Monday, July 11, 2011

50 Predictions for Social Media in the Next 10 Years

A good friend of mine, Todd Stephens, posted this set of 50 predictions.  I was so intrigued, I wanted to open this up beyond our internal discussion.....

Todd wrote....

Where will social media be in the next decade? What do you think will happen to our organization around social media that will impact the company? I spent some time during my vacation to ponder this idea and 50 things jumped into my head. Somewhere between Golf, Fishing, and Pina Colada’s the following list emerged. Where do you agree? Where do you Disagree? What would you add?

  1. More mobile device with social input capability emerge as a core communications technology.
  2. Increased and more diverse use of crowd sourcing technology (versus idea ranking today).
  3. Deeper analysis tools for social information (bi or ai) which allow for a better consumption of information.
  4. Employee profiles will expand and be central in team formation based on talent.
  5. Social communications will replace traditional forms of communications. Rip email and memo traditions.
  6. Social media in recruiting, training, and reviews will be common place.
  7. Business model change will increase, systems will fail to stay current, only social media can adapt to the rapid pace of business. Leadership light bulbs finally turn on.
  8. Social media will integrate into traditional areas of the business such as the training classes, accounting, bi, architecture, product reviews, human resources, etc.
  9. Social media tools extend or integrate outside the organization and blend the enterprise.
  10. Ability to create, upload, integrate, and manage social content will get easier and perhaps seamless.
  11. Mutli-sensing devices emerge to enhance social information (i.e. Presence or function performed).
  12. Virtual environment advance and become common place within the business environment (training, off-site sessions, stakeholder meetings, team).
  13. Training and virtual conferencing moves toward a social experience.
  14. Project work and project plans adapt in real time with social media feedback.
  15. Employee reviews will have a social media contribution component. Sharing information versus hoarding it.
  16. Every project or work activity will have a social media component; it’s required.
  17. Employees will learn personal branding, self-reliance, self-actualization, and the ability to define business value from their trademarks.
  18. Education, training, gaming, and social media will transform how the employee base enhances their skill portfolio.
  19. Rotational assignments will no longer be the choice of management but reputation capital will be the clear driver.
  20. Elite teams will know how to leverage the crowd in order to deliver value quickly and directly. Much as small military squads leverage technology and information for quick strikes.
  21. Social learning will be a requirement and a life long requirement.
  22. Social media will extend beyond business only areas; financial management, golf, day care, local businesses, etc.
  23. Marketing, communications, social responsibility blur.
  24. Social media will lift the vail of application utility; good enough internal applications will no longer be. Employees want amazon style applications all from the cloud.
  25. Unified communications embraces social media (i.e. Out of office integrates profiles not just outlook).
  26. Instant messaging and/or status messaging will be common place and not just from the individual perspective.
  27. Video casts will become common place and the primary source of information exchange.
  28. Complete integration of all platforms into an individual workspace: uc, im, social media, collaboration, applications.
  29. Employee models will pre-load these workspaces into integrate employee experience centers.
  30. The physical and social lines blur (tec vesus virtual tec; digital signage and product placement).
  31. Mobile social applications become first priority versus the laptop or desktop.
  32. Social media adapts to the employee focus or persona. An employee interesting in a new mobile device will have the social environment dynamically adapt to the situation versus the same interface regardless of need.
  33. Social media replaces middle management as the force of work planning, organizing, and execution.
  34. Promotions will become meaningless as employees look for career experiences that enhance skills. These career navigations and roadmaps will replace promotional ladders.
  35. Job descriptions will be replaced by a social profile work portfolio. Trademarks emerge as the main career measurement structure.
  36. Personal branding and employee profile replace employment history.
  37. New social skills will be required by managers where they learn to manage diverse, dynamic, temporary highly skilled workers. Real Coaching?
  38. Generation X moves into leadership positions and the baby boomers will be wondering what went wrong. Retirement? Success? Mindset?
  39. Gen Y enters the workforce in mass and everything changes at that point from a technology and value creation basis.
  40. 80-90% of the work will be done by mobile, telecommuting, or temporary workers which requires social media to communicate effectively.
  41. Horizontal and vertical value chains will be replaced by circular ones (think apple versus Coca-Cola or Google versus Exxon). All connected with social media.
  42. Teams and organization reduce size by 20-30%. Less overhead needed with full transparency, open communications, advanced technology, etc.
  43. Social media gets personalization on steroids. No more searching and scanning; everything adapts to you and your needs.
  44. Peer-to-peer learning and mentoring takes hold and adds to the employee education experience.
  45. The pervasive approaches to information hoarding and information sharing come to blows and transparency wins
  46. The physical world and the social world will be so integrated that only will you be unable to tell the difference, there will be no difference and if separated a void will appear
  47. Leadership will be tested as many mistakes will happen in the world of social media when it comes to privacy, ip, and business planning. Unlike today, innovation and speed will trump the caution and concern.
  48. Social media will finally have concrete roi measures and enough case studies to model, pattern, and build off of.
  49. Life, work, home, fun, hobbies, research, interests, experience, ideas and people converge into a singularity.
  50. Enterprises finally see large scale adoption, contribution, and creation from more than 50% of the resource base.

