Tuesday, March 4, 2008

User Experience?

I've been tasked with developing a proposal for a 'User Experience' department/initiative within my company. Our trusted friend, Wikipedia, defines 'User Experience' as such: a term used to describe the overall experience and satisfaction a user has when using a product or system.

My first thought was, we don't do this already?? I mean I work out at client sites and I listen to the users in terms of their questions/frustrations, and then report back any enhancements related to such comments. As I quickly researched the topic, I found not only the definition of user experience but also the 'User Experience Network' , strategy surrounding user experience, and even tips on how to quantify such experience.

My strategy without even continuing with the research was basically just to interact with as many users as possible, documenting their own processes in relation to the software tool. Also documenting where inside the tool they are entering data and how they are looking to review the outputs of such data. After gathering this data in some sort of fancy consolidated spreadsheet, I plan on scoring each area relative to others, categorizing the feedback and usage per each user, and then reporting the data back to my bosses for analysis purposes. Problem is I am working with a client of over 250 users, in at least 4 different locations around VA/DC, and I need this data by the end of next week. Either I get a really fast car, or I set a goal for hitting only half the users. Any suggestions from the crowd as to how to handle this investigation a bit more efficiently and effectively?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Referral Bonus

No doubt there are often various attractive perks in working for a small or large company. However, for me I feel that the referral bonus has always had a great appeal. I mean the requirements seem very simple. Step 1 - find someone looking for a job (statistics show that a large percentage of people are always looking for a job even if they have one). Step 2 - sell the company that you work for to that person. Step 3 - tell your internal recruiter that you like this person and they should be hired. Step 4 - get that person hired and hope they work for 90 days or however long it takes for you to get that bonus. Easy right??

In the past 5 years in the IT/Project Management Industry, I have not been able to get 1 single person to transfer their employment to the company that I worked for. And not to be boastful, but I have a good amount of 'friends circles' and business relationships. I discovered this list of Do's and Dont's for an effective Business Referral Network and I can say honestly that I comply with every suggestion.

Part of it is most likely because I look to work for small-niche like companies that are not compelling to the mass amount of job-seekers. But there has to be more to this puzzle than that. So recently I've devised a new strategy, the referral bonus. Often times my company will raise the referral bonus to what I think is an appealing amount, for the networking effort I would have to put in to get someone interested and hired. I have begun to offer a percentage of such bonus as another incentive. Kind of like my own signing bonus for friends/contacts who are looking for a new job. So, for anyone reading and interested and looking for a job, i'll agree to an extra $500 (20% of the total) upon acceptance and employment for more than 90 days. Will pretty much try anything at this point, think it will work?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Crayon in Second Life

I must admit, I have never created an avatar in Second Life, and I have never been much of a role-player in the internet world.

Despite my lack of interest in being a participant in this virtual world, I am very curious as to the business applications of it. For example, take this article from Information Week concerning Cisco.
Cisco is banking on the fact that many of its customers/clients are second life users. This is a great example of how to interact even more with your customer base without spending an enormous amount of the marketing budget and resources.

Also, check out this company, Crayon, who says they are the first Second Life company. Marketing in a virtual world! Probably not the first company to come up with this, but I like their mission and creativity. Looking forward to tracking them in the future.

So I couldn't resist, this video is just too funny...


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Web 3.0 & Matthew Broderick

For some reason when I read about the possibilities of the next decade of web technologies, aka Web 3.0, I can't help but hope that Matthew Broderick and John Wood will be around to save us from 'Joshua (the WOPR - War Operation Plan Response)'. Even though I jest, listen to Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) talk about his definition of Web 3.0 and tell me you don't get a little eerie feeling as well. If you don't, jump on the web (2.0), access your online rental service, put WarGames (1983) at the top of your queue and get back to me after you watch it.

Now I am not afraid of the words Artificial Intelligence, in fact I look forward to the day when I can purchase a real 'iron chef' as well as a robot to do my laundry (probably my 2 least favorite activities, cooking and laundry). However, I do caution the pace at which the technologies are changing. I still feel like Web 2.0 was introduced yesterday! or at least hasn't grown to its maturity level yet. The life span of Web technologies seems to be shorter and shorter. StartUps are looking for opportunities to fill Web 3.0 niches already. Before they even get going, they will be out of date with Web 4.0 (which will essentially validate any AI movie ever created by that point).

In my opinion Web 3.0 and beyond is coming, so we really can't stop it, but do we agree with the speed at which it is coming??

And for all you WarGames fans, do we like the idea of a sequel?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I am just setting up a link to another blog within my circle. Here is the link to Denis

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


"Joomla! is one of the most powerful Open Source Content Management Systems (CMSs) on the planet", says the core Joomla team. Bold statement during a time when content management, knowledge management, and the coining of Communities of Practice (CoPs) have increased in popularity faster than the newest music concert trend - IMAX 3D.

Whether I agree or not with the Joomla! creators, I am in the midst of it now and will probably still be in Joomla! world for the next 6 months. As part of a side project (ha!), I have been asked to join the requirements gathering team for my company's knew KM tool initiative.

At first, I was excited. Then after a week of Joomla! research, google-ing, wikipedia-ing, and whatever else I could find to search on the topics at play, I felt overwhelmed. Needless to say I found a few articles and opinions on our little initiative. I don't want to come off as a negative-nelly to my director of this project, but we've got our work cut our for us. Our current strategy is to first scope out the information that we would like to garner for this CMS (the business cases), then decide how to retrieve that data. Sound like the best way to kick this off? Any experience, CoPs, or words of wisdom within this realm would be much appreciated.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Netflix - Community driven success?

Steve Jobs and his feared i'Craze' corporation has entered Netflix's arena of competition. With their recently released AppleTV and movies available for streaming directly to your home, Apple will surely be the company that finally stops the success train for Netflix.... or will they? Before Apple, it was Blockbuster, Amazon, and Wal-Mart. With arguably some of the most powerful companies in the US, how has Netflix maintained its growth streak over the years??

Community Input!! http://bokardo.com/archives/designing-with-community-input-netflix-style/

I am a very satisfied Netflix customer, along with 7.5 million others (as of the 2007 4Q financial results). I personally enjoy the ease in which I search, select, receive and return movies on a weekly basis. However, this aspect isn't necessarily unique to the industry anymore with certain companies looking to capture a portion of the online rental market as well. Netflix retains and continues to capture more of the market because of its community driven feedback, as well as the member's 'community' of movie sharing information.

Reed Hastings (CEO) and company made the strategic decision early on to mimic the popularity of a social network without advertising itself as a social network. Even its developers in charge of the community will deny any claim that they are building a social network (see 'About this Blog' - http://blog.netflix.com/), but I find it hard to believe they fell into this realm by accident. Call it Social Design or Conversational Marketing, I call it seeing the opportunity to stay ahead of major competition. How else could you explain their ability to stave off the likes of Wal-Mart, Blockbuster and in my opinion Apple in 2008?