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CES 2015 Coverage: The Latest Tech Stories

The International CES is a global consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow. It’s the largest of its kind in North America and takes place in Las Vegas January 6-9th. If you can’t attend make sure to follow our page with the latest updates on the innovative technology being featured.

Another year, and another CES is over. This year’s event featured every kind of gadget you could think of: Mini-PCs of varying shapes & sizes, personal Clouds and over-elaborate hard drives, questionable crowdfunded health gadgets and brain scanning things, expensive music players,microchips for smartcars, Bitcoin, weird hats and all sorts of 3D printers. There was also wearable tech for fitness freaks, fashionistas, animals and people who like modularity, as well as a whole range of VR/AR-based headsets on show: the Avegant Glyph, the Razer OSVR and the Seer fromCaputer Labs.

Announcements from the show included Intel’s promise to spend a hefty $300 million to increase diversity of its workforce, while BlackBerry is looking to muscle in on the Internet of Things andWearables. Also Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie – the only guy bigger than Shaq – was in attendance.

Outside of CES, BlackBerry has teamed up with Boeing to create a “self-destructing” smartphone for spies. It probably won’t explode Mission Impossible-style, more likely just to wipe the device if need be.

View a slideshow of the 10 best business gadgets

ces smart board CES 2015 Coverage: The Latest Tech Stories

Smart home trends that took CES by storm

Front-facing Oculus Ocular Projection

Witricity’s wireless charging beams power through wood, stone, and even your head

OfficeIQ adds sensor intelligence to your standing desk

HomeKit Compatible iDevices Switch lets you control your house with Siri

For more videos and written reviews of CES exhibits, click here
Check out photos from IDG’s client appreciation party at the Stratosphere Hotel, Las Vegas: http://on.fb.me/1FQYdoj
For videos of volunteers jumping 108 stories off the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas while being GoPro-ed, click here

The New CMO’s First Hundred Day Playbook

IDC PMS4colorversion  The New CMOs First Hundred Day Playbook

By, Kathleen Schaub 

In a 2014 study, IDC found that 51% of CMOs at tech companies have held their position for fewer than two years. We predict many new CMOs again this year. How can a new executive start right? IDC interviewed 10 wise, seasoned, CMOs for a glimpse into their first hundred days playbook.

New%2BRoad%2BSign The New CMOs First Hundred Day Playbook

Transitions are vital moments when even the smallest executive actions have a disproportionate effect on outcomes. It’s a risky time for a new CMO who starts with neither the knowledge nor the alliances necessary for success. Fail to build momentum during the first hundred days, and a CMO will struggle for the rest of his/her (probably short) tenure. Job loss is not the only blow that may be suffered by a poorly conducted start. Many more CMOs fail to reach their full potential in their current position, thus putting a promising career on a slower track.

Success in the first hundred days, on the other hand, sets the stage for a brilliant performance. The 10 heads of marketing interviewed by IDC collectively recommended these six plays.

Play #1: Understand your real job.

Marketing is very closely tied to business context. A new CMO must assess quickly what work is really needed. Does the company need more awareness, a brand refresh, or a full product portfolio transformation? Each of these strategies requires a radically different approach from marketing.

Peter Isaacson, Demandbase: “What are the business goals of the company and the expectations for marketing? What are the business priorities and where is the company going? Get this straight from the mouth of the CEO. What is expected of you? Are there any unrealistic expectations that you need to set straight [such as] build a new category in the first two months? Get on the same page right from the beginning.”

Elisa Steele, Jive Software:  “There is a big opportunity and a big problem. No CMO in any company has exactly the same responsibility [as another CMO]. You know what a CFO does, what sales does, HR, etc. CMOs are different. Are they responsible for communications? Strategy? Product? Customer service? CEOs can create a spec of their own definition. But that requires a very mixed pool of candidates and it’s difficult to understand what any candidate’s power skill needs to be.”

Greg Estes, NVIDIA: “Building an executive team is like building a sports team. Different players are good at different things. [CEOs] might find they hired a great shortstop when they needed a good first baseman.”

Play #2: Speed up your learning curve.

The amount of information that needs to be absorbed in the first hundred days is prodigious. It’s best to approach learning in a direct and methodical way.

Paul Appleby, BMC: “To remain relevant, our number 1 priority must be to drive a new level of engagement with our customers. We are headquartered in Houston, Texas. However, our customers are based globally. As such, we need to engage with them globally. In my first three months, I travelled the globe and met with over 500 of our largest customers to understand the dynamic impact of digital disruption on their businesses. I also met with our teams in every major city where we operate. We listened and pivoted our engagement model, market positioning, and service delivery model based on what we heard.”

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What Digital, Social & Mobile Will Look like in 2015

We Are Social

The Headlines

Slide006 500x375 What Digital, Social & Mobile Will Look like in 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we’ve seen in our on-going series of Digital Statshot reports, mobile increasingly dominates the digital world, and we’re confident that ‘ubiquitous connectivity’ will gather even more pace during 2015, as cheaper handsets and more affordable data connections reach further around the world.

