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July 28, 2009

Look to India, China for Next Internet Innovation

The United States invented the internet and has driven the majority of its development and innovation over the past 20 years, but India and China are likely candidates to drive the next generation of innovation given their rising internet user base.

World’s Most Popular Web Sites

The world’s most popular internet sites have a decidedly American slant to them – sites like Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia all began in the States. These sites appeal to an American audience, with English text, and nuances that thrive on American culture. But as countries like China and India increase their online population the world’s most popular sites will quickly become ones based in the Eastern hemisphere, appealing to Eastern audiences, that may or may not appeal to Western audiences.

As of 2008, China has the world’s largest online population with 298 million internet users. India has the fourth largest online population with 52 million internet users and is predicted to have the third highest population by 2013 according to Forrester Research. When you combine both countries’ online populations they currently have 60% more internet users than the United States.

Can Google Compete with Baidu?

Baidu.com, a China-based site, is the 9th most popular web site in the world and is China’s most popular search engine. It competes with Google and Yahoo but more importantly it provides the best search results for Asian specific sites.  Baidu is considered an internet portal similar to Yahoo and provides many different applications and solutions (57 different tools in all), but Baidu actually began as a music file search engine providing links to MP3 files of mainly Chinese music. As its popularity expanded, companies such as Google have copied its functionality (specifically the MP3 search feature) in order to compete in the China marketplace. Google has struggled though in China largely because it misses cultural nuances specific to the Chinese population that companies like Baidu are better positioned to understand. In 2009, Baidu has garnered more site visitors than Yahoo – impressive considering Baidu only caters to Chinese audiences versus Yahoo’s worldwide audience.

The worldwide popularity of Chinese-based websites is due in large part to their enormous population. Capture the attention of China’s internet users and you are almost guaranteed a spot in the top twenty of the world’s most popular web sites. In fact, three of the world’s top twenty sites are based in China (Baidu.com, QQ.com, Sina.com) according to Alexa.org, appealing specifically to Chinese internet users. By 2010, China will have an online population larger than the actual population of the United States.

India’s Internet User Base

India, with a population of 1.1 billion, shares similarities with China with a large population base and fast growing online population. Though only one of the top twenty sites worldwide is Indian based (sort of… Google India) sites appealing specifically to India’s population are certain to emerge.

American Innovation versus Chinese Innovation

Given the tremendous population base and online users in China and India “the next big thing” quite possibly may come from the Eastern hemisphere. American-based companies should carefully monitor fast growing web sites in China and India to assess their functionality and audience. The most popular sites in these countries have so far focused on search and Web 2.0 functionality (social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, mashups, etc), but evidence already exists that innovators from the East will develop solutions beyond what the world currently knows from the most popular sites. Perhaps Web 2.0 sites such as Facebook or Twitter can be further tweaked to appeal to cultural or technological differences in these countries. Or perhaps innovation from the East will be in the form of features and functionality not yet envisioned by the West. Only time will tell, but one thing for certain is that American internet innovators will be wise to keep an eye on our friends to the East for inspiration.

See the video on YouTube - click here.

July 21, 2009

5 Steps (one for each day of the week) For… Protecting Company Data

1.      Disable removable media (thumb drives, etc)

2.      Control network access to sensitive files

3.      Setup firewall protection against outside intrusions

4.      Backup data weekly and store offsite

5.      Remove access to online file sharing sites

3 Simple but Critical Steps for Project Management

The concept of project management can be intimidating to many small companies but it needn’t be. By focusing on a few simple concepts your ability to manage projects to successful completion can be greatly enhanced.


Define the Project

Defining the project can spell success or failure from the very start. Projects that have unrealistic goals, are poorly conceived in the first place, and don’t have bounded timeframes are common mistakes during project definition. Consider the following elements of a project during your company’s next project.

A project is defined as a temporary endeavor, having a defined beginning and end, undertaken to meet particular goals and objectives.

·          A temporary endeavor – projects are an activity performed to achieve a specific goal. Activities that support on-going production and operations of the business are not projects. Ensure your project is a temporary work effort and not an effort likely to never end.

·          A defined beginning and end - projects must be time bound with a beginning and end date that realistically allows enough time to perform the work effort required of the project but not too long so as to lose focus, funding, and control. The duration of a project is obviously impacted by the size of the project effort – but keep in mind that the longer a project lasts the more likely it is to miss its target date and run over on budget. Also, projects lasting many months or even years often no longer meet the needs and goals of the business they were designed to achieve in the first place.

