A project manager can expect to always have things to do but do you always know what you need to concentrate on at any given time? It can be easy to let a task slip your mind if you aren’t organized, which is why I always make sure that I have a to do list near me. Let’s see what benefits this offers a busy project manager.
You Know What to Do
Of course, the simplest and most obvious benefit is often the best one. In this case, I think that having your to do list handy all the time means that you always know what you need to do. This is something I never needed in other roles but the job of project manager is one which often leaves you dealing with a number of things at one time and feeling that you are being pulled all over the place. Not every project is like this but once you get into the habit of having a list near you at all times then it becomes something which it is worth doing all the time anyway. If you have ever felt that you are lost because you don’t know what still needs done then this simple step could solve the problem for you.
You Can React
Project work also requires that you know how and when to react to changing situations. If you get a phone call or an email which throws your plans up in the air then it definitely helps to have a list of outstanding work to help you work out what to do. Each situation will be different but the fact that you have a note of what needs done right now will give you a head start in reorganizing the project. This is something which you will possibly come across a lot in your career so finding a way of dealing with it simply and effectively is going to be a great help.
You Look Organized
If you are in a project meeting and a stakeholder asks you a specific question it is great to be able to answer them clearly and accurately. This is an aspect of your work which you can greatly enhance by having your to do list near you. By having this information so close to hand you can quickly check the details and answer the questions thrown at you. As well as this, you will look more organized in general by having your list of things to do with you when you are discussing the project and talking about what you are up to.
You Can Make Changes
I don’t know about anyone else but my list of things to do always looks a mess by the end of the day. As well as my annoying habit of crumpling up any bit of paper which comes near I also make changes to it on a regular basis. In a typical day I might score off a task, have to add it on again for some reason, add another, score out another, change a couple and then do these same things all over again. Your to do list is likely to be a very flexible document and if all you have to do is write things on it then this is easy. However, if you try to remember all of this without writing it down then it is going to take up some valuable space in your brain which could be used for other things.
I have never fallen asleep at work, although I once had to pinch my leg really hard during a spectacularly boring conference. No, what I am talking about here is being able to sleep well when I get home at night. If I don’t know what I have to do (and what I have already done) then questions will bounce around in my head all night and stop me from sleeping. This is something I really rather prefer to avoid, as insomnia isn’t a great friend of a busy project manager who also wants to enjoy life away from work. The mere action of writing down what I need to do helps me avoid the torture of watching the hands on my bedside clock slowly go round for hours on end. In fact, it works so well that I even use the same tactic at home now as well, with the same benefits.
Old Spice has launched a digital video campaign that will see the company leverage YouTube to sell its latest shave gels.
The campaign will see Old Spice launch two new video ads on the site. Ads will bring back one-time spokesperson Terry Crews. Along with the videos, Old Spice will also take over YouTube's masthead with an interactive ad that promotes user-generated content.
Old Spice's campaign focuses on the firm's newest shave gel products. Both "Pure Sport" and "Swagger" scents will be given the full YouTube treatment with the launch of two separate digital video spots.
The first video, "Shave," will see Terry Crews pop out of a formerly comatose man's beard. The miniaturized version of Crews will then call out for the Old Spice shaving gel and shave the man's beard.
The other video, "Baby," sees Crews talk to a variety of inanimate objects before finally realizing he has a son. Among the inanimate objects Crews chats up are socks, a waffle iron, and solar panels with a British accent.
Old Spice's ads have proved to be very popular on YouTube. Earlier this month, YouTube reported that two of the brands' video ads made it into the top 10 most seen ad spots on YouTube for April.
Along with the latest video spots, Old Spice will also leverage YouTube to bring some interactivity to its campaign. For today only, Old Spice will take over YouTube'smasthead and offer viewers questions based on the firm's newest products.
Questions for the site include things like, "Are (fill in the blank) newer than Old Spice Shave Gel?" Once a viewer answers the question he will be shown a follow-up page that will feature an image of the thing he wrote down accompanied by the words, "(Inserted word) Ain't Newer Than New Old Spice Shave Gel."
