The 10 Year Anniversary Video for LinkedIn

Yes, people have differing opinions of LinkedIn, but this video is a beautiful example of how they see themselves. It positively altered my opinion of them, but even more importantly, increased my respect for the importance of social networking. As a part of a structured social networking plan, it can create communities in niche markets that are typically separated by industry and social boundaries. Worth the 1:52 to watch.

LinkedIn: Imagine What We Can Do Together – http://youtu.be/3p9TqRA8APA

Getting Personal with Apple Versus Samsung 2 – The Hangover

I woke up this morning with a technology hangover. I might have overdone it a bit yesterday getting the Samsung Galaxy S4 into a usable state. With the iPhone, it was a very different experience, starting slowly with an iPhone 3G, then a 3GS, then a 4, then a 5. The iPhone relationship was built on time and trust. This doesn’t include the years of bliss with an iPod over 10 years ago that started when I was ready to throw an Archos MP3 player and Musicmatch Jukebox out the window! Here is a link to that blast from the past: The Archos Jukebox (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archos_Jukebox_series). With almost 40 GB of lectures and movies, iTunes was the only media software that could handle the load at that time, so that led to an iPod, then a MacBook, then an iPhone, an iPad (cue sinister laugh), sharing IOS Apps on a single iTunes account, and we were firmly in Apple’s digital ecosystem.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not an Apple “fanboi” and am mostly platform agnostic. I am comfortable in front of a Mac, a PC, and even have a passable fluency in Linux, but some tools are better for some tasks and Apple arguably has the best experience in the digital media world. So what do I like better about the Samsung Android experience? First, the bigger screen is fantastic. If you love your iPhone, do not, I repeat, do not spend any time with a phone with a larger screen, the iPhone will never look the same again. Next, the widgets are a breakthrough. These  are small programs that run right on the screen of the phone alongside the App icons (see picture below). This is handy for information that is glanced at briefly like weather or a calendar. Why open a weather app when you just want to see quick forecast information? Have a moment and want to see if there is anything interesting new on Flipboard, the widget is perfect for this. There are dozens of other widgets that can be added to the various screens that eliminate steps when doing common tasks like Google searches, reviewing calendar items, memos, traffic status, etc. The widgets come in various sizes also and can be put on any of five “screens.” These screens are like the iPhone’s screens of icons, but on the iPhone only app icons and folders of app icons can go on the screens. This type of customization is what Android is great at.

Widget Screenshot
Widget Screenshot

Maybe to summarize it would be good to explain that the differences in the Samsung Google Android experience versus the iPhone Apple IOS experience are very linked to the company cultures. I know many Google engineers and they are amazing, but there seems to be less layers between their genius ideas and implementation in an Android phone like the Samsung Galaxy S4. I also know many Apple engineers and they are just as amazing, but their ideas get filtered through a couple extra layers of experts on “the user experience” for lack of a better term. Google, to their credit, has done an incredible clean up job in the most recent version of Android. Google Maps are MUCH better on Android than the iPhone version, but in general Google is more of a group of engineers making products for the more technologically savvy who value customization and flexibility over the glossy smooth polish of the iPhone. For people who want a phone to be a phone and use Google products such as Gmail, you will love the most recent version of Android in phones like the Galaxy S4. You can still have music, videos, and games, but contacts, calendars, maps, and the notification system is superior to Apple in many ways. For people who are more “media centric,” who have large music / video / photo libraries, or who already have a significant invest in IOS Apps because of an iPod Touch or iPad, the iPhone is probably for you. For those of you in between, take advantage of the 14 day “trial period” most carriers offer (check those terms and conditions first and don’t believe the sales person 100%). The investment in time will be worth it to find the device that fits your professional and / or personal interests best.

