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May 2016

project_ara

The Month in Technology: May 2016

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This month we take a look at the big stories from the world of technology, an exciting, bizarre and often terrifying insight into our future, and the future of our robot overlords.

Google takes the mobile device back to its building blocks

With the smartphone market seemingly at peak capacity for ‘sleek, integrated technology’, this month Google decided to throw a curveball. Project Ara, Google’s highly anticipated ‘lego-style’ smartphone, always seemed like a bit of a novelty. The idea, to create a smartphone capable of customisation by adding and removing additional hardware features. The project has been brought up a number of times, but all the talk seemed to amount to nothing. Thankfully, after several years of trials, tribulations, and failed demonstrations, Ara looks like it might see the light of day after all.
Rafa Camargo, the lead engineer behind Project Ara, announced at the Google I/O Developer conference that a consumer version of the phone would become available ‘next year’, although when exactly that was is as yet unclear. If Project Ara does make its way to stores next year, it could completely disrupt the current ‘iPhone/Samsung’ style of continually putting out entire devices, where the only way to refurbish your phone was through software updates or a snazzy, albeit fairly superficial, phone case. The idea is to allow a constant of your smartphone through modular attachments. Want a louder sound? Attach some extra speakers to your phone. Want to take a detailed panorama photo? Eject the standard camera and plug in a wide angle lens. There is even talk of a glucometer attachment that allows diabetics to measure their blood sugar levels. In fact, the more you consider the possibilities of a phone like this, the more you begin to appreciate its value. Let’s just hope it can make that 2017 release date.

Google Announce Android N features

It’s been a big year for Google’s mobile operating system Android. After offering a tantalising glimpse into the new OS in March, Google decided to release a host of other initiatives at its annual developer’s conference earlier this month. As the most popular OS in the world, each new Android OS is usually hyped to the point of oversaturation. But Google chose instead to spontaneously announce the latest OS well before its planned release date later in the summer. This was a deliberate, and clever decision on the company’s part, giving developers more time to iron out any issues in time for its official launch.
The new OS comes with a host of new features, some of which the company discussed during the keynote speech. Security, productivity, and performance were the chief focus of the new system, but there was a whole host of specific elements that have set tech tongues wagging. The most anticipated feature by far is Google Assistant, which aims to become ‘your own personal Google’, which grows to understand you in a way that its current digital search assistant can’t. Other features include hugely reduced app size, which allows for rapid installs, a multi-window feature that enables you to look at two different apps on your phone at once and a picture-in-picture option, which allows you to watch videos whilst also browsing another app. Whether

Tetris movie gets green light

Now for the news nobody has been waiting for; the production company behind such classics as ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Mortal Kombat: Annihilation’ has announced their latest contribution to cinema: The Tetris Movie. With its simple, logic driven premise and complete absence of character development, the idea of a Tetris movie has been circulated as a running joke in Hollywood circles for years. But Larry Kasanoff, the man behind the reviled ‘Mortal Kombat’ movies, announced this month that his production company Threshold Global Studios would begin filming the first Tetris film next year. At a budget of $80 million, the film promises to be gloriously indulgent, if nothing else.
For any Tetris fans concerned that the movie may not do justice to the beloved 80s arcade game, fear not. Kasanoff and his production partner Bruno Wu (CEO of China’s Sun Seven Stars Media group) announced that the movie will be the first in a trilogy, so they have three goes to get the ‘sci-fi’ thriller right. Kasanoff justified the decision to Mashable, saying “You’ve gotta ask yourself why Tetris has been so successful for so many years; we’ve thought of a really great science fiction movie out of it. I get pitched video game projects all the time, and we’re very picky about that stuff.” Whether he was picky enough remains to be seen.

