31 March 09
It’s been an exciting few weeks for some of the world’s most famous innovators. Apple unveiled the latest iPhone/iPod Touch operating system (who knew software could be so exciting?) and unveiled its third-generation iPod shuffle. Amazon released the Kindle2, a welcomed follow-up to its popular eReader. Facebook updated its homescreen layout. Google released a new ‘Undo Send’ feature to GMail. The list goes on… you get the idea.
The point is that things are still happening-despite all the negativity out there, smart companies are still plugging forward and improving their offerings. The five companies mentioned here have always kept things fresh with a pipeline of updates and enhancements, and that’s part of the reason these companies have done well. Just when things start to feel stale, they give their customers something new. Enhancements and updates are a relatively quick, low-risk way to keep innovation alive (and demand high) regardless of what’s happening in the economy.
What can you do to invigorate demand by freshening up your offerings? What small, meaningful enhancements and upgrades can you release? If you’re at a loss for ideas, just talk to your customers or scan customer reviews and you’ll uncover a trove of potentially valuable ideas. Just remember, innovation doesn’t always have to be ground-breaking and risky… sometimes the little things can have a big impact.
What does innovation look like for your organization given the state of the economy?
5 March 08
This week, the Financial Times announced a program that will allow college students to access all of the publication’s web content for free. How is the FT doing it? Facebook, of course. The news site launched an application within Facebook that provides university users with a PIN, which can then be redeemed for a gratis annual premium subscription. Students will be able to renew their subscriptions annually for the entire length of their college careers.
The whole Facebook spin on the subscription isn’t just a matter of cool-factor – by launching an application in Facebook, FT can verify that users are, in fact, university students. Some might recall that the New York Times offered free Times Select subscriptions to university students a few years ago (before the company killed Times Select and began giving all its content away for free on the Web). The problem with the Times’ system is that anyone with a .edu email address could avail of the discount – alumni and faculty included.
Though it’s likely that this FT/Facebook experiment will help the company attract new readers – it’s probably going to be tough to get people to cough up the ₤99 annual subscription fee once they’re out of school. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Learn more at Media Week.
4 March 08
WorkLight Inc. is a company that hopes to bridge the gap between popular social networking applications and not-so-popular enterprise applications. The company takes existing sites and adapts them for business use. As of this month, the company offers software applications that work with fourteen of the most popular social networking properties including Facebook, MySpace, Netvibes, and iGoogle. WorkLight creates secure, scalable software that can run off a closed, private, enterprise server. The software then works with web-based applications to add an enterprise layer. On Facebook, for example, the WorkLight application is dubbed WorkBook.
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