Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘collaboration software’ Category

Live @ IBM InterConnect 2012: A Q&A With Sandy Carter About Social Business

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Sandy Carter is Vice President, Social Business and Collaboration Solutions Sales and Evangelism at IBM, where she is responsible for setting the direction for IBM’s Social Business initiative, working with companies who are becoming Social Businesses, and being the evangelist for the concept and best practices around Social Business.

Yesterday afternoon here in Singapore, we started our Livestreaming endeavours at IBM InterConnect and one of the first folks I interviewed has been a beacon of leadership when it comes to social business, inside and outside IBM, and that is Sandy Carter.

Sandy currently serves as vice president for IBM’s Social Business and Collaboration Solutions Sales and Evangelism, where she is responsible for setting the direction for IBM’s Social Business initiatives, working with companies who are becoming social businesses, and being the evangelist for the concept and best practices around social business.

Prior to her current position, Sandy was VP, Software Business Partners and Midmarket where she was responsible for IBM’s worldwide software ecosystem initiatives, and prior to that also VP, SOA, BPM and WebSphere Strategy, Channels and Marketing where she drove IBM’s Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) marketing efforts to achieve 70% market share for SOA, and where IBM WebSphere became a market leader, receiving more than 34 industry awards.

Fast Company named Sandy one of the most influential women in technology, and Everything Channels CRN magazine named her one of the most powerful 100 women in channels in 2010 and 2009.

Sandy is the best selling author of two books: “The New Language of Business: SOA & Web 2.0”, which won the Platinum MarCom Award in 2008, and “The New Language of Marketing 2.0: Social Media”, which won the Silver MarketingSherpa award in 2009.

Sandy and I chatted about a variety of social business relevant topics, in which she also offered some advice to both companies and individuals looking to better establish their brands in an increasingly crowded social marketplace.

I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did!

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.

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!

New IBM Study: Enabling A Flexible Workplace

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What is work?

Click to enlarge. IBM’s recent workplace study revealed that 74 percent of CIOs prioritize flexible workplace investments over all other IT spend, with many forward thinkers seeing a 20 percent jump in productivity and 20 percent reduction in costs.

Is work a place? Is it something you do? Is it a combination of the two, or is it something else?

Those questions beg a larger one, particularly in our always-on, increasingly globalized business environment: What is the workplace?

Or, more specifically, what constitutes a flexible workplace?

IBM’s Center For Applied Insights recently conducted a study to try and better answer this question through a survey of 675 CIOs and IT managers of large enterprises in Australia, China, India, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.

The study was intended to gain perspective on the flexible workplace and to develop insight into what the most successful implementers of this workplace are doing that sets them apart.

Survey respondents suggested that such a flexible workplace is a new reality, with 74 percent of CIos and IT managers placing greater priority on the flexible workplace compared to other investments over the next 12 months.

The vast majority, in fact, expect to make significant investments across all the key attributes of the flexible workplace in the next one to two years.

More importantly, they expect these investments to yield productivity gains and enhanced security, and nearly half believe it will reduce costs and potentially increase revenues.

What Is A Flexible Workplace?

Today’s workplace is a virtualized and physical environment characterized by connections, collaboration, and user choice that enables the worker to be more agile and perform activities anywhere and anytime.

This redefinition of the workplace is the result of industry, demographic, and behavioral trends in technology and work habits. For example, with the introduction of smartphones, workers expect such tools that have enhanced their personal lives to play an increasingly important role in their business lives, a trend that poses important challenges and opportunities for the organization supporting the workplace.

The workplace study revealed that the most successful companies implementing the flexible workplace are reporting 20+ percent improvement in productivity and cost savings.

Facing The Challenges Of The Flexible Workplace

The study also revealed there are some important challenges that need to be met to accomodate the flexible workplace, most notably security and cost.

Security is seen as the most significant issue, but it’s also seen as a key benefit.

Improving colalboration is also key, with those organizations that leverage social business technology to strenghten two-way communication and sharing — amongst employees, partners, customers and vendors — becoming a competitive advantage.

In the attached infographic, you can see what the survey respondents highlighted as being key characteristics to becoming a more flexible workplace.

To learn more, register to download the full study results here.

Or, take this self-assessment to learn how your organization can increase its workforce productivity and reduce costs through enhanced and more flexible workplace development.

