Category Archives: advocacy

Apple vs FBI. Why the outcome matters.

pandoras-iphone-201922

Unless you live under a rock or are completely off the grid, you’ve seen the multiple stories about the ongoing battle between Apple and the FBI.

This battle is being waged by both parties on two fronts: in court and in the court of public opinion.

For most people, it’s an interesting story and nothing else.

For some, its a matter of national security, and Apple needs to help the FBI get into the phone so that we can stop terrorists.

Others think that opening a ‘back door’ to the Apple’s iPhone security protocol would set a dangerous precedent, forever compromising our civil liberties.

Regardless of what side you come down on – disinterest, the government or Apple – it’s important that you pay attention because the ramifications will be far-reaching.

As a general rule, people are apathetic.

If it doesn’t affect them you who gives a fuck. Right?

They’re not trying to get into my phone, so what’s the big deal?

If you’re an Android user, you care even less.

This is about Apple. Who cares what Tim Cook and those Apple fan boys think?

If the order says you’re supposed to help the FBI disable the auto erase function of the pass code lock (currently preventing them from utilizing a brute force approach to figuring out the phone’s pass code) then write the frigging code and be done with it.

If you’re a flag-flying patriot, your interests turn on Apple’s duty to ‘Murica.

Apple needs to do it’s American duty and protect it’s citizens.

Open the damn phone and let’s excoriate the terrorist cancer from society.

But if you’re an Apple user, concerned citizen or privacy advocate, you understand the true implications of Apple complying with this order.

No one would disagree that stopping terrorism is a valid reason for assisting the government with any inquiry involving a suspected terrorist’s mobile device.

But at what point does assisting the government end and infringing upon civil liberties begin?

In this instance, the government wants Apple to do something unprecedented: write code to obfuscate the utility of the current security protocols Apple has in place to protect individual users of it’s products.

While the order is written to narrowly apply to one device, we all know that once the FBI has access to a tool that creates a back door to users’ devices –  the FBI has access to a tool that creates a back door to users’ devices.

Through high profile exposes from investigative journalists, Wikileaks and various former government whistle blowers, we know that the government frequently oversteps legal boundaries in pursuit of it’s objectives.

NSA’s data collection activities, widespread eavesdropping on citizens, clandestine drone strikes on Americans – I could go on and on -prove unequivocally that we can’t necessarily trust what we’re told about the government’s stated intentions.

More importantly, (true to form) the government has allegedly already been working on methods to break the encryption technology that companies like Apple and Google have developed in light of the Wikileaks scandal.

Whether or not it would be easier if Apple ‘helped’ the government, is immaterial.

What matters more is that a company shouldn’t be forced to compromise the security measures it’s developed, when other less drastic alternatives exist.

We already live in a time where virtually everything we do is monitored, whether we know (or consent to) it or not.

The few illusions we have of privacy are important, especially as data collection assails us from all directions, from our computers, to our mobile devices, to our new found obsession with wearables.

The advent of IoT means that even more data will be collected of our every digital interaction.

If the courts do not reverse their order and if Apple is unsuccessful in their appeal, the precedent could extend to the maker of any data collection device being forced to add ‘back doors’ to circumvent security protocols.

And that is what is truly at stake.

It’s one thing to be asked to turn over data pursuant to a properly obtained subpoena.

Its quite another to be asked to expend development resources of a private company to assist the government to breach the security protocols of an individual’s device.

If the back door was already there, no problem.

But to be forced to create the back door, that’s an entirely different creature altogether.

How this ultimately plays out remains to be seen.

Will Apple capitulate to the government’s request (kicking and screaming as many pundits anticipate) or not? Who knows?

I, for one, hope not.

Because once Pandora’s box has been opened, you can’t undo that.

I’m sure many will disagree with me and that’s fine.

Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

One final thought, if you’re interested in following the debate on social media, you can using the hashtag #applevsfbi

 

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Filed under advocacy, iPhone, mobile

Book Book is for the birds. Unless you want a cracked iPhone screen.

iPhone 6 Plus + Book Book = Cracked iPhone 6 Plus

I was soooo happy when my Book Book iPhone 6 Plus case first arrived.

You know, the phone case that looks like an old book from Twelve South.

I made several videos illustrating my unbridled glee before settling on this.

I had slits for my credit cards, a clear panel for my license and could hold a couple of dollars nicely.

There was no way to keep it closed, but laying on a surface, the cover stayed firmly on the screen.

After all kinds of iPhone cases – Otterboxes, bootleg LV wallet, Targus, this one, that one – I felt that I had arrived.

