I tuned in to listen in on some of the Windows 10 details Microsoft shared last week. They shed light on features users can expect when the company rolls out the operating system later this year. Before last week’s news, Microsoft had already made it clear that  a big part of the Windows 10 strategy is to unify the code base that runs across devices.  In case you didn’t follow, Terry Myerson’s post on Blogging Windows does a good job highlighting a lot of those features. And if you want to dig further into some of the news, here’s a page on Techmeme that highlights much of the online activity that happened soon after Microsoft’s Windows 10 event. One of the biggest aspects of what Microsoft announced: Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for the first year after it is commercially available.

Microsoft Windows 10 details

So, why do this? It’s the simplest way to a large user base. And that’s key for attracting developers. Microsoft is offering  the free Windows 10 upgrade to licensed users of Windows 8.1 (and Windows 8) , Windows 7 and Windows Phone 8.1. A few numbers to consider:

I couldn’t find confirmed numbers of Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users. But even without them, getting a fraction of the millions of users to upgrade to Windows 10 for free will help Microsoft get more developers on board. There’s no question Apple (and Google) deserve much credit for changing the PC landscape. These days, developers and the platform apps they write are the key to success or failure of a platform. Much of the shift Apple started was getting developers to focus on mobile and tablet app development for the iPhone and the iPad. Google has also attracted legions of programmers to write smartphone and tablet apps, but there’s no question Apple still has a big lead in getting developers to write tablet-focused apps for the iPad. It’s been well-documented  that Microsoft is behind here, both in terms of getting developers to focus creating apps for Windows Phone and tablet-optimized versions of those apps. While the nature of apps developers write has changed, attracting developers to code for a platform is still the name of the game.

Years ago, long before Windows 8 was ready to ship, I wrote a post that Microsoft’s Windows 8 gamble just might work. Back then, I thought the plan was to ship Windows 8 with a unified code base. We now know that will happen with Windows 10. As everyone knows, there are no guarantees in the tech industry, even for well-established players like Microsoft. When you look Microsoft’s plans to complete development of its next-generation operating system and that it will roll it out as a free upgrade for many Windows users, and you compare that to their recent moves to offer Microsoft Office on Android and iOS devices, no one can accuse the company of playing it safe.  It may be too early to say Microsoft is cool, but it is clear that Microsoft isn’t afraid to change the way it does business to change with the times.

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The day Apple introduced the iPod was the day it ceased being just a computer company – not that many people realized that at the time. In fact, Steve Jobs may have been the only one who did. But over the next few years, as succeeding and improved iterations of the pocket music player came out, the idea gradually sunk in that Apple had expanded beyond the realm of the Macintosh.

The notion became permanently etched into the public’s consciousness with the subsequent introductions of the iPhone and iPad. Sure, Apple continued to produce evermore powerful, functional, and sophisticated computers and laptops. But Apple had morphed into a lifestyle company: a purveyor of tools and technologies that make our lives more pleasant, to some degree easier and, in many ways, more portable.

What Apple and Steve Jobs figured out was how those tools and technologies perfectly linked to one another to create a unified whole that redefined for the world what Apple was and what it was capable of doing and giving us.

In a similar vein, it’s unlikely that anyone who draws a paycheck from Nike thinks of the company as a shoemaker. When Bill Bowerman, the exceptional University of Oregon track coach, borrowed his wife’s waffle iron in the 1960s to make the sole for his ideal running shoe, he launched Nike. Little about the company today would be familiar to him.

Today, the company’s Nike+ system allows runners to monitor and track each workout by means of sensors in their shoes to download data through Bluetooth into devices like iPhones. Via a Nike Internet platform, runners can share performance data online and receive customized advice from Nike coaches. Now that’s something Coach Bowerman would have loved.

But that’s only one small part of what Nike does and is capable of today.

Amazon and Google

Amazon is not just an online bookseller. In addition to selling just about any and all consumer products, Amazon is now in direct competition to Netflix, streaming its own movie and TV series catalogues. Rumor has it that Amazon wants to get into the cellphone business, too – with free cellphones, no less. Jeff Bezos just bought the Washington Post. Any guesses as to what that might mean for Amazon (and the Post)?

Google is not just a search engine but, well, Google is now into nearly everything: from tablets, smartphones and the Android operating system that runs them, to office productivity software and advertising.

What these organizations have in common is that they didn’t stand still within the narrow confines of how the world perceived and defined them. Instead, they grasped the essence of their craft and passions, and understood where they excelled. They asked themselves what that implied, where it might take them, and what was possible. And they haven’t stopped asking those questions yet.

Companies too numerous to name hewed to the tight concept of themselves, and continued to practice their trade efficiently and repeatedly. As a result, many of them either no longer exist or are a mere shadow of their former selves.

While being in business in a capitalist system means you must grow, growth for its own sake is ultimately fruitless. What gets people out of bed in the morning and commuting to jobs at places like Apple and Nike is the thrill of constantly reinventing their businesses, of expanding the realm of the possible.