·          Meet particular goals and objectives – a project must have a goal or objective and while some projects can be loosely defined (e.g. lower operating costs) the most successful projects clearly articulate the project goal (e.g. lower operating costs by 10% in 12 months). A clear project goal or objective reduces ambiguity and holds project team members accountable for their actions.

Keeping these three concepts in mind will help you define your project in a way that helps everyone understand the timeframe and goals of the project.

Assign Project Tasks

Once you have defined the timeframe and goals for your project begin breaking down the tasks required to accomplish the project. Rarely is a project made up of one task (if it is it’s probably not a project) so analyze the work effort required for the multiple steps along the project lifespan. For example, to transition to a new accounting system you must first analyze the similarities/differences in system data, then export data from the old system, perform any data manipulation, import the data into the new accounting system, and quality check data in the new accounting system against the old system. Each one of these actions becomes a task on the project task list (and most can be broken down even further).

Once the tasks have been identified assign each one to an owner. A task owner is not a title (e.g. Business Analyst) but rather someone (e.g. John Doe) so that an individual is accountable for performing and completing that task. Assigning an individual to own a task also helps reduce duplication of efforts caused when two people think they own the same task. If resources leave during the project reassign their tasks to someone else so that no tasks sit idle.

Track Status

Possibly the most important part of the project is tracking task status. I recommend meeting at least weekly to discuss progress made on assigned tasks. What’s important to determine is the progress made on a task over the past week, the likelihood of the task owner meeting the expected completion date, and identifying and discussions any impacts to other tasks. (A free and simple project management template is provided at KellyRShort.com) Meet with team members during your weekly project status meeting and review every active task notating progress in the notes column as well as adjusting expected completion dates that may have changed. If dates are missed or continually slip immediately address the issue and individual assigned to the task to reduce further slippage. Keep in mind the assigned individual may be working diligently to complete the task but factors outside their control may keep them from completing the task. If this is the case help them remove the barrier keeping them from completing their task.

Keep It Simple

By keeping these simple concepts in mind and practicing them on a daily basis your organization can become better at managing projects no matter their kind. Don’t get consumed by project methodology, project management software tools or even Project Management Institute certification – these concepts are all built on the universal fundamentals of project management described above.

Tags: Project management, managing, coordinating, measuring, execution, business and technology industries, disciplines, project methodologies, project management training, project managers, project management software, Microsoft Project, free project management software, Project Management Institute, PMI Certification

July 20, 2009

2 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Email Marketing Right Now

There are two major reasons why in today’s down economy you should use email marketing. First, use email marketing to steal customers away from your competitors because if you don’t, they will. Secondly, use email marketing to unlock the goldmine that resides in your existing customer base waiting for a reason to do more business with you.

Email marketing is a proven technique for reaching existing and new customers in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Email marketing can also be an effective tool in conjunction with traditional advertising and marketing campaigns. Long term studies show this marketing technique drives tangible results that impact the bottom line. Consider the following:

  • 66% of those surveyed said they had made a purchase because of a marketing message received through email. - ExactTarget, "2008 Channel Preference Survey" (2008)
  • 44% of email users said email inspired at least one online purchase and 41% said it prompted at least one offline purchase. - JupiterResearch's The Social and Portable Inbox (2008)
  • 63% of respondents admit clicking a link in a marketing email to learn more. - Epsilon (Oct 2008)


So how do you start using email marketing? Use the following guide to get started.


Generate leads from magazines, newspapers, newsletters, non-profits, etc.

A little known secret of the marketing industry is that just about every email address given to a newspaper, newsletter, magazine, retailer, or social networking site is available for rent. This often falls into the bulk email marketing category but using opt-in mailing lists have much better results. Determine which outlets and destinations your customers visit and contact the outlet’s advertising department to inquire about distributing marketing emails to their customer base. For instance, if you sell services in Fort Worth to homeowners with annual household incomes greater than $200,000 living in the 76109 and 76110 zip codes the local newspaper (Star Telegram) would be more than happy to let you send marketing emails to their customers. The typical price for renting email addressed varies widely depending on how focused the customer list is, but expect to pay between $0.10 and $2.00 per email address.

Generate leads from your existing customer base.

