About Richard Oppenheim

Richard Oppenheim has actively worked with all technologies from mainframe to mobile since the 1960s. He writes frequently about how technology can be adapted within our business and personal lives. Today, his focus stretches out to help people and SMBs get past the roadblocks of indecision and self-doubt.
Author Archive | Richard Oppenheim

Connecting With Your Customers

Customer ServiceCustomers are the essential component of every business. No customers, no revenue, no capacity to pay expenses. How you treat customers and the population of not yet customers will drive your business going forward.

How you embrace and promote customer service needs evaluation on a continuing basis.

– As a retailer, is it only to sell what is in inventory?
– As a service provider, is it only to answer the telephone when it rings?
– As a CPA, is it only finishing the tax return?
– As a Doctor, is it only to treat the ailment?
– As writer, is it only writing for your own amusement?

Customer service is bookended with customer relationships. This demands more than just facilitating when the customer shows up to buy. Today, people who do business with you demand a sense of a relationship that provides products, services and a sense that they are being treated as a friend of the company. Without relationships, the buyer is not a customer, just one side of a financial transaction. One and done transactions will not entice the customer to return or recommend you. Your company must create and/or enhance your relationships with everyone who has contact with your organization.

  • As a company, find ways to enhance how your employees interact with customers, each other and management
  • As a seller, develop a relationship so you can learn what your customer wants to buy next
  • As a buyer, be willing to engage in a relationship with your provider because it will improve every part of service that you anticipate receiving
  • When communicating, replace coffee conversation with story telling that can promote relationships
  • Always remember that good business is more than one transaction

This process of developing relationships will energize both your business and your personal life. Start with imagining how it would look to have relationships with customers. When you have that visual, explore and discover ways to actually make it happen. Here are a few ideas to ponder:

  • Call customers and vendors to have a conversation
  • Based on size of company, encourage group meetings to discuss how best to relate with customers
  • Meetings are only good when ideas come forward and actionable items are created
  • Try new ways, old ways and combinations. Keep what works and continue exploring for more
  • Ask customers what you can do to improve their business

Never be afraid of change when the results have opportunities to make things better. Assess problems you are trying to solve today. If you are using 20th century problem solving methods, perhaps a different process can carry you to a better solution. Implementing better solutions will guide you to better customer support, service and relationships. Another good idea is to have a conversation with us to facilitate meetings, help you develop and implement plans, set a relationship oriented tone throughout your company

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Social Media Sends a Message

Social mediaThe rise of Social Media has been chronicled as the best and the worst of our culture today. Whatever you think of it personally, you need to know that Social Media can and impact you, your company and the world that surrounds us all.

When a social media message is sent:

– It can be read by a few, thousands or millions
– It can be ignored

Here is a current example of how quickly social media messages impact us.

On Mar 5, 2012, a group known as Invisible Children Inc. uploaded a video to YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/invisiblechildreninc. The title and content is all about an African warlord named Joseph Kony. The film and campaign by Invisible Children aims to make Joseph Kony famous to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.

As of March 10, 9am there have been 65,969,792 views of this video in just five days. Newspapers, TV News, CNN are all covering the impact of this 29 minute video.

Now, you may not have a viral video ready to capture the world’s attention. However, using social media in some form – small, medium, large – will benefit your organization in various ways, such as:

  • Connect with existing customers
  • Attract the new and not yet customers
  • Improve relationships with your employees
  • Support various causes in your neighborhood

The more people know about you, your products, and your involvement in the community outside of business, the more people will want to develop relationships with you and your company. Have a social media question, contact Unlimited Priorities. Plans for where, when and how need to be explored for ways that will support you and your message.

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Decision Making

The Challenge of Decision Making faces your company, individual departments, staff, customers, vendors and more. Every day, decisions need to be made so that you can:

– Achieve success in this difficult economy
– Grow a company
– Improve customer service and customer relationships

Whether the choice is simple or complex, deciding has to be accomplished. Not making a choice is a choice. There are many methods that we have learned to select a choice, make a decision and move on. Here are a few:

  • Random – the coin flip, the ‘she loves me, she loves me not’, whatever first pops into your process. Random works for simple choice – restaurant menu, TV program, stop at next gas station when fuel tank is near empty. For complex choice, random is rarely effective.
  • Research – How much time does one spend on research can be based on how much data needs to be collected. You will never gather all the information about any one choice process. You can do a shallow analysis by seeking headlines and basic facts. You can do deep analysis by locating many sources and view content, images, facts and opinions. My view is to do what it takes to be comfortable with your choice. Deciding where to go on vacation is not as complicated as deciding to take your company public.
  • SALY – The long followed ‘Same as Last Year’ only works when the circumstances are precisely the same. If you enjoyed a vacation spot, you can return. Taking a company public will not be repeated quickly.
  • Lightning Strikes – Ben Franklin’s key and kite discovery can provide some immediate ‘AHA’ moments of inspiration. These moments can be helped if you gather usable information and see how they are connected. Your ‘AHA’ can leap from the content on your desk, whiteboard or computer.
  • It’s a Mystery – Sometimes choices are made an no one knows how they actually were done. You can spend days trying to figure it out or move on to what is next on your agenda.
  • Someone Else – try to avoid having other people make decisions for you. Making choices with another or with a team can work great. Avoid having someone else choose because you made the choice not to be an active participant in the process.
  • Your goal is to make choices within the timeframe that they need to be done. Try to avoid missing the opportunity to make a choice. We all get better with practice. Therefore, when it is time to make a choice – Do It. When your decision process is upon you, there are lots of ways we can support both the decision and the implementation. Contact us.

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Privacy – Rights and Wrongs

PrivacyThe uproar over the issue of “Privacy,” yours, mine, your company, is loud and getting louder. There are lots of headlines, conversations, rooftop shouting and even Congress wants its piece of the dialogue.

Some of the sound is focused on the likes of Google’s new privacy statement, Apple’s management of third party Apps developers, or Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The concern is centered that companies and government can collect information about us that can then be used to market other products. This type of analytics, whether just statistical analysis or from marketing studies was started in the 21st century or a byproduct of mobile phones. Rather, analytics have been studied and followed for a very long time.

The New York Times Magazine had a featured article in their February 16, 2012 issue, “How Companies Learn Your Secrets.”

Information is collected when you use a credit card, answer a telephone survey, sign a petition, request customer support or any of thousands of other ways. Paying cash can prevent your credit account being followed. On the other hand, when you are on the store’s mailing list, paper or digital, some information about you is being captured.

Today’s data volume is a lot more but technology makes things, faster and more laser focused. In addition, there are services that will gladly sell data about your ethnicity, job history, the magazines you read, etc to anyone with a credit card.

Even though privacy is something that we have been giving away, for a long time, it is essential that we all understand that privacy protection going forward is more important. Data can circulate around the planet at the speed of broadband. Wiping out old information is not likely to happen. Once you step outside your home, anyone with any kind of camera can take your picture and publish it on a social media or blog site. Everybody’s smartphone is an extension of the world’s news gathering and distribution system.

We need to be on alert and very realistic. This is not a television reality show. Privacy loss can substantially impact your business and personal lives. The easy stuff – name, address, birth date, employer, last employer, spouse’s name, etc – has already made its journey around to data bases everywhere. What you do to protect tomorrow’s data requires focus.

There is no way that any Federal or State legislation will protect your business and personal information. This task is something you have to prepare for, implement and verify. For example:


  • Reconcile credit card and bank accounts currently
  • Use strong passwords online
  • Ignore emails from folks you do not know


  • Backup data files in a safe and secure location
  • Monitor company computer devices for any tracking apps
  • Establish guidelines and procedures for what data can be on a mobile device

It is time to set up effective defenses against the privacy invaders lurking nearby or far away. The smart folks at Unlimited Priorities are open to conversation with you. Contact us, we can help you prepare for the the prospects of bad guys stealing and good guys making ordinary mistakes.

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Will You Miss Paper?

NewspapersThe marketing of a paperless world dates back to the last century. With no further reference to the gag line about a “paperless bathroom,” what has been impacting our worlds is the onrush of digital everything taking over the publishing of magazines, newspapers and books.

Early in 2012, discussions and announcements are raising everyone’s focus towards the rise of digital reading material with a decline in paper based printing. These are indicators that need to be assessed by anyone in the process of either doing research or the process of creating research materials. The world of digital will increase both the volume of researchable material and the accessibility to far distant data that can be located anywhere. Researchers will not have to travel the Library at Alexandria to immerse themselves in knowledge and information. Here are three recent indicators about the move from paper to non-paper:

Apple expands its volume of digital textbooks to be read on the iPad Tablet. WSJ 1/20/12

Exchanging an overweight backpack filled with text books for a Tablet computer will help shoulders, spines, and knees to survive High School, College and Grad Schools. Apple developed a new version of its iBook’s Apps that support textbooks. These digital versions will include quizzes, note-taking, study cards and other interactive features.

Currently, Apple has agreements with McGraw-Hill, Pearson, with titles from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to be announced soon. Textbooks will be sold for $14.99 or less. Eventually, Apple said, it expects textbooks for almost every subject and grade level.