With the Book Book, I had stepped up my phone case game.

I’d matured.

My iPhone was nestled snugly in a case that protected it from the elements and looked stylish to boot.

Oh! The compliments I received!

Each new outing brought hordes of admirers, cooing at my case, remarking on the weathered look of my Book Book comme iPhone case.

My glee was short lived however, the first time the phone dropped.

My pride turned quickly to horror as my phone slid off my lap and (in slow motion) opened up like a small black bat taking flight.

But instead of darting off herky jerky, it made a beeline to the hard unforgiving ground, landing with a resounding slap.

Nauseous I reached down, confident I would see the telltale sign of iPhone owner neglect – the spiderweb crack.

Luckily, I dodged the bullet and my screen was intact.

I thanked the iPhone gods (Steve Jobs and Jony Ives) and swore I would never treat my iPhone so shabbily in the future.

But that exact same scenario has occurred no less than five more times since then.

Sometimes landing on a rug, or a shoe or car mat.

Each time face down, but intact.

Until today.

You see, today, it slipped out of my hands, as I was trying to navigate a subway turnstile.

I keep my Metrocard in one of those handy slits on the inside cover, and as I went to move through the turnstile, my forward momentum came to an abrupt halt.

Apparently, my Metrocard had not been read.

And as a result, my Book Book went flying, opened face down, and SLAP!

Everything went black.

I knew, I just knew that this was the end.

I had mocked the iPhone gods with my empty promises, and it was my day of retribution.

You’ve been in the NYC subway system.

There’s nothing soft about it.

I prepared for my accounting as I swiped my Metrocard (correctly this time) and stooped to retrieve my baby from the cold concrete.

Amazingly, no spiderweb.

Praise Jobs!

Wait…what’s this?

There.

On the lower left edge.

A crack.

Slight.

Like a hair caught in two places along the edge, forming an elongated reverse capital “C.”

Barely perceptible, but there nonetheless.

I cursed the culprit for my suffering under my breath.

Fucking Book Book!

At this moment, I realized what an absolute liability the Book Book iPhone 6 Plus case was.

Despite the mounds of empirical data I had to the contrary, I operated under the delusion that my phone was safe in the case.

Aliya King's Nightmare on Instagram

Aliya King’s Nightmare on Instagram

Not less than a week ago, I had told my girl Aliya King, that I felt her pain when she posted a selfie with her spiderweb sporting iPhone 6 Plus in what?

A Book Book.

What else?

I had even replied that I was going to swap my Book Book for an Otterbox or LifeProof for the very same reason.

Did I?

No.

Do I regret it?

Yes.

But more than regret, I’m angry.

Book Book, you need to either (a) increase the depth of the iPhone holder or (b) figure out a way to keep the case from flying open face down when dropped.

But either way you owe me a new iPhone.

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It’s all about connections. And 5 Other Things You Need to Know about the Internet of Things

IoT Demystified, artwork courtesy of Dawn Riziti

I recently asked a professional colleague of mine if they knew what the Internet of Things was.

After a brief paused, they half-said, half-asked, “a marketplace of things you can get on the internet?”

Uh – no. Not even close.

Mind you, since I work in technology, I was more than a bit taken aback.

How are we, in the mobile/tech industry, not up on a rather widely used term of art – at least within the industry?

But then it dawned on me, the Internet of Things (or “IoT” as we say type in the industry) may not be as widely known as I thought.

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never even heard of the “Internet of Things.”

Or, if you’ve heard the expression, you probably nodded along knowingly, without the faintest idea of what it meant.

Apple Watch. Internet of Things.

Nest thermostat. Internet of Things.

Onstar. Internet of Things.

Nowadays, virtually everything can be part of this amorphous Internet of Things, thing.

But that’s not quite explanation enough to help you know what the Internet of Things, actually is.

So here’s a little primer for ya.

According to Wikipedia,

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing infrastructure.

Come again, say what?

The Cloud Computing glossary defines the Internet of Things like so:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT has evolved from the convergence of technologies, micro-electromechanical systems and the Internet.

Yeah, that was a whole lot of gobletygook.

But if the concept still escapes you, here are five other things, about the Internet of Things, that may help you to wrap your head around it.

1. IoT promises connections to everything. The new rule for the future is going to be, “anything that can be connected, will be connected.” As a result, that very “connection” is going to allow you to “life hack” like you’ve never before. You’re already able to track your REM sleep patterns, your calories in-and-out, your mood and focus throughout the day. “Know thyself” will be the new thing as we become data crunching champions. No more ‘one-size-fits-all’ consumption because, at our fingertips, will be a ‘personality mosaic’ that informs all of our behaviors and consumption.  

