Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘social platforms’ Category

New IBM Study: The Business of Social Business

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IBM’s recent study on “The Business of Social Business” revealed three major areas where organizations can most effectively apply their social business investments. The study surveyed more than 1,100 businesses worldwide, and included extensive interviews with more than two dozen widely recognized leaders in social business. You can find a link to a downloadable version of the study later in this blog post.

If you’ve been looking for a study that will help you better understand how organizations around the globe are viewing the opportunity social business presents as a fundamental way by which to rethink and overhaul how they conduct their business operations in the social age, IBM has something for you.

Earlier today, we released the new IBM Institute for Business Value study entitled “The Business of Social Business.”

This was a survey conducted of more than 1,110 businesses around the world, and with extensive interviews with more than two dozen recognized global leaders in social business. Many of those executives explained to IBM that, in fact, social business is gaining traction in their organizations.

Top line, 46 percent of the companies surveyed increased their investments in social business in 2012, and 62 percent indicated they were going to increase their expenditures in the next three years.

As the executive summary of the report stated, “The question surrounding social media today is not whether you are doing but, but whether you are doing enough.

Getting your 100,000th “Like” on Facebook, or having your latest pearl of wisdom retweeted 200 times an hour is all well and good, but are these activities driving revenue, attracting talent, and bridging the collaboration gaps in your organization?”

Is your use of social media allowing your organization to engage with the right customers, improve their online experience, and tap into their latest insights and ideas?

And does your social approach provide your customer-facing representatives with the ability to search the globe for expertise or apply learnings?

For far too many organizations, the answer are, “not yet.”

What IS Social Business?

IBM defines social business as embedding tools, media, and practices into the ongoing activities of an organization. It enables individuals to connect and share information and insights more effectively with others, both inside and outside the organization.

Social business tools facilitate engagement in extensive discussions with employees, customers, business partners, and other stakeholders and allow sharing of resources, skills and knowledge to drive business outcomes.

And what’s the upside? Top-line growth for social business users can improve between 3 and 11 percent, according to a recent study from the McKinsey Global Institute, and productivity can be enhanced by between 2 and 12 percent.

I’ll hand you off to a link of the full study later, but to net out the findings, IBM’s survey and interviews revealed three major areas where organizations apply social business investments (see graphic above):

  • Create valued customer experiences
  • Drive workforce productivity and effectiveness
  • Acclerate innovation

Shifting Towards Sales And Service

For those who have been involved in the social media realm to date, it’s important to note that social business is about moving beyond basic promotional activities to encompass the entire customer lifecycle, including lead generation, sales, and post-sales service.

The IBM study had a sub-sample of clients with some social business experience which revealed that while the percentage of companies expecting to use social business for promotional activities will rise slightly, from 71 percent today to 83 percent in the next two years, the number of companies expecting to use social approaches to generate sales leads and revenue will increase dramatically.

How companies are using social business capabilities is evolving rapidly. As you can see in the graphic, it is moving beyond basic promotional activities to encompass the entire customer lifecycle, including lead generation, sales, and even post-sales service.

Today, 51 percent use social approaches for leads and revenue, while 74 percent plan to get on board in the next two years.  Post-sales support is also expected to increase, from 46 today to 69 percent over the next two years (see graphic entitled “Users of Social Business”).

Getting Started With Social Business

Regardless of where your organization is in its own social business journey, the use of social business practices is a transformation that leads toward new ways of working.

IBM’s research revealed three essential actions to be taken across the enterprise, from the CEO’s office to the farthest corner of the organization.

  1. Develop social methods and tools to create consistent and valued customer experiences.
  2. Embed social capabilities to drive workforce productivity and effectiveness.
  3. Use social approaches to accelerate innovation.

If you’re interested in reading the full study, you can register to download it here.

As IBM’s vice president for social business, Sandy Carter, explained in the video interview below during our recent interview at the IBM Interconnect in Singapore, “culture eats strategy for lunch.” Sandy offered up some great advice on world-class social business practices, as well as how companies and individuals can better establish their brands in an increasingly crowded social marketplace.

