Category Archives: Social Business

Why Vision Should Be The Raison d’Être (Reason of Existence) For Any Business or Organization

In the wonderful book of Proverbs, King Solomon states:

 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Why is vision so important? Do organizations really face the threat of “perishing” or extinction if their vision statements are not spelled out clearly and openly for all stakeholders to read and understand?

According Wikipedia’s entry on Vision Statement a company vision should include the following traits:  “general enough to encompass all of the organization’s interests and strategic direction:

  • Challenging: not something that can be easily met and discarded
  • Clear: defines a prime goal
  • Concise: able to be easily remembered and repeated
  • Future-oriented: describes where the company is going rather than the current state
  • Inspiring: motivates employees and is something that employees view as desirable
  • Stable: offers a long-term perspective and is unlikely to be impacted by market or technology changes

Marketoonist_F_Mission.Statement.Clichés_1

Any organization’s vision should be the “raison d’être” or the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence just like human beings should understand why they were born and what their awesome destiny is! In his book “Delivering Results: A New Mandate for Human Resource Professionals” author David Ulrich makes this fundamental claim:

“It is more important to know who you are than where you are going, for where you are going will change as the world around you changes.”

In many ways the vision of a company is its core ideology. Leaders pass away, services or products become obsolete, market dynamics shift, new technologies disrupt the way we work, but core ideology / culture in a great organization endures as a source of guidance, inspiration and motivation. An organization’s culture or core ideology provides the glue that holds an organization together as it expands, diversifies, and develops workplace diversity. What held and still holds the Jewish people together despite the fact that they have been centuries without a homeland? The principles and core Ideology of Judaism. Core Ideology / Organization vision should be the common purpose, the enduring ideals and principles that bond the entire workforce towards a shared purpose and vision.

I love the “little weirdness” Tony Hsieh promotes in his company Zappos.com. Tony knows that the “WOW customer experience” is never terminal or achieved; it is an ongoing attempt and effort to service all stakeholders for a company that “happens” to sell shoes and handbags.

___CM_F_Zappos_Delivering.Happiness

“One day, 30% of all retail transactions in the US will be online. People will buy from the company with the best service and the best selection. Zappos.com will be that online store. Our hope is that our focus on service will allow us to WOW our customers, our employees, our vendors, and our investors. We want Zappos.com to be known as a service company that happens to sell shoes, handbags, and anything and everything.”

Some of the questions leaders should ask themselves is how their organizations are being perceived by all stakeholders when management is not “in the room”. What is the press saying about their companies? Such a study could bring surprises since management and workforce/customer perceptions are often divergent as exemplified by the following slide:

___CustServ_F_Mission.Statement_vs._Real.Company.Philosophy_2

Ten fundamental questions organizations should regularly ask themselves:

  1. What do our workers and customers say about our organization?
  2. What are the values our organization creates for our workforce, vendors and investors?
  3. What are the core values driving our company vision?
  4. What is the core purpose or raison d’être (reason of existence) for our organization?
  5. What are the values our company provides to our consumers?
  6. What is our company known for?
  7. What are the values our organizations creates in the world
  8. What is the renewable and sustainable contribution our organization makes to our environment?
  9. What is our organization perceived for: cutting edge or bleeding edge?
  10. What makes it peculiar to work for our organization?

____CM_F_Culture_Staff.Treatment

The goal  of making a profit does not belong to a company vision or/and its core values: Making money should be the outcome or the fruit of a company’s labor and hard work!  In Part part two of this series, we will look at two main tenets of company vision: core values and core purpose.

 

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Change Management Seventy per Cent failure rate: Tech Failure or Human Malfunction?

A few weeks days ago Rachel Happe and I were having a bit of a Twitter meme, following on the wonderful work The Community Roundtable did with its stunning “2015 Community Manager Attributes” graphic. I raised the following question: “Is the well known change management seventy per cent failure rate due to technology failure or human malfunction?”

Rachel’s reply was very insightful:  Human. We are much harder to change than the technology. fully supporting Clay Shirky’s statement from his book: ”Here Comes Everybody: ‘[Change] does not happen when society adopts new tools, it happens when society [businesses] adopt new behaviors.'”

