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What “Big Pharma” Can Learn from “Little Startups”

First things first, hello. If you’re a new reader to the blog, you probably don’t remember me, but if you’re a veteran, you just might. It’s me, Jonathan Richman, the original founder and author of Dose of Digital back for a guest posting. After a couple of years out of healthcare (and away from the blog) at a startup focused on the restaurant industry, I’m back in the healthcare business. I recently left the startup…turns out I missed you all and felt like there’s more I can contribute to the healthcare industry. More on what I’m up to at the end of this post…you want the content, not the gossip.

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Initial Impressions of Sphero 2.0: The Best and Worst of the Digital Age

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 10.15.29 AMLast night I picked up a Sphero 2.0 from the Apple Store as I needed to test it out for a client project. After about 5 minutes I remarked to my wife that, “This is exactly what’s good and bad about my job. On the one hand, I get to play with these neat kinds of toys and call it work. On the other hand, it’s a $129 dollar ball.”

Initially, I thought my 8 month old puppy would love it, as it was more interactive then her usual analog tennis ball, but she was terrified by the thing. My 3 girls however, were enamored right away.

I’ve been using it for about 24 hours now and the thing is remarkably fun. It is after all a Bluetooth controlled robotic ball. It has a range of about 50 feet and is surprisingly fast and nimble on the controls. When on, it activates a color changing LED that adds to the overall whimsy of the experience.

Update: I was remarking to a few folks at the office that I was surprised that it didn’t have a camera, as it can be hard to pilot around walls. One of our admins remarked that if it had a camera, people would use it for upskirt pics. Fair point.

Sphero comes with a ton of potential apps, including games that blend digital and real-world environments for seemingly unique gaming experiences, most of which I haven’t tested yet but will do so soon. The hardware and software platform are open source, making it ripe for experimenting with. As such, here are some of the things I’m going to attempt to try with it over the next few weeks. Read More…

A Deep Review Of My First 2 Months With Google Glass

All Your Face Are Belong To Us

All Your Face Are Belong To Us

I’ve recently been adopted into the Google Glass explorer program. I debated whether or not to accept the invitation, but ultimately felt it probably would be a good idea, if for no other reason than there may be something unexpected that came from using them for a bit. Having had the chance to play with Glass a few times prior to this, the experience left me rather nonplussed. Factoring in the $1,500 price tag, and my interest was marginal. Had work not agreed to cover the expense, I probably would have passed on the invite altogether.

I’ve been using Glass off and on now for about a month and its taken me that long to crystalize some of my opinions on the kit. While I can see the potential for the Glass platform, and new apps keep coming online every day, I don’t think it’s ready for prime time.

Setting expectations.
If you’re expecting Glass to be the future of replacing your phone or tablet, you’re going to be disappointed. Based on what you may see on the ‘net, Glass is not a great device for watching video, surfing the web, reading long text, etc. I don’t believe it was designed with those kinds of usages in mind.

Going in I expected Glass to be a kind of dual threat; acting as a kind of digital personal assistant bringing much more utility and value to the kinds of things that the notification screen on your phone does, and serving specific purposes when using applications developed for the platform. Sadly, it only does one of these things well (for now).

Be prepared to look like a tool.
I don’t mean this to be snarky, but it’s a reality of the device, and one that I believe limits its potential as a mass consumer device. Glass is viewed by most as 1,500 dollars of wearable pretentiousness. I spent a bit of time wearing it in various situations and doing so tends to provoke one of two actions: hostility or annoying curiosity. When I was wearing Glass while around others (not in an agency setting mind you, but out IRL) people would either ask you not to take their picture and try to stay out of your line of sight. That, or every Tom, Dick, and Harry (strangers no less) would walk up and ask to try them on. Read More…

Dispelling 4 Mythological Beliefs About Innovation

According to the ancient Greeks, Prometheus took pity on mankind. He walked among men and noticed that they were no longer as happy as they were when Kronos the Titan was their king. He saw them living in the dark and shivering in the cold because they had no light to help them see and no fire to help them stay warm.

So Prometheus stole a spark from Zeus’s own lightning and brought fire to mankind. It was the dawn of civilization and enabled mankind to flourish.

But while mankind was now off cooking steak and smelting bronze, things didn’t work out so hot for Prometheus himself. For his disobedience he was chained to a rock at the top of a mountain and every day a giant eagle would come tear out his liver and eat it. At night, his liver would regenerate and the ordeal would begin anew each day.

It’s an interesting time for all the digital Promethei, especially those working in marketing. After all, our jobs require that we bring new and unknown ideas to our clients with the hope of ‘futurizing’ their marketing mix to make it more effective. In the America that we live in, almost everyone has a smartphone in his or her pocket. A majority of Americans have high-speed web access, and the sheer number of digitally enabled things we interact with is greater than ever before. The internet of things is upon us. The power and ubiquity of the platforms and APIs available to any given development team means things can be created at a scale and speed that were impossible 5 years ago.

Compounding the situation further is that you can’t flip through Wired or Inc. or Fast Company without reading pages upon pages about the ever-changing landscape of start-ups and internet-based businesses that are reshaping the American economy. The tech business is booming. Being a wild success with a tech idea is becoming the new American Dream and everyone fantasizes about becoming the next great digital titan.

But this has created a Jekyll and Hyde(1) type of situation. In one sense, it’s been empowering. Marketers are embracing new ideas and experimentation with a zeal that hasn’t seen since the early days of the web. Digital innovation is now coveted and the internet is no longer seen as an inferior medium compared to others. Additionally, clients are gaining a greater appetite for ‘new’ and “differentiating’ ideas and the willingness to try things may be at an all time high.

But.

As if they weren’t undervalued enough already, strategy and planning are becoming increasingly viewed as unnecessary, and clients are shifting from defining the objectives for a brand to defining the tactical imperatives of a brand. For example, it’s no longer ‘obtaining new customers’ or ‘getting a patient to stop missing every third dose’, it’s ‘build an app”, or ‘use Shazaam.’ This type of behavior isn’t new, but it does seem to be getting more commonplace with every passing day.

The problem isn’t so much the extensive tactical requests, but the inherent implication that because it’s supposed to be innovative, thinking isn’t necessary, success is easy, and poor design doesn’t matter. Mythologies have evolved with clients about what innovation is and how it happens, some of them so fanciful, they might as well come with wings and a tail. It’s time to dispel those myths and hopefully do so in such a way that we can all stop feeling like our livers are being eaten. Read More…