We work on a lot of different things and it’s easy to get yourself caught up in the "I want our business to offer everything". I overheard someone getting a quote from someone outside our company for something and I asked the person next to me "Why aren't we doing that internally? We've done it before and we easily could". The person then rattled off a bunch of high profile, very important projects and a reminder of our current staffing levels. And of course my reply was "yeah, but we could do that". And then the person said something, without any earlier mention to the context that came through loud and clear.
"Those aren't the Cool Ranch Tacos, that’s like the side of beans, focus on the Cool Ranch Tacos."
For those living under a rock, Taco Bell had a smashing success with the Doritos Locos Tacos, blowing their projected numbers out of the water, just crazy success levels, according to one report approximately 1M were sold per day since being introduced to the market. From a non-sales perspective, the menu addition added 15000 new jobs related due to the product alone. They then immediately followed up with the natural successor, the Cool Ranch Tacos. Everyone who likes a taco that I've talked to is super excited to try them, just the thought conjures up a tasty sensation for the pallet.
Then there's the beans, how could you possibly have a Taco Bell without beans? The answer is "you couldn't", they're obviously incredibly vital to Taco Bell.
But let’s face it, when's the last time that someone said "hey, have you heard about those beans at Taco Bell, they're awesome and we all need some." No, it’s just not going to happen despite us all agreeing that beans are a crucial staple to the Taco Bell experience.
I'm sure Taco Bell has big awards and kudos conventions like every company... and who's going to get all of the kudos and rewards this year: The guy focused on the Cool Ranch Tacos or the Beans?
And while in 5 years, the Doritos Taco product owner may have moved on to something new and great, the beans guy is probably still focusing on how to drive even lower costs on production line of a product that's been worked on and optimized already year-after-year-after-year.
Which brings me back to our business... when time and resources are a factor and you're working with people who are wowed by the latest and greatest, which then drives your follow-up projects: You can either focus on the Cool Ranch Tacos or the side of beans, and at this point in our businesses lifecycle the Cool Ranch Tacos seem like a lot more fun.
Business Consulting | General | Marketing
So I got a Surface RT on Monday and have gotten to play with and send around the office and let everyone play with.
I have an iPad and honestly would be MORE than happy to switch off full-time to a MS based device if I could.
Overall User Experience - So it takes a little getting used to, but once you go through a few days and you start to see some of the nuances (pinching, sliding, top, bottom, side), it really is pretty good.
Desktop mode in RT - Even though its an RT machine, honestly its pretty good, lots of stuff is there and just really functional
Syncing between devices - Really pretty cool, between my normal work laptop and my Surface, it syncs really well.
Apps -Yeah, I know's there's less apps than every other platform, BUT for the most part (at least for work) there are lots of Apps (lync, Remote Desktop, Hyper-V Manager, Netflix, ...). So I'd say it a great start.
Other - the keyboard is pretty cool, along with the camera.
NO OUTLOOK! - need i say more? Anyone who knows me, knows I will. So the Surface Email client, just doesn't cut it. if we are going to be resolved to having to use this, unless they want everyone to use OWA instead, then we need some significant drag and drop capability.
The Keyboard - for as cool as it is... the keyboard has a couple flaws. 1. In every commercial they obviously are advertising the hell out of the keyboard, why on earth would they sell it differently. Isn't this a differentor? Sure sell separately (incase I break mine), but also include by default in the device package. 2. if the keys we're just a bit more pronounced it would be great.
Cell Carrier Option - The number 1 reason I won't be getting off of my iPad, is becuase of my ATT plan attached to it and it is the connectivity everywhere tablet. Unfortunately I'm stuck with it until Microsoft adds it. I really just don't understand why.
Confusion in Interface - Its great but its just confusing. I still don't think I understand the iterface and how best to work effeciently in it to the most. I don't know if a help video is needed or some sort of intro app by default (i actully like that one).
Less Apps - They're short. One of my favorite apps is Zillow (to dream about dream houses and what if I was a billionaire :)). They're short, no way aroud that i have to imagine that they'll come.
So, the net its a pretty good device and I like a lot and I can definitely use alot of the time.
Unfortunately until they have a way to cell carrier tied to it (and not through another device), so I can have connectivity everywhere like i do with my iPad. Example, my Sundays where were at the bar watching the games we ALWAYS have the app open for fantasy football (ipad).
Keep more good stuff coming.
This is a piece for the team at Exsilio, our clients, and partners to know what our internal expectations are. Obviously, the title of this article is rather black and white, and it seemed to me of value to have a discussion on how Exsilio can be a challenging, yet very rewarding, place to work for reasons people may not immediately think of. I'm going to speak specifically about developers, but the general concepts apply to all categories of our team.
As a service based organization, people often believe that being successful in their job means having a specific technical skillset. For example, I'm a developer and I’m very good at programming in T-SQL and C#, so I should be successful. A strong technical skillset is a given, and honestly speaking, if your only asset is your technical knowledge then you're probably not going to succeed – at least not at Exsilio.