Lending A Helping Hand

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There are loads of conferences coming up.  In October, I’ll be attending and covering both the IBM InterConnect event in Singapore (October 9-11), and am currently preparing myself psychologically for the long plane ride.

Later in the month, from October 21-25, I’ll be covering the seventh Information on Demand event in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I’ll have more info on those soon, but in the meantime wanted to highlight another key event that will probably be flying a little under the radar, the Cúram International User Conference.

Entitled “Smarter Social Programs to Deliver Better Outcomes,” the Cúram event will be held starting tomorrow, October 1, through Thursday, October 4, at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C.

What’s notable about this particular event is its orientation towards helping people who help other people.

Social services organizations around the world find themselves in challenging times, with increasing demands for their resources and higher service expectations, at a time when tax revenues aren’t exactly peaking.

Many of those organizations have begun to leverage Cúram software to ensure they have the most fitting business and technology foundation to support those increasing demands.

At the Cúram event, attendees will learn about best practices from some of the more leading-edge social services practitioners, hear more about the latest social services trends, and network with their peers from around the globe.

They’ll also have the opportunity to see the latest Cúram solutions and technology in action, and meet Cúram integrators and partners.

You can learn more about the event here, and more about IBM Cúram software here.

Boxed In In Bangalore: Analyzing Sentiment On Indian Traffic Congestion

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Click to enlarge. With a population of more than 1.2 billion, India is projected to be the world’s most populous country by 2025. By 2050, it is estimated that India’s urban population will constitute nearly half of that country’s total population, straining an already stressed infrastructure. The good news: Urbanization is an indicator of positive economic development. With improved urban planning, India can tackle urbanization challenges and increasing population to create a country that is poised for sustainable growth.

We heard a number of discussions about the potential for social listening intelligence last week at the Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Orlando.

This is an area I’ve been involved in within the IBM team for several years now, starting with some early explorations for how social data could be informative for our marketing efforts stretching all the way back to 2008.

It’s been exciting to watch this space evolve and mature, and with the advent of the IBM Social Sentiment index, we’re starting to see very practical uses of social data for better understanding if not the wisdom, then certainly the perspectives, of the crowd.

Yesterday, IBM held a Smarter Cities Forum in New Delhi, India, where we unveiled a new social sentiment capability to assist our customers in their Smarter Cities engagements.

We also unveiled findings from the latest IBM Social Sentiment Index on traffic, which looked at public sentiment across India’s largest cities — Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai.

Boxed In In Bangalore

If you’ve never experienced traffic in India, you can get a taste of the Sunday traffic in this video I shot during my first visit in June 2010.

But the recent analysis of publically available social media showed that the worst congestion in India is primarily caused by accidents and bad weather (three out of four times) when looking at the three cities together.

It also indicated some interesting variations between the three. For example, social conversation in Mumbai about stress around traffic is about half as high as Bangalore and New Delhi; references to the impact of rush hour on congestion in New Delhi are between five and seven times more negative than in Bangalore and Mumbai.

With a wealth of online content and public commentary on social channels such as Twitter and Facebook, city officials need new ways to measure positive, neutral and negative opinions shared by citizens regarding important city issues.

IBM’s advanced analytics and natural language processing technologies used to analyze large volumes of public social media data in order to assess and understand citizen opinions are now available to city governments around the world via new capabilities delivered with the IBM Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) for Smarter Cities.

Making Cities Smarter: The IBM Intelligent Operations Center

The IOC — which combines IBM software and services to integrate city operations through a single dashboard view to help cities improve efficiency — is now augmented with social media analytics capabilities that will help city officials make more informed decisions by looking at unfiltered citizen attitudes and actions, distinguishing between sincerity and sarcasm and even predicting trends as they surface online.

Combining the knowledge that population will rapidly increase in Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai in the coming years, with sentiment on commuters’ preferred mode of transportation, could help these cities more accurately plan for needed investments in transportation infrastructure and its potential impact.

