Tag Archives: WordPress

Rebel Mouse Makes It Easier for Others to Understand You

Article first published as Rebel Mouse Makes It Easier for Others to Understand You on Technorati.

Last week Paul Berry, former CTO of the Huffington Post, launched his new Rebel Mouse social aggregation service. My first reaction was, “Oh great! Just what I need, another social media service.” However, as I like to keep abreast on new technologies and platforms can change how we work and live, I thought I would check it out.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

A Bit of an Epiphany

I wasn’t surprised by Rebel Mouse’s feature set (although it is quite rich: not only can you aggregate social streams, you can add posts, invite contributors, and analyze all of your traffic—giving you a new blogging and publication option beyond Tumblr, WordPress and SquareSpace). What I was surprised by was a more visceral reaction:

Rebel Mouse took my social media stream and made it much easier to grok.

One Dimension Is No Longer Enough

Twitter greatest strength, its simplicity, is also a weakness. Twitter’s one-dimensional, time-based streams tend to get overwhelmed by noise-of-the-day. Step back through someone’s Twitter stream and you will see clusters of Tweets about Yammer, then Tweets about the Facebook IPO, then Tweets about Instagram, etc. Even worse, the stream consists almost entirely of fonts of single size (only using color to differentiate hyperlinks).

Facebook’s Timelines improve on this by adding inline photos and videos, expanding upon the amount of text you have, etc. However, it is still a one-dimensional (time-based) stream. Tumblr is the same (albeit prettier).

These approaches present information in a way that requires a lot of conscious effort to consume. This was fine when social media services were small. However, it not scalable to size of social networks today.

Rebel Mouse: Moving Beyond One Dimension

Rebel Mouse, does not just aggregate your content; it presents it in way that makes it easy for others to subconsciously consume. This is not only achieved by its use of the Masonry layout (now better known as the “Pinterest-style UI”). Rebel Mouse adds some clever UI design elements that let you easily—and instantly—understand the topic of the post, see what you added social content, and differentiate this from comments, shared source material, etc.:

rebelmousedesign

This takes what the best of what people love about Twitter (simplicity) with Pinterest (visual browsing) and Tumblr and WordPress (blogging and analytics) and puts them together in a single package. This looks simple, but it is BIG accomplishment. The value is clear: If I wanted someone to rapidly and easily get a perspective on what interests me, I would recommend they first go to the my Rebel Mouse page (rather than my other of my social media pages):

HaughwoutRM

What Comes Next

In the “Post-Facebook IPO World” it is now more important than ever to ask what comes next (and how this creates business value). An obvious way Rebel Mouse can make money is charge users for value-add services: vanity domains for individuals, pages for corporations, expanded analytics, eCommerce integration, etc. It looks like most of these are already on Rebel Mouse’s (publicly-disclosed) radar.

However, the foundation Rebel Mouse has achieved (i.e., subconsciously consumption of mass content from multiple streams) opens two additional doors.

  1. It could create a fantastic Discovery Service. Imagine an easy-to-consume Rebel Mouse page aggregating content on a specific business topic (e.g., mobile), products, or even personalities. I am pretty sure I would subscribe to and read many such pages, many times each day to discover new information.
  2. It could create an exchange to deliver incredibly relevant ads. Furthermore, these ads would be more valuable than other socially driven ads as you are much more likely to be in a purchasing mindset if viewing a business topic, product or personality page, than your are if you are just checking in on your friends.

It will be great to see these and other services come to fruition. Until then, I recommend requesting a page and grabbing your name—before someone else does.

Evolution At Work: Why Traditional Enterprise Tech Will Get Killed By Consumer-oriented Products

Article first published as Evolution At Work: Why Traditional Enterprise Tech Will Get Killed By Consumer-oriented Products on Technorati.

Today’s Post-PC, Web 2.0 Era is causing the consumer and enterprise tech worlds to collide. In this battle, the DNA of consumer tech positions it to displace “dinosaur” Enterprise mindsets.

