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Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Microsoft’s Balmer lowest paid CEO but still the wealthiest

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

MicrosoftMicrosoft Corp. may have stumbled with Windows 8 and the Surface tablet, but that didn’t knock CEO Steve Balmer out of the top spot as the wealthiest CEO amongst those heading the 30 largest publicly-listed US firms. This comes despite Ballmer being the lowest paid Dow Jones CEO in 2012, taking home US$1.3 million in total compensation compared to peers who earned up to US$40 million. Balmer’s is worth $17 billion.

Meg Whitman spent a bundle on her political campaign, but the Hewlett-Packard CEO, who earns a salary of only a buck a year, earned $15 million in compensation nonethe less, is second.

The former eBay chief was brought in to help turn the company around and has joined other “dollar-a-year” tech executives such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Larry Page and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who have agreed to tie their compensations closely to company performance.

Wealth-X, the ultra high net worth (UHNW) intelligence provider, compiled the list from proxy statements filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission regarding firms listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average benchmark index.

Ballmer received a 2012 fiscal bonus of US$620,000, less than half the possible maximum bonus of US$1.37 million. Microsoft trimmed pay for its executives last year, citing slower-than-planned growth in its online services division and aUS$732 million fine for failure to comply with European regulators.

Rank Name Company Net Worth

(US$ million)

2012 Total Pay

(US$ million)

2012 Salary

(US$ million)

Salary % of Total Pay
1 Steve Ballmer Microsoft 17,000 1.3 0.685 52.0%
2 Meg Whitman Hewlett-Packard 1,200 15.3 US$1 0.1%
3 Stephen J. Hemsley UnitedHealth Group 480 13.8 1.3 9.4%
4 John T. Chambers Cisco Systems 430 11.6 0.375 3.2 %
5 Louis R. Chênevert United Technologies 430 27.5 1.7 6.2%

Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase CEO, is the only banking executive to make the list with a fortune estimated at US$340 million. His pay packet was halved in 2012 to just under $19 million following the 2011 ‘London whale’ trading debacle that triggered aUS$6 billion loss at America’s largest bank by assets.

For the full top ten list, visit

IBM nudges Microsoft from top spot, SAP advances, Amazon debuts on top 50 IT firm ranking

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

MicrosoftThings are changing in the digital world as tech companies jostle each other for top position. IBM has bumped Microsoft out of the top spot in the Booz & Co. second annual ranking of the world’s top 50 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies that provide the building blocks to increasingly digital businesses.

Oracle held fast at #2, while IBM leapfrogged from #3 to claim the top spot, fuelled by its strong product and service portfolio and global presence.

“This volatility is not surprising given the vast changes sweeping this sector.

These companies are being forced to rapidly transform their business models, product portfolios, service offerings and global footprints in order to stay one step ahead of their clients’ needs in the evolving digital world.. Add to this financial pressures in an uncertain economy, and the fact that boundaries are gone and more players are competing for overlapping, converged markets, and it’s no wonder new winners are emerging,” says Richard Bhanap, partner at Booz & Company.

Key Findings:

  • Software and Internet companies and hardware and infrastructure providers are dominating the ICT industry, claiming the majority of spots in the top 20
  • Integrated solution models are continuing to gain ground over IT services, especially those IT service providers with more traditional outsourcing and managed services businesses
  • AmazonSeveral software and Internet businesses are making big advances, including SAP, which jumped three spots, to #4, Google, which moved up to #8, and Amazon, which debuted in the top 50 for the first time at #13, driven by its rapidly growing cloud services business
  • Dell and HCL took the biggest falls, each dropping five spots, to #20 and #18, respectively

Market going through dynamic change

“This market is going through dynamic changes; primarily because so many companies are expanding and reshaping their portfolios and pushing for global scale and reach at the same time. As a result, many smaller IT service providers are under pressure, being acquired or disappearing completely. On the other hand, ‘digital first’ players like Amazon are coming in with integrated solutions or compelling cloud offerings. We will see even more convergence in the future, and the winners will be those who can build integrated solution ecosystems around an innovative software or hardware core,” says Richard  Bhanap.

  • This year’s Global ICT 50 companies took in total revenues of US$2.07 trillion, a 3 percent increase over the prior year’sUS$2.01 trillion, and a slight slowdown in growth compared to the previous year. Average margins remained steady at 15 percent. Software and Internet companies (e.g., Adobe, Google, Microsoft, SAP) and offshore IT service companies (e.g., TCS, Infosys, HCL, Cognizant) were the only two groups to achieve double-digit revenue growth for the fifth straight year
  • The same two groups saw stagnating to declining EBIT margins, albeit on a very healthy >20% level, which suggests early signs of business model maturity and increasing competition
  • Hardware and infrastructure companies claimed the middle ground in financial performance, achieving continuous margin improvement and stable growth over the past five years
  • Global IT service providers and telecom companies were the weakest performers and the only groups whose growth and profitability remained almost flat in 2013, although they did manage to stabilise their margins

Google ranks number one among MBA students asked to name ideal employers.

In addition to assessing financial performance, portfolio strength, go-to-market footprint, and innovation and branding for company rankings, the study also identifies six business models to create value in the ICT industry. This analysis reveals that players that base their value creation approach on innovation (like Apple and Google), global sourcing (such as Infosys), and digitisation models (including SAP) are the most successful financially, followed by large market consolidators such as Oracle.

Read the full study here.

Several factors leading SMBs to buy business software

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Strategy AnalyticsThe continuing effects of the global recession will complicate the small and medium-sized business mobility market growth, but overall SMB IT spending has rebounded to a significant degree. Strategy Analytics believes several factors are converging to create a change that will encourage SMBs to deploy business solutions.

The always-on Internet is now an assumed part of the business fabric in technologically-mature countries, this will impact SMB IT investment, including mobility, cloud services, mobile device management, and social technology. SA’s Mobile Workforce Strategies (MWS) latest report – “2013 Top Trends Reshaping the SMB Mobility Market” – looks at how these trends are reshaping the ways SMBs buy, access and use business mobility solutions.

According to report author Gina Luk , “Historically, many business solutions vendors have taken scaled down, retrofitted versions of their large enterprise solutions to the SMB market.

