Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Social Media Strategy

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Follow me on Twitter…Become a fan on Facebook…Add a connection on LinkedIn…unless you’ve been in hiding the past few years, you pretty much know what those phrases mean.  Social media has exploded exponentially and there are no signs it will stop anytime soon.  You don’t need a PhD to figure out that social media takes information from any computer in any corner of the world and, for lack of a better term, socializes or iterates it many times over across the vast canvas we call the world wide web.  According to Wikipedia, social media is defined as media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.  The communication becomes global, mostly transparent, and in real-time.  It is the main premise of the whole Web 2.0 phenomenon.  Web 2.0 promised us internet-based applications that centered around information sharing and collaboration tools converging on user-generated content.  Traditional media such as print, television, or film do not share the same traits.  They do not command the same kind of instant feedback that social media possesses; thus, social media is the catalyst for guerrilla or viral marketing because content can spread to wide audiences in a short period of time.  Recently, celebrities such as Betty White and Conan O’Brien used social media to market themselves.  A Facebook campaign got Betty White a hosting spot on Saturday Night Live and Conan went to the Twitter/Facebook airwaves to promote his upcoming show.  Social media consist of many applications and interfaces, but some the more popular ones include blogs (WordPress, Blogger, Wikipedia), microblogs (Twitter, Foursquare, StumbledUpon), networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace), and multimedia sites (Picasa, Youtube, Pandora).  Now with all these tools, most of them usually free, businesses (no matter how big or small) should utilize social media to build their online brand and presence. But it shouldn’t stop at businesses. Individuals would greatly benefit by using social media to enhance their personal brand and online identity. In our economic times, it’s more imperative than ever to stand out of a crowd to land that dream job or win a coveted contract. Social media is the conduit for you to get noticed, but you need a sound social media strategy to send a consistent message to your target audience.

Earlier this year, I set out to develop my personal brand and increase my online presence. With that, I asked myself, “How can I leverage social media to build a personal social media strategy?  What is to be gained by developing an online presence?”  I first start out by googling myself.  You would think a name such as Quang Le is uncommon, but it’s fairly ubiquitous in the Vietnamese culture.  It doesn’t help that there’s also a well known Vietnamese singer with the same name.  I had a steep climb ahead of me.  I already had webpages on FaceBook and LinkedIn, but none of the searches from Google, Yahoo!, or Bing came back with my name. I was determined to build my online presence with a goal of appearing on the first page of web searches for my name.

I did not have a clear strategy when I started, but I knew one thing, I wanted my personal brand to be as professional and authentic as possible. It was going to be seen by numerous people, former/current/potential employers, and friends/colleagues, so disparaging or vulgar remarks are not the way to go. I wanted to keep it professional, but also convey my passions outside of the workplace. With that in mind, I ventured out to learn more about social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and search engine marketing (SEM) and realized how little I knew about those topics and how enamored I am now with them.

To fully understand social media activity, you need to break it down into manageable parts. According to “What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy?” by Soumitra Dutta in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), it helps to look at it in two spheres – personal or professional – and against your target audience – private or public.  They are broken down in the figure below:

Figure 1. Finding the Right Presence. Source: HBR

The strategy used depends on your goals. According to Dutta, in order to formulate your personal social media strategy, you need to answer the following questions:

  1. Are your goals personal, professional, or both?  Are there conflicts between how you want to present yourself in the two spheres?  If so, you must decide which is more important.  Think about the three realms of social media leadership – branding ,engagement, and learning – and what you are hoping to achieve in each.  Make sure that your online profile does not contradict your activity in the “real world” and that your messages are authentic.
  2. Is your desired audience private (a limited set of friends, family, and colleagues) or public (your industry or even the world)?  Social media activity  will necessarily increase your presence and make it easier for others to Google you.  How big do you want that presence to be?
  3. What resources do you have?  Does this project require your own time and money?

Using those questions as a guide, I wanted to use a hybrid strategy.  I already had a personal & private (Facebook) and a professional & public (LinkedIn) profile and now wanted to develop my professional/public presence while injecting some personal aspect into it.  I started by creating a Twitter account and began tweeting about industry specific news/topics with some personal tweets every now and then.  I then proceeded to develop a professional blog site, writing first about my knowledge of the telecommunications industry, then the passions that drive me currently, and will continue with personal interests/hobbies in food and travel.  Next, I updated my existing profiles and expanded my network of contacts.  Finally, I interconnected all of those sites so information flows freely between each interface.  My tweets are displayed on both LinkedIn page and WordPress blog.  Blog feeds appear on my LinkedIn and Google Profiles page. And each site has links to other sites.  I still have a long ways to go, but I’ve begun the journey of differentiating myself online to strengthen my personal brand.

Figure 2. Tips for your Online Presence. Source: HBR.

In closing, embracing social media will open up new personal and professional networks.  The technology is here to stay.  For businesses, it uncovers potential revenue streams with little to no capital investment while individuals can harness the power of social media to create a comparative advantage for personal branding; however, to effectively use social media, a strategy must be in place.  The strategy has to exploit the flow of good information and carefully monitor and contain the broadcast of bad information.  You need to understand your goals, target audience, and resources to successfully launch yourself.   Because with so many avenues to express your views, it’s easy to see why we all live in a connected world, where “whatever happens in Vegas, ends up on Facebook”.

