Survey: More workplace exposure leads IT staffers to dress up

NOTE: This was originally published in the Sept. 3 edition of the Daily Herald Business Ledger

Quick … when you think of your IT department, what jumps to your mind?

Do you still picture a young person with unkempt hair wearing torn jeans, a hoodie and dirty sneakers?

The dress code for IT personnel in many business has traditionally been more lax than other departments in the corporate structure, but that is beginning to change, according to a recent survey from Robert Half Technology. The company conducted more than 1,400 telephone interviews with chief information officers from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.

The results was that two-thirds of the companies surveyed said their IT department dress code was considered “somewhat formal,” most staffers wear dress slacks or a skirt and a button-down shirt. More so, the survey found 76 percent of the respondents said that how someone dresses at work could influence their ability to advance in the company’s organization.

The move to a more formal dress code among IT professionals is reflecting to the increasing role they’re playing in the workplace, according to Matt McKee, division director for Robert Half Technology in Oakbrook Terrace. McKee notes the expanding role of IT workers is bringing them out of the server rooms and into the overall workplace, and are becoming more visible by co-workers and clients.

“As IT touches every part of the business now, the overall trend is to have a more ‘business professional’ environment because of their exposure in the workplace,” McKee said. “They are now more involved with everyone in the business, and as their exposure increases, the company’s desire to have IT workers professionally dressed also increases.”

And while not every company is looking to upgrade their IT staff’s wardrobe — 5 percent of the CIOs said their dress code is “very casual” — McKee said business with high stakes clients will likely have a more formal dress code for its IT staff.

“Places like law firms or investment firms, where people are looking to invest millions of dollars,” he said. “If they see someone wearing jeans and a T-shirt walking through the office, they may question the company’s professionalism.”

The move to button-downs and dress pants isn’t only for the company’s benefit. The survey also found that how an employee dresses could affect their ability to move up in the organization. The survey found that 73 percent of the CIOs are “somewhat” influenced by a person’s dress when considering advancement. Twenty-two percent said they were not influenced.McKee stresses that is important because an IT professional could be called on to work with anyone in the company.

“The next individual you work with could be the president of the company,” he said. “If you come into his office in ragged clothes, he’s going to think that you don’t care about your job.”

McKee points out that the Chicago area is a big IT market, with a number of large companies located or moving into the area tapping into a large talent pool. His advice for those working in IT is to look that the people you work with, and adjust your work wardrobe to what they are wearing. In fact, 85 percent of the CIOs in the survey said their department dress code is the same as the rest of the company, while only 10 percent said they were more casual.

As for those seeking an IT job, McKee recommends dressing professionally for the job interview, then once you get the job, adjust your wardrobe to correspond to the people around you. It’s always better to dress above the company’s dress code at the interview, McKee said.

“You don’t want to walk out and have them remember the spot on your shirt,” he said. “You want them to remember your technical abilities.”

And for those who just have to work at a company that allows T-shirts and jeans, McKee said there are still a number of companies out there that accommodate very casual attire. With a large pool of IT talent in the Chicago area, McKee said some companies may use casual dress as a way to attract quality workers.

“This is an exciting time in the IT profession,” he said. “There’s an environment out there for everybody.”

Skokie company builds farm system for nanotech industry

NOTE: This first appreared in the Feb. 20 edition of the Daily Herald Business Ledger