2. IoT will impact consumptive behavior. As the leading brand in the space, Apple will continue to lead the pack with IoT. They’ve already made the biggest impacts in “at will” consumption. Their IoT will invariably provide us all with completely “tailored” lives. The Apple Watch gives developers the ability to create apps, which will enable the reading and tracking of our consumptive habits and offer more and more suggestions tailored to our interests and lifestyles. 

The possibilities for the IoT increase as the cost of technology decreases. A few years ago, you could only get feature rich smart phones with a two year contract from a major carrier. Today, you can cop an iPhone from T-Mobile or a Samsung from Metro PCS without a contact. Companies will pay you to leave your carrier. And that’s because they know that the smart phone users’ consumptive behavior is on fleek.

3. IoT promises increased efficiency and reduced waste. The IoT will to make us all more efficient, by collecting data about our habits and behaviors, and helping us to live more productive lives. Machines that order refills when supplies are low. Alarms that record how often you hit snooze and wake you up at the optimal time so you don’t have to. Cars that calculate travel time and proactively re-route you when they detect increased traffic ahead. Lights that automatically brighten and dim, based on the activity in the room. All of these advances are the Internet of Things, saving money, time, gas, and energy.

4. IoT will change healthcare as we know it. Folks are obsessed with the possibilities that Android Watch and the Google Genomic project will have on healthcare. Think about it. Through the IoT, our genomes, our diseases and our state of health can be all matched up with environmental and behavioral data fed by wearable tech. We’ll actually be able to know more about disease and what triggers certain gene expression, possibly leading to cures and disease prevention by reconciling all of this disparate data.

Lab testing on animals has proven to be highly ineffective and outdated in mimicking/predicting how humans will respond to medications and other environmental influences. But IoT provides the first truly humane opportunity EVER to virtually “test” on humans, by giving medical professionals a unique and benignly intrusive view into the relevant metadata that factors into our general health.

5. IoT has major privacy and security implications. If you follow the news, you may have heard about the hullabaloo over the new Samsung Smart TVs which ‘listen’ to you. It’s really just another form of voice-commanded technology, not unlike Siri, Cortana or Google’s voice assistant, which act on vocal prompts. So while we’re already using this type of technology, the IoT opens up the possibility that virtually every device you interact with will be ‘listening’ to you, actively and passively, monitoring and recording your every action.

The purpose of this listening, tracking and recording is to enable you to live a simpler life, but the implications include the fact that third parties will be able to access ever more granular bits of data about you, your family, your habits, comings and goings. With ‘listening’ televisions and devices everywhere, the IoT brings the very real likelihood that we are going to be sacrificing privacy, as we know it, for convenience.

But it’s not all bad.

Put simply, the internet of this is all about connections.

So let’s review, shall we?

The Internet of Things is connected devices, wired homes, smart buildings, and constant data capture.

It’s smart grids, IPv6, machine-to-machine, intelligent communication.

It’s sensors, RFID, wireless technologies, beacons.

It’s everything. Everywhere. All the time.

Welcome to the Internet of Things.

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Godsend or Devil’s spawn? Five pros and cons of the Apple Watch.

apple watchApple just held one of its infamous events, where they unveiled the Apple Watch and the newly redesigned MacBook.

And while folks (including your’s truly) were thoroughly impressed with all the updates to the Mac: slimmer profile, lightweight, no fan, etc., the clear, hands down star of the show was the Apple Watch.

Not since the release of the original iPhone has there been this much hype over a device.

Nearly every day, dozens (if not hundreds) of articles and blog posts have been devoted to speculating what types of apps are going to be preloaded on the device, it’s functionality and features.

The authors of these pieces fall squarely on one side of the debate or the other.

The Apple Watch is either a godsend or the spawn of Satan.

Let’s examine the five most telling assessments of the Apple Watch and decide for ourselves, shall we?

1. The Apple Watch will make us healthier.

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Like FitBit, Nike+ FuelBand and Jawbone, the Apple Watch enables it’s wearer to monitor and track their fitness activity. Whether you’re walking or running, climbing stairs or taking your dog for a walk, the Apple Watch lets you track all your fitness activities. Apps integrating Apple’s Healthkit, allow you to track things like weight, BMI and biometric readings. With haptic responses and wireless syncing with your iPhone, the Apple Watch promises to be both your fitness diary and motivator, keeping you on track.

