The Hot Iron

A journal on business, technology and occasional diversions by Mike Maddaloni

Thrive

Friday, April 11, 2014

What I Learned This Week For April 11 2014

photo of jewelry store sign

With the warmer temperatures here in Chicago, I may have been distracted a bit, so I am not sure if I missed anything this week as I was trying to smell the few flowers that were out there. Still there was things I learned that were beneficial to me, and they may be the same for you too.

  • Just because it is your line of work or industry doesn’t mean you can spell it properly – see the photo above. Maybe that is why there are so many acronyms in technology?
  • If you require me to create a login and password in order to leave a comment on your blog, forget it. Most of the blogs I read are either small enough where they can moderate the few posts they receive or are large enough where they can have someone to manage comments. It’s too easy to throw up a login, and surely there will always be comment spam, but spammers can create a login too.
  • Politicians in Chicago are still moving forward with a plastic grocery bag ban as apparently they are the dominant content of litter throughout the city, and there’s also environmental concerns as these bags are made from petroleum. For myself, this will not be a good thing, as I use these bags as trash bags in the home and in the car. So once they are banned, I will then need to buy small plastic garbage bags.
  • While I was making the odiogo logo more prominent on The Hot Iron as I mentioned in my last post, I also did a little clean-up and made room to add a Crafted in Chicago button to the site. Created by one of the minds behind CentUp I thought I would show my solidarity to my community.
  • Continuing on the Chicago thread, I saw this site proposing a potential redesign of Chicago’s transit system. Where some routes make sense, with shifts in working from home more prevalent, it would be interesting to see if it makes more sense to “wire” the city with Internet access rather than transit routes.
  • My lovely wife went to Minneapolis over the weekend and all I could think of was the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore show as covered by Husker Du back in the 80’s. In the video embedded below, or linked to here on YouTube, the opening of it is the band crossing the street and the same spot where Mary throws her hat up in the air. Granted many of those reading this have no idea what I am talking about, but watch one episode of the show then this video and it will make complete sense.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/11/14 at 09:14 AM
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

What I Learned This Week For March 28 2014

photo of art from India

This past week was the first time that I learned something new in the presence of someone and they asked me if it would make my next blog post of what I learned. Sometimes it’s nice when the real world collides with the virtual world.

  • A colleague from India gave me the box pictured above. It could be used as a pencil holder or a even a phone cradle, but I plan on putting nothing into it and admiring it for its own beauty. Thanks Sanam!
  • Earlier this week the conductor a Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line subway train fell asleep at the controls as it pulled into the O’Hare Airport stop and the train plowed past the end of the recessed track and went up the stairs of the station. Yet the media calls it a derailment. Watch the video of the accident in the link to the article, or view (and save!) the animated GIF of it and determine for yourself if it is merely a derailment.
  • After finally completing 4 consecutive weeks of Intro to Yoga classes at Tejas Yoga, I feel I have learned enough to take on the “foundation” level of yoga classes. Thanks to my instructor Zach for leading me on the start of my yoga journey. Namaste.
  • After less than a week owning the Frozen DVD, it has already been used as a disciplinary consequence for poor behavior exhibited by my little ones. The soundtrack to the movie was also bundled with this. Early indicators have shown it to be reasonably successful.
  • Tickets for Lollapalooza went on sale this week, but I decided to pass on it and am planning to attend Riot Fest instead.
  • A couple of weeks and a couple of updates later, the Starbucks mobile app is still offering what I consider an awkward user experience for its much-touted tipping feature. Rather than setting an automatic amount to tip after a purchase, or make it work much seamless, several seconds after you have your app scanned, you are prompted to add a tip to the purchase. This several seconds seems like an eternity and, as has happened with me a couple of times already, I have already put my phone away by that point and did not tip my barista. Plus the “shake to pay” feature doesn’t seem to bring up my barcode to scan every time. I hope these will be fixed soon.
  • I have been noodling on something I am calling “cultural experience,” or CX, when it comes to technology and not only the experience of using it, but how the use of it is influenced by the culture of the community and vice versa. Chances are I am not the only one thinking about this, and there may be others out there thinking and writing on it, and I need to start putting some of this down in Word and go somewhere with it.
  • My thougths go out to my fellow NFL AFC East brethren in western New York, as this has been a rough week for Buffalo Bills fans. First, original owner Ralph Wilson passed away. Wilson was adamant at keeping the team in the Buffalo area, and the team is contractually tied to its stadium, named after Wilson, for at least the next decade. It was also announced that former quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly was supposed to undergo surgery for oral cancer, then it was decided to treat it rather than operate. Kelly was a phenominal athlete, and I have vivid memories of seeing him kick the Patriots’ butt up and down the field for years. In later years he was a businessman and philanthropist, and has achieved probably as much off the field as well.
  • I learned how to articulate the difference between writing and editing, as I taught it to my 5-year old as she has been working on writing her first book. In Kindergarten.
  • In the course of researching the service Visual.ly I was looking at examples of the creative videos and infographics they have produced and found this great video example of 29 Ways to Stay Creative. I have embedded the video below or you can follow the previous link to watch it in a browser. My favorite way is the very last one – it is worth the less than 2 minutes to watch this.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/30/14 at 11:58 AM
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What I Learned This Week For March 21 2014

