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State of the Network 2015

 State of the Network 2015

Network World’s 5th annual State of the Network study was conducted with the focus on technology implementation objectives and how leading objectives are influencing IT organizations’ plans. The research provides a comprehensive view of technology adoption trends among the Network World audience with the goal being to help marketers inform their product development, marketing and messaging strategies for 2015, specifically relating to emerging technologies that impact the network, as well as to pinpoint where IT executives and professionals are with initiatives within existing and emerging technologies.

Key Findings Include:

  • SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) areas rank highly within the IT organization for initiatives of focus in 2015. (Click to Tweet)
  • Enterprise IT is embracing and adapting to the changes made possible by emerging technologies, which are also providing advantages such as increased utilization rates to their organizations. (Click to Tweet)
  • Internet of Things (IoT) is anticipated to drive additional spending by more than a quarter (26%) of Enterprises, and 75% of Enterprise organizations are either actively researching adoption of IoT related technologies or are in the implementation process. (Click to Tweet)
  • A substantial driver of productivity is WiFi; however, challenges with ensuring bandwidth coverage are leading to adoption of gigabit WiFi with 47% agreeing that it will be critical to keeping up with wireless access demand. (Click to Tweet)
  • Research shows that IT decision-makers are taking note of the business value from Software-Defined Networking (SDN). More than a third (36%) of respondents agreed that SDN will radically change their network for the better, and top benefits Enterprises expect include increased network flexibility (39%), network customization (32%), and speed (31%). (Click to Tweet)

Click here to view more slides

Screen Shot 2015 01 26 at 9.43.07 AM State of the Network 2015

Don’t Try to Be a Publisher and a Platform at the Same Time

Harvard Business Review

In the wake of digital disruption, new media companies are seeking scale and legitimacy, while old media companies explore new business models.

The “platform” is a new media company model that has been perfected by the tech industry. Platforms can easily scale to serve gigantic audiences, and their lucrative possibilities beckon to established players that are often called “publishers.” Meanwhile, many publishers have solid brand identities that are alluring to platforms. So publishers and platforms are experimenting with new combinations — but is it really possible to combine a publisher with a platform over the long term?

Typically, publishers are considered to have editorial judgment, while platforms lack it. From this perspective, the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, and The New York Times are classic “publishers” — they present highly-curated content, and their editors invest a lot of time in its creation. Google, Facebook, and Twitter are classic “platforms” — they distribute other peoples’ content without as much editorial oversight. But these differences are largely cultural. It’s not technologically difficult for publishers to add platform-like elements, and vice versa.

Publishers seeking new business models are often tempted to become more platform-like by enabling their audience to post user-generated content; they hope to increase revenue by selling ads on this “extra” content. Sometimes, they also hope to develop a content management system that other publishers can license and use to distribute their content.

On the other hand, the technologists looking to differentiate their platforms are drawn by the voice and influence of publishing. Plus, platform-builders can capture more value if they own content on their platform, and not just the platform itself.

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This One Number Shows How Advertisers Are Wrong About Social Media

Time

Companies like McDonalds, Apple, and Ford all have something in common: They make and sell physical stuff, be it Big Macs, computers or cars. So if you’re considering investing in one of those companies, the first thing you might look at is how much stuff it’s been selling recently — an easily-determined metric that’s a decent representation of a company’s success.

But social media companies like Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat don’t make their money by selling physical stuff. Instead, they make it by selling space to advertisers.

As with all advertisements, digital ad space is more valuable the more it gets seen. And one of the key metrics advertisers use to determine how much they’re willing to spend on a social media company’s ad space is Monthly Active Users, or MAUs.

MAUs are simple enough: Every time you log on to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and so on at least once a month, that platform gets one MAU.

That interest in MAUs has extended to Wall Street, where investors have come to view them as the be-all, end-all metric for judging a social media company’s potential to make money. MAUs are popular with investors and other market-watchers because they’re easy to calculate, digest and compare.

But a number emerged this week that should make us all question the MAU as the holy grail of social media metrics: 50 million. That’s the number of MAUs racked up last year by MySpace, a social media network you probably haven’t used since you signed up for Facebook. While MySpace used to be a reliable presence in ComScore’s annual list of the 50 most popular sites on the web, it hasn’t made an appearance there since 2012, when it ranked 46th.

Sure, MySpace’s 50 million figure doesn’t touch the numbers boasted by its onetime rivals: Facebook has 1.27 billion MAUs, Instagram 300 million, Twitter 284 million. But it’s still doubtful that figure is truly representative of MySpace’s shrunken userbase, even if the site still has a small but thriving community thanks to its efforts in music and video.

