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CES 2014 – Technology Solutions, Not Gadgets

Bonsai LightI’ve been trying to synthesize everything I have been seeing at this year’s CES into some trends and insights on a macro level, but the pattern wasn’t clear to me till just now. I have a lot more of the show floor to see today, but I’ve talked to a lot of press, analysts, startups (IndieGogo and Kickstarter companies are everywhere) and industry leaders, so I have a fair impression at this point which started forming after my meeting with my friends at Seagate, my tour of Eureka Park and my limited time in the Lenovo Lounge (where I am co-hosting their Social Media party tonight).

From what I have seen, it feels that there is a lot more harmony between technology and our daily lives in the solutions being offered, and there are truly more solutions for life instead of technology for technologies sake. Makers, engineers, developers, designers and business folks are thinking more holistically and more focused on real world needs and applications of technical insight. No where was that more visible then in the number of solutions around controlling lighting, or creating ambiance through it as Bonsai Light does. But Bonsai isn’t as yellow as they are green, with their unique energy harvesting technology.

Chris Heuer and Rick Wootten reflected in the LaCie Christofle SphereCES started for me on Monday when I kicked off the week by visiting with my dear friend and former Palm colleague, Rick Wootten over at the Seagate lounge in the Vdara. I personally have a Seagate Wireless Plus that I take everywhere with all my media and a backup of my key files off my laptop (for the just in case situations), but have been struggling to love it because of the mediocre media browser app they offered with it. I am happy to report that the new app they are bringing out shortly (in the next month I believe) will finally solve my challenge with this. I am unhappy to report that I love the new Seagate Slim models so much, I think I need to buy one. The other major software improvement they made is a new mobile device synchronization backup service that lets you move files from your mobile tablet or phone to your storage device with one click of a button, wirelessly.

Seeing everything that Seagate is doing (they now own LaCie btw) is what got me into a solution state of mind actually. They are no longer just a hard drive company.  Seagate Central (I also own this for my home storage cloud) and their other drives now connect and synchronize with each other, making it easier then ever to have a simple to use file backup, media server and even social media backup configuration at home. I don’t think I will be getting the new LaCie Chirstofle designed Sphere myself, but it’s an absolutely gorgeous storage device as you can see from the photo of it with myself and Rick reflected in its shiny silver plated surface.

One thing I saw that I am going to buy right away, is the Seagate Rescue and Replace data protection plan (I’m still in the window to add this to my prior purchase). I suspect everyone who has been around tech for a while will also buy this with every new drive they purchase. In short, for $30, you insure your hard drive so that if anything happens to it. Whether it just fails, gets dropped into a toilet, run over by a car or chucked up against a wall in frustration at a spinning beach ball, you can get your data back and drive replaced. Apparently the team there has a 90+% recovery rate, one of the best out there, if not the best. Better still, after you send in the damaged drive, they send you back a new drive with all your data on it and do a very secure shred of the drive and destroy all copies of the data. The one time I had to recover a drive during my first startup in the 90’s it cost me $1,400 to attempt recovery of something like 10GB.

One other thing that has me impressed and thinking about the harmony between technology and life is the Lenovo Yoga Tablet, which I am going to be buying shortly if I can’t manage to get a product loaner for a while. But I need to get out to the show floor, so I will need to tell you why my long time friends and occasional client Lenovo has me thinking about something other then an iPad…

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I’ve Joined Deloitte Consulting LLP

Since a few of my colleagues at Deloitte began tweeting about it Monday night, and my friend Luke Fretwell (founder of GovFresh) retweeted it yesterday, I realized the cat was out of the bag and I couldn’t wait any longer to talk about it myself. So I mentioned it briefly last night at our Social Media Trends 2011 event for Social Media Club San Francisco and a bunch of attendees tweeted it out only to be picked up more widely.

I am really excited to announce I have taken a position at Deloitte Consulting LLP as a Specialist Leader  (aka Senior Manager) with a focus on Social Media, Enterprise 2.0, Innovation and beyond. I am perhaps even more excited about the extraordinary people I’ve met at the firm so far and the tremendous potential we have for continuing to build out a great consulting practice that supports some of the best companies in the world who are Deloitte clients, or soon will be.

I was hoping to get a better handle on my surroundings and to better define my role in the organization before talking about this publicly, but as we have been saying for so long, “you can’t control social media.” So here’s the short version of a longer story we will be talking more about in the near future:

  • Big thanks to my friend and colleague John Hagel for making the introduction last summer that lead to this opportunity and the many senior partners with whom I will be collaborating.
  • I am going to be based out of the San Francisco office, but expect to be traveling all across the country.
  • I get to work with an incredible team, in what is known as the Social Computing and Collaboration group under the Technology Strategy and Architecture practice within Deloitte Consulting LLP.
  • I am staying on as Chairman of Social Media Club and will remain active in an evangelist role and fulfilling my board duties while my wife Kristie Wells will stay on as President and continue to build out the association with our Gamma Chapter Leaders.
  • I made this decision because its the right sort of environment and the right sort of smart people who can enrich my professional life, help me seize some of the opportunities that I see in the market (such as holistic business strategy) and where I can contribute to the greater well being of the organization in a multitude of ways.