InformationWeek’s IT Pro Ranking: Enterprise Social Networking

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Click to enlarge. InformationWeek surveyed 405 IT professionals to evaluate enterprise social networking software. When it came to success metrics, fifty percent of respondents cited “user activity on the system” as a key metric of success.

We’ve seen a lot of consolidation in the social enterprise scene of late.

Most recently, Oracle bought Involver and Collective Intellect, Salesforce bought Radian6 and, later, BuddyMedia.

We’ve also started to see some report cards being issued about who’s leading in what arena.

Last week, InformationWeek released such a report, entitled “IT Pro Ranking: Enterprise Social Networking,” in which IW surveyed 405 IT pros to evaluate enterprise social networking software vendors.

IW explained that its ratings were based on two broad sets of criteria, the first for overall performance and items such as product reliability, innovation, and cost.  And second, category-specific features like status updates, team workspaces, and social bookmaring.

Six firms made the top box to receive a full evaluation: Drupal, Google Sites, IBM Lotus Live/Lotus Connections, Microsoft SharePoint, Salesforce.com Chatter, and Yammer (the study was apparently conducted prior to Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Yammer).

In terms of overall performance, Google Sites came out on top as the “best-performing” vendor (73%), but IBM’s Lotus Live/Lotus Connections and Salesforces’ Chatter were just a percentage point behind Google (72%), “indicating a tight race.”

Drupal arrived at 70%, and Microsoft 69%.

In terms of product reliability, Google, IBM and Salesforce came in on top with a 3.9 score, the highest mean average ranking for that criterion.

In terms of respondents’ rating of enterprise social networking features, Google earned the highest ranking at 77%, with IBM following at 75%, and Microsoft at 74%.

In terms of data security controls, IBM came out on top at 4.1, although Microsoft was close behind at 4.0.

The report had some other interesting insights, citing the need to “enable new services or applications” as the number one reason for replacing or adding a vendor, followed by “performance gains” and “operational cost savings.”  “Substantial operational cost savings” was cited as the number one reason for “factors resulting in a change in vendor,” followed by “substantial capital cost savings” and “clear technology advantage compared with current vendor.”

You can download the full report here.  Meanwhile, you can learn more about how your organization can garner measurable ROI with IBM Connections enterprise social software here.

New IBM Software Transforms the Digital Experience

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The IBM Intranet Experience Suite pulls together company information and data, personalized content and news, and social media and analytics, enabling employees to connect, collaborate and access information at anytime, from anywhere.

IBM today announced new software that helps CMOs and CIOs transform the digital experience for employees, customers and fans across a broad range of mobile devices.

The IBM Intranet Experience Suite pulls together company information and data, personalized content and news, and social media and analytics, enabling employees to connect, collaborate and access information at anytime, from anywhere.

By 2017, the CMO will have greater control of the IT budget than the CIO, according to Gartner. Marketing budgets will grow 7-8 percent over the next 12 months, which is 2-3 times that of IT budgets.

With the growing number of mobile devices, social networks and social media tools on the rise, CMOs struggle to reach their audiences. At the same time, CIOs are struggling to provide access to company data on every type of device for a geographically distributed workforce.

Given the business realignment between marketing and technology, the CMO and CIO can no longer afford to operate on separate stages. To succeed, they’ll have to forge a shared agenda to deliver business results through innovation and efficiency, working together to streamline their technology needs.

The convergence of social and mobile is prompting organizations to revisit decades-old website to create exceptional web experiences to reach and engage with their audiences.

And despite their growing reliance on technology and their soaring budgets, CMOs readily admit they lack the skills that IT requires. According to the IBM CMO Study, while 79 percent of CMOs expect high levels of complexity in their job over the next five years, only 48 percent feel prepared to deal with it.

Building on these increased demands, IBM is delivering a new Customer Experience Suite giving millions of marketing professionals the power to manage and integrate all types of data on their web sites and then analyze it for deeper insight into customer buying patterns and sentiment.

Also delivered today, the new IBM Intranet Experience Suite pulls together company information and data, personalized content and news, and social media and analytics, enabling employees to connect, collaborate and access information at anytime, from anywhere.

The Power of Social, Mobile And Analytics

The new IBM Intranet Experience software brings together the power of social networking, analytics and mobile computing to front office operations and externally to clients, allowing companies to create exceptional Web experiences. As a result, organizations can gain faster insight on customer buying patterns and consumer sentiment allowing them to more quickly reach and engage their audiences.

