Intellectual Property and China

I found an interesting question on Medium about how to protect your IP in China. Here is my longer answer:

DON’T even attempt to protect your idea in China — or anywhere for that matter.

The Chinese culture is about free access to knowledge and ideas and understands the fact that it’s all about execution very well. Just imagine we stop IP protection radically and just turn our ideas into reality as fast as possible. Imagine we no longer feel safe because of some highly expensive and questionable patents but instead focus all our energy on execution — competing with the copy cats for even better execution and win a market because of our skills not our 1 microsecond brain spark.


I applied for a patent once, had some of the best lawyer Silicon Valley has and got a rock solid IP protection nobody could circumvent. Guess what customers said: “Good for you but really want solutions where we have options and are not locked in.


Having a patent protects only you. But without a patent you get something that everybody is actually seeking for lifetime: “Market Leadership”. You can only be a leader if you have followers. No follower — no leader. Competition is the best lubrication for well run machines. If you have no competition, you never know if you are really the best or not. Now look around and look for any product that is fully patent protected and you say ‘yes, this is the coolest product on earth’ — even if you find one it is just not really that cool.


Ok ok ok — there are products that are extremely hard to develop, very hard and costly to test and if they don’t get protection, they won’t develop it. Well if it is so hard to develop, let followers find their way, have them do their own clinical tests and so forth. At the end even in those cases it broils down to execution.


I’m not Chinese and not a particular fan of China even though I very much admire their advances, but I definitely go with their philosophy: Knowledge should be free. And today China is on their way to top Silicon Valley because the communicate even faster, even wider and are even more open than good ol’ SV.

10 Years Social Media — Anniversary

My LinkedIn account states: Member since: June 12, 2003
My LinkedIn ID is 8573

2003 – In My 2003 Konstantin Guerke, one of the LinkedIn co-founders asked me to join the network and give some feedback. His primary interest: Get some executives into the network, which so far was primarily consisting of engineers. To be honest, back then I had absolutely no idea what value it provided and where this could go.

2004 -I was searching for a VP Marketing and looking for candidates. Konstantin asked me to try LinkedIn to find what I’m looking for. I did. After some tips and modeling I got a pretty good search model and found the perfect candidate. Kathrine Hayes was VP Marketing, not looking and in most of the recruiters databases listed as VP Sales, her previous position. I would have never found here and  neither would our recruiters. We agreed to work together and not only I saved $30,000 recruiting cost, I got a perfect match. That was one of the key events when I realized that social networking would change everything. Not only the way we look for candidates but the way we sell, market, engage, service, promote, learn – simply every aspect of our business world.

2005 – I started my own blog and was considered one of the first executives blogging. I remember it was a bit of a debate in one of the board meetings as nobody could imagine what a blog is and why one would do that. I didn’t care. More so I tried to incorporate social media and social technology into our products. It was pretty clear to me that social technologies are the future life blood of any business application. Little did I know that it will still take years to get there.

2006 – Social networking was growing very fast within those early adopters and it proved helpful once one kind of understood how to use it to maintain existing contacts, develop new connections, get business introductions and even generate new leads. We all developed different techniques and had different opinion. And we all knew, that this is going to make a huge difference to sales and marketing. Yet we realized that most executives are still far away from recognizing the potential and the impact that social media already has on their businesses.

2007 – I heard about Twitter and the opinion that this is dumb and a total wast of time. In early 2007 I tried it out and agreed. This was really stupid. There was no way to form a meaningful sentence with 140 characters, let a lone a message for the public. But when I read in Wired Magazine that being forced to cram your thoughts into 140 characters and as a result we all will be less wordy, I looked at it again and signed up with a new account in June. I was surprised that the network has grown from roughly 50,000 just a few month ago to some hundred thousand users. I made new friends and began to really like it.

