10 Things IBM is Teaching the World About Winning in the Next Decade #socbiz
When asked by CXOs about the future of business in the next few years — mobile technologies, social business networks, social data analytics, artificial intelligence, smart ecommerce — I find myself referring to innovations emerging within IBM.
We can’t predict with any certainty what the future of business holds, but we do know that adaptive businesses have a much higher likelihood of survival. We also know that in order to be more adaptive businesses need to have a complete picture of their employees, partners and customers. “Siloed data results in a siloed customer experience. The best brands are using data to build a single, integrated view of their customers and building highly segmented campaigns geared to a unique individual brand experience,” IBM’s Tami Cannizaro told me. And from my point of view, that’s the foundation for a winning strategy for the next 10 years.
Most of the business leaders I speak with feel apprehensive about the huge technology shifts that have enabled their customers’ unprecedented power and most executives feel unprepared to handle it. But after investigating all of the new solutions coming out of IBM, I am convinced they are well ahead of the curve and the company to watch for insights into how to prepare for a complex future.
In each of the 10 areas below, IBM is either providing a direct solution or is developing key aspects of them.
1. Serve Your Customers in Context
You walk into a large department store and head over to the women’s area, and suddenly a message pops up from your phone from an influential fashion blogger you follow who recommends a new pair of shoes to go with a dress you bought two weeks ago. And if you buy it within 30 minutes, you’ll receive 10% off. Incredibly, scenarios like these are not too far off, and you’ll be stunned by the technology behind it.
Today, as IBM’s GM John Mesberg described, IBM is developing tools that connect employees, suppliers and partners, business processes to study and engage customers at the right place, time and situation. Think of it as a type of offline and online behavioral and predictive targeting for current and potential customers.
2. Effective Collaboration between Partners and Supplier brings Huge Competitive Advantages
Sticking with our future department store example, let’s go behind the scenes to a social network of the department store’s employees, suppliers, partners and fashion influencers that are using procurement and sales data to collaborate on new sales opportunities. In this simplified example, let’s suppose that the data show that a certain black dress was selling well but tended to be sold individually and without accessories. On seeing this, a fashion influencer popular with the store’s customers, recommends a pair of shoes she’s seen recently – will go well with the dress. Grasping that connection, the store’s procurement team sources the shoes from one of its suppliers, cuts a deal with the influencer to help promote it, then delivers it in store and in context.
Today, according to a recent IBM study of 1128 Chief Procurement Officers across 22 countries, the top performing procurement organizations have very strong collaborative relationships with key suppliers and partners. Most also report the use of procurement analytics for systematic identification of savings opportunities and more favorable long term contracts with suppliers because of increased demand forecasting efficacy. In the near future, those are the companies that will be benefiting from examples like above.
3. CrowdSourcing Innovation Will Dramatically Increase Profits
So let’s return one last time to our department store example. And while we’re at it, let’s invite the crowd into a secure area of the store’s social network to source ideas. There, the crowd is asked to create their own fashion designs, or suggest outfits not currently found in the store, or suggest entirely new product lines that match the store’s brand promise. The winners, with crowd input, will be selected by the store and potentially developed for sale at the store. That can all be done today – albeit most of the programs have had limited success because of a lack of supply chain integration and internal bureaucracy.
But tomorrow, partners and suppliers will be organized to act on the winning designs and products and quickly bring them to market. In fact, most organizations will offer winners the chance to participate in a profit sharing program based on how well the products sell. The days where the store’s buyers are the sole source for purchasing products to be sold in-store are coming to an end.
4. The Fight for Talent is Key
I agree with Say Lim, Vice President of IT at Flour when he expressed to me, “To build a company for the next 100 years you need to have talent. To attract this talent you need to have the social tools that will attract and keep younger talent, position the organization as innovative and progressive to clients and allows the organization to think globally and act locally.”
