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the future is uncertain October 12, 2012

Posted by nicholas gill in Economy, Knowledge Peers, Morgan cars, social business, social media.
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Last week I attended the Knowledge Peers Exchange 2012. Some of you may remember I presented to a select group of members a while back (just over a year ago having checked – yikes!) on social business so this was my chance to sit back and learn some things. Here’s some stuff and things I found interesting:

Challenges for business heading into 2020

We’re working against a backdrop of constant change, where knowledge/information workers make up over 80% of the salaried workforce.

Where IT/enterprise driven choices have created silos that are damaging business agility.

Where Europe is an ageing population and the emerging BRIC economies are flush with youth.

Where the US and European debt situations will take greater than 10 years to resolve.

Where the continued demand for energy will result in a supply gap.

Where greater consumerisation and socially savvy employees place business at a junction. Do they enable these new employees or do they hinder them with their current working practices?

The business of 2020 will need to:

  • Adapt to a changing world.
  • Understand the market evolution and composition (particularly emerging economies and SE Asia)
  • Exploit and harness the collective knowledge of the information wrorkers
  • Understand and balance the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data.
  • Deliver value-add.
  • Invent and innovate.

Bring Your Own Device (BOYD) is un-managed

57.1% of FTE’s globally use their own devices to access work data. This is not skewed to any geography (although Asia/BRIC is higher) or vertical.

Only 11.9% have a managed BYOD policy or guidelines leading to an opportunity where over 70% of BYOD are unmanaged. While clearly this is a consultancy opportunity, it also shows just how mobile has infiltrated our every day lives so seamlessly that we think nothing of accessing data on on our SmartPhones. Clearly the younger, agile businesses that are not held back by swathes of servers and IT rules will be ahead of the game here. While the panel talked about the security elements, a lot must come down to common sense too. As well as who owns, maintains and replaces the device if it is “personal” but being routinely used – and therefore an essential too – for business use. All this was wrapped under a banner of “Enterprise Mobility Management” which sounds very consultancy and clearly an opportunity to make money. Where’s my CV?

Morgan Cars

You can never repeat the past but you can be inspired by it

The quote is from the Cartier Chairman but one which Charles Morgan has adopted to explain his car company. Considering I work with one of world’s leading automotive groups in Fiat, I found Charles’ discussion incredibly interesting. How does a small player compete against global giants? The answer is not easily. Not when a typical safety testing programme sets you back £10 million. It would essentially be impossible if it weren’t for alliances. Morgan partner with BMW for engines, for example, and would not consider building their own engines because, as TVR experienced, it’s the way to ruin. But why would BMW be interested in a small, British car brand? Because German’s love British car brands. Remember they bought Rover. Charles said they do it because 1) they love it and 2) they learn something by placing their engines in smaller, lighter and more agile automobiles. Their leading engineer even screamed in delight on a race track that “I can hear my engine!!!”. Which given the excellent sound proofing and refinement in a BMW is something they’ve clearly missed. Morgan lets the engineers be petrol heads again.

Another key part of the Morgan business model is exporting. They make 1,500 cars a year and over 70% are exported. Nice that a British marque is appreciated abroad but sad too that we buy so much homogenous automotive design now that we don’t appreciate our own iconic marques as much. I loved Charles’ observation that modern cars are pretty much an extension of your living room; a car should excite you and put a smile on your face.


Which is why they’re investing in social media. Not only does it cut across the stuffy old Morgan image that some may have but allows them to express that desire of driving excitement.

This is a nice video of Morgan.

Social Enterprise

The key theme here was that there’s still a lot of fear about moving to a more social business and adopting the cloud. What if? Why? Some examples included swapping email for social collaboration tools and just getting more noise back. The answer is (scroll back through previous posts on this) about context. Email is bad when used poorly. The same goes with any social platform. But they have the advantage of control, filtering and collaboration.

The link between social, mobile and the cloud is still unclear but companies like Salesforce.com are stealing a march with their offerings here.

