Esther Dyson, she’s the man

“Esther Dyson: The Thought Leader Interview” by Art Kleiner (Strategy + Business Mag, Summer 2009). Few have seen and participated in the tech sector as Ms. Dyson has. This interview is a invigorating snapshot of where she thinks we might be headed. This interview as well as “The Trouble With Brands” are a one-two punch that should not be missed.  Btw, for those in the Princeton, NJ area, Ms. Dyson will be speaking on 9 July 2009. See for details.

Also, here’s one more highly recommended piece from S+B if you can find the time: “Reframing Your Business Equation” by Tim Laseter and M. Eric Johnson.

And the bubble burst

“The Trouble with Brands” by John Gerzema and Ed Lebar (Strategy + Business Mag, Summer 2009). Two words… Must read!

Please excuse the S+B registration process but their content is often well worth the couple of key strokes.  Once you’re in, you’re in.

The guest expects more than a “just a web site” experience

“The Promise of Private-label Media” by Matthew Egol, Leslie H. Moeller and Christopher Vollmer (Strategy + Business, Summer 2009). As found in the latest print issue – not yet available online. Here’s a summary of the take aways:

– The days of “just a web site” are over.
– While the article doesn’t address it, the mindset / approach outlined e is available to single person companies all the way on up.
– Traditional media’s value add used to be having a unique channel that attracted eye balls. That value add is losing value. Why pay someone else for something you can develop yourself.
– The consumer is agnostic, as they should be. Their need is entertainment and information. The channel through which that is consumed is irrelevant.

We’ll post the link once S+B makes it available.

So much to read so little time

“Digital Darwinism” by Christopher Vollmer (Strategy + Business, Spring 2009)

“Measuring Your Way to Market Insight” by Leslie H. Moeller and Edward C. Landry (Strategy + Business, Spring 2009)

Pour yourself another cup of coffee because Booz & Company’s S + B is supplying plenty of sweet reading. While worth every word “Digital Darwinism” is rather lengthy so let us get out of your way so you can get down to business. Literally.

Learning lessons from a master

The House The Ogilvy Built by Kenneth Roman (Strategy + Business, Spring 2009)

Great article! Not only was the advertising icon David Ogilvy a brilliant ad man, but his ideas on management were just as far reaching. Don’t miss this one.

The real e-proof is in the real e-details – Part 2

“Web Sales with a Human Touch” by Edward H Baker is in the latest issue of Strategy+Business ( The post about the letter in was back in November. Here is what they printed. Go AU!

Regarding your article “Web Sales with a Human Touch” (by Edward H. Baker, Autumn 2008), is it really the technology or just the chat itself that increases sales? It  would seem to me that just the presence of the human touch is enough to nudge people into buying.   I’ll bet some percentage of the population just has a hard time saying no to another human being (virtual or not).

Mark Simchock
Chief Alchemist
Alchemy United
Princeton NJ

The real e-proof is in the real e-details

“Web Sales with a Human Touch” by Edward H Baker is in the latest issue of Strategy+Business ( talks about Sales Next, a product/service from 24/7 Customer ( that aims to make a science out of customer support & sales web chat.

Very interesting stuff, eh? However, as one would expect, there are some questions for Mr. Baker and 24/7. After poking around the 24/7 site the best strategy seemed to be to just take these insights right to the horse’s mouth.

Hi Edward,

Thanks for the article. Interesting. But being an internet kinda guy a couple things came to mind. Hopefully you have some time to comment. So if you don’t mind…

1 – While all the algorithms certainly sound impressive I was a bit disappointed that there was no mention of a control group. We’ve all heard the “argument” about monkeys being better stock pickers than most
stockbrokers and I couldn’t help but wonder what the improvement of this technology was over just randomly selecting customer to chat with.

2 – Is it really the technology or just the chat itself that increases sales? I’m no pop psychologists but it would seem to me that maybe just the presence of the human touch is enough to nudge enough people into buying? While I don’t have time to search around for more info I bet 10-15% of the population just has a hard time saying no to another human being (virtual or not).

3 – What is the rate of product being return for these sales vs. the non-assisted sales? I believe the article said the overall level of satisfaction was higher but how many of that 15% sticks? (See point #2 about buying just because they can’t say no.)

4 – My impression from the article was this was strictly for the B reaching out to the C, correct? What if the chat button is offered to all C’s so they can reach to the B when they want? How does that effect
conversion? Or what if the technology is used to only offer select  C’s the option to choose to reach, how does that effect conversion?

5 – Assuming that the intelligence gathered from these engagements is used to improved the site, in theory would we not see a decline in the effectiveness of the chat? In other words, there must be at least some
common bottlenecks and show stoppers that the chat is able to overcome but as those are removed (read: the site is enhanced) the chat should actually be less effective since it’s not really helping. Is this what Adobe found? If not, then doesn’t that challenge the validity of the claims of this product?

6 – What is the long term retention rate of the chatted with customer vs. the non-chats? And again, algorithm selected vs. random? If we’re going to play by the numbers then it only makes sense we be thorough about this evaluation, no?

7 – The example given was Adobe, so I assume the product was software, and probably “expensive”. Well, how effective is SalesNext with services? Or less expensive items – say below $100? Just because
SalesNext worked for Adobe does not mean it will be as effective for others. Yes, you’re right, it could also be more effective. But let’s do some thorough number crunching before we drawn any such conclusions.

I realize it’s a short article and not every detail can be mentioned but I would hope that if some of these pro-SalesNet facts existed then S+B would have been supplied with them. As it is, with all due respect,
I felt like I was reading a press release for a product that claimed to result in an improvement (over doing nothing at all) – and it does – but it’s actually not the best solution available to the client, just
the one that’s most profitable to be sold by the vendor. Maybe I’m better off with a monkey?


Mark Simchock
Chief Alchemist
Alchemy United
Princeton NJ