Friday, August 22, 2008

My Blog has Moved

Hi there... I have upgraded my blogging system and have moved my blog to a new server.

You can now find it at

See you there.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Another moment in the sun!

Another one of my little 'vanity posts' (which seem to get both readers to comment) but I am pleased to announce that Hyro are WINNERS of a national Microsoft
Partner of the Year Award for 2008. This award is for ISV Solutions Partner – Software Solutions Innovation and recognises some great work by the team in building the ABC Shop Online using the Microsoft Programmable Rich Media platform, Silverlight™.

It's an OUTSTANDING effort in a very competitive field.

And thanks for the support and help in driving this innovation from our friends at Microsoft – Michael Kordahi, Nick Mayhew and Christian Longstaff for their support and encouragement as we have embraced the Silverlight™ phenomenon.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A trillion things being said…

As a follow up to yesterday's blog, I was reading the Official Google Blog and was presented with this daunting statistic:


There are 1,000,000,000,000 (1 Trillion) Unique URLs on the internet – and it is growing at "several billion pages a day."


This is a phenomenal statistic – and if ever any marketer or other business person was ever looking for final reinforcement of the fact that this internet thing might be here to stay then this has to be it (trust me, I still get to talk to marketers who STILL perceive digital marketing to be a sideshow in their marketing plans!!). Once you step back from this massive global endeavour we are all a part of, you then get some insight into just what it is going to take to be successful in this digital world in which we live.

A trillion pages represent billions of sites, which in turn represent many, many millions of businesses – all competing for attention, for engagement and for business. Every single one of these wants to be the first result returned on a search, be listed on the first page of paid links and wants to have the hottest viral marketing campaign. Everyone wants to be number one.

In digital business terms, this represents both an opportunity and a threat. For big brands with big markets, the sheer size of the internet raises the bar for your digital strategies. All of the things I have been raving about over the last couple of years in this blog hold true – you need to invest adequately in everything to do with your digital strategy. Fail to invest to the right level on any component and your strategy is likely to be swamped by the competition. Inadequate technology will drive users to faster, better performing sites. Poor user experience and information architecture will frustrate users and send them to easier use competitive sites. Get your online marketing wrong and you just won't be heard… and so on. This is a strong sign that digital business is now the domain of specialist, expert companies.

The opportunities come from the sheer scale of the market – in any market this big there are clearly opportunities for well considered, well targeted offers. For businesses both big and small, there is great commercial potential in extending, marketing or modifying your offers to suit very specific markets which may now be spread anywhere around the world.

I also saw a very interesting and somewhat unique take on this from Julian Bajkowski in the MIS Magazine Online Edition. His take was to confront some of the other implications of such a massive and growing web – like maybe ending up with more destinations on the web than there are addresses to refer to them. Another sign of just how big the internet has become.

Having been in this industry for as long as it has been around in this country, statistics like this give me pause. We have REALLY created something which HAS changed the world … and as far as I am concerned, we have really only just begun.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

20% of the world is online … and China > US!

This week saw an article stating that the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) has released statistics showing that the total number of internet users in China is now 253,000,000 and now well and truly surpass the number of internet users in the US (215,000,000 as at the end of November 2007). This follows six months of remarkable growth, from about 210,000,000 at the end of 2007 according to

As you pore over the statistics, you start to get a sense of the true scale of the internet. So here are some things which stuck with me…

  1. The number of internet users in China compares to the population of the US (around 305,000,000), and at the current rate of growth (56% per annum) will likely surpass it before Christmas this year.
  2. Each of the number of users in China and the US now represent around 15% of the total world population of Internet Users of 1,412,000,000
  3. More than 20% of the world's population of 6,707,000,000 is now online
  4. Asia has the second lowest population penetration (14%) of the internet (after Africa) but represents the largest share of internet users. The US has internet penetration of 71% and 76% for Australia.
  5. China's internet population is now 16 times that of Australia (15.5 million)
  6. The
    article suggests that by 2012, the China internet population will probably reach 490,000,000 – even if we reach 20 million in Australia, they will outnumber us by 25 to 1. There are more than 530,000,000 internet users across Asia today.

There is much to be drawn from these statistics and I will devote more space to this in the future. My first observation is that while it is obvious that the internet is a truly global phenomenon, it is increasingly an Asia-centric one.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Look Behind the Noise to See What’s Going on ….

