Latest From Maventrix Blog

The Future Of Mobile Learning

Learning MOOC (MobiMOOC) about the possibilities in the future of mobile learning. We’d like to share what we presented because it encapsulates technologies that will impact/affect the future of mobile learning and learning in general, readers of this blog will probably find it of special interest.

You can find our presentation here. Our presentation identified four key technology areas that will impact learning in the future:

Big data, huge quantities of user generated content and sophisticated curation.
Ubiquitous and pervasive computing.
Social (human) and Machine networks.
The Semantic Web and Intelligent Agents.
It goes without saying the future of learning is mobile. In fact, the future of computing itself is mobile. As computing size approaches zero, a whole world of possibilities emerge.

In my candid opinion, there is no such thing as big data, there is only an increased volume of data. While the web buzzes with talk of ‘big data’, it only indicates the huge amount of data that is now being generated by human and machine activity and resident in the cloud. What is important is that we are now building enough computing and storage power ‘in the cloud’ to process and make sense of this data – sophisticated data mining. Our interface to this world of data will likely be contained within our mobile devices.

User generated content is exploding on the internet, YouTube and Flickr are great examples of that. The gateway to this profusion has been mobile devices enabled with photo/video cameras and internet connections allowing quick sharing with the world-at-large. This trend has only contributed more to the deluge of data. Being able to leverage this user generated content for a variety of learning application is something learning designers will need to master soon. Already, academia and the corporate workspaces are encouraging students and employees to generate content that is used to document knowledge. The gateway to such a system both inward and outward is almost certain to be a mobile personal computation device carried on the person. (what smart phones are today, and all phones will be). Given this generation is a continuous and ongoing process it leads to the development of a huge amount of content that can be used – subsequently incorporated into courseware or reference material.

I’ve mentioned the physical size of computing approaching zero and what that means. Quite simply, it’d mean ubiquitous and pervasive computing – the ability to put a computer in anything one might see fit. And it’s not just a computer, but internet connected, IP assigned addressable computer, that can send/receive data to/from the cloud. This will probably represent a paradigm shift in how we view computers, computing and the very nature of connectedness.

This being able to put a tiny computer that is capable of connections in everyday objects will require a new sort of network (see IPv6) that these millions of computers will connect, we will gradually see the emergence of the true ‘internet of things’ and machine to machine networks. These will be in addition to the networks humans build using what can only be termed as ‘social technology’. Human networks will continue to use technology for greater connectedness (the social human need), over time I think we will learn to make sense of our worlds using a combination of human and machine networks.

The semantic web is developing all along, and the ‘making sense’ that I spoke of earlier will probably depend a lot on the emergence of well defined ontologies for data exchange between machines. I’ve written about this before, and it will remain a key theme for the future of mobile learning and technology. I’m still quite clueless about how it might be leveraged for learning, yet am certain someone will definitely come up with an innovative way to do it.

We already live in an era where our interaction with technology can be simplified and governed by technology agents (Siri is a good example). As artificial intelligence develops further, we will probably be seeing more of these in daily life. Almost in all instances, they will assist us in identifying trends, making decisions, and providing data based on the context of your location, activity, time of day, etc. I seriously doubt they will take over our lives; however we will trust them more and more to make sense of large volumes of data.

There are a whole bunch of examples and links in the presentation for each area that we spoke about

You’ll notice that while I describe the broad themes in this post, the presentation is structured to show technological impacts in the distant future, the near future and those making impacts starting now and extending into the immediate future.

Please don’t forget to take all this with a pinch of salt, because technology evolves at a fantastic rate. We often see technologies fail before mass-market acceptance, and those elements of technology never make it into our hands. The success of a technology depends on its mainstream adoption, which in turn depends on a lot of factors not necessarily linked to the quality or utility of the technology. It is also likely that we may have missed some elements of mobile technology that is still emerging. However, given the current state of technology, we think the trends discussed stand a good chance of coming to mass-market fruition and will definitely impact learning.

Turn Salesforce Service Cloud Into a Knowledge Machine

Discussions on Salesforce Service Cloud focus on case management. For good reason, too. A lot of planning and configuration goes into making sure support cases get into the system and are handled in a timely fashion. Yet, I contend that a Service Cloud implementation should start with Knowledge Management.

Knowledge Management is a good investment in time and money. As Forrester Analyst Kate Leggett writes in her report titled Best Practices: Knowledge Management for Customer Service:  “Research demonstrates that effective knowledge management practices yield a quantifiable return on investment in better customer satisfaction and lower support costs for customer service organizations.” Great knowledge practices make customers more self-sufficient and service employees more effective.

Firms do not need to delight customers, as much as they need to respect their time. As Leggett writes in her recent report Demands For Effortless Service Must Influence Your Customer Strategy, “Customers simply want an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon first contact, so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose.” All this is possible when firms manage their knowledge.

