Category Archives: innovation

Perfect Timing: A Marketplace for Illiquid Assets.

Talk about perfect timing. New York-based SecondMarket has created a virtual marketplace for illiquid assets. Things like, say, those trillions of dollars worth of real estate loans that everyone on the planet is wondering what to do with.

In the U.S., either the banks are going to have to figure out what to do with their debt or the government is going to set up a Resolution Trust Corporation-style sort of solution. Either way, SecondMarket looks like a very, very good idea.


Engineering. Collaboration. Brilliance.

With eight worldwide locations, six time zones, and roughly fifty people involved, IDEO’s Global Chain Reaction is a great thought-starter for anyone looking to align a company towards innovation.

In these times of economic uncertainty it is easy to forget what an amazing world we live in and that the “art of the possible” is, well, still possible. IDEO’s Jon Kaplan keeps the hope alive with this superb initiative that highlights IDEO’s engineering capabilities that is also pure ingenuity right down to the viral marketing component of the initiative.

IDEO is a wonderful company. Let me tell you, it is very invigorating with people who think like this:

“I sent out rules and people either ignored them or followed them. The sense of humor part was great. Munich emailed early on and said, These rules are there for breaking, right?”

Jon Kaplan, we are very glad you are working.

Telemegaphoning: Happy Experiments.

I first heard about Unsworn Industries from Very Short List, which is a treasure trove of discoveries and well worth subscribing to, if you don’t already.

According to their description, Telemegaphones are tall loudspeaker sculptures that automatically answers incoming phone calls and projects the sound of the caller’s voice into its immediate surroundings. So, if you happen to be in the idyllic Dalsfjord in Western Norway, you would be able to hear the the voice of anyone who happened to call projected out across the fjord, the valley and the village of Dale below.

An initiative like this would simply be incomplete without  blog and they do indeed have one which can be found here.

There is an oddly human (perhaps male) allure in the idea of mixing a vast expanse of hill and dale and throwing a megaphone into the mix. The effect, I am told is quite magical. It “fills the whole valley like a soft voice from above”. This is a feat that the even the New York City Transit Authority has never quite perfected.

The Metric System: Who’s Steering?

Imagine speeding down the highway and everyone in the car is trying to grab the steering wheel and yelling “Turn left!”, “Make a right!”, “Speed up!”, “Slow down!”. If you can imagine this scene you have probably been in an online development meeting recently.

There are three metrics that should be considered when making decisions on the site.

Forget about which technology or functionality to use, one of the biggest challenges of running an online business right now is simply agreeing how to steer.

Someone recently gave me a copy of “Web Design For ROI” and I read it on a flight to San Diego. Despite its rather dry title, it is happily packed with pragmatic and insightful tips that had me nodding in agreement (and scribbling notes) all the way across the country.

If you’re in this business you have probably experienced marketing people, sales people, usability people, and analytics people all sitting around the conference table trying to prove that they alone have the one true and right critical success factor. So which one is the sole arbiter of truth? Here’s the path to wisdom: They all do and none of them do.

The truth is that running an online business requires a holistic triangulation of business metrics, site metrics, and user metrics and that no one of them exists in a vacuum. The business metrics are the same ones that the business uses to measure success at a high level such as those pulled from a sales system used by the whole company. The site metrics are from web site reporting tools such as Omniture or Google Analytics. The user metrics are derived from user feedback such as surveys, focus groups, and usability testing.

It is imperative to track different types of metrics from multiple sources if you are running an online business. Yes, imperative. You’ll need visibility into quantitative and qualitative results and this is a great way to enforce some checks and balances on the metrics that are tracked.

By using this dashboard approach you will have the ability to make informed, balanced decisions for your business that are rooted in fact.

Having trouble keeping it in the middle of the road? A good dashboard with these three metrics allow you to keep your eyes on the road and your hand upon the wheel.