Yesterday kooaba hosted the 11th UX Chuchi and put their iPhone App "Paperboy" up for discussion. kooaba is a leading company when it comes to image recognition systems, but this time it wasn't about testing their software regarding this core functionality. Instead, we tried to focus on the usability of their product (and just took the image recognition and matching as granted).
UX Chuchi at kooaba (Pic by Michi and his Fish eye). Find more pics @Flickr
As usual, a person with no previous experience regarding the respective product had to go through some common tasks with the audience watching every single move and click. Valerie from Ginetta has kindly played the guinea pig this time while Memonic's Toni guided the discussion. And as always – beside a lot of excellent functionality – we also found some processes which could be improved a lot from a usability point of view. It would go beyond the scope of this blog post to discuss all findings, so here's just one interesting topic we discussed – which might also be of general interest:
After the successful recognition of a newspaper page one can choose from quite a variety of possibilities whether to share, to explore or to store the page (cp. figure 1). As I understood, kooaba's idea is it to show the user all the available possibilities at once and therefore not having him click too many times. But what might be cool for the advanced user is a mere overkill for the rather inexperienced one, as the reaction of the participants has evidently shown. So why, for example, not work with only three simple buttons and display more options only when clicking one of them (cp. figure 2)? What do our estimated blog readers think?
We at Amazee totally love getting up early. Seriously (nudge nudge)! Thus, the Social Media Gipfel (Summit), which takes place every two months in Zurich's NZZ Bistro, is exactly our thing. Your early dose of coffee, croissants and Social Media Marketing.
On today's menu: Christian Lüdi of Swiss International Air Lines and Mathias Kienholz of Swisscom. Christian startet things off nicely with a presentation on how he works the Social Media accounts of Swiss and how the Swiss Marketing team managed the recent wrath of the icelandic volcano Gods. Pretty soon it became apparent to them that a Social Media Emergency Campaign was exactly what was needed, in this case.
What played into Swiss' hands was that this crisis was not self-made, but out of their control and customers were somewhat more understanding. Many people travelling with Swiss requested information via the company's Twitter & Facebook accounts instead of having to wait for hours in the information hotline queue.
The situation proved that communication via Social Media can be a lot quicker than via a classic Homepage setup, and moreover, another social aspect came into play: travellers were helping each other via Social Media! The question remains, however, if a self-inflicted crisis situation can be handled in the same way if customers are not as understanding.
Another quick case study exemplified the importance of answering up to single customers, as they can easily become a beacon into whole communities (in this case it was a handicapped traveller).
Mathias Kienholz, Head of the "Codex" project at Swisscom subsequently talked about a joint project with various publishing and bookstore stakeholders to develop (yet another) digital reading device. Although the technology seems to be well-conceptualized, the venture was met with much scepticism, the central arguing point being: Why do we need another gadget?
The general opinion seemed to be that the digital publishing business requires a good deal of innovation fast and that many are actually willing to read texts and even books on digital devices; but not if they are restricted to a closed system of devices and stores to buy from.
Thanks again to Marcel Bernet and Peter Hogenkamp for putting the event together once more. The next dates for the Social Media Summit are September, 1st, and November, 3rd. In order to receive updates on how to get in, follow @smgzh on Twitter and sign up for the mailing list here. Our own Michael was official photographer of the event, you can find his pictures on flickr. Videos of the talk will be uploaded on Youtube, watch out for notifications on this via said channels.
On a side note: Swiss will be tweeting their first direct flight from Zurich to San Francisco live today on their Twitter account. Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair!
After a short introduction round with an impressive bunch of visitors from the private and the governmental sector, Niels, Michel and Hagen gave us an overview of The Hub Zurich's plans. With roots in London, the young Hub network is rapidly spreading all over the world (to places as far as Zurich and Kabul!).
