in college and the books and articles I read about marketing theory were worth it.
Tuesday, August 21, 2001
ClickZ: Defining Differences: Marketing, Advertising, Branding (Part 2) - Two weeks ago I posted comments about Part 1. Not sure what my final thoughts are on both pieces. I think it can be summed up as: I agree that a brand is extremely important but I shun at "branding" for the sake of branding. I'm even shy about advertising if it's not done in a targeted, focused manner. Perhaps I'm too focused on results ... which means the marketing vehicle better be something that can be measured. I'll tell you this -- as the economy comes grinding to a halt and companies are tightening their purse strings, branding initiatives are some of the first budget line items to get cut.
DaveNet: Google upgrades the Web - As Dave points out, Google is becoming a JIT-SE, or a just-in-time search engine. This is a big leap from the past in which I would never use a search engine to search for information on current news. Google is changing that by indexing sites daily that change on a daily basis. I'm even seeing it in the traffic patterns to this site. 11 days ago I posted a comment about the recent Scient / IXl merger. Just today I received a visitor from Google because POELog was the #1 result in a Google search for "scient ixl merger" (seems a bit odd but I'm not complaining). One problem this leads to, however, is that as I continue to add content to my blog, the post relevant in the search gets pushed farther and farther down the page. In fact, I'd guess that the person that performed this search quickly hit the back key because they couldn't find any reference to the Scient / IXL merger within the first two page scrolls on my blog. If Google could link directly to the post in question by using the anchor tag link assigned to the post, then we'd have something.
Monday, August 20, 2001
Jakob: Did Poor Usability Kill E-Commerce? Thank goodness Nielsen quickly answers this question the way he should, with an emphatic, NO. As he points out, ecommerce isn't dead and those that have folded have done so because of awful business models in which expenses were greater than revenue. According to a Nielsen study, however, with better usability, the average site could increase its current sales by 79%. Would this have saved a site like boo.com? Probably not (and from the looks of it the new developers of boo.com should buy Nielsen's report quickly before they fold again). But I agree, an additional 79% revenue would have definitely helped at least prolong the life of some other sites.
Saturday, August 18, 2001
And then there were #? Another net content symbol is on its deathbed - The Industry StandardSuspends Publication. For a good number of months this publication was THE source for information about the Net economy. As the net market crashed, however, so did its readership and advertisers. I was an avid reader during 1999 and most of 2000. Since then ... my interest has waned along with my portfolio of net stocks.
Well ... I survived. And actually, the last day and a half have been much better than I anticipated. In part, I have Vicodin to thank for that. But then again ... everyone that has a hernia surgery gets put on some pretty major drugs for the first 24 hours. For whatever reason, my recovery hasn't been very painful. In fact, I thought there would be no way on earth I'd be ready to sit upright in a chair by now. Well ... back to the couch ... I'm kinda enjoying my doctor's orders to rest and relax the rest of the weekend.
Friday, August 17, 2001
Monumental decision at the Poel household - we've decided to start toilet training our 2 year old son, Tyler. This should be interesting to say the least.
Ugh! T minus 3 hours and counting before surgery. I thought it was going to be first thing in the morning today but it's been moved to noon so I have time to catch up on some browsing.
As long as I'm a relative unknown in the world of bloging I like to plug any site that is kind enough to send traffic my way on a regular basis. The latest thanks go to Matt Rea for the link from his well-designed design flea site.
Wednesday, August 15, 2001
LONG day today. Drove to Chicago at 6am. Met with consultants till 7pm. Ate a good italian dinner and now I'm catching up on email at my hotel. More of the same scheduled for tomorrow (including the 3 1/2 hour trip back to Grand Rapids). And then ... on Friday ... I get to look forward to hernia surgery. Don't ask me how I got a hernia. My only thought is that my 2 year old son likes it when I toss him up in the air and catch him and perhaps that 32 lbs caused the tear. I decided to do a google search on "hearnia surgery" to see if I could find any stories about others' experiences with the surgery. Low and behold, the first site on the list is devoted to Hernia Surgery Experiences. And I was extremely comforted by the 4th post on the message board which started My father, Gordon B., died in March 2001 from an outpatient hernia repair . So ... if this happens to be my last post ... EVER ... at least now you'll know why. And now that I'm left with a feeling of relative comfort over this relatively basic procedure ... I think I'm heading to bed.
