Paul C. Williams

Interfacing Technology & Business
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Conversion rates desktop web vs. mobile

There's an interesting discussion going on regarding the fact that for online retailers the conversion rate for desktop web sites is 55-65%, and for the same retailers the mobile conversion rate is 35-45%.

Some people think that is a result of the screen differences and input difficulties.  With this mindset the response is to create accounts that allow purchases without (or with less) input.

I think it's just because people browse on mobile.  Browsing is fundamentally different from shopping.  Maybe the user is just killing a little bit of time, or is looking for a particular product ... in either of these cases the user doesn't really have the intention to purchase at that time.

So, in the browsing case, the response could be to take note of what the user appears interested in and make sure to follow up.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Java 1.7 features of note : try-with-resources and suppressed exceptions

In Java 1.7, a new feature called "try-with-resources" was introduced.  This is a specialized "try"/"catch" block that recognizes that you have a "closable" resource that must be closed.  Using this feature will ensure the resource is closed at the end of the statement.

static String readFirstLineFromFile(String path) throws IOException {
    try (BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new FileReader(path))) {
        return br.readLine();
    } // MAGIC! The resource is closed after this line!
}

You can create your own resources that can be managed using this method by implementing the "java.lang.AutoClosable" interface (or java.lang.Closable which extends AutoClosable), which has one method: void close()

Add this syntactic sugar to your code to produce tasty and un-polluted closing for all kinds of file or database resources.

http://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/essential/exceptions/tryResourceClose.html

Also new in Java 1.7, the Throwable class includes a Throwable[] getSuppressed() method. This method allows a developer to access exceptions that were suppressed by a framework. The Java JRE uses this if there's a suppressed exception as part of the autoclose, but this feature could also be used by frameworks to aggregate exceptions that might have been encountered during batch or aggregate operations.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Money vs. Wealth: a comparison

Much thanks to Deepak Chopra MD.  He wrote an article that recently appeared on LinkedIn titled "How to Live the Difference Between Money and Wealth".  This article succinctly describes the gap between having money and leading a happy existence.  As a fan of bullet points, the following segment was very meaningful.  I quote:
You are in a wealth mode when any of the following are present:
  • You fulfill a worthy need.
  • You are the steward of money, not its slave or master.
  • You deliver the greatest good to the greatest number.
  • You add to the meaning and purpose of life, both your life and the life of others.
  • You benefit the planet rather than despoil it.
  • You raise the level of consciousness in society.
  • You have a vision that will live on after you are no longer here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Context and Access Trumps Incentivizing Innovations

According to a recent Harvard Business Review blog posting, adding rich incentives for innovation yields at best mediocre and unusable ideas.  It's my guess that people who can and do innovate will do so because it is in their nature, not because they need an external incentive. Others who are motivated by external incentives are only capable of seeing minor improvements.

Perhaps instead if those people are instead given a loftier context and direction for innovation they will find inspiration to solve bigger problems, and find their own motivation for true innovation.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bitcoin is going mainstream

This morning I read on Forbes that Overstock.com is going to start accepting bitcoin payments, probably through Coinbase or Bitpay.  These two companies are really poised to rake in all the spare nickles floating around the market.

In related news, Belgian mobile telecom Mobile Vikings is also accepting bitcoin payments.

This is really good for the stability of bitcoin, which will see the wild deltas in valuation start to settle down as soon as there's a few arbitrage experts around to take advantage of any deviations from real value.

This is following my predicted model for bitcoin stabilization, and someone is making a ton of money.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Of whales and sardines: sales in professional services

Spend long enough in a professional services project environment, and you'll notice a tendency over time to chase "whales".  Large projects with expansive scope that look great because of their big price tag. These projects also tend to be very complex, with many moving parts. Whale projects require a higher staffing level, so more management oversight. The customers are more demanding and have more quality issues.

I'd like to take a moment to contrast that to a sardine project.  Sardines by contrast are simple creatures. They have similar needs to one another, and are often found in groups.  Professional services organizations often start out with sardines, but are tempted to move toward whale projects as cost structures start to balloon before efficiency measures and economies of scale kick in.

While a whale might provide meat for a village and any one sardine isn't very interesting or filling, but if one is efficient enough at pulling a volume of sardines at a time, it might just be as valuable as that whale you spend so much effort hunting, trapping, catching and butchering.

Image credit: Karen Kasmauski & Getty Images/Science Faction