MAD Perspectives Blog

HP, Culture Shock & Social Networks

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 09, 2010

Last week I began a discussion about the impact of corporate culture on a company’s level of comfort with social media.  While I was thinking about this week’s continuation of this discussion, the CEO of my former employer, HP, resigned due to allegations of misconduct.   This news hit the social airwaves like tsunami last Friday. I enjoyed a 24 year career of Hewlett-Packard Company, which means I was lucky enough to have learned from the founders, Bill and Dave, what it means to be open, ethical, moral and to do business with integrity.   One of the key elements of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct is to “think about how your decision or behavior would look in a press article”.  This is a good foundation for us to consider when we think about how a company’s culture and organizational model impact the company’s use of social media.

HP’s culture and what became known as the “HP Way” focused on innovation, integrity and collaboration.   This culture was a natural match for social media.  The predecessor to today’s social networks was “MBWA" or management by walking around.  In HP, this meant an ability to learn from others in your office.  Employees would mix and mingle and share experiences.  Many careers grew through discovery and learning from peers.   HP’s founders would have been cautious about protecting HP’s Intellectual Property but they would have loved the ability to crowd source innovative concepts. However, over the past decade or so, the culture at HP changed.  This was a result of both external and internal forces.

External forces include the internet and the rampant availability of information.  They also include the increased demands from the financial services sector for all companies to provide and meet quarterly estimates.  This kind of instant gratification will change the way any company works.  Internal forces took the shape of CEOs and managers hired to lead change (defined in many diverse ways) but who each also had personal agendas.  In all cases the “HP Way” was deemed out dated and the collaboration of old gave way to siloed, hierarchical organizations with formerly empowered employees fearful of making even the smallest mistake.  Could Mark Hurd's HP, with a culture of cost containment, hierarchical decision making and limited employee empowerment, succeed in social media?

Interestingly, the answer is yes.  Consistent with its current command and control model, HP has a well defined, publically available, blogging policy.  They even have a digital media council, which includes representatives from all business units, that sets the policy for how HP will participate in social networks.  Any employee that will represent the company on a social network must take the requisite training.  So, HP empowers its employees with guidelines of expected behavior.  Is that really empowerment? I check on various HP blogs from time to time and follow several twitter feeds.  I find them interesting but cautious.  I think that HP could use social media as more than another PR channel.  I believe this is indicative of the internal culture.  That said, HP is number 22 on the NetPropex Social Index, which measures the social network activity of the largest U.S. corporations across a variety of social platforms.  Imagine what HP's score would be if the former culture of openness and collaboration was prevalent.

As a former HP employee and current HP shareholder, I hope HP’s next CEO balances innovation and operational excellence.  I hope they remember that their 300,000+ employees are the company’s biggest asset.  I hope they empower them to connect, communicate and collaborate, using social media, with their peers both inside and outside the company to create and innovate market changing solutions.

What’s your perspective?



Sales and Social Networking

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 08, 2010

The art of selling has evolved over the years, but the basic premise is unchanged.  A company has a product or service that it sells to its customers.  The product is sold directly or via a channel such as a retailer, reseller or the internet.  The goal for both the direct or indirect channel is to get to the key decision makers or influencers for the entity buying the product.  Once they have identified this decision maker, they want to provide them with the facts about their product that differentiate it from its competitors, fulfill the needs of the customer, and address extemporaneous goals. How has social networking helped or hindered the sales process?

The past 10 years have seen the internet accepted as both a sales channel and an information portal.  For the sake of this discussion, we are not going to focus on sales via the internet.  We will focus on the traditional sales model of a sales person calling upon an established set of accounts.  Many sales people that I have spoken with are aware of social media, but mostly from the consumer perspective.  Their initial thought is that social media is Twitter and that all it is a random set of meaningless thoughts. They may be on LinkedIn, but they are uncertain as to its benefits other than as a "virtual Rolodex".   Given that sites like Twitter,Facebook or YouTube did evolve from a individuals point of view rather than a business perspective, it is understandable that sales personnel may have some concerns.

