Tag Archives: Social Business

„Change Fixes the Past. Transformation Creates the Future“

With a striking sketching and a short title, Tanmay Rova  captures in a few words one of the crucial differences between change and transformation.

“Change fixes the past. Transformation creates the future”  —Tanmay Rova

ESN_F_Tanmay.Vora_Change_vs._Transformation-600x600

John Palinkas from CIO Insight gives us additional insight that differentiates transformation from change:

“Change uses external influences to modify actions, but transformation modifies beliefs so actions become natural and thereby achieve the desired result.”

—John Palinkas | http://www.cioinsight.com | @JohnPalinkas

I love the French word “clairvoyance” for the term vision. My native French combines “clair” meaning “clear” and “voyance” meaning “vision” or according Wikipedia, “the alleged ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through extrasensory perception. Extrasensory perception has nothing to do with any Cartesian Excel sheet, a business plan or a to-do-list. It is the combination of a vision, motto and credo that touches our heart and moves us emotionally towards action.

All the musical technique (mastery of an instrument, knowledge of scales, harmony and chords) involved into a bebop Jazz musician improvising on Dizzy Gillespie’s wonderful classic “A night in Tunisia” is irrelevant to most listeners. It is the sound, the colorful melody line, Dizzy Latin influence, the dynamics and the way the theme and music transports us into the delight and pleasure of listening (for those of us who enjoy Bebop Jazz).

We’ve all experienced this emotional inner drive that compels us to buy “things” we don’t need. Organization alike should consider this emotional side of humans and translate it into a clear vision, mission and value statement. An inspiring company vision will rally its workforce towards a cause that transcendences religion, beliefs, personal idiosyncrasies or well known disagreements between Sales and Product Development. Company vision is difficult to express when one of the core priorities is the next quarterly “Frankfurt Main share-value.” The transformational vision given by management should inspire, motivate, and move the entire workforce behind a common clear (clairvoyance) vision. Simon Sinek comes here to the rescue with his excellent insight, pointing out the importance of our dreams (clairvoyance) that inspire people and move them towards action:

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Vision does not express itself best within a business plan, an Excel table or a to-do-list. Transformation goes beyond physical change; it is first a mental or “spiritual” exercise. Our western business models are built on rationale and for the most part non-renewable and non-sustainable short term profit. Character traits such as empathy, forgiveness, love, and unconditional altruism towards others are rarely part of a job interview! These character traits belong to the necessary building block any organization needs to display in order to thrive and grow. How should we then quantify and ratify character traits such as empathy, forgiveness, love, and unconditional altruism towards others into a business plan or an Excel table?

CM_F_Who.Wants.2.Change

That’s where an organization’s culture comes in. A company culture reflecting an organization’s vision, mission and values based upon extrasensory perception for each individual to identify himself or herself with! An Organization’s culture all co-workers, partners, and customers can identify with and support.

 

 

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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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10 Ways for Small and Medium Businesses to Establish a Social Business Strategy (1/2)

Our world is getting more complex every day.  Technology evolves at a speed that is hardly possible to keep up with.  The amount of information is exploding and as Clay Shirky points out, we need to avoid filter failure.  We are at the threshold of intelligent marketing because now, Big Data is available.  We are moving from descriptive and predictive to prescriptive business intelligence.  How do we establish an effective business strategy, the one that will give our businesses the necessary room for successful growth and development?  What should its priority list look like?  Social media, blogging, inbound or outbound marketing, curation of information, website updating, brick and mortar shop, digital shop?  Trying to answer such a complex question within a ten point two parts blog article is a daring undertaking, but here is a modest attempt at doing this.     
 
