Job Fairs Go Virtual

February 13, 2008

By Elizabeth Agnvall

When Susan Burns, worldwide talent acquisition leader for Seattle-based public relations agency Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, decided to participate in a virtual job fair in December sponsored by business publication PRWeek, she wanted to make sure her booth represented her company’s culture of excellence. So she set out to make her virtual booth the best booth at the fair.

Visitors to the Waggener Edstrom virtual booth could watch two videos, text chat live with recruitment staff, read about openings at the company and download information about the agency.

See more at http://www.unitedbit.com/


Strategies For Growing A Great Services Business

November 21, 2007

By Julie Giera,

Of the top 35 global IT vendors, 22 are either services providers or product companies with a large services business like IBM. This shift to services has been accelerating over the past five years among technology vendors looking to drive recurring revenues, deeper customer relationships, and additional channels for their products. Building a great services business is tough for many technology vendors, because the things that contributed to their success as product companies are the very things that can be their downfall in services. Forrester has identified the top ten strategies technology vendors can employ to build a great IT services business.

  1. Stick to services that closely tie in to your products’ strengths.
  2. Organize for services separately from products.
  3. Hire experienced sales people.
  4. Limit the services portfolio.
  5. Automate the proposal process.
  6. Market your message through multiple channels.
  7. Limit risk in very large contracts.
  8. Develop the channel and deal with conflict early.
  9. Weigh a direct service model against a subcontracting arrangement.
  10. Know your value proposition: Wal-Mart or Tiffany’s?

Source:Forrester Research


Targeting Mobile Ads

November 21, 2007

By Andrew Schrock

Mobile-phone manufacturer Nokia expanded its reach with the recent acquisition of Enpocket, now called Nokia Ad Business, a mobile-advertising company that matches consumers to advertisements by considering their tastes and needs. Mike Baker, vice president of Nokia Ad Business, describes this as an “advanced targeting infrastructure.” Baker says that the matching system gives advertisers new kinds of opportunities that could be particularly beneficial for selling tickets to local events, for example, or for offering time-sensitive discounts. If the system is deployed properly, consumers would be automatically delivered ads about products that they want at the ideal time and place.

Context is already a cornerstone of online advertising, as it leads to more-effective campaigns and higher payouts for advertising providers. Google’s Gmail, for example, automatically extracts information from your e-mail, which is used to target campaigns. Facebook uses information saved in personal profiles to present more-relevant advertisements. Similarly, Nokia already has access to critical contextual information about consumers, such as demographics, which Enpocket can capitalize on. Information from Nokia’s OVI Web portal could eventually be incorporated as part of the data set to accurately match up people with relevant ads. For example, user histories from OVI social-networking and media-sharing site Mosh could be employed to track which pictures and movies users are sharing, signaling an interest in certain products.

Nokia believes that, by leveraging such information, it can offer higher response rates than current online marketing campaigns can, because the company delivers a message that consumers want to hear, where and when they want to encounter it. Contextualized advertising would also be more integrated into the services, so it might seem less irritating than a distracting pop-up window online, for instance. Initial response rates to contextual mobile advertisements are high, partly because of the novelty of the medium. According to Enpocket, the company’s recent mobile campaign for Land Rovers was wildly successful: 70 percent of people who were exposed to the campaign chose to download videos that promoted the automobiles. Baker says that consumers may be paying more attention to the ads purely because they are so novel, and he admits that this number will likely go down as the mobile-advertising space becomes increasingly saturated, as has occurred in more mobile-friendly markets like Asia.

Some consumers might perceive directed, contextualized advertising as an invasion of privacy. Some demographics might find the fact that their personal information is being shared annoying. Gary Pearl, CEO of Community Hotspot, says, “There’s a certain segment of the population which will accept it, and another segment that won’t.” He sees online and mobile business as being in a constant flux between subscription services and advertising-driven revenue.

At the moment, hardware is the biggest obstacle to delivering contextualized mobile advertising broadly. According to Nokia, there are nearly one billion Nokia mobile devices worldwide, or nearly twice the number of PCs. However, relatively few of these mobile devices are capable enough to handle the kind of contextual campaigns that Enpocket would like to deliver. Currently, campaigns rely on technologies such as SMS and WAP to deliver messages to devices that couldn’t otherwise provide a compelling multimedia experience. As more and more multimedia-friendly phones are sold, this will become less of an issue.

