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Oh The Places I’ll Go! - Daydreaming about Oculus Rift  
 First there was WoW, then there was Second Life, now there’s Oculus. Exploratory worlds can be a place of escape, but also a place of great inspiration. When   Linden Lab   created the platform for Second Life, it was exactly that, a platform on which to build - this is a great study of where a passionate audience can take a platform. Literally building out this virtual world brick by brick, the documentary   Life 2.0   takes you inside this world in which many people live many hours of their real lives. 
 I’ve been fascinated about imaginative places and dreams since I was a young girl. When a particularly exciting dream would stick with me, I would draw it out using my impressive box of 64 Crayolas. Today, one of my obsessions is the   SHADOW   project imagined by   Hunter Lee Soik   - amongst my favorite kickstarters yet. The app currently in development will slowly awake a user and allow them to journal their dreams and share with a community of others. This idea of cataloging what can be a forgettable mind state is a step towards connecting our unconscious minds with our conscious selves. 
 Artists are exploring this very notion as well. My sister, Lia Chavez, an internationally exhibited artist, has explored visions discovered while in a deep   meditative state through her performance art   series,   Luminous Objects  . 
  Visual as the Medium  Through the evolution of technology, gaming and interactivity, we’ve matured from initially web-based platforms, to now mobile - and visual will be the next medium which developers and dreamers alike will build upon. 
 During Facebook’s shareholders meeting post-announcement of acquiring Oculus Rift, Mark Zuckerberg said three key points that stuck with me.  
 
  “Today social is about sharing moments. Tomorrow, it will be about sharing experiences.”  
  “Visual will be the next big computing platform”  
  “New platforms roll in every 10-15 yrs, now it’s mobile but augmented vision is next”  
 
  Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus VR said   “We’re teaming up with    Facebook    to invent the future.”  
 In today’s   DeanBeat  , Dean Takahashi wrote an insightful piece on what the acquisition means for platform advancement: 
 
  “The Facebook-Oculus combination  will accelerate the consumer deployment of virtual reality , but it is not the be-all and end-all for VR. I’m convinced that this sector will be both wide and deep, extending well beyond gaming. While Facebook is hiring a lot of the virtual reality talent — like a  trio of experts from game maker and digital distribution king Valve  — the industry is becoming a movement that stretches beyond more than just one company.”  
 
  So Let’s Dream a Little  There are many opinions about what a platform like Oculus could evolve into, as a fan and dreamer, I’ve imagined a few scenarios… 
  Enabling Time Travel  Imagine revisiting your childhood home using Google street view and having a media catalog that you could attach to the experience to pull in family videos and photographs - flipping through a digital album in the foreground. Or re-live a special moment in time (reunions, birthdays, wedding day, graduations, celebrations), tools like Oculus will not only help share experiences, but re-live them - even more-so when solo-lens capture tools are used (e.g. head-mounted and low-profile devices such as   SoloShot  ,   Go Pro  ,   Google Glass  ,   Narrative  ). 
  Driving Education & Connection  Augmented reality as an educational tool could be used to virtually teleport users to other places in the world. Similar to the power of reach that online education communities like   Skillshare   have, Oculus will inspire a community of teachers. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of wildlife and space travel documentaries. Imagine feeling as though you’re standing in the grasslands of Africa, with exquisite wildlife all around you. Animal sanctuaries could help drive awareness and education. Agriculturists and community activists could share their passions and purpose. Imagine NASA collaborates with a Planetarium to develop films that place you in the seat of an astronaut. How rad would that be?! 
  Commerce in the Home  Thanks to digital, the disruption of retail over the last five years has challenged brands to step up their game. Interactive tools like Oculus could fundamentally re-imagine everything from the shopping process to market week trade shows. And of course, to take a note out of   Cher’s enviable closet from Clueless  , imagine shopping aggregators such as   ShopStyle  ,   Google Shopping   and   Polyvore   integrating into Oculus, so select pieces from your favorite designers or brand could be tried on - an updated take on the paper doll. 
  Designing the Unseen   For architects, urban planners, and landscape and interior designers, imagine virtually walking through your floorplan or urban environment - virtually concepting design directions as though you’re in a showroom selecting swatches and planning out the space. Google Maps is in process of mapping interiors of select buildings - by hacking into that API you could tour other famous buildings by greats   Calatrava  ,   Gehry   and   Foster   to gain inspiration for designing your space.   
  Inspiring Content Creators  Take creative communities such as   Vimeo  ,   VHX.tv   and   Youtube   to the next level with first-person point-of-view filming. See what musicians are up to backstage, get to know upcoming artists through creative series like Samantha Katz’s   Gallery Glass   - which used Google Glass to have a first person point-of-view of touring an artist’ gallery and process or explore a designers studio and browse a collection before it launches on the runway. The possibilities are endless. 
  Trying Something New  As a life-long skier and Coloradoan, I miss the slopes and don’t get in as much powder time as I would like living in New York. Imagine an immersive pod that serves up weather conditions similar to your favorite adventure sport location. Pop on Oculus, enter the pod, and get a rush of cold air to further dive you into the experience of flying down a double-diamond on the best powder day of the season. Skydive (and underwater) lovers could experience diving around the world and seeing the earth from above while feeling like a bird - a feeling I highly recommend everyone experience at least once in their lifetime. 
  Final Thoughts  Those weary of “this technology age” may be turned off by yet another device that seemingly detaches us from real-life. But I argue that by expanding our individual worlds through technology, it actually unites us more than divides. I believe creating new possibilities of interacting with the world around us will inspire great innovations, young and old.  
  Written by Mary Elise Chavez, Creative Director of   OysterLabs

Oh The Places I’ll Go! - Daydreaming about Oculus Rift

First there was WoW, then there was Second Life, now there’s Oculus. Exploratory worlds can be a place of escape, but also a place of great inspiration. When Linden Lab created the platform for Second Life, it was exactly that, a platform on which to build - this is a great study of where a passionate audience can take a platform. Literally building out this virtual world brick by brick, the documentary Life 2.0 takes you inside this world in which many people live many hours of their real lives.

I’ve been fascinated about imaginative places and dreams since I was a young girl. When a particularly exciting dream would stick with me, I would draw it out using my impressive box of 64 Crayolas. Today, one of my obsessions is the SHADOW project imagined by Hunter Lee Soik - amongst my favorite kickstarters yet. The app currently in development will slowly awake a user and allow them to journal their dreams and share with a community of others. This idea of cataloging what can be a forgettable mind state is a step towards connecting our unconscious minds with our conscious selves.

Artists are exploring this very notion as well. My sister, Lia Chavez, an internationally exhibited artist, has explored visions discovered while in a deep meditative state through her performance art series, Luminous Objects.

Visual as the Medium
Through the evolution of technology, gaming and interactivity, we’ve matured from initially web-based platforms, to now mobile - and visual will be the next medium which developers and dreamers alike will build upon.

During Facebook’s shareholders meeting post-announcement of acquiring Oculus Rift, Mark Zuckerberg said three key points that stuck with me. 

“Today social is about sharing moments. Tomorrow, it will be about sharing experiences.”

“Visual will be the next big computing platform”

“New platforms roll in every 10-15 yrs, now it’s mobile but augmented vision is next”

Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus VR said “We’re teaming up with Facebook to invent the future.”

In today’s DeanBeat, Dean Takahashi wrote an insightful piece on what the acquisition means for platform advancement:

“The Facebook-Oculus combination will accelerate the consumer deployment of virtual reality, but it is not the be-all and end-all for VR. I’m convinced that this sector will be both wide and deep, extending well beyond gaming. While Facebook is hiring a lot of the virtual reality talent — like a trio of experts from game maker and digital distribution king Valve — the industry is becoming a movement that stretches beyond more than just one company.”

So Let’s Dream a Little
There are many opinions about what a platform like Oculus could evolve into, as a fan and dreamer, I’ve imagined a few scenarios…

Enabling Time Travel
Imagine revisiting your childhood home using Google street view and having a media catalog that you could attach to the experience to pull in family videos and photographs - flipping through a digital album in the foreground. Or re-live a special moment in time (reunions, birthdays, wedding day, graduations, celebrations), tools like Oculus will not only help share experiences, but re-live them - even more-so when solo-lens capture tools are used (e.g. head-mounted and low-profile devices such as SoloShotGo Pro, Google Glass, Narrative).

Driving Education & Connection
Augmented reality as an educational tool could be used to virtually teleport users to other places in the world. Similar to the power of reach that online education communities like Skillshare have, Oculus will inspire a community of teachers. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of wildlife and space travel documentaries. Imagine feeling as though you’re standing in the grasslands of Africa, with exquisite wildlife all around you. Animal sanctuaries could help drive awareness and education. Agriculturists and community activists could share their passions and purpose. Imagine NASA collaborates with a Planetarium to develop films that place you in the seat of an astronaut. How rad would that be?!

