Category Archives: Places

QR Code Professionalism @ BMW

“QR what?” I hear you say – and you are right. :-(

It’s just been a couple of weeks ago, that someone tried to convince me, that now (as both have become commonplace) marketeers finally have fully understood the benefits and proper usage of QR codes in attracting new prospects for their campaigns and products.

And I had been quite close to agreeing with him.

Though, that was before the BMW incident.

Considering myself an addict to the latest electric vehicle technology, I could not help but taking a closer look after spotting a BMW ACTIVE E model at a charging station in downtown Leipzig.

charging station with BMW ACTIVE E and smart electric drive connected

Of course I also grabbed the promotional QR code from the window tag.

QR window tag on the BMW ACTIVE E

Which immediately brought down my longtime confidence in BMWs ever-present compentence in perfect engineering:

page stating the invoked page could not be displayed properly on a mobile device

“This content has not been optimized for mobile devices – please use a desktop system for viewing.”

 

So, yes, it still happens – and obviously even to the big guys.

Despite I have no idea how advertising for a huge corporation can get through all their internal approvals, without ever being verfied to work, it also shows that even in competitive and over-advertised markets like automobiles there appears to always exist some room for a competitor to do better.
 
Heard that, over at Daimler and Audi? ;-)

 

Where Current Mobile/Location-Commerce Paradigms fall Short And Why

The future of Mobile Business is in Location – now, really!??

Listening to the mobile technology, device and communication industries’ big players currently puts into place two core assumptions about how mobile device usage is going to develop within the years to come:

  1. Location is everything
  2. Location doesn’t matter anymore

As though these seem quite contradictive at first glance, there is some truth to be found inside these paroles, as soon as one takes a closer look:

While mobile devices give you (and the rest of us…) the power to make more informed decisions depending on where you are and where you intend to be in near future (think of navigation, public transit guidance or ), they also disconnect us from the necessity of presence e.g. at airport counters for check-in or .

Despite these advantages, there is an obvious difference between if you go to let’s say an airport on a daily basis for work, occasionally to catch a flight, to pick-up somebody who is arriving or simply for plane spotting and having fun with your kids.

As J. P. Barton already figured out more than a decade ago, real world situational context is not simply about location, but much more about people, places and the things at hand, along with time and the conditions/limitations you encounter.

Barely none but location, however, has been targeted by technological approaches on an end-user scale this far.

This comes out even more interesting, as the technical and organizational hurdles involved have already appeared to be taken an entire decade ago.

Some of the more relevant reasons, why the industry is nonetheless quite slow in anticipating the market potential coming with services like intelligent tickets, context-aware travel-itineraries or automated product-matching for webshops, appear to lie in the integration of already existing, but widely distributed and differing data sources.

This is, where I believe Linked Data can go a long way in easing the adoption process by providing common means for exchanging information online and in near- or even realtime.

Solutions to practically showcase the application of Semantic Web technology to provide such services are to be developed by our appliance team within the coming moths. Stay tuned. :-)

Missing the customer — how your brand’s
street cred suffers from poor execution

 

How would you come to describe the emotional reationship towards your insurance provider? Pure business? Not viable? Suspended? Well, then you are probably not alone….
 

Ad: Help when it matters most.

 
Being quite aware of the difficult standing with clients in their industry, the Zurich insurance company lately came up with a quite innovative and ambitious concept for their Normadz® offering to hit the road and probably every other location frequent travellers would find themselves in a hassle. With a target market of "anyone using a Blackberry on a regular basis" they set up "help points" at Europes most frequented airports i.e London Heathrow and Frankfurt, where a lot of their targeted customers were likely to pass by on a regular basis.
 

At these service outlets travellers can get free internet access, basic concierge services and, of course, an introduction to the Nomadz service, which provides from a mixture of emergency alert and rescue services to concierge style amenities.
 

To make sure the effort gets noticed, e.g. at Frankfurt airport the entire way from the main check-in hall to the help point has been plastered with fullsize ads making often heard (bold goes without saying) claims like "Need a question answered?" or "Help when it matters most.".
 

Ad: Need to get online before you fly?  Ad: Need a question answered?

 
However, as the accompanying – and after two years still not quite complete – website suggests, some not entirely thought through points come with the promotional demo:
 

You won’t get any assistance (or even the free internet service) at these spots outside regular working hours, not on weekends and, of course, not on holidays. And the loudly advertised power outlets are available for free to passengers all over the airport anyway.
 

empty Zurich Help Point

Left-alone and all monitors dark (except for reflections and the advertising):
The Zurich „Help when it matters most”-stand.

