Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Online Communities, learn form the best!

The Community Roundtable recently released"The State of Community Management 2014", for all of you managing internal or external communities, or considering to create one this is simply gold!  read carefully and leverage the hard earned learning that wonderful community practitioners are willing to share with you! Here a few golden nuggets to entice your appetite:
  • Community Process maturity (stated - clearly communicated, consistent, inclusive) renders business value (notice they don't say Community maturity... newer Communities that leverage these best practices can achieve process maturity in a shortened time-frame). Of those with mature processes 85% can measure business value versus 48% for the average community.
  • Multi-tiered advocacy and engagement programs drive higher member engagement rates (up to 46% of members contributing), but it does require resources (average of 7.5 Community Managers versus 1.4-2.6 for those with informal or no programs). 
  • 72% of Communities have an approved strategy, however only 40% of those are operational and measurable and 50% have a corresponding resource roadmap approved.. 
  • A well defined and guarded Community Culture makes a difference on Business Value: Communities that can measure business value are 8% chattier, 9% more proactive and 10% more structured. 
  • Communities with consistent scheduled content and programming have better engagement; both of these should include member collaboration. 
  • Policies: enabling policies (the behaviors you want) are as important as outlining the restricting policy (the behaviors you don't want).
  • Technology platform does matter: platforms that can integrate across channels where the Community interacts have a higher engagement rate and ability to measure business value.

What do you think?

Filiberto Selvas

Friday, February 21, 2014

Customer Experience as the beacon in the quest for intimate and comprehensive knowledge of the customer

I have been working in a Support environment for a little over a year, the focus of every minute of my time and the time of those around me has been on: how do we set ourselves so we know this customer intimately... so that we can be in the best position to present them with the most relevant piece of information... and do it in the best way to lead the customer to the outcome we jointly seek (question effectively answered = satisfied customer).

Lets repeat what I wrote above:
  •  Set ourselves so we know this customer intimately...
  •  Base on that knowledge present them with the most relevant...
  •  That will effectively lead the customer to the outcome we jointly seek...
This is no different to the Sales and Marketing worlds where I have operated for many years in my professional career, the desire for capabilities that enable the business to do the above is actually shared across many different groups in any Company: Marketing, Sales, Support, Talent Acquisition, Product Development, etc.

Thinking and reading about Data-Driven Marketing it became apparent to me that there is a dangerous disconnect..

According to Teradata's Data Driven Marketing Survey results for 2013 top Marketing priorities for the Executives surveyed are:
  • Improve Efficiency 
  • Prove Effectiveness with outcomes, metrics 
  • Cross channel integration 
  • Use of Big Data to Analyze and Understand Customer behavior 
It is actually striking that "Customer Experience" ("Personalization of the Customer Experience") comes at a distant 8th place (to be fair it was ranked at 6th place for the non Executive Marketer in that same survey), the report itself points out (page 27) that "...personalization and a memorable customer experience are just two of the demands almost all marketers agree they are asked to solve."

There are other data snippets in the Teradata's Data Driven Marketing Survey results that point to this disconnect:
  • 74% of marketers say that marketing and IT are not strategic partners in their company.
  • 33% of surveyed marketers Coordinates on an ad hoc or project basis only, and 11% report to work in a silo and function independently.
"Danger Will Robinson!" 

As we drive toward the holy grail of intimate and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the customer the enablement of best possible (and always improving) Customer Experience must be our beacon, this implies and requires a cross organizational approach of not only the integration of this data but also the processes that derive actionable insights out of it, effecting actions based on those insights and systematic measurement of the business outcomes those actions deliver.

What do you think?

Filiberto Selvas

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

As Social Media matures we have an increasing need for Software plus Services

Today Sprinklr announced the acquisition of Dachis group, this continues a clear trend we have seen accelerating in the past couple years:

  • As Social Media understanding continues to mature the need for its deep integration across all aspects of an organization  (Support, Marketing, Sales, Product Development, Talent Acquisition) becomes clear. 
  • When the above is true then it is not about Software / Technology any more, services that facilitate integration into existing processes or adoption of new ones are absolutely required.

This post by the Altimeter group has a snippet that summarizes it nicely:

Sprinklr’s customers increasingly need custom consulting services, especially for implementation and training. This is a new tool and new processes being introduced often to hundreds or even thousands of people in large, distributed organizations.

What do you think?

Filiberto Selvas

Thursday, January 24, 2013

NextPrinciples, Social is getting serious!

