Thursday, 27 November 2008

What is Online PR really made of?

Nice post from Julian about online PR: What is Online PR really made of?.

SMS is the New Black

I caught up with Patrick Smith at the recent Future of Mobile conference. We hadn't bumped into each other for a while and I discovered much had happened, not only had he set up Joshua PR but he'd also started a new blog.

SMS is the New Black is a much needed answer to the fanboy hype surrounding many of today's mobile apps as everyone looks for the next big thing. The key focus is on what mobile apps and services work for Normobs not just technology obsessed geeks.

How refreshing.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Mobile Industry Review Christmas Draw

Don't forget to get involved with the Mobile Industry Review Christmas Draw.

It's a fantastic idea that I'm whole-heartedly behind. Just look at what you can win.

As well as standing the chance of winning you will make a real difference to someone who is in real need.

Now if that's not true Christmas spirit then I'll skip around Market Square, Nottingham in a pink tutu singing "I'm one of Santa's happy little helpers".

Crowd sourced marketing

I received an email yesterday from Schmap to say one of my Flickr photos had been shortlisted to appear in their new Melbourne Guide.


I'd snapped this with my iPhone on one of my visits to Esendex Australia.

Whether my photo appears or not, this is great marketing. It made me feel good, I'm sharing that with you and am pretty likely to check out the guide when it comes out. All raising Schmap's profile.

I'll let you know if it gets in

BTW you can now refer to me as Adam Bailey Bird ;)

Monday, 24 November 2008

SMS Home Routing, it's all about trust

The report from our lunch discussion has now been published: Home Routing Under the Spotlight it's worth a read.

The subject matter is admittedly quite dry, it's fairly technical subject but it is one which has potentially serious commercial implications for the mobile messaging industry and the wider business community.

Firstly a big thank you to Michael and Ralph at Tyntec for treating us to a first class venue. Along with Mike Grenville of 160Characters, they had assembled a great cross section of the industry to talk through the issues.

Home routing lunch

The Trust Issue

The big concern for me is the potential erosion of trust. It's this key factor that, I believe, threatens to derail the burgeoning enterprise SMS market.

Here at Esendex we are increasingly seeing customers use SMS as part of their business workflows. The expectation they all have is that when a message is indicated as delivered, it means just that, the message has been delivered to the handset.

This delivery event is used to drive business decisions, work flow events, SLA compliance and trigger a host of events and processes as a result.

This is great for business. Using SMS opens the door for all sorts of process improvements, efficiencies and cost savings.

One of our clients (case study not signed off so can't name them) use our service to assign jobs to freelance contractors. They have a process SLA that requires the contractor to respond in 15 minutes from job assignment indicating that they wish to accept. No response in time, no job, no money.

The delivery receipt is key. If the message is on the contractors handset at a known time, there is no dispute over whether there was sufficient time to respond.

In the opaque SMS routing scenario, described in the article, this 'knowledge' about whether the message is on the handset can no longer be relied upon, trust is broken.

All it takes is for one or two bad apples to implement home routing in this way and the whole use of SMS to drive enterprise workflows is brought into question.

This is obviously bad for service providers like us and operators. Enterprise use of SMS represents a big growth opportunity that we would all miss out on.

It's also bad for business. They will lose the opportunity to improve and save, perhaps at a time when this is needed the most.

I'm a big fan of home routing, it represents a huge step forward in the functionality that SMS services can offer (just so long as the operators give us wholesale access). Let's now ruin the market in the process.

Always nice when a client appreciates you

Taptu logo

Esendex Taps Into Social Searching With Taptu

At Esendex we pride ourselves on the reliability of our service. Problem is anyone can say that to a prospect, as a differentiator or USP, it's hardly a competition killer.

Thanks Taptu, stories like yours add important credibility to our claims.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Beeston Cycling Club Kit

After our ride from Nottingham to Paris in May, raising money for our childrens' school in the process, we've decided to set up a cycling club. The idea being to promote cycling in the local community for young, old, experience and inexperienced alike.

Every club needs a kit. This is our rather splendid one. Hot from the designer's mind. We're going to look the business.


Future of Mobile, unfortunately the operators hold the cards

I've been pondering the Future of Mobile conference this week. Many better people have posted on the conference (Helen Keegan, Alan Patrick) but rather than regurgitate the same review, I wanted to share what I felt was the really fundamental issue.

Not, how did Rudy de Waele get Michael Madsen to stand in for his press shots; or even that Rich Miner of Google must have been 12 when his was taken. Check out the FoM home page, it's all there.

More that while the vision espoused by Tomi Ahonen, Jonathan MacDondald, Andrew Grill, et al is all eminently sensible, fundamental logical and absolutely the way forward, it relies on one party to play ball, the network operators.

Problem is they don't like the rules, and anyway it's their ball and actually it's their pitch and if you don't like it you can...

I've worked with the operators for several years now and one thing I have learned is that they're not risk takers. They are very dull utilities, addicted to their existing revenues that leave the risks to other people.

How exciting do networks get? All the 'exciting' stuff is left to the handset vendors. Who, let's face it, are hardly pushing the envelope. Oohh I can get a 8MP camera instead of a 5MP if I get the new Sony Ericcson thingamy-wotsit. Wow guys, you really went wild this time. How did you squeeze those extra 3 million pixels in you crazy things?