The goal of The Hub is to gather socialpreneurs (= people who aim to solve social challenges with an entrepreneurial approach) in locally organized office spaces. Or in other words: Provide a fruitful ecosystem for socialpreneurs to share and drive their ideas from intent to action - kind of a physical Amazee.
The Hub Zurich is going to be incorporated as an association and placed in Zurich's brand new Viadukt. Grand opening is scheduled for January 2011. Among the first sponsoring partners are prominent organizations like the WWF - however, some more cash will be required to get the nascent hub to blossom. If you would like to contribute, sponsor or profit - here on Amazee you can stay tuned and contact the founders and their community of changemakers.
Yesterday was Wuala's turn to get its usability chuckholes uncovered in the UX Chuchi. From the folder color, to sharing principles, to finding the right positioning between a social sharing platform and an online backup platform - we discussed it all; and while everybody agreed that less functionalities would do, nobody really wanted to commit to eliminating his favourite parts of Wuala! Next to suffer the heat of the UX catharsis: Koaaba. RSVP just over here
This afternoon I was in Fribourg to moderate a round table discussion at the Swiss Innovation & Trend day organized by the Haute Ecole de Gestion de Fribourg. The event featured 300 participants and 3 main presentations: Nils Müller, CEO TrendONE, gave an inspiring talk on how our life could look in 2021: hyperwired, hypercompetitive and badly addicted to the web.
Elmar Mock, CEO Creaholic, and co-inventor of the Swatch was the person to give us a look into a life full of innovations. His core point was that the process of innovation takes three mental - mostly contradicting - stages: Gas, liquid, solid.
Martin Broderick, Marketing Manager at Google, gave us an insight into G's culture of innovation: think big, search for iteration - not instant perfection, speed matters, share everything, focus on the user, hire the best, work in small teams and flat hierarchies, keep things transparent, and more... it was a rich and inspiring day - thanks to HEG Fribourg for the perfect organization.
Yesterday the 14th Web Monday took place. IBM was our host and really spoiled us with a great location and apero, thanks a lot to Sid and his team!
We had a great variety of speakers:
Siddhartha Arora, our host, presented IBM's Global Entrepreneur Initiative, which aims to help start-ups capture new business opportunities. Under this new program, IBM provides access to its research community, sales, marketing and technical skills. We were the first to hear about this initiative in Switzerland, as the IBM Switzerland marketing machinery hasn't started communicated the initiative yet. Interested startups can already apply here.
Amir Suissa presented his brand-new start-up DeinDeal, which has been launched a couple of weeks ago. DeinDeal is a group buying website that offers a daily coupon for the best deals in your town with savings of up to 70% on restaurants, wellness, beauty, sports and culture. Amir told us in more detail what DeinDeal is and clarified that it is just another copycat of the highly successful GroupOn model from the US. Copycat or not - we wish them lots of success!
Till Quack from Kooaba held a very interesting presentation on the history and future of visual search and presented two tools in more detail: Paperboy and ShootingStar. These help you explore, share and remember things you see by recognizing your snapshots.Last but not least Mark Melnykowycz presented his art work: in his group "Web Portraits Zurich" he creates cool images and portraits of the people involved in the web and startup scene around Zurich and Switzerland. Here some impressions! Join the group if you want to be one of the next models!
Last night saw another installment of the Marketing Chuchi meetup, the first one actually that involved some rudimentary form of cooking (aka heating up deep frozen, but yummy, stuff in the oven). Wuala hosted the event and Tao Tao of GetYourGuide.com presented their Marketing strategy.
GetYourGuide is, in a nutshell, a market place for event providers in touristic destinations. The traveller can, after she has decided upon the means of travel and accommodation, book something to do on GetYourGuide. We got the impression that the team is well set-up and that this is a company very likely to succeed, if they manage to become a big player in their niche as quickly as possible.
As far as their tactics are concerned, they seem to apply a very down-to-earth mixture of Marketing & Sales. The advantage of GetYourGuide is that there aren't that many players in their field yet, that the biggest competitor seems to be a bit slow-moving (our impressions, not Tao's words!) and that they have a clear revenue model.