Lately, however, many are taking a new tack, starting with a bottoms-up approach where vendors design SMB applications to more closely resemble easy-to-use, highly functional consumer-social-oriented solutions, rather than complex, unwieldy enterprise software.”

“In keeping with changing SMB needs and the mix of technology that will meet those needs, consumer-oriented vendors such as Amazon and Google, to Zoho are putting a user-friendly experience first, as they extend from consumer to business markets, and established SMB vendors, such as Intacct, Intuit, NetSuite, Microsoft, and Sage are upping their investments to make their solutions more accessible and simpler to use.

Even vendors that have made their mark in the large enterprise space are revisiting SMB design points. Citrix, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP, for instance, are offering business products that were designed expressly for companies with limited IT personnel,” added Andrew Brown , executive director of Enterprise research at Strategy Analytics.

Employees say social tools at work improve productivity

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

MicrosoftNearly half of employees report that social tools at work help increase their productivity, but more than 30 percent of companies underestimate the value of these tools and often restrict their use, according to new Microsoft research released today.

The survey, conducted for Microsoft Corp. by research firm Ipsos among 9,908 information workers in 32 countries, also found that 39 percent of employees feel there isn’t enough collaboration in their workplaces, and 40 percent believe social tools help foster better teamwork.

More surprisingly, 31 percent said they are willing to spend their own money to buy social tools.

Bringing not only devices but services to work

“Employees are already bringing their own devices into their workplaces, but now they are increasingly bringing their own services as well,” said Charlene Li , founder and analyst at Altimeter Group, a firm that studies social media and other technology trends.

“Employees expect to work differently, with tools that feel more modern and connected, but are also reflective of how they interact in their personal lives. Enterprise social represents a new way to work, and organizations embracing these tools are improving collaboration, speeding customer responses and creating competitive advantages.”

The research also found distinct differences between countries, sectors and genders as they relate to the levels of productivity, collaboration and communication tools used in today’s workplace.


  • Employees in the Asia Pacific region were most likely to attribute higher productivity levels to the increased use of social tools, followed by Latin America and Europe. Employees in Latin America, however, were most likely to credit social tools with greater collaboration in the workplace, followed by the Asia Pacific region and Europe.
  • Greater proportions of workers in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region are using social tools — and with greater frequency. In contrast, those in North America and Europe have been slower in adopting many social tools.


  • Financial services and government employees are most likely to say their company places restrictions on the use of social tools, likely due to the high level of regulation in those sectors.
  • Moreover, professionals in financial services (74 percent) and government (72 percent) are more likely than those in other fields to say these restrictions are due to security concerns, while those working in retail (59 percent) and travel and hospitality (57 percent) are more likely to blame productivity loss.


  • Men are more likely than women to attribute higher productivity levels to social tools in a professional setting.
  • Women are more likely than men to believe their company restricts the use of social tools.
  • Men are more likely than women to say these restrictions are due to security concerns, while women are more likely to blame productivity loss.

“Just as email accelerated the pace of business in the ’90s, enterprise social will be the driver of greater agility and transformation in the 21st century workplace,” said Kurt DelBene , president, Microsoft Office Division.

“As we look ahead at how collaboration and communications continue to evolve, we believe the tools people use today — email, instant messaging, voice, videoconferencing, social — will come together and be deeply integrated into apps in ways that will speed collaboration and truly transform the way people work.”

Microsoft envisions enterprise social as a fiber connecting all collaboration tools within an enterprise, not as a separate website or app that must be added into employees’ daily mix of activities.

Improves connections, collaboration

As companies start to use social tools such as Yammer, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Lync and Microsoft Dynamics CRM for collaboration, sharing and communicating outside and inside their organizations, they stand to benefit from an increase in team collaboration, employee engagement, organizational connectedness, and the flexibility required to react nimbly and quickly to business changes and demands.

Done correctly, enterprise social can drive significant business value by improving how employees connect, share information and work across teams and geographies, as well as beyond the firewall to customers, vendors and other key relationships.

“Enterprise social tools like Yammer have helped Red Robin transform a widespread employee base of nearly 30,000 across 44 states into a more tightly knit workforce focused entirely on team member and guest satisfaction,” said Chris Laping , senior vice president of Business Transformation and chief information officer, Red Robin.

“Even more importantly, it helps us ensure we reach our workforce — 87 percent are millennials — in the right ways for learning and engagement because how they want to be engaged is through social and mobile.”

More information about the Microsoft survey is available at Microsoft also invites participation in the social enterprise conversation happening on Twitter.

At “The Worldwide Water Cooler” — — participants can answer questions and share thoughts via Twitter directly from the site.

Behavioral science helping build a better high tech future

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

By Allan Maurer

Matt Wallaert

Matt Wallaert, a behavioral scientist with Microsoft’s Bing search engine and a serial entrepreneur, is among more than 100 speakers participating in the Atlanta Digital Summit May 14-15.

We’re going to see much better products in the future based on how we actually use them as technology embraces human engineering and behavioral science, says Matt Wallaert.

A behavioral scientist working with Microsoft and BING and a serial entrepreneur, Wallaert says he believes the goal of technology is to “Get to that Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) future in which we’ve solved many of the world’s problems.”

After two successful tech startup exits, he joined Microsoft’s Bing to focus on adapting technologies to work naturally with existing paradigms of behavior to aid in both decision making and task completion, and to broaden how search removes obstacles and enables people to take action on their ideas, questions, and desires.

As an academic at Cornell University, Wallaert wrote a number of papers on financial behavior that drew the attention of Thrive, which invited him first to sit on its board and later made him head of product.

Built a behavioral change engine

“We built a behavioral change engine,” he says. And it worked. “We could see we were changing behavior.” People using Thrive raised their credit scores and paid down their debt. The company eventually sold to Charlotte-based Lending Tree.

Then Wallaert started a second firm, Churnless, which focused on helping startups build products people actually want and don’t leave because they find them so useful.

He co-founded several startups (OneADayForCharity, HotelDecoder, and FlexibleFlow), and has acted as an adviser and angel investor to others. One of his current side projects is,  a free service to help close the gender wage gap. It has helped thousands of women earn millions of dollars over the past two years; 70 percent of women who submit a raise request get a raise, and the average raise is around $7K.