Nokia’s sheer market share ensures that its decisions will be closely watched and mirrored by the industry. Philip Stanger, CTO and founder of BluBlast, a company that specializes in ads for mobile networks based at specific locations, such as trade-show and showroom floors, views this favorably. If Nokia Ad Business takes off, it could create a more consistent business model and standard software-development tools for ads, potentially benefiting mobile-advertising companies of all sizes. “One of the big problems in the mobile space has been lack of standards and coordination between any of the systems,” Stanger says, citing lack of developer support. “It’s a nightmare developing [multimedia ads] for 50 different phones.”

Source:Technology Review


What’s Next: The Monster Dilemma

November 20, 2007

By David H. Freedman

For business owners plagued by a dearth of candidates for key job openings, the Web was supposed to provide an ideal solution. Job-search sites like Monster.com (NASDAQ:MNST) can put postings in front of millions of applicants instantly. And newer business-oriented social networking sites like LinkedIn provide similarly fertile recruiting territory, supplying access to the contacts of thousands of people. On the other hand, anyone who’s actually tried to hire someone through the Web knows the truth: You post an ad and are immediately flooded with hundreds of resumés, many from people whose backgrounds are wildly inappropriate. So much for the Web making things easier. It’s enough to make you long for the days of print newspaper ads and snail mail.

But just as technology created the problem, newer technology aims to solve it. A new generation of hiring tools promises to screen out inappropriate applicants, allow the suitable ones to put their best foot forward, and even hunt down good candidates who haven’t applied. As these new services get better at these tasks, they may well change the balance of power in the job-recruiting industry and could even redefine the way we think about jobs.

A shot at diverting a river of weak applicants is the chief advantage offered to employers by Protuo, a Woodstock, Georgia-based start-up that launched its service in January. Protuo isn’t only a job-listing site; it also forwards its clients’ listings to some 270 established job-listing sites, including Monster. But applicants can’t respond to a Protuo posting unless they spend seven minutes or so filling out a survey that asks about experience, skills, workstyles, and job preferences. Employers can customize the survey by choosing from a wide field of prepared questions or by adding their own, and they specify which responses get a candidate’s resumé past the screen. Has the candidate managed a technical project? Is he or she willing to move? The approach is modeled, to some extent, on the sort of compatibility gauging one encounters on a matchmaking site like eHarmony, notes Jennifer Gerlach, Protuo’s co-founder and vice president of marketing. Gerlach went through the dating process on eHarmony just to research the technique. “I learned a lot,” she says. “And I met some very, very nice people.”

With online job postings sometimes pulling in more than a thousand applicants, the ability to winnow the flood could mean the difference between being able to retain control of the hiring process and having to bring in a professional recruiter–at a typical cost of $30,000 for a midlevel hire. The time and expense of dealing with a huge influx of resumés is all the more frustrating because much of the flow comes from online applicants who indiscriminately bombard hirers with resumés. You can try a keyword search on the resumés to narrow things down, but applicants have learned to load their resumés with them, often by pasting in phrases from the job posting. Even LinkedIn has suffered from inflation, as many users aggressively build networks of people they don’t really know in order to make themselves appear better connected. “There’s no value in a lot of these contacts,” says LinkedIn user Chris Knudsen, who heads business development for podcasting company Podango in Salt Lake City. “It can just be someone whose card you got at a trade show.” (A LinkedIn spokesperson commented via e-mail: “Anyone can join the LinkedIn network; however, the quality of your own personal LinkedIn network is the responsibility of each individual.”) But a well-designed survey, contends Gerlach, allows users to skim the cream.

Fred Donovan, who runs Donovan Networks, a seven-employee computer network security firm, has been flooded with applicants responding to previous postings to Monster.com and other online job boards. He is currently conducting a Protuo search and likes what he’s seen so far. “I can specify that I want to see only resumés from people who say they have 10 years’ experience in negotiating sales and are familiar with the software development process,” he says. “I’m seeing a small, better-qualified subset of the applicants.” There must be something to the idea. Other hiring sites, including Market10, Jobster, and Taleo (NASDAQ:TLEO), are introducing their own approaches to automated candidate screening. And Monster is doing the same, making available–for a fee that adds about 20 percent to the cost of posting a job–the ability to direct applicants to a questionnaire designed to rank the suitability of candidates.

Sure, candidates can try to game these surveys by being less than truthful. But Gerlach insists that surveys can be designed to stymie such people by asking questions that don’t have an obviously right answer–such as whether the person prefers to work independently or in groups–and by warning candidates that they can be rated as overqualified. Protuo, which costs hirers $44 to $295 a month depending on the number of jobs they’re posting and is currently free to job seekers, also offers applicants a chance to do more than post a resumé. The firm invites users to create online portfolios that can include whatever documents, photos, videos, or other material that best represents that person’s career to date. (Monster is currently testing a similar capability.)

