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!
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 ...
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!
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.
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!
Well, happy Memorial Day to you all! Instead of going to the town parade and chowing down at the truly excellent annual pancake breakfast at St. Paul's, I think I'll buckle down and actually write some of the book that's due to the publisher in less than 30 days. Yesterday, I began reading "The Wisdom of Teams," a very useful a book by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith. It was written before social media took off, but it covers many concepts that apply to networked environments. I recommend it highly, especially for anyone who is trying to make the case for creating a corporate social media platform for collaboration and teamwork. OK, enjoy the lovely day!
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!
I just finished reading a great column written by Andrew McAfee for Forbes.com 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.
I interviewed Don Peppers last week for my upcoming book on corporate social media strategy and I wanted to pass along Don's recommendation of Yochai Benkler's great book, "The Wealth of Networks." Benkler offers a detailed analysis of the economics driving the "networked information economy" and it's worth reading for anyone involved in Internet-based publishing. As an old newspaperman, I was especially fascinated by his explanation of how the Internet has fundamentally replaced the printing press and why the concept of "intellectual property" is already dated. I find the book absolutely brilliant. Don, thanks!
My friend Luis Suarez has done it again -- written a really useful post on the topic of collaboration, this time focusing on three common obstacles to adoption. I don't want to steal his thunder, so please click on through to his excellent blog, Thinking Outside the Inbox, and enjoy!