You could say Dean Hart is building a farm system for his league.
Hart’s parent company, Skokie-based NanoInk Inc., has been a leader in developing equipment and systems for the nanotechnology industry. For those not into nano, it’s an industry that’s based on developing things that are one billionth of a meter in size (about 80,000 times smaller than a human hair). Nanotechnology’s potential has expanded exponentially over the past decades, moving from primarily computer processors into every day applications, from medicine delivery systems to the stuff that keeps stains from settling on your clothes and carpets.
As a result of that growth, Hart said, the nanotechnology industry will generate $1 trillion in business by 2020, creating the need of 6 million new jobs globally. However, nanotechnology education has been traditionally taught in “cleanroom” environments either on the job or at a the advanced-degree level at a few colleges, which is creating a gap in skilled workers to fill the increasing number of jobs ahead.
“The problem became how can we drive nano education to the undergraduate level and create a true nano-savvy workforce?” Hart said.
To answer that, NanoInk has created an educational division called NanoProfessor. Hart, who is NanoProfessor’s chief commercial officer, led development of a three-pronged education program that can be used by schools to teach nanotechnology. The program provides equipment developed by NanoInk — which Hart notes does not need to be used in a cleanroom — as well as a textbook and laboratory exercises. The program also teaches the instructors how to administer the program and provides support to the schools.
NanoProfessor’s goal is to help schools gets students interested in nanotechnology earlier in the educational process. With President Obama’s push to increase education in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Hart notes this program is a good fit in that mandate.
“We need to keep asking, how do we continue to excite students around STEM?” he said. “Well, nanotechnology — if you do it right — can be one of the most exciting things in the world.”
While NanoProfessor was originally developed to focus on colleges, Hart said they have received increasing interest in the program from community colleges and high schools. Last month, NanoProfessor held a three-day “NanoCamp” for a group of science teachers from Wheeling High School, where they were introduced to the program and given hands-on experience with the equipment and labs.
“We received an introduction to nanoscience and conducted hands-on training with NanoInk’s NLP 2000, which enabled us to make structures at the nanoscale on a desktop system, something that is usually only able to be done in a multimillion dollar cleanroom,” Wheeling biology teacher Frank Caballero said in a news release. “We are very excited to take what we’ve learned back to the classroom. Exposure to these advances in science will interest students pursuing careers in medicine, scientific research, engineering, and others.”
Hart said Wheeling High Principal Lazaro Lopez and the teachers were very positive about the experience and he hopes they will be able to adopt the program at the Northwest Suburban District 214 school in the near future.
In addition, City Colleges of Chicago has partnered with NanoProfessor to provide two students in the college’s “Introduction to Nanotechnology” course with paid summer internships at NanoProfessor’s labs in Skokie.
“Our partnership with NanoProfessor will offer our students an unprecedented opportunity to build valuable technical skills and gain real-world experience in the growing nanotechnology industry,” Cheryl L. Hyman, chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago, said in a release.
Hart added the internship helps NanoProfessor by bringing a fresh perspective into the company to help develop new products and concepts.
“Our interns are finding ways to do things that our Ph.D’s haven’t thought of, and that’s a beautiful thing,” he said.
Hart is quick to note that, although NanoProfessor students learn on NanoInk equipment, the program goes well beyond learning how to use the tools. The entire program is structured around teaching students the concepts of nanotechnology and how it relates to the sciences of biology, chemistry and physics. That, he said, gives the students marketable skills in the industry, and gives the U.S. a leg up in the global race for jobs.
“There’s no doubt that this is a race. There is competition,” Hart said. “Other countries have already recognized that those with a trained workforce will be the leaders in attracting new companies to them.”
Hart said he understands the need for schools and funding agencies to be able to justify the return on the investment (NanoProfessor’s cost is less than $300,000, which is far less expensive than building a cleanroom environment classroom). But, he added, it is also important that the industry have a pool of trained workers to fill the growing demand in jobs over the next several years, and it will be the schools that will drive that need.
“I want to see these colleges and schools training students because that’s where my future workforce is coming from,” he said. “I need undergrads who are nano savvy who can serve as my trainers, my installers, my marketing people, and get this done, and do that at significantly less expense than have a company full of Ph. Ds.”