Getting Personal with Apple Versus Samsung 1

There has been so much talk about Apple’s lack of innovation and how Samsung is “eating their lunch” that it seemed like a good idea to get first hand experience on where Samsung / Android is today versus Apple’s “aging” iPhone IOS. So I bought the latest / greatest Samsung Galaxy S4. First, the Sprint store experience in Santa Fe was amazing. The sales person was smart, incredibly experienced, and interesting in his own right. He has been in the Telecom industry for almost 20 years starting at places like MCI and Nextel, selling in a corporate telecom environment, and ending up in Santa Fe now for family reasons. In a word, he was overqualified. This was great for me because I wanted to hear first hand what the general public is hearing when they go into a retail store that sells both the iPhone and Android devices. He said all the right things and he was right on many levels by pointing out the facts that the iPhone is a closed environment, Android works better with Google products (Gmail, Calendar, etc.), and that Android is a better value for the money. He also suggested an LG phone because it gave a more “Google” experience and was less expensive than the Samsung. This turned out to be true, but I still went with the Samsung phone because it could accept a 64 GB memory card. Apple sells the iPhone with zero “junk” on it, just the stock apps like Mail, Safari, Calendar, Weather, etc. The Samsung phone came with “Samsung Apps,” “Samsung Hub,” “Samsung Link,” “Sprint Zone,” “Sprint Worldwide,” two email clients (Gmail and Email), two browsers (Chrome and Internet), and a bunch more. There is a learning curve here. The price was right though, the phone was only $150 after the deals. An iPhone 5 is $300. This is a bit deceiving since the Samsung only comes with 16 GB, but you can add 64 GB of memory for $50, still a much lower price. The contract was also much less expensive with 450 minutes, laptop tethering, unlimited data / messaging for $120/month. It remains to be seen how good Sprint’s coverage is around the Western US. As for my initial impression of Samsung versus Apple, Apple is still the higher quality product, even with its age and smaller screen. The build quality is better, the user interface is more elegant, and so many things “just work” right out of the box. I spent a couple hours just getting all the weird Samsung sounds to stop, the phone to lock and unlock logically, and a dozen other small details that made the Samsung unlivable right from the start. More to come tomorrow, but my absolute favorite feature of the Samsung, you’ll never guess, an on-screen keyboard with a row of numbers at the top! Funny how the little things can be so meaningful.

Sales, Engineering, and Sales Engineering

A couple weeks ago while driving from Phoenix to Santa Fe, we stopped to visit the Very Large Array. I wrote a post on this topic on April 26th because it was fascinating to see how the scientists were directly involved in explaining this complex facility to the public. Their excitement got me excited to learn more and write that post. This is similar to the experience I have had hundreds of times talking to technology creators, their passion gets others excited about their work. So why does almost every company have product managers, account managers, sales managers, sales engineers, application engineers, sales people, and sometimes all these (or more)? There are a few contrarians, companies who eliminate the “necessary evil” of sales people and have engineers do it all. These people get titles like “forward deployed engineers,” but aren’t they now just highly trained sales people? In my experience as a sales manager, it comes down to what excites people. Those engineers explaining the VLA probably would not be excited after a couple weeks of traveling around “pitching” the VLA to others, that’s why the videos were genius, it transmitted their excitement and they only had to do it once. Then they could go back to what really excited them, making a better orthomode transducer or correlator.

Great sales people also get excited about technologies they sell and have the ability to transmit that excitement, but they love the sales process itself. They love finding the customer, developing the relationship through helping them solve their problem, and getting the “reward” of the successful sale. They don’t mind the repetition because the rewards (financial and psychological) are so compelling.

So can this gap be bridged with today’s technologies? Could the sales process be replaced with technology? I will leave you with a few links and the teaser that every step in this direction could have a major impact on your organization (obviously!). To be continued.

Are Sales People About to Become Extinct – http://www.salesarchitects.net/articledet.php?aid=62

Want Your Company to Grow, Fire Your Managers – http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130320152447-5799319-want-your-company-to-grow-fire-your-managers

No Sales People, Just Forward Deployed Engineers – http://jackmalcolm.com/blog/2011/11/no-salespeople-just-forward-deployed-engineers/

Thoughts on Life Without the Internet: Paul Miller

Paul Miller, a career technology since the age of 14, spent a year without the Internet. He had technology, but no “connectivity” so he could watch TV, movies on DVDs, play video games, use a computer, etc. He just could not use email, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, a smart phone in general, or anything else that required a network connection. He couldn’t play video games with others (which he loved), he couldn’t see comments on his articles on The Verge (who paid him during this time), he couldn’t socialize online. You get the idea. Here is the link to his offline series of articles: Paul Miller Offline

So what did he learn? My summary is:

  • He missed the connectedness. In fact, he was probably addicted to the connectedness.
  • He enjoys creating more than consuming.
  • Not having the “distraction” of the Internet affected his creativity in ways he did not foresee, maybe due to his lack of connectedness, but also by helping him see the deeper issues in his psyche.
  • His “bad habits” were his fault, not the fault of the Internet.

Here is a link to his final post: Paul Miller Almost Online

Toward the beginning, he explored the creativity his new environment provided, and made comments like:

But if there’s one thing that’s missing in this landscape, it’s opportunities for creativity and inspiration. I love convenience, and I love to be entertained, but I’m most fulfilled when I feed and exercise my imagination.

But in the end, what was important to him was the connectedness:

When I return to the internet, I might not use it well. I might waste time, or get distracted, or click on all the wrong links. I won’t have as much time to read or introspect or write the great American sci-fi novel.

But at least I’ll be connected.

To me, this was a fascinating look at priorities / life balance decisions versus unstructured time, consumption verses creation, connectedness verses solitude, and the role of work versus play in both individual and group settings. Paul might be a little too close to his situation to see it yet, but in learning what he values through firsthand experience, it seems that he has seen himself clearly for the first time, and he got paid to do it!