Speaking at the Atlanta Digital Summit

Wallaert is among more than 100 digital thought-leaders and executives from top brands participating in the upcoming Digital Summit in Atlanta. In addition to Microsoft, brands represented include Google, AOL, Twitter, Adobe, and many others.

Wallaert says that one reason he joined Microsoft is that “I want to do things that are practical, but in startups, even if you’re successful, you may not be talking to that many people. But no one on earth has a bigger audience than Microsoft.”

He admits that a company as big as Microsoft it can be difficult to institute change. “But if you can, it affects so many people,” he adds.

Star Trek

Should technology’s goal be the future where it has solved many of society’s basic problems, such as in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek universe?

People tend to underestimate how much Microsoft has already contributed to that Star Trek-like future in which many of the world’s problems are solved. Microsoft technology powers everything from many tools we use in our daily lives to those operating cars and hospitals.

If you get hit by a bus, he notes, the ambulance that takes you to the hospital may have been built by a factory powered by Microsoft. The hospital itself is also likely using Microsoft technology, and the doctors treating you are probably using Microsoft powered tools.

The science of social

At Bing, Wallaert and Microsoft are trying to make the search engine – Google’s only real rival – to work with natural speech.

On a panel dealing with social search at the Digital Summit, Wallaert says he’ll “Talk about some of the science of social. There is tendency to approach search with old school marketing techniques, such as pushing out a message to a bunch of influencers.”

Aston Kucher

Aston Kucher

Ashton Kutcher, for instance, has millions of followers on Twitter. “But who ever did anything because he said to?,” asks Wallaert.

Actually, though, that’s not how social recommendations work their viral magic. “Why do social recommendations work?” he asks. “Because people tend to group up in patterns with other people who are like them.”

“Imagine that if instead of Ashton, a friend sends you a personal note saying ‘Hey I’m using this thing and you might like it.’ Those are the types of messages that have a huge impact. A tweet might reach a million eyeballs, but that’s different from getting 100 people to tell 10 others they’re using something and you should try it.”

He’ll talk about the kind of social outreach that actually produce sticky results and long term product users. “Think about Game of Thrones,” he suggests. The HBO show has racked up impressive viewing numbers in its third season, largely “Because people are watching it because their friends are watching it.”

“You need to look at the raw science of why social recommendations are important, how people actually make decisions and how you can use that,” Wallaert says.



Most cyber vulnerabilities coming from non-Microsoft programs

Friday, March 15th, 2013

SECUNIA LOGOMost vulnerabilities 986%) discovered in the most popular 50 programs in 2012 were in non-Microsoft (or “third-party”) programs. 

The Secunia Vulnerability Review findings support that the primary threat to endpoint security for corporations and private users alike comes from non-Microsoft programs, and that vulnerability and patch management efforts must span much wider than to just deal with the familiar interfaces of Microsoft software and a few usual suspects from other vendors.

Microsoft vulnerabilities much lower share

The identified 86% represent an increase from 2011, when non-Microsoft programs represented 78% of vulnerabilities discovered in the Top 50 most popular programs.

The remaining 14% of vulnerabilities were found in Microsoft programs and Windows operating systems – a much lower share compared to 2011, indicating that Microsoft continues to focus on security in their products.

Number of vulnerabilities is on the increase
“Companies cannot continue to ignore or underestimate non-Microsoft programs as the major source of vulnerabilities that threaten their IT infrastructure and overall IT-security level.

The number of vulnerabilities is on the increase, but many organizations continue to turn a blind eye, thereby jeopardizing their entire IT infrastructure: It only takes one vulnerability to expose a company, and no amount of processes and technology that supports operating systems and Microsoft programs will suffice in providing the required level of protection,” said Morten R. Stengaard , Secunia’s Director of Product Management.

The Secunia Vulnerability Review 2013 documents that the number of vulnerabilities discovered in the 50 most popular programs on private PCs has increased by 98% over the past 5 years, and non-Microsoft programs are the culprits

Consequently, it is becoming more and more necessary for companies to invest and focus on vulnerability and patch management in order to deal with the root cause of many security issues: vulnerabilities in software.

Information technology research company Gartner’s research emphasizes the risk software vulnerabilities pose to organizations, and presents a strong argument for a proactive approach to getting patch management up to speed:

“Through 2015, 80% of successful attacks will exploit well-known vulnerabilities and be detectable via security monitoring. […]

Applications are the gateways to the data that is the focus of a targeted attack. Dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools can be used to scan productions applications to find vulnerabilities.

When a vulnerability is present on a running application, production data is at risk, and remediation cycle times are long – typically taking multiple months.”(*1)

Ignore at your own peril
Gartner places “patching beyond just the OS (common applications) on all systems” among their “Best Security” recommendations for securing midmarket IT environments (*2).

Even so, IT professionals everywhere are inclined to focus on patching Microsoft programs, operating systems and just a few other programs. And ignoring the threat that vulnerabilities represent in non-Microsoft programs is both reckless and unnecessary.

‘Reckless’, because in the most popular 50 programs, no less than 1,137 vulnerabilities were discovered in 18 different programs – that’s an average of 63 vulnerabilities per vulnerable product in the most popular programs on private PCs worldwide.

‘Unnecessary’, because Secunia’s research also demonstrates a positive trend: In 2012, 84% of vulnerabilities had a patch available on the day they were disclosed

No excuse for not patching

“This means that it is possible to remediate the majority of vulnerabilities. There is no excuse for not patching.

To take advantage of this improvement in patch availability, organizations must know which programs are present on their systems and which of these programs are insecure, and then take an intelligent and prioritized approach to remediating them,” said Morten R. Stengaard .

The fact that 84% of vulnerabilities have a patch available on the day of disclosure is an improvement to the previous year, 2011, in which 72% had a patch available on the day of disclosure.

The most likely explanation for this improvement in ‘time-to-patch’ is that more researchers coordinate their vulnerability reports with vendors.

(*1): Gartner Research: “Adapting Vulnerability Management to Advanced Threats”, August 2012.