City officials could also gauge where public awareness campaigns need to be administered to shift commuters to different modes of transport in order to alleviate growing traffic congestion.

The IBM Social Sentiment Index on transportation in India’s three largest cities surfaced several insights including:

  • The top three factors impacting traffic congestion that citizens in each city talked about most online were diverse. Delhites chattered about public transportation, weather and the stress of commuting, while Bangaloreans show more concern for their overall driving experience, construction and parking issues, and Mumbaikars are talking about private transportation, accidents and pollution more often.
  • Conversation in Bangalore around parking is viewed three times more negatively than in the other cities. Despite recent infrastructure improvements, less pollution and a solid public transit system, Delhites are experiencing a far higher amount of stress (50 percent) than those in Mumbai (29 percent) or Bangalore (34 percent). Most likely, this can be explained by an uptick in rallies and weather events this year, as well as the recent power outage.
  • Surprisingly, sentiment on the topic of construction was relatively positive in Bangalore and New Delhi, and positive and negative sentiment on infrastructure in each was relatively even. Together, these may suggest that the transportation infrastructure improvements being made over the last two years in each city are beginning to positively impact citizens.
  • Analysis shows that the relative negative sentiment for rush hour (35 percent) is one of the key drivers impacting traffic in New Delhi, which may explain why citizens talk about stress significantly more than commuters in Mumbai or Bangalore.

By applying analytics capabilities to the area of social media sentiment, organizations are able to better understand public opinions, and city officials can gain additional insights in order to draw logical conclusions about where they should focus their attentions and resources.

For example:

  • Take Bangalore, the technology hub of India. Understanding that most commuters prefer private transportation despite negative sentiment around parking and construction may indicate that city officials should consider if it makes sense to advocate for more commuters to use mass transit and invest in infrastructure that will keep up with demand as more companies locate there.
  • Since Dehlite’s indicate that public transportation is the preferred mode of transportation, city officials could use this insight to study which areas have high ridership and less road traffic and then implement similar actions in highly congested areas.
  • In Mumbai, negative sentiment around traffic and weather at the peak of monsoon season (August) generated 5.5 times more chatter than in November. If the city could measure the fluctuation of public sentiment on these potential causes over time combined with specific weather data like rainfall or temperature, it might be able to better prepare to divert traffic during monsoon season or determine areas where a public safety campaign is needed.

“Like all rapidly growing cities across the world, there are infrastructure growing pains in many Indian cities,” said Guru Banavar, vice president and chief technology officer, Smarter Cities, IBM. “However, when city officials can factor public sentiment — positive, negative or otherwise — around city services like transportation, they can more quickly pinpoint and prioritize areas that are top of mind for their citizens. This could mean more targeted investment, improving a particular city service, more effective communication about a service that is offered, and even surfacing best practices and successful efforts that could be applied to other zones of a city.”

Methodology: IBM Cognos Consumer Insights And 168,000+ Discussions

Public social media content was analyzed by IBM Cognos Consumer Insight, which assessed 168,330 online discussions from September 2011 to September 2012 across social platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Forums and News Sources and derived 54,234 High Value Snippets through a series of advanced filtration techniques for insight analysis.

The IBM Social Sentiment Index helps companies tap into consumer desires and make more informed decisions by looking at unfiltered consumer attitudes and actions, distinguishing between sincerity and sarcasm, and even predicting trends.

About the IBM Social Sentiment Index

The IBM Social Sentiment Index uses advanced analytics and natural language processing technologies to analyze large volumes of social media data in order to assess public opinions. The Index can identify and measure positive, negative and neutral sentiments shared in public forums such as Twitter, blogs, message boards and other social media, and provide quick insights into consumer conversations about issues, products and services.

Representing a new form of market research, social sentiment analyses offer organizations new insights that can help them better understand and respond to consumer trends. For more information about IBM Business Analytics go here.

You can also follow the conversation at #IBMIndex on Twitter.

For more information about IBM Smarter Cities go here, and follow the conversation at #smartercities on Twitter.