Last week was a productive and fact-finding week, and as transcribed from an index card of all things, here’s what I have added to my learned knowledge.

  • image of B2B Marketing Confessions Audible coverMy good friend and fellow former Boston Jaycees board member John J. Wall has released an audiobook version of his runaway best-selling marketing book, B2B Marketing Confessions, which you can get through Amazon, iTunes or Audible. John reads the book himself, and if you’re wondering what he sounds like you can hear him weekly on his marketing podcast, Marketing Over Coffee. Though I am long overdue on writing about this great book, it is a tactical trailbook for not only marketing but overall business.
  • Speaking of Amazon, they are raising the price for their Amazon Prime service, which includes everything from free 2-day shipping of most items to free movies on demand, from US$79 to US$99. Knowing that I have spent that much extra for some crappy drinks at crappy bars in Chicago over the years, it’s a no-brainer I am sticking with it.
  • I got together with an old friend and colleague whom I worked with early on in my career, for me it was 1 year after college and it was right after for her. In thinking back on catching up, sharing stories about consulting projects and the people we worked with, I realized how “foundational” that experience was for me, both in my growth as a professional and as a person. And to imagine it was a time before everyone had cellphones and email.
  • Needing to demo a mobile app to remote users, I learned from colleagues about Reflector, software you can run on a PC or Mac where you can “mirror” your iPhone on the computer using the built-in AirPlay service. Note I had to run this from home as I ran into issues with my work wireless network and n`ot being able to launch AirPlay, but otherwise it was a great way to get the iPhone on my PC screen, then use remote meeting software to present it.
  • It’s one thing to survey customers, it’s very much another to bring them into the same room with you and talk with them in person. I know I need to do much more of the latter.
  • As I was going through my storage unit, I realized I would rather have a picture of me with a famous person than to have their autograph.
  • I finally saw the movie Frozen when the DVD arrives at our home, much to the delight of my daughters. It is a nice story with some amazing animation, though I have to admit I am more of a Tangled fan.
  • A video on Chicago from the 1940’s surfaced at an estate sale in the city and the lucky buyer digitized it and uploaded it to his Vimeo account for all to watch and where you can see it if you can’t see the embedded video below.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/25/14 at 10:27 PM
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Friday, March 21, 2014

What I Learned This Week For March 14 2014

screenshot of the CentUp newsletter

Though today is March 21, 2014, I am finally publishing what I learned for the previous week. Just as I was about to pass on the list from last week and focus on this week to be current, I get the latest newsletter from CentUp, which featured several items from the last few What I Learned posts! Needless to say this piqued my interest in finally typing up last week’s list. And the ego stroke wasn’t bad either.

