Design Thinking and Innovation Presentation from IL2010 Conference

Posted by JeffreyVeffer on Nov 5, 2010

The slides from my recent presentation at the Internet Librarian Conference in Monterey, California is now up on slideshare.

It was a really stimulating conference with a lot of good feedback and hope that I could add a bit to the discussion with some of the material in this presentation.

Let me know what you think!


New opportunities, new challenges

Posted by JeffreyVeffer on Feb 17, 2010

As I look back over the past 15+ years I have been working within the Internet space, I never could have predicted the changes that have come about as a result of this amazing technology. From the first early days of just trying to get connected using SLIP/PPP, to the birth of multimedia content and now the rise of the social web, I feel really blessed to have contributed, even in small way, to how the Internet has changed the world.

Over that time, I have learned a ton! From innovative product and service concepts, to how brands are engaging customers, the pace of change has been incredibly invigorating. In my practice, I have focused on Customer Experience and Innovation with a particular emphasis on the social web. I’ve tried to delve into not only social media tools, but how attitudes have changed within companies as they look at how their business fundamentally interacts with their customers.

I began my company with the goal of “bringing companies closer to customers.” And I like to think that I’ve been able to do that by understanding our clients’ objectives and constructing solutions that help them more effectively interact with their internal and external stakeholders.

But what do you do when you are given a fantastic opportunity to work with a terrifically talented and hard-working team at a great company? As hard as it is to leave what I am doing now, I feel the time is right for me to join the Corporate Development team at LoyaltyOne (AirMiles). This move makes perfect sense for me at this time; I don’t feel that I am leaving anything behind because I am taking all the skills and resources I’ve developed and applying them to a new set of challenges.

At this stage, I won’t be taking on additional clients or projects, but I will, of course, remain engaged in this industry and involved in all the pioneering groups that continue to move it forward. And, I promise to continue to learn and contribute with everyone who has made this medium the great, ongoing experiment in communication and interaction.


Trending Terms on Twitter – Technorati

Posted by JeffreyVeffer on Oct 18, 2009

When news organizations try to bring breaking stories to their viewers as fast as possible, Twitter (and especially the “trending terms”) can give reporters and idea of what is happening in real-time. But do these terms really reflect what users are posting?

Take a look at the rest of the post on Technorati and let me know what you think!


Starbucks VIA instant coffee taste test

Posted by JeffreyVeffer on Oct 6, 2009

starbucks

Starbucks recently introduced a new line of instant coffee that they claim is as good as their regular ground coffee. To prove it, they are conducting blind taste tests in store head-to-head with their Pike’s Peak blend to show customers that it can stand up to the most discerning coffee palate.

So yesterday when I was in Starbucks for a meeting, I stepped up to the plate – would I be able to tell the difference? The pressure mounted as the server poured both samples into the small cups. As I tasted both the reality set in – I haven’t had instant coffee in over 20 years! It took Starbucks’ claim that their instant coffee was significantly better than what was on the market to at least get me to try. They claim:

“The magic is in a proprietary, all-natural process that we spent years perfecting. We microgrind the coffee in a way that preserves all of their essential oils and flavor. No other coffee company takes this step, and it makes all the difference.”

I confess that I had seen this statement before I took the test: in fact, without seeing that they were doing something different, I probably would never have even bothered to try it. But I saw numerous posts on it on Twitter so I decided to see if the claims were true.

But what got me thinking was why Starbucks would even bother? For the past 20 years they have been trying to get us into the store for an “experience” centered around premium priced drinks. Does instant give them additional credibility in the home/office or does it take away from the experience they are trying to create in the store? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this new direction!

By the way, I was able to pick out the instant. It tasted pretty good almost like french press coffee but will I be buying a package? Probably not, when it only takes me a minute more to make a good pot of coffee using the press.


Are governments interacting with citizens?

Posted by JeffreyVeffer on Sep 28, 2009

For many, getting information about government services is akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack.

But recently government departments have been using social media in different ways to bring services and information to citizens. But are they moving fast enough?

[Here is the original post on PCWorld, and reproduced below]

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Government

At various times in our lives we have to interact with the civil service. Whether it’s tax time, finding out about local services or even paying parking tickets, what used to be a painful experience is gradually growing to be more comfortable as various levels of government embrace social technologies to connect civil servants with their constituents who are thirsty for information.

