Many years ago, I had the privilege of meeting the owner of a fabulous restaurant chain in Europe. He had built the first restaurant which had had a total of 17 visitors in the first 3 months of existence. (That translates to less than one a day, but did not include the owner himself, who cooked at least two great meals and ate in the restaurant twice a day.) Being rich and debt-free has it’s virtues I guess.
Then, one day, a food critic happened to pass by, happened to come in, and the rest as they say is history. Mr. X, the owner, is a semi-public figure now, and the restaurant is a known name. Mr. X prides himself on his single minded focus on quality and how he was sure that if he put all his effort on making the best meal possible, eventually the crowds will come in.
And yes indeed, that is the way it turned out to be.
My question is – If that food critic hadn’t happened to pass by, would the crowds still have come in? However, Mr. X says we can’t answer that question, because that didn’t happen in this universe, and that is all we have.
The decision that you as a business owner have is, to be like Mr. X and build the single greatest product ever, or also market and advertise your product heavily? Once you do get someone’s attention and that person is on your website or reading your brochure, do you also make it look very attractive? Do you do these two things in addition to building the greatest product that you can actually make?
The 3 components of success are:
- Marketing and Advertising: Bring the crowds in – by aligning their need with an attractive price ($6.95 for all you can eat Sushi Buffet!)
- Presentation/User Experience – Make it look good (*This* is what Sushi should look like)
- Quality/Maturity – Make sure that it is very good in all aspects (Good Sushi doesn’t make you throw up later)
[Photo courtesy: DarkMeadow@Flickr]
I recently set up (or tried to set up) a Google group for the CS 6212 (analysis and design of algorithms) class that I am teaching over the summer at GWU. The idea of a group is simple, and egroups have been around for a loooong time now. (Remember egroups.com?) I used to be a user of egroups.com, and if my memory serves me right, it was bought by Yahoo! during the dot com era, and yahoogroups works pretty much the same way. This time though, I decided to try Google Groups.
Google is an engineering marvel, and the advances in their engineering are exceeded only by the abstruseness of their user interface.
I do not enjoy setting up a group and then not having the least bit of idea on where to post, how to invite people etc. I am sure I will eventually figure it out, but this is a great example of poor user interface.
One of the premises of Google was “Do No Evil”. Their original claim to fame was the (Larry) PageRank algorithm, and while of course their algorithm has evolved entirely over the last 10+ years and is no longer as simple as the original PageRank, still, their moral standard was that: “No sponsorship can affect the quality of their search results.” In other words, you couldn’t just buy a higher rank in the search listing for a specific keyword. Sure, you can buy an ad spot using the Google AdWords for the keyword (say “insurance”) and if you can afford to pay $54.91 for each click, then sure, by all means, your website can be shown, but it will be shown on the side, and clearly marked with the word ‘Advertisement’.
This is where it gets interesting. What is “clearly marked”? How clear is clear? Is this clear enough for you? Is this clear enough? How about this: clear. This is the aspect in which Google’s moral standard has dropped faster than the housing market of 2008. Consider this snapshot that I took for doing a vanity search on enterprise dashboards.
I can still find out which of the top links are advertisements, I just have to hold my laptop screen at a few different angles. (It works out – just requires a little persistence. A bit of screen moving never killed anyone.)
So, I think all said and done, the links are clearly marked. Just depends on what you call clear. And certainly, Google hasn’t gone evil. Just depends on what you call evil.
“We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.” — Steve Jobs
This is a part of 3 favorite quotes by Steve Jobs. This line is the epitome of all successful product development. Best products are the ones that we create that we wanted to use. Whether it is the user interface, the back end, the wires, what have you – it should really be the best, even if no one will ever see it. This strategy is very different the strategy of General Motors, which tried to save money by building auto parts that were outliving the car itself to lower specifications. Well, their stock results are a bit different too.
Here is my full Bank of America screenshot. Let everyone be aware that I use BoA, I am a Novec customer, and how much I spend each month on electricity (although, although, there is a twist to that).
As you can notice, using a spiffy UI, I can easily find transactions using a keyword (Novec). That is cool as ice. I like that. (In Jim Carey voice: I like that a lot.)
However, do notice two payments going out for each bill that I receive. One might think that using some advanced (or rudimentary) transaction analysis, the bank might find that to be rather odd. (Might is the operating word in the previous sentence, used twice for effect.) Data anomaly techniques have been around for a while. Still, this goes on. 🙂
Ok, now back to my tease from the beginning – my electricity spending each month has not been disclosed by these numbers. Why? Well, the way it works is that although the payment is being made twice, the receiver Novec, does credit it correctly, therefore bringing some credit balance forward each month. (If you like a Math problem, you can try to solve for the actual numbers. 😉 )
Still, the lack of simple transaction analysis by a leading financial institution is rather surprising.