I remember an episode of House where he was interviewing new students and he ripped a poor lad apart (he was an actor so it was OK, it wasn't real) for thinking he was so 'out-there' for having a tatoo. House made the point that the real rebels were those guys working all the hours to succeed while the rest of you the students were partying and playing at being rebels. I'm paraphrasing but you get my drift.

Being revolutionary isn't necessarily about bells and whistles or being Web 2.0 or being the new black. It's about pushing on in the face of detractors, staying true to a vision and always adapting and tuning until it works. It often starts slow and builds and builds until it's a freight train that no one can stop.

It's that slow start that operators just don't get, or they're not setup to support. Give them a big presentation, loads of credentials and predictions of millions of pounds of revenue and you might get through the door.

You need a big story to stand a chance of pushing through the next hurdle which is the internal politics. As Rich Miner says of his experience at Orange launching the SPV (I had one, I know how crap it was) political infighting derailed the whole process, as well as Microsoft not being prepared to patch a critical bug for 18 months, and of course it being a pile of crap.

The kinds of changes discussed at FoM require a fundamental shift by the operators. If the vision laid out is to become a reality then the operators have got to open up. Invest in the platforms for the next generation of mobile services. Provide the access points to allow companies, startups and established, to leverage those platforms in ways never imagined.

If they're concerned about haemorrhaging value, it's time to get innovative with the commercial models. With startups, what about taking a stake in the venture. I'm sure many would jump at the opportunity if Vodafone or Telefonica turned round and said we'll support you. Established companies can look at JVs.

The Internet and mobile worlds are converging. The Internet world is looking at the mobile world and trying to work out how to replicate the models. The operators are looking at the Internet world, terrified that they'll go the way of the fixed-line ISPs. Problem is, it's that erosion of value in access that drove the innovation.

I, and I'm sure many other people, have so many things we want to achieve and bring to market. Convincing the operators to let us prove it shouldn't be the hard bit.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Bringing the noise inside

I've been using twitter for a while now ( and am increasingly finding it an indispensable view on the world. The constant stream of information and notable happenings, as well as the distinctly un-notable, give me a finger on the Internet pulse.

It can also be very useful. As I'm writing this I've also been trying to contact a potential supplier and had a bad experience. I whinged about it on twitter, twhinged?, and one of their team were listening and reached out to me.

Yammer logo

Enter Yammer, a twitter clone for companies. You can have the same twitter style stream but only accessible to people in your company. I signed up a few weeks ago and 'convinced' the rest of the company to as well. I thought it might be worth sharing some of our experiences.

Not everyone is comfortable with noise

Twitter is noisy, you have to be able to filter and ignore what's going on. It's certainly not something that comes naturally to most people. It took time for people to get used to letting it wash over them rather than religiously reading every post.

It's a new way of consuming information

Even in a technology company like ours has a mix of people. Early adopters like jbjon will wade into pretty much anything new and a bit flaky to give it a go. Most people however take time to find their feet and get used to a new tool.

The value isn't immediately obvious to most people

Having used twitter for a while I could see a company stream being of real value. However, for many it was just another thing that management, ie me, were foisting upon them that would get in the way of them doing their jobs.

What's interesting is how a few key events can demonstrate the value to people. The key is to wait for these events to draw people in rather than try and force the issue.

Yammer makes a difference

A good example of this was our recent launch in Germany.

As information about the first leads, support cases and ultimately new customers, filtered through the ether there was a palpable ripple through the organisation. This real-time view of our new venture made everyone feel part of it's success.

So for me it's been a real success. The whole team can tap into the pulse and their part of the living, breathing entity that is Esendex.

Monday, 10 November 2008

SMS Home Routing, discussion update

Well we braved torrential rain in London today to meet, eat and discuss at length the issues raised by mobile operators implementing SMS Home Routing. Most stakeholder types were represented (vendors, operators and service providers) which drove a lively discussion around the subject.

There will be a formal report on our discussions from TynTec and/or 160 Characters, and it would be wholly inappropriate of me to comment prior to that.

Suffice to say, I left broadly optimistic and well fed.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

SMS Home Routing - the discussion is starting, finally

I posted a while ago that the SMS industry need to start talking about SMS Home Routing: SMS Home Routing, let's have a discussion before it's too late. Thankfully the process has started.

Mike Grenville of 160 Characters has organised a lunch, sponsored by the chaps at TynTec.

Several industry heavy-weights, and me, will be discussing the threats and opportunities presented by SMS Home Routing and hopefully we'll come up with a co-ordinated response.

Couple of other posts from me on the subject:

And one by TynTec CEO Michael Kowalzik:

Will keep you posted.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Microsoft taking a leaf out of Phillip Morris's book

This struck a chord with me. We've recently been looking at schools and I was shocked/concerned about the approach taken to ICT. As far as I could ascertain the lessons were how to use Microsoft Office and Windows rather than using computers to support learning.

I appreciate that MS is pretty much all pervasive in business so there is benefit to children being able to use their software. But as the only ICT element of a curriculum, I think not.

Richard Stallman Slams OLPC for Switching to Windows: "