technology

Technology Introduction – Will Grandma Use it?

I was on a cruise when I learned that Steve Jobs had died. I watched a short news story that tried to discuss why he was such an important figure in technology but I think they completely missed the mark.

Will Grandma Use It?New technologies need to pass the grandma test: if the average grandma couldn’t figure it out or just plain wouldn’t use it, it’s likely not going to be successful. Whether you think Apple products are aesthetically pleasing or not, the majority of their design focuses on simplicity; I think this is the essence of their success.

While on the ship almost everything works through a single plastic card with a magnetic stripe and a single bar code: room access, payments for purchases, and tracking ingress and egress. Everybody seems to handle this well, even grandma. There are more advanced things you can do with the card like balance tracking on your in-room TV and modifying information on an interactive touchscreen kiosk. The fact that the card does almost everything and is simple to use is why it’s a winner. The fact that more advanced users have the option for further use makes it even better.

This is exactly what someone at Apple likely figured out. If you cater to the widest possible audience by making something so powerful easy to use you’re almost guaranteed success. The pair of 80 somethings taking about sending picture messages and using cell phone video conferencing is certainly evidence of this. Make it simple, make it powerful, try to manufacture it fast enough to keep up with demand.

About the Author: 

Brian Cribbs helps realize the dreams of companies; advancing their efficiency through systems automation, changing their public image through web presence, and allowing their clients new opportunities through rich web-based applications. As an inventor, Brian helps solve problems that affect many people around the world on a daily basis.

Posted in: 
Development
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Going All Google

Have you ever gone to Google.com just to see what the "Google Doodle" of the day is?

I have. Numerous times. My most favorite ones were when Google paid tribute to Les Paul, and when they celebrated the 30th Anniversary of Pac Man. You can see a full list of doodle's here.

I love that concept. Taking a logo and letting loose a little. Not being so starchy with your "brand."  I was recently given the green light by our Marketing Manager to "have some fun" with our logo. Pulling in some of our graphic designers, I asked them to create different designs that we could use throughout our social media sites.

What they came up with was using the "M" of MATRIX and giving it life. So over the past few months, our M has celebrated several holidays, honored our country, and even gave a glimpse into "her" heart as a Mother of a little "m".

I know you're not running to your computer daily to see what the new MATRIX "M" is, but I'm sure you have a favorite. Or maybe you have a clever idea for a design, I'd love to hear that too! 

Leave a comment, and let us know which is your favorite MATRIX "M".

The MATRIX M's

About the Author: 

Adam Waid is the Director of Marketing at Mediacurrrent, an industry-leader in helping organizations architect custom Drupal websites. Adam is also a MATRIX Alumnus, where he worked closely with the Sales and Recruiting organizations to develop differentiation strategies, create content, and drive CRM and social media initiatives with a single goal in mind - build stronger, more meaningful relationships with our clients. Leveraging new technology, the latest social media trends, and a good mix of traditional marketing, Adam grows online communities.   Follow Adam on Twitter and Read his Social Media Blog.

 

Posted in: 
Fun
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“Here’s looking at you, chip…”

Americans love things that are ‘classic’.  We love old movies - we have two major cable channels to feed our fixation, as well as a myriad of options for rental, download, and media borrowing.  We can buy old television shows on DVD by the season, or for those less committed, we can just watch them on Netflix.   We love old music, whether we are listening to it satellite radio, Pandora, or MP3, there is instant access to music from a different time.  We even invented the term ‘Classic Rock’ to make older mainstream rock-n-roll cooler.  We label things like hamburgers or Coke as ‘classic’, just to pick up on the cache the word possesses.  However, let me channel my inner Arsenio Hall and consider this idea that makes me go hmmmmm – why do we love old things.

Americans love things that are ‘classic’

Nostalgia is big business in America, and its only getting bigger.  Everyone yearns to return to a special time from their past at some point, to either validate their experience or simply relive a pleasant memory.  Forget about Turner Classic Movies for a minute - even consumer products from my childhood have been given the ‘good old days’ treatment.  Recently, Frito Lay reintroduced Taco Doritos, and I was jumping-up-and-down excited by an old-fashioned foiled bag of flavored tortilla chips.  This is an extension of their annual repackaging party, when Pepsi products are ‘reintroduced’ in old-school cans, even reformulated to include real sugar instead of corn syrup. 

To further accelerate the phenomena, I think the ‘look backward for good times’ craze only gets more pronounced during troubled times, either personal or macro-economic.  When our security is threatened or the market is tanking, people seek to regress to a better place and time, when they felt happier, in control, or even younger.  It seems like a fairly natural human reaction, really.  It’s not quite as primitive as ‘fight or flight’, but it seems fairly natural.  I think that’s why Happy Days was such a phenomenon on TV in the late 70s – the economy was a wreck, gold traded for more than $1000 an ounce, and gas prices were really turbulent.  Sound familiar?

