Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘best practices’ 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.

Turbo To Speak @ WOMMA Summit: Organizing For Social Business

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Happy Monday.

I mentioned in a recent post that I’d be attending the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Summit next week in Las Vegas.

It’s going to be my first time attending a WOMMA event, and for that I’m most excited.  I’ll also be speaking at the event, and recently participated in an interview with WOMMA’s Jacob Hurwith to chat about some of the topics that would inevitably come up in my presentation, “Organizing For Social Business.” (Monday, Nov. 12, 4:30-5:15 PST)

The WOMMA Summit being held next week in Las Vegas will feature social media experts and word of mouth marketing practitioners from some of the leading brands and organizations around the world. I’ll also be speaking on the topic of “Organizing For Social Business,” and IBM’s Carolyn Baird will be sharing detailed results from IBM’s recent Chief Marketing Officer study.

The general theme of my session will center around the challenges and opportunities larger organizations face as they go about building their social strategies, sharing particular insights and experiences we’ve had inside IBM over the past number of years on this front.

At IBM, our social business strategy has very much centered around one of our best market-facing emissaries, the IBMer! If you’ve kept pace with any of our marketing initiatives in recent times, you know that the IBMer is front and center in those communications, most notably in our TV advertising, but also extensively in the digital and social media as well.

But their participation doesn’t end there.

We’ve featured subject matter experts extensively across a wide range of topics and across a range of venues in the digital and social media space, as well as in other public and sometimes private venues (think conferences, events, customer meetings, etc.).

As I’ll note in my talk, this direction is very much in keeping with IBM’s high-touch sales heritage, but builds on that legacy by making our people more accessible via social venues as well.

That said, don’t think encouraging very busy professionals to participate in social venues doesn’t come without some challenges — organizational, economical, cultural — all of which are an integral part of the story that I also look forward to sharing with my fellow attendees in Las Vegas.

Speaking of which, another fellow IBMer, Carolyn Baird, is also going to be presenting at WOMMA.  Carolyn will be sharing insights from IBM’s global Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) study, one of the largest ever conducted of CMOs worldwide.

The study revealed that CMOs are under enormous pressure to manage a much broader range of responsibilities than ever before, and that underpinning this evolution is a growing dependency on technology that is reshaping CMOs’ strategies and priorities.

Carolyn’s session will share how CMOs are managing these shifts and the impact all of this is having on the CMO-CIO relationship (Carolyn’s session takes place Tuesday, Nov. 13th, from 11:45AM-12:30 PM).

Though I’m certainly excited to sharing IBM’s social story at such a distinguished convocation, I’m even more excited about hearing from my fellow social media enthusiasts. I took the names of all the organizations expected to be presenting at WOMMA, and you can see the vast breadth and diversity of companies and organizations represented in the Wordle cloud above.

If you’re going to be attending WOMMA, please look me up and introduce yourself. It’s the rare opportunity we social media practitioners have to get together in “meatspace” face to face, so I’m looking forward to meeting some new faces, and saying hello to some familiar ones, during my visit to Vegas (My fourth trip there this year!)

To follow the tidings on Twitter from the Summit, use the hashtag #WOMMASummit.

For my session, I’ll ask that folks use the hashtag #WOMMAturbo.

Live @ Information On Demand 2012: Big On Business Analytics

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Day two of Information On Demand.

Note to self: Bring a hot water boiler next time. Check bathroom for Bengali tiger.  Pack a vaporizer.  And bring some 5 Hour Energy Drinks.

Oh, and be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Today, I missed the general session, as I was in my room preparing a presentation and also tuning in to the Apple webcast where CEO Tim Cook announced the new iPad Mini, among other products.

IBM Business Analytics general manager Les Rechan explains to the audience how over 6,000 clients and prospects have now taken the “Analytics Quotient” quiz since it went live last year.

But I did make it down to the Business Analytics keynote, led by IBM Business Analytics general manager Les Rechan, and I was glad I did.

The session started with a motivating video featuring a number of IBM customers on the vanguard of using business analytics to improve their businesses.  When Les came onstage, he first highlighted several of IBM’s BA “Champions,” clients from around the globe who were in the “Advanced” category of business analytics.

Les’ birds-eye view centered on the Analytics Quotient, a self-analyzing quiz IBM created and released for customers last year. About 70 percent of the 6,000+ respondents year-to-date indicated they are in the “novice” or “builder” categories, and only 30 percent in the “leader” or “master” categories.

Where IBM can help move the needle is through a variety of resources Les pointed out, including the Analytics Zone, as well as through enablement services and training.

