Microsoft’s recent Windows 10 announcements

Posted by: in Software, Technology on January 26, 2015

I tuned in to listen in on some of the Windows 10 details Microsoft shared last week. They shed light on features users can expect when the company rolls out the operating system later this year. Before last week’s news, Microsoft had already made it clear that  a big part of the Windows 10 strategy is to unify the code base that runs across devices.  In case you didn’t follow, Terry Myerson’s post on Blogging Windows does a good job highlighting a lot of those features. And if you want to dig further into some of the news, here’s a page on Techmeme that highlights much of the online activity that happened soon after Microsoft’s Windows 10 event. One of the biggest aspects of what Microsoft announced: Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for the first year after it is commercially available.

Microsoft Windows 10 details

So, why do this? It’s the simplest way to a large user base. And that’s key for attracting developers. Microsoft is offering  the free Windows 10 upgrade to licensed users of Windows 8.1 (and Windows 8) , Windows 7 and Windows Phone 8.1. A few numbers to consider:

I couldn’t find confirmed numbers of Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users. But even without them, getting a fraction of the millions of users to upgrade to Windows 10 for free will help Microsoft get more developers on board. There’s no question Apple (and Google) deserve much credit for changing the PC landscape. These days, developers and the platform apps they write are the key to success or failure of a platform. Much of the shift Apple started was getting developers to focus on mobile and tablet app development for the iPhone and the iPad. Google has also attracted legions of programmers to write smartphone and tablet apps, but there’s no question Apple still has a big lead in getting developers to write tablet-focused apps for the iPad. It’s been well-documented  that Microsoft is behind here, both in terms of getting developers to focus creating apps for Windows Phone and tablet-optimized versions of those apps. While the nature of apps developers write has changed, attracting developers to code for a platform is still the name of the game.

Years ago, long before Windows 8 was ready to ship, I wrote a post that Microsoft’s Windows 8 gamble just might work. Back then, I thought the plan was to ship Windows 8 with a unified code base. We now know that will happen with Windows 10. As everyone knows, there are no guarantees in the tech industry, even for well-established players like Microsoft. When you look Microsoft’s plans to complete development of its next-generation operating system and that it will roll it out as a free upgrade for many Windows users, and you compare that to their recent moves to offer Microsoft Office on Android and iOS devices, no one can accuse the company of playing it safe.  It may be too early to say Microsoft is cool, but it is clear that Microsoft isn’t afraid to change the way it does business to change with the times.

By: Lionel Menchaca

Lionel used to be Dell's Chief Blogger, beginning in 2006 when Dell launched its first blog. Now he's Director of Content Engagement for WCG.

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A Day at W2O Group: The Newhouse Alumni Partnership Program

Posted by: in Communication, Corporate and Strategy, Inside WCG, Insights, Integrated Communications, Public Relations Practice, Social Commerce, Thinking Creatively, Thought Leadership on January 21, 2015

It’s no secret that Syracuse University emphasizes a strong communications alumni network. Whether you call it the “Newhouse Mafia,” or not, there’s no questioning that orange is everywhere.

OSyracuseur partnership with Newhouse doesn’t stop at the Center for Social Commerce. It’s a fundamental mindset for those of us who hail from Syracuse. Many of us remember when we were students and the generosity of those who shaped our perception and understanding of the industry. Some of us just bleed orange. Regardless of motive, we are a proud bunch dedicated to sharing our knowledge and experience with new generations of professionals.

Shortly after the holidays, we were thrilled to host two Syracuse sophomores as a part of the Newhouse Alumni Partnership Program. Thanks to the willingness and hard work of Elliot Fox, Lauren Barbiero, Sarah Masel, Richard Wong, Sarah Colgrove, Abigail Rethore, Brianna Quaglia and more, we were able to ensure that Milati Das and Saquandra Heath could experience the breadth of W2O Group’s functions and practices.

It was a fulfilling day for us and we were excited to convey what makes W2O Group so special with two very driven and bright students. Here are their reactions and thoughts.

