31
Mar

On the brighter prospects of a world with more tasks handled by machines

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthSince the advent of the world wide web in the early 1990s it has been possible to craft viable business models from highly specific — and limited — market niches. Now, in 2015, with the promise of an expansion in the capabilities of computing machines to handle more tasks of, perhaps, a mundane nature, this opportunity horizon has widened even further. (If you would like more information about why I have specifically connected the enormous popularity of web pages exposed over Ethernet networks for the general public as an important milestone leading to an enormous expansion in the range of viable tech business notions, please contact me as I offer consulting services in this area).

I think it makes sense for readers to keep this factor in mind as they witness public debate about the notion of just whether or not the proliferation of robots, hardware computing machines powered by algorithms, and even what are colloquially referred to as “smart” applications (and apps) will, in sum, result in a net positive, or negative, result for the sheer number of people employed.

An OPED piece published on the CNN web site on March 18, 2015 communicates the seriousness of this debate and adds a raw edge to it: Silicon Valley to millennials: Drop dead. The piece is written by David R. Wheeler. I could not find any information about him, beyond his picture on the CNN web site. So I can provide no background on why CNN decided to post his article.

The raw and right-to-the-point flavor of Wheeler’s chosen title for his piece certainly captures one’s attention. When this factor is combined with CNN’s decision to go to press, and prominently, with this piece, I would hope my readers will agree the topic has a lot of interest behind it, as it should given what I take to be Wheeler’s core point: “The commonly held belief is that with hard work and a good education, a young person in America can get a good job”.

Given the statistics Wheeler provides in his piece, he is probably correct in his conclusion the employment horizon has darkened. But if I replace “can get a good job” in the above quote with “can achieve financial security and even wealth”, then the horizon opens up for another phenomenon we are all witnessing today: an explosion in the number of small businesses and, particular, technology startups.

As recently as Sunday, March 29, 2015, an article appeared on the Financial Times web site about an entrepreneur by the name of Bart Van der Roost. Mr. Van der Roost has started a business by the name of neoScores. I hope readers can share my appreciation for Van der Roost to craft what may become a very promising business from an especially narrow niche market — musicians requiring scores on digital devices. Perhaps we can extrapolate from his notion an opportunity for literally millions of these niches just waiting for entrepreneurs to expose.

Sure code is required. But isn’t code one of the skills people can go to college to learn? I hope we can all take a more sunny view of a new world of computing with hardware devices (powered by algorithms) capable of executing a widened vista of tasks.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

8
Aug

PPC Online Advertising May No Longer be the Solution for Products Targeted at Specific Market Niches

Back in the late 1990s, a number of advertising agencies (Poppe Tyson and ModemMedia being just two) extolled online marketing as uniquely capable of providing marketers with a method to truly personalize presentations of product promotional information for highly specific market segments. Poppe Tyson’s promotional literature talked about something called “the considered purchase”, meaning a type of lengthy consideration a certain cut of buyers will undertake to carefully study potential solutions to a burning need, and why online marketing was the perfect venue to provide these prospects with information tailored, specifically, to appeal to them, and them alone. The epitome of this notion is the concept of “Marketing 1to1”, which Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D, coined around the same time.

But now, in 2014, all of these notions may amount to little more than hyperbole, at least if an article titled How Facebook Sold You Krill Oil is credible. The article recounts the efforts of a Mr. Joao Rodrigues to determine if a marketing campaign on Facebook, which he has been considering for his product, something called Mega Red Fish Oil, would ” . . . help him find people who were already buying fish oil or other products that suggested they were concerned about the health of their hearts, and perhaps persuade them to switch to his brand.” (quoted directly from Mr. Goel’s article, as published on the New York Times web site)

As I read it, Mr. Rodrigues’ question is never directly answered by the team from Facebook, or the agency recommending the Facebook network of web sites as the perfect venue for Mr. Rodrigues to obtain the reach he required. But implicit to the rest of the article is the notion he cannot obtain those results, at least not through promoting his product on Facebook.

All of this should certainly be a big deal for anyone thinking about an investment in Facebook, or in any of its competitors. The enormous market capitalization each of these companies has achieved is built upon a set of assumptions likely to include a conviction they are uniquely capable of delivering a winning solution to Mr. Rodrigues’ requirement. If they are not able to deliver, as expected, and some significant portion of potential advertisers begin to realize this limitation, and opt for other methods, this same market capitalization may deflate very quickly.

Disclaimer: I have no investment in Facebook, nor in any of its peers

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved