Streamlining our monthly information costs, part 1: the cost of Freedom.

Monday, December 6th, 2010

AT&T is now the duo of the former Bell South and SouthWestern Bell. AT&T, in any legal construction, no longer supplies telephone service to my neighborhood which is a 3 wood to Duke University. I may live in Duke Forest but I do not live in the remote woods. Verizon, the former GTE, used to supply POTS to our home but sold such service to Frontier on 1 July.

Telecom industry tumult is not news as we all know that cell phones are replacing land-lines at a high-speed rate. Still, I have enough conference calls with never to be seen clients and colleagues that I want the best quality and most reliable service available. My outlook was reinforced again at lunch today when my client-guest called me on my AT&T iPhone which failed to ring in my pocket.

What truly inspired me to action was the realization and arithmetic, amidst the annual December flurry of birthdays (2) and Xmas debts (too many), that we’re spending too much on unsatisfying information services. Today, I’m beginning a campaign of calling my communications vendors to learn how we rationalize my monthly information costs. What will follow will be a roster of my results, a report in several parts or, at least, several calls.
Music Man Poster

2pm: Called Frontier, the former Verizon. Spoke with polite and knowledgable agent in Indiana. My current monthly fee is $47.99 for the Freedom Value Plan. Of course, one must weigh ‘what is the value of freedom?’ before hasty action, but I’m over that as I now ask ‘what is the value of value?’ or maybe ‘how can one become freed from value?’ and, especially, ‘do these guys have any value or values?’ Why the diatribe? Because my $47.99 plan gets to a bottom-line of $64.68 per month because of the number of hands along the way who require their share of the deal, aka Vig.

We politely compared which plans were best for me with the sense of foreboding at my end akin to the beef-cow brainstorming about ‘which ax would be better’ in conversation with the slaughter-house customer service rep. In my case, I was waiting for the up-sell to digital phone service, their version of cable service (FIOS) and in-home wiring maintenance plan which has to be the up-sell trick of all time. Have you ever heard of a phone wire going bad in a modern home? And should you pay $72 per year for the reassurance that the chap in the helmet will show up to trace-out that unreliable system?! If so, how often should I replace my car’s steering wheel?

We concluded that I could lower my bill by $25 per month if I dropped the unlimited long-distance. Upon further review, I learned that long-distance in my brave new world would become forty-five (45) cents per minute to any number outside of my calling zone. Not area code, calling zone or Central Office. My number begins with 493 after the area code. Dial out of this 493 zone, pay 45 cents per minute. Hmm? Could add up, I thought. Especially, if I want to telephone someone whose house that I cannot see from my upstairs window. As I balked at the math, like it would cost $4 to call Dominoes, Mrs. Hoosier opined that as my life may have future changes – Right Here in River City – she offered me my current Freedom package at a discount of $20 per month!!

That’s the kind of Value and Freedom I’m talking about. Just like that. Well, not exactly. I did receive the ‘which ax’ up-sell presentation which did not last so long because Frontier does not offer Internet access to my neighborhood nor the snazzy television package. In the end, about 15 minutes later, I reduced my land-line phone bill by $240 per year without a change in reach or features. I wonder what the cable company will say tomorrow?!

Useful comparison of Android and iPhone

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Android & iPhone

Click on image above to access article.

Well written by Nick Saint of Business Insider. His contact info:
e-mail:nsaint@businessinsider.com and AIM: erraticnyc

Blue Pane Studio launches 8th app for iPhone

Friday, September 24th, 2010

ASTC app

App is for the October annual conference in Hawaii (sigh) of the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

Starting from the Mobile Web: dare I say, Web 3.0?

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Many, if not too many clients, are trying to figure-out how to justify the investment from Web 1.0, publishing, to Web 2.0, encouraging genuine participation. They are mired in too much data; not organized to maintain a discussion with their clients; and just don’t want to do it even though, through their younger friends and kids, know that this is the way of the near future.

I suggest that they start with the mobile device as is illustrated in this compelling and informative slide show. Figure out which data is the most useful to clients and send it to them, where they are and formatted for the mobile device. Not the cell phone. The telephony component doesn’t matter much and becomes even less compelling e.g. not my phone browses the web, but my mobile device – of varying sizes – can make phone calls. Think Tablet Computing as evidenced by the iPad more than the iPhone. Use the web site for static information and deeper searches. Leverage other sites. Above all, make available on the web site that content which the organization is willing to actively maintain.

