Monday, 18 July 2011

Updating the glossary of iMedia project management

The terms keep coming, don't they! Even though some aspects of technology have stabalised somewhat, the plethora of terms spread out as the once niche markets grow into separate segments.

What am I going on about – well, take for example the following terms that are now commonplace but have only emerged in the last few years.
  • Social Media
  • Mobile media
  • Digital signage
  • Twitter /Tweets
  • e-retailing
  • Web analytics
  • Creative technologists
  • Crowd-sourcing
  • User-generated content
  • Content personalisation
  • Apps
  • Vouchers (mobile and digital)
  • Location-based data/services
  • Cloud-based services
You may think you understand these terms. They sometimes seem self-explanatory. However, often their meaning shifts over their lifetime and that can be relatively short. Technology terms shift quickly so the meaning of terms changes too. At present here are the definitions that we reckon attach the market meaning to these terms. Anyone want to pitch in with any more – and don't forget the definition too!

Social media – an online conversational dynamic media where the participants shape the creation of the content. The content can take the form of interactive text, graphics, audio and video in whatever form the creators wants. It is dynamic because it is collectively constructed as an ongoing dialogue between people. Check out 30 Social Media Definitions by Heidi Cohen to drill down a bit on this evolving concept.

Mobile media – the mobile technology platforms such as iPads, iPhones, tablets, MP3 devices, laptops, that allow us to access information/data on the move. You might be interested in the stats given in the GSMA Mobile Media Metrics Report.

Digital signage – Use of computer or video technology (or both) for applications ranging from simple direction signs to advertising billboards. This has the advantage of both versatility and instant updating combined with the ability to manage a large number of sites at once over the internet. The technology can be very sophisticated, including use of 3D and pseudo-holographic imagery.

Twitter/tweets – an instant messaging system that allows text messages up to 140 characters to be sent to a listing of followers. Twitter is the system designed to allow colleagues and friends to stay in frequent touch throughout the day via tweets, the individual messages. But its communicative power has migrated to wider communication serving commercial, political and celebrity users among others. Tweeting is a part of social networking/media. Subjects being discussed can be marked with hashtags (a word preceded by a # symbol) to facilitate searching.

e-retailing or e-tailing – the use of interactive media platforms to sell items. The development of Amazon is often used as an example of a successful online e-retailer.

Web analytics – the analysis of data about visitors to a web site or other online facility. This has grown from simple counting of hits to pages to look at users in more detail, sometimes even their other browsing habits, and to study the paths users take on their online journey. Some web analytic techniques, which may track users across many web sites, are seen as unnecessarily intrusive.

Creative technologists – a new job title that tries to plug the gap between creatives (as in agencies) and technologists (as in computer geeks) where the combined skills are necessary to achieve an interactive solution rather than the solution being skewed towards one skill or the other.

Crowd-sourcing – large numbers of people providing information or even data for a project. Examples include the Geograph project, where people take photographs in every 1km square of the UK national grid, and Wikis, which are written by a (sometimes) large number of users.

User-generated content – From a social media perspective, this means content that is created and uploaded by the users themselves, then shared with others. This can grow as users cite and then link to a particular offering they like.

Content personalisation – From a commercial point of view this is what is offered to an online user that can be tailored to their specific interests based on analytics or location-based information. This is mostly used to restrict advertisements shown to those considered most likely to elicit a response based on what is known about the user.

Apps – applications have often been called apps by programmers but the term is increasingly used to denote small focused programs especially on mobile devices. Angry Birds – a top selling game on the iPhone and Logmein good for business/commercial people wanting to log in to their work computer from a mobile. See a recent top ten selection for the iPhone.

Vouchers (mobile and digital) – a number of companies such as Groupon and Voucher Cloud ( negotiate discounts for their 'members' with retailers and service providers. These offers can be accessed by printing out a voucher or by showing a voucher on the mobile device screen.

Location-based data/services – services that take note of the user's location to tailor the offering. This could be based on geographic mapping of computer IP addresses, often used to restrict access to content by people in the 'wrong' country. In mobile services the location of the device (determined by cell tower, wi-fi hot spot or GPS) can be used to accurately offer local services such as 'where is my nearest restaurant?'.

Cloud-based services – the ability to use online storage at an indeterminate location ('in the cloud') instead of physically located in the user's premises. At one level this allows a small user to take advantage of security and instant scalability offered by large data-storage offerings but it also means the user can access the cloud storage from any physical location and, if appropriate, the data can be shared with other users anywhere in the world. There are some security concerns with cloud storage, both in terms of privacy but also protection from corruption or loss of data. However, it can be argued that the scale of commercial cloud storage allows more sophisticated security techniques to be used than most users could employ themselves.