In addition to some healthy scepticism, there is also a cultural issue.  Many successful sales people are successful because they have built strong relationships with their customers.  They have wined and dined, played golf or attended sporting events.  They have built business based social relationships. they feel that social media is not personal due to the lack of face to face interaction.  However, the new breed of sales will include those very individuals around whom these social platforms were built.  These millenials are familiar with the tools and understand the potential.  As many sales people have adapted to CRM (customer relationship management) software and updated order processing and order management systems  they will now figure out how, where and why to use social media.

Shaking hands by mr.curtispope.

Here are a few thoughts:

1.  Listen to what your existing and potential customers are saying online.

It is extremely likely that your clients are online.  They are exploring websites, industry forums, blogs, customer support pages and social networking sites to learn more about the vendors they work with.  As a sales person, you can gain insight into their pet peeves, challenges and concerns by "listening" to what they are saying online.  Using tools such as Google Alerts, you can define keywords around topics such as your company and its products plus the names of your current or prospective clients.  You will be able to see, at least at a high level, what content your client is placing online as it relates to your company.

In addition you can perform searches is Twitter and Facebook, again using keywords, to see what they are talking about.  If you want to get more sophisticated, there are subscription based tools from Radian6, TelligentVisible Technologies and others.  Once you have these tools set up, the time investment to scan the news becomes a habit rather than a huge time commitment.  Remember, 20 years ago email was not present in the corporate sector and now our email in boxes are packed while voicemail has reduced.

BTW, you can also listen for information about your competitors!

2. Find key decision makers and influencers

Many of us are familiar with a rolodex, business contact, or CRM systems.  We collect business cards from our client, at networking events or trade shows.  We follow up on those with whom we had compelling conversations and we hold onto the rest of these cards.  The goal is to have a suite of contacts with whom we can pursue business. 

In addition, sales people often have primary contacts within a business that are in purchasing, IT or marketing, but they may not be the key decision makers.  they may not even be influencers.    Most sales people will leverage their primary contacts to increase their visibility within the account, with the goal to gain access to these decision makers.  Of course, if you can get inside the head of these decision makers you can shorten the sales cycle and win more business.  Social networks can help with this process.  Using LinkedIn as an example and remembering the theory of six degrees of separation, your LinkedIn contacts may be connected to that key decision maker you desire to meet.  An introduction from a business colleague who can speak to your experience and reputation, from a trusted contact, can go a long way to easing that first conversation.  In fact, LinkedIn can give you a little insight into their background and what makes them tick.

3. Educate your customers

Part of the sales process always includes providing updated information about your company and its products.  With increasing focus on managing travel expenses, sales people can become frustrated by not being able to be in front of their customers as often as they like.  An alternative mechanism to sharing information with clients is to use podcast and webcasts to provide information.  They enable the company to share information to broad audience in a cost effective manner, while enabling potential customers to interact and ask questions during the presentation.  In addition, in many cases, the information is available for a limited period in an on-demand manner, allowing customers to access the information as their schedules permit.

If this solution is deemed too impersonal, then think about the incredible advances in video conferencing.  At the low end their are simple, free (yet not secure) tools such as Skype.  On the high end their are video conference environments such as Cisco Telepresence or HP Halo that visually connect participants in virtual conference rooms using advance camera, lighting and networking technologies.

In addition, invite your customers to join LinkedIn groups, company blogs, RSS feeds, etc.,  that may be sponsored by your company.  The goal - make it easy for your customers to get the information they need!

4. Customer Service

It is often the case that once the product or service is sold, that the sales person moves onto the next opportunity.  This is understandable.  However, in today's world where social networking is so prevalent, it is important to keep your customer's happy.  An unhappy customer will tell 10 colleagues about a bad experience, while only telling 3 colleagues about a positive experience.  Sales people need to stay in touch with customer service.  If your company has a customer service forum, check in to see if your customers are participating and at what level.  Are they satisfied?  Are they facing a challenge? 