Hope you enjoy!

Meriel McCaffery & Taylor Carr

Mitali Das’ Reflection

Over my winter break frMitaliDasom Syracuse University I had the opportunity to shadow Meriel McCaffery at WCG (W2O Group), an extremely positive and eye-opening experience. Immersed in the comings and goings of a prominent digital marketing agency, I was able to bridge the gap between my communications education and the realities of the industry. I learned a great deal about the emerging field of analytics, the central role of media engagement, and the integration of practices and functions within the company. While shadowing Meriel, a Corporate Communications Strategist at WCG and fellow Newhouse alumna, I learned firsthand about the inner workings of an agency. I caught a glimpse into the typical workday of a strategist such as Meriel. In between numerous meetings, she was able to balance her individual client-based tasks and communicate with her colleagues.

As a student, I was intrigued by the wealth of knowledge to be gained in an agency setting. I observed as Meriel worked within a variety of disciplines, ranging from technology to healthcare. Though strategy and analytics were at the core of the work, her team seamlessly integrated their research and knowledge to better serve their client. As my day of meetings, tours, and conference calls came to a close, I was left with the impression that WCG, and agencies that perform in methods similar to theirs, are truly the future of public relations and marketing. My experience at this dynamic and progressive company, though titled as a “shadow,” was ultimately a unique opportunity to engage in what will be the future of my chosen field of study. I am grateful to my school, to Meriel, and to W2O Group for this unforgettable experience.

Saquandra Heath’s Reflection: A Glimpse of the Future

SaquandraHealth9:07: I arrived at a beautiful building submerged between peaceful waters of which the sun gracefully shone on, and bustling city goers strutting the busy streets of NYC. I had no idea what my day at W2O would entail, but I was ready for it all. “Ding!” and there I was, instantly on the fourteenth floor. The secretary greeted me with a welcoming smile and escorted me like a special guest to my job shadow host. Not long after greeting and exchanging names with the signature handshake, was I immersed in the daily life of a public relations practitioner, or consultant rather. However, this daily life is unlike any other that one could ever imagine.

When I thought about public relations, the first task that came to mind was writing a press release. Yet, at W2O, press releases are not the trend. W2O tackles a whole new and non-traditional approach to PR. They combine raw data, better known as analytics, mixed with the experience and expertise of renowned public relations practitioners, to create an agency that is operated with a futuristic approach. This non-traditional form of public relations is truly something that excites me—it is energetic, it is innovative, it is new, it is the future—but W2O has mastered it in the present.  My host Taylor Carr was phenomenal and explained this remarkable approach of public relations in great detail. Taylor’s eyes lit up with excitement, his tone screamed enthusiasm, and his knowledge was greatly exhibited, but his passion above all, left a lasting impression. Taylor possesses a work ethic that many strive for, and his passion about his career is so undeniable that it excited me for the workforce.

If one were to ask how my job shadow experience at W2O was, my response would begin with a smile, followed by “have a seat.”

By: Meriel McCaffery

Meriel is a Corporate & Strategy associate at WCG and a Syracuse University alumna.

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Why the Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Health Network Matters

Posted by: in Communication, Healthcare Insights, Healthcare Technology, MDigitalLife, Medical Communications, Social Media Insights & Trends on January 14, 2015

Advisory Board BadgeI remember reading about it for the first time. I was at Humana, trying to figure out how and whether social media had any place in a healthcare company – or in health, for that matter. I was already familiar with Lee Aase and the work that he was leading at Mayo, but the creation of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media was a pivotal moment.

The idea is a pretty simple one – but it’s also a radical one. The Mayo Clinic was already taking a leadership role in the use of digital communication tools thanks to Lee and medical director Farris Timimi, MD. But rather than keep its knowledge and experience within its own walls and continue to grow its margin of leadership, it made the decision to share what it learned with others in the healthcare space. This, the creation of the Center for Social Media, and ultimately the Social Media Health Network.