The growth, success and profitability that those companies subsequently realize are the outcomes of that effort, not the reasons for the pursuit. When business leaders confuse the two, the end is in sight.

What are you doing today to reinvent your business for tomorrow?

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For CEOs and CCOs alike, real time comprehension of an organization’s position in its evolution is arguably the most important skill to direct the future.

Why? Knowing this allows for the one competency every organization needs to master – innovating the business model.

In this issue of CommonSense For The C-Suite we posit the underpinnings necessary to align business, communications and operational strategies at various points in a company’s trajectory.

We hope you find it relevant and useful.



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I’ve always respected Steve Jobs, although it was hard to admit when I was at Dell. During our holiday break, I read his book and a lot of dots connected for me related to what I knew about him over the years.   The book also made me regret my opportunity to meet him back in 2008.  I helped plan the first meeting of Michael and Steve in Austin for an education conference, but at the last minute, something important came up and I delegated to a colleague.  Rather than spend an afternoon in his world as one of the “planners”, I solved some other problem I can’t even remember…oh well, cie la vie.….

Anyway, here is what I learned.

#1 – Leapfrog opportunities depend on gut instinct – you can’t ask your peers or customers what is next and expect to truly leapfrog.  As Steve said, they don’t know.  My view is that it’s not quite that simple.  The clues are there….we have to be smart enough to find them…hence why our analytics are so critical to our firm and our clients.  If we utilize our analytics skills and our gut feel, we’ll out innovate our peers forever.

#2 – First impressions matter – Steve believed we fall in love when we initially see the packaging or when we first touch a device.  It made me wonder how we can improve our first impression for all we have contact with.  What is it like to reach one of us for the first time?  What is it like when you start working here?  What is it like when we present our first results? Or when you walk in our doors?

#3 – Brands globalize more than people – popular brands or ideas can permeate cultures worldwide, yet people still want to conduct business in local fashion.  Jobs knew this and focused on building a great brand, knowing that local sales would take care of itself later on. This is the exact trend we are seeing in social media, by the way.

#4 – Passion leads to great work – Jobs loved to spend his time with designers and engineers.  He felt it was a waste of time to hang out with execs.  He wanted to figure out what was next.  Nothing was more important than building the best products or services and experience.  Every spare minute he had was focused on innovation.  How do we organize our day?

#5 – Vision can change behavior of a company via its ideas – if Jobs said he was going to improve customer experience, it may not have worked.  Instead, he started the Genius Bar and simply uplifted the level of customer service competence.  He created a vision for higher competence that people had to meet via a public display of what excellence meant. It reminded me of Michael Dell.  He would mention things in press conferences that served as a warning shot to the company of how we would need to change.  Once public, no choice.

#6 – Control the end to end experience – don’t depend on third parties to do your level of quality.  Only partner when they do something you can never do and then treat them like family.

#7 – Details matter – every detail, actually.  Its why Jobs made sure the inside of a computer looked perfect, even though you could not open up the system.  His Dad taught him that you don’t cheap out when no one is looking.  You always do your best job.  An important reminder to ourselves when we are exhausted and have one more thing to do. High quality always matters. We’re craftspeople.

#8 – A players respond to A players – his troops were inspired when surrounded by equally smart people.  When not, equally uninspired.

#9 – The status quo is enough incentive to be different – who wants to be the same? This type of thinking creates an eternal fire in the belly.  The worst insult is to become a commodity  and be compared to our competitors.  There is always a better way to do something…it’s our job to figure it out and make it happen.

#10 – Talk through ideas and avoid powerpoint when possible – conversations and debates lead to breakthroughs.  Emails and slides lead to status quo.  This is why I am often not on email consistently. I get so much more out of conversations with all of you.  It’s the best way to learn and improve.  Have conversations and educate, don’t lecture.

#11 –A great team knows how to leverage each other – for example, Jony Ives is the real hidden star of Jobs reign.  He built what we love.  Ives and his team were the soul of the company.  Those who create ideas……they propel the firms they are part of…..

#12 – A powerful brand allows customers to dream of what is possible – when a person’s aspirations can be applied to a brand, you have a winner.  The same goes with our relationships.  When we become the accelerator of what is possible, we create continual value.

My final observation relates to Steve Jobs as a person.  I actually felt sorry for him.  Being abrasive and a jerk to all he met provided zero value.  He got kicked out of Apple the first time.  His relationships often failed.  He was probably never happy.  Yet, he had every reason to be thrilled with life.  None of us should ever make that mistake.

It was a great read.  Will be adding these learning’s to my next book.

All the best, Bob

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facebook social media wcg pr

Facebook’s integration into Apple iPhone 5’s new software (iOS 6) is a testament to how important social media has become in people’s lives. Having sharability baked in makes sharing easier then ever. The user doesn’t even have to open an app¬—he or she can share a post through Siri without having to touch the phone.