He also highlighted a new book, “5 Keys To Business Analytics Program Success,” a book recently published that features a number of IBM business analytics customer success stories (written by them!).

Over 70 percent of respondents to the IBM “Analytics Quotient” online exam find themselves in the “novice” or “builder” categories, indicating there’s plenty of upside yet in pursuing basic business analytics capabilities across a great diversity of organizations.

Michelle Mylot, the Business Analytics team’s chief marketing officer, then came onstage and pointed out that those organizations that integrated analytics into the fabric of their businesses are the ones that drive the most impact.

She highlighted a number of key areas around which IBM’s business analytics team has been increasingly focused, including social network analyis, entity resolution, decision management, and operational analytics.

Doug Barton, whose interview I’m attaching below at the end of this post, came on stage and gave a brilliant presentation that should provide financial analysts everywhere (including CFOs and all their staffs) incentive to run directly to their nearest reseller and purchase Cognos Disclosure Management.

It’s difficult to describe a demo, but basically, Doug presented a scenario where a company was preparing to announce its earnings and, rather than operating from a plethora of disparate spreadsheets, he demonstrated how Cognos Disclosure Management could create a symphony of collaboration as a CFO prepared for a quarterly earnings call.

Isolated spreadsheets and PowerPoints became integrated narratives of the earnings statement, where an update in one part of the report would magically alter the performance graph in another.

Pure financial geek magic. Doug, take it away in our Q&A below.

Big Study On Big Data

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Perfect timing.

In advance of IBM’s massive event next week in Las Vegas featuring all things information management, Information On Demand 2012, IBM and the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford today released a study on Big Data.

According to a new global report from IBM and the Said Business School at the University of Oxford, less than half of the organizations engaged in active Big Data initiatives are currently analyzing external sources of data, like social media.

The headline: Most Big Data initiatives currently being deployed by organizations are aimed at improving the customer experience, yet less than half of the organizations involved in active Big Data initiatives are currently collecting and analyzing external sources of data, like social media.

One reason: Many organizations are struggling to address and manage the uncertainty inherent within certain types of data, such as the weather, the economy, or the sentiment and truthfulness of people expressed on social networks.

Another? Social media and other external data sources are being underutilized due to the skills gap. Having the advanced capabilities required to analyze unstructured data — data that does not fit in traditional databases such as text, sensor data, geospatial data, audio, images and video — as well as streaming data remains a major challenge for most organizations.

The new report, entitled “Analytics: The real-world use of Big Data,” is based on a global survey of 1,144 business and IT professionals from 95 countries and 26 industries. The report provides a global snapshot of how organizations today view Big Data, how they are building essential capabilities to tackle Big Data and to what extent they are currently engaged in using Big Data to benefit their business.

Only 25 percent of the survey respondents say they have the required capabilities to analyze highly unstructured data — a major inhibitor to getting the most value from Big Data.

The increasing business opportunities and benefits of Big Data are clear. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the survey respondents report that using information, including Big Data, and analytics is creating a competitive advantage for their organizations. This is a 70 percent increase from the 37 percent who cited a competitive advantage in a 2010 IBM study.

Big Data Drivers and Adoption

In addition to customer-centric outcomes, which half (49 percent) of the respondents identified as a top priority, early applications of Big Data are addressing other functional objectives.

Nearly one-fifth (18 percent) cited optimizing operations as a primary objective. Other Big Data applications are focused on risk and financial management (15 percent), enabling new business models (14 percent) and employee collaboration (4 percent).

Three-quarters (76 percent) of the respondents are currently engaged in Big Data development efforts, but the report confirms that the majority (47 percent) are still in the early planning stages.

However, 28 percent are developing pilot projects or have already implemented two or more Big Data solutions at scale. Nearly one quarter (24 percent) of the respondents have not initiated Big Data activities, and are still studying how Big Data will benefit their organizations.

Sources of Big Data

More than half of the survey respondents reported internal data as the primary source of Big Data within their organizations. This suggests that companies are taking a pragmatic approach to Big Data, and also that there is tremendous untapped value still locked away in these internal systems.

Internal data is the most mature, well-understood data available to organizations. The data has been collected, integrated, structured and standardized through years of enterprise resource planning, master data management, business intelligence and other related work.

By applying analytics, internal data extracted from customer transactions, interactions, events and emails can provide valuable insights.

Big Data Capabilities

Today, the majority of organizations engaged in Big Data activities start with analyzing structured data using core analytics capabilities, such as query and reporting (91 percent) and data mining (77 percent).

