Yep, we’re baaaack!

We haven’t been very faithful to our readers. A lot of things have happened the last month of 2010 and it was a true roller-coaster from a professional and personal point of view. Some bad (see previous post), but fortunately mostly good. We look back to a great 2010 where we again were able to create some great concepts, met inspiring people and worked hard to further establish our position in the market. And a crazy market it is. Mobile took off like a rocker and 2010 will be seen as the year ‘it really started’. We’re not blind for these developments, so expect some great news on this soon.

We have caressing named two thousand and eleven ‘Time To Grow Up’. No strings attached anymore to an employer, we are on our own completely. We have identified the following fields of attention:

  • Build and implement great digital concepts
  • Extend our network to meet inspiring people
  • Build the team and get a house.

Not only developing but also building and implementing digital concepts that fit like a glove has always been our passion and we continue to invest in that. There are too many agencies bullshitting around with nice words about new/social/digital media. “Yeah, let’s make a Twitter account for you, and combine it with a Facebook page”. But what about the change process within a company? Or your customers? Are they ready for it? Don’t get me wrong, we truly believe in the changes caused by digital, but we also like to develop concepts that actually provide a value for the customer. And for that, most companies have to go through a cultural change, or -like one of our customers wisely stated- a cultural enhancement. You need a new leadership, one that not only understands the true power of these technologies but also provides the headspace for empowered employees to actually use these tools. A leadership that motivates employees, not with a carrot and a stick but by giving work a purpose. Related to this we are true believers in the thinking of Li (Open Leadership), McAfee (Enterprise 2.0), Solis (Engage), Pink (Drive) and Bernoff (Empowered) (yep, we’re reading them all, as we speak). We know a few Leaders (and I think with a capital L) who understand these challenges and act accordingly. But boy, do we meet also some so-called leaders who will soon join the destiny of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

We want to be amazed. Amazed by the thoughts of other people. And we want to meet people to further extend our network. We do not believe in a traditional way of ‘advertising’, we believe in the power of a network. One of the really great things about being an entrepreneur is the ability to meet truly inspiring people, people with a passion and with a story. Collect wise people around you and you never look stupid…

We can only make our dream come true if we have people around us who are as passionate about making great stuff as we are. Whether it is a film, a website, a workshop or an animation. We are fortunate to have found these people and we thank them for their  dedication. We’re looking forward to another great year of co-operation. Digital Nomads as we are, we also like to have a ‘safe home’ and work together on projects. We think we found something. Stay tuned for more.

Award for Afya Serengeti campaign

The Afya Serengeti campaign, of which we reported earlier in our blog, has won an Award of Excellence in the category Animal Health. With this award, founded by the RX club, the campaign is honoured for its creativity and execution. The campaign was developed by Circa Healthcare in order of Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, and focuses at the prevention of rabies in the Serengeti area in Tanzania. The campaign supports vaccination teams that vaccinate all domestic dogs in the communities surrounding the Serengeti National Park. We were involved in this campaign through the production of a video-series where we followed these team in their year around vaccination campaign.

Rabies is a lethal disease that still claims more than 25,000 Africans per year, mainly children. While rabies is preventable with vaccination, fighting it is a huge undertaking. The Afya Serengeti project alone encompasses an area inhabited by more than 6 million people and 500,000 domestic dogs.

This Award of Excellence is a fantastic recognition for this sympathetic campaign.

Today is World Rabies Day!

Today, 28 september 2010, is  World Rabies Day. World Rabies Day is an initiative of the Global Allience for Rabies Control and their mission is to raise awareness about the impact of human and animal rabies, how easy it is to prevent it, and how to eliminate the main global sources.

Through a selection events (of which World Rabies Day is one of the annual highlights) WRD has reached over 100 million people and vaccinated over 3 million animals against rabies. Despite that, 50.000 people still die annually of rabies, most of which are children. One of the vaccination campaigns is the Afya Serengeti project of which we reported here before. Aim of this project is to vaccinate all privatly owned dogs that live in the villages and communities surrounding the Serengeti Park in Tanzania. And with succes, as outbreaks of rabies has not been seen in areas where more than 70% of dogs are vaccinated since the start of the campaign in 2003. One of our clients, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health has supported this campaign the last couple of years by donating a dose of rabies to the project for every dose of vaccine sold. We’ve made a videoseries in 2008 about the campaign to give you an impression of the effort made by the team. This campaign was nominated for the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Award 2009 by the Royal Dutch Veterinary Association.