2. The Apple Watch will permanently shackle us to our jobs.

Apple Watch handcuffs

The thing about wearables is that they’re wearable. So if you’ve got a device that’s constantly updating your emails, your meetings, your text messages, and pinging you with alerts and reminders, the argument goes that you’re always going to be ‘on.’ No longer will you be able to say, “I left my phone at my desk or in my purse,” because that watch on your wrist doesn’t come off.

3. The Apple Watch will make us more productive.

flash

Apps like OfficeTime offer the promise of increased productivity, by allowing you to tap your watch at the beginning and end of every activity, and by the end of the day, week, month, provide an accurate record of what exactly you spend your time doing. Other apps, like Evernote, are porting their functionality to the Apple Watch, allowing users to access a slimmed down version of the app from their wrist.

4.  The Apple Watch is a distraction.

smartwatchdriver

We’re already slaves to our mobile devices, staring at them every five minutes, phantom buzzing in our pockets, on a constant search for power sources to keep precious life flowing into their silicon innards. But with a phone, it’s often tucked away, in a case, pocket, or purse, and therefore not as much of a distraction. You can leave it at your desk and walk away, put it down or turn it off and Viola! problem solved. The Apple Watch, as a wearable, will not be discretely tucked away, but a constant vibrating, beeping, buzzing distraction on your wrist, always within eyeshot.

5. The Apple Watch is an elegant piece of design.

apple-watch-paris

Few can debate that the Apple Watch is a thing to behold. Like Rolex, Chopard or Breitling, the Apple Watch is design, if nothing else. I’m pretty sure I got a woody the first time I saw it. But I’m a fanboy, what would you expect? If you want decide to buy the Apple Watch because it looks good, who could fault you? No one – but the haters of course, and we’ll forgive their pettiness, won’t we.

If you want to track your steps in a sleek, stylish way, the Apple Watch is for you. If you want to be able to check your alerts, respond to texts, read emails without having to pull out your phone, the Apple Watch is for you. If you’re and early adopter simply trying to stay up on the latest and greatest technology out, the Apple Watch is for you.

At the end of the day, the Apple Watch is just a watch. It’s not even really a watch because you’ve got to pair it with a phone, which means that it’s functionality can only truly be experienced when connected to another bigger, less inconspicuous device.

But shortcomings aside, like the FitBits, Jawbones and Nike+ FuelBands before it, the Apple Watch adds another layer of utility for folks seeking that extra edge.

 

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Filed under advocacy, digital advocacy, mobile

Want higher mobile conversions? Offer mobile-only promotions and 4 more tips.

Want to make more money on mobile? Create mobile-only promotions.

Want to make more money on mobile? Create mobile-only promotions.

Retailers frequently lament the low conversions they see on mobile when compared to desktop or tablet traffic.

From their perspective, with over 7 billion mobile devices worldwide, and people spending more time browsing on mobile, more time on the platform should mean more money.

There should be a direct correlation between time on site and conversion, just like on desktop and tablet, for that matter.

The commonly held perception is that mobile conversion rates should equal that of, or eclipse, desktop rates.

Seems logical, right?

But who said mobile behavior was logical?

The fact of the matter is that there is no direct relationship between mobile browsing and conversion rates.

In retail specifically, conversion rates hover just below one percent (1%) on average.

If you’re a retailer with a mobile presence achieving between .8 and 1.0% conversion, know that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

If you’re achieving rates above 1%, you’re clearly ahead of the pack so keep doing what you’re doing.

But if you’re consistently seeing conversion rates below .7%, then it’s time for you to take a cold hard look at your mobile strategy.

If this is you (of the below .7% ilk) or if you’re looking for tips on preserving or even increasing your mobile conversion rates, you’ve come to the right place!

Here are my top five sure-fire tips for increasing your mobile conversions.

1. Offer mobile-only promotions. A key to increasing conversions on a channel is keeping users on that channel. You’ve seen “online-only” products and promotions, that encourage shoppers to take advantage of and complete purchases online. These types of strategies take advantage of online shopper’s natural inclination to save money, whether it’s a discount, free shipping or an online-only offer.

Brands which employ a mobile-only strategy will see an increase in conversions as shoppers will engage in similar behavior to take advantage of discounts, coupons, and specials.

2. Reward social share. If mobile is good for anything, it’s social sharing. Likes, favorites, retweets, and shares are social currency that brands should be actively trading in. Pinterest, for example, has given brands millions upon millions of unpaid promotions. Rather, than simply liking a post, brands should reward patrons or potential patrons for their favorable social promotion, by offering mobile coupons or discounts, in recognition, which can be redeemed the next time the user makes a purchase.