For now, that’s all I can really say, not only because we will still be doing an official media alert or something like it, but also because there are some things we still have to figure out together. What I can say is that its going to be an amazing journey, and I am very much looking forward to 2011 and beyond.

If you would like to schedule an interview with me, you should reach out to Deloitte PR. If you are looking for a job, check out Deloitte’s open job positions and see some of the reasons I decided to join. If you are a Deloitte client and want to talk to me about your projects, reach out to your team lead and they will figure out what to do to get me engaged.

Disclaimer: Of course, none of the statements here reflect the views or opinions of Deloitte, they are all my own personal observations and statements. All links to the Deloitte Web site are made for your convenience. I am merely sharing my personal perspective on a significant personal life event, taking on my first ‘real job’ in over 10 years, when I previously worked for the United States Mint as Chief of eBusiness.

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Photos from Lenovo Blogger Nights 2 – CES 2010

Not a lot of time, but I wanted to share the fun from last night with everyone. This was such a blast. We (Social Media Club) are so fortunate to be able to work with such great people at Lenovo along with GDGT and Jeff Pulver on putting this together. Looking forward to one more time tonight…

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Is Social Media bad for the environment?

Sunset in JamaicaOdd question isn’t it?

I mean, surely Social Media is doing a lot for the cause, helping people spread the word via blogs, organize efforts and make everyone aware of our global climate crisis. Sarah Perez (love her stuff) even has a great post just today on How to Use Social Media for Social Change. Of course I agree, as evidenced by my early post on the Importance of Social Media and Amanda Chapel’s constant attacks against me (which I gleefully laugh at as he continues to give me more attention).

So what made me stop trying to fight my insomnia and get out of bed to write such a seemingly silly blog post at 430am this morning?

During the course of the work I have been doing with Intel lately, I have been researching the enterprise IT market and learning a lot about what they have been doing to reduce power consumption while maintaining performance across all there product lines. This CIO survey from March has some interesting details on “The Greening of IT”. It’s a very big and important topic for the industry and each of us. My friend Bill Kircos from Intel tells me that Intel is the largest buyer of reusable/renewable energy as ranked by the EPA (story on Treehugger.com). They are also extending their Greening Efforts across their operations in other important ways such as removing lead from their chips. Even my wife (Kristie Wells) is researching carbon offsets for her company Joyent.

At the same time, I have been thinking a lot about the big data portability issue (which I fully support) and whether or not the recent Facebook/Google challenge over Friend Connect might mean that we are seeing “The Twilight of the Open Web” (a topic of discussion for next months Social Media Club meeting in San Francisco – details to come).

In talking with some folks at the Executing Social Media conference last night, I mentioned this event idea and Nathan Gilliatt remarked we will always have some walled gardens and I replied with my standard “we can’t have walls, we need semi-permeable membranes”, meaning there needs to be some trust filter to keep the bad actors out and the good actors safe – which is the role Facebook claims to be playing in safegauding its users privacy from Friend Connect sites.

This is similar to the debate around Flickr and Zoomr and an open API for user portability which was basically about (paraphrasing) not allowing people to have all their data and photos transferred to a site where they may not be able to take it somewhere else in the future. As Stuart Butterfield said “we definitely should approve requests from direct competitors as long as they do the same … fair’s fair”. Or as Marc Canter infamously said at BloggerCon IV, “If you’re gonna suck, you gotta spit“.

Now look at the great and hugely popular service that FriendFeed and SocialThing are providing, a true value for sure, but it is duplicating, and in some cases tripling the amount of storage used for the same content.

Was also thinking about TubeMogul, which Tim Street mentioned during a session yesterday and which I also happen to love. It allows you to send your video to any and all of the video sharing sites you want all at once, saving us a great deal of time in distributing our video. Of course, there are also the people who take copies of it and upload it to other servers and other sites…

So these thoughts and discussions lead to me wondering about the impact that all of this data duplication we are creating with our Social Media is creating. Multiple hard drives, redundant systems, ultimately needing to head to a landfill or get partially recycled and replaced. Perhaps it is merely distributing the consumption we would have had anyway, but I have over 8,000 photos on Flickr and if I put them on Zoomr too that would be (@3MB each) 24 GB of extra storage space I am taking up on primary systems, plus backups – then the electricity to run it all.

Jake McKee talks about how he and his wife upload the same photos to their different Flickr accounts, what if they switched and then switched again. Of course, we also have a ton of different equipment we are using for creating and consuming media. Just today I had my M-Audio podcast rig, my Flip video camera, my phone and my iPod sitting in front of me next to my 3rd iBook/MacBook. The impact of manufacturing and disposal and power consumption of all this stuff we are using is just huge.

Of course, this is, most importantly, the method through which the whole of our society is improving, growing smarter and becoming more connected.

