With Places (and your help), Waze mapping gets smarter on Android and iOS

Gigaom

Taking the same crowd-sourcing approach it applied to traffic, the Waze mobile app is going to improve the quality of information about local businesses and residences. It will need help from its users, though, and that’s where the new Places feature comes into play.

The latest version of Waze, which is owned by [company]Google[/company], lets people update or add information about the places they visit. The company did much the same when it debuted, sharing user-submitted data about traffic on the roads. With Places, it’s the same recipe, only applied to locations. The idea is that if everyone adds details about the places they visit, the whole community benefits. Of course, that user-submitted data will also make a fine addition to Google Maps as Google bought Waze last year for a reported $1 billion.

The Places feature supports user-submitted photos of places and editing or addition of details including…

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Dropbox vs Copy.com: A Detailed Product Review

Copy is a new cloud backup service that is at start looks like a Dropbox clone but once you compare its offering you come to realize it is actually better in many ways. It was recently launched by Barracuda Networks, a large provider of security, data protection and backup solutions and is starting to spread among geeks and early adopters.

The idea of both services is the same – once you install their app for PC or Mac, you get a folder on your computer that is always synced to the cloud. Any folder or file that you move into that folder gets automatically synced to the cloud. This allows you to backup files, sync files between computers (your personal & home computer for example), between your computer & smartphone and also share files with others which is extremely useful when working as a team and having a need to constantly share files with each other without the hassle of emailing files as attachment.

Dropbox has been around for a while, it has millions of users and has created a fantastic service that I have been using for several years. So how can Copy succeed in such a competitive space? The answer is very simple – Copy is giving away plenty of free storage space for new signups – 15GB (vs. 2GB you get in Dropbox). In addition, for anyone that you refer to the service, both of you will earn an extra 5 GBs for completed referrals and there is no limit to the number of people you can refer.

Interested? Click this link to signup & get 20GB free space – 15GB plus 5GB since I will be your referrer.

After you are done signing up, make sure to:

  1. Verify your email address
  2. Download and install the Copy app (for PC/Mac)

Only after completing these two steps you wil get the 5GB bonus.

By the way, you can also signup as a regular user without a referrer and not get any bonus.

Although the services are very similar, there are still some pros and cons for Copy compared to Dropbox.

Pros:
– Free account size: 15GB vs. 2GB in the case of Dropbox. Initially Copy started with 5GB but as soon as Google announced that Google Drive free space will be 15GB, Copy rushed to match it.
– Referral program: Copy gives 5GB for both you and the friend you refer with no limit. Dropbox however, gives 500MB to you but nothing to your friend and it limits the bonus amount to 16GB (32 friends).
– Fair Storage for all – instead of counting data in shared folders against all members’ individual storage quotas so everyone pays for the same data over and over, Copy allows users to “split the bill” and control which files count against their storage capacity.
– Sharing a folder over the internet is more secured. In dropbox, when you share a link, you have no control if the link is being emailed to someone else. With copy, you can enter a specific user’s Copy username (an email address) and that would restrict access to the shared folder.
– Beautiful web interface that is much easier for viewing files on the web
– For mobile designers Copy is better for viewing a screenshot on an iPad. The image quality is better since Copy does not compress it like Dropbox and it also displays the screenshot in full view (without the iPad’s status bar)
– Quicker sharing – you can share a link to a file from the app rather than being redirected to the website and sharing from there like Dropbox does
– Caching – Copy allows caching of whole folders on mobile devices
– Copy allows easy access to old versions of a file straight from a file’s contextual menu

Cons:

– Upload speed – Dropbox seems to provide a faster upload time than Copy

– There is no live preview of video files in the web interface

Bottom line – Copy has done a fantastic job in launching a well designed, feature rich product that supports all platforms (Win, Mac, Linux) and Smartphones (iOS, Android). I’ve been using it for several weeks not and have not experienced any glitches or outages. Highly recommended!

Click here to signup for free and get your 20GB free space.

4 Things which helps in ‘Decision Making’

Idea, Information and Experience

Image

Life of a entrepreneur never happens to be either flat or at 90 degree growth. Among all the things which matters, ability of ‘decision making’ matters the most, because this is what makes an entrepreneur. Even if somebody is not an entrepreneur, he is known by the decision he makes and not by plans he is having. ‘Decision making’ is nor a process, neither it has any rule book; it is the result of state of mind, which helps us to win over our fears without losing the sight at risk, reflect promptly and act more promptly. During the course of my professional and entrepreneurial journey, I have gathered few point which helps in improve decision making ability.

