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Interview: "Social Business = Creating a smarter workforce & a proven solution to business challenges"

One-on-one interview with Ed Brill

Ed Brill is Director, Social Business and Collaboration Solutions, at IBM. Brill is responsible for the product and market strategy for IBM’s messaging, collaboration, communications, and productivity products, including Lotus Notes and Domino, IBM SmartCloud Notes, IBM Sametime, Lotus Symphony, IBM Docs, and other related social business solutions. Brill’s focus is on extending and growing the success of these solutions through customer engagement, partner ecosystem development, and harnessing the breadth and depth of the IBM organization.

The Strategy Web spoke with him about the relevance and future of Social Business.

Why is Social Business not only a buzzword?

Leaders in every industry are leveraging Social Business technology to disrupt their industries and create competitive advantage. They are improving productivity and unleashing innovation by tapping into the collective intelligence inside and outside their organizations. With social, they’re creating a smarter workforce and proving that social business isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a proven solution to business challenges.

According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016. According to IBM’s CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.

What does it take to make a business “social”?

Organizations have quickly learned that a Social Business is more than just having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. In a Social Business, every department in the organization has embedded social capabilities into their traditional business processes to fundamentally impact how work gets done to create business value. A Social Business utilizes social software technology to communicate with its rich ecosystem of clients, business partners and employees.

Social business is a strategic approach to shaping a business culture, highly dependent upon transparency and trust from executive leadership and corporate strategy, including business process design, risk management, leadership development, financial controls and use of business analytics. Becoming a Social Business can help an organization deepen customer relationships, generate new ideas and innovate faster, identify expertise, enable a more effective workforce and ultimately drive its bottom line.

What does it mean to change the culture of a company?

Changing an organizations culture to embrace social must start from the top. Senior leadership must buy in and promote a culture of sharing, transparency and trust. Recent studies by IBM see this shift, today’s C-Suite recognizes the potential of social. Consider this, according to IBM’s 2012 CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years. Similarly. IBM’s 2011 CIO Survey of 3,000 global leaders indicated that more than 55% of companies identified social networking as having a strategic significance to their company’s growth. And finally, 2011 IBM CMO Study reports that CMOs are using social platforms to communicate with their customers, 56 percent view it as a key communication channel. These senior leaders are the key to social business adoption and there’s a real shift occurring, social business is now a business imperative.

What role is the flexible workspace playing in the process?

Companies are able to build virtual teams out of expertise and leadership, regardless of their physical location or title on the organization chart. Today’s workforce expects to be able to share, post, update and communicate with colleagues, customers, and ecosystem using social tools to get real work done. Through those tools, employees who work remotely, use flexible “hot desks” in company offices, or open floorplans can leverage tools for instant e-meetings, video and audio tools, and embedded applications to process knowledge and activities faster and deliver more value to the organization.

What’s your advice for companies to become a “social business”?

Companies around the world are now focused on becoming Social Businesses, Forrester Research estimates that the market opportunity for social software is expected to increase 60% annually. But perhaps the most daunting part of becoming a social business is how to start the journey. That’s where creating a Social Business Agenda plays a vital role. In order to become successful in social business, an organization needs to create its own personalized Agenda that addresses the company’s culture, trust
between management and employees and the organization and its constituencies, engagement behind and outside of the firewall, risk management, and of course, measurement. The sponsorship for such an activity can be driven by leadership, lines of business, or other organizational catalyst roles.

Augmented Reality: Sight and the Google's glass project

Graduates need to take a look into the future. Some do it quite well and are creating an exciting picture of times and technical evolution ahead of us. The following short film “Sight” by Sight Systems was done from Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo. It was developed from a graduation project from Bezaleal academy of arts and is definitely worth watching.

It somehow reminded me of the Google Glass project, a research and development program with the intention to create products that are hands free displaying information. For now, these are currently just available to most smartphone users, and allowing for interaction with the Internet via natural language voice commands, in a manner which has been compared to the iPhone feature Siri, as Google explains.

Whether there are similarities between the two projects or not, the film tells a story of a world which gets new impact through augmented reality glass technology. And if we will wear traditional glasses, contact lenses or whether these are implanted in the end, only the future can tell. However, the vision created in this film is scary, eye-opening to AR technology opportunities, and somehow disturbing the fascination of the unknown, unexperienced and undiscovered. Life as it is.