  • The Pringles brand of potato “crisps” is now owned by cereal giant Kellogg’s and has been since 2012. Is it only a matter of time when the Pringles breakfast cereal comes out?
  • I pre-ordered a domain name with one of the new global top-level domain names (gTLD). I won’t say what it is as I don’t want to jinx it in case others registered it. But if I get it, it will be put to major use.
  • I don’t know who Victoria Carpenter is, but I have no idea why or how she is liking my Facebook status as being “so cute” over and over and over again, especially as I quit Facebook over a year ago. Yes, I realize it is spam, and it’s clearly not working.
  • A new app was announced to pay for parking meters in Chicago. Where it will offer the convenience of adding more time to your parking from the app remotely (aka not running back to the car), I can only imagine the problems that will come from this. Currently in Chicago you buy a paper receipt to put on your dashboard for your time to park. Even with this “foolproof” system, many parking tickets are issued to people who have paid for parking – I know some personally. The only way to fight it is to go to court. I have no idea what the app or software that the meter checkers will use, but I can only see more headaches for parkers.
  • Most people do not know how to take a screenshot or screen capture from an iPhone, let alone a PC or a Mac.
  • Despite what Dr. Seuss wrote in his first children’s book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” Bliss Street does not intersect with Mulberry. I know, as I used to live near THE Mulberry Street in Springfield, MA.
  • The domain name digital.com is up for auction. It’s last major use was as the primary domain name for Digital Electronics Corporation, or DEC for short, the former mini-computer and PC manufacturer based in Maynard, MA. As someone whose first mini-computer was a DEC PDP/11 and grew up knowing many people who worked for DEC, it is sad to see it for sale. At an opening bid of US$100,000 I am not sad enough to buy it myself.
  • I have been asked to be part of a career-mentoring group for a trade organization in Chicago. The group is one of several “pillars” the group is building to work with young people starting in their careers. I am excited to get started with it and will surely report more on it soon.
  • The week before I mentioned my good friend Andrew Cornelius who is a talented actor, comedian and improviser. He has created a new demo reel of his work, and present it for your viewing pleasure. I would have included it in the last installment, but it was trumped by the Name.com video featuring me. There’s that ego again.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/21/14 at 07:50 AM
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Friday, March 07, 2014

What I Learned This Week For March 7 2014

photo of Mardi Gras mask

Rather than showing a scribbled sticky note with my learned knowledge for the week, I decided to show my decoration for Mardi Gras.

  • A color photo of a new air filter for my car is not going to compel me any further to have it replaced when all I wanted today is an oil change.
  • Watching the Stadium Series game played at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the home of football’s Bears, between hockey’s Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins was a lot of fun, even as I was watching it on TV. With the snow falling, it gave me a déjà vu moment to a few years ago when Boston University played Boston College at Fenway Park a week after the pro-hockey game there. In this case, I was there in stands at Fenway for this amazing experience.
  • If you find yourself in New York City and need a good laugh, check out my friend Andrew Cornelius’ Web site to see when he is next performing.
  • In the process of troubleshooting a technical problem with my podcast app on my mobile device, I unsubscribed to all 6 of the podcasts I had in my queue. Rather than resubscribe at once, I decided to subscribe as I had time to listen to something new. First I subscribed to No Agenda and after several weeks I finally subscribed to another, The Voicemail. Not sure when I’ll get back to 6 or what my number will be.
  • I almost snorted my coffee out of my nose the other morning when reading my favorite Web comic, Questionable Content when Angus called out Faye for saying ‘wicked.’ The comic takes place in Northampton, MA, not far from where I grew up and a tell-tale sign of a “Masshole” is if they say wicked a lot.
  • Life won’t be the same in my house after the DVD for the movie Frozen comes out on March 18.
  • Not a meeting goes by where someone is saying they are looking at something from their ‘perspective’ or that of their team or function. But who is looking at the big picture?
  • Not a day goes by when I am not telling someone about the blog Leadership Freak by Dan Rockwell. Each day he posts extremely usable prose on leadership, all under 300 words. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t subscribe to it by email or RSS. Special thanks to Dr. Dietmar Schloesser for being the source of knowledge on this great blog.
  • Tickets are now for sale for the Spring Benefit for Chicago’s South Loop Elementary School on Friday, May 16 at 6pm at the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile. This year marks the silver anniversary of the school, and the red carpet will be rolled out for all who wish to have a great time while supporting this great community school.
  • In preparation for their activities at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas which starts today, my friends a Name.com wanted to show how they will promote small businesses at the conference, so they used me as an example. Jared, their social media director, is an amazing actor and video producer as well as keenly in tune with the needs of their community and made this awesome video which is embedded below or you can watch on the Name.com channel on YouTube. And when I say friends, I mean it – it is because of a personal connection that I learned about Name.com over 6 years ago and their team applies the personal touch, plus strong business and technical acumen, to all they do. And I am not just saying this because Jared pronounced Maddaloni correctly.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/07/14 at 01:00 AM
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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