Indeed the fight to keep the most talented and resourceful people will become even more challenging in the future as these people will be presented with myriad opportunities as a result of being well known online. If you don’t offer these people the means to be successful and to build on their careers and experience, expect them to leave your organization quickly. Furthermore, in order to retain talented employees, IBM is developing its Retention Analytics solution which provides a data-driven approach to understanding employee attrition patterns within a business. For example, if an organization is seeing employee turnover rates that are above average, it can quickly investigate and correct the issue.
Clearly, we’re entering a new phase in the employer/employee dynamic, and the most successful companies will prepare for it.
5. Companies Will Need To Focus On Building Relationships Not Just Transactions.
Businesses are increasingly finding that the old traditional model of advertising becomes less effective every year. Paid TV commercials, print ads, radio spots are not as effective as they once were in and the efficacy continues to dwindle. While ad spend has shifted to Google and billions are spent on SEO services, in the future winning organizations will partner with industry influencers, company advocates, subject matter experts and use data analytics to intelligently target customers at each stage of their buying cycle.
So when an organization wants to launch a new product or promote an existing one, they will first identify the right prospects using data analytics, then turn to people that influence and have formed bonds with their target prospects to help persuade them to purchase. For an example of how this will work in the future of business, read my article on the Obama reelection campaign.
3 Twitter Engagement Tricks You Should Do Every Day (From The #1 Most Engaged Brand On Twitter)
What’s the most engaged brand on Twitter? If you’re like me, you might guess @Starbucks, or @NYTimes, or @Nike, or @NFL. After all, they’re all well known brands with at least one million followers, and they all have huge advertising budgets. But none of these are the most engaged. Incredibly, the number one most engaged brand on Twitter is probably one you haven’t heard of – but it’s a good bet you’ve seen one or two of its tweets in your timeline.
Branden Hampton is the creator of @Notebook (also known as Notebook of Love), the most influential brand on Twitter according to a study of the top 25 most engaged brands. Notebook of Love shares inspirational quotes and thoughts about love with its 4.5 million followers, typically seeing thousands of retweets, replies and mentions with every tweet.
In fact, Notebook of Love garners 40 percent more engagement than any other brand on the list. It sees an average of 1403 responses per tweet, and the next closest (one of Disney’s handles) sees 1,000. Never having spent a single dollar on marketing and relying strictly on organic growth, Notebook is not only highly engaged, it’s also extremely profitable.
And it’s not just a fluke, either: Hampton’s company Influential Media Group manages dozens of Twitter handles that collectively reach more than 30 million followers, helping celebrities, athletes, musicians and brands engage with their fans. Each of these branded Twitter channels has a unique opportunity to appeal to a certain kind of advertiser – women’s perfume or fitness solutions on Notebook of Love, for instance – a business that Hampton sees as the next evolution of the print ad.
So how did Hampton skyrocket past some of the most recognizable brands in the world to build the top commercial Twitter account?
In his words: “It all has to do with creating highly resonating content.”
In Hampton’s eyes, too many brands make the mistake of selling their Twitter followers on their product, focusing on the company’s information rather than information that is actually relevant to the everyday lives of their followers.
He says the secret to success as a business on Twitter is conveying the industry’s message, not your business’. When your followers learn that you’re an industry expert, they’ll trust your business when they look for a product in that industry.
Hampton explains that a jeweler, for example, shouldn’t tweet all day about their latest collections or newest diamonds. Instead, they should tweet checklists for brides, awesome proposal videos and tips on handling wedding stress. Their followers will see them as an expert, and are more likely to trust – and purchase from – them when they’re ready to take the plunge.
Not only do businesses need to shift their messaging away from company specifics and toward the industry in general, but they also need to create content that actually applies to the lives of their followers.
“If I say I’m in line a Starbucks, nobody is going to retweet that. Somebody might engage and reply, but the response rate will be very low. But if I sent a similar tweet that said “I hate waiting in lines”, that would resonate so much higher. A bunch of people would respond saying they agree, they also hate waiting in line. And others would retweet it to resonate with their own followers, because it’s a message they can directly relate to, and that can be applied to anyone.”
