Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Digital Business Goodies from 2014

OK. Buckle in.  I've been saving up a number of digital business resources to share and its coming down to the wire for 2014.  Here's a collection of resources on digital strategy, social media, online engagement, tools, video and  industry trends.  

For your holiday reading pleasure and beyond...


On Objectives and Goal Setting
Social Media Effectiveness
  • Great study on Twitter Engagement from the folks at Stone Temple Consulting.
    • A few known truths here cemented in by further evidence as well as some new learnings. You can even digest the study in multiple formats, including video and info graphic!
  • Track Maven's Fortune 500 Instagram Report
    • Great report from the folks who deal with massive amounts of brand analytics from Instagram on a daily basis. Always great to get insight into how brands are becoming successful on this platform.
  • Track Maven's Facebook Report 
    • Another very useful report from the folks at Track Maven. Some useful tips to make sense of the Las Vegas Marketing Fiesta that is Facebook.
Nice Examples of Tools for Online Engagement
  • Great blogs about Infographics and Data Visualization
    • Just when you get tired of infographics, someone curates a great site like this to show you how many crazy things you can do with them.
  • Interactive Tools - Customer Journey to Online Purchase by Google 
    • Topically this is interesting to me because its relevant to me as a marketer. Overall I'm just loving Think With Google's use of interactive tools on the blog.
Online-to-Offline (020) and why we should care
If you're already versed in what O2O is about, this may or may not be useful. For those who are not, this set of articles is really to inform about some in-market-tests taking place as we speak which are bound to change the nature of projects we work on for clients, particularly if they are in B2C industries that involve storefronts of any kind.

For many consumer oriented businesses, one of the most expensive challenges of the last 50 years has been bridging the effectiveness of advertising impressions to buying behavior.  People spend most of their disposable income locally, but retailers and other local service providers have often been blind to how online media influences their in-store traffic and behavior.  The big ad players, namely Facebook and Google have been racing to get their solutions for in-store conversion tracking into the market; as you can imagine, these solutions rely heavily on your smartphone and location based services.

Here are a few brief pieces that describe how these pilot programs will roll out:

Monday, June 02, 2014

Goodbye Bourbon

Playtime at Home
Getting comfortable in the new digs
One week ago at this time, we were returning from the animal hospital where we had to put our Bourbon to sleep.  His condition had rapidly degraded to the point that he could no longer stand up on his own.  After so many times of wondering if he was near his end, only for him to bounce back even stronger, it was a bit surreal for the moment to arrive where it was absolutely clear that what he needed most was mercy.

As it was the evening of Memorial Day, we had one option which was to bring him to the pet emergency hospital where he once stayed for a week of treatment while he had severe seizures.  This time circumstances were different. He was calm on our car ride, and very agreeable with the staff.  They prepped him and brought him to us on a big comfy rug where he did not squirm or fuss. He just let us say our goodbyes. I probably could not have imagined a sweeter way for him to go; he fell asleep in our arms, snoring, before they gave him his final dose.

It's been a tough week. Although we cleaned out most of his things, each day you stumble upon something else that reminds you of him: a paw print in the concrete, the places he would sleep, the lack of a water bowl when you reach to fill it. Mostly the hard part is the silence.

Jen put together a touching post about B here, that I think summed things up pretty well:

I know that I did not know what Bourbon would bring to our lives, and although he was a great deal of work, he changed me for the better.

Bourbon, thank you for everything, most of all finding us. I miss you but I hope that you are now at peace.

Finding Bourbon at Homeward Bound
After Bourbon's first grooming
Family Dog 101

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Whose Data is it Anyway? The Rise of the Digital Ombudsman

Marketers are collecting more and more data all the time. The question is: What are they doing with it all?