(*2) Gartner Webinar: Best Practices for Securing Midmarket IT Environments, February 2013


Six tips for effective new marketing techniques

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Bill Lee

Bill Lee

Consider for a moment the annoying, interruptive, often obnoxious nature of traditional marketing.

Dinnertime phone calls from strangers in noisy call centers. Glossy pictures of the latest fashions worn by models who barely look human. Crowded store shelves with head-spinning arrays of options arranged in no discernable order (“I just need some toothpaste.”). Company websites that give us no clue what the business actually does.

Hype. Spin. Pushy salespeople.

It’s hard to believe these are the methods and tools of a profession designed to attract and persuade us to become customers, says Bill Lee—especially when “we the buyers” increasingly ignore them.

Traditional marketing no longer grabbing eyeballs

hiddenwealth“A number of studies are showing that people no longer pay much attention to traditional marketing as they progress through the ‘buyer’s decision journey,’” says Lee, author of The Hidden Wealth of Customers: Realizing the Untapped Value of Your Most Important Asset (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-1-4221723-1-5, $27.00).

“Instead, buyers are checking out product and service information in their own way, often through the Internet, their social network, or just plain word-of-mouth or customer reviews. It seems clear that marketing as we currently practice the discipline is on its way out.”

Wake-up call studies

The inability of traditional marketing to engage buyers hasn’t escaped the notice of CEOs, the ones who approve its budgets.

A pair of wake-up-call studies by the Fournaise Marketing Group in London in 2011 and 2012 found that more than 70 percent of CEOs think that their chief marketing officers lack business credibility, lack the ability to generate acceptable growth, and lack the ability to explain how their programs will lead to increased business. Nearly four in five CEOs complained that CMOs can’t explain how brand equity can be linked to recognized financial measures such as firm equity..

Of course, not everyone in the marketing world clings to worn-out methods, says Lee. In fact, he works with a pioneering group of C-level and forward-thinking marketing executives who are successfully replacing this increasingly dated model with something that customers actually welcome and respond to.

For those who’d like to join them, Lee offers the following advice:

Go retro: Cultivate a local buying experience. It’s a myth that social networks and their technologies are creating new approaches to marketing. At their most effective, they’re doing the opposite: They’re allowing customers to re-create the experience of shopping and buying in their local communities.

salesforce“Marc Benioff understood this when he was building to compete against much bigger, entrenched competitors,” says Lee. “He was building a better enterprise software product, and to get the word out, he organized ‘City Tour’ events and neighborhood ‘street teams.’ The City Tour events would bring his customers together with prospects and a few other interesting people for presentations and group discussion.

“Benioff found that buyers were much less interested in hearing from him than they were in talking to his customers—their peers, other software programmers like themselves,” he adds. “When he studied the numbers, Benioff found that 80 percent of the prospects who attended such events wound up becoming customers themselves—in effect, an 80 percent close rate.”

Cultivate customer sales and marketing people. Business spends billions of dollars training salespeople to build relationships with prospects and customers. But no one has to spend a dime training a customer to build a trusting relationship with your prospects. Since they’re peers, they pretty much already have one.

MicrosoftMicrosoft builds on this aspect of human nature when it penetrates new markets, often in foreign countries where they don’t speak the language or understand the culture. The firm will engage with local software users—whom they call MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals)—many of whom have built substantial followings of their own through blogging and their social networks.

“One is known as ‘Mr. Excel’ to his followers, and on some days his website gets more visits than Microsoft’s own Excel page on its corporate website,” says Lee. “Many companies, when faced with the same situation, threaten lawsuits. Microsoft embraced Mr. Excel. In fact, they support his activities with ‘insider knowledge’ and the opportunity to get a sneak preview and to test new releases.

“The MVPs are helping Microsoft penetrate and grow markets more effectively and cost affordably than the corporation could do using traditional marketing approaches staffed by hired outsiders,” he adds.

Build strong customer communities. Consider Harley-Davidson’s success in creating a sense of community around its bikes. Three decades ago, the public associated Harleys with gangs and outlaws, which turned off consumers.

Harley-Davidson worked hard to change the image, first by getting police departments to start using them, and then by working assiduously to build a customer community of middle-class (law-abiding) customers that morphed into today’s famous million-person HOGs (Harley Owners Group). Today, Harley-Davidson HOGs, far from being outlaws, position themselves as family: the brothers (and now sisters) you never had.

“The key to forming customer communities is not to try to build them around your brand—a common and obvious mistake marketing departments make,” notes Lee. “Rather, ask, ‘What does our product or service mean to our customers?’ Or, ‘What could they mean?’

legos-mindstorm-nxt2Get customers involved in the solution. When toy maker LEGO launched its robotics building-block kits, Mindstorms, a few years ago, hackers almost immediately started altering the code to allow the robots to do more. In circumstances like this, most firms call their legal departments and start issuing cease and desist demands. Indeed, faced with a similar response when it issued a comparable line of toys, Sony did just that. But LEGO took a smarter approach, says Lee.

“Basically, LEGO executives did the math,” he explains. “One thousand or so hackers—or more to the point, enthused and technically advanced customers—were coming up with robots that could do amazing things that the firm’s seven internal developers had never thought of. One of the hacker-created robots could solve a Rubik’s cube.

As they—and their other customers—realized the value the hackers were creating, LEGO further embraced them. Now its customer community numbers in the tens of thousands and continues to develop amazing arrays of robotic toys—far beyond anything the company might have developed on its own.”

Customer-led innovation

Meanwhile, 3M and other companies are systematizing customer-led innovation. Rather than wait passively for customers to begin altering or hacking their products, they’ve learned how to proactively pursue and find customers, or “users,” who would be most likely to come up with breakthrough innovations.

MIT professor Eric von Hippel has coined the term “lead users” to describe them, and worked with 3M’s healthcare business to develop a system for finding them. The result was an eightfold improvement in revenues from innovations developed with the help of such customers vs. innovations developed by 3M’s ordinary, internally developed process.

“What makes this particularly significant, of course, is that 3M’s product developers are among the most innovative in the world,” says Lee.

Help customers build social capital. Why do customers engage so enthusiastically in helping companies develop, market, and sell their products—in effect, growing their businesses?

stevejobsMany pundits think you need an incredibly sexy product like an iAnything developed by a once-in-a-century genius like Steve Jobs. But that misses the point: All it takes is a business that changes customers’ lives for the better—which is something far more replicable—even if you’re making feminine hygiene products.

