Category Archives: Technology

New Cloud Commerce Post on AI Data and Quantum Computing

Amazon’s Innovation Model is Fueled by Data and Computing Power

How is it that Amazon goes from ecommerce for books to being a dominant player in cloud computing, grocery delivery and so many other businesses.

It is wrong to look just at innovation or investments for the explanation. Amazon is a data-first company that invests big in analytics, machine learning and computing power. This creates a virtuous cycle that drives innovation in previously unexpected ways.

I hope this new post from Cloud Commerce Consulting adds some value.

Completed.com UI and UX Release

July Release is a Great Accomplishment For Our Teams

The Completed.com has done a great job of navigating the trials of the startup world. The team started off with a great R&D project to rethink the traditional processes of user generated reviews. From there they built a great prototype and an extensible framework that helped us get some market validation and raise seed funds.

At this stage we really started to think about the features and usability and this led us to rethink the original code base. This meant a lot of rearchitecting and refactoring. We added some additional new technical talent and UX expertise and set out to rethink the user experience.

Now in July the teams are nearing a series of releases to launch that will change Completed.com both above and below the surface. But what won’t be visible on the screen is all the work then went into maturing the processes, the late nights and the hard work. So when we celebrate this team’s accomplishments, there is a lot more to be proud of than you can see.

Executive Artificial Intelligence Primer

An Introduction to Key AI Technologies

I wrote a primer for executives to understand AI terms. For a quick overview of the key terms…

Natural Language Generation refers to using data to generate text

Hardware with Integrated AI such as GPUs  or integrated AI appliances used in entertainment and gaming but with the ability to massively accelerate machine learning processing

Deep Learning Platforms is used for pattern recognition or classification

Decision Management or EDM/BDM is for optimizing operational decisions

Machine Learning Platforms are used in applications to predict outcomes or classify things

Social Media vs Profile Seats

Social Media Platforms vs. Business Profile Sites

Working on strategy for Completed.com I have spent a lot of time studying other services. Viadeo is an interesting one. There are a lot of interesting models out there. One way to look at them is from the perspective of user acquisition. Sites like Facebook and later LinkedIn got very good at network effect. Profile sites often have to rely on organic search and other traffic sources. This seems to be an inherent disadvantage. In general, models that rely upon organic traffic sources other than network effect seem to have a maximum potential.

A Few Mega Platforms Are Quietly Killing Free Traffic. Here Is What it Means For Marketers

I recently published an article on LinkedIn and sent out this press release on the mega platforms. As it says, a small number of websites are gaining control over larger portions of internet traffic. This means that sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a handful of others are growing their own traffic faster than internet traffic itself is growing.

Systematically these sites are focusing on better monetizing that traffic which is good for their financial performance (in most cases) but it means a major shakeup for marketers.

Look at the major changes at each of the big players. YouTube is under criticism for how it structures its agreements with content providers and its content strategy is highly controversial among big YouTube promoters. Google’s changes have been to reduce the effectiveness of SEO overall while shifting more content to being delivered right in search results. Facebook and Twitter have really gotten serious about advertising. These and many other changes have the effect of promoting paid traffic solutions in place of previously ‘free’ organic ones. Even Amazon’s marketplace and online store strategy shifts eCommerce traffic from several sources (including organic search) to paid Amazon services. All this has big ramifications for marketers

thank you for reading

Mike Zammuto

Michael Zammuto on Artificial Intelligence

I have had a strong interest in artificial intelligence for many years. I followed it carefully and began adding artificial intelligence features to my business platforms including Brand.com’s reputation analysis tools. More recently, Completed.com launched with AI features studying technical, sentiment and behavioral clues as part of the platform which measures, scores and monitors the ‘trust score’ of reviewers submitting content to Completed.com.

Michael Zammuto working at his desk

Michael Zammuto reading and Blogging on a variety of topics.

I also read a lot about AI and talk about it frequently with my kids, especially the opportunities it creates and possible societal challenges it may cause. For fun I recently launched a Weebly Journal dedicated to my personal writings on AI and hope you will visit it.

Disclaimer: this site and the AI journal on Weebly represent my personal opinions and this does not imply the opinions of any other organization or person. My opinions also do not imply any forward looking product, business or technology decisions or investments in any way. They are my personal ramblings only.

Michael Zammuto on Neil Hughes TechBlog Podcast

Neil Hughes was a gracious host on his Technology Blog Podcast. Neil and I talked about Completed.com why we delivered a platform where you can review anyone on business and get recognition and constructive feedback for professional development

 
Follow the link below to hear Michael Zammuto speak about Completed.com with Neil
 

eCommerce Strategies — How eStartups Should Plan to Thrive, Survive, and Fail in Emerging Markets

eCommerce is a critical marketing battlefield between brands, and though it is true that pioneers and early venture capitalists will enjoy the low bearing fruits, newcomers have the advantage of hindsight — they can rely on the mistakes of early adopters and learn from them.

 

At Cloud Commerce we preach that it is good practice to establish some ground rules before embarking on any venture like eStartups for instance. Let’s get started.

 

At first we’ll talk about failure, specifically; how you can fail as an eCommerce startup.

 

HOW TO FAIL IN NEW and EMERGING MARKETS

 

Once an e-Startup has established the countries that are ripe for growth, and the ones that they want to target, their next step is to develop the strategy for entering new markets. Let me introduce the five ways that can assure you a failed attempt at expanding or even entering in the overseas market.

 

Replicate Your Business Model

 

The most well-tested business models are simply experiments with high repeatability, under specific circumstances. The slightest change in market conditions, demographics, and buying choices can force the startups to review their model, scale it, and make amends to remain market competitive.

