Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Ubiquitous virtual reality and embracing the real-time online catalog: a case study in cross-channel sales coordination 3

Posted in business and convergent technologies, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on October 4, 2014

This is my third posting to a series on integrating customer online experience and particularly their always on and always connected interactive online experience, into the bricks and mortar storefront and its ongoing operations (see Part 1 and Part 2.)

I primarily focused on the customer experience side of this in Part 1 and on the business side of it in Part 2. But the vast majority of this discussion up to here might be seen as just version 1.0 for connecting customer experience and business efficiency together to meet their shared needs. Discussion up to here has only focused on enhancing:

• The standard shopping experience and sales opportunity where customers can find and obtain essentially any purchase option that the store could offer to meet their needs, and
• The store can do this seamlessly and quickly and through lean inventory processes so as to gain greater business efficiency.

Here, adding in the connectivity capabilities of ubiquitous online is only being used to enhance what amounts to more traditional business as usual. But customers, sales staff and employees … we ourselves and essentially everyone around us are all holding and using our smartphones and other real-time, ubiquitously connected tools all of the time and we are all always looking for new apps and new ways to add to our life experience through them. This of necessity includes bringing these communications and connection enabling tools, and the social media and other resources that this technology makes possible into our day to day shopping experience.

• And I go back to those smartphones as customers take them out to send photos of items that catch their attention to friends, or to tweet or post about them and about the store and their current real-time experience there.
• I go back to those smartphones as people look up reviews and consumer experience ratings on brand names and styles and on specific products – parsing their experience according to whatever criteria they see as important in making their shopping choices (e.g. fashionability and stylishness, durability, etc.)
• And of course it is impossible to address this type of issue without noting how messages sent are messages shared, with tweets and retweets, YouTube and other crowdsourced content
• That might start out going to one or to just a few, but that is often shared outward from there – if it is not immediately sent out as openly and publically visible as for example with default-publically posted tweet replies.
• And I only briefly touch upon a few possible channels here, and I have only cited tools and channels that have already become thoroughly mainstreamed and standard and even for many technology later adaptors now. New tools and channels, web sites and other online forums and resources come online all of the time and their usage goes viral and expands out too. Customers, and I add sales staff and other employees bring all of this with them, and certainly when entering into any retail or other customer-facing business.

I am writing here of a phenomenon that many readers would already see as standard and routine but that is still only in its early and even still embryonic stage of development: an emerging true version 2.0 for connecting customer experience and business efficiency together – and both to meet their shared immediate needs and to establish wider-reaching ongoing dialogs.

• What do customers post and how and when and in what formats and through what channels?
• What do store personnel monitor out of this and who at this business does that monitoring and how consistently and how frequently do they do this? Where does any insight that is gained from this monitoring go within the business and to what effect? How is this knowledge and insight into the marketplace used, if it is at all?
• And I write here about two-way and even multi-directional communications here. How does this store respond, beyond simply attempting to leverage standard bricks and mortar only marketing and communications approaches to this far more fluid and open-ended conversation? How do they reach back and well as proactively reach outward to help create real conversations out of all of this and how do they seek to create value out of it and both for their business and for their customers?

I wrote in Part 2 about inventory management and of the efficiencies that can be created for a store that can really see and understand consumer likes and dislikes and that can order and maintain and position inventory accordingly. That is important and it directly impacts upon the store’s sales and its customer appeal and its monetary bottom line as well. But version 1.0 as noted here can be pursued pretty much entirely short-term and as a matter of business tactics. Version 2.0 and participation in its arena, of necessity makes this ongoing flow of activity a longer-term proposition as longer more sustained flows of conversation develop, and that all feeds into longer term strategic visions of the store and what it stands for and how it pursues those goals.

I have been writing this brief series primarily in order to make note of how customer expectations are changing. And I have been writing about how this shared experience is both shaped by and in turn is helping to shape the ubiquitous communications and information sharing tools that we all carry. And in the process I have been writing about how these new interpersonal connectivity resources can even fundamentally reshape businesses, and certainly any consumer facing ones such as retail stores. This is all reshaping and even fundamentally redefining the shopping experience and what businesses have to do to be and to remain competitive in retail markets. Noting that, I acknowledge that I have only begun to discuss a complex of issues here that I will be returning to. But I am going to finish this posting and this series here, at least for now and with a final concluding point:

• Version 2 of this real-time ubiquitous business and customer experience is a deeply collaborative experience. The consumer side of this collaboration and the online services that they tap into and use in their day to day lives will continue to add disruptively new and innovative change into all of this. But this is a collaboration that in order to be fully effective, requires active creative and even disruptively creative input from the business side too. And the most successful and effective businesses in retail, to stick with the point of focus of this series, are increasingly going to be the ones that most fully and openly and seamlessly smoothly enter into these conversations, and enable the shopping experiences for all concerned that can grow out from this still rapidly evolving form of collaboration.

You can find this and related postings at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and at Page 2 of that directory. You can also find this and related material at Web 2.0 Marketing.

Ubiquitous virtual reality and embracing the real-time online catalog: a case study in cross-channel sales coordination 2

Posted in business and convergent technologies, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on August 25, 2014

This is my second posting to a series on integrating customer online experience and particularly their always on and always connected interactive online experience, into the bricks and mortar storefront and its ongoing operations (see Part 1.)

I focused in Part 1 on the customer experience and on enriching it in ways that create value for the customer, and increased sales and competitive advantage for the store as a result. And at the end of that, I said that I would turn here, to consider this set of issues from a more strictly business perspective. Adding in online information channels for your customers can create new business efficiencies and even in your seemingly more back-office operations – like inventory purchasing, and inventory warehousing and its systems management.

• My goal for this posting is in fact to outline something of how customer facing online channels can help a business to manage their inventory systems dynamically and in real time,
• Making it possible for sales staff to track and real-time update the records of what is in stock and available and where,
• Making it possible for customers to know what is available, and both immediately onsite in the physical storefront that they are in, in any other same-business storefronts, in off-site warehouse inventory for ready delivery to their most local storefront, or strictly online – and for all options and features available for goods offered,
• Making it possible for the business to track ongoing shifts in consumer interest and demand and both for individual stock keeping units (SKU’s) and even for entire product categories. This is invaluable for reducing the levels of overstock from over-purchasing of inventory while minimizing the likelihood that a customer be lost because the items they want are not in stock and not readily enough available.

