Thinking, Fast and Slow

By , March 2, 2015

thinking_fast_and_slowWow. I just realized that I’ve been reading one book for more than a year, and I’m still not even half-done.

The book is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. Of course, I’ve read dozens of other books during this time.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s a really good, really interesting book — but it constantly forces me to think, and sends my brain into a tailspin of distraction. Read more »

“The [Charlie Hebdo] murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.”

By , January 10, 2015

Read this column!

Ross Douthat wrote in his column, “The Blasphemy We Need,” in The New York Times:

The kind of blasphemy that Charlie Hebdo engaged in had deadly consequences, as everyone knew it could … and that kind of blasphemy is precisely the kind that needs to be defended, because it’s the kind that clearly serves a free society’s greater good.

If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said….

When offenses are policed by murder, that’s when we need more of them, not less, because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.

http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/07/the-blasphemy-we-need/

#JeSuisCharlie

Holiday Greetings via Email: No.

By , December 22, 2014

We all want to exchange cheerful greetings during the holiday season, but unfortunately, email is NOT an effective way to do so.

There are simply too many trojan-horse messages implemented as “Holiday Greetings” to leave room for anyone to open ANY incoming email with such a title.

Please, just don’t send these.

 

Lead Registration and CPQ (Configure-Price-Quote) Software

By , December 3, 2014

I just read a great article which provided a very accurate and consise summary of issues to consider when planning a CPQ (Configure-Price-Quote) solution. The article was written by Mark Bishop and shared by Shane Lay, both from CloudSense.

“CPQ – 7 Ways to Get it Right”  http://digitalmarketingmagazine.co.uk/digital-marketing-features/cpq-7-ways-to-get-it-right/

At Hurricane Electric, we recently launched our Channel Partners Program, to allow outside agents to sell our services. From our early discussions with agents, we knew our program should provide several critical elements, including lead registration and the ability to quickly generate pricing and quotes.

As we shopped around for solutions, we found a number of software solutions that seemed promising, but nearly all were cloud-hosted SaaS (software-as-a-service) solutions, requiring that we make our most critical data available to the solution provider. We weren’t willing to share our critical customer data this way.

We were willing to consider a SaaS solution for the CPQ component, so we next looked for solutions which might integrate with an in-house lead-registration system, and found no satisfactory options that seemed affordable during the first few quarters of our new channel program.

So our team set to work on “rolling our own” solution, to allow agents to query against our existing data to identify conflicts and opportunities, register leads, and generate quotes and contracts. Even for our skilled team, it was certainly a non-trivial task, but we managed to produce a solution we think will be adequate.

We still expect that we’ll migrate eventually to a more robust solution, such as the SalesStream/MasterStream product (which we know is already used by some of the agents whom we hope will participate in our channel program). That will require another programming adventure to create an API for the lead-registration process, so our complete customer data remains secure on our servers, and only agent data is stored with the provider.

Updating My Social Networking Profiles

By , July 26, 2014

I’ve spent an alarming number of hours over the past two weeks, updating my social media profiles (on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn).

I’ve been doing two things: first, I’ve finally been updating my profile information to reflect more information about my employment at Hurricane Electric (and “reducing” information about my earlier consulting work). Second, I’ve been adding many new Likes, Follows, and Connections while also “unliking” companies on Facebook and LinkedIn, and “unfollowing” accounts on Twitter).

One of my discoveries is that it’s much more efficient to “follow” companies and people on Twitter using Lists (https://twitter.com/MarkWelchMktg/lists). This also means that I don’t appear in these folks’ follower lists (though they are notified when added, and anyone can see which public Twitter Lists include a particular account).

I’m also remembering one basic rule: never, ever “retweet” or “share” any links unless I’ve clicked through and read the linked content. This protects my followers from frame-jacking, intrusive ads, advertorials, and worse.

Please feel free to friend, like, follow, or connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and/or LinkedIn!

Mobile App Permissions

By , July 8, 2014

The company I work for recently released a free “Network Tools” mobile app for Android and iOS phones and tablets, and I was surprised at early reviews mentioning that we didn’t ask for unnecessary or intrusive permissions (one even praised us for “not spying”).

This confused me, until I examined many competing apps. (Disclaimer: this is my personal observation, not on behalf of my employer.) Read more »

Game-Changer and Liars & Outliers

By , June 1, 2014
 

I ordered about 20 books from Amazon last month; two are unexpectedly similar:  David McAdams’ Game-Changer: Game Theory and the Art of Transforming Strategic Situations (2014), and Bruce Schneier’s Liars & Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive (2012).

Both discuss “Game Theory” at some length, and both do it in a way that I found engaging and understandable.  Alas, Game-Changer ultimately disappointed me, as the author shared some very flawed example suggestions in the latter half of the book.  I haven’t yet finished Liars & Outliers, as I became distracted by some other business books.

The Filter Bubble

By , May 24, 2014

My low expectations for Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You (2011) were met and exceeded.  Although the discussion was somewhat repetitive, it was generally entertaining and engaging.

The author clearly explains the danger posed by the combination of our desire for personalization, plus advertisers’ desire for precision targeting.

 “You live in an equilibrium between your own desires and what the market will bear.” (p.215)

That danger is the risk that we will lose “serendipity,” Read more »

Channel Conflict 101

By , April 10, 2014

Sixteen years ago, I received a call from someone who worked for a large computer manufacturer, which was planning to add an online direct-sales program.  The caller was creating a business plan for this new division of the company, and wanted to hire me to design an affiliate program.

My first question was, “What about channel conflict?”

Read more »

Poetry, and Thanks

By , February 23, 2014

I wanted to attend an event today, where Stephen Dunn will speak and read poetry. It’s in Sacramento, nearly a two-hour drive each way, and I decided not to go.

But all weekend, I’ve been thinking about poetry and how I came to love poetry. And so I’ll write about it. Read more »

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