But now, watch it and tell us what you are thinking…?

Tuesday generates highest engagement for social campaigns

Did you not ever want to know what the best day for a Social Media marketing campaign could be? Well, you can get some good indication with the following study…

Many Facebook campaigns go live on Fridays. However, the day that generates most user engagement for a campaign on the social network is the Tuesday, which ranked only fourth in terms of the number campaigns conducted. These are some of the findings of a recent study done by Yesmail Interactive. The results are based on a three-month study of consumer engagement with online campaigns for 20 major retails brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, or Ralph Lauren among others.

The study with the title “Using Digital Market Intelligence to Drive Multi–Channel Success” figured out the customer engagement of campaigns on the most popular social networks. In order to understand campaign engagement, it compared the relationship between “volume-based engagement” of Facebook campaigns (number of “likes” or comments a campaign generates) and “actual engagement analysis”. The finding is quite obvious, in that the lower the brand “likes”, the fewer likes and comments a brand on Facebook gets. Still, independent of the size of their fan base, some retail brands generate higher engagement levels than others through Facebook. Nevertheless, average-performing brands still performed as engagement winners, including i.e. Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer or Kenneth Cole. 

Although, we have already reported that a balanced frequency in posting status updates is important for the success of a Facebook campaign, there is no blueprint and guarantee for success. The most engaging brands had deployed between 20 and 32 campaigns per month. Compared to the five least engaging brands with 54 campaigns per month, it becomes obvious that posting less frequently is better. From a timing perspective, the best Facebook engagement was generated for campaigns launching between 10 pm and 12 am Eastern time (EST) which was also the least-used deployment time slot.

For Twitter, the research showed that most Twitter campaigns (20%) were conducted on Friday, which again is the least engaging day for such campaigns. Almost on the same engagement level performed Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as those most engaging campaign days. Over 84% of all Twitter campaigns were deployed within regular work hours (between 9am and 7pm EST).

The performance of the 20 retail brands on Twitter showed big differences. Although Forever 21 came in first in terms of follower base, the brand’s campaigns showed significantly lower engagement among followers than the campaigns of brands with smaller follower bases.

The five most engaging brands did 45 to 70 Twitter campaigns per month on Twitter versus the five least engaging brands with an average number between 95 and 115 Twitter campaigns per month. It shows again that lower frequency is better than big blast promotions. If marketers want to generate high engagement, they should place their campaigns between 5 am to 6 am and 7 am to 8 am EST.

In terms of YouTube campaigns, the study found that 85% of the brands studied have a YouTube channel. Still, just 35% deployed campaigns during the research period. Some more findings indicate that on average, retailers conducted 3.5 campaigns per month during the study. The best day for interaction occurred to be Monday. Do we have to mention that this was the least likely day for campaign deployment? YouTube campaigns deployed between 2 am-3 am EST found the highest engagement rates.

The study is based on campaigns conducted from January to March, 2012 via Yesmail Market Intelligence. The selection of brands focusses on 18-35 year-olds as of their digital communication interest.

How Mobile Marketing and B2B work together (video)

We have already shared some information on a Google and Compete study that shows why B2B and mobile have a close connection. And the most relevant information from a mobile point of view can be taken from eMarketer graphic.

The importance of mobile for B2B is partly as business decision makers are frequent travelers, thus most connected business people, and partly as smartphones and tablets have given them a new freedom. And today, we also know from CNBC research that executives in Europe see the increasing value of being engaged on Twitter. B2B managers can and have their conversations anytime-anywhere from their devices.

But what is the marketing potential it offers for companies then?

As business decision makers by their definition have to be fast in their decision making process, today’s professionals need to be connected, informed, and productive wherever they are traveling, or whenever they are in meetings. As of that mobile devices give B2B marketing new opportunities to open up new relationships if using apps, QR codes or video in an intelligent way.

In her YouTube channel, on Twitter and in her blog) Christina CK Kerley shares her knowledge on mobile B2B strategies alongside some good cases. Her latest video gives some insight in how B2B marketers can use mobile to connect the offline and the online world in order to leverage B2B printed ads, to integrate the customers’ voice into video, or to bolster B2B thought-leadership content through images, video and text.

Study ConnectedTV – What's the leading strategy?

© carlos castilla - Fotolia.com

GoogleTV or AppleTV? How is the future of connected TV going to look like? TV and Internet companies realize the power of connected TV but are still not quite sure what’s the most effective TV strategy to go forward.