At this year's Google I/O developers conference, attendees will be part of an event experience experiment. Environmental sensors will measure noise levels, temperature, humidity, and air quality in real time during the conference, which kicks off tomorrow at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. TechCrunch: "At first glance, this seems a little bit creepy, but it’s no different than a venue adjusting the cooling system based on the temperature inside at any given moment. As with anything that Google does, this could have implications for tracking indoor events or businesses in the future.
A few hours ago, one lucky person won a $10,000 App Store gift card for downloading the 50 billionth app from the App Store.
Ignoring for the moment the space that person is going to need on their iPhone, it does highlight that the meteoric rise of apps shows no obvious signs of slowing down. In fact, downloads have doubled from the App Store in just 14 months. And whilst Google appear to trail slightly with 48bn downloads, that is only from Google Play and doesn’t account for all Android stores from other providers. The number could easily be 50% higher again.
However, as the app marketplace accelerates forward, it is also becoming overcrowded and difficult to achieve for developers to achieve standout. You could argue that the honeymoon period is now over for brands. Only those serious about investing in valuable experiences will achieve success.
With an oversupply of apps, consumers are beginning to become more discerning when it comes to downloading, questioning how often they think they’ll use an app. One marketer said to me recently, "We had incredible success from one of our game apps two years ago, but we could never achieve that number of downloads again in the current market".
Success stories from games such as Temple Run (with other 75m downloads) hide the hard truth that downloads and revenue are unevenly distributed, with only a small proportion of apps hitting the tipping point and staying in the charts for any length of time.
The post-honeymoon period is also characterised by a much higher bar for build quality and support. It is no longer enough to rush out a low-quality app as part of an advertising campaign. In some cases, your app maybe competing with 100-person development teams, chasing large revenue opportunities. Not only does your app need to make the grade from an initial build, it also needs to be maintained with improvements and bug fixes for new OS updates across every platform you have built for.
However, none of the above should put off those brands serious about creating engaging experiences for consumers. Rather, it should signal the need to elevate mobile app development to a cornerstone of your digital strategy.
In doing so, it is worth remembering some key pointers for success:
1 - Utility over advertising
Start by thinking about how you can create new value for people by improving their lives in some way. Be useful, be entertaining or ideally be both. Just don’t think of mobile apps as part of an advertising campaign. Think of them as the subject for an advertising campaign.
2 - Experiences not apps
People want great brand experiences, across devices. So rather than focusing on the isolated app alone, it is worth thinking about how to deliver a connected brand experience with mobile playing a specific but key role.
3 - Brand authenticity matters
There is a compelling argument that the native app market may disappear over the next five years.
In an overcrowded marketplace, many apps are copies of one another or variations on a theme. It is of paramount importance that an app and its experience is true to the brand, making it unique and not so easily replicated.
4 - Design for repeat usage
The number of app downloads are important to achieve that viral effect in the charts (see below), but repeat usage is a much better indicator of an apps usefulness to your audience. Of course, this will also have a direct effect on reviews of the app.
5 - Invest in marketing
It sounds obvious, but so many brands make the mistake of developing an app yet not giving enough thought and budget to marketing the app, putting them at a disadvantage from other apps developers. Many of these use significant investment in the dark art of seeding apps to chart in the top 20 in that all-important first two weeks.
6 - Leave the marketplace altogether
There is a compelling argument that the native app market may disappear over the next five years. The development community would say that HTML5 web apps can do everything native mobile apps can do, but without the need for download. The Financial Times is one of the most high profile businesses turning its back on the App Store and launching a very successful web app.
With Google opening up its Google Compute Engine (GCE) for anyone and expanding the feature set of its Google Cloud Platform, the web giant appears to have its gaze fixed on easing Amazon Web Services’ lock on the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) market. But it won’t be easy, with many startups and enterprises already entrenched in AWS thanks to its early general availability and plethora of services.
Some developers hanging out at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco on Wednesday thought Google could be a viable option for certain workloads going forward, but they don’t see it as the it cloud for today. And that might be all right, because adoption of IaaS clouds is still far from complete, and because Google is indicating that it has plenty of ideas for enhancing the Google Cloud Platform.
“We’ll continue to add new services which lower the amount of tedious grunt work that developers have to do,” Greg DeMichillie, a director of product management for the Google Cloud Platform, told members of the press in a roundtable discussion following the Google cloud announcements. Better networking services could be one area for innovation, he suggested.
