Branding, Marketing And User Experiences – IMRAN™

There’s only so far even great marketing can take a brand…

Here’s an interesting post from McKinsey & Company at http://gtnr.it/2yKRmyg .
Great brands are built by frequent customer delight at consistently great customer experiences. 
Most brands today offer average or even sometimes lousy user experiences, but try to make up for it with greater marketing spend. 
There’s only so far even great marketing can take a brand, IMHO. 
What do you think ?

© 2017 IMRAN™ 

Using CVS App A Prescription For Invasion Of Privacy – IMRAN™

CVS invasion of consumer privacy

Why is CVS Pharmacy trying to track #consumers’ #location even when we are not actually using their App? Sleazy invasion of #privacy and a #security risk! Shameful #UX design decision. Maybe the Federal Trade Commission can find out.

© 2017 IMRAN™

https://t.co/0cgubYkwYb

That’s Not A Phone Ringer, It’s The Death Bell For WindowsPhone – IMRAN™

On each proposed step I discussed, he laughed and said, “We are Microsoft, We do not need to do that.” And, “Developers are begging us to develop on our platform.”

Microsoft Windows smartphone sales collapse. Down 76%!” reports Computerworld.

That’s not a WindowsPhone ringing but death bell of Microsoft’s phone platform strategy that you do not hear, because when was the last time you heard a WindowsPhone ring except for the expensive product placements on TV shows and in movies? 

It was a mere $8-10 BILLION write off which destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of Nokia employees. Please stand by for a similar LinkedIn write off in 3 years for about $30 Billion. They could have cured Cancer or built 1000 hospitals worldwide with that money!

Imagine me, a MacOS lover from Day 1, working at Microsoft (in strategy / cloud / consulting though) for 3 years. Ironically, I was already sick and tired of the 200 years old iOS UI (user interface) that has STILL not changed since it launched, and the UXdesign (user experience getting worse) from Apple in EVERY area. 

So I was actually happy to see Microsoft’s WindowsPhone interface as one of the few things they did not steal from, I mean, copy from Apple, and something actually better. But, the problem was not the technology. It was, and likely still is, the people of Microsoft.

It is a company with MANY smart people who made so many stupid decisions again and again, but never learned. A most senior leader liked some ideas I had to build a WindowsPhone ecosystem. He connected me with an Indian guy (not Satya Nadella) who was the VP responsible for WindowsPhone app and ecosystem development. I wish I remembered his name now. 

On each proposed step I discussed, he laughed and said, “We are Microsoft, We do not need to do that.” And, “Developers are begging us to develop on our platform.”

I wish I could have recorded that conversation for entertainment value alone.

Imran Anwar

What Workloads Should Or Shouldn’t Move To The Cloud? – IMRAN

There should not be a generic “All workloads of Type X can move to the cloud” nor a “Workloads of Type Y should NEVER move to the cloud” attitude.

From “It Just Works” To “It May Still Work (After Apple Software Update)”! – IMRAN™

Another update another set of news items saying: “Apple working on a fix for iPad Pros bricked by iOS 9.3.2” or some other device bricked by yet one more of its glitchy device destroying updates

Prioritize DOING SOMETHING (Anything!) Over PRIORITIZING! – IMRAN™

One of these days I will prioritize my list of weaknesses, to see which ones to find and evaluate tools to overcome next. [wink].

I recently saw a good post on Medium about a poster that author saw on the FaceBook campus… “Ruthless Prioritization”.

That is a great topic of extraordinary significance to me. I have countless ideas. I even get started on dozens.

Yet, my actual productivity, not just output, but effective productivity that gets things done, that brings goals closer to reality, can often be drowned in my desire to organize, prioritize and optimize my tools rather than in doing what needs to get done.

Cal it procrastination, call is avoidance, call it laziness, call it stupidity, but the end result is the same…

Dreams remain dreams, and things do not get done until months later, when I kick myself seeing how easily I could have done them way back when.

One simple rule I am still trying to teach myself is…. 

Prioritize DOING SOMETHING (Anything!) Over PRIORITIZING!!