CentUp Offers A Unique Profit Model For Writers

How much would you pay to read this blog post?

CentUp logo

Ok, I hope you are still with me and not rolling on the floor in laughter. In all seriousness, I am asking the question – how much would you pay to read this blog post, or any blog post for that matter, here on The Hot Iron? No, I am not going to put up a paywall and start charging people to read here as I don’t believe in such a thing.

As it takes time to come up with ideas, write them, edit them, come up with some original visual to go with them and post them to the site, that time is some value to me. That being said, I do not do this for direct financial gain. Where I do enjoy doing so, getting a little something in return can’t hurt. And for good measure, how about help a charity in the process?

What I just described in the last few sentences is the idea behind CentUp, a service which has been around for almost a year, which provides a button – similar to a social sharing button – where you can contribute a few cents to a few dollars to a content writer directly on their site. If you scroll to the bottom of this post at The Hot Iron you will see a CentUp button below the row of social media sharing buttons, so I can speak to CentUp with first-hand experience.

Click a Button, Help a Writer and a Charity

The end-user experience of CentUp is very straightforward, and its elegance comes from its simplicity, as you can see in the embedded Vine video above. If you cannot see the video, you can view the video of me pressing the CentUp button at Vine. You simply click on the CentUp button on a Web page or blog post that you would like to give to (or pay to or contribute to or whatever term you deem appropriate). Half of whatever amount you choose will go to the publisher, and half goes to a charity selected by the publisher from a list of charities affiliated with CentUp.

To use the button, you need an account with CentUp. If you click on the button and don’t have an account, you can sign-up on their Web site, put funds in your account, then log in and contribute. As I have the button on my site, I have an account with CentUp, and whenever I see the button and providing I liked what I read, I will give at least 10 cents to a publisher. If you’re thinking, “not another account to setup,” read on as you’ll learn more of the value a CentUp account delivers.

All clicks of the CentUp button on The Hot Iron are shared between myself and the Women With Drive Foundation, a great organization who provides women with transportation means to get to their jobs. I truly did not do them justice with that boiled-down description and I encourage you to visit their Web site for more information. There are a number of charities that content publishers can choose from and this list has expanded over the last year I have used CentUp.

The Point Is Not Early Retirement

By so far earning under a dollar per blog post, I am not considering CentUp part of my overall retirement strategy. But that is not why I use CentUp. First and foremost, I believe there is plenty of content out there on the Internet that is of value. This includes blogs, news sites, and Web sites in general. That being said, I or anyone else is not going to go through the process of registering for every site out there and paying some amount of money for content of what quality I really don’t know until I explore and read it.

In other words, if I read something and find value in it, I can offer payment for it, a true value-for-value model.