Three of the most thought-provoking articles I have read this year on enterprise technology have shined a light on a new, emerging phenomenon: how the rapid advancement of Web 2.0, cloud computing, tablet and smart phone technologies has opened the door to allow consumer-oriented products to displace traditional enterprise technology:

  • R “Ray” Wang, CEO of Constellation Research, explored this from the perspectives of speed, innovation and freedom of choice, writing about the emergence of consumer technologies that meet robust enterprise needs – fast, cheaper and more flexibility.
  • Matt Rossof, in an interview with Andreessen-Horowitz partner Peter Levin, discussed this from the end user experience, asking why people should not get the same ease of use from enterprise tech that they do from the products they use outside of work.
  • Thomas Wailgum, writer on enterprise for CIO.com, highlighted the poor customer experiences that can arise after “vendor lock-in”, questioning the business rationale to accept this in light of influx consumer-style, on-demand options now available.

It does not take much research to see the increased use of consumer tech for business. Many of us now can use personal smartphones and tablets to read our corporate email or Skype to conduct free, easy videoconferences. App Stores have thousands of business productivity apps we can install instantly. Media giants like CNN use WordPress. Even the US government now uses Drupal, a GSA-managed App Store and Google Office via the cloud.

Why This Is Happening Now

Technology innovation is not new; it happens all the time. What has changed is the emergence of a whole new set of innovations that focus on making it much, much easier to deploy and integrate robust, advanced technology. Three particular developments stand out:

1. Cloud Computing. The Cloud has turned computing into a utility. Fortune 500 firms, SMEs, startups and even individuals can setup business-class environments with equal ease – without the need for large investment in capital or specialized teams.

2. Web 2.0. The Web 2.0 (and Mobile 2.0) movement has made integration open and market-driven. You can go to an App Store and find thousands of applications that work together rather than managing—and maintaining—integration projects yourself.

3. The Post-PC Era. Consumer “off the shelf” smartphones have changed how many people view computing—at work or at home. As a result, they are now creating demand for a new class of business application, one that deliverable over the cloud and Web 2.0.

The Result: Consumer and Enterprise Worlds in Collision

dinosaur-extinct-250pxsq1In the past, the enterprise and consumer technology worlds rarely touched. Consumer tech was in the household (or consumer-facing websites). Enterprise tech was on-premise. The resource-intensive requirements to deploy and integrate business technology served as a barrier between the consumer and enterprise technology words.

Now that barrier is gone. Clouds, Web 2.0, smartphones, tablets and other dual-use innovations have created a “land bridge” between these two worlds. Non-technologists can now implement many projects without specialized technology teams and large budgets. They are regularly doing this based on their personal (i.e., consumer-based) experiences with technology. In more and more businesses, enterprise and consumer technologies are competing head-to-head.

Why Consumer-oriented Tech Will Win Out

Companies who build consumer-style products evolved in a fundamentally different environment than those companies that have evolved in the world of the “locked-in” enterprise agreement. As a result, they have three critical “genetic” differences:

1. Another Choice Is Always Available. Consumer-facing product companies cannot rely on multi-year enterprise agreements to retain their customers. If customers are not happy, they will leave now – not in four years. Companies fighting in this intense environment are used to working daily to keep customers happy enough not to not only keep using their products, but also to recommend them to their friends.

2. Support Is a Cost Center Not a Revenue Center. In the consumer world, it is very hard to charge for support. It is equally hard to sell products that require lots of setup and training time to use. As a result, consumer-oriented companies design products to minimize the need for customer service. This is vastly different than many enterprise companies, who view extended service and support agreements as a key revenue stream.

3. Integration Is Free, Open and Instant. Products that easily share contacts, photos, updates and other useful information are used more and more often; products that don’t fall by the wayside. Integration is inherently open, instant, free and simple. It does not require complex partner agreements, extensive training and long integration timelines typical of legacy enterprise systems.

These differences are not superficial; they are embedded in the very “DNA” of the missions, products and teams of successful consumer-oriented companies. They provide enormous competitive advantages in comparison to those with “enterprise lock-in ‘dinosaur’ mindsets.” Freedom of choice will beat lack of choice. Pleasing user experiences will trump frustrating ones. Companies like Salesforce, 37 Signals, DropBox, Box.Net, Atlassian, Google and Apple are displacing “traditional” enterprise vendors in many corporations – even at Fortune 50 ones like Proctor & Gamble. However, this is just the beginning: in ten years the lines between consumer and enterprise tech will be blurred beyond recognition.