Edmunds.com API: Driving Innovation and Partnership with Open Data

I gave a talk at Mashery’s BAPI NY conference last week on the success of the open data initiative at Edmunds.com.  I gave a webinar a few months back on the same subject.  You can find the Edmunds API here. This is only the beginning 🙂

Lean Innovation: How to Become an Effective Innovator [UPDATED]

Yesterday, I gave a talk on Lean Innovation at the very first Edmunds Tech Conference. Before I started my talk, I played this Louis C.K. video:

Very funny, but it also set the tone for my talk. We do take innovation for granted. We do so because our expectations are continuously resetting and normalizing that unless we start teleporting people tomorrow, no one is impressed.

My talk defines innovation by stating what it is and what it is not, and how lean innovation is different. At my job at Edmunds, I took on two projects with highly uncertain business values: the open APIs and Facebook Timeline integration. Through the process of implementing both, I learned a lot about bringing highly uncertain products to customers and making them work. I felt I needed to share that with my colleagues and now with you.

Most importantly, I truly believe that if you cannot recognize innovation you can never create innovation. 

Innovation has four cornerstones:

  1. Creativity: vision and ideas are impetus of innovation.
  2. Execution: acting on those ideas is the realization of innovation.
  3. Business Value: what separates innovation from invention is how the value proposition that consumers adopt.
  4. Evolution: innovation is iterative. If you’re not iterating, you’re not innovating.

What makes innovation lean is the high uncertainty surrounding the business value of the innovation. When you think you know what people want but you don’t really know. That’s when you have to innovate the lean way.

Effective innovators are:

  1. Dreamers: You gotta dream and dream big. Tune out the naysayers and the eye-rollers. Dare to see things differently and believe in your vision.
  2. Fighters: Armchair and fair-weather innovators are what gives innovation a bad rap. You need to fight for your vision.
  3. Doers: You can dream all you want but if you don’t do something about it, you’re not innovating.

Here’s how to ensure your lean innovation is effective:

  1. Set Daily Outcomes: when you’re innovating, time is not on your side. You need to test your hypotheses and validate them quickly. You can’t think in weeks or months. You need to think in hours and days. Set a daily outcome that you have to deliver on. You’ll be more productive, much happier as a person, and well .. more innovative!
  2. Know Your Tools: You cannot innovate without knowing how to build, test, deploy, market and measure your innovation!
  3. Measure Everything: Since you’re dealing with high uncertainty, you need to measure everything you can possibly measure. Otherwise, your results might be skewed (invalidating a valid guess or validating and invalid guess) and in turn your product won’t be successful.
  4. Find Your Allies: Like anything else, you cannot do anything worthwhile alone. Find people you trust to collaborate with you.
  5. Do It: If you don’t do it, it doesn’t matter. Doing can take on various forms. You can code or put together a team that does. Whatever it is, you need to do by being involved and ensuring that the project is moving forward.
  6. Sell It: Storytelling can make or break any innovation. If you can’t tell an engaging, compelling story of why this innovation makes sense, you failed.

You can see the entire talk in these four video installments:

I’d love to get a conversation going about Lean Innovation within companies. Feel free to post a comment below of tweet me at @ielshareef. Looking forward to it!

UPDATE (June 20, 2012): You can now watch my Lean Innovation talk here.

The Business Case for HTML5

Several weeks back, I gave this presentation at the HTML5 Los Angeles meetup group. A couple of days back, I was humbled to see it featured on SlideShare.

There’s plenty of talks about the technical aspects of HTML5 but not much about its business value. This presentation sheds light on some of the benefits of HTML5 for business. Enjoy!

SlideShare Deck: How Edmunds Got in the Fast Lane: 80% Reduction in Page Load Time in 3 Simple Steps

Here’s the deck I presented at Google. Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

http://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=edmundsfastlanefinal-110116201722-phpapp02&stripped_title=how-edmunds-got-in-the-fast-lane-80-reduction-in-page-load-time-in-3-simple-steps-6593377&userName=EdmundsLabs

Google Tech Talk: How Edmunds Reduced Page Load Time by 80%!

I was invited to speak at Google on some of the work I’ve done at Edmunds. The crowd was engaged and the questions were great. It’s very humbling to be surrounded by really smart people that like what you do.

Update Feb 13, 2011: Great feedback on the YouTube page. Please join in the conversation 🙂

SlideShare Deck: WTF is Social Media Now?

This deck is extraordinary in many respects. It really drives the point of how important Social Media is to businesses and individuals home. More importantly, though, it really showcases the best practices of putting together a visual presentation:

  1. Use Few Words
  2. Use Effective Imagery
  3. Have Fun

I’ve seen too many presentations fail because they don’t adhere to these best practices. They are too literal, too bland and too damn boring. THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do presentations.

http://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=wtf-socialmedia-now-100717090720-phpapp01&stripped_title=wtf-is-social-media-now&userName=ankitbathija

Velocity 2010 Talk: Mitigating Advertising Impact on Page Performance

I had the pleasure to speak at Velocity 2010 about the approach we used at edmunds.com to lessen the impact of 3rd-party code on the performance of our pages. The response has been overwhelming and it was heartening to see folks from Google talk about reaching similar conclusions on their own 🙂