Technology Review: Collaboration Central - Will your future online work be driven by your company's Zaplet server or your own Groove-based PC? I'm really interested in seeing what happens in this collaboration space over the coming months/years ... and ... as Simon Hayward, industry analyst at Gartner Group, communicates in the article ... I don't think it's a matter of either peer-to-peer OR server-based - both will play a role. (via WebVoice)
Tuesday, August 14, 2001
Business Week Online: Embracing the Brick-by-Brick Business Plan - Entrepreneurs who dodged the dot-com disaster kept their focus on old-fashioned business milestones. Kinda reminds me of the old Smith Barney ads ... "We make money the old fashioned way ... We earn it." It is good to see the vc arena return to its roots, funding companies with solid business plans, or, heaven forbid, real customors rather than eyeballs to be monetized later. That being said ... I have to admit to having a twinge of jealeousness over those that seized the moment and received venture funding during the funding hey-days of '98, '99.
Olivier, thanks for the choice voice link!
Monday, August 13, 2001
Fool.com - Why "Buy-and-Hold" Must Go - The Fool clarifies their investing approach by saying: We promote "business-focused" approaches. De-emphasis of market speculation is THE distinguishing characteristic behind all of our portfolios, NOT extended holding times or blind faith in our favorite tech-sector companies. Good article. I have to admit ... a "buy-and-hold" mentality has led me to occasionally be lazy in my investing. If I had been more "business-focused" on my portfolio there are many stocks I would have sold a long time ago.
Most people either love her or hate her but say what you may about her character, she knows how to build a business empire. The latest ConsumerMarketingBiz case study at MarketingSherpa.com is on How MarthaStewart.com Grows Product Sales with Online Community. My wife is a big fan of this site so I can attest that they've done a great job of attracting and retaining customers through their community section. And as addressed in the case study, they do a good job of addressing the always difficult issue of cross-selling / merchandising *within* the community. Users can be very touchy to this so it's crucial that the cross-selling be subtle and very relevant.
Saturday, August 11, 2001
Investor's Business Daily: Methods For Valuing Tech Stocks Fast Changing - The overall state of the economy as well as psychology play a HUGE role in valuation methods. Boy that's been a hard lesson to learn over the past 18 months. I learned my lesson the hard way. For example, I've owned Yahoo in my Roth IRA since July of 1998. In that 3 years I was up 700% at one point ... now I'm down 30%. Talk about a change in valuation methods. And to think that during that decent in stock price, Yahoo went from delivering 115 million page views per day to 1.2 billion page view per day - a 1000% increase in traffic and a 90% decrease in stock price (from its peak to its current price).
Friday, August 10, 2001
Interesting Talking Moose post about CMS and the implications for HTMLers / Designers. Also includes a few good email / blog exchanges in response to his message. My viewpoint on this issue is that no one solution will be the magic bullet for publishing on the internet. It all depends on the situation. There are occasions where utilizing someone that is proficient in GoLive or FrontPage is all that is necessary. At other times, a custom CMS written in ColdFusion or ASP is the best solution. Occasionally a multi-gazillion dollar CMS from Vignette or BroadVision can provide the best ROI. And if you're publishing a blog like this one, a solution like Blogger more than meets my needs. Does CMS software like Blogger change the landscape for programmers, developers and designers? You betcha. Does it eliminate their jobs? Not for those that have a clue about what they're doing.
ClickZ: Defining Differences: Marketing, Advertising, Branding (Part 1) - It's always driven me nuts the way these three terms are interchanged, blurring the meaning of each one. Most of the confusion comes from ad agencies, marketing consultants and media partners that each try and enhance their role / position to an existing or potential client. One piece of advice: be wary of an ad agency that tries to move up the professional services food chain and actually get paid to do marketing consulting for their clients. I've seen this happen way too many times and in the end, what most often happens is that the client spends way too much of their marketing budget on "creative" advertising campaigns that do very little to achieve the true marketing goals of the company.
Chicago Tribune: Revisit, revive Cluetrain's Net declaration - Although the manifesto was extremely popular, it's obvious a large majority of companies still don't get it (via USC).
