Thursday 25 February 2010

Can Google Docs be a serious contender?

I'm a huge fan of Google Docs, it keeps all my files in one place, I can work on a document from anywhere in the world without the need for a USB stick or issues of version control and it has brilliant sharing abilities! But i'm a simple user, I don't look to do complex formulas with spreadsheets or presentations with a lot of moving elements. So, how realistic is it that Google Docs could become a serious contender to take over as an office package and would we want it to?

We have recently rolled out Google Mail accounts to all of our 18,000 students and as part of the package they also have access to Google Docs. What will be interesting for us to see is what the take up is like and if students would rather use Google Docs than Microsoft Office? Also, if they do, how do we start to support them! At the moment Google Docs is an add-on rather than a piece of core University software and as such the only support is online or at the discresion of staff. Would we want to actively promote Google Docs to students? It certainly has more pros than cons...

At the moment it would appear that the US Universities are happy to promote the use of Google Docs to their students but the UK take up appears to be a little slower. Personally I view it as a tiny step toward the holy grail of 'cloud computing' and anything that points us in that direction has to be a good thing. But, will it take off? Only time will tell...

Have any Univesities out there started to promote Google Docs to students or are you adopting a more organic growth strategy?!

I've been IDM'd...

I wouldn't normally post a posting about myself but I just wanted to mention that my IDM results have finally come in and i'm now the proud holder of the IDM Diploma in Digital Marketing... yay to me!

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Meltwater Buzz Vs Alterian SM2

So, I had a call from Meltwater Buzz about some new Social Media monitoring software they're selling and how we can use it to fine tune our Social Media Strategy... I took the demo tour as we have been thinking about expanding on our monitoring from the normal Google Alerts we use to something a little more sophisticated. It all looked really good, the reporting was well done and offered some valuable insight into the demo site (Lego!) and how they were performing.

So, I asked for a costing and started my usual round of relentless research before purchasing anything new. The price from Meltwater Buzz landed in my inbox and it's not that bad but would still knock out a chunk of my budget... the research continues! Then I find myself looking at a demo video of Alterian SM2 with the option of a Freemium account, so I sign up for one and guess what I find! It's the exact same system as Meltwater Buzz... even down to the format of reports, colour scheme, layout, everything is the same apart from the logo at the top.

So, it seems that Meltwater Buzz is actually just Alterian SM2 with the Meltwater logo on and a mark up of 50% on the price!

So, if you're happy with trying out this functionality on a Freemium account (5 search terms but limited to 1,000 results) head over to Alterian SM2 for an account, if you like it you can always upgrade for a Premium account. If you would rather have a Meltwater Buzz account (5 search terms, unlimited results) head over to the Meltwater Buzz site.

I've included the slides for SM2 below to show some of the functionality and they have additional resources and a free account on their website.

Anyone else looking at Social Media monitoring software and is there anything available that might be of use to a marketing audience?

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Augmented Reality

I was shown Lego's attempt at Augmented Reality last week by my eight year old nephew and it not only made me smile but also made me a little concerned! Here he was, with a print out of paper with a black symbol in the middle, waving it at his webcam to see a 3D model of the latest Lego creation appear in front of him. It's a truly brilliant piece of functionality and although i've been aware of it for a little while i hadn't been totally prepared for how quickly it appears to be accepted! Lego are running it on their website but also are rolling it on in-store with print outs on their boxes, US only at the moment but there's a video below to show you how it works.

To him, it was perfectly normal to have a 3D model in front of him, seemingly attached to a piece of paper... so, I showed it to some colleagues in the office for their reactions as well and the difference was pretty significant! They thought it was amazing, understandably! But there wasn't the acceptance that it was perfectly normal functionality and if the future of our audience are growing up expecting that to be available then we really need to start looking at it!

So, I dug around to see who else is using it and whilst the list is small the application of it seems pretty impressive, from car demos to business cards! If you're interested in how it works though check out this site and see if your technical team can do anything with it!

Friday 5 February 2010

2.16 billion minutes spent updating statuses...

Crickey, that's a lot of time spent on your mobile phone... According to GSMA the UK mobile market ran up 6.7 billion page views on their mobile phone with 2.16 billion minutes spent updating statuses on Facebook! I'm not sure if I should be impressed or slightly concerned for the mobile browsing habits of the UK population!

It does however throw up some interesting questions in relation to users access our sites on a mobile device. We have certainly seen an increase in this trend in the last year or so and for January 2010 we had 1.33% of all of our site visits on a mobile device. So, do we need to rush out and create a new mobile version of our website... probably not just yet. Once we start looking into it we find that the majority of these visits are iphone/ipod users and luckily our site displays rather nicely already.

We all know that the web is heading towards mobile access at break neck speed but as a site manager it's good to know that the display of our current sites, with the application of good mobile browsers, don't display too poorly. The big step will be looking at the future of mobile browsing. Could augmented reality be the next big thing, with a link to an overlayed map of the campus from the website for mobile users? It's not too hard to imagine...

Finally, it only accessed our site twice in January but isn't 'Danger Hiptop' (aka the T-Mobile Sidekick) a brilliant name for a mobile device!