Archive for February, 2008

The penguins are coming, the penguins are coming

With N-TEN’s Non-Profit Technology Conference coming up in just one month, we thought you might want a little reminder of PICnet’s shenanigans from NTC 2006 in Seattle.

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SugarCRM 5 upgrade brings smiling faces to PICnet

SugarCRMIn the world of CRM systems, we’ve played with them all. Internally, we’re fans of the SugarCRM tool for a variety of reasons, none of which I’ll even try to explain here. Well, I will point out one: SugarCRM 5 finally includes an easy to use module builder (something our friends in the world have had for a while now).

This is the holy grail of online CRM systems which kept organizations like PICnet in the world of offline databases like FileMaker Pro. With our internal tracking of domain names, databases, pipeline and sales, server configurations, etc, we needed something that could pool all this data into one place.

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PICnet DC gets ready for a makeover

PICnet PenguinStarting in February, the PICnet headquarters in Washington DC will begin a grand makeover, bringing in new offices, stand-up presentation area, new lounge, and a cozy new work environment.

These great changes come with the joy of construction, which has been delayed a little over the past few weeks. We’ve got our construction helmets from our NTC appearance last year, which should come in handy during the months of February and March (and maybe April…and May). Luckily we won’t be using any of the sledge hammers ourselves, but I’m sure that at the end of some days our team might be more than happy to lend a hand.

During the construction, we’ll likely be cutting back on in-house visits to the PICnet HQ. Not to fret, however, because once this project is complete you can expect a big open house bash with your PICnet friends.

Before and after photos to be used in the reality TV building makeover show of your choice will be available soon in our Flickr stream.


The power of influentials – what if Malcom Gladwell got it wrong?

Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point has become the marketing world’s leading book on understanding how trends ripple through society. In short, one of the cornerstones of Gladwell’s thesis is that highly influential individuals disproportionably affect the buying decisions of others in the community. If marketers can focus their efforts on the influentials, they’ll reap the returns.

But what if Gladwell got it wrong? What if his interpretation of Stanley Milgram’s Six Degrees of Separation experiment was short sighted, and based on a data set that was too small?

Duncan Watts, a research who now does work for Yahoo Research, was interviewed in Fast Company magazine’s February 2008 issue. In his interview, he was able to effectively have me question whether or not these influentials really had any more power than the average Joe and Jane.

More importantly for us at PICnet, we have for a long time focused our discovery process on building personas for highly connected individuals for our clients. The goal is to determine what those highly influential individuals in an organization’s community want to be communicated with, and to determine the most effective path to doing so in online communications.

If Watts is right, however, the effects of luck and “right place, right time” might be much more influential than our Influentials. Read more »


Soapbox launch: Washington Regional Transplant Center

WRTCWhen individuals give the ultimate gift of life to others, the Washington Regional Transplant Center is there to support families and recipients. The hard work of the men and women at WRTC ensure that those in need of organs are given the best shot of receiving them.

WRTC’s new Non-Profit Soapbox site has an emotionally moving Memorial Quilt, which gives families of donors an ability to share their stories with the world.

Many thanks to our friends at Free Range Studios for their beautiful design work.


Getting decent reports out of Kayako

KayakoKayako is a wonderful support ticketing system that we use at PICnet for all our Soapbox clients. As we get a better picture of the macro effects of our growth, we’re starting to realize that getting data out of Kayako is critical for us to understand how and where our clients need help.

As those who use Kayako know, there aren’t much of any reporting tools in eSupport product. Actually, there’s none. Luckily, Kayako has a well-supported forum community, from which I’ve been able to pull the following great SQL queries to run some basic reports. Read more »


Soapbox launch: National Religious Campaign Against Torture

NRCATPeople of faith in our country have been challenged by today’s world violence. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is a growing membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. To better communicate their message, they have recently launched their new Soapbox Web site.

“Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation. What does it signify if torture is condemned in word but allowed in deed? Let America abolish torture now — without exceptions.”

This Soapbox site works in conjunction with our friends at Democracy In Action and Wired for Change.


Thoughts on bi-coastal living, and managing

Last year was our building year at PICnet. That’s putting it lightly actually. Growing nearly three times in size, with two new offices in New York and San Francisco, the company has morphed into a true bi-costal enterprise (I enjoy using words like “enterprise” liberally in business).

It’s important to my business management methodology to follow my mantra of MBWA: managing by walking around. I want to be in each of our offices at least a few days each month, making sure PICnetters have face time with me while also spending time doing partner and business development meetings in our three cities.

I think it’s great that other technology companies can have their entire teams working virtually. That’s not the way we work at PICnet though, as I’m a true believer that water-cooler time is the place where new ideas are sparked, and that team building needs to happen both online and offline, daily. Read more »


Soapbox launch: Friends of the National Arboretum

FONAThe National Arboretum in Washington, DC, is an amazing collection of our country’s beautiful trees. To enhance the support of the National Arboretum, the Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) provides a variety of important services to the arboretum and the community.

We’re excited to announce the launch of FONA’s new Non-Profit Soapbox site! Congratulations to the FONA team for their hard work.


Windows Desktop Search finds needles in haystacks

That’s right folks, you read that headline right: I use Windows Desktop Search. And I love it.

I know, I should be using Google Desktop, with all sorts of Web 2.0 gadgets, widgets, thing-a-ma-bobbers, etc. I’ve used Google Desktop for a few years actually, but I was finding that in exchange for the 3GB of disk space that it started taking up, the benefits were a little limiting. I wanted to be able to sort my results in a variety of ways, to search things other than just basic Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook contents.

In short, I wanted more control of my desktop search. Read more »