How many of these do you agree will come to pass.  Your comments are welcome.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Response to Hotspot Analysis - CNET

Recently CNET provided their analysis of the new Hotspot feature on for the iPhone 4 on the AT&T network.  While the article was relatively fair, the speed test may have been unfair.

My Response….

Cnet HQs, could they be in the San Francisco area??????

If so, the complaints about speed of the network may not be entirely AT&T's fault and this issue may be industry wide.  California in general and San Francisco in particular is notorious for regulatory restrictions and permit processes that make it extremely difficult for the carriers to perform maintenance or upgrades.

I mean GET REAL folks!  Do you believe for a minute that AT&T would deliberately provide spotty service in the tech capital of the world with the largest concentration of bloggers?
Readers you MUST put pressure on your community leaders to being sanity to the regulatory environment.  Oh by the way, is it possible that those who are screaming the loudest at the carriers to improve the performance are the same people who are leading the charge against adding more cell sites????

If you want improved performance, you will need to direct at least a little of your ire at the community leaders who have constructed a regulatory and permit monster.  It may be ok for Verizon right now, but unless something is done, and soon, all of us will be singing the performance blues.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

10 Responses to “Why Verizon iPhone Beats AT&T iPhone”

Yesterday, Don Reisinger of published an article entitled “10 Reasons Why the Verizon iPhone Beat the AT&T iPhone”.

Let me get something off my chest right away.  I was not going to respond to this on my blog, but am forced to respond here because Mr. Reisinger email address got bounced back to me from my email.  I was disappointed as I would have preferred to respond to him directly.  Since there is no opportunity to comment on the site directly, I am forced to respond here.

Below is my response to Mr. Reisinger’s article that point by point addresses the so-called” advantages of the VZ iPhone:

Mr. Reisinger,

First, let me say up front that I am an employee of AT&T.  Today, I am not writing as a company spokesperson, but rather as a person committed to our customers at AT&T.  So, official disclaimer, my comments are my own and do not represent AT&T or any of their affiliates.
Please allow me to respond to your “10 Advantages” point by point.

1) Verizon has much better coverage.

Answer: I have put the emphasis here on the “much” word.  While the coverage issue may have been a significant issue in the past, the recent transfer of the Alltel assets from Verizon, has led to a dramatic change in our coverage map.  I was told as recently as yesterday by a top company operations person that the switchover of the Alltel assets to AT&T has been done with full 3G coverage as each cell site has been brought online.  I am told that much of the switchover has already occurred and the anticipated completion of this switchover should occur within the 1st quarter of 2011.  In addition, those remaining “2G” sites on our network are being given priority for LTE conversion.  So, our geographic coverage, for all intents and purposes matches nicely with VZ. 

2) Hotspot

Answer:  AT&T has recently announced support for hotspots.  Also note change in tethering plan which gives more data included with tethering.  See USAToday article:

3) Antennagate

Answer: According to PCWorld, Antennagate is not solved by “redesign” of VZ iPhone Antenna:
In addition, while the antennagate issue has created headlines, I am told that AT&T internal testing shows overall improvement of Voice Calls with iPhone 4 from previous versions of the iPhone.