It’s obviously ok for the storage folks bottom lines and the power company and even me as a Social Media evangelist, but is Social Media bad for the environment? Shouldn’t we all be thinking more about Storage Conservation instead of Duplication?

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Utter your Support for your Presidential Candidate

Yesterday, Utterz (my client) announced its new election focused social media tool, a widget you can easily place on your blog, web site or social network, that tells the world who you are supporting in the US Presidential Election.  Unlike most of the badges that are available from the main campaign Web sites that are just GIF Banner Ads, the Utterz Voice Your Support widget contains an audio message that you personally record, telling everyone why you support your candidate.

Whether you are behind Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul or even Ralph Nader, you can get a Voice Your Support widget that activates your blog readers to understand why you are supporting your candidate of choice.  When they first announced the widget on the Utterz blog yesterday, it came out with only the top 4 candidates – but listening to the feedback from everyone, they quickly added an additional 4 widget options.  In addition to Ron Paul and Ralph Nader, they added an independent option and a ‘fix the electoral college’ option.  <plug & praise> This is what I really like about the team at Utterz – they are really responsive to the community and totally focused on their users. </plug & praise>

So enough of the pimping, I want to get more into the subject matter at hand – the elction… Perhaps you saw Larry Lessig’s excellent video on why he supports Obama – this is a powerful way to move beyond static banner ads, simple blog posts, and lawn signs, to lend your real voice and your real reasons to your candidate.  As all of us social media folks know, we trust each other, more than we trust media or institutions. This new widget allows anyone, from their computer or any telephone, to record a message and display it easily for everyone to hear.  Its so cool.

As you may have already seen, I placed a Voice Your Support widget on my blog the other day, putting my support behind Obama.  Why? Well, click the play button and listen for yourself…. ok, I am waiting.  So, as you heard, I am supporting him because I think it is time for a visionary leader – someone to see beyond this mess we are in and who isn’t held down by ‘the way its always been done’.  If we keep doing it the same way, with the same insiders, playing the same game – our game called Life may soon be over. Don’t agree?  I am up for talking about it civilly – here in the comments or over at Utterz.

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Please Join Me for an Utterz Meetup in Boston

Tomorrow afternoon I am flying out to a very chilly Boston, MA for a couple of days of meetings with the good folks from Utterz (our new client), so I thought it might be a good time to try to meet some other Utterz users too… Chris Brogan, Simeon Margolis and hopefully a few other friends from Boston’s great Social Media Club chapter will be there, talking about how we are using Utterz and what the outlook is for Social Media/Blogging in 2008.

It’s kind of last minute (very), so it will be a pretty low key affair for a couple of drinks and maybe an informal geek dinner afterwards somewhere nearby. We will be meeting at Vox Populi on Thursday January 3 from about 6-8pm. If you are able to join us, please rsvp on the Utterz Meetup page on Upcoming, or if you don’t have an Upcoming account, you can do so here in the comments…

It’s very important that you RSVP – if the group is large instead of small, we may need to go to another nearby venue so the RSVP will give us a way to contact you 🙂

Mobile post sent by chrisheuer using Utterz. Replies. mp3

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The Conversation Group: Excited to be working with Utterz!

Utterz LogoI am very happy to announce we signed an agreement between The Conversation Group and Utterz a week or so before the holidays where we will be providing Utterz with Market Relations, Marketing, Business Development and Consulting services. This is the perfect example of the types of agency services we are providing clients in the age of conversational marketing – a mix of strategy, relationship development and communications that helps an organization grow by getting closer to the markets (or more specifically, the people) they serve. Both our organizations believe we have a great opportunity to demonstrate how smart startups can effectively engage customers in the modern world.

Talking with several friends over the last few months (the blog post is still in draft), I have stressed how important it is in the modern world to really respect any company for whom you are working. Whether it is traditional PR, Advertising, Consulting, Branding or Social Media work, a true passion for a company’s products, services, employees and values is incredibly valuable in providing great service. With Utterz, I not only respect the product and the company, I am also a raving fan.

As you know from reading my blog, I have been an active Utterz user for the past 2 months since being introduced to them at BlogWorld Expo by Chris Brogan in early November. It really is the exact sort of service I was waiting for – providing an easy to use system for mobile content creation and publishing. Better still for me personally, they are at the right place in their development where some of my ideas and insights as a “Social Media Guy” can hopefully make a difference in the product development and road map. Now that I have seen a bit of what is coming, I am even more excited because they are already working on, or soon will be working on, many of the things that I really need/want as a user of the service.

In working with the some of the members of their team (Michael Bayer, Randy Corke and Simeon Margolis) over the last few weeks, I am very glad to now think of them as friends as well as colleagues – I am also extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with them, as they truly ‘get it’, which makes our job at The Conversation Group so much easier. There are too many client opportunities out there to waste our time working with people who don’t ‘get it’. I feel truly blessed that at The Conversation Group, we have such an amazing group of clients – I am even more excited, that we get to contribute to the growth of a great company like Utterz...

BTW – this post is intended as both an announcement and a disclosure

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