Sammydress is one retailer who understands the importance of rewarding users who promote their brand. Sammydress encourages users to post images of themselves via social media and offers points for these activities. Users who collect enough points can redeem them for discounts on future purchases.

3. Mobile exclusives. There’s nothing better than feeling like you’re getting an exclusive benefit. The same holds true for mobile. Treat your mobile users like members of an exclusive club by giving them perks each time they convert, whether it’s responding to a post-purchase survey, click-to-call, favorite, like or share content via the mobile channel. Mobile exclusives incentivizes users to make their mobile device their channel of choice.

Push notifications, text messaging and email are great ways of engaging your users with mobile exclusives, which can be pushed directly to members of your loyalty or rewards programs, folks who have signed up for your email newsletters or opted in to receive text messages from your brand.

4. A/B Testing. You’re never going to increase your mobile conversions if you’re not constantly testing, testing, testing. It’s one thing to have a theory about user behavior, and quite another to have data to back up your theories. More importantly, by performing A/B testing specifically, you’re able to see how one campaign or strategy racks up against another. Think desktop on mobile outperforms mobile on mobile? An A/B test will bear that out. Want to know whether an offer works best as a banner or a pop-up overlay? A/B testing can figure that out too. Is a red landing page more engaging than a black one? Conduct and A/B test and you’ll know for sure.

5. Give fewer options. I’ve often heard people say that they want their mobile customers to be able to have the same experience on mobile, as they do on their desktops. And I always respond “why?” They are different platforms, serving different needs, so why would you want the same content on both? Obviously, you’re not trying to reduce selection or service, but if you can accomplish in two steps on mobile, what it takes four to do on desktop, then by all means, cut out the unnecessary steps. On mobile, you want users to have a frictionless experience.Things like “one-click” checkout or allowing users to check out as guests (and thereby not have to log in to complete a transaction) are examples of how to apply this tip. And in this instance, less is more. The fewer steps you place in the path of the desired behavior, the more likely it is that you’re going to see your conversions increase.

These are just a choice few suggestions for how to improve your mobile conversion. Got a tip to share? I’d love to hear it!

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WTF!? It’s 2015. Get a f*@!ing mobile site already!

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I’m f*@!ing pissed!

Why?

I’ll tell you why.

Because it’s 2015 – 2015!! and motherfuckers are still making me view their shitty full sites on my mobile device.

Even though there are more than 6.9 billion mobile subscribers in the world and the fact that mobile browsing has overtaken desktop browsing, less than ten percent of the 700 million websites are optimized for mobile.

So that means even with my beautiful 6 Plus, I’ve still got to double tap, pinch and swipe to view the content of most sites on my phone.

I don’t get it.

Why wouldn’t you want your content to be viewed in a way that is readily consumable by your audience?

I mean, you built a website to put your stuff in front of potential customers, right?

So doesn’t it make sense, now that you know that everyone on the globe has – and regularly uses – a mobile device, to build a mobile site.

Or at the very least optimize your content to be accessible to mobile devices?

There are countless benefits for making a mobile version of your site.

Simpler navigation.

Prominently placed calls to action.

Streamlined options.

Leveraging the utility of native mobile browsers.

Click-to-call.

The majority of which is lost if you’re forcing your users to contend with a full HTML site.

Trust me, if you built a mobile site, you’d have far more engagement and conversions than you currently do.

Don’t believe me?

Check out your analytics.

See how many visits you’re currently getting from mobile browsers.

I’d put money on the fact that you’ve got more visits from mobile browsers, Android and iPhone devices than anything else.

What does it all mean?

It means that if you customize the browsing experience for folks visiting your site from mobile devices, you’re going to see decreased bounce rates, increased time on site, increased page views, potentially higher conversions and more revenue.

It’s a win-win!

If you require convincing that a mobile site is the way to go, you’re probably of the ilk that thought radios, the telephone, and the Internet were passing fads.

If you, on the other hand, know you need a mobile site and don’t know where to start, hit me up and I’ll put you on the right path.

But whatever you do, for the love of God, get a mobile site – STAT!

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2015 is The Year of Mobile and 5 other predictions

crystal-ball

Around this time of year, you’re going to be inundated with “resolution” and “prediction” posts, with folks proselytizing on their views of tech trends for the upcoming year.

Your boy is no better.

But unlike these other jokers at Mashable, Techcrunch, Gawker, et al., who spend time researching, interviewing experts and reviewing industry reports, I simply comb through their work, cherry-picking the tastiest tidbits and regurgitating their work as my original thought.

I kid, I kid.

But seriously.

