Predictions, trends and patterns

Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year’s greetings to you! Now that you’ve shed all the relatives and got the house restored to its pre-holiday grandeur, it’s a good time to check the pulse of our industry going forward. Yep, it’s time to get back to the office and to focus on your goals for 2014. To help you obtain the information and insight you need to achieve your goals, I wanted to share insights about trends you can look forward to in 2014.

I’m fascinated with predictions, trends and pattern of future developments, and at this time of year there is no better place to get Future Ready than the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The CES is the world’s bigger tradeshow for electronics. You could call it the living, beating heart of Geekdom. If it’s techie, leading-edge, and nerdy, it’s there. Many brands stage elaborate displays and use the show as a launch pad for announcing new products and partnerships.

You really owe yourself at least one pilgrimage to CES during your career. Some of the new technologies are pretty amazing and some are, well, let’s just say they are provocative.

It looks like the reporters are seeing similar patterns, as these stories are on everyone’s radar:


  • Wearable technology—such as LG’s LifeBand Touch which tracks your fitness activities and even monitors your pulse and oxygen consumption. Also read: Wearables at CES: the useful, the useless & the downright bizarre. CNN predicts a gadget for every limb and a connected house as two of their Five Trends to Watch at CES.
  • The Connected Home—such as using your smart phone to unlock doors is garnering attention. TechCrunch discusses sensors that help you track the comfort levels in your home the way Fitbit and Jawbone track your health.
  • Supersized smart TV’s IEEE Spectrum pegs 2014 as the year of the smart TV because of Ultra High Definition, flexible curving screens (don’t they have to curve when they are over 70”?) and new integrated apps in CES 2014 Trends: TV’s Future is Curvy, Smart, and 4K.
  • Smart cars that not only parallel park themselves automatically, but also drive autonomously. Digital Trends has a great gallery featuring smart cars and wearables.

How will all this play out at the checkout counter? When I was at CES three years ago, the big pitch was for 3D TV’s, but consumers did not buy them, by and large. This year, the hot TV technologies are curved screens and 4K. But will they be on our homes next year? It’s hard to predict which new technologies will gain traction with the consumer for many reasons.

However, each of trends listed above is part of the bigger mega-trend, the Internet of Things, which is showing up in a broad cross-section of industries, from architecture to energy to medicine, and more. The underlying infrastructure which is based on cloud computing and mobile technology has been building in capacity for many years and can support the shift to an even more connected world, so we anticipate the product showcased at CES this year will gain traction.

Are you ready for this uber-connected world?  I can help you take advantage of this new frontier by providing you with the following services:

·         Deep dive technical research on new technologies

·         Market research

·         Competitor research

Building Your Social Media Following

Okay, so this is a bit of a “me, too” post — it seems like everyone and their brother is telling you how to get better at social media marketing. I’ve been active with social media for about four years, and I’ve learned a few things. Mostly, I’ve found that, like everything else worthwhile, it takes time and focused effort.

Guy Kawasaki recently posted a new presentation on “How to Get More Followers.” With nearly 1.4 million Twitter followers and 391,900 LinkedIn followers, Guy has earned considerable credibility on this topic. His presentation included some useful techniques and ideas that are worth sharing, so here’s a summary:

1. Start yesterday. You’re already behind. Get busy.
2. Segment the services. The various social media services have different functions and connections. You can think of the functions this way:


3. Make a great profile. Look at other profiles for clues, and keep yours sharp and up-to-date.
4. Curate content and link to fresh new ideas.
5. Cheat—seriously, that is what he said! The cheat is to link to, re-tweet, and re-post content that is trending.
6. Restrain yourself. 95% of your posts should be interesting topics and ideas that you want to share. Just 5% of your posts should be self-promotion.
7. Add bling. Not just pictures of your favorite cat, but images that add interest and capture the imagination, giving life to your message.
8. Respond. This is a two-way conversation. You’ve put out a new idea, now interact so they know you are real.
9. Stay positive or stay silent. One colleague of mine said “it’s easy to be snarky in 140 characters.” But it really does not add to your followers, your message or well-being, so stay on the sunny side.
10. Repeat. It was good the first time, so now ‘”lather, rinse and repeat.” Keep it light so that you can keep up the pace.

Want more? Get the full recording here.





Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle for 2013 released

Recently, I had a chance to take in an online presentation from Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. The topic was “Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle for 2013.” The hype cycle model as well as this year’s predictions provide valuable insight to business processes.

If you’re not familiar with the term “hype cycle,” just think back to your Business 101 classes and conjure up an image of the S-shaped sigmoid life cycle curve. Jackie Fenn and Hung Le Hong, Research VPs for Gartner identified where emerging technologies reside along the life cycle curve on a path to commercialization and profitability. The hype cycle helps you answer such questions as:

  • What technologies are ripe for investment?
  • How ready are those technologies for commercial development?
  • How are products you are interested in positioned relative to other emerging technologies?