CentUp offers a one-stop payment method for Web content. I don’t need all of those accounts and logins and passwords, and sharing my credit card information all over the place. I also don’t need large sums of money to register for varying content. If I like something, I can give them a little bit of money. If it is good content, many people will do that. Right next to the button is how much money has been given so far, which is a transparent way to see how potentially popular and relevant the content may be. CentUp is a simple model that makes sense, and one I have embraced.

There is no fee to join, and adding the button to your blog or site is technically straightforward. You can tag an entire site or individual pages or posts on a blog. Again I am not doing CentUp the best justice they deserve, and I encourage you to explore the CentUp site for more information and if you have any questions on it conceptually or technically.

Unique Community of Content

There are several dozen sites now using CentUp and that number grows whenever I check back on the site. CentUp has taken advantage of this collection of content and has built a community of writers and publishers, including a newsletter of curated content on a regular basis. I have now started to subscribe to many of their RSS feeds of these blogs and sites to read their content directly. They recently added a reader app to their site within your account, but I still prefer my RSS reader for aggregating all of my content.

Do you use CentUp? Have I piqued your interest in it? Would you avoid it like I avoid Facebook? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to ask any questions you may have about CentUp as I may be able to help, or someone from CentUp may even respond themselves as they are readers as well.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 03/05/14 at 11:54 PM
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Friday, February 28, 2014

What I Learned This Week For February 28 2014

photo of a CFL bulb with an install date on itI literally took a page out of my blogging notebook – a blank one – to log what I learned and observed for this the last week of February.

  • It almost seemed like for a while I was replacing CFL bulbs almost monthly, like they just weren’t lasting anywhere as long as they were supposed to. As this was a hypothesis, I decided to record the date on them that I I actually changed them, and this past week the first of them went out. Maybe I need to write install dates on a lot more things I own?
  • This past week Jim Lange, known best as the host of The Dating Game, left this mortal coil at the age of 81. Interestingly, most of his peers – game show hosts from the 70’s and 80’s – are still alive and kicking, including Wink Martindale.
  • Three words – beer pretzel caramels! This past week my lovely wife and I stopped by The Nosh at Block 37 and she saw someone she knows from our old church who now has her own confections business, selling at such events and online. The only problem with these caramels is they seem to disappear pretty quickly.
  • Amtrak announced this past week that it was starting a residency for writers to write aboard train trips. I think this is genius, as I personally have written many of the posts here at The Hot Iron aboard the Hiawatha train between Chicago and Milwaukee, and I once took the Metroliner from Boston to Washington, DC and got a ton of reading and work done. The seats they will be offering probably would have gone otherwise unused, so what is the added cost, compared to the benefit, for having someone aboard ideally plugging the fact they are on an Amtrak train. This would also extend nicely to my friend Arie’s HugTrain as well as what my friend Leyla did when she took the train west for vacation.

photo of Goldfish cracker ingredients

  • The first ingredient listed for Goldfish crackers is smiles. Can your product make a claim like that?
  • I find myself making product buying decisions based on whether they have Box Tops for Education on them or not.
  • After several months of driving by it while it was under construction, I was eager to see the inside of The Godfrey Hotel here in Chicago and we visited it last weekend. It is a beautiful space with an amazing indoor/outdoor patio with an amazing skyline view, a great restaurant with cocktails that are made in the kitchen, and after a great meal we asked for a tour of the hotel room and got to see some of the very stylish rooms. I am looking forward to a staycation getaway there some weekend.
  • Puffs Plus Lotion facial tissues are just right. Puffs Plus Lotion with the scent of Vicks is way too much.
  • Words that came up in conversations pronouncedly this past week include eminence and polymath – something I am hoping to achieve high levels of both.
  • Seeing is believing, and I learned that when I saw first-hand the craft of Gentry Design Company which makes handcrafted gemstone jewelry. It is run by a colleague’s wife, and when he told me about it I was like, “ok, she makes jewelry” until I saw some of the pieces she has made and I was extremely impressed Of course what I wrote here doesn’t do the same justice as seeing the photos for yourself on her site.
  • GiveForward is a Web service based here in Chicago where you can contribute to the medical expenses of people. It can be compared to a KickStarter or IndieGoGo but for quality of life. I met someone who works there and as I don’t know anyone who has a fundraiser on the site I did a quick search on “liver” and saw many real stories of people’s medical needs. If you are looking to make a donation to truly affect someone’s life, I recommend visiting this site.
  • I have been trying to write at least 2 blog posts a week – my “what I learned” posts as this one is plus one other. This past week I did write one on the Web service CentUp which offers a unique revenue model for bloggers, writers and publishers while also helping charities. The only problem was the first draft was dry as a bone, and would not do justice to this amazing Chicago-based start-up. Especially one which would make a great video as they did for their IndieGoGo launch last year. So I will work on the blog post for next week and in the meantime you can watch it embedded below or watch the CentUp video on Vimeo.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/28/14 at 09:20 PM
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Monday, February 17, 2014