At all levels of government, public servants are interacting with citizens using new and innovative technologies. Some of them you’ve no doubt heard of before, such as Facebook and Twitter, but you might not be familiar with others such as wikis and open data.

So how does one connect with the Federal government? The Servicecanada portal is an established means, but there is more to discover. Say, for instance, you want to find out about working in Canada. You can go to the “Working in Canada” Facebook page, where you will find the group’s mission statement, links and other information. You can also become a fan and post to the wall connecting with other users and the civil servants in the department.

For those working inside the federal government, GCPEDIA is the wiki for the employees of the Government of Canada. A wiki is defined (by Wikipedia.org!) as: “… a website that uses wiki software, allowing the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked Web pages, using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor, within the browser.”

Unfortunately GCPEDIA is only accessible on the Government of Canada network so for those outside, you could try another route for up-to-date information: follow the several government departments on Twitter. For example, Health Canada has an active Twitter account posting brief messages and links about its programs and issues of interest to citizens.

Health Canada Twitter account

Another way to connect to government departments is the video sharing site YouTube. Even the Canada Revenue Agency has videos posted to YouTube for a contest it ran recently on how the Underground Economy is a bad thing for the country!

Not to be outdone by the feds, at the provincial level, the Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, has his own YouTube channel where viewers can view and comment on videos of the Premier giving speeches or cutting ribbons at various functions.

Various cities across the country are taking interesting approaches to using social media to keep citizens up-to-date on information at the municipal level. From Twitter accounts for council members to blogs authored by politicians, all sorts of initiatives are available to citizens. Vancouver recently made selected municipal data available in a project called “Open Data” to outside developers so they could create applications (like the location of all water fountains in the city) that city workers likely don’t have time, initiative or funding to do. Rumour has it that Toronto’s soon to follow suit.

The movement towards social media and open data is an important one. Citizens world-wide are looking to their governments to become more transparent. Increasing ways they communicate and making data available are critical steps to this goal and go a long way towards quenching citizens’ thirst for information.

Socially yours,

Jeffrey Veffer
Twitter: @jeffreyveffer


Politicians using social media

Posted by JeffreyVeffer on Sep 22, 2009

During a recent by-election in my neighborhood, I started following one of the candidates to see if indeed they were really trying to engage their followers. But since the election, I haven’t seen any posts at all!

I’m thinking about the recent rise of social media use by politicians and I wonder if the candidates’ use of social media was just to win the election or were they just trying to use something during the election that’s “new and cool” to convince voters that they are keeping up with the times?

Here is a link to the orginal post on PCWorld- and reproduced below.

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barackobama_twitter_fb

After seeing some tweets by a candidate in a recent provincial by-election in my neighbourhood, I pondered the recent rise of social media use by politicians. I wonder if the candidates’ use of social media was just to win the election or were they just trying to use something during the election that’s “new and cool” to convince voters that they are keeping up with the times?

Since the rise of mass electronic media in the last century, politicians have been trying out new technologies to communicate their messages to voters. In the early 1960s politicians were looking to the relatively new medium of television as the next big thing to connect with voters. The first televised presidential debates between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy attracted enormous publicity and would prove to be a turning point in the 1960 presidential election.

At the time, the Kennedy team knew that America was tired of the same old politicians and the team wanted to harness the relatively new medium of TV to portray Kennedy as a young, dashing politician in contrast to the more conservative Nixon. In the first debate Nixon argued his points clearly, but didn’t look as composed and relaxed on screen as Kennedy. To highlight the difference the new medium made to the results of the first debate, those watching on TV said that Kennedy won the debate and those listening on radio gave the win to Nixon.

More recently in the 2008 Presidential Race, Team Obama used social media very effectively to convert online donations into voters and channel online enthusiasm to effective on-the-ground support.

For example, in February 2008, Barack Obama did not attend any conventional campaign fundraisers. Despite that, he raised $55M in 29 days through the use of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook. During the same period, McCain raised $11M through conventional fundraisers.

But what about after the election? Was Obama’s use of social media just to win the vote? In the case of Obama, the use of Twitter for example has continued post-election with the image below showing a recent tweet.

barackObama_tweet

Closer to home, Toronto Mayor David Miller is certainly an ardent “twitterer’” using it to interact with city residents on a variety of topics from city council to Toronto FC soccer club matches.