Thursday, August 09, 2001
DMNews: Online Marketing: For Performance, Transaction or Branding - A major factor in answering this question is the nature of the company / product / service being marketed. In general, however, I'd argue that branding should not be the #1 goal of online marketing. Yes, online marketing can provide branding benefits, but in general branding is better achieved through more typical offline efforts such as TV or radio. Online marketing is best utilized to achieve an action - that action could be a site visit, a sign-up for a newsletter, sign-up for a trial (such as the test drives of a BMW car, for example) or ideally, that action is a purchase or transacation. Looking at it another way, online marketing's #1 goal should be to start (or continue) a conversation with a customer. It should be about building a relationship.
Expect to see more internet consultancy mergers such as the recently annouced Scient / iXL merger. When all is said and done this downturn should help separate the wheat from the chaff in the internet services market.
Blogger feature request: I'd like to be able to add additional pages to my blog, similar to what Manilla allows. This would allow me to have a true "about" page, rather than a link to a post like I currently have. I could also have separate articles / rants rather than embedding them within posts.
Found a new blog - Saltire - thanks to Doc. Based on reading the About page I can tell I'll be interested in this blog's content. The creater, or blogger, Steve MacLaughlin, works at an Indianapolis-based interactive services firm. Although my day-to-day activities are currently focused on an eProcurement project, my heart and passion still lies in New Media, interactive marketing, etc. so I'm looking forward to reading content from someone with very similar interests to mine. Glancing at Steve's book reviews page also gives me a glimpse into his interests. In fact, after reading Steve's review of Michael Porter's "Strategy and the Internet, I promptly added it to my Amazon wish list.
Just added Internet 3.0 etc. to my list of Weblogs of Note. I first discovered the blog by browsing my referring links and noticing that I was receiving occasional visits from the blog due to the link under "Weblogs I read daily." Since that time I've found myself continuing to check back on a fairly regular basis as I've found the topics covered to be very similar to those I'm interested in. SG, I guess you can count me as one of your 3 readers.
The Standard: Learning From The Sims - I'm not a big gamer but when I bought my first Mac back in 1995, the first program I purchased was SimCity 2000. Maxis' latest game, The Sims, sounds even better. For the business community, The Sims' lessons are twofold. The first is that interaction design trumps graphics ....The second lesson is that online businesses don't just exist, like buildings, in space. They exist, like cities, in human context over time. The best ones are designed to grow more interconnected, not just bigger, as the population evolves. (via bBlog).
Wednesday, August 08, 2001
E-Commerce News: Google's New Chief Chats About His Goals - One of the board members called and said: "Congratulations. Now don't screw it up. It can only go downhill with you in charge," What's amazing about Google is that in June, even during these difficult economic times, they achieved profitabillity (and that's GAAP profitability - not Pro Forma). At this point they don't even have plans to go public as they aren't in dire need of capital. If / when they do go public, I'm guessing, as a profitable dot-com, their stock will be coveted.
Another good case study from the folks at MarketingSherpa.com. This case study highlights EMC and their use of a 3rd party email newsletter (see sample) targeted to sales evangelists. If I had only one arrow in my marketing quiver, it would be an email newsletter. The 3rd party nature of this one makes it an even more credible tool as it doesn't ooze with the typical "buy our stuff" copy.
Looks like the first issue of the NEW Business 2.0 is out. I imagine I'll be getting it in my mailbox any day now. It includes an editor's letters to both Business 2.0 readers and former eCompany Now readers. Sounds like they're keeping the graphics from XPLANE which is a wise move. Also, they're going back to a monthly frequency rather than bi-weekly. Thank goodness. I like reading the issues cover-to-cover and was having a tough time keeping up when a new issue arrived every other week.
Tuesday, August 07, 2001
Received a good number of referring links from blogdex today since Nielsen's latest article (which I linked to just yesterday is #10 on their list or "recent links." The traffic is due to the fact that I'm one of five other sites in their database that linked to it and bloggers are checking out who's linking to who. Blogdex is sort of a meta-blog-index. It currently focuses on the referential information provided by weblogs, or the links that people place on their sites. By amalgamating these pointers, we can get an instantaneous look at internet fashion from democratic means. Interesting idea.