4) Customer Service

Answer: While customer service is something that is a top priority with AT&T, there may be other explanations to this disparity.  As you not doubt know, AT&T has a significantly higher proportion of our users who own smartphones (primarily iPhone) than other carriers.  People who own smartphones in general and iPhones in particular are amongst the most tech savvy, demanding customers in the business.  Providing customer care for a computer is a bigger challenge than simply caring for a phone that texts and carries voice calls.  So, while scores by the other carriers may be higher (for now), I am curious what will happen to the other carriers scores as they add more and more smartphone users.  I am not excusing AT&T on this, just offering a different way at looking at the scores, (it is not an apples to apples, pardon the pun, comparison).  Finally, AT&T has one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry. 

5) Unlimited Data

Answer: Well that is true, they are offering unlimited data.  However, you fail to mention that AT&T provides options.  We have plans that allow people who are just beginning to use a smartphone a nice plan that for $15 per month gets them access to 200 mb and saves them $15 monthly over Verizon.  Internal studies I have seen note that over 50% of our customers would benefit from such a plan were they to take advantage of it.  What you say is the equivalent of paying a higher price for a buffet, when all I really want and need is soup and salad.  Everything else would make me fatter.  Furthermore, the “all you can eat” buffet as my only option encourages “overeating” and could lead to “long lines” waiting to get to the buffet.  Not always a good thing.
Pont 2, AT&T has the largest number of wifi hotspots included with its service in the industry.  This means that many will be able to use public wifi without additional charges.  This is a significant advantage of the AT&T network.

6) Future 4G

Answer: First, why is this an advantage for the VZ iPhone?  The iPhone 4 will not operate on this network and it is debatable whether the iPhone 5 will be LTE compatible either.  So this is a real non-issue for the iPhone.  Further, AT&T has an announced aggressive 4G plan (and I am talking about LTE not simply HSPA+)  LTE is in trial now and first sites will be available beginning in the May-June 2011 timeframe.  In the meantime, I am told that all of our 3G cell sites have been upgraded to HSPA+ which has a theoretical speed of 21mb/s download.  Our first phones to take advantage of this are being deployed this month and next.  Further, this means that when people “drop down” from LTE, it will be a much closer to 4G experience than those who drop down from the VZ LTE.

7) Capacity

Answer:  Capacity and Voice Quality have been noted by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson as the number one priority of AT&T in 2011.  I was told on an internal call yesterday that challenges that AT&T faced in 2010 were unprecedented.  Many have speculated that Verizon is in a better position to handle capacity.  I don’t know anything about how VZ manages their network, so I can not comment on that.  However, what I can say, is that the iPhone brings demand to a network that is often beyond predication.  For example, on a graph I saw yesterday our internal performance tracking data showed acceptable voice quality in most of our markets up through the July timeframe.  At that point, the full effect of the iPhone 4 began to hit and may have contributed to capacity issues that were complicated by supplier issues.  So, I hear that VZ THINKS they know what to expect, but I have witnessed this first hand, the introduction of this device to the network will likely lead to stressing it in a way that may tax even the best VZ engineers.  BTW, our internal tracking data show significant improvement in voice quality performance beginning in the November/December timeframe.
Finally, note that capacity issues in Los Angeles and San Francisco are complicated by regulatory issues that often delay approval for permits to work on our own cell sites.  It is difficult for me to believe that Verizon will not face similar permit processing delays as they work to keep up with demand.

8) Not a replica

Answer: Well yes.  But I would argue that it is not necessarily a VZ advantage.  For example, the ability to talk and surf the web is HUGE and will become even more dramatic over time.  Just this morning, I was on a phone call and had to look up an address on Google Maps to locate where a place was that a speaker was referring me to.  Not having to end the call to do this lookup was definitely advantageous.  Further, SPEED, the iPhone 4 consistently runs faster on the AT&T network in report after report.  Here is my challenge to you.  Once you have the iPhone 4 from VZ, take it to several locations use the app to measure performance.  If you have a similar experience to many others, you will quickly discover that there is a noticeable and consistent download speed advantage (in most locations) for the AT&T iPhone.