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit Orlando: Outdoor Products Maker Husqvarna On “The Partnership Of Equals” Between Marketing And IT

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One of the highlights of attending any of IBM’s events like the Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Orlando, Florida, last week is the opportunity to meet with and speak with IBM customers.

John Marchiodona, VP of marketing, and Simon Howard, head of IT for the Americas, at Husqvarna, are two prime examples.

John and Simon are the poster children for marketing and IT coming together to create new capabilities and opportunities for their customers, in their case for a 300+ year-old commercial concern that now focuses on outdoor products, including chainsaws, lawnmowers, and the like.

John and Simon explained in the interview Scott and I conducted with them how new digital opportunities, particularly in the social space, have required them to come together earlier and more often to map out new requirements and capabilities for better serving their clients.

As they explained, “Technology is becoming more and more a requirement for everybody,” and a good example of the fruits of their labor was a new social media section of the Husqvarna site that contained videos demonstrating the safe and productive use of their products.

As they explained in our discussion, theirs’ (marketing and IT) is a “partnership of equals,” and that to fulfill on the new digital demands of their consumers, “they have to have the necessary platforms in place to do what they want to do.”

IBM’s Combination Of Social & Analytics = Social ROI

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The embedded experience of the news feed in IBM Connections, also known as an activity stream, allows employees from any department inside an organization to explore structured and unstructured data such as Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, weather data, videos, log files, SAP applications, electronically sign documents, and quickly act on the data as part of their everyday work experience.

Big news today from IBM re: social analytics, and for some key customer wins on the social business front.

First, to the news about social analytics. Today, IBM unveiled new software and services that bring the power of big data analytics into the hands of a social savvy workforce anytime, anywhere.

With this new capability, organizations will be able to apply analytics to their social business efforts, allowing them to gain actionable insight on information generated in social networks and put it to work in real-time.

IBM’s Lead In Social Business

Today, more than 60 percent of the Fortune 100 have licensed IBM social software to activate their workforce to improve productivity, and gain insight on data to anticipate individual customers needs.

IBM’s leadership role in analytics has been established through a thoughtful strategy that required the expansion of R&D, acquisition and business initiatives across its hardware software and services portfolio.

As part of today’s news, IBM announced the availability of its industry-leading social software platform, IBM Connections.

IBM Connections incorporates sophisticated analytics capabilities, real-time data monitoring, and faster collaborative networks both inside and outside the organization, whether on premise, in the IBM SmartCloud or using a broad range of mobile devices.

You can check out a demo here.

IBM Customers Becoming More Social

IBM also announced today that leading companies around the globe, including Bayer MaterialScience, Colgate-Palmolive Company, LeasePlan, Primerica and Teach for America, are using its social software to achieve real returns on their social business investments.

The rise of social media is prompting business leaders, from the CMO to the chief HR officer to the CIO, to evaluate how to create opportunities that drive business transformation through the use of social technology, creating real business value.

At the same time, business leaders lack the tools to gain insight into the enormous stream of information and use it in a meaningful way. According to IBM’s CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.

Do you want to know what becoming a social business can do for your company? This video will help you understand how you can create exceptional customer experiences and a smarter workforce to empower your business. Find out how you can compete with — and win against — the world’s best by giving customers what they want. You can view the video here: http://bit.ly/SASGdi

A recent IBM study of more than 1,700 chief marketing officers reveals 82 percent plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years.

“To truly realize the full potential of a social business, leaders need to empower a company’s most vital asset — the information being generated from its people,” said Alistair Rennie, general manager, social business, IBM. “Now is the time for business leaders to embed social into their key business processes to shift their business from the era of ‘liking’ to ‘leading’.”

Social ROI

Today, more than 60 percent of the Fortune 100 have licensed IBM social software. There is strong demand for IBM’s social business platform in regulated industries, with 41 percent of Connections 4 beta participants in banking, finance and healthcare institutions.

Primerica, a leading distributor of financial products in North America, will utilize Connections and WebSphere Portal, to transform how its agents engage with its 2.3 million policy holders on the fly, to provide increased value for its customers.