Facebook responds to political bias accusations

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, this month met with US conservatives to discuss why the social networking site is said to favour ‘progressive’ views over right-wing news stories. Zuckerberg has previously conceded that the ‘Trending Topics’ section of its site is controlled by humans and not a popularity algorithm as many thought. Earlier this month, a former employee of the company alleged popular conservative stories were suppressed by the ‘Trending Topics’ editors in favour of more ‘progressive’ news stories. The revelation, which was revealed by tech blog Gizmodo, has some serious implications for the way facebook distributes its news.
Although a private company, Facebook’s widespread popularity (with over 1.6 Billion users) means it is now one of the biggest distributors of news in the world. Following the meeting of conservatives at the company’s California headquarters, Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page: “We’ve built Facebook to be a platform for all ideas. Our community’s success depends on everyone feeling comfortable sharing anything they want. It doesn’t make sense for our mission or our business to suppress political content or prevent anyone from seeing what matters most to them.”

Cloud storage for startups

Why working remotely in the Cloud is the best way to grow your startup

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Technology; can’t live with it, can’t live without it, amiright? Our dependence on technology is at peak levels, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if you’ve recently launched, or are considering launching, your own startup, the growth of digital technology will likely be the backbone of your fledgeling business. In the US, startups generated around $50bn in revenue last year, with that number increasing year on year.

As the internet bridges geographic divides and smashes cultural boundaries, the concepts of modern business are undergoing a rapid transformation. For startups, it means the company office is now no longer a physical space, but a digital centre around which the best staff in the world can work. With the aid of the Cloud, there really is no limit to the size and scale a new company can achieve.

Enable a remote workforce

It’s now possible to run a company with no two colleagues living in the same country. Running your startup remotely in the Cloud can also help you establish a sustainable business without the immediate access to cash enjoyed by established companies. In fact, by creating a business that functions in this way, you can enjoy a number of advantages over traditional businesses. Because everything is based in the Cloud, you don’t have to hire staff based on their geographic proximity. Instead, you can hire the best people for your startup from all across the world. This method has the added bonus of enticing fresh talent with the promise of being able to work without having to relocate, and without the dated notion of being tied to an office.

Cloud storage for startups

Stay on track, wherever you are

With the chance to work remotely comes the potential for a more unfettered flow of ideas. New ideas are the cornerstones for keeping any business fresh, and the absence of office politics can allow new concepts to thrive. For exactly the same reason the internet can be a pit of acrimony and mass generalisations, it can also be a great place for new ideas. The perceived anonymity of sharing your thoughts from a keyboard can give people the confidence to pitch ideas they would be too afraid to shout out in the boardroom.

Using the Cloud in conjunction with a messaging platform like Slack or the newly announced Google Spaces can create a digital office, boardroom, and watercooler, meaning staff can openly discuss new concepts without the fear of being shouted down and derided.

Make the time difference work for you

At first, having your team spread across the globe can seem like a daunting prospect, but it can also play to your advantage. With good organisation and a diverse workforce, a startup with staff based around the globe can truly thrive. Say for example your marketing team is based in Europe while your engineers are based out in East Asia. In just 24 hours, your marketing team can come up with a solid implementation plan for your new campaign, then your engineers in Asia can put it into action while the Western world sleeps.

With a startup, aspects of the business will inevitably involve a trial and error approach, so draw up a timetable that takes these time differences into account and see what works best for you.

Cloud storage for startups

Never lose material again

Technology has given us all sorts of marvels, but it’s also given us a whole new set of headaches. Perhaps the most infuriating feature of the modern computer is its ability to turn off, shut down or completely fail at the moment you need it most. Anyone who has been racing a deadline only to see their entire workload disappear down the digital plughole can tell you how exasperating this is, but the Cloud can make lost work a frustration of the past.

Used to be that when a computer broke down and the work stored on it hadn’t been backed up, you had little chance of ever seeing it again. But by keeping all your startup work on the Cloud, you can access your material from anywhere in the world, on any device. This also means that even if you can’t gain access to your account, a trusted colleague can keep your business on track until you’re back in the game.

Save money on office space

When first developing your startup, you could be forgiven for neglecting to consider just where the business will be based. After all, plenty of startups have grown out of countless nights working away at a laptop in living rooms, bedrooms, cafes and even garages. But as your business grows, so will your workforce. Most people would look to find a space when they’ve found their feet and have regular revenue coming in, but even this can have a dramatic effect on your business model.

Working in the Cloud means you can run a successful business without ever having to buy office space, as your colleagues can be based anywhere in the world. If you feel a communal workspace would be beneficial, you can still choose to rent. With all work stored in the Cloud, however, you’re free to create an office according to how your staff works best. An office using the Cloud for their central storage system can create a space that encourages creativity and challenges the restricting notion of individual desk space.

