Youtility – helping actually sells in the end

I just watched a video by the one and only Jay Baer about smart marketing and it reminds me of the videos I create for technology and more recently specifically about Smarter Commerce for marketing people. Since I have been creating these videos I have had a lot of great support and comments from people all across the industry. I sometimes go into a client and many times someone in the room has seen my videos. One woman said she actually watched every one of my videos on WebSphere Commerce – at the time there were almost 50 videos on my channel – I was impressed! My channel has gotten over 52,000 views – yes, these are not “viral” videos to say the least. My focus on the channel is to provide non-market centric grass roots videos. Meaning, I make mistakes, its just me talking and showing/doing tasks in the tooling. The intention is to “help” people and give them ideas for their own situations. Does every customer use every piece of technology of a product, probably not – but knowing something exists is a valuable element.

Jay makes some really good points through a few stories, I think you will enjoy the talk so check it out. You should also check out Jay’s book: Youtility to learn more about this concept and the impact it could have on your products.

“The difference between helping and selling is two letters. But these two letters make all of the difference. If you sell something you create a customer today. If you help someone, you create a customer tomorrow” – Jay Baer

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Rest in peace Mail Rule Utilities!

Five years ago I posted an open source utility called “Mail Rule Utilities” on OpenNTF. I designed this utility when I was on the Lotus product development team. The primary function of the utility was to be able to run mail rules locally on your database. Using the same rules you created in the interface, the utility could run locally without a server involved. This made Notes usable for multiple email accounts in my opinion and is a feature that has been in Outlook for years.

I also blogged about it several times, even offering a download here on my blog for those not familiar with OpenNTF. Between the two sites the utility was downloaded over 7,000 times. Now, according to Mat Newman, it was announced in a session yesterday at IBM Connect that this function will be part of Notes 9.0.2! Here is the tweet in case you missed it:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 8.12.52 AM

 

 

 

So, I will leave the utility out there for those still on 8.x and 9.0.1 for a bit so don’t worry, it’s not a total rest in peace statement but it’s coming. I had been contacted by the Notes dev team earlier this year and was actually excited this function was going to be put into the product. While the Mail Rule Utility was not a huge effort to support, I would infrequently get enhancement requests, some install issues, etc. Unfortunately I have found the open source concepts on OpenNTF is not truly “open source” as no one else really contributes to the authors projects.

In ending, I really do thank everyone for all of the kind words over the years and the dozens (probably more) of great emails stating they loved the plugin. Thank you, because that is what makes open source worth it!

You can read about the Mail Rule Utilities on the original DeveloperWorks article here.

 

The most impressive demonstration at NRF 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 12.54.27 PMI will admit that I did not see every demonstration or product at NRF and while the Intel booth had some great technology, I think the Watson + Fluid + Northface demonstration was the best.  It was the best for a couple of primary reasons. One, it showed a natural way for a person to shop and two, the responses from Watson were similar to that of a human (in context) but of course in digital format. If you Google (Watson Fluid Northface) you will see all kinds of coverage on this technology and implementation.

You can also watch Ginni Rometty showing a demo at NRF14 of the Expert Personal Shopper (EPS) on the Northface web site. This demo was also given at the IBM booth. The video is 54 minutes long but the The Northface + Fluid + Watson demo is between 20:00-23:30, yes, only about 3 minutes.

Here is a snippet of the conversation:

Ginni – “I am gearing up for a 14 day back packing trip. What equipment do I need?”

EPS – Responds with Expedition Tents, Cold Weather Sleeping Bags, Technical Packs, Expeditions in Patagonia

Ginni – “What technical pack is needed for an expedition to Fitz Roy Patagonian in the winter?”

EPS – Responds with “These are the packs suited for winter expeditions” and lists a set of North Face packs and even recommends a specific pack – the Prophet 65 pack and mentions ABS technology.

Ginni – “Can you tell me about ABS technology?”

EPS – responds with a technical article about the Avalanche AirBag System

Ginni then continues the discussion by asking how the back pack is rated.  This to me is the evolution of product search and education. Imagine going to your favorite online store and was able to ask these kinds of questions for the product you are interested in.

 

 

 

Synchronized Shopping with Actv8.me, very cool indeed!

One of the coolest products I saw at NRF 2014 was the synchronized shopping experience that Actv8.me showed. As you can see in the picture below, the application on the mobile device synchronizes with what is on your television and shows you products that have been tagged for the current scene. In the screen shot a customer can purchase the same red dress the actress is wearing in the show. I explained this to my wife and she really liked the concept because she is always wondering “what is she wearing?” or “I love that dress”. I can see this kind of technology being merged into products like the Xbox, Netflix, and any other platform that wants to “take over” the living room.

The way it works is by sound recognition, similar to the way MusicID or Shazam apps work by identifying the sound of the current program and scene and showing a list of products that have been configured for that scene.

Actv8.me Synchronized shopper

Want to see the next coolest features in WebSphere Commerce?

IBM-logoVisit IBM at NRF Big Show Booth #1818 in the next two days!

The WebSphere Commerce programming model is being enhanced with re-usable widget technology. When Feature Pack 7 ships it will include an ecosystem of pre-integrated Partner solutions.

Come by the booth to see which ones are in right out of the gate!