Technology

Is the Sales Department dying?

Is the Sales Department dying?

Let’s just view the Sales Department in its current form as a department in steep decline.  But more similar to the metamorphosis in which a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. “Sales Departments” as we know them are a changing profession.  They are, in fact, evolving to Client Engagement.  And in today’s marketplace it is actually Product Departments and Marketing Departments that are also key to engage more closely with clients to define gaps and opportunities.  I see it as a progressive partnership — Client Engagement: the direct link to clients and closest partnership-builder to be aware of clients’ holistic business strategy. Marketing: the brain that digs through terabytes of data to find opportunities.  Product Development: the technology solution building company and client products and enhancements to fill the gaps towards new revenue streams.

Technology actual helps us connect to people more than ever before.  Don’t believe the hype that we have become a society of drones tweeting and posting thoughts to the cyber-sphere just to be heard.  As with any evolution, a dramatic event abruptly disrupts the status quo.  Our thinking is still status quo without acknowledging the precipice of change.  Are we truly prepared for the next abrupt industry development?

From a client’s perspective, you don’t want to be sold an idea that you’re not interested in.  You’re looking for a partner to develop and grow new ideas for revenue and brand awareness.  Sales alone cannot make that connection; that’s where Marketing and Product development bridge the gap.  Businesses need to think of Marketing and Product as data scientists instead of merely channel executioners.  This is where friction is instigated between role definitions in companies.  We’re all trying to find opportunities for revenue and happy customers but with different approaches.

Progressive companies don’t just develop a product then go sell it out of the box. They instead, look for ways to develop and scale solutions through client partnerships. In today’s electronic world Information is free and abundant – collection is difficult but more so is putting the insights it provides to action.  Data is often not being used properly to grow partnerships with current and potential customers on a relevant basis.

This is where we can leverage technology and a new partnership in our own business units.  Sales: become Client Engagement and look for the solution to a client’s holistic need by strengthening a partnership not just a relationship.  Marketing: collect the necessary information to illuminate a path towards innovation.  Product: consider data and need to work together in defining the solutions most relevant to clients.

Finally, lose the friction and silo behavior between departments that exist so often.  Be partners with each other.  At the end of the day, better partnering makes for more opportunity.

 

Photo by Elizabeth Rose.

Gannon Solutions Philosophy

At Gannon Solutions, we care about vision and strategy first. We research and deliver engaging planning. We design and develop beautifully tailored websites and products cunningly optimized for all devices. We are a full-service digital firm. That means we partner with you from inception thru analytics to help you stay relevant to your current customers and attractive enough to attain new.

Gannon Solutions connects you to customers in meaningful, innovative ways.

Go to slideshare link below to learn more.

Gannon Solution Digital Marketing Strategy and Product Development from Shawn Gannon

 

Tech Father’s Day Gifts

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Now if your father is anything like mine, these gadgets will definitely make you closer to him because he will be calling you day and night with unending questions on how to use them!   :^)

Repost from Mashable’s Yohana Desta

The holiday for dads is rapidly approaching, which means it’s time to bust out the wallet and show him just how much he means to you.

For the tech-loving fathers out there, we’ve rounded up eight great gadgets he’ll appreciate. Even if he’s somewhat of a Luddite, he’ll still find it hard to resist these crafty tools.

From brand new Beats headphones to sleek cooking tools, here are eight neat gifts to consider this Father’s Day.

How to Maintain Image Aspect Ratios in Responsive Web Design

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Consider a typical set of image gallery thumbnails:

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<ul>
  <li><a href="#"><img src="http://lorempixel.com/320/180/abstract" /></a></li>
  <li><a href="#"><img src="http://lorempixel.com/320/180/city" /></a></li>
  <li><a href="#"><img src="http://lorempixel.com/352/198/technics" /></a></li>
</ul>

We can show this gallery at any size in a responsive page template using CSS (essential properties shown):