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Marketers Claim to Be More Mobile Than We Might Think

MediaPost

While social media was the top area for expanding budgets in 2015, according to 5,000 marketers polled in Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing report, mobile took up the rear.  Seventy percent of marketers said they would be expanding spend for social media marketing and advertising, and 67% would further support social media engagement. But 67% also said they were bullish on location-based mobile tracking, with 66% increasing spend in mobile apps.

While only 58% of those surveyed said they actually had a dedicated mobile marketing team, at the same time a surprising 71% claimed mobile marketing is core to their business. While 68% say they have integrated mobile marketing into their overall strategy, still  43% still say mobile or app traffic is the most important mobile marketing metric.

Really? That makes me wonder what stands for mobile marketing sophistication at many companies. In fact I would take as somewhat naïve the additional finding that 57% of marketers think mobile apps are most critical to creative a cohesive customer journey. Really? In all business segments? If this belief had any remote base in the reality of mobile use, imagine how many apps consumers would have to carry around with them?

From marketers’ responses, it seems that everything looks equally promising to them. When asked to rate the effectiveness of the many digital channels open to them, everything from branded web sites to podcasting, text messaging to blogging fell into a similar range of acceptance, with 58% to 68% finding them very effective/effective. Still, only 27% say they are actually using mobile apps, 24% using text messaging, 19% using mobile push, and 18% using location-based mobile tracking.

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Technology’s biggest challenge is how to connect with people

South China Morning Post

The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) will extend the sphere of IT even further into everyday life

The word “technology” leaves many people cold, but its pervasive presence in daily life is only going to make it even more important.

Individuals, businesses, governments and countries are completely dependent on information technology to drive greater productivity and efficiencies.

The challenge for the information technology industry is how to make this dependence more enjoyable and intuitive for users to access content and applications.

This is imperative because in 2015, the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) will extend the sphere of IT even further into everyday life. The premise for IoT is that devices of any nature can now be interconnected and used to communicate with each other or with humans in real-time, enabling a raft of new possibilities around data, new ways of interacting and new services.

IoT will be big in 2015, with research firm Gartner predicting 4.9 billion “connected things” to be in use, up 30 per cent from 2014.

Every possible device imaginable is being connected in some way, from Bluetooth-enabled toothbrushes to medical devices, cameras, printers and of course the many wearables that are hitting the market. The reality of a hyper-connected world is here today.

In the business world, Gartner predicts IoT will digitize everything and enable any industry to manage, monetize, operate and extend products, services and data.

Researchers at IDC make similar predictions, forecasting rapid expansion of the traditional IT industry into areas not typically viewed as within IT’s universe.

The whole electronics industry, city-wide infrastructure, auto and transport systems as well as the home, are just a few examples of where IoT is disrupting operations today.

IDC predicts that IoT spending will exceed US$1.7 trillion in 2015, up 14 per cent from 2014, and will hit US$3 trillion by 2020. One-third of spending for intelligent embedded devices will come from outside of the IT and telecom industries.

“This amounts to a dramatic expansion of what we would consider IT,” said Frank Gens, chief analyst at IDC.

This implies a fundamental commitment to innovate and explore new applications of technology with the potential to transform how we live and work – whether through the rapid rise of mobile applications, or the increasingly myriad interactions between machines and human users.

 

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Storytelling in the Age of Social News Consumption

Edelman 2015 Forecast

Social media is having a dramatic, perhaps outsized impact on how digital news is produced, distributed, consumed and ultimately monetized. As mobile and social technologies reach critical mass, it is fueling a footrace to create highly shareable, yet informative news stories that generate traffic. More critically this is changing how journalists approach their craft.

To address this dynamic further, Katie Scrivano and the Edelman Media Network (a team of earned media specialists) teamed with two start-ups, NewsWhip and Muck Rack to study U.S. social news consumption.

Working with NewsWhip, we identified the 50 overall most-shared, English-language articles, and in six key topics – general news, food and beverage, energy, health, technology and finance. Edelman Berland then analyzed each story to identify significant commonalities. This helped shaped a survey of more than 250 working journalists that Edelman conducted in collaboration with Muck Rack.

This research revealed that:

  • More than 75 percent of journalists say they feel more pressure now to think about their story’s potential to get shared on social platforms.
  • To make their stories more shareable, journalists are infusing their stories with five key ingredients: video/images, brevity, localization, more use of human voice and a proximity to trending topics.
  • Nearly 3/4 of journalists are now creating original video content to accompany their stories. However, very few journalists (13 percent) are relying on sourcing consumer-generated video and only 3 percent are using corporate video.
  • Journalists see five key trends impacting their profession this year: more mobile friendly content, faster turnaround times, more original video, smaller newsroom staff and social media growing in influence.

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How technology is changing the way we plan and experience events

Mashable

Events and event planning are evolving into new, dynamic formats. Old models are falling away and technology is giving both planners and event participants an opportunity to grow and revisit the underlying ideas about how event spaces work.

