Are You Experienced?
For much of my career, my work has been centered on or around the IBM Web experience.
As you’ve seen from my blogger biography, my longstanding personal mission here has been to use the Web to drive business effectiveness and efficiencies, and to better serve IBM customers leveraging the unique capabilities of the Internet.
I should probably add another sentence, to also say “and in turn help IBM customers benefit from the knowledge, wisdom, and technology application from our own experience on the Web.”
On occasion, I get both the privilege and opportunity to talk to our customers face to face or via conference call.
Typically, we share notes or swap war stories, and I’ll also share how our organization is designed and how we work as an extended global team.
But what really gets my juices flowing is when I have the opportunity to talk about experiences that leverage the Web to directly help customers and, better yet, use the Web to help customers help other customers.
When I talk about social media, I’m not talking exclusively about the ecosystem of external social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like.
I’m typically referring to the more social experience that electronic networks have facilitated, and now, with more focus of computing moving into the cloud, the incredible range and variety of tools and technologies being developed to improve the customer experience.
Not simply the online customer experience: The customer experience overall!
Think back to when you could first make an airline reservation via the Internet, whether on the airlines’ site or a third-party one. Didn’t a small light bulb go off? Didn’t you kind of think to yourself, wow, this is kind of like when I first went to the ATM. I don’t have to deal with a teller anymore!
That’s not to say I was a fan of putting tellers out of a job. But I was a huge fan of the convenience and simplicity of using an ATM which, for me, was a high value transaction but which, for the bank, was probably a very low value one.
But we’re now seeing businesses go much, much further with this approach. We’re seeing the wisdom of crowds and the participatory model create whole new ranges of value for organizations large and small around the globe.
Increasingly, those experiences are no longer limited to a one-to-one experience between consumer and vendor via a land-line connected Web site.
No, more and more every day, we’re seeing those experiences reach into new devices unleashed from their electronic umbilical cord and extended into new devices, ranging from iPads to smartphones to some that probably are still in the design lab.
These experiences are also increasingly social in nature. Look at how companies such as BazaarVoice help vendors from IBM to Dell to Wal-Mart and beyond capitalize on the wisdom, insight, and sentiment of the crowd through their ratings and reviews capabilities.
The influence of the purchaser is now empowered by word of mouth online, which travels at the speed of light, but the trusted influencer could, in fact, be a complete and total stranger.
Welcome to the 21st century. Deal with it.
Probably most interesting of all, for marketers and business decision makers across the board, these new capabilities leave digital footprints. Tracks through the otherwise unbroken snow. Hansel and Gretel-like digital breadcrumbs helping you understand from whence you came, and for what.
It used to be, you didn’t know what you knew until you knew it. Now there’s so much to know so quickly, you have to figure out now only what you knew, but also what’s likely to happen in the near future. We call that predictive analytics.
Speaking of predictions, here’s the truth: Shortly, you’re going to be hearing some very exciting news from IBM on the subject of experience.
And when I say shortly, I’m talking about in the next couple of days.
Other than that, I’d have to shoot myself or go find a job at Microsoft, which I fear could be a fate worse than death.
So I’ll let the great guitar philosophizer himself, Jimi Hendrix, provide the segue to this new experience. In 1967, by the album of the very same name, he asked that most provocative of questions, “Are You Experienced?”:
If you can just get your mind together
Then come on across to me
We’ll hold hands and then we’ll watch the sunrise
From the bottom of the sea
Trumpets and violins I can hear in distance
I think they’re calling our names
Maybe now you can’t hear them, but you will
If you just take hold of my hand — Jimi Hendrix, “Are You Experienced?,” 1967
The experience will be coming to a Web near you soon.
Keep an ear out for it, and the Twitter hashtag #ibmexperience could be a key way to tune in.