9) Other phones superior

Answer: if you mean lack of Android Phones, that may have been true in the past.  However, consider this.  AT&T is the only carrier to offer phones featuring all of the major Operating systems, HP/Palm WebOS, Windows 7, Blackberry Torch and Android.  Further, the new “4G” Android phones coming out this month will make for significant advantages.  Finally, the Motorola Atrix must be seen to be believed.  (Check out this video.)  Motorola Atrix 4G Hands-On

10) Verizon Needs to Try Harder

Answer: Yes they do.  Based on the points I am suggesting here, they still need to try harder.  In a similar way, AT&T needs to try harder also.  The challenges to address the voice network have felt like a “trial by fire” to me personally.  It appears to me that our brand image has been challenged and I hear it from many of my colleagues that we are more committed than ever to do everything we know how to do to earn back the trust of those customers who have been disappointed with either our voice quality or our customer service.  So, Verizon is not alone as a company that must try harder. 
Thank you for taking the time to read through this.  I hope that I have done this in a respectful way.  I ask that you reconsider your evaluation and point out some of these AT&T points in future articles.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Skype Certified HD Camera Announced

The days of videoconferencing in your pajamas are over. FaceVsion's TouchCam N1 is one of the first webcams that takes advantage of Skype's ability to make HD video calls, delivering video so crisp and smooth that it's almost as good as being there. You also get built-in noise cancellation. But is $119 too much to ask for a device that can stream yourself to co-workers and loved ones at 720p?
From Video explaining what makes this camera different.

Quick Specs:

Skype Certification – The TouchCam N1 is the first HD webcam certified by Skype for true HD Video calls
Full 720p HD Resolution – The TouchCam N1 is the only HD webcam that can transmit 720p HD video over the Internet (competition can do it “locally” only)
Built-in Hardware H.264 Encoding – high quality hardware encoding of the H.264 video stream delivers exceptional video quality without taxing the PC’s CPU
WIDE 78 Degree Lens – Industry leading 78 degree Field Of View auto focus lens sees more than just the subject’s head and shoulders. 78 degrees will get several feet to either side of the subject and what’s behind too. Great for video calls where multiple family members want to participate.
Incredible Sound – Dual built-in microphones utilize beam-forming technology to deliver outstanding sound quality and audio sensitivity, even from several feet away!
Exceptionally Easy to Use – Simply mount the sleek-looking N1 camera to your laptop’s lid or flat screen PC display, plug the USB cable to an available Hi-Speed USB 2.0 connection, and launch Skype 4.2 for Windows or higher.
Let Freedom Ring

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

FAQ’s Verizon iPhone vs AT&T iPhone

With today's announcement from Verizon, you may be asking yourself, "Now that Verizon has the iPhone, should I purchase one?"  To offer some assistance, below are some thoughts to consider before making a decision to purchase an iPhone from Verizon or AT&T.

Is the iPhone from Verizon the exact same phone as the current one from AT&T?

No, while the iPhones offered from both AT&T and VZ will be iPhone 4, they will be running on two different underlying technologies.  VZ uses CDMA and AT&T uses UMTS. 

What are the differences?

In one word – Speed!

Perhaps the biggest difference comes with the speed of the network.  I believe that AT&T currently has the fastest mobile broadband network.  Independent tests in real life situations confirm that AT&T’s network is anywhere from 35% to 65% faster.  Just this morning, on my iPhone 3GS, I was able to get download speeds of 2.3 Mbps and upload speeds of 1.1 Mbps.  This is pretty fast.  My wife, who has an iPhone 4, has clocked speeds, using, of over 3 Mbps download and over 2 Mbps upload. 
This speed differential will be most noticeable when you are watching videos and other intense applications such as YouTube.