The end of the year provides a great opportunity to review the wins, hits or misses or the previous year and reliably forecast what may happen in the year ahead.

There have been a number of interesting developments over the past year, which give me confidence to say that 2015 will be the year of mobile.

For example, there are more mobile devices than people on the earth.

Let that sink in for a moment.

That’s significant, especially if all of these people are browsing from their mobile devices.

Even if only half of them utilize their mobile devices as the primary means for getting online, brands that aren’t mobile-enabled are going to see their bounce rates increase and revenues decline, as folks abandon them for sites that are mobile optimized.

But rather than talk about how mobile will impact brands generally, here are my top five mobile predictions for 2015.

1. Mobile payments are going to take off. With Apple Pay already being adopted by 220,000 vendors, the mobile payment trend is undoubtedly going to grow. Apply Pay joins other established mobile payment solutions, like Google Wallet and PayPal, and newcomers, like LevelUp and Paydiant, as well as a host of others scoping the mobile payment space, including Square and Swipely. With folks taking privacy and security seriously, e-commerce sites and mobile applications that allow users to avoid the necessity of having to manually input payment details over insecure wifi networks, will undoubtedly be the preferred method for completing online transactions.

This year, I predict mobile payments becoming a standard.

2.  Mobile sites will proliferate this year. As brands start to realize that customers are spending increasing amounts of time on mobile devices, getting in on this action will be a critical strategy to engagement. Last year, the average person spent almost 3 hours a day on their mobile devices. That’s more time than they spend online, and this trend will likely continue. With streaming services offering television-like abilities, mobile may eventually outpace tv. But at a very basic level, this year brands will acknowledge that the failure to have a mobile site (either mobile enabled or fully responsive) is a distinct competitive disadvantage.

I predict the number of mobile sites will invariably grow at a tremendous pace this year.

3. Widespread adoption of auto-fill. Retailers bemoan cart abandonment as the bane of their existence. Over 68% of e-commerce shopping carts are abandoned. The holy grail for online shopping involves seeing shoppers through checkout. But for mobile shoppers, there is nothing more frustrating than having to complete payment and shipping forms on their mobile device. Payment options like PayPal or Amazon One-Click save users from filling out many of the fields required to complete their online purchases, but too few online vendors are set up with streamlined payment processes. And while a fine tuned checkout doesn’t necessarily equate to fewer abandoned carts, it couldn’t hurt!

Auto fill is a simple and easily implemented solution, that can occur at the browser or native (device) level, which will enable users to quickly and securely complete online forms, typically with one click, dramatically reducing the amount of time (and frustration) required to complete payment or shipping information (or forms of any kind). Google Chrome has already implemented the ability to auto fill forms in both full HTML and mobile web browsers, and many of the mobile payment solutions described above, also include the ability to complete non-payment forms as well.

I predict widespread adoption of mobile autofill solutions, as more players enter the space and users become more conversant with these types of platforms.

4. Mobile loyalty programs will grow. Nearly every retailer I frequent has some sort of rewards program. Stores like Anthropologie, Sephora, CVS, Modell’s, Target, and ShopRite all have rewards programs tied to a keychain or wallet-sized reward card that patrons can present at checkout to earn points or qualify for rewards. But 2015 will see an increasing number taking advantage of Passbook or eliminating cards in favor of mobile loyalty or punch cards. Instead of having to present a loyalty card, users will simply whip out their cell phones flash a QR code and transmit their rewards or loyalty account info, similar to how Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts’ mobile rewards work.

I predict that 2015 will see more brands taking advantage of the convenience of mobile loyalty and release Passbook-like offerings of their own.

5. Wearables will change the mobile landscape. In the not-too-distant past, when you thought “wearables” a massive virtual reality helmet was probably all that came to mind. But with Oculus Rift making wearable headsets more like goggles, and less like NFL helmets, the concepts is more palatable. The definition of wearables has extended from virtual reality headsets, to Google Glass to fitness devices like the Nike FuelBand, the Fitbit tracker, the Apple Watch and Android smart watches. Wearables will open a whole host of smart applications, devoted to health and fitness, as well as medical diagnostics.

I predict that wearables will have a breakout year in 2015, driven primarily by the Apple Watch, but supported by advances in Android wearables, the proliferation of 3D and augmented reality applications adding rich virtual layers to users’ real life experiences.

What are your mobile predictions for 2015? Feel free to comment and share!

Happy New Year!

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Sales tips from a guy who hates to sell. You gotta believe.

Believe-logo

I used to see a career coach who told me that in order to get to where I wanted to be, I had to start from the bottom.

