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I want to start a mindfulness revolution. Are you with me?

You’re sitting at your desk reading your emails and you read one, just one email that makes your blood boil.  It could be from your boss giving you an unrealistic deadline, or from a colleague dropping a large piece of work on you (that they should have completed) before they go on vacation.

Ever felt like this?

Your natural reaction is to declare war on the sender and make them see how unfair or unreasonable their request is upon you.  Your juices are pumping.  You’re fuelled with rage. Before you know it, you’ve fired off a curt email that makes you feel satisfied.  “That sure told her” you think as you relax back into your chair.  As the rage subsides and the adrenaline fuelling your fight stops pumping through your veins, the ensuing result of your action dawns on you.  “Why didn’t I just take a moment to breathe, calm down and think about my reply?” you’ll probably think to yourself.  Sound familiar?

We are all guilty of it and we’ve all been there.  The worst part is, we’ve heard a thousand times that the best way to respond to conflict is to think about it for a while.  We make hundreds of decisions everyday about how to react to situations.  Notice I said “decisions”?  Yes, you decide how to react and respond.  Ultimately no one makes you feel any emotion – you choose how to feel.  You can choose to feel angry about an email and decide to reply aggressively, or, you can choose to think about why the sender has used their tone and reply in an upbeat manner thus preventing a war of words.

The act of taking a moment to breathe, think and respond is referred to as ‘mindfulness’.  It is a practice that has been used by Buddhists for many years and has recently received publicity for its use in helping aid children’s behaviour.

As the world is digitised, practising mindfulness is critical.  A tweet sent in anger can be very damaging to both your personal and professional brand – social media is powerful.  How often have you read about celebrities deleting tweets because they’ve realised that what they have written is damaging to their brand?

I had the pleasure of meeting Psychiatrist and author, Jeff Brantley recently who is the Founder and Director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at Duke University’s Center for Integrative Medicine.  He is also the author of the popular book Calming Your Anxious MindJeff spoke about using mindfulness techniques in the workplace.  As business professionals, we can learn a lot from the techniques used by Buddhists and now children.  We lead busy professional and personal lives and these can take their toll on our minds resulting in us becoming tired, stressed and anxious.  The pressure of trying to be the best that we can be in all aspects of our lives can sometimes lead us to be that irrational person that sends that email or tweet in anger.

Mindfulness is about being, not doing and I’m encouraging my team to be mindful.  To take the time to practice mindfulness techniques which I hope will not only aid them in their personal lives but also when they’re interacting in the office.  Indeed, even as teams we can make choices together to do things differently. In this fast paced world, taking the time and space to reflect and think about what we are doing can help us to achieve better outcomes too. Being mindful presents us with opportunities to make choices upon how we react to situations.  Why react the same way when you can choose to react differently? I want to start a mindfulness revolution.  Are you with me?

be mindful

Don’t Be Arrogant

The problem of the digital age for economy and society is not so much about the digitization of everything it’s the exponential speed of the change. We human beings are not used to such a speed in all of our history.

Companies who understand that, don’t feel comfortable at all anymore and act.

So did my employer ZEISS, a world famous brand in optical based in Germany – and mechanical technologies since 170 years. I was challenged to find a job shadow position in one of the major digital brands in Silicon Valley, U.S.A., to experience the pace of change at its origin.

Thanks to Gerry McGovern, a leading Internet evangelist and Martin Hardee from Cisco,  I found such a unique shadow opportunity. Thanks to even more people from my network, I was able to reach out to Managers, Directors and VPs from Apple, Google, Facebook, Adobe and Marketo to share knowledge and experiences while in Silicon Valley. (Can drive the 101 w/o a GPS meanwhile) Read More »

From “How Many” to “Who” – A Simple Step toward Profound Insights

Data Monetization – the art of applying Data to drive business value, sometimes pivots on fairly simple steps with profound consequences. One such step in the world of Digital is when one progresses from mastering the metrics of “How many” visitors to understanding the “Who” are these visitors?

In reality, the notion of “Who” is understood to a very limited degree by Digital property owners, unless the visitor willingly parts way with some of that information. B2B property owners have an even more difficult time giving sufficient reasons for visitors to share that information – unless the visitors are already customers, in which case software download and support become top reasons to part with some limited information to gain access to those forums.

Here is a good discussion on Website Visitor Demographics and its value to Digital Property Owners:

Given the difficulties in getting information about visitors for a B2B business, it is necessary to supplement this knowledge about the digital visitor through myriad techniques. To understand these, it is useful to classify visitors into a few categories:

1. Registered Visitors – the set of visitors who have registered on the site, and typically tend to fall in the Current Customer or Partner category. There may be others including Analysts, Students, Employees and a few more. This is a useful group because while on the one hand we know the most about them, they can also act as a “training” set from which other visitors’ behaviors may be inferred.

2. “Consumed an Offer” Visitor – the cohort that may have registered for a webinar, or downloaded a whitepaper, and in the process, shared something about themselves. The information they shared may be less than the Registered Visitor group, but it is valuable data. A large number of Prospects may fall in this category – making them doubly interesting.

