Recent Endorsements

You've left us really enthused about the whole digital dimension and we're looking forward to developing our plan with your support.
Simon Beardow - Deputy Director, British Council, Vietnam

Monday, 22 September 2014

Wealthy But Are They Healthy?

According to an article in Singapore's Straits Times there are thirty two billionaires in Singapore and increase of five over the previous year.

They share a combined wealth of US$65 billion.  What is revealing is the patriarchal nature of Singapore business, which remains very much a tradition within the country and its wealthiest families.

As this graphic shows, none of 32 billionaires are women and most of the money is, and has been, made in the financial sector.  The majority of these super wealthy are not born and bred Singaporeans but have moved there (or their families have) to take advantage of the country's growth and prosperity.

But whether they are a healthy lot is quite another matter with only a quarter showing any interest in health and wellness.  The drive to succeed I would suggest often overcomes any concerns of physical well-being.  That said,  as they have the money to buy the best medical services available, many of these folk enjoy a reasonable life span; the average age of these billionaires being sixty two.

The global trend shows a 7% growth in the number of billionaires and there are now 2,325 of them according to recent research from Wealth-X and the Swiss bank UBS.

12% of the world's billionaires are women and more than half are self-made. i.e. they did not inherit their fortunes.  The old saying about 'money makes money' holds true as most enjoyed an average growth in their wealth of 4.4%.

Even though Singapore is enjoying good growth in the super-rich club the best place to make your fortune remains the USA with China coming a close second.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

About Face/s - Instagram Revelations

If you use Instagram as a part of your marketing mix you will find these findings from Dan Zarrella of value.  Interestingly de-saturated images fare better than highly saturated ones.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Picture This

If you thought your Facebook posts that contained an image were working more effectively than the common 'garden' text-only variety, then you are probably right.

As the chart above from Dan Zarrella clearly demonstrates, posts with photos perform far better when it comes to engagement.Wwhereas text posts have been on a constant decline these past four years.

And if you have gone to all trouble of producing a video to entice a response you might want to think again, as they too are nowhere near as effective as photos.

Dan's earlier analysis of 'Selfies' also gives some pointers as to what types of image attract people most.  For example, cool colour such as blues and greens elicit more 'Likes' than warmer colours.  Great news if your are a martian!

A little bit of self promotion using the tag #pretty also seems to help as does #NoFilter.

Time to get out the camera!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Apps, 'Appless And The Great Unwashed

If you think you are going to make your fortune by producing an app and selling it to the multitudes consider this: out of the thousands of apps available, the average mobile user tends to only use between 22 and 28 apps a month.

Research has shown that young users (18-24) spend more time using apps which comes as little surprise, but they use fewer on average than the 25-34 age group.

Earlier in 2014 comScore released statistics that showed social media apps as being the most popular -  Facebook, YouTube and Gmail.
2013 produced a similar result (see below).

Most popular smartphone apps in the United States in 2013
But if you are thinking of developing an App and want to know what type of app people are interested in, take a look at AppBrian Stats which lists the top Android searches.

Music, hacking and password breaking apps figured prominently when I last looked which speaks volumes (if you'll excuse the pun) for the use of apps in general.

Top  Android searches over the last two weeks
Perhaps the final word on Apps and the pervasive nature of their use in society are the recent findings from a Bank of America study.

Apparently mobile phone users would rather give up alcohol, television or chocolate than lose the use of their mobile devices. 47% of U.S. consumers are so wedded to their smartphones that they couldn't last a day without them.

Bank of America Study

The bank also found that there folk use their mobile banking apps to "perform more sophisticated transactions, such as mobile check deposit" while the younger set would rather forgo using deodorant or toothbrushes than lose the use of their smartphone.

Perhaps it would be wise never to mingle in a crowd of young smartphone users if you are fastidious about personal hygiene!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Not Another Brick In The Wall - A Lesson For All Brand Managers In A Digital World

The leaked internal report from the New York Times details the digital health of the publication and has a number of pointers that any brand manager should be taking note of.

Cultural change seems to be one of the main challenges; a not unfamiliar scenario for many traditional media companies.  Unless this change takes place the NYT faces a dire future.

The newsroom is challenged to expand and engage its audience through discover, promotion and connection.  Their task is not made any easier by "a cadre of editors who remain unfamiliar with the web.”

Overall it is an alarming indictment of a traditional company that has thus far failed to adapt to the expectations and opportunities of the digital age.

This chart sums up at a glance how new media publications such as the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed have captured the market at the expense of the NYT and other traditional companies.