Indeed, my colleague Barb Darrow has expressed on multiple occasions that Google’s position in the IaaS world is worth watching. The trouble is, the road ahead looks steep.
The current cloud market
A July-October 2012 survey of 100 IT professionals at medium and large enterprises from 451 Research showed that 19 percent that were running IaaS deployments were doing so on Amazon, considerably more than on other options. Verizon came in second with 8 percent, followed by Rackspace with 5 percent. Google apparently held 1 percent or less. Looking toward the future, respondents named the vendors they expected their companies to move to, with CenturyLink, Amazon and Verizon coming out on top. Google had 1 percent or less there, too.
Why the lack of presence from Google in the standings? For one thing, “Amazon has been pushing this game along for a long period of time,” said Peter ffoulkes, research director at 451 Research. The other factor is that not many enterprises are ready to run on public clouds. ffoulkes fully expects Google to show up in the rankings in forthcoming surveys, but it’s too early for him to say when.
To be fair, since the 2012 survey wrapped up, Google has added to the Google Cloud Platform, with moves such as adding capabilities to BigQuery. It’s also acquired Talaria for software that could make Google server use more efficient. And remember that Google Compute Engine launched less than a year ago and just became generally available today.
Google has serious work to do in making the Google Compute Engine a top choice for enterprises. For one thing, Google has not (yet) opened a marketplace of services on par with AWS. Such a step could help Google in its efforts to drive more developers onto GCE.
What developers think
Google has a few opportunities to gain marketshare with GCE. One startup I spoke with has run workloads on Google App Engine (GAE) for a few years but still does data analysis and data mining on on-premise servers. Since GAE and GCE hook in well with each another, the startup is looking at moving the on-prem activities to GCE. Another area of opportunity is around using GCE for narrowly tailored high-performance workloads that scale out. Engineers at one major retailer in the United States said they were exploring public clouds for certain jobs, and Google Compute Engine is a possibility for exactly this sort of thing. Generally speaking, strong results could lead to larger deployments beyond tests and lower-priority applications.
Developers praised Google for introducing granular pricing down to the minute instead of the hour after a 10-minute minimum and increasing the size of a persistent disk from 1 TB to 10 TB.
But just as AWS has had notable service issues, Google App Engine, the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) piece of the Google Cloud Platform, has had multiple service disruptions of its own, and that doesn’t help adoption.
Plus, several developers noted that Amazon was the forerunner in the AWS market, which seems to be a major reason why Google faces a steep road. One developer said his hosted VoIP company just moved from on-premise servers to AWS. Translation: Too little, too late, Google.
The lock-in question
However long it takes for Google Compute Engine to get on the board in the IaaS conversation, the ease of migration from AWS and other IaaS providers to Google will eventually become a hot topic. What sort of lock-in issues could arise? That’s been a good question since cloud computing took off a few years ago and as options have proliferated. Amazon in particular has faced criticism on the lock-in point.
Performance is a whole other matter. Will GCE be a kind of exotic car of public clouds? Different customers will have different answers to that question, as not all workloads were created equal. Benchmarks attempt to give some insight into this, but they have drawbacks.
As developers try spinning up instances on GCE and do comparisons for themselves, the subject of price will come up. Google foresees more price cuts to its cloud services, as it’s in the company’s best interests to make its infrastructure as efficient as possible. That could entice more enterprises to join in. At the same time, AWS is likely to keep growing, slashing its prices and speedily bolting down enterprise customers. (To get a peek at what Amazon has in mind, check out GigaOM’s Structure conference in San Francisco on June 19, when Werner Vogels, Amazon’s chief technology officer, will take the stage.)
However the game plans play out, Google is optimistic at the moment. “It’s obviously a hugely important use case for us, a hugely important customer set,” DeMichillie said of enterprise users. “It’s early days, but we think over the next 12 months, we expect to see a pretty big upswing in that.”
Google is rolling out a major makeover of its social network, Google+, this week that will focus on stream, photos and Hangouts.
The redesign, launched today during Google’s developer conference in San Francisco, focuses on “real-life sharing,” said senior vice-president of engineering Vic Gundotra.
“We’ve worked hard to make our phone and tablet apps intimate and immersive — today we’re just improving them further and adapting their design for the Web,” Gundotra said. “The end result, we hope, is an app that looks and feels great across a family of devices.”