ZoomInfo, in Waltham, Massachusetts, takes a different approach. It assembles profiles of potential job candidates from all available online data, whether or not they’re looking for jobs. Starting with the same techniques that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) uses to gather Web data associated with a person’s name, ZoomInfo adds the significant additional step of crunching the results to pull out the most relevant information, weed out data referring to other people of the same name, and assemble a professional profile. ZoomInfo has an R&D team of 35 working on the technology. So far, the company has assembled some 34 million profiles, and as far as I can tell, most of them are fairly informative and accurate. (Check out your own name to put it to the test.)

But somebody has to pay for all those scientists, and that somebody is you. The company charges $5,000 a user per year for the ability to dig up personnel profiles by company or industry. It sounds like a lot, but ZoomInfo’s COO, Bryan Burdick, notes that if you get the right candidate for a single vacancy, the price is one-sixth that of using a recruiting firm. The company also offers less expensive, more limited searching capabilities aimed at smaller companies, as well as free access to searches on individuals. Many major executive search firms, along with some 500 other corporations, already use ZoomInfo, claims Burdick. “I can find personal information, professional backgrounds–and, sometimes, damning evidence–on tens of millions of people without having to go through 1.5 million Google hits on each one,” says John Boehmer, managing partner at executive search firm Barlow Group in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Boehmer is quick to point out that as ZoomInfo-like services get better, and more companies get comfortable using them, corporate hirers won’t need professional recruiting firms like his to turn up candidates. “It’s commoditizing the front end of what we do,” he says. “Eventually, everyone will know where everyone is and how to get hold of them, so we won’t be able to charge for identifying and contacting candidates.” Search firms will still be valuable for assessing candidates, he contends, though he acknowledges that new e-hiring systems could eventually eat into that end of the business as they get smarter and have more online data to work with.

For that matter, it’s easy to imagine the not-all-that-distant day when online tools make it so easy to find people to fill a specific slot that the notion of permanent jobs becomes irrelevant for many positions. Why hire a manager for years when you can find a new one with exactly the skill set needed for the precise tasks at hand? That’s not necessarily bad for employees: Think of an economy where top employees are constantly being sought out and bid over by companies that recognize them from their Web trails as the perfect short-term solution. And talented employees would be just as smart about whom they choose to work for–using similar services to weed out companies that aren’t good matches for them. You’ll want to treat those people well. If you don’t, and they post that fact online, it could haunt you for a long, long time.

Source:


Wikio – A European user-managed news search engine on course to become the continent’s next high-tech blockbuster

November 19, 2007

By Sarah Wachter

Wikio is the latest internet start-up from Frenchman Pierre Chappaz, who is best known for selling Kelkoo, a European online price comparison service, to Yahoo! for €475m. Wikio is a user-managed news search engine that allows people to create their own pages of news, blogs and podcasts subdivided into a dozen categories, from health to fine arts. Users can vote for favourite items, or default to the most-accessed news and blogs provided by other subscribers. Wikinauts also have access to the site’s shopping search engine; to buy a camera, for example, a user can call up product reviews for comparable brands and find the lowest prices from a list of stores closest to home.

While custom news services abound in the US, Europe is an open playing field. Wikio covers more than 10,000 reliable sources for France, for example, while Google News covers only around 500. “There is nothing comparable on a European level, aside from a few small sites,” Chappaz notes.

Wikio launched in mid-2006 after Chappaz conducted the largest “beta” test in Europe, which involved 28,000 users registering their feedback online. Today, the site draws 2.3 million visitors a month, half in France and half outside. In its first year, the company aims to build its user base to three million, but Chappaz, who is the executive chairman, says the site has the potential to attract an audience of more than 10 million.

The company aims to turn a profit by using the “cost per click” business model of Google, where Wikio will receive 10 cents per click for every user who visits a vendor’s site. The shopping service is currently available in France, Italy and Spain, and will begin soon in Germany. “We’re not obsessed by sales,” says Chappaz, who put €1m of his own funds as seed money into the venture. Traffic has grown solely by word of mouth, and some analysts claim Wikio is the most interesting European start-up since Skype.

Unlike the Skype founders, though, Chappaz is no computer geek. Equipped with just a general studies degree, he stumbled into the high-tech arena when he was hired to create the permanent computer exhibit for Cité des Sciences, located inside Paris’s Parc de la Villette. He then spent a decade in various marketing posts for high-tech firms, including as marketing director, western Europe for IBM, and later struck out on his own with a communications boutique.