2008 – With the presidential campaign here in the US being massively using social media, many business executives woke up and were looking to explore its potential for their respective companies. A few business friends of mine, mostly CEOs from other Silicon Valley companies asked me to share my thoughts and experience about social media or just hired my as a consultant helping them develop a social media strategy. I have never been a consultant and didn’t really want to become one – but that was a lot of fun. The biggest problem was that nobody within those companies actually understood what I’m talking about.  I decided to provide executive level training to help managers not only make sense of Social Media but being able to create a strategy, create initiatives, define resource and budget plans and everything a corporate executive needs to make a decision. And of 2008 we started the Social Media Academy.

2009 – I continued to consult a few large enterprises to develop their social media engagement. What we did however was very different from what most social media agencies suggested. We did not run any fancy Facebook campaigns or moved the old coupon business to the new media. Instead we developed customer engagement strategies where parts of the sales teams or parts of the service teams strategically engaged with customers or even with customers of the company’s competitors. We couldn’t hope for more success. By now some executives realized that social media was no longer “just another arrow in the marketing quiver” it was a business strategy that focused on “Customer Experience Improvement”, “Near Real Time Market Research”, or “Online Reference Selling” and other similar business topics with either an objective to cut cost, create a competitive advantage or expand on certain markets. But the number of businesses who understood to benefit from those advantages is microscopic small.

2010 – One of the challenges we were facing by engaging with a large number of contacts was the lack of capabilities to get quickly and proactively to those accounts. Keeping them in a spreadsheet was not an option. And so we built an application on top of XeeMe a tool that we created for internal use. To us and our clients, 2010 was the year where social selling made some major turns. We were engaging with clients using this new tool we called “Flights!”. While still in an infant stage, we came to realization that sales people are the most social  beings in any business and giving them tools to engage online in addition to phone, email and face to face will make a significant difference in the future. The downside of the new social selling possibilities is that sales teams will want to re-structure their sales strategy, become socially engaged in a much grander way, which in turn requires to restructure sales processes and eventually the commission structure. We knew this will be a long, long way to go. Rather than exhausting us with a decade long evangelizing battle we decided to help one company at a time – whenever they are ready to make a change.

2011 – This year the first partner channel organization thought about using social media to improve partner relationships, drive more partner engagement and help partners engage with their clients more than in the past. In particular in the tech space, VARs, Resellers, System Integrator are not exactly marketing machines. But they keep relationships with their existing clients. And the social web will not change this. But partner channels have a huge influence in the market and can be engaged perfectly to amplify a brand message. Also partners can leverage the social web to get grander exposure for their competencies and technical skills and capabilities. We are seeing the fist vendors including SAP to make a big step forward.

2012 – No question, businesses are moving fast now to leverage social media in their ongoing quest to create a competitive advantage and widen their gap to the competition. But the number of businesses doing so successfully remains to be small. Unlike any previous technology inception where a few leaders started and the followers came in with a year or two delay, the social media adoption is a slow process. Mainly because it is NOT a technology but a mind set and a way of doing business. Main topics remain to be “Customer Experience Improvements”, “”Widen Market Reach”, Improve Channel Partner Engagement” and so forth. Initiatives in those areas make the successful companies even more successful and the struggling companies remain struggling and focus on their business survival instead of customer happiness. In 2012 it was clearer than ever before: ignoring customer engagement opportunities will bring struggling businesses even further in trouble.

At the same time we were experimenting more and more with large scale social media buzz marketing. The largest initiative was for the annual tech conference of the European Commission, where we created a buzz campaign wit nearly 100 Million in reach.

2013 – We decided to focus our future business on the B2B space in here on three areas: High Impact Marketing, Customer Experience Management, Partner & Alliance Management. The launch of our Buzz product is a major milestone and goes hand in hand with the new Buzz Master Training.

Today the gap between online savvy and online illiteracy has widened to a frighting level. When I work with European customers I see the same behavior we saw her in the US in 2007 / 2008  – that means a six year gap between the US and Europe. Australia on the other hand is so close to the US it almost feels they are even a bit further developed in using the social web than in many regions in the US.

“It’s an age thing” – I hear this over and over again. Well – there is a correlation between age and online savvy but it isn’t the age – it is the inability to learn new things and evolve. We had people in its late 60’s in our classes delivering excellent results and others in their early 40’s just couldn’t let go what they learned and were almost incapable to adopt the new behavior.