Clipboard_Image_10

So why is it so difficult for us to change? Why is this seventy per cent failure rate as high in such an abundant world we are enjoying? How can we fail with a 24/7 ubiquitous internet access?

Is not it surprising that intelligent human beings (one would think) are so often incapable of overcoming basic conflicts and difficulties as they occur? I’ve often asked myself: What are the core issues or basic challenges the workforce faces in its daily environment?

5 human difficulties emerge when Change Managers are at work:

—Conflicting objectives

—Conflicting priorities

—Human Communication

—Politics

—Unshared vision

There is one common word in all these five main areas of difficulty: “conflict.” We will narrow the conflict search in Wikipedia to: conflict within processes:

Conflict refers to some form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the beliefs or actions of one or more members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or more members of another group.

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Doesn’t this remind us of company silos such as Controlling vs. Sales, Sales vs. Production or even Sales vs. Marketing? If Sales, Marketing and Production do not share a higher vision than “share holder profit” it will remain extremely difficult to tear down the “Internal Business Berlin Walls” so many corporations have on display.

So in other words, communities are not built because of technology but thanks to the people that put them together!

Reviewing The Community Roundtable summary of skills under the “Engagement” heading, one would agree that the ten points suggested could very well be relating to “conflicting objectives and priorities” as well as “human communication.”

Conflicting objectives and priorities

“Behavior change and gamification

Empathy and member support

Listening and analyzing

Moderation & conflict facilitation

Promoting productive behaviors” (Credit: The Community Roundtable)

Human Communication

“Facilitating connections

Listening and analyzing

New member recruitment

New member welcoming

Response and escalation” (Credit: The Community Roundtable)

I earnestly believe that a transcendent vision, placed above product, shareholder value and business earnings ought to be addressed, defined and ratified! An organization has to identify itself with a vision that will become the glue that holds everything and everyone together.

“Unshared vision” and “politics” will never be overcome with a business plan or an Excel table! Could you imagine if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when addressing the crowd in his famous speech “I have a dream” had  replaced it with “I have a to-do-list”? Ludicrous right? This is however what many organizations are doing! In this upcoming series we will look at the fundamental need for upper-management to define a vision that should be shared by the core of the workforce and the organization’s values by which employees should be hired.

We will look at why it is so crucial for organizations to define a clear company vision that goes beyond the cliches we often hear when asking the question: How would you define your organization’s vision in less than 25 words?

 

 

Five Crowd-Sourcing Lessons Learned from a Retail Business Moving its Shop Location

Manuka Wholefoods is a remarkable little shop owned by a family of New Zealanders living in Chichester (West Sussex) in the southern part of the United Kingdom.  Manuka Wholefoods retails a full array of organic products such as grocery, dairy products, fruit and veggies, skin and body care, nutritional supplements and organic wines.
 
For personal reasons, the Manuka Wholefoods business owners had to travel right before relocating their shop within Chichester.  Beyond the traditional emails sent to their customer database, the on-site working crew, led by highly capable and motivated Shop Manager Claire Burgess, decided to give customers a little map-flyer helping them to visualize the new location.
 
1. First, start the crowd-sourcing project within your own team
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Creating a readable map everybody could understand turned out to be a challenge. Claire could have printed out the typical Google map, had it photocopied and “voila, here you go customers, take it or leave it!  But insightful Claire Burgess wanted to go a step further. She decided that not only should customers understand and be able to read her map, but more importantly customers should be able to visualize the new shop location.  In order to create the best possible drawing, Claire first sought advice from her own team.  By doing so, she enthusiastically included them in the project while gaining their motivation and support.  
 
2. Crowd-source with own employees for personnel engagement and motivation
 
The three Manuka Wholefoods team members had different views and expectations on what the map should look like.  After briefly conferring with each other, they all decided to try out a Google version.  At that time, the Google map seemed the logical choice since the team could perfectly understand the directions from the old location to the new. 
 
