Who Owns Who?

President Trump has recently created a(nother) media stir by expressing his concern about the selling power of the on-line retail giant we call Amazon. While personal opinions about this matter will vary, it signals a quiet but important industry trend – the consolidation of companies. We cannot assume that a business’s name is synonymous with ownership.

For example, did you know that Amazon owns IMDB, Twitch and Whole Foods? Or that eBay owns Craigslist and StubHub? Or that Apple owns Shazam (yes, that’s why ‘OK Google’ can’t tell you song titles like Siri can!). The chart below is one helpful way to understand the complex web of brand ownership

While you may (or may not) find this chart interesting, it contains an important lesson. In an increasingly connected society we need to do our homework. If you are selective about who you do business with, you need to spend time researching who owns who!

Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com


Chart Source


Which Chart Should I Use?

As a consultant and professor I review or develop charts on a weekly basis. While many of them are fairly intuitive, few of us have enrolled in a Charts 101 class! So when I received a recent white paper from Tableau about different charts and when to use them I was excited! Below is a summary of some of their great work. Keep an eye out for the most misused chart style!


Bar charts are one of the most common ways to visualize data. Why? barIt’s quick to compare information, revealing highs and lows at a glance. Bar charts are especially effective when you have numerical data that splits nicely into different categories so you can quickly see trends within your data.

When to use bar charts:  Comparing data across categories. Examples: Volume of shirts in different sizes, website traffic by origination site, percent of spending by department.


Line charts are right up there with bars and pies as one of theline most frequently used chart types. Line charts connect individual numeric data points. The result is a simple, straightforward way to visualize a sequence of values. Their primary use is to display trends over a period of time.

When to use line charts: Viewing trends in data over time. Examples: stock price change over a five year period, website page views during a month, revenue growth by quarter.


Pie charts should be used to show relative proportions – or percentages pie-chart– of information. That’s it. Despite this narrow recommendation for when to use pies, they are made with abandon. As a result, they are the most commonly misused chart type. If you are trying to compare data, leave it to bars or stacked bars. Don’t ask your viewer to translate pie wedges into relevant data or compare one pie to another. Key points from your data will be missed and the viewer has to work too hard.

When to use pie charts: Showing proportions. Examples: percentage of budget spent on different departments, response categories from a survey, breakdown of how Americans spend their leisure time.


Scatter plot Looking to dig a little deeper into some data, but notscatter-plot quite sure how – or if – different pieces of information relate? Scatter plots are an effective way to give you a sense of trends, concentrations and outliers that will direct you to where you want to focus your investigation efforts further.

When to use scatter plots: Investigating the relationship between different variables. Examples: Male versus female likelihood of having lung cancer at different ages, technology early adopters’ and laggards’ purchase patterns of smart phones, shipping costs of different product categories to different regions.


Gantt charts excel at illustrating the start and finish dates elements ganttof a project. Hitting deadlines is paramount to a project’s success. Seeing what needs to be accomplished – and by when – is essential to make this happen. This is where a Gantt chart comes in. While most associate Gantt charts with project management, they can be used to understand how other things such as people or machines vary over time. You could use a Gantt, for example, to do resource planning to see how long it took people to hit specific milestones, such as a certification level, and how that was distributed over time.

When to use Gantt charts: • Displaying a project schedule. Examples: illustrating key deliverables, owners, and deadlines. • Showing other things in use over time. Examples: duration of a machine’s use, availability of players on a team.


Bubbles are not their own type of visualization but instead should bubblebe viewed as a technique to accentuate data on scatter plots or maps. People are drawn to using bubbles because the varied size of circles provides meaning about the data.

When to use bubbles: Showing the concentration of data along two axes. Examples: sales concentration by product and geography, class attendance by department and time of day.


Use histograms when you want to see how your data arehistorgram distributed across groups. Say, for example, that you’ve got 100 pumpkins and you want to know how many weigh 2 pounds or less, 3-5 pounds, 6-10 pounds, etc. By grouping your data into these categories then plotting them with vertical bars along an axis, you will see the distribution of your pumpkins according to weight. And, in the process, you’ve created a histogram. At times you won’t necessarily know which categorization approach makes sense for your data. You can use histograms to try different approaches to make sure you create groups that are balanced in size and relevant for your analysis.

When to use histograms: Understanding the distribution of your data. Examples: Number of customers by company size, student performance on an exam, frequency of a product defect.


