MAD Perspectives Blog

Enterprise Social Software - Another Distraction?

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A colleague complained to me last week about her company's use of a social media platform behind the firewall. She wanted to know why she would use this platform and wasn't it a distraction to her getting her job done. She also wanted to know why so many people felt compelled to spend so much time on social media. This raised a few concerns and questions for me.  I will address these thoughts over the next few weeks.

Why are we compelled to be seen online?  My colleague's thought process was that by being available on a social network, it shows that you are at work. Would her peers and management think she was not working if she was not available on the social network? Alternatively, could being available mean that she was "wasting" time on social media? 

We live in an online world. In the business world, emails are used to inform and request. Recipients are engaged due to a organizational or functional requirement. Information is shared. Questions are asked. Demands are made. Timelines are set. When emails are sent there is an expectation that they will be answered immediately. Instant messenger services stepped into the corporate world several years ago and enabled employees to quickly reach out to each other. 

We want to be part of the conversation, yet we are committed to completing our projects and fulfilling our goals. Enterprise social software provides the forum for quick, trackable, retrievable online conversations. Like general social media, individuals can choose who to follow or "friend". It is possible to be available or not. It is possible to initiate ad hoc conversations to find a quick answer to a challenge. It is possible to gain insight into new products, engage with sales teams (wherever they are), or, find quick fixes to customer concerns.

Enterprise social software (e.g., Yammer, NewsGator, SocialText) is here to stay. It enables collaboration between one or many individuals. These services pose the question "what are you working on?" For increasingly geographically dispersed organizations it provides another channel of communication. It breaks down departmental silos, allows light conversation between teammates not in the same office, enables simple polling on a hot topic. It is often integrated with other corporate applications, like Microsoft Sharepoint, with the intention of enabling conversations specific to existing documents. The benefit is the ability to tag and store the activity streams. 

Like email, social media takes some getting used to. Remember we didn't always talk about how full our email boxes were. We used to complain about voicemail! We, as individuals and employees, are responsible for finding the best ways to achieve our goals within our company's given framework. If email is the mode, then so be it. However, an increasing number of corporations are adopting internal social platforms. Employees may share RSS feeds and invite comment on competitor activity, market trends or customer announcements.

It's up to you to set expectations. Only you can decide how quickly you will respond to email or whether you will engage socially. We should not feel compelled to be online - but we are. We don't have to engage - but we often do. We use email to check the availability of others for meetings. Instant messenger services and now enterprise social software allow you do the same, instantaneously. Perhaps we will be more productive. Perhaps we will be distracted by the increasing flow of content.  Time will tell - and it will vary by individual. However, like email, we will adapt. 

Companies such as LG, HP, Cisco, Deloitte, Ford, Kraft Foods and Weight Watchers have adopted enterprise social media. Has you company adopted an enterprise social software? How are you using it?  

What's your perspective?







Social Media - Growing Up!

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 02, 2012

It's been an interesting time for enterprise social media (called enterprise 2.0 by some).  In the last year, several leading social communication and social media monitoring companies have been acquired. Last weeks announcement of Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer raises the stakes for all companies enabling social connectivity within the enterprise. The difference between Yammer and Twitter, is that Yammer provides connectivity behind the firewall. It's a perfect fit for Microsoft as it is already integrated with Sharepoint. Yammer is focused on enabling real-time collaboration between users across the enterprise. It is already implemented in many large & medium enterprise customers. For the leadership team at Yammer, being acquired by Microsoft gave them access to a $360 million user installed based.  Not bad!

It was not surprising to see Salesforce.com acquire Radian6 in 2011. Given Salesforce.com's customer centricity, Radian6 complimented and enriched their customer relationship management offer. Radian6 provides social intelligence that allows users to benefit from the social chatter surrounding their customers. Salesforce.com, while not perfect, according to the wide variety of users who have volunteered comments about them over the years, has positioned itself as the innovative provider of services to help clients better understand and manage their customer relationships. Then they upped the ante with their recent acquisition of social media marketing giant, Buddy Media.

Of course, this elevated Salesforce.com's battle with Oracle whose suite of CRM solutions includes acquisitions of Siebel and Peoplesoft. Larry Ellison has been engaged in a PR battle with Salesforce.com CEO, Marc Benioff over definition of cloud, how to provision CRM solutions. Oracle has not ignored the social platforms either. They have acquired Vitrue (social media marketing) and Collective Intellect (social analytics), all to support its overall enterprise social business strategy to improve enterprise collaboration.