WRD uses various social media tools to promote their activities like Twitter and Facebook. In addition to that they use video and webinars for educational purposes. Today, for examples, they organize throughout the day 4 webinars. Besides that, you can also demonstrate your support to WRD by sending specially developed  Health eCards or by placing special buttons on your website or below your email messages. No matter how small, it’s one step closer to the ultimate goal: a world free of rabies.

iPad great for autistic children

I know, I know, we talk a lot about Apple products. And, I know, we’re Apple geeks. But be honest. Every time again, the greatness of the brand is confirmed. And every time from a different angle. Take Shannon Rosa. Shannon won an iPad in a raffle. And when she came home she gave the iPad to Leo, her nine-year-old son. Leo is autistic. He is a very slow learner, he is not conversational and can have serious outbursts of anger. But when he, almost without any training, started to play with the iPad, his mother stood in awe. Intuitively he flicked though all the icons, trying one app after another. And he started to play with apps that help him how to spell, to make puzzles and to remember pictures. For 30 minutes straight. To the amazement of his mum.

In just the few months the iPad is on the market, developers many applications especially for users with special needs. And with success. Many autism experts and parents have used the iPad with these special apps in many occasions with autistic kids all around the world. All are amazed with the results it gives. Studies already show the results on the learning abilities of some of these children. In some cases, kids have been able to communicate directly with their parents for the first time in their lives, thanks to the iPad.

Rosa is very happy she won the raffle. And full of admiration with Apple’s CEO. “I don’t usually dabble in miracle-speak”, she says, “but I may erect a tiny altar for Steve Jobs in the corner of our living room.”

See SF weekly for the whole story: iHelp for Autism

Proud to present our new series ‘simpL’

Some things are so complex, they need simplicity to explain. Truth is, many things are basically not so complex, as long as you have the ability to leave out the details and drill down to the essence. A great example is the website How Stuff Works. Want to know what a black hole is? No problem. For a while we have been working on our concept ‘simpL‘. Inspired by the series ‘in Plain English’ we started our own endeavour and created the first series for one of our customers.

Today we are proud to release our latest product in this series, used in a campaign to introduce a platform for veterinarians to improve communication with their customers. This platform is called ‘Chameleon’ and forms the basis for communication improvement for veterinarians. We used our ‘simpL’ series to explain the essence of the service. The videos were part of a larger digital ecosystem and an offline promotional campaign which we -together with a great team- helped building as well. An interesting cross-media campaign with the title ‘Enrich Your Practice’, hinting to the way veterinarians can improve their practice, get loyal customers and gain a competitive advantage by paying more attention to communication.

The assignment was to create three ‘teasing’ videos which would explain the need for the veterinarian (in this case: professional communication) and the solution provided to meet that need. In the first series we focussed on the online service to create reminder cards, the second series dealt with online video. We created the artwork in Illustrator, the animations took place in Apple’s Motion and the final cut was done in ..eehh.. Final Cut.

Website 'Enrich Your Practice'

Website 'Enrich Your Practice'

The offline campaign consisted of three ads in various veterinary-related magazines. These ads pointed to the website where visitors were drawn to the videos to learn more about the platform. The Call to Action on the website is to get people to subscribe to the service. The Call to Action is enhanced by giving away 100 reminder cards and the chance to win an iPad. Each video ends with a cliffhanger to motivate people to return.

Ad 'Enrich Your Practice' in magazine

The official platform will launch in September, for which we will use some innovative techniques to deliver the message. Unfortunately I can’t say anything about visitors, retention, views etcetera, since all this information is confidential. I can, however, show you the videos. Video’s we are pretty proud of.

What do you think? Will our simpL videos communicate the message better? What’s your overall view on the campaign?