The key to all of this is in developing a single comprehensive database driven online accessible inventory system that has a robust access permissions based gatekeeper in place so members of participating constituencies can only access the specific resources that they need, and according to specific rules-based access permission processes.

• A customer, for example, might be able to search the online system for information on specific items, and for their cost, features and so on and for their availability. They would not be able to change the descriptions of any of the items they find but if they purchase an item found, that would update the inventory level information for that specific SKU. So they would have this specific write permission, and under this rules based circumstance as well as read permission for database entries that are drawn up through their online searches.
• A member of the sales staff would have these same permissions, and in addition would be able to directly query where in the business’ storefront and warehouse systems, particular items can be found. They would be able to send inventory transfer requests to have items of immediate customer interest shipped to their storefront. And they would be able to place special orders where that is consistent with the underlying business model, with all of this data going into this overall database system. And they would also be able to enter in returns information for items brought back to the store, as well as update information on inventory damage and loss where that is found.
• Sales and Marketing level systems administrators would likely have all of these read and write permissions, and would also be able to edit item descriptions and that activity would in fact in most cases be carried out by personnel from those departments.
• And overall systems administrators would have general read and write permissions for managing the overall system. And they would maintain the database queries that would underlie what information was, for example, actually sent to the inventory database when an online customer clicked to see their business’ inventory of summer weight blouses, and when they ordered a specific one in a specific color and size.
• Online sales fulfillment personnel would then indicate in this system when this purchase order was fulfilled and the item shipped.

The idea here is to organize this entire complex of processes into a single dynamically updated seamless whole. And the business that can do this is much less likely to find themselves holding large amounts of excess inventory that their customers do not want, and that would have to be remaindered or directly sold by them but at greatly reduced clearance prices. The goal here is development of effective lean inventory systems capability.

But up to here, I have only offered a more traditionally standard approach to how customer online experience can feed into creating sales opportunity and increased business strength. I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will more fully consider the way that customers increasingly use their smart phones and other always-on devices, and for everything they do. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and at Page 2 of that directory. You can also find this and related material at Web 2.0 Marketing.

The power of groceries in projecting national strength 5 – adding in from anywhere to anywhere communications and interactive online access 2

Posted in macroeconomics, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on August 11, 2014

This is my fifth posting to a series on how nation states project an image of their strength, and of their concerns, their aspirations and their values (see Macroeconomics and Business, postings 171 and loosely following for Parts 1-4.)

And I begin this by repeating the bullet point that I offered as a topic for next discussion towards the end of Part 4:

• There are no longer any isolated, local constituencies or issues in a world where any group can globally reach out and connect and where their issues can draw sympathy, support and resonance from seemingly anywhere else and even globally.

What are the best ways to address this? I doubt that there is any one single universally applicable answer to that challenge but I would offer some very generally applicable basic principles that would shape an effective response to it, and in what I would argue to be most contexts:

• Pursue a positive message, focusing on what you stand for, what you have done and what you would do to meet specific needs. Negative campaigning, and certainly an image of only offering a negative message is toxic. It hardens resistance and increases active support from among your political opponents while leaving your own supporters without any positive message that they can build from in any grass roots campaigning that they might consider.
• Focus on the issues that the people you are trying to reach out to, see as important. And this should include both your more assumable core constituency backers and anyone who might be more of an undecided. Your goal here is to retain and strengthen your support from your core constituencies, and to expand that base.
• And remember that the issues that resonate most strongly for most of the people you need to reach out to, are not abstract and general and certainly not to them. Even in a national election, the issues that resonate and that create the greatest support – or divisiveness, are the ones that have immediate local and even personal impact. I offered in Part 2 of this series, a brief and selective accounting of the KennedyKhrushchev kitchen debate, and with a discussion of the power of groceries and of demonstrable capacity to meet the basic essentials of day to day life. Put the issues that you would focus on in a wider perspective, but focus on the here and now essentials too. Focus on how the issues that you address and your approaches to dealing with them, would impact on real individuals, their families and their immediate communities. There is a reason why I keep citing groceries in the titles of every installment to this series and I point towards it here; keep your message positive and on what you would do and why, and keep it relevant to the lives of the people you seek to reach out to.

And with that said, I shift from the more general of my above bullet points to the more specific of campaigning in an always online and always connected 21st century context.

• Listen as well as speak, and listen widely. This means going beyond simply listening to your core political party loyal, and listening to the wider community.
• And in an increasingly real-time interactive world this means actively entering into the online and smart phone enabled conversation that is going to proceed whether you are part of it or not – and that will discuss the real issues and concerns and the priorities of the community that you seek to reach out to, whether you are involved in this or not.

I keep thinking back to the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections that were held in the United States as I write this, and to the contrast between the candidate selecting primary elections that were held by the Republican and Democratic Parties (see Part 3 and Part 4 of this series.) And I find myself thinking back in particular to the 2008 election and its primary elections as both parties were looking for their top contender out of what at least began as a relatively open field of possibles. In 2012, the Democrats started with a sitting president and a chosen candidate who was simply seeking re-nomination and reelection so in that election year, it was just the Republican Party of the two that faced this type of potentially open and groundbreaking primary election process.

And I find myself thinking forward to the 2016 presidential elections. I write this immediately after watching Eric Cantor, the seven term Republican Party House Majority Leader, lose his primary bid for the 2014 off-year House elections.

Cantor has been a bulwark of Republican Party conservatism and an active supporter of virtually all of his party’s more extremist ideologically driven positions. But he was beaten and soundly in his home district: Virginia’s 7th congressional district by a still more extremist Tea Party candidate, who accused him of lacking sufficient conservative ideological purity. One of the “faults” that his fellow-Republican opponent, David Brat charged him with was that he was soft on the issues of illegal immigrants because he was willing to discuss developing a path to legal immigration status for illegal immigrant children raised in this country who know it as their only home. This, I note, took place in a context in which the Republicans know that they need to more effectively reach out to Hispanic and other voter constituencies who would be all but universally troubled by this political decision and its import, and particularly where its immediate target is young children.