Another unusual aspect of the SMHN is that it isn’t just for hospitals and health systems … it’s for all of the health ecosystem. It’s become increasingly clear that focusing on only one aspect of the health system and ignoring the others is something like playing whack-a-mole … a losing proposition. Or, to view the concept more positively, Lee and his team believe that better care and patient outcomes are going to be created by connecting the broader health community – not just working in the realm of its own control. That’s why patients are at the center of the SMHN, along with doctors, hospitals, health insurers, Health IT innovators, researchers, device makers, pharma companies … you get the point. It’s for everybody, and it’s about engaging all parts of the system.

MDLTwitterThat philosophy is one that’s shared by the W2O Group. The work that we do for our clients, we do across the spectrum of health and technology – bringing together a client list that includes companies in every category above, in addition to technology and consumer-oriented companies. I don’t think it’s too big a stretch to say that we see ourselves as the connective tissue (pun intended) of that health ecosystem. By working across the system, we make all  of our clients stronger.

That’s why our MDigitalLife team isn’t focused just on physicians anymore … our indexing now includes the digital footprints for patients, advocacy organizations, hospitals and health systems, the media, and healthcare businesses (like pharmas, payors, device and diagnostic companies, etc) organized around the patient and their needs – in other words, the therapeutic area that matters to the patient. Our first “therapeutic area in the cloud,” breast cancer, includes over 5,000 media outlets and reporters, more than 10,000 physicians, more than 5,000 patients and 1,500 patient advocacy organizations, and several dozen companies who make products specifically for diagnosing, treating and living with breast cancer.

It’s also why I am very, very honored to accept a role on the Mayo Clinic Social Media Health Network’s external advisory board. The board itself is emblematic of this cross-ecosystem approach – with board members who are Patients, HCPs, Researchers, Hospital leaders, and a group of people who apply their special skills as advocates across the healthcare system.

I’m incredibly eager to work with this group of advisors - all of whom I’ve admired for years, and some of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with over that time …


So to Ed, Dave, Wendy Sue, Bryan, Meredith, Chris, Shel, Matthew, Reed, Patricia, Kristine, Jeff, Andre, Amanda, David, Dan, Melissa, Claire, Ahava, Cynthia, Lisa, Mike, Christian, Hugh, Bob and Colleen (and of course Lee and Farris): I look forward to working side by side to connect the health ecosystem and deliver better health to all as a result. Bring it on, 2015!

For more information on the advisory board new member announcement see the W2O Press Release.

By: Greg Matthews

Greg Matthews is the the creator and Managing Director of the W2O Group's MDigitalLife - Understanding, Engaging and Activating Physicians in the Digital Age

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Communication Lessons Direct from China

Posted by: in Communication, executive insights, Pre-Commerce, Social Commerce, Social Media Insights & Trends on January 12, 2015

this column first appeared in the January 5th issue of PRNews

The Chinese market is innovating in ways different than what we are used to in the west. Where we see boundaries, entrepreneurs in China envision new ways to combine social media and ecommerce. What I’ve discovered is that “geographic learning” is part of how we build an edge in our home market. Often, the best ideas for what’s next are happening thousands of miles away. This article will describe key lessons learned from China that can be applied to how we communicate in western markets in the years ahead.

1. Focus on one consistent customer experience. In China, ecommerce companies like Alibaba integrate social media fully into their sales experience. They don’t divide social media and sales and they don’t place as high a premium on advertising. Where we see a divide in how things should work (social media and ecommerce), the Chinese find an opportunity to create one continual customer experience.

2. ROI is easier to answer. When you tie social media and ecommerce, it’s the same customer, so we know his/her purchasing power. Chinese companies don’t have to waste time asking ‘How do you know social media will lead to ROI?’ The more directly we work with our customers, the more we know about them. The more we advertise to them from afar, the less we know. The latter way being much more expensive and less productive.