While I waited for folks to get on board and agree that I was the greatest thing since sliced bread – and pay me handsomely for my opinions and presence – I had to get a job.

And since I was transitioning from law to tech, I should use my gift of gab in an area that he thought would be a natural fit: sales.

The thing about his advice, while 100% accurate – I can sell – was the fact that I hate selling.

Well hate may be a bit strong.

I dislike it greatly.

And it’s not the act of selling that I dislike. I am a hunter.

It’s the things I have to sell that I generally dislike.

It wasn’t always this way.

When I was in high school I worked at Macy’s in the ladies shoe department as a shoe salesman.

Selling was a cinch.

To be clear, shoes sell themselves to women.

All I did was shuttle different sizes back and forth from the stock room until my client decided which pair (or pairs as was often the case) she wanted.

I’d ring her up, bag her goodies and she was off to shop some more, or to her car with the balance of her shopping spree.

Sure, I was masterful at upselling.

Transitioning a patron from a low priced item, say some 9 West black slingback pumps, to a higher prices one, like an elegant pair of Via Spiga heels that just arrived, was my forte.

But for the most part, I didn’t have to hard sell (or upsell) anyone.

Fast forward to 2008, the heyday of mobile marketing and SMS, when I worked for one of the three largest mobile aggregators selling mobile marketing to brands eager to get into texting.

The services sold themselves, and I simply guided green content creators through the short code acquisition mobile marketing campaign activation wireless carrier gauntlet.

In the process of demonstrating my expertise, I also upsold premium services and our platform, which allowed brands to publish their own compliant mobile ready campaigns.

As a captive audience, who had already taken the plunge to embrace the brave new world of mobile, selling (and upselling) was like shooting fish in a barrel.

But here is where my love affair with selling abruptly turned for the worse.

You see, my third sales or “business development” role was with an app development firm.

It was here that I understood that sales was not for me.

While I fully believed in the future of mobile, and was prepared to assail anyone who would listen with the wonders of developing mobile applications with us, my heart wasn’t in it.

I didn’t believe what I was selling.

Or rather, the thing that I was selling didn’t sell itself.

As a salesman, you can sell anything.

If you’ve got a silver tongue (as I did) a freezing man will buy ice from you.

And if you’ve got something that sells itself (or you believe that you do), the world is your oyster.

You can flit in and out of offices, meetings, conferences and presentations with a self assuredness that allows you to throw caution to the wind.

I’ve got it, you want it. Now, what will you pay me for it?

Selling was simple.

As was prospecting.

Lead generation was never an issue as we were on the leading edge of new technology.

Apps were everything.

Simply say the word “apps” and folks were rapt with attention.

And I sold lots of apps.

But then the company didn’t deliver.

Project after project became trapped in a bottleneck.

Features that were sold as standard became “premium” or required “custom development,” and I started to see the wizard’s cape showing behind the screen.

And that was it. I learned that I wasn’t built to sell just anything.

Actually, what I really learned was that I excelled at selling what I believed in.

Before the veil was pulled back, I would have sold anything to anyone.

After I saw the wizard, I became increasingly selective about what I’d co-sign, pitch or promote.

This isn’t really a “proper” tips post, but to stay true to it’s title, here are a few tips for being better at sales.

  1. If you need a script, don’t sell it. If you need a guide to sell, it’s not for you.
  2. If you wouldn’t buy it, don’t sell it. It’s hard pushing something you wouldn’t take/use yourself.
  3. If you agree with buyers’ objections, don’t sell it. When you find yourself agreeing with all the objections a potential buyer has for not buying in, you shouldn’t be selling it in the first place.

In the final analysis that’s the key: sell only what you believe in.

Because then selling comes naturally.

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Want to increase diversity in tech? Make it cool. TechCool.org

Ethnicity in tech US

There’s been much ado about the diversity gap in tech.

The big dogs, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, EBay and Apple, have all released data, showing how much of their respective work force is made up of minorities and women.

Needless to say, the stats aren’t encouraging.

For the most part, tech is a white male dominated field.

Depending upon where you look, there’s anywhere from a 70/30 to 90/10 male to female ratio in tech.

From an ethnic perspective, the stats are far more sobering.

Generally, tech in the US is 58% white, 34% Asian, 2% Hispanic/Latino, and 2% Black (and 2% “other”).

The diversity gap stems from the fact that hiring in tech companies isn’t proportional to population.

While Blacks make up approximately 13% of the US population, they represent only about 2 to 3% of the technology workforce.

The disparity is palpable, especially when you think about the billion dollar valuations of tech companies like WhatsApp, Instagram and Tumblr, and how few people of color are up in the cut.

