Cumulus Partners

8. September 2010 03:09

Catching up to the 'new' economy

8. September 2010 03:09 by mike barlow | 1 Comments

Chris Brogan writes a great blog, as most of you probably know. I recommend today's post (Looking for Work) and the many excellent comments that it inspired, especially if you feel like a refugee from the post-modern economy.

Chris touches on an important and very under-reported topic. And by the way, it's under-reported because most mainstream journalists (those who are still employed, that is) are working for huge corporations. As the global corporate economy continues evolving into something resembling the Matrix, more and more of us will have no choice but to rely on our entrepreneurial skills to survive. So my question is: When will the education system catch up with this? When will "mainstream" society figure this out?

The world has changed and the vast majority of those cushy corporate jobs have vaporized -- and will never return. Those jobs were the byproducts of the post-WWII U.S. economic hegemony. From 1945 until 2008, we operated as a virtual monopoly (We had a scare in 1973, but everyone forgot about it when the economy recovered in the 1980s). Now that we've got serious competition (the world *is* flat), the fat times are truly over. I'm not complaining -- I'm just amazed by how many people are still out there hunting for plush corporate gigs that no longer exist.

4. September 2010 02:49

Lost moon

4. September 2010 02:49 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Last night I spent a couple of hours watching cable and listening to Gene Kranz talk about the Apollo missions. The program aired on C-SPAN 3, and it was part of a longer oral history project undertaken in the late 1990s. For fans of the "Apollo 13" movie, Kranz was the guy in the white vest played by Ed Harris. Kranz was the NASA flight director who, among other accomplishments, helped Neil and Buzz set down on the moon in 1969 and guided the successful rescue of the Apollo 13 astronauts after an explosion crippled their spacecraft on its way to the moon.

But listening to Kranz was like listening to a guy talking about building the pyramids. I was a teenager when the Apollo missions were launched, but from a cultural perspective, it seems as though they happened thousands of years ago. The distance we've traveled as a culture since those days is astonishing. The journey took us to some better places, but we also managed to lose a lot of our stuff on the long trip. I simply cannot imagine assembling a team of people with the same levels of discipline, intelligence, experience, imagination, energy, talent and focus that came together under the NASA umbrella back in the 1960s.

The 1960s were special -- the dawning of the Age of Aquarius! But they were also the ending of an era, and I worry about some of the baggage that we tossed out the windows as we drove into the future.


5. August 2010 15:11

Put a fork in it ...

5. August 2010 15:11 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

OK, we've finished writing THE BOOK! Yes, the manuscript for "The Executive's Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy" has been submitted to our wonderful editors at John Wiley & Sons, and they are checking it now to make sure we didn't sneak any bad words into the text! But seriously, it's moving through the editing process and that means it's on schedule! Whoopeee!!!

13. July 2010 02:28

Just read excellent post by Valeria Maltoni ...

13. July 2010 02:28 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

I guess I must be the last person in the world to have read Valeria Maltoni's excellent post, Customer Service is the New Marketing. She wrote it way back in 2007, but it's even more relevant now than it was three years ago. One of the nice things about researching a new book is finding or rediscovering all the cool stuff that other people have already written. It's also fun chatting with some of these people to see how their opinions have changed, or not changed. Have a great day!

21. June 2010 04:47

Thoughts from Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston

21. June 2010 04:47 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Spent last Wednesday listening to panels and keynotes at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference up in Beantown. Lots of good stuff, especially from the shock troops on the front lines. Said "hello" to Andrew McAfee, who was autographing copies of "Enterprise 2.0," one of my favorite books on the subject. As with other recent conferences, this one seemed to highlight the gap between users and vendors. The vendors are all breathlessly pushing enterprise solutions; the users are struggling with adoption, relevancy, senior-level buy-in and proving the business value of collaborative social media initiatives. Reminds me of CRM back in the 90s. My hunch is that once again, CIOs will find themselves out of the loop as vendor sales reps head straight for the users, even if it means sacrificing the big bucks. We shall see ...

18. June 2010 12:45

File under ... another strange dream

18. June 2010 12:45 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

The other day an old friend of ours felt dizzy after climbing a long set of subway steps, and, to make a long story short, wound up in the hospital overnight. She's OK now, but I guess the episode stuck in my mind. This morning, right before I woke up, I dreamt that I was a young man, about 30, and I was sitting in the back of a car, waiting for a business associate. All of a sudden a beautiful woman, also in her 30s, gets in the front seat and tells me that it's time for me to die.