But handling knowledge is not an easy task. Most companies have vast amounts of knowledge in unconnected silos. Still, firms can build a knowledge management strategy based on a methodology built by the Consortium for Service Innovation, called Knowledge Centered Service (KCS). Over the course of five revisions, KCS has evolved into a set of principles that, when followed, has been shown to significantly improve first contact resolution and overall time of resolution. Salesforce’s Service Cloud is the first software product in the knowledge space to achieve the highest level of KCS Verification (Version 5). Salesforce Knowledge empowers front line support agents to create, contribute, and update the content they share with their teams and customers.

Of course, effective knowledge management requires more than good software. To help firms build a knowledge management strategy, we create an eBook titled “Turn Your Salesforce Service Cloud into a Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) Machine - Best Practices for Implementing Salesforce Knowledge and KCS.”  The eBook is focused on helping firms think about and implement KCS best practices in their Service Cloud implementation, with the ultimate result of the effort being happy customers and empowered employees.

Are You Ready for Service Management?

A simple, four question assessment

Every function or department within your organization has customers. Although these customers might not always fit your traditional definition of this term (internal users are customers too!), they still require (and expect) good service. However, providing a high level of service can often be a challenge, as most functions don’t have dedicated service or request management resources.
Enter service management. Service management addresses this challenge by extending best practices for service delivery and request management across the organization.
Once you recognize the business value of service management, what’s next? How do you know which departments are ready for service management and who can benefit the most from taking this approach? Ask yourself these four simple questions to find out.


What can you do better? For many organizations, key areas of focus include improving:
  • Customer Experience: Higher service quality, stronger communications with customers, better ongoing engagement, increased transparency
  • Service Effectiveness: Accomplishment of business objectives, improved management of service delivery, more successful service launches
  • Process Efficiency: Reduced cost of service delivery and provisioning, ability to fulfill requests faster, achievement of economies of scale due to broad adoption of new processes


What applications do you own for traditional IT Service Management? What processes exist for IT that can be expanded to help other departments? Some common places to start include:
  • Incident/Request Management
  • Knowledge Management
  • Change Management
  • Asset Management
  • Service Catalog


The answer to this question is simple: Which departments are using email, fax and/or spreadsheets to manage their workflows? Which departments have complicated request processes with multiple approvers, dependencies, etc.?


Have any departments or functions (especially those that are having trouble dealing with service requests) asked for help? How are service-heavy departments like Facilities and HR, in particular, handling request management?
Because request management and service delivery are so central to these departments, they are typically great places to start with service management. For example, many Facilities organizations are embracing service management to improve asset management and performance tracking, while many HR organizations are using service management tactics to improve the onboarding process for new employees.


Answering these questions will provide a solid foundation for any service management initiative by giving you a better understanding of which areas of the business need service management the most, what your key goals should be and what processes or technology you may already have in place to kickstart these activities.

Why Your Product Marketing Strategy Won’t Work for Service Marketing

Service marketing is one of the biggest challenges facing service managers and executives today. The conventional wisdom is that operational excellence in service delivery will produce more satisfied customers, and thus more sales. But customer satisfaction is only part of the equation. Service providers still need to engage in the basic activity of marketing their companies’ services to current and prospective customers.
However, many service leaders have a difficult time when it comes to marketing their services. This is because much of our marketing knowledge is based on products, but trying to market a service like a product is like trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn’t work. Product marketing has its foundation in the “Four Ps” of marketing: price, product, place and promotion. But services are intangible, which means the “product” component of the service marketing mix is difficult to define.

Service as a Product

To effectively market your company’s services, you need to understand how to define a “service product.” (Hint: it can have more than one meaning.):
  • Portfolio: Often described in terms of a service-level commitment, such as 24/7 with a four-hour response time. The more distinctions you can make to define your service portfolio, the more likely you will be to fulfill the needs of your prospective customers.
  • Provider: Tangible elements of your service infrastructure, such as your call center, self-service portals, enterprise systems and service technology that make it possible to deliver on the promise of your service portfolio.
  • Process: The steps your customer must take to request the service, and the tasks that occur to deliver the service. For example, performing front-end call screening and diagnostics before dispatching a field technician.
  • Performance: Evidence that you can deliver on your promise, such as KPIs, customer satisfaction results and customer testimonials.
Customers are not just buying service outcomes. Instead, they are purchasing the underlying infrastructure (namely technology, systems and processes) that make all of these principles possible. As result, these aspects of the “service product” need to be incorporated into the marketing mix.