It is too easy to become OCD about prioritizing types of things important to us, then prioritizing projects within those, then tasks within those.

I find the ONLY days I get ANYTHING done is when I pick up and DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING, and literally get on a roll of getting things done.

Otherwise, I have spent one-third of my productive life investigating and evaluating tools, one-third installing and optimizing them, and one-third prioritizing things in them… leaving a big fat 0.0% of my time to DO *anything* out of what I need to achieve. 

That is still one of the single biggest weaknesses I have…

One of these days I will prioritize my list of weaknesses, to see which ones to find and evaluate tools to overcome next. [wink].

What do you think? Do you have this problem? How do you overcome it?

From “Apple Forever” To “Apple? Whatever…”

Today, Apple is steadily losing people like me. I’ve been a Mac user since Apple created them, and have been a loyal user ever since. There was also a certain exclusivity to Apple products,

A contact of mine commented on my light-hearted FaceBook post about it being time to stop using Apple products like iPhone etc. 

She wrote, “Apple til I die”.

That made me think how in 1996Apple was written off for dead, and my web post (before it was called blogging) Imran Anwar’s Opinion on The Future of Apple Computers told Apple users not to give up hope as Apple would survive. Yet now I have no love for Apple now, which acts far more monopolistic than Microsoft was accused of with its Internet Explorer domination back then. 

Today, Apple is steadily losing people like me. I’ve been a Mac user since Apple created them, and have been a loyal user ever since. There was also a certain exclusivity to Apple products, the same market share as Mercedes Benz and BMW was not a bad thing to have with a company that was still profitable and made really cool stuff. But, even before I joined Microsoft, I had been getting fed up with Apple.

In the interest of full disclosure, since last year I have been working with Microsoft, on a strategy consulting project at the Department of Defense. But, my frustration with Apple, which began a few years ago, and has reached total disgust levels, is easily seen from my posts (many even deleted by the criticism-rejecting-content-Nazis at Apple’s discussion boards) on the Apple customer fora. 

More and more often flakier and flakier services (including being ripped off by the class-action lawsuit worthy Music Match that never worked, and the promised refund that was never delivered), major bugs Apple idiotically tried to ignore (antenna gate, the known but never acknowledge static noise bug in iPhone 4S), stupid ugly apps (like GameCenter, PassBook, etc. that you cannot delete and can’t even push to end of apps lists off the phone screen, Apple deliberately shoves them to front screen on reboots), the Maps app that various police departments have called LIFE-THREATENING-TO-USE, Apple’s total lack of variety in phone models, making iPhone 5 a bit longer and with no truly desirable new features, … the list goes on.. would be enough. But even the air of exclusivity is gone… on top of the actual ability to deliver major innovation.

I am not a fan of Android at all, but, I have to give credit to Samsung for really shaking things up in more and more categories, while Apple is playing defense even in segments it made commercially successful.

So, I am not dumping my dozen old Macs and MacBook Pros, iMacs and tens of thousands of dollars in Mac OS based software I bought. But even as an Apple tech (not company) fan, I did not buy the iPhone 5, I did not buy the iPad mini, I did not buy the MacBook Pro Retina, etc. {Though I apparently will need to spend money because the 2010 MacBook Pro I use is apparently one that has a known manufacturing defect. Apple will quietly replace the logic board on it — if you can afford to part with your machine for nearly a week — but I can’t do that as I had since then upgraded to a larger hard drive and do not know where my original drive is). 

I am not the only one from the core Mac loving Apple customers who find the company is due to be kicked off its high horse, that has been limping even more noticeably since Steve Jobs’ passing.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Apple will right itself, go back to innovation, and actually building quality products again?

PS Note, these are my personal opinions. I do not even work on any products or software for Microsoft but do strategy consulting for one of its clients.

Blind Emulation Of Industries Like Technology & Entertainment Can Kill Pharma Firms & People!

But therein lies the rub… pharma cannot completely be like other industries. The writers give examples of how it can learn from archetypical firms like Intel and Disney…. and the steelmaker, Nucor, which left me completely amazed.