What all these companies—and others that Lee features in his book—do is help customers build their social capital by helping them affiliate with their peers in customer communities, build their status and reputation, and learn and grow in the process. Often, they also include service to a larger purpose.

“Enterprise software maker SAS Canada, for example, addressed an unexpected decline in its customer retention rates by engaging some of its leading customers, called ‘Customer Champions,’ in the effort to hold on to customers and bring the defectors back,” notes Lee.

Sas“The Customer Champions organized live forums in more than 20 major markets around the country, presented and brought in local speakers, contributed to an e-newsletter that SAS started, and more. The result was to completely restore the firm’s retention rates to its previous high levels.

Why did the Customer Champions put forth such an effort?” he adds. “Because it gave them a chance to affiliate more deeply with their peers—other software managers and engineers. It gave them a chance to play a leadership role in their peer community.

It gave them substantial status and recognition as well. And of course, it increased their knowledge and expertise by more deeply understanding how to address the needs of other SAS customers.”

If you think all of this sounds more appealing than the old manipulate-them-into-buying techniques, you’re not alone, says Lee.

“When companies commit to depending on authentic customer advocacy to grow their firms, it not only improves their marketing results, it also improves their organizations,” says Lee. “That’s because it’s hard to mask substandard performance and customer discontent with your products and services if they’re the ones you rely on to tell the world how great you are.”

What’s driving demand for big data solutions?

Monday, February 11th, 2013
Big Data


More than 75 percent of midsize to large businesses are implementing big-data-related solutions within the next 12 months — with customer care, marketing and sales departments increasingly driving demand, according to new Microsoft Corp. research released today.

According to Microsoft’s “Global Enterprise Big Data Trends: 2013″ study of more than 280 IT decision-makers, the following trends emerged:

  • Although the IT department (52 percent) is currently driving most of the demand for big data, customer care (41 percent), sales (26 percent), finance (23 percent) and marketing (23 percent) departments are increasingly driving demand.
  • Seventeen percent of customers surveyed are in the early stages of researching big data solutions, whereas 13 percent have fully deployed them; nearly 90 percent of customers surveyed have a dedicated budget for addressing big data.
  • Nearly half of customers (49 percent) reported that growth in the volume of data is the greatest challenge driving big data solution adoption, followed by having to integrate disparate business intelligence tools (41 percent) and having tools able to glean the insight (40 percent).

The company published its findings to the Microsoft News Center this morning, kicking off a week of announcements focused on the company’s big data customers, products and future investments.

Who’s been reading your gmail to target ads?

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

email graphicDid you know that Google uses the contents of your gmail accounts to target ads to you?

Microsoft has just launched a campaign touting the fact that its Outlook email product does not do that.

According to a public GfK Roper study, commissioned by Microsoft Corp., 70 percent of consumers don’t know that major email providers routinely engage in the practice of reading through their personal email to sell ads — something that 88 percent of people disapprove of once they are informed

To help consumers have their voice heard, today launched a petition to help them get the message to Google that going through personal email messages to sell ads is unacceptable. encourages consumers to sign the petition at and tell Google to stop going through their emails to sell ads.

In a news release, Microsoft says, “Google goes through every single word of personal Gmail messages and uses that information to sell and target ads. As Google explains on its website, ‘In Gmail, most of the ads we show appear next to an open email message and are related to the contents of the current email conversation or thread.’ For example, if you write a friend to let her know you are separating from your husband, Google sells ads against this information to divorce lawyers, who post ads alongside it.”

Google does not let users opt-out of this email ad-targeting.

Microsoft OfficeThe GfK Roper poll, commissioned by Microsoft, shows that only 30 percent of Americans are aware that any email service goes through the content of personal emails to sell ads, and 88 percent of consumers disapprove of this practice.

Key results from this survey include the following:

  • 88 percent of Americans disapprove of email service providers scanning the content of your personal emails in order to target ads, and 52 percent disapprove strongly.
  • 89 percent of Americans agree that email service providers should not be allowed to scan the content of personal emails in order to target ads.
  • 83 percent of Americans agree that email service providers scanning the content of your personal emails to target ads is an invasion of privacy.
  • 70 percent of Americans didn’t believe or didn’t know that any major email service provider scans the content of personal emails in order to target ads.
  • 88 percent of email users believe that email service providers should allow users to “opt out” if they prefer that the content of their emails not be scanned in order to target ads.

Personally, we switched from Outlook to gmail several years ago because at the time, you could not get to your Outlook mail without access to the computer on which is was installed. We also had other problems with Outlook’s responsiveness and carrying folders and old email over to new machines.

We think this is a clever and telling marketing campaign, but it’s not getting us to switch back to Outlook.

Security arms race has “only just started”

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

NSS Labs After a 5 year decline, the number of vulnerabilities disclosed  in 2012 rose 26% compared to 2011, according to the 2012 Vulnerability Threat report from NSS labs. One of the more worrisome trends NSS detected is that vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure systems skyrocketed.

These systems control industrial, infrastructure and facility-based processes such as electric grids, water supplies, power plants, pipeline, etc. — all of which represent high value targets to cybercriminals wishing to cause large-scale disruption or damage. While the total number of vulnerabilities is low (124 in 2012), they have grown 600 percent since 2010.

NSS warns, ” the arms race has only just started and we expect security issues with these systems to continue to increase.”

Small number of vendors account for 31 percent of vulnerabilities

Another finding: 1 percent of vendors are responsible for 31 percent of vulnerabilities reported each year and only one, Microsoft, decreased its vulnerabilities disclosures in 2012. Unfortunately, this small number of vendors represents the most prevalent software products in everyday private and enterprise use.

Vulnerabilities disclosed in 2012 affected over 2,600 products from 1,330 vendors — 73 percent of these were new vendors who had not had a vulnerability disclosure with the previous two years. These new vendors accounted for 30 percent of the total vulnerabilities disclosed in 2012.

More damage with less skill

Another worrisome finding: highly critical vulnerabilities easy to attack are like candy to cybercriminals, who can “do more damage with less skill.”