AT&T customers can Talk and Surf

Verizon customers aren't able to surf the Web or exchange email while they're talking on their phone. That sort of on-the-go multitasking—which AT&T and iPhone maker Apple Inc. have touted in advertising—might seem a little much to some people, but you may be surprised at how often it comes into play.  I especially appreciate it when using a bluetooth device to talk with someone.  Think of it like talking on the phone while looking something up on your computer.  If you are like me, you probably do that more often than you think.
AT&T's network lets users continue a voice call while updating their Facebook pages or checking Google Maps.

 AT&T offer the most Wi-Fi Options

AT&T offers access to its entire, national Wi-Fi network of nearly 23,000 U.S. Hotspots, at no additional charge.  This is one of the most under-reported, best kept “secret” advantage of AT&T.  As we move to more and more data intense uses of our mobile devices, having access to the fastest most ubiquitous network becomes critical.  Think of it this way, if you are attracted to the iPhone because of the Facetime application (ability to have a face to face chat with another user) you will be able to do that in any Starbucks or McDonald’s almost everywhere in the US at no additional charge, not necessarily the same with a VZ iPhone.

What About LTE? Doesn’t Verizon have a Very Fast LTE Data Network?

Yes they do, but it won’t make a difference with the initial VZ iPhone 4, since it has already been announced, the iPhone 4 will not come with the technology to enable LTE.  So it will always run on VZ’s 3G CDMA network.  According to reports, there are no announced plans to improve the speed of their CDMA network.

Are they any VZ advantages?

Well, I have heard people joke, “besides the ability to make an actual phone call with it?”  That may have been true in the past.  I am not so sure that this is a continuing advantage.  While AT&T admits that there still is work to be done in San Francisco and perhaps a little more work in New York City, independent tests show that AT&T has nearly the same dropped call rate as VZ.

How Can That Be?  I Heard Consumer Reports Gave AT&T very Low Marks and VZ the Highest Marks.

Smartphone customers, especially iPhone customers are amongst the most demanding in all of wireless.  AT&T has more smartphone customers than anyone by nearly double.  The Consumer Reports survey relied heavily on iPhone owners. The demographics of this group of customers are younger, significantly more tech savvy, and sophisticated than users of most mobile devices.
In addition to being younger, hipper and more tech savvy, they have a much different standards and expectation of network performance than the average mobile device user. It is no surprise that this very demanding, tech savvy group would be more critical of anything less than perfect.
It will be interesting to see how the perception of the VZ network performance holds up as the percentage of smartphone users of their network rises.

So, is there any advantage?

Well, from my perspective, VZ does have one.  The VZ iPhone4 will come with the VZ mobile hotspot enabled.  This means that, unlike the AT&T iPhone, which requires a tethering cable, you will be able to connect laptops and other devices to the VZ CDMA 3G network via Wi-Fi with up to 5 devices.  This is an advantage since it means that you may not have to purchase a separate device to run a laptop or connect an iPad.  If this feature proves to be a big draw, I wouldn’t be surprised if AT&T does not enable it or provide some alternative.
So, there you have it, my quick comparison of how the iPhone 4 will perform on the two networks with their respective advantages/disadvantages.
Let me know what you think.
Let Freedom Ring

Sunday, January 09, 2011

4G fog thickens as AT&T upgrades vocabulary–A Response

In Saturday’s Washington Post posting entitled “, Rob Pegoraro speaks about marketplace confusion with the term “4G”.

In a comment posted with that article, I offered my own thoughts…..

From my point of view, AT&T’s “4g” announcement is really a capitulation of the marketplace. The “deal was sealed” when tMobile began to call its HSPA+ network “4G”and few in the media called them on it.

What is getting lost in all of this is a fundamental question. 4G, 3G what does it matter what it is called. The real question is, “What network provides the best environment to accomplish a persons goals?”

It seems to me that AT&T has embarked on a pathway that is focused on an ecosystem of networks, devices and support that are enablers of people doing what they need to do. Something that often gets lost in the shuffle is the wifi network that AT&T has deployed and continues to deploy. They maintain the largest wifi service included in the cost of their data plans and this is available right now with many at&t devices including all of the iPhones, android, windows7 and many Blackberry models.