Happy customers are loyal customers and will recommend you to others.  Customer retention has become an increasing focus for many companies as their products and services become commoditized.  Your customers want to feel as if they have a voice.  Enabling them to participate in customer support forums, rewarding them for solution suggestions, listening and responding to their questions is all part of the extended sales process.

It's a new world for sales people.  They are faced with a broader view of their customer, but that's a two way street.  Their customers have access to far more information about vendors than ever before.  Social networking and digital media solutions can augment the sales process and facilitate access, education and support.  Make these tools are part of your daily habit!

I want to thank Chris Brogan and Joseph Jaffe for their insights on these topics.  Information in their blogs helped me solidify my thoughts.

What's your perspective?



Olympic Inspiration

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 01, 2010

Well, the Games of the 21st Winter Olympics are closed.  I'm sad.  It was a great two weeks of athletics, competition and digital media.  Hmmm...  You're wondering about that last bit.  I truly love the Winter Olympics.  I love the beautiful locations, the fabulously fit athletes (although I may have seen the beginnings of a beer belly on a bobsledder), and the edge of your seat competition.  This year, more so than any previous Olympics, we were able to experience the Olympics on TV, Internet and social networks. NBC is the official U.S.  broadcast network.  Not only did they provide coverage on TV, but we could also follow events, blogs, and twitter feeds at www.nbcolympics.com.  We could become fans via Facebook.  They invited us to participate in the games, virtually.

In addition, we could find a perhaps more global view from the International Olympic Committee on their site, www.olympic.com; on Facebook and Twitter.  And, of course, we could interact with our favorite athletes as they tweeted and posted comments.  For those of us who could not (or did not want) to go to Vancouver, we were able to feel a little bit closer thanks to online videos and the instant and honest comments made by attendees and athletes.  We could commiserate in their disappointments or celebrate in their achievements.  We could share our own thoughts with friends and fans as our favorites pursued their dreams.

I've always felt the Olympic games were a phenomenal opportunity for international sport, but always felt a bit removed (except in 1988 when I was lucky enough to go to the Calgary winter games - what a great experience!).  Perhaps this is how customers have felt about the companies from whom they purchase products.  They can admire the company and its products, but never feel like they have a true connection.  They can speak to their sales representative and ask questions about features, functionality, benefits, manufacturing, etc, but they don't have any influence.  Digital media through the use of online video and interactive webinars, social networks to enhance communication and connectivity or customer support forums to prioritize and address key issues, allow companies and customers to have a voice.  Companies become more approachable and customers have an increasing number of communication avenues.

Let's be inspired by the Olympians and their fabulous experiences and by the Olympics themselves as they continue to become more interactive.  My congatulations and thanks to EVERY athlete who participated in Vancouver, each of you provided 2 weeks of inspiration!

What's your perspective?



Developing a 360º Perspective

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As I was watching the women’s mogul skiing competition at the Winter Olympics on Saturday, I saw how they bounced down the moguls, taking great care to maintain the correct form.  Then they would flip head over heels with in layout positions or skis crossed or spin 360º, only to land and ski through more bumps.  I thought about how companies struggle to integrate digital media solutions into a 360º interaction with customers.  What do I mean by this?  I’m thinking about how companies reach out to their customers or business partners via their website, press releases, events, in-person or online training or customer support.  There are new solutions for managing your access to or accessibility by customers, emerging every day.

Does digital media make this easier?  Harder?  Or just more confusing?  Hopefully it makes it easier, but it does require some thinking on several topics.  First, think about who your customers are and how they prefer to consume content.  While face to face meetings are always preferred, depending on the information being shared it can be equally effective, and less costly, to reach a geographically dispersed or broad range of customers through live and on-demand webinars.  What level of interaction do they prefer?  While some webinar solution allow for instant messaging or audio interaction, others don’t.  Or, perhaps a webinar is too broad and complementing in person meetings with video conferencing makes more sense.