The UK economy outlook

Barry Nesbitt, the Chief Economist of Santander UK, gave us an overview of the current and future state of the economy. There is no magic wand. The recession started in 2008 and the conditions are still challenging. It’s the longest recession we’ve faced where by this stage we haven’t got back to the levels of GDP output pre-recession.

2013 is predicted to show some growth but before you get excited, it’s small.

But they key theme was one of uncertainty. As the chart below shows, the economists have a huge range of expectations for the coming years for both GDP and inflation. It could be OK (although the growth is still small) or it could not be. Trouble is, the uncertainty causes subdued expectations. And with inflation still higher than our earnings, none of us are spending any money because we’re uncertain. There is a subdued outlook in the services industry and construction and manufacturing which traditionally drives GDP output.


So, heads down.


we fear change November 16, 2011

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, brand experience, digital, integration, marketing, social brand, social business, social media, technology, Technology Digital.
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Change is the only constant factor in life and in the world of Technology; the businesses which realize this sooner, can only gain from it. Article by me in Technology Digital.

Image source.

the networked business of the future September 15, 2011

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, brand experience, digital, Knowledge Peers, social business, social media, technology.

Last night I presented at the Knowledge Peers event: Technology – transforming growing businesses at the Design Council, Covent Garden, London. A lot of good presentations and discussions with a genuinely interested and intelligent audience asking some probing questions about cloud, social business and the changes required. And then I came on. I was the entertainment; the only one in jeans as far as I could tell. Certainly the only one in trainers.

I think the title is quite misleading. My bit was about how technology has changed companies, the problems they face and the benefits of becoming a more social business internally and externally. It picks up on themes from a couple of previous posts on social business if you fancy checking that out.

So up I popped and did my thing. And it was all going so well. New content, on form, enjoying it and then unfortunately the technology in the Design Council had a spaz. A big one. The keyboard wouldn’t work, the mouse wouldn’t work and any attempt to run slide show resulted in it all just blitzing through the slides and ending up on slide sorter. The irony of the session prior to me involving the shift towards employees bringing their own IT equipment into the workplace was not lost on me. (An ironic) thanks, Design Council. So I managed to convey the key messages (I hope) and promised to share the slides with the funny, sweary videos in them. They’re up there. Also because the technology spazzed, here’s the script. I went off script last night, a lot I think, as I usually do. I don’t normally write a script either so this is a rare collector’s item. But this is what I was meant to say.


Knowledge Peers event, 14 September 2011 @ Design Council, London


I’d like to share a part of a speech given by Ben Hammersley, the editor of Wired, gave to the IAAC this week – the Government’s talking shop for lots of things including cyber security. It’s a brilliant read. Probably better than the next 10 minutes with me, in truth. But then again, he hasn’t got the videos I’ve got so stay with me. The thrust of Ben’s speech was similar to the themes we’ve explored tonight; how technology is rapidly changing our world and the line that stands out for me is this…

“The Internet is the dominant platform for life in the 21st Century… it is the central platform for business, culture and personal relationships.”

It is. Not soon, not in a few years but now.

But in business, we’re slow to catch up. And I’ll share why this is happening and what needs to change internally and externally.


Some of you may be thinking exactly this. I know a lot of clients I have spoken too in the last few years have also experienced this horror too. Some put their heads in the sand; some jump headlong. Most just haven’t seen it coming.


We live in 2011. We are in the information age. But we act as if we’re in the industrial age. Factory mentality rules. Process this, refine that, get a repeatable outcome every single time. No exceptions. Except in our economy, that doesn’t happen. We don’t live in a 9-5 economy. Example: Facebook traffic peaks at weekends and evenings. How many brand managers are actively looking after their brand beyond Monday to Friday 9-5? We live in lumpy times. Not repeatable. Our workload is up and down. So we compensate for lumpiness with meetings. Because downtime is a sin. But where some detest this, others embrace it. Google allow developers 20% of their working week to develop projects. This is where Gmail, Google Plus and other game-changing technologies have come from. Not sat in endless meetings or churning through a gazillion poor uses of email that are a time sink.