Cloud storage for startups

Communicate and share material intelligently

Startups rely on a number of factors to really take off, but one of the key attributes has to be great communication. That’s why it’s so important the platform by which you communicate is reliable, simple and consistent. By using a software suite like Google Apps, you can share documents in real-time and ensure everyone works from the same page.

The Cloud gives workers the opportunity to collaborate in real-time on the same document rather than through the inefficient email attachment method. Collaborating through the traditional email method leads to a myriad of problems; documents can be lost, old copies mistaken for the latest version and endless email chains can suck the life from otherwise healthy projects.

small data chalkboard

The rise of small data in business should not be underestimated

Analytics, Business, Employment, Marketing, Technology | No Comments

The explosion in ecommerce and digital marketing witnessed in the past decade has had some intriguing consequences for the structure of modern businesses. For one, web analytics tools have become some kind of holy scripture for marketing, prophesying market trends while denouncing the fake idols of online surveys and consumer focus groups. Big data is now the biggest influence on how companies structure their online content, but for all its merits, it comes with its own shortcomings.
A phrase few marketing professionals seem to be discussing, however, could provide an answer to many of big data’s flaws. Small data, individual analytics, unique metrics; whatever you call it, it can provide the key to engaging with individual consumers and clients on a level unachievable with broad-scatter analytics solutions.
Understanding the individual behind a process is important in any business, particularly when it comes to broad focus B2C relationships. Leveraging big data insights is essential to ensure maximum return on your chosen platform, but small data provides a real glimpse into the mind of an individual user, an invaluable tool when that individual user is making decisions that affect a project, company or even an entire industry; something we see again and again at the top level of any sector.

Shareholders

Companies are waking up to the value of big data, but the benefits of gathering small-scale analytics in digital marketing have gone largely unnoticed. In particular, individual analytics can be a valuable marketing tool for businesses, where the browsing behaviour of a single decision maker can mean the difference between a major sale or a missed opportunity.
Companies sending out financial reports to shareholders would usually have to request feedback to understand how well the report was received. With a Clemmie InSite, a company sends out their annual report to a select group and studies the small data to decipher exactly which elements of the report most interested the key decision makers. This can have a huge impact on how a company conducts its business, and how it’s perceived by those that matter most; the investors and customers.
Utilising small data to study investor perceptions doesn’t have to be limited to just annual reports, however. Monthly newsletters provide an invaluable opportunity to better understand investors and their interest in new company developments. It can guide future business decisions and provide an event to engage with shareholders and staff alike on the issues that really matter to them.
Small data for business

Pitching

For firms that make their bread and butter through seeking new business projects, pitching their skills in an original way can be an exhausting and fruitless task. For sectors like architecture, design and construction, pursuing new opportunities is integral to a company’s continued survival. A business could spend as much as half their annual revenue doggedly pursuing leads they have little to no hope of ever winning. Sending out large, printed portfolios comes with its own set of problems. Physical copies of portfolios are often expensive to print and can cost even more to send overseas. Once delivered, the sender has no way of knowing if their portfolio has hit the right notes, or if it’s even been opened at all. But even if a company manages to impress with its portfolio, opportunities can crumble if the pitch doesn’t hit the right notes.
With the help of small data, firms can gauge a client’s interest by first sending them promotional material. With a Clemmie InSite, an architecture firm can send out a personalised microsite with all the projects, experience and key architects relevant to the opportunity in hand. As soon as the client opens the site, Clemmie relays the analytics back to the architects. With details including the amount of time the client spent on the site, which sections of the portfolio most caught their eye and how much time they spent on each project, this small data can change the dynamic of the pitch in a big way. Now the architects have the data, they also have the framework around which to construct the pitch best for this particular client.
Small data for business