Social marketing gets formal with Harper certificate program

NOTE: The article first appeared in the January 23 edition of the Daily Herald Business Ledger

Who’s in charge of your small business’ social marketing strategy?
If it’s your teenage child or a similar young relative, the odds are good you’re not getting any customer traffic from it, says Corinn Hilbert. The reason it isn’t working is because businesses confuse “social media” with “social marketing,” and there is a very big difference, she notes.
“With social media, it’s arbitrary and spontaneous, with no outcomes expected. It’s just sharing,” said Hilbert, a social marketing consultant and founder of Be XSible LLC. “With social marketing, it’s strategic and purposeful with a definite outcome expected. You want new customers. That does not happen by accident.”
As social media and its potential as an effective marketing tool has grown exponentially over the past years, the learning curve for business owners to effectively utilize those tools has lagged behind. But a new program being launched at Harper College in Palatine is geared to provide focus and credibility to marketing a business online and through social media.
Harper’s Social Media Marketing Specialist CE Certificate is a 48-hour, six-course program designed to give students the knowledge and tools to conduct effective business social marketing campaigns and strategies. Hilbert teaches the course, which she said is geared far beyond just knowing how to use Facebook or Twitter. The program is designed to help business owners understand social media’s role in social marketing, and how to develop and manage campaigns that provide your business with an online identity that draw new customers and develop relationships with current ones. In addition, the program also focuses on how to obtain and analyze the results in order to improve your marketing campaigns.
The course includes classes on social media and online marketing foundations; interactive content and working with search engine optimization and blogs; social media for business; email and mobile marketing campaigns; social marketing management and a social media portfolio workshop.
Hilbert said those completing the program will have know-how to develop and implement effective social marketing strategy, as well as analyze the results of those campaigns to take advantage of opportunities to grow and nurture new and existing customers.
“We want these businesses to capitalize on social media, not just be participants,” she said.
Martha Karavitis, Harper’s coordinator of continuing education computer training, notes the program is not only unique to the school, but to most educational facilities as well. Only a handful of colleges, such as the University of Wisconsin in Madison and the University of San Francisco, have established training programs in social media and marketing.
Karavitis said the college saw a need for a program locally as businesses were more frequently contacting the college, looking to hire people with social media skills. She added these skills are becoming more sought after in the workforce, noting as many as 2,000 new job openings seeking people with social media skills have posted online locally in the past month alone.
Businesses are looking for these skills and schools are scrambling to come up with a way to teach them,” she said.
The college held a course last May for unemployed workers which offered a ‘taste’ of what would be taught in the new program, Karavitis said. The feedback from the class was so positive that Karavitis and Hilbert decided to proceed with the certificate course.
Karavitis and Hilbert note the program is not only for business owners, but also for people who are looking to obtain new skills for a quickly growing field. Receiving the CE certificate gives a jobseeker an advantage over others, as it shows a potential employer that the person has taken time to learn the needed skills in a formalized setting from a well-known institution.
“One of the biggest issues now is the lack of formal training,” Hilbert said. “With this, you’re telling an employer ‘I took the time to sit down and learn the skills needed from an institution like Harper College.’”
Karavitis added others who would benefit from the program are marketing professionals, web designers, editors or journalists who need to improve their skills and understanding of social media and marketing.
“We have a diverse audience for this, from the unemployed to COOs,” Hilbert said.
Although the current program, which begins Jan. 26, is near capacity, Karavitis said they still have a few openings and are taking requests for future programs.
But for the business owner, Hilbert said the biggest benefit of the program is developing the understanding that social marketing does not just mean having a presence everywhere in social media, but knowing what platforms will work best for getting your message to your customers.
“We want to make sure the people in the program come out with the training and skills to do a good social marketing campaign, and they are doing it right, so the business isn’t just throwing its time and money out the window,” she said.
For more information call (847) 925-6066, go to http://www.harpercollege.edu/ce or contact Hilbert at corinnh@beXSible.com.