But here’s the thing. We fear change. Because change means different. It’s hard. And the change needed is immense because it spans the entire organisation, not just adding Facebook and ticking the social media box in the comms list. We need to change across the enterprise. Change from jealously guarding our knowledge stocks and eking out ever decreasing profits from them. To become more open, collaborative and sharing.


Because the silo model organisation inhibits growth. Of course you can’t break down all the barriers. That would cause chaos. Or an ad agency as we tend to see it. No, you need to become more porous. Demilitarize the silos. Fundamentally sharing the data reserves. But harnessing it and mining it for actionable insights. Not just pretty charts. And it can work.

<examples on screen>


And it’s a similar story for marketing to people. The external environment.

Look at this timeline and look how long TV has been there. It’s now a process. Honed and toned. Familiar, trusted and yes, still effective. But with recent developments, it can be bigger, better, more effective.

And then technology came along and we hid away because we fear change. But even old things that we thought were dying have been given a new lease of life. Take outdoor. Eyeballs were the thing. But nobody looks up any more. We’re praying to the blackberry. But give them a reason to look up

 <McDonald’s Sweden interactive billboard>


For years marketing has been like a scene from Ghostbusters.

Bear with me here.

Don’t cross the streams! Why?

Dr. Egon Spengler: There’s something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don’t cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, “bad”?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That’s bad.

<source: IMBD.com>

So don’t cross the streams. It’s bad. And the marketing MIX became silos. Oh the irony.

We carefully trap our consumer in our stream of high impact telly, grapple him with press and outdoor, and opt him in to an email programme that will bludgeon him to death with messages until he finally buys our product. And now he’s in our box, we’ll maintain our CRM programme to keep him loyal. Process. We love that stuff in marketing world.

Here’s the thing though; technology changes, people don’t. They like to disrupt. To change. To do new things. And new things don’t have a history of past performance so we don’t know what will happen.

We fear change.

This is why brands have been slow to embrace technology.

All the while our consumers are doing interesting things without us. They love mixing the steams, messing with things. Our precious brand being messed with is hard to take. But it can be brilliant.

<Backstreet Boys weird manga>

Embrace change.


Which is why brands are behind the curve on mobile. It’s perhaps the most exciting thing to happen in marketing yet it’s being largely ignored.

Mobile devices were predicted to outsell PC shipments in 2015. This already happened in the last quarter of this year.

The opportunity for brands in simultaneous viewing is huge.

It becomes more communal, enriching and adds excitement.

Just hop on Twitter or Facebook on a Saturday night when X-Factor or Strictly Come Dancing are on. I don’t have a video of Anne Widdicombe. I don’t want to make you all ill.


Mobile represents as big a shift as TV did. Because you always have it with you. 35% of women under 30 check their Facebook news feed BEFORE they get up.

It’s exciting because we know your location, the context (contextual ads based on mobile search terms have 6x greater impact than banner ads on the web), it is real-time. And if you can combine the data you have unleashed form silos, imagine how powerful that is?

But let’s not get too carried away, there are things it cannot do.

<David Lynch on the iPhone>


Contrary to popular belief, TV is not dead. It’s evolving. We spend more time watching TV than anything else. Still. We do it in different ways. Technology has improved our telly entertainment. But it also means we need to be smarter. Run of network will get fast-forwarded – some 70% of ads are fast forwarded on PVRs which is no surprise when we’re time and place-shifting our viewing. Appointment to view TV gets saturated and expensive. You need to think and behave differently to light the fires a great TV ad can start. If a Yoghurt brand can think differently, you can too. Yeo Valley wanted to change perceptions of being an organic brand and decided TV was they to go for the first time and took over the entire ad break in X-Factor last year with something quite different.

<Yeo Valley Rapping Farmers>

Different thinking, different behaviour. Great ad. Did it work?

In the 12 weeks to December 25 2010, the brand experienced a 14.9% year-on-year sales uplift, outperforming the total yogurt market by two-and-a-half times. Total downloads of the song from the ad on iTunes has exceeded 27,000 copies.

<source: UTalk Marketing>

The brand amplification and extension is social channels is still growing today.


Be brave, have budget and cross your streams. Activate your brand, embrace your community and let go.