Second, think about the kind of information you are sharing.  We have been in the mode of pushing content, through formal, relatively static channels, to our customer and business partners.  With the variety of solutions now available, we are increasingly sharing content in a more casual manner.   How can the information being shared be best presented?  A simple, concise press release can inform a very wide audience, but does not allow for interaction.  On the other hand, using social networking platforms, to reinforce the press release and listen for feedback, does enable interaction.  The goal is to strike a balance across the variety of communication channels. 



Simplistically, you can consider the following
         
  •  Company website:  informative content about your company and its products
  • Press Release:  announce compelling news about your company, its products, partnerships, customers or   executives   
  • Interactive Marketing:  online advertising and promotion of your company
  • Online Video:  one way communication of information about your company and its products
  • Webinars:  communicate targeted content about the company and its products with the ability for structured   interaction between the presenter(s) and participants
  • Video conferencing:  live interaction between a defined set of participants; enable geographically dispersed participants to meet more frequently
  • Events:  targeted representation of your company and its products based on the focus of the event; enable face to face contact
  • Social Networking:  less formal communication with a broad audience with the ability for immediate feedback

    • How do you connect with your customers and partners? Who and where are they?  Where are your competitors and how are they connecting?   How does each element of a communication strategy enable you to connect or collaborate more effectively?  Think about developing a strategy to allow your customers or partners to get a 360º perspective of your business.  In return, you will gain a 360º view of your customers and their needs.
    • What’s your perspective?

     



    Adjusting your Organization Structure with Digital Media

    Peggy Dau - Monday, February 01, 2010

    So you’re thinking about jumping on the Enterprise 2.0 bandwagon.  You’re not only thinking about incorporating social networking into your marketing plan, you are thinking about how Web 2.0 and social networking platforms can facilitate the way you do business.  You may be thinking about enhancing your customer support capabilities through customer support forums.   Or, you may be considering how you can create an internal social network to simplify the ways employees connect, collaborate and communicate with each other.  Or, you may be considering a plethora of other ways that you can enhance the way your business works.

    If you believe that Web 2.0 tools and platforms can help your business, you are right!  However, be prepared to invest the necessary time to build a strategy and consider the organizational impact.  OK, now you’re thinking, am I biting off more than I can chew?  No!  It’s only that in many ways implementing these solutions can change the way your current business processes work.  In fact, it can streamline many of them.  This is why it is important to think about how these solutions may change existing formal or informal organizational structures and processes.

    The organizations that we work within have evolved based on number of norms.  These norms are institutional, social, community and individual.  They informally define how we process information and interact with others.  They are the underlying factors that drive the structure of an organization   Look at the differences between how Baby Boomers and Gen Y work, learn and motivate:

     

    Baby Boomer (born:  1946- 1964)

    Gen Y (born: 1978-1994)

    Work Style

    Time management

    Multi-tasking

    Learning Style

    Instruction

    Experience

    Collaboration

    Collaborative

    Independent (resists collaboration)

    Motivations

    Independence

    Competition

    View on Authority

    Respect for others is earned

    Respect for Authority

    Structure

    De-centralized, non-hierarchical

    Centralized, hierarchical

    Information Access

    Access for all

    Access to those in power

       Source:  http://ekarine.org/wp-admin/pub/IAMOT_DN_2008.pdf

    Today, much of corporate America reflects organizational structure and business processes that reflect the influence of the Baby Boomer mindset.  However, with the increasing adoption of digital media solutions which inherently broaden communication, increase collaboration and expand employee connectivity, traditional structures will need to adapt.  There has been much talk within the Fortune 100-500 in the past decade about the Adaptive Enterprise.  This term was coined by Stephan H. Haeckel in his 1999 book the Adaptive Enterprise.  Much of Haeckel’s theory resonates today when speaking of sense and respond organization.  However, have organizations really adopted employee empowerment,  de-centralized hierarchy and open communication, only to retrench to what is familiar and comfortable.