Here’s a look at the hype cycle model showing the rise and fall of expectations that emerging technologies typically experience as they progress through time.

hypecycle clean

Innovative and emerging technologies receive a great deal of attention when they are first revealed and the mass media hype begins. Initial press coverage generates exposure, interest and inflated expectations.

In the second stage, when the product or service reaches the peak of inflated expectations—be it predictive analytics, 3D scanners, or vehicles that drive themselves—it is on the cover of news magazines, referenced on television news, Tweeted, blogged about, and joked about by late-night comedians.

Inevitably, what happens when this new technology can’t quite meet the hype, whether due to costs, scarce resources, or other challenges? You probably know the cycle well – next comes the trough of disillusionment. These can be the dark days in the labs and among the sales force promoting the new technology and the length of time that products languish in this stage can vary immensely.

When the technology is finally ready for broad implementation, it has reached the slope of enlightenment, which is followed by the plateau of productivity. It is important to note that technological developments progress through this process at various speeds, from less than one year to more than ten years.

Here is Gartner’s assessment of the emerging technologies positioning on the hype cycle for 2013.

hypecycle emerging

As you can see there are nearly 20 new technologies with expectations that are rising. I just wanted to point out that at this stage, when the news services are brimming with stories, a good information professional can help you sift through the noise, so you can bettter understand the underlying fundamentals.

Take a minute to digest the breadth of the technologies that are emerging. One theme that connects the technologies together is humans augmented by smart machines. Here are some quick examples:

  • Jawbone’s Up wristbands
  • Google’s Project Glass
  • Baxter Mobile Robots
  • Audi’s Connect with self-driving functions

So the next time you see the “next big thing” showing up in the news channel, you might want to refer back to this graph to better understand what the fuss is all about.

If you’d like more in-depth tools or to listen to the Gartner presentation, you can find it here.

Mind Grenades

The keynote speaker at the 2013 Special Libraries Association annual conference in San Diego was Mike Walsh, a futurist and author of the book Futuretainment. He did a great job of highlighting some of the challenges we face as the future continues to open new opportunities for information professionals.

As his website proclaims, Walsh

is a leading authority on building business for the 21st century. Constantly traveling the world for the best ideas, Mike combines insights into emerging technology with a pragmatic ‘how-to’ approach to change that provides global business leaders with a roadmap for the future.

One of the key take-aways for me was the idea of a “mind grenade.” Most of us are familiar with the concept of something being so interesting, provocative, or revolutionary that it is “mind-blowing.” That catch-phrase has evolved, so now a great idea is like an explosive device for your gray matter – a mind grenade. Walsh rolled several of those into the crowd, and true to form, they made me think.

In one example, Walsh pointed out that we all have customers that are hung up on a particular pain point – products that don’t gain traction, statistics that are contradictory, or processes that don’t seem to be adapted to an agile, fast-changing workplace. To solve the problem, rather than bringing in more technical experts or marketing professionals, entrepreneurial companies are working with anthropologists and ethnographers. After all, what could be more enlightening than advice from someone who studies the science of humanity?

When you think about it, anthropologists should have some real answers for problems we face in connecting with consumers, so Walsh promoted that as a mind grenade. Here is the rest of his example:

 shanzhai copy

Walsh continually exploded data points and pushed the audience past the normal trajectory of incremental change. This is a very valuable tool for exploring new of thinking and to become Future Ready! Here few of Mike Walsh’s other mind grenades :

  • If your kids had your job, what is the one thing they would do differently?
  • If you were to map the network patterns of your best people, would they match your official org chart and titles?
  • What is the one big data insight about your business that would make your CEO sit up quick enough to spill his coffe?

You get the ideaso now go out make some mind grenades of your own!


Get ready for SLA 2013 with the CI Division’s conference program

As a past SLA President and a Board member for 6 years, I’m an enthusiastic participant in the SLA Annual Conference which will be in San Diego starting June 8. The whole event gives me a chance to connect with other information professionals and get the inside scoop on what they are doing, thinking about doing, wish they had done and—very importantly—will never do again. I look forward to the event as a professional highlight each year.conference

You never know which session or meeting will provide the ‘aha’ moment. One year, I attended a pre-conference dinner with some of the best and brightest minds in the industry, and I came away thinking that I had learned enough to make the whole conference cost worthwhile before the opening keynote!

In addition to getting the skinny from my colleagues, I HAVE to visit the exhibit hall. As an independent information professional, the vendor products and conversations are an essential part of my conference routine. I rely on their products and services to keep me up to date on what I provide to my clients. This year, I’m particularly interested in current awareness products. So, please let me know what your favorites are—and why.

This year I have a special roommate, Jill Strand, who is running for the Special Libraries Association President-Elect.