At European industrial automation technology manufacturer Omron, employees are connecting knowledge and technical know-how through the organization’s Intranet, helping to meet the specific needs of their customers.

Omron delivers an exceptional Web experience through a single communication platform that embeds relevant social data into the daily workflow. Omron has sped knowledge sharing across boundaries and between departments, enabling employees to support customers better and faster.

Working with IBM and its partner Portico, Omron created an award-winning business intranet, called Ozone internally, helping to create a single-source communication and collaboration platform for all 1,700 European employees.

The IBM Intranet Experience Suite integrates with external social media, including Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, allowing employees to pick and choose which applications they want in their Intranet view. For example, a sales manager can leverage the Cognos software integration to ensure a clear view into monthly sales reports by region, as well as competitive background on new product updates and forecasts.

“The world is changing and is becoming increasingly connected and social,” said Michel Min, Head of Strategic Communication & eMarketing, Omron Europe B.V. “Because of this, we know our clients are changing as well, which is why it’s increasingly important to ensure our sales teams have the right information at the right time.”

Analytics to Help Marketers Engage Audiences 

From digital marketing and mobile commerce, to websites and social media, marketers are inundated — often paralyzed — by data amassed from consumers via searches, purchase histories, Facebook “likes” and comments on Twitter.

Combine that with data about in-store traffic, conversations with call centers and updates from suppliers, today’s marketers confront a daily deluge of data waiting to be sifted for nuggets of intelligence they can act upon to boost their business.

Because of this, it’s critical for CMOs to not only be aware of and monitor the social conversation, but to truly understand the sentiment and interact one-on-one with that customer. Taking it one step further would be to integrate these conversations directly into the organization’s web site, providing one place to both network and shop.

The new IBM Customer Experience Suite provides CMOs with the power to manage and integrate all types of data on their web sites and then analyze it for deeper insight into customer buying patterns and sentiment.

Web data has evolved today to include social media, videos, and web-based forms, as well as traditional enterprise data such as financial, customer and order data, and transactions. The software suite pulls together IBM’s market-leading enterprise portal, web content management, forms, and enterprise social networking software into a single view.

CIOs Creating Exceptional Intranets To Help Employees Gain Insight from Data Deluge

The new IBM software also helps business leaders extend their corporate intranet to a broad range of mobile devices in an effort to deepen employee collaboration and information sharing.

According to IDC, employees typically see up to a 30 percent increase in productivity using social tools internally to complete their work. With unlimited access to any type of information, consumers expect this same level of information availability in their professional lives, in order to work efficiently and reach business goals quickly.

The new IBM Intranet Experience software brings the power of social and analytics capabilities to CIOs and lines of business employees helping organizations innovate and evolve their internal operations and communications. The solution pulls together company information and data, personalized content and news, and social media and analytics, enabling employees to connect, collaborate and access information at anytime, from anywhere.

You can learn more about the IBM Intranet Experience Suite here.

Get Real With Your Mobile Strategy

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As someone who regularly monitors and communicates key trends in the digital marketing environment with IBM, I obviously have to keep pace (as best I can!) with those emerging arenas that I think are going to have an impact in our (IBM’s), and the industry’s, ability to communicate effectively, efficiently, and to the right audience.

The emerging mobile space is a good example of one of those trends.  With the advent of the iPhone in 2007, and later the Android platform and, more recently, the rapid adoption of tablet computers like the iPad and now Microsoft’s “Surface,” the opportunity to market and communicate through these devices is enormous.

But the opportunity doesn’t just end with marketing. Companies around the globe are also realizing mobile computing can change business in fundamental ways.

Enterprise Mobility: A Top Strategic Priority

In our recent CIO study of more than 3,000 CIOs, IBM discovered that 75 percent of respondents asserted that mobility is a top priority in their business strategy.

But, there are significant challenges.  New platforms and operating systems are emerging all the time, security and privacy are critical issues of concern to business leaders, and there’s a need to maximize development investments for the mobile platform.

IBM has been communicating more aggressively about this opportunity, and our own Bob Sutor has been a critical thought leader for IBM in this space.

As some of you may remember, Scott Laningham and I interviewed Bob recently about IBM’s mobile strategy at the Impact 2012 event back in May.  You can find that interview below:

Bob’s blog is a must read for you mobile adherents, and you may also be interested in a specific post in which Bob articulated IBM’s mobile strategy.