Basically, the Republican Party in the United States, is driven by a search for ever-more refined ideological purity. With the way congressional districts are drawn in most states in the United States, that in and of itself is not necessarily a fatal barrier to electability and certainly for state offices (for state district boundary determination, see gerrymandering.) But for truly national elections as are held when selecting a next president, it is. And with this, and with the ideological retrenching that the Cantor defeat portends, moving his party even further towards the right for Republican office holders and office seekers, I expect to see a 2016 primary election season that at least matches what transpired in 2008 and 2012 for its zeal to exclude through proof of absolute ideological purity on the part of all candidate hopefuls. Once again, I do not expect to see any real evidence of any lessons learned from the Republican defeats of 2008 and 2012.

That said, George W Bush was elected president, and with the power of incumbency that he held once initially elected he was reelected too. It will be interesting to see who the Democrats pick as their next presidential candidate.

I do not usually write about politics in this blog or in general, and certainly not specifically and directly so. And in fact I have held to a self-imposed editorial policy for quite a while not to. But I have of necessity delved into political waters in my more nationally and internationally oriented information security postings and series. And I decided to make a specific exception to that self-imposed rule with this short series here, and for a very specific reason. The issues that I write of here in a political communications context, apply much more widely. And lessons that should be learnable from communications best practices as developed in a wider context should be thought through in the state and national political contexts too. I am going to end this series here on that note. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Macroeconomics and Business and also at Web 2.0 Marketing.

Ubiquitous virtual reality and embracing the real-time online catalog: a case study in cross-channel sales coordination 1

Posted in business and convergent technologies, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on July 22, 2014

I began writing to my directory: Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time from very early on in writing to this blog at all, with my first posting to it going live on October 19, 2009 with Business and Convergent Technologies 1 – a new emerging landscape of opportunity (and also see my more recent continuations of that directory with its Page 2 listings.)

• Think of this posting as an exercise in thinking through the implications and the possibilities of engaging with an always online and connected shopping community in the bricks and mortar storefront context,
• With a goal of more effectively connecting with the 21st century customer by real-time connecting with them through their ubiquitous smart phones – and even when they are physically in your store.

When business owners think of online connectivity and of reaching out to their customers and to prospective customers through online channels, they almost always limit their consideration to traditional, distantly connected online sales and web-based storefronts – and even as they see their customers carrying around and using their smartphones while shopping in their stores.

• This is a real mistake and certainly for any business that offers a complex inventory of purchase options.
• This is just as much a mistake where a business sells items that customers might want to see and hold before buying, and even if they would ultimately buy online – or where a physical store might offer, for example, only some color or other selection options in their storefront but where they would like to be able to capture sales from customers who want models or versions of products that they would only have available online. Here, a business can effectively hold a much larger and more comprehensive online inventory than might ever be possible in-house in a bricks and mortar store and certainly when they can acquire new inventory items very quickly from their wholesale providers and from manufacturers, for their online operations.
• And with this I have only cited two of many reasons as to how online can enrich and enable the physical storefront too.

I will focus in the balance of this posting on the first of these three bullet points, and at least initially with the sale of feature-rich items such as gas grills for backyard cooking and similarly complex systems as far as purchasing decisions are concerned (e.g. home entertainment systems.)

• An online-aware bricks and mortar store would prominently offer for every item type on display, a smartphone scannable quick response code (QR code) (also called a matrix or 2-D barcode.) This can be added to a price tag on each item for sale, and it can also beneficially be added to shelving or to sales displays where these items are offered, or on signs leading to those sales areas.
• Each of these QR codes would include in it a smartphone-readable hyperlink to an online catalog listing for this shop keeping unit (SKU) item type. And this is where adding online to the physical storefront can add real value.
• This type of online resource can offer standard, traditional technical specifications, size and color selections available and other details that a customer might want. But an online link can go beyond what a standard printed poster or informational flier in that store could offer, and in an increasing appealing range of new and emerging ways.
• Switching to a clothing sales example, consider the impact of offering your customers an option to take a selfie – a self-photo of themselves, scan a QR code for a jacket and then see themselves as they would look wearing it and with an option of seeing how they would look sequentially, wearing that jacket in any or even every color it is offered in and with or without its detachable hood. Yes, clothing customers can and do and will continue to physically try on clothing before buying, and changing rooms will not go away. But this would let customers try out a color or style available but not in stock, that the store could order for them or that they could buy from that business online too. This means capturing sales opportunities that would otherwise be lost if inventory available, but not immediately could be made effectively available too.
• The whole idea here is to make the purchasing decision as easy and as smooth and interruption free as possible while maximizing the customer’s opportunity to choose what would work best for them. Finding a changing room is a distraction and a delay and when the store is busy and there is a waiting line for trying items on, offering a virtual reality alternative would offer real value to the customer.
• And this brings me to the virtual catalog, as a complete and detailed, real-time immediately available shopping guide – like having the most expert and experienced member of that store’s staff immediately available but without having anyone leaning over your shoulder as a customer.

I have been writing of this in large part from the consumer’s perspective in creating ease and value for them. That, of course, means discussing this from the business’ perspective too because improving the customer experience and particularly in ways that the competition is not matching, creates competitive strength and value for the business too. But there are a lot more issues that are business oriented that come up in this type of discussion too. I will look into some of them in a follow-up posting to this. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and at Page 2 of that directory. You can also find this and related material at Web 2.0 Marketing.

The power of groceries in projecting national strength 4 – adding in from anywhere to anywhere communications and interactive online access 1

Posted in macroeconomics, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on July 12, 2014

This is my fourth posting to a series on how nation states project an image of their strength, and of their concerns, their aspirations and their values (see Macroeconomics and Business, postings 171 and loosely following for Parts 1-3.)

I focused in Part 3 on the early 21st century case study example of the 2008 United States presidential election campaign for how emerging computer systems and online communications capabilities were used effectively by the Democratic Party, but not by their Republican opponents. Barack Obama understood and used new and emerging big data capabilities and the interactive internet and online social media in ways and with an effectiveness that the Republican Party still cannot match.

My goal for this posting is go step back from the particulars of that year’s presidential campaigns to consider the role that ubiquitous computing and communications capabilities are coming to take in any political endeavor, and in any political context. And as I at least occasionally do, I begin this discussion with concluding points that I will then step back from, so that I can build a supporting foundation for stating them.