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ul
{
  width: 100%;
  padding: 0;
  margin: 0 0 2em 0;
  list-style-type: none;
}
li
{
  float: left;
  width: 33.3%;
  padding: 0;
  margin: 0;
  background-color: #000;
  border: 10px solid #fff;
  -moz-box-sizing: border-box;
  box-sizing: border-box;
  overflow: hidden;
}
li a
{
  display: block;
  width: 100%;
}
img
{
  display: block;
  max-width: 100%;
}

This works well because all our images have the same 16:9 aspect ratio. The height of the image is exactly 56.25% of the width (9 divided by 16 expressed as a percentage).

responsive thumbnails

However, we web designers are paranoid: people conspire against us and supply photographs in an infinite range of sizes and aspect ratios, e.g.

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<ul>
  <li><a href="#"><img src="http://lorempixel.com/320/180/abstract" /></a></li>
  <li><a href="#"><img src="http://lorempixel.com/320/320/city" /></a></li>
  <li><a href="#"><img src="http://lorempixel.com/200/150/technics" /></a></li>
</ul>

responsive thumbnails

There are various solutions to this problem:

  1. We could resize every image by hand. That’s time-consuming and tedious.
  2. We could implement a clever automated server-based image resizing solution. That could take a while and resulting images may not be as polished or optimized as we like.
  3. We could throw a diva-like tantrum and refuse to work under such conditions. Of course, that’s unprofessional and none of us would resort to such tactics (too often).

Or can we use CSS to solve the issue?

We can, but it’s not as straight-forward as you may expect. In the old fixed-width design days we would have known the width of our image placeholder. If it was 160px, we could make the height 90px and leave early for a beer. In this example, our width is 33.3% of the container minus 20px for the border on the left and right-hand edges. It could be any size so setting a fixed height will impede our required aspect ratio.

The Percentage Padding Ploy

A little-known quirk of padding is that setting a top or bottom percentage bases it on the width of the containing block. If your block is 100px in width, padding-top: 30%; will equate to 30 pixels. I suspect this was done to make rendering calculations easier since element heights are normally determined by their content. Besides, if you had a fixed-height parent of 300px and set padding-top: 200%; on a child, the parent would become at least 600px — thus leading to a recursive cascade which breaks the web.

Whatever the reason, it’s very useful since it permits you to set an intrinsic ratio, e.g.

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#element
{
    position: relative;
    height: 0;
    padding: 56.25% 0 0 0;
}

This element will retain a 16:9 ratio based on the width of the container. The height has been set at 0px but, since we have set position: relative;, we can absolutely position any child element.

As far as I’m aware, the padding trick was first highlighted by Thierry Koblentz to create responsive videos, but the same concept can be applied to images or any other content. Let’s update our thumbnail CSS:

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li a
{
  display: block;
  width: 100%;
  position: relative;
  height: 0;
  padding: 56.25% 0 0 0;
  overflow: hidden;
}
img
{
  position: absolute;
  display: block;
  max-width: 100%;
  max-height: 100%;
  left: 0;
  right: 0;
  top: 0;
  bottom: 0;
  margin: auto;
}

The result will show the image with black borders if it does not have a matching 16:9 dimension:

responsive thumbnails

View the demonstration code…

Play around with the CSS. Removing the image max-width or max-height can apply cropping effects rather than resizing. I hope you find it useful.

Contributing Editor

Craig is a Director of OptimalWorks Ltd, a UK consultancy dedicated to building award-winning websites implementing standards, accessibility, SEO, and best-practice techniques.

Responsive Websites vs Native Apps

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reposted

A strong mobile strategy is essential for your business. But what presence will you build: a responsive website or a native app? It’s a hot debate, especially when resources are limited or you have existing web properties to consider.

It’s not a simple question with a one-size-fits-all answer. Since every company and business plan is unique, the mobile presence you need will depend on many factors. At Sourcebits, we’ve built a wide range of both responsive websites/web apps and native apps for iOS, Android and Windows.

To help you evaluate the mobile format that’s best for your needs, we’ve highlighted the pros and cons of responsive websites vs. native mobile apps. Consider these factors as you determine which is best for your business. And keep in mind — some companies have BOTH a responsive website and a native app, depending on their needs and resources.