This is the main finding of a recent study conducted by MPP Global Solutions which tried to figure out which company has the best strategy to be successful in terms of the connected TV market. The findings of the study which was done during an online webinar showed that the respondents were undecided on where the successful future could be found.

The research which was called ‘Redrawing the Lines in the Battle for the Living Room’ states that just 26% of senior industry managers identified Apple’s future TV service as successful in the long run. However, this findings was also mentioned by others with 22% who saw Google-TV and Netflix (17%) as creating the right effective strategy for the future. The MPP Global Solutions study analyzed the current position of the connected TV market as a whole and the major players within the industry.

“This inconclusive result reflects the content of the discussion; that the Connected-TV market is still coming out of the early adopter phase and even major players such as Apple, Google and Netflix are still trying to identify the best approach for success”. James Eddleston, Head of Marketing, MPP Global Solutions.

Although some big companies like Google, Apple and the likes are working on their connectedTV strategy, the user is not there yet. A recent study by YouGov found out that just 35% of connected TV owners use their devices for on-demand services, with one in four (25%) having never connected it to the internet at all. It will take time until the user is following the connected TV trend as a whole. The study makers said connected TV sales is set to increase by 70% by 2016.

Spot On!
For companies trying to address the connected TV market, it is essential to develop an effective strategy for the right user experience. Until companies find some intelligent solution the user will probably stay with the magic combination: TV and the second screen: smartphones and tablets. At the moment, users love to do multitasking as we learned from the latest Yahoo and Razorfish study. The respondents of that study said 80% do multitasking while watching TV. More than 60% use their mobiles once or twice while watching TV. And I am quite sure this will stay for quite a while. Or is the split screen a solution? Or the one-in-one program as a time-shift solution? While you change to the internet, the TV program goes in a stand-by mode?

Study: What makes Twitter users trustworthy?

We all want to know what makes us trustworthy, especially when we tweet something. What is the secret sauce that makes others believe in the importance of our tweets? What makes those tweets better than those of our competitors?

The answer comes with a study “Tweeting is believing” from Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University. In their research the two parties find how companies and individuals can feed their tweets with more credibility, and giving them some of the secret sauce.

So, ok,… the results were no really the deepest insights, but somehow they undermine what many of us might have expected: Gain followers, receive retweets, include URL’s in your posts, set up a profile picture alongside a serious bio with information that correspond with your tweets.

In order to get the right findings the researchers surveyed more than 250 Twitter users factors to understand what makes up credibility in Twitter accounts. These factors got scored from one tot five, five being the highest.

The top-rated factors that make tweets more trustworthy…
1. Tweet was retweeted by someone you trust – 4.08
2. Tweet from a verified subject expert – 4.04
3. Author is someone you follow – 4.00
4. Tweet contains a URL you clicked through – 3.93
5. Author is someone you’ve heard of – 3.93
6. Account has verification seal – 3.92
7. Author often tweets on topic – 3.74
8. Author’s tweets frequently include similar content – 3.71
9. Author’s user image is a personal photo – 3.70
10. Author often mentioned and/or retweeted – 3.69

These were the lowest five credibility lowering factors for tweets…
1. Weak grammar and/or punctuation 2.71
2. Profile picture equals Twitter’s default user image – 2.87
3. User image is a cartoon/avatar – 3.22
4. Author follows many users – 3.30
5. Author’s user image is a logo – 3.37

Spot On!
In many seminars, companies and managers have asked me whether a weak language and incorrect tweeting is destroying the credibility of the brand. They wanted to know whether avatar pictures or brand pictures might affect it. In my eyes, companies should worry more about their general company Social Media standards, their way of collaboration external and internal, and ask themselves why and what they are tweeting about. Tweeting is just a tiny part of your Social trustworthiness….
What are your own experiences? What makes you trust a Twitter user? Any ranking similarities you can see as well?

iKnow – Let's foresee the future

We all want to know how the future looks like? What are key trends? What is the next bid thing in technology or our industry? The challenge is… How can the future be foreseen? Well, maybe there is a way if collaboration succeeds as the new imperative of humanity…

A new European research project by the EU Commission is challenging the unforeseeable future. The platform iKnow Futures aims at interconnection knowledge via an “innovation, foresight and horizont scanning system”. And ideally it will help companies, societies, political systems, science but also individuals to identify upcoming risks and dangers as well as potential opportunities long before the next economical crisis, the next virus, or the next weather desaster.