Now, IDC has released its Worldwide Enterprise Social Software 2012-2016 report. How timely! They project a compound growth rate of 42.4% over the next four years, with the market growing to $4.5 billion in revenue by 2016. Drivers include enterprise interest in adding social collaboration features to existing applications and desire by enterprise users for software that feels like the social media applications they use outside the workplace.

Social media is growing up as it the market consolidates. The maturity of these large enterprises provides expanded go-to-market opportunities for social platforms targeting the enterprise. These companies will certainly integrate these platforms with their various enterprise applications. Social also naturally expands their cloud service offerings as social media has been in the cloud from its inception. The question is, will these social technologies continue to innovate now that they are part of corporate america? 

Is your enterprise getting social? I'd love to hear about it.

What's your perspective?



The 4 Bs of B2B Social Media

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 25, 2012

It's all about business for any company engaging in social media. Sometimes we forget that these platforms are a means to an end. That end is revenue. All the effort to win fans, followers, interactions, comments and click-thrus is part of a comprehensive effort to increase visibility, generate leads and sell products.

So, why is social media so important for companies selling products and services to other companies? It's all about the 4 Bs.  

#1 - Business Intelligence:  Social media allows companies to share content and capture data. Various tools and platforms exist to discover, analyze and assess this data. Individuals and companies gain knowledge about the demographics of their customers, affiliated industries, emerging topics, key trends, competitor activities, opinions regarding products and services, and more. Social media provides additional insight that can help companies create and sustain powerful relationships with their customers.

#2 - Business Development: Revenue is the life blood of all companies.  Without it, a company will eventually disappear. Therefore any tools to simplify or accelerate the acquisition of new business, whether from new clients or existing accounts, are welcome. Social networks provide companies with additional channels through which they can identify prospects, learn about companies and individuals. Platforms, like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Branchout or Zerply, can help users figure out how to connect with key decision makers or influencers. Individuals can learn more about them via blogs, tweets, status updates, presentations or videos.  56% of B2B marketers acquire new business partnerships through social media (Social Media Examiner, 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report). Imagine that first meeting with an understanding of what's been top of mind for that individual based on their social commentary!  

#3 - Business Relationships: Once a relationship is developed, it takes effort to maintain it. It's not always possible to enjoy face time with contacts. Social networks provide an alternative method of staying in touch with colleagues, customers and competitors. It's possible to congratulate contacts on promotions or job changes, make introductions for peers seeking new roles and comment on shared content. Here at MAD Perspectives, we reach out to connections on a regular basis, simply to catch up with old business friends.

#4 - Business Conversations: Social networks are all about engagement. They provide a platform to discuss topics of mutual interest, ask & answer questions, collaborate on new ideas, share content and to learn. Entrants into a new markets can learn about local business culture, business priorities and key competitors. 62% of business technology decision makers now read and post comments on blogs (Social Media Examiner, 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report).  Participants can turn casual conversations into long-lasting relationships. However, just as in face-to-face conversations, each party must provide value to the other.

Social media mirrors the business activities of any company. It is simply another channel through which to pursue these actions. As you consider your use of social media, think about the 4 Bs. Perhaps you are using all 4, or maybe you've just started engaging. Either way, be strategic and tactical about how social media can help you connect, collaborate and communicate to achieve your business goals.

What's your perspective?



Customer Support - Are You Listening to Your Customers?

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 18, 2012

A client recently asked me about using social media for customer service. I am engaged with this client on a variety of marketing topics, but nothing related to social media - so far! I like that the client asked about how social media could help them enhance their ability to serve their customers. It shows their intent to satisfy their customers. It also reflects their curiosity about how different platforms can help them.

This customer has recently integrated Salesforce.com into their overall support process. They are able to track trouble tickets more effectively and manage potential escalations more efficiently. Their goal is to resolve problems as quickly as possible. However, they would also like to help their customers with some self-service options - allowing them to quickly diagnose and fix simple issues on their own. They would like to be proactive and prevent problems before they occur. This requires the capability to understand customer concerns before they actually call the help desk.

This client has a limited social media presence. They are using the primary social networks in a controlled manner, at present. Given their cautious approach to social media, I did not suggest that they start tweeting customer support answers (or create a Facebook page or LInkedIn Group dedicated to support). Rather, given their pre-existing relationship with Salesforce.com, I asked them if they were aware of Radian6 and its ability to monitor the social web to understand customer comments, concerns and sentiment. They were not familiar with Radian6, but were intrigued.

We discussed how platforms like Radian6, Visible Technologies, Sysomos, Attensity360 and others, provide the platform to listen to online customer conversations related to a brand and its products. We brainstormed how this client could combine its in-house data related to customer issues with social interactions related to product performance, installation, usability or competitive products. The client understood the power of gaining greater insight into customers concerns. They were intrigued to understand that they could use this insight to help define their strategy for self-service support.