    Digital Media, through its use of video, instant messaging or chat and blogging, increases the capacity for any company to quickly understand shifting market trends, customer concerns, product adoption, technology innovation and more.  When moving forward with digital media solutions think about the impact on your information systems, organization culture, communication practices, employee abilities and reward structures. 

    The knowledge you can gain as a business and as an employee is increases dramatically when using social networks.  As the saying goes, “knowledge is power”.  Think about how to engage to gain beneficial insights and how this will shift the conversations in your business.  How will it impact your organizational structure?  How will it provide process improvement?  How will it improve employee productivity?

    What’s your perspective?



    What Inspires You?

    Peggy Dau - Friday, December 11, 2009

    I was thinking about this blog over the weekend (and during the week while recovering from stomach flu).  I was thinking about how I find inspiration for what I'm going to write.  It's been a bit of a process for me to grow comfortable sharing my thoughts in this manner.  As I thought about all the things I could write about in the digital media space, I realized that just the process of gaining inspiration is something that digital media facilitates.

    Whether it is personal or professional, we are all inspired by the thoughts of others.  I use the word inspired intentionally.  While many think of this word in a religious or spiritual context, it actually means "to stimulate somebody to do something".  In the business world, we are constantly seeking new ways to drive revenue and create new products or services.  The inspiration for many great businesses is difficult to identify or act upon.  Look at some of our greatest business leaders of the late 20th century (there are too many to count in the early part of the century!).  Steve Jobs.  What makes this man tick?  Fortune magazine just had him on their cover as CEO of the Decade, highlighting his unique approach to business, his attention to design detail and his ability to innovate.  Or Jeff Bezos at Amazon.  What started as an online model to sell books has turned into "the destination" for online shopping.  With acquisitions such as ShopBop or Zappos and investments in cloud computing, his online shopping empire continues to evolve and adapt.  Or, David Neeleman at JetBlue with is focus on customer first, simplifying the ticket buying and check-in process.  And, when they faced their flight cancelation debacle in the winter of 2008, they learned from their mistakes, adopted social media tools to stay in touch and listen to their customers and improve service.

    How do we find inspiration in the business world?  We often collaborate with our peers.  We chat about ideas and the feasibility of the market for these ideas.  We read industry journals, subscribe to RSS feeds, join online communities, capturing information and knowledge via as many channels as possible.  Is it becoming too much?  Is there too much information available?  Or, do we just need to organize it better?

    The benefits of many Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 solutions are in the ability for employees to more easily connect with their colleagues.  Once they have connected, there are many ways to collaborate online, eliminating challenges of distance and time zone.  They are able to open the conversation for others with similar interests, thus capturing more ideas, stimulating more thoughts, ultimately creating new products or services or processes.  Their online conversations can be saved, tagged and searched in the future instead of being a memory that one struggles to re-capture.  These conversations can stimulate new thoughts now and in the future. 

    In fact these solutions enable conversations outside and inside the corporation.  they can stimulate enhanced product design, help resolve customer support issues, generate viral marketing campaigns, inspire new business ventures or new business models.  My inspiration comes from the business, political, social, environmental world around me.  What inspires you?

    What's your perspective?





    A New Buzz Word: Employee Generated Content (EGC)

    Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 02, 2009

    I learned a new buzz word this week:  EGC or Employee Generated Content.  while this term is new to me, it is not new to the industry pundits.  EGC is the ability to easily create and distribute content to members of your company without transferring large files via email or file storage.  Apparently this term has been bandied about for the past 2 or so years.  While all of us are very familiar with the term UGC or user generated content, primiarly due to the pervasiveness of YouTube, the discussion of enterprise related content, generated and "broadcast" by employees within the firewall, is still somewhat new.

    Vendors such as Qumu are jumping on this bandwagon.  Recognizing that today's employees are familiar with the ability to upload video content to a video portal such as Youtube, means that companies need to start addresing the desire of employees to create and consume enterprise centric user generated content.  Imagine a content expert with the Flip or Kodak z18 mini camcorder, able to create high quality video explaining new technology, educating colleagues or demonstrating a new HR system.  Employee generated content can reduce production costs for enterprise business, attract innovative thinkers, create an alternate source for valuable content creation and increase employee participation in social collaboration, but it also creates new challenges.  These challenges range from consistent metadata standards, to incoporating EGC into enterprise intranet searches for content, to integration with existing content management platforms.

