Two Flats, One Spare And Brand Advocates

Recently, my husband and I were on a rockhounding field trip on a dirt road in the wilds of Idaho. We hit a bad spot in the road and bam! bam! just like that, we had two flat tires.

2-flatsNot to be foiled, we had brought along an electric tire pump for just such occasion. But, when we tried to repair the tires they would not inflate. None of the other tricks we had up our sleeve worked either and it was getting late. Ultimately, we had to be pulled onto a flatbed truck and driven 50 miles into Boise, where we arrived at midnight. Cost: $385.

The silver-lining to this story is that we have towing coverage with USAA. Within one day, the refund for the towing service was in our bank account. I’m a big fan of USAA and a brand advocate; I tell everyone about them.usaa2-150x150

And as I learned at a recent presentation by Rob Fuggetta, CEO of Zuberance, USAA has a lot of brand advocates. USAA’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), a metric for loyalty and brand advocacy, is #1 among brands in the US.

brand-advocate-book-150x150According to Fuggetta, the author of Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force, it’s not just the brand promise’s but the customer’s experience of the brand that builds advocates. Service is what makes the difference. Brand advocates are the people that, when asked “how likely are you to recommend our services?” score your product or service at a 9 or 10, out of a possible 0 – 10.

Word of mouth (WOM) recommendations happen all the time. They are now tweeted, mobile and web-enabled, but they are not new. Fuggetta made this important connection for the audience: WOM advocates have clout – they influence purchasing decisions and because of that, it is important to cultivate as well as mobilize your advocates. He also made the point that right now, the brands with the most recommends and advocates are the winners in the marketplace.

brand-advocates-2-300x225How can you mobilize your brand advocates? Here are the top techniques:

Request reviews and incentivize people to participate in your brand. Did you know that almost every category has review sites for product or service reviews? Interesting!

Give advocates an opportunity to tell their story about your brand. I just did this for USAA in the introduction to this blog post. My husband often does the same for Les Schwab Tires, a regional tire store in the Pacific Northwest that is also top in their category for WOM. That’s where we were towed to that memorable night in Idaho.

And, finally, you have to keep the energy going. Brand advocacy is not a one-time promotion. You have to work it, train on it, and build on it. Gather testimonials, collect stories, and curate the messages. Brands rarely build themselves.

Oh, and please “like”and tweet this post. Thanks!


Techno Sapiens, anyone?

Outsell, Inc., one of the best sources for awesome insights and keen analysis for the information industry, just came out with their Information Industry Outlook for 2014. The theme for 2014 is Convergence Now! You can’t read it without getting jazzed, buzzed, motivated, and otherwise encouraged. Here is part of the sentiment that will pull you in and keep you reading:

We see devices, humans, technologies, value chains, content, and workflows blending and becoming one human-machine ecosystem. Techno sapiens, anyone? There’s no need for more discussion about the print-to-digital shift or about device adoption. It’s all one now, as information and technology have come together as a result of the big bang of Break and Reset and industry players grokking what growth in the New Normal requires.

knowledge workers

Outsell’s discussion of the information industry is very broad as it encompasses IT, news, advertising, healthcare, social media and other sectors. Some of the more interesting takeaways from the report include these:

  • It’s time to stop focusing on separate services within marketing for “mobile,” “social,” and “digital” and rebel against ad agencies that set themselves up as a “Social Agency” or “Mobile Agency.” We’ve shown again and again that advertisers rate cross-media approaches (combining digital, print, and in-person events) as much more effective than any single media — certainly more effective than just digital or pure-play digital.
  • It’s becoming increasingly difficult to determine where humans end and where technology begins. Humans want access to everything — social networks, news, games, video, TV, platforms, and applications — and they want it all the time. Because of this, we embody our devices and connectivity to a point that it becomes a part of us; techno sapiens — smart technology getting smarter — live at this intersection of humans and technology.
  • This is the time to become a platform. Revenue growth is coming from integrating workflow tools and other value-added services, leveraging and repackaging new combinations of content and analytic assets, and exploring new business models. IHS, Thomson Reuters, Dwell Magazine, and Healthline all exemplify this trend and show that platform can be about coopetition and collaboration, as allowing others to develop solutions for customers on your platform can become a source of competitive advantage.
  • The trend away from mass broadcast to 1-to-1 direct marketing will accelerate. Pull, not push, marketing will flip the advertising model upside down. Trusted environments and platforms for programmatic “intent-casting” will allow customers to advertise themselves as interested and willing to buy, not the other way around as it is today.

The global library market place is $24.2 billion! While it may be too soon for substantial hiring increases, these numbers reflect an optimism in the sector that was missing in the past two years.

global info sourcing copy

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

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.