Commerce in the Home
Thanks to digital, the disruption of retail over the last five years has challenged brands to step up their game. Interactive tools like Oculus could fundamentally re-imagine everything from the shopping process to market week trade shows. And of course, to take a note out of Cher’s enviable closet from Clueless, imagine shopping aggregators such as ShopStyle, Google Shopping and Polyvore integrating into Oculus, so select pieces from your favorite designers or brand could be tried on - an updated take on the paper doll.

Designing the Unseen
For architects, urban planners, and landscape and interior designers, imagine virtually walking through your floorplan or urban environment - virtually concepting design directions as though you’re in a showroom selecting swatches and planning out the space. Google Maps is in process of mapping interiors of select buildings - by hacking into that API you could tour other famous buildings by greats Calatrava, Gehry and Foster to gain inspiration for designing your space.

Inspiring Content Creators
Take creative communities such as Vimeo, VHX.tv and Youtube to the next level with first-person point-of-view filming. See what musicians are up to backstage, get to know upcoming artists through creative series like Samantha Katz’s Gallery Glass - which used Google Glass to have a first person point-of-view of touring an artist’ gallery and process or explore a designers studio and browse a collection before it launches on the runway. The possibilities are endless.

Trying Something New
As a life-long skier and Coloradoan, I miss the slopes and don’t get in as much powder time as I would like living in New York. Imagine an immersive pod that serves up weather conditions similar to your favorite adventure sport location. Pop on Oculus, enter the pod, and get a rush of cold air to further dive you into the experience of flying down a double-diamond on the best powder day of the season. Skydive (and underwater) lovers could experience diving around the world and seeing the earth from above while feeling like a bird - a feeling I highly recommend everyone experience at least once in their lifetime.

Final Thoughts
Those weary of “this technology age” may be turned off by yet another device that seemingly detaches us from real-life. But I argue that by expanding our individual worlds through technology, it actually unites us more than divides. I believe creating new possibilities of interacting with the world around us will inspire great innovations, young and old. 

Written by Mary Elise Chavez, Creative Director of OysterLabs

A storm of personal data is coming to healthcare, are you ready?  
  [Expanded from my Jan 14, 2014 post for   ePharma Summit  , where I spoke on Feb 12th, 2014.]  
  At CES 2014, 40 percent more floor space has been dedicated to digital health exhibitors this year than in 2013.  This includes many sensor tech companies that are acquiring data that describes our digital selves. For example, LG Electronics is introducing a fitness band, Reebok is showcasing a skullcap with sensors, and startups like Lively and ZamZee are releasing solutions for the elderly and for children respectively. This quantified-self movement has been heavily funded but is really still in its infancy. 
  As the technology has moved toward commoditization, it will be increasingly included in devices that we already own.  For example, both Apple and Samsung have included technology into their latest phones that includes advanced motion sensing technology, including a custom app by Samsung “S Health”. Apple even has a new patent on an integrated heart rate sensor (   read more here   ). Apple’s M7 co-processor allows efficient motion detection and is now integrated with the FitBit mobile app removing the need for a special purpose device – a smart move. Why? 
 
  Because the future won’t necessarily be about winning on the device side, it will be about how you use the enormous amount of data that is being generated by people to describe themselves in new ways.   
 
 Individuals will want help managing the data, providing access to their data and using it for custom applications that align to their specific needs. This is where healthcare industry players should focus their energy. How are you planning to plug in to this ecosystem? What data will you help your customers acquire or will you ask them for access to their data as it is generated so that you can provide them a valuable service? 
  For pharma,  I’m enthusiastic about both the creation of mobile services that utilize these new data acquisition technologies, and also about the use of this aggregate data to unlock new knowledge that aligns R&D and marketing goals.  For care providers,  new data sources give physicians a new view into cause and effect, and for insurers and employers there can be tremendous gains in enhancing wellness programs and aligning incentives to healthier behaviors. 
  On my end, I’m excited to be involved with two great businesses that are taking advantage of this opportunity today.   Mana Health    is a rapidly growing company that is taking as inputs these many new data points and making sense of it all to patients and care providers.    OysterLabs    is a mobile technology company whose AQUA platform is enabling marketers to use the data generated by mobile app users at the edge to improve audience engagement. In short, I for one am incredibly excited for this storm of data to be here and for all the opportunity it creates, and luckily I brought my umbrella. 
  Written by Raj Amin, CEO of   OysterLabs    
 Keep up with Raj on his   blog  . 

A storm of personal data is coming to healthcare, are you ready?

[Expanded from my Jan 14, 2014 post for ePharma Summit, where I spoke on Feb 12th, 2014.]

At CES 2014, 40 percent more floor space has been dedicated to digital health exhibitors this year than in 2013. This includes many sensor tech companies that are acquiring data that describes our digital selves. For example, LG Electronics is introducing a fitness band, Reebok is showcasing a skullcap with sensors, and startups like Lively and ZamZee are releasing solutions for the elderly and for children respectively. This quantified-self movement has been heavily funded but is really still in its infancy.

As the technology has moved toward commoditization, it will be increasingly included in devices that we already own. For example, both Apple and Samsung have included technology into their latest phones that includes advanced motion sensing technology, including a custom app by Samsung “S Health”. Apple even has a new patent on an integrated heart rate sensor (read more here). Apple’s M7 co-processor allows efficient motion detection and is now integrated with the FitBit mobile app removing the need for a special purpose device – a smart move. Why?

Because the future won’t necessarily be about winning on the device side, it will be about how you use the enormous amount of data that is being generated by people to describe themselves in new ways.

Individuals will want help managing the data, providing access to their data and using it for custom applications that align to their specific needs. This is where healthcare industry players should focus their energy. How are you planning to plug in to this ecosystem? What data will you help your customers acquire or will you ask them for access to their data as it is generated so that you can provide them a valuable service?

For pharma, I’m enthusiastic about both the creation of mobile services that utilize these new data acquisition technologies, and also about the use of this aggregate data to unlock new knowledge that aligns R&D and marketing goals. For care providers, new data sources give physicians a new view into cause and effect, and for insurers and employers there can be tremendous gains in enhancing wellness programs and aligning incentives to healthier behaviors.

On my end, I’m excited to be involved with two great businesses that are taking advantage of this opportunity today. Mana Health is a rapidly growing company that is taking as inputs these many new data points and making sense of it all to patients and care providers. OysterLabs is a mobile technology company whose AQUA platform is enabling marketers to use the data generated by mobile app users at the edge to improve audience engagement. In short, I for one am incredibly excited for this storm of data to be here and for all the opportunity it creates, and luckily I brought my umbrella.

Written by Raj Amin, CEO of OysterLabs

Keep up with Raj on his blog

Why I Love Venmo  
 In the past few years, mobile payment apps have flooded the market, with some dominating in specific sections. Apps like   PayPal  ,   Square  ,   LevelUp  ,   Chirpify   and   Dwolla   have all taken their place within the industry. For my group of friends, our go to payment app is   Venmo  . 
 Behind Starbucks,  Venmo is the second most used payment app , racking up an average of  seven payments  per month.  Among age groups, Venmo users comprise the youngest category (18-24-year-olds). Young people love Venmo. It makes paying someone fun and simple. Business Insider recently  reported  that Venmo is now officially a verb. “Like Google, Xerox, and Facebook, mobile payments startup Venmo has already achieved that rare and highly coveted milestone in the product services world: its name has been verbalized.” I’ve heard my own friends say to each other,  “Dude, just Venmo me.”  Venmo has revolutionized mobile payments, making it a social interaction rather than a formal and tedious exercise. 
 There’s instant gratification about being paid right back. Gone are the days of worrying about giving your friend change for a $20 or them paying you back in drinks the next time you go out. You literally can get the exact amount you need within seconds of paying the bill. If you have a credit/debit card and a smartphone, there’s no excuse not to have it … unless you have no friends : ( 
  Featured photo from  Venmo’s 2013 Office Tour  on Business Insider

Why I Love Venmo

In the past few years, mobile payment apps have flooded the market, with some dominating in specific sections. Apps like PayPal, Square, LevelUp, Chirpify and Dwolla have all taken their place within the industry. For my group of friends, our go to payment app is Venmo.

Behind Starbucks, Venmo is the second most used payment app, racking up an average of seven payments per month.  Among age groups, Venmo users comprise the youngest category (18-24-year-olds). Young people love Venmo. It makes paying someone fun and simple. Business Insider recently reported that Venmo is now officially a verb. “Like Google, Xerox, and Facebook, mobile payments startup Venmo has already achieved that rare and highly coveted milestone in the product services world: its name has been verbalized.” I’ve heard my own friends say to each other, “Dude, just Venmo me.” Venmo has revolutionized mobile payments, making it a social interaction rather than a formal and tedious exercise.