What’s more, with mobile-oriented services like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger achieving the top social media ranking spots in some of the world’s biggest economies, it’s clear that much of our digital behaviors now converging around mobile devices.

Based on the trends within this data, we expect that mobile will help to push internet penetration beyond 50% of the world’s population during mid to late 2016.

Before that, though, we  expect to see social media penetration reach one-third of the world’s population – likely by the end of 2015 – with new users in  developing nations accounting for almost all of this growth.

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Media Companies Need to Wake Up to the Digital Advertising Mess

Quartz

Digital media are stuck with bad economics resulting in relentless deflation. It’s time to wake-up and make 2015 the year of radical—and concerted—solutions.

 Trends in digital advertising feel like an endless agony to me. To sum up: there is no sign of improvement on the performance side; a growing percentage of ads are sold in bulk; click-fraud and user rejection are on the rise, all resulting in ceaseless deflation. Call it the J-Curve of digital advertising, as it will get worse before it gets better (it must–and it will.).
Here is a quick summary of issues and possible solutions:
 The rise of ad blocking systems, the subject of a Dec. 8, 2014 Monday Note. That column was our most viewed and shared ever, which suggests a growing concern for the matter. Last week, AdBlockPlusproudly announced a large scale deployment solution: with a few clicks, system administrators can now install AdBlockPlus on an entire network of machines. This is yet another clue that the problem won’t go away.
 There are basically three approaches to the issue.
The most obvious one is to use the court system against Eyeo GmBH, the company operating AdBlockPlus. After all, the Acceptable Ads agreement mechanism in which publishers pay to pass unimpeded through ABP filters is a form of blackmail. I don’t see how Eyeo will avoid collective action by publishers. Lawyers—especially in Europe—are loading their guns.
The second approach is to dissuade users from installing ABP on their browsers. It’s is up to browser makers (Google, Microsoft, Apple) to disable ABP’s extensions. But they don’t have necessarily much of an incentive to do so. Browser technology is about user experience quality when surfing the web or executing transactions. Performance relies on sophisticated techniques such as developing the best “virtual machines” (for a glimpse on VM technology, this 2009 FT Magazine piece, “The Genius behind Google’s browser” is a must-read.) If the advertising community, in its shortsighted greed, ends up saturating the internet with sloppy ads that users massively reject, and such excesses lead a third party developer to create a piece of software to eliminate the annoyance, it should be no surprise to see the three browser providers tempted to allow ad-blocking technologies.

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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Global Insurers Expected To Increase IT Spend to Over US$100 Billion in 2015: IDC Financial Insights

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 Global Insurers Expected To Increase IT Spend to Over US$100 Billion in 2015: IDC Financial Insights

Singapore and Hong Kong, January 15, 2015 – IDC Financial Insights reveals that global insurers will increase IT spending to almost US$101 billion in 2015, a Year-on-Year (YoY) increase of 4.4% compared to 2014, with rigorous investments in technologies to boost efficiencies and innovation.

This was unveiled in the recently published report by IDC Financial Insights, “Global Insurance 2015 Top 10 Predictions: Perils and Prospects for the New Year” (January 2015, IDC Financial Insights Doc #AP250896), that presents its top 10 perspectives on the perils and prospects for the global consumer and commercial, life and non-life insurance markets for 2015.

Li-May Chew, CFA, associate research director, and global lead for IDC Financial Insights’ Worldwide Insurance Advisory Service, sees investments centering around new core applications development and management such as data warehousing, claims and policy administration systems. These replacements or refreshes are required as legacy IT systems become increasingly complex, inflexible, and archaic, to the point of negatively affecting technology integration and interoperability.

Insurers are further spending on change transformation and business optimization initiatives to augment productivity and support intermediaries, as well as in knowledge management, business analytics and customer relationship management applications to improve underwriting insights, raise customer centricity and intimacy. Also critical is the need to enhance not just the intermediated distribution channels comprised of insurance agents, brokers and bancassurance, but also newer, disintermediated digital portals of the Internet, social platforms and mobile delivery.

“Global insurers need to know where and how to seek pockets of growth amidst economic uncertainty. In order to regroup and focus on sustainable, profitable growth, organizations will have to confront multiple perils – ranging from reengineering or rebuilding legacy applications, to countering mounting insurance fraud – and still ensure they are well positioned to embrace growth prospects as these present themselves.”

“We expect the global insurance industry to invest more rigorously in technologies, and project global IT investments rising to almost US$101 billion this year as these support campaigns to boost efficiencies and innovation. Geographically, the emerging markets continue to shine. While cumulated spending for these nations may still be a comparatively smaller US$19 billion, this will rise at a 3-year CAGR of 6.7% between 2015 to 2018, which is double that of mature nations,” says Chew.

She expects the 3-year CAGR in mature nations to be 3.1% and globally to be 3.8%.