“It’s not quite so simple as “Tweet more content and fewer ads”, but that’s the main thing people can do on their own to increase their engagement.”
#2 Respond To Everyone. Yes, Everyone.
Another way brands can improve their engagement is to respond to every single tweet that’s sent their way. Hampton says that responding to everyone who tweets to his personal account or his brand accounts is an essential part of his engagement philosophy.
Whether you’re managing an international brand like Nike, or a local deli, it’s important to say thank-you to every follower who asks a question, has a problem, or gives you a compliment. Some will respond back, and others will retweet your response simply because they want to show their friends that you’ve engaged with them.
In this way, Hampton explains, you’re not just engaging with a single follower, you’re engaging with a much wider audience.
Hampton has created not just Notebook of Love – which has 4.35 million followers, most of which are women between the age of 20 to 35 – but also a number of other Twitter accounts that produce content geared towards a variety of different sub-communities.
“We have, for example, a skincare account with 730,000 followers on Twitter, we have a fitness account with 1.3 million followers, and we have the love account, which is the Notebook, with 4.35 million. So if we are not the top most engaging page in every category, we’re absolutely in the top three in each of those categories.”
The content strategy Hampton has in place to achieve such success in the categories he’s targeted is pretty unique: rather than write all the content himself, he’s hired experts in their field to be the voice of each of these ultra-successful accounts.
In fact, Notebook of Love is managed by Hampton’s fiancé, Stephanie Perez. She is the face of the account, and does all the content creation and engagement, while Hampton himself oversees the behind-the-scenes logistics and business decisions – an arrangement similar to his other juggernaut Twitter brands.
“It’s about finding the right people to create the right content that resonates very well. I train people on creating highly resonate content, and then they can use that information along with their specific expertise and knowledge to create compelling content for that account’s followers.”
Hampton’s philosophy of using experts to produce compelling content that is relevant to an account’s followers, while ensuring that no mention or reply goes unanswered, has earned him the top spot in the 25 most engaged brands on Twitter.
That alone is incredible especially with a very limited budget. Follow his winning strategies and you too may be generating as much engagement as the largest brands in the world.
What Microsoft Influencers Are Saying About The Mobile Enterprise
It’s not often I get to speak with a group of Microsoft influencers, but I was able to pin them down at the SHARE Conference in Atlanta a few weeks back. Dux Raymond Sy, Jeff Willinger of Rightpoint and Jeremy Thake of AvePoint are just a few of the influencers I was able to speak with – here’s what they had to say on the Mobile Enterprise:
Here a few of the video’s highlights:
On Enterprise Mobile:
· Identify your key mobile priorities – then create a plan to execute on them.
· Anywhere, Anytime, Anyhow – that’s how your company needs to think about enterprise content.
· Skydrive – most people don’t know about it like they do Box. Skydrive is more robust and secure.
· Business Matters most – SharePoint, Yammer, Mobile and Social are all secondary drivers.
For more of my interviews, go to the harmon.ie video site (A client of mine) to see all of the full length videos.
My Quick Take:
I haven’t seen proof yet that Google or Apple even understands the enterprise much less provide a robust mobile experience. Microsoft seems to me to be the closest, yet they have the least traction with their hardware devices. Moreover, Microsoft needs to beef up their enterprise mobile app store, provide an integrated experience across all of their enterprise productivity solutions (Office 365, Dynamics, etc.) and do it on any device anywhere.
Until then, the mobile enterprise is anyone’s game.
I know you, but you may not know me. You’re not a Hollywood celebrity, because frankly, you work harder and you’re worth more to society than that. You have ambition, you have opinions , and you certainly know how to convince people to see things your way.
You have seen the unbelievable idiocy of the media, corporate executives and politicians who were once considered trustworthy and who today are considered corrupt. Skepticism of the so-called "establishment" that once had a stranglehold on our culture, our laws, our buying habits, and what we read – is well earned. It was full of contradictions, hypocrisies, and undisclosed interests that shaped our lives into a warped bubble.
