Author Archives: Ryan McCormack

Find the Steve Jobs in you

Steve Jobs was an icon. He typifies the tech visionary, entrepreneur and businessman. His achievements are nearly unparalleled in the world of Internet technology: iPod, iPhone, iPad and iTunes as a media distribution platform (encompassing 317 patents). He eclipses almost everyone in the modern technology business, and served as the premiere spokesperson for the value of great product and user interface design. Who could possibly hope to accomplish everything he did? Continue reading

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Great ideas aren’t enough

History is littered with great ideas that either failed or never even saw the light of day. Despite this fact, some people still seem to think that having a great idea is enough to succeed (however you want to define success). Continue reading

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Digital Ecosystems – Part 3: How businesses can close the theory-practice gap

There’s a big gap between theory and practice when it
comes to digital ecosystems, and what it takes to make them a reality for a business. By following the guiding principles below, companies can bridge the gap more easily, and make their digital ecosystems successful.

"In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is."   – Yogi Berra

It’s clear that digital ecosystems offer benefits for businesses, but it’s not all wine and roses. It takes effort to design and maintain these ecosystems, which is why many businesses wind up with a more fragmented approach to their online (and offline) activities. After all, a bunch of people randomly doing their own thing is a lot easier than trying to get them to play a symphony.

So what does it take for businesses to move beyond this siloed approach, to operationally deliver on the promise of digital ecosystems? Continue reading

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Digital ecosystems – Part 2: Five reasons why they matter for business

Perspective can radically alter how we see things (as seen by the anamorphic art shown above). Digital ecosystems offer an actionable perspective for business with clear benefits.

With a clear definition of the term digital ecosystems, the obvious question to ask is, Why bother? What are the benefits for business to strategize and execute this way? And are there drawbacks? Continue reading

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Digital ecosystems: A framework for online business

The digital world has gotten complicated. Really complicated.

Between web sites, smartphone and desktop applications, and a menagerie of social media platforms and services, it’s hard for many businesses to sort out where to focus their efforts. Thinking about all of these elements as part of a broader digital ecosystem can bring some clarity.

The term digital ecosystems has been used (and abused) by others previously (see NOTE at the end of this article), but I have never found any previous definitions sufficiently tangible. Most are technical, abstract, or abstruse; they’re just not that useful for real businesses trying to develop digital strategies and execute online.

In an effort to simplify, I propose the following definition for digital ecosystems (see diagram below):

The digital ecosystem of a business is the combination of all relevant digital touchpoints, the people that interact with them, and the business processes and technology environment that support both.

The digital ecosystem for a business is a mix of touchpoints, people, and supporting elements.

Read on for more detail about why I believe it’s important to think in terms of systems, the relevant elements of digital ecosystems for business, and the critical role that people play in these systems. Continue reading

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Digital ecosystems – Part 4: Design for change

The sands of the digital world are relentlessly shifting. Content gets old, businesses evolve, interaction design patterns are refined. New online businesses are cropping up like mushrooms, and the technologies and platforms that power them change every few months. Couple that with rapidly changing social norms around the use of technology, and you’ve got an explosive and exciting mix, rich with opportunity.

But with great opportunity comes great peril for many businesses online. Continue reading

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How to add personality to a basic WordPress theme

So you finally decided to get your blog up and running on a self-hosted version of Wordpress, the amazingly popular blogging platform. You’ve seen plenty of sites using Wordpress, and maybe even heard about themes, the powerful system that lets you customize how your site looks and behaves. You can choose from a wide variety of free themes, many of which have different content, layouts, and appearances. The problem is that straight out of the box, these themes look like, well, themes. They’ve got a personality, but it’s not yours. Continue reading

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Social media dashboards: Driving blind or winning the race?

The world of social media is awash in a sea of data: followers, friends, likes, links, purchases, engagement. Anyone trying to make sense of (and justify) their social media efforts has to dive into this sea. Fortunately, there are a plethora of tools tools available (free and otherwise) that slice and dice this data in different ways. But how much do they actually help? In the case of many of the free tools out there, the basic principles of information design are taking a backseat, with incomprehensible charts, mysterious metrics and marginal usability ruling the day and obscuring the valuable information present. Continue reading

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Wisdom 2.0: A conference ends, a door opens

Cloud Doorway by Lisa Cuscuna

The sign of a good conference is one where, when you reach the end, you feel hunger for more, rather than hunger for home. While this sentiment may be profoundly against the Zen tenet that desire is the root of suffering, it’s certainly what I felt coming out of Soren Gordhamer’s Wisdom 2.0.

Saturday marked Day Two of the conference, and it proved no less fulfilling than Day One. Sunday was an unconference held at the Google campus, but I was (sadly) unable to attend. In keeping with my previous post on Day One, here are a few thoughts based on discussions during the second day, as well as a few closing thoughts. Continue reading

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Wisdom 2.0: A day of mindful insights

flickr :: jishnu_nandy

Wisdom 2.0 is three-day event aimed at addressing an important and timely issue:

"The question for most of us is not if we will use the technologies of our age, from cell phones to social media, the question is how can we do so with mindfulness, meaning, and wisdom?"

It is an ambitious undertaking, to say the least, but the first day showed that Soren Gordhamer (author of Wisdom 2.0) has put together something unparalleled. The afternoon included thought-provoking discussions and insights from technologists, venture capitalists, Zen abbots, publishers and neuroscientists. I’ve never seen such a diverse array of thinkers gathered for an event focused on unifying seemingly disparate ideas (i.e., technology and mindful compassion). Continue reading

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