The last decade has seen an explosion of customers analytics coming from social media conversation, web search and email - businesses have needed to adapt fast to include these channels in their strategies. The rise of a new profession, digital marketing, comes amidst a lackluster track record of marketing demonstrating business value to executives; a recent McKinsey Survey had 72% of CEOs reporting that their marketing departments continued to ask for more money with no evidence of business value. At the same time, we continue to see new business models built on top of popular digital platforms and businesses rise and fall based on insights gleaned via social listening.
Most of us in the digital marketing space are inundated with analytics, reports on how analytics can help you derive more value for the business, and more analytics. There is certainly every intention to deliver value, even while there is uncertainty over “what” is valuable.

Customer data compact

With all of this focus on the ‘innovation’ that can come from big data, there has not been enough focus on the customer whose data has become the engine that fuels the new tech economy. In his latest work, Who Owns the Future, Jaron Lanier points out how much wealth has been created on models which count on freely provided output of consumers through social content; he goes further to propose economic models for how to redistribute that wealth more fairly. If the data has become this valuable, it is time for a new customer compact to be driven out by marketing that can answer the following questions for consumers:
1. What their data is being used for
2. Who can see it
3. How to know it is being kept safe
4. How to obtain a copy
I contend that the transparency inferred here requires the creation of a new capability. This would consist of upgrading the user experience of digital channels to feature more obvious disclosure of privacy policies and terms of usage, developing internal protocols for handling customer data, and finally, providing ownership and accountability for the systems that ensure the former. Without this, marketing risks alienating the audience that has implicitly helped it gain new levels of credibility.

Customer data compact

Governing body or officer
Large advertising agency, Ogilvy and Mather, has suggested that alone this is not enough, and has proposed a management level construct to address the question of accountability. It created a new role called the Chief Data Officer (CDO), whose mandate is to:
● Develop and inform strategies for gathering and acquiring data and standardizing collection
● Assist in securing data from outside sources
● Develop advanced analytics approaches to predictive modeling and cross-channel data packages
Though the CDO approach has promise, I am not convinced that it is nimble enough to take on the challenges brought by an increasingly consumerist technology landscape in our enterprises. A centralized approach could just spur more rogue efforts that exacerbate the problems. Think of a marketing team that spins up its own social network to support product research and development, or a sales team that builds its own customer relationship management system using free cloud provisioned software or even a customer service group doing social media based surveys. These are all scenarios that are likely to have happened in many organizations today and likely for the right reasons since they empower the people closest to the customer.

Customer data compact
Governing body
or officer
Code of
With this in mind, the other missing component of our data governance model is a code of conduct surrounding customer data that educates employees on how to make responsible decisions for designing solutions and selecting software packages and vendors to support them.
This charter of sorts would describe the roles and responsibilities that exist in the organization for governing customer relationships, a summary of the systems available to represent customer data, and finally, a checklist of tradeoffs to consider in solution design, including:
● Collecting what’s essential versus everything possible
● Opt-in over opt-out
● Providing transparency of intent of data usage
Enterprises exploring the new frontiers of digital innovation need to develop a governance strategy lest they become overtaken by the competitors who have made this their focus. The components of this include a customer data compact that outlines policies for handling and use of data, a customer facing management role to champion customer interest (we recommend something more in the spirit of ‘Ombudsman’ than ‘Officer’), and the code of conduct to educate employees on tradeoffs to make in the course of doing business.

This post was first published on the Distilled Blog in March 2014:

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Cool stuff - January 2014

Sitting down on a quiet Saturday night after the kids have gone to bed and reflecting on the month. This week ended nicely as a record traffic week for our website after the launch of our new Technology Radar report. It was a great culmination of events, with some tremendous writing from our colleagues in recent weeks, lots of audience engagement, and some great new creative work launched. It's hard to believe we came so far with the site in one year, and we're just getting started with what we have planned.

Its ironic that spending your days running a content marketing organization makes you less likely to write on your own blog, but I suppose one needs to step away from the keyboard now and then. Regardless, I've actually found myself scribbling down lots of bits to share over the course of the month, and promised I would at least get out one post to share some of the cool things I stumbled upon in January.