Reducing international long distance call from $3 to 6 cents per minute

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Last month a conference call with a European customer required a last minute change from toll free to my calling him. Bill arrived this week with fees of nearly $3 per minute!! Yikes, like the old days when a long-distance call sent the household scurrying to the phone for a brief hello. Motivated by this stunning fee, I looked into the iPhone Web Apps Store for a VoIP solution. Found TruPhone which finds local wireless connection and costs six cents per minute for international. Domestic can be as low as 1.5 cents per minute. Connection speed and clarity are terrific.

Of course, at the same time I purchased Nitro Kart, a racing game using the iPhone’s motion sensing capabilities. Fun way to kill time and to meet people standing in-line at the airport.

Web 2.0 & summer: plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

So much is going on in nearly every direction everywhere that it’s hard to get a bearing on what is really going on anywhere: the US  presidential election represents more than the selection of the 44th president; the Beijing Olympics revealed more than quadrennial athletic achievements (now we know that 1/100 of a second can create alot of space); Georgia is now known to Americans as more than the favorite to win a college football league.

A few Web 2.0 notables from the summer:

- Mobility: I like my new 3G iPhone.  I am offered over 800 Internet-based applications from the related Web Apps store which range in price from free to $39.99.  Two of my favorite are Remote which allows me to control my home stereo from my iPhone as I stream iTunes music via our wireless network (if I can do it , you can too!) and Netter’s AnatomyFlashcards which offer 900 intricate views of the human body to help doctors advise patients.  I can imagine similar applications on mobile computing devices for nearly everyone of our businesses.

- Mobility II: if the trend of cell phone purchases begun in 2005 continues through 2009, on average, nearly every person on the planet will have bought a cell phone in this period.  Each of our businesses require a mobile strategy as these devices outnumber PCs 3:1.

- Which is why Microsoft purchased Greenfield and Google launched Chrome, it’s open source browser. Microsoft is not conceding the battle for advertising on the mobile device.  Internet Explorer may be the browser of choice on the PC and Chrome is a framework intended to convert the browser to a desktop by enabling us to populate our browsers with applications of our choice (see Web Apps above).  Then such a desktop could easily be shared on our mobile devices which outnumber PCs ……..

- Batman with The Joker and Wall-E with Eva were favorite films (insert your own presidential campaign comparison).  It’s worth noting that Wall-E was produced by Pixar and Pixar is owned by Disney and Disney’s largest shareholder is Steve Jobs. Now consider video on the mobile device.

- Closer to home, one son headed to college armed with converter boxes to watch Internet TV and to play his PS3 on his 23″ monitor.  Attending school in Colorado, he researched and transferred his banking, savings and investment accounts from North Carolina to Texas solely via the Web.  In our basement, or command center as we call it, I watched his brother so much enjoy on-line PS3 games (it is almost like being in your own movie) that have I’ve almost given up on the battle over screen-time.  We’ve come a long way from Pong.  

cp

Life in August

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

New iPhone is terrific; enjoy work with Museum of Life and Science; son off to college in 3 days.  All seem to pale or be overshadowed by the clouds of the economy.  Heard terrific discussion on C-Span last night for the need to implement flex-fuels in our transportation system.   perrien

L’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Returned from London on Saturday, an unintended World is Flat tour.  Saw Roger Federer at Wimbledon; learned how Osmosoft uses the Twitter web tool to constantly connect the members of its Open Source innovation team; and observed Belgium banks joining others in Chapter 3 of Web 2.0.

Chapter 1 began for me in mid-2005 when our team spoke about the 10 Emerging Technologies You Should Care About: podcasting, google maps, video over IP etc.  Most considered this George Jetson-like speech to be an entertaining two hours out of the office.  Chapter 2 was written when News Corp., owner of MySpace and Fox News (and now bidding on 2 satellite networks in Europe), made its ultimately successful bid for Dow Jones in the Spring of 07 encouraging managers to conclude that ‘maybe Facebook is not just for kids?!’.  Chapter 3 describes the variety of Web 2.0 projects that are being tested in a wide range of companies, e.g.video on YouTube or wikis for project collaboration or rudimentary social networking - all in an effort to improve the customer experience.  These enterprises acknowledge that something potentially game-changing occurs and ask how their initial projects compare to what others are doing.  They’re moving beyond the starting line in the pursuit of associated variety and depth.