    As I mentioned in last week's blog, enterprises are broadcasting increasing volumes of content.  They are utilizing platforms and services, originally designed for media broadcast, such as encoding, editing, video workflow, video storage, content management and more.  It remains to be seen how EGC will be adopted by enterprise companies.  EGC vendors are not only providing employers with a means to tap into the employee social mindset, they integreate Will they establish policies for EGC?  Will they define target audiences for this content?  Will they restrict the type of content employees can create?  How will they manage this content?  How will it integreate with existing systems and IT infrastructure?  It's early days but exciting to think about how this can change the ways we connect, collaborate and communicate in business.

    What's your perspective?



    The Five C's

    Peggy Dau - Friday, November 20, 2009

    I recently attended a seminar for women entrepreneurs.  One of the speaker's spoke about the 5 C's (my apologies, for not being able to reference the specific speaker).  They are:

         - Clarity
         - Connect
         - Confidence
         - Communicate
         - Courage

    As I've thought about these 5 C's, I feel there is a strong connection between these comments targeted at building a entrepreneurial business and how businesses define and implement a digital media strategy.  Remember there are many elements to a successful strategy, that include goals, audience, process, content, platforms and metrics.

    Clarity - be clear about your goals.  Write them down.  Think about them.  Edit them, but be clear about what your want to accomplish with your digital media strategy.  Do you want to enhance your brand awareness?  Do you want to attract more customers?  Do you want to augment your customer support capabilities?  Are you focused on a product launch?  Whatever it is, be clear as your success can only be measured if you know what your goal is.

    Connect - once you have defined your goals, you need to connect with the community that can help you achieve them.  This may mean internal resources.  You may need to gain alignment across internal business units or functional teams.  You may want to develop a go-to-market solutions with business partners that requires connection with those partners and relevant technology vendors.  You will need to think of how you need to connect.   Depending  on the audience, there are various tools you can then select to enable the right kind of connection.

    Confidence - move forward with determination.  Investigate your options.  Research your customers, competitors and key market influencers.  Investigate platforms and vendors.  Gather the information you need to make informed decisions.  Armed with this information you can move forward with your plan with confidence!

    Communication - be consistent, be clear, be real.  Sometimes we think we are communicating clearly, but when asking for feedback, we find that our audeince is hearing a different message.  Think about your audience and how they ingest infromation.  Then think about not only what your communicating, but how you will communicate.  Which platofrms (social networks, webinars, video conferencing, podcasts) allow you to communicate most effectively.  Align the content and format based on your goals and your audience.

    Courage - be brave!  Incorporating various forms of digital media will take time.  The results will not be evident overnight.  Do not be afraid to promote and utilize innovative digital media strategies to achieve your goals!  With clear goals and metrics, knowledge of your company, products, market sector and competitors, you will succeed. 

    I'm keeping the 5 C's in mind as I work with clients.  It helps me stay focused.

    What's your perspective?



    Cisco: taking networking to the human level

    Peggy Dau - Thursday, November 12, 2009


    Once upon a time, Cisco provided network products such as switches and routers.  They still do.  These are not necessarily exciting products, but they were (and still are) critical to facilitating the flow of content and information across private and public networks.  However, Cisco has long had a reputation for growing through acquisition.  In the past 10 years, these acquisitions have become very intriguing as Cisco perceived the impact that media could have at both the corporate and consumer levels.

    Cisco has a stated commitment to collaboration that incorporates video and social networking.  It is pervasive across the company through Cisco's focus on interoperability of its platforms, its R&D investments, standards leadership, acquisition strategy and partnerships.  Cisco has been building it's video management capabilities over the past 5+ years with a focus on capture, create, manage, edit and share video assets.  There capabilities run the gamut from the very high end (e.g., HD content encoding for broadcast) to the low end (e.g. consumer video capture) and the all the complex challenges that happen in between. 