Funny thing, though – Nostalgia creeps into our thoughts in a lot of areas, save one:  Technology.  In our world of today, where we want better – faster – cheaper, you don’t ever hear someone say, “I wish I still had my Apple IIe” or “I really miss my Atari 2600”.  People don’t wax poetic about walkmans or black and white TVs or dot-matrix printers.  When was the last time someone uttered “I want my VCR back?”  All of those went directly to the Great Techno-Graveyard, and no one shed a tear.  They were all replaced with the next generation tool or toy or gadget that made the other obsolete. 

It seems as though people inherently understand that the ‘value’ provided comes from the entertainment, not the delivery mechanism.  I think that’s why people will listen to the same music for decades and not care if it’s listened to on vinyl, cassette tape, CD, MP3 or via internet streaming.   I think that’s why people bought movies on videotape, upgraded to DVD, and have started migrating to BluRay and downloaded copies.  It’s not the medium that conveys the experience to you, it’s the emotional response.  Technology is transient, or, to put it in Bill Gates terms, it’s the software, not the hardware.

About the Author: 

Willard Woodrow, Senior Project Manager and BI Champion at Genuine Parts, has 15+ years of information technology experience in the utilities, retail, recruiting, telecom, and insurance verticals. His professional expertise includes business consulting, system implementation, project management, application operations, and client relationship management. Follow Willard on Twittter @willardwoodrow.

Posted in: 
PM-Agile
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Looking for the Next Big Thing? It’s you…

In the last 10 years, there has been an incredible transformation in society: people, now more than ever, crave the ‘Next Big Thing’, often for different reasons.  Venture Capitalists want to know what the next huge innovation is going to be, so they can seek out a Start-up, fund it, and cash-in with a 100X return on investment.  Technologists want to begin developing experience on the latest and greatest platform (or delivery mechanism) to get ahead of the curve to enhance their careers.  Consumers want to be on the cutting edge, craving the new technological hotness to retain their mechanized superiority, conspicuous consumption style.

Next Big Thing?The funny thing is that Technology is changing at such an incredible pace that it’s difficult to track it.  Consider:

3D printing, an amazing manufacturing capability, is making the production of prototypes and unique components downright affordable.

Hydrogen powered cars are on the horizon, assuming that Energy companies can deliver large profits on the safe sale of stable hydrogen bricks.

Even the evolution of current, ubiquitous smartphones allows technically challenged people to stream live TV or manage their home thermostat.

We live in an amazing age, where innovation is happening almost as quickly as we can absorb it.  At no time in human history have advancements occurred this quickly.  And yet, the single most critical thing continues to lag behind the technology curve: human beings themselves.

Now, this isn’t going to be a post about how mankind should eradicate hunger or nuclear war or poverty.  It’s not Jerry Maguire’s ‘Manifesto’.  No, this is a challenge for you, the reader, to stretch yourself in the new direction YOU want to pursue.  If you don’t have an idea for yourself, try one or more of the following:

 

  1. Be more technical – It’s funny, but I’ve never heard anyone complain “I wish I was LESS technical.”  Learn about the technical components in the solutions you currently support and how they fit together.  If you already know them, spend some time helping the BA’s and PM’s understand them.
  2. Learn your organization’s core business – Most people only live within their immediate work responsibilities.  Take a step forward and understand the direct benefits your work provides to the end user – their perspective will certainly enlighten you.  
  3. Find mentors – All of us want to improve.  Select someone you admire, and learn about them.  Investigate who they are, how they do things, and if you are able to, establish a relationship with them.  You can have mentors in your personal and professional life, as many as you like.  The key is to strive to improve yourself in the ways important to you.
  4. See the world through your child’s eyes – Start by listening to the Harry Chapin song ‘Cat's in the Cradle’.  Think about the fact that you are 100% of your child’s world the day they are born, and that they immediately start towards 100% independence every day until they move out.  It’s a sobering thought for both parents and parents-to-be, something to always remember.
  5. Do ‘It’ today – If there is something that needs your attention, try to get whatever ‘it’ is done today.  Tomorrow is promised to no one, and procrastination is a sneaky, shadowy being that can slowly take over your life.
  6. Be kinder – In today’s difficult realities, a little kindness and understanding can go a long way.  Our society’s behavior, more than ever, is shaped by snarky demagogues who make their living by ripping others.  We are better than that, and as Abraham Lincoln said almost 150 years ago, let’s strive to listen to our better angels.

Ultimately, I would prefer that you look inside yourself for inspiration and the self-improvement of your choosing.  It will mean more to you, and ultimately the rest of us, if you believe in the ‘upgrades’ you seek in yourself.  Your life is a story, and the end has not been written yet.  Keep moving forward, and don’t settle for less than your best.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

About the Author: 

Willard Woodrow, Senior Project Manager and BI Champion at Genuine Parts, has 15+ years of information technology experience in the utilities, retail, recruiting, telecom, and insurance verticals. His professional expertise includes business consulting, system implementation, project management, application operations, and client relationship management. Follow Willard on Twittter @willardwoodrow.

Posted in: 
PM-Agile
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