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Competitive Edge
Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
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21 Things You Need to Know to Validate Your Startup Idea

21 Things You Need to Know to Validate Your Startup Idea | Competitive Edge |

This is from a talk I gave today at Lean Startup Machine (LSM) in Silicon Valley. LSM is a three day workshop for learning customer development and Lean Startup techniques. I founded the workshop series five years ago and it’s been hosted in over one hundred cities around the world.

Make sure you check out #19, which is a key point. Since this post is somewhat of a rant, I’d like to confess I’ve been guilty of not doing almost everything below. I’m sharing this knowledge to help others who are about to walk the same path of entrepreneurship.

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"The team at Growthink delivered exceptional quality service in every aspect of their client services. Their staff of professionals were extremely instrumental in fine tuning my creative vision into a well developed business plan."
James E. Spence, Jr, Founder & CEO
At Bread Boutique

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Having a great idea is one thing. Testing and validating is the next step. You can't just fantasize on paper and jot down numbers. The idea needs to evolve. Trevor Owens describes the process in a very clear way. This is part of the information that you will put in a business plan, eventually. Highly recommended read.

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Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Information Technology & Social Media News!

How Data Can Be a Competitive Weapon in Your Content Marketing | Oracle Marketing Cloud

How Data Can Be a Competitive Weapon in Your Content Marketing | Oracle Marketing Cloud | Competitive Edge |

We’re competing for YOUR attention. Each day, you make a countless number of decisions related to content. Which song do you play on your iPhone? Which link do you click in your Twitter feed? Which article do you read at

The answers may be: Bruno Mars, a Buzzfeed article and a feature on abalone divers. Your decisions determine the outcome of numerous mini-competitions. With such strong competitive forces at play, how can we possibly get YOUR attention?

We can write about best practices, how to’s and market overviews, but all that hard work results in a “finished product” that’s not much different from other vendors in our space. To you, they all look the same. So what’s the answer? How can we create content that resonates with YOU?

3. The Answer is: Data, Data, and DATA
Whether it’s from surveys or customers, data that you collect, manage and analyze is unique and valuable. Data is a form of content that your competition cannot copy. It helps you gain awareness, drive conversations and garner trust.

Earlier this year, DNN authored a research report. The report was titled “Marketing Got Complicated: Challenges (and Opportunities) for Marketers at Mid-Sized Companies.”

This was a successful content marketing campaign for us: we created a wealth of content that generated awareness, inbound traffic, mentions on social media and earned media coverage. In the remainder of this post, I’ll share tips on how to do a similar campaign.

1. Ensure Relevancy to Your Target Audience
Our average customer is a marketer at a mid-sized company. We knew that providing useful, persona-based research would be relevant. It’s kind of like saying, “Want to reach mountain biking enthusiasts? Then perform research on mountain bikers.” We heard from a lot of mid-sized company marketers who told us how useful the report was.

2. Ensure You’re Not Duplicating Existing Research

For our next study, we considered doing research on how marketers use content across the stages of the sales cycle. Then we received an email invitation from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. They are doing similar research - it’s actually their fifth annual study.

Because our survey would be too similar to their’s, we decided to hold off. So search for existing (or upcoming) research that’s similar to yours. Pursue new and unique angles, because that helps you stand out from the crowd.

3. Consider Desired Outcomes Ahead of Time
While you’d never want to influence research outcomes, you ought to think about desired results. Surprising results can generate attention. In our research, 79% of marketing executives say it's a challenge to get (and hold) the attention of target customers.

The high percentage surprised some of us and it generated a lot of discussion online. In addition, results can identify contradictions that instruct readers on actions they should take (e.g. 80% of marketers rate measurement as highly important, yet only 40% have deployed web analytics: time to deploy web analytics).

4. Don’t Just Report. Recommend Solutions, Too
If all we did was present a series of charts to marketers at mid-sized companies, they’d probably read the report and yawn. Instead, we provided recommendations related to each of the findings. This made the content more useful and helped us build trust with our readers.

5. Create Many Varieties of Related Content
Your data provides the seeds. Plant those seeds to make a hundred flowers bloom. Using our research report as the seed, the additional content we generated included:

  • Blog posts on our website
  • Contributed blog posts on third party sites
  • LinkedIn posts
  • A live webinar featuring a panel of marketing experts
  • A SlideShare of the webinar
  • The on-demand recording of the webinar
  • A detailed blog summary of the webinar
  • An infographic highlighting some of the key data points
  • Blog posts featuring the expert panel from the webinar

As you can see, we used the unique insights provided by the research to create multiple flavors of content. If each piece of content reaches a different reader, then you’ve dramatically extended the reach of your campaign.