There’s instant gratification about being paid right back. Gone are the days of worrying about giving your friend change for a $20 or them paying you back in drinks the next time you go out. You literally can get the exact amount you need within seconds of paying the bill. If you have a credit/debit card and a smartphone, there’s no excuse not to have it … unless you have no friends : (

Featured photo from Venmo’s 2013 Office Tour on Business Insider

6 Essential Music Apps for the Post-Pandora Generation   Pandora revolutionized the music industry by offering on-demand, user-customizable radio stations and an enormous library of music on desktop and mobile. Since Pandora, the industry has seen the rise of several niche services that make it even easier for users to discover new music, personalize their listening, and share their favorite songs and artists with friends. These 6 apps are essential for music listeners who are looking to expand their horizons beyond Pandora.   Shazam |  .com    Shazam lets users quickly identify songs, commercials, TV shows, and more by pointing their mobile device towards the audio source and tapping a button on the app to record and process an audio clip. Once the app has identified the media, users can navigate to the song or video on YouTube or a 30-second iTunes preview. In addition to being a great organic discovery service for users, Shazam has become an important tool for brands. By integrating Shazam into radio and TV ads, brands have been able to re-direct mobile users to custom brand experiences on their devices, which helps with migrating analog audiences to mobile.   Beats Music |  .com    Beats Music has a stylish, sophisticated user interface in line with its coveted audio accessories, and a library of more than 20 million tracks and curated playlists from audio experts like Pitchfork and XXL Magazine. Beats emphasizes personalization above all else. The app offers “The Sentence” — a feature that requests a user’s location, mood, and current activity in order to select the ideal song for the moment.   Songza |  .com    Of the many music apps available today, Songza may offer the most robust personalization features. Songza’s Concierge feature lets users select the time of day, day of the week, current activity, mood, energy/concentration needs, and genre preferences to hone in on the perfect set for the occasion. Telling Songza you’re at work will get you a largely instrumental set — more conducive to sustaining focus — while telling the app you’re pre-gaming with friends on a Friday evening will get you a custom mix of dance and pop songs to put you in party mode.   iHeart Radio |  .com    iHeartRadio is a free digital radio that lets users listen to their favorite live stations and create ad-free custom stations. Users can access more than 1,500 live radio stations from across the country, with genres including pop, country, urban, rock, talk, and college. Users can also browse radio stations by genre and location, then tap the scan button to navigate from station to station. A thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating system also lets users send feedback to DJs on which tracks are trending.   Slacker Radio |  .com    Slacker offers users hundreds of stations curated by human music experts. Popular stations include “Music Festivals,” as well as custom stations based on user-selected artists. Users can personalize their stations with continuous fine-tuning based on likes and bans on songs and artists.   Spotify |  .com    With a sleek user interface, flexible pricing, and access to more than 20 million songs, Spotify is one of the leading apps of the post-Pandora era. The Spotify mobile app lets you shuffle any artist or album for free, while the tablet and computer versions give users unlimited, ad-supported access to music. Recently added browsing capabilities make it easier than ever to find playlists, and Spotify Premium enables unlimited offline listening and ad-free streaming on mobile.

6 Essential Music Apps for the Post-Pandora Generation

Pandora revolutionized the music industry by offering on-demand, user-customizable radio stations and an enormous library of music on desktop and mobile. Since Pandora, the industry has seen the rise of several niche services that make it even easier for users to discover new music, personalize their listening, and share their favorite songs and artists with friends. These 6 apps are essential for music listeners who are looking to expand their horizons beyond Pandora.

Shazam | .com

Shazam lets users quickly identify songs, commercials, TV shows, and more by pointing their mobile device towards the audio source and tapping a button on the app to record and process an audio clip. Once the app has identified the media, users can navigate to the song or video on YouTube or a 30-second iTunes preview. In addition to being a great organic discovery service for users, Shazam has become an important tool for brands. By integrating Shazam into radio and TV ads, brands have been able to re-direct mobile users to custom brand experiences on their devices, which helps with migrating analog audiences to mobile.

Beats Music | .com

Beats Music has a stylish, sophisticated user interface in line with its coveted audio accessories, and a library of more than 20 million tracks and curated playlists from audio experts like Pitchfork and XXL Magazine. Beats emphasizes personalization above all else. The app offers “The Sentence” — a feature that requests a user’s location, mood, and current activity in order to select the ideal song for the moment.

Songza | .com

Of the many music apps available today, Songza may offer the most robust personalization features. Songza’s Concierge feature lets users select the time of day, day of the week, current activity, mood, energy/concentration needs, and genre preferences to hone in on the perfect set for the occasion. Telling Songza you’re at work will get you a largely instrumental set — more conducive to sustaining focus — while telling the app you’re pre-gaming with friends on a Friday evening will get you a custom mix of dance and pop songs to put you in party mode.

iHeart Radio | .com

iHeartRadio is a free digital radio that lets users listen to their favorite live stations and create ad-free custom stations. Users can access more than 1,500 live radio stations from across the country, with genres including pop, country, urban, rock, talk, and college. Users can also browse radio stations by genre and location, then tap the scan button to navigate from station to station. A thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating system also lets users send feedback to DJs on which tracks are trending.

Slacker Radio | .com

Slacker offers users hundreds of stations curated by human music experts. Popular stations include “Music Festivals,” as well as custom stations based on user-selected artists. Users can personalize their stations with continuous fine-tuning based on likes and bans on songs and artists.

Spotify | .com

With a sleek user interface, flexible pricing, and access to more than 20 million songs, Spotify is one of the leading apps of the post-Pandora era. The Spotify mobile app lets you shuffle any artist or album for free, while the tablet and computer versions give users unlimited, ad-supported access to music. Recently added browsing capabilities make it easier than ever to find playlists, and Spotify Premium enables unlimited offline listening and ad-free streaming on mobile.

Gold Nuggets of SXSW 2014: From Socially-Driven Brand Leaders  
 At   OysterLabs  , we collaborate with our clients as partners, brought together for a common goal - to grow their business through informed, strategic mobile entry. While we design and build mobile apps and platforms, we always keep in mind how mobile can  empower  their customers and workforce.  
  Originally published on   Social Media Today  , below is my recap of the first panel of SXSWi 2014, which speaks to the importance of having your internal team adopt critical tools and behaviors to help evangelize your brand.  
   SXSW Interactive   started with a bang thanks to Social Media Today’s #SocBizShakeUp breakfast event at the W Austin. 
 A fantastic panel led by SMT CEO  Robin Carey  included  Michael Stenberg , VP, Web & Infrastructure at Siemens ( @stenmic );  Sandy Carter , General Manager, Ecosystems & Social Business Evangelism at IBM ( @Sandy_Carter );  Natanya Anderson , Social Media & Digital Marketing Coordinator at Whole Foods ( @NatanyaP ); and  Andrew Bowins , SVP, External Communications at MasterCard ( @MasterCardAndy ). 
 Panelists discussed how to build a socially-engaged workforce today, utilize big data, and empower employees through relationship-building tools. Here are a few highlights from the panelists. 
  Michael Stenberg, VP, Web & Infrastructure at Siemens ( @stenmic )  
  On building a socially-engaged workforce:  Companies have to adapt to the change that has happened. There is huge potential for B2B when social becomes a key element of the sales funnel – they turn more digital. 60% of sales funnels are taking place in the digital place. 
 It takes four elements to get a socially-engaged workforce: 
 (1) access (2) training (3) creating an environment (of content provided by the company where employees can start commenting, sharing and build an ecosystem) (4) starting at the top and getting CEO engagement 
  On the importance of leadership taking part:  
 Enable top management: other employees will see them as an example and adopt their behavior. Avoid having a middle manager who doesn’t understand social relationships and tools. 
  On the importance of big data:  
 Does the corporation actually want to listen to this data? There are often many opinions, but if you ritualize learning from data, it fundamentally changes how decisions are made. 
  Sandy Carter, General Manager, Ecosystems & Social Business Evangelism at IBM ( @Sandy_Carter )  
  On building a socially-engaged workforce:  
 Make your own employees socially-capable - create a digital brand army to represent your company and brand. 
 
   “You really can’t engage your customers if you don’t have engaged employees. IBM has approached it from a people perspective – social doesn’t change your culture, it reveals it. We embed it as part of our business process.”   
 
