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Harry Hawk photo from NYC Food Film Festival 2012
In 2013, Harry Hawk was a paid blogger for the web site Internet Evolution (IE). These are some of the posts that Harry authored. They cover a range of topics. Your comments or questions are welcome. If you or any organization would like to use these posts, permission is required. These posts are Copyright 2013 by Harry Hawk. These posts originally were edited by Alison Diana who is highly recommended.

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Have It Your Way With Mobile Pay: Ordering at Fast-Food Chains

posted Jul 6, 2014, 3:11 PM by Harry Hawk   [ updated Jul 9, 2014, 7:42 PM ]

Purely as part of my academic research, I have been eating a lot more fast food, checking out limited time only offers and the restaurants' service.

For breakfast the other day, I ordered fried egg and burger sliders with caramelized onions and no cheese at White Castle. The receipt was correct, but the order had cheese. At McDonalds, I ordered a Sweet Chili Chicken wrap but received a Ranch Chicken Wrap. The receipt was correct, but it took 20 minutes to place and receive my order at a store that was well staffed with only a few in-store customers -- apparently employees were focused on the busy drive-thru. Order complexity, wait times, speed, and accuracy are among the many issues the restaurant industry faces.

Images of the breakfast slider from White Castle. A mini burger on a bun topped with onion and a freshly fried egg.

The whole topic of in-store engagement and alternative payment systems is heating up. Let’s face it -- nearly everyone who visits quick serve restaurants has a mobile device on them. These restaurants (and grocery stores) have similar high traffic and low margins and both seek customer loyalty. Of the two, only grocery stores have succeeded with loyalty programs. There is hope that personalized, socialized, and mobile technology will change the game for quick serve restaurants and prove to be a winning tactic.
Hary Hawk holding a breakfast slider from White Castle, Rt 17 NJ
Sign from White Castle Rt 17 NJ Spring 2014Harry Hawk holding a small coffee cup from White Castle, Route 17 NJ drive-thru

Online ordering and payment reduce errors, increase transaction speed, and narrow casts notifications (an easy way to tell you an order is ready). Labor-saving efforts normally require consumer and staff education that increases when the change is complex. Apps facilitate labor reduction and eliminate many education requirements while cloaking complexity with a well-mannered user interface. Companies like McDonaldsBurger King, and Subway are investigating these technologies; at Five Guys, consumers can order from the counter, a website, or mobile app.

Mobile payments and ordering will benefit chain owners, but I am rather sure this offers few benefits to the consumer. Mobile ordering is not going to solve the problem of correctly entered orders served incorrectly. Then there is the willingness and time needed to set up a wallet. Up to three times more millennials are embracing mobile payment over Gen X and Boomers, according to at least one report. Will merchants accept universal payment systems? It might be cheaper if each chain has its own payment system. Private wallets lock-in customers, in the same way JC Penny won't accept a Macy’s charge card.

A moving image of a burger from Burger Shakes & Fries in Greenwich, Ct. Held by Harry Hawk.

If I am waiting in a line, I'm holding my phone. If I had a e-wallet on my phone, I would rather use it than put away my phone, find my actual wallet, and fish out my debit card or cash. Not having to put away a phone and then find a physical wallet might be the only consumer benefit. But will consumers embrace mobile wallets? Seventy percent of GenY have not done this yet. Long term, consumer benefits (beyond speed and convenience) might include the ability for parents to pre-approve spending for particular items at particular times and locations, or constrain personal or family member spending to pre-set budgets.

For the restaurants themselves, payment from an application or mobile device opens the door to a more direct and intimate relationship with customers, potentially driving loyalty and retention. If McDonalds, Wendy's, Five Guys, Subway, and other chains start accepting universal wallets, that could drive setup and create an ecosystem for the benefit of other merchants. Quick-serve restaurants will benefit -- if the trend mirrors credit cards -- as consumers buy more often, buy larger quantities, or buy more profitable items. Businesses will also benefit if transaction fees are lower, as higher fees would be counter productive. Let's assume they don’t have to give Google, Amazon, Apple, Sprint, AT&T, or Verizon a cut of the transaction.

an image from the Burger King online ordering system

With few intrinsic benefits, perhaps merchants will offer discounts and free food as an enticement. Burger King’s online delivery system attempts to do this by building a loyalty program into the online ordering process.