In the past, the “truth” we heard from the establishment was white washed and distilled through corporate and political correctness filters that left us with the saccharine version of the truth, always wanting the real thing but unable to obtain it.
Today, thanks to you, that’s changed. You are no longer chained to a chair and forced to watch a political ruse or a corporate charade or even a biased media story. You have broken free and have established your own Triberr tribe, your own platform, your own credibility based on your own experience. You are not held to account by special interests or forced to swallow and regurgitate corporate messaging that has little or no connection to its intended targets.
You’re your own person, able to help or hurt the establishment – but you base this on what’s right and not what some fat tie, short sleeve type wants you to say. But this expertise and influence comes with fiduciary responsibility and liability. You’ve established a positive reputation and trust with your massive base of fans, friends, and followers and you don’t want to lose that; because reputation and trust are the currency of the influencer.
So let’s look at how to properly keep them in check.
1. You must only provide honest opinions
The closer you stick to this rule, the more trustworthy you become. Don’t accept money or quid pro quo arrangements for products/services that you don’t love. Be honest about any product reviews or endorsements – else your power base (fans) will leave you.
2. Do no evil
This rule is of course is subjective, but a strong moral code is key here. The guiding principle here is respect for the individual. If you’re confronted with an opportunity to unfairly denigrate an individual or brand to ruin their reputation, resist the temptation. If you are asked to take part in a campaign that deceitful or dishonest – resist.
3. Help others become influential
Reciprocation and the give and take approach will only help you become more prominent. When others take the time to help you with your influence goals, you must acknowledge and help them with theirs. Mutual power is the real objective; reciprocation is simply a means to that end.
4. When in doubt, disclose
It’s not just the law, it’s the right thing to do. Your paid relationship with a company needs to be disclosed in the tweet, blog, social campaign or wherever you’re endorsing or promoting a product. Take the time to understand the FTC guidelines – they can save you and the companies you represent from fines and embarrassment.
5. Don’t be a jerk
You’re just a guy/gal like everyone else. Don’t fall into the trap of the Hollywood celebrity, the sports star or the media snob – those that climb themselves up on too high a ladder are swiftly kicked off by those at its base. The unconcerned, unprofessional, unpleasant egoist is unacceptable.
6. Do keep the establishment honest
They still possess a lot of power and still own the trust card in a lot of circles – so it’s your job to opine about corrupt political and corporate practices and watch the watchdogs.
7. Influence = Power (don’t let it corrupt you)
Remember that the objective of influence is not simply a power instrument to force your will on others, but a mechanism to change behavior in things you believe in. Once your followers are organized around an issue you are promoting, most will trust your point of view and take action. Influence for good is the real objective; avoid the corrupting temptation of authority.
8. Maintain a sense of humility
There are two influencers that epitomize this best – Guy Kawasaki and Mari Smith. Spend any amount of time with them and you quickly realize that they take their ounce of fame and fortune with a pound of humility.
9. Be dependable
If you’ve agreed to help a company, a cause or a political issue, show up on time and stick with it. If the tactics are not working, then ask for feedback and suggestions from your followers and try something else. Deserting people in need should not be a play in your playbook.
10. Technology is your friend
Becoming what Mark Shaefer describes as a citizen influencer is only a recent phenomenon. Social media gave the passionate expert, the promoter, and the networker the global ability to build a following. Social engagement tools like Nimble, data analytics companies like MutualMind, and powerful promotion tools like Triberr are game changing solutions that can increase your influence.
As an influencer, you understand how the real world works, not how the establishment wants it to work. But you also see how the world could work, and you’re prepared to organize your fan base to help change it. As an influencer, you must shake up the establishment and their hold on culture, politics and consumers.
We need you. But in order to maintain trust with your base and thus your influence, you must remain true to yourself and faithful to your beliefs. Any radical change in the establishment must be perceived as better than the previous one. Most people are so unfulfilled, so bewildered, so cynical about the current system that they are willing to let go of the establishment and follow you. Your leadership matters.