  On the intersection of big data and social:  
 I am fascinated by how we use and distribute the data. In our research division we’ve been looking at social profiles and we can assess 52 different personality traits based on tweets – that enables us to understand what consumers value. IBM ran 500,000 people through this process and really nailed personality and values. Instead of looking at what consumers bought previously, you can assess personality traits and leverage the data in a different way. It gives you a 40-45% higher likelihood that cross-selling and up-selling will work. This will change the way companies sell, recommend, and even assign employees to tasks.   
   
  My IBM SystemU Assessment from SXSW 2014    
  On innovation of internal tools to drive a socially-engaged workforce:  
 BlueTube (IBM’s internal take on YouTube) is used to learn and train employees. Digital IBMer helps build the digital eminence of all IBMers - IBM wants employees to be socially-engaged and out in the blogosphere. 
  On the importance of social influence data:   
 Klout score will become the new SAT score as social influence becomes increasingly more important. IBM has its own internal version of Klout for employees to be rated by. IBM worked with MIT and found that an employee who is connected socially (with a potential client or executive) brings in anywhere from $700-$1700 of added value. 
  On the next big data trend:   
 Here at SXSW, IBM’s Watson Food truck makes culinary recommendations based on personal preference data. Health care is a great example of cognitive technology insight – for example, Watson can consume all that data, then advise a doctor on the right potential treatment based on data. This translates to retail, as Watson thinks about how you want to shop and makes smart recommendations. Cognitive technology is the next big data trend.  
  Natanya Anderson, Social Media & Digital Marketing Coordinator at Whole Foods ( @NatanyaP )  
  On building a socially-engaged workforce:  
 Social needs to be integrated into employees’ everyday lives, so it’s not disruptive and makes sense for the flow of their day. With 600+ social media accounts and 1000+ employees creating social content for Whole Foods, social  is  our culture. The best marketing we have are team members on the floor, talking to our customers. 
  On cohesion amongst customers and their values:  
 We are so mission-driven, this is part of everything we do. We have a shared value set with our customers; some customers connect on sustainability, some love great food experiences – so we now ask, how do we filter that down to the local level? The things that are important to customers downtown versus in suburbia are different – we need to teach our local stores what those customers care about. We’re looking at hyper local analytics, which help drive conversations. Social gives us the broader insight. 
  Andrew Bowins, SVP, External Communications at MasterCard ( @MasterCardAndy )    On the impact of social today:  
 Paying for promoted tweets and holding that up as brand isn’t taking advantage of what social is. MasterCard has built an ecosystem, in 42 markets and 26 languages, that is entirely tied to social insights. Rather than standardizing buzz metrics, the conversation should center around trend and insight. Tell me something that helps my business – focus on how social and digital shapes the P&L. 
  On inspiring employees around a mission:  
 MasterCard is a technology company – we’re an enabler of payments worldwide. You have to give people a reason to believe, rally and be empowered. We want to continually encourage our 7,200 employees around the world. IBM’s Smarter Planet is one of the best social programs ever done. 
  On brands understanding what social really means:  
 Brands have a self-inflated sense that people want to hear from us and we know what they want to talk about. If you use big data to know what people want to engage in, you’re informed, rather than guessing. I’m a big advocate of curated content - 70% of our content is curated, which is how we authentically connect and participate with our customers. 
 Upon adopting this approach, we saw a 400% increase in engagement, had over 200 direct conversations, which created 500,000 unique conversation streams over time. Our addressable audience is 1.2 billion people. We’ve moved away from content pollution and now we’re earning trust; we see the data and build a story that is compelling and ultimately helps our business goals. 
  Written by Mary Elise Chavez, Creative Director of   OysterLabs

Gold Nuggets of SXSW 2014: From Socially-Driven Brand Leaders

At OysterLabs, we collaborate with our clients as partners, brought together for a common goal - to grow their business through informed, strategic mobile entry. While we design and build mobile apps and platforms, we always keep in mind how mobile can empower their customers and workforce. 

Originally published on Social Media Today, below is my recap of the first panel of SXSWi 2014, which speaks to the importance of having your internal team adopt critical tools and behaviors to help evangelize your brand.

SXSW Interactive started with a bang thanks to Social Media Today’s #SocBizShakeUp breakfast event at the W Austin.

A fantastic panel led by SMT CEO Robin Carey included Michael Stenberg, VP, Web & Infrastructure at Siemens (@stenmic); Sandy Carter, General Manager, Ecosystems & Social Business Evangelism at IBM (@Sandy_Carter); Natanya Anderson, Social Media & Digital Marketing Coordinator at Whole Foods (@NatanyaP); and Andrew Bowins, SVP, External Communications at MasterCard (@MasterCardAndy).

Panelists discussed how to build a socially-engaged workforce today, utilize big data, and empower employees through relationship-building tools. Here are a few highlights from the panelists.

Michael Stenberg, VP, Web & Infrastructure at Siemens (@stenmic)

On building a socially-engaged workforce:
Companies have to adapt to the change that has happened. There is huge potential for B2B when social becomes a key element of the sales funnel – they turn more digital. 60% of sales funnels are taking place in the digital place.

It takes four elements to get a socially-engaged workforce:

(1) access
(2) training
(3) creating an environment (of content provided by the company where employees can start commenting, sharing and build an ecosystem)
(4) starting at the top and getting CEO engagement

On the importance of leadership taking part:

Enable top management: other employees will see them as an example and adopt their behavior. Avoid having a middle manager who doesn’t understand social relationships and tools.

On the importance of big data:

Does the corporation actually want to listen to this data? There are often many opinions, but if you ritualize learning from data, it fundamentally changes how decisions are made.

Sandy Carter, General Manager, Ecosystems & Social Business Evangelism at IBM (@Sandy_Carter)

On building a socially-engaged workforce:

Make your own employees socially-capable - create a digital brand army to represent your company and brand.

“You really can’t engage your customers if you don’t have engaged employees. IBM has approached it from a people perspective – social doesn’t change your culture, it reveals it. We embed it as part of our business process.”

On the intersection of big data and social:

I am fascinated by how we use and distribute the data. In our research division we’ve been looking at social profiles and we can assess 52 different personality traits based on tweets – that enables us to understand what consumers value. IBM ran 500,000 people through this process and really nailed personality and values. Instead of looking at what consumers bought previously, you can assess personality traits and leverage the data in a different way. It gives you a 40-45% higher likelihood that cross-selling and up-selling will work. This will change the way companies sell, recommend, and even assign employees to tasks.

Mary Elise Chavez - IBM SystemU Graph

My IBM SystemU Assessment from SXSW 2014

On innovation of internal tools to drive a socially-engaged workforce:

BlueTube (IBM’s internal take on YouTube) is used to learn and train employees. Digital IBMer helps build the digital eminence of all IBMers - IBM wants employees to be socially-engaged and out in the blogosphere.

On the importance of social influence data: 

Klout score will become the new SAT score as social influence becomes increasingly more important. IBM has its own internal version of Klout for employees to be rated by. IBM worked with MIT and found that an employee who is connected socially (with a potential client or executive) brings in anywhere from $700-$1700 of added value.

On the next big data trend: 

Here at SXSW, IBM’s Watson Food truck makes culinary recommendations based on personal preference data. Health care is a great example of cognitive technology insight – for example, Watson can consume all that data, then advise a doctor on the right potential treatment based on data. This translates to retail, as Watson thinks about how you want to shop and makes smart recommendations.Cognitive technology is the next big data trend.

Natanya Anderson, Social Media & Digital Marketing Coordinator at Whole Foods (@NatanyaP)

On building a socially-engaged workforce:

Social needs to be integrated into employees’ everyday lives, so it’s not disruptive and makes sense for the flow of their day. With 600+ social media accounts and 1000+ employees creating social content for Whole Foods, social is our culture. The best marketing we have are team members on the floor, talking to our customers.

On cohesion amongst customers and their values:

We are so mission-driven, this is part of everything we do. We have a shared value set with our customers; some customers connect on sustainability, some love great food experiences – so we now ask, how do we filter that down to the local level? The things that are important to customers downtown versus in suburbia are different – we need to teach our local stores what those customers care about. We’re looking at hyper local analytics, which help drive conversations. Social gives us the broader insight.

Andrew Bowins, SVP, External Communications at MasterCard (@MasterCardAndy)

On the impact of social today:

Paying for promoted tweets and holding that up as brand isn’t taking advantage of what social is. MasterCard has built an ecosystem, in 42 markets and 26 languages, that is entirely tied to social insights. Rather than standardizing buzz metrics, the conversation should center around trend and insight. Tell me something that helps my business – focus on how social and digital shapes the P&L.

On inspiring employees around a mission:

MasterCard is a technology company – we’re an enabler of payments worldwide. You have to give people a reason to believe, rally and be empowered. We want to continually encourage our 7,200 employees around the world. IBM’s Smarter Planet is one of the best social programs ever done.