The company plans to use social business software to improve the overall client experience, drive competitive edge and stay on the forefront of innovation in the financial services industry.  You can read more details on Primerica’s adoption of IBM social software here.

And in the video at the bottom of this post, you can check out my interview with Digital Influence Group’s Glenn Engler about the challenges and opportunities for social media in heavily regulated industries.

Expanding IBM Social Capabilities In Key Growth Markets

To support the burgeoning demand for social business solutions in growth markets, in the fourth quarter of 2012 IBM will open two social business customer support centers to serve IBM’s Asia-Pacific and Latin American clients.

Located in Manilla, the Philippines, and Sao Paolo, Brazil, these centers will support the rapid adoption of social business tools in these growth markets. The Philippines and Brazil centers join a roster of IBM social business centers in North America, Dublin, Japan, China and India.

IBM’s growing business partner network of more than 39,000 business partners are also bringing new, cutting-edge capabilities to IBM’s social platform every day in areas including gamification, video, compliance, project management and mobility.

For example, Actiance provides leading compliance capabilities to thousands of organizations globally, SugarCRM helps sellers use social networking and analytics for effective selling, and Bunchball provides gamification capabilities to IBM Connections.

Making New Connections With IBM Connections Social Software

IBM Connections, a cornerstone of IBM’s social platform, is available on premise, in the cloud, and on a broad range of mobile devices.

IBM Connections integrates activity streams, calendaring, wikis, blogs, a new email capability, and more, and flags relevant data for action. It allows for instant collaboration with one simple click and the ability to build social, secure communities both inside and outside the organization to increase customer loyalty and speed business results.

The new Connections mail capability provides simplified access to email within the context of the social networking environment.

Empowering Your Employees

The new capabilities empower employees from every line of business, such as marketing, human resources and development to gain actionable insight into the information being generated in their social networks.

For example, the Connections landing page features a single location that allows users to view and interact with content from any third party solution through a social interface, right alongside their company’s content, including email and calendar.

The embedded experience of the news feed, also known as an activity stream, allows employees from any department inside an organization to explore structured and unstructured data such as Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, weather data, videos, log files, SAP applications, electronically sign documents, and quickly act on the data as part of their everyday work experience.

To learn more about IBM’s social business initiative, participate in a simulcast on September 13, 2012 at 1 PM ET at bit.ly/Pn9sqd or sign-up to attend IBM’s Connect conference in January 2013.

For more information, please visit www.ibm.com/press/socialbusiness.

IBM blogger and tech evangelist Todd “Turbo” Watson interviews Digital Influence Group CEO Glenn Engler at SXSW Interactive 2012 about the opportunities and challenges of social media for heavily regulated industries.

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit Orlando: Social Thought Leader Ted Rubin Talks “Return On Relationships”

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Ted is a leading social marketing strategist and in 2009 started using the term “ROR: Return on Relationship,” a concept he believes is the cornerstone for building an engaged multi-million member database, many of whom are vocal advocates for the brand.

“Just be nice.”

Those are just some of the words of wisdom that Collective Bias’ chief social marketing officer Ted Rubin offered up in our interview last week at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Orlando, Florida, as Ted discussed the opportunities and challenges of social media marketing.

Ted is a leading social marketing strategist who, in 2009, began using and evangelizing the term “ROR,” or “return on relationship,” a concept he believes is the cornerstone for building an engaged multi-million member database, many of whom have the potential to become vocal advocates for brands.

In our interview, Ted also addressed some key emerging themes in the social media, including the massive opportunity that social media presents to organizations looking to interact at scale with their customers, and how social platforms are increasingly helping to facilitate those interactions.

His book, Return on Relationship, is due to be released in October of this year.

Written by turbotodd

September 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Google’s New “Jelly Bean”

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So did anybody else watch that Google I/O keynote earlier today from the Moscone Center in San Francisco?

Apparently, so, because at one point there were nearly 100,000 concurrent viewings on YouTube.