1. Regularly review and refine your company mission, values and goals
 
This could be a daunting task, but a simpler way of restarting the process is to review your unique selling proposition (USP) and then divide it into three sub-categories: company mission, company values and company goals.  Having a sharp and targeted vision is quintessential for refining and pursuing a suitable strategy.  Reviewing your mission is crucial as business opportunities and changes do take place.  IBM, in the mid 80s, was the personal computer leader. IBM wrote US$ 16 billion of losses under the baton of Lou Gersten with 35.000 workers made redundant.  IBM finally sold its mainframe business in 2003 and, under Ginni Rometty’s leadership, concentrates on three core areas: analytics, cloud computing and emerging markets. Should IBM have failed to adapt and change, who knows if IBM would have become the thriving social business leader it has been now for the last several years. 
 
IBM-Social-Business_Ginni.Rometty_01 
A challenging way of applying technological trends could be to ask yourself if you could “create your 140 character brand promise”?  Can you summarize your company’s strategy in 35 words or less? The shorter and the clearer, the easier it will be for your communities to understand your mission and purpose.  It will help your business to energize its community while making it an active part of its purpose and vision.  Here are three USP examples which are each worth billions of dollars:
Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it’s free.”
FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”
 
2. Keep transforming your content marketing into convenience marketing
 
Traditional marketing is no longer sufficient.  Businesses which mostly concentrate on their own activities and products are promised a tough time ahead.  Today there are many companies that master innovation and customer experience by creating and listening to their communities. Such companies like IBM, Amazon or Starbucks give their customers the opportunities to consult, advise and recommend new products and services.  Starbucks understands that some of the best ideas come from their own grass root marketers, the ones entering their coffee-shops day in and day out.  Could there be a better source of feedback than the one coming directly out of their customers’ mouths?  
Consider your website as a customer hub with people coming and going, uploading and downloading information. The more your business listens to its community, the more focused its content marketing will be.  Some of the platforms to distribute your content could be  how to, tips, recommended sites and resources, books, authors, literature, recipes, videos, interviews, podcast, webcast, webinars and so much more.
 
Image Credit: www.hyken.com

Image Credit: http://www.hyken.com

3. To blog or not to blog

It’s great to hear what Chris Brogan has to say about blogging:  “No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog … It’s a website, with lots of built in features that make it useful from the search perspective, and simple from a content creation perspective…”  Blogging is like jogging for the brain.  Euan Semple once said:  “You do not know what you think until you write it down.”  At first blogging could be a strenuous way to ratify your thoughts, but the best way to freely express your personal ideas, views and expertise.  A blog is all yours and you may write (within reason) whatever your heart desires.  To blog or not to blog, this is the dilemma and the sooner your business starts the easier it will get. Blogging, like jogging, takes training, dedication and relentless commitment.  Avoid blogging about your products and services.  Concentrate on answering, sharing and inspiring.  Give your community what they want.  This will be the first act into bringing traffic to your website, and a natural way to gain traction and attention. 
 
4. Transform your website into a social hub and your visitors into your website co-creators
 
Amazon is a fabulous example of information crowd-sourcing.  When inquiring about books, the first thing most of us do is to find out about customer book-reviews.  Amazon has long understood that their website is not about them, but about the communities reading the books it sells.  It’s about letting visitors write reviews, comment on other people’s reviews, create groups and meet like minded readers.  It’s about customers’ wish-lists (a fabulous way of gathering marketing information) and remembering their interests, likes and dislikes. Amazon is a platform where people meet, read, comment, upload videos reviews and create personal profiles.  A company’s website should altruistically answer, inspire and educate its community.  It is not about your products or services, it is about your community, their worries, their interests and what inspires them.  Consider reserving enough space for uploading videos, reviews, articles and for giving your visitors the chance to become your website’s co-creators.
 
5. Carefully choose your social platforms
 
According Wikipedia, “Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks … It allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”  Social media is the new technological platform businesses use to promote physical or digital goods.  Social media networks should be kept to a minimum: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube.  Pick three or four and get professional help.  A Facebook and Pinterest expert like Mari Smith will save you time and money as she keeps up with ongoing platform changes and updates. Mari will provide you with the necessary support while you concentrate on your business.
 
In part two, we will review the last five fundamental points connected to the ongoing review of a successful social business foundation.  
 
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