Service Includes Underlying Technologies

Let me share a real life story to help you understand this relationship. A client was having trouble closing new business with large accounts. Apparently, the company’s prospects perceived that the company lacked the systems to deliver the desired level of service. My client could not understand how their prospects reached this conclusion.
The client, after all, did not spend any time reviewing the company’s IT capabilities. I pointed out that it wasn’t necessary because their prospects could infer this information from the marketing collateral and sales presentations. All the prospects had to do was ask a few basic questions about their service portfolio, delivery process and underlying infrastructure to rule them out as a qualified provider. It was a valuable lesson that caused my client to upgrade the company’s systems and marketing efforts.
Even if your company is a manufacturer and dominates the after-sales service market, it is still important to consider the strategic value of the underlying infrastructure on your service marketing activities. A modern service management system that effectively manages different service levels, improves service delivery processes and measures operational excellence can be leveraged from a marketing perspective to improve perception — and service revenues.

4 Examples of Great Customer Service That Didn’t Exactly Go By The Book

It’s somehow tragic: a parody of why a company would do customer service in the first place:

Imposing rules that keep your staff from helping.

Denying them the tools to actually do their jobs.

And lastly, replacing the tools with phrases that sound helpful but aren’t.
  • Customer: unhappy. 
  • Employee motivation: Zero. 
  • Job: done.

Great customer service comes from a culture, not from a handbook

Luckily, not all businesses work like that. We’ve been searching out examples of delightful customer interactions that had very little to do with handbooks - and everything to do with a service mentality and culture.

So here’s a small roundup of inspiring stories of employees dealing with customer problems in unusual ways. Enjoy!

1. Resourceful: John Lewis organises snowstorm sleepover

One afternoon just before Christmas in 2009, High Wycombe is hit by a sudden blizzard. Roughly 100 people end up stranded in the John Lewis store, unable to get home. What happens next, is unbelievable: The store team mobilises all available resources and organises an in-store sleepover, effectively turning the bed department into an impromptu B&B.

We simply LOVED this when we heard about it. So we interviewed Deborah Strazza, the store manager. There was such mojo in her telling of the story that we turned the recording into an 'audiodeck".  If you can't view the story here, you can also find it on the Prezi website.

2. In character: Captain Mike of Netflix provides Trekkie support

This one became a bit of an internet sensation when it went viral. “Captain Mike Mears of the good ship Netflix” and customer “LT Norm” conducted an entire support conversation as characters from Star Trek.

They never fall out of character and their dialogue is a delightful read, complete with trekkie in-jokes, and using language of different military ranks discussing an engineering problem. An amazing example of a real connect between company and customer -  and a refreshing shift away from soulless support conversations clicked together from boilerplate text.

3. On the house: Wolfgang Puck feeds a desperate kid

A son flying home as an unaccompanied minor calls his dad during a layover at Chicago O’Hare and says that he’s broke, and hungry.

The dad tells him to go to an airport restaurant, explain the situation and ask them to take his card details over the phone, so he can pay for a meal. The kid tries several places. One after another refuses.

Until the Wolfgang Puck restaurant. They can’t take payment over the phone either. But they suggest he send his son in – and they’ll feed him, for free. Just like that. “Don’t worry about paying for the meal. Just do something nice for somebody else.”

When we read the father’s account, we contacted Iris and Sarah, who were on shift that day. They said there was nothing extraordinary about offering a sandwich on the house. It was just “listening to the customer and switching on human being mode”. Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

4. Creative: Krispy Kreme employee customises an absurd order

An odd one, as the customer’s request was designed to be impossible to deliver. But that makes the solution even more fantastic:

Jia Jiang is a businessman with a plan for one crazy request a day. The idea is to steel himself against rejection. This day’s task: go to Krispy Kreme and demand a custom set of donuts, glazed and arranged to represent the Olympic logo. And ready in 15 minutes.

That day, he fails to achieve his rejection goal. Jackie from Krispy Kreme takes his order and sketches out a plan. She explains how she’ll go about it. She even googles the correct colours for him. And when he can’t believe she’s actually created a donut Olympic logo, she doesn’t even accept any payment. You can watch the entire video here.

Jia Jiang was humbled by her initiative, and Jackie was overwhelmed by the response the video got. When she was interviewed, she said “when a customer wants something special, and it’s within my power to do that, for me that’s an artistic challenge.”

The simple basics of great customer service

Not all customer interactions can be delightful. Every business has its standard requests and ways of handling them.

But what these stories show is that unique solutions aren’t rocket science. There are a million ways to deliver experiences that are personal, meaningful, creative, funny, resourceful, and warm. (And even better, everyone seemed to be having a blast.) All it takes are:

  • Employees that feel empowered to help – not bound by restrictive rules (also see this blog post
  • Personal interactions – that take customers and their problems seriously
  • The recognition that customer problems are often unique – and that staff solutions should be, too.

Yes, technology can help. But great customer service stories come down to a great service culture that hires people for their empathy – then lets them do their jobs.

Once that kind of culture is in place, unique service isn’t about driving down costs or defending against the few customers who intend to take advantage – it’s a hugely satisfying job for ‘people people’ and an amazing opportunity for a business to build a reputation, one interaction at a time.