1)      ‘Invisible’ is ghost and it is meant to scare you only: We often get scared by some invisible fear, which has been bequeathed on us by our social structure and…

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Limitations Do Not Apply in Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial Ambitions

DefyLimitations
Are you a person who lets perceived limitations dictate what you can and cannot do? If so then entrepreneurship is definitely not the right option for you. Why else do you think entrepreneurs are described as risk takers and innovators? It is because they are a group of individuals who do not view a challenge as limiting but rather as an opportunity to grow and excel. Were average people pause and contemplate, entrepreneurs look and pursue. So what limits you from truly becoming an entrepreneur?

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My response to the blog – The saga of “Lumpen Visionaries” of Kerala

Firstly, let me apologize to my readers for not blogging for a while. I’ve been really busy with decidequick. It’s been a real rush and an awesome journey. Thank you all for your support and for believing in us. We’ve hit our milestones and hope to hit many more in weeks to follow.

Now onto the reason for this post. I recently came across a blogpost titled The Saga of “Lumpen Visionaries” of Kerala. I respect the author for his candid writing and for voicing his opinions.

But, and this is a big but; there are a lot of things that I do not agree with and may not have been brought to light in the blog. Let me first start off with what I agree with on the blogpost and kudos to the author for bringing it up :

1. Yes, there are people in the community who are promoting Entrepreneurship and there is buzz about it.

2. Yes, over 99% of the startups fail

3. Yes, there are many who don’t have experience in tech, wanting to create a tech startup

4. Yes, experience does matter in success

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But here’s what the blog fails to throw light upon –

1. An entrepreneur doesn’t need to understand technology, but should be agile enough to find solutions to problems fast. The entrepreneur can hire the right people who know the technology. Technology is simply the business enabler, not the business !

2. The times are changing or have changed. The new generation (like it or not) are influenced by global events, companies and icons as well. Not to mention there are enough and more local mentors and icons to look upto. Today’s youth believe that there is a purpose of being and that it’s to create value. The commonly used phrase “Job Security” is irrelevant today and with two waves of financial crisis, the cost of IT infrastructure reducing, the cost of starting up reduced, the risks involved have also reduced.

3. “Entrepreneurship is just another way of making a living as Engineeing .. so, Entrepreneurs are not people from the other world… People having back-papers,poor academic backgrounds,social “misfits” are trying to fit into the mainstream by squeaking through the entrepreneurship channel .” – from a follow up chat on Facebook regarding the blog.  Uh, yes entrepreneurship is another way of making a living, but a really cool way ! But yes, the author is right in saying that many who lack in academic backgrounds etc are trying to squeak into the entrepreneurship channel. This is a separate discussion altogether. Entrepreneurship can never be an escape from anything. One should also ask why they weren’t doing great in their respective courses, where does their real passion lie. No one can become an successful entrepreneur without a real passion. The passion cannot be imparted by someone else, but has to be ingrained. I’ve met with many student entrepreneurs and have seen a common trait – they all have a vision, a passion to do something.

Note that I said – a passion to do something. Most of them are passionate about solving a problem with a solution that their startup would develop. But there are others who are focused on technology or their idea that they lose track of the problem or pain point of the market that they are trying to solve. This clarity of thought or vision needs to be there in an entrepreneur.

4. No one should force anyone to take up Entrepreneurship. If no one has told this to budding entrepreneurs, here goes –

a. Entrepreneurship is a real painful job. It requires serious grit and determination

b. There will be many lows, frustrations, pressure from peers and family

c. You may make losses, go without any pay for months while you pay your employees

d. Entrepreneurs make huge sacrifices in terms of quality of life, time, vacations, parties

e. Entrepreneurs hear many NOs and NEGATIVE feedback before ever hearing any success

But if you make it through after all this and identify what works and repeat those steps to progressive milestones you have success!

Finally, if anyone asks “Have not you started it yet ?”, I think its a question you should ignore or point them to this blog because it would answer why entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone.

 

The innovation & presentation secrets of Steve Jobs

Carmine Gallo, in his talk demonstrates how extraordinary leaders such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and others communicate the vision and the value behind their service, product, or brand. Gallo addressed the Stanford GSB as part of the Mastery in Communication Initiative’s Expert Speaker Series.

As the author of both the Innovation and Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, Gallo might even rival Walter Isaacson for his insights into the Apple icon. But while Isaacson is an expert on the narrative of Jobs’ life, Gallo’s special knowledge lies in his understanding of Jobs’ creative abilities. As he told me, Steve Jobs’ most important strength lay in his ability to transform products into dreams. And this can’t be faked, Gallo argues. To sell desire requires passion; and to turn products into dreams requires us to pursue our own dreams.

