12 San Francisco Tech Trends & Obsessions New York Hasn’t Discovered Yet

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One big thing I have in common with the original author of this article, and why I’m sharing this:

Answering questions from my friends and colleagues about what the crazy futurists in San Francisco are doing — if they all wear Google Glass (no), if self-driving cars really roam the streets (yes), and whether Silicon Valley fixations like Bitcoin are going to be adopted more broadly (not until the infrastructure gets better, and maybe not even then).

I’ve been asked to explain these things so many times that, in the interest of saving time, I’ve decided to make a list of all the things that are staples of (a certain kind of yuppie, overprivileged, tech-centric) San Francisco life, but haven’t caught on to the same degree back east. New Yorkers, here’s a guide to what your West Coast counterparts are up to.

 

1 – SpoonRocket

What it is: An app that lets you choose one of two or three meals per day and have it delivered to your house in 15 minutes or less.

Why it’s popular: The meals cost $8 apiece, and are usually fairly decent. Also, no digging for ones — you pay and tip the driver through your smartphone. In my neighborhood, SpoonRocket cars are everywhere around lunchtime, their little red window flags flapping in the breeze.

Will this be a Thing in New York? Maybe. New York has more (and better) lunch options than San Francisco, and more places that deliver. But if SpoonRocket extends to New York — it’s currently only in the Bay Area — it could steal business from Seamless.

 

 

2 – Sosh

What it is: An app that tells you fun things to do.

Why it’s popular: It’s the digital-age Time Out, and helps you find quirky activities like flashmobs and cooking classes. San Franciscans use it to find date ideas, fill an empty Friday night, or get clued in about concerts and parties.

Will this be a Thing in New York? It already works in New York, but I mostly hear about Sosh in San Francisco. Maybe because New Yorkers don’t have to look as hard for adventure.

 

Photo: Shutterstock

3 – Personal drones

What they are: Remote-controlled or auto-piloted helicopters, costing anywhere from $100 to $10,000 and up.

Why they’re popular: You can strap a GoPro to a drone to take a “dronie” of yourself from above. But early adopters are also experimenting with more practical applications, like surveying crops or as part of home-security systems. It’s not rare to see multiple tiny helicopters flying overhead on any given weekend afternoon in Dolores Park, shooting photos and scaring tourists.

Will they be a Thing in New York? Yes, if Martha Stewart is any indication.

 

Photo: Wealthfront

4 – Wealthfront/Betterment

What they are: Online money-management services. Both take your money and invest it (mostly in low-cost index funds) for very small fees, using software instead of human financial advisers. Just put your money in, answer a few questions about your financial goals, and the software does the rest.

Why they’re popular: Both companies have marketed themselves to Silicon Valley techies who have money but no time or expertise to manage it. Wealthfront gives seminars on investing at Facebook and Google, and Betterment — which is based in New York — has tried to capitalize on the tech boom as well. I often see people checking their portfolios with both companies’ mobile apps on the train.

Will this be a Thing in New York? Probably. It’s not as cool to say “my money’s in Wealthfront” as “my money’s with Goldman Sachs,” but it’s a lot cheaper.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Venmo

5 – Venmo

What it is: An app that lets you send money back and forth to your friends. Lucas uses it.

Why it’s popular: It solves the check-splitting problem at restaurants, and doubles as an underground social network.

Will this be a Thing in New York? It already is, to an extent. The difference is that Venmo is everywhere in San Francisco. Landlords collect rent through it, friends use it to split Uber rides, and charities use it to collect donations. Expect it to get universal in New York as well.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Lyft

6 – Lyft

What it is: A car-sharing service. It’s like Uber, but weirder.

Why it’s popular: Uber is now ubiquitous in major American cities, but Lyft — which uses silly pink mustaches and has fist-bumping drivers — is still strongest in the Bay Area, maybe because it’s often as cheap or cheaper than other car services. People in San Francisco tend to use Lyft if Uber is doing surge pricing, or if they’re in the mood to converse with their drivers.

Will this be a Thing in New York? Probably. Lyft just started operating in the city, but it’s still having trouble keeping up with demand. If it can iron out the kinks (and ditch the mustaches), it should be fine.

 

Photo: Oculus Rift/Facebook

7 – Oculus Rift

What it is: A virtual-reality headset.