3. An involved customer is a productive customer. When you interact with customers in a repeatable and trustworthy manner, a breakthrough occurs in the relationship between company and customer. In China, because social media and ecommerce are one in the same, consumers will ask their peers for advice more frequently and provide advice to companies more often.

4. Customer experience refers to positive outcomes. Normally we think of customer experience as how to deal with negative situations.

In China, it’s the opposite. Improving customer experience means more integration of reviews into sites, more forum conversations, more content created on new products, more advice amongst peers on what to buy.

5. Education trumps advertising. New customers don’t know much, if anything, about a brand they discover online. In China, a premium is placed on educating the consumer by directly involving the customer in the purchase.

The company and the community are there to share advice, discuss new options and teach each other. With a rising middle class, this was imperative, but it reinforces the most simple brand-building lessons.

6. Social platform features will match customer need. We think of social platforms doing one thing well, whether it is photos ( Instagram) or Twitter (140 characters) or Foursquare (location).

Does this make sense? In China, firms combine whatever they believe the customer will want into one platform. For example, WeChat has features similar to Instagram (post photos), Foursquare (find people near you) and instant messaging.

Youku has shades of Netflix and YouTubeSina Weibo allows you to act like we do on Twitter and post as we do on Facebook. This makes sense.

7. Instant messaging will lead to new platforms. IM is one of the fastest-growing aspects of social media in China. WeChat and QQ, both owned by Tencent, are two of the largest instant messaging companies. WeChat enables the user to talk live, share images, use geo-location apps and more.

Could the next platform emerge from IM? What does that mean for how we share content in the U.S.? It’s an obvious trend in a mobile-first world. Overall, the lessons from China are those we talk about a lot in the western world, but often we are held back by our habits. There is no magic bullet.

Rather, there is an opportunity for brands to become more involved in the full customer experience, so that we break down our artificial walls of “sales” versus “marketing” versus “communications.”

Our customers don’t think like this and perhaps, based on what we see in China, we are getting an early glimpse into how our online world will evolve in the years ahead.

The Sidebar

Being Conversant in China

As I study how China is evolving, I’m continually thinking of what we, as communicators, can do differently. Here are the ten most important items on my mind for 2015.

1. Identify your communities for your brand. How many communities do you have where they talk about your brand? What do you do to interact with them? What content do you provide to them? If you don’t have any, how will you get them started?

2. Know your customers…really. We should know exactly who has influence online for our brand, exactly who is providing reviews, exactly who is creating great educational content and more. You should have a list of more than 1,000 people where you know their name, what they do for your brand and what you will do for them.

3. Take instant messaging more seriously. How will you provide content that can be easily shared via IM? What will you do with services like Snap Chat that are redefining what an IM means for entertainment purposes?

4. Work closely with Marketing & Sales. It’s time we have one set of metrics to measure how social media and sales work together. China is teaching us the importance of this every day.

5. Measure how often your team interacts with customers. Develop metrics to understand how often you and your team actually interact with customers online and how often the rest of your company does this on a daily basis. Do you do it? If so, how do you know what is working? If not, what is holding you back?

6. Build your second sales force. Obsess over providing your most important online customers whatever they need to be successful in educating their community, which is really your shared community. What is your content plan to provide a regular flow of information to your customers? Is any of this based on their direct feedback?

7. Remember what all customers want to do online. Anywhere in the world, we have three primal desires online—to share ideas, knowledge or solutions to educate our peers. How are you doing this? Are you enabling your customers or are you talking at them?

8. Think of the entire customer experience, not just a single channel experience. Customers travel from channel to channel to learn. We may go from Facebook to Twitter to Search in minutes to learn on the same topic. Take the time to understand what the journey is for your key customers. Don’t focus on one channel at the expense of learning about the path they take.

9. Remember that education trumps advertising. We are all customers and we all want to learn about the brands that we care most about. Remember to teach. Earned media is the perfect way to do this well. Paid media is really meant to accelerate the work of earned in the new world.