Unfortunately, chances to personally delight customers during unforeseen blizzards are once-in-a-lifetime. Customers demanding spot-on service across all channels are a reality.

3 Main Reasons You Should Move to Google Cloud Platform

Choosing a cloud computing deployment model and a reliable cloud provider can be a daunting task. Especially nowadays where we are witnessing a price war that is shaking the public cloud marketplace. What we're about to see is the beginning of the Cloud 2.0 age, where cloud resources become more like commodities and real innovation dictates market share for service providers.
Google has put forward a strong value proposition and has momentum in its favor. Whether you're planning to get started with your business on the cloud or evaluating a change in your current cloud deployment strategy, here are three good reasons why you should consider Google Cloud Platform for you business:
Google Cloud Platform offers a large array of services that can be tuned to your business specific needs. Google has been known for taking research projects that have been proof-tested internally and making them available to their public cloud customers. For the sake of competitiveness, they might not have all the features that underpin Google's own infrastructure, but they carry some of the most advanced, reliable, and flexible technologies in the market today.
  • Compute Engine: Google's infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) play allows you to deploy your workload on virtual machines and take full control on how your infrastructure scales as your business grows, paying only for what resources you use.
  • App Engine: Develop and run your applications without the burden of installing and maintaining infrastructure requirements. It is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering that allows developers to focus on code. Also provides a nice Auto-Scaling framework that can scale Google Compute Engine instances up or down as demand increases or decreases.
  • Cloud Storage: Keep your application and user data available and protected using scalable storage services such as Object storage service, fully-managed MySQL and NoSQL databases.
  • Big Query: Here you can leverage some of Google's internal big-data analytics engine to run interactive SQL-like asynchronous queries on your multi-TB data on a scalable infrastructure, zero setup or configuration burden. Load and export operations are free, you only pay for the data storage and queries.
  • Distributed DNSDDOS attack protection, programatic translation, and machine learning services: Cover a larger audience and keep you business up and running with minimal disturbance.
Powerful tools
Google provides a kind of "swiss army knife" command line adminstration toolset called Google Cloud SDK
Google Cloud SDK is an extensive set of tools and libraries that facilitates otherwise tedious tasks of resource creation and management on cloud environments. In fact, it's much more than that. Together with the RESTful APIs provided by all cloud services listed above, the SDK commands enable users to build their application's full development lifecycle on the cloud, making development more agile and productive.
In addition to the SDK there are also some upcoming new features like Push-to-Deploy and Google Cloud Deployment Manager, currently under Preview mode, that can help you get even more automated and optimized workflows to run your business application or infrastructure.
Push-to-Deploy is a feature of App Engine that allows you to deploy an application by pushing its source files from a Git repository to a remote repository hosted on the Google Cloud Platform.
Google Cloud Deployment Manager provides a simple templating framework to programatically define complex virtual environments and deploy them with a single command, which helps you declare, deploy, and maintain complex applications. For instance, you can deploy multiple Nginx servers and PHP using a Deployment Manager Template and API.
Simplified pricing
When it comes to the financial considerations for cloud computing the debate sure heats up. The three biggest cloud providers today (Amazon, Google, and Microsoft) have slightly different pricing models and users must be careful to make a fair, apples-to-apples, comparison. The important thing to remember here is the more understanding you have about your business application requirements, usage patterns, and peak demands, the higher the saving opportunities are. And that is often not trivial to estimate, specially with new businesses or without proper measuring tools.
With that said, I have to give kudos to Google for recently adopting a simplified and reduced pricing option for its services, in an attempt to adjust virtualized hardware costs to follow the decrease in cost of the underlying real hardware, as dictated byMoore's Law. Prices for pay-as-you-go services were slashed by 30-85% and sustained-use discounts for steady-state workloads were introduced.
Sustained-Use discounts roll out automatically when you use a VM for over 25% of the month. When you use a VM for an entire month, you save an additional 30% over the new on-demand prices, for a total reduction of 53% over the original prices.
What followed Google's announcement was a wave of pricing reductions for Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure instances, making a clear statement that we're just at the beginning of the cloud price wars. So with price leveled, what still makes Google Cloud Platform more attractive than others from a financial perspective?
Although AWS has an edge in many cases if you happen to use their reserved instances (RIs), they require upfront payments, therefore creating a vendor lock-in. AWS RIs are bound by one- or three-year contracts for the same instance type series with the same operating system in the same region, meaning you will typically miss any price reductions even if rates for on-demand drop significantly
That's where Google's sustained-use discount shines: it's calculated as a percentage of the on-demand rate. If baseline rates decrease, sustained-use prices drop too. In the current scenario, where price wars seem to have just started, Google customers can immediately benefit from on-demand price reductions.