On brands understanding what social really means:

Brands have a self-inflated sense that people want to hear from us and we know what they want to talk about. If you use big data to know what people want to engage in, you’re informed, rather than guessing. I’m a big advocate of curated content - 70% of our content is curated, which is how we authentically connect and participate with our customers.

Upon adopting this approach, we saw a 400% increase in engagement, had over 200 direct conversations, which created 500,000 unique conversation streams over time. Our addressable audience is 1.2 billion people. We’ve moved away from content pollution and now we’re earning trust; we see the data and build a story that is compelling and ultimately helps our business goals.

Written by Mary Elise Chavez, Creative Director of OysterLabs

An Overview of Mobile Trends in the Restaurant Industry  
 Mobile strategy in the restaurant industry is in its infancy stage. Many restaurants are slow to adapt to the changing tide of mobile innovation.  Yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel - a few restaurants, in an effort to distance themselves from the competition and gain an edge, have taken to developing unique and sophisticated mobile apps that increase consumer traffic and drive revenue. Straying away from the simple apps used by the majority of venues, which include basic information like a menu, locations, and nutritional information, these brands have apps that incorporate innovative and remarkable features. I’ve outlined just a few apps that fall into this category and what they’re doing to separate themselves from the crowd. 
  As of 2014, 35% of  restaurant apps  include an ordering option.  In Q3 2013,  digital sales were 40%  of Domino Pizza’s revenue and their mobile app had over 10 million downloads. Papa John’s saw  more than 45% of all orders come from digital . The ordering options on these apps are easy, simple, and efficient. Loyalty sections of a restaurant app have also shown huge success. Starbucks’ app rewards its 10 million users with free coffee and food once they hit a certain number of purchases. This helps generate their  4 million transactions per week .  
  The final piece integrated into some of the best restaurant mobile apps is location based marketing.  Research showed that 38% of consumers in the United States have used a mobile coupon to purchase an in-store product. Quizno’s location-based campaigned netted a 20% increase in redemption.  Outback Steakhouse  geo-conquests their competitors by geo-fencing them and sending ads to those locations. A sneaky little trick but it seems to work. 
 These are a few of the ingredients for a terrific mobile app in the restaurant industry. As for the future, I’m guessing we will see more and more restaurants contribute to the innovation. 

An Overview of Mobile Trends in the Restaurant Industry

Mobile strategy in the restaurant industry is in its infancy stage. Many restaurants are slow to adapt to the changing tide of mobile innovation.  Yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel - a few restaurants, in an effort to distance themselves from the competition and gain an edge, have taken to developing unique and sophisticated mobile apps that increase consumer traffic and drive revenue. Straying away from the simple apps used by the majority of venues, which include basic information like a menu, locations, and nutritional information, these brands have apps that incorporate innovative and remarkable features. I’ve outlined just a few apps that fall into this category and what they’re doing to separate themselves from the crowd.

As of 2014, 35% of restaurant apps include an ordering option. In Q3 2013, digital sales were 40% of Domino Pizza’s revenue and their mobile app had over 10 million downloads. Papa John’s saw more than 45% of all orders come from digital. The ordering options on these apps are easy, simple, and efficient. Loyalty sections of a restaurant app have also shown huge success. Starbucks’ app rewards its 10 million users with free coffee and food once they hit a certain number of purchases. This helps generate their 4 million transactions per week

The final piece integrated into some of the best restaurant mobile apps is location based marketing. Research showed that 38% of consumers in the United States have used a mobile coupon to purchase an in-store product. Quizno’s location-based campaigned netted a 20% increase in redemption. Outback Steakhouse geo-conquests their competitors by geo-fencing them and sending ads to those locations. A sneaky little trick but it seems to work.

These are a few of the ingredients for a terrific mobile app in the restaurant industry. As for the future, I’m guessing we will see more and more restaurants contribute to the innovation. 

How messaging apps like Whatsapp are changing the Mobile Marketing Landscape  
 Since Facebook’s $19B acquisition of Whatsapp last week there has been increased speculation about the role of messaging services in allowing brands to expand their marketing reach. Shortly after Facebook announced the deal, the Japanese online retailer,  Rakuten, said that it would be buying Viber  — an internet calling service similar to Skype that reports close to 300 million users — for $900M. Meanwhile, WeChat, a Chinese-based messaging service, is also said to be  closing in on 300 million users  and may become the next major acquisition target.  
  Deals such as these signal the potential for messaging apps   to evolve into platforms with continuously monetizable users.  Whatsapp serves some 500 million users, mostly in emerging markets, roughly 70% of whom use the app on a daily basis. A recent report from Deloitte predicts that in 2014 an average of  50 billion messages will be delivered each day  across these types of messaging services. For many brands, such numbers indicate the opportunity to reach a global audience with immediacy and precision. 
  For Facebook, the Whatsapp deal will help to cement  the company’s involvement with messaging and voice calling .  But it may also help Facebook attract interest from advertisers looking to make inroads with consumers in emerging markets. Facebook has struggled to gain traction in Asia  against a lineup of competitor networks , but with the acquisition of a half billion active users there it can now focus on boosting mobile user activity in Asian markets, which may enable the company to start charging advertisers more aggressive rates without stifling demand. Plus, with the unique demographic-targeting options that Facebook offers, the company may be primed to gain a competitive advantage as a distribution platform.  
 The gain in users may also allow Facebook to start bringing revenue into line with investor expectations. Since its 2012 public debut the social networking giant’s  price-earnings ratio has hovered above 100 , indicating a discrepancy between the company’s perceived worth and current earnings. But such an influx of users in high-interest markets may help to boost advertiser interest and earnings.   
  The rise of Whatsapp and other messaging apps may also underscore a key feature of the new marketing landscape : with the explosion of smartphone and tablet usage across the globe, brands need tools that provide both precision and reach on mobile. Marketers increasingly gauge ROI in terms of the ability to reach mobile audiences with strategic timing and differentiated messaging, both of which Facebook is now better equipped to provide.  OysterLabs’ AQUA  – a combined mobile CRM+Analytics platform – offers such capabilities at highly competitive rates, and is a critical tool in the arsenal of any mobile marketer.

How messaging apps like Whatsapp are changing the Mobile Marketing Landscape

Since Facebook’s $19B acquisition of Whatsapp last week there has been increased speculation about the role of messaging services in allowing brands to expand their marketing reach. Shortly after Facebook announced the deal, the Japanese online retailer, Rakuten, said that it would be buying Viber — an internet calling service similar to Skype that reports close to 300 million users — for $900M. Meanwhile, WeChat, a Chinese-based messaging service, is also said to be closing in on 300 million users and may become the next major acquisition target. 

Deals such as these signal the potential for messaging apps to evolve into platforms with continuously monetizable users. Whatsapp serves some 500 million users, mostly in emerging markets, roughly 70% of whom use the app on a daily basis. A recent report from Deloitte predicts that in 2014 an average of 50 billion messages will be delivered each day across these types of messaging services. For many brands, such numbers indicate the opportunity to reach a global audience with immediacy and precision.

For Facebook, the Whatsapp deal will help to cement the company’s involvement with messaging and voice calling. But it may also help Facebook attract interest from advertisers looking to make inroads with consumers in emerging markets. Facebook has struggled to gain traction in Asia against a lineup of competitor networks, but with the acquisition of a half billion active users there it can now focus on boosting mobile user activity in Asian markets, which may enable the company to start charging advertisers more aggressive rates without stifling demand. Plus, with the unique demographic-targeting options that Facebook offers, the company may be primed to gain a competitive advantage as a distribution platform. 

The gain in users may also allow Facebook to start bringing revenue into line with investor expectations. Since its 2012 public debut the social networking giant’s price-earnings ratio has hovered above 100, indicating a discrepancy between the company’s perceived worth and current earnings. But such an influx of users in high-interest markets may help to boost advertiser interest and earnings.  

The rise of Whatsapp and other messaging apps may also underscore a key feature of the new marketing landscape: with the explosion of smartphone and tablet usage across the globe, brands need tools that provide both precision and reach on mobile. Marketers increasingly gauge ROI in terms of the ability to reach mobile audiences with strategic timing and differentiated messaging, both of which Facebook is now better equipped to provide. OysterLabs’ AQUA – a combined mobile CRM+Analytics platform – offers such capabilities at highly competitive rates, and is a critical tool in the arsenal of any mobile marketer.

I Want It Now: Delivery in the On-Demand Age  
 As much as we may scowl at the likes of   Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  , we live in an instant-gratification society - specifically if you live in a highly-populated urban environment (New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles). You’re probably familiar with this way of living - you want it now, and you’ll pay for instant convenience.  
 I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite companies in the On-Demand Delivery space - which will continue to explode in 2014. Tweet to me   @MaryEliseChavez   and share yours! 