Heat maps are a great way to compare data across two categories using color. heatThe effect is to quickly see where the intersection of the categories is strongest and weakest.

When to use heat maps: Showing the relationship between two factors. Examples: segmentation analysis of target market, product adoption across regions, sales leads by individual rep.

Happy charting!

Head Shot

Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Tableau


The Rise of Augmented Reality: Lessons from Pokemon Go

A few weeks ago our 17 year old mysteriously started taking walks in the middle of the day. He even took the dog! For some families this may be normal but for us, it is not. Our desert climate has summer temperatures hovering around 115 so an afternoon stroll is not common. In time, we discovered the catalyst for this spontaneous activity was something we have all come to know as Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go is driven by a trend called augmented reality or AR. Those of you who follow my future-oriented twitter account (@jlsuderman) have seen many tweets related to both AR and VR (virtual reality) over the past year. In fact, VR typically gets more media attention because of things like Oculus Rift. However, if Pokemon Go is any indication, AR may have an even greater impact in the short-term.

Augmented reality is achieved when we supplement our view of the real-world environment with computer generated input such as sound, video or graphics (Wikipedia). By overlaying reality with artificial reality, we create something completely new. It is something we cannot see with the naked eye – like Pikachu hovering in front of the palm tree in my front yard. In time, we will look back on Pokemon Go as a novel and mainstreaming introduction to AR.  However, as we look ahead we should experience some more exciting and revolutionary AR changes ahead.

Here are some ways we can expect to have AR invade our space:

  • Retail: Tired of trying on items in department store fitting rooms? Why not just upload your photo and try on clothes from the comfort of your home! Many on-line eyeglass companies already offer a version of this solution.
  • Sports: I can hardly wait for the day when I can hover my mobile device over the television image of Steph Curry and have his career stats pop up.
  • Entertainment: Your 3D movie glasses will one day be layered with Google Glass-like abilities which will provide layered images to your movie experience.
  • Emergency Services : What if a fireman could wear glasses which gave him a guided tour through a smoky burning building?
  • Defense: Some US Air Force pilots already conduct their flights in a small room in a basement. As drone pilots, they make extensive use of AR to fly their unmanned planes.
  • Archaeology!? If you want to think outside the box, this article provides a great case for the use of AR to make archaeological sites come alive!

Pokemon Go has given us a fun glimpse into the emerging world of AR. However, it is far more than a tempting digital distraction. It is a harbinger of the vast changes AR will bring. In fact, I believe AR will likely be to the next generation what computers were to my generation, and what mobile technology and wifi were to my children.

There are already projects in development which will embed AR within contact lenses. This level of hands-free AR will take it to a whole new level. In fact, over time AR will become ubiquitous. But in the meantime, enjoy the fun distraction of things like Pokemon Go. Over the past 24 hours, I’ve managed to ‘research’ my way to a level 5 Pokemon Trainer. How about you?

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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com



Trend Watch: Rate the Rater

Word-of-mouth can determine whether businesses thrive and die! When people share their good (or not-so-good) stories, an organizations’ reputation quickly spreads. While word-of-mouth still occurs over cups of coffee and through our friends and associates, it has also become a huge on-line business. Organizations like Yelp, Amazon ratings, Angie’s List or RateMyProfessor.com are all common ways that we research products, businesses or people. As a result, they are also a modern use the word-of-mouth phenomenon.

However, on-line sources and ratings are still susceptible to misuse. Can you recall the last time you read a rating that sounded rehearsed or was the only five star review amidst a slew of one star ratings? Conversely, businesses have also used this system to attack competitors with negative ratings as an unethical way of eliminating competition. Since many organizations live and die by these ratings, an entire industry of fake ratings or ratings-for-pay has emerged.

While this challenge will never be fully eliminated, there is a recent trend which provides hope. The solution is simple – rate-the-rater! In traditional rating systems, you buy a product from Amazon. After the transaction is complete you are given the opportunity to rate-the-seller! In a rate-the-rater system, the business also gets to rate you, the purchaser!

This is not new and has already been used effectively with some organizations. For example, our AirBnB Coachella guests rated us after their stay in our home (a five star rating system). However, as hosts we were also given the opportunity to rate these same AirBnB guests. Uber uses a similar system and drivers are able to rate their customers. This allows other drivers to determine the quality of their potential fare. In turn, this helps balance a system that, historically, has favored the purchaser!