Let’s talk about what makes people succeed, get the level of appreciation they're looking for, and keep everyone else happy. So think about the real purpose of your job. Since I’m already using the example of a software developer, why do people want software developers, to write code obviously (this is the point where average developers begin to fail). But there are more fun ways to spend money, so why are they spending their money on this project? Fundamentally, at least in most cases at our company, it is to write code to create solutions which will make someone's life better or easier than it would have been otherwise. And it’s a solid understanding of this where you move from an average developer to a quality developer.
If you're a software developer and you're not thinking every day, with every task, about how your solution will enhance, benefit, and dare I say "amaze" the end-user, then you're in the wrong profession. You’re certainly working for the wrong company, if you work at Exsilio. It goes further than the code you write, it is the way people interact with the product you build, it is the way you present your product, and the way people receive it. The end product should practically glow with the pride and efforts of the person who is delivering it. This comes from the person building it affirmatively answering all of the following: Does this make sense? Do I know why I'm building this and understand the value it will be providing to people? Is this something I'd want to use every day? Am I proud of this product? Is this something that is commercially worthy?
I hear developers often say “I’m a developer not a creative designer.” I tend to translate this to, "It should be alright if I create something that looks like crap." Professionally, this may be correct; however, people know what looks good and what doesn't. While some make the excuse that it is subjective, most people would agree that Lamborghinis and Ferraris are truly stunning vehicles, they don’t need a creative designer had to tell them this. They know it based on basic senses. The same rule applies if you’re a developer without a creative person on your team; build something that you're incredibly impressed by. If you're incapable of doing this, then either you don't care about your project or you’re lacking in technical skills.
In the same regard as above, they often times say “I'm not a business analyst so I should just need a technical spec and not need to understand the business requirements”. To that I say something very similar. Simply put, if you're working on a project and you don't know the business rationale and use cases behind it, then 1. Your project is doomed from the start and 2. You probably should be working on it until you do.
At the end of the day, if the software you’ve written doesn’t make your users feel like they're being more successful and impressed both by function, feature, and general beauty, then the project was a failure. Average developers, developers who shouldn't be working at Exsilio, simply take what was delivered to them on a technical specifications document and deliver on that. Anyone who's been around me in meetings to review projects and status hopefully knows this.
While this piece was aimed at the developer, it conceptually crosses the boundaries for all of the delivery groups in our organization. It is really an honor that our customers have chosen to work with us on some truly amazing, incredibly high profile, and cutting-edge projects, but with that comes an awesome level of responsibly. With that level of responsibility come the intangibles that make people the best they can be. At times, these are the same things that can make Exsilio a tough place to work for reasons I think most wouldn't ever think of. Over the six years, I’ve thought it is worth it, and honestly I have to believe the people who’ve stood the test of time have thought so as well.
Client Relationship Management | General | Randomness | Software Development
I spent this week at MIX in Vegas and WP7 + Silverlight + HTML5 + Azure was all the rage.
In the WP7 spirit, I thought I'd write this post about marketing spend and advertising. Media buys are expensive and having them meet your need in the most effective way is critical. I found amusing this screen from the News.com homepage not just 1 WP7 advertisement, but 2 and directly on top of each other. Hopefully they got some sort of discount, because I certainly can't imagine if the user didn't want to click on the first ad, that they're going to click on the second just becuase its there. In addition, given that people measure success based on Click-thru-rates... does this directly go against this metric and basically throw it out the window since it would be directly 1/2. I certainly couldn't imagine a user clicking on both of the ads.
You would imagine that the ad networks would run the ads in a smarter way, hopefully they will in the future if their customers start to demand it.
Plus it looks sort of goofy. :)
While I'm a business person, in the same regard I'm a developer at heart (in particular I was born and raised as a MS developer). Ten plus years ago, every day I'd spend a good 30 minutes each morning "getting up to speed" based on what was on MSDN's site. It was my coffee-time if you will. It was great everything was laid out super clear and up front.
All of the latest stuff was out there; I could easily find the latest download and read the latest article. I felt I like was the most informed developer on the planet and MSDN was the reason. Literally every day there was a high likelihood there was something new and update... a download, article, some library, demo, ...
I really have to say that I'm little less impressed lately, and it seems like its only gotten worse over the last year or two. I was hoping it was a fad where it would only last for a month or two and then the world would be right again, unfortunately it never righted itself.
So I went to MSDN today and on the home page below is a screenshot of the "News" section of the home page... don't even get me started on how the true front page has nothing news oriented, for a number of days I didn't even realize there was a news tab and I totally thought my life as an informed dev sucked.
However I eventually found the page and you can see the below results from going to it today. So here's what I found:1. The big area (and coincidently the most recent piece) talked about 2 upcoming conferences and a book about Azure.