Yes, I said, 100,000.  Pretty impressive for a developer’s conference.

I’ll get to some of the key Android announcements momentarily…first, the show stealer, which for my money (and of which there’s not a whole lot), one-upped Apple’s keynotes in a way they’ll likely never be able to match.

As the team was preparing to introduce the much-discussed Google Glasses (which I hope, one day, I’ll be able to wear on the golf course and announce to my technophobe father exactly how many yards his shot is to the pin without missing a beat), Sergey Brin cut away to an airplane flying high over the skies of San Francisco, all featured in a Google Events Hangout.

I presumed the cutaway was Memorex, but soon found out differently.

The skydivers jumped from the plane, flew in their birdsuits a little ways, then opened their chutes and landed safely on a roof by or at the Moscone Center.

They delivered the Google Glasses to some manic BMX mountain bikers, who jumped a couple of roofs before handing them over to some dudes who were hanging by some ropes.

Before too long, they all came busting into the live keynote and up on the stage to deliver the glasses.

I’ll never think of my FedEx delivery guy the same again.

I guess everyone at Google Marketing and PR was pretty confident all their skydivers’ chutes would open and no Google Glasses were going to go splat along with their mules.  That, or they had a contingency plan to cutaway to poor voice-challenged CEO Larry Page trying to pick up the slack via ASL.

Like I said, the whole stunt got my attention.

There were a range of interesting announcements, including the Glasses (available to developers attending I/O sometime next year), the new Google streaming media player (Yawn), and Google’s own Nexus 7 (is that one step behind Windows8?) tablet.

But the new Android, 4.1, AKA “Jelly Bean,” was the storyline I found most interesting.

Google announced “Project Butter” as the new innovation in 4.1, which helps make transitions and animations in the Android OS run more smoothly (at a cool 60 frames per second).

Googlers also demonstrated more responsive widgets (I hate to wait on any mobile device app!), which users can drag and drop and move around on their home screen.

Android Heavens, open up and save me from thith mobile lag!

The Google voice recognition engine is now going offline, which means you can transcribe to your heart’s content without being connected to the Interwebs.

“Android, go beat up Siri and then send me some funny pics of such that I can view on my newfangled Android 4.1 home screen and share them via my non-lagging new Facebook app on Jelly Bean!”

The new “Google Now” was also a cool new feature, which allows you tor bring up new “cards” that contain relevant and timely information (“How tall is the Empire State Building?”).

If Trivial Pursuit ever makes a comeback, I want to play the Google Now-assisted edition!

Google Now also takes advantage of temporal and physical data it knows to make friendly suggestions to you.  For example, when it’s lunchtime, Google Now could suggest some local restaurants nearby and let you easily make reservations to go there.

I’d suggest you view the video below to learn more about Google Now, but despite my preference to stick with the Apple iPlatforms, me likey the new “Jelly Bean” and hope Apple responds with some similar features in a future iOS release.

IBM Leads In Social Software

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Click to enlarge and view the full infographic. IBM announced earlier today that for the third consecutive year, IDC ranked IBM number one in worldwide market share for enterprise social software. According to IDC’s analysis of 2011 revenue, IBM grew faster than its competitors and nearly two times faster than the overall market. Currently, more than one-third of the Fortune 100 use IBM social business software.

It’s official: For the third year in a row, IBM has been found to be the most social enterprise company around.

Well, something like that.

For the third year in a row, IDC has ranked IBM number one in worldwide market share for enterprise social software.

According to their analysis of 2011 revenue, IBM grew faster than its competitors and nearly two times faster than the overall market (which grew approximately 40 percent).

IDC also forecast the enterprise social platforms market is expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2016, representing growth of 43 percent over the next four years.

Much of that growth comes with the continuing popularity of social networking, with more and more organizations looking for ways to adopt social business practices to integrate global teams, drive innovation, increase productivity and better reach customers and partners.

