Paul Wallbank

Paul Wallbank is a speaker and writer charting how technology is changing society and business. Paul has four regular technology advice radio programs on ABC, a weekly column on the smartcompany.com.au website and has published seven books.

Oct 212014
 
paypal-innovation-tour-039

Beacon technologies are one of the hottest items in the Internet of Things with retailers, sports stadiums and hotels looking at how they  can use these devices to improve their operations and customer experiences.

At Dreamforce 2014 Proximity Insight’s Steve Orell spoke on the event’s wearable panel about how their service plugs into beacon technology and customer service.

Proximity Insight was born out of the 2013 Dreamforce Hackathon where Orell and his team were finalists. From that, the company set up operations in New York with a focus on customer relationship management in the retail industry.

Retail isn’t the only the field that Orell sees for Proximity Insight with the hotel and casino industries as being other targets.

“With the hotel, why check-in? Why not walk in and let your smartphone do it for you?” Orell asks.

“It’s all about making live so much more seamless and slick,” Orell adds. “There’s opportunities in every sector.”

For businesses looking at rolling out beacon technologies the key is to be adding value to enhance the customer experience, Orell believes.

“You have to be delivering something to the customer beyond tracking them, it’s about making the whole retail or hospitality experience better. It has to benefit the customer.”

With beacon technologies now becoming common and the supporting hardware being built into all smartphones, we can expect to see more applications coming onto the market. It’s worth considering how your business can use them to enhance the customer experience.

Paul travelled to Dreamforce 2014 as a guest of Salesforce

Oct 202014
 
Santa Claus is largely an invention of the coca-cola corporation

At today’s Telstra Digital Summit in Sydney, digital strategist Brian Solis spoke about the disruptions happening across all industries.

One of the sources he cited was Scott Galloway of the New York University’s business school and Galloway’s Winners and Losers presentation from last May.

The presentation is thought provoking with Galloway predicting many of the social media platforms are doomed to either low returns or failure.

Galloway is particularly scathing of Pinterest: “They were the leader in the visual web, but they’ve been blown away by Instagram”. Instagram’s success, Galloway believes is driven by the shift to visual communications on the net.

The biggest takeaway though is Galloway’s prediction that the middle class is in decline. That has great ramifications for all businesses built upon the Twentieth Century consumer model.

Oct 192014
 
social media services like facebook have fan pages

The story of Whisper and the betrayal of its users continues to roll on, but the real problem is the way social media services are desperately trying to recreate the dead business model of print advertising.

Whisper’s problems with The Guardian continue as the company tries to salvage its reputation but the irony for the service is that it was trying to shoehorn its business to fit the print publishing model that the internet started to erode twenty years ago.

It’s not just Whisper; almost every social media business from Facebook to Twitter wants to be an advertiser funded publishing company, just like the newspapers of thirty years ago.

A few weeks ago I wrote about LinkedIn’s pretensions of becoming a publishing platform and this week Forbes tells of Pinterest’s adventures at the Cannes advertising festival as it sells its marketing services.

Every social media service has some sort of angle that harks back to the golden age of newspaper publishing where print advertising was a deep river of gold. Most of them want to become publishers themselves.

It would be hard to think of a service less suited to being a media company than Whisper; but then there’s Yelp whose main business of reviewing eating houses and bars seems to be totally at odds with newspapers of yore.

On the Salesforce PayPal Media panel last week, Yelp! Founder Jeremy Stoppelman was asked if he saw the restaurant review site as being a media company, his response was “sure, it’s a blogging platform.”

So we have new media aping the old media business models where these platforms try to lock users into information silos; in the same way that a London Times reader would never buy the Sun.

The problem with that is the internet broke down the geographic barriers and today a Sun reader in London can just easily find celebrity gossip on TMZ and the broadsheet reader might find more thoughtful analysis in the New York Times.

Certainly someone browsing the web for restaurant reviews might find a better site than Yelp while a bride researching wedding dresses could just as easily find ideas on Facebook as much as Pinterest.

In reality, social media sites have nothing of the stickiness of the old fashioned newspapers in the days before the internet.

Of the social media services it might be that Facebook is the best placed to succeed as an old media publishing service with its advertising smarts pushing messages to its diverse and deep user base but that isn’t certain given the widespread user dissatisfaction with its news feed.

For the social media services much of the problem – -particularly for Facebook – lies in their contradictory aims; they are trying to be identity services, buying platforms, publishing services and advertisers.

For publishers that balance between content and advertising was always a delicate one; and one that shifted over time. For online services that balance is far more complex and the future far less certain.

One thing that is clear Is those contradictory aims aren’t going to be easy to reconcile and the quandary may prove to be insurmountable.

What’s clear though are the advertising models of the future are still waiting for a David Sarnoff moment.

Oct 182014
 
nokia-feature-phone

Last week the Finnish Prime Minister, Alexander Stubb, raised eyebrows with his suggestion that Apple killed the country’s economy with the iPhone putting Nokia out of business and the iPad reducing global demand for paper.

The real reason for Finland’s immediate problems is a lack of diversity; any country dependent upon one or two businesses or industries is going to be vulnerable should markets move against them.

In the longer term though the problems facing Finland are similar to those across the western world; an aging population, shrinking workforce and tepid export markets.

Finland’s real problems are our problems. How the Nordic nation deals with them will provide some valuable lessons to us all.

Oct 172014
 
what do we share on social media sites

The Guardian today has a stunning expose on the Whisper social media network and its practice of tracking users.

In trying to sell its services to the Guardian, the company showed that it was betraying their promises of anonymity to its users.

Whisper’s behaviour is particularly disgraceful given the service’s promise of user confidentiality and their changing of their terms of service only shows the company’s struggle to understand ethics.

No social media service can afford to burn user trust in the way Whisper has.

If you’re going to promise users anonymity and security then you better deliver. Whisper has failed

 

Oct 162014
 
using an iPad and the cloud for a point of sale cash register

Ahead of tomorrow’s announcements by Apple, the strategic leaks are happening fast on both the next version of the iPad and Google’s Nexus appearing in the media today.

The problem for tablet manufacturers is that sales have stagnated in recent times with the products no longer flying off the shelves.

Part of the reason for this is customers are happy with their existing products; a three year old tablet will do most of things a brand new one will do so there’s little reason for upgrading.

For vendors like Apple and Google it’s further proof that the PC industry model of three year upgrades is firmly dead, the sector will need something more than planned obsolescence to drive growth.