3. Test your idea and ask for genuine feedback from your crowd
 
Claire Burgess went one step further.  She started showing the map to her customers, and asked them if they could visualize and understand where the shop was going?  Although 80% of Manuka Wholefoods’ customer base is from Chichester, most of the customers to whom the map was shown had genuine difficulties reading it and understanding where the shop was moving to.  Claire’s team realized that many of their customers did not know the street names or names of the city landmarks.  The team had to pause and accept the fact that the map they created and perceived as logical and easy to follow, came across to the majority of their customers as confusing.  The quintessential lesson they learned was the fact that they did not find out until they genuinely started to ask.
 
4. You miss the point if your business gets it, but your “crowd” or customers don’t
 
Manuka Wholefoods’ sales team started asking customers for suggestions.  It became clearer that a readable map would have to be made from scratch.  Unneeded street names were removed.  Thanks to the help of many customers, the map became a crowd-manufactured effort featuring four arrows originating from the former shop and ending at the new location.  The customers preferred a map overview with directions along the main roads rather than the most direct route along unfamiliar streets. Furthermore, customers then requested that it would help if pictures of known landmarks and shops could be added to the map to create a complete visual of the new location.
 
ManukaWholefoods is moving-medium 
5. Assume nothing and get your crowd’s attention
 
Although posters announcing the move were strategically placed, these seemed to be of little use unless pointed out to customers. In this day and age, we are all busy, preoccupied and in a rush.  We see but do not read; we hear but do not listen! That’s
why folks, with any message you want to communicate, you’ve got to get people’s attention.  We all are creatures of habit. We often overestimate the relevance of a message by genuinely assuming that people are interested. 
 
Once the map had been finalized, 750 copies were personally given out by Claire Burgess and her team.  Furthermore Manuka Wholefoods will have to distribute additional flyers to encourage its customers to create new shopping habits. How many customers will forget and realize that the location has changed when suddenly faced with the old empty shop?  Over the next three to six months, Manuka Wholefoods will have to remind, coach and reward customers for having adjusted to a major change:  shopping at its new location.
 
What is your crowd-sourcing experience as a business owner?  What are some of the lessons you’ve had the chance to learn? I am looking forward to your comments and suggestions:  Until next time, I wish you all a successful week. 

 

Six Reasons Why Social Business Strategists should read Jacob Morgan’s “The Collaborative Organization”

I purchased Jacob Morgan’s “The Collaborative Organization” on Amazon UK at its full price.  “The Collaborative Organization” is a strategic Enterprise Social Software guide and a monumental must read for any CEO, CMO, CIO and CCO (Chief Culture/Customer Officer) wanting to successfully implement Enterprise Social Software within his enterprise.  Erik Brynjolfsson, coauthor of Race Against the Machine writes: “Most business leaders understand how critical collaborative tools are to the success of their companies.  What they need now is a guide based on hard data and practical experiences that show how to put those tools to work.  Morgan fills that need with this book.” 
“Rapid pace of change is occurring in technology, human behavior and business culture” writes Morgan.  It is imperative for organizations to check and if necessary update obsolete intranet/extranet platforms and radically transform internal and external communication.  Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Lew Platt once said:  “If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as productive.”  Please bear in mind that Morgan has a full array of added case studies on his Chess Media Group website adding tremendous value to the study of his book.
 
The Collaborative.Organization-medium
 
1. Enterprise Collaboration Tools bring real advantages to companies willing to implement social business software solutions.
 
Among the top reasons for enterprises considering the implementation of Enterprise Social Software (ESS) Morgan’s top six are:
– Connecting colleagues across teams and geographies (72%)
– Increasing productivity (65%)
– Fostering employee engagement (60%)
– Fostering innovation (59%)
– Capturing and retaining institutional knowledge (59%)
– Enabling access to subject expert (54%)
Morgan uses many case studies to back up his enterprise social software exposé. 
 
2. Accelerate the serendipity of weak ties with the use of social business software solutions
 
“One of the most visible changes for companies is often how horizontal communications lines open up across various enterprise silos” writes Morgan.  He discusses the risks companies are facing by not implementing social software tools as well as the possible threats to be faced while implementing them.   
 