   @uber  |  Uber.com   
 Everyone’s Private Driver™ 
  My name is Mary, and I’m an Uber Addict.  I used Uber 7 times this past weekend - and loved every ride. Friendly, well-mannered and streetwise drivers made my city-hopping a breeze.  
 Uber uses   Twilio   to keep riders informed throughout the customer experience, serving up real-time text message updates.  
   
 With   $258MM of funding from Google Ventures  , many have said Uber is the early winner in the on-demand transport space. However, this  space is hot and quickly evolving, check out some other companies entering at different angles.   
    Sidecar    - Select the vehicle, driver and price  
   Lyft    - On-demand ridesharing  
   Hailo    - The Taxi Magnet  
   Zipcar    - Rent a car for a few minutes or hours (an old favorite)    
    @seamless  |  Seamless.com   
 My use of Seamless hit a low when I ordered a cupcake from a shop… beneath my apartment. You see, I was in a House of Cards binge-fest and couldn’t be bothered to walk downstairs. 15 minutes later I was enjoying my Chai cupcake while gasping at the cunning of The Underwoods.  
 But I’m not the only one, friends have shared their stories of delivery indulgence - like my friend that orders from her local french bistro before dinner parties and plays it off as “culinary talent.” 
 The convenience of any-time, anything food delivery is a luxury many urbanites rely on.  
 The merger of Grubhub and Seamless in 2013 has enabled   Seamless to file an IPO   - expected to happen in the early half of 2014.     Grubhub   ’s  portfolio includes  Seamless,   Grubhub  ,   MenuPages   and   AllMenus   and boasts  150,000+ daily orders through the combined properties. 
   
   An honorable mention   in the on-demand food space goes to   Instacart ,  which deliveries groceries in 1 hour- my cousin lives in San Francisco and loves this service - can’t wait for it to come to New York! 
   

   Postmates   
 Need delivery in under 1 hour for anything - from food to cosmetics, books to an errand you don’t have time for - check out Postmates. With real-time tracking you can see the status of your delivery. Pricing starts at $5 and is based on distance of delivery.  
   Postmates wildly popular ice cream promotion   from last summer. 
   

  WunWun  
 Finally available in   Brooklyn ,  WunWun (w hat you need, when you need it) is a similar concept to Postmates - delivery of anything at anytime. WunWun has partnerships with a sampling of brands (e.g.   a 2013 promotion with men’s skincare brand      Anthony for Men )  ,    the retailer absorbs the cost of delivery   , to enhance the customer experience.  
  Interesting Marketing Gets You Noticed  Their Oct 2013 campaign to use the app and get   Free Halloween Candy delivery   (from the best candy shop in New York,   Economy Candy!  ) was similar to Uber’s   Kitten delivery campaign   for National Cat Day in 2013. 
   
  Brands Joining In  
 Lifestyle-oriented brands are experimenting with this trend too, like   Kate Spade’s Saturday .  Last summer, the brand opened a   shoppable, interactive storefront - complete with free 1 hour delivery  . I love seeing native retail-brands experiment with digital applications to evolve their brands.  
   
 Mega-retailers Amazon and   Ebay Now   (encourages shopping locally but has partnered with Best Buy and Target and is $5/per order) offer select merchandise for delivery. They have their own strategies and operations in place for on-demand and time sensitive deliveries - stay tuned for who comes out on top.  
  Final Thoughts:  The winners will out perform with gold-star customer service.  
  Written by Mary Elise Chavez, Creative Director of   OysterLabs

I Want It Now: Delivery in the On-Demand Age

As much as we may scowl at the likes of Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we live in an instant-gratification society - specifically if you live in a highly-populated urban environment (New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles). You’re probably familiar with this way of living - you want it now, and you’ll pay for instant convenience. 

I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite companies in the On-Demand Delivery space - which will continue to explode in 2014. Tweet to me @MaryEliseChavez and share yours!

@uber | Uber.com

Everyone’s Private Driver™

My name is Mary, and I’m an Uber Addict. I used Uber 7 times this past weekend - and loved every ride. Friendly, well-mannered and streetwise drivers made my city-hopping a breeze. 

Uber uses Twilio to keep riders informed throughout the customer experience, serving up real-time text message updates. 

With $258MM of funding from Google Ventures, many have said Uber is the early winner in the on-demand transport space. However, this space is hot and quickly evolving, check out some other companies entering at different angles. 

  • Sidecar - Select the vehicle, driver and price
  • Lyft - On-demand ridesharing
  • Hailo - The Taxi Magnet
  • Zipcar - Rent a car for a few minutes or hours (an old favorite)

@seamless | Seamless.com

My use of Seamless hit a low when I ordered a cupcake from a shop… beneath my apartment. You see, I was in a House of Cards binge-fest and couldn’t be bothered to walk downstairs. 15 minutes later I was enjoying my Chai cupcake while gasping at the cunning of The Underwoods. 

But I’m not the only one, friends have shared their stories of delivery indulgence - like my friend that orders from her local french bistro before dinner parties and plays it off as “culinary talent.”

The convenience of any-time, anything food delivery is a luxury many urbanites rely on. 

The merger of Grubhub and Seamless in 2013 has enabled Seamless to file an IPO - expected to happen in the early half of 2014. Grubhub’s portfolio includes Seamless, Grubhub, MenuPages and AllMenus and boasts 150,000+ daily orders through the combined properties.

An honorable mention in the on-demand food space goes to Instacart, which deliveries groceries in 1 hour- my cousin lives in San Francisco and loves this service - can’t wait for it to come to New York!

Postmates

Need delivery in under 1 hour for anything - from food to cosmetics, books to an errand you don’t have time for - check out Postmates. With real-time tracking you can see the status of your delivery. Pricing starts at $5 and is based on distance of delivery. 

Postmates wildly popular ice cream promotion from last summer.

WunWun

Finally available in Brooklyn, WunWun (what you need, when you need it) is a similar concept to Postmates - delivery of anything at anytime. WunWun has partnerships with a sampling of brands (e.g. a 2013 promotion with men’s skincare brand Anthony for Men), the retailer absorbs the cost of delivery, to enhance the customer experience.

Interesting Marketing Gets You Noticed
Their Oct 2013 campaign to use the app and get Free Halloween Candy delivery (from the best candy shop in New York, Economy Candy!) was similar to Uber’s Kitten delivery campaign for National Cat Day in 2013.

Brands Joining In

Lifestyle-oriented brands are experimenting with this trend too, like Kate Spade’s Saturday. Last summer, the brand opened a shoppable, interactive storefront - complete with free 1 hour delivery. I love seeing native retail-brands experiment with digital applications to evolve their brands. 

Mega-retailers Amazon and Ebay Now (encourages shopping locally but has partnered with Best Buy and Target and is $5/per order) offer select merchandise for delivery. They have their own strategies and operations in place for on-demand and time sensitive deliveries - stay tuned for who comes out on top. 

Final Thoughts:
The winners will out perform with gold-star customer service. 

Written by Mary Elise Chavez, Creative Director of OysterLabs

My 7 Essential Apps when working on the go   
 Whether traveling, commuting or lounging on my couch, these are a few of my go-to apps when working from my phone. Tweet to me at   @MaryEliseChavez   and share yours! 
   @asana   |  Asana.com    
 Do Great Things.™  Nearly my entire life (personally and professionally) is organized with help from this brilliant tool. Its easy-to-use interface - both on desktop and mobile helps tackle large projects by breaking them down into a task-by-task approach - eliminating the overwhelming feeling of “there’s-so-much-to-do-where-do-i-start” conundrum!   As a big fan of   David Allen’s Getting Things Done ,  Asana has helped me increase focus  and  productivity. I've evangelized the benefits of Asana for years to friends and colleagues - I love seeing how Asana helps them achieve their goals. Great for teams too - both as a collaborative tool and a roadmap planning tool. 
   
   @tempoai   |  Tempo.ai  
 A smart calendar app that brings together your contacts, appointments, directions, documents and recommendations to streamline your schedule. Tempo helps me be better informed prior to meetings, coffee meetups, events and dinner dates - reminding me on everything from directions to recommendations on where to go (also birthday reminders, thank you Tempo!). 
 It skims my contact list to pull in details about my appointment - for example, say I’m having “Dinner w/ Jen at DBGB”, it will recommend the Jen’s I know and give me directions to DBGB - this is particularly helpful when meeting up with clients - as related emails, documents and their LinkedIn profiles are pulled in (awesome!).  
   