A rate-the-rater system creates accountability as we can no longer offer scathing reviews without some level of consequence. It is a unique application of The Golden Rule – treating others as you want to be treated. When rating becomes a two-way process, an amazing change occurs in what you say. While I will still leave a negative review, my language changes when I know that the company will potentially also be reviewing me. This limits my rants or inflammatory language.

This change also reminds us that privacy is something that no longer exists (see The Death of Privacy). It also teaches us that our on-line ratings are one more thing that we must manage in our on-line lives. Potential employers are already reviewing our Facebook, Instagram and other social media pages to assess our character. I expect that your on-line rating will be yet another aspect of this within the next five years.

As usual, this trend has both upsides and downsides. However, no matter what your personal views are, this shift will occur. So I encourage you to begin managing your on-line ratings like this trend has already happened. Because it has! Rate-the-rater is here to stay!

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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

3 Trends in College & University Recruitment

For many years I worked in administration overseeing college and university recruitment and retention efforts. Our household currently has Junior and Freshman boys and I am enjoying watching this process from the other side of the desk! As we embark on this journey I wanted to share three recruitment trends that I am observing as a parent of teens.

  1. Micro-Collaboration. In the past, events like large College Fairs have been a key way that colleges cut travel costs and save time. By having colleges and universities meet in one location, students can access dozens of options in just a few hours. However, a new iteration of this macro-collaborative effort is now occurring and it is something I call micro-collaboration. We were recently invited to a micro-recruitment event. Operating under the moniker 8ofthebestcolleges.org, eight different liberal arts colleges are running five collaborative events in large US cities. These colleges all offer highly selective residential liberal arts education. Not by coincidence, they are located in eight distinct regions in the US which stretches from California, to Colorado to Connecticut. This type of collaboration demonstrates both a fresh approach to college fairs for students and the emerging necessity for competitors to collaborate,
  2. Personalization. My oldest son has received several publications that are addressed directly to him. You probably assumed that this refers to the mailing label but it doesn’t! He is receiving publications and brochures printed with his first and last names in the text of the materials he is reading. In an era of mass-marketing, instant-printing is allowing universities to personalize their content in new ways. Only time will tell if this generation – one which is suspect of hyper-marketing – will respond positively to this tactic or not.
  3. Service 3.0. During the past 20 years colleges and universities have moved from being gatekeepers to providers of customer service. Over this time the mentality shifted from “apply and we’ll call you if you are accepted” to “I’m calling you to see if you would like to apply”. This marketing pendulum has continued to shift and colleges are now offering prospective students incentives prior to application. A university in our region recently offered our family an expenses paid trip to visit campus (a 4 hour drive away). In addition, the recruiter for this university lives full-time in our city and provided my son with local expertise and insights about attending her school. As the number of high school graduates in the US flattens, schools are becoming very competitive in marketing and communication!

These are only three of many shifts which are occurring within the higher education landscape. What changes are you experiencing?

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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Why Businesses Need to Keep Social Media Social

While social media began as a social phenomenon, it quickly moved into our business and corporate lives. Whether it is Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or a bevy of other options, there are some very useful ways we can use social media to help our businesses thrive.

However, I have observed a troubling social media trend. It is something I call “media masquerading as social media”. Let me explain.

We are used to the constant presence of media in our lives. Magazine & television advertisements, billboards and flashing coupons at the grocery store are constant reminders that media is vying for our attention. There is a quiet but important premise about media – we understand and accept that companies are trying to get our attention by telling us something! And it is one-way communication.

However, social media operates on a different premise. By definition, social media is about a social exchange between two parties. The term ‘social’ means that communication is not meant to be a one-way exchange. While media is one-way, it is my belief that social media must be two-way. However, I believe that the business use of social media is becoming increasingly one-way. Here are some recent examples from my life which illustrate this point.

  • On a recent Halloween, my daughter created and wore a Pippy Longstocking costume. It turned out wonderful but it ended up looking even more like Wendy from the Wendy’s burger franchise! I snapped a photo and posted it on their Facebook web site to see what they would do. In short, they did nothing at all. This taught me that their social media outlet on Facebook was simply media.
  • A local golf club regularly posts photos to my Instagram account. They are typically pictures of their amazing lunch plates and a description of their weekly special. This week I decided to treat a business guest to lunch on their patio. Below this week’s photo of their lunch special I posted, “I’ll be there tomorrow. What time do you close?” I never received a reply. Once again, this social media feed was merely media.