Using Social Software For Enterprise Transformation

While this demand is on the rise, organizations are still looking for ways to embrace social capabilities to transform virtually every part of their business operations, from marketing to research innovation and human resources, but lack the tools to gain insight into the enormous stream of information and use it in a meaningful way.

“Social software is gaining in momentum in the enterprise,” says Michael Fauscette, group vice president for IDC’s Software Business Solutions Group.

“Companies are seeing significant gain in productivity and increasing value from successfully deployed social software solutions including supporting ad hoc work by bringing people, data, content, and systems together in real time and making more effective critical business decisions by providing the ‘right information’ in the work context.”

Today, more than 35 percent of Fortune 100 companies have adopted IBM’s social software offerings including eight of the top 10 retailers and banks.

IBM Connections: Social Inside And Outside The Enterprise

IBM’s social business software and services is unique combining social networking capabilities with analytics to help companies capture information and insights into dialogues from employees and customers and create interactions that translate into real value.

IBM’s social networking platform, IBM Connections, allows for instant collaboration with one simple click and the ability to build social communities both inside and outside the organization to increase customer loyalty and speed business results.

IBM Connections is available both on premise and in the cloud.

In the past year, new IBM Connections clients include Lowe’s Home Improvement, Electrolux, TD Bank, Newly Weds Foods, Russell’s Convenience stores, Bayer Material Science, The Ottawa Hospital, Premier  Healthcare Alliance, Earthwatch, and the law offices of LaVan & Neidenberg.

“The opportunities for organizations to adopt social business processes to connect people and speed innovation is limitless,” said Alistair Rennie, general manager, social business, IBM.

“A successful social business can break down the barriers to collaboration and transform the next-generation workforce, from device to delivery vehicle of your choice, to improve productivity and speed decision making.”

Learn more about IBM and social business technologies here.

IBM Midmarket CEO Study: Collaboration and Transparency Key to Providing An Edge

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IBM continued its rolling tide of market insights with the announcement this morning of its global study of midmarket CEOs.

The headline: Nearly twice as many smaller- and medium-sized business CEOs see creating a more collaborative work environment with a higher level of openness and transparency as a top priority compared to the findings from the IBM CEO study conducted in 2010.

A total of 45 percent of midmarket CEOs see the need to create a more open business environment, a close to 50 percent jump from two years ago.

The study also unearthed the following:

  • Nearly 70 percent of midmarket CEOs aim to partner extensively with other companies as external relationships will play a more critical role to CEOs’ overall business strategies
  • 64 percent of midmarket CEOs are focused on creating a more collaborative environment to engage employees with a new way of making faster and better decisions in an increasingly changing business environment
  • 71 percent are focused on improving their understanding of individual customer needs.

Impact of Social: Changing The Way Products And Services Are Marketed

CEOs also discussed the whirlwind of “social”change they’re witnessing. Facebook, Renren, Twitter, Weibo, Foursquare and other social media upstarts have changed the way products and services are marketed to consumers.

Despite the surge in social media adoption around the world, only 15 percent of midmarket CEOs are using social media platforms to connect with the individual consumer today. Three to five years from now, that number is poised to spike to 50 percent.

Market dynamics and technological advances continue to force more organizational change, significantly impacting how midmarket businesses engage with customers and employees and drive innovation.  Midmarket CEOs are now looking to technology not only to make them more efficient but also to enable increased collaboration and create relationships – essential connections to fuel creativity.

Rising Complexity, Escalating Competition Drive Partnering

Rising complexity and escalating competition have also made partnering a core innovation strategy for many organizations.  As midmarket businesses become more geographically diverse and interact with other organizations, the importance of sustaining a collaborative business culture will only continue to grow.

Those that are perceived to be collaborative often find it easier to partner with other successful companies.  In fact, about 50 percent of midmarket CEOs see partnering or collaborating as a way to stay on the path of innovation.

Greater Openness, Transparency, And Focus On Talent

In addition, given the market pressures to operate with greater openness and transparency, CEOs are looking for employees who will thrive in this kind of atmosphere. CEOs are increasingly focused on finding top talent with the ability to constantly reinvent themselves. These employees are comfortable with change; they learn as they go, often from others’ experiences.