I was lucky enough to get a pre-briefing of the launch NextPrinciples announced yesterday and I loved what I saw; here is why: it was solid indication that Social is getting serious, the realization of the of the value that the true convergence of Social and CRM is beginning to dawn on Brands/Companies and that we have the right technology the tools available to us to do the job!

There is no shortage of vendors in the Social space, many of them amazing companies delivering tones of value (Jive, Lithium, Bazaarvoice, Nimble,  to name a few), however there are few that have really honed in that aspect that I believe is primordial: who are my most important customers from a Social perspective? And I don't mean that solely within the context of a Campaign, but I mean it in an ongoing relationship with the company on a timeline that spans Campaigns and the gaps in between (clearly campaign's do feed data into answering this question). 

I have told this story many times, not sure if I ever wrote it: the first time I came across the name of Social Media it carried a different name, it was called "Online Communities" (and it was Usenet based), it was amazingly important to my ability to perform my job; thanks to some amazing work Microsoft Research had been doing around these Online Communities it was relatively easy for me to find who were the participants that were most important (and I could slice it by answer people, connectors, discussion people, etc.), this was gold in my hands: I could focus in a few to validate my product ideas, I could focus on a few to help me distribute the message of its availability and value, I could focus on a few to identify contentious issues and address them in advance.. ever since I have worked on understanding the nature of Social Media in convergence with CRM and doing my best to help companies realize and use this value (which by the way is also very beneficial for the individuals).

Back to NextPrinciples: the extensive experience the team has in the Social but particularly the CRM space shows strongly; as you may expect their application does allow to set up and manage Campaigns; but that is not the end of it; Campaigns are carefully monitored and out of those key individuals are identified and captured in the system, their social identities and information gathered and synchronized with their CRM records. Integration with the likes of Salesforce, SugarCRM and Microsoft Dynamics ensure that the memory is kept and data is available to support future efforts, integration with the likes of Marketo and Hubspot ensures it feeds into the programmatic actions you have defined, integration with the likes of Lithium, Jive and GetSatisfaction as well as the Facebook's  and Twitters of the world ensures your information is comprehensive and encompasses both owned and earned Social Media actions. These tight integrations allow NextPrinciples customers to address very important principles (if I may repeat that) and questions: "Can I offer a comprehensive experience to a customer regardless of where their action is happening?", "Who are the customers that matter the most?", "What is working?" and "What is coming out of all of this investment?"

I will be watching NextPrinciples very closely and expect many others to follow their path! 

What do you think? 

Filiberto Selvas 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Gamification is old, almost as old as Social

Brief thoughts sparked by some reading I was doing earlier today...

My standing position for a long time is that Social Media is actually based on something really old, as human beings we have a need (I think almost at the instinct level) to help, to share stories, to seek the company of those that have the same context and likely understand our vibe and to be recognized for who we are and what we have contributed. All of these are as old as the human race, the beauty of Social Media is that it has eliminated the friction of these activities allowing for Amplification, Aggregation and Acceleration to levels never seen before and enabling the application of these behaviors to ends that were never practical before...

Gamification, I believe, is in a very similar place... however we didn't use to call it that (and maybe that was better); here a personal story: my son used to attend a school that was really recognized for its academic level, at the tender age of 4 he already spent at least 2 hours a day focused on homework and leaving little space for other activities, yet he did it willingly and almost with a furious focus.. at the center of the classroom the teacher had a big board and the board displayed a star next to each kid name for each day the homework had been perfect (not delivered, not on time, it had to be perfect).. the kids applied themselves furiously to ensure their name had the most stars possible next to them and never less than their best friend; that board with stars was a compensation / gamification device to encourage specific behaviors. Think back to any organization you have belonged to and to the sales compensation that is based on achieving specific goals, was that compensation mostly dependent on new deals? Did you ever notice in those cases the person couldn't care less if someone renewed? Maybe the compensation / goals were set by volume of transactions, did you noticed how volume was cranked up with little regard to quality? What about speed of response? New needs would be tackled ASAP at the expense of closing open issues.

What about the "employee of the month" picture display & parking space, the Boy Scout badges? the loyalty program that awaits the customer with a board displaying her name and allowing to skip the line, the NPR "thank you gift" that allows you to publicly showcase your support for it..  all of these are Gamification / Compensation / Reward schemas that are designed to drive specific behaviors.