Are you ready to handle a Social Media Crisis?

Everyone can benefit from a dynamic platform like Social Media, if exploited correctly or turn into a graveyard if not dealt smartly during the times when it matters the most. In the world, physical or virtual, where disasters are waiting to strike, it is best that you are prepared before hand for the situation. A Social Media Disaster Management plan has to be incubated and inducted to everyone in your Community Management and Public Relation Team.

Social media disaster strikes when you are either going all wrong or you aren’t able to meet your customer’s expectation. In either case it is essential that you own up, come out brave and communicate surely but humbly. Social media is eyed by your customers, investors, employees, media, etc, each of which will have a different point of view to look at your social media conduct and you have to live up to it all!

Social Media Disaster can strike in many forms, some of which are listed below:-

  • Online reputation maligned by customer by complaining, creating hate communities or blogs or sites. It becomes a disaster when within matter of hours it gets world talking about it.
  • When your product has performed poorly and media is busy taking down your name.
  • Your ex employees go bad mouthing about your management, reveal secrets, leave no stone unturned to paint your image black.
  • When panic surges amongst your people- natural disasters, fake news or rumors surface, industry is badly hit, etc.

Social Media Disaster Management Stages

  • Crisis Identification:- Social media monitoring would help you see through this stage, in fact if you are involved in this regularly then you might even avoid the crisis and deal with it at nascent stage. Follow the talks and understand what exactly is being said and the general sentiments of the public about the situation.
  • Insight Identification:-  Get to the crux of the matter. Explore from where the crisis arise, who are people talking, which mediums are being used, how it is affecting the company’s image, do you know the authors, what is the volume, etc.
  • Goal Setting:- By the end of your crisis management activity what is it that you expect? Control over negative comments, more positive talks trending, the authors becoming positive influencers, your target audience (investor or customer or employee or media) is happy and satisfied by the end of it, etc.
  • Plan Communication:- Shape a strategy to counter this disaster by apt and strong communication program. First devise what would you communicate, how are you going put the whole crisis in front of people, what would be the tone, who would be speaking, etc. You need to figure out which are the right platforms or mediums you need to be on, where you have to create base and accordingly customize the message or content strategy to meet the platform’s needs. Remember each platform is a different market.
  • Make a Team:- Social Media Disaster Management Team which must include Community Manager, a PR and a Senior Management representative so that the communication can be designed, approved and executed easily and each one is on the same page!
  • Execute the plan.

Social Media Disaster Management can be avoided with ongoing social media monitoring activity! Are you ready to handle a social media disaster?

Is an MVP necessary?

Most often the list of features and capabilities that your product needs to satisfy the needs of your target market and it is huge. When the number of hours to implement everything is well beyond your financial runway or your market opportunity window, how do you pick which features to do first?

 

 

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Let’s first define a Minimum Viable Product. An MVP is simply the minimum set of features that provide the initial value to the user of your product. It is crucial that this first incarnation of your product must show your value differentiation. In other words, not only must it provide that initial functionality for your first users, it also needs to show off why your product is different or unique in the market place.

For example, a smartphone application may show off the integration between the phone’s native features and your application in such a way that the value of your application is extended through the phone. This is a crucial time in the development of a brand new product. Generally speaking, this early version of the product dictates whether the company succeeds or fails.

a. Validation of market assumptions is critical. Even though some market research has been done, at some point one or more assumptions about the needs of the target market were made. In some cases these assumptions are pivotal – i.e. your business rests on whether these assumptions are correct or incorrect. Getting the MVP into the hands of users as well as demonstrating it to experts in the target market, helps to validate some of the assumptions. Course correction at this stage is easier and less costly than when the product is nearly complete.

b. As these early users work with the MVP, they help you to refine the product in such areas as the flow of a specific feature or the user interface. Early users have a tendency to love new technology. They love the fact that they can influence a product’s direction as well as the look and feel in the early stages – at any stage actually, but especially early on. Regular meetings with early users (even if it is in a coffee shop) are crucial in refining the product but also have a side benefit of building a solid relationship. Word of caution: evaluate each suggestion to make sure that it has wide market applicability; creating a product solely based on the feedback of a handful of users is dangerous.

c. The quest to seek funding for your new venture is a continuous event. The days of receiving funding for an idea jotted down on a napkin are long gone. Having the MVP shows investors what value real users will find in the product. It also helps to get the point of your venture across that a slide presentation cannot do. People respond far better to a real product than to a large slide presentation.