Continuing IBM’s mobile drumbeat, we most recently partnered with eWeek to produce a short slide show that articulates some best practices in mobile deployment that Bob and his team developed, best practices based on extensive experience with real (and recent) customer engagements.

I’ll hit the wave tops for you below, but to read all the details, you’ll need to visit the full slideshow over at eWeek.

  1. Don’t Compromise on User Experience. Good apps are engaging. They are designed for performance and customized to deliver the functionality your users need in a simple and easy-to-use manner.
  2. Support Different Development Approaches. Mobile apps are no longer an experiment. Companies are quickly realizing their value to different lines of business, both as productivity tools for employees and engagement channels facing customers.  Choosing a development approach for these apps entails many parameters such as budget, project timeframe, target audience and application functionality.
  3. Build for Performance. Recent reports show that already today, mobile users are spending more time using apps than mobile browsers. Combined with projections that more than 50 percent of users will access the Web through mobile devices by the end of 2013, application performance has never been more crucial for your mobile initiative.
  4. Enable Collaboration, Efficiency. Modern business applications are constantly changing, and they are rarely developed by a single person anymore.
  5. Ensure Proper Authentication and Address Security Concerns. Whether employee- or customer-facing, mobile applications are quickly assuming the roles of many mission-critical systems in the enterprise. It is no wonder that authentication and security have become the top concerns of the mobile enterprise.
  6. Close the HTML5 Gap. Commitment from all major mobile vendors, active standardization efforts and a growing ecosystem of third-party tools has been fueling recent success and adoption of HTML5.
  7. Connect With Back-End and Cloud-Based Systems. Mobile business apps are not independent entities. They should be tightly connected to a variety of existing back-end and cloud-based systems.
  8. Manage Mobile Apps, Devices, Data. Managing applications after they are downloaded and installed on devices has become critical, with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend specifically challenging IT departments. A growing number of organizations are starting to adopt a combination of management approaches, both on the application level and the device level.
  9. Evaluate Supporting Services. The mobile channel is transforming the way companies are doing business, and with that transformation, new challenges arise on both the business and the IT levels.
  10. Protect Your Investment. As the mobile landscape develops, success lies in the ability to adapt to change.

IBM: Goin’ Mobile…and Then Some

IBM has been steadily investing in the mobile space over the past decade — not as a device manufacturer, but as a provider of mobile enterprise application and platform technologies, including tools for developing software in the mobile realm, and also to provide endpoint management (management of all those various and sundry devices your employees are now bringing to the office and expecting you in IT to support!).

We acquired Worklight in February to help more quickly deliver mobile application management capabilities across a range of industries, and as eWeek observes, Worklight’s software “enables organizations to efficiently create and run HTML5, hybrid and native applications for smartphones and tablets with industry-standard technologies and tools.”

If you’re looking to get into the mobile game, a good place to start is our webcast, “Harnessing the Power of Mobile in the Enterprise.” (Registration required)

New IBM CEO Study — Command & Control Meets Collaboration

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Just because I’m here in Madrid covering the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit doesn’t mean that there isn’t other important news emerging from back at the mother ship.

This year’s IBM CEO study reveals three new essential imperatives for changing the nature of business: Empowering employees through values, engaging customers as individuals, and amplifying innovation with partnerships.

In fact, there’s some major news that I always get excited to report on, and that’s the results from our annual CEO study.

The ink on the report is hardly dry and straight off the presses, but this year’s study of more than 1,700 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 industries has a headline that CEOs (and their C-level ilk) everywhere may be interested to hear: CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency, and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a headline!

The study reveals that the advantages of this fast-moving trend are clear: Companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness — often characterized by a greater use of social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation — as a key influence on their organization.

Those “outperformers” are also embracing new models of working that tap into the collective intelligence of an organization and its networks to devise new ideas and solutions for increased profitability and growth.

For those of us who have been working in the social realm for some time now, we’re probably not exactly surprised to hear this news.  But to have it come from the lips and pencils of the CEOs themselves…well, change it is a comin’ and for many, has already arrived.

In order to forge those closer connections with customers, partners, and a new generation of employees in the future, CEOs plan to shift their focus from using e-mail and the phone as primary communication vehicles to using social networks as a new path for direct engagement.

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.

And while social media is the least utilized of all customer interaction methods today, it stands to become the number two organizational engagement method within the next five years, a close second to face-to-face interactions.