    Tuesday, Cisco CEO and Chairman, John Chambers, spoke about Cisco's vision for collaboration.  This is a topic near and dear to my heart.  Having worked for a Fortune 50 technology company for many years, I was able to take advantage of various collaboration tools to connect, communicate and collaborate with my colleagues regardless of geographic distance.  I saw the evolution from proprietary corporate email to "standardized" email systems to the use of document management systems, virtual rooms, web conferencing and telepresence conferencing.  I personally saved many, many hours and dollars through the use of telepresence solutions.  However, the enterprise of tomorrow demands more than stand alone products, it requires integrated products to simplify collaboration and communication

    Cisco is leveraging its vast array of assets for unified communication, IP communication, presence, web conferencing and media asset management to address the increasing relevance and use of video plus the growing demand for enterprise social networking.  It's Enterprise Collaboration Platform, which integrates new social networking products with existing communication and conferencing platforms, allows emloyees to navigate an employee directory designed in the manner of a LinkedIn or Plaxo.  The difference is its incorporation of tags for both data and video content, enabling users to find people, data and video content relevant to the topic searched.  Of high interest is the ability to view professional (studio created) or casual (import from Flip) video content at the specific frame that discusses the search topic.

    It is clear that Cisco has a vision and is aligning its technology assets accordingly.  Cisco estimates the market opportunity to be $30B+ per year over the next 10 years.  Given Cisco's presence in the enterprise it will be interesting to see if they grab a significant share of the emerging enterprise investment in social media networking.  If nothing else, Cisco's announcements validate the investment and presence of the many small businesses that are emerging in this space. 

    What's your perspective?



    Getting Social Behind the Firewall

    Peggy Dau - Friday, August 07, 2009

    A lot of Buzz

    There is a lot of buzz about social media, social networking, social computing, whatever term you want to use.  We all understand that these solutions, which allow for connections to friends, colleagues or groups, emerged and became widely popular in the consumer space.   Now enterprises are jumping on the bandwagon and figuring out how to leverage the power of these technologies.  Initial success has been achieved in the business to consumer (B2C) space in a variety of customer support related models.  

    Now, companies are seeking strategies to utilize social platforms, behind the corporate firewall,  to connect employees, increase product innovation, enhance knowledge management and more.   A key thought, to keep in mind as you consider social media, is these methods of communication are inclusive, not exclusive. 

    Social Media solutions are a good fit when:


    1. You want to broadcast your thoughts to a wide audience. 
      You may not know who will receive your message. You are open or eager to obtain feedback from anyone who can view the content.  For example, An executive needs to share his thoughts on the company’s position in the market or the company wishes to update its customers on new products.

      Blogs and micro-blogs enable these capabilities.  Blogs allow the author to express their thoughts in a concise manner with supporting facts or links to additional information.  Micro-blogs require the author to be even more concise due to the character limitation of most micro-blogging solutions.

    2. Gathering information from a wide variety of users or consumers. 
      You may seek to create a catalog of key facts or it may be useful for customers to understand the nuances of certain products.

      Wikis allow users to contribute content with being censored.  This brings unbiased thoughts and definitions together for common review.  Customer forums or reviews are open to any user of a product or service.  They allow the users to comment freely on their experience with the product or service.

    3. Collaboration across business groups, skill sets, or geography. 
      It is often necessary to reach out across the enterprise to find relevant resources and share project files.  Social networks (or perhaps a better term with in the enterprise, is collaboration network) simplify an employees ability to find, connect and communicate with the necessary resources.
    Social media solutions can enhance existing platforms such as SharePoint or LotusNotes with features such as micro-blogging, embedded internal or external RSS feeds, employee profiles, employee networks, or status & activity updates.

    What are your goals?  Can social media help you achieve them? 

    What's your perspective?