Find out more about Social Media Strategy by reading Dutta’s full article in the Nov 2010 edition of the Harvard Business Review.


Fiber to the Premise

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

To combat access line loss and unbundling rules, increase broadband speeds, and become all-in-one advanced services providers, the legacy ILECs worked together to create specifications for new fiber optic networks to create a comparative advantage to prevailing MSOs and CLECs. FTTP or FTTX transformed the vision of the phone companies and positioned them as broadband and entertainment companies. Using PON technology and following their existing infrastructure, they were able to deploy FTTX fast and to a majority of their footprint. Whether providing services to single family homes or the MDU space, methods of construction may be different, but the technology remains the same. Bringing fiber optics the last mile will future-proof their networks for the many years to come. It creates a runway for broadband and IPTV needs of tomorrow’s connected home.

For more information about Fiber to the Premise and its application, please read my FTTP page.

Femtocell Technology

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

A lot has been made about the data-intensive nature of today’s smartphones.  iPhones, Blackberries, and Android devices put great pressure on wireless networks, especially with iPhone users on AT&T’s sprecturm in major metropolitan cities.  Now with Monday’s annoucement of the Windows Phone 7 devices, wireless carriers will need the additional bandwidth on their networks to handle the data traffic.  Although Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and t-mobile will be rolling out their 4G LTE and HSPA+ deployments in the upcoming months that will alleviate some of the pressure, they are still looking at ways to off-load data traffic to free up their spectrum.  In fact, a new study from ABI Research forecasts that mobile data offloading will triple within the next five years.  You can already see it in the works now.  The introduction of the iPhone three years ago brought radical changes to the way mobile data is being handled now.  With iPhone users bogging down its network, AT&T started offering free Wi-Fi access at business partners StarBucks, Barnes & Noble, etc.  And at Wi-Fi enabled homes/offices, smartphones switch to use that broadband connection rather than the cellular one.  The study finds that about 16 percent of mobile data is diverted from the mobile networks today, and that is expected to increase to 48% by 2015.  While off-loading mobile data will increase, the about of data traffic itself will grow by a factor of 30.  That means the offloading of data will have increased by 100-fold.

Scrambling to maintain the Quality of Service of their mobile data connection, wireless providers have a couple of options:  increase network capacity at a great capital cost, or divert that traffic to alternative connections.  One such connection utilizes the femtocell technology.  Introduced last year, femtocell is a new mobile network architecture that leverages a customer’s broadband connection to improve coverage and off-load data to provide new economical and reliable voice and broadband services.  This is a great way to improve indoor coverage when line of sight communication is hindered by buildings or hills/trees.  Although these micro-systems are gaining industry momentum, not a lot of marketing has been seen and customer adoption of the technology is still unproven.

There is an opportunity to get the broadband and mobile service business from households currently using separate service providers.  For integrated service providers such as Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse, femtocells create an adjunct to the mobile service.  Operators can increase their overall customer base and reduce subscriber acquisition costs by selling bundled services.

As customers move to mobile video, streaming music, and other mobile content, Wi-Fi, femtocell, and media optimization technologies will play specific roles in  relieving network congestion.  4G operators need to make pico/femtocells part of the next generation network architecture to reduce cost and economically deliver adequate capacity and reliability.  Picocells are merely indoor, single-sectored, low-power antenna that blankets the site with mobile coverage over a broadband connection.  Data offloading saves money as well as relieves network traffic.  Femtocells do that at a tiny fraction of the per-Gigabyte costs of a 3G network.  It adds up to potential savings for the wireless operators.

Cellular Networks

FiOS for Commercial Real Estate

October 8, 2010 Leave a comment

What may have been lost in all the news about the housing market crisis is that the commercial real estate market has been hit even worse. Some metro areas have reported vacancy rates upwards of 30%. With businesses downsizing or “right-sizing”, there is an abundance of office and retail space available and property managers are desperate to fill them. Now the burning question is, “What makes your property more attractive than the next?” Companies are now looking to streamline their business operations and to reduce overhead so they can function more efficiently. Having a technological advantage and marketing that differentiation will bring new customers in. And this is where FTTP and FiOS/U-Verse will help. This technology brings a fiber optic pipeline directly to the property to deliver unprecedented bandwidth. Businesses are more tech savvy and look for a reliable broadband connection to not only conduct day-to-day business transactions, but to upload documents and videos and as a means of a redundancy check for more dedicated circuits. FiOS/U-Verse provides a great solution for both at a fraction of what a T1 line would cost. Aimed at small to medium business customers, having such a connection at a potential real estate location should be a necessity, not a luxury. But with that being said, tenants cannot make this distinction without the marketing collaboration between the commercial real estate property management company and the local provider of fiber-to-the-premise incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC), whether it be Frontier, Verizon, or AT&T. Joint marketing and sales efforts by both parties will lend to a greater acquisition rate and lead to better retention of the tenant. Marketing strategies can range from co-branding on the property managements website to signage outside the property promoting “FiOS or U-Verse” is here to dedicated relationship managers to educate existing tenants out the advantages of the products. The property has an amenity that is coveted by today’s data-intense businesses. Businesses will benefit from reduced overhead costs and a great product that is future-proof for all their telephony needs.