Apple also released a free tool for authors to create interactive titles. Consequently, authors of research material can start to focus on how to re-engineer how a book can be used as flexible learning tools rather than sequential page after page.

Amazon Wants to Burn The Book Business – Bloomberg Business Week – 1/30/2012

Librarian and NPR commentator, Nancy Pearl, is assisting Amazon Publishing to launch a new series called, “Book Lust Rediscoveries.” Pearl will select a handful of out-of-print books each year to be republished by Amazon in both print and digital formats.

The original text of each book will be augmented with an introduction by Pearl, reading group discussion questions and a list of recommended further reading. Books will be available in print and for Kindle: With a modest first budget of only six books per year, Amazon will be very careful with market reaction to this new service. Audio books, eBooks and paper is an ambitious undertaking for literature that may or may not find a readership. The is multi-format opportunity will also impact schools and libraries as to what their users want to obtain.

New York Times has display booth at CES

The legendary newspaper is still publishing its print edition every day. Many New Yorkers cannot make it from to Monday without the Sunday Times. For a while the Times has provided a digital version of the newspaper. With all the flight to digital, here was “The Old Gray Lady” that has been published since 1851, appealing to on-line readers. Currently the newspaper has over 30 million views of their website each month. Print subscribers have declined to one million.

As in all digital selling there was a come-on to get 6 months for 1/2 price. The grandest newspaper recognizes that readership demands access through phones, tables and other computing devices.

Whether the user or the provider, you need to plan how your research will be accomplished and expanded over the next few years. Check in with Unlimited Priorities for a very valuable conversation about the digital publication universe.

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Consumer Electronics Show 2012 – Notes and Takeaways

The theme of the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show was all things connected all the time anywhere and everywhere. According to Parks Associates, more than 920 million connected devices will be sold worldwide in 2012, and revenues from operator-provided cloud-based value-added services will exceed $8.5 billion by 2015. CES product displays did not diminish any of these estimates.

The ability to perform similar functions on various sized screens is increasing. Whether you have a smartphone, tablet, notebook, or large screen OLED Television, internet access to sites, search and social connections will expand in 2012. Below are a few highlights.

Mobile Redefined

Mobility and mobile devices are no longer optional or an add-on to our business and personal lives. The connected home and connected offices have been described for many years as a home network or office network. Today, connectivity makes every device linkable. Not just devices we call computers, but appliances, remote controls, video cameras and the automobile. The car Henry Ford started with now has its own computer based internet connection so you can get traffic reports, weather updates and be connected to the National Public Radio broadcast archives to listen to most NPR programs from any date at any time. This is internet radio on wheels.

More Books

The old term was computer or personal computer. Then the personal devices became a single unit that one could carry anywhere. The books evolved – Notebook, Netbook eBook and now Ultrabook. Ultrabooks come from the folks at Intel and have screen sizes from 11 to 13 inches, weigh less than 3 pounds and are priced less than $1,000. 

Digital medical
Doctors’ offices have been mandated to go digital. Tablets and other mobile devices are being used everywhere from the operating room to admitting. More than the hospitals and doctors, devices, apps and cloud based services are providing DIY medical control for the individual. Companies like Withings have scales, blood pressure cuffs and monitors for both babies and adults. These devices are digitally accurate and when used transmit the readings to a smartphone app for storage and uploading to your account on their website. 

These highlights may not be enough for you. Just fire up your favorite search engine and search other articles about any of the more than 3,700 vendors that were on display. Change on the technology front is constant. Whatever device you see today, feature updates will occur in less than one year. So if today you need 3D television, Digital Maps, More Games, et al, the time to buy is right after the super bowl. If you can wait, go ahead, knowing that the device you have with an internet connection links you to the world of a lot information (sometimes called stuff).

One announcement of note – Microsoft said they will no longer exhibit at CES. This action is worth watch as the big electronics companies – LG, Sony, Panasonic and Pioneer are expanding their product lines with televisions, streaming players, DVRs, Portable everything. This includes managed content that will be exclusive a period of time. For example, “Angry Birds” will have its own channel on LG.

Imagine relaxing on a quiet, sun drenched beach listening to surf roll in over the sand. You reach into your beach bag and pull out a portable device that enables connection with Unlimited Priorities Site so you can read this blog, check on upcoming U-P events. You then close the device and return to your relaxation knowing more than when your feet first touched sand.

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Hiding in Plain Sight or Way Out of Sight

Digital MediaWith the onslaught of of books, videos, articles, white papers, images and all things digital, we have some serious planning to do.

