Live from MIX08 – Day 2

March 6, 2008 at 9:46 am 2 comments

Attending a panel discussion around the businss value of design. General consensus is that it’s important but it can’t be lip service. There’s a fine line between business drivers and creating the perfect user experience. Also, too many times companies spend a lot of time and money to research users and how they might use a product/service and then none of that is being implemented. Too often research results end up collecting dust on someone’s desk without being analyzed and implemented. It takes commitment to stay focused on the right design. Rapid prototyping can be a good methodology for bridgning the gap between user experience design and time-to-market.

One of the panelist is mentioning the importance of sharing resources (i.e. playlists/watchlists) across devices or services. Very similar to Ray Ozzie’s concept of ‘Connected Experiences’.

Another panelist is mentioning metrics as being an important driver for design. This is interesting, as experience design can have a direct impact on the business. I agree with that, as we’ve seen direct impact of design changes on trial conversions in the Office trial program. Today, we’re focusing too much on the infrastructure and we need to put experience design more at the center of our thinking/investment, as it does have a direct impact on sales.

People in the real worls shop in different ways. I can touch and feel things. Products are layed out for me, I can try things. On the web, I shop much different. I search by category, put something into the shopping cart, etc. There’s an opportunity for rich interface design to bring the online shopping experience closer to the brick & morter experience.

 HBR did a study on how much better something needs to be for someone to change the way they do something/why they buy something. the result was that something has to be at least 30% better for people to change their behavior.

So, what does that mean to online shopping?  Should an online shopping experience be similar/close to the most popular ecommerce sites (i.e. Amazon) to take advantage of the ‘familiarity’ of the experience? Or should it push the envelope and be different, closer to the offline experience (and take advantage of richer user interfaces)?  Interesting questions and much food for thought and perhaps prototypes… 🙂

Is Web 2.0 sustainable?

Panel with Robert Scoble, Kimbal Musk (CEO Me.dium), Dave McClure (500 Hats), Ryan McIntyre (Foundry Group), Kevin Rose (Founder Digg).

How does Digg make money? Through advertising (MS ad platform). Digg is designed as a tool to share and organize information. They want to create new tools and engage the user community to invent new things and grow. At the end though, it’s a business, so advertising is the way to generate revenue. sounds very similar to Google, which started by building a broad user base and then introduce simple text advertising and grow into other ad areas from there.

Interesting thoughts around VC funding for new startups. It will be increasingly hard for startups to get $2-5M in VC funding (at $20M or so valuation), when the VCs are looking for 5x return ($100M+). At that level, it gets harder and harder to find acquirers.

Question for Scoble as to what it takes to really get video into the mainstream. Scoble is focusing on adding video to niche channels and grow from there, rather than taking large, mainstream TV programs online. I tend to agree with that. During the dot.com boom streaming media was THE big thing. I was part of a $2B acquisition of InterVU (streaming media company) by Akamai. I don’t think that investment has paid off yet. Adoption of video takes a while and is highly dependent on bandwidth and how it integrates into the popular user experiences. YouTube is big, but it’s stand-alone and integration with ‘normal’ sites is jsut starting. It will be interesting to see how the NBC broadcast of the 2008 Olympics will be adopted by users (see yesterday’s post). Another thing to watch is HDTV on the net as piloted by Akamai.

Question from a German audience member to the panel as to what their plans are to expand products/services to Europe (or other markets). Not surprisingly, the panel asnwers are around focus and resource availability. Particularly with offerings that require high bandwidth (i.e. streaming media, large file downloads), infrastructure investments become a big factor. Legal hurdles and localization challenges (not just content localization, but also UX localization) are another big factor.

CEO of M.edio sees Web 2.0 as a “huge loss leaser for something”. He isn’t sure yet what that “something” is, but Web 2.0 applications/services will get us there. Gotta check out M.edio service. It’s “social browsing”. They’re building a “user connection” layer on top of the web, which would for example make it possible to “see who’s browsing close to you and what they’re looking for”. This can have huge implications to search and advertising, as it will introduce a whole new layer of user information and targeting possibility. Interestingly, M.edio hasn’t had any issues with user concerns over privacy. Digg will be offering Clickstream data back to the user, which is interesting. Another sample of user/communication engagement.

So, what is Web 2.0? Interestingly enough, all panelists think about it as ‘putting your business online’ and ‘engaging with users’ and the majority of Web 2.0 models seem to be advertising based. I haven’t heard anybody mention other business models (besides ecommerce sites, obviously). Is this all? If I have a good idea for a service that could be useful to a large user group and make it available for free initially and then introduce advertising when the user base reaches a critical mass? Is that a Web 2.0 business? It doesn’t seem so much different than Web 1.0 besides the fact that it’s ad based. Nobody is talking about Web 2.0 services as being AJAX based and all that. So, why are people saying MS is not a player in the Web 2.0 world? Office Live in my view is definitely a Web 2.0 business. Live Spaces would be one too, based on the above definitions. I think it’s mainly a matter of other companies being pure play Internet companies and MS ‘struggling’ with its client software ‘legacy’. Watching yesterday’s keynote, MS definitely is an ‘enabler’ of Web 2.0 businesses. We provide the tools and platform to develop the experiences and we provide the infrastructure services and ad platform to run these businesses.

On Demand Sessions from MIX08

Anyone interested in watching some of the MIX sessions, can go here.

Afternoon keynote with Guy Kawasaki and Steve Ballmer

Great session with SteveB. Guy Kawasaki asking lots of pointed/controversial questions. See Steve making fun of the Apple Air and pupmping up web developers. Steve in rare form. Check out the VOD for this session – it’s worth it!

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Live from MIX08 – Day 1 BitTorrent getting into the CDN game

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brent  |  March 7, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Very interesting – thehdweb stuff is a great opportunity for Akamai – they have a tremendous opportunity there.

    Reply
  • 2. Brent  |  March 7, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    The interview w/ Steve is terrific. Uncomfortable, but terrific. 🙂

    Reply

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