10. Keep an eye on what doesn’t work as well. Not everything in China turns to gold. Look at what fails as well. Why did it? Equally instructive for all of us.

And it probably wouldn’t hurt to learn a few words of Chinese. Zài jiàn. —B.P.

This article originally appeared in the January 5, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.

By: Bob Pearson

Bob is the President of W2O Group, an independent network of digital communications and marketing companies. He is an author, frequent speaker and instructor for Rutgers center for management development. After the success of his book Pre-Commerce, Bob is currently working on a new book on the future of media titled Storytizing that will be available in 2014. Prior to W2O Group, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell to develop the Fortune 500’s first global social media function -- an industry-leading approach to the use of social media, as highlighted in the best seller, GroundSwell. Before Dell, Bob was Head of Global Corporate Communications and Head of Global Pharma Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. He also serves on a variety of Boards in health and technology. Highlights include serving as an original member of the P&G digital advisory board and being appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as chair and vice chair of the emerging technology fund for the State of Texas.

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Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on! Join the conversation #precommerce.

Internet of Things, End of Industry and China from Tech Savant, David Kirkpatrick

Posted by: in Advertising, Analytics, CMO, Communication, Communication Strategy, Corporate and Strategy, Digital Health, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, executive insights, Facebook, Healthcare Technology, Innovation, Pre-Commerce, Social Media Insights & Trends, Thinking Creatively, Thought Leadership, w20 group on January 11, 2015

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that takes place every January in Las Vegas is always equal parts amazing, informative and overwhelming. Many of the top CEOs and CMOs of the biggest companies in the world show up to speak, network, learn and do deals. As a result, thousands of start-ups, agency people, journalists and influencers show up to “fish where the fish” are. This year alone saw 170,000 industry professionals with 3,600 exhibitors on 2.2 million square feet of exhibition space.


With so any voices and hundreds of different events happening from 7:00 in the morning until 4:00 AM Sunday through Friday, it’s hard to keep up with the fire hose of information. To that end, we at W2O Group have found sometimes holding smaller, focused, events during bigger events like CES, Mobile World Congress and SXSW helps our clients, partners and company leaders learn, discuss and synthesize key trends being discussed at these giant conferences. CES 2015 was no exception as our company partnered with one of the brightest minds in the Tech industry, David Kirkpatrick, and his company, Techonomy, to hold a private meeting with ten clients/friends of W2O last Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

At the round table event, David kicked us off by sharing observations from trends he covered as a journalist at Techonomy combined with insights gleaned from several of the talks he conducted at CES. This included a Keynote panel David led the day before with Cisco CEO, John Chambers, Comcast CEO and President, Neil Smit and Bosch Chairman, Werner Struth, Bosch.

David’s talk featured a few key themes including the concept of the “end of industries” or the diminishing of bright lines where they previously existed; the shift of power from the center to the edges that players like Facebook are facilitating; companies’ increasing obsession with innovation; and an increasing dominance of China as a player in the tech world. One of the boldest statements during David’s discussion came from his keynote panel the prior day where John Chambers claimed that “in 10 years it’s predicted that 40% of the Fortune500 companies will no longer exist.” Chambers — and Kirkpatrick’s points were, you must disrupt to survive.

While we didn’t record our session in order to offer a free flowing discussion among the senior level brands that attended, I did take copious notes during David’s talk. You will see that they roll up to some of the high level concepts I’ve called out out above:

