Category Archives: Germany

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? ;-)

 

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.
 

Hamburg and the Semantic Web Paradigms

Joining a seminar session on practical semantic web applications yesterday evening, I found myself in a conference room at Hamburg’s Haus der Wirtschaft, mostly among what seemed to be scientists, consultants and librarians.
 

While the talk by a Adobe representative’s talk on XMP did not exceed much what can be found on their respective websites, Hans-Peter Schnurr, CEO of Ontoprise GmbH, brought in not just some very insightful experiments with the audience, but also impressive case studies showcasing their Service Resolution Management software, a structured and centralized repository of technical repair information to help companies fulfilling contracts all over the world learn from mistakes.
 

If you like to take a peek at the lecture yourself, I recommend having a look at the video documentation on the event organizer’s website.

Fascinating Insights from the First Ontologist Workshop at Max-Planck-Institute Leipzig

 
Having joined the OBML workgroup‘s 1st workshop at the University of Leipzig Max-Planck-Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology for the last two days, I am left quite impressed.
 

Not only by the presenters’ track records, but also by the sheer number and diversity of researchers and practitioners Prof. Dr. rer. nat habil. Heinrich Herre managed to bring together for the event. Commonly such gatherings here in Germany would consist of ten people at most ;-) — this time there were more than 50 experts, including international guests, from institutions and companies all over the country.
 

Nevertheless, something extremely re-assuring that I am taking away is not only the obvious development progress in the ontology sector, but also the fact, that even the most renowned experts in the field struggle with the very same technical insufficiencies as we do, when designing new data models for our SemaWorx application base.
 

Therefore we also had a very enlightening (entertaining goes without saying…) evening at local Cafe Madrid, where over the delicious meal discussion focus lay more on the practically achievable short-term benefits of current semantic modeling approaches, rather than their long-term optimization wishlist (hopefully I didn’t get this imprecise now… ;-)).