Well – there is so much more to talk about but, I want to keep it at a Blog level – not a book :)

At this point I want to thank all the wonderful people who I met and made friends with in those extremely exciting 10 years. I’d love to list them all but since you will find them on my friends list on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn – I think it is much easier. THANK YOU my friends.


Sorry I wasted $700,000 of yours

I love my yahoo mail account, which I use for spam and never have to worry it. Yahoo is so incredibly strict that most email doesn’t pass anyway. So I can actually find a response if I signup for a site I don’t know. Also I have set it up that all email older than 30 days gets automatically deleted. So I don’t have to sift through age old spam.

I use it primarily when I want to comment on a post from a traditional publisher such as magazines who are online now or the old news papers. Sure enough I get inundated with spam a few days after I registered. But who cares.

Nowadays approximately 96% of all email world wide is useless spam – up from 83% just a few years ago. On our corporate mail server we have strong spam filter, filtering roughly 90% of the companies inbound emails. My own spam setting filters an additional 75% and from the 30 email that finally make it each day, only 5 or 6 are actually really relevant. Out of – believe it or not 36,000 emails sent to my account every month. Plus the spam to my Yahoo account.

Now – if you are telling me email marketing makes sense, I just have a hard time to believe it. And the irony of all is that marketers trying to tell me email marketing is more popular than ever and the usage is constantly growing – ha ha ha – yes I absolutely believe it is.

If you pay $1 for an executive email address, and I get 36,000 emails a month, people paying over $700,000 a year just to send me their spam that I don’t even get into my inbox – let alone reading it. I’m sorry for the loss, so I thought at least I let you know.


Social Presence Management

When you start your social media engagement you probably start on LinkedIn or Facebook. You explore Twitter and maybe have already an account on YoutTube or Flickr. As you get connected with people you hear about Foursquare, Yelp and Google+, maybe SlideShare and Quora. Others introduce you to LonkedIn Groups or Facebook group, maybe Focus and Plancast, Tumblr and WordPress. Over time you play with social bookmark tools such as Digg, Delicious or StumbleUpon. Then you get introduced to Klout, Posterous, PeerIndex and approximately 100 or more other tools.

Before you even started to make notes about all your profiles and accounts you have a bigger presence than you think. And now it’s getting messy.

Mistake No.1
You make the same big mistake many others did before you and probably many will make after you. You simply ignore where you think you don’t have time, you forgot or simply don’t care. Why is this a mistake?
Because people who see your dormant profile only see ‘a dormant profile’ which is not very compelling. If you lived in a shed and all people have is the address from the old shed, that is how they see you.

Mistake No.2
You create a new profile but all you do is add a link to another profile saying “you find my bio here”. It’s like joining a party telling everybody you are leaving soon because you go to another party. Not a good idea either.

Mistake No.3
You share only your primary networks i.e. LinkedIn and Facebook but ignore all the others which actually constitute your entire social presence.

And there is a long list of all the little mistakes, missteps and issues which would exceed the scope of this post.

What you may consider is a more thoughtful Social Presence Management

Step 1
Create a list of all the networks you ever signed up for. Include the groups and communities. Add all the profile URLs to it so you can quickly go there.

Step 2
Make a very short note for you – and later for others what that network is about or why you like it. You may also want to make a note for yourself whether it is an A-Place that is important to you or a B-Place that is of less importance (just keep it simple)

Step 3
Now let everybody and his dog know where you all are. I’m on 58 networks and places right now. Yes, it’s a lot but it is what it is.

Step 4
Make sure that you have a pointer on each and every profile to all the other networks and profiles. Mainly because you want ‘cross pollination’ of your networks. That enriches your networks, makes it easier to communicate and propels your presence.

Step 5
At this stage you probably noticed that most of the above is almost impossible without a professional tool.  How can you add 58 of your networks and groups to Twitter for instance – it is not possible. And even if it would be possible, you don;t want to manage 58 different places with all that information and if you add or remove a network go back to 57 remaining profiles and update them.