The client is at the earliest stages of developing this strategy. Given their relationship with Salesforce.com, i'm confident they will pursue a discussion with them about Radian6. I anticipate Radian6 helping them with a trial to demonstrate the type of data they can obtain to help them understand customer priorities. Customer support is the most critical element in securing customer satisfaction. The power of listening to customers is an art that continues to evolve thanks to social media monitoring platforms.  Are you listening to your customers?

What's your perspective?



Facebook Stumbles, but Social Media is NOT Dead!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A lot has been written in the weeks since Facebook's IPO stumble.  The social media bubble has burst and all social networks are under close scrutiny.  If Facebook cannot succeed, then allegedly, none of the other networks can succeed either. What does this mean for all the adjacent platforms that are monitoring and analyzing our social behavior? The bubble burst, social media is dead, long live...what?

The focus on the financial models of social networks is long overdue.  Like the Internet bubble of the late 90's, many social networks have emerged with little differentiation and even weaker business models. A reliance on advertising  (e.g., Facebook, Foursquare) and group based coupon revenue (e.g., Groupon, Living Social)Advertising is simply not enough. Personally, I find the ads that appear on my Facebook page less than compelling and honestly, a nuisance. Location based services are intriguing and finding coupons for discretionary purchases are helpful.  However, most local businesses that I've talked to are not a fan of the Groupon model.

Facebook is popular, prevalent and provocative.  900 million monthly users (as of March 2012), 80% of which are outside the U.S. and Canada, reflecting over 125 billion (yes, that's a B!) friend connections and 3.2 billion Likes make Facebook both popular and prevalent.  It's provocative in the way it introduces new features or changes personal settings.  It's always asking for forgiveness, not permission.  This is reflected in its public launch.  While Facebook is certainly THE social network of all social networks given the previously noted statistics.  It's business model is still suspicious.  Facebook and its investors were hoping to ask for our forgiveness in the pricing of the stock  and number of shares issued, regardless of the fact that the corporate structure still leaves Mark Zuckerberg in full control of company strategy and decisions about future stock issues that could devalue the investment even further.

However, this does not mean that social media is dead. To the contrary, it's a wake up call to pay attention to the basics. A business plan must show how value will be created for customers. Value will translate into revenue. Revenue should be invested in further value creation in the form of product development,employees, R&D, partners and go-to-market channels. Social media has connected both consumers and business in a manner not previously seen. It's like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube. Users of social media have an expectation for instantaneous access to information from friends, family and companies. We desire candid opinions and informal interaction. It's like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube. Once it's out, it's impossible to put it back in.

Like any emerging market, social media is now undergoing growing pains.  There has been an amazing amount of VC funding available to almost any company with a social proposition. The challenge is in converting ideas into sustainable businesses. Is it realistic that they can all survive? Of course not. There will be mergers, acquisitions and failures. Like Darwin's theory, it is survival of the fittest. And, that means those with a viable business plan.

What's your perspective?



Video Marketing - A Follow Up

Peggy Dau - Monday, May 21, 2012

A month ago, we asked if you were ready to embrace video marketing. As often happens, additional facts, figures and reports have appeared that reinforce our belief that video must be a strategic element of your overall marketing strategy.  Here are some tidbits that we found interesting:

  1. Social Media Examiner's "Social Media Marketing Industry Repot 2012":

       "For the second year in a row - a significant 76% of marketers plan on increasing their YouTube and/or   video marketing.  This is slightly down from 2011 (77%).  Business with 26-999 employees indicated this is a key growth area, with 80% responding affirmatively.  Younger marketers (77% of those aged 20-49) are also more likely to increase their video production than older marketers (68% of those aged 60+)."

     2.  ComScore indicates that consumption of online video will continue to rise.  In the U.S.: 

- In 2010, 175 million viewers watched an average of 15.1 hours of online video per viewer.

- In 2011, 181 million viewers watched an average of 21.1 hour of online video per viewer.

          - In 2012, 192 million viewers will watch an average of 29.4 hours of online video per viewer    

    3.  Adap.tv and Digiday, Q1 2012State of the Video Industry Report

        "Industry optimism is healthy.  96% of video buyers we surveyed estimate that their 2012       video ad budgets will increase by at least 23%."