I’ll leave you with this great example of Lego. It’s not by Lego. But technology and fan passion makes this a great ad for Lego.

< Lego, Death Star Canteen>

You stay classy, San Diego.

(I didn’t say that.)

And here’s a follow up video from the event with me yakking on for a bit from 2min 45ish and again from 6m 50ish.

social business summit, london / part 2 April 18, 2011

Posted by nicholas gill in dachis group, social business.

This post captures the afternoon sessions of the London leg of the Dachis Group Social Business Summit. You can find part 1 here. Over lunch I had the chance to properly catch up with the lovely Ross Taylor who I had the pleasure of working with in my time at TMW. After much catching up and gossiping, which will stay off the record, we agreed that the missing ingredient in all the good thoughts so far is creativity. Not surprising when we both work on the creative side of the world but the theory side can come across as quite text-booky without an injection of creativity. Of course we didn’t solve it there and then but a thought to ponder for another time.

Michael Gold, Jazz Impact

Jazz and business. Collaboration. Different instruments can come together. Creativity and risk. Finding the liminal zone – the state of being in flux, on the cusp of something new. I literally have no notes to go from and just my memory as it became an audience participation session. While I got the concept, I really don’t like this kind of thing. I’m just too British obviously. Although plenty of others seemed to enjoy it. So I artfully used the moving around encouraged by the session to move to the bar at the back and sup a coffee and quietly observe.  All I could think of this entire session was the Fast Show Jazz Club sketch – “Nice!”.

Game on! Charles Hull, Archrival

Why would Dachis Group buy Archrival? A-ha! Gamification. So the learnings of Archrival can be translated into social business. Smart move. Gamification is a word that causes a lot of people to throw up a little in their mouths but the basic concepts of which are applicable to almost every walk of life. And the concept upon which we can get the kidz to do anything. Apparently. Sarcasm aside, Charlie (I liked to envisage him more of a Charlie than a Charles, Charles seemed to formal for him) took us through the themes of youth engagement.

To underline the importance of the internet to Millenials, Charlie shared a survey where 33% would give up sex rather than the interwebz. There is no future for the human race.

Usage between age groups has shifted too.

Charlie then shared in painstaking detail a game they had developed for Red Bull stepping through the playability, the levellling up, the sharing options etc. The game was fun so no surprise why it had some phenomenal figures attached to it. But I did wince when he suggested every client should have a game in their playbook. The hype that gamification is getting is interesting and where applicable, gaming architecture can enhance your communications but it’s in danger of becoming the new viral the way it’s being talked up and becoming a tick box on the marcomms to do list.

Ming Kwan, Nokia: Share to connect.

A client! A living, breathing client. Doing social business. Yes, really. Making it happen. From theory to practice. Does it work? Does it? Here we go.

At the core, the Nokia Share to Connect programme uses customer insight to improve business performance. They want to maximise the brand productivity by turning it into a conversational brand. I understand the first part of this paragraph only. The second sounds like all the bad social things we’re trying to eradicate.

The key thing for Nokia in analysing the social data they can get on the Nokia brand is the “so what?” factor. As you can imagine there is a huge amount of data out there. The key thing is synthesizing it and turning it into business impact. Working with Headshift (also part of the Dachis Group – damn them they appear to have this social business worked out!), they created the SOCIALIZER! I am not kidding. This is the internal name. It sounds like a Dr. Evil contraption – how could you not like it? So how does the socializer work? A bit like a uber-analytics dashboard. Ming showed a complicated diagram. Here’s my interpretation:

The key to the Socializer is making things both discoverable and actionable; key themes that have so far run trough the day. And if you thought the socializer was good, Nokia also have a Visualizer to visually show the output of the Socializer to management teams. So, as mentioned in Part 1 of this review, where’s the human cost in all this? I asked Ming in the Q&A and her answers were both honest and revealing:

5% of Nokia employees are actively engaged
30% have been exposed
They have 100 people in the digital team
30 people in the social team.