The loyalty program and the relationship that comes with it may well be worth the price of admission for merchants and consumers. If restaurants must offer discounts and free food to jumpstart mobile and online ordering, let’s hope it pays off for both parties. Consumers won't voluntarily embrace something that gives them little or no benefit. How much free food and coupons will habituate consumers to this new experience? Chipotle is adding games. Is that an incentive or a distraction? Only time will tell.

Written by Harry Hawk.

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Google Chromecast: The Future of TV Costs $35

posted Jun 29, 2014, 8:08 AM by Harry Hawk   [ updated Jul 9, 2014, 7:41 PM ]

Google Chromecast is the future of TV. This tiny USB-powered device allows people to turn their TV into what it once was: the best way to watch video at home or work.

It is a runaway hit in short supply. Often hot gadgets cost hundreds of dollars, plus subscription fees and pricey accessories. At $35, the Chromecast is complete and likely to be stuffed into everyone's stocking this holiday season.

Image of the Google Chromecast device; a low power Android based computer that attaches to the HDMI port of a TV and directly streams video to the TV.

I bought two. It's a lot cheaper than dinner in New York City. It's even cheaper than a tank of gas for a compact car. The bottom line is it works as promised, probably better than you expect. It is trivial to set up, unless you have AP/client isolation on your WiFi router. When you first use it, the device seems magical. Looking for a review of the Chromecast? Try this one from MBKHD or this one from Wired, or let Danny Sullivan compare its features to Roku and Apple TV.

Cheap -- but the future
Flying cars may never arrive, but our TV future is here now. We already have TVs as thin as picture frames hanging on the wall. Skirmishes among cable, media, computer, and phone companies over the licensing, sale, streaming, and viewing of content have slowed down the future -- until today. The war is over.

The launch of the Chromecast may be as shocking and devastating to the TV ecosystem as the first use of the atomic bomb in World War II. Research shows that most people whoavoid spending money on pay TV also avoid paid streaming. There is a small but growing segment of people who are cutting out all forms of paid content.

Both Amazon and Apple charge for downloads/views. Google supports that model, but it also provides for ad-supported streaming via YouTube. Google takes 45 percent of the ad revenue and uses its cut to sell ads, pay for servers and bandwidth, and support its ecosystem. Some day, cost-per-action pricing will allow Google to deliver live, targeted ads on a TV-by-TV basis.

Amazon, Apple, and others have entangled a consumer segment willing to buy expensive hardware and content, but with more than 7 billion people on our planet, which model will succeed -- expensive shows on expensive hardware or free content on cheap hardware? Pay TV will always appeal to people with money, and the Chromecast supports paid content, as well. Google Play, Netflix, and soon other pay services will work, too.

Open-source powers Chromecast
Once or twice a year, Apple, Microsoft, and others update their carefully curated software. With open-source software, an ocean of independent developers like Koushik Dutta rush in to fill the void between iterations, and Google benefits. Within days of the Chromecast's release, Dutta demonstrated an Android phone streaming content to the Chromecast and then via Dropbox. Today only servers and desktops/laptops can stream to the Chromecast. Dutta showed how any app using the Mediaplayer API could stream content to the device. Consumer-initiated development like Dutta's can't happen on closed systems; the DMCA and other restrictions make it nearly or completely illegal.All the Apps that support Google Chromecast; screen shot from http://www.google.com/intl/en_US/chrome/devices/chromecast/apps.html taken June 2014

Back to the future
The Chromecast gives consumers an easy way to upgrade their TV without having to buy a new set with a built-in computer (that will quickly become obsolete). It works with both its own and Apple's ecosystems, turning YouTube into a free video system. It is like the over-the-air TV we all had growing up -- one not covered by FCC regulations. A few years ago, a few TV networks blocked their content from getting to Google TV. The Chromecast is the next step in Google bypassing this opposition.

With the Chromecast and YouTube, Google has the only free TV network that matters. It is hard to see this now, but trust me. Google just killed broadcast TV. NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox have great programming, but as of today, that is all they have. Google just took away the network side of their business. Since independent producers develop most TV programming, the networks should fear that Google will increasingly disrupt that side of the business, as well.