The two most important points that I could offer here as general operational and strategic guidelines are that:

1. It has become fundamentally impossible to share a local audience-targeting message without it becoming widely and even globally visible, and subject to widespread and even global analysis and criticism.
2. And there may still be local special interest demographics that you would want to reach out to and connect with – or deny politically. But even the seemingly narrowest and the most geographically isolated demographic group is still globally connected and visible because of that. So any message conveyed pro or con regarding them will reach a global audience. And this means that even the narrowest and the most geographically isolated demographic group is not alone or isolated. Who they are and what values they hold can and do and will resonate widely; they are not narrowly alone after all.

I begin this posting’s discussion with Point 1, above and as an historical starting point I begin that with what might seem an unnecessarily distant historical example: the 1860 US presidential election and the campaigns that led up to it.

The United States was as deeply and rancorously divided going into that election as it ever has been. It was literally on the verge of entering into a full blown civil war and one that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. And the American politick was fractured. When this election took place, there were four presidential contenders who won Electoral College votes, taking at least one state in the election returns. At least as of this writing, that is unique in American political history.

The Republican Party fielded one candidate for president after its primaries: Abraham Lincoln. The Democratic Party split for this election, fielding Stephen A. Douglas as a Democratic candidate and John C. Breckinridge as a Southern Democratic candidate. And John Bell ran as the Constitutional Union Party candidate, taking 39 Electoral College votes and three states on a platform that basically denied the relevance or value of either Republican or Democratic Party hopefuls and of whatever stripe. The nation was divided and all of these presidential hopefuls faced wide diversities of voting audiences that they had to win over if they were to have any chance of winning this election as a whole. (You can find biographical links to these candidates in the article that I offer a link to, above, re the 1860 US presidential election.)

Lincoln and Breckinridge were the two strongest candidates in the end with Lincoln taking the North plus California and Oregon, and Breckinridge taking the majority of the South. But that conclusion stated as is, simply masks over a great deal of confusion and uncertainty that were in play during the 1860 presidential election campaigns and over a lengthy period leading up to that election. In the end, Douglas only took one state and 12 electoral votes for example but it is telling that many of the key issues for 1860 were brought into sharp and rancorous focus in 1858 during the newspaper-broadcast Lincoln-Douglas debates.

In 1858 and in 1860, candidates and would-be candidates gave public speeches to local audiences. And then word of this was shared more nationally via newspaper recounts. And essentially any and every candidate could and did craft messages to address the needs and interests of the locally situated audiences directly in front of them at the time. And to pick up on one candidate and one complex of issues, Lincoln gave differently nuanced and even frankly differently stated views on slavery in his speeches depending on where he was and who he was trying to influence and win over in his immediate audience.

That could and did work in an age when news traveled slowly and when widespread news coverage was limited to the printed word as it would appear in newspapers, at least for more rapid and immediate coverage. When Franklin D. Roosevelt faced a then still new radio technology as a new communications channel, opportunity for a locally formulated and stated message to stay local was greatly diminished. And when Kennedy faced early generation television coverage as his newly available communications channel, the veil of presumed local-only secrecy was pulled back farther. But even when political discourse faced a more mature television technology with its capacity to bring news from seemingly anywhere to anywhere, politicians still tried crafting local-only messages that would not work positively for them when and if more widely visible. The rise and spread of the internet, and particularly the Web 2.0 interactive internet tore away any possibility of local-only anywhere and on even the seemingly most local interest only issues. When politics and political discourse play out in an interactive online context anyone and everyone can step in and publically broadcast word of message inconsistencies and of perceived message biases. And that is what we face now.

See Part 2 and Part 3 of this series for their discussions on Roosevelt and Kennedy, and of the 2008 US presidential election campaigns. And with respect to the 2008 campaigns, I specifically note how essentially all of the Republican presidential candidate hopefuls leading up to their primary elections, boxed themselves into corners nationally, from statements they made and positions that they took in order to win over more extremist local demographic support from within the fringes of their own political party. By the time that John McCain won his party’s 2008 nomination, he was already essentially unelectable nationally, from the cumulative damage he created for himself before a national audience, from pandering to his own Party’s extremists and from meeting their particular litmus test requirements. And I noted in passing in Part 3 that the Republicans learned nothing from 2008 going into the 2012 presidential election. They made this same candidacy-killing mistakes then too, leaving Romney fundamentally unelectable nationally too.

I am going to continue this discussion in my next series installment where I will turn to consider Point 2 as initially offered at the top of this posting which I restate here as:

• There are no longer any isolated, local constituencies or issues in a world where any group can globally reach out and connect and where their issues can draw sympathy, support and resonance from seemingly anywhere else and even globally.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Macroeconomics and Business and also at Web 2.0 Marketing.

The power of groceries in projecting national strength 3 – thinking through media and messages 2

Posted in macroeconomics, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on June 18, 2014

This is my third posting to a series on how nation states project an image of their strength, and of their concerns, their aspirations and their values (see Part 1: setting the stage for this discussion and Part 2: thinking through media and messages 1.)

I began discussing medium as message in Part 2 of this series, with at least a loosely defined goal of updating Marshall McLuhan’s message for a rapidly forming and emerging 21st century, with its increasingly online contexts. I focused in Part 2 on 20th century historical examples of how new media have been used and successfully, or misunderstood and misused. And in that, I at least briefly sketched out how adroit use of radio as a then new medium and then television in its turn, were used by savvy politicians as they pursued and advanced their political agendas.

I move this discussion here in this posting into the early years of this 21st century with the advent of online social media and the interactive online experience. And as my working example here, I focus on the 2008 United States presidential election campaign, pitting Barack Obama as the Democratic Party’s candidate against John McCain as the Republican presidential candidate.

I am an independent, politically, but note here that I volunteered help to the Obama election effort in this campaign in the swing state of Pennsylvania where I helped set up and run campaign field offices and ran targeted voter participation drives, among other election-related activities. I mention this both to acknowledge that I was an actively involved partisan in this presidential campaign and that I had something of an insider’s view of how it was run, and from both Democratic and Republican sides as I actively studied the Republican campaign and its strategy and activities while living in Pennsylvania for this too.

I wrote at least briefly in Part 2 about how John F. Kennedy understood television as a Democratic Party presidential election candidate, in ways that his Republican opponent, Richard M. Nixon never did, and how Kennedy’s more successful and compelling use of this new medium played a crucial role in his winning the 1960 presidential election. That was a close election. Obama won over McCain in 2008 by a massively overwhelming margin at least in part because he and his campaign knew and understood computerized database systems and the internet, and social media and the interactive internet in ways that certainly as of this writing, their Republican counterparts are still trying to learn.