This means that more people with more devices have access to a network that allows them the ability to get more done faster and without a need to upgrade or change their device. As the deployment of HSPA+ AND LTE continues, the device mix will continue to evolve. However, if you are with AT&T many of your present devices will be able to take advantage of faster access speed and unlike Verizon (or tMobile, Sprint, etc.) can be accessed with many, many devices currently available like the existing 3G iPad.

So all in all, I say AT&T has the best and most consumer friendly strategy. They may be a bit slower in rolling out a specific technology, but they are in the active midst of creating the best overall network experience that will become clearer and clearer as time goes on.

#attemp #4G

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Could AT&T Be the BMW of Telecommunications?

Is it possible that at&t is actually the BMW of Wireless Carriers?

Last night I had the great pleasure to have dinner with a good friend of mine who is a respected best selling, published author and professor of market research at the University of California, San Diego. We talked about many things, but became facscinated as I shared with him a frustration I suspect that many share at AT&T. I told him (as an employee) of our puzzlement with the fact that we have consumer surveys such as the recent one from Consumer Reports where our customers rate us lower than our competitors yet independent testing shows our network performs as good as our best competitors regarding dropped call rates and is superior when it comes to data downloads.

I looked at him and said how can that be?

He replied, its quite simple actually and it makes perfect sense. He held up his iPhone and said, "clearly this has changed everything, but not necessarily in the way that you might expect." I asked him what he meant? He replied, "You have demanding customers. They simply expect and demand more than what the other carrier's customers expect and demand." He went on to explain that the kind of person who is attracted to an iPhone is purchasing something quite different than other mobile phones. Different than even users of Blackberrys, 90% of whom only buy them for the phone and email service. An iPhone user has a completely different expectation than users of any other phone with the possible exception of Droid users.

My friend continued, you have "BMW" customers in a moblity world of Nissans, Toyotas and Fords. BMW markets their automobiles as "the Ultimate Driving Machine". A BMW owner expects more, in terms of performance, than any other owner in the industry. You may be surpised to know that owner ratings for the BMW are somewhat middle of the road. Is this because the BMW is an "average" performing vehicle? No, it is because the BMW owner has a much higher benchmarking standard that he/she is grading against than the average car owner.

The Consumer Reports survey relied heavily on iPhone owners. The demographics of this group of customers are younger, significantly more tech savvy, and sophisticated than users of most mobile devices. (It is no wonder that Droid targets these demographics with their advertising. They are looking to blunt the penetration of the iPhone (and AT&T) with this very core group of users).
In addition to being younger, hipper and more tech savvy, they have a much different standards and expectation of network performance than the average mobile device user. It is no surprise that this very demanding, tech savvy group would give us poorer marks than other mobile operators.

"So, what would be the best way for AT&T to communicate?", I asked.  My friend suggested AT&T focus on the user rather than the brand. For example, rather than say the network is the fastest network with a dropped call rate equal to the best in the industry, AT&T should say something like, "Our customers are the most tech savvy, demanding users of mobile devices on the planet and we engineer our network for these customers. Our customers rate us tougher than any other carrier because they buy the most sophisticated devices on the planet and demand a network to match!" If someone brings up surveys such as Consumer Reports, my friend suggested the following response, "It is no wonder that surveys, such as Consumer Reports rate us tough, we have the most tech savvy, demanding customers on the planet and they expect nothing less than the very best in network performance."

An interesting perspective indeed.  While I am well aware that there are pockets of performance where AT&T has some distance to go, this certainly helped me to understand the apparent disconnect between the very good results of the unbiased testing and customer surveys such as Consumer Reports.  I walked away from this discussion with a different perspective and an enhanced respect for the AT&T customer.

Is it possible that instead of #attfail, bloggers should be saying AT&T "the ultimate communication experience"?
What do you think? Could AT&T be the BMW of the mobility world?

PS, I fully expect many to disagree with this whole perspective.  I too have read many posts by people who do not have the service they demand and this post does not focus on customer care challenges, still, I think this way of looking at the Consumer Reports (and other) surveys makes a great deal of sense.