Saturday, June 02, 2012

Business Topics of Interest (& Companies) Written On So Far

Since self-publishing a few months ago my blog compilation book, I've been thinking about its content... basically ruminating on what exactly I've been writing about for these last four-odd years.

The book was segmented into six segment areas (1. Writing 2. Work 3. Sports 4. Business 5. Everything else & 6. Book reviews) and of these, Business in particular can be segmented down further into sub-segments. To this whole "identifying business topics posted on idea", I've actually done it previously... with posts (hyperlinked below) on the following areas:

1. Workplace culture (which at least for me includes the area of customer service)

2. Touch-screen technology

3. Social media

4. Business concepts of "special" & "simplicity"

5. Cloud computing (linked here is the tag search result)

Well, it's been a few years and few hundred blog posts since many of these business topic area posts, so it's probably high time to look again at interesting (you know, to me) business topics posted on. All of the above areas still hold true to me as important and interesting and there's a few new concepts I've posted on that seem to carry a bit of heft:

6. Business tools (particularly data analytics) – There's a lot of fascinating work being done in the areas of big data as well as business tools with some of the companies involved that I've written on here including Tableau Software, Palantir, HP (through Autonomy & Vertica acquisitions), Tibco Software, Clearstory Data and Asana (less data analytics and more business productivity for Asana).

7. Information availability and dissemination – This to me is the step beyond Social Media to more purposeful information sharing (yea, just social is still sharing, but I'm thinking about more productive purposes (and including education in the mix). Organizations I've posted on that come to mind first are Twitter (allows for instant feedback and sharing of opinion), LinkedIn, Amazon (customer opinion sharing), Salesforce, TED, and Khan Academy.

8. True innovation – There are some very interesting and pretty revolutionary things being done in business today with companies and concepts I've noted previously including Rearden (business incubator started by Steve Perlman that includes DIDO wireless technology... with Perlman being someone that's talked of the need for true business innovation), Augmented reality (Google glasses and Layar as examples), and Manufacturing innovation (with 3D printing, DNA fold origami and Pacific Biosciences having been written about here).

9. Written delivery of information – This business topic (with a Time cover story on it noted in this post) screams Amazon with its delivery innovation as well as gorilla in the room heft needed to push said innovation.

10. Innovation in sports – I've written about and linked to a lot of solid sports writing on this blog, but what fascinates me in relation to sports business is technical innovation (with much of it designed to enhance fan experience (and consequently sell more stuff). Some of the companies I've blogged about include MLB Advanced Media, Pac-12 Conference (headquartered in San Francisco), Sportvision and its FIELDf/x system of cameras, Cisco and Red Bull (particularly through its Red Bull Media House).

11. User interface - It's a fascinating topic (and one somewhat linked to that of "special" noted above), this idea of how a product or service is built to be used by consumers. Along these lines, there's companies I find that do exceptionally well in some areas of business that seem to falter when it comes to user interface. Examples of this include Amazon (how their Kindle for iPhone app doesn't seem to allow searching through the Amazon catalog), Twitter (feels like it offer better options around retweeting and sorting feeds) and Netflix (with it's insistence on pretending a title simply doesn't exist if not currently available in the streaming catalog). Again, all good companies and services... but, ones who could have better user interfaces (and corresponding user experiences).

12. Interesting products - It's a bit of a catch-all category to be sure, but I've tried to write about here companies creating products or services that have a new approach towards existing business areas. Some companies I've previously noted here are Square, Nest (for their thermostat), Airbnb, and Kickstarter.

With all of these business areas now noted, it occurs to me that I've also written about a few interesting approaches to business...

13. Narrow market targeting and entry - The idea was written about by Evan Williams (linked to in this blog post) and focused product targeting and entry is basically a company figuring out the smallest possible problem possible (going narrow) and going after that.

14. Creating brand new markets - Concept is deciding what you would buy and creating a product from that and a front of mind example of a company creating markets that didn't exist previously is Apple. As was written about in a Businessweek piece I linked to in this post, it creates a situation of difficulty for competitors because consumers will likely stick with the company that created the market unless there's a truly revolutionary alternative product.

There's certainly much more that could be written about each of these companies and concepts, but lots of interesting things going on in business.