The top 10 vendors with this type of vulnerability represent major types of software used every day by consumers, businesses, government agencies and other organizations, including popular web browsers, plugins and media players, or operating systems.

NSS Labs Research Director Stefan Frei said, “While vulnerabilities in 2012 haven’t returned to the all-time high levels we saw in 2006, it’s significant that after 5 years of decline, the number of disclosed vulnerabilities rebounded sharply and jumped 26% in one year,” said Stefan Frei, Research Director at NSS Labs. “It is not just the number of vulnerabilities that matters, however. The level of criticality, how easily a vulnerability can be exploited, and the types of software they affect are all part of determining how serious a threat any single vulnerability might pose and these are trends we continue to watch.

Read the Report – NSS Labs Vulnerability Threat Trends Report

Six steps to increase your safety online

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

lockPeople are not paying enough attention to their safety and security online or using mobile devices despite multiple risks, according to Microsoft’s second annual Computing Safety Index.

For international Safer Internet Day, (Feb. 5) the software giant offers these six tips to boost your safety online:

Microsoft offers a range of online safety tools and resources at, including the following practical steps consumers can take to stay safer online:

  • Lock your computer and accounts with strong passwords and your mobile phone with a unique, four-digit PIN.
  • Do not pay bills, bank, shop or conduct other sensitive business on a public computer, or on your laptop or mobile phone over “borrowed” or public Wi-Fi (such as a hotspot).
  • Watch for snoops. People scouting for passwords, PINs, user names or other such data may be watching your fingers or the screen as you enter that data.
  • Treat suspicious messages cautiously. Avoid offers too good to be true and be wary of their senders, even if the messages appear to come from a trusted source.
  • Look for signs that a Web page is secure and legitimate. Before you enter sensitive data, check for evidence of encryption (e.g., a Web address with “https” and a closed padlock beside it or in the lower right corner of the window).
  • Reduce spam in your inbox. Share your primary email address and instant messaging name only with people you know or with reputable organizations. Avoid listing them on your social network page, in Internet directories (such as white pages) or on job-posting sites.

Technology companies dominate most trusted for privacy list

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

PonemonTechnology companies claimed half the slots on Ponemon Institute’s annual top 10 list of the most trusted companies for privacy. Hewlett Packard ranked second, Amazon, third, IBM, fourth, eBay ninth and Intuit tenth.

American Express (AMEX) continued to reign as the most trusted company among the 217 orgazations rated.

New tech entries on Ponmon’s top 20 most trusted list included Microsoft at 17, and Mozilla at 20.

In addition to ranking the most trusted companies, the Ponemon study reported that only 41 percent of consumers feel they have control over their personal information, down from 45 last year and an overall drop from 56 percent in 2006.

Identity theft a top concern

The survey also noted that identity theft is a top area of concern among consumers with fifty-nine percent of the respondents indicating that fear of identity theft was a major factor in brand trust diminishment, while 50 percent said notice of a data breach was a factor.

That could give impetus to the changes in U.S. immigration law proposed by a bipartisan group of Senators this week, although it’s identity card idea is already meeting with opposition from some.

The Ponemon rankings were derived from a survey of more than 100,000 adult-aged consumers who were asked to name up to five companies they believe to be the most trusted for protecting the privacy of their personal information.

Consumer responses were gathered over a 15-week period concluding in December 2012 and resulted in a final sample of 6,704 respondents who, on average, provided 5.4 discernible company ratings that represent 25 different industries.

Most people need more help controlling online privacy, survey says

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

MicrosoftPeople feel they have little to no control about how their data may be collected by online companies, according to data released by Microsoft to mark Data Privacy Day 2013.

They are also increasingly in search of trusted sources of information to help them make better choices about their online privacy.

Highlights of the research include the following:

Forty-five percent said they feel they have little or no control over the personal information companies gather about them while they are browsing the Web or using online services, such as photo-sharing, travel or gaming.

Help is available through services such as Do Not Track, (Suggested by the TechJournal, not Microsoft).

Four in 10 in the Microsoft survey said they feel they totally or mostly understand how to protect their online privacy.

Family & friends a top source of privacy information?

An equal number of people (39 percent) said they are turning to friends and family, as well as company privacy statements, as their top source for privacy information.

Just an aside here, but while some of our friends might provide good privacy information via say Facebook, we wouldn’t rely on that without turning to privacy statements and guides.

A third say they’re paying attention

A third of those surveyed (32 percent) said they are paying attention to companies’ privacy reputations, track records and policies when choosing which websites to visit or services to use.

We seriously doubt that a third of the population spends much time checking a comany’s privacy reputations, regardless of what they might say in a survey.

“As online activities have become a valuable part of daily life, privacy is incredibly important. At Microsoft, we strive to help our customers manage their personal information online by providing easy-to-understand privacy policies, settings and guidance,” said Brendon Lynch , chief privacy officer, Microsoft.

What do you think about that? Has Microsoft been committed to good privacy policies?

Microsoft has created a new video series called “Privacy in Action” to highlight features that can help people better manage their personal information online. The videos, as well as guidance and information about privacy options in Microsoft products and services, will be available at


Microsoft seeks student entrepreneurs for Imagine Cup competition

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

MicrosoftMicrosoft Corp.has announced open registration for the 2013 U.S. Imagine Cup, student technology competition. This year’s U.S. Imagine Cup will expand its traditional program offerings to inspire and engage student entrepreneurs.

The 2013 U.S. Imagine Cup will be broken into a series of competitions and challenges to get students building business-ready apps, games, and technology services.

For the first time ever, the U.S. program will feature a two-month mentorship opportunity, called the “Imagine Cup Student Accelerator,” where teams will spend time with mentors, participate in workshops and get the technical guidance they need to test their idea and business model.

New Competitions and Challenges in 2013

Students ages 16 and older will be able to compete in three major competition categories, which include:

  • Games – Using Microsoft’s gaming platforms such as Windows PC (PC or touchscreen), Windows Phone, Xbox, Indie Games, or Kinect SDK students are tasked with creating a new game, changing a current genre or developing a new visual style of game.
  • Innovation –Reinvent social networks, transform online shopping, experience music in a new way or do something amazing with GPS. In this category, students are tasked with using their skills and creativity to design a totally new app experience.
  • World Citizenship – Students have the opportunity to create an app that will help solve global challenges, such as reducing world hunger, providing better treatment for diseases, raising awareness of environmental issues or providing better access to education.