It’s fairly easy to write your next blog post or author your next eBook. Providing data-driven content is more challenging. However, it can create outsized returns. You should continue to publish blog posts and eBooks, but if that’s all that you do, your competition may be eating your lunch. Make data your secret weapon to win your competitors’ dinner and dessert.

For more best practice insight on using data to support your content, check out how the Oracle Marketing Cloud content team turned a research report into a complete integrated marketing program.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes courtesy of Dennis Shiao, Director of Content Marketing at DNN. Dennis is a contributing author to the book “42 Rules of Product Marketing” and is Editor of the DNN blog. Follow Dennis on Twitter @dshiao. 

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Via denbro, massimo facchinetti, marsancor, Jesús Hernández
denbro's curator insight, August 21, 2014 4:18 PM

Good article that points out how to use content effectively. If each piece of content reaches a different reader, then you’ve dramatically extended the reach of your campaign.

It’s fairly easy to write your next blog post or author your next eBook. Providing data-driven content is more challenging. However, it can create outsized returns. You should continue to publish blog posts and eBooks, but if that’s all that you do, your competition may be eating your lunch. Make data your secret weapon to win your competitors’ dinner and dessert.

Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from MobileWeb!

Wearables At Work Will Reshape The Office

Wearables At Work Will Reshape The Office | Competitive Edge |

Salesforce, the maker of online tools for tracking customers and helping employees collaborate, is the latest company to try and capture the buzz around wearable devices, following in the Nike-clad footsteps of Samsung and Apple. Earlier this week, it introducedSalesforce Wear, a set of code libraries to help build apps that connect Salesforce's data with smartwatches, activity trackers, computerized glasses, and other sensor-laden gadgets we wear on our bodies.

The obvious thing to do with this software is build simple notification apps. Meetings get more productive if employees aren’t constantly pulling out their smartphones, and can instead stay in touch with a simple glance at the wrist. But I'm more intrigued by the notion of connecting the world of work to the world of fitness.

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

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Via Brian Yanish -
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Easier to look at your phone than pull out your smartphone. Very interesting article.

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Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Mobile Development News!!

Business Intelligence Trends for 2014

Business Intelligence Trends for 2014 | Competitive Edge |
Where's Business Intelligence going?
As anyone working with data these days knows, there is a massive wave of innovation in analytics today. Hundreds of companies from startups to Amazon and Google are making breakthroughs.

n the best spirit of innovation they are building on each other's work to make astounding progress on new concepts like NoSQL databases and cloud data warehouses.

But technology itself is never the whole story. People and organizations must absorb innovation to make it relevant. We see that happening at a mass level with some concepts that have been around for years, such as Agile Business Intelligence.

Flip through the slides on the right to see where we think Business Intelligence is headed in 2014.

To read the full article, click on the title.

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Great Jobs for Developers at Excellent Startups! 

at Fibonacci Sequence (US only)

Via Brian Larson, Marc Kneepkens
Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, December 28, 2013 1:05 PM

Keep on seeing the big picture and following the trends is a must. Great information.

Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Entrepreneurship, Innovation!

How Big Data Is Transforming The Mobile Industry

How Big Data Is Transforming The Mobile Industry | Competitive Edge |
As our personal and business lives migrate into mobile, there's virtually no end to big data applications.

The world is awash in data.

CIBC, a Canadian bank, predicts that information-generation growth will increase 50 times over the next decade. IDC, a market research firm, similarly forecasts a 44-fold increase in data volumes between 2009 and 2020. Mobile is playing a large part in driving this explosion in data.

Apple upended the electronics business six years ago with the release of the iPhone. The iPhone ushered in an era when design, both of software and hardware, became the paramount concept in the tech world.

Could data be the paradigm that anchors the next revolution? Many think so. 

In a recent report from BI Intelligence on Big Data and Mobile, we define big data, examine mobile's connection to it, analyze its potential, practical applications, and pitfalls, look at how it's collected, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about big data and mobile.

Here's an overview of the relationship between big data and mobile:

  • First, big data needs to be defined:

To read the full article, click on the title

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Via Marylene Delbourg-Delphis
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Mobile is definitely changing the information landscape. Value will make the difference.

Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, July 23, 2013 7:49 AM
Adapting is the norm know, mobile is changing the online world. Value will make the difference.
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Box, Dropbox and Hightail Pivot to New Business Models

Box, Dropbox and Hightail Pivot to New Business Models | Competitive Edge |

Box, Dropbox and Hightail are rethinking their core business models, focusing on specific industries or bolstering customer service.