Writen by: Harry Hawk Originally edited by Alison Diana

How to Become a Storyteller for the Modern Age

posted Jun 19, 2014, 5:47 PM by Harry Hawk   [ updated Jul 9, 2014, 7:43 PM ]

Storytelling is everywhere -- not just in elementary school classrooms and libraries. My friend Mike Daisey recently completed almost a month of monologues at NYC's Public Theater; 29 unique stories now available free and online. I have performed on stage with Mike and have often been in his audience. He is a master storyteller. He doesn't speak from a script. He works dynamically from notes; he knows where he is going and how he will get there, leaving room for inspiration and audience reaction. His words are fresh, impactful, and ephemeral yet his message is refined and rehearsed.
Mike Daily performs All The Faces of The Moon
Storytelling is everywhere -- not just in elementary school classrooms and libraries. My friend Mike Daisey recently completed almost a month of monologues at NYC's Public Theater; 29 unique stories now available free and online. I have performed on stage with Mike and have often been in his audience. He is a master storyteller. He doesn't speak from a script. He works dynamically from notes; he knows where he is going and how he will get there, leaving room for inspiration and audience reaction. His words are fresh, impactful, and ephemeral yet his message is refined and rehearsed.
Graphic depicting that Storytelling is at the core of Advertising, Marketing, Leadership, Team Building, Promtion and Content Marketing
How do you hold an audience and get your message across? My suggestion: Be like Mike. Entertain, whether your story demands a call-to-arms or is an attempt to inspire or provoke. You can devise your own toolkit. Mike uses profanity, silly facts, historical oddities, humor, satire, and a passion for connecting dots that seem at first to have no relationship. At their core, social media, marketing, advertising, promotions, leadership, application design, team building, branding, and influence are all storytelling.

Storytelling transmits a message and engenders listeners' buy-in to a process; it boosts involvement and focus while engaging their brains. Storytelling ripples forward and backward in time -- forward toward our newest media (smartphone apps and augmented reality) and backward to Victorian salons, churches and ghettos, biblical times, across Mesoamerican civilization and the savannas of Africa.

How well do you tell stories? Are you good at telling them in social media, in branded content, in formal and informal settings? The world is full of report cards and evaluations. How many times has someone explicitly graded you on your storytelling abilities or have you given your staff storytelling feedback? I work in multiple mediums. I am focused on embedding brand messages into content while telling a really good story. I'm eager to get feedback beyond my co-workers, boss, Klout, and my engagement stats from Facebook and Twitter.

I had been looking for a MOOC to enroll in when I found a class on "The Future of Storytelling." I was very excited and signed up after watching its compelling video. This class covers storytelling and narrative design and analysis for all mediums (gaming to writing) and runs for eight weeks starting October 25. You need to sign up today. The class is interdisciplinary and teachers include Christina Maria Schollerer, Julian van Dieken, and several professors from the University of Applied Science in Potsdam. It is taught in English.
 

How do you hold an audience and get your message across? My suggestion: Be like Mike. Entertain, whether your story demands a call-to-arms or is an attempt to inspire or provoke. You can devise your own toolkit. Mike uses profanity, silly facts, historical oddities, humor, satire, and a passion for connecting dots that seem at first to have no relationship. At their core, social media, marketing, advertising, promotions, leadership, application design, team building, branding, and influence are all storytelling.

Storytelling transmits a message and engenders listeners' buy-in to a process; it boosts involvement and focus while engaging their brains. Storytelling ripples forward and backward in time -- forward toward our newest media (smartphone apps and augmented reality) and backward to Victorian salons, churches and ghettos, biblical times, across Mesoamerican civilization and the savannas of Africa.

How well do you tell stories? Are you good at telling them in social media, in branded content, in formal and informal settings? The world is full of report cards and evaluations. How many times has someone explicitly graded you on your storytelling abilities or have you given your staff storytelling feedback? I work in multiple mediums. I am focused on embedding brand messages into content while telling a really good story. I'm eager to get feedback beyond my co-workers, boss, Klout, and my engagement stats from Facebook and Twitter.