While I lament this misuse of social media by some organizations, I have also experienced some effective ‘social’ experiences with organizations through their media channels as well.

  • After our recent half-marathon, I snapped a photo of my wife stretching her tired muscles and posted it to Instagram. One of the comments was from a company called GetStrechy. They have an exercise program that could be a very good fit for us based upon my social media post. In contrast, the like by the company that sells marijuana obviously has not taken time to understand my social profile.
  • During a recent layover in Riga, Latvia, we had time to leave the airport and grab dinner in their fantastic Old Town district. While we waited to board our flight from Prague to Riga, I found a restaurant that was highly recommended. I then accessed their Facebook page and sent them a direct message (DM) asking for reservations at 8. When we landed in Riga, my Facebook account pinged with confirmation that our table would be ready. Now that’s media that remembers to be social (great work MILDA!).

Perhaps you view social media differently than I do, but I don’t mind the media aspect of it. That is, as long as it stays social and doesn’t merely become media. I suspect that social media outlets that drift into media-only feeds will have a short shelf-life.


Head ShotJeff Suderman is a futurist, professor, consultant and pracademic who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational FutureReadiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman. Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

The Future of Higher Education: Three Trends

While predicting the future is desirable, it is an elusive exercise. However, careful observation of emerging trends can provide us with early indicators of future change. Doing so equips us to be future-ready. Earlier this month I was privileged to speak at a Christian higher education conference. The following three educational trends are all indicators of significant future change.

Shifting demographics

A decade ago demographic data revealed significant declines in the total number of youth who would pursue post-secondary education. This data also revealed a decline in the percentage of Anglo students which has been a primary market for Christian colleges and universities. This population bubble has burst and there simply aren’t as many students as we once had.

We are currently living amidst the tough realization of this trend. My conversations revealed that an estimated 30-40% of attendees are facing enrollment stagnation or decline. Since most Christian institutions derive between 75-90% of their budgets from student tuition, this decline is a significant harbinger of change.

This realized trend is a perfect example of what occurs if we do ‘business as usual’ in a time of significant market shifts. Here are a few examples of what institutions have done to address this shift: adult markets, cultural diversity, re-assessing the need for growth, right-sizing operations and urban campuses.

Focus on Value

Statistics demonstrate that there is a growing gap between rich and poor in North America. This is often referred to as the ‘shrinking middle class’. As a result, society is less likely to invest in things which are good but not critical. The heart-and-soul of Christian higher education has been this middle class so this is going to have a significant impact. We are going to have to determine what we need to do differently in order to move from being an ‘optional’ to an ‘essential’ educational option. Institutions have utilized some of the following strategies to address the value proposition gap: Graduation or employment guarantees, tuition freezes, increases in financial awards, alumni success stories and adding programs with tangible employment focus.

A New Business Model

“We are using far more adjunct professors than we used to”. While this statement seems innocuous, it reveals a significant problem in our educational business model – the need to cut educational delivery costs.

The American Association of University Professors reports that adjuncts compose 70% of college instructors. In 1975 that number was 43% (Belkin & Korn). An adjunct salary is approximately $25,000 per year compared to a full-time professor average of $84,000 (Kingdale). It is obvious how adjuncts benefit an institutions financial situation. I am not going to address the pros and cons of this shift which are rooted in arguments of efficiency vs. effectiveness. However, I do believe that this shift signals a change in the economic model of higher education – things are not business-as-usual. I do not have a nice list of tried-and-trued remedies for this trend and welcome your insights on how this issue could be resolved.

The pioneer futurist Pierre Wack once said, “In our times of rapid change and discontinuity, crisis of perception – the inability to see a novel reality emerging by being locked in obsolete assumptions – has become the main cause of strategic failure”. The trends of shifting demographics, new business models and the need for value are shaping our future educational context and we must respond. We cannot predict the future. But we can anticipate it.


Head ShotJeff Suderman is a futurist, professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational Future-Readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman


Douglas Belkin & Melissa Korn. The Wall Street Journal.

Tyler Kingdale. The Huffington Post.

What Happens in an Internet Minute?