As a self-professed Black techie, I see this disparity every day.

In the majority of the tech circles I’m in, there are very few Black/brown faces.

We need more color in tech.

But how do we get there?

It’s one thing to know what the problem is.

It’s quite another to solve it.

Tech firms have begun recruiting at HBCUs and asking colleges and universities to recommend qualified Black students at job fairs.

But in my opinion, we’ve got to start earlier.

Obviously, exposing our youth to technology and fostering a love of math and the sciences is key.

Growing up, my father encouraged me to be an engineer.

I can still hear him in his thick Nigerian accent saying, “Chibuzor, you are going to be a engineer.”

That was his thing.

His first son was going to be an engineer, by hook or by crook.

Despite his aspirations for me, I simply wasn’t interested in joining the geek squad.

I fought him tooth and nail and I got an economics degree instead.

Today, I’m scraping together a meager existence and engineering jobs remain unfilled – or filled by white and asian men.

I could kick myself.

Who knew that Uneze had such foresight?

Why did I resist so vehemently?

Was his delivery so suspect that I gave it little to no weight?

Or was I just not checking for an industry I found to be so square?

Tech simply didn’t do it for me.

Looking back, it makes me wonder how many Black parents wanted their children to go into math and the sciences, but couldn’t instill any excitement in them to take it up?

All the Neil deGrasse Tysons of the world, much like Uneze before him, aren’t turning urban kids on to science.

My first proper experience with tech was cool.

I helped launch a Harlem-based start-up called DigiWaxx.

DigiWaxx was an online digital music promotions company that created a digital platform which made sending physical copies of records to DJs obsolete.

While it was primarily music and artist promotion, we pioneered what became the standard in digital distribution of promotional content.

The technology we employed was very rudimentary (at the time), but it was still tech.

And it gave me a glimpse into the myriad of non-traditional opportunities that existed in tech.

It also exposed me to the some really progressive folks on the leading edge of technology – most of whom were Black.

Folks like Russell Simmons and (360hiphop.com and Global Grind), had whole teams of Black techies, who simply did not fit the stereotype of tech.

Today, I’m steeped in technology helping brands to build mobile websites, mobile and tablet applications, and immersive interactive experiences.

I’m also spreading the message about how cool tech can be to Black and brown kids to help overcome the diversity gap.

How?

Well for one, I’ve started TechCool.org.

Well, I haven’t actually started it.

I just copped the URL yesterday when I was thinking about writing this blog.

And roped my man into creating a logo for me (soon come).

But that’s besides the point.

What tech lacks is the cool factor.

When most of us think tech, invariably we think nerd (sorry Neil).

We don’t think rockstar.

But tech is full of rock stars, and I’m focused on bridging the diversity gap by helping to put the cool into tech.

If you’re the parent of a young Black kid, you know they emulate the rock stars.

Well not rock stars literally, but cats in the public eye.

Roll out a phlanx of sports or media superstars, and your kids are wide-eyed, imitating their moves on the court, pantomiming their videos or reciting their lyrics.

We’ve got to elevate tech to rockstar status, to excite kids about the possibilities.

I’m starting an organization whose primary mission is to encourage young Black kids to take up technology by exposing them to the superstars in the space.

My plan is to partner with celebrities as a catalyst to spark interest in tech, and do it in a way that inspires them to explore tech professions in the future.

I did a pilot of this program a few years ago with the Police Athletic League of NYC, called the Digital University, where we gave youth first hand experience with audio and video production, web development and social media management and marketing.

We brought in DJs to teach them how to mix, VJs to show them video mixing, gave them cameras to shoot video, video editing software to create movies, and brought in a celebrity or two to keep them inspired.

The kids loved it and we opened their eyes to the numerous possibilities which existed for them to explore tech-based professions.

Although PAL ultimately opted to teach a cooking class instead of continuing to offer the program – because home ec is more important than tech..duh! – we were able to establish a proof of concept that the right program taught by the right people, with the right level of cool could connect with kids in a meaningful way.

That experience has inspired me to go all-in and form a not-for-profit singularly dedicated to rebranding the tech industry to make it more enticing to our youth.

So stay tuned for more updates as I bring TechCool.org to life.

It will probably start off with a blog, and then some speaking engagements, before I’ve got bonafide programming and a formal offering.

But I’m committed to giving tech a facelift and helping to close this divide.

Feel free to share your thoughts on my plan and hit me up if you’re interested in being a part of the TechCool movement!

 

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Filed under advocacy, digital advocacy, technology