The company is truly a “2.0”-style undertaking: its technical staff of 30 hails from various parts of France and Switzerland (Chappaz resides in Geneva, where the company is headquartered). There is no office space, and staff members “meet” once or twice a week in cyberspace. CEO Bertrand Peretra is the former managing director of French shareware outfit Planète Soft.

Many users of Chappaz’s service may be surprised to learn that Wikio has absolutely no connection to the creators of Wikipedia, the free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by contributors around the world. Chappaz insists he chose the five-letter word because it is short, simple and conveys the meaning “tell me quickly”. Actually, Wikio doesn’t stray too far from the original meaning of wiki – the Hawaiian word for “fast”.

First month of trading June 2006
2007 predicted sales €100,000
Start-up money €1m in seed money; €4m in venture capital
Product range Customised online news, blogs, podcasts, videos and shopping
Marketing spend Nothing yet

Source:CNBC European Business


Investing: The Net Wisdom of Peers

November 19, 2007

by David Bogoslaw

Two years ago, Eric Wolff, 25, was handed the reins of a $5 million family trust after his family saw how badly it had been managed by a full-service brokerage firm. For the four months ended Oct. 31, the $1 million in accounts that he directly oversees has returned 13%, something he attributes to advice he received on Covestor.com, an online investing community, and top-notch research he’s found at other financial Web sites such as Valueinvestorsclub.com and Seekingalpha.com.

People saving for retirement are equally inspired to find the best investment advice. Increasingly, they’re less willing to trust brokers who they believe are motivated by greed and tend to put their own interests ahead of their clients, according to a 2004 study commissioned by the Securities Industry Assn.

Burned Retiree Tries His Hand

Bob Craft, 64, a retired pilot for Delta Air Lines, joined online investing community ValueForum.com in early 2004 after losing 82% of his defined pension when Delta filed for bankruptcy. At the time, his assets were invested in mutual funds. Nervous about his retirement savings, he split his portfolio three ways—between Fidelity Investments, Bank of America, and his own trading account—to compare the investment results.

Craft’s brokers told him that over the long run, he wouldn’t be able to beat their performance because they invested for a living. At the end of the first year, his account had increased 30%, while the money managed by the brokerage firms was up just under 8%. His returns far outpaced those of his brokers in the second year as well. “The highest return every year has been by me, so I just moved all my money to me,” he said, adding that he couldn’t afford his brokers’ low gains.

Craft now manages 100% of his portfolio, spending about six hours a day reading up on stocks he hears about from fellow members at ValueForum and placing orders through Fidelity’s ActiveTraderPro. Year-to-date, his portfolio is up 38.2%, he says, and he no longer worries about his retirement nest egg.

Communities’ Key Asset: Transparency

As more individual investors like Wolff and Craft take control of researching and buying stocks, options, exchange-traded funds, and mutual funds online, they’re joining a new generation of online investing communities to help them reach their goals. So instead of following recommendations from full-service brokers or advisers, for investment advice they’re turning to people who are putting their own money on the line. The online investing communities take the old forums and message boards to the next level by offering tools to verify the track records of and rank up-and-coming investing gurus.

Unlike the social networking platforms TradeKing.com and Zecco.com, these new investing sites don’t execute trades. What they’re selling is the ability to pull in and aggregate trading data from members’ existing brokerage accounts so they can track each person’s total portfolio.

Tracking capability is important because these communities aim to level the playing field, paving the way for a new type of investment adviser, one who’s more credible because you know what stocks he owns. Full-service brokerages and other incumbents are afraid of this, since nontransparency protects their profit margins, says Rikki Tahta, chief executive of New York-based Covestor.

What Investors Want

Before launching publicly in mid-September, CakeFinancial.com, a San Francisco-based online investing community, conducted several focus groups to see what online investors were really seeking. Steven Carpenter, Cake’s founder, said investors want to find peers with the same basic outlook or trading strategy, but better performance results. Cake also learned they want advocacy—the assurance that the customer’s best interests, not the adviser’s, come first—more than education.

Cake tracks stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds and plans to add options and fixed-income trades in the future. While all the trading activity that Cake imports can be measured, members don’t have to reveal their net worth, the amount they’re investing, or the number of shares they’re trading. Eliminating the sensitive information allows users to communicate freely with each other, says Carpenter.

Cake’s service is free, but once membership has grown to at least 10,000, Carpenter says he’ll create low-cost, customized asset-management services based on the aggregated performance metrics of Cake’s members. The idea is to take aggregated performance data and overlay it on a member’s portfolio to show what stocks he should sell and which ones he should hold on to. A premium service would show members the asset allocations of their top 10 model investors and notify them via e-mail whenever one of these people buys or sells a stock, or even adds a stock to his watch list.