I had been looking for a MOOC to enroll in when I found a class on "The Future of Storytelling." I was very excited and signed up after watching its compelling video. This class covers storytelling and narrative design and analysis for all mediums (gaming to writing) and runs for eight weeks starting October 25. You need to sign up today. The class is interdisciplinary and teachers include Christina Maria Schollerer, Julian van Dieken, and several professors from the University of Applied Science in Potsdam. It is taught in English.

Logo for online German University named: Iversity
German startup iversity.org is presenting the class. Iversity was founded in 2011 by Jonas Liepmann and Hannes Klöpper to increase computer mediation of education while boosting educational and research opportunities through a socialized collaboration platform. To drive awareness, they ran a crowdsourced promotion to nominate professors and seek proposals for MOOCs by dangling a fellowship grant of €25,000 (US$33,797) per selected course. They garnered more than 250 entries from 20-plus countries. The crowd picked winners and tallied 100,000-plus votes. Using the rankings from the crowd vote, a jury from iversity picked the final 10 MOOCs, including "The Future of Storytelling."

Competition can drive SEO but it can be tough on competitors and has a high opportunity cost. Iversity entered the arena by competing against 280 startups at Berlin Innovation ConSenus, winning "Lighthouse in Education" recognition from companies including Google and Shell.

Like all startups, iversity may have a pivot or two in its future, but enrolling tens of thousands of students into its MOOCs will help polish its free-to-use software. The SaaS system supports traditional education models as well as emergent and hybrid models. I hope it will be a real cliff hanger as we watch how they influence and disrupt education and the market for educational software. Will incumbent online systems like Blackboard accept the challenge thrown down by iversity? I cannot wait to find out -- and I hope to see you in class!

Written by: Harry Hawk

Real Time Marketing

posted Jun 19, 2014, 5:05 PM by Harry Hawk   [ updated Jul 9, 2014, 7:43 PM ]

Real-time marketing doesn't restore the balance of power to brands, but it does give brands a better footing and platform to define themselves in the dynamic and chaotic world of real-time communications.

Remember, real-time marketing technologies are only now emerging, and they will continue to evolve for years. Some people use the term only as it relates directly to social media and real time engagement. (See: How to Market in Real-Time.)

images of Big Ben (Circa 2001) in London, two other English clocks and the text, "Real-Time"

Real-time marketing is a collection of technologies, markets, networks, and databases. The term has been trending, fueling a debate of its worth. Don't allow the infancy of the technology to obscure its value. To understand the future of real-time marketing, let's compare what happened at Super Bowl 2013 with fictional Super Bowl 2015.

Unfortunately, today, real-time marketing is often synonymous with news jacking; this is the context we know best. Real-time marketing typically needs a triggering event or action, and news jacking creates easy triggers. In 2013, the lights at the Super Bowl went out, and within five minutes, the i360 team in the Oreo war-room Tweeted: "Power out? No problem." Thousands clicked to get to the punch line ("You can still dunk in the dark").

You Can Still Dunk in the Dark image from @OREO from 8:48 PM - 3 Feb 2013 famous real time marketing win. Image is the property of Nabisco Brands.

Angela Watercutter (@WaterSlicer) wrote in Wired: "The message caught on almost immediately, getting nearly 15,000 retweets... and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook."

It is worth noting that Oreo's Super Bowl ad had already aired prior to the blackout; people were already connected or entangled with the brand. When you consider the retweets, Likes, and the growth of Oreo's Friends of Fans network, with a single Tweet, the brand gained the ability to entangle and engage millions of new consumers.

Oreo received excellent value for this expense of the i360 team; a team already hard at work engaging with responses to the ad, and its push of its Instagram site. The bottom line is this type of real-time marketing has a clear, measurable value, but because it used news jacking as its trigger, it felt like a gimmick to many commentators. It's not a gimmick.

Let's talk about fictional Super Bowl 2015. In 1993, I posited in "Scenarios for the Future of Advertising as Related to Future Media and Future Media Infrastructure," a media planner/buyer who has a network-wide view of the Internet/TV networks, and access to big marketing databases. Her mission will be a programmatic buy of 1:1 insertions for "100,000 men [aged] from 25 to 50." This scenario became part of the background for a cover article edited by John Battelle in the Wired article, "Is Advertising Dead?" The first few paragraphs depict an ad "that will run" in Super Bowl 2015. It's worth reading.