Responsive Websites/Web Apps

Pros:

  • Lower development cost (usually) compared to native app
  • Single URL that works for web and mobile
  • Simpler, less expensive marketing because it’s a single brand property
  • Greater speed and flexibility of deploying updates or bug fixes
  • Faster and wider audience reach since one browser fits all
  • Easier and cheaper to find teams with web development skills
  • Can be packaged like a native app through PhoneGap

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work properly on some devices and old browsers
  • Doesn’t incorporate all the smartphone features like the accelerometer or GPS, or phone dialing, that a native mobile app can leverage (an update based on comment feedback: APIs and code libraries are evolving that could solve these issues for web apps)
  • Works only when mobile internet/wi-fi is available vs. native apps that can run locally(an update based on feedback: HTML has local caching that allows a web app to work offline, with limited functionality. A web app by its nature is still more reliant on the Internet than a native app.)

If you’re going to build a website from scratch, our web engineers recommend you focus on a responsive design and build the mobile version first, as mobile browsing is on the rise and this is the smallest screen. You can then expand to larger screens — tablets and desktops.Responsive design should eliminate the fluff of the desktop experience so users can quickly access the content they want, otherwise you will lose them.

For more about responsive web design, download our free whitepaper here.

A side note about web/hybrid apps (which I’ll explore more in a future post): At Sourcebits, we’ve developed an easy framework for creating responsive web apps that can look like native apps. ChocolateChip UI offers built-in CSS, HTML, and JavaScript support, and includes phone gap so you can package your web app with native coding and submit it to the app stores.

Native Apps for iOS, Android and/or Windows

Pros:

  • Far more popular with consumers
  • Better UX than responsive web apps
  • Incorporates all smartphone features like a camera or GPS
  • Benefits from inclusion in app stores, for organic and promoted discovery
  • Native apps can operate without an Internet connection
  • It stays on the mobile device once installed (unless it’s uninstalled)

Cons:

  • Built only for a particular operating system
  • Time-consuming and higher development costs
  • Needs app store review and approval with every update
  • Needs additional app marketing strategy

Native apps are far more popular among users – and amongst our clients. Despite being more expensive and time consuming to develop, the benefits often outweigh the cons.

Roughly 3 out of 4 (78%) of our clients have decided to build native applications vs. web apps. iOS tends to win out over Android, although many companies build apps for both operating systems. At Sourcebits, we have teams dedicated to each platform – and they have strong opinions about the pros and cons of Android and iOS. In an upcoming blog series we’ll share the heated debate that’s broken out between the teams, along with our tips and tricks for both platforms.

Looking at the chart above (source here), you can see the majority of users spend their time in native apps.

But that doesn’t automatically mean native is right for you. Carefully and holistically consider the combined factors of your targeted user experience, budget, mobile marketing plan, and overall business development. You want to get the best ROI for your money, time, and talent.

  • I’ve also created a SlideShare that looks at 8 factors to consider when developing a mobile presence. It compares web vs. native apps across cost, Internet requirements, marketing, deployment speed, audience size, smartphone features, platform support and outside oversight. Check it out.

Posted originally on April 2, 2014 by Elliotte Bowerman is VP of Marketing for Sourcebits, a global leader in mobile app design and development. Sourcebits has created more than 500 products, including 30+ chart-topping apps. Clients include many top enterprises (SAP, Intel, Coca-Cola, P&G) and startups (Skyfire, Touch of Modern, Posterous, Twitpic). Subscribe to the Sourcebits newsletter for mobile tips and tricks.