Top Down To Bottom Up

With this news coming after decades of top-down control, this shift has substantial ramifications — not just for CEOs — but for their organizations, their managers and employees, and also for universities and business schools, not to mention we technology suppliers.

More than half of CEOs (53 percent) are planning to use technology to facilitate greater partnering and collaboration with outside organizations, while 52 percent are shifting their attention to promoting great internal collaboration.

Of course, greater openness doesn’t come without some risks.  Openness increases vulnerability. The Internet — especially through social networks — can provide a worldwide stage to any employee interaction, positive or negative. For organizations to operate effectively in this environment, employees must internalize and embody the organizations’ values and mission.

This also means organizations must equip employees with a set of guiding principles that they can use to empower everyday decision making. And championing collaborative innovation is not something CEOs are delegating to their HR leaders. According to the study’s findings, business executives are interested in leading by example.

That is, from the front.

Big Data Means Big Changes

Given the data explosion being witnessed by many organizations, CEOs also recognize the need for more sophisticated business analytics to mine the data being tracked online, on mobile phones and social media sites.

The traditional approach to understanding customers better has been to consolidate and analyze transactions and activities from across the entire organization. However, to remain relevant, CEOs must piece together a more holistic view of the customer based on how he or she engages the rest of the world, not just their organization.

The ability to drive value from data is strongly correlated with performance. Outperforming organizations are twice as good as underperformers at accessing and drawing insights from data. Outperformers are also 84 percent better at translating those insights into real action.

From Theory to Action

This latest study is the fifth edition of IBM’s biennial Global CEO Study series.  To better understand the challenges and goals of today’s CEOs, IBM consultants met face-to-face with the largest-known sample of these executives between September 2011 and January 2012.

1,709 CEOs, general managers, and senior public sector leaders were interviewed around the world to better understand their future plans and challenges in an increasingly connected economy.

For access to the full study findings and case studies, please visit the IBM CEO Study website.

In the meantime, check out the video from Shell CEO Peter Voser to hear what he has to say about partnering to drive innovation.

No More Business As Usual: The Road To Smarter Commerce

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I mentioned in my last post that I must have been dreaming on the way over to Madrid. Or maybe it was just all these thoughts running through my head before I actually drifted off to some semblance of jet-engine-drone-induced slumber.

The English East India Company was an English and later (from 1707) British joint-stock company formed for pursuing trade with the East Indies but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent. The Company was granted a Royal Charter in 1600, making it the oldest among several similarly formed European East India Companies. Shares of the company were owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats. The government owned no shares and had only indirect control. The Company operated its own large army with which it controlled major portions of India.

One of those thoughts reminded me of the guy in the YouTube video who reminded us all what an amazing time we live in. That we can climb into what essentially constitutes a rather large beer can and zoom a few thousand miles away in only a matter of hours. In a journey that, once upon a time, would have taken a Benjamin Franklin or a Thomas Jefferson weeks by sea, and likely would have been filled with seasickness, scurvy, or worse, when all they wanted to do was get there.

That was one of my thoughts: Then I fell asleep somewhere near Dallas and woke up somewhere over lovely Spain.

Be Amazed By This Amazing Opportunity

But I also dreamed of commerce. Of its history, and its evolution, and what an amazing time we live in terms of how we conduct business.

I went and looked up “commerce” on Wikipedia, curious as to what the “crowd” out there had to say. That, too, is another relatively new concept, to be able to “crowdsource” information from people around the globe.

Their definition goes something like this: Commerce is the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural, and technological systems that are in operation in any country. Thus, commerce is a system or an environment that affects the business prospects of an economy or a nation-state.

First, there were barter economies, where trading was the principal “facility” in which peoples bartered for goods and services from one another.

Then, currency was introduced as a standardized money, which, facilitated a wider exchange of goods and services — everything from coins to lumps of precious metals to, today, even virtualized currency like “Bitcoin.”

But these days, as the Wikipedia entry observes, commere also includes a complex system of companies that try to maximize their profits by offering products and services to the market (consisting of both individuals and other companies) at the lowest production cost.

The Early Road To Smarter Commerce

So what did some of those early commerce scenarios look like? Imagine, for example, how the domestication of camels allowed Arabian nomads to control long distance trade in spices and silk from the Far East.

Or the “Silk Road,” which was established after the diplomatic travels of the Han Dynasty Chinese envoy Zhang Qian to Central Asia, which allowed Chinese goods to make their way to India, Persia, the Roman Empire — and vice versa.