 
Though, isn’t exactly this the core benefit of any insurance offering (and even more with the one being promoted)? A service providing "help when it matters most" and not "when it comes along the cheapest"!? Just as emergencies don’t use to restrict themselves to opening hours.
 

You may now argue, if there is a lot of sense in keeping such promotional stand occupied at times, when salaries for the operating staff are higher, with the number of prospective contacts decreasing at the same time. But if, as with insurance, your entire industry’s main USP is to be reliable come what might (and with the advertised offer even focussing on this fact…), then saving on the pennies for an approach to publicly demonstrate it may backfire quite rapidly. Because if already your very own promotions fall short of delivering the advertised values, how will then your services do for a customer?
 

So think again when planning the next pitch to prospective customers: How can you have the way you deliver your presentation support, rather than contradict, the message you want to send out? Get this answered right and you’ll be surprised by your audience’s honest and welcoming reactions.
 

 

Working @ Starbucks — the other way…

No, this is not about making the perfect frappuccino. Nor about being member of a union.
 
It is about the observation at my favourite Starbucks outlet that more and more creative class freelance professionals seem to discover the cozy local coffee shop as a convenient replacement for working alone or in home office.
There is lots of well-brewn and affordable “cheap-refill” coffee available throughout the day, enough space and stylish interior to host client conversations, as well as large-enough tables for team-meetings. And free wifi along with your cellphone ready on the table makes sure, nobody needs to notice you’re not, well, “at work”.
 
While the ability to check your e-mail at the coffee shop isn’t exactly new, the idea of regularly going there for work, just as you would normally to an office (read: from early morning just until the late afternoon, when she location starts to get occupied by the more noisy “private” coffee-sippers) at least for me seems put new perspective on it.
 
As an interesting alternative/supplement to the contemporary co-working movement with probably somewhat less cross-pollination intended, working at Starbucks however doesn’t come without benefits on the house:
The coffee shop gets its rooms filled at times of the day when commonly “to go” is the appreciated bestseller. Fortunately, at the same time, the new guest group won’t alienate the more traditional customers by staring a their laptops with a shining blue glare spread over all their surroundings (as common in the early days of free wi-fi offered in cafes). The aforementioned screen-workers just by their nature flee from more lively visiors during the afternoon hours, who regard the coffee outlet more as their favourite Third Place, rather than a work enviroment.
 
And even though Starbucks management by now may as well not have fully gotten the actual business potential coming with providing public co-working space — their prospects definitely have.
 

The Semantic Web is Meaning Less
(at least to search engines…)

 
When recently launching my SemaWorx SEO and Internet Marketing Shop here in Leipzig, I had been carefully considering, where to put the focus of the work, in order to prevent ending up in the same pot with all the other more or less notable SEOs in the area.
 

So I initially thought it to be a great idea to deploy my existing experience of semantic data logic for search engine optimization. This has become increasingly popular lately with the rise of RDFa and adoption of commerce ontologies like Good Relations through major search engines.
 

As experience in this field is not easily replicable, the knowledge about and deployment of Semantic Web technology could have made for a great USP.
 

But after playing around with these fresh options for a while and much to my disappointment, I discovered that (at least a the time of this writing), most relevant search engines, including Google, do not actually parse the semantic markup, but rather string-search it with the rest of the respective page.
 

What may sound quite reasonable from an efficiency or productivity point of view, unfortunately also misses an important opportunity derived from the triple-nature of RDF data: To match and co-relate information across different domains, which could help filter a lot of false positives out of search engine results. This leads to strange feature restrictions, like the ability to recognize only one product per page, which makes semantic markup rather useless e.g. for catalogues or category overviews.
 

That said, apart from the early island solutions like Intel’s Mash Maker, by now not a lot of companies have successfully managed to use structural data of semantically rich webpages to co-relate it with content from other domains.
 

Nonetheless, I’ll dare to offer semantically enhanced SEO services, which we create for use with Google’s Universal Search or Yahoo!’s Monkey Business, as fully query-able semantic data endpoints, so not not only search robots, but any application willing to use and promote the outcomes will be able to use these in real time.
 

Sounds intersting ?  Wanna give it a try ?  Then you are very welcome to get in touch with us via the Semantic Search Engine Optimization site.