Unfortunately that's where it stopped. And I am only talking about stuff above the fold, I didn't even check below the fold. So let's look at the results other than the conferences and a book.1. An article about MVC3 and MEF - 11/19/2010 - seriously an article from 4 months ago (is in maybe one of the most prominent spots on MSDN's NEWS homepage, how is an article 4 months ago NEWS)2. An article from 1/15/20113. An article from 1/1/20114. An article from 1/18/20115. An article from 1/20/20116. An article from 2/15/20117. An article from 12/13/2010
So apparently there was a lot (4) news worthy items that happened in January and other than 1 article in Feb (which looks like it might be on the same topic as the article from Jan) its time to dig back to Dec. of 2010...
Really? There's nothing cool that's come out that people should know about over the last 2 MONTHS? In theory, on the home page for MSDN (or sort of home page), there's nothing that's come out other than 2 conferences and a book. I know things move at a little different pace at MS compared to 10 years ago, but certainly not that slow. If this was 10-15 years ago on the MSDN site 50% of the content on this same page (above the fold) would be from this month.
So this is plea to whomever manages the MSDN site... please think hard about what MSDN meant for a lot of us developers quite a while ago and realize the great thing about a website is you can always change it to make it better.
Groups do campaigns all the time. While a lot of the items that make a successful campaign are almost formulaic, the core premise is critical. A lot of times, people think that a campaign is about getting some money, reworking the old standby copy, pushing out a slightly updated website along with a possibly refreshing a mailing list.
However, we fundamentally have a completely different perspective on doing campaigns. If you're going to do a campaign then DO IT right, otherwise you're just proving you can spend budget.1. Figure out what your messaging is, and why people will care about the campaign. Are you going after an serious emotional response, a humorous response, and impulsive response?2. What do you want to achieve out of the campaign?3. What's different about this campaign compared to previous? Are looking at the audience in a different way?4. Everything you do should hold true to your initial messaging and core premise. If you're just writing something down because of a deadline and not because you believe in it, then you should consider handing the project off to someone else or taking a break and then coming back to it.
I know this may seem a bit utopic or idealistic, however if you look at some of the best campaigns Win95, Kinect, Source Fource;), you'll see that they all kept consistent, held true to their core and were tremendously successful given the available resources.
While initially it may seem more difficult to hold the principals true, if you do from the beginning, in very short manner you'll realize that as people start not holding to the principals to down the road that it becomes frustrating if not infuriating (like nails on a chalkboard), which by the way is the RIGHT response.
May all your campaigns be successful.
Tags: marketing strategy
As most know, I've been working with MS since '93 either as a vendor or an FTE and thus I have super respect for them, however I have to admit sometimes some things they do just bewilder me. Btw, I love Win7 and actually I'm really quite fond of my Dell WinPhone7.
So with that said, I am really really surprised that MS still hasn't seriously responded to the tablet era and from the latest article I read it sounds like its going to be until atleast fall of 2012 that they'll be pushing out a REAL tablet offering. I'm really not counting the current ones which are pretty much hampered by power usage and speedyness.
I'm really just hoping that it won't be too late because as Android now has become the fastest selling mobile OS, its definitely something concerning.
I think the frustrating piece, is that everyone saw this coming not because of intuition but rather because everyone was so open. Think about the recent iPad2 announcement. As many articles pointed out, it was pretty much EXACTLY as people expected.
I'm still holding out faith, we'll see.
It's a pun that's been 6 months in the making, obviously I'm not talking about some new set of constellations that Exsilio's purchased based on gimmick advertisement on the back pages of a Mad Magazine nor the next discovery by Stephen Hawking... rather I'm talking about the Permit To Operate that Exsilio received this morning for the 185 solar panels that are now on the roof of the Exsilio Solution's Irvine Office that will power the entire office's down south. While the sun isn't in all parts (wink-wink, nudge-nudge Seattle peeps), for the most part it certainly is down here in SoCal. So, as a company that does a tremendous amount of software development and virtualization applications, when we ran across the concept of switching to solar for the office it was something we definitely wanted to look into.I'd love to say we're doing it only for the environment; however that’s being a bit over the top in the altruistic reasoning. If you look at the tax incentives (when we started in August) at both the federal and state level, along with rebates from the power company directly... it just makes good financial sense. And yes, it’s not bad that we're helping the environment as well.<OnTheSoapBox>However, given I think we're only going to see a continued glutton of businesses both large and small switching to an alternative energy source the fascinatingly tremendous bureaucratic process/pain you're put through needs to be dealt with otherwise there's no way that they'll be able to keep up with the demand and it won't be long before the process which took us 6 months (should have really only been 3) would take over a year in the future for others. </OnTheSoapBox>I'm a staunch believer in looking at what you're doing and if there's a better win-win-win way of doing something, then it’s your responsibility to take action, as such the expedition to switch the down-south office over came to be. It'll be cheaper in the long run, we certainly didn't have any plans for the roof top, and in just the first half of the first day we've generated over 119 kilowatt hours.We're looking into ways to integrate our monitoring panel into our site, so more to come from that. In addition, our implementation vendor RevCo Solar certainly stood by us and would be highly recommended for anyone looking.I've included a few pics from the process and here's to more sunshine down here!
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