Additionally, students can participate in online challenges that focus on specific Microsoft platforms, including Windows 8 AppsWindows Azure and Windows Phone.  Winners of the competition and online challenges will be sent to the worldwide finals in St. Petersburg, Russia, in July 2013.

More Financial Rewards for U.S. Students

In addition to offering students an opportunity to impact today’s world with technology, Microsoft has upped the ante by offering more than $100,000 in prizes. This is the largest amount of cash prizes in U.S. Imagine Cup history.  Specific prizes for the US Imagine Cup can be found here.  All submissions for online challenges are due on January 15, 2013, while submissions for the three major competitions are due on March 15, 2013.

On April 15, 2013, Microsoft will host local finals around with world, with the U.S. finals being held in Silicon Valley.

The 10 Imagine Cup finalists will be invited to participate in Demo Day, which takes place May 13, 2013. From there, the finalists attending the Worldwide Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia, will be announced on May 15, 2013. The Worldwide Finals in Russia take place July 8-12, 2013.

The future is now, which makes for the perfect time for students to start turning their dreams into realities. Please visit Microsoft’s Imagine Cup website for more information on the competition and details on registration.

Net-go-round: video console resurgence? Connected cars, social media stock tracker

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Sony game consoleInternational Data Corporation predicts that video game sales for console systems will rebound from a tough 2011-2012 as new platforms hit the market.

“2011 and 2012 were tough for many console game disc developers and publishers,” says IDC’s Lewis Ward, manager of its gaming service.

“With the advent of eighth-generation consoles, starting with the Wii U, historical norms strongly imply that game disc revenue will stop bleeding in 2013 and rise substantively in 2014.”

“The console ecosystem is in a state of flux since these platforms need to support an ever-growing array of non-gaming features and services at the same time that game distribution and monetization is moving in a digital direction,” said Ward, research manager of IDC’s Gaming service.

“At the same time, it doesn’t appear that alternative platforms — set-top boxes from cable companies, Web-connected smart TVs, and so on — are positioned to materially disrupt the trajectory of the ‘big 3′ console OEMs in 2013 or 2014. Discs will remain the console game revenue mainstay for years to come.”

Key takeaways from the new forecast include:

  • In December 2012, PS3 system shipments eclipsed the number of Xbox 360’s shipped worldwide, despite the PS3 launching a year later than the Xbox 360 (an estimated 77 million bundles versus approximately 76 million bundles shipped)
  • Nintendo’s Wii U will find an audience; global bundle shipments will exceed 50 million by year-end 2016
  • The volume of packaged game discs shipped will decline an average of roughly 3% per year through 2016, as console spending shifts into digital channels

Consumers want car connections

hi-tech carConsumers want digital connections in their vehicles, says a study of more than 2,100 US adults by Johnson Controls.

Some of the key findings from the study include:

  • Interest in greater connectivity via one’s vehicle is high. 84% of vehicle owners1 would like to control the features in their vehicle via a touch-screen infotainment system; 83% want to get updates to vehicle infotainment systems delivered wirelessly; 76% would like to connect to the Internet using their vehicle as a Wi-Fi hotspot; 67% would like to download applications directly to their vehicle; and, 61% would like to pay for something using a debit or credit card linked to the infotainment system in their vehicle.2
  • Safety is the single most important feature3 in the selection of a vehicle (75%). The delivery of vehicle infotainment safely will be critical to consumer adoption and consumption. The second tier of important features includes vehicle diagnostics (49%) and navigation (42%).4
  • Smartphone apps most associated with a vehicle include: Maps/navigation = 52%; News = 45%; and, finding locations = 34%.
  • When it comes to downloading smartphone apps to a vehicle via an interactive screen, vehicle owners who use downloaded apps on a weekly basis would prefer traditional channels. 62% have a preference for where they would download an app for their vehicle, and of those with a preference, 60% would prefer downloading from an existing app store (e.g., App Store for iOS, Amazon Appstore for Android), 38% would prefer a new app store for vehicle-specific applications, and 37% would prefer the app maker’s website (e.g., Pandora, Google Maps).
  • When it comes to accessing a vehicle app, vehicle owners who use downloaded apps regularly want apps they know and are comfortable with. Two-thirds (64%) want the menu options in their vehicle to be the same as on their smartphone (i.e., a full list of menu options available).

Social media stock tracker launched

Google+WebMediaBrands Inc.’s (Nasdaq: WEBM) SocialTimes launched the Social Media Stock Tracker covering the weekly stock performance of companies within the social media and Internet sectors such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Zynga, and Groupon.

Each weekly report, published on Saturday mornings, discusses key developments and provides analytical commentary on the most interesting and controversial events that impact the public companies in these sectors.

The Social Media Stock Tracker is prepared by Nathan Drona, a former senior analyst in equity research with coverage of the Internet and media sectors and the former director of a global hedge fund focused on technology and life sciences.

He was also a senior investment banker focused on M&A for international companies in technology and life sciences, and has been a board director for several public and private companies.

Game over? Are mobile games killing the console? (infographic)

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Halo_boxshot313Console games remain incredibly popular, particularly the “Halo” and “Call of Duty” franchises right now, but are mobile and tablet games cutting into their luster?

We’ve been playing video games since the days of the first Atari consoles (and before that at good old fashioned arcade consoles). Today’s console games are achieving continually more realistic graphics, intense, involving story lines or challenges, and sales rivaling hit movies.

But the convenience and addictive quality of mobile and tablet games you can play anywhere, anytime are gaining in popularity. Will they challenge the console game business?

Here’s an infographic from examining the question, is the console dying?

Tech analysts see widening cloud skills gap for IT

Friday, December 21st, 2012

IdcDemand for “cloud-ready” IT workers will grow by 26 percent annually through 2015, with as many as 7 million cloud-related jobs available worldwide, according to an IDC White Paper sponsored by Microsoft Corp.