• In this, online supported database systems and targeted, adroitly managed and updated online communications were organized and run by the Obama campaign as a closely coordinated unified effort, and one that connected into and supported their more traditional format campaigning too.
• Their Republican opponent ran a much more disorganized and unfocused outreach campaign, largely built around indiscriminately directed automated phone call messaging – robocalls and other traditional approaches.
• I met people and both Democrats and Republicans when in Pennsylvania for this, who told me that they were turning off their phone ringers in the evening because they were getting so many of these automated calls, all strident and all arriving when they were trying to eat dinner or relax with their families after a long day’s work.

Both parties ran more traditional information broadcast model web 1.0 sites. The Democratic Party effectively added interactive elements into all of their outreach, and with a goal of entering into active conversations with the people they sought the votes of. But having said that, the single most important place to start when discussing the Obama campaign’s success has to be with its databases: used to organize and focus where specific targeted messages were directed, and to reach out to people as individuals in doing so.

The Obama campaign started with publically available voter registration rolls, and with anyone who had registered as an independent or as a Democrat. The campaign also identified and actively pursued those who registered to vote without indicating anything as to their political party preferences or affiliations, at least initially presuming them to be likely undecided too or at least as not being fully decided and committed. Registered Republicans and registered members of a few other smaller parties that would be very strongly disinclined to be receptive to any Democratic Party message were noted for their numbers but effectively culled out of the list for active direct outreach. Everyone remaining was actively reached out to, through a succession of carefully planned and scripted outreach campaigns. And responses to these outreaches were tabulated according to standardized scales depending on what issues if any, responders expressed interest in, and on the basis of any feedback gained as to how they would be inclined to vote. This made possible a progressive refinement of the voter and potential voter list, making progressively more fine-tuned and individualized campaign marketing possible.

Outreaches were done in door to door canvasing campaigns where literature was given out. And the people who actively did this work were all coached on how to respond to questions for the major areas of political discussion, and both nationally and for Pennsylvania residents. If a question was asked that the door to door canvasser could not answer, they were told to say that they would research that and get back to the people who asked it with a correct answer. This was noted and every effort was made to do that. And of course all outreach feedback reached here was added into that database system too.

Outreaches were also done by phone but never, ever by automated messaging. Real people called real people. And like the door to door canvassers, they sought out information as to how the people they spoke with were leaning politically. And these campaign workers made a targeted information attempt to at least bring them to more positively consider voting Democratic – and not just for Obama but for the full Democratic Party ticket. Once again, everything they learned from individual potential voters was added into that database too.

In practice most of the people who contributed to the door to door campaigning also helped with the phone banks and vice versa.

• Everyone who did any of this or related work was specifically trained in how to do it
• And about the issues that were important to voters for this election,
• And they were trained as to the details of the Party platform as it addressed them.
• The goal was that everyone working for the campaign understand the issues and that they be able to comfortably, articulately represent the Party and its candidates in explaining them, and in positive terms. This contrasted with the very largely negative messaging offered by the Republican Party in this election and its failure to convincingly offer any real, positive solutions or approaches to the challenges and issues that concerned Pennsylvania voters.

And as noted above, from a database perspective – every voter or potential voter contact was recorded and data so gained was added into and taken into account for dynamically updating the overall voter database so the right messages could be shared with the right people, and from that initial start with a generic voter registration list, up to election day when last minute reminders were sent out along with targeted offers to help people get to their voting places if they needed assistance (e.g. elderly or handicapped voters who would have difficulty traveling to their local voting sites, and then back home again after voting.)

And the Democratic Party’s more traditional foot and phone approach was matched by a very active and constantly updated and retuned interactive online and social media-based campaign too and with insight gained from any one campaign channel fed into all others to further refine and tune them. Everything fit together and lessons learned from any of this overall effort were brought into every other area and aspect of the overall campaign.

McCain and his running mate used a campaign strategy approach of an earlier generation, and never went beyond talking at the people they sought to influence and win over. They did not listen so they did not even know when their outreach efforts were turning people away rather than positively influencing them. They were viewed as being overly negative and strident in that, and at least as tellingly they were viewed as being unable to come up with positive responses to any of the real challenges that voters saw and faced, or even that they themselves raised.

I briefly noted in Part 2 how Nixon miscued on and misused television as a then new and emerging medium when running for office against Kennedy in 1960. Think of the Obama versus McCain election of 2008 as representing a perfect storm counterpart to that for the Republicans, swamping their efforts in all directions and giving Obama a massive victory and a clear mandate. And I will simply note this here in passing but the Republican Party learned nothing from this, and the result was their overwhelming defeat in the 2012 presidential election.

I have, of course, only briefly touched upon a few select details of the 2008 election and even just for the counties of Pennsylvania that I was actively, directly involved with, for it. But for purposes of this posting and series I have probably offered enough for their discussion. I would recommend reading further into this election campaign itself, as it holds multiple lessons and both for understanding recent national elections in the United States, and for understanding the elections soon to come there too.

And at least as tellingly, Obama’s success with massive database systems of individual voter action and opinion, leading to his becoming President, all but certainly influenced his view of and use of massive citizen-data accumulating database systems in general when in office – and as he has led his War on Terror and in a variety of other contexts as well. In that context, see my series: Learnable Lessons from Manning, Snowden and Inevitable Others (at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2 as postings 225 and loosely following.)

I am going to continue this discussion in a next installment where I will consider the growing implications of and the increasingly day-to-day reality of truly ubiquitous, from anywhere to anywhere communications and interactive online access. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Macroeconomics and Business and also at Web 2.0 Marketing.

The power of groceries in projecting national strength 2 – thinking through media and messages 1

Posted in book recommendations, macroeconomics, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on May 31, 2014

I recently posted a brief note on national strength and on how it is most effectively displayed – not with military parades and displays of weapons but through a country’s demonstrated capability and willingness to meet its people’s needs (see Part 1: setting the stage for this discussion .)

I initially set out to write what turned into Part 1 of what is now this series, with a primary goal of sharing one story that I presented there. And the basic message of that story, was one of how distorted a national leadership can become when it operates essentially entirely from its own power base and from within its own ideologically protective bubble. This distortion was expressed in Part 1 in how a nation’s leaders perceive an effective projection of national strength and capability that they would share with their own citizens and with the world at large – and in terms that do not always connect with their own citizens, and certainly not as a positive that addresses their lives or their needs.