Why it’s popular: It’s been a gamer favorite ever since it launched, but Silicon Valley got obsessed after Facebook bought the company for $2 billion. There’s even a monthly virtual-reality meet-up for hard-core Oculus fans.

Will this be a Thing in New York? Not for a while. Oculus is still not widely available, and living in Brooklyn is kind of its own virtual reality.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Hinge

8 – Hinge

What it is: A dating app that connects users to friends of their friends, and sends each person a short biography of the other when they match. (“George went to Princeton. He works at Google, and lives in Mountain View. You both like foreign films and cooking.”)

Why it’s popular: Easier than OKCupid, not as creepy as Tinder. Hinge started in Washington, D.C., but it seems to have become biggest in San Francisco, where it launched just this year. Anecdotally, Facebook employees seem particularly fond of it, perhaps since it uses Facebook as its match-making data source.

Will this be a Thing in New York? Hinge is already in New York, but doesn’t seem to be throwing much competition Tinder’s way. Maybe New Yorkers like a little more randomness in their love lives.

 

9 – Hacker News

What it is: Reddit for coders. The news-aggregator site is hosted by Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator, and is read by most of the engineering crowd.

Why it’s popular: It’s a one-stop shop for all programming-related news.

Will this be a Thing in New York? No.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Postmates

10 – Postmates

What it is: An app that allows you to get anything delivered in an hour or less.

Why it’s popular: Because people love instant gratification and are lazy. Plus, unlike Seamless, Postmates can deliver non-food items like phone chargers, toilet paper, or emergency socks.

Will this be a Thing in New York? Yes, unless WunWun or another rival beats it out.

 

Photo: Shutterstock

11 – Smartwatches

What they are: Computers on your wrist. Samsung and LG are making them, and Google and other companies are hoping they’re the wave of the future.

Why they’re popular: Because it’s more polite to glance at your wrist for new e-mails than pull out your phone. Smartwatches are still mostly big with developers and tech workers, because early models don’t do much except make you look like Dick Tracy.

Will this be a Thing in New York? Only when Apple releases one. [10/08/2014 Update: definitely a 'Yes' now! ]

 

Photo: Courtesy of Secret

12 – Secret

What it is: An app that allows you to share things anonymously with your friends.

Why it’s popular: Because techies love to shit-talk.

Will this be a Thing in New York? Probably not. New Yorkers say it to your face.

[Source: NYMag]

10+ Tricks to be a Google Power User

How-to-be-a-Google-Power-User-infographic

It’s a familiar frustration for most of us: You type your precise, specific search terms into Google, and expect to find what you need on the first page.

Instead, you’re faced with millions of search results, and the first few links are so off-the-wall unrelated you wonder if you mistyped something.

But your search terms are correct, so why doesn’t Google know what you’re looking for? And how are you supposed to narrow down the millions of irrelevant results?

Though Google keeps improving their algorithms, there are still plenty of terms that stymie the search engine. Without context, it’s hard for Google to know exactly what you’re looking for, especially if your inquiry is highly specific.

Luckily, Google has quite a few hidden tips and tricks for searching that will help you quickly find exactly the results you’re looking for.

Just by learning a few formatting and punctuation tricks, you can tell Google how your search terms are related, or exclude certain words or phrases. You can also narrow down your search with criteria like location or pricing, or use Google to search within a single website.

If you’re still not getting the results you need, Google has several other little-known features that can widen your search. Webmasters can easily find images for their websites and blogs withGoogle Images, and researchers need only visit Google Books or Google Scholar to search through print publications and research papers in any field.

Faster and more accurate searches aren’t the only benefit to becoming a Google power user. Google also has a few hidden functions you can unlock with the right search query, including calculations and conversions, stock quotes and sports scores, and film showings and flight statuses. With the right search, you can get immediate results telling you the current weather and today’s sunrise and sunset times, or quickly look up the definition of a word and get a translation into one of dozens of available languages.

With the time you save as a Google power user, you’ll even be able to fit in a game of Atari Breakout on Google Images. Just follow the steps below to find out how!

How-to-be-a-google-power-user-1

[Source: WhoIsHostingThis]

5 Things You Should NEVER Do on Social Media

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Let’s try to be creative during this summer!

Here’s an handy infographic I made for you, take a look while you relax on a sunny beach, sit on a train in your road trip or wherever you’re enjoying your vacation.