Fund Management Insight

For Covestor, the imperatives are verification and evening out the playing field for retail investors. By giving them the same tools that a hedge fund manager has, such as the analytics that help them understand the risk they take vs. the returns they get, and how those compare with their peers, benchmarks, and professionals, Tahta hopes to “burst open the fund management world.”

Covestor is currently a free service, but plans to go to a compensation business model sometime in 2008, under which members would pay a fee to follow top performers’ portfolios, and Covestor would collect a small percentage of the fees charged by its top performers.

When ValueForum launched in late 2003, it offered a flat fee for lifetime membership to the first 200 people to sign up for the service, and within six weeks it had sold out. Through those early adopters telling friends, the community has grown to 1,400 members—most of them age 55 and older and retired with an average portfolio of $1 million, says co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Adam Menzel. Members pay an annual fee of $220 to use the site.

ValueForum doesn’t import and track members’ investment accounts, but it gives members the chance to gauge each other’s performance in other ways, such as quarterly contests where each person chooses three stocks they think will rise during that three-month period.

Growth in Self-Directed Portfolios

Another reason that investors are looking for new ways to exchange financial advice is that broker-advisers are showing less interest in handling portfolios valued under $1 million. That leaves 15 million U.S. households with assets between $100,000 and $1 million looking elsewhere for investing advice. These households’ assets total $4.5 trillion, or 35% of U.S. retail assets, most of which is being serviced by the mutual fund industry, according to a study by Forrester Research published in March, 2006.

Institutional investors are also getting involved in online investing communities. Marketocracy.com, a San Mateo (Calif.)-based investment company that launched in July, 2000, uses a social network to generate the research that informs its funds’ investment decisions.

Marketocracy’s founders, Ken Kam and Mark Taguchi, opted for an alternative to Wall Street research based on what they learned while co-managing a top-rated technology fund at Firsthand Capital Management in the late 1990s. Kam, who had previously worked in the medical devices industry and was running the fund’s health-care/medical portion, found that the best ideas about a company and its business prospects came from people working in that particular industry, not from Wall Street analysts and brokers.

“It’s a process of asking the right questions of the right people,” says Kam. “People on Wall Street aren’t the right people because they rarely have the experience to ask the right questions.”

Kam and Taguchi believe it takes at least five years of tracking a person’s trading decisions to be able to discern their skill level. But after a year and a half, they felt confident enough in the collective wisdom of a select group to pick the top 100 out of about 40,000 members to serve as model portfolio managers for the mutual fund they set up. Six years later, the Marketocracy Masters 100 Fund has roughly $45 million under management and, since inception, has returned 92.42%, compared with a 53.37% return by the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, including dividends, over the same period.

Wisdom of Crowds vs. the Individual

One bone of contention among the next-generation investing communities is whether the financial rewards of following a single individual match those of tapping into the collective wisdom of the crowd. Cake believes in taking what seem to be the best practices among groups of like-minded investors and showing members how they compare to others who are doing better than they are, both as individuals and in the aggregate, says Carpenter. It’s not a herd mentality that Cake enables members to tap into, but the collective wisdom of the few who resemble them and consistently outperform the markets over time, Carpenter says.

To identify such model investors, Cake has a feature that gathers up to 10 years of back data from the trading accounts members have opened at 11 of the top brokerage firms. Data extending over that long a time span are more convincing than the three months’ worth of back data that most other sites import, Carpenter says.

For Covestor’s Tahta, it’s the idiosyncratic thinking of individuals with insights into particular sectors that’s paramount. He cites one member, a doctor in Wisconsin, who has a unique understanding of relative strengths and weaknesses among medical equipment makers. Given all the factors that inform investment decisions, such as goals and risk tolerance, he believes it’s a waste to limit this information to a single investor’s account when it could help others with the same basic approach.

Marketocracy believes it’s beneficial to be able to access the group’s aggregate wisdom and that of individuals at different times for different reasons. Their model portfolio managers, a rotating group of the top 100 performers, tend to know the right questions to ask, based on their trading experience in certain sectors. But they often turn out not to be the people with the right answers, says Kam.

“Through our forums, increasingly what we’re finding is that you want to let everybody post [comments], because the person who has the answer might have a poor portfolio overall but may have the key piece of information that will make a great investor have conviction in the stock idea,” he says.