The launch of the Apple iPhone 3G is occupying a lot of media column space over the last week, and it probably should. Others can write about the technology – for me the significant impact we will see is the how it changes consumers' understanding of the capability of the internet and now the mobile internet. While the ability to browse, email, collaborate and connect via our mobile phone has been something us nerds (even us closet nerds) have been doing for a few years, the 3G iPhone puts it in front of and in the hand of the masses.


There is evidence that the iPhone is dramatically affecting the way the users are connecting. This article, for example, quotes Google as saying that the mobile searches from the iPhone run at 50 TIMES those from other mobile handsets – and that is the 'old' iPhone without the benefit of 3G connectivity and the MUCH faster data rates this affords.


I am also pleased to see that Australian businesses have been fast to offer iPhone optimised content. These purpose built mobile sites offer special purpose interfaces (designed to accommodate touch-screen navigation) and other iPhone features such as "shrink and zoom" of interfaces and making use of the inbuilt GPS functionality. Good examples can be found being delivered by News Corporation and Commsec – but there are plenty out there and we have been proudly building some of these.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Future of Mobiles …

I promised to both readers that when it was made available, I would share the link to the presentation I made at the 2008 Rainmaker Marketing Symposium in Sydney. This presentation was delivered to around 120 marketers from the A/NZ financial services industry and the feedback was reasonably positive.


These are, of course, my observations and insights from my position in a company delivering major new initiatives in the mobile space and I am sure there are those who both agree and disagree with my thoughts ….. enjoy.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mish Mash and They’re Making a Splash….

A new challenge for marketers is the rise of mashups – technology which allows users to aggregate their own collection of content and services from a range of different sources to create a unique, personalised internet environment.


The thinking behind this technology is not new. Over a decade ago, internet pioneer Sun Microsystems were marketing a technology called iPlanet Portal Server, a derivative of the earlier Netscape Compass Server brought to market through the Sun / Netscape Iplanet Alliance. This technology created a framework to aggregate a range of content, applications and services across an enterprise and to then present those services through a flexible, customisable interface. This was achieved by creating some common application frameworks and a mechanisms to connect to many systems located anywhere on the enterprise network. This technology slowly evolved to the internet portals (usually prefaced with the term 'my' – remember, albeit that the content available through those portals was limited to content authored for inclusion by the portal provider.


Fast forward to today and this technology has expanded from across the enterprise to across the internet. Today, mashup technologies allow us to connect content and services from just about anywhere on the internet. The most well known of these technologies come in the form of 'community sites' like Facebook, Myspace and Bebo. These sites allow users to add applications and content to their own profile and to share these with their peers, or social network. The interoperability extends to anything on the internet which complies with the relevant internet standards for the content types. Technologies such as AJAX, RSS, XML and others provide flexibility and interoperability and the platform for services to be aggregated.


A new generation of mashups is targeting the convenience and customisability drivers for users. Positioned as a personalised home page (not unlike the old portals) services such as, and even the Microsoft Live Services are vying for the crown of being the default gateway for your internet activities.


With the high levels of functionality the combinations of these services and the content and services available to be accessed, there are new challenges for marketers. In social networking sites, content and services are distributed by reference. Visitors to my home page who like an object they see there can add it to their site with a click (or two). A user may get exposed to a product or service without ever visiting the web site of the producer or seeing any other content.


Marketers need to think about how they are going to manage the messaging to their target audiences when they don't have control over the frameworks through which their content and services are being delivered. Furthermore, it is likely that the content produced will sit with competing content from rival marketers. Brand A may well be situated right next to competing Brand B as users change and update their mashups.


The trick is going to be to make sure that the content and services developed for distribution through mashups and community sites stands up in its own right; that it communicates the brand, message and proposition independently. There is a lot of merit in including a mashup component in digital marketing. Since the user has control of their mashup framework, the inclusion of an object in a users page is tantamount endorsement and we know that peer reference and endorsement are powerful marketing tools. A well distributed mashup object can be a powerful marketing tool.




Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It’s Like a Blog, Only Smaller!