SAN FRANCISCO — Nothing concentrates minds at a tech start-up like living in the middle of a price war between Amazon and Google.

Just ask executives at companies like Box, Dropbox and Hightail. They pioneered a new kind of Internet service that allows people and companies to store all kinds of electronic files in an easy-to-use online locker. But as often happens, the much bigger companies liked the idea so much they decided to do the same thing — at a much lower price.

“These guys will drive prices to zero,” said Aaron Levie, co-founder and chief executive of Box. “You do not want to wait for Google or Amazon to keep cutting prices on you. ‘Free’ is not a business model.”

So how do you avoid free? Box is trying to cater to special data storage needs, like digital versions of X-rays for health care companies and other tasks specific to different kinds of customers. Hightail is trying to do something similar for customers like law firms. And Dropbox? It is trying to make sure that its consumer-minded service stays easier to use than what the big guys provide.

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“It’s very tough just to be in the storage business,” said Brad Garlinghouse, the chief executive of Hightail. “We don’t think that is what we’re selling anymore.”

In the tech industry, they call this sort of reinvention of the core business model a “pivot.” Another way to describe it is a fight for survival.

Box, founded in 2005, has attracted $512 million in investment, and in March it filed papers for an initial public offering of stock. In July, the company said it had 39,000 businesses paying $15 to $35 a month a user. It is hard to know how many people that is, since some businesses have just a couple of people, and others include General Electric and Eli Lilly.

Dropbox has 300 million customers worldwide and actually runs inside Amazon Web Services, as do parts of Box. Many Dropbox customers pay nothing and get two gigabytes of storage capacity a month, the equivalent of 1,000 books or seven minutes of high-definition television. A version for $10 a month offers 100 gigabytes.

Hightail, which used to be called YouSendIt, says it has over a half-million business customers paying $25 a month or more, depending on the features chosen.

“There’s a place for all of them,” said Amita Potnis, an analyst at IDC. “Amazon’s focus is really computing itself. The smaller ones have to focus on ways businesses actually use it.” For example, she said, the services can help companies collaborate with each other online instead of sending emails back and forth with attachments.

While devices and apps get most of the attention, data storage is every bit as important, particularly as objects like phones, tablets, cars and thermostats become appendages of the Internet. Throw in trends like collaboration and big data analysis, and all those bits of data become more dynamic than something in a file cabinet. They are fluid and being entered and retrieved from many points.

Managing all that data should be a good business.

The problem for everyone is price. Amazon and Google have for years decimated competition in their respective fields of Internet advertising and retail. As the two companies move to dominate cloud computing, including online storage, they are turning that relentlessness on each other.

In March, Google celebrated the unification of several cloud computing services with price cuts of 68 percent for most customers, to 2.6 cents a gigabyte a month, about one-quarter the price of Dropbox’s premium consumer service.

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Amazon’s Web Services, which had cut prices at least four times since 2008, responded with cuts of its own, including one cut to 2.75 cents a gigabyte for large amounts of storage, and just a penny a month for data used less frequently. It has made further price cuts on other types of storage since then. Many expect Microsoft, which runs its own big cloud business, called Azure, to follow with similar cuts.

Even by the standards of computing, where services seem almost invariably to become cheaper and faster, storage prices have had an exceptional fall. The first gigabyte storage device in 1980 typically cost $120,000 and weighed 550 pounds. Amazon’s cloud-based storage might cost 12 cents a year.

None of the smaller online storage companies doubt that Amazon and Google can make seemingly impossible pricing moves. Both companies also have a scale that means even the tiniest profit can be huge. A.W.S. brags that almost all of Netflix, and Amazon itself, is inside its cloud, along with hundreds of other substantial companies.

Apple’s iCloud storage service and other parts of Apple, along with operations at several large banks, run inside A.W.S., say people familiar with the service who spoke on the condition they not be named so they could sustain relations with the powerful cloud company.

Amazon would not comment on confidential customer agreements. An Apple spokesman noted that Apple had its own data centers in four locations in the United States and said that “the vast majority” of data in services like iTunes, Maps and the App Store ran on its own computers. Apple uses other facilities as well, he said.

Google does not have anything like the Amazon customer list, but its computer network is probably the largest corporate network in the world. It includes custom-made computing and power systems and several thousand engineers to keep it running. According to one person with knowledge of the system, Google spends about $2 billion a quarter on its computing infrastructure.

Google would not comment on its costs. In an email, Tom Kershaw, a product manager for Google’s cloud service, predicted more cost-cutting. “As more customers store more information, for longer, we’re able to make gains in efficiency and pass these savings along to the customer.”