No one is more familiar with your company’s products and services than your existing customers and therefore you should be tapping into this customer base. For emails sent to existing customers (direct email marketing) it’s all about reminding them why they do business with you and giving them a new reason to do business with your company. Service and email customization are great ways to remind them why they do business with you. For instance, include their name at the top of the email (as opposed to a generic form letter). This level of personalization gives the email a warm and welcome tone. Customizing the email based on the customer’s preferences, product or service types, and order history is another great way to show the customer you care. For instance, your email could remind the customer of their recent XYZ product purchase and introduce them to the complimentary ABC product line. New products, services or special sales are also great excuses to reach out to your customers via email. Why not send your customers an email offering a limited time 10% discount on products and services bought within the next two weeks? It’s a great way to engage your customers in conversation (after all… who doesn’t love a sale) and can really drive sales when things slow down.

Email Marketing Guidelines

There are a few rules to consider when sending email marketing. First, your emails must conform to CAN SPAM, Federal regulation controlling what you can and can’t do with email marketing. Secondly, ensure your email content speaks to the customer and provides them with a compelling “call to action.” You want them to do something based on your email – so make sure it’s spelled out in simple and obvious terms. Also make sure your email is formatted for the intended audience – if your customers are likely to read email on a Blackberry or smartphone make sure it’s formatted for mobile email applications. Email marketing software has made the process of distributing emails much easier with the ability to store contacts, build email campaigns, track penetration rates, open rates, and bounce back rates, and measure overall campaign success. Lastly, make sure your email doesn’t include words or images that are likely to catch the attention of spam filters. Several tools can gauge whether your email is likely to end up in your customer’s inbox or spam folder.

Email Marketing Campaign Success

Email marketing is highly effective but finding the right combination of message, offers, customization and calls to action is a learning process. Get started with something simple and learn over time what works best with your unique customer base. Over time you’ll develop a picture of what compels your customers to action and sales will follow.


July 14, 2009

KellyRShort.com - July 2009 Newsletter

The best of KellyRShort.com from June 2009 - see what you've been missing!

Here’s what you missed this month if you aren’t reading KellyRShort.com:

·          RFID Technology Keeps Your 4th of July Hot Dogs Safe
·          Your Next Sales Person Should be Your Web Site
·          6 Tips for Selecting an IT Company
·          Internet in Vehicles is Already Here – Why You Should Care
·          How to Accept Mobile Payments
·          How to Run Your Web Site on Free Software

Tainted Hot Dogs this 4th of July? RFID protects your health.

When you bite into a hot dog this 4th of July weekend are you sure that dog is safe? Did the package of dogs from the supplier remain frozen until you purchased it? Was it left out on the dock just long enough for E. coli to form? Are you endangering your family instead of providing holiday fun? With RFID technology consumers can rest easy knowing grocers have sophisticated tools to protect consumers against bad food. Continue reading "Tainted Hot Dogs this 4th of July? RFID protects your health." »

Does Your Web Site Meet Its Sales Quota?

How many sales has your web site generated lately? Follow these tips to increase the sales your web site creates. Continue reading "Does Your Web Site Meet Its Sales Quota?" »

6 Criteria for Selecting an IT Staffing Company

Leveraging outsourced labor is an important tool in today’s turbulent economy and can result in very successful project execution, but care must be exercised in partnering with an IT staffing company since they will become your partner and must have a shared sense of project ownership and overall success. Below are 6 tips for choosing a staffing company: Continue reading "6 Criteria for Selecting an IT Staffing Company" »

Internet Enabled Vehicles Closer Than You Think

A recent study by Gartner predicts that “by 2012, the majority of vehicle manufacturers will concentrate product development efforts on enabling wireless data connectivity in their next-generation cars.” The headline is being treated like fortune telling or prediction, but realistically, internet enabled vehicles are just an extension of a movement already witnessed over the past few years. Continue reading "Internet Enabled Vehicles Closer Than You Think" »

Are You Accepting Mobile Payments Yet?

The advance of mobile payment, banking and credit card software applications for wireless smartphones creates a new and powerful tool for retailers and business-to-business companies. Continue reading "Are You Accepting Mobile Payments Yet?" »

5 Pro Tips for Running Your Website on Free Open Source Software

Open source software (OSS) is increasingly popular with businesses of all sizes throughout the nation. Should your business consider transitioning to an OSS-driven website? Here are 5 pro tips to consider when making an OSS decision: Continue reading "5 Pro Tips for Running Your Website on Free Open Source Software" »