Over the last two or three weeks, I have been investigating the phenomena of micro-blogging – the concept of using digital technologies (web, email, sms, mobile) to post regular, small insights about what you are doing / seeing / thinking / feeling. I have tried a couple of sites; Twitter and Plurk and am finding strengths and weaknesses in both.


I am interested to see where this goes. My first experience is that there are some people who are phenomenally prolific in their digital postings. Some people post tens or hundreds of things per day. The second thing I notice is that much of what is posted by these people is pretty inane. Spur of the moment ramblings which often lack the benefit of supporting information and context. Perhaps this is a sign of the nascent nature of this activity – some of these people clearly feel that if they have nothings to post, then they should post, well, nothing. I also feel that some of this is driven by massive egos in a micro sense – these people WANT celebrity, but only from a circle of friends and perhaps their friends. Maybe posting constantly will help them to achieve this….


On the other hand, there seems to be a pervasive sense of community in all of this. There are lots of people who "touch" each other many times a day, maybe a bit like the chatter that happens amongst families; the regular comments, observations, snappy remarks, and banter which goes on amongst the familiar. I have already seen many instances of members of these communities reaching out for information, opinions and help – and the community responds quickly. This is a good thing, it happens in the background and takes very little time to check, comment, or post. As we all move around quickly (and for some of us, widely), this can be a nice "touchpoint" for our friends and colleagues.


I think that this is another of those emerging trends which we will see find its way into the corporate environment. I can foresee teams, irrespective of their locations, engaging with their peers using this sort of micro-blogging constantly throughout the day. Many teams are doing this already through chat clients, but micro-blogging offers the benefit of creating a permanent record and all the functionality of the web (linking, syndicating, programmability and so on).


The current iterations of the technology are a bit klutzy, but like most things on the web, these move fast and the latest release offer some cool features. You can update via email, chat clients, and SMS and there are emerging services which will syndicate your postings to all your personal and social sites (check out as an example). I think this an emerging technology trend worth keeping an eye on.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Presentation today – Mobile Marketing for Financial Services

I had the pleasure of presenting today to the 14th Annual Rainmaker Marketing Symposium for Financial Services. My topic was the Evolving trends in Mobile Marketing, a topic I enjoy and was happy to get all fired up about. Feedback from the crowd was great and I have been told that the presentation should be available for public consumption on the RainmakerITV site sometime in the next few days for the entire world to see.

Check it out and I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Where, oh where, had my little blog gone?

Both readers have been in touch to let me know that they had missed my blogs and had noticed that I hadn’t posted since the start of the year. It was nice to know that someone cares and that both readers found value in the opinions and insights I share with them through this blog.

So, I guess you could say I have been a little busy over the last three or four months. Those of you who follow the company will know that we have had a fairly unusual and demanding few months. A combination of a fairly hefty ‘miss’ on the results for 2007 against the guidance which had been in the market, the immediate departure of our former CEO soon after and the mountain of work restructuring and moving the business forwards since then, has meant little time to devote to my blog. Sorry about that, but my mind has been fully engrossed with our team, customers and shareholders (equally focussed and equally important). Our share price has taken a pounding (what a market to release bad news into?) and we have had to deal with the obvious flow-on effects of disgruntled shareholders and the usual activity which ensues.

We have got a lot done in the first four months. The Chairman and CEO were able to give a good, pragmatic update at the AGM this week and I think our shareholders, while resentful that we have found ourselves in this situation, can see the merit and conviction in our approach and our progress. We are committed to making Hyro into the great company we know it has the potential to be.

So, you will see some more blogs from me over coming weeks and months. I enjoy the fact that many people I meet tell me that they have read my blog in the past (I presented in the Keynote at the Microsoft REMIX conferences this week and three people I met mentioned they had read, and now missed, my blogs). I regret the fact that few of them have the time or inclination to comment, argue or rebuke. Maybe I just need to make this a little more interesting….

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Positions Vacant – a Billion Scriptwriters….

I keep watching with interest, the continuing saga of the scriptwriters in the US. These people have apparently been on strike since 5th November 2007 and, as usual, it is all about money. The consequences of this are dire – for goodness sakes we missed out on the Golden Globes and there are rumours that the TV networks could run out of Grey's Anatomy ….. could it be that people need to resort to conversation?

Interestingly, I am not sure that the popular User Generated Content sites are suffering the same shortage of content. Youtube now apparently hosts over 65,000,000 videos – and some of these are fantastic content.