The platform is meant to give insights in new tools and technologies which could change the future. It displays latests projects and research which could foresee trends in science. And it shows first signals via “weak signs” when there is some danger, threat or risk on the horizon that might affect a country, a county or a just some cities that already can be made out as critical.

The long-term EU project collects insights in academic research and collects data to make the world easier for interpretation and economical planning. Whether this is a new form of common knowledge that might revolutionize the world’s approach to common intelligence needs to be seen. Nevertheless, everyone of us can participate and help to make this place a better world with less unpleasant surprises.

Spot On!
Collaboration for a better world sounds somehow fantastic, and the project is definitely deserves a closer look. Imagine someone could have predicted 9/11 attacks with a Wild Card? And what if they become Weak Signals? Would this have saved the world from a nightmare, and would this have changed the ecosystem of planes and traines? How could collaboration platforms become the next “chaos prevention radar”?

PS: And let’s hope Apple won’t try to claim and aim for the name…

Study: Web-traffic boosts in-store sales

In a recent study the research companies comScore, Accenture and dunnhumbyUSA found some significant relevance between in-store sales and a company’s web presence. The study was based on a panel of CPG customers and one million U.S. Internet users who have given comScore explicit permission to have their online activities continuously measured and matched to their in-store brand buying behavior provided by dunnhumbyUSA.

The report comes to the conclusion that consumers who visit a website prior to their shopping experience in a company store spend 34% more with that company and 57% more on products or services based on their specific industry sector. It also states that visitors of brand websites are frequent buyers of the brand in retail stores. It shows that 42% more of these clients finish their transactions than non-visitors. Furthermore, website visitors are also heavier buyers in a brand’s product category. They are spending 53% more in their category dollars than non-visitors.

“Since website visitors have higher affinity to the brand and the overall product category, there is an opportunity for brand marketers to drive loyalty through personalizing the website experience, catering to the preferences of their best customers.”John LaRocca, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, dunnhumbyUSA

And again another study highlights the importance of content marketing as the new emerging trend in marketing. Shoppers were more aggressive in their approach to understand and evaluate their purchases prior to their visit in shops as a result of the massive information access through the web. According to the research, content marketing plays a significant role here. So, campaigns on the web not only add value to web shopping but also -and for some companies and brands more importantly- will help to drive and boost in-store habits and sales – apart from positioning a brand’s capability.

“Marketers who create compelling (brand) website experiences for consumers are extremely effective in driving incremental and profitable in-store sales. Analysis shows that consumers visiting the best of the 10 CPG brand websites evaluated in the research study, spent over 200% more on the brand than non-visitors.” Jerry Lohse, Senior Director, Accenture Interactive

Based on the fact that Brafton reported some weeks ago that the average consumer visits more than 10 web pages before a purchase decision, this study marks an important point in the relevance between online and offline shopping. This might be catalyzed by the new opportunities that smartphones, tablets or Augmented Reality (see real-life community shopping) offer, and shows the straight relationship between the two shopping experiences which more and more merge to one close shopping cycle.

Spot On!
More companies are realizing that offering web shoppers the same information and service as in-stores will lead to more purchase at both ends of the shopping cycle: online and at offline locations. The challenge for companies is to differentiate the shopping experience by using SoLoMo (social – local – mobile). Here the question for the future will remain whether in-store shopping needs to become more of a lifestyle experience or adventure to attract more consumers to join in-store activity (see IKEA Sleepover), or wether people will want to have real people around them and thus make it a social reality world, rather than a social web world…

Sales and Social Media? Feedback is the key!

We have heard that 1 in 3 of the younger generation will their online shopping via their mobile phones. Now, another study shows the power of recommendations around the holiday season. Mr. Youth did some research among 4.500 shoppers and found how Social Media could become the game changer in Christmas shopping in 2011.

Some key findings… and marketers better listen up now!

– 80% of Social Media users who received feedback did a purchase afterwards
– 66% of Black Friday sales were a result of Social Media interactions
– 52% of Social Media users are willing to pay more for brands they trust
– 36% of Social Media users trust brands that have a Social Media presence

How about you? Are you relying on your friends, fans and followers recommendations this holiday season?