Clearly she's the angel of death. Naturally, in my dream, she's a sharp looking Latina, wearing a black business suit. I say, "Now?" and she replies, "Yes, now" and she takes out this weird pistol with a long blue plastic barrel and a pink feather where the grip usually is. No matter, it looks deadly enough. She presses the end of the barrel against my heart and squeezes the feather. I figure, this is it, so I'd better relax. I do some yoga breathing, start meditating, get real calm.

She gets pissed off and says, "This will work better if you look surprised." I figure I should cooperate, so I try to look surprised, but then she tells me that I'm doing a lousy job of looking surprised. While we're arguing over how I'm supposed to look while she's trying to kill me, I wake up.

I'm laughing now, but as you can imagine, I wasn't laughing in the dream. At any rate, I'm glad I woke up. And the weather is perfect!

15. June 2010 01:35

'Enterprise' vs. 'roll your own' social media solutions

15. June 2010 01:35 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

I'm heading off to the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, and wondering which approach to social media strategy will eventually prevail, the vendor-provided "enterprise solution" or the "roll your own" model in which you basically say, "Hey, all I really need is an interface that feels like Facebook or LinkedIn and everyone will get the drift. Why do I need to buy an "enterprise solution" from a big-league vendor and pay big-league prices for a social media platform?"

So the big question gets down to "features and functionality," which sounds pretty 1970s, if you ask me. Clearly you're going to get a better ROI from the do-it-yourself model, but the enterprise model will likely come with more bells and whistles. The enterprise version is likely to address concerns over security, privacy, confidentiality, regulatory compliance and other sticky issues which are extremely important if you or your business partners (or channel partners) operate in any kind of regulated envionments.

Looks like the the jury's still out. I'll keep you posted on what I learn up in Beantown. 

11. June 2010 01:55

When I'm writing, I'm also reading ...

11. June 2010 01:55 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

In my role as a "thought leadership content provider," I tend to consume a lot of books. That's one of the many things I love about my job. I've always loved reading, and as long as my vision lasts (quick cut to Burgess Meredith dropping his glasses in "The Twilight Zone"), I'm cool!

Last year, when I had fewer assignments (i.e., less work and more time), I had a chance to read some classics that I'd overlooked in college, such as "The Charterhouse of Parma" and "The Red and the Black." They are both terrific, and I recommend them highly, especially to all of you writers out there. You get the strong impression that Stendhal didn't have much patience for second drafts -- he just writes, and if you like it, fine. He reminds me of Hunter Thompson!

Today, I'm reading yet another book recommended to me by my former colleague and visionary marketing guru, Don Peppers. Don suggested that I pick up a copy of "The Rational Optimist" by Matt Ridley. I did, and it's a wonderful book. It validates a lot of my late-night ruminations about the evolution of culture and society, and Ridley offers a believable explanation for why humans don't behave like other mammals. So I'm passing along Don's recommendation. You'll enjoy Ridley's book -- it's rationally optimistic!

22. May 2010 07:16

Updated Social Media Revolution is worth watching!

22. May 2010 07:16 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Erik Qualman has updated Social Media Revolution. It's definitely worth watching. And for anyone who thinks the battle is already won ... well, I just returned from a high-level, invite-only CIO conference in Chicago, and there didn't seem to be a lot of genuine understanding about the potential business value of social media. Believe me, there are still lots of people out there in the corporate universe who still don't get it. But then again, there were also people at this event who were arguing over the value of cloud computing. If I think hard enough, I can remember similar arguments when client-server systems replaced mainframe computers, when PCs replaced dumb terminals and when email replaced the inter-office memo! Stay tuned -- and don't touch that dial!

5. May 2010 01:06

Great column by Andrew McAfee looks at why social media projects often fail

5. May 2010 01:06 by mike barlow | 2 Comments

I just finished reading a great column written by Andrew McAfee for about why social media pilot projects often fail. He's an advocate of social media, so I was interested in hearing his take on the subject. The column is definitely worth reading, especially if you are the manager of a corporate social media initiative. Here's my takeaway: Too many companies are treating social media like some new flavor of CRM, which is a serious mistake right off the bat. Next, it seems as though many executives expect social media pilot programs to show results after a couple of months. The best analogy I can think of would be if you were disappointed because your four-month-old child hadn't already been signed by a major league sports team or hadn't been admitted to Harvard. Imagine what it would sound like if you started complaining, "Hey, what's wrong with this kid? Maybe we should bring him back to the hospital and exchange him for a better model. Or maybe we should just rethink this whole kid thing and get a dog instead ..."

But sometimes I hear comments just as absurd by executives who ought to know better. Here is the stark reality: Social media is in its infancy. In fact, every aspect of information technology is in its infancy -- every platform out there is young! And social media is certainly one of the newest, and therefore one of the youngest. I think we need to give it a few more years before we begin judging the real "value" of social media to the enterprise.