3. Excellent delivery of the technology landscape
 
Morgan’s technology landscape is a strategic overview social leaders will greatly appreciate when considering their social platform menu.  Morgan and his Chess Media Group have done a meticulous job at surveying all the different collaborating platforms, and the percentage of companies using mashups, wikis, blogs, prediction market platforms, forums, Ideation platforms, RSS feeds, micro-blogs, collaborative file sharing and social email and much more. 
 
4. Social Enterprise Software evaluation matrix
 
Morgan offers an excellent vendor evaluation matrix, which is very well presented and easy to use.  It will help social leaders to rank ESS vendors according to specific areas such as::
– Vendor management, product roadmap and viability
– Ease of use and intuitiveness
– Price
– Features
– Technology integration and security
– Customization and integration
– Product features: people
– Support and maintenance
– Vertical expertise
 
5. Adaptive emergent collaboration framework
 
Morgan delivers another useful matrix with five core areas:
– Goals and objectives (company, department, metrics, customers and employees)
– Organizational culture (leadership, mutually beneficial value, change management, openness and evangelists
– Process (escalation, information management, automation)
– Technologies (tool selection, integration, training, adoption, maintenance and upgrades)
– Governance (best practices, guidelines, employees, customers, metrics)
Morgan recommends a maturity model of adoption made of seven steps and the different milestones achieved during their implementation.
 
6. Culture and technology are the two most important drivers
 
Morgan stresses enterprise culture and how it is one of the most crucial pillars of Enterprise 2.0 when attempting to establish the right foundation for hybrid, intern and external communities to communicate and engage.  Morgan quotes Carl Frappaolo “Culture is the single greatest potential asset or detriment.  A culture conducive to collaboration will compensate to some degree for awkward processes and inadequate technology.  In contrast, a culture not conducive to collaboration will ignore, or in the worst case sabotage, even the most sophisticated technology and process approaches to open transparent sharing.”
 
The Chess Media Group has meticulously researched and produced a superb textbook for any CCO, CMO, CIO and CMO to assist him or her into implementing enterprise social software.   Morgan has delivered another crucial piece of the social business puzzle on how to prepare, organize, evaluate, measure and drive the adoption of social software tools.  Although Morgan has written a superb work, one frustration remains: the somewhat poor quality of the charts and figures as displayed by the publisher.  A little more effort could have been made in order to enhance this work.  The Collaborative Enterprise belongs to the text-books every social business strategist needs to own.  My personal thanks and kudos to Jacob Morgan for having published a wonderful book that greatly contributes to the new discipline of social business strategy.

Six Reasons Why Social Business Strategists should read Mark Fidelman’s Socialized!

I bought Mark Fidelman Socialized! on Amazon at its full price (no discounts or coupons from Mark) and just finished devouring it. Fidelman  delivers a fundamental work that greatly contributes to the heated debate of Social Business development.  Fidelman not only shows, but proves how quintessential it is for businesses to harness the power of social.  Not only with tools and technologies, but first with their immediate communities aka company workforce.  Time is ripe for dismantling the prevailing command-and-control leadership style. The militaristic/hierarchical leadership approach ought to be replaced with Jon Husband’s Wirearchy structure.  So why should you read Socialized!Social Media ROI expert Dr. Natalie Petouhoff: “Fidelman’s ability to simplify key concepts like the Digital Village, Darwin’s Funnel, and the Digital Network, gives the reader a unique and important understanding of the power of Social Business. You’ll be sorry if you don’t read this book before your competitors do.”
 
Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Fidelman and his team interviewed business leaders around the globe in order to present to us a state-of-the-art social business road-map.  Fidelman lives and breathes what he writes.  He is the sort of individual any social minded person ought to connect with; either on Twitter/LinkedIn, and Forbes where he is a regular contributor.  Socialized! not only talks the walk but most importantly walks the talk.  It is a practical text-book backed up with countless case studies and examples anyone aspiring to become a social leader should be aware of and study
  
2. Culture, culture and more culture is the foundation to any social business undertaking
 
Fidelman emphasizes culture as the 101 prerequisite to any potentially successful Social Business Strategy.  Fidelman: “Why after all do we insist on employees following our orders, and why do we call it insubordination if they question them? … Yet the companies that are leading in today’s world recognize the benefit of an empowered workforce that feels connected to the organization.  Empowered employees understand not only how to make great products, but more importantly how to create cultures that continue to make great products well into the future.”  Socialized! will assist CMOs and CCOs (Chief Cultural/Customer Officers) not only to analyze their existent Social Business state, but provide them with a detailed 10-point Social Business Culture development program.  
 
