CES 2014 – Raj’s picks from the show

I just spent last week at CES in Las Vegas and had an absolutely amazing time. This years trip to CES was a little different as I had access to Publicis Groupe events and private parties. Needless to say, I’m just now recovering from the parties!

Here are some of the highlights from CES for me.

  • Qualcomm’s Gimbal Platform – This is a context awareness platform using beacon technology as well as mobile app to create pretty much any awareness situation you can think of.
  • Cisco Retail Solutions – Cisco had some amazing concepts showing how they could connect the entire retail experience with beacon’s, tracking camera’s, and some pretty amazing store level and executive analytic’s (user foot track patterns, inventory, transactions, etc.). They had partnered with Aero Scout for the beacon technology.
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  • Street Line – Pretty cool stuff when it comes to parking and other data for urban areas. Saw I nice demo with them and Cisco.
  • Google Fiber – I was lucky enough to attend a private meeting with Google to learn more about new products in the market. Outside of getting a nice pair of Google glasses, one of the best road maps I saw was for Google Fiber. Alot of us are familiar with Google Fiber, so I won’t bore you with the details, checkout the site. What’s amazing is the approach Google is taking to dominate the Fiber network not only in the US, but in other countries that have poor infrastructure or countries that have a monopoly (higher prices as a result). If you don’t own Google stock, you should, this one division will dominate the world in 5 years and give Google a diversified portfolio outside of just search. Some interesting terminologies I learned from Google; they call neighborhoods “Fiber Hoods”, their retail stores are called “Fiber Space”. The Google VP in-charge (Milo Medin) of the division was telling me that he has seen credit ratings for cities increase because of Google Fiber (installed city), he also told me that if a house in a Fiber Hood signs up for Google Fiber (free internet), that account stays with the house, so if you sell the house the new owner gets Google Fiber as well, this helps home values and rental values. Not to mention, a city that helps bring in Google Fiber (make it easy for Google in install) gets free fiber to schools, libraries, etc. Milo was clear to point out that he only goes to cities that make it easy for him, it doesn’t matter about the size of the city. Amazing stuff from Google, including how they roll out and install a Fiber Hood. Continue reading

The essence of “Sought After” for Start-ups

I found myself referencing the term “Sought After” to a start-up I’m advising; I was trying to give them a good example of an essence or driving focus for a start-up or growing company to strive to. A rallying point that helps provide direction regardless of the current marketing conditions, trends, or day to day challenges.

The term “Sought After” was used by Spunlogic (agency I co-founded and sold several years ago) and was the driving focus of the agency as I think back. Jeff Hilimire (Co-founder at Spunlogic with me), Raghu Kakarala, Danny Davis, and I, really pushed this essence into the culture of the agency and what we aspired to be. We all believed and aspired to become a sought after agency. This was also brought into Engauge and I’m sure we’ll all continue using “Sought After” in future enterprises.

So you are probably wondering what the hell “Sought After” means. For me, the term can be applied to a number categories in a start-up or growing company. Here are some examples. Continue reading

Widespread use of Mobile Payment through NFC just needs Apple

Apple is rumored to have well over 200 million+ users on iTunes with registered credit cards. That would make future iPhones enabled with Near Field Communications (NFC) chips an absolute dominator in mobile payments.  So what’s the hold up?

It’s rumored that Apple believes NFC standards are not wide spread enough and might be developing their own NFC standards. Although NFC has been slow to materialize in the US, the technology is pretty wide spread in Asia and Europe. 750,000 point-of-sale terminals already exist in the US, so all we are waiting for are NFC enabled devices. A number of mobile manufactures in the US such as Nokia, Samsung, Google, etc. have already released devices and it’s speculated that 50 million NFC-enabled devices worldwide will exist by the end of the year.

Apple has such an advantage with iTunes registered credit cards unlike any other retailer or manufacturing, they could literally define how we interact with NFC and make the use of mobile payments and more a reality faster than anyone. Continue reading

Microsoft Surface Has Arrived

It somehow feels wrong to promote Microsoft in general, but lately I’ve been wowed by some of their innovative products and software. I expect this out of Apple or Google, but when I saw previews online of Microsoft Surface from CES 2008 earlier in the year, I was wowed. It also got me wondering if this might ever become commonplace in our lives.

If you’ve never seen Microsoft Surface check out the video below.

AT&T has already started to roll these units out at some of their wireless stores, so it’s well worth a visit to check it out; and while you’re there, give yourself another reason to play with the iPhone. ;)

When I began writing this post, my intent was to just share a cool new toy with everyone, but what really dawned on me was how fast things were changing, and how as an agency we’d be at the forefront designing these new types of experiences for consumers.

Ten years ago as a start-up agency, my universe was fairly limited to websites, emails, and the very sexy work of corporate extranets. Now we are diving into Second life, Facebook apps, mobile apps, and hopefully (with the blessing of a nice client) Microsoft Surface experiences. Digital experiences are becoming increasingly important. As an agency, the way we create strategies and design and develop them to their full potential needs to change and adapt all the time.

It’s fair to say that agencies sometimes dive into unknown territories – were no case studies exist, no proven numbers. It’s always a risk for both the client and the agency to dive into uncharted waters, but rewards are high when you nail it. The point I’m trying to make is that we, with our smart people and unbelievable clients, could in the near future have an opportunity to work on a project the involves Microsoft Surface or any other progressive digital experience. I guess this is why we all love working for an agency like Engauge, it’s the chance to work on something others might only read about.

If you want to get wowed by another Microsoft product check out Photosynth, it will blow you away.

Have the Disruptors Impacted Us? Part One of Three

About a year and a half+ ago I read a fascinating article in Business 2.0 magazine called “The Disruptors“. The article was published in September 2006, and to date is one of the most eye opening articles I’ve read. The article talks about 11 companies with 11 big ideas that would change everything, or more accurately change industries, destroy established companies, and even change how we do things day to day. So today I started reading another article in Information Week called “5 Disruptive Technologies To Watch In 2008” that talks about virtualization, and that I’ve always been a big believer in both on the server and web application/services side. The more recent article in InformationWeek was definitely more geared towards technology disruptors, and to be frank wasn’t such a surprise to me. Anyway it got me thinking about the old Business 2.0 article, and how eye opening the “big ideas” were, so I decided to re-look at the ideas and determine if there were still strong disruptor candidates. Continue reading