One my favorite Community Building examples is IKEA.  I learned last week that IKEA now sponsors a series of customer workshops in both Europe and the USA where customers meet to discuss business matters: leadership, sales and financial management.  A professional, social network stemming from furniture purchases. Soon we’ll have version 2 of the iPhone.  For fun on any mobile device, have a look (did I tell you that I just returned from England?!) at 1-800-Goog411 or Chacha.com.  Ask either one a specific question and receive a specific answer, Goog by voice and Chacha via text.  These are carefully crafted efforts to control search on the mobile device so that related advertising may be controlled.  These services are easy, entertaining and fun to use so be mindful of how they can influence your own customer relationships.  The brilliance of Roger Federer is his variety, his graceful movement and his courage to succeed.  He trusts the breadth of his talents and is not content to continue only with what is working for the moment.  This is how he stays ahead: purposeful movement in search of an opportune moment to challenge himself.  You could almostconsider this a formula for constant innovation.

Best for the July 4th holiday.  Subject line described.

Sub-prime making news; Video and Mobility making progress

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

- Please don’t ask about the extent of the aftershock of foolish borrowing and careless lending.  On so many fronts in our globalized marketplace, at both the individual and enterprise level, we’re probably going to have to heed the advice of Tancredi in The Leopard:  ”If you want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

Meanwhile, other engines maintain their hum and will move closer to the center stage of widespread technical adoption in 2008.  Two examples that I track are video as a story-telling device and the elevation of the 3rd screen to our 1st screen.

- Last Christmas season my high school son and two of his classmates won a contest at the local upscale mall by producing a sixty second video to promote the shopping season.  They won $400 in equipment for the school and $600 to split three ways.  The recently concluded 2007 contest enjoyed a threefold increase in participation and a tenfold increase in prize money: $6,000 in equipment and $4,000 to split.  Clearly, the mall, the merchants and the aspiring film-makers see solid business value in consumer generated, good-enough, easy to deploy video to tell their stories. 

- So much is happening on the mobility front that it may not be obvious, although GPS features and related acquisitions (Navteq by Nokia and Tele Atlas by Tom Tom) are getting plenty of press.  With the $10b that Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google spent in 2007 to acquire search and advertising related companies and the popular reception to Apple’s iPhone, we will soon have the sort of mobile computing capabilities that consumers in other parts of the world have enjoyed for several years.  

The driving force behind all of this activity is control of search on the mobile device.  The revenue model is that Location Awareness facilitates Search and Search enables targeted Advertising.  Curious is our notion that the 1st screen is the TV and the 2nd screen is the PC, yet we all carry a 3rd screen nearly everywhere we go.  “Can you hear me now?” will rapidly migrate to “We know where you are and can help you to find and to pay for what you want. Just text me.”

cp

Web 2.0 lessons-learned this summer

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Welcome to Autumn,

1. Mobile Search with related advertising opportunities remains the investment rage amongst Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft.   Apple’s iPhone campaign fueling this fire (stock up 80% since announcement in Feb. 2007).

2. How to get started, not Why is the theme of the customer discussion. A shift from the spring due to notable F500 investments such as News Corp acquisition of Dow Jones (parent of the Wall Street Journal) and Microsoft offering $300mm for just 5% of Facebook.  Agreement that there is something to this notion of Community Building or Social Networking.  Starting inside the enterprise to harness collective wisdom of employees, with a goal of improved innovation, is compelling.  Existing business processes and right mix of staff are inhibitors to taking advantage.  Is the benefit in early adoption or fast-following?!

3. Not much of a wow factor in related tools: blogs, wikis, feeds etc as judged to be the basics but not project justifiers.

4. Positive reception to IBM’s own related experiences: Jams, Think Place, Technology Adoption Program, and quantity of internal blogs, wikis etc.  A concerted offering would be valued by marketplace.

5. Mash-ups of enterprise data could be a big winner; need cohabitation story with portal capabilities.

6. Appear Bigger than You Are via Web 2.0 (YouTube, Community Building) is an attraction to mid-market customers.

7. Mid-sized firms attracted, increasingly so, to hosted apps by likes of Google (e.g. Google Pack, NetBooks)

8. Web 2.0, as the friendly face of service-enabled architectures (SOA), is not yet obvious to customers and to sellers. Remains a tough, internal sell from IT to its business sponsors.

9. Information Security is top of mind, well beyond a traditional IT control point:  ‘If I move outside of enterprise with Web 2.0, how would I handle InfoSec and legal hurdles?’

10. Not much Web 2.0 budget in ’07 and being budgeted for TBD projects in ’08.

Amplifying remarks at your request; comments welcomed.

Christopher Perrien