Two-thirds (67 percent) report using predictive modeling skills.

But Big Data also requires the capability to analyze semi-structured and unstructured data, including a variety of data types that may be entirely new for many organizations.

In more than half of the active Big Data efforts, respondents reported using advanced capabilities designed to analyze text in its natural state, such as the transcripts of call center conversations.

These analytics include the ability to interpret and understand the nuances of language, such as sentiment, slang and intentions. Such data can help companies, like a bank or telco provider, understand the current mood of a customer and gain valuable insights that can be immediately used to drive customer management strategies.

You can download and read the full study here.

Update: Also check out the new IBM Big Data Hub, a compendium of videos, blog posts, podcasts, white papers, and other useful assets centering on this big topic!

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.

Chatting To Connect

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I’ve been watching this whole Apple “Mapgate” discussion from the sidelines with some bemusement.

If you’d have told me a few weeks ago the emerging chatter about the iPhone 5 would come down to a map app’s dysfunction, I would have laughed, but such is the state of our technology polity.

On the one hand, the debate may seem filled with frivolity. On the other hand, it speaks to the seriousness with which users take their smartphones and their apps, particularly when it involves one that could be the very thing that comes between they and their next cup of java at Starbucks…assuming they can still find one!

Whether or not Apple will relent and offer a Google Maps app in the Apple App Store, says a story by Reuters and citing Google chairman Eric Schmidt, will be a decision made by Apple.

Me, I’m still trudging along just fine with my LG “dumb phone,” although I am keeping an open eye towards the looming iPad Mini.

I love my original iPad, but I think it needs one of those “Clean My PC” solutions reoriented for original iPads. It’s become more and more lethargic in terms of performance, and sometimes, when I’m in an application the thing will just reset and take me back to the home screen.  Not quite the equivalent of a Microsoft Windows “General Protection Fault” or blue screen of death, but coming close.

Speaking of finding my way, I wanted to remind folks that the IBM InterConnect event is only a short couple of weeks away in Singapore, October 9-11 at the Royal Sentosa Resort.

My airplane tickets have been bought, my hotel booked — now if I could just figure out a way to place myself in a state of somnolence as I board the plane for the longggg journey eastward.

If you’d like to learn more about the InterConnect event, IBM is hosting a Twitter Chat this Thursday, September 27, from 9-10 EST.

If you’ve never attended a Twitter Chat, now’s your chance. Our own social business guru, Sandy Carter, will be moderating the chat, fielding questions and relating details of the coming InterConnect event.

The hashtag for the chat is #IBMInterConnect, so simply log in to your TweetDeck or other Twitter app of choice, enter that hashtag, and be prepared for the discussion this Thursday evening.

If you don’t have a Twitter app, you can also log in to the following URL to follow the action:

http://tweetchat.com/room/ibminterconnect

A little background: IBM InterConnect 2012 is a new and unique event to provide you with opportunities to meet and collaborate with business and IT leaders in your region.

The IBM InterConnect conference will explore topics and key business imperatives, including unleashing innovations, managing the velocity of change and reinventing relationships and uncovering new markets.

IBM’s Scott Hebner and John Dunderdale provide some background on InterConnect in the video below:

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, Orlando: Day 1 Video Recap

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Our video producer for this IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, Noah Bello, put together an excellent reel last night that did a great job of recapping some of the highlights from Day 1 of the Summit.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and a moving picture…well, it tells the tale like nothing else, so I’m just going to hand you off to Noah’s fine work so that those of you who couldn’t be here in person get a taste of the first day’s festivities!

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit — Opening Keynote Debrief: Motivate the Elephant

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Click to enlarge. The IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit kicked off earlier today in Orlando, Florida. Over 200 IBM executives, industry specialists, and other thought leaders will be sharing their insights and expertise there over the next three days, including factoids like those seen in the infographic above.

If you love nothing else about IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, you have to love the fact that it’s driven by results.

Here in Orlando, day one of the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit has already revealed some of those facts, or business outcomes, that demonstrate the power of a more integrated customer experience in action.

By way of example: I mentioned earlier via Twitter that over $27 billion in sales generated by the Internet Retailers Top 500 is powered by IBM Commerce software.

Another example: IBM manages $57 billion in annual procurement spend managed on behalf of our clients.

Yet another: IBM analyzes over $100 billion of commerce transactions each year in the cloud and conveys that insight back to our customers.

But those are results on the so-called “back-end.”

Let’s turn our attention for a moment to the newly empowered consumer: 86 percent of them use multiple channels in their shopping efforts, and they spend four to five times more than the average.