Targeted marketing

Marketing a brand to a mass audience isn’t easy, but the growth in data harvesting tools is helping fuel a new approach to business, both online and in the real world. With tools like Google Analytics, companies can systematically analyse how visitors interact with their content and study each stage of the click-through process, enabling them to streamline the experience and increase their ROI.
But when it comes to precision-targeted marketing, the list of resources starts to run thin. That’s because small data won’t provide the answers to big questions like “why aren’t people engaging with my brand?” or “why does my bounce rate double on my products page?” But marketing can always benefit from a closer look, and that’s exactly what small data is all about.
One of Clemmie’s biggest clients boasts around 30,000 hits a day on their official site, but so far has struggled to make commercial use of the big data gathered through Google Analytics. That’s because their customers are limited to a select list of big industry players who could probably, at a push, be crammed into the same metro carriage.
By introducing InSites as a means of one on one direct marketing, the client can engage with the real decision makers on an intimate level for the first time. While before they were swimming in a sea of meaningless engagement data, today the client enjoys a significantly increased visibility and, just as importantly, a stronger rapport with their own clientele.
Small data for business

Employment

Small data isn’t just limited to the corporate world. When used intelligently, it can even be applied to the often long and exhausting process of job hunting. From postgrads looking for their first job to seasoned professionals seeking a change of pace, small data can unlock secrets about a CV’s strengths and give job-hunters confidence knowing they are walking into an interview with their strongest material.
Even the most minute details hidden amongst individual analytics can provide a world of information when interpreted intelligently. A graphic designer studying the metrics from a recently posted Clemmie CV can make a number of observations. If a prospective employer studied one particular design three times longer than any other, the applicant can be confident that this is their strongest design and should feature prominently in any subsequent interview.
Using a Clemmie InSite as a CV comes with the added bonus of alerting the sender to exactly when it has been opened, which means applicants no longer have to wait by the phone hoping to hear back from an employer that might never read their CV.
Small-scale analytics enables job hunters to try different CV layouts and content, choosing the best combination based on quantified data and analytical interpretation. This is essential for young job hunters in particular, who are often still trying to decide on a final structure for their CV. Of course, every employer interacts with a CV differently, but the in-depth analytics provided gives an applicant a better appreciation of the key points an employer is looking for.
Small data for business
With marketing processes evolving every day, businesses have to constantly adapt, evolve and research new technological opportunities. To maintain an edge over the competition, firms must utilise every available resource. Small data can play an integral role in targeted marketing for the digital generation, but it will require companies to tackle their big data dependence. Thankfully, it’s a habit Clemmie is determined to help them kick.

AI in marketing

What does AI mean for the future of digital marketing?

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If you believe the blogs, magazine features and tabloid news stories, AI is a revelation, and it’s going to change everything. From op-eds predicting an end to humanity at the hands of superior intelligence to scientists feverishly discussing the future of medical care, AI is on everyone’s lips. Reporting on AI tends to largely focus on the worst case scenarios, but AI can also change our lives for the better and revolutionise the way we interact with technology, the world, and even each other.

The ways in which we perceive the world around us is already shifting as technology develops. A recent study from Stanford and Cambridge Universities claimed that a computer can know more about its human owner than their friends and family. Artificial Intelligence was used to analyse 10 Facebook ‘Likes’, which then enabled the AI to to predict and study a participant’s personality. Even Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has got in on the AI action with his pledge to create an AI assistant.

This is just the start, with Machine to Machine (M2M) and Machine to Consumer (M2C) interactions on the rise every day. In marketing, AI will touch on every aspect of the profession, from the means by which campaigns are conceived, run and measured to the very definition of marketing itself.

Taking the guesswork out of marketing

AI can be more focused on delivering ads to people, with less guesswork. EMarketer predicted that some 55% of all digital advertising dollars will be driven by programmatic initiatives in 2015 as machine learning takes precedence over human analysis. The figure is predicted to rise to 63% by next year, which represents $20 billion in programmatic ad buys.

With AI, marketers will be able to understand consumers on an intricate level. The entire experience will be tailored to the recipient to ensure every ad is relevant, a far cry from the days of blanket coverage and disruptive marketing techniques. Just like billboards on roadsides, pre-AI ads relied on a disruptive advertising strategy, designed to distract and conquer.

Unfortunately, these efforts translated to little more than guesses about what consumers may want to buy based on the few details the company could glean from their IP address. This approach to advertising, however, failed to understand the context of individuated customer searches, an issue AI overcomes through ‘intelligent learning’.