Expert: Technology will change the world, but you can handle it

NOTE:  First published in the Jan. 9 edition of the Daily Herald Business Ledger

As we begin the new year, you can expect technology to make further changes in the way your business and your customers interact, according to experts.
But a local expert says you need not fear the coming evolution because you are already a technology expert, though you may not know it.
“Most of you have become digital technologists, but you just haven’t realized it,” said Steve Bell, president of KeySo Global LLC in Long Grove. “But if you look over the past 30 years, you can see just how your life has changed inordinately.”
Bell, whose global consulting company tracks technology trends, says people tend to look at themselves as novices when new technology changes the way things are done. But when they step back and look at how they’ve adapted to technology over the decades, they can be more confident in taking advantage of the new developments that will affect their business and lives in the future.
Bell points to four developments in the 1980s that have significantly changed the way people live and work today: The creation of the PC computer and cellphone; the establishment of a global Internet, and the creation of the Sony Walkman. While the first three may be self-explanatory, Bell notes the Walkman opened the doors to the ability to carry “personal music” anywhere at anytime.
As the 1980s brought the introduction of these new technologies, the 1990s brought their integration into society, he said. For example, GSM cellphone technology (which Bell worked on when he was employed with Motorola), the development of the World Wide Web and Internet browsers, and the creation of TiVo with its ability to time-shift entertainment brought technology into the mainstream. Add to that the development of the iPod and iPhone and rise of social networking in the 2000s, and Bell said it easy to see just how well people have adapted to change.
“We help people recognize that they are much more technology savvy than they realize,” Bell said. “But it’s like the frog in a pot. You don’t know you’re being cooked until somebody shows you the water is much hotter than it used to be, so you have the opportunity to either jump out or continue to get cooked.
“We find once people look at it that way, they say ‘oh yeah, I never thought about it like that,’” he added.
Having that confidence to handle change will be even more important this year, as Bell believes 2012 will be a pivotal year in the integration of mobile technology into the business world.
“2010 brought everything together,” he said. “In device evolution, it’s the development of the tablets and cloud computing. The user experience is becoming more of a differentiator as touch screens are making things become more relevant. And social media is leveraging all these trends.”
As a result, he said. smartphone use and the growth of 4G LTE cellphone technology has already changed how consumers live, work, and shop — and that will change how businesses cater to their customers in the coming year.
“The confluence of LTE and smartphone devices is compelling because it gives an opportunity for the ecosystem that builds around them to not only grow and stimulate in relation to the U.S. economy, but potentially global as well,” he said. “But a more interesting element is that mobile devices, mobility and the power of the networks is fundamentally changing the business models for most companies and industries.”
We are already seeing this in the retail industry as more consumers are using smartphones to comparison shop — both online and in brick-and-mortar businesses (Bell estimates that 50 to 60 percent of all shoppers are already doing this). While in one store, they can use their phones to compare product prices among stores, and if they find a better deal, they can also check availability at that store before they leave one business for another.
But as digital wallets, smart cards and loyalty programs become more prevalent, businesses now have the opportunity to compile information on their customers, track their buying habits and even know what parts of their store they are frequenting. In turn, the business can develop and instantly push offers and opportunities tailored to keep customers in the store. Bell said having this technology gives the business the advantage to keep a customer from leaving the store if they find a better price elsewhere.
“On the one hand people are saying ‘can I get this somewhere else,’” he said. “But you can turn that around. You can push them a coupon (to their smartphone) that says ‘if you stay in the store and buy two items in the next half-hour, you can get a 25 percent discount on both items.’ It could easily match what they were going to get if they went elsewhere, but the positive thing is now they’re going to buy two items where before they would have bought none.”
While this is now being used by many national chains, Bell foresees the growth in 2012 of businesses that will help small to mid-sized retailers utilize the technology. He points to one company, Chicago-based Belly, as an example of firms helping small businesses develop customer loyalty programs that can compete with bigger players like Starbucks.
The key for the small business owner, Bell stresses, is to recognize what technology is doing, do some research, and take advantage of the opportunities that the changes will create.
“If you open your eyes and look at the technology that is around, if you use the Internet a little bit to explore, there is a plethora of opportunities to be very active and very flexible by utilizing some of the technologies to enhance your business, as well as enhance the experience of both the people who work in your company and the experience you can deliver to your customers,” Bell said.
For more information, go to www.keysoglobal.com.