When used authentically, social media can help politicians get their message across to motivate voters. But savvy politicians need to know that in order to retain credibility with their constituents they have to be willing to put in the time to continue to connect with their followers; if not, they run the risk of being thought of as jumping on the “new technology” bandwagon, and damaging their image and reducing their credibility.

Socially yours,

Jeffrey Veffer
Twitter: @jeffreyveffer


Who uses social networks, anyway?

Posted by JeffreyVeffer on Sep 17, 2009

In this post for PC World I look at a few startling statistics on who is using social networks and their influence.

Here is the post on PCWorld and reproduced below

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iphone-sm

When I first started getting into social networking a few years ago, most of the research available said that the dominant age group using sites like Facebook were teens and young adults. I expected this for no other reason than the founders of Facebook were looking to share photos from college with other students and so that’s the age group that found the site useful and fun.

Over the next few years, as more and more people starting getting into social networking, the numbers changed so that now there are more US Facebook users aged 26-44 than 18-25. In fact, users 55 and over make up the fastest growing segment using the site – they’ve grown a tremendous 513% over the first six months of this year. If you were to add up all the time spent just on Facebook, it would come out to 5% of all time spent online by US users (or about 3 solid hours) each and every month.

What’s more amazing is the sheer number of people that have an account on Facebook. The site reported recently that it has over 250 million users worldwide. If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 4th largest behind the United States!

It’s clear that people are flocking to social networks – but why? The predominant motivation for creating a social network presence is social rather than professional; although, as more people use professional networking sites like LinkedIn, the more the balance will tip away from arranging parties to arranging meetings.

With usage statistics like these, it’s clear that social networks appeal to more of us than just teens or college students. As more people join, the more useful these networks are for everyone.

Socially yours,

Jeffrey Veffer
Twitter: @jeffreyveffer


Social media and kindergarten

Posted by JeffreyVeffer on Sep 11, 2009

I’m now doing some writing for PCWorld on social media and to celebrate back to school, I’ve titled the first one, “All I need to know (about social media) I learned in kindergarten.

Here is the post, reproduced below.

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SocMediaTagcloudAs I sip my morning coffee and look out the window to see children trooping off to school for the first time, I remember back (way back) to my years in kindergarten. When I look around at applications like Facebook and Twitter, I realize that what I learned back then is relevant to how we communicate today using Social Media. Because using Social Media – where we have fun with friends while communicating – is a lot like what we were taught back then. Things like sharing, fairness, and watching what you say and do.

Here is a sample of the rules I learned back then, and how they apply today.

Share - How many times have we heard this one? Social media is built on relationships and you have to give something to get something back in return. As happily married couples tell us, real relationships are built by sharing thoughts, opinions and information; sharing will always benefit you.

Play fair - This one is self explanatory. Unlike the recent feud between Perez Hilton (@PerezHilton) and Demi Moore (@mrskutcher), most of us appreciate courtesy and the golden rule will go along way to building your reputation as someone people can trust.

When you go out in the world, watch for traffic and hold hands – Be careful what you post online. As US President Barack Obama told schoolchildren in his internet address recently, “I want everybody here to be careful about what you post on Facebook, because in the YouTube age whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life. That’s number one.”

So the next time you click the “Update” button on your next post perhaps it’s a good idea to think about what we were taught in the classroom. Milk and cookies won’t solve all of life’s problems but a little sharing can go a long way.

Please share your thoughts on this or any other post!

Socially yours,

Jeffrey Veffer
Twitter: @jeffreyveffer


Digital Life- Google and statistics

Posted by JeffreyVeffer on Sep 11, 2009

Slide5

Google recently launched its Internet Stats site which brings together information from across five different industry groups and serves it up in bite sized, Twitter-like pieces for easy consumption. It by no means is a fully comprehensive look at all the statistics out there it does provide an interesting set of seemingly separate chunks of information.

That got me thinking – what if I could take some stats and try to build a story around them and set them to music? So here is the first draft of what that looks like.


Brandsential pleased to announce Business Model construction and analysis

Posted by admin on Aug 11, 2009

We are pleased to announce that Brandsential now offers business model construction and analysis services to its clients. “We realized that our clients were asking for this service to satisfy their internal and external objectives and ensure that resources were deployed in a cost-effective manner,” says Jeffrey Veffer, Partner.

With more and more companies starting to realize that product and service innovation is the way to sustained success, model construction and analysis is certainly part of the product innovation process. With Brandsential’s understanding of customer needs and the product development process, clear actionable steps are put in place as part this process.