Most of us acknowledge that the internet has become the hub of our lives. But have you considered what actually happens in an average internet minute? TechSpartan recently answered that question and compared our activities between 2013 and 2014. Here’s what our play (and work!) looks like in 60 seconds:

Internet Minute3



The March issue of WIRED magazine presented another interesting phenomenon that we are not tracking yet – Internet Minute2screenshots. You have likely observed many conference attendees raise their phones above their head and take screenshots of slides. We also snap photo’s of events, of notes, of texts or things we want to remember later. These screenshots can be both humorous and incriminating and their use is also increasing. This trend is demonstrated by Evernote users who saved 45% more screenshot in their notes than they did a year ago (WIRED).

Some believe that screenshots will help improve productivity and group learning. For example, an individual recently tweeted an article link and received 109 retweets. When he reposted it as a readable screenshot he received over 4,200 tweets (WIRED). So far, the screenshot trend is not occurring through a centralized app but it is plausible that we will see an app claim this market in the upcoming months!

Years ago The Eagles wrote a song about A New York Minute. It appears that even the city that never sleeps can’t even keep up with the internet anymore!


Head ShotJeff Suderman is a futurist, professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational Future-Readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman

Clive Thompson (March 2015). Screenshot effect: Display your display. Wired Magazine.



BYOD & BYOA: Welcome to the age of hypermobility

Trend Watch

A recent article from the team at Join.Me highlights a trend that has been quietly growing in our organizations – Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This is not surprising given 90% of American adults own cell phones, 68% own smart phones and 42% own tablets (Pew Research). As a result, Join.me notes that “most organizations have adopted BYOD in some form, and an increasing portion of them actually have developed and implemented formal BYOD policies to ensure that the use of consumer-class notebooks, netbooks, tablets and smartphones is secure and productive”.

The logical next phase of this is also underway. Bring Your Own App (BYOA) is receiving support not only from employees, but also, increasingly, from their companies. To assess the impact of BYOA, Join.Me surveyed over 1,2oo respondents at small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and New Zealand. The following charts clearly illustrate this growing trend:

BYOA Usage


BYOA Future




























Trend Strength: high

Trend Maturity: growing (40%)

Organizational Implications: Increase in employee productivity, increase in IT security management services, undetermined organizational cost (decrease or increase).

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Bring Your Own Application: The New Reality for the Mobile Workforce. Join.Me by LogMeIn. Retrieved October 15 from http://lmicreativeteam.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/tt-13-271-logmein-byoapp-research-brief.pdf

Pew Research Internet Project. Mobile technology fact sheet. Retrieved Oct. 15 from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/

Six Priorities for University Recruitment Efforts

The expressions of anxious mothers, too-cool freshmen and a steady train of boxes into residence halls this week heralds the arrival of thousands of new students to our universities. Having recently returned from work with a university in Europe, I can report that university orientation norms like these are very similar wherever you go.

As recruitment offices, we are quickly shifting to efforts to recruit our class of 2015. As you do so, I thought that a quick summary of the 2014 Noel Levitz E-Expectations survey would be a helpful way to refocus your efforts. While a full read of the report is highly advisable (E-Expectations Report) , here is a quick list of the insights which should influence your efforts:

  1. Parents are important. VERY important! About 3 out of 4 high school seniors list their parents as having the greatest influence on their college choice.
  2. Web sites are critical! As the most important recruitment resource, the importance of your recruitment web site is paramount! Programs, costs and financial awards are the top three things they look for. Furthermore, mobile-friendly browsing is important as 40% of student state that they use their mobile phone browser for nearly all of their web browsing. Less than 10% of students rarely use their mobile device for browsing.E-Expectations
  3. Texting is becoming acceptable. About half of your recruits are fine with texting as a means of college communication. Similarly, 55% of parents are willing to receive college texts.
  4. Use many social media channels. Prospective students are active on Facebook (74%), YouTube (73%), Instagram (49%), Twitter (39%) and Snapchat (39%).
  5. Invest in your campus visit program! Three out of four students and parents agree with the statement that “schools should put more effort into getting prospective students to campus for visits and admissions events”.
  6. Tie education to careers. Students and parents want to see that their program has career value. Ensure you provide stats on job/graduate school placement, testimonials (current students, alumni, and faculty) and have robust program information.

I wish you success in your recruitment efforts this year!

Noel-Levitz (2014).  2014 E-Expectations Report: The Online Preferences of College-Bound Seniors and Their Parents. Available at https://www.noellevitz.com/papers-research-higher-education/2014/2014-e-expectations-report