 

Expert: Technology will change the world, but you can handle it

Note: First published in the Jan. 9 Daily Herald Business Ledger.

As we begin the new year, you can expect technology to make further changes in the way your business and your customers interact, according to experts. But a local expert says you need not fear the coming evolution because you are already a technology expert, though you may not know it.

“Most of you have become digital technologists, but you just haven’t realized it,” said Steve Bell, president of KeySo Global LLC in Long Grove. “But if you look over the past 30 years, you can see just how your life has changed inordinately.”

Bell, whose global consulting company tracks technology trends, says people tend to look at themselves as novices when new technology changes the way things are done. But when they step back and look at how they’ve adapted to technology over the decades, they can be more confident in taking advantage of the new developments that will affect their business and lives in the future.

Bell points to four developments in the 1980s that have significantly changed the way people live and work today: The creation of the PC computer and cellphone; the establishment of a global Internet, and the creation of the Sony Walkman. While the first three may be self-explanatory, Bell notes the Walkman opened the doors to the ability to carry “personal music” anywhere at anytime.

As the 1980s brought the introduction of these new technologies, the 1990s brought their integration into society, he said. For example, GSM cellphone technology (which Bell worked on when he was employed with Motorola), the development of the World Wide Web and Internet browsers, and the creation of TiVo with its ability to time-shift entertainment brought technology into the mainstream. Add to that the development of the iPod and iPhone and rise of social networking in the 2000s, and Bell said it easy to see just how well people have adapted to change.

“We help people recognize that they are much more technology savvy than they realize,” Bell said. “But it’s like the frog in a pot. You don’t know you’re being cooked until somebody shows you the water is much hotter than it used to be, so you have the opportunity to either jump out or continue to get cooked.

“We find once people look at it that way, they say ‘oh yeah, I never thought about it like that,’” he added.

Having that confidence to handle change will be even more important this year, as Bell believes 2012 will be a pivotal year in the integration of mobile technology into the business world.

“2010 brought everything together,” he said. “In device evolution, it’s the development of the tablets and cloud computing. The user experience is becoming more of a differentiator as touch screens are making things become more relevant. And social media is leveraging all these trends.”

As a result, he said. smartphone use and the growth of 4G LTE cellphone technology has already changed how consumers live, work, and shop — and that will change how businesses cater to their customers in the coming year.

“The confluence of LTE and smartphone devices is compelling because it gives an opportunity for the ecosystem that builds around them to not only grow and stimulate in relation to the U.S. economy, but potentially global as well,” he said. “But a more interesting element is that mobile devices, mobility and the power of the networks is fundamentally changing the business models for most companies and industries.”

We are already seeing this in the retail industry as more consumers are using smartphones to comparison shop — both online and in brick-and-mortar businesses (Bell estimates that 50 to 60 percent of all shoppers are already doing this). While in one store, they can use their phones to compare product prices among stores, and if they find a better deal, they can also check availability at that store before they leave one business for another.

But as digital wallets, smart cards and loyalty programs become more prevalent, businesses now have the opportunity to compile information on their customers, track their buying habits and even know what parts of their store they are frequenting. In turn, the business can develop and instantly push offers and opportunities tailored to keep customers in the store. Bell said having this technology gives the business the advantage to keep a customer from leaving the store if they find a better price elsewhere.

“On the one hand people are saying ‘can I get this somewhere else,’” he said. “But you can turn that around. You can push them a coupon (to their smartphone) that says ‘if you stay in the store and buy two items in the next half-hour, you can get a 25 percent discount on both items.’ It could easily match what they were going to get if they went elsewhere, but the positive thing is now they’re going to buy two items where before they would have bought none.”