What I Learned This Week For February 14 2014

photo of Discover card with cassette tape design

Last week was an off week for me, with this cough getting the best of me. It is getting better, but my mind was not always aware of things, so my list is not as extensive as last week, but ever unique. I used the back of an envelope for a bill I always pay online to capture my learnings.

  • After almost a year of carrying it, someone finally recognized the design on my Discover card is a cassette tape. The guy was my age, and the guy with him had no idea what we were talking about.
  • Not everyone knows that a general term for Safari, Firefox or Chrome is “browser” - seriously.
  • I learned about trisodium phosphate as an effective cleaner for painted walls. I also learned it is an approved food attitive in the EU.
  • Taxi-hailing app Hailo is beta testing a “black car” option for hailing a sedan instead of a standard taxi in its app. I learned this first hand as I was presented with the option last week when hailing a taxi with the app. In the beta period the sedan fare is the same or similar as a taxi. Though it was a short ride, it was a very quiet, comfortable ride, and I am looking forward to this feature going full-out live.
  • This study on mobile platforms in South Africa by Deloitte Digital shows the Symbian OS in second place with 26% of the installed base. Not bad for a “burning platform!” Check out the study and see the other numbers which overall are much different than in the US.
  • My 2-year old thought February 14 was Halloween, which clearly means she got way too much candy with her Valentine cards.
  • When I was living in the Boston area barely a year would go by when I would miss the Hometown Throwdown, a concert series around the holidays by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. They considered it a gift to their fans and hometown, and it was always an awesome show. Now that I am a thousand-plus miles away, I haven’t caught a Throwdown in years, but I did catch this video from this year’s show at the House of Blues in Boston (which wasn’t even there when I last lived there) and some scenes from an event they held at this little old ball field across the street. Check out the video embedded below or view it on YouTube. It made me laugh, it made me dance, and it made me cry a little.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/17/14 at 09:44 PM
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Thursday, February 06, 2014

3 Things New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Must Do To Win At #Mobile

photo of Nokia Lumia 925 running Windows PhoneEarlier this week global software giant Microsoft named Satya Nadella as it’s 3rd-ever CEO, succeeding Steve Ballmer, who succeeded Bill Gates. Where the position is highly regarded, and the opportunity is immense, Nadella will have the challenge of defining what Microsoft will be going forward and especially what they won’t be. Some say the company is too big, rooted in its traditional PC and server operating system and software business while trying to be a consumer business with video game consoles and mobile devices.

Where there are many opinions on where the company should be overall, one area I will be watching closely is how it moves forward with mobile technology. Its Windows Phone platform is a distant third after industry leading iOS from Apple and Android from Google. Even a close tie with former mobile industry leader Nokia didn’t prove to be a winning combination, which will be taken to the next level with Microsoft buying Nokia’s mobile division outright.

Can Microsoft be successful at mobile? I believe it can, and if it were up to me, I would follow these 3 major activities to not only succeed at mobile but to thrive and be a contender for the industry lead. Seriously! But as I am not in that role, I will share my ideas here, and Mr. Nadella is free to take them if he chooses. If you’re familiar with the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, these 3 journeys are similar to those of Scrooge, dealing with the past, present and future.