AI in marketing

Creating connections & developing a dialogue

Thanks to AI, marketing will no longer be a one-sided conversation. George John, writing in The Drum, explains “Currently, with the possible exception of social media, marketing is a one-way channel. As AI technology improves and evolves it will progress beyond selecting the right message and design (crafted by humans) to deliver to the right person, over the right channel, at the most opportune time, to actually having a two-way conversation in real-time.”

AI won’t just personalise content, it will allow consumers to provide instant feedback, ask questions about products and take advantage of special offers through interaction with the AI. AI has already progressed to the point where it can tailor customer interactions through increasingly sophisticated language processors and visual perception tools

Personalised advertising becomes truly personal

When it comes to programmatic ad buying, the current process is largely dependent on a machine’s ability to make decisions. Variables like location, previous search history and search text syntax are taken into account when selecting the ad, but these are still largely impersonal generic ads. With AI, ads can be personalised to a far greater degree and instantly delivered to users based on a qualified profile shot of their entire browsing history.

AI can ‘learn’ to avoid users who have never interacted with a specific type of advertisement. Each time a similar campaign is run it will know who is likely to engage and who isn’t, only targeting the most relevant users. Of course, the technology behind this kind of ultra-personalisation is still being refined, but so far all signs point to a new era in personalised marketing.

AI in marketing

Websites become easier for everyone

With AI ensuring ads are now precisely targeted, user engagement will improve, saving brands significant advertising revenue while ensuring higher conversion rates and eCPMs. This is good news for the firms placing the ads, the sites hosting them and the user viewing the site.

Because firms are earning more revenue through fewer ad placements, sites can trim the number of ads to only those which are relevant to that particular user. Not only will this improve the onsite experience for users, but it will increase the likelihood of people engaging with the advertising they do see.

Human input takes a back seat

Companies are now employing big data analysts and data scientists in marketing departments to uncover insights to drive business decisions, but the introduction of AI will eventually transform the very role of humans in marketing. CMO’s (Chief Marketing Officers) at several tech-savvy firms are already witnessing the influence of AI on daily operations. The difference being that, whilst today the role of CMO’s is to create and source content that increases brand visibility and continues to generate revenue, AI will tackle several of these responsibilities.

No longer will CMO’s have to adjust media campaigns according to new trend progressions. AI’s ability to adapt to changes in real-time means the implementation of marketing campaigns will require less and less human interaction.

AI doesn’t have to be all-controlling, however. Some companies are already using it to provide updates to changing market trends which can then be taken into account by a CMO and applied at their own discretion for subsequent campaigns.

The more artificial intelligence is used the more efficient it becomes, meaning it will be able to adapt to, and even anticipate, new trends as they happen. Instead, marketers will be tasked with establishing guidelines for the AI to ensure interactions with consumers remain within the appropriate brand context.

AI in digital marketing

Working hours could become a thing of the past

With most mobile traffic occurring over the weekend, when marketers are out the office, artificial intelligence comes into its own as an optimisation tool. AI optimises campaigns in real-time, taking the manual labour aspect away from the marketing team who can then concentrate on other, more subjective aspects of the marketing campaign. A study by analytics firm IHS and video inventory management platform SpotXBy found that by 2020 more than half of all digital video advertising revenue in Europe will be programmatic.

A whole host of new roles will become fundamental to the continued marketing strategies of companies around the world. Working hours themselves will become less restrictive, with AI doing much of the work a human would have to do outside of work time. For instance, most mobile traffic occurs over the weekend, but for most companies, this is the time when workers will be at home. AI can track interactions, schedule updates and optimise content according to what people are searching for, regardless of when or what time or where the search is made.

Embracing the increase and development of AI is crucial to future marketing efforts. Despite all the scare stories, AI is a human creation that can be harnessed in a multitude of ways. When used intelligently and responsibly, AI can enrich our lives in a multitude of ways. By leaving the most mundane, time-consuming and logic-driven tasks to AI, we free ourselves up to think more creatively, to focus our time and effort on more subjective matters and, if we’re lucky, come up with the world’s next big innovation.