While this is now being used by many national chains, Bell foresees the growth in 2012 of businesses that will help small to mid-sized retailers utilize the technology. He points to one company, Chicago-based Belly, as an example of firms helping small businesses develop customer loyalty programs that can compete with bigger players like Starbucks.

The key for the small business owner, Bell stresses, is to recognize what technology is doing, do some research, and take advantage of the opportunities that the changes will create.

“If you open your eyes and look at the technology that is around, if you use the Internet a little bit to explore, there is a plethora of opportunities to be very active and very flexible by utilizing some of the technologies to enhance your business, as well as enhance the experience of both the people who work in your company and the experience you can deliver to your customers,” Bell said.

For more information, go to www.keysoglobal.com.

New tech center looking to make Elgin ‘E-City’

NOTE: This is a reproduction of a column I currently write for my employer, The Daily Herald Business Ledger of suburban Chicago, that was posted Wednesday, March 23.

Inside Elgin’s best-known historic building, Lasse Ingebretsen is plotting the city’s future.
His mission: To turn Elgin into “E-City.”
Ingebretsen is executive director of the Elgin Technology Center, a not-for-profit venture that focuses on bringing together the area’s technology talent and linking them to companies that need their help.
The ETC currently has about 80 members, from college graduates looking for their first job to companies with as many as 450 employees. Its members range from people and small companies looking for work to small and mid-sized companies seeking expertise, and its talent pool ranges from programmers and software developers to IT specialists as well as e-commerce, database and web developers. About 50 percent of the membership are startup and small companies, while another 30 percent are individuals looking for jobs, according to Ingbretsen.
The overall goal is to create an “IT ecosystem” in Elgin that would create an atmosphere of development and collaboration among the members, Ingebretsen said. That, in turn, will catch the eye of regional and national companies that have projects which require the expertise ETC members have to offer.
“This is all about local sourcing,” Ingebretsen said, “In fact, this is a direct attack on outsourcing. It can actually cost a company more to send a project overseas.”
The ETC’s base of operations is on the second floor of the Elgin Tower Building, a historic landmark that stands tall in the center of the city’s downtown. From there, members can rent office space for as little as $150 a month and also have use of a conference/training area and a tech reference center. In addition, the site provides a foundation where members can collaborate, share information and stay current with changes in their specialties.
Renovations of the floor started in January, and five member companies moved in during February. Ingebretsen’s goal is to have 115 companies in the building by 2015.
Ingebretsen is keenly aware of the significance of launching a tech venture in the Tower Building — which still features elevators operated by a person. Built in 1929, the building opened at the start of the Great Depression, but continues to survive through numerous economic cycles.
“People worked here and struggled through (The Great Depression) and they were better for it in the 40s and 50s,” he said. “We’re reinventing Elgin right now and what a great place this is to start that reinvention.”
For Jen Howver, owner of VOD Communications, it was the opportunity to network with tech professionals and be a part of a downtown revitalization that lured her to become the first ETC member to move into the Tower Building.
“I’m an Internet geek,” said Howver, a social networking and marketing specialist. “But I saw the potential of networking and connecting with people in other technical industries.”
She added having a physical space to conduct teaching sessions and meet with current and potential clients has proved valuable as well. And, like other members, she is using her expertise to expand the center’s online presence and help connect through social networking with potential clients and donors.
“There are a lot of untapped opportunities through places like LinkedIn and Facebook,” she said. 
The ETC is governed by a three-member board of directors — of which Ingebretsen is not a member — and members also serve on one of four work groups, ranging from membership service and infrastructure groups to an employer relations group that promotes the ETC’s services to potential clients.
Another group is research and development group, which will keep members up-to-date on new developments and enhancements in the technology world. This group will also do beta testing for companies and share its findings and information with its members.
“This group will look at what’s developing out there so the ETC doesn’t fall behind,” Ingebretsen said. “We know what Microsoft and Apple are working on before our customers.”
The project is being funded primarily through Ingbretsen’s database development company, Castleway Tech. He hopes as the ETC becomes larger and more developed, it will attract the interest of larger companies, such as Microsoft, that would also be willing to provide funding.
The seed for the ETC sprouted from Ingebretsen’s days at Harvard University, where he went to study after receiving degrees from Elgin Community College and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. While at Harvard, he became involved with the One Kendall Square project in Cambridge, Mass. Developers there converted a former industrial area into an IT and biotech center, which now hosts more than 150 companies.
Ingebretsen figures Elgin could undergo a similar transformation. As the ETC develops into a central hub for technology-based knowledge and talent, companies will look to Elgin for project work and, possibly, relocation. In addition, the people that will be working out of the Tower Building will have a positive residual effect on downtown Elgin as they will want to shop and eat locally.
“We are creating an economic engine,” he said. “As we nurture the IT ecosystem and make it more diverse, it will become more stable. Once we’re really established here, it will stick with Elgin.”
Although Ingebretsen is devoting time and money into the project, he stresses that its success lies in its membership.
“These are the can-do people. These are the ones who can really create the system,” he said. “Our goal is to make this a nationally-recognized tech center.”