3. Building first an internal digital village and then an external digital network
 
Once the infrastructure of a cooperative culture has been established, business leaders will need to handpick the internal evangelists and shepherds (regardless of their rank) who will co-create their internal digital village — the nuts and bolts to any Social Business foundation
 
CXOs need to remember that becoming a Customer Service or/and Customer-Experience oriented company first  requires the emotional support and buy-in of their internal communities or “Smart Tribes” (as coined by Christine Comaford in her brand new book).  These “Smart Tribes” or internal communities represent the company’s intrinsic power that will transform the  traditional working communities into enthusiastic business advocates.  
 
After the creation of an apropos culture and the establishment of the right people foundation, the social team will need to select the social media platforms and its supportive collaborative technologies (Intranet/Extranet/SCRM/Social Business Software).  This will make sure that the Social Business community sets up the proper internal tools to construct its external digital network.
 
4. The new Social Business Playbook
 
Youtility author Jay Baer states: “Socialized! is an imminently readable, practical, and modern guide to social business.  The playbook section alone is worth the price, and then some.  Fidelman has added an important piece to the corporate social transformation puzzle.” Fidelman:  “In practice, management should provide the right atmosphere, guidelines, technologies, and opportunities for employees to thrive.”  Socialized! delivers a 15-point playbook: here are some of the highlights:
 
– Building an internal and external community
– Connecting and empowering thought leaders
– Recruiting a Chief Social Strategist or a Chief Cultural/Customer Officer
– Becoming an own media publisher, which makes me think of Michael Brito’s upcoming book: Your Brand.
– Replacing traditional inbound marketing with content marketing
– Leveraging employees, suppliers and partners to foster innovation
– Enhancing customer support to become the strength of your company
– Using Gamification to engage employees, partners and customers
– Creating the potential for serendipitous relationships
 
This last point is my favorite and reminds me of the romantic comedy “Serendipity” starring John Cusack and  Kate Beckinsale.   Fidelman himself gives a wonderful example of serendipity with StaffUnity:  an automated employee lunch club system provider.
 
5. The rise of the social employee
 
Fidelman  makes the case that, social networks, consumerization of IT, mobility, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device: smartphones, phablets and tablets) and cloud computing are all being part of the social and technological developments a 21st century enterprise cannot fail anymore to ignore. 
 
6. Measuring the ROI (Return On Investment) of a Social Business Strategy
 
Fidelman stresses that social business initiatives should only be undertaken if those can be measured.   He goes on to say: “Before starting any social initiatives, you must first identify objectives such as:  “improving customer relationships, product innovation, acquiring and retaining employees and growing revenues.” 
 
 
Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

 
Social Business metrics and ROI are  very well documented in a 2012 study by MIT in collaboration with the Deloitte institute.  The Economist Intelligence Unit and the PulsePoint Group published a study showing that 81% of interviewed leaders agree that social engagement has the following tangible benefits on the following areas:
 
– Project management
– Innovation
– Collaboration
– Efficiency gains
– Cost saving
 
In conclusion, Fidelman’s Socialized! is a management textbook that provides all the necessary steps for a clear pathway towards a successful social enterprise journey:  
 
1. Reviewing the existent culture of an enterprise
2. Setting up an internal digital village
3. Attaching an external digital village to the internal one
4. Establishing a social business strategy
5. Measuring Social Business ROI
6. Reviewing, correcting, adapting and repeating
 
Any leader wanting to understand the implications and repercussions  of a Social Business development program should study and dissect Socialized!.  Kudos and thanks to Mark Fidelman’s altruistic attitude for having taken the time to give us one of the best researched Social Business Strategy text-books ever written thus far. 
 
