Thursday, February 28, 2008

New business models: wrap up from InfoPresse day

Yesterday I attended a conference entitled "New business models: Google and revolutionary management" organized by InfoPresse. Very interesting and thought provoking.

(Note: You will see that the next logical step from those presentations is to come at the InfoPresse day about web analytics where I will talk about "Elements of a successful web analytics program" on April 16th, along with Jacques Warren and Avinash Kaushik.)

Bernard Girard on Google management

M.Girard is the author of a book on Google management. M.Girard highlighted some interesting facts about the "ecosystem" of Google: lower legal constraints, a closer relationship between universities and companies, the availability of venture capital and business angels and cultural differences that made, and still make Google, a fertile ground for a different management style.

Whereas management capability is typically limited by the cognitive capacity of a company manager, Google triumvira composed of Page, Brin and Schmidt has proven to be successful. Girard compared Apple's Steve Job to Michael Angelo, working with a team but getting all the glory for the result, Microsoft's Bill Gates closed and controlling practices, and Google's multiplication of experiment approach.

Let's face it: free stuff, frequent release and availability of beta versions, open architecture and incremental evolution are all fine. But what strikes me as being most interesting is the focus on user behavior analysis rather than spending a lot of time watching out the competition. It's observing how user interact, use and think of new ways of using their application rather than doing long and often biased marketing research. That's sounds like a melody to my ears :)

Stéphane Gauvin on the Social Web

M.Gauvin is professor of marketing at Laval University and closely involved with the eBusiness MBA. An amazing and fun speaker who mixed university style "rigueur" and provoking messages that brought laughs from the crowd. There was a lot of highly interesting facts in his presentation: web penetration is saturating at around 70% (far from the >98% of television), effective usage is around 50%, but the core of the message was that so called social media is not the panacea that some people would like us to think. There's a noticeable slowdown in Facebook and the Twitters, MySpace, Blogger, Flickr and other social sites are eclipsed by Youtube amazing growth.

James Surowiecky on the Wisdom of Crowds

The Wisdom of Crowds as become a best seller for basically saying that so called "experts" are not so great... and it's wiser to tap into the diversity and amazing power of statistical significance of a correctly sampled group. Numerous examples reinforced the concept, presented in a way that makes perfect sense and didn't need to go in the methodological aspects of statistics. The keys to The Wisdom of Crowds are:
  1. diversity of opinion,
  2. independence of members from one another,
  3. decentralization,
  4. skills at aggregating opinions without interfering.
As stated in the editorial review on Amazon "The diversity brings in different information; independence keeps people from being swayed by a single opinion leader; people's errors balance each other out; and including all opinions guarantees that the results are "smarter" than if a single expert had been in charge."

#1 key takeaway from the day

"Listen, observe, measure... measure... measure..."