In times of international conflict or of high risk and concern of that arising, a display of military strength might reassure. But at any other time it can just become a display of seemingly misplaced priorities and of governmental inefficiency and waste – and particularly when the basic human and societal needs of its citizens are not being met.

So I wrote Part 1 with a goal of discussing how a government can more effectively present its strength and its system’s superiority, by showing how it better meets the quality of life needs of its people. But even as I wrote that I found myself thinking back to the Kennedy Khrushchev kitchen debate that I cited more in passing there. This was a televised debate at a time when television was a still new communications medium. And Kennedy understood how this new communications tool could be used in advancing his ideas and his agenda; Khrushchev did not and it showed. So I switch directions here from a focus on message as content, to one of the message as medium, or more precisely to one of medium as message to use the phraseology of Marshall McLuhan in his book:

• McLuhan, M. and Q. Fiore (1967) The Medium Is the Massage: an inventory of effects Bantam Books.

And for that side to this now larger discussion, I go back to an earlier generation than that of Kennedy or Khrushchev and to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his use of radio as a medium. Roosevelt was first elected President of the United States in 1932 in the early days of what became known as the Great Depression. And over the course of his terms of office he pursued and advanced a very far-reaching activist agenda. He succeeded in enacting as much as he did in creating government programs and pushing through new laws, and with sufficient Congressional support to be able to accomplish that, because he was able to capture and hold the public support of large numbers of the voters who put and kept those members of Congress in office. And one of his most powerful tools for cultivating this voter power base came from his use of the radio with his regularly recurring fireside chats. Between 1933 and 1944 Roosevelt used radio as a medium of choice to directly reach out to that public 30 times, bypassing newspaper editorial review and any other potential filtering to directly speak to the people. This really worked for him in helping him convince the public to support his programs and in large enough numbers to sway Congressional support in his favor too. And Roosevelt’s political opponents by and large never were able to compete with him there because they did not really understand the nuanced power of radio or how to use it towards their own ends.

I began this discussion at least in passing in Part 1 by citing John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States and how he understood the power and use of television in ways that Nikita Khrushchev did not. At least as tellingly, Kennedy understood and used television much more adroitly than Richard Milhous Nixon could when Nixon ran against him in 1960 as the Republican Party presidential candidate. Kennedy studied television. He knew how he came across on it and how to look and act when on screen. Nixon did not and that showed in the way his live and in person approach to debate made him appear less trustworthy then his young Democratic Party rival. The 1960 election was close; Kennedy won but not by a wide margin. It can be and has been argued that if Nixon had presented himself as effectively as Kennedy in their first-time televised presidential debates he might have won over his arguably less experienced political opponent. And subsequent history would have been different.

I have to add that while Nixon was elected as the 37th President of the United States, he never really came to understand television as a medium or how to make effective use of it in conveying a message, or an image as a reliable and trustworthy messenger.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next installment where I will move ahead by another generation and both in human and in technology terms: to the 2008 presidential political campaign of Barack Obama and his use of the internet and online social media as his perhaps defining voice. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Macroeconomics and Business and also at Web 2.0 Marketing.

The power of groceries in projecting national strength 1 – setting the stage for this discussion

Posted in macroeconomics, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on May 9, 2014

I recently found myself thinking back to an event that took place early in my professional career. I began my work life as a biologist and a research scientist, first working in the field in the United States and in Latin America, and then in laboratories in the United States. I was working as a postdoctoral fellow at a medical school in New York when the laboratory brought in a new graduate student from what was then still the Soviet Union: Irena.

I met Irena as the airport when she first arrived in the United States and brought her back to the school campus and to student housing. And on the way and particularly when we reached the area of the school, I began telling her where places were that she would find useful, including where the local grocery stores were. Student apartments came with small but well laid out efficiency kitchens and most students there primarily prepared their own food to help control costs.

Irena had just arrived from a now crumbling last-stage Soviet empire on a flight from Moscow. The Warsaw Pact was actively breaking apart as several of its member states had already fallen to be replaced by new western leaning governments. It was clearly more a matter of when more than it was of if, for the ending of their old system as a whole. And deeper and deeper cracks were showing in the Soviet Union itself too. But this narrative is not about any of that; it is about this drive from the airport back to the Bronx and to what would become Irena’s new home for as long as she stayed at the medical school as a student in their PhD program.

Irena made it very clear, very quickly that she was not Russian. She was Tatar. He father was White Russian but her mother was Tatar and she was Tatar too. She looked around in curiosity of course but the store window displays and the flow of cars and trucks did not faze her, as didn’t the buildings. Then we stopped at a small market – mid-way between supermarket on the larger end and convenience store on the smaller. It was easy walking distance from student housing and a popular grocery store and I wanted to make sure that Irena had something to eat in her new apartment. And that brings me very specifically to why I still remember this story all so clearly.

Irena’s eyes opened wide and she was dumbfounded by the diversity and availability of such plenty in this local grocery store – and with everything neatly laid out and with everything clean and fresh. She asked me where the lines were and most certainly when we reached the small meat department and she saw its range of offerings, all there for her to choose from. She asked if anyone could buy this as she tentatively touched some of the wrappings over those items. Irena learned fast and quickly became comfortable selecting and buying whatever she wanted, and both there and at a much larger supermarket farther away. But that evening she limited herself to buying the smallest package of bologna that she could find along with a small assortment of vegetables, tea and milk, bread and the like. It was not a matter of money; I offered to buy for her as a welcoming gift on this, her first grocery shopping trip in this new land and she insisted that she could and should pay for her own food. And she did have the money needed, and was getting a stipend to cover her expenses. The real issue what that absolutely anyone could walk into this store or any other like it and buy whatever they wanted and in whatever quantity they wanted, no permissions or special standing with anyone or with any organization required. And she could do this and buy everything fresh without having to wait in lines. This showed me the power of the mundane and simple and of the grocery cart and in ways that my reading about Kennedy and Khrushchev and their kitchen debate never quite did; I actually saw the impact of this revelation of plenty in the United States in comparison to what was available for meeting basic needs in Irena’s Russia. And I have found myself thinking back to this evening many times since then, and particularly when I see those show of strength military parades with all of their soldiers and weapons out on display – and particularly from more repressive governments.