The Cover of Wired Magazine from Feb 1994 shows ad execs and the  "doughboy" about to be executed..

This is the real future of real-time advertising. Through multiple channels and touch points, brands will entangle consumers; a large number of people equal in scale to a mass market -- what I call a "digital mass market" because each customer or potential customer is known to the brand. Once entangled, brands will engage them in real time. Today, the scenario of combining real-time buying, big-data, real-time insertions of real-time rendered video and graphics, a technology like Google Earth, and a direct coupon system, is not commercially available. It will be soon enough, perhaps for 2015.

The tools we will need to enable this real-time marketing of 2015 are often grouped together under the banner of programmatic media. Programmatic media happens in real time, but it's only real-time marketing when the messaging is also real time. Programmatic media circa 2013 includes Facebook exchange (FBX), as well as other exchange systems built on or with one or more social networks, and typically enable targeting and re-targeting. As this technology evolves, distinctions about which network or device a consumer is on (CBS, NBC, Sprint, Facebook, Twitter, a mobile app, a tablet, or a smart TV) will evaporate.

News jacking might sometimes be in bad taste, and no one loves Big Brother, but entangled consumers can receive thoughtful and specific real-time messaging through permission-based programmatic media that's affordable and efficient for brands. Consumers in turn benefit by receiving content and messages that are relevant and engaging.

When the medium delivers only (or mostly) the messages that consumers are interested in, that will be a win for everyone. And that is real-time marketing.

Written by: Harry Hawk

Small Is Good.

posted Jun 19, 2014, 4:51 PM by Harry Hawk   [ updated Jul 9, 2014, 7:44 PM ]

Small teams, small business units, and small changes translate into small risk. The "smaller is less risky" theme resonates throughout the book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, an academic who often eschews other academics. His larger-than-life personality wonderfully and at times bombastically fills the pages of his book, which is aimed at the general populace. A freely available textbook covering the mathematical underpinnings of this theory is also available.

I applaud Taleb. His stories are interesting and fun, and they grab your imagination. I like his idea of separating his academic text from his general writing. Some things, like fine china, are fragile. If you stress them, they break. Some things, like steel, are robust. You can stress them a lot before they break. And some things, like muscles, are antifragile. When you stress them, they get stronger. Taleb says antifragile organizations and policies get stronger in the face of adversity or challenge.

Small changes, ideas, and projects generate minimal risks. And companies can easily expand
and extend them to create bigger rewards.
(Source: Scott Beale, Laughing Squid)

His work helped me understand why I like marginal improvement. A small change may get decimated; there is no promise that it will be robust or antifragile. However, organizations that make small changes can become antifragile. A small change can't harm the enterprise, because the harm is limited or reversible. When the enterprise learns from failure, it gets stronger. In other words, it's a win-win scenario.

There are two ways marginal improvement makes businesses stronger: marginal improvements that succeed, and small failures accompanied by learning.

What is healthiest for business -- monolithic opposition to change, monumental episodic change, or continuous marginal improvement? An enterprise that deploys marginal change on a steady and regular basis will become flexible and will respond faster (or at least periodically) to changes in the marketplace. Staff and managers will be accustomed to trying new things, new processes, and new business rules. They will understand that limited stress leads to learning -- a great strength. They may even stop watching for failure and start looking for learning.

Flexible businesses that use marginal improvement can implement new ideas sooner. They build up expertise as those technologies, practices, or methods evolve to become useful. Once a new idea proves useful, the business already has acquired the knowledge that gives it lower risk in pilots and larger deployments.

Marginal improvement can help any area of business, but it especially helps technology. In about 1987, I was a member of the team helping EF Hutton CIO Bernard Weinstein build a broker workstation through the steady introduction of an expanding collection of already working parts. Some parts were built in-house. Others were brought in from the outside. And we had a limited budget. Competitors had spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to build similar systems from scratch, but they had failed.

As we look at the future of social media, real-time advertising, cloud services, and mobile devices, we should heed the antifragility of marginal improvement. We must make small changes often while exploring new concepts and adapting these ideas and our businesses until we create new levels of learning and profitability.

Written by: Harry Hawk

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