Stay tuned for more news on our latest campaigns. We are prepping a business case of on of our largest projects. Soon more…

Tetelestai*)

Back in the early nineties when I started using a Mac I certainly wasn’t cool. I was an outcast, a stranger in a Windows dominated world. I still remember buying my first Mac – a Performa 400 with a 40 MB hard drive – in a shabby shop somewhere downtown. People didn’t understand me, wanted to conform me back again to the status quo: Microsoft. By the end of the nineties Apple was almost bankrupt, desperately trying to survive. The survivor came in the person of Steve Jobs who brought along a nifty operating system, called Next OS. But not only that, he also convinced Bill Gates himself, seen as an arch enemy by then, to invest $150 million in Apple. In return, Internet Explorer was set as a default browser on each new Mac.

From then onwards it went pretty fast. First came the iMac, then OS X, the iPod, the iTunes Music Store, the iPhone, the App Store and now the iPad.

The value of a company can be calculated in many ways. One way is to take the number of shares and multiply these with the value of these shares. This is called the ‘Market Cap’ of a company and is used on Wall Street to determine how companies perform next to each other. Without surprise, the Market Cap of Microsoft around the Millennium was enormous: around $500 billion. Apple was next to nothing, hovering around $5 billion.

Last week the tide has turned. For the second time in history (the last time was in 1989) Apple surpassed Microsoft on value and has now a Market Cap of $228.56 billion (Microsoft has $228.12 billion). Only Exxon is now a bigger company, having a market cap of $282 billion.

With the seemingly enormous success of the iPad, and more coming this year, Apple – in my opinion – is certainly on track to become USA’s biggest company. Only $1 billion more in revenue and it surpasses Microsoft in revenues as well. As far as Operational Margin is concerned, Apple has been the darling for Wall Street for a long time, obliterating every margin from a hardware manufacturer by far: Apple on average has 30%, whereas HP for example has only 5%. Competition is warming up, and once close friends suddenly become rivals in the digital arena. Google for example, once a close alley now has Apple in it’s sight and is competing on the OS and mobile phone market (Android) and has now also entered the web TV area (Google TV). Microsoft is not impressed, although pretty silent. They recently announced a reorganization of their Entertainment business (now reporting directly to Steve Ballmer) and is expecting to sell about 30 million MS phones later this year. The next iteration of Office will rely heavily on cloud-solutions, just as Google Docs.

Interesting to see that the three behemoths of the digital space, Apple, Microsoft and Google are converging into the same space. Only the future will know which one os these will be crying, and which one will be dancing in circles.

I’m sticking to the Mac for now. And the shabby shop downtown has been replaced by an Apple Premium Reseller. Much better.

More information here.

*) “Tetelestai” is the Greek translation of the Biblical words: “It is finished”

SXSW 2010: Brian Solis – Organizations need to socialize

Social Media has changed the communication landscape and also the world of business has noticed that. But a Facebook group or a Twitter account is no guarantee for successful participation in the communities of your customers. To achieve that you need to do more. “You need to engage”, according to Brian Solis, Prinicpal at Futureworks and one of the prominent thought leaders in social media.

“As a company or as a brand you need to participate in the conversations in such manner that your not only of added value, but that you also involve your customers in your marketing and service activities.” Because of that social media will have an enormous impact in the organsational structure of a company. “Any division within an organization that is effected by outside influence is goiung to have to socialize”.  Eventually social media instruments will become aminstream as email is today, but before that organisations will need to go through a process of cultural change.

Brian was at SXSW to promote his latest book ‘Engage’, in his words the book that starts where the current scial media books stop. “There is not a single book that goes into this depth, that tells you how to apply social media to your job, how to get resources, how to measure it and how to get support.” We spoke with Brian about his book, about cultural change and about SXSW 2010.

How to create a secure podcast channel for internal podcasting

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One of the things which are pretty crucial when you do internal podcasting and deal with sensitive information is the security level you implement in order to protect the sensitive information from unwanted eyes. In the early days when we implemented one of our first podcast series for a pharma company we were shocked to realize that all podcasts showed up in regular podcatch sites such as Odeo. Especially embarassing when Corporate Communications found out about it. Not good.