   @Pocket   |  GetPocket.com    
 In any given day we see 100’s (sometimes 1000’s) of media messages - from that hilarious   Buzzfeed   listicle that’s all over Facebook, to the latest staggering startup valuation that raised eyebrows (I’m talking to you   Snapchat  &    What’s App )  - digesting so much media can be daunting.   Enter   Pocket  . With a handy browser plugin and smart recognition of links (right click on a link and you can ‘Save to Pocket’), I can collect inspiration and news as articles, videos, photo tutorials and blogs to a central place with easy tagging - that way, I can read content when I’m ready, rather than disrupting my workflow or hanging with friends. 
 During my commute I dig around in my Pocket app, and typically read 8-10 articles in 30 minutes, which is a great way to get in my daily dosage of reading.  
   
   @8x8  |   8x8 Mobile Apps    
 8x8 offers a great virtual office setup - working seamlessly between desktop phone > computer > mobile. OysterLabs is HQ'ed in New York, with international offices in Moscow and Ukraine - 8x8 is super helpful with conference calls, shared-screen meetings and messaging for our teams around the world.    
   
   @hootsuite   |  Hootsuite Mobile Apps  
 A great tool for streamlining social publishing efforts, interacting in tweet chats and webinars, and managing multiple twitter accounts at once.  
   
   @instagram  |   Instagram.com    
   OysterLabs   works with global brands that have audiences all over the world. Instagram is a powerful tool for businesses to visualize the culture and lifestyle of their brand. On any given day, I’m tracking efforts and social content to see trends and steer my clients down the right track.  
 It’s also a guilty pleasure during #NYFW, #LFW and #SXSW. :) 
   
   @songza  |   Songza.com    
 Music is proven to improve productivity, stimulate creativity and make us overall better people. Songza is my go-to music app whether getting ready in the morning, working deep on a design project or getting my fitness on.  
 With a scenario-based music concierge, Songza serves up curated playlists from their music experts (you can create your own too), to align with your Mood, Time of Day or Activity.  
 My latest guilty pleasure playlists - “  Girls: Marnie  ” and “  70’s Pool Party  ” 
   
  Written by Mary Elise Chavez, Creative Director of   OysterLabs

My 7 Essential Apps when working on the go

Whether traveling, commuting or lounging on my couch, these are a few of my go-to apps when working from my phone. Tweet to me at @MaryEliseChavez and share yours!

 | Asana.com

Do Great Things.™

Nearly my entire life (personally and professionally) is organized with help from this brilliant tool. Its easy-to-use interface - both on desktop and mobile helps tackle large projects by breaking them down into a task-by-task approach - eliminating the overwhelming feeling of “there’s-so-much-to-do-where-do-i-start” conundrum!

As a big fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done, Asana has helped me increase focus and productivity. I've evangelized the benefits of Asana for years to friends and colleagues - I love seeing how Asana helps them achieve their goals. Great for teams too - both as a collaborative tool and a roadmap planning tool.

Asana App

Tempo.ai

A smart calendar app that brings together your contacts, appointments, directions, documents and recommendations to streamline your schedule. Tempo helps me be better informed prior to meetings, coffee meetups, events and dinner dates - reminding me on everything from directions to recommendations on where to go (also birthday reminders, thank you Tempo!).

It skims my contact list to pull in details about my appointment - for example, say I’m having “Dinner w/ Jen at DBGB”, it will recommend the Jen’s I know and give me directions to DBGB - this is particularly helpful when meeting up with clients - as related emails, documents and their LinkedIn profiles are pulled in (awesome!). 

Tempo

 | GetPocket.com

In any given day we see 100’s (sometimes 1000’s) of media messages - from that hilarious Buzzfeed listicle that’s all over Facebook, to the latest staggering startup valuation that raised eyebrows (I’m talking to you Snapchat & What’s App- digesting so much media can be daunting. 

Enter Pocket. With a handy browser plugin and smart recognition of links (right click on a link and you can ‘Save to Pocket’), I can collect inspiration and news as articles, videos, photo tutorials and blogs to a central place with easy tagging - that way, I can read content when I’m ready, rather than disrupting my workflow or hanging with friends.

During my commute I dig around in my Pocket app, and typically read 8-10 articles in 30 minutes, which is a great way to get in my daily dosage of reading. 

Pocket

 | 8x8 Mobile Apps

8x8 offers a great virtual office setup - working seamlessly between desktop phone > computer > mobile. OysterLabs is HQ'ed in New York, with international offices in Moscow and Ukraine - 8x8 is super helpful with conference calls, shared-screen meetings and messaging for our teams around the world.   

8x8

 | Hootsuite Mobile Apps

A great tool for streamlining social publishing efforts, interacting in tweet chats and webinars, and managing multiple twitter accounts at once. 

Hootsuite

 | Instagram.com

OysterLabs works with global brands that have audiences all over the world. Instagram is a powerful tool for businesses to visualize the culture and lifestyle of their brand. On any given day, I’m tracking efforts and social content to see trends and steer my clients down the right track. 

It’s also a guilty pleasure during #NYFW, #LFW and #SXSW. :)

Instagram App

 | Songza.com

Music is proven to improve productivity, stimulate creativity and make us overall better people. Songza is my go-to music app whether getting ready in the morning, working deep on a design project or getting my fitness on. 

With a scenario-based music concierge, Songza serves up curated playlists from their music experts (you can create your own too), to align with your Mood, Time of Day or Activity. 

My latest guilty pleasure playlists - “Girls: Marnie” and “70’s Pool Party

Songza App

Written by Mary Elise Chavez, Creative Director of OysterLabs

How to Choose a Platform for your Mobile App   
 Whether you’re a Fortune-100 brand or a one-person business, choosing which platforms your mobile app will support can be a confusing process. The past few years have seen the rise of Windows and Blackberry app markets, but for most businesses looking to build a mobile presence the choice comes down to the two major platforms: Android and iOS.  
 This morning I had a  Twitter exchange with Charles Nutter  after he tweeted: 
 
  “Am I crazy, or is it madness to release mobile apps with no support for Android devices now? And to have no plans to ever support them?”  
 
 The question is a good one since many businesses out there are wondering the same thing. My reply was: “Yes it’s madness.”  
  To clarify: if you are just breaking into mobile,  it may not be madness to begin by only supporting iOS even though it controls  just 15% of the global market  as compared to Android’s 78%. But to rule out Android support completely is to ignore a huge potential source of users and revenue.  
 The key question to ask yourself is how much you plan to charge for your app. Despite Android’s huge lead in global market share,  Apple pulls in an estimated $5.1M a day in App Store revenue , compared to Google’s daily $1.1M from Google Play. That means that the average iOS user spends roughly 25x as much on apps (and in-app purchases) as the average Android user. So if you plan to release a paid app, it may make sense to start by allocating your development resources to a quality iOS release rather than splitting your budget between parallel iOS and Android builds. 
 At  OysterLabs  we’ve worked with many clients who went that route and then re-invested a portion of their iOS app earnings into a follow-up Android release. For cash-strapped businesses and startups in particular, this is a time-tested approach that may not yield huge revenue right off the bat but almost certainly won’t break the bank.  
  Not everyone is interested in the paid app model, though.  Businesses whose apps rely on in-app purchases, ads, and/or incentivized downloads for revenue may see Android as the priority platform given its much larger user base. If your app’s revenue model relies on many users downloading and using your app – what industry insiders sometimes call “eyeball potential” – then it makes sense to prioritize support for the platform with more users.   
 But that raises a secondary question about how to get those eyeballs focused on your app. Big brands can rely on their marketing budgets to drive installs and impressions, but less well-endowed developers often must resort to clever usage of social media and paid distribution channels. Google Play offers an advantage to the small guys here with its superior search capabilities that enable users to find apps even when they misspell keywords. 
  Final Thoughts   
Your decision-making about mobile platform support should be driven by your app’s revenue model and available budget for development and distribution. The ideal scenario is to support both iOS and Android, but that may not be a reality for every business at the start.
  If you’re thinking about developing an app, give us a shout at  Hello@OysterLabs.com  and we’ll help you develop a mobile strategy that meets your business’ goals and requirements. 
 View the full infographic at   Beutler Ink

How to Choose a Platform for your Mobile App 

Whether you’re a Fortune-100 brand or a one-person business, choosing which platforms your mobile app will support can be a confusing process. The past few years have seen the rise of Windows and Blackberry app markets, but for most businesses looking to build a mobile presence the choice comes down to the two major platforms: Android and iOS. 

This morning I had a Twitter exchange with Charles Nutter after he tweeted:

“Am I crazy, or is it madness to release mobile apps with no support for Android devices now? And to have no plans to ever support them?”

The question is a good one since many businesses out there are wondering the same thing. My reply was: “Yes it’s madness.” 

To clarify: if you are just breaking into mobile, it may not be madness to begin by only supporting iOS even though it controls just 15% of the global market as compared to Android’s 78%. But to rule out Android support completely is to ignore a huge potential source of users and revenue. 