    4.  Other tidbits:  

       - HD will become the standard

       - content will increasingly be consumed on wireless devices such as tablets and smartphones

       - people are becoming more savvy, creating demand for quality and originality

Video will continue to challenge and intrigue us as we seek the best methods to engage our customers. Planning will address issues such as good storytelling, tagging to ensure search engine optimization and click-thrus to your website and marketing strategy integration (including social media!). Your goal is simple - to get the highest possible return on your video marketing investment. So, we'll ask again - are you ready to embrace video marketing?

What's your perspective?

   



Are You Authentic?

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I've been thinking about what it means to be authentic.  This is perhaps one of the most overused words of the past few years, particularly as it relates to our use of social media.  Forbes has written about it, raising valid points about whether companies and individuals are truly authentic, or just using social media as another outlet for building their brand. Entrepreneur.com recently wrote about finding your voice (as did we last year!) and aligning with your brand.  And, Social Media Today has curated at least 750 articles that reference the term authentic.

So, I started looking around for a baseline, against which to measure true authenticity. It turns out I didn't need to look too far. The best example of unlimited exuberance, clear intentions, consistent messaging and bountiful joy is my dog. Yes, you read that right, my dog Whisky (and perhaps your dog too!) expresses his brand (a true mutt) in every action he takes. He loves his soft squeaky toys and throws them in front of me to entice me to play with him. Doesn't this sound a bit like tweeting (or is that squeaking)?  As we walk through our neighborhood, at the dog park or at the beach, he eagerly approaches other dogs and humans - confident in the connection he will make. Sounds a bit like LinkedIn to me (and yes he does remember them the next time he sees them, it just takes a quick sniff).

Whisky does have a Facebook page, but he doesn't update it very often. He doesn't want to post his status unless something meaningful has happened. If he were active on Pinterest, he would pin items related to dog toys, treats and rescue shelters. These are the products of high interest to him and are consistent with his brand. He is happiest when playing with a soft, squeaky toy or snuggling with his family. As a rescue dog himself, he wants all homeless dogs to find families to love them.

Does your social strategy provide your audience with the content and interactivity that they crave and demand? Do your posts reinforce your brand, yet provide a fresh voice? Social interaction is conversational and should not sound like a lecture. It should not simply be a rehash of existing marketing materials, but provide a new perspective. The unbridled enthusiasm of dogs gives us a view of activity to which individuals cannot help but respond. This should be the goal of any social strategy - engagement. If your content is authentic, your audience will engage and help you meet your goals whether they are related to awareness, lead generation, influence, product feedback, event attendance or more.

What's your perspective?



The Power of LInkedIn

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, May 08, 2012

161 Million members in over 200 countries, with 2 new members joining per second.  Wow!  This represents over 4.2 billion professionally-oriented searches in 2011.  So, this begs the question - how do you use LinkedIn? My friends and colleagues all know that I am a big fan (and for complete disclosure, i do own a few shares of LNKD). The common perception is that LinkedIn is a career networking site. It provides individuals with a mechanism to display their professional talents and find a new job. It helps recruiters find the best talent. It helps sales teams uncover network links to key decision makers.  These are all fantastic uses of LinkedIn.

But, have you thought about using LinkedIn to do market analysis? Or, to empower your employees? Here at MAD Perspectives, we use LinkedIn to pursue new business, learn about market trends, share thoughts and stay connected to colleagues. We have posted questions in groups to learn about new technologies.  We have answered questions posted in LinkedIn Answers. We have also leveraged LinkedIn to fulfill client projects, some directly tied to LinkedIn, others using the power of the network.

Check out our case studies:

     - LinkedIn for Competitive Analysis

     - LinkedIn for Accelerating Sales

     - LinkedIn for Solution Consulting Services

Social media has changed the way we share and obtain information at the the personal and business levels. Each of the social networks adds value to how we communicate and stay in contact with friends, companies and colleagues. It's up to each of us to determine how these platforms can best serve us. Don't be afraid to be creative!

What's your perspective?



Cloudy Days Ahead for Broadcasters?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, May 02, 2012

One of my current clients is in the broadcast space.  As a result, i've been paying a lot of attention to the technology shifts in this space. The two hottest technology topics being discussed online, and just about anyplace else, will impact this industry dramatically.  These topics are:  Tablets and Cloud.

You're not surprised, right? Apple's iPad has changed the way we consume content until the next great innovation comes along. We watch TV with our iPads in hand, reviewing news, checking our Facebook accounts, sending email or watching complementary content to that which is on our TV screens. Just about every broadcast network has an iPad app (or, at least has one in development). Getting content to the iPad requires some effort behind the scenes It is expected that the content will be a combination of video and text; that it will enable some level of interactive; and that its design will be extremely user friendly and enticing.  However, the broadcaster must now produce content in formats useable on the iPad. This requires editing transcoding, distributing and delivering the content itself. These are familiar tasks for any broadcaster, but it adds to the already heavy workloads of the personnel responsible for preparing and managing that content.