Therefor you need a tool like XeeMe, where you keep all your social presences, manage them in one place, point from every network to that one place and use it to share your entire presence with all your contacts and those who should become your contacts.

From here on you can start to professionally manage and monitor your social presence.



ASP – MSP – SaaS – Cloud Reloaded

In the 80’s people discussed replacing Mainframes with PCs. It didn’t happen – now 30 years later the mainframe business is as vital as it was in the 80’s.

In the 2000 people talked about replacing on premise applications with SaaS. 10 years later it didn’t happen. While the ASP/MSP/SaaS/Cloud industry has nicely grown to a Billion $ industry, traditional IT is a Trillion $ industry (1,000x the size).

By looking at the evolution pattern you may recognize the future trends: Continue reading “ASP – MSP – SaaS – Cloud Reloaded”

The next facebook

Facebook will become the next Google which is the next Microsoft.

Microsoft never innovated any product. Windows was innovated by Xerox PARC, and so was the mouse. Word was invented by Wordstar and Excel like PowerPoint was acquired. Google didn’t invent anything anything either but built the most robust business model of advertising distribution, displacing traditional media. By accident it happened around a search engine. Also Facebook didn’t invent anything but took whats out there to the next lever, very similar to Microsoft or Google.

The next non inventor is probably 12 – 16 years old today and will build something on a technology that is out already but in an infant stage.

Like most others, it’s probably a high school drop off, a crazy guy, a nerd, whatever.

By the time Facebook is celebrating it’s 1 Billion’th user – probably in 2 years or so – Facebook will be the single most active software application ever built. By then open graph will help to make the Facebook ID the ultimate person identifyer to login anywhere and replace email as username. In five years from now people who argue about security breaches and privacy issues will be retired and no longer discussing things that an openly connected world just doesn’t find that relevant.

Microsoft wanted to be on every desktop. Check – done.

Google wants to distribute every conceivable bit of advertising. Pretty close.

Facebook wants to be the utility for every networker on the planet. Getting there

???  will be the application every human being is using from birth to death

What will it be? I have no clue, so we will see. But the pattern is already there. When will we see it? 2020 isch – I guess.

When the social media bubble burst

Dick Lee asked recently in LinkedIn: “We rarely see people as enthused as they are over social media. Among those recent rare times are: when the high-tech balloon popped; at the height of the housing bubble; just before the market crashed; and when Sarah Palin was nominated for VP. Hey, exuberance can be headiest just before the fall.”

I’d say YES – the social media bubble is about to burst. People are recognizing already that the endless hours of watching the incoming streams from Twitter and Facebook or all the status updates on LinkedIn are hours wasted. All the paid tweets and people or agencies, who have been hired to tweet are not going to contribute to the bottom line. And the fan pages people build to get “fans, followers, connections” are just hopes that it will do something for the business – but it won’t.

Yet, there are businesses who not only survived during the economic down turn but actually showed significant growth. What did they do differently as most are also associated with the rise of social media? The answer is SO SIMPLE that most people will reject the truth and continue to look for the hole grail. The answer is “The become more social with their customers”. Socializing is work, it takes time and focus, discipline and a clear understanding what to do and what not to do. And as 80% of humans continue to look for getting the job done automatically and get rich instantly, they will leave the social web because they just learned again and again – there is no free lunch.

Is that bad? Not at all – the Internet continued to thrive after the bubble burst. The housing bubble burst in the US – and today the US has the cheapest real estate in the developed world – it is only a matter of time when it goes back to normal (you get a mansion in California when you sell your 1 bedroom apartment in Nagasaki).

The biggest benefit of social media is to do more business with more people in a grander geography and in less time than ever before. But it comes at a price. And the price you pay is to be more open, more social, more connected, more interactive, more helpful and more conversational than ever before. And that means you cannot much longer be busy just slicing and dicing your data and aggregate information for even more knowledge about your demographics or aggregate more information to even better target your mail shots and advertising – NO you got to get out there and have a dialog with your customers. No time to do that? You will have a lot of time to think about it when you are fired or your business ceased operations. Being social is work – one customer at a time.

Can you automate?
Automation is sand in the social gearbox.