• Multi-column layout — Google+ users will now see one, two, or three columns of content depending on the size of their screen and orientation. For instance, Smartphone users will see one column while tablet users will likely have two columns. Those on laptops and desktops will see a three-column design.
• Full-screen media — Photos and videos can now fill the entire width of the screen.
• Animations — To name a few, the sharebox bounces and the menus slide and, once a card has been clicked on, it will flip over to reveal comments.
The redesign, Gundotra said, also gives feeds a new dimension with automated hashtags. Google+ will now examine posts and tag them accordingly and find and rank related conversations across the network. Then, when a user clicks on the related hashtag, the card will flip, revealing associated content users can sift through inline.
If members tag their own posts, they will be similarly displayed. Users also have the option of removing the Google-added tags from their content on single posts, or all of them at any time.
The revamped Hangouts combines text, photos and live video across Android, iOS and PCs. The free app includes the following features:
• Messaging is “richer, and more responsive.” Photos and emoji can be added to conversations “while real-time activity indicators really bring them to life,” Gundotra said.
• Conversation history allows users to swipe back in time to look at old posts and photos. Users also have the option of turning history off.
• Once a users sees a notification on one device, it will be cleared from all of their other devices and PCs. Users can also “snooze” notifications if they are busy.
• Free video calls to all contacts.
“We think everyone should be able to make beautiful photos, so today we’re launching a set of initiatives aimed at improving your photos automatically — basically your camera, plus Google’s cloud,” Gundotra said.
Pictures powered by Google can take advantage of four new tools:
• Auto Backup (aka Instant Upload) — After a user gives permission, Google+ will automatically back up mobile pictures as they are taken. This feature includes unlimited free storage at standard size (2048px), and 15GB of free storage at full size (up from 5GB).
• Auto Highlight — This tool enables users to find the best pictures quickly by sidelining duplicates, blurry images and poor exposures, and highlighting all of the best images.
• Auto Enhance — Enables users to automatically improve brightness, contrast, saturation, structure, noise and focus. Users upload their photos, open the lightbox to see Google’s enhancements and leave the rest up to Google. Click the link to view some sample images.
• Auto Awesome — This tool is the most innovative. If a user uploads a series of photos, Google will attempt to animate them automatically. In the case of family portraits, if a number of images are uploaded, Google will snag everyone’s best smile and incorporate them all in the best overall image.
Patrick Kennedy, Paddy Power's chief executive, told Marketing: "What the team do every year is think about how they are going to surpass what they did creatively the previous year and they do that. Our spontaneous brand awareness continues to rise."
Kennedy said that it wasn't just the creative element of Paddy Power's marketing which performed well, but how the campaigns were being delivered.
Kennedy pointed to the example of its stunt in which it took to the sky to deliver encouraging and provocative "Sky Tweets" during the Ryder Cup last year.
Critics argue that Paddy Power's advertising can be offensive. For instance the advertising watchdog banned Paddy Power's controversial "transgendered ladies" TV ad after it received more than 400 complaints.
This year it ran a parody campaign called "second jobs for subs", which poked fun at football stars and ran across outdoor sites around five Premier League football grounds.
Suggestions for "second jobs" included a toilet cleaner for Arsenal's misfiring player Andrei Arshavin and a burger flipper for Chelsea striker Fernando Torres.
Kennedy today gave an unequivocal "no" when asked it Paddy Power would pullback from controversial ads.
Kennedy was speaking as Paddy Power today reported a 29% leap in online revenues, as the Irish bookmaker saw more of its customer place bets online and via the mobile phones.
Paddy Power updated the market with its trading performance between 1 January and 12 May. Group net revenues were up 20% in the year to date, driven by 29% growth in online revenues.
The bookmaker said it was aided by "favourable" sports results in the period.
The group said: "In fact football results were so good that we could afford to pay out on Man United as Premier League winners in early February."
Mobile betting also increased by 112% on the year, as more customers took to there smartphones to place bets.
Paddy Power, like rival bookmarkers, is facing tough high-street environment but it said its retail division "performed well" with net revenues up 2%, driven by "strong sportsbook growth" and offsetting a decline in machine gaming.