We learned a lot since. However, most knowledge we learned from trial and error. Surprisingly not a lot can be found on the internet about the process involved. Sure, there are many podcast hosting sites where you can upload your podcast, create a feed and submit it to iTunes. But when you do internal podcasting that is exactly what you do not want to do. Remember, when you use internal podcasting for business purposes two things are important:

1) You do not want your podcast to be found by the Googles in this world
2) You want to password protect your content

In addition, podcasters should in general consider the following as well:

3) You want to be flexible in your decision which hosting service you use
4) You do not want your feed to change since that will result in losing listeners

Regular podcast hosting services are aimed at obtaining an audience as large as possible, and create buzz wherever possible. Internal podcasting wants to stay below the radar, only accessable to selected members.

A few hosting companies have specialized themselves in this area. But not a lot. We have been using Podkive from Genetic Hosting for a while which provides easy creation of the feed through a simple web interface. However, lately they have been having some problems with their uptime, so I decided it was time to investigate other possibilities.

After half a day I think I have figured it out. It does require some logic thinking and I have to admit, it’s not for the technofobes. But it works. Until somebody comes up with an easy point and click system this is what we’ll be using. Let’s have a look.

The ten steps of creating a secure podcast channel:

  1. Take an account with a reliable hosting service which offers password protected directories. I’m not providing any ‘reliable hosting service-lists’ since you can find these plenty on the internet. Make sure that you have sufficient storage and bandwidth.
  2. In your home directory, create two folders: one for the files (video/audio) and one for the XML file.
  3. Password protect the folder with the files. Do not password protect the folder with the XML file.
  4. Upload your content via FTP to your files directory.
  5. Fire up your feed creation software. I use Feeder for that (Mac only, I’m sure Windows has similar programs too). Create your feed. This may require some setting and filling in the right paths where to find the content.
  6. Upload your XML feed via the software to the unprotected folder in your host directory.
  7. Check if your feed works. Copy and paste the feed address in your browser. If all went OK you should get a pop-up window asking for your username/password when you want to access the content.
  8. Now it’s time to make sure you will have the same feed till the end of days. Go to Feedburner.com and burn your just created feed into a Feedburner feed.
  9. Take this feedburner feed (starting with feeds2.feedburner.com/[feedname] and check if it works in your browser. Again you should see a pop-up window asking for your username/password. Fill in your credentials. You should be able to see your content
  10. Copy and paste the Feedburner feed into iTunes (Menu Advanced/Subscribe to podcast…). Hit OK. Fill in your username/password and off you go (remember to check ‘Remember Password’)

Because the folder with your content is password protected, Google spiders can not enter and hence can not find your data. If somebody finds the original path (which is difficult since it goes through Feedburner) they still can’t access your files without udername/password. If you want to change hosting services you just link a new feed to your Feedburner feed. End users won’t see the difference.

We think this is a nifty way of creating a secured channel. Is it 100% secure? Most probably not. Die-hard hackers will be able to hack into everything. And remember: the chain is as strong as the weakest link. Change username/password regularly, especially when people leave the company. And of course the morst important tip of the day: Don’t use sensitive information in your podcasts. We use no absolute figures when we talk about sales developments, only percentages. Treat this digital communication channel as any other. Cautiously.

Final video of Digital Pharma: The Impression

We don’t seem to get enough of that video thingie during the Digital Pharma Congress in Barcelona. This time it’s the impression of the congress itself. Check it out…

 

First two videos of my presentation at Digital Pharma

Found myself some time to make my ‘SteveNote’ way of my presentation given at Digital Pharma in Barcelona last month. For a detailed report on the event, see here.

I have split my presentation (Best Practices for the Use of Web 2.0 and Social Media Tools for Internal Collaboration) in three parts:

Part 1: The Need for Innovation in Pharma
Part 2: Social Media and Internal Collaboration
Part 3: Best Practices Using Web 2.0 and Internal Collaboration

In this blogpost the first two episodes (it was late, so the third one coming up asap).

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