CEOs regard interpersonal skills of collaboration (72 percent), communication (68 percent), creativity (58 percent) and flexibility (66 percent) as key drivers of employee success to operate in a more complex, interconnected environment.

Organizations are under intense pressure to respond to not only how customers want products and services delivered, but also when and where. Businesses can profit from unique insights they discover about customers. In fact, 65 percent of midmarket CEOs identify customer insights as the most critical investment area.

To effectively engage individual consumers and clients, organizations must weave together insights about the whole person from a variety of sources. They will need stronger analytics capabilities to uncover patterns and to act on insights. Two such examples are as follows:

Mobility: A Change Agent

Finally, mobility is elevating customer expectations and creating new challenges for CEOs.   Midmarket clients have a tremendous opportunity to create value out of immediacy to be ready with relevant services and information in the context of the moment.

As mobile commerce is expected to reach $31 billion by 2016, companies will need to take advantage of location based services and new forms of commerce in which mobile is integrated into a consumer’s multichannel experiences, tailored to the individual, to stay competitive.

“Midmarket CEOs are establishing more open and collaborative cultures —in which employees not only connect more with each other and the outside world to innovate, but to reinvent themselves. Learning from each other, they stay ahead of the skills curve and open to change,”   said Andy Monshaw, General Manager of IBM Midmarket Business.

“Business leaders are embracing technology in completely new ways to spot oncoming threats, capture an immediate, unexpected business opportunity, address business challenges with a clear focus on partnering with other organizations to seize these opportunities to drive growth and innovate.”

You can learn more about the IBM Midmarket 2012 CEO Study here.

Happy Float, Facebook

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Happy IPO day, Facebook.

I’m not an “insider” of any sorts, so I won’t be gaining from any of the early Facebook IPO action.  I’m on the fence as to whether or not I might try to buy some “FB” shares on the open market through my Schwab account…not because I’m not interested in owning any Facebook stock, but because like a lot of investors, I want it to be a conscious, responsible investment, and one never knows what’s going to happen on IPO days.

But know this: I’m very bullish on Facebook, both its past and its future.  I’ve never seen an Internet property bring so many people together from so many different places in the world, across economic and social strata, and keep them coming back.

If you’re as bullish, but not ready to gamble on IPO day, you might give some thought to investing in the Facebook “pick and shovel” plays.

Stand back, look at the Facebook ecosystem, and rather than place all your bets on the Facebook IPO “come” line, instead spread some bets across the board and benefit from all the other players who stand to benefit from Facebook’s continued growth and adoption around the world.

The Zyngas, whose gaming ecosystem helped the Facebook tribe spread around the world.  The Dachis Corps and Buddy Medias, which are helping make the Facebook platform work well for marketers (and focusing well beyond the social graph ads that GM announced it would abandon earlier this week).

And, to be sure, hundreds of others.

Regardless of whether or not you’re a Facebook fan, and heaven knows sentiment about them can run to the extremes, if you’re a good Western capitalist, you have to be excited.

This is the classic American success story, where young kid has great idea, develops that idea in his dorm room and later small house in Silicon Valley, and eventually changes the world.

And make no mistake about that: Facebook has forever changed the world.

Just ask the folks in Egypt, or Tunisia, or Russia, or any other locale or organization that has benefited from the lower center of gravity Facebook has created that makes organizing in mass quantities as simple as a few clicks.

There is a good reason that Facebook is NOT available in China — fear of transparency and open communications.

If it were available, China would be a very different place than it is today, and it makes me thankful that the kind of open innovation and entrepreneurialism we have here in the U.S. is still alive and well.

And that, in the end, may well be the most important reason for celebrating Facebook’s entry into the public markets.

Big ideas can still have big impacts, and Silicon Valley (and, more broadly, the United States) is one of those places in the world that you can find the capital, the talent, and the political and regulatory playing field  to make those big ideas a reality.

Happy IPO day, Facebook.

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