 
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Seven IT Eras Leading CIOs to Become One of the Key Evangelists to a Social Business Strategy (Part 2/2)

In the first part of this two-part series, we reviewed the four IT-eras that have shaped and transformed the CIO role into a digital mediator and one of the key technologists of the new Social Business (Enterprise 2.0) era.  We saw how mainframe computing led to personal computing then followed by Internet and finally the broadband technology.  The consumerization of IT has brought us the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement. BYODs are compelling our 20th century business models (based on the enlightenment era and its resulting industrial revolution) to include workers personal devices such as smartphones, tablets and phablets.           
 
5.  Mobile era
  
Uwe Vielle defines mobile computing as “the ability to use computing capability without a pre-defined location and/or connection to a network to publish and/or subscribe to information.”  Mobility requires new type of softwares or SaaS (Software as a Service) stored in the cloud as well as brand new hardware handsets such as smartphones, tablets and phablets (Samsungs Note II) also known as BYOD.  
 
Post-PC-Era (www.phonedog.com)
 
Two weeks ago, Gartner reported that combined ultra mobile devices, tablets and mobile phone reached 1.872 billion in 2012 and would reach around 2.7 billion by 2017.  Gartner expects a 7.6% decline in PC sales while saying: “This is not a temporary trend induced by a more austere economic environment; it is a reflection of a long-term change in user behavior.”  Broadband and IT-consumerization both contribute to mobility.  Ubiquitous Internet access compels us to centralize our data to a central location: the cloud.
 
6.  Cloud Computing
 
Cloud computing could be compared to the technological shift electricity went through a century ago.  At that time, Thomas Edison favored direct current (DC) systems.  DC was eventually replaced by Guillaume Duchenne’s (1850s) and William Stanley’s (1880s) alternative current (AC).  Alternative current made it much easier to industrialize the production and transport of electricity.  In a similar way the alternative current analogy could be used for cloud computing.  It is not the flow of electric charge that periodically reverses direction, but our computing routines.  IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service) deliver the foundation upon which private users can upload their personal digital belongings. 
 
Traditional software vendors like Microsoft are transforming their “one way” Office product into an SaaS platform while offering a 20GB SkyDrive cloud storage.  In May,  Flickr rolled out a whopping 1TB (Terabyte) of cloud-storage for free accounts.  Laptops and notebooks paved the way to mobile computing.  Consumerization of IT brought the diversity of multi-screen computing via smartphone, tablet and phablet devices.  This newly acquired ubiquitous mobile  flexibility threatens the very livelihood of US-PC giants such as Dell and Hewlett Packard.   
 
7.  Post PC era
 
Broadband, mobility and cloud computing confirm the steady decline in the sales of personal computers in favor of “post-PC” BOYDs.  BYOD threatens the use of traditional software in favor of cross-platform applications such as Android, Java or iOS.  In 1999, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates coined this development as the “PC Plus” era.  In 2007, Steve Job renamed it the “post-PC device” era.  According to IDC the U.S. PC market contracted 12.7% year-to-year with a 18.3% decline compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.  “A new report from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows a 13.9% decline in first quarter PC shipments compared to 2012.  The ‘year-on-year contraction marked the worst quarter since IDC began tracking the PC market quarterly in 1994,’ according to IDC.”  
 
Post-PC-Era (www.intomobile.com)-medium
 
The US PC-industry is in a dire position.  Last year Hewlett Packard announced that it would lay off over 27,000 employees.  Dell’s troublesome privatization endeavors are still going on and a 274-page proxy filing  states,  “Dell – the company and the man – wants to move away from PCs because making money in the global PC market is about as easy as selling tap water in a rainstorm”. 
 