Facebook boasts a strong 955 million active monthly users, and 543 million of those are active on mobile (Facebook, June 2012). Many mobile enthusiasts will claim “yes, but I could do this before.” This is true, but having sharing built in makes it more accessible to everyone, not just the tech savvy or the over-sharing, Facebook addicted.

For clients and marketers, this marks two important milestones: the beginning of real-time communication in the social graph and the birth of transmedia storytelling/news releases.

Society has been more connected then ever for quite some time, but with mobile adoption so high, pushing notifications through Facebook messaging and posts will allow for people to stay connected in real time. This will drastically shift how marketers look at engaging with groups of people versus targeting and approaching the individual—hopefully armed with smart, contextual content.

“Transmedia storytelling” simply means that stories begin in one medium and end in another. A mobile user flowing from an email, to a mobile website, to a YouTube video, to a Facebook post is a quite common scenario. This last step of sharing was somewhat cumbersome up to this point. But now that sharing is simply a quick flick and press on the phone, engagement within mobile can be expected to shift from consumption to interaction—from passive to active. This opens up so many more opportunities for marketers and PR professionals. The devices and interfaces simply fade away to allow the content to thrive.

Some may say that the latest update to iOS 6 is simply a few more features in a long list of tech specs. But for those that have the foresight to realize and understand how this will affect the mobile future, this is a huge, empowering step in allowing individuals to move from consumers to producers, fans to ambassadors.

Patrick Donnelly, Manager, Corporate Development

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In this episode of the WCG ThoughtLeaders podcast, NextWorks Group Director Matthew Snodgrass talks with Stephan Merkens, Group Director for WCG and Patrick Donnelly, Manager of Corporate Development, about the release of the new iPhone 5 from Apple.

This latest phone iteration from Apple brought about a few significant changes for both consumers and for those companies who create software or hardware for i-devices. We discuss those updates and what they mean to you, your company, and your consumers.

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1.  Apple recognizes that every customer is important – and they make sure you know it.

In Steve Job’s brilliant press conference on the antenna issue in which he had the media absolutely eating out of his hand,, he must have repeated the phrase that “every customer is important” as least a dozen times in different contexts. Even though the antenna issue only affected .055% of iPhone 4 users (making it NOT statistically significant for you p-value addicts out there), you couldn’t have walked away from the press conference without thinking, “Geez – Apple really cares about their customers.” What might have seemed like Steve Jobs just “talking” in a time of crisis wasn’t – in fact, it was just the opposite. Apple, who has always been very meticulous about what they give to their customers (as noted in the July issue of Fast Company:, carefully crafted a message, no doubt product of thoroughly developed talking points and numerous rehearsals to make sure that above all else, Apple reassured customers and non-customers of their commitment to the end user.

Also on this point, medical device companies could do a better job of following Apple’s “every customer is important” mantra as we are in a unique position. We’re not just giving our patients a pill to take; we’re combining the best of both technology and healthcare to provide physicians and patients with an innovative solution. We have the opportunity to create a brand experience for our physician and patient customers that engages them and turns them into our ambassadors. If we recognize that every single patient is truly important AND actually treat them like they are, we can see what a great opportunity we have to create an ambassador army made up of every physician and patient customer with whom we interact.

2.  Apple identified what their customers were saying and what they wanted in a timely manner.

It took Apple only 22 days from the day that it shipped its new iPhone 4 to identify the antenna issue and proactively offer a solution (albeit some may think that this was at the behest of social media). 22 days is quicker than getting a piece of collateral through legal and regulatory review. How were they able to do this? Easy – they were listening! Yeah, yeah you say, but they are a tech company – of course they are listening online to what their customers are saying. I can guarantee you that there’s just as much being said about medical devices online that you don’t know about (but would care about) than there is about Apple’s “bumper.” You just have to know where to be looking and what to be listening for. So what’s your excuse not for listening? By engaging customers online and actively listening to what is being said about your brand, medical device manufacturers are able to identify issues proactively and not wait until issues spiral out of control. Best practices for effective brand management doesn’t just suggest active online listening…it demands it.

3.  Apple gave their customers what they wanted (this time)…and more.

So should medical device companies. I know not all medical device companies have Apple’s resources or their brand reputation. Few companies do and even fewer recognize how to use these effectively – however, whether you’re a small, VC-backed start up or the largest medical device company of the world, you need to give your customers what they want and then go beyond that by to give them even more – what they weren’t expecting. Too often today, we see companies relying solely on the value proposition of a given therapy to convince patients or physicians to choose their device. Medical device companies need to recognize that this is only 50% of the equation, especially in the crowded marketplace the device industry is becoming. What services do you offer? What added value do you bring to the physician? What experience do you give to patients? How do you improve the way they feel about your brand? This is what makes your customers choose your brand over your competition and it’s what keeps the Mac addicts coming back for more every time Apple puts out a new product.

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