Both Box and Hightail now say they assume that they will offer customers unlimited storage free and push their costs into the prices they charge for other services. “At this point, it’s better just to say ‘unlimited,’ ” Mr. Levie said. “The thing to do is take into account why someone is storing something online and what their needs are.”

Box has hired people with specialties in health care, media and entertainment, hospitality and retailing. Dropbox still has supposed limits on storage in its business offering, but they start at a terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes, and customers can upgrade from there with seemingly no fee.

This niche approach could work, provided the big companies do not go after these industry-specific storage markets or build more consumer-focused service offerings. Mr. Levie said he thought that was unlikely. “No one is going to build Google Health Care,” he said.

Google’s Mr. Kershaw differed. “Industry-specific solutions are the wave of the future and a key part of what Google is building for our customers,” he said.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Coming up with a great idea in the tech world and putting it out is not a direct road to success anymore. Companies, even successful ones, need to adjust, pivot, and compete with corporations like Google and Amazon. Not an easy task. Complex world.

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Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Startup , Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Acquisitions!

Traits of Truly Agile Businesses

Traits of Truly Agile Businesses | Competitive Edge |

Many organizations, in pursuit of growth, understand the need to be agile in every aspect of their business—from faster decision making to more flexible operations to collaborative ventures. Yet, there is often a gap between that awareness and cohesive action. The Accenture study on agility explores the common characteristics of agile businesses.

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

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Via Kenneth Mikkelsen, Gary Bamford, David Hain, Ivan Berlocher
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Agile explained.

Claude Emond's curator insight, October 24, 2014 8:30 PM

Leadership diversity is one of the key factors

Miguel Paul Trijaud Calderón's curator insight, December 23, 2014 4:52 PM

Agile, a cool business model 

The Agile Monks's curator insight, January 14, 3:12 PM

The challenge in getting diverse leadership is that too many companies are afraid to hire creative thinkers who have different ideas on how to express their art, than the existing leaders. To much of the same gets you just the same and less over time. Companies need to hire people with a variety of insights and approaches, including ones that are challenging to the existing patterns and approaches. Additionally, they need to create, mentor and support the concept of Self-Organizing Leaders and empower people and their teams through Radical Honesty. Check out more information here in the future as we The Agile Monks talk about Agile, Lean, Honesty, having a Code/Creed to operate under, and show how Radical Honestly get you AGILE and successful far faster than the just practicing agile concepts.

Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Travel Startup Hub!

Startup pitch: PinMeTo wants to show businesses the importance of location data

Startup pitch: PinMeTo wants to show businesses the importance of location data | Competitive Edge |
In the quest for a way for businesses to improve the management and use of location data, PinMeTo was born.

PinMeTo has a dialogue with a large number of international companies and organisations in tourism and retail which see the problem as important and something that must be resolved.

Melkersson says:

“In the dialogue with our customer segment it has become clear that the problem is much bigger than you might think.”

Five reasons for businesses to pay more attention on location data:

  • You get free viral marketing from your visitors.
  • You will be more visible on search engines and social media.
  • You get extremely targeted marketing channels.
  • You get to know your visitors better and what they say about their visit with you.
  • You get to know if you have accurate information about your place on search engines and social media.

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

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Via Luis Costa
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Location data can make a huge difference in marketing. Great initiative and very interesting article.

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6 Basic Mistakes Marketers Make About Big Data

6 Basic Mistakes Marketers Make About Big Data | Competitive Edge |
Sure, we're all suffering from big data fatigue. But try to forget that for a moment. The real “eureka” behind big data is this: Having information is no longer confined to merely understanding the past.

Now — for the first time — big data offers marketers the ability to predict the future, and thus make smarter allocation decisions today. Voilá.

It may be the biggest step yet toward fulfilling one of every CMO’s deepest desires. McKinsey calls it "the biggest game-changing opportunity for marketing and sales since the Internet went mainstream 20 years ago." And researchers at MIT found that companies injecting big data and analytics into their operations achieve, on average, 5 to 6 percent greater productivity and profitability than their peers.

Yet many marketers misread the value, impact and urgency of applying big data — and by extension, advanced marketing analytics. (For a deep dive, a good read is the newly-published Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think, by Ken Cukier, Data editor of The Economist and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, professor at the Oxford Internet Institute, and the recent Harvard Business Review cover story "Advertising Analytics 2.0" by Wes Nichols.)

Below are six mistakes that marketers make about big data:

To read the full article, click on the title...

Market Research Guide:

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Very good points, with the ever changing tools, data and circumstances, interpreting big data for marketing purposes has been very different. Good article.

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