The key question to ask yourself is how much you plan to charge for your app. Despite Android’s huge lead in global market share, Apple pulls in an estimated $5.1M a day in App Store revenue, compared to Google’s daily $1.1M from Google Play. That means that the average iOS user spends roughly 25x as much on apps (and in-app purchases) as the average Android user. So if you plan to release a paid app, it may make sense to start by allocating your development resources to a quality iOS release rather than splitting your budget between parallel iOS and Android builds.

At OysterLabs we’ve worked with many clients who went that route and then re-invested a portion of their iOS app earnings into a follow-up Android release. For cash-strapped businesses and startups in particular, this is a time-tested approach that may not yield huge revenue right off the bat but almost certainly won’t break the bank. 

Not everyone is interested in the paid app model, though. Businesses whose apps rely on in-app purchases, ads, and/or incentivized downloads for revenue may see Android as the priority platform given its much larger user base. If your app’s revenue model relies on many users downloading and using your app – what industry insiders sometimes call “eyeball potential” – then it makes sense to prioritize support for the platform with more users.  

But that raises a secondary question about how to get those eyeballs focused on your app. Big brands can rely on their marketing budgets to drive installs and impressions, but less well-endowed developers often must resort to clever usage of social media and paid distribution channels. Google Play offers an advantage to the small guys here with its superior search capabilities that enable users to find apps even when they misspell keywords.

Final Thoughts

Your decision-making about mobile platform support should be driven by your app’s revenue model and available budget for development and distribution. The ideal scenario is to support both iOS and Android, but that may not be a reality for every business at the start.

If you’re thinking about developing an app, give us a shout at Hello@OysterLabs.com and we’ll help you develop a mobile strategy that meets your business’ goals and requirements.

View the full infographic at Beutler Ink

Mobile and the NBA    
 Something’s brewing in the NBA between Sacramento Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive, and Dallas Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban. No, it’s not about King James and the MVP Race or David Stern’s retirement. Believe it or not, they’re bickering about the use of mobile technology during live NBA games. 
 Ranadive, who purchased the Kings in May 2013, believes that mobile will  enhance the experience  of being in an arena during a live NBA game. He noted,  
 
  “The future is about giving people an extremely contextual experience…people love to play games and they love to participate.”   
 
   
 Ranadive believes an in-game app, like the one at the  Barclays Center  in Brooklyn, enhances the experience, rather than disrupts it. The Barclays Center’s new mobile Wi-Fi system allows fans to access game information, with future versions including the ability to order concessions from your phone. Ranadive said, 
 
  “I completely reject the notion that a fan looking at his mobile device is not an engaged fan…I want to know play-by-play, I want to know every metric.”  
 
 On the other side of this debate is longtime Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban. Cuban wants nothing more than to see fans put their phones away and become immersed in the game. Cuban said, 
 
  “No question people use their phones and devices at games…but they use them when they are bored. They don’t want more reasons to use them. They want fewer.”      
 
  A new study on stadium Wi-Fi habits , commissioned by the NFL, discovered that the busiest period of mobile use during a game comes at the beginning and mobile use slowly decreases during the game.  Most of that mobile activity is not looking at the play-by-play or statistics; rather, it’s photo uploading through Facebook.  Maybe Cuban is right. But then again, mobile apps catered to the in-game experience are not widely available yet and the lack of in-game use may be due to a lack of availability. 
 I do know that when I’m at home, watching the game, I’m using multiple devices at the same time. But, when I’m at a live NBA game, I rarely take my phone out. Why would I? I just paid a ridiculous price for a ticket. 
  Final Thoughts  In reality, both owners are right. NBA fans are a diverse group of people. Some would love the extra features of being able to look up stats and figures related to the game. Others would find it distracting, and would prefer to keep the phone in their pocket. The real key here is giving those fans who prefer the mobile experience, a great app that meets their needs. Cuban needs to step into the 21 st  century and reach out to Mavericks fans that fall into this group.  
 Regardless, I’m a Knicks fan; so I’d rather not look at the game anyway…

Mobile and the NBA 

Something’s brewing in the NBA between Sacramento Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive, and Dallas Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban. No, it’s not about King James and the MVP Race or David Stern’s retirement. Believe it or not, they’re bickering about the use of mobile technology during live NBA games.

Ranadive, who purchased the Kings in May 2013, believes that mobile will enhance the experience of being in an arena during a live NBA game. He noted,

“The future is about giving people an extremely contextual experience…people love to play games and they love to participate.”

Ranadive believes an in-game app, like the one at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, enhances the experience, rather than disrupts it. The Barclays Center’s new mobile Wi-Fi system allows fans to access game information, with future versions including the ability to order concessions from your phone. Ranadive said,

“I completely reject the notion that a fan looking at his mobile device is not an engaged fan…I want to know play-by-play, I want to know every metric.”

On the other side of this debate is longtime Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban. Cuban wants nothing more than to see fans put their phones away and become immersed in the game. Cuban said,

“No question people use their phones and devices at games…but they use them when they are bored. They don’t want more reasons to use them. They want fewer.”  

A new study on stadium Wi-Fi habits, commissioned by the NFL, discovered that the busiest period of mobile use during a game comes at the beginning and mobile use slowly decreases during the game.  Most of that mobile activity is not looking at the play-by-play or statistics; rather, it’s photo uploading through Facebook.  Maybe Cuban is right. But then again, mobile apps catered to the in-game experience are not widely available yet and the lack of in-game use may be due to a lack of availability.

I do know that when I’m at home, watching the game, I’m using multiple devices at the same time. But, when I’m at a live NBA game, I rarely take my phone out. Why would I? I just paid a ridiculous price for a ticket.

Final Thoughts
In reality, both owners are right. NBA fans are a diverse group of people. Some would love the extra features of being able to look up stats and figures related to the game. Others would find it distracting, and would prefer to keep the phone in their pocket. The real key here is giving those fans who prefer the mobile experience, a great app that meets their needs. Cuban needs to step into the 21st century and reach out to Mavericks fans that fall into this group. 

Regardless, I’m a Knicks fan; so I’d rather not look at the game anyway…

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Starbucks Mobile Innovation 

The forefront of the mobile revolution is taking place on the corner of your street, at your friendly, neighborhood coffee shop: Starbucks.  Business Insider reported recently that Starbucks has racked in more than $1 billion in 2013 from its mobile sales, a figure that can be attributed to its ten million active users.  

The staggering results from their mobile strategy come from multiple pioneering marketing campaigns during Q4 of 2013. Their Twitter campaign—aptly named “Tweet-a-Coffee”—lets coffee lovers tweet a hashtag that’s linked to a credit card, and friends and family can redeem them through the Starbucks mobile app.

Starbucks patrons can use the app for card payments and direct purchasing of beverages and food. Once downloaded, users can unlock free drinks and food after reaching a certain number of purchases in the app. The app is very much like a game.  It’s fun, it’s unique, it’s interactive, and it’s convenient.

I write about this app because…well…I use it—almost everyday, actually. No other eCommerce app has done what Starbucks has done, which is, quite simply, create an app that’s habit forming. Every morning I go into Starbucks and without thinking, take out my phone, not my wallet.  

Starbucks’ newest mobile venture will come in the form of pre-ordering on your phone. They want to change the ever-growing line at it’s locations by allowing costumers to order and pay from the app upon arrival or beforehand.

Starbucks continues to be at the forefront of mobile innovation and I implore all of you to download the app, even if you aren’t a fan of the brand.  Flip through it, study it, and ponder what the future of mobile may look like.  The Starbucks app is a wonderful case study of how mobile can positively impact overall brand strategy.   

I’ll leave you with a quote on Starbucks innovation…

And I think once again the Starbucks… mobile transaction platform is still in its nascent stage. And we believe there is an opportunity to extend that value to our customers in ways that we have not yet shared with you.

—Howard Schultz, CEO

Download the Starbucks App

The new Lexus 3D AR mobile app allows users to explore 3D images of Lexus car models on their mobile device.

Augmented reality (AR), which continues to gain relevance in the mobile app space, lets brands showcase their products in interactive environments that don’t just build interest, but convey key information and provide organic methods of engagement. Rather than simply displaying products, augmented reality allows for an immersive experience that can be supplemented by any combination of video, audio, graphics, and data. 

AR applications have already begun to disrupt the traditional approach to mobile product marketing – to drive consumers into a transaction funnel in hopes of achieving continuously higher conversion rates. With the onset of rich AR apps and devices that can support graphics-intensive operations, more brands are beginning to see the benefits of mobile as a means to immersion and brand building.

The takeaway is that branded mobile apps should offer more than just browsing and purchasing capabilities; they should allow for a level of engagement that fosters appreciation for a specific product or class of products, which in turn should boost conversion rates over time.