It’s just getting started. Just think of the possibilities.
Microsoft Study: Employees More Productive With Social Tools Yet Companies Still Block Them (Infographic)
I’ve been thinking lately of corporate America’s social lobotomy. Its disconnect between the wants and the want-nots. According to a recent Microsoft survey conducted by research firm Ipsos, nearly 50% of employees believe social tools make them more productive while more than 30% of companies restrict the use or undervalue them. For me, this is a form of social malpractice perpetuated by the cold, hard but secure hand of command and control management.
So I am starting a new clinic to treat corporate executives. However, my clinic will operate differently because the patients will be pretending to be employees and the doctors will pretend to be executives. The patients, all experiencing the same issue, will meet with the doctors to try and explain their problem and what to do about it. The doctors, each believing they know what’s best, then file off separately to their own offices and prescribe a range of treatments from leaches to bloodletting to perhaps another round of leaches.
The patients then would have to figure out whether to ignore the doctors’ primitive advice or work collaboratively to figure out what to do. It’s a sure bet that the recommended treatment from the collective wisdom of the patients will surpass the prescription for "more leaches, more leaches" every time.
Emphasizing this point, according to Microsoft’s research, 31 percent said they are willing to spend their own money to buy social tools. That’s how convinced these employees are of the value of collaborative, social tools. This is no longer the age of command and control.
I asked Yammer (now Microsoft) founder Adam Pisoni why he thought there was such a huge disconnect, Pisoni told me, "Because executives wanted more process predictability as a means of driving efficiency. Executives then created specialized roles within the employee ranks to realize that vision." He went on to explain how a lot of them are still resisting the move to social because of the loss in predictability.
The problem with that old model is that a rigid, tightly controlled process inhibits innovation and agility. And innovation and agility make organizations more adaptive to market changes and competitive threats. Still, plenty of executives are holding back, worried about experimenting with the patient.
Of course, the most obvious answer to increased predictability is to analyze your employees’ social data that’s created by their digital activity. Yes, allowing employees to change course without managerial approval will make work processes less predictable, but the overall business will gain tenfold from the insights collected from the social data.
"People closest to the problem usually have the best answers,"
- Adam Pisoni
So, in sum, we still have a social disconnect in companies today and they don’t have the will or ability to fix despite their employees demand for them. Employees carry a few trump cards— the ability to organize small teams, show success and force change — but I don’t see this happening enough. As such, those companies ignoring the prescription for social will have to swallow a bitter pill.
But given the triage situation of most organizations, you cannot blame executives for delaying the move to social. Yet history teaches us that deferring new innovations can cause companies to be overrun by their competitors. Think about Borders, Blockbuster and Polaroid – these companies didn’t die because they weren’t innovative, they died because employees with the best ideas weren’t able to work together to implement them.
This won’t happen in a social enterprise.
Read Mark Fidelman’s The Rise of Enterprise Social Networks for further information on becoming a Social Enterprise. Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of Evolve! A company that Fidelman is Managing Director.
Why This Company’s Social Platform Just Made Salespeople A Lot Smarter
Surprise, annoyance, anger, exhaustion, and rejection – the 5 stages of executives hanging up the phone in a cold calling situation. Times have changed but many salespeople haven’t received the memo.
In the past, sales teams have relied on cold calling as a primary method to generate leads. Another relied on their marketing team’s effectiveness at understanding their target audience and getting them to contact the sales team. And the most elusive, but best leads came from referral sources.
Yet few people, if any can simultaneously be an effective salesperson, data miner and marketer. But in their latest release, Nimble 3.0 is moving individuals closer by doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Nimble’s CEO Jon Ferrara is leading an effort to make it easy for his customers to focus on the right people at the right time without the need for expensive marketing programs or outdates cold calling campaigns.
“We can start telling you things that you don’t know about your contacts and prospects. We also have a rules engine that tells you about your contacts and who is a good fit for you depending on the actions you take,” Ferrara told me. He then explained how his system helps connect with those people and nurtures them into customers.
