Monday, February 28, 2011

Everything as a service

Is everything destined to become a service? Here is a recent blog post at Harvard Business Review:

"What's more exciting is how you will consume refrigerators in the near future. Will you even need to buy one? Perhaps manufacturers will lease you a fridge and charge a low monthly rate for managing your refrigeration needs. They might bundle energy costs in as part of the package and then help you find ways to reduce energy usage. They'll probably invite you to share clever ways to use refrigerators, or comment on their own ideas, and innovate even better offerings next time. We will increasingly consume products like refrigeration as services rather than as products. As a result, our consumption will be more accessible, more convenient, more affordable, and more personalized."


Web 2.0 innovation: Skweal.

The premise is that people only vent about bad customer service or products on public sites like Yelp if either they don’t have a way to complain directly to the company (to get their problem fixed) or if they try to complain directly but are still not satisfied. So Skweal allows people to complain to one central place and they find the right person at the right company. Participating companies commit to making a strong effort to resolve the problem in the expectation that the customer will not also post about their dissatisfaction in public (but there is no guarantee/contract involved).

Would you do this, or would you rather vent in public? Is it revenge you are looking for, or satisfaction?

Curation Nation

There is a book called “Curation Nation” that explains the growing use of curation as a business model for web-based business models. The premise is that aggregation sites (that present you with everything in an order that is based on a web-crawling and page-rank kind of algorithm) are losing their popularity because of search engine optimizers and too much junk out there.

Instead, we are using our social networks or experts to filter the cream from the crop. We find people who we trust in particular areas (movie critics or friends who share our taste in movies; fashion icons or friends who share our taste in clothes; etc) and then listen to their recommendations. So the growth of reputation management systems and recommendation systems are becoming more critical than search algorithms and search engine optimization strategies.

What do we share with our friends?

There was a study done at Wharton that they covered on the show “On the Media” this weekend that I think would be very interesting to all of you.

The researchers looked at the most emailed articles from the New York Times web site every 15 minutes for several months. This should have balanced out any effects of time of day and day of the week and part of the month. I don’t think they went for a whole year, so there may have been some seasonality effect.

They used semantic analysis to try to identify what the most emailed articles had in common. Was it importance (Revolution in Egypt, etc)? No. Was it Paparazzi (Lady Gage stories.)? No. It was stories that were awe-inspiring. They took a lot of time to develop a formal definition of what they meant by awe-inspiring and trained their research assistants to measure this consistently. And this was the #1 attribute of these NYT most emailed articles. Secondary to that was articles that made people angry (but not articles that made people sad) and articles written by female authors (even keeping the amount of awe and the amount of anger constant).

Keep in mind that these weren’t the most popular articles or the most read articles. These are the ones that people most wanted to share with their friends/contacts. So we don’t want to inform our friends, we want to motivate them. We don’t want to share information, we want to share emotion. Interesting, don’t you think?!!