If you find yourself doing one of those things… let’s try to change before your next selfie! ;-)

Here’s 5 things you should really never do on Social Media:

  1. Like your own status
  2. Use hashtaghs as spaces
  3. Sign your own comment
  4. “Certificate” your name
  5. Forget private messaging

Infographic_aa

Twitter Hashtag Analysis: Do People Really Use Them?

hashtags

The first thing which comes in to your mind if you hear somebody talking about Twitter is hashtags. Hashtags are used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet and are a central feature in the social network. The hashtags on Twitter were born on August 23, 2007 and invented by Chris Messina. His first tweet using hashtags reads as follows:

A lot of studies tried to identify the best hashtags and what the best number of hashtags are you should use. Hashtags can start conversations and make a tweet findable by a much bigger audience than your own followers and increase interactions. Twitter creates lists with trending hashtags and hashtags can be used to find relevant news or even predict global events. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently published a study with the result that especially data from Twitter could predict the 2013 coup in Egypt and the social unrest associated with it.

Twitter itself recommended the use of hashtags and found out that using hashtags

“can increase engagement almost 100% (2x) for individuals and 50% (1.5x) for brands.”

So hashtags are very important if you want to reach a lot of people or make people start conversations about your tweet or your brand.

Our newest research shows that there are a lot of Twitter users which are not aware of the power that hashtags can give a tweet and don’t use hashtags at all.

Twitter Hashtag Analysis: More Than 50% Of The Tweets Did Not Use Hashtags

I used our massive amount of stored tweets and processed a sample set of more than 40,000 tweets over a time period of 19 months (2013-01 to 2014-07). Then I analyzed how many hashtags each of these tweets used.

Let’s take a look at the actual results.

Twitter Hashtag Analysis  Do People Really Use Them

The result shows that 58% or 25,532 tweets did not use any hashtag at all. This is a very unexpected number because hashtags are a central part in the communication and the functioning of Twitter. We should expect that the most tweets use at least one hashtag per tweet.

Furthermore the distribution of tweets containing 1 to 5 hashtags is the same and does not change fundamentally over the time period of 19 months. The high amount of tweets which do not contain any hashtag is not a phenomenon limited to a certain time period.

There can be several reasons for this trend. It could for example be an indication that more and more people use Twitter to communicate with people directly with the use of @-mentions in their tweets. In this case they just want to reach certain Twitter users and therefore have no ambition to create a bigger reach.

This can be a problem to find global trends, which is a main part of Twitter’s business and it is also one of the most important targeting possibilities for ads. Twitter seems to be fully aware of this problem. And this is why they started calculating trends and interests of a user not only based on hashtags used in the tweets but also on all words a tweet contains.

They also announced that they bought the deep learning startup Madbits, which focuses on computer vision and image recognition. This can help Twitter analyze pictures and identify their content even when they are not described by hashtags.

 

#Hashtags #Tweets Percentage
0 23532 58.78 %
1 10436 26.07 %
2 4497 11.23 %
3 1154 2.88 %
4 304 0.76 %
5 108 0.27 %

[Source: Quintly]

The 2014 State of Digital Transformation

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Today, I’m proud to announce the release of Altimeter Group’s second report on Digital Transformation. This new report is aimed at executives and digital strategists to help them (you) further understand the state of digital transformation as you plan your next steps and investments.

In our initial report, “Digital Transformation: Why and How Companies are Investing in New Business Models to Lead Digital Customer Experiences (DCX),” we learned that digital transformation was as much about technology as it was about people. It was a much more human story, one that shared insights, advice and cautionary tales from those on the front lines.

Our new report is based on a survey we cast over the last year. Its goals were twofold: 1) to unearth where companies and supporting teams are in their metamorphic digital transformation efforts; and 2) also to capture a current snapshot for future comparison.

The State of Digital Transformation” also features expert voices as part of Altimeter Group’s previous qualitative research, including Sephora, Starbucks, Westfield, Ford, GM, LEGO, Discover, Intuit, Nestlé, Univision, a multinational financial services business, a multinational CPG company, and an American pharmaceutical company, among others.

Defining Digital Transformation

To focus our initial research, Altimeter defined digital transformation as a movement through a customer-centric lens:

The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.

From the onset, we learned that digital transformation means different things to different people, and that’s okay; we’re all learning. What’s important to realize however is that investing in new digital technologies, such as social, mobile, big data, cloud, etc., doesn’t in of itself equate to “digital transformation.” It’s about uniting individual technology efforts around a common vision supported by an updated, integrated infrastructure to effectively compete as a unified business in connected markets.