8.  Social Business   
 
Not too long ago, the CIO was considered (and in many cases still is) the technological IT-drill sergeant in many companies.  He was the technological door keeper, who in the name of “security” only granted employees the right to specific choices of hardware and software.  A major shift began when computing mobility entered enterprises with the use of laptops and notebooks.  Emails and data access became mandatory and VPN (virtual private networks) were created.  Consumerization of IT could be for the former CIO king what the 1789 French Revolution was to Louis XIV.  CIOs are losing their controlling grip and are forced to accept the BYOD revolution and the respective operating systems such as Symbian, iOS, Android, Window & Blackberry to name just a few.  Added to this culinary buffet of BOYDs and operating systems let’s not forget our newly acquired social media channels.  Social media are transforming customer service, experience and marketing altogether and terminates the traditional hierarchical company customer communication era.  Traditional outbound marketing methods (pay, pray and spray) are being replaced with inbound/content marketing which in turn is rapidly evolving into convenience marketing. 
 
Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the age of social
Meine Damen und Herren willkommen im sozialen Zeitalter 
Mesdames et Messieurs, bienvenue dans l’ère sociale
 
 
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Seven IT Eras Leading CIOs to Become One of the Key Evangelists to a Social Business Strategy (1/2)

In the last 10 years, the modern CIO has transformed himself into an IT chargé d’affaires (mediator) and a key technological emissary.  He has become one of the key players to the development of any successful social business strategy.  In this two-part series, we will review the seven stages that led IT to transform its traditional door-keeping role into the technological beacon of a social enterprise.  Without further ado, let’s review the last fifty years of IT’s technological maturing and unraveling.
 
1. Main Frame Computing
 
In the mid 70s, my dad and I regularly headed to the wholesale outlet in Orléans (France) to get our grocery supply.  As a teenager, one item particularly fascinated me, the huge IBM tabulating machine in the administration hall. 

An employee would insert the punched-cards into the machine.  Then, this giant would print out an invoice with all the trimmings.  Needless to say, this was in the mid 70s state-of-the-art technology:  the era of mainframe computers (mostly used for transaction processing) roughly covering the late 50s through the 70s.  A computer professional would probably smile at the informal way I associate this device to the mainframe era, but at that time it was an impressive technology only larger businesses could afford.

This IBM machine was known as the “Card-Programmed Electronic Calculators (CPC).  Mainframe computers would soon be followed by mini, micro and personal workstations also known as personal computers.

2. PC Era
 
IBM underestimated the fact that by the mid 90s, personal workstations would usher in Personal Computer that eventually would replace the typewriter.  Some of us probably remember the Commodore PET, the first successfully marketed personal computer introduced in 1977.   
The predecessor to IBM AS/400, System/38 was first made available in August 1979.  It was marketed as a minicomputer for general business and department use.  It was sold alongside three other product lines, each with a different architecture not compatible with each other.  Digital Equipment Corporation used this IBM weakness to expand.  Digital Equipment was acquired by Compaq in 1998 which then merged with Hewlett Packard in 2002.  In the meanwhile Paul Allen and Bill Gates had founded ”Micro-Soft,” the combination of microcomputer and software, which became a US$ 42 billion corporation.  
 
3. Internet era
 
Internet service provider (ISPs) began to emerge in the late 1980s and early 1990s. CompuServe (my first email address) was a service provider founded in 1969.  CompuServe was the first major commercial online service in the United States that became a leading worldwide internet service provider.  In 1998 CompuServe became a subsidiary of America Online Inc. (AOL).  Internet has become a global system of interconnected computer networks to serve billions of users worldwide.  Since its email commercial start, Internet technology has added: instant messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) with services such as Skype, two ways interactive video calls and finally the World Wide Web including discussions forums, online shopping, blogs and more recently social networks.
 
4. Internet broadband and the World Wide Web era
 
Broadband Internet access or broadband is a high-speed internet access that replaced the awkward dial-up “modus operandi” some of us remember.  Dial-up bit rates varied from 33 to 64 kbit/s and required a telephone line.  Broadband started supplying higher bit rates with the crucial advantage of not disrupting regular phone lines.  It also provides a continuous “always on” connection.  Then came the World Wide Web, a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet.  Broadband supports a much faster World Wide Web browsing experience, faster downloading/uploading of information, video telephony, computing mobility with VPNs (virtual private networks) and online gaming experience. 
 
Next week, we will post the second half of this two-part series with the last three reasons why IT should become the technological beacon of a social enterprise 2.0 transformation.  In the meanwhile I wish you a very pleasant rest and a wonderful weekend. 
 
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