The English East India Company was an English and, later (from 1707), British joint-stock company formed for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent. Shares of the company were owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats. The government owned no shares and had only indirect control. The Company operated its own large army with which it controlled major portions of India.

In more recent times, we saw the introduction of 23 countries agreeing to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, in 1947, which attempted to rationalize trade among nations.

Going All In…For Your Customer

Today’s smart consumers expect to engage with companies when and how they want, through physical, digital, and mobile means, and they want a consistent experience across all channels. Because they are empowered and connected, they can compare notes, quickly, and they can champion a brand or sully a reputation with the click of a mouse or the stroke of their tablet computer.

Today, circa 2012, we find ourselves at another inflection point in the history of commerce, one which begins and ends with the customer. Today’s commerce environment features a customer who is dictating a new set of terms in the dynamic between buyers and sellers, and these are very smart consumers, ones empowered by technology, transparency, and an abundance of information.

Just simply walk through your closest local retailer or your nearest airport, and you’ll see signs of this new and smarter consumer. Via smartphones and other mobile devices, they are connected real-time to an absurd amount of information that empowers them as buyers, and, in turn, requires an accelerated sophistication on the part of sellers, no matter the product or service.

These consumers expect to engage with companies when and how they want, through physical, digital, and mobile means, and they want a consistent experience across all channels.

Because they are empowered and connected, they can compare notes, quickly, and they can champion a brand or sully a reputation with the click of a mouse or the stroke of their tablet computer.

No More Business As Usual

This ultimately means, of course, that there is no longer such a thing as “business as usual.” Empowered and connected consumers are deeply linked — to their friends, colleagues, and the world at large — and they evaluate and compare the quality of their experiences with those of others. And they are the ones who can reward, or penalize, the businesses that do, or do not, give them what they want.

This is new trading crossroads of the 21st Century, and it is those companies who are interested and compelled to act to enable and encourage this new consumer who are in attendance here at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit here in Madrid this week.

To thrive in this new age of the customer, they recognize they must understand the motivations of each individual purchaser. They must predict, and not merely react to, customers’ needs and preferences.

They must understand not only what they buy and where, but also why and how they choose to buy it.

That’s what this new world demands. That we need not only a better system of doing business.

But, also, a “smarter commerce” environment, one that puts the customer at the center of all operations, and that helps companies better buy, market, sell and service their offerings accordingly.

The Right And Left Hand

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I’m back in the great state of Texas…at least for a few days…and the weather in Austin is simply spectacular.  In fact, I’m writing this blog post from the golf course it’s so nice out….

Not really, but the idea IS compelling.

Another idea that’s very compelling is something that’s been bugging me and making me bat—— crazy!

While I was traveling last week, I got a call DAILY on my voicemail from my air conditioning service vendor, reminding me to schedule my annual maintenance appointment.

Then, when I got home over the weekend and, earlier today, made the requested appointment via their Web site, guess what happens?

You got it.  Not an hour later, I get another unsolicited call from Service Experts (the vendor) asking me to schedule the appointment.

My blood started to boil.  THE LEFT HAND DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THE RIGHT HAND IS DOING, MUCH LESS KNOW THERE EVEN IS A RIGHT HAND!

After politely, but impatiently, explaining to the nice lady that I had already scheduled the appointment via the Web, she explained in return that she hadn’t “checked the Web site.”

Well, you might just want to change those two points of intersection, mightn’t you?

My point being, the customer should have to care less which method of communication they choose to interact with — it’s the organization’s responsibility to bring those points of intersection together, not the customers’!  I’m just supposed to buy your stuff, remember???

Okay.  Now, I’m going to jump off my soapbox and pull out the bullhorn instead: This is precisely the kind of case study scenario you’re going to be hearing about from IBM customers should you decide to attend the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit coming up in Madrid.

In fact, I was just given a sneak peak at some of the customers planning on sharing their experiences in sessions at the event, and they’re a virtual who’s who of pan-European business: ING, Telstra, wehkamp.nl, Danone, Barclay’s Bank…and a host of others.

As part of the summit, we’ll also see the advent of the Marketing Innovation Summit, the most significant European gathering of marketing professionals in one place for four days of learning, networking, and exploring these types of best practices.

Check out the full agenda in this PDF to see a detailed session breakdown, then visit here to learn more and register for the event.

May 22-24, 2012, the Hotel Auditorium Madrid, in Madrid, Spain.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

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