Herein, IDC Financial Insights sees especially noteworthy IT developments within the insurance sectors of the Big Five BRICS economies (of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina in LATAM; and the Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Chew added that insurers are cognizant that strategic execution needs to be technology-enabled and are hence proactively embracing technology-driven innovation. She is thus confident that their budgets for such deployments will continue to rise alongside, and oftentimes, quicker than annual premiums growth.

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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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Your Digital Strategy Shouldn’t Be About Attention

Harvard Business Review

re they talking about your brand? Around the clock? From Facefriend to Tweeter to Instapal?

Pssst.  

That’s probably not the right question.

Today, too many strategists believe that a clever plan to win the internet’s attention is a good digital strategy.

It’s not. Why? The painful truth is: attention itself isn’t worth as much as today’s marketers, boardrooms, and beancounters think. It’s not just that there’s good and bad attention — awe versus scorn, for example. Attention is a fickle, fleeting thing on which to build a business model, let alone a business, let alone an institution. Hence, attention without relation is like revenue without profit: malinvestment.

Institutions and leaders, obedient students of modern marketing, obsessively ask, “How do we get people to be loyal to us?” Meanwhile, they’re often (let’s be honest with each other for a painful moment) busy gleefully plotting to betray them at every turn. Hide the fees! Shrink the fine print! Why give customers cheese when you can sell them “cheese-like product”? Most “digital business models” are similarly sneaky — track their data! Make the terms and conditions impossible to understand! Why take the time to get to know your customers … as long as you can get them to use the corporate hashtag.

The real question — the one that counts for leaders and institutions today — isn’t “How loyal can we compel, seduce, or trick our customers into being?” It’s: “How loyal are we to our customers? Do we truly care about them?” Not just as targets consumers, or fans. But as people. Human beings. What every institution needs  —  and what every leader needs to develop  —  before a “digital strategy” is a human strategy. If you want to matter to people, you must do more than merely win their fickle, fleeting, frenzied attention. You must help them develop into the people they were meant to be. When you do, maybe, just maybe, they’ll reward you. With something greater than their grudging, wearied attention. Their lasting respect, enduring trust, and undying gratitude.

So here are my top four mistakes of digital strategy — and how not to make them.

Titillating, not educating. It’s easy to win “clicks” by titillating people with Kim Kardashian’s naked behind or a list of the world’s cutest human-cat baby unicorn fairies. And it might lend a dreary day a moment of relieved escapism. But it won’thelp anyone. To do that, you must educate. Not in the awful, misused corporate sense of the term: dully lecturing them about “product benefits.” But helping them develop the capabilities and skills they’re going to need to live better lives. What will your “digital strategy” help them become better at? Does it have apoint? Skiing, dating, cooking, coding, creating, building? If the answer is no, you don’t have a strategy. You have a vaudeville show.

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IDG invests in mobile gaming company Playsimple through seed program

Your Story

IDG Ventures India has invested in PlaySimple, a mobile social gaming company through its seed fund programs. The company is focused on mobile games in the trivia, word and puzzle categories, co-funder Siddharth Jain said.

playsimple IDG invests in mobile gaming company Playsimple through seed program

Siddharth and his co-founders were earlier working for Zynga and were closely involved in games such as Mafia Wars and Bubble Safari and have worked on innovations around gameplay, engagement and analytics.

Yezdi Lashkari, a former executive, at Zynga, also participated as an angel investor as part of the round. Neither company disclosed the amount invested.

The money will be used to build a portfolio of mobile casual games targeting the global markets. Playsimple also plans to increase its team from six to 20 and is looking to hire game designers and UI experts, said Siddharth.

“We are targeting global markets, primarily the English speaking countries,” he added.

Besides Siddharth, the founding team comprises of Preeti Reddy, Suraj Nalin and Siddhanth Jain, who worked together at Zynga. The team has also previously worked at companies such as Bain, Walmart Labs & Yahoo.

“Globally, mobile gaming is a very large, growing market. Gaming is a hits business, but the ones that succeed do take off rapidly towards profitable growth in a short period of time,” Karthik Prabhakar of IDG Ventures India said.

 “The team at PlaySimple is young and highly experienced in building/scaling mobile games for the global markets,” he added

PlaySimple has already released a game title, GuessUp. With this funding, the company is targeting to release multiple games over the next few months in early 2015 before they look to raise their next round of capital.

IDG launched its seed program earlier this year to discover interesting investment opportunities at a very early stage. It has already invested in recruitment startup Mynoticeperiod.com and mobile ad retargeting firm SilverEdge through the program.

IDG’s USA fund has invested in 8-9 gaming firms, the most prominent of which was Funzio, which was acquired by Japanese gaming giant GREE in 2012.

Its China fund also has about six gaming and animation investments listed on the website. PlaySimple is IDG’s first mobile investment in India.

Several gaming companies have also raised money in recent months. In November, MadRat Games, a Bangalore based offline gaming company, raised $1 million from Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal.

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