What these numbers tell me is that social business is easy to talk about and hard to do. Clearly the socializer has taken significant investment and Nokia already employ 30 people directly in social – that’s a big investment. And the internal impact is so far small. And Ming was honest in pointing out that they haven’t yet put tangible business performance data over it and are indeed still finding their way. They are using a variation of Jeremiah Owyang’s ROI model to track performance. But at least Nokia are doing something while others just talk so kudos to them for this. And for sharing a work in progress in an industry that tends to hide until results are good. It was also good to see a female presenter in a male dominated speaker set and attendees.

Dave Gray, XPLANE, The Connected Company

Dave likened the creation of a connected city to urban design. Why? Because cities are the only place where large-scale social interaction occurs. In cities you also see the effect of de-centralization, the impact of strong identity and also the active listening that happens. He also provided some information into productivity and teams including that for most corporates, for every 3 employees that are added, you get half the profits – back to the more for less discussion at the start of the day. Whereas in cities, the opposite is true. As they expand, they become more productive. So change from territorial, product/silo based output to connected, organic “flocking” as Dave called it. He also cited Arie De Geus’ Living Company as a great bedtime read to become more acquainted with this area.

The social business key to the boardroom – Panel discussion

Although the Imagination Gallery was a fantastic setting, especially as you could go out to the balcony and take coffee, the panel didn’t work for me. You couldn’t see any of them as they were all sat down at the front. This makes it hard to concentrate on what they’re saying as you can’t connect with them. So you find yourself zoning out much as you do when you’re on a conference call. I also wanted to hear more from Jeff Dachis as his observations were concise and actionable. But the key gist of this session was the CEO needs to drive social business. The marketing team will more naturally focus on the media element of social. The CIO however has the budget which is a key consideration. How do you get the attention of the CEO? Show him operating metrics. Not ROI. because ROI can be made to look however you want given a set of assumptions. Tangible proof, ie we will reduce churn by x%.

Lee Bryant, Headshift. Business intelligence

The finale. Data-driven business intelligence. And an English voice which was most welcome. After a brief recap of some of the inter-linking themes of the day, Lee was refreshing in pulling no punches and slamming most social media monitoring efforts as purely decorative. We have to move beyond pretty charts that show volume of mentions and sentiment (which, rightly, got another bash) and understand behaviour. Organisational transformation can only happen if data is evolved and we start to look at it holistically rather than in silo.

The role of creativity in sharing and understanding data is important; because data in it’s current form doesn’t appeal to all. Innovations like Flipboard are getting people excited about the possibilities of visualising data. New models such as Klarna (receive the goods, pay later trust model) are changing the paradigm. Lee described data as the new oil: organisations are sitting on huge datafields. When you socialise that data, it becomes more valuable. And amen to that, brother.

And with that, Peter Kim was once more called upon for MC duties, wrapping up instantly and hit the bar.

Overall an excellent day that provided plenty of thought fodder as well as challenging your own views or re-affirming them. I look forward to next year.

social business summit, london / part 1 April 15, 2011

Posted by nicholas gill in dachis group, social business.

One year on, the Dachis Group Social Business Summit was back on it’s global tour to share and spread the social business gospel; where are we today and what does the next year hold? This year I was more selfish and bagged a ticket myself as the content looked more interesting than most of the other social events that just preach to you about what you already know. I wanted to learn something new and be inspired. So did I? I’ve tried to capture my notes from the day below and created some crap visuals to illustrate. Be warned, this is long and in two parts – part 2 here.

Change, Context, Conflict

JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist (does he have Bunsen burners in his office?) @ Salesforce.com is a great presenter in the storytelling mode. The nub of the presentation was that businesses have engineered social out of the enterprise and we’re latterly trying to re-capture it. An HR example of this is the use of euphemisms to avoid the issue; we right-size, we don’t fire people. We blame the system because our enterprises are built to be non-social. We are in the knowledge age but still conform to the repeatable process of the industrial age. This is our context. Factories were created and expanded based on formulaic input/output that could be repeated and refined. The knowledge age doesn’t play well in this construct. So instead of releasing the knowledge (or Cognitive Surplus), we create meetings. Because our working day must conform to the process of the industrial age. 9-5. And downtime is a sin. Our workload in the information age is rarely steady. It’s lumpy. Some organisations embrace lumpyness; Google’s Lab Time is the best example of this.