First Reconnect With Your Corporate Roots

Where many know Microsoft as the people who built DOS and Windows for their PCs, the majority of their business is in running corporate computers and servers, and the additional software and consulting services that go with them. Where in 2014 many companies run Linux servers, for many years CIOs shied away from the open-source platform, relying on the operating systems from Microsoft, warts and all.

As Nadella previously led the cloud computing business at Microsoft, he knows how many corporate clients are moving much of their infrastructure to the cloud. He must also know that for as much as companies are looking to save shedding physical servers, they are now spending some of that on mobile devices, providing smart phones to their staff to keep them in contact and productive wherever they may be.

But have these mobile devices been Windows Phone devices? Some may have been, but there are probably still more BlackBerry devices in the hands of corporate users. And that number is probably dwindling, swinging towards iPhones and Android devices, which can integrate well with corporate email and are also popular platforms for the development of corporate apps, not to mention personal apps and Angry Birds.

In reconnecting with the corporate customers, mobile must be leading the conversation. What exactly is said depends on the following 2 activities in my plan.

Next Throw Money At Mobile Today

Yes, I said throw. Microsoft is well-known for its cash reserves in the billions. Where some of it is held for fighting legal challenges, some has been used for acquisitions, including Nokia’s mobile business. Where I don’t know exactly how much they have as of writing this post, I have heard it is anywhere around $50 to $60 Billion dollars.

So when I say throw, Microsoft needs to use its reserves to spend and better position itself right now in the mobile world, and fast. Over the past few years I witnessed Google do this with Android, going from nowhere to it being the second-largest mobile platform. They spent money on advertising, promotion, and on developers to build apps for Android devices. All of this for what is technically an “open-source” platform as well!

Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system has a unique interface and personally I feel it is more robust than screens full of icons in iOS. Couple this with solid engineering and technology it acquired from Nokia, including it’s high-quality Zeiss lenses for its cameras, and you have a solid device that can be used by anyone. But do they know about it?

For Windows Phone to be successful it needs both marketing and buzz. There are plenty of agencies out there would love the opportunity to really sell the “experience” of Windows Phone, just as or even better than Apple has with the iPhone. For buzz, people need to hear about the features from their friends and family, and here Microsoft can tap into the agency that did this well for Nokia for years, 1000heads, as they are the leaders of word-of-mouth marketing and would love to bring back the raving fans they cultivated for Nokia in the past for Microsoft.

At the end of the day, it is really about what you can do with the mobile device, and what most people use is apps. Here’s an area where Windows Phone is way behind. Most app development is done either just for iOS or for Android, and in some cases is done just for iOS. Windows Phone is usually a distant third, if at all. This is an area where a large chunk of that Microsoft reserve money can come in handy. Both consumer and corporate apps are needed for the platform to thrive. Here is the tie in with the corporate relationships – give money, tools, support, consultants, devices… whatever is needed for corporate clients to build apps for the platform. Help them leverage technology like PhoneGap where they can build apps “once” and port them to each platform (I am streamlining a lot of technical detail, but that is the 50,000 foot view of it).With corporate apps, plus seamless integration with Microsoft Exchange mail servers, you have an employees empowered with a sleek device and all the tools they need to log their hours or whatever it is they need to do.

I did not gloss over consumer apps, as these are direly needed. When it was announced the social photo app Instagram was coming to Windows Phone, it was over a year and a half after it came out for Android. Looking at some of the top apps I use – Starbucks, Hailo taxi, the Weather Channel and MapMyRide for bike ride tracking, only the Weather Channel app is available for Windows Phone. The fact the Starbucks app is not on it is almost shocking, seeing the headquarters of Starbucks is only about 16 miles from the headquarters of Microsoft! And if the large corporate players are not building apps for Windows Phone, neither are the small start-ups. Here Microsoft needs to do what Google did before them and what I am suggesting they do for corporate clients – throw money at it, pay key app developers to port their apps to Windows Phone, hold developer conferences, buy developers free food and beer, give them free devices… all what they need to help bolster the Windows Phone Store so you won’t have to think about what apps are available for the platform, at all and never again.

