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The Total Image Group   ...Business Alchemists

A regularly updated resource of information and news items.

Archive for December 2009

Facebook The Most-Visited Site on Christmas

Posted Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Mashable, December 29th 2009

When you look at a list of top 10 websites in the world, or the U.S., which site do you expect to see on top? Google. Although Google still dominates the list most of the time, with 6.7 percent of all U.S. visits between January and November 2009, on Christmas day another site was on top: Facebook.

According to Hitwise, this was the first time that Facebook was the most-visited U.S. site. It’s logical: On Christmas day, everyone wanted to connect with their friends and family, which pushed the largest social networking site to the top.

But it’s still a testament to how huge Facebook really is; and it’s still growing. Add to that the fact that “Facebook” was the top search term in 2009, and its 350 million users, and it’s clear that Facebook is dominating the web in a way very few web services have done before.


Creating Eco-Friendly Operations

Posted Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Entrepreneurs are turning their companies green, using a range of approaches from investing in alternative energy to banning plastic forks in the pantry

Businessweek, August 7th 2009

Entrepreneurs, already at the forefront of the environmental revolution with the products they sell, also are proving to be leaders of a less visible but equally powerful trend: the transformation of their companies into lean, green operations. Some say concern for the environment is their inspiration to go green; others are looking to cut costs or trim waste. Regardless of motivation, there are “countless thousands of small businesses out there greening,” says Byron Kennard, founder and executive director of the Washington (D.C.)-based nonprofit Center for Small Business & the Environment. “It’s a technological and cultural revolution.” According to an April survey by the National Small Business Assn., 38% of small companies surveyed have invested in energy efficiency programs in the past 18 months. Some 13% had invested in alternative energy sources, 6% had purchased or leased hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles in the past 18 months, and 18% had given employees incentives to cut back on driving.

Together, these changes have the potential to make a sizable impact. Small companies account for half the country’s industrial and commercial energy use, according to Energy & Security Group, a consulting firm based in Reston, Va. Because energy-efficient improvements typically reduce consumption by 30%, entrepreneurs have the potential to reduce their collective CO2 emissions by 182.2 million tons annually—the equivalent of 36 coal-fired power plants—and to lop $30 billion off the nation’s energy bill.

Such gains don’t come easily. It takes a lot of work—and sometimes outside consultants—to figure out how best to reduce the environmental impact of a business. And while some green initiatives save money, tight credit markets can make it difficult to finance green investments. Some 52% of companies surveyed by the NSBA cited weak cash flow as the main obstacle to making improvements in energy efficiency.


Using Design to Drive Innovation

Posted Friday, December 11th, 2009

Designers must deliver the orchestration of the total experience with a brand, product, or service or face irrelevancy

Businessweek, June 29 2009

In a previous era, all the talk was of strategy, strategy, strategy. More recently, it’s been innovation, innovation, innovation. As design thinking seems poised to sweep away some of today’s celebrated innovation practices, we must be wondering what new provocation is on the horizon. Relax, I’m not planning to conjure one up.

For those of us on the design consulting side of the business, it has not exactly been a smooth ride lately. But then again, I can’t say that I ever remember it being all that smooth, even when the demand for all forms of basic design and new production capability was sky-high.

Having lived one career on the corporate design side of the consumer-products industry and now a good part of another on the consulting side, I’ve seen the ascendancy of design as a profession and the movement of design toward business competency. At the outset, designers were about style and the creation of bright shiny objects, and we dutifully manned our post at the last decoration station on the way to the marketplace.

Today, there are arguably two design strategies in the marketplace. You either succeed as the low-cost producer, or you successfully differentiate your offering by design in a relevant, meaningful way that is valued by shoppers, consumers, and sellers. As such, the theoretical role of design in business is relatively uncomplicated and straightforward.

Design in Business
The complications come with these two questions: Where does the core idea around a differentiated, relevant, valued offering come from? And what is its relationship to this thing we used to call design? You know—the bright shiny objects.

In our practice, we refer to the former as innovation strategy, and to the latter as design strategy. Somewhere in between resides the opportunity for brand strategy, and we hope to create a system in which there is a seamless flow from ideas to brand meaning and, finally, to how that brand or product or service is expressed and communicated.

Putting all three aspects of this brand-building practice together provides validity in thinking about design as one of the primary idea generators for the creation of viable business platforms. Assuming that the manifestation of a business offering is realized in the context of a brand, that brand requires meaning, a defined expression, and then, given some success, a plan for continued opportunity development that sustains and grows the business.

How to Innovate
True innovation requires the adoption of a belief system that sometimes must prevail in the face of other data metrics. Read up on the great inventions and business wins and you will note that at the core of most of them lie belief, dedication, and the passion to succeed.

Today’s business leaders are often too afraid to move ideas forward without ironclad data proofs that they will be successful. All too often, they are the losers. Use your head, listen to your heart, and feel what’s in your gut.

As long as the human spirit and the marketplace lives on, I’m sure we will be inventing and innovating. Innovation is the commercial side of discovery and invention. Change is a huge driver of both discovery and invention. The world changes around us and we discover new things and we observe change and invent new things to deal with change.

If designers are content to function as purveyors of bright shiny objects, they will likely fade into obscurity. On the other hand, if they step forward and deliver the orchestration of the total experience with a brand, product, or service in the context of our changing environment, their future, too, looks bright.


Facebook’s Road to 350 Million Users

Posted Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Mark Zuckerberg’s note about Facebook’s latest privacy changes also contained an announcement about another important milestone for Facebook: 350 million users.

Mashable, 2nd December 2009

It’s a flabbergasting number, but even more amazing is the speed with which Facebook has managed to achieve it, trouncing its competitors, including the once mighty MySpace, in the process.

Back in August 2008 – less than one and a half years ago – Facebook has had 100 million users. It took about 5 months to reach 150 million, and after that Facebook has been adding another 50 million users roughly every three months, going from 150 million to 350 million in less than one year.

chart: http://mashable.com/2009/12/02/facebook-350-million-users/

And despite its humongous size, Facebook is still growing when it comes to traffic. After a short summer slumber, Compete’s stats show solid growth for Facebook in October.

When it comes to social networks, history has shown that it’s hard to stay on top; sites like Bebo, hi5, and even MySpace, have all lost much of their former glory. But Facebook is getting bigger and bigger, with no strong competitor in sight. Will they become the Google of social networking, or is it just a matter of time until some new kid on the block takes away their users?


 
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