“It’s been fascinating watching just how fast things have changed,” said Brian Solis, principal at Altimeter Group, at a New York conference this year. He spoke about next steps and generational shifts in the ways we approach and interact with the events we attend.

“We all have to think — as planners, as organizers, as experience-architects — what that will look like,” Solis said. “There was a time we’d ask you to turn your phones off. There was a time when we wouldn’t provide Wi-Fi. And there was a time when we actually expected you to make eye contact with the person on a stage. Now, I’m actually better off if I just see your foreheads lift up. It means you’re sharing the experience.”

Let’s look at some of the new roles technology is playing in the events landscape — key fronts where it’s changing the planning and experience we’ve come to expect.

1. From passive to engaged

The ways attendees’ expectations have changed is due largely to technology in the event space.

“Event planners have mostly embraced the shift of thinking about attendees as passive audiences to engaged participants,”

“Event planners have mostly embraced the shift of thinking about attendees as passive audiences to engaged participants,” says Brent Turner, vice president of solutions atCramer. “The expectation for attendees is that they can be engaged. From the easy stuff — polling, contests, social curation — to environmental changes, such as how IBM has changed their product-demonstration approach at events, or a recent augmented-reality experience we created for UPS … to nuances like RFID tags that personalize digital signage, people expect to see themselves as part of an event.”

2. Social media as a shared planning tool

Event participants already share their in-event experiences in real time via Twitter, Facebookand the like. With that as a given, now comes a newer drive on the planner’s side: To place more control of events in their audience’s hands.

TwitterFeed1 How technology is changing the way we plan and experience events

South by Southwest, for example, allows registrants to interact in the social space to pick panelists; some 30% of its panels are crowd-chosen in this way. Twitter contests can push for conversions by offering prize registrations, sure — but at your event, social platforms can create opportunities as well. Place prizes or gift cards at key locations and tweet a photo of them, for example. Attendees who find the rewards will be pleased, but perhaps even more importantly, planners can use the tech-augmented action to direct traffic to spots and programming that they want to emphasize.

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The New Breed of Marketers: the Digital Native

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 The New Breed of Marketers: the Digital Native

The rise of the digital native and empowered consumers is transforming the marketing landscape, and marketers are responding to this change in very different ways. Many marketers lack the digital skills to fully adapt to this rapidly burgeoning breed of consumer and its always-on culture. They can build websites and design banners for example, but are they able to optimise the design and improve targeting? First generation digital marketing may have been achieved, but they now need to accomplish digital marketing 2.0.

Under pressure to deliver ROI against limited budgets, many tend to choose channels or approaches that have been tried and tested before. Whilst this gives them confidence to generate results, it prevents them from truly engaging with a millennial generation moving fast into the social and mobile arena.

But, as a new breed of consumer takes centre stage, so too does a new breed of marketer need to emerge. As millennials take up position on both sides of the buyer- supplier relationship, the current and future marketer needs to learn new skills and master a different set of tools. Understanding data analytics will be the key to success.

The behaviour of the millennial demographic is distinctly different from its predecessors in many respects. A strong relationship with technology, social media and a willingness to impart personal information in exchange for better services, are some of the most defining traits. Digital natives expect to converse, interact and purchase as, when and via the channel that they choose. In return they expect marketers to remember their likes and preferences; to understand them. Understanding and assimilating these differences and the behaviours that accompany them is crucial if marketers are to survive the digital revolution.

The always-connected nature of the millennial generation is a behavioural gold-mine for marketers – providing both the means to engage and a source of information to guide that engagement.

Assailed with marketing messages from an early age, these empowered buyers are experts at filtering out irrelevant, poorly timed or boring marketing campaigns. Social and location data is providing the means for marketers to connect with millennials in a way that is instantaneous, personal and relevant.

Effective digital marketing relies on big data analytics and real-time decision-making. These twin pillars help businesses to identify, understand, hone in on and engage their customers by providing them with crucial and timely customer insight. Coincidentally, they are also two of the weakest areas amongst marketers today according to research of nearly 600 marketers, which is why many are struggling to engage their customer in a digitally driven world.

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Media Companies Strike Gold With Sponsored Content

AdAge

Media companies say they’ve struck gold in the form of content marketing — during the third quarter, at least.

Recent quarterly earnings reports show that the practice of disguising ads as non-commercial content — whether that content is an article from a professional newsroom or a Facebook post from your aunt — is driving revenue gains at a variety of media companies, from The New York Times to LinkedIn.

Whether it’s called native advertising or sponsored content, it appears this practice will stick around for a while, or at least through the next set of earnings reports.

“Content advertising is not a fad,” said Peter Minnium, head of brand initiatives at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an organization that conducts research and establishes standards for digital advertising. “It’s actually a core part of the maturation of digital advertising.”