 

These tested and proven models will fail in emerging countries.

 

Why?

 

Primarily because the whole market landscape has changed. A lot of companies, founders, CEOs, and executives believe that their U.S based business models (or based in any developing country for that matter) can easily be tweaked, and their processes scaled or morphed according to the local laws and business practices.

 

I’ll be severely blunt here: read modern history and learn from it. You cannot simply try to colonize another landscape (the market in this case) and impose your values or model one way or the other, and believe that it will work. It will only generate anomalies; ones that we’re still trying (and failing) to control.

 

The marketplace is no different.

 

Your existing business model is targeting a specific consumer group existing in a specific market niche that has grown out from realizing the needs or wants of the consumers in the market as a whole. You can profile them and understand them while assuming certain similar/overlapping values, behavioral traits, and certain marketed and propagated perceptions about needs, wants, and consumption.

 

Your current business model isn’t good enough, and there are a lot of hard facts to be researched ahead before you can start thinking about the new business model. You’ll need to understand the new culture and their ingrained values, the marketplace and how their culture affects them, and then re-profile your target audience.

 

Testing the new model that emerges from this endeavor is a thought on the horizon.

 

Assume Recognition and Entitlement

 

Your product may be a household item in every home of your target audience, and your brand awareness campaigns and stellar service may have changed your brand name into a verb or an adjective even, but you cannot (must not) assume that your brand is known in the new markets.

 

It’s just another local brand with a local product in a country on the globe.

 

So, it’s back to the drawing board for your marketing strategy and campaigns.

 

Set Unrealistic Expectations

 

This is a corollary of the previous point. Remember your initial days of marketing campaigns where you had to spend every waking hour thinking up creative ways to get it right. Remind yourself that it will take time to establish yourself (leave growing for the moment) in the new market within a new country. Avoid creating KPIs that compare the progress of your established business with the new one.

 

Choose the Wrong Local Partners

 

Maybe you’ve pulled together a great team at home, one that has conducted exhaustive research on the new market. You may even believe that you know the market more than the locals do, that you have better insights into its working, and now you have created a business strategy to take the market by storm.

 

Many will miss the end point-of-effort in this whole picture. It will be the local partners in that market that will play an integral role in properly executing your business strategy.

 

Have you found the right local partners to take your business through the tough times? Unless your feet are firmly planted on the market floor, and you actually have built a local team in the emerging market of choice, you cannot hope to accomplish much.

 

Avoid Investing in a New, Country-Specific Website

 

Google translate is a good tool for translating foreign websites, but just for the fun of it. Translating saps the message of the actual, local, and culturally entrenched language, metaphors, and expressions. There is no marketing, just plain communication of a non-engaging message.

 

A lot of companies are simply investing in creating a website and simply translating their original message into the foreign language. What is actually needed is original content for your marketing campaign, in the voice that the local people understand, can relate to, and engage. Hence, having a simple “.in”, “.cn”, “.br” as a domain suffix will not make your business become part of the market environment. eStartups vying for local masses’ attention need to add more original content (created locally and targeting the local populace) to their content strategy.

 

Let’s get into the surviving and thriving mode for your eCommerce startup.

A TALE OF TWO STRATEGIES

I’ll start with the two blunt, battle-tested rules of thumb. Call them strategies to avoid failure if you may. They are:

 

#1 — Put Working Systems at the Core of Your eCommerce Model

 

Build your eCommerce model around business functions, rather than people.

 

Yes, when it comes to developing your eCommerce strategy, your focus should be on defining your business functions and developing long-term systems for your eCommerce venture. Your focus should be on building a structured system organized around these business functions so that your startup departments can work at optimal levels. For example, prime departments could include tech, HR, marketing, finance, etc. As a result, you’ll have a business model where systems run the business while people run the systems.

 

While defining these systems, their workability should address their sensibleness (and hence ease of use) by employees and potential investors. This is where developing integrated CRM, POS software, and relevant APIs for integrating other business systems into a holistic unit come into play. Furthermore, it facilitates your startup launch by increasing viability and dramatically cutting time to market.

 

Though it may sound a bit mechanical and representative of the caricature idealization of business centered execs, but Michael Gerber did hammer the point just right:

 

“Organize around business functions, not people. Build systems within each business function. Let systems run the business and people run the systems. People come and go but the systems remain constant.”

 

It’s harsh, but true.

 

No other tech startup’s success is more enslaved to technology and robust business systems than eStartups. You need to have a great team, but you also need sound, well structured, and lasting systems representing well defined business functions. You need seamless automation and transparency across all systems to boost your data collection for your Big Data bank and hence increase the power of your analytics.

 

 

The Rise of Digital Natives

Brand.com has a great team that includes Boomers, Gen X and Millennials and it is great to see how they all mesh together and complement each other. I have been very interested in ‘Generation Z’ and it was highlighted last week when one of my kids told me that her favorite band is Nirvana.

My oldest was the first place I heard about Instragram when I asked her several years ago why she had not asked me to let her get a Facebook account. She told me that she wasn’t interested in Facebook and introduced me to Instagram well before the big buyout. Since then I have really looked to my kids to understand digital culture.

So when Nirvana came up I was interested to learn more. Curt Cobain dies when I was 2 years out of undergrad. The interesting story here is not nostalgia or even a band from your youth coming around as a hip, retro experience. What is interesting is a generation who never knew a time when all the world’s information was online and when you could sample all the world’s content largely for free. Of all those limitless choices does this mean her choosing Nirvana makes her a new type of consumer? I think it does. Where I use the tools she doesn’t know anything else and that gives her and her generation a different vantage point to view information and decision making.