So we must change from process to pattern. From same, same, same to trends that will repeat. Not exactly. But if we record the pattern, we understand it. We understand the conditions and why something didn’t work before and change that pattern. This taps into the vogue statement of “fail fast”.Where the industrial age was linear, the knowledge age is non-linear. With sandbox thinking, cloud computing and free-roaming mentality, it is now more possible to be non-linear. But it takes organisations to be engaged across the enterprise.

Conflict is an area that scares the bejesus out of a lot of people. The notion of sharing versus not sharing. We live in an open society. But not everything has to be shared. It’s not 100% open or 100% closed. There are gradients. Social sharing on Facebook is an example of perimeter security; letting some people in but not others. The collective sharing of memories lives here. With who you choose to share them with. Because our data is not one chunk. It’s granular. You don’t tell them your salary though. That’s still in the safe. Or is it?

And then he ran out of time. Which was a shame.

John Hagel from Deloitte then popped up and carried on with some themes and although most people clapped like automatons when John said he wasn’t going to use powerpoint, I always find at least some charts help with keeping your audience focussed and with you. I swayed and starting wandering my eyes around because I find it hard to fixate on one voice for 30 mins with no other stimulus. Perhaps because I work in a creative industry? This may just be me though. Anyway. The premise was of a shift from diminishing returns to increasing returns activated through a more social approach to business. The Good ole BCG experience curve is the former – work harder to get less. Previously we jealousy guarded our knowledge stocks; we guarded it, extracted it and made money from it but the money reduced as we extracted more because it wasn’t replenished. Now we release knowledge, get more people collaborating on it and increase our returns. Continually. Because we shift mentality from knowledge stocks and guarding to knowledge flows; a larger and broader range of contribution to knowledge stocks which accelerates growth.

Of course everyone wants to accelerate growth so how do you go about it? Start small. Don’t blanket the organisation. It won’t work. Identify small movements that will trigger cascades of action and enable momentum. These little impacts need quantifying though. John calls these Metrics that Matter. So Facebook Likes is not the holy grail? (I am being facetious). Maximise impact of the trigger projects by quantifying the impact across the organisation. C-level = financial metrics. M-level = operating metrics (i.e. churn reduction). Front line = performance metrics (job measures).

Don’t start these triggers at the core of the organisation, start at the edges. Where there are less barriers (and less stakeholders). At the core there are likely to be entrenched views. At the edge are likely to be champions with passion to challenge convention.

Start where the organisation feels pain. 60-70% of all corporate time is spent on exceptions. Which supports the arguments above that business today is not process driven; how can it be if less than a third of time is spent confirming to process. Collaborative problem solving the exceptions can be the catalyst for change. SAP was used as the example where after opening up the developer forums, average problem resolution time was 17 minutes. Ignoring the time element, this brings to life the abstract concept from JP about patterns, recognising them and understanding the conditions. If one developer is experiencing something another developer had and resolved previously; how much more efficient to share, recognise and resolve than plough a  lonely furrow.

Stuart McRae, IBM. Jam to Action.

Previously I wouldn’t have said IBM were particularly social. Big, lumbering, procrastinating yes. Social and agile? No. But then here’s the thing. They’re changing. Because they have to. And one of they key ways they are doing this is through Jams – collaborative places that enable enterprise transformation. There are no guitars in their jams. That came later in the day.

There was a lot of general beating up on email during the day. But not necessarily addressing the route cause. Email itself isn’t the issue. It’s the way people use it erroneously; arse-covering cc’ing, reply to all, sending stuff that could be accessed more easily elsewhere, using it as storage and to the earlier content – knowledge stocks. Compound this with the shocking filing state on most company servers (I’m convinced ad agencies are the worst offenders here. Never seen an organised server system in any company I’ve worked for) and you quickly understand the email overload backlash. Which I’m not sure will go away with some of the thoughts of Stuart and the other presenters later in the day about collaboration. Surely there’s an even bigger social overload issue we’re rushing headlong into if the root causes of email abuse aren’t addressed? Just look at tagging. In a former life the tagging was created by one person who looked at things with a viewpoint that was mainly counter-intuitive to everyone else. Net result the social sharing was like an empty bar. Nobody went there because you could never find anything. That aside, I liked the work Stuart shared.