But which features do you select? Which market needs do your satisfy first? This debate will be a constant occurrence within your team. Here are a few key points to remember as you go through the process of deciding what features to build.

a. In the end, your target users will use your product to perform one or more specific tasks. The MVP cannot be a set of random disjointed features, but instead must be a set of features that work seamlessly together and allows the user to accomplish the tasks they need. Imagine the team that developed the first bank machine. They probably implemented the ability for a user to withdraw money first. They in all likelihood recognized that this use case was the most important use case – ahead of transferring money, printing account information, etc. The first implementation of this use case most likely had the ability to insert card and enter the PIN, select the amount to withdraw and from which account, and dispense cash. The key here is to understand how your target users perform their primary task today and make sure that they can perform the same task with your MVP.

b. As mentioned earlier, building in your differentiating value is key. Without this your product will be perceived as simply a “me too” product and will not end up getting the interest of your target users and investors. Continuing with the bank machine example. A key differentiator is convenience – the ability to do banking anywhere and anytime replacing the need to go into the bank and wait in line to get money. One can imagine that early machines were placed in the lobby of the bank or in the nearby convenience store. Had the machines been placed inside the bank, making them accessible only during banking hours, they would not have garnered the enthusiasm of the target users.

In summary, the MVP is crucial from an investor-pitch perspective as well as from a product-refinement perspective. Both these activities are crucial in the early stages of a new venture. The trick is to choose the right set of features for the MVP. Make sure that the user can perform one or more or their end-to-end tasks. In other words, make sure that the use case is implemented enough to provide value to the user. The implication here is that you have to know your target users rather intimately.

And lastly, the MVP must have one or more of your key differentiators. The MVP needs to set what you are doing apart from other potentially competitive offerings.

Image: Jon Radoff’s Internet Wonderland

Blog Source: http://francis-moran.com

 

Social Media Intelligence: Monitoring vs. Measurement


Are we all ready to talk about the Elephant in the room now? Hell Yeah !

We all know how important word of mouth is, and social networking is like word of mouth on steroids. As a business, it’s vital to tap into and join online conversations not only about your brand, but also those about your competitors, your industry and your areas of expertise.

2011 seems like a year of awakening for companies with increase in social media spending. It’s becoming ever important to track the performance of key marketing initiatives. Depending on the social media platform and specific activity being tracked, you might have the option to take one or two approaches: monitor or measure. Nope, those 2 words aren’t the same! Let’s take a look at how they are different when it comes to tracking social media efforts.

Let’s look at difference between monitoring (listening) and measuring (tagging) social media initiatives, by taking a simple analogy based on listening to music.

Monitoring is like tuning into a radio station on your car stereo.

You could choose your favorite type of radio station (i.e., pop, jazz, country, etc.), but you’re still at the mercy of the radio station to actually play the music you want to hear.

Measuring is like creating a custom playlist from your personal music collection for an MP3 player. Every song is a favorite because it’s from your music library, and the playlist fits the particular activity or mood you’re in.

Keys of Social Media Optimization

In terms of tracking and optimizing social media initiatives, there are three keys: monitoring, measurement, and management. All three of these areas are different but complementary. Organizations may only have one option such as monitoring and in other cases all three options come together to complement each other.

MONITORING Social Media (Listen)

Most social media tracking is currently done with monitoring solutions, which leverage the APIs of each platform (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) to pull predefined metrics and dimensions into web analytics reporting. In most cases, any data at all is fantastic ! Kind of like picking up a clear frequency in the middle of nowhere. Data such as demographics are invaluable to organizations.Various tools such as Radian6ThoughtBuzz, Buzzmetrics, Sysomos help companies with regards to Social Media monitoring. A careful study of the organization’s needs in alignment with it’s business and social media strategy has to be done to make the right choice. ThoughtBuzz does a fantastic job in gauging demographics with a proprietary algorithm.

Some limitations of monitoring/listening approach are that companies can’t tie any of the social data to actual visitors on their other web properties, and they also can’t obtain any additional custom metrics beyond what’s already provided by the social media platforms. It’s a “take it or leave it” scenario. Because we can’t actually tag a Facebook fan page or Twitter profile page, most companies just leverage the data that these social networks provide. While we can’t tie monitoring data directly to website activity, we can use predictive modeling to understand the correlation between various types of social activity and the website’s KPIs.

Post globalization, business have started becoming more regionalized and localised targeting the niche market segment. It is ever more crucial for companies to gather social media insights on a local level. This is one critical area where most social media monitoring tools fail miserably. Accuracy in terms of providing regional content is critical. The trouble is most content is US centric. ThoughtBuzz, a SM Intelligence solution solves this problem by providing country specific indexes. It’s by far one of the best value for money solutions that gives a comprehensive coverage and detailed insights.