You’ve heard it before…people, process, technology. But without vision to see how markets are shifting and leadership to identify, organize and drive new opportunities, digital transformation can become yet another victim of technology-first efforts that miss the human mark. This is why we focused our research on the digital customer experience initially. It’s a tremendous effort.

Strategists often equate digital transformation with a shift in technology investment. Its true implications though span far beyond technology and into the realms of infrastructure, organization, and leadership. More so, it leads to and is inspired by a renewed focus on the entire customer experience. As you can imagine over the years ahead, digital transformation will leave in its wake modernization, improvements and innovation across everything from HR to collaboration to sales to supply chain and beyond.

Figure 1

We learned that 88% of executives and digital strategists stated that their company is undergoing a formal digital transformation effort in 2014. Yet, only 25% had mapped out the digital customer journey. This is  especially interesting in that participants were given Altimeter’s definition of digital transformation at the beginning of the survey.

Figure 2

Not surprising, a majority of strategists, 42%, reported that while they have not yet researched the customer journey, but were investing in new digital channels any way. At the same time, 17% of digital leaders are now in the process of studying the digital customer journey.

Digital transformation doesn’t just mean increasing digital investments. It means thinking and acting “digital first.”

Figure 3

We asked strategists to help rank the most important digital transformation initiatives they were pursuing. Here are the results…

1) Improving processes that expedite changes to digital properties, ie. website updates new mobile or social platforms, etc. (80%)

2) Updating website and ecommerce programs for a mobile world (71%)

3) Integrating social, mobile, web, ecommerce, service efforts and investments to deliver an integrated and frictionless customer experience (70%)

4) Updating customer-facing technology systems (66%)

5) Further research into customer digital touch points (63%)

6) Overhaul customer service to meet the expectations of digital customers. (46%)

Figure 5

In our previous report, we learned that it is a rare occurrence when digital transformation is led by the CEO. This time around, we also learned who the players are in championing or sponsoring change. Here, digital transformation is often driven by the CMO, CEO, and CIO (54%, 42%, and 29% respectively.)

Figure 6

Change of course is not without its challenges. And it is most interesting, yet not surprising, that the greatest antagonist to change is company culture (63%). That’s just the beginning however. Digital transformation is as much about introducing new technologies as it is seeing new opportunities and working toward them differently than in the past.

Additional challenges facing digital transformation specific to DCX include…

- Thinking beyond a campaign mentality (59%)

- Cross-functional collaboration (56%)

- Resources (56%)

- Understanding digital customer behavior (53%)

- Securing executive support (42%)

Figure 7

Digital transformation wouldn’t push forward if it didn’t bear fruit worthy of the effort. There are other fantastic reports, like this one by CapGemini and MIT, that cover different aspects of digital transformation. They all agree that in the end, those organizations that invest in new technologies, people, and processes to compete in digital markets realize business-level returns including market share, greater margins and profits, talent, among others.

Digital transformation impacts the bottom line. It leads to boosts in collaboration and productivity. Additionally, digital transformation helps companies assess and aspire to enhance the real customer experience.

Since our work focused on DCX, we were also introduced to more performance-oriented benefits…

1) Lift in customer engagement (75%)

2) Improved customer satisfaction (63%)

3) Higher digital traffic (53%)

4) Increased lead gen/sales (49%)

Conclusion

It’s clear. We still have a lot to learn about digital transformation: what it is, what it isn’t, and what it offers businesses that explore its permutations. But what’s clearer is that change has to start somewhere.

Remember, in the end, the key to digital transformation is to adopt technology as enabler for something bigger. Behavior, whether it’s related to customers, employees, values, or expectations, is as important (or more so) as becoming increasingly digital through new investments in strategy and technology.  Thus, digital transformation becomes a catalyst for re-imagining the overall customer (or employee) experience.

Businesses undergoing digital transformation are each, in their own way, creating new processes, forming new business models and teams, and investing in new technologies and systems to work in ways that are more relevant to the state and evolution of today’s markets. In doing so, they’re leveraging digital transformation to become more customer-centric, more human, and renewing their culture for a new generation of customers and employees.

There’s so much more to the report. Please take a moment to download it here and also share your story with us.

[Source: Brian Solis]