3. “Discovered” Visitor – There are many services available in the business world including from DemandBase, Profound and more who may not be able to tell details about a visitor, but could provide information about the company the visitor belongs to. There are others who can even provide demographic details about visitors. These are significant services as it begins to tell which groups the otherwise anonymous visitors belong to.

4. The still completely Anonymous Visitor – these are those about whom we have no information whatsoever either directly or indirectly.

However, even the completely anonymous visitor is not truly anonymous as they leave their digital fingerprints behind for the data analyst to review, and you could:

Read More »

Yes, a New Home Page

We’ve updated the design of the home page. Not just because we wanted to, but for you. Here’s a point by point overview, starting with the desktop/laptop version:

Home Page Desktop May 2015

  1. Same top of page navigation. We’ve keep the same top of page categories, and “mega menu” navigation, as these work very well today. (Yes, we’ll continue to tune these every so often as we have been.)
  2. Quick Tasks. This new element is based on your feedback about your most important regular tasks on journeys on Since these items are most important to you, we figured we’d put them front and center for easy access. Expect these tasks to evolve over time as we learn more about how people are using them. And, in the future we’ll have different top task lists for Partners, employees and other roles.
  3. The “marquee.” This graphic at the top of the page is a staple of corporate home pages, and we actually toyed with several designs that eliminated it. But in the end, in our testing and reviews, we found that it actually serves a pretty strong purpose to orient visitors and cue them to big announcements or happenings. One innovation: We are personalizing this area, so that over time you may see something different than your neighbor (and more relevant to you).
  4. Let Us Help. We’ve added a linkage to chat online or call so you can get information about our products, services and solutions right from the home page. This follows scrolling down the home page, in a way that we hope is unobtrusive.
  5. Product showcase. Visitors to our site love products, so we’ve opened up a space to showcase featured products. Here, we have used a “carousel” approach because products have enough of a draw to get active engagement (notice that we dropped the carousel we used to have above on the marquee. But here, we think it adds breadth.)
  6. Products link. There’s a prominent link to a newly designed “All Products” page.
  7. “Offers.” Folks in marketing call these “offers” but you can think of them as showcased items that may be of interest specifically to you. We personalize the list based on what you’ve expressed interest in previously.
  8. Watch this space. This is a space for more information that we’ll be experimenting with over time.
  9. News. The new news feed is easier to read, and shows news and announcements from Cisco.
  10. Blogs and Communities. Some of the most interesting information from Cisco is on our blogs, and the content all of you contribute in our communities. This new component gives us a place to showcase these fresh topics right on the home page.
  11. Social sharing. Those social sharing widgets you’ve come to expect on home pages. (This would be a great time to share the new home page if you like it, by the way. :)  )
  12. The “fat footer.” We’ve made no changes to the fat footer on the page, which has been very effective and helpful and gets 4-6% of the click-throughs on our pages. One question we had was whether visitors would click through, with the longer page. Based on our early usability testing, the answer seems to be yes, and people seem quite engaged in scrolling when they are drilling down to the information they’re looking for. We’ll be watching the metrics on this area carefully to make sure it’s still “discoverable” and well used.

The Smart Phone View

For the mobile view of the home page, the it’s the same information, but rendered slightly differently:

Home Page Mobile May 2015

  1. Same header and menu. We’ve retained the same header and “hamburger menu” as before, as it’s been working well
  2. Let Us Help. The same linkage to chat online or call, but in a more compact form for mobile.
  3. Quick tasks, in a more compact form. Interestingly, this text only version tested very well for phones, but got lost on the page for the desktop view, so we used icons on the desktop and text for phones.
  4. Featured Products, in a more compact, swipable form for mobile devices.
  5. News feed in a compact form.
  6. Blogs & Communities in a more compact form.


Thanks to all of you who participated in the multiple rounds of testing and have also given use feedback in the last many months – if not years – on your needs for

P.S. If the last version of the home page is a distant memory, here’s a picture of it:

Earlier Home Page

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Focusing on customers’ top digital journeys

I’ve often written about how we optimize to our Customers’ and Partners’ top journeys across our web sites and mobile apps. We’ve found that focusing relentlessly on the top things that visitors do with us online (versus following the latest cool digital fads) helps us stay grounded.  Customers and Partners drive their own journeys, and we’re reminded of this every time we run a user test with them or  look at the analytics from our sites.

Following this “top tasks” approach, we’ve been able to raise usability scores in key areas like Support by as much as 65 or 70%.  And, in areas where we still have challenges — as all sites do, by the way — the focus on top tasks keeps a spotlight on the work we have ahead.

I mention this again because usability luminary Gerry McGovern has recently published a nicely detailed overview of our top tasks approach on It’s a great inside look at the process we follow, and is a great read if you’re interested in quality improvement or customer satisfaction in the digital space.

The techniques we’ve followed here for web sites and mobile also apply more broadly to omni-channel experiences, of which digital tasks are usually core. We’ve been exchanging notes with teams in other companies around this topic of measuring top tasks and journeys, and would love to hear about the experiences from you!

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