Using a concept called Signals, Nimble intelligently analyzes the data and suggests the best method for connecting with your key prospects and customers. As these signals come in, Nimble filters the ones most interesting to salespeople and marketers across all social platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, etc.). Now that’s something we’ve all needed for a while.
Even in Relationships It’s about Intelligent Data
There’s a great scene in the movie, MoneyBall : “Billy, you got a kid in there that’s got a degree in Economics from Yale. You got a scout here with twenty nine years of baseball experience. You’re listening to the wrong one. Now there are intangibles that only baseball people understand. You’re discounting what scouts have done for a hundred and fifty years, even yourself!” – Yet Billy continues on his path regardless.
Salespeople at are that point now. You can either listen to the old guard and lose efficacy or listen to the new guard that are using social media to outsell their peers. Nimble is just making it easier, more organized, more effective.
Nimble has also just raised your Dunbar number – permitting a larger, more fruitful network to prospect from. One in which you can engage, listen and adjust to a changing landscape. If like me, you’re tired of hearing the old ABC (Always Be Closing) sales adage for the ten thousandth time, try a more effective method that involves leading and nurturing your prospects to a sale. Not only will they be happier – you’ll be wealthier too.
Study: 78% Of Salespeople Using Social Media Outsell Their Peers
When Jim Keenan, the social sales specialist, describes his work today, he’ll tell you that he’s “ushering salespeople from the old world into the social world” – the cold calling world to the Twitter world, the salespeople who call prospects incessantly to the salespeople who educate their prospects with relevant content. Keenan’s argument in the The Rise of Social Salespeople is that using social media to sell – increases profits.
But up until now, we’ve had no real data. So sensing an opportunity, Keenan’s firm recently released a report on the impact of social media on quota attainment and the results were impressive.
The most interesting finding was that in 2012, 72.6% of sales people using social media to sell out performed those who weren’t using social media. He tells me he wasn’t expecting a number that high. Then, Keenan found that when it came to exceeding sales quota (exceeding quota by more than 10%), social media users were 23% more successful than their non-social media peers. Keenan told me that no matter how you sliced the data, social media users came out on top. (Note: You can download The Impact of Social Media on Sales Quota and Corporate Revenue here:)
I realize that many will argue that the numbers may mean more correlation than causation -and they have a point. But consider that over half of the respondents (54%) who used social media tracked their social media usage back to at least one closed deal. Over 40% said they’ve closed between two and five deals as a result of social media and more than 10% of the respondents said; “Yes, It directly contributes to my closes.” Respondents were very clear. Social media was a leading factor in their closed deals.
As you dig deeper into the data, it continued to support the premise, social media helps sales people make quota. Let’s take a look at Keenan’s data:
Social media users have also exceeded quota (exceeded quota by 10% of more) at higher rate than non-social media users every year since 2010. That means more social media users are at Presidents Club than non-social media users.
Not only do social media users achieve and exceed quota (win) more often than non-social media users, they also don’t miss quota (lose) as often. In 2012 non-social media users missed quota (by more than 10% or more) 15% more often than social media users.
With numbers like these and the success sales people are having using social media it begs the question, how much time are sales people spending on social sites and the answer from Keenan’s report is quite surprising. 50.1% of sales people who report using social media state that they spend less than 10% of their selling time using social media. That’s decent ROI.
Keenan says the top social selling sites were, in order, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, Google+, other. He also tells me that almost 75% of the sales people surveyed said they have not received formal training from their company on how to use social media at all. I’m guessing that it’s primarily due to sales management and their lack of social sales understanding.
Keenan reminds me that social selling is not a panacea. But as he’s shown, those who have been using it are quickly gaining a competitive advantage. If Keenan’s data is statistically valid, then it’s clear. Social media can positively affect quota – which impacts revenue – which leads to better growth opportunities for business.
That also means that Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Google Plus, a blog, etc. are no longer nice to haves, they are salesperson must haves.