For musicians who are also technologists, Overtone ( has got to be one of the most amazing discoveries that I've made. Thanks to a ThoughtWorker named Chris Ford, I've started dabbling with it, and in the process started learning Clojure, the programming language that makes it possible.


Whether you think Bitcoin will be a massive success or not, is irrelevant. It does seem to signify that momentum around digital currencies is really starting to increase. This month's great editorial by Mark Andreessen in the NY Times, Why Bitcoin Matters ( ) and the response by the Economist's Glenn Fleishman in Medium ( ) were just great reads that dive into the mechanics of what makes currency systems work.

There has just been quite a bit of tremendous writing on the topic of Bitcoin over the last year, and the more you ready the more you find, including this one from Reuters' Felix Salmon in Medium, The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency ( ).

Best of Presentations and Predictions for the coming year

So many great recap and fast forward posts during the last month that your eyes can start to glaze over just thinking about them, but there were several standouts, many of which were filled with parallax awesomeness.

Looking back

Looking forward

Super useful tools

I consume lots of great resources shared with me by others, so its only fair I pass them along. Here's a few:

  • I started a new bundle of Digital Marketing Essentials which is a gift to all of you.
  • For those like myself who always need a command line reference, Conquering the Command Line rocks and is free online:
  • Buzzsumo (not to be confused with the awesome, Buzzstream) is an outstanding app to assist with online outreach or even general content marketing research, and its currently free while they work on their application and business model. It's super powerful and I love it for seeing what headlines are viral and who influencers around a topic are. I almost don't want to share it, it's so good.
  • For nonsense names, Wordoid cannot be beat, and once you get one, the Squarespace Logo tool is a great way to make yourself known.

New reading and whatnot
It's always nice to find time to read for enjoyment. I still try and fit my triage of Prismatic into my daily routine, devour my Latest from Dave Gray and NextDraft newsletters, and stuff any random things I find into Instapaper for commute fodder. In December and January I came across a number of new bits:

Otherwise, it's been a tremendous month that started with family, a nice New Year's celebration, time off and fun with these guys.  One of whom just turned one year old, and the other who is just about to start pre-school. Lots of fun stories to come, no doubt.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I made the pages of P2

If you haven't heard of P2 yet, you should. It is an original monthly magazine featuring ThoughtWorks folks of various talents reflecting on the craft of building software.

I'm proud to say that I was interviewed not long ago regarding the origins of the project to develop the new ThoughtWorks website during the last year.  That served as the basis for a story that appeared in this month's issue of P2:  Failures in doing everything right.

Check out the magazine and the article. If you're not familiar with ThoughtWorks or our website, feel free to take a stop by  In particular, we would love to get your opinions on some of the writing happening in our Insights section; pick the channel that inspires you the most.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cycle time, lead time, and continuous improvement

After some time, I have picked up Storify for a few projects that I have been looking to work on. This one will be based around resources to learn more about cycle time, lead time, and other measurements which can be used toward continuous improvement. Since I am being referred to new resources from colleagues on a daily basis, it seemed a great way to keep up with the various pieces in a visual way.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Gone but not forgotten

I'm ashamed to say that this blog has gone long neglected. Two children and loads of new career adventures have taken my focus.  And so, I'm determined to give the site a refresh.

In the short term, here are a few tidbits about what I've been up to:

  • I have two fantastic little boys that are keeping Jen and I incredibly busy.
  • I'm now overseeing all things digital for ThoughtWorks, which has been a really satisfying progression that has aligned with my interests and trajectory over the last few years. More to come in an upcoming post on that.  In the meantime, take a look at the latest version of and let me know what you think.
  • I set up an experimental blog recently using a very cool technology called that lets you use Evernote as a CMS.  You can read about it in my inaugural post at Digital Pistachio.
  • The garden is in full bloom.

Here's a little Vine of our youngest to keep you amused.