Source:  The New York Times Innovation Report
To quote the report: “The very first step … should be a deliberate push to abandon our current metaphors of choice — ‘The Wall’ and ‘Church and State’ — which project an enduring need for division. Increased collaboration, done right, does not present any threat to our values of journalistic independence.

  Get the full New York Times Innovation Report here.

It is not possible to do justice to the full content of the NYT document in this blog post, but it is worth reading in its entirety. Their action strategy clearly details what needs to be done to turn the NYT around and will be applicable for many businesses struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing digital world.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Malware Momentum

Kaspersky Cyberstats
If you ever doubted the veracity about the sheer volume of cyber attacks that take place globally in any given hour, take a look at the Kaspersky Cyberstat portal.

70% of malware is AdWare and 15% are trojans.

The  volume of emails sent in the day and numbers of births & deaths also make for quiet reflection.

When it comes to countries that spam generation, China remains way out it front.  They generate almost twice as much as the second placegetter, the USA.

At time of writing there have been more than 37 million new internet users in 2014; a ripe crop for potential spammers and malware malcontents.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Singapore’s Top 100 People To Know - Nice To Be One Of Them

Nice to be identified as one of the "Singapore’s Top 100 People to Know Online", a list compiled by Sparkah Business Strategy.
Just goes to show that all of that tweeting and blogging over the years sometimes pays off in recognition and free advertising!

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Sunday, 4 May 2014

Big (Data) Does Not Always Mean Better

"Big data naturally appeals to many data geeks, high-priced consulting firms, and IT professionals" says Dr Mark Kotkin, former Director of Consumer Reports and now a market research consultant.

The essence of his recent article on Big Data is that data big or small, is only of value when it is subjected to robust analysis, but that poor data can never deliver results of worth.  What you may be including in your data analysis could have been open to bias and different data can produce quite differing stories.

Methodology matters.  So long as we keep in mind that any data set has strengths and weaknesses, the results achieved through Big Data analysis will be of value.

Real-time does not guarantee 'good times' for businesses without an understanding of context and some thoughtful analysis of results.

As Mark Kotkin reminds us "..while there is some general sense that big data arrives at warp-speed and involves huge data-sets from very diverse sources and methodologies, there is no consensus and little discussion of what comprises meaningful and valid “big” data-sets".

The age of Big Data also brings with it other hefty concerns; the security implications of having such data widely available, issues of privacy, ethical considerations of 'open' and 'social' data, and the impact on the political environment.

Being able to access petabyte and exabyte-size data-sets may have become increasingly commonplace but what are the broader implications for society?

Governmental Overview

Such considerations are exercising the minds of governments around the world including the White House, which has established a Big Data and Privacy Working Group.

They came to the following six conclusions:

  1. Big Data saves lives - doctors can now monitor millions of data points providing more immediate and better diagnosis of a patient's condition.
  2. Big Data makes the economy work better - transport, utilities and services save time and money and can adjust with alacrity to peak demand.
  3. Bid Data saves taxpayer dollars - predictive analytics helps identify and counteract fraudulent activity
  4. The balance of power between government and citizen is changed and can "chill the exercise of free speech or free association".
  5. Intimate personal details can be extracted from Big Data sets - effective consumer privacy protection needs to be in place to counteract this.
  6. Big data can lead to discrimination -  having our lives increasingly governed by algorithms and automated processes can potentially discriminate against certain societal groups, especially in the areas of housing, employment, and credit.

There is a growing realization that current privacy laws are outdated and social and private data already released globally, can never be retrieved.

But as with all data, big or small beware of over-hyping the subject and avoid spurious data associations and correlations.

Accept that Big Data can, and is, changing the world even though some can't yet see it. Obama’s re-election chief number-cruncher is on record as saying “Big data is bullshit” and a Cambridge professor summed it up in one word -  "Bollocks".

You may not know your 'Petabytes' from your 'Hadoops' but do you really need to?  Big Data is already making big decisions that affect our lives so we need to learn to live with it.
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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

11 Ideals That Will Change Your Communications

What is the optimum length of time for a presentation to clients? How long should we make make our company video?

These are just two of the questions that are answered in recent collated statistics from a variety of reputable online sources.

Here are eleven statistical findings that should guide your online and offline communications:

  1. The ideal length of a tweet is 100 characters
  2. The ideal length of a Facebook post is less than 40 characters
  3. The ideal length of a Google+ headline is less than 60 characters
  4. The ideal length of a headline is 6 words
  5. The ideal length of a blog post is 7 minutes, 1,600 words
  6. The ideal width of a paragraph is 40-55 characters
  7. The ideal length of an email subject line 28-39 characters
  8. The ideal length of a presentation is 18 minutes
  9. The ideal length of a web page title tag is 55 characters
  10. The ideal length of a domain name is 8 characters
  11. The ideal length of a YouTube is 3 to 3 1/2 minutes
And yes, I am aware that the headline for this post is seven words rather than six and that the content is less than  1,600 words; both of which are less than 'ideal'.  But we need to remind ourselves that 'ideals' are not absolutes.