Four in ten smartphone users search for an item while in the store, and yet online sales via mobile devices were up 300 percent over 2010.

Or how about this one: 77 percent of the global population are now mobile subscribers.

That’s an immense opportunity.

Guy Kawasaki On Enchanted Customers

As former Apple evangelist and social media thought leader and author Guy Kawasaki kicked off today’s keynote session here at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, he explained to the audience that we had over 200 interesting and very valuable sessions of the audience’s peers and outside industry experts sharing their own insights.

He began with the notion of the “chief executive customer,” that is to say, with placing customers at the center of the commerce experience.

Citing his own book, “Enchantment,” Kawasaki revealed there are three pillars for building enchantment with your customers. One, you have to be likable. Two, you must achieve trustworthiness. And three, you have to do something “DICEE” (the acronym which translated to “Deep,” “Intelligent,” “Complete,” “Empowering,” and “Elegant.”)

Kawasaki shared some compelling examples of which he spoke. After running into Virgin mega CEO Richard Branson at a speaking engagement in Moscow, Branson cornered Kawasaki and asked him the ill-fated question: Do you fly on Virgin Airlines?

Kawasaki admitted that, as a loyal United customer, he did not. Branson then used his charm and personality, and even a quick shoe shine, to convince Kawasaki he should reconsider.

Kawasaki now also flies on Virgin.

The Legend Continues…

After some other amusing anecdotes, Kawasaki turned the rostrum over to Craig Hayman, IBM’s general manager, Industry Solutions.

Hayman talked about examples of businesses that have had to completely reinvent themselves (Play-Doh, the children’s product, used to be a cleaning goop used prior to World War II!).

Hayman explained that the rate and pace of change in today’s marketplace is soaring, but that ultimately the customer “owns the transaction.”

“If you disappoint them,” Hayman explained, “they’re going to share their point of view (especially via the social media!) and then move on.”

Hayman handed the reins over to Lenovo senior VP of supply chain, Jerry Smith, who explained that Lenovo is a $30 billion global personal technology company with 27,000+ employees and customers in 160+ countries.

Partnering with IBM, Smith explained, Lenovo rebuilt its company around a global supply chain vision whose goal was simple yet straightforward: To become the undisputed #1 supply chain in personal technology by providing a best-in-class customer experience.

As Smith related to the gathered audience, “We need you (Lenovo’s sales force and partners) to sell product on the water,” meaning those units which were already on ships leaving China heading for parts around the globe.

Lenovo’s supply chain overhaul saw delivery performance go up by 15 percent, and onboarding costs/time down some 85 percent, giving them better negotiating leverage, higher order speeds, and leaner inventory, a must for the PC business.

The Grass Always Grows At Husqvarna

Smith’s handoff was to two executives from Husqvarna, the 300+ year-old company that, these days, specializes in outdoor equipment.

Think chain saws and lawn mowers.

“Grass always grows,” explained John Marchionda, Husqvarna’s VP of marketing, as his counterpart from IT, Simon Howard, nodded his head in agreement.

Husqvarna’s most recent marketing investments include a social video education space on its website that are both sales force and tutorial, explaining the likes of using chain saws safely, and effectively, and helping turn the inventory in the process.

The last IBM customer to “testify” in the morning session was Aditya Bhasin, the senior VP for Consumer Marketing and Digital Banking.

“People trust other people, not institutions,” explained Bhasin. He and his team are using that knowledge to make banking better, combining the best of human interaction with a more robust and effective technology system.

One example: “BankAmeriDeals,” a form of digital couponing that combines buyer behaviors, shopping, and payment systems to bring more value to its customers in direct savings on purchases.

Another: Its new Facebook branch, which is helping match consumers with local ATMs and bank branches, and helping answer customer questions through a medium they’re most comfortable with.

Change Is A Four Letter Word

The co-author of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Dan Heath, batted clean-up in the morning session by talking about a theme universal to many of IBM Smarter Commerce clients’ initiatives: Change.

“Change is a four-letter word for a lot of people,” Heath explained, before challenging the audience to think about “what happens when you leave Orlando?  Will the change you envision be a change you are willing to fight for?”

Heath explained that change is definitely within the art of the possible: We’re certainly optimistic about change the moment we decide to get married.

With much laughs from the audience, and Heath’s wedding album pictures onscreen as pudding proof, Heath explained that change is made more difficult by the battling two sides of our brains: The Rational, Conscious, and Deliberative side, and the Emotional, Unconscious, and Automatic side.

