I am done whining about mobile service

I have to say, for all the moaning and complaining that we do here in Canada about our abnormally high cell data/voice rates (and the complaints about our lack of any sort of “unlimited” option), I can’t imagine what most Canadians would think if we had to live on a network as bad as AT&T or T-Mobile. The networks in Canada are rock solid and the idea that a provider might claim to work in a certain area, but then have things like call drops and poor throughput is unheard of here. You either have coverage or you don’t. When you do have coverage it is solid. There are always exceptions of course, but as a general rule a provider will never say “yes, we service your city” if their coverage in that area is not excellent.

At this point, and after having spent much of the last year in the US experiencing AT&Ts service, I am happy to pay ~10$ or ~20$ more a month to get rock solid service, whether it is from Bell, Telus or Rogers. (New entrants left out for obvious reasons) The hyper-competitive environment in the US seems to have led to a lower overall QoS. Perhaps that is what the market wants and demands there, but I am happy to have some choice here.

Dachis Group acquires XPlane

Today we announced the acquisition of XPlane. This is on the heels of our recent Hinchcliffe and Company and 2.0 Adoption Council acquisitions.

Joining forces with XPlane’s is an important step in developing our complete set of Social Business Design capabilities. XPlane’s skills and services fit directly in to a set of needs that we have seen emerge in our customer engagements.

Xplane’s process design and change management capabilities will be key parts of implementing real change in social business. How do processes look today? How do they need to change and how do we communicate and enable that change?

I feel more proud than ever of our team and all the hard work that has gone in to building this company to where it stands today. With this latest acquisition we have grown from 4 employees when I joined to over 100 today. The truth is that we feel like we are just getting our momentum and there is much yet to come.

More thoughts from Lee Bryant, Peter Kim and Dave Gray.

Why the client hates your software

This post, from June 2004, is being reposted from several dozen posts which were lost during a database corruption a few years ago. I recently changed the sub-title of this blog back to the same one I was using back then “The people woven web”.

The only thing that has changed since 2004 is that customers are much happier to just forget about you completely, they don’t stick around like they used to.

It’s been over two years now since I have sworn off being a web developer and software hocker. I didn’t do this because I had to, I did it because it became clear to me that I could no longer do work that I wasn’t passionate about. I applied this thought to every space in my life that made sense. I made family a passion, I was passionate about the girl I love, our cat, my belief in god, I had passion as my driver. I am still learning about this, and I believe I always will be.

In this change, I came to hate the essence of the software I had been producing, even when I was making a lot of money doing it. I saw this because there were two parts to what I was doing. I was building tools that had FIV (the virus which causes featureitis) and the other half of my time was spent fixing the screw-ups of other vendors (this is where I got to see how much the client suffers).

At this time, I began to become fascinated by community building – I fell in love with the idea that people could connect with each-other, online, on a meaningfull level. I saw that we weren’t stuck in the old software world forever, we could make software that meant something to the people who used it. I got to do some cool work on internal communities with some big organizations, but I saw that I couldn’t make much of a business of it at the time, the dot-com boom was still rolling along, albeit on it’s last legs.

It was then that I noticed on key fact: The client hates the software – and (s)he may start to hate you.
Software, web apps, utilities, databases, they all cause headaches. I wish I could bet on this at the casino, because there is almost no argument here. So little software is actually well made that organizations have been forced to funnel money into IT and the only cost-effective training is teaching the employee how to run damage control when needed. This is true for all software, open-source included.

It is still true however, that: If you don’t know a thing about the software, you’re going to look like an idiot.
If you are building a business on this software, it doesn’t matter who you are, you have to understand the software. Even considering the last point in this post (coming up), the tool does matter enough that it can break your relationship with the client.

There is a different way: Be passionate about your build, and connect that to the client.
The fact is, most developers are incredibly passionate about what they are building. The software that a programmer develops is most likely a major source of pride in his/her life. It is somewhere between the coders, the sale department, the management, and the client that the love gets lost. The connection between the programmer and the client needs to be made again – let them smile at each-other, and let your developer tell the client a few secrets here or there, or fill a feature request in record time, just for them. This is the only way you can foster a real long-term integrity. The easiest way to start is to have your developers blog on their own section of your company site.

No matter how good you think you are: Your software doesn’t matter
In the end, what matters most is how well your client can actually use the software. There is no other result (including your bottom line) that will sustain you over the long term. By being in the trenches with them and pushing the adoption curve, you will get impromptu phone calls from your client in a few months, just to tell you how well everything has been working, and just to say thanks.

Want to work in Social Business?

We are hiring for a handful of positions right now. These are very cool opportunities for someone who gets Social Business and feels ready to apply it. You will be working directly with customers and I promise you will learn on the fly.

We are currently looking for people who can help as:

We are based in Austin, TX (wow you will love this city!), but location is not a requirement. We want to hire the best people possible, and we aren’t ready to let anything stand in our way.

If you think you are up for the challenge, and you fit the bill, please get in touch.

Am I going to post on this thing?

Kate and I were lamenting last week that we just haven’t had the umpf lately to post something worthwhile. When we aren’t putting our creative thought in to our work, we are stuck on Twitter, Facebook and wherever else we can spend attention like the generous folks we seem to be.

Kate and I are always trying to post big posts. Sort of “put me in coach, I can hit this out of the park” stuff. Kate gets there on every post, but she puts a lot of energy in to each one. I keep swinging for the fences as well, but I have to say that Kate and I are in different leagues in terms of insight.

People like Howard post stuff regularly whether or not they’ve got something big to say. Howard knows that a few thoughts written down are much better than a brilliant insight locked up inside his head. So he lets it out, and usually it is as good as something he sat around all day thinking about. I know Howard well enough to know that he goes on instinct most of the time and that shows up in his blogging. He knows when something is worth saying.

Then there are guys like Fred Wilson, who seem to have something great to post every single day. Honestly, there are days I don’t want to read his posts because I know he is going to throw off my concentration for a while.

There are also story tellers like Rob and Peter. I don’t even know Peter really, but I love his writing style and I am pretty sure he could persuade me of anything. Rob’s posts are much more epic and illustrative of a specific point. I don’t always know what the actual point is at the time, but then I will find myself in a situation where I will remember the story Rob told in a post and I will think how it applies. Reading Rob’s blog is a LOT like being his friend, you get the same Rob on both mediums.

I used to post with a much more conversational style. A lot of my posting was actually emulating the style Dave Winer used to use back then. I had my blog hooked up to an outliner as well and it was a beautiful thing. It was very similar to Tumblr blogs today.

Then tonight, Peter goes and posts some thoughts on what he thinks has changed about blogging. They are all good points and they all resonate.

The biggest point is the first one, and I think it is more of a general “life lesson” than simple blog advice. “Once momentum is lost, it’s a lot easier for the blog to remain at rest.”

Pete also mentions that a lot of the people he first started reading just aren’t posting as much these days. That really hit home for me when we did our “Thanks” post on American Thanksgiving and I couldn’t find current blogs for many of those who influenced me the most.

I have written about this before. I don’t really think that blogging is dying, I just think that certain types of bloggers have varying life expectancies. If you want longevity you need to learn to pace things properly and keep your networks changing so that as your other blogger-buddies lose steam, you can make new connections that matter.