High-Quality Discussion

It’s likely that even without the functional bells and whistles, online communities would attract investors based solely on the quality of the discussions—a welcome refuge from the junk many say is clogging the message boards on financial portals at Yahoo.com and AOL.com. ValueForum even allows members to vote to dispatch off-topic posts to a separate discussion board called the “Coffee Shop” so that the main discussion threads stay focused on investing matters.

Online investing communities have also begun to extend their reach beyond the virtual into the physical world. Take InvestFest, an annual conference organized for and by ValueForum members. Now in its third year, the conference offers presentations not only by members who specialize in certain investing topics, but also by industry professionals such as investment newsletter editors and occasionally a company chief financial officer. Cake is also envisioning local investor cocktail parties around the country in the future.

Many people tout the Internet, and message boards in particular, as tools that are democratizing the flow of information. But for Kam and Taguchi, research by social network is more about meritocracy than democracy. It’s about weighting people’s voices by their track records and giving commensurate attention to the most talented. Says Kam: “Other social networking sites looking to make a play in investing are interesting and share the same goals as us, but it’s going to be years before they have anything substantial to prove to investors that they can add value.”

Source:


How to Pitch InformationWeek

November 19, 2007

Circulation & Readership
InformationWeek’s audience consists of 1.6 million CIOs and business technology managers and staff found in more than 250,000 locations: 45.6% live in North America, 27.3% in Europe, 20.9% in Asia, 3.8% in Latin America, 2.4% in Africa and the Middle East.

440,000 IT professionals alone read the magazine each week. It’s first in reach to CIOs (107,000) and technology buyers with the biggest annual budgets ($250,000 to $1 million). 72.8% of the readers are IT executives and senior staff; 27.2% are in business management. Their average annual spend is $45.7 million.

Editorial Coverage
InformationWeek is much more than a weekly print magazine. It’s “at the center of our business technology news gathering and analysis,” says Preston. The style and tone are practical and detailed. It’s the publication to which industry professionals turn for subjects, such as vertical industries and IT.

Sections include:
o In Depth (their take on the latest business technology topic)
o News Filter (how top stories affect readers)
o News & Analysis (cover story)
o Tech Portal (security, software, wireless, mobile)
o High Five (business professional’s insights)
o IT Confidential (industry trends and events)
o Down to Business (urgent issues)
o Personal Tech Guide (useful tech tools)

Special issues: The magazine fields more than 20 research studies every year. Topics include: salary survey, information security survey, CIO agenda, mobile and wireless and business intelligence.

InformationWeek.com
The Web site gets 1.4 million unique monthly visitors and 300,000 weekly enewsletter subscribers.

The five newsletters and their circulation:
o InformationWeek Daily: 100,000
o This Week on InformationWeek: 55,000
o InformationWeek Between the Lines: 100,000
o InformationWeek’s Outsourcing Newsletter: 30,000
o TechCareers Report: 15,000

How to Pitch InformationWeek – 10 Tips
Tip #1. Familiarize yourself with the magazine
Acquire some knowledge of InformationWeek’s content and the focus of the reporters you contact. Indeed, lack of knowledge about the publication is one of Preston’s pet peeves. “Build relationships with reporters. Don’t just blanket them with the same messages you send everyone else.” And don’t think of your query as a pitch. “Ideally, you are not selling something to us; you are providing information that we want.”

Tip #2. Provide contacts
If you have a product you would like InformationWeek to review, provide a few consumer contacts so reporters can get feedback from them. Offer as much detail about the technology and its manufacturer as possible. Avoid industry-speak; describe concisely the characteristics of the product, its purpose, price and audience.

Tip #3. Keep it simple
Keep your information simple and straightforward, yet fascinating enough for a case study. They don’t accept embargoed material. They prefer to take “an end-user enterprise perspective.”

Tip #4. Send an email
Most editors favor email. If you must leave a voicemail, clearly state your name and phone number. Don’t ramble (i.e., don’t wait until the system cuts you off).

Tip #5. Craft subject line
Write succinct yet meaningful subject lines that don’t include the words “press release,” exclamation points or all caps. Then, customize your plain text pitches to the journalist’s coverage.

Tip# 6. Don’t send attachments
Don’t include email attachments, especially unsolicited ones. Do include the following bulleted points: what, when, who, where and how.

Tip #7. Limit number of slides
If you send a PowerPoint presentation, limit it to five slides.

Tip #8. Target your queries
Check InformationWeek’s editorial calendar to better time your queries.
http://www.informationweek.com/edcal/2007

Tip #9. Contact the right reporter
Send your story leads directly to the reporter who covers the beat or technology you’re involved in. You can find a list of reporters, beats and contact information here:
http://www.informationweek.com/contactus.jhtml

Tip #10. Identify time zones
Consider time differences when contacting them. Not everyone is based in New York.