I’m plugged in to the Competitive Intelligence Division’s programs, here:

CE Course: Social Media Techniques for Information Professionals
1:00pm – 5:00pm @ Convention Center, Room TBD
Learn which social media tools will give you the best company and industry information. Complement traditional research collection by using social media, such as LinkedIn, Twitter feeds, blogs, social networking groups and other specialized search tools. This is a fully updated hands-on workshop that will help you think of different ways to use social media and unlock its true potential. Bring your laptop and a company to research! Intermediate Level.
Speaker: Scott Brown, Owner, Social Information Group
Moderator: Cindy Romaine, Romainiacs Intelligent Research

And here:
SLA—Competitive Intelligence Division Open House & Business Meeting
8:00pm – 10:00pm @ Marriott, Marina Ballroom D
Don’t miss our 4th Annual Pecha Kucha tournament as amateurs and professionals battle it out over how info pros can connect, collaborate and strategize. Come network with your peers and watch our Chair conduct the shortest business meeting in the form of a PK. We’ll have drinks, snacks, socialization and time to learn more about the CI division.
PK Contestants: TBD
Judges: Cindy Romaine, Romainiacs Intelligent Research; Sean Campbell, Cascade Insights; Lora Bray, CUNA
Moderator: Claudia Clayton, ViewPoint
Emcee: Dr. Craig Fleisher, Aurora WDC
Sponsor: Aurora WDC, Booth #1212

It should be a great conference!  I hope to see to hear about what you are working on and get inspired.

Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation and Leave a Positive Impression

Have you ever had that awkward moment, at a networking event, when you know you should be talking and mingling and making business connections, but you can’t think of a thing to say? We all know the feeling of having nothing to say and hours to say it in. You just want to start fiddling with your cell phone and disappear.

people networking copy

I just got back from the annual conference of the Association of Independent Information Professionals, which was held in Denver, Colorado this year. AIIP is an international association of owners of information businesses, and many—like Romainiacs—are using skills and experiences honed from the corporate information center to provide their clients with intelligent information on which to make better informed business decisions. There were many fine presenters, providing insight into useful strategies, and I gained some invaluable connections and had many chances to make small talk with strangers.

The point of this post is to let you know about one presenter in particular—Debra Fine, who spoke on:

The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start A Conversation, Keep it Going, Build Rapport and Leave a Positive Impression.

In her presentation, Debra said that she had once been painfully shy, so networking was hard work for her. As she pointed out, however, there are many talented, educated, and wonderful people in the world that are incredibly shy. Maybe you’re one of them, and you sometimes struggle to engage in conversation when you’d rather just retreat to a far corner. What you need is a strategy for attacking the situation, and Debra had quite a few insights to share.


Here are a few tips and recommendations from Debra:

  1. Silence is impolite. Find ways to make other people feel comfortable, which, of course helps you feel comfortable, too. At conferences, for example, you can ask if they’ve been to any interesting sessions, if they enjoyed the keynote, or what was the best swag they picked up at the vendor booths.
  2. Good things come to those who go get them! Tell yourself that it’s up to you to start talking. You will actually be the hero if you start the conversation – even more so if you don’t start talking about the weather or your cats. People will embrace your efforts and appreciate your leadership. The more you practice breaking the ice, the better you get at it, so take the opportunity to improve your skills to size up someone and figure out what to talk about.
  3. It’s up to you to assume the burden of conversion. The first step in becoming a great conversationalist is become invested in making the other person feel comfortable. I think this tip is incredibly valuable. Putting your colleague at ease shows empathy as well as leadership.
  4. It’s better to give than receive. We’ve all watched someone frantically paw through their mental Rolodex trying to place us – bail them out before it gets painful! Give them your name, even if it’s someone you’ve met before. By telling them your name, you let them off the hook and they do not have to be distracted trying to remember it.


Here are a few icebreakers to help you get past that awkward, interminable silence—and to help you find interesting intersections that will broaden your relationships.

Ask your new found colleague:

  1. To describe a typical day on the job. This could lead to talking about your IT team, your computer tools, or some other technology topic quickly.
  2. What got you interested in social media, earthquakes, or whatever the topic of the day is? This could quickly morph into a discussion about ideas you have in common.
  3. What separates you and your firm from your competition?  For a follow up you could probe to see how your new acquaintance sees their landscape. You could find yourself discussing current events in your field, such as recent mergers and acquisitions.
  4. What advice would you give to someone just starting in your business?  You could advance to discussions about mentoring, education, or simply marvel at the technical skills of the newest members of our profession.

Be interested and interesting.

Nod, agree, and look them in the eye. Someone once described an encounter with former President Bill Clinton, and said that while with him, the President made that person seem like the only other person in the room. What a great feeling – someone who conversed with world leaders and powerful titans of industry was taking the time to actually listen! That one-on-one skill is at the heart of networking. You don’t want to just exchange business cards and slide away – you want to make a connection. If you do, to quote the great Dale Carnegie, you will consistently win friends and influence people.

Good luck! And now can we talk about my cat?