The last blogger on earth to weigh in on the iPad

OK, I may be slow in responding, but I felt I needed some time to really digest whether Apple’s new creation would really save the newspaper industry.  But now that the hype and hoopla over the iPad is making way to Super Bowl fever, it might be a good time to reflect on just what that all could mean.

And in the calm, it becomes clear: The iPad is not the savior of the industry. But it can be a help, if publishers are willing to accept it and utilize its potentials.

The device itself is not the must-have replacement for everything you already own. But, in reality, it has raised the standards of the e-reader to a point where publishers — if they are wise enough to recognize it — can create a revenue stream by providing a news product that offers readers an experience they cannot get from the web or print.

The iPad could be a Kindle-killer if Amazon doesn’t upgrade the product to meet the new capabilities (i.e. full-color touchscreen, ability to play videos, etc.). Same with Sony, who is also trying to carve a niche in the e-reader market as well.

What the iPad offers to e-readers is a multisensory reading experience. For example, instead of just reading “Where the Wild Things Are” to your kids at bedtime, the iPad can also offer the color illustrations and, if taken a step further, animation or video as well.

This multisensory experience is something publishers need to tap into. I expect that, in the rush to be a part of the iPad bandwagon, most newspapers will simply offer a slightly larger version of its iPhone app, or at minimum set up a PDF version of its print edition (or maybe a version of the print that uses the “page turning” technology of e-books). Unfortunately, this offers nothing new to the readers, and I expect that most will not use it. Those who do will probably not be willing to pay a premium for it.

Publishers need to take a serious look at developing products that offer iPad readers an ‘experience’ beyond what they are currently used to getting from other platforms. This will mean some R&D investment in developing products that integrate words, audio, video, animation and graphics to tell and analyze the news. This experience can set up two-way dialogs without going to third-party sites like Facebook or Twitter, and can also be used to enhance ads that can directly connect your advertiser to his target audience.

Two great examples of the potential of this reader experience are flyp, a multimedia e-magazine which does an excellent job in merging different storytelling forms into a unique reading experience, and the Sports Illustrated demo for tablet media I highlighted in  a previous posting.

The reading experience can create a renewed value of your content. The iPad and subsequent readers could bring back the “wow” factor for readers, and that could translate into a product readers will be willing to pay for.

Bottom line, I fear if current conditions continue, publishers will be faced with the reality that keeping a press will become too expensive. If publisher are proactive with the this emerging technology instead of being reactive, they may be able to transfer the newspaper reading experience from one medium to another without giving away the goose.

The iPad isn’t the answer, but  the new standard its set for e-readers is. It’s now up to our industry to meet that standard.