NetGain Update for July 2000
- PEER-TO-PEER COMPUTING HAS COMMUNICATION IMPLICATIONS
by Shel Holtz, ABC
The federal court has dealt a blow to Napster, ordering the
file-sharing site shut down pending trial. The judge cited
the service's blatant facilitation of copyright violation
and piracy. But even if Napster dies, the file-sharing
genie is out of the bottle and will not be stuffed back
in. Music fans already are telling one another where else
they can go to continue their downloading of MP3 files.
In case you've been on the island with the cast of "Survivor,"
Napster is a free downloadable application that allows you to
download MP3 music files from the hard drives of other Napster
users. I have about 50 files in the "My Music" subdirectory on
my computer. Thus, whenever anybody launches Napster and logs
onto the centralized Napster server, he now has access to the
50 files in my folder, along with all the music in all the other
folders of any Napster users who happen to be simultaneously
logged on. No music actually resides on the Napster server;
it serves only to connect the thousands of individuals' computer
that happen to be connected at the time.
The record industry isn't happy about this, claiming it is mighty
easy for average computer users to "rip" a song from a CD and
place it in their music folders, where any other user could access it, bypassing
the purchase of the CD and depriving the
industry of the revenues it currently earns. (Not that this
wasn't happening before Napster; Napster only makes it easier.)
The lawsuits against Napster are based, technically, on the fact
that all those users log onto a centralized Napster server that
handles the connection.
The music industry may have a harder time with Gnutella, which
does essentially the same thing, but without the use of a server.
It is nothing more than a Windows-based application that allows all those
individuals to be linked with one another. You only
need to find one other Gnutella user who is logged on and, using
that individual's IP address, connect to that machine. You're
now linked to every Gnutella user who happens to be online. It
effectively turns every computer on the network into both a
server and a client. Gnutella is not designed to facilitate the
sharing of music, either; while it's just as easy to share music as anything
else, it was developed to enhance the sharing of
(The coyright issue is a whole different kettle of fish --
an important kettle to be sure, but outside the scope of
With or without the server, the concept is known as "peer-to-peer
computing." That is, the users are directly linked with one another -- and able
to search and download one another's
content. (In Napster's case, you can only find files in the "My
Music" folder. With Gnutella, you specify which of your folders
contain content you're willing to share.)
The implications of peer-to-peer computing extend well beyond
music, although nobody's given it much thought yet, what with
the uproar over the protection of Metallica's intellectual
property (which may be an oxymoron -- and besides, Courney
Love, among others, have been singing Napster's praises).
What else might be shared via peer-to-peer computing, and who
should be concerned besides Sony and MCA? Other intellectual
property comes to mind: chapters from books and articles from
magazines. Beyond that, though, consider the anti-corporate
activists who can store everything from rants and diatribes to
research and records on their own hard drives. Conducting
an Alta Vista or Google search would be fruitless because the
content is not on Web servers reachable by search spiders.
None of which is meant to suggest that peer-to-peer computing
is inherently bad. Think about it -- it's actually quite
exciting, establishing more of a content Web than the World
Wide Web could ever dish up. But the implications for
organizations should be considered, and as these applications
become more popular, new ones evolve, and their uses expand,
you should add them to your frame of reference.
Contact Shel at shel@...
MANAGING REPUTATIONS MEANS ADDRESSING INDIVIDUAL OPINIONS
by Dan Janal
The latest battleground for reputation management is on sites
like epinions.com. This is a wonderful site that features
unedited comments from people who rave or vent their feeling
about everything from airlines to brokers to kitchen knives.
(Similar sites include deja.com, consumerreview.com,
productopia.com, and the venerable Consumer Reports Website.)
You can see a cumulative rating for the product, company or
service and then read individual opinions.
You can relive people's bad experiences with one airline and
then read another opinion of a fan! Some writing sounds like
soap operas or fan letters. It is a fun read. These are
literate people (who can't spell) and to whom attention must
Sure, there are lunatics, people who never have anything nice
to say, and the occasional competitor who writes nasty stuff
to save his job, but for the most pay, there's a lot of good
information as well as opinion on this site.
Then there's The Vault, where employees can warn prospects
about working at their company before they accept job offers.
What does all this mean for reputation managers?
First, these are more sites you must monitor to maintain the
reputation of your company and its products.
Second, you must set the record straight when errors are posted.
Third, these are important tools for finding true problems. For
instance, several people complained about the Northwest hub
in Detroit. But others liked the service in Minneapolis.
Managers should route this info to the proper channels to
solve a very real problem.
Fourth, you can find the features that people want from your
products, either by reading reviews of your products, or scanning
the review of your competitors.
Contact Dan at dan@...
LEARNING GETS WIRED
by Carol Kinsey Goman
In the recent past, I have addressed three different
organizations facing the same issue: how to manage the
transition from traditional classroom-style learning to
online learning. For corporate training departments, as
well as colleges and universities, this is a BIG change.
Education is an industry that has looked pretty much the
same since 12th century Italy, when the first universities
placed students in a classroom to listen to the lectures
of an instructor.