Economist.com: The hollow promise of Internet banking - Supposedly there has been customer resistance to online banking. Not from me. I'm a staunch advocate of online banking and am very satisfied with my NetBank account. I used to be with National City and I had to pay $5.95 per month for online bill payment + an additional $5 maintenance fee per month if my balance went below $500. On top of that I had 0% interest in my checking account. Compare that to NetBank where I have a 2% interest in my checking account and a 4.25% interest paying money market account (only requirement for MM account - $250 average daily balance or else a $5 fee is assessed). Online bill pay is free. Do I miss my local branch? The only thing I miss is the free ATM machines. Even then, I can easily get around the $1 service fee for ATMs by getting extra cash out whenever I use my debit card. As far as deposits go - NetBank provides me with postage-paid envelopes which I find much more convenient than having to stop by a branch or insert my deposit into an ATM. At this point I don't see myself going back to a traditional branch. Now I just hope NetBank can stay in business :-)
Salon.com:Holding up the rear Where did all that start-up money go? Clue No. 1: Today's dot-com auctions are flooded with opulent Aeron chairs. Although Herman Miller is trying to shed the now undesireable dot-com connotation associated with the Aeron, I know the execs here at Steelcase would love to have the same problem on their hands. The dot-com fallout, in the end, will only serve to enhance the image and mystique associated with the "design of the decade."
Just registered and signed up for the CRM.Insight newsletter at CRM Guru. The site is just packed with content ... providing a one-stop shop on all things CRM.
ClickZ : My Ambitions as a Rider - Norlin picks up where he left off in his last ClickZ article. His message, in a nutshell: Marketing is broken. Broadcast doesn't work. Market without a message by starting a blog and speaking with a voice. If you have the authority within a company, endorse this movement.
Great interview with Clay Shirky on Slashdot. Clay's written some of the more insightful pieces on the Net over the past few years. Interview topics and highlights below:
(via Doc Searls).
Monday, August 06, 2001
According to Humans For Sale I'm worth exactly $2,159,490.00. How much are you worth? (link found via kottke ... who is somehow worth $500k more than me - must mean he has a lot more body hair than I do).
Good case study from MarketingSherpa on the right way to approach B-to-C ecommerce. The case study highlights the efforts of Norm Thompson, which owns the catalogs Norm Thompson Outfitters, Solutions and Early Winters.
Alertbox: First Rule of Usability? Don't Listen to Users - It's true. Observation is a much better gauge of usability than opinion surveys.
More personalization at Amazon. Perhaps I'm not a frequent enough visitor to Amazon because I couldn't recreate Erin's personalized tab. My tab just said YOUR RECS rather than ROB's STORE. Erin reported on her next visit that the tab was gone so perhaps they were just experimenting. I love keeping tabs on the innovative things Amazon does with their site. (via Evhead).
Read an interesting article, People and Technology - MicroStrategy Inc., in a back issue of Fast Company this weekend. The company featured, MicroStrategy, is one of the largest vendors of decision support software. It has a grand mission: "make intelligence accessible everywhere." This vision will be enabled through development of a personal intelligence network. The success of the network depends on consumers' willingness to provide personal information, which, in turn, depends on trust. This idea is very much in line with a business idea I had a year or so ago in which individuals would provide a wealth of data about themselves in exchange for highly targeted, relevant offers designed to exactly meet their needs. Kinda sounds like Microsoft's Passport / Hailstorm vision, doesn't it?
At the time of the article, April 2000, Microstrategy was an $11 billion company. As of this post ... it's market cap is sitting at $307 million. And it's personalized intellegence network? The cornerstone of that vision is strategy.com, but in looking at its ABOUT page it almost appears as if it's personalized intelligence network is nothing more than a poor-man's MyYahoo!
Friday, August 03, 2001
Salon.com: Burning down the house. Homestore is one of the few dot-coms to survive the dot com crash and burn of the past year or two. How'd they do it? In contrast to failed dot-coms like Pets.com and Webvan that sought to re-create an entire industry online, Homestore looked for a niche that complemented, rather than threatened, the established realty business. A wise approach and proof that the web isn't about to get rid of the middle man anytime soon.
Wednesday, August 01, 2001
One of my favorite topics is internet business models. This Business Week Online article (found via The Talking Moose) profiles Justatip.com, a site which enables users to e-mail colleagues, friends and foes, and even the boss anonymous "tips" about body odor, back hair, and other vexing problems. So ... a Webvan fails ... and a Justaip.com "succeeds." Perhaps more businesses should be focused on under-promising and over-delivering.
Fortune.com - Alsop: The Tragedy of Webvan - Real entrepreneurs never let money out the door if it doesn't advance the business of the company. Boy, is hindsight 20-20. (via Scripting.com).