However, IT hiring managers report that the biggest reason they failed to fill an existing 1.7 million open cloud-related positions in 2012 is because job seekers lack the training and certification needed to work in a cloud-enabled world, according to the IDC White Paper, Climate Change: Cloud’s Impact on IT Organizations and Staffing (November 2012).

In the United States, the IT sector is experiencing modest growth of IT jobs in general, with the average growth in IT employment between 1.1 and 2.7 percent per year through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, amid modest growth of IT jobs, cloud-sector jobs are increasing swiftly. With the workforce unprepared to take on these jobs, there is an urgent need to retrain existing IT professionals and encourage students to pursue cloud-related IT trainings and certifications, according to the IDC White Paper.

This skills gap is challenging

Microsoft cloud“Despite modest growth of the IT sector overall in the U.S., cloud-ready jobs are increasing as we head into 2013, but with this increase comes the harsh reality that workforces around the world are steps behind when it comes to attaining the skills necessary to thrive in the cloud computing industry,” said Cushing Anderson, program vice president, IDC.

“Unlike IT skill shortages in the past, solving this skills gap is extremely challenging, given that cloud brings a new set of skills, which haven’t been needed in the past. There is no one-size-fits-all set of criteria for jobs in cloud computing. Therefore, training and certification is essential for preparing prospective job candidates to work in cloud-related jobs.”

The IDC White Paper investigates the impact that cloud computing will have on IT employment around the world and its influence on the way organizations staff their IT departments. IDC interviewed more than 600 hiring managers across the globe for this study.

General Findings

General findings of the IDC White Paper include the following:

  • Globally, almost two-thirds of enterprises are planning, implementing or using cloud computing, and more than 50 percent of businesses agree that cloud computing is a high priority.
  • However, more than three-quarters of businesses have apprehension about the security, access or data control of cloud computing.
  • Lack of training, certification or experience are the top three reasons why cloud positions are not filled.
  • However, cloud-related skills represent virtually all the growth opportunities in IT employment worldwide and demand for cloud-related positions will grow by 26 percent annually through 2015.

Regional Findings

Regional findings of the IDC White Paper include the following:

  • Although the growth of IT jobs in the United States is slow, the growth picture is better outside the U.S. The overall number of IT positions in end-user organizations globally will grow at a 4.3 percent compound annual growth rate between 2011 and 2015 and reach 29.3 million in 2015, according to IDC.
  • North America (U.S. and Canada). According to IDC’s regional forecasts, the U.S. accounted for 62 percent of worldwide spending for public IT cloud services last year, compared with 35 percent of worldwide IT spending in general. Canada will be a much slower adopter of public IT cloud services but a more aggressive adopter of private IT cloud services. Due to Canada’s smaller job base, though, cloud-generated jobs will grow 30 percent faster in Canada than in the United States.


IBM named the “greenest company” in the U.S.

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

IBMIBM (NYSE: IBM) has been recognized for the second consecutive year as the greenest company in the U.S., according to the Newsweek 2012 Green Rankings survey, released today.

A panel of independent judges ranked major companies based on numerous criteria, including their environmental impact, environmental management and sustainability disclosure.

The survey is regarded as one of the most comprehensive analyses of environmental leadership, and IBM was one of 500 large U.S. organizations evaluated.

Other tech firms on the list include Microsoft, which charges each of its individual divisions a “carbon fee,” to make them minimize electricity use and air travel; EMC, Dell, Sprint, Intel, CA Technologies, and Invidia.

The report notes that IBM’S Smarter Planet products and services help clients measure and reduce their resource consumption while saving money. It points to a system developed at the company’s Zurich Research Lab, where water that cools a supercomputer is used to warm nearby buildings.

Are you ready for Microsoft’s $1.5B marketing blitz?

Friday, October 12th, 2012

MicrosoftMicrosoft launches its Windows 8 software Oct. 26 and Forbes says it will market the new operating system with a $1.5 billion marketing blitz.

That makes it the “biggest product launch in the history of the industry,” says Forbes.

Windows Phone 8 rolls out mere days after the new OS and the new Surface tablet computer.

All Windows 8 devices will look and feel similar.

The new OS emphasizes cloud based apps over those installed and is optimized for smartphones and tablets with touchscreen navigation.

Forbes notes that the stakes are high for Microsoft. Will the market accept the new “Metro” look and feel of Windows 8?

Forbes quotes Rob Enderle, a Microsoft analyst, who calls the new operating system “A big risk.”

He termed the marketing blitz for Windows 8 something you don’t see “outside of presidential elections.”

Is Google the world’s most attractive employer?

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

GoogleIs Google the “World’s Most Attractive Employer?”

It is for the fourth consecutive year according to the preferences of over 144,000 career seekers, with a business or engineering background from the world´s 12 greatest economies. So says the Universum  global talent attraction index: “The World’s Most Attractive Employers 2012″.’

KPMG keeps the second place and Procter & Gamble is now on the third position.

Here at the TechJournal, we find it interesting that Apple shows up on in the 8th spot on the engineering employer list.

“The Google fever is still hot! Students are attracted by Google´s relaxed and creative work environment, international atmosphere and innovative products. Google offers great benefits and opportunities that are hard for other companies to match.” says Petter Nylander, Universum’s CEO.

Also in the engineering category, Google takes the first position for the fourth consecutive year and is followed by IBM and Microsoft.

“The giants in the software industry are seen as great places for the launch of an engineering or IT career. They offer training, networking and future career possibilities. Moreover, they are global,” says Nylander.

World’s Top 10-Business

  1. Google (1)
  2. KPMG (2)
  3. Procter & Gamble (7)
  4. Microsoft (6)
  5. Deloitte (5)
  6. Ernst & Young (4)
  7. PwC (3)
  8. J.P. Morgan (9)
  9. The Coca-Cola Company (12)
  10. Goldman Sachs (10)

World’s Top 10-Engineering

  1. Google (1)
  2. IBM (2)
  3. Microsoft (3)
  4. BMW (4)
  5. Intel (5)
  6. General Electric (8)
  7. Siemens (9)
  8. Apple (7)
  9. Sony (6)
  10. Procter & Gamble (10)

In parenthesis is the company’s position in 2011. For the full ranking, go to