Contribute to InformationWeek
Staff writers and freelancers produce most of the magazine’s content. If you want to freelance, send an email to the managing editor/features.

InformationWeek does not publish unsolicited articles; make sure a story is approved before you spend much time on it. The magazine does accept opinion columns, however. They like to hear your perspective on relevant issues.

Also, consider the Lightning Post — the site’s discussion forum. It connects readers to editors. They don’t promise to answer you, but they do promise to read your message. “Because of sheer volume, we may not respond to every query,” Preston says.

Press Kits
Editors prefer emails to press kits. Always include contact information and a product summary with whatever you send.

Meet Preston and Other Editors
Preston says you can meet the magazine’s editors in any of their offices. They are even available at “the principal’s site, if the principal and story is compelling enough.”

Editors attend various conferences and trade shows. The major one: InformationWeek500, a three-day show at which the 500 most innovative business technology users are named.

Source:Marketing Sherpa


Building a Better Algorithm

November 19, 2007

by Margaret A. Starvish

The three largest search engines, Google, Yahoo and msn, account for the vast majority of U.S. searches, but that hasn’t stopped dozens of startups from trying to stake out their own claim to the market.

Venture capitalists also don’t appear daunted by the odds. In the first quarter of this year, they’ve poured nearly $135 million into vertical and social search startups alone, according to Dow Jones VentureOne.

Why? One reason investors are bullish on vertical search firms is that they fill needs not being met by any of the other major search engines. And there appear to be some pretty curious needs out there.

Consider some of the new niche search engines:

Reva Health Network bills itself as “a database for the medical tourism sector” and lets users comparison shop for things like heart transplants and breast reductions on several continents.

Then there’s Gloomedia, which is working to create a database, glootv.com, of products from every new episode of the top 60 TV shows. Those products are available for purchase, which means users can dress themselves head to toe in the clothes Oprah wears, and watch her while sitting on the same chair she uses on TV.

For people who spend more time with their Xbox than with their remote control, there’s Wazap.com, a games search engine with 84,000 different sources for gaming information that got its start in Japan (where it’s the 144th most popular site, according to Alexa) and recently landed $11.9 million in funding.

Social search startups are also clamoring for investor dollars.

Lijit.com, a Colorado-based startup, secured nearly a million dollars in funding from a pool of investors, including a personal investment made by Mobius Capital’s Brad Feld. The site, posits “What if searching on the Web worked the way it did in real life?” – essentially through a complex network of personal information gathered from people you trust. Lijit translates this into a technology that “connects the dots” between personal information available on sites like Blogger, MySpace, and del.icio.us.

Baynote bills itself as a pioneer in bringing social search to business. The company’s chief technology officer has a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction from Stanford, it got Series B funding from Disney, and customers include eBay. Baynote’s technology tracks how users get to a site like Macy’s and looks at where they go once they’re there – eventually aggregating that data so that when a consumer goes to search for a T-shirt, the search engine automatically knows if he wants one from Hanes or from Calvin Klein. According to marketing and product management director Mike Svatek, this approach has increased sales from 30 percent to 50 percent for their clients. “Our growth rate is extreme,” he adds.

Then there are the search engines that are neither vertical nor social. Mahalo, which was launched in late spring by entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, uses actual people instead of algorithms to provide results. “Maholo combines human touch and technology in a way that reduces the search term to an intelligent framework,” says former Excite CEO George Bell.

Bell’s also a fan of Powerset, the natural language search startup headed by an enthusiastic Barney Pell, who likens searching to breathing and says his technology will help people breathe easier. Powerset is still in development, though Pell hopes to launch soon, and while he’s not saying he’s looking to compete with Google directly, he did note that “people are afraid to say that their technology could scale that big. We’re not afraid to say that.”

While Pell remains one of the few people willing to make such a sweeping statement, most believe there’s money to be made in the tiny space not occupied by the big engines.

What will the market will look like a year from now? It depends on who you ask.

“I think we’ll see the emergence of some very successful vertical search engines,” says Indeed.com CEO and co-founder Paul Forster. “There are still a lot of categories of specialized information that people have barely begun to think about indexing and making searchable.” Forster also feels all this activity will result in a greater number of viable avenues for search marketing.

Tom Wilde, industry veteran and CEO of EveryZing (formerly PodZinger), a multimedia search engine that can find keywords in videos, is less certain: “Very few [of the new search engines] have a great insight into discovering [and] processing content, making it more usable in a really unique way.” Perhaps the most realistic view is that of Spark Capital’s Todd Dagres. When asked who he thought would succeed from the multitudes, he responded, “Whoever does a better job building a better algorithm.”

