Making sense of it all. Probably requires a Watson computer.

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Even though I’m loaded with gadgets: iPhone, iPod, iPad, mini Samsung projector, Apple TV, MacBook Pro, 23″ HD monitor, Jambox – and these are the items on my desk presently – I read the NY Times and scan the local paper every morning. News on a tablet or my iPad conveys information to me faster and allows me to compare the coverage of a story as I can easily explore what NPR or BBC or Reuters may say of the same event. I prefer the Times in the morning because of the visual juxtaposition of stories. I’m a comparer and a connector (ugh! labels), but it’s true. It’s the positive benefit of what my affliction was labeled in the 60s as “often can’t sit still.” Challenging to me is to connect thoughtfully the headlines and nature of the often shocking evidence of these reports. This morning the connections come easy.

IBM’s Watson computer wins the Jeopardy Challenge versus two human champions. There may be some W-2 life left in us yet as the mighty machine could not identify the name of the major Chicago Airport, you know, the busiest one in the world. Take that, Terminator! Concurrently, spontaneous and orchestrated protests occur in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and even Iran as their unemployed youth and disenfranchised poor seek access to fundamental social opportunities.

Our soldiers in Afghanistan have actual real-time access to family and friends via Skype, Facebook, Twitter et al – note to self that the country is at war – while the Texas and the Wisconsin legislatures propose “Big Budget Cuts.” Well, gunner, what are we fighting for? And what are we heading home to at the end of this tour? might be legitimate questions from the soldiers. Or maybe they’re using social media to figure-out when the coast is clear to come home?!

Photo courtesy of Colorado River Rafting Company

We live in an amazing, dynamic and potent time. If you believe in the constructive value of Chaotic Friction, then you’re feeling pretty good right now. Doesn’t it feel like a raft ride down the rapids and maybe headed over a fall of some height? What should we yearn for? Control? Return to a past? Getting off the bus at the next stop? My preference is a collective sense that we’re all in this together and everywhere.

Social Media and Financial Institutions: Facts, Findings & Recommendations

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010


As compiled by a colleague at IBM Research. Offer to refer you if you are interested in source documentation. I especially agree that these communication techniques are widely ignored by established businesses; maybe because they seem to lessen traditional organizational controls. May the best methods win.

■About 30% are following their bank on a social networking site
■of those who are following 2/3rds are male, however female activity
is growing significantly faster so this will level out
■of those who are following 2/3rds earn $100K+
■significant age differential
♦18-30 years most active
♦31-49 less active
♦50+ least active
■Websites, social media and financial social networks are bringing
much greater transparency to consumers as they learn about and buy
financial products from providers. This increasing transparency
places consumers in the driver’s seat in their financial services
■The financial services marketplace is evolving from a one-to-one
relationship between customer and bank, toward an environment where
multiple financial partners will influence customer choices.
■Understanding the workings of a community will be more about
ethnography and human behavior than about technology issues.
■For Gen Y – order of web visit volume: Facebook, Search, E-mail,
Porn (traditional distribution search then porn)

Key Findings
■Use of social networking still in its infancy and few financial
institutions use it strategically
■Social will become a key customer channel that no business can
■Early adopters focus on marketing (at the cost of reducing print
and TV add budgets)
■Slightly more than half of the firms surveyed have a Facebook
presence today, with two‐thirds of the rest planning to use the
site. Twitter was the next most popular tool, used at 44% of firms,
followed by YouTube, in use at 38% of FIs.
♦Financial Institutions use this today
♦63% Facebook
♦49% Twitter
♦44% LinkedIn
♦33% YouTube
♦32% Blog
♦21% User‐generated content
♦17% Flickr or other photo sharing site
♦15% Customer review sites
♦7% Financial services social networking sites
■Chief compliance officers (CCOs) in institutionally oriented firms
are more inclined to ban social media than permit it, as the
monitoring of employee activity alone can take a staggering amount
of time. The world of social networking is booming with various
types of general and niche‐ category platforms, and a litany of
associated applications that help individuals repost videos, share
information, and vote on content. It’s quite a lot to track,
particularly given the business, client, and operational processes
that compliance teams must already stay on top of.

■Use customer data more efficiently and effectively. Look externally
to retailers to learn lessons and internally to sources such as
payment data to make this work.
■Break through the hype and understand how customers really want to
use technology — for example, mobile phones — and deliver products
and services that customers will actually want to use.
■The best approach in the short term will be to focus on social
networking’s core strengths: communication, relevance, and

1st day of Autumn

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Tempo in the technology sales sphere picks up. Four customer related briefings yesterday and several last week. I’m trying to figure-out why middle aged IT execs don’t embrace the potential of social media or Web 2.0?! They acknowledge that something is going on, mostly as they observe their children’s habits, and yet make little related progress or effort.