At play here are a number of interesting trends. The changing options for consumption of video content ("snacking" on smaller, self contained rich media content pieces) and increased variety of mechanisms to access this content. Increasingly, the mobile handset will be used to access this content, as will connected TVs (such as the one announced by Panasonic which will connect to YouTube) and other IP enabled devices. Rich media entertainment is changing and the options available for consumers to pick and mix the content they want to see are greater than ever before.

There are some players out there who are embracing these changes now – working on strategies which spread the content over a range of channels and integrate these to provide a coordinated, complimentary offering. Some of these are even engaging the consumers in the process, with consumer feedback and contributions shaping the overall content experience. I am not talking about the reality TV genre as we now it now, I am talking about "Wiki-scripts" where the community contributes to the storyline and dialogue, and other initiatives which challenge the traditional model. It is yet to be proven that this model will generate sustainable supplies of good quality, consistent content, but a "drought" of established content may create the catalyst for this to be tested.

This, of course, presents some great opportunities and also challenges for marketers. Lining up your offer with content which is in demand, is a great way to reach targeted customers, who are consuming entertainment and content in a form and at a time they want to consume it. It might even follow that if these consumers have contributed to defining what this content is, it may be even more effective in reaching those target customer segments. There are even opportunities for marketers to create their own content and explore these increasingly popular channels. It may also provide a working case study of the opportunities to use collaboration as a way to develop advertising content and concepts …. another sign of evolution and innovation that digital services enable.

I remember someone once told me that one of the risks of "challenging the status quo" can sometimes be that you end up with an outcome you may not like. In forcing the hands of the networks and the content distributors, the scriptwriters may find out that the new world they create may not be the one they set out to find, and it may motivate others in the market to explore new and innovative ways to satisfy their requirements.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Last Year’s Six Very Big Things…

Last year I had the audacity to offer up my list of six Very Big Things for the digital world – themes I thought we would see start to bubble up over the coming year. You can read these HERE and I am pretty happy with how I went. Internet use has continued to reach new heights both in terms of the number of people using it and the quality of access they have. The advertising budgets and the use of the internet by the big brands has increased significantly and with it comes the rise of digital services; the serious, commercial, business transforming use of digital channels to reach, engage and do business with customers. User-centricity is on the rise, through the rise of social networking (who got a Facebook / LinkedIn / Myspace / Bebo / [insert new aspiring social networking site here] page last year?) and more use of user generated content, while the use of the internet amongst non-English speakers continues to grow apace. Finally, digital connections continued to become more embedded in the fabric of our lives as out TVs, GPS systems, mobile phones and music devices all became a bit savvier this past year.


A couple of things didn't make it to my list, as they came on a little faster than I expected and I thought they would be themes for this year and maybe next. The rise of user generated video came much fast than I thought and shows us that people have a deep desire to contribute, communicate and create. I really thought this would take a couple of years to get as far as it has in one, but with video capture everywhere (from video cameras with hard disks to cheap webcams and mobile phones) there are masses of content looking to be broadcast and people are doing lots of it.


I was surprised by some of the big deals done last year and the prices paid for businesses like DoubleClick, Realtime 24/7 and Aquantive. These businesses provide the systems and the services to aggregate advertising planning, buying and management for advertisers and their acquirers (Google, Yahoo and Microsoft respectively) have seen the enormous opportunity for vertical integration amongst their online advertising inventory and their technology offerings. This for me is a sign of the increasing momentum of the digital services industry and the great opportunities for those who service it. Exciting times.


There is one thing I have learned in my now 15 years in this game (it is THAT long since I first stumbled across this crazy emerging thing called the Mosiac 0.89b web browser – about 1.6 million 'internet years' as my more youthful colleagues are quick to remind me) is that you cannot ever assume that you can see everything that is coming. This technology is truly transformational and that creates opportunities for innovators, renegades and the creative to do things which shift or nudge the evolutionary path we are on. In my experience, the best thing to do is to act on the things you can see with confidence and react quickly to those things you don't expect. As we have proven in our business, having a sense of the opportunity the future holds is one thing, but being able to turn that perception into a working, dynamic business is another.


It is going to be another great year for digital services and I look forward as we continue to change the world.