Tag Archives: innovation

New Blog Location: www.digitalindustrialpark.com

The Digital Industrial Park blog has moved to a nice, comfy hosted location:

—–>> http://www.digitalindustrialpark.com/

Still a WordPress blog, though. We love ya, WordPress.

Happy New Year to all!

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.

http://www.secondmarket.com/

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.

What’s That?

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.

An Unpredictable Outcome

As more and more shopping experiences are happening online it is easy to devalue in importance how people shop in the physical world. Ignore that at your peril. We still live in a physical world and the lessons to be learned are myriad.

Plasmatic

Plasmatic

Retail banking, for example, has undergone a radical transformation over the past 10 years and we can expect much more change as technology and generational issues (read: aging) force some innovative retail thinking.

If you have been in retail for any amount of time you are probably familar with the name, Paco Underhill, and his company, Envirosell. For the past 15 years they have my single favorite source of insights into how and why people shop. I would imagine that they are rather chagrined (or flattered) to  see all these new, “Customer Experience Groups” springing up when Envirosell has been doing just that for so long.

In an article entitled, Generational Shopping, Envirosell has this to say about retail banking, “Some banks are experimenting with teller-less branches staffed by greeters whose job it is to train people to use the machines. This is cheaper than staffing branches with tellers, but it provides the human touch that older customers especially appreciate, as well as the assistance they need. In a similar way, the Minneapolis-based John Ryan Co., the largest retail-bank-marketing agency in the world, has developed interactive banking kiosks that link customers to financial specialists. This gives bank branches the ability to provide personalized service without having the personnel on-site.”

This is especially important because here in America, demographers tell us that 60 percent of discretionary income is in the hands of people 55 and over.

So why is the specific age group of the customer important?

Envirosell goes on tho tell us, “Personal service is a big draw for older consumers, so what happens to an industry that wants to reduce its face-to-face contact with customers? Banking and financial services are, to seniors, heading for a train wreck. Teller-based banking is expensive, and many banks are looking for ways to wean customers away. Envirosell’s global experience shows that only in New York City are the demographics of ATM users and teller customers the same. Everywhere else in the world, ATM users are younger than teller customers.”

Could this mean that the greeter in front of a wall of ATM screens is the new face of banking?

Magazine Error Messages: “What to Do if Your Cover Is Not Flashing”

Paper, meet pixels. Pixels, meet paper. While I have never bought a copy of Esquire magazine, as soon as I heard that there was an e-ink cover on the 75th Anniversary issue I shot over to Esquire’s site to learn more about how they did it.

It's better in flashing e-ink.

It is more fun when the cover is blinking.

(Not familiar with it? Here’s what e-ink is all about).

The link that caught my attention is the one that made one eyebrow shoot up when I realized that magazine covers now have error messages: What to Do if You Cover Is Not Flashing. This is something that Esquire readers have not had to concern themselves with for 75 years. Onward!

The real story is that it’s an amazing story of innovation. It starts to get interesting when you scroll down to the third paragraph which starts, “Yet the technology still needed a push. First E Ink and its manufacturing partner, the Nicobar Group in Shanghai , had to design circuitry thin and flexible enough to bend with the cover and small enough to draw a level of energy that would allow the battery to last for at least ninety days.” Keep reading, it’s a great story.

There is a video of the cover in action which seems rather silly since the cover just blinks but, still, it is innovative in a Times Square kind of way. For the more visual amongst us, the section about How the E-Ink Cover Was Made documents the seven year journey around the world to bring the cover to fruition.

In a fit of inspiration, this 75 year old publisher has opened up their first e-ink cover to hackers and invited them in. Hackers are actively courted in a section entitled, Can You Hack Esquire’s E-Ink Cover? In response to that question, Esquire says, “We don’t know. Well, that’s not entirely true. We know it’s possible, but we’re not exactly sure how. That’s where you come in.” This is surely good for some buzz…and maybe even something more innovative than a blinking cover.

Guttenburg smiles down on all this, I’m sure.