Such displays of governmental strength are made to given warning to other governments that a repressive one can take care of and defend itself from outside challenge. And these displays of force capability are also offered to deter dissent and any potential for challenge from within and from a repressive government’s own people by showing how much power can be brought to bear on those who disagree. But you cannot cloth yourself or your children with guns and bombs; you and your family cannot eat a tank or a missile rolling by in that parade formation. Ultimately, these displays simply just show weakness, and particularly when other nations’ analysts can dissect and evaluate all of the film footage and other documentation developed to cover these displays, reducing the leveraging power of uncertainty as to what that repressive government actually has at its disposal that it could use militarily.

Ultimately, we are all more impressed by signs of strength in areas that directly impact upon our own lives and on those of our family and neighbors than we are by signs of strength that can only remain distant abstractions, baring a societally disrupting fall into armed conflict. If you want to convince a people that your way of life and your system of governance that protects it is stronger, do not show them your guns and bombs; show them your supermarkets and how well your people eat and how well your system of governance can meet their basic human needs. An awareness of a significantly higher standard and quality of living under other, competing systems can do more to undermine a repressive government in the eyes of its people, in ways that no displays of force of arms power ever can, and certainly when that means display of power and capability that do not reach out to day-to-day lives and that never can.

This experience was more telling for me than was word of any Kenney, Khrushchev debates. First, I was a child when they happened. And second and more importantly, I was living in the have-nation participating in this event and not in Khrushchev’s have-not nation. Word of this particular debate and the spread of its images of plenty as to what average Americans had in their kitchens and on their dinner tables, was electrifying in Russia and throughout their Soviet empire. And the message that Khrushchev brought back with him, and even with his claims that this was just a “Potemkin kitchen” became as poison in the Soviet Union, helping to undermine its credibility as that country’s government claimed to offer better to its people than the West could.

I have told my basic story here, but I have not put it into context yet. I am going to continue this narrative in a second installment where I will address that. And in anticipation of that, I will write about the rapidly and I add disruptively evolving nature of communications and of information sharing, and how differences in how two parties in a debate understand and use new media and communications options can mean everything. Then I will look into at least some of this from an economics perspective, along with a sociopolitical one. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Macroeconomics and Business and also at Web 2.0 Marketing.

Social media demographics as a possible challenge to the Pareto principle, in online market dynamics 2

Posted in social networking and business, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on August 21, 2013

This is my third installment to a response that I have been developing, to a question raised by a reader. My first part to this was offered as a reply to a comment appended to my posting: When Information Becomes Cheap and Ubiquitous Attention Becomes Rare and Costly, and I then followed up on that with a Part 1 separate posting that this one serves to continue. And my goal in all of this is to share some thoughts on how the Pareto principle is applied when modeling online commerce, and on what is automatically assumed when this is simply taken for granted.

The Pareto principle, as a reminder, is also often called the 80-20 rule where some 80% of all online business goes to some 20% of all same-marketplace vertical e-commerce web sites. And in practice it is often observed that a particularly stringent form of this rule can be in place in e-commerce with as much as 90 or even 95% of all online business in a vertical going to as few as 10 or even just 5% of the competing sites. I have discussed something of the dynamics of this process and of the mechanisms in place that would lead to this type of business transaction bottleneck. And I have also noted the danger of simply taking expected principles and rules, and practices based on them for granted – as disruptively emergent competitive offerings that successfully challenge them can undercut other businesses that rely upon them. That cautionary note applies to rules such as the Pareto principle as much as it does to any other automatic business assumptions. So I have written about an ongoing need to know what is being assumed and why, and to always keep at least some room for doubt that our assumptions might not universally hold and for all time – and even if the argument behind their applicability seems very sound. Assumptions simplify and streamline and can lead to greater efficiencies, when empirically validated. But they carry their own risks too.

• Know what you assume and why and under what circumstances and with what constraints and parameters of applicability.

And this brings me to a lead-in for the body of this posting that I added to the end of Part 1 of this short series. I raised the possibility that the processes and dynamics of social media and of viral marketing that comes from it might change the marketplace dynamics that lead to a version of the Pareto principle being followed. And to put that into operational context, I also noted that the Pareto principle as generally stated has its own underlying assumptions and that one of them is that the marketplaces and communities that it predictively models are simple and unstructured and certainly statistically at the consumer level.

• The Pareto principle assumes that marketplaces and communities of consumers in them are simple and effectively unstructured.
• Individuals differ and in many ways, but for purposes of this model and its marketplace, and consumer based analysis, when people are looking to purchase a gas barbeque grill, or a shirt, a book or music CD or essentially any other type or category of product or service, their individual differences blur into statistical insignificance when you look at overall marketplaces and at overall cumulative consumer behavior.

To take what follows out of the abstract, I would cite a working example of how a consumer-based marketplace and customer community can develop significant purchasing decision-biasing structure. And I will then at least briefly note how this can impact upon competitive position and for statistically significant numbers of businesses in a vertical – and how this fact might be capitalized on as an emergent business strategy by entrepreneurs who see this.

We have all come to see the internet and cyberspace as existing, in a fundamental sense, outside of our normal geographical spatial frameworks. We go online and as long as products can be readily shipped to us, it does not matter where we place an order to geographically, or where that order is actually shipped to us from. This only, generally, becomes a problem if some step in this system of processes breaks down. For this example, I am going to impose some significant geographic structure. The products in question are very, very perishable and need to be delivered virtually immediately if they are to be competitively fresh in this marketplace. And assume that this is an otherwise low-overhead business that smaller businesses can compete in and where economy of scale would not push them out. Need for immediately local sourcing plays into that, as much as do lower fixed operating expenses and overhead. Pizza delivery companies, florists and others count in their ranks a mix of large operations with widely distributed local operations that can be franchise-based or wholly owned and operated by the parent company. But these market verticals also support large numbers of smaller and more entirely locally based and operated businesses, that market themselves as members of their local communities and to consumer bases that value that.

If you look at this overall market space without regard to geographic localization and strictly in terms of the larger business competitors in it, and then look to see how many distinct business-owned web sites or phone-in systems capture what shares of the overall business traffic, you see a more widely distributed business success rate. The most effectively competitive individually capture less business than a straight Pareto distribution would predict and more businesses capture a significant fraction of the overall business and certainly when compared with the business activity levels attained by the top businesses in that vertical. Statistically, as noted in Part 1, the distribution of business performance levels shown, becomes flattened and more platykurtic.