MEASURING Social Media (Analyze)

There are 2 kinds of analytics – social media analytics and web analytics.

SM analytics provides insights such as tonality, discussion themes, influencers, source analysis etc. The accuracy, relevancy and comprehensiveness depends solely on the effectiveness of the Social Media Monitoring solution.

Even if you haven’t launched an outbound social media strategy, you have to keep a pulse on what people are saying — good or bad — about your company, competitors and major trends. And, by representing your company in a positive, authentic way, you can build credibility for your expertise and business and link to customers and prospects quickly.

SM analytics can help you better understand prospective and current customer needs, increase visibility and generate leads. But it takes a lot of time and energy to stay on top of all of this in a manual, piecemeal fashion.

Web Analytics related to social media activities can actually be measured in some cases, meaning that companies can tag them just like they would any normal website, application, or campaign. In essence, companies can instrument or tag certain social media activities in any manner they like – choosing the level of reporting, dimensions, and metrics they need rather than having them prescribed to them by the various social media platforms.

For example, a marketing team might want to know how visitors are specifically interacting with a particular social application on their Facebook fan page. Armed with pathing and conversion funnel reports, they can better understand the user experience and fix potential fall-out points in the application. In addition, another advantage of the measurement approach is that the social media initiatives can be viewed in the context of a company’s larger online presence (i.e., treating social media initiatives as an extension of your company’s online world), and organizations can gain deeper insights into cross-domain pathing behaviors and conversion.

Currently, there are four main social media activities/areas that can be measured, not just monitored, across the leading social media platforms:

  1. Social media campaigns: Any URL or shortened URL (bit.ly) can have a tracking code appended to it so that traditional campaign tracking can occur.
  2. Facebook apps: Unlike Facebook fan pages (monitoring only), the applications and custom tabs can actually be measured and optimized.
  3. YouTube branded channels: In some cases, companies are given control over a widget area at the top of their brand channel, which can be customized to include a custom player, other content, and SiteCatalyst tags.
  4. Facebook Connect/social plugins: Any embedded Facebook features on an external website can be measured in SiteCatalyst to understand their effectiveness and overall impact.

Although the measurement options are fairly limited right now, social networks are constantly evolving and will allow more tagging opportunities in the future. It has been challenging for small and large organizations to keep pace with all of the changes happening in the social media space – let alone understand how their social media initiatives are performing. Fortunately, ThoughtBuzz has strong relationships with the leading social networks and partners which can help companies to more effectively optimize their social media investments.

MANAGING Social Media (Engage)

As the volume of social media venues and conversations rises, it quickly becomes a time- and labor-intense process to effectively track, converse, monitor and manage them.

Social media management solutions help manage outbound and incoming online interactions — along with other small business marketing activities — in a more efficient manner. They streamline and consolidate how you listen to and participate in relevant conversations on various platforms they’re taking place — blogs, social networks like Twitter or Facebook, and other public and private Web communities and sites.

Social media management tools can also help you to integrate social networking activities with your other marketing programs. These can include other online activities, such as Web sites, search engine marketing campaigns, contact management systems, and email marketing, as well as offline marketing, such as events or white papers.They also help you to more easily monitor what people are saying about your business, and by automating the process of delivering your outgoing messages through multiple social media outlets simultaneously, help you to amplify your social media presence across several social networking sites.

You can also help mitigate damage should negative conversations about your company emerge by quickly responding to complaints. Social media can also steer people to your other marketing programs, where it’s easier to individually track and manage individual customer and prospect interactions.

Some social media engagment/ management activities include:

  • Creating content on multiple places, such as a blog, Twitter, a Facebook page, etc.; monitor and scan the views, decide what comments to approve, and respond to replies on these sites
  • Scanning Twitter followers for conversations you may want to join, or checking your RSS reader subscriptions for relevant articles and new ideas
  • Checking the Social Media Monitoring dashboard to see when andwhere your business is mentioned on the Web
  • Creating and monitoring a community and topics on a site such as Facebook or LinkedIn

Let’s face it, social media isn’t a one way traffic and neither is it a simple task. It’s a lot to handle and it’s difficult to measure short-term payback on social media efforts. While taking care of brand advocates, preferences and awareness, you simply cannot ignore other marketing activities such as SEO, email marketing, contact and sales management etc.

ThoughtBuzz helps organizations achieve communication lines with an organization’s fans and users interacting or conversing online through its engagement console and action center. Other tools and dashboards can be used to complement the toolkit. Check out Mashable for the 5 superior social media management tools to complement the toolkit.