One reason could be that I’m speaking to IT execs. Two recent meetings with marketing staff, a combined total of 23 attendees revealed that 22 used iPhones. In one meeting of 11, each attendee of a range of ages had one! I spoke to 90+ IT execs last week, 7 had iPhones and the audience agreed that Social Media is only the new wrapper for relationship building.

Yesterday, an energy company expressed interest in meeting with me for a briefing because of the 200 interns that they hired for the past summer, 195 in their program evaluation forms expressed dismay at the absence or recommended that this company offer Facebook and Linked-In and You Tube access to employees. This wired demographic approaches with quite different expectations of work and relationships than even their parents.

Maybe I should resurrect the notion of the sea-change in technology introduction brought on by the CD-ROM in the early 1990s. I believe that it could be argued that this was the first really useful item of business productivity brought to the office from home. Prior, phone, mobile phones, typewriters, monitors, computers et al were brought home from the office. In the span of less than one generation, mom and dad look into the basement or den or children’s bedroom for insight into the future tools of their office environment. I know that I do. And lately, I am impressed with how much You Tube video that my teenage son looks at to learn about music or sports or even – ready for this – his schoolwork.

I try to comfort my customers about the potential of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook by suggesting that these are indeed quite fundamental, maybe even crude, but so was the personal computer in the early eighties. I recall a manufacturing expert at the largest of computer companies (at that time) telling me that he did not own a PC because it only seemed useful for “collecting recipes and writing letters (printed on that dot matrix, tabbed paper device). At that time, who could have envisioned having two applications open such as word processing and a spreadsheet, much less global interconnectivity of these machines or the form-factor being smaller than a calculator of that time. Here’s one: my first HP caluculator cost nearly $500 in 1973; my 16gb iPhone cost $200 in 2008. And the iPhone includes a decent calculator.
images images-1 gets a DJ on WXDU

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

I am interested in helping promote the wealth of science-related entities in our Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, aka Research Triangle Park. has info about our efforts.

Our intent is to create a business model that does not depend upon hand-outs or grants from others to sustain this effort as such an approach only carves the pie into yet another piece. More in the future on what I’ve learned so far.

To show another side of science, I’ve qualified as a DJ on Duke University Radio, WXDU (88.7 fm). The only way to really hear it is on iTunes via the link on the station’s site. Hats off to Duke for permitting members of the community to be part of the station. I hope and plan in the spring to offer a program entitled, what else?!, Science in the Triangle where I will interview a member of the local scientific community about their work and their favorite & influential types of music.

Over the holidays, I’m on air:

12/24 noon to 2 ——— 12/25 8pm to 10
12/26 3pm to 6 ——— 12/27 7am to 9
12/29 7am to 9 ——– 12/30 7am to 9
12/31 10pm to 1201

1/2/09 3 to 4:30

If you have requests, please telephone 919-684-8870 or 919-684-8871 while I’m on air.

This is worse for my teenaged sons than my Facebook page.

All Souls Day – Social Networking of the 11th Century

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

I grew up in New Orleans where parochial school children enjoyed two entertaining annual holidays:

– the well advertised Mardi Gras, a Tuesday day-off in mid Winter

– the Wednesday after Halloween to celebrate All Saints or All Souls Day

The headlines are occupied by the rise of oil, the fall of the dollar, the kick-off to the presidential race (so far it’s been preseason) and the finale to the sub-prime collapse.  Amidst the dour mainstream news, consider the escalation of the Microsoft vs Google campaign which should influence our own 2008 planning: 

- Microsoft invested $240mm investment in Facebook (1.6% stake) last week and Google countered immediately with an open standards alliance, Open Social, including LinkedIn, Ning, and Orkut (Google’s own social network).  Google does not want Facebook to become the operating system of social networks.  Quick aside: News Corp.’s 2006 100% acquisition of MySpace for $580mm looks brilliant.

Are we blindly returning to Act II of the dot-bom?  I think not and I believe that Social Networking or Community Building as promoted by Facebook and others could be adopted by our own kinds of enterprises to better connect our widely dispersed knowledge bases: employees, customers, partners, supplier in the spirit of ‘What if we knew what we all knew?!’

Right now I have eleven (11) applications opened to manage my work inside and outside of the firewall: email, sms, two types of instant messaging, two browsers, plus the associated tools for calendar, address book, word processing and a mobile phone.  I would value a workspace where I could link all of my activities to ‘connect those who know with those who need to know, regardless of their employer.  I see a Facebook-like model helping me to achieve this.

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, is quoted in Monday’s NY Times:  “One of the things to say, very clearly, is that social networks are very real.  If you are of a certain age, you sort of dismiss this as college kids or teenagers.  But this is very real.”  Google closed over $700 today, up 54% YTD.

‘Start small, grow fast, get involved‘ might be a productive way to explore the potential of Social Networking or Innovation Networking in 2008.   No holiday required.