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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Be Still My 'Bleeding'Heart'

This infographic from 10 TopTen Reviews, highlights some of the major trends in the malware industry and reveals several interesting statistics about computer viruses.

You can see the larger original version here.

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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Would Sir Like Malware With His Meal?

Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the (digital) water, after ditching Window XP and upgrading your home or office PC, comes the news that hackers managed to get into an oil company's' systems through a Chinese takeaway menu!

Yes... you read correctly, this ingenious restaurant menu hack was the key to grabbing crucial company data.

How did they do it?  According to the report in the New York Times, "hackers infected with malware the online menu of a Chinese restaurant that was popular with employees. When the workers browsed the menu, they inadvertently downloaded code that gave the attackers a foothold in the business’s vast computer network".

This form of infiltration is referred to as watering hole attack.  Just as predatory crocodile lurks by a watering hole in the Masai Mara ready to pounce on a thirsty gazelle, so does this malware await its opportunity.

And no, before you ask, I doubt if Edward Snowden every set foot in this restaurant but it does go to prove just how clever and pervasive cybercrime has become.

Any system or device that uses software is now prone to these types of attack whether it be climate control systems, printers or even vending machines.  Once you can break into one device you have a pathway to break into an enterprises' entire system. I doubt if many people truly appreciate the sophistication and cunning of today's cyber criminals and spooks.

The NYT article also details that 23-70% of attacks dealt with by network security agencies emanate from third party devices.  It is also worth mentioning that many of the devices mentioned above such as vending machines (and surprisingly ATMs) still run of Windows XP and as of this month, Microsoft has ceased its support for this software leaving it even more vulnerable.

30% of the world's personal computers still run on Windows XP which represents a massive challenge to stopping the proliferation of malware.  If you have a spare £5.5m you can always do what the UK government has just done and buy yourself some extra breathing space.  But for most mere mortals such as yours truly, this was not an option.

The Year of the Mega Breach

Symantec's most recent Internet Security Report 2014 labelled 2013 as the Year of the Mega Breach as the  number of attacks were 62 percent greater than in 2012, with 253 total breaches. Eight of the breaches last year exposed more than 10 million identities each!

Source: Symantec Corporation - Internet Security Threat Report 2014.
Ransomware attacks, which as the same suggest hijack and lock a system until a ransom is paid, grew by 500% in 2013. Cryptolocker is the best known of this type of malware.

I have made a mental note to be more careful when selecting from a menu in a restaurant in the future. The 'Chef's Special' may not turn out to be quite what it seems at first glance.

Malware in soup
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Friday, 7 March 2014

That's The Way The Bitcoin Crumbles

Source: TheDigitalConsultant
Is Bitcoin imploding? It's a question that needs to be asked.

In the past few weeks we have had the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange go 'belly up' in a rather spectacular fashion. It reportedly lost 750,000 Bitcoins, blaming its demise on a 'bug in the Bitcoin system'.

This has been followed by Canada's Flexcoin who closed down after losing around 440,000 euros worth of Bitcoins to hackers. 

Today there are reports of the American CEO of Bitcoin exchange company First Meta, who is based in Singapore being found dead near her apartment. The reason for her death has yet to be explained.

Also today we finally discover, through the investigations of Newsweek, who the founder of Bitcoin actually is. Mr Satoshi Nakamoto is a 64-year-old Japanese-American and has subsequently disowned the project and strongly denies any current association with the crypto-currency.

"I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it," he says, dismissing all further queries with a swat of his left hand. "It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection" he told Newsweek.

However, all is not what it seems as it turns out that the Mr Nakamoto was in fact NOT the creator of Bitcoin after all.

It is barely two days since the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued a warning to consumers and businesses 'to be cautious with transactions involving Bitcoin, as virtual currencies are unregulated and consumers may not have legal recourse should there be problems'.  

Clearly this prophecy has come to pass and these recent developments are hardly reassuring for those who have taken the plunge and are, or were, playing the Bitcoin market.

Not to be deterred, Singapore also recently installed two Bitcoin ATM's where people can insert their hard-earned Singapore dollars and convert them to Bitcoins.  I shouldn't imagine there is much of a queue to do so given all of the above.
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