  • Industries are converging e.g. Technology and Health. You can find a company like Celera (biotech) and Autodesk (software) are both mapping the human genome. Increasingly, companies will find non-traditional competitors (and partners) in their own backyards.
  • Every company is a software company. David cited a recent post by NY Times writer, Farhad Manjoo, that talked about the need for companies to focus on software vs hardware (ironic given the dominance of hardware on display at CES).
  •  One of the oddities of CES is that it doesn’t feature smart phones — Mobile World Congress is where that conversation happens. Key trends that David noted from this year’s CES including the Internet of Things (IoT). David reinforced that IoT is a fascinating and important trend (including wearables).
    • IoT – will literally connect everything in life (stomach to airport control tower)
    • Unilever has 2 billion users – how can they use a product that has text on it that people pick up every day. Could they become a communications company? David said that sensors will get cheap enough to put on every product down the road.
  • The companies that have the longest histories are the ones that can mutate themselves the fastest. They have learned over time how to mutate themselves. Small group of dinosaurs that are “built to last.” Getting harder for even the good companies to evolve.
  • 2014 is being called “the year people stood up.” Hong Kong, Mexico and Ukraine and Burkina Faso – all of which had people rise up using social media (all countries where Facebook is super strong).
  • More on companies obsession with innovation:
    • If you go to any city with over 300,000 people in the world – you will find a startup neighborhood with an incubator, VCs etc. The number of opportunities emerging is incredible and threat to incumbents.
    • Trends: starting internal incubators (Samsung), partnering with companies (Tech Stars), coming together with industries (fashion) and companies are coming together to co-innovate.
    • There is a company in NYC called Bionic. Their job is to help big companies innovate.
    • Companies like GE are working to adopt a startup mentality and focusing on an imperative for speed (more here from David’s interview with Beth Comstock).
    • Numerous companies are creating innovation centers in Silicon Valley.
  • On China
    • China can’t be talked about enough. Two poles of tech innovation in the future – China and US. Important to keep an eye on Chinese social media/ecommerce sites like Alibaba, Tencent (just opened a bank), Baidu. They are the next “Apple, Google, Facebooks.”
    • PRC has extraordinary support from the government although their lack of diversity hurts them (US as an example has drawn on attracting some of the brightest minds in the world over the past few centuries — China has been relatively insular).
    • They are innovating through copying. The more they copy other countries/companies products, the better they get at making faster, cheaper and more innovative alternatives.

Following David’s talk, we had a 20 minute Q&A where leaders from the automotive, telecommunications, financial services and other industries drilled down on some of David’s talking points. This led to more thought provoking concepts:

  • Uber/AirBnB – neither of these companies are in the industry they operate in (both are marketplaces vs. a taxi or hotel). AirBnB is already doing restaurants. Ability to tap into the capacity of society. The more of these platforms that emerge, the more people can make money.
  • David worries that the pace of change today puts people in jeopardy more so than in any other generation.
  • For some large companies, people aren’t just interested in the job (good or bad) their front line employees like technicians do, but rather the role they play in the community the company serves.
  • The Dollar Shave Club was cited as a company that is truly disrupting the shaving industry. Their product may or may not be better, but their delivery model is significantly different than that of P&G or Unilever.
  • David’s take on IoT: someone needs to come along and organize IoT (David thinks Google is in the best position to do this). We probably need the government to come in and provide regulations that facilitate someone like Google curating their data.
  • You can go into your Google Maps and see everywhere you’ve ever been as long as you have sensor turned on. If it’s not turned on, you can’t use services like maps.
  • Privacy is a cultural thing (not nearly as big a deal as in Asia as it is in US).
  • Right now, China is growing at 7% and are crying (we would kill to grow at 7%). It helps to have 1.3 billion people/test market (closed).
  • In China – company knows well enough how to unfairly advantage its own businesses (US doesn’t according to David).

Last but not least, W2O President, Bob Pearson walked through 12 thought provoking trends (technology and marketing) with the group that facilitated some fascinating discussion. Bob’s deck is embedded below via Slideshare.

All in all, a thought provoking day building on some thought provoking time spent at CES. Have additional questions based on what you read? Let me know and I can elaborate or can reach out to David to get more information.

By: Aaron Strout

Aaron leads the technology practice at W2O Group and is a regular contributor to Marketing Land. In his spare time, he podcasts, speaks, Twitters and BBQs. He also loves his Instagram.

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Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on! Join the conversation #precommerce.