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Startups Use DEMO Show as Launching Pad

November 19, 2007

By Clint Boulton

DEMOfall 07 in San Diego on Sept. 24 marked the formal launch of LongJump and Yuuguu, two vendors trying to make their products stick in a cluttered Web 2.0 market.

LongJump, of Sunnyvale, Calif., is a Salesforce.com challenger, CEO and Founder Pankaj Malviya told eWEEK in a recent interview.

A service of Relationals, a privately held maker of on-demand CRM (customer relationship management) and SFA (sales force automation) business applications, LongJump’s initial offering includes 12 SAAS (software as a service) applications in customer service, sales, marketing, finance and human resources.

Relationals’ platform forms the foundation for the LongJump service. But while the Relationals platform caters to enterprises, LongJump aims to sell its wares to small and midsize businesses at a more attractive price point than Salesforce.com offerings, Malviya said.

After all, he said, SMBs can’t afford expensive enterprise software that is taxing to maintain, cannot be easily customized and does not integrate with other business applications.

“Business environments have become dynamic,” Malviya said. “Users do not want to settle down with that big monolithic application, whether it’s Salesforce.com or SAP. They want to be able to dynamically change the application configuration and mash up the data to meet their requirements. We believe our platform has the capability to provide that.”

Malviya said that LongJump applications work well together and are simple to customize to allow SMBs to Web-enable their business processes so they can manage information and collaborate more efficiently.

Features of the software include: customizable homepages with configurable dashboard widgets; reporting with configurable charts and graphs; the ability to search and see data in calendar views and list views; embeddable business processes such as Web forms; management capabilities to assign access rights by team, role and user.

LongJump is also promising SAS 90 Type II compliance for user data protection and security and five-nines (99.999 percent) infrastructure and application availability.

One application, OfficeSpace, lets knowledge workers share calendars, tasks, status reports, documents and other information, replacing e-mail as a means of internal information exchange.

Another app, 360˚ Customer Manager, allows users to store customer account information, share contacts related to customers and keep track of appointments, documents and e-mails.

LongJump hasn’t hashed out pricing yet, but as a gesture of good faith to prove it’s more affordable than Salesforce.com options, the company is offering all of its applications for free for a 90-day trial period through Dec. 31, 2007, after which pricing will be announced.

Yuuguu Web Collaboration

Yuuguu, of Manchester, UK, which means “fusion” in Japanese, introduced its Web collaboration tools at DEMOfall 07.

Yuuguu CEO Anish Kapoor said Yuuguu helps people work together remotely, across different platforms, as if “they were sitting in the same room.”

Positioned as an alternative to Web conferencing tools from WebEx, Microsoft and Citrix, Yuuguu’s software enables users to see, share and take control of each other’s computer screens and applications.

Colleagues can message and chat while they share screens. The platform includes voice conferencing services for one-to-one and one-to-many voice calls. Yuuguu also boasts presence, letting users see when friends or co-workers are online, and click to invite them.

Prospective users can download the software, save it to their computer, and invite people by sending them a link.

Kapoor emphasized that Yuuguu’s software is free and said that Web collaboration offerings from WebEx, Citrix and Microsoft “horrifically expensive and geared toward large enterprises.”

Kapoor said the company plans to make money with add-on services, including the ability to recall logged historical conversations and collaboration sessions, as well as customization features such as a company logo or brand.

But prospective online collaboration players seem to make up the bulk of the newcomers, which is no surprise considering the multi-billion-dollar market potential of the space.

For example, MyQuire, based in Mountain View, Calif., will debut a tool to let members work with tools such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint and keep projects on track with task lists, calendars and e-mail notifications.

Users can also “meet” with other project members in real time wherever they are and connect their projects with their personal and professional networks.

Also, Diigo, of Reno, Nev., which stands for “Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff,” introduced an information network that creates communities around information, topics and knowledge.

A collaborative social networking site, Diigo connects members through the content they collect, while also allowing people to discover and share information that matters to them with others in the network.

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Start-Ups Mine Database Field — Nimble Software Helps Make Sense Of Information Tide

November 18, 2007

By Don Clark

Most databases are based on technology that originated 30 years ago. But change is in the air.

A mob of start-ups have been developing variants of the software, which provides the equivalent of filing cabinets for corporate information. Customers say the offerings are generating faster answers to questions that require sifting through huge volumes of business information

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See more here

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