McKinsey Quarterly, a business and strategy  journal I respect and enjoy reading, did a recent article “Pharma manufacturing for a new era: The sector can restore lost value by focusing intently on manufacturing innovation.” This was one that I found logical sounding, but also found difficult to completely agree with.

It is an interesting analysis of what pharmaceutical industry players need to do, to be more like other big industries, in manufacturing operations. But therein lies the rub… pharma cannot completely be like other industries. The writers give examples of how it can learn from archetypical firms like Intel and Disney…. and the steelmaker, Nucor, which left me completely amazed.

Pharmaceutical firms face existential threats not because they do not have cool manufacturing plants like Intel, but when they spend billions in what can sometimes be nothing more than a scientific educated gamble. They can come up with something that “seems to work OK” and  then be denied the right to sell the resulting product — as it may have side-effects no one can predict — because the ultimate recipient, the human body, is still such a mystery. 

Keep in mind, I am no defender of pharma, much less any big industry. But, I want them to get a fair shake. Like many industries that get too big, and can (seem to) make “obscene” profits in the eyes of people, pharma gets the worse of both words compared to banking, oil companies, etc.

On the one hand people accuse them of exploiting suffering and on the other hand complain about the lack of more blockbuster drugs. That is not even counting the conspiracy theorists and others who suggest governments and pharma companies conspire to sit on cures for things like cancer “to make more money.” {How NOT selling a cure and sitting on it makes more money they are unable to explain}.

We want firms to fund billions in research at their own risk, but ask them to throw it away the minute one patient in a trial dies of a heart attack (as happened just this week with a major drug trial). We put them through onerous processes that can take years, if not decades, then we complain about the time to market for new drugs. We look the other way when they lose billions on a failed drug, but then complain when they finally make a profit on something that (seems to) work… at least until some unknown side-effect pops up years later.

Much that we like Utopian ideals of only launching drugs that have no side-effects, and cost very little, we cannot forget that we live in the real world.

Intel can design a new version of a chip, usually based on an existing architecture, or even a new one entirely, but most likely targeted at one of its usual areas… e.g. CPUs for PCs, or cell phones. Pharma does not have the luxury of saying, we will keep redesigning and launching new versions of a drug every 90 days going after the same sore-throat market as the existing product.

Intel can decide to enter a new industry, say, chips for car entertainment systems, but using almost all the same core knowledge, with the same known laws of physics, electronics engineering and manufacturing, that they use for their other chips. Even if they decide to go into some new type of ASIC (application specific integrated circuit), they can use existing knowledge, skills, processes, people, manufacturing and some levels of innovation to quickly bring the chip to market, seed it to OEMs, see how it works, and go back to designing the next version improving on the last one. They do not have to wait for a trial of 100,000 devices over 2-5 years while they await approval from a government authority (like the FDA in USA) before they can actually “launch” or monetize the product. 

The writers’ giving the example of Disney in a discussion on pharmaceuticals left me even more puzzled. Yes, DIsney went from a movies-based business into an entertainment conglomerate, but how does that relate to pharmaceutical manufacturing? Should pharma firms start selling soda, chocolates and cigarettes to move from being a medicine-based business to a “conglomerate of products that go down people’s throats“?

The final comparison the article above makes is to the steel industry, mentioning Nucor. I am sorry, but which one of us would like to have our medicines, that go into our mouths, stomachs, hearts, brains, and bloodstreams, be made by pharma companies that somehow emulate (no disrespect to steelworkers) the steel industry!?

Yes, pharma firms need to focus more on strategy (all industries do), and learn from every other industry what makes sense to learn and emulate. Yes, they need more innovation (all industries do). Yes, we all know, almost any known product or manufacturing process in the world can be improved. NO, you cannot emulate Disney, Intel and Nucor to somehow become more successful in creating, manufacturing, and delivering safe, reliable, inexpensive, drugs that will win approval, of authorities, doctors and the rest of us.

Such blind emulation of other industries like Technology, Steel & Entertainment can kill not just the Pharma industry, but real people, like us!