Most organisations are created in silos. Silos inhibit knowledge share. Silos need to become permeable because to break them down is undeniably a Utopian solution rather than a practical one. Think instead of DMZs (De Militarised Zones) between silos to start to affect change.

Permeable silos need to share more effectively. email – in it’s current usage mode – is poor at this. By socialising the data in collaborative places, you increase discoverability. You discover it when you need it; not when someone decides to email it to you.

So how do you go about becoming this social business? IBM use an acronym (and we all love a good acronym) of AGENDA.

Align organisational goals and culture
Gain “friends” through social trust
Engage through experiences
Network your business processes
Design for reputation and risk management
Analyse your data.

In an area that is laced with impenetrable bull, these are five simple steps that are easy for any organisation to adopt although the word “Network” sticks out like a sore thumb in anything other than a software company and may get the IT folk all excited about cables and stuff. Stuart also referenced the IBM White Paper on becoming a social business as a good bedtime read.

The Jams in IBM require employees to be engaged in the process. Because employees are the differentiator of a social business. Used better and more engaged, the organisation becomes more transparent and more nimble. The Jams create a huge amount of data. This is where the sceptical business leader may get the jitters; if email overload is an issue, a seemingly free-for-all jam would potentially be seen as anathema. So it requires software to control, manage, curate, sift and sort the wheat from the chaff. And of course IBM are a software company so all tickety boo. But you can’t automate everything. You need human eyes and brains to understand what’s happening. And here’s the missing chasm in this brave new world. Nobody is talking is talking about the human cost. The Nokia person answered that when I asked her in the Q&A afterward. There was collective sharp intake of breath in the room (or so it seemed to me) when I asked it. More on that in part 2 as she was after lunch. And I’m getting hungry.

Dion Hinchcliffe, Dachis Group.

Billed as high impact social success stories I was eagerly awaiting some tangible evidence and case studies. But the evidence was on the last slide and although it was “in the appendix”, I don’t have the appendix nor was it signposted on the day or sent afterward so I am left perplexed. Where is this appendix please? I seem to remember the examples in highlight form weren’t exactly the legendary stuff of legend so I won’t be chasing around the nooks and crannies of the internet for it. My feeling at the time of the presentation was of being bored at this stage. The talk seemed to tell things any person half interested in the social sphere knows inside out using the well-thumbed Morgan Stanley report as back up. Yes, yes we know this, tell us something new. Well, not quite new but a new way of describing the drivers of a more social economy:

  • Pervasive connectivity
  • Friction-less interaction platforms
  • Next gen mobility
  • Information superabundance
  • Inherent transparency
  • Focus on network effects (more value the more people have it, NOT viral)
  • Rise of social capital

And here’s a diagram I created to make some sense of the change in usage from email to social tools and text between ages.

And of course the shift within the shift is also important. As more time is spent in social comms, increasingly it is being used on mobile devices. I again found myself suddenly wanting to become the defender of email and the bringer of common sense that of course young people are using email less because they’re not in the workforce yet where email is the main communication tool. So while this may look nice, it’s also blindingly obvious why. I’m not sure corporates will suddenly excuse graduates from email because they prefer IM. Some stats flowed about IBM using social to reduce email by 29%, and Siemens have a 3 year plan to delete all emails. Sounds great but, as referenced earlier, overdosing on social communications is already rife. The firehose needs to be tamed otherwise there is a great danger of social becoming a worse offender than email. We consume more information because we have the fear of missing out. And the consuming becomes paralysing if it goes unchecked and uncontrolled. But software will save the day. Apparently. I still think the human element will balls it up because even if we become more open, transparent and collaborative, if we don’t adhere by rules and process, we’ll just have data spaghetti. Maybe I just lost a bit of positivity because I was hungry?

So, that’s the first half. Second half here.

There is also a wiki of pretty much everything to do with the Summit here.

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