At the recent NAB conference, multi-channel content delivery was front and center for many vendors.  This is a primary investment area for all broadcasters.  The challenge is how will they integrate tablet content preparation into their existing workflows. Will they create separate a "tablet" team to edit and adapt content for the end device? Or will they partner with other vendors who will manage this challenge for them.  This introduces the other hot topic - cloud.

To a certain extent, content delivery has been in the cloud for ages. The original content delivery networks provided the infrastructure and network resources to internet companies to enable the efficient delivery of their content to consumers. They invested in the technology (e.g., algorithms, edge cache servers, bandwidth, etc.) and created service level agreements with customers, who paid a fee based on the amount of content served or the bandwidth consumed.  

Today, additional tasks along the broadcast workflow can be performed in the cloud. CPU-intensive functions such as rendering and transcoding or content management challenges such as storage or metadata management are the already happening in the cloud. Across the board, every storage vendor at NAB was promoting its cloud capabilities.  Companies that could be considered pure product companies were introducing and showcasing their cloud storage capabilities.  Why is this of interest to broadcasters?  It converts capital expense to operating expense.  It provides centralized access to users, regardless of their location.  While the largest broadcasters may elect to build their own centralized archives, they may still choose to use cloud storage for disaster recovery.

Cloud computing provides broadcasters with investment alternatives. The challenge will be defining which functions can exist in the cloud, developing the relevant interfaces to access the functionality and integrating cloud services with in-house functions for a seamless workflow. NAB even had a Cloud Pavilion this year with companies offering video production in the cloud. Broadcasters, across the board, must find cost-effective, agile solutions to address internal and external pressures to produce meaningful content and deliver it to the consumer device of choice. Perhaps a cloudy day is just what they need.

What's your perspective? 



Social & TV - They're Just Dating

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 23, 2012

I was in Las Vegas last week, attending the annual broadcast industry gathering - NAB. The conference is an opportunity for technology providers to promote their capabilities to broadcasters such as CNN, Comcast/NBC Universal, ABC and others. After working around this industry for 8 years before leaving HP, I'm still interested to see how broadcasters evolve. This year I attended with one goal. I wanted to understand the hot topics and see how they had shifted since I last attended NAB two years ago.

The topic that has been trending for several years is that of multi-screen delivery or OTT. This means the delivery of TV content to the PC, tablet or smartphone. We've all become used to watching video online, but probably don't think about the behind the scenes effort involved with making that content available. Vendors such as EVS, Harris and Ericsson TV are providing broadcasters with solutions to simplify the adaptation, delivery, branding and user interface for their programming. Streamlining and simplification are increasingly important. Due to the rise of tablets and smartphones and 4G or LTE networks, consumers are demanding content in real time regardless of device.

The trending topic coming out of SXSW and into NAB is that of social TV. This is the integration of social content into and around TV broadcasts. Any of us watching news broadcasts or reality TV have seen the incorporation of Twitter or Facebook feeds into the on-air graphics. The vendors that provide the platforms enabling this integration are ramping up their efforts.  

Broadcast use of social media started, not surprisingly, from a pure marketing perspective. TV shows, broadcast journalists and networks created Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels and iPad apps to augment their on-air programs. The use of these "second screens" created a social buzz around the content while it was on air, but also even when it was not. Companion apps such as Buddy TV, Miso or Get Glue track this buzz and will let subscribers know what their friends are watching.

However, the new challenge is to integrate live social content into programming in real-time.  Vendors such as Mass Relevance and Never.no have created modular platforms to moderate select and integrate social feeds into broadcast workflows, adding Twitter or Facebook comments to on-air graphics. These niche social TV platforms must integrate with leading graphics vendors such as Chyron, Vizrt and Harris.  In fact, these start-ups provide these long time vendors with the ability to showcase new capabilities. The challenge for broadcasters is to curate the social feeds, provide the expected level of interaction as well as select the best content to share on-air. This is a new challenge for producers and requires new skill sets both behind the scenes and on-screen.

The broadcast industry faces an ever shifting landscape as it struggles to remain relevant in the face of news driven by un-substantiated Twitter feeds.  Its acknowledgement and incorporation of social content is critical to its survival. There are still challenges related to media asset management, tagging and metadata to be addressed, but it was great to see the dating ritual underway between social TV and traditional broadcast vendors. The marriages will follow - of that I am sure!

What's your perspective?