Tuesday, 26 March 2013

e-Marketing under the magnifying glass

As the number and range of e-devices increases, the strategies to reach potential customers with relevant information and offers hots up. E-marketing is at the forefront here analysing how people relate to information, predicting the trends in use, and trying out new ways to entice positive reactions from people. Marketing is driven by statistics and analytics and we should be grateful for their analysis. However, traditionally iMedia companies groan when marketing departments get in on the briefs for new products. They are demanding, no doubt about it.

If we understand where they are coming from, it'll make it easier to work with them. So, what's happening?

Marketing efforts for mobile, smart-devices and digital display are increasing in line with increasing ownership. Furthermore, more online video is a trend. This move away from traditional TV ads and transferring digital display budget to online video was a key finding of a recent report into European Digital Video Output by Adap.tv and Admonsters.

But, the biggest problem for such migration of use seems to lie in the lack of the tools for planning and measurement for such campaigns. Sounds like an opportunity for someone? Because, as we say, marketing is driven by stats and analytics, this shouldn't surprise us.

People appear to be spending less time on sites before they buy: almost two minutes less than last year. This means they want fast, efficient, transparent sites. They reject anything else as wasting their time, so be warned. Added to that, with the range and number of devices increasing, as well as the willingness to buy from mobile sources, it's not just web sites that have to be well designed and efficient or sales will be lost.

It might surprise you to find that revising your tag words for your sites can be more effective than you'd think. That's the gist of an analysis of shopping trends from Mother's Day (March 10th). Were you one of the online buyers? Has your own behaviour changed? Are you monitoring your own evolving strategies for online use within your company? You should be ahead of the general game and predict trends. See: 10 online shopping trends for Mother's Day from Netmarketing (March 7th).

For the bigger e-marketing picture, see what you think is coming true from the analysts' 2013 overview of trends they predicted in December 2012. There's quite a variety that'll tease the little grey cells. See: Inspired Marketing Predictions for 2013

Friday, 15 March 2013

Project Responsibility Matrix - growing in importance

Just in case you need a refresh, a responsibility matrix is a tool used in general project management and is useful in iMedia project management especially when there are multiple projects with many people overlapping the tasks they have to perform. It can become confusing knowing who you are responsible to, who has the authority to vary your time allocation on projects and who is accountable for what. So if any of these aspects strike a chord with you, you might well benefit from drawing up a responsibility matrix for your project (especially if you are the project manager), or, asking your project manager to draw one up to help all of you if you are a team member.

If you need a template to help you, see the one that is in our book (MS Word format), Managing Interactive Media, Page 68, or, do a Google search for responsibility matrix template and choose one that will suit your needs. The project template attached is more for a project level. You might need a RACI Matrix where accountability for management functions at company level is more of a focus. You can search our blog here for more on RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed).

It isn't easy achieving this matrix and you may meet resentment. It might help for you to understand what might lie behind this negativity. Accountability and responsibility for results have been equated with finger pointing (blame) if and when things go wrong. It's no wonder people shy away from accepting them. Kevan Hall describes the blame culture in Hannah Prevett's Sunday Times article (17.3.13). This negativity is easy to understand but not easy to overcome. You'll need all your negotiation powers to arrive at a solution especially if people have seen negative results in your organisation for accepting accountability and responsibility. Kevan suggests balancing a negative culture with a positive one where success is celebrated. Often successful projects are just accepted rather than celebrated. Is that true for you?

The importance of your ability to influence those around and above you is highlighted by Tristan Wember in the Leadership Thoughts blog (mid February 2013). He gives some sound advice and demonstrates what can go wrong in his case study if you use a threat/blame culture.

Well then, is using responsibility matrix growing in importance? It would appear so. Many job descriptions for management positions, especially Project Managers, are mentioning the use of these matrices/processes as a skill that is wanted. This includes iMedia Project management positions. It is good to note that there is more parity between the older team leader concept used in emerging iMedia companies and general project management now. As a confirmation, take a look at aamanyire’s article, in ProjectSmart, Competencies Every Project Manager Should Have (25.2.13). The responsibility matrix is mentioned under processes and people skills. It's nice to have it located in the other skills you need as an iMedia Project manager too.

This description may well serve you as confirmation of the importance of your role and one that is at management level, particularly if you have an annual review - as long as you are covered for the other skills too.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Networking on networking

It seems games have to be networked these days. You've probably heard that EA have had problems with the latest version of SimCity which led to Amazon temporarily suspending sales of the game. Heavy use of the servers to which the game had to be connected (always) were to blame.

Getting more traffic than you bargained for is not uncommon in setting up networks. It's got more of a problem as people's files have got larger and the halcyon days when we could hold our life on a 100 megabyte disc (that cost several hundred pounds!) are long gone. However, setting up our new network here at ATSF Towers with a new router after our recent move taught me a completely different lesson about networks to do with addressing,and what you could learn by sharing knowledge on the network.

The forum for my sharing experience was the estimable MacInTouch, which I have mentioned before. The problem I had is explained (by me) on their Help Please page, although in this case I was the one offering to help anyone who had suffered the same frustration I had with IP addresses on your local network. In brief, my devices had bad trouble connecting to the network and it turned out to be a somewhat esoteric problem with how my router gave out IP addresses.

I mention this here because a couple of the responses discussed addressing on virtual private networks. More and more companies now use VPN tunnels to connect a remote computer to the office network securely and as if the computer really was in the office. What I hadn't realised (because I'm not a VPN user) is that when a remote computer is on the office network it's sharing the office address space and you have to be careful that the addresses don't clash. This is all explained in the MacInTouch discussion linked to above, so I won't go into it here.

Since the network configurations for even your smart phones have to fit into this space it is worth knowing a little about how it works ... or making sure someone in your office knows.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Online project management resources: shared

Some of our readers would like to share resources they've found useful. Isn't that what blogging is all about?

The first relates to project management tools. See Squeezed Books: Online Guide to Project Management Resources.

The site gives a short review of several tools and how they can prove useful in projects. They range from cloud-based tools, open source, apps etc. and cover such software as : Zoho, Microsoft Project, Teamlab, Campfire, Basecamp, Huddle, Binfire, the jxProject, Dot Project, Task Juggler, Open Workbench, Gliffy, GQueues, gTrax, and Google Drive among others. Any of these ring a bell with you? Are you using them or others like them?

The second resource that's recommended is 10 Tips for Project Management Prosperity.

Although these are tips for general project management, you'll recognise their value. We major on all the aspects in this blog. Perhaps the Tip Number 9, Test Deliverables, seems to lean towards the older waterfall methodology of software development rather than the Agile approach, but the principle remains valid.

Many thanks to Stacy and her students. Anyone else like to share? We're listening.