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My Favorites of August: Scaling Design at Spotify, Matthew Inman & Inside GE Digital

31 August 2016

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Click to read about my #Embrunman

A hot month of August ends today. Work and life, the two sides of a well-known balance, both brought along a number of interesting thoughts and links that I share in this blog post.

Here are some of my favorite stories from August, from design at Spotify to an interview of Matthew Inman and – that’s the picture on the left – my thoughts about completing another Ironman.

Paris-based startup Glowee, crowdfunded on WiSEED, wants to tweak genes of common bacteria so that they are bioluminescent, thereby creating a potential alternative light source for future cities. It was a risky project in terms of investment, partly because of the regulatroy risk that their business is facing (they’re tweaking living organisms = GMOs) but the crowd loved the idea and in 10 days the funding goal was reached. Glowee’s vision of synthetic biology and other visions are shared in this Gizmodo article.

It was a risky project in terms of investment but the crowd loved it

Stanley Wood, who heads Design at  Spotify, shares some thoughts about growing a company while maintaining a coherent and “scalable” visual & functional style. “How does a team of distributed designers, spread across different time-zones, projects and competing objectives […] create one coherent experience?He shares some advice and guidelines, including : “[We] began asking if a design is “in TUNE”, an acronym to measure all parts of the experience [at] Spotify. This is helping to shape a strong narrative around the emotive aspects of our experience, and be mindful that the interface is the brand.

Spotify’s Design Director shares advice and guidelines on how to scale a product and design function

Google transformed many industries, and they still do. One of the most important tools my marketing team uses is Google Analytics, which gives us a sense of visibility and control over a site’s user behaviors. This article written by my counterpart at data company Logz.io, highlights a very important point in an increasingly web-based world : marketers tend to overuse the tool at the expense of other marketing tools. “[More] than half of those websites use GA as their only source of marketing data” he underlines. It’s an unusually long article for Techcrunch, but one with an important message ! Thanks Maël for sharing !

This article highlights that marketers overuse Google Analytics at the expense of other tools

I’m driven by rage and anxiety,” Inman tells the Seattle Times in this interview. “When I’m bright and happy, I don’t get anything done. I’m just lazing about. It’s the worst.” Matthew Inman is a well-known comedian/cartoonist/writer whose cat tales, drawings, comis strips reflect many peoples’ stories of loss and redemption, weight-loss battles, their pets and their childhood traumas. I like Inman’s projects – not all of them – but most are fun and rooted in human experience that many of us share. Hence I  warmly recommend this interview.

He’s a well-known cartoonist/writer whose comis strips reflect many peoples’ stories

For any marketer: How much does a customer cost ? For me: how much does an active crowdfunding investor cost ? That’s one of the questions I am addressing at daily operations at WiSEED, and we’re in an industry where these numbers are scarce (partly because they’re confidential, partly because some platforms are not very mature on a marketing standpoint and don’t have them yet). It’s interesting to see what the leader in the space, UK-based Crowdcube, is saying about this. As they were raising money in a big online funding round, they had to file a prospectus which indicates that their customers cost them about 20£ in 2015 and 10£ in 2016.

Customer acquisition numbers are scarce in our industry, parly because some platforms are not mature enough

Same industry, same country, different sector and topic. Lendinvest, a leading real estate crowdfunding platform, shares some customer testimonials that I found pretty cool to watch. Meanwhile I found them slightly shallow, leading me to think that with increasingly educated consumers, these type of promotional testimonials are probably not perceived as trustworthy and authentic. What about objective “good & bad” testimonials? Or encouraging vlogging from your most acive users? There are different approaches towards consumer advocacy, and I think the more authentic, the better… you just have to be confident in your consumers’ perception of your offer!

These testimonials are great but also slightly shallow, they are probably not perceived as authentic

Marketers (try to) direct consumer behavior in ways that benefit their employers. That’s what we do, in essence, through direct and indirect means both online and offline. In doing so, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed, or at least rules to abide by if you want to be “clean.” This NYTimes article outlines three simple rules that make nudges – a concept he wrote a best-selling book about – more ethical. “Nudges, small design changes that can markedly affect individual behavior, [can] be very helpful. But we need to be sure that they aren’t being employed to sway people to make bad decisions that they will later regret.

Three simple rules that make nudges more ethical

Yet another article that explains how nimble, innovative and agile GE is. But I like General Electric. And I liked this article because it uncovers in a simple way what GE Digital, the industry giant’s data and connected object arm, is. “Today one of [GE]’s most important projects is to build a computer operating system, but on an industrial scale — a Microsoft Windows or Google Android for factories and industrial equipment. The project is central to G.E.’s drive to become what Mr. Immelt says will be a “top 10 software company” by 2020.” Thanks Professor Lakhani for sharing it, and being quoted in it.

Another article about how innovative and agile GE is, but this one uncoversGE Digital a bit

Check what’s on my reading list any time on Twitter.com/yannigroth/likes or Medium.com/@yannig/has-recommended, and don’t hesitate to mention me if you feel like sharing. En route!

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