You may have noticed a lot of talk about “new things” coming out of the technology camps this week. From Facebook to Google along with a lot of emerging companies, they’re about to announce more of what I’ve been writing in this column for the last two years: The cloud is here; This ain’t your Daddy’s cell phone and how we communicate with customers has already changed beyond the point most businesses are willing to acknowledge.
Next week, I’ll be writing additional columns to cover the news from Austin, Texas, home of SXSW (South by SouthWest). This is the massive tradeshow that plainly states “The Future Starts Here.” Not only should the information be interesting (and fun), but you need to start looking at this information in a different light: “How will this affect me?” Unlike the beginning of the fad called the Internet that took years to settle into the lives of many, the new future is moving crazy-fast.
“The Cloud” I was speaking of is the standard metaphor for what happens in the Internet. Each day, more applications are running in the invisible Cloud rather than in our computers. ZOHO and Google docs were among the early players, but they have already been joined by new players. Meanwhile, everyone’s applications are getting more powerful – and in many cases, easier to use. Microsoft will announce the arrival date of their new Microsoft Office 2010 product – which is expected to offer the option of running without software on your computer, in the cloud.
Salesforce is an example of Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, software that runs in the cloud that makes a virtual salesforce easier to manage. There really is no end to the possibilities here.
Now take all the powerful software I just talked about and put it on your cell phone. Forget that you may or may not want to use it on a cell phone – it’s there already, or on its way. Today, there are two types of executive phones: Blackberry devices and iPhone or Android-based devices. Once, the cellular telephone was an “executive only” tool. Today, a Retrevo poll shows “28% of people think kids should have their own cell phone between the ages of 9 and 12.” Don’t worry. Sixty-eight percent of the respondents thought 13-18 was a better age.
On second thought, you can worry a little. Facebook, among other sites, will be adding more geolocation features that can identify your position. Google Buzz, launched the other week adds geolocation and social chat features within their gMail e-mail client. Granted, with parental controls, this could be a great thing, and perhaps not. I’ll have more details on this in my SXSW pieces and you can decide for yourself.
A few of you doubted me in the comments last year when I started talking about a single sign-on for multiple web sites. Engagement-centric identity company Janrain reports that Google, Facebook and Yahoo! are the big three when it comes to single-sign on platform. Hundreds of millions use it each month to sign onto other sites other than just those three. For the record, Twitter is fourth largest single-sign on site. This means more personal information, preferences and attitudes can passed between sites to better determine how to give you a better site experience (or perhaps something less noble, depending on the site).
Individually, a social web with location means you must now know what you can share and what you should not. As a business it means sharing personally and honestly, and not like a traditional business. You really need to engage your customers.
Marketing to demographic groups is well on its way out, and engaging with individuals is on its way into the mainstream. This also means creating a new set of measurements to help grow your business. Naturally, there will be a slew of next-generation measurement tools being announced next week as well.
Enjoy the leaks of information now. Next week by this time, the floodgates of information should be open for all of us to digest.