The emotional side is like a big elephant in our heads, the little devil telling us “We deserve ice cream” or “Call my ex.”

The rational side…well, we like to often ignore that side.

To make his thesis actionable, Heath explained a three-part framework for thinking about change.

One, he explained, we have to “direct the rider.” Point to the way you want to change and “find the bright spots,” those areas of opportunity where you’ve already succeeded.

Second, “motivate the elephant” — give them a compelling reason to change.

And finally, “shape the path,” for change.

That is, “cultivate a culture that’s more conducive to change” and encourages more people to participate.

Getting Ready For Smarter Commerce

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Happy Thursday.

We’re getting down to the wire for the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, taking place in Orlando, Florida in the second half of next week.

Scott Laningham and I have been working hard preparing for all the interviews we’ll be conducting (and trying to find a hotel room!).

Seats are going fast.  That’s not Turbo marketing speak.  They’re literally going fast.  But, I’m sure we’ll be able to make room for you if you still wish to register!

In terms of the speakers and attendees, I’ll just say this: It’s an esteemed and distinguished group of folks.

I’ve been doing research on all my interviewees, and I’ve been very impressed with the caliber of their backgrounds, experiences, and accomplishments.

Not that I’m surprised, mind you…it IS an IBM sponsored event.

Now, what do I think you’re going to hear about if you do attend (or, via the social stream, in case you don’t).

Simply put, I think there are a few overarching themes I’ve been surmising from my research.

First, marketing is changing dramatically. Lower entry costs through the cloud and pervasive broadband and wireless, combined with social media and the emerging mobile extensions via tablets and smartphones, means you can (and should?) reach out and touch and communicate with your customers early and often.

But if you do so with a fragmented and uncoordinated approach, don’t be surprised when you read the hate Tweets two minutes after the hour.

Second, brand still matters…maybe more than ever. Think about the notable brands of the world.  Some of my faves: BMW, Titleist, Coca-Cola…

The quality of the product or service still matters, sure. But the brand isn’t just about what you say…it’s about what you DO, and how your brand responds to all those new stimuli.

Third, if you really want to know what’s going on with your customers and the marketplace — and, to distinguish yourself from your competition — you have to know what’s going on out there, again, early and often.

You have to know what’s going on from the broadest market level, to the category level, to the product level, to the influencers who shape the market conversation around your products and services.

That means having the means, methodologies, and talent in place to take advantage of increasingly real-time analytics.

So, a quick recap: Synchronicity, Constant Awareness and Communication With Your Constituents, and Market Understanding.

If you’re joining us down in Orlando next week, you’ll hear from world-class experts on these topics and many more.

If you can’t make it, be sure to follow the conference hashtag (#ibmscgs), along with #smarter commerce, to hear about all the new technology, best practices, industry perspectives and visionary thinking that can help you optimize your business.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Customer Sessions At The IBM Smarter Commerce Summit

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Well, we’re nearly mid-summer here in the great state of Texas, the sun is shining, and IBMers are hard at work planning for the forthcoming Smarter Commerce Summit to be held down in Orlando, Florida, September 5-7.

This event is the third in a series of Smarter Commerce events we’ve held the last year. First, there was San Diego…then there was Madrid in May (You can read some of the coverage of that event here).

And now, Orlando.

But this will be no Mickey Mouse expedition.

The IBM Smarter Commerce Summit in Orlando will provide business execs and practitioners with the insight and resources they need to more effectively connect with their customers.

Orlando’s event will bring together over 150 business and practitioner breakout sessions comprised of everything from new technology to best practices to industry perspectives and yes, even some visionary thinking from the likes of tech guru Guy Kawasaki, who will be keynoting there.

But there’s another aspect of the Smarter Commerce Summit that makes it such a one-of-a-kind event: You get to hear directly from our customers.

Scores of them.

In fact, if you click here you’ll get an up-to-the-minute view of the customer-led sessions for the event thus far.  I built a quick tag-cloud this afternoon to give folks a flavor of some of the types of discussions one is likely to find in those customer sessions:

The larger words are more dominant in terms of their use, so you can judge by the cloud there’s going to be mucho focus on IBM customers, as well as topics focusing on “marketing,” “Mmanagement”, “commerce,” “global,” “integration,” and much more.

You can also find broader access to the Session Preview Tool to get a glimpse of all the currently-scheduled sessions.

You can also start following the #ibmscgs Twitter hashtag to keep up with key announcements and information leading up and throughout the course of the event.

If you’re already sold on the idea and just want to know where to go register, visit this link for all the details and the registration form.

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