Welcome (again) to the World’s Digital Age

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Forbes’ 4 Principles of Marketing Strategy in the Digital Age repost is not a new article.  Rather, it is a reminder as we enter 2014 and beyond that the consumer…well, consumerism in whole…. has changed in our world due to the digital age.  As companies plan forward, we must also evolve to face an omnichannel marketplace where behavior and relevancy are primary pillars of our customers’ interest in product and services.  Are we messaging them in a way they want; when they want to be reached; and with how they want it delivered?  If we aren’t, be assured that someone else is.  And if you aren’t moving in that directions folks, pack it in now.  Playing catch up is far better than simply standing your ground…no matter how well it has worked in the past.  “In the digital age, brands are no longer mere corporate assets to be leveraged, but communities of belief and purpose.”   Read on….

2013 The Consumer-Centric Year!

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2013 seems a blur, doesn’t it? This year proved to be a measured improvement in how companies are presenting their wares relevantly to consumers.  More thoughtful, innovative offerings continue to prevail in the marketplace.  Consumer-centric companies have been paying attention and have better opportunities than ever before to follow consumers’ end-to-end journey.

Companies today have fortified themselves with terabytes of data to help predict a consumer’s demand, and the consumer-experience leaders are challenging themselves to grow consumer bases in innovative ways.  Untouchables like Apple, Lexis and Amazon continue to be leaders with one mouse click and one tap of a tablet screen in their quest to enhance the customer experience to meet consumer relevancy.  But this informational highway goes both ways.  Now armed with more transparent information than ever before, consumers are trekking wisely online and into retailers righteously seeking lower prices and better products.  We are all data scientists now.

As I look through the digital lens, I feel confidant that the landscape will quicken in the upcoming year.  But how can such a velocity be sustained?  Don’t assume demand will unwittingly drive progress.  It’s a nice thought but too easy.  Take it from someone who’s been in the business for quite a few years, 2014 is going to take serious work to keep engagement high with meaningful consumer offerings.  I predict 2014 to be crowded with optimization and automation in all forms.  Keep watching the trends and plan, because you know what happens when we assume. Don’t make me say it.

Have a look at Trends: 22 Digital Marketing techniques that demand attention in 2014 by Dave Chaffey.

Top 6 Awesomeness Online

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I’m a Chrome user and have been since about 2012 or something.  I think that’s when it launched. Google it. Before then I was a Firefox guy, but for the same reason really – bookmarks.  Yup, bookmarks.  Not just a redefined feature, a game changer for me.  Plug-ins are cool too but the real story for me was that browsers now came with the ability to access those same bookmarks across all my devices.  Across my Mac, home PC, work PC, iPhone, iPad, mini…the list goes on…I could access my bookmarks, which keep everything so very organized for me on the messy web, on any device. Wow, bookmarks.

You see my memory for certain things is unceasingly bad.  Images I remember.  Places?  So-so.  Names?  Forget about it, to use the pun.   In Yiddish I’m called katzisher kop.  I’m not Jewish, but it means the forgetful one.  And the only reason I remember that is because upon further investigation I found its literal translation apparently is “cat head”.  Now that’s an image I can remember. Regardless, because my faltering memory I keep a list for everything in my life in a notebook for offline and in a bookmark for things online.  Bookmarks keep me organized so I don’t lose neat stuff when I first see it.

The point is I have a bookmark entitled – Awesomeness.  It is filled with what I believe are The Coolest web designs and articles I’ve come across.  The commonality to them is parallax scrolling. (I Googled that one for you.)  I love the way parallax scrolling lets designers tell stories on the web.  Some from this list have won awards, some are a bit dated but they all still fascinate.

  1. Cyclemon.com
  2. New York Times article
  3. 53
  4. inTacto
  5. Whiteboard
  6. Hard Graft

What brought about my total tangent of a post today was this professional article I am actually reposting.  Parallax scrolling is thought of, in this Forbes article by Steve Cooper, to be a standard of 2014 web design.  Its time has come.  2014 is going to be Awesomeness.

Knowing Your Online Traffic

 

 

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Knowing where your online traffic is coming from can help any business better customize their own website’s content to increase conversions. Organic and paid search are still “kings,” but social media continues to evolve into a profitable solution for many. What is your strongest referral channel? Don’t know? Start finding that answer today.  Check out Gannon Solution’s service offerings.

Image by iStock Getty Images