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The Apple Watch

My experience has been really mixed. I’ve avoided writing about it mainly because I think the experience is largely going to be personal – and its an experience worth trying. Then I stumbled across this interview with William Gibson:

What are your thoughts on Apple’s introduction of a product that, in a very specific way, is attempting to occupy the place once held by wristwatches? Is the Apple watch a watch at all?

I backed Pebble’s original Kickstarter, then wore Pebble exclusively for the better part of a year. Fascinating experience. It’s not “a watch”, as I assume the Apple, which I’ve yet to try, also isn’t. The fundamental difference between a watch and a smartwatch is that a watch’s central functionality is to tell time in isolation. That’s the essential core goal of the science of horology, really. A watch can perform its functions perfectly from within a Faraday cage. A smartwatch can’t: its function is to be a node in a distributed network. That was easy to see in the first Pebble: it had all the physical gravitas of the cheapest Bic pen, but, eventually, it had amazingly varied functionality, via connectivity. The Apple looks like jewelry. It’ll aspire to heirloom status but I doubt it will ever be that. Attempts to render smartphones as power jewelry fail. The Apple watch, I imagine, will be a dead platform in a few years, no more collectible than old iPhones. Because it’s nothing, really, without access to a system, and the system constantly outgrows it, evolves beyond it.

How have you found it?

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The Shift

One of the greatest shifts occurring as a result of the rise of mobile devices is how we go about completing everyday tasks.
Checking our bank balance, paying a bill, upgrading an account, applying for a credit card – all are examples of activity we once dedicated time to. We planned to visit a branch. We filled out application forms and waited. We sat in front of a browser and dedicated attention to completing a task.
Now, many of those tasks are things we do while we are doing something else. Riding on the train or bus; sitting in a meeting; or when the Ads roll at the cinema or on TV. As we shift those tasks into other activity, we compress the time we are willing to dedicate to completing them.
Those that are winning in mobile have typically simplified processes to be so simple and easy you can do them while doing something else – and, ensured that the task can be completed in the average TV ad break.
Simple, easy and speedy are the watchwords for winners in the dominantly mobile economy. 
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Building Great Products & Long Walks

Reads and feeds for the day:

  • How to build and market great products: “We are an exceptional software development team. But, we now also need be an excellent customer development team. That’s why, in the first section of this doc, I said “build a customer base” rather than “gain market share”: the nature of the task is different, and we will work together to understand, anticipate and better serve the people who trust us with their teams’ communications, one customer at a time.”
  • Lots of “lean in” passion out there – I liked this piece on what P&G is doing. I’ve been guilty of setting meetings too early and am grateful for the team members that coached me to smarter ways.
  • It might be time for a long walk… seriously. More here on the benefits.
  • Am finding Grammarly more and more indispensable. Love it.
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Beautiful Business

There’s nothing like a cold warehouse in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast to get the juices flowing. Enterconf is kind of a “Glastonbury for geeks” and a great place to be if you want to meet a ton of smart people.

During a keynote and panel, I had they chance to speak to how software is eating the world; why beauty can’t be skin deep; and how any business can triumph over large market incumbents.

Software isn’t just eating the world because it’s looking better and, therefore, is simpler and easier to use. Beautiful businesses aren’t just great at design. They are reinventing their categories by probing and questioning the logic that others have accepted for decades. As they do that, these early movers quickly create immense value for customers. Xero customers, for instance, have a higher chance of business success and collect cash faster than those not using Xero.

In this process of reimagining, businesses look to address moments of doubt, desire and dissatisfaction as experienced by customers. Think about how Uber solved the moment of dissatisfaction regarding the location of your taxi. How Air New Zealand enables you to order a coffee from the barista in the lounge as soon as you enter the airport. Or how Xero made it simple and easy to see your cash flow, removing doubt.

Beautiful Businesses approach going to market – and the ongoing process of innovation – very differently. Their business operating system replicates the new models of software development and delivery driving constant innovation, low-cost distribution, mobile-first delivery, and incremental improvement.

How they go-to-market is different as well. They grok the five Ps of digital and marketing transformation: – Participation, Proximity, Prediction, Play, and Purpose.

  1. Participation: They engage customers not just in the product but in a conversation. This ongoing dialog through content, events, and social media builds a passionate tribe of evangelists that spread the word and fan the flames.
  2. Proximity: They understand that mobile isn’t just a place where applications are delivered – mobile has also changed the way we work. We time-shift tasks, frequently pausing one activity to complete quickly another. All the evidence of how ineffective this is aside, it is what we do. Banking, for instance, has gone from something we dedicated time to, to being something we do while doing something else.
  3. Predict: Data-driven businesses have shifted their marketing focus from attention to intention. They are passionate about the product reorientating around what data suggests a customer needs. They could be education or insights. It could be notifications on the iWatch. In the future many of the constructs, we have lived with for the last 25 years and longer vanished. For instance, we don’t need forms for a loan where data flows freely. A customer using Xero simply connects their account to a financial institution or new breed lender and with a few clicks and in a matter of minutes is approved for a loan.
  4. Play: Metaphors from gaming are finding their way into all business software. Great software delivers moments of magic that play on experiences we have elsewhere. When reconciling transactions in Xero, you playfully pull together two transactions, and they merge. In the old software model, you might have hit check-boxes and then a submit button. In the new world.
  5. Purpose: The data is clear, purpose-driven companies outperform against companies without a purpose by 15:1. They are clear on why they exist and what they exist to do. For Xero, we aim to enable tens of millions of small businesses to thrive through beautiful software.  Small businesses are the engine room of the economy – when we achieve our purpose (and our customers achieve theirs) we create jobs and wealth. One of the great things about purpose-driven businesses is that they benefit not just the customer they serve, but their immediate communities and society as a whole.

As they pursue building beautiful businesses they challenge the underlying principles that incumbent providers have stratified and locked-in through software. Think what Salesforce did to traditional CRM software. Or, what Xero has done to accounting. 

Beautiful starts with software that redefines and reinvents processes. It doesn’t look to replicate processes elsewhere; it looks to reimagine them.

Beautiful business doesn’t just look good.

It reimagines what beautiful is.

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The Sensory Lab

Aside from a great name for a coffee brand, I’m digging the iPhone box-like packaging of their coffee. Just took delivery of my latest three thousand thieves order and two boxes of stunning “seamless” blend. Nice job by Sal and the team.

So many coffee brands go down the “coffee-like” brand route. Sensory Labs is charting a more modern path which I like.

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