Define The Future Of Mobile

What will mobile devices look and feel like a few years from now? 5 years from now? 10 years from now? Whatever the answer to the question is, Microsoft should be looking to be the one to answer it, and set the bar high for the rest of the industry to follow.

Hopefully among all of the chaos with Nokia over the last few years they have some of the brilliant hardware and software designers joining them as part of the acquisition to help define this. Where everything Nokia did was not always a top-selling device, they did create some interesting form factors, from fly-out keyboards to round devices to the small thin candy bar device. Today, with the lead from Apple and the close following from everyone else, including Nokia, everything looks like a black slab, and I know personally myself – and many others in the industry – are tired of black slabs! This is an area where Microsoft is not completely known for – amazing user experiences – but they have a start with Windows Phone, have some advances in their gaming devices and – with the right innovative leaders – create what is next, while not forgetting where it came from, as Nadella said in his first remarks as CEO.

No Time Like The Present

Right now is a good time to make moves in the mobile area for Microsoft. Apple is still feeling the loss of Steve Jobs and trying to define its next versions of devices and operating systems, with the last round not receiving the glowing praise it usually does. Google just unloaded Motorola to Lenovo and may be taking a different direction with hardware. Samsung keeps making bigger and bigger and bigger black slabs. And don’t forget BlackBerry, as they are still hanging on and trying to define what their future is while everyone else is digging their grave.

I wish Satya Nadella much luck and good fortune as he takes the helm at Microsoft. Having Bill Gates step down as Chairman and simply being an advisor was a great first move by Nadella. There is a lot to sort out and a lot to prioritize, but I personally see great opportunity with mobile, and Redmond taking the reins from Cupertino is not completely out of the question.

Go ahead – let me know what you think in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/06/14 at 11:24 PM
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Saturday, February 01, 2014

What I Learned This Week For January 31 2014

screenshot of Chicago Grid

Though a day late, hopefully you will find useful at least 1 thing I learned this past week, as collected on the back of a flyer for VHS to DVD media conversion.

  • Though every media outlet and their grandmother in the Windy City reported on the demise of Chicago Grid by Wrapports, the publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, nobody has noticed the Grid Web site is still up-and-running, at least in part. I only found this out as I was still subscribed to their RSS feed, and after several days a daily summary was again appearing. Though I shared this several times this past week with media outlets in the city via Twitter, nobody else seems to be talking about the ghost RSS feed or seems to care.
  • If you read any book, especially children’s stories, through the lens of the late Dr. Sigmund Freud, you will never read one the same way again, or may not want to read one at all.
  • When you use a service on a daily basis and never even think twice about its quality or reliability, that is not a good thing, that is a great thing. It also probably explains why I haven’t blogged about my great experience with Phone.com over the almost year I have been with them for my home phone service. I need to do something about that.
  • Beverly Hills, California got its name from Beverly, Massachusetts, namely its Beverly Farms section. Now I have been to both communities, and I couldn’t think of any 2 places that could be further opposites of each other.
  • When I tell people I am from Massachusetts, the next thing they say is that I don’t have a Boston accent. When I go onto explain to them my roots are in the western part of the state, where they use all 26 letters of the alphabet and put them in the right place. For as many times as I state that, it really doesn’t resonate with people, so I thought I’d let the good Dr. Westchesterson explain it better than I possibly could with his video Western Mass. – it is embedded below or watch it on YouTube. I can’t think of a better way to end one month and begin another!


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 02/01/14 at 11:11 AM
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The Hot Iron strives to present unique content and perspective on business, technology and other topics by Mike Maddaloni, a Web and business strategist based in Chicago.

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