This is a simple and even a simplistic example as geographic distribution is fairly obviously an important factor here, and local businesses can be expected to do well and to collectively account for a significant share of overall business completed – and certainly given the popular importance for so many communities to buy local. But I add that any significant marketplace partitioning or structuring factor is probably going to look fairly obvious – once it is explicitly pointed out.

• No one business might specifically gain special marketplace advantage by spotting a marketplace opportunity defining factor that would spread out the performance curve here,
• But a successful business might easily find itself slipping in its overall performance and competitive effectiveness, and find itself unable to identify any specific competitor whose success could tell it how or why,
• And because it does not see that there are crucial marketplace forces that its business model fails to address.

Here, consider the larger multi-outlet competitor that fails to see a rapidly and significantly emerging trend where its customers, and its now former customers are pursuing locally produced and locally owned instead.

As a final thought here, I stress that this has turned into a discussion that is a lot more about retaining competitive strength and marketplace position, than it is of breaking out of the pack to gain dramatically better standing there.

I am going to conclude this discussion here, though I am certain to return to issues raised in it in future postings. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 2, and also at Social Networking and Business and Web 2.0 Marketing.

Social media demographics as a possible challenge to the Pareto principle, in online market dynamics 1

Posted in social networking and business, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on August 17, 2013

About a month ago I responded to a newly offered comment to one of my postings: When Information Becomes Cheap and Ubiquitous Attention Becomes Rare and Costly. A brief exchange of messages ensued, with that conversation thread appended to that posting as a short sequence of comments and replies. And I stated there, that I would write a follow-up posting to expand upon my comments re the application of the Pareto principle to modeling and understanding online market dynamics, and particularly as members of online communities are observed to primarily go to some small number of web sites available in any given vertical market space to do the bulk of their online business.

I said in my primary comment in that conversation thread that I would come back to this again and with a goal of examining and even challenging automatic assumptions that the Pareto principle must always apply here. And that is what I will at least begin to do in this posting.

I want to start with a small piece of housekeeping though, writing in follow-up to a related point that I made in that comment. I cited how long tail search terms and pay per click marketing based on them are sometimes thought of as offering an end run around the Pareto principle as a bottleneck in limiting most business to only a few same-market sites. I outlined how long tail marketing per se should only be expected to at most reframe the terms under which this same empirical phenomenon occurs with Pareto remaining alive and healthy for predicting overall online marketplace behavior. But I wanted to add here, at least brief consideration of a business model that I know some see as breaking out of this pattern anyway, and specifically because of long tail term bidding and marketing and their use. So I start this discussion on that note.

Some businesses bid on and seek to control pay per click marketing placement for their e-commerce sites, across tens and even hundreds of thousands of long tail search terms and phrases. There are even a few businesses out there actively simultaneously bidding on a million and more such terms as they seek to gain marketplace advantage in being found online and through search engines. The argument for this breaking them out of the Pareto principle bottleneck assumes that by approaching the marketplace from so many distinct and separate search term approaches, they would be pursuing too complex and comprehensive an approach to be blockable by any given Pareto-based bottleneck. This argument overlooks some very basic points.

• The Pareto principle when applied to online commerce, simply states that if you look at any given online market, most visitor traffic and page hits, and most completed transactions will go to a comparatively quite small percentage of all web sites competing for that business. This is a statistical point and not one based upon individual site performance or individual online business strategy or how that is implemented. If one or a few sites do find novel ways to get into that 10% or even 5% that achieve significant business performance success online, that is not likely to change the overall proportion of businesses that do so, or lead to overall market performance patterns that statistically deviate from what the Pareto principle would predict. In fact the Pareto principle says nothing as to how any given business does or would succeed in getting into its predicted favored few percent on top. It simply says that only some will so succeed.
• In the real world, I add, businesses that bid on very large suites of long tail search terms, in virtually all cases also bid on at least carefully selected short tail, premium value, high cost per-bid terms too. My point here and with this point is that while a long tail search term-only strategy might be pursued by small and highly specialized niche market businesses as discussed in my above cited posting comment and certainly for their online marketing, the large and in many cases already general-market leading businesses that seek to capture high pay per search priority for seemingly endless numbers of long tail terms, are not generally actually following long tail search term online marketing strategies at all, except as one perhaps even minor component to a larger and more complex program. And their overall pay per click search engine marketing is in most cases only a component of still larger online marketing programs. And under the terms I have been discussing here, they still face Pareto and have to work at their marketing and communications to get into its favored small percentage of online successes anyway.

So I begin this discussion by once again writing in terms of the overall validity of the Pareto principle in online marketing and both in general and for specialized niche markets. But I said in my comment reply that I noted at the top of this posting, that I would also at least seek to raise some questions as to the validity of tacitly, automatically assuming the Pareto principle to all online commerce contexts. That is what I will at least start here next. And I begin that by asking two very basic questions:

• What does the Pareto principle assume as a given, about the basic nature and structure of the marketplaces and communities that it predicts the behavior of?
• What details or features of such a community would have to be changed, and in what ways to broaden out the high performance success rate business population, and expand out the numbers of businesses in a vertical that would be among the most successful? Rephrasing this question in more explicitly statistical terms, what would have to change, for the distribution of business activity achieved across an online market’s competing businesses to become more platykurtic?

Towards the end of the above cited comment reply, I invoked the terms social media and viral marketing and repeat them again here as topic points I am going to lead this discussion to. I am going to begin addressing the first of the two questions I just posed here, and will continue that and this discussion as a whole in a follow-up posting in a few days, making this a two part series.

• The Pareto principle assumes that marketplaces and communities of consumers in them are simple and effectively unstructured.
• Individuals differ and in many ways, but for purposes of this model and its marketplace, and consumer based analysis, when people are looking to purchase a gas barbeque grill, or a shirt, a book or music CD or essentially any other type or category of product or service, their individual differences blur into statistical significance when you look at overall marketplaces and at overall cumulative consumer behavior.

Touching on the second of those questions, systematic violation of the Pareto principle as a filtering bottleneck would require the emergence of collateral factors and patterns that were apart from the specific purchase decisions themselves but that systematically skew where those decisions are finalized, and in large enough numbers to impact on overall marketplace statistics and market dynamics.

As I noted above, I will continue this discussion in a next series installment. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 2, and also at Social Networking and Business and Web 2.0 Marketing.

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