The Times reported a 16.5% increase in digital-ad revenue during the third quarter — the three-month period from July through September — compared with the same time last year. Fueling the increase, which nearly offset declines in print advertising, was its native-advertising product Paid Posts.

“The biggest drivers are the launch of, and positive growth of, our Paid Post business,” Meredith Kopit Levien, the Times’ exec VP-advertising, said during a call with investors last week explaining the company’s quarterly results.

Paid Posts rolled out in January and will have attracted more than 30 advertising clients by the end of the year. The advertisers — which Times President-CEO Mark Thompson called a “dream list” of clients — include Chevron, Goldman Sachs, Netflix and Cole Haan.

With the Times reporting strong digital gains from native advertising, its perhaps no surprise that another newspaper, the U.K.’s Guardian, which has sought to build a U.S. business online, introduced a website redesign last week with plans to offer its own native-ad products in the near future.

New-Media players
While the Times leaned on native-advertising to boost revenue slightly, new-media organizations like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter rode native advertising — or what it likes to call sponsored content — to dizzying heights.

LinkedIn reported third-quarter ad revenue of $109 million, a 45% increase over the previous year. Sponsored updates, an ad product that allows companies to post articles on the pages of LinkedIn members that don’t already follow the company, drove the sharp increase. It accounts for 31% of LinkedIn’s ad revenue, the company said, up from just 7% last year at this time. Sponsored updates are the fastest growing business in LinkedIn’s history, according to CEO Jeff Weiner.

Advertising sales at Facebook grew 64% compared with the prior year to $2.96 billion. Two-thirds of that revenue came from mobile, where the ads appear within the flow of content and are labeled as “sponsored.” Similarly, Twitter’s ads also appear within the flow of content. While Twitter’s earnings report worried some investors because of its slowing growth in users, the social network’s ad revenue jumped 109% to $320 million.

And the blogging platform Tumblr is hoping to reach $100 million in revenue by introducing autoplay video ads within users’ feeds. The product, which Tumblr introduced last week, is called Sponsored Video Posts.

But native advertising is not benefitting every media property. Tumblr’s parent company, Yahoo, for instance, has seen its pricey display ads falter as advertisers flock to its cheaper native Stream Ads, which appear within the flow of content. This has sparked a chain reaction at Yahoo, where search advertising now outpaces that of display.

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Wearables: When Technology & Popular Culture Collide

IDG Connect 0811 Wearables: When Technology & Popular Culture Collide

Something very special happened at last month’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Will.i.am, one of the world’s biggest pop stars, launched his new smartband wearable device, the i.am.PULS – and the worlds of music, fashion, technology, mainstream and enterprise culture well and truly collided.

“I’m an ideas guy,” he said, and it’s true that will.i.am has been extremely busy in recent years investing in game-changing technologies as well as producing award-winning music. A true innovator, he contributed to the massive success of Beats headphones and developed the concept behind Ekocycle, Coca-Cola’s sustainable living brand.

This is a man whose vision of the future, as he explained on-stage with Marc Benioff earlier this year, has been influenced heavily by the pace of innovation in technology. Echoing Facebook’s mantra that technology’s evolutionary journey is only “1% finished,” will.i.am argued that the tech landscape will be “unrecognisable” in ten years’ time: “The thing on your wrist that talks to a phone…is not the future, it’s a starting point.”

The next revolution in connected devices

Shipments of wearables are projected to reach almost 112 million units in 2018, up from less than 20 million this year (IDC). As wearables proliferate, they will add to a vast universe of interconnected, smart devices. And when the inevitable take-off of wearables does arrive, the opportunities for brands will reach a new stratosphere as they look to own the customer journey.

Wearables are set to provide marketers with the purest view of the customer yet, in terms of the volume and immediacy of the data gathered. The rise of mobile and social prompted talk of always-on marketing, and the proliferation of wearables will further enable marketers to deliver the right message to the right user at the right time. Even better, because wearables are, by nature, deeply integrated into a daily lifestyle, marketers have an opportunity to learn more about their users than ever before.

Imagine what this could mean for your brand. How might you exploit this massive opportunity to improve customer service and make marketing messages more relevant?

Data, data, data

The key to cracking wearable tech for marketing lies in – you guessed it – data. If Mark Zuckerberg’s law (the rate of increase for social sharing) is accurate, in 10 years there will be more pieces of content shared every day (95 billion) than we currently share each month (89 billion).

Of course, as marketers we’ve been talking for a few years now about the importance of data in digital marketing. The challenge comes in tracking, filtering and measuring this data so that you have a true single view of the customer. The need to effectively leverage your customer data – including social data – is only going to increase as the number of consumer devices increases, and as wearables move into mainstream adoption. This will be crucial to providing the deeper levels of personalisation that customers now expect.

 

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