The Right Reasons for the ‘Gram?

Influencer Marketing, Tent-Pole Event Strategies and ... the Bachelor?

Effective marketing is being able to tell your story to a large and engaged audience. Which is why today we’re going to talk about … The Bachelor? You may be skeptical but bare with us for a moment. This is gonna get interesting.

There are two major pillars of social marketing at play here: influencer marketing and a tent-pole event strategy.

Influencer marketing is the new celebrity endorsement. In a world where we are tied to our screens and wanting to put the best filter on our life in self-promotion, there are some BIG bucks behind strong content-driven marketing campaigns. These influencers don’t have to be celebrities. With a little hustle, strong personalities, and desirable lifestyles, most of these influencers are self-made.

And it’s a pretty good gig when a single Instagram post can earn you $75,000. Continue reading

Written by on February 15th, 2019 in Insight

What Does Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica Scandal and Valuation Drop Mean for Advertising?

With a 3-step plan, Mark Zuckerberg hopes to address the scandal and rebuild public trust, but the effects on the platform's advertising channels can already be felt.

Facebook Cambridge Analytica

By now, most people are aware of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the recent historical drop in Facebook’s stock price and valuation. For those who aren’t familiar with the situation, here’s a brief timeline:

March 17, 2018 – The Guardian and The New York Times report that as many as 87 million Facebook profiles were harvested for Cambridge Analytica. Christopher Wylie, co-founder of Cambridge Analytica, claims that the data sold to the company was used to build psychographic profiles of people and then deliver pro-Trump content to them online.

March 21, 2018 – In a Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg addresses the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Zuckerberg outlines a three-step plan to solve any future misuse of user data:
1. Investigate any third-party apps that had access to large amounts of information before Facebook’s platform change in 2014
2. Restrict developers’ access to user data
3. Provide users with a tool that shows them what apps have access to their data

April 10, 2018 – Zuckerberg testifies before a joint session of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees in what turns into a long and awkward conversation between older Senators that seem out of date with modern social media and a very nervous Zuckerberg.

April 25, 2018 – Despite the backlash from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook reports Q1 earnings well above analysts’ estimates. In a conference call that afternoon, Zuckerberg reflects on the earnings report, “Despite facing important challenges, our community and business are off to a strong start in 2018. Over the next three years we’re going to keep building Facebook to not only be a service that people love to use, but also one that’s good for people and good for society.”

July 26, 2018 – Following the first full quarter after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook loses about $119 billion of its value as the company’s share price drops by almost 19% marking the biggest single day drop in U.S. market history.

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Written by on August 21st, 2018 in Insight

How Frequent Requirement Changes Derail a Project, and How Business Analysts Avoid Them

Our Director of Business Analysis, Andreu Harris, walks us through how our business analysts work hand-in-hand with project managers to keep projects on the rails.

Whether you’re working in a traditional Waterfall, Agile/Scrum environment, or some combination of both (commonly referred to as Wagile), there will always be a need for requirement modifications. That’s just the nature of projects in an a fast-paced agency setting.

Managing the the requirement modifications against the project delivery is a real balancing act, and that’s where Business Analysts and Project managers have to work together seamlessly to spearhead difficult objectives.

Frequent requirement modifications, unknowns most commonly referred to as risks, can impact a project’s execution, delivery, and budget. While a successful project in today’s world requires you to work with a certain amount of unknowns, when there is a lack of agreed upon strategy for how to manage risks you might find yourself in trouble.

Most major IT project failures are caused by frequent requirement changes and could be prevented. It’s especially dangerous because requirements touch every aspect of the project from the design approach to the technology in use to the relationship with the suppliers and vendors to the resourcing to the–you get the picture.

I’ve experienced several projects that had frequent requirements changes that made the projects so unstable, we almost had major financial consequences. In one instance, senior leadership had major differences and visions of the project more than 60 days into development! It ended up costing us 100 hours of refactoring and even more countless hours of throwaway code.

As business analysts and project managers, we’re extremely concerned with requirements changes. These events, in isolation or in combination, can clearly have detrimental effects on projects that will persist regardless of software development methodology (Agile, Waterfall, Kanban, Lean, etc.) or the requirements management process in place. No methodology or process guarantees there will be no requirements change.

Often we assume when requirements move to the design phase, they are “complete” and not subject to change. However, that isn’t always the case. In fact, most times it isn’t! There always some changes in requirements throughout the development lifecycle. Although Agile “welcomes change and allows you to easily pivot” and claims their “collaborative” approach facilitates unpredictable changes, this will be challenged when there are many requirement changes.

I should emphasize that frequent requirements changes is not “scope change.” They are two different things.

Frequent Requirements Changes: Here, the scope remains static, whereas the requirements are dynamic. This is a micro-level change that eventually impacts the subsequent phases of designing and developing a solution.

Scope Change: Scope change manifests through, “I want more.” This is a macro-level change that impacts the whole end-to-end solution. It is a redefinition of the initial agreed outcome.

In agency life, we usually have a couple days of discovery with the client to identify their requirements and formulate a strategy. As much we try to get all the detailed requirements from the organizations leadership and SMEs, there will always be undiscovered business needs. To transform unknowns into knowns, the best way to address the issue is to use a Business Analyst’s expertise of discovering and analyzing requirements and data thoroughly.

When you move into the design phase with too many unknowns, your potential for frequent requirements is high.

A business analyst’s primary responsibility is to ascertain and define requirements through an analytical process, known as requirement analysis (aka Discovery). Requirements documented in this phase are only as good as the BA’s ability to draw out the key requirements based upon inputs provided by multiple stakeholders. Business analysts add value to this process by using their expertise and past project experiences to facilitate the gathering of clear and concise requirements that cover all possible scenarios/use cases.

Every organization has its own set of values and practices that contribute to the organization’s overall identity. The identity can impact the requirements analysis process both directly and indirectly. Attitudes toward requirements management can be a reflection of the organization’s culture.

Unpredictability and unknowns have major effects on project budget and timeline. Requirements are the necessary foundation needed for developing any solution whether it’s a website, retail experience, or product. Requirements provide the baseline for scoping and schedules and are used as “gospel” for future phases of the project, when it comes to design, development, and testing.

Agile methodologies (Scrum, Kanban, XP) are the most suitable forms of the software development lifecycle to manage frequent requirement changes. However, that doesn’t mean that the ability to adapt quickly doesn’t impact the project budget and schedule. It makes a difference to have an experienced delivery team and seasoned business analysts that can clearly identify and manage the project unknowns.

Andreu Harris is the Director of Business Analysis at FortyFour.

Written by on August 8th, 2018 in Insight

What Can Live Music Teach Us About Designing Engaging UX?

User experience principal, Paul Landon, reflects on finding inspiration as a designer in a recent trip to the symphony.

Photo by Gavin Whitner

While it might seem UX design and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra don’t have much in common, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the aspects they share. I recently had the pleasure of attending a symphony performance in Atlanta and found myself with two questions on my mind.

  • What does music have to do with digital experience design?
  • How can my experience at the symphony affect my approach to crafting engaging UX?

As your night at the symphony begins, you’re immediately engulfed in a hail of emotions. Directly beneath the theatre stage, an orchestra warms up in the pit. The drone of musicians tuning their instruments resonates through the packed room. Cushioned velvet seats hush the anticipatory murmuring from the balcony seats above. Rising to the podium, the conductor flourishes a baton to silence orchestra and audience alike. With a furious upwards swing, the performance begins.

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Written by on July 17th, 2018 in Design, Insight