  • Where to store this digital information
  • What methods, procedures and resources can be used to access when stored

These two issues are not separate; they are as integrated as the ingredients of a beef stew. Just possessing the digital data is no better than storing my books and magazines in boxes in my attic with no identification on the outside about what is inside.

We talk a lot about retrieval of information through automated indexing and intelligent search engines. These resources are available for use. Please note that they do not do the indexing and storing and retrieval without humans making decisions, like in the beef stew, about how to locate the vegetables when the meat is cooked and the stew needs to simmer.

Dewey and his decimal system helped a lot of libraries step up for their customers when a text was requested. Google and Bing are the two most notable internet based search engines. There has to be decision makers within your public or private library groups to make choices for how to find what is needed at the time it is needed. This includes, but is not limited to: Accounting records, Inventory control, Employee manuals, Operating instructions, Research documents about the Civil War, How the Southern farms grew cotton after the civil war, New accounts about how the West changed the American landscape Maps of the North American Continent from 1760, Scholars, Politicians, Philanthropists, good guys and bad guys.

With the digital and paper bound Silos overflowing, it is very likely that documents will arrive, be placed in a box and stored in my attic. You can call me for attic access. However, before deciding where to put things, have a conversation with some of the experts at Unlimited Priorities. It is always better to do it right the first time.

Contact Unlimited Priorities to learn how we can help your business excel and grow.
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Looking Ahead at 2012: Questions and Solutions

With a new year approaching there are some questions that need to be asked — and soon. Unlimited Priorities can help answer these questions and even help your organization implement the solutions you need to meet your goals for the new year.

You and your organization should ask yourselves:

  1. What goals do you expect to reach by December, 2012?
  2. How will you adapt to the increased use of mobile technologies?
  3. Where will you hook on to Cloud Computing data and applications?
  4. How will your business refocus and change to deal with evolving economic issues?
  5. What specific skills will you need to hire?
  6. What is your strategy for gaining more customers/clients?
  7. What are your plans for lowering your cost of operations?
  8. How will you share your time and interest with family and friends?
  9. What new knowledge do you want to acquire?
  10. What new events, activities, and relationships do you anticipate?

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Content Needs Digital Distribution

Stack of booksIt is essential that you plan how you will disseminate and share your company content in 2012. The digital evolution includes web sites, blog sites, email newsletters, webcasts, audio casts, podcasts, social media everything, and even face to face. Messages need to be managed, consistent and readable.

For example, start with the Unlimited Priorities pages for initial information about Marketing, Content Licensing, and Social Media.

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Learning Can Travel an Unlimited Distance

Computer Based LearningWith the population tipping past the 7 billion mark, there is an increasing need for resources that assist with how people learn. Scholars, educators, mentors, and teachers are finding new ways to interact with students, employees, friends and people for the sharing of knowledge and wisdom.

Computer based education is not a new idea. However with so many new discoveries and information content accessible, learning opportunities about for individuals, employee groups and customers around the planet. The old learning paradigm was for each person to go to the location of the instructor – elementary school, high school, university/college, adult education center, corporate training facility. In this environment, teaching and learning was either 1 on 1 or in groups. It was all live information delivery.

Computer based education was a concept originated in the 1960’s at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois. It was called PLATO. As one of the network participants for DARPA research, a few engineers collaborated on design the PLATO hardware. The software required original thinking and involved individuals with differing backgrounds including several with no computer background.

PLATO was constructed as a timesharing system. This was the forerunner of what we now call the internet. A special-purpose programming language called TUTOR is used to write educational software.

Today, education proliferates throughout a very mobile, very wireless world. Therefore, you should be asking about to take advantage of distance learning and information transfer. Here are a few examples:

  • What subject do you want to learn?
  • What information do you want to share with customers, clients and friends?
  • What training is needed by your work force – full-time, part-time, contractors?
  • How does new information get distributed and learned by everyone connected to you?
  • Can distance learning provide a more cost-effective approach to training and learning?

Distance learning has the unique capability for students to learn at a pace that works for them. The teaching source can be a human speaking live, a prerecorded human, video tutorials, slideshows, audio casts, audio books, webcasts and webinars.

  • A key benefit of distance learning is the ability for each student to
  • Use instant replay to watch something a second, third or fourth time when needed
  • Access links to supplemental information such as images, maps, definitions, more detail
  • Teaching materials will be the same throughout the enterprise

There is a lot to consider when you seek to teach people in your organization or community. Learning capacity is embedded within every laptop, tablet and smartphone. Mobile connections enable the knowledge transfer to be extremely effective.


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