Now, thanks to connective technology and the explosion of
knowledge in the information age, this traditional view of
education is fast becoming obsolete. Online learning has the
power to change training more than any other force in the
recent history of education. First of all, e-learning
changes the rules about who is in charge - the learner, not
"Free-agent students" seek education on their own, learning
at their own pace, whenever and wherever it's convenient.
And the best online courses are proving to be more effective
than classroom teaching. They are highly interactive and
personalized -- rich in multimedia and full of role-playing and
real-life simulations. A course in situational leadership by
Ninth House Network is a six-hour event, much of which is a
movie with endings that differ depending on your decisions. If
you make the wrong choice, your electronic mentor explains
why and returns you to the appropriate decision point. This
program (and others like it) has been proven to increase retention
Faced with the challenge of transforming corporate education, Neil Johnston,
Chairman of the American Society for Training and
Development, made these observations as he opened ASTD's 2000
* A knowledge-based economy is a learning economy. In the
global war for talent, 70% of the world's 1,000 top-tier
companies cite lack of trained talent as the #1 barrier to
sustaining growth. This drives the need for learning.
* Training is now seen as a competitive advantage. According to
ASTD research, companies that invest the most in training, do
the best in the marketplace.
* Corporate learning has a seat at the executive table. It is
fully integrated into the strategic management of companies
that want to keep a competitive edge. Corporations get an
increased competitive advantage from having a well-trained
workforce that's up to date on latest trends, collaborating
and sharing knowledge.
* There is a tidal wave of capital flowing into the learning
industry: Education is a $772 billion industry - the second
largest sector in the U.S. economy. (Healthcare is first.)
Corporate training is $66 billion of that market. Learning is
projected to be a multi-trillion dollar market by 2003.
* The potential for e-learning is vast. Of the $66 Bill a year
spent on training, 20% is e-learning and 80% traditional
classroom instruction. By 2003, predictions are that the
percentages will be 40-60. The market is poised to explode.
* According to John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, e-learning is the
next killer app of the Internet: "Education over the Internet
is going to be so big it is going to make email look like a
Question: How is your organization adapting to online learning?
Better question: What are you doing to champion online learning in your
Contact Carol at carol@...
MAJOR CORPORATIONS LACK INTERNET EMAIL COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES
by Tudor Williams, ABC
Many of the largest companies in the US and UK lack an effective
communication strategy for using the Internet as a direct communication channel
with customers and investors.
Rainier, a marketing communications agency, conducted a study of the Fortune 100
companies in the US and the FTSE 100 in the UK
between March and July 2000. The study found that more than one
in five of the Fortune 100 companies couldn't be contacted by
email through their web sites. In the UK almost one in three
could not be contacted by email. A few of the UK companies did
not even have a Website.
Of the 77 Fortune 100 companies that could be contacted by email, a third of
them failed to respond to email requests for
investor information within three months. In the UK, more than
20% failed to respond within three months. Only three of the
Fortune companies responded to requests for information within
two hours. In the UK, 20 companies responded within two hours.
In the study, initial contacts were made at the beginning of March with a follow
up at mid-March, if a company failed to
respond. Emails were sent in the middle of the working day.
Of the most responsive UK companies the fastest response was
four minutes (National Power) and in the US, five minutes (UPS).
The 10 most responsive companies responded in 21 minutes or
less in the UK and in 3 hours 3 minutes or less in the US.
Of those who responded but in the longest time, the response time for the 10
least responsive was between four and 27 days
(Colt Telecom) in the UK and between seven and 25 days (SBC
Communications) in the US.
Incredibly, some of the slowest responses and non-responses came from some of
the biggest companies in communication - Colt,
Dell, Energis, Telewest, IBM and Motorola.
What was missing? No online contact method or mechanism to email a query, or the
online forms crashed or didn't load.
Current trends show increasing numbers of customers with Internet access,
increasing customer expectations for Internet
interactions with companies, and increasing customer
dissatisfaction with Internet transactions that do take place.
When are the corporate communications strategists going to get with it and
address the growing need to communicate with the
e-customer more effectively? Is the corporate web master a part
of the strategic communication planning team? Does this suggest
little or no integration of communication strategy planning that
brings together the corporate communication group, the marketing
communications group and the customer service group?
What is clear is that there is a frightening lack of
e-communication blueprints in many of the leading corporations
and a corporate blindness to the impact of the Internet on
Tudor can be found at tudor@...
NetGain's partnership with IABC in presenting a two-day
conference on new strategies and approaches to ecommunication
was so successful, we're doing it again.
NextWave, the IABC/NetGain eeommunication conference, is being
presented in Toronto September 25-26. The lineup is not the
same as the February conference in Washington, DC -- new
topics and speakers are being offered, along with pre-
conference workshops, so NextWave continues to offer the latest
thinking and successes in the use of the Internet as a
The site for the conference, www.nextwave2000.com, will
relaunch soon with details and registration capabilities.
We hope to see you there!
NetGain is a unique consortium. It is the only consulting
organization made up of public relations and business
communications consultants dedicated to helping other
PR and business communications organizations capitalize
on the advances being made in electronic communications
technology. NetGain's solutions are built upon four
cornerstones of People, Culture, Business Strategy and
Technology which are translated into successful coaching,
competitive analysis, consulting, knowledge management,
research, seminars, speaking and strategy development
To find out more about NetGain, send an email message to
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