If you are working in Marketing and live in Switzerland's Zurich area, feel free to join the Marketing Chuchi group!
Wow, this Re:Publica (my first one, to be honest) flies by faster than a volcanic cloud! The last three days were quite packed with input, meeting people and exchanging ideas. Unfortunately Internet connectivity has not always been our best friend, but this is one of only few downsides of the conference.
The subtitle of this year's Re:Publica is "nowhere" (which turned out to be funnily true, but more of that later), which obviously consists of the words now and here. Real-time, of course, is a big buzzword, but also, nowhere can read as a hat tip to the other buzz of the hour, cloud computing. Pretty meta, all that.
Wednesday's highlights included a very well presented train of thought by Austrian publicist Peter Glaser about our online lives and the ever-so energetic, inspiring (if not always agreeable) and funny Jeff Jarvis, who talked about penises, saunas and prostate cancer.
The day was rounded of by a great talk by American Melissa Gira Grant on Sex and the Internet and what society, sexuality and gender issues are dealt with on the Web. Towards the end of the talk in front of some 300 listeners she suggested to go to Chatroulette, since she, so she said, had never checked it out before. If you have heard of Chatroulette, you might know what she (and all of us, for that matter) were in for. I'll leave it at that, but let me assure you that it was hilariously funny.
Yesterday saw me in some panels on Online journalism, Community Management and Sexism on The Internet, with a nice one-hour rant about "Things we hate on the Internet" by some fellow bloggers. Today it's more Social Action and consumer technology. Overall, the range of panels seems pretty wide and well-balanced, from serious to controversial to simply quite funny issues. With a conference this big (about 2,500 Websters from the German-speaking countries are attending), of course there are brilliant and not-so-brilliant sessions, but in general the quality seems to be sufficiently satisfactory.
Plus, there's tons of interesting people to meet and old acquaintances to catch up with. I'd say: Well played, dear organizers! (And it has to be said again: Johnny from Spreeblick is the best dressed man at the conference!)
Based on his crunching and mapping the team could divide the web's heavy users into two surprisingly homogenous groups, each showing an opposing set of values: 1) the digital residents who love the social web and know it's important and 2) the digital visitors who don't love the Social Web, but use it because they know it's important. Let me not waste your time - enjoy his (German) slides and presentation...
About 160 people met at Sihlcity's "Papiersaal" in Zurich yesterday to learn more about the soon to be introduced SuisseID. Among them Amazee's Michi and my humble self, who are always curious when there is innovation ahead.
It's really a big innovation, Christian Weber and Urs Bürge, who are the general and technical project leaders, presented: SuisseID will be the first standardized electronic proof of identity in Switzerland.
Three main functions will be provided by SuisseID:
- Electronic proof of identity (Eg: Yes, the guy who wants to buy my car is really the guy he pretends to be)
- Qualified electronic signature (Eg: Yes, the contract he sent to me via email has really been written by him)
- Electronic proof of function (Eg: Yes, the guy who wants to buy my car is really entitled by his boss to buy cars for the company he works for)
As Urs Bürge emphasized, they'll focus mainly on Business to Business cases when they start their service on May 3 and don't expect many private users yet. But as soon as more platforms will introduce and accept SuisseID authentication (easy integration for the most used frameworks will be a crucial premise!) and the costs for the end user will drop significantly, I see quite a big potential for the private user as well. Just think about, for example, auctioning platforms such as ebay, e-voting and e-participation, or, as it was suggested at the event by an attendee, the submission of your tax computation ...
Find more information in German here, discuss about the concept in the project on Amazee, or, if you are a techie and plan to introduce SuisseID for your platform, download the specs in English (direct pdf link).
Thanks to SIMSA, the Swiss Interactive Media and Software Association, for hosting this very inspiring event!