Clearly that doesn't take anything away from its value, just like Social Gamification is benefiting from elimination of friction and solutions that were previously only available in academia or very well funded brands are now available for many more thanks to platforms such as Bunchball and Badgeville; of particular beauty is the fact that these services are set in such a way that you can (with relative ease) fine tune your Gamification / Compensation / Reward schema to ensure you are driving the behaviors you really want, this flexibility in tweaking the "formula" after implementation is priceless as you will likely never get it right the first time.

What do you think?

Filiberto Selvas

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing)

Now and then is good to change your perspective and focus on something else, right? here it goes!

For a few months now I have been following with fascination the concept of 3D printing, let me explain why: in my humble opinion we are seeing the early chapters of something that will be as revolutionary for humanity as the introduction of the Automobile and the Phone once were; early on in the evolution of those technologies (Phone and Automobile) they were seen merely as curiosities or specialized tools for the privileged few but as the cost of adoption decreased and the quality increased day to day business (and non business) applications became feasible and they drastically changed the way we lived.

What is 3D printing any way? The official name is actually Additive Manufacturing, it is called that way because solid objects are created by laying down successive layers of materials, this is different from other manufacturing methods such as boring or cutting which work based on removal of materials. Words make no justice to how cool this technology is; maybe better to check what some companies like Makerbot or FormLabs are doing: 

How is this going to change life for all of us? In my humble opinion there are two parallel paths that are likely to develop in the next few (really few) years:

Manufacturing coming back to the US, but not the Jobs
One of the key reasons manufacturing departed from US soil (not the only one though) is the combination of speed, scale and efficiency that can be achieved in countries such as China...  Famous Foxconn employs 230,000 individuals and (quoting Jennifer Rigoni, former Apple’s worldwide supply demand manager) “They could hire 3,000 people overnight,” Where else could you find thousands and thousands of workers willing to take on a repetitive new task (or series of tasks) overnight, at a low cost and on demand? I think in a few years (really few) the answer to that question will be America, but those workers will be actually robots or highly capable and programmable 3D printers and complementary assembling machines that can be programmed to create and put together whatever device you can imagine; this will likely bring very attractive new jobs to the US (someone has to design, program, maintain those robots) but relatively speaking the number of those will be small compared with the equivalent manufacturing workforce that will be displaced (that workforce displacement will mostly affect countries other than the US).

Manufacture on demand at your location of choice
Lets discount the items that we all used daily and are pretty much the same for everybody, for such what I write here will likely not apply... but now think about those things that are not manufactured in the Bazillions but instead have small production runs, maybe an engine piece that rarely fails or an addendum to a device you bought that may make it safer/easier to use. Today such things are manufactured and then stored centrally, when someone buys them they are shipped and delivered to the specified location... think about the inefficiencies of such process, the implications for fuel, packaging materials, etc. Now picture this alternative future: instead of shipping physical objects across the world what about shipping bytes across the internet that are the instructions on how to print and assemble the device, the device is “printed and assembled” at a location that is physically near to the customer and then shipped (or pick up), the advantages and possibilities of such method are really appealing and it may be possible to think of an extreme future where we all could have such “printing and assembling” capabilities right at our homes, but lets leave that for a post in the future. Think about the savings in storage, transportation and the added advantage of flexibility (it only is created if it is needed); clearly there are really strong implications in regards to business models (could it be that the creation of the IP for the device will be separated from the cost of "producing" it?). 

As I said this is a fascinating topic, I hope I awakened your curiosity about it. Here a few links for recommended reading on the topic (light reading):

What do you think?

Filiberto Selvas

Thursday, December 6, 2012

From Personal Computers to Personal Clouds

This post requires “rendering” step by step; please bear with me as the end result will be worth it (at least I think so).

Say person A is using Mailchimp for Email Marketing; one of the key things she has to do is to configure the email templates so they properly reflect her Company’s Brand, for the sake of this post lets simplify and say that implies a Header Image, a Logo and a Product Image; A goes happily about uploading those from her personal computer to Mailchimp:

This means person A now has a copy of those assets in her personal computer and another one in Mailchimp.

Person A is also in charge of Social Media Marketing, she decides to use the Facebook App du Jour to present page fans with a discount when they visit and like her page, configuration of the App du jour requires a Header Image, a Logo and a Product Image so A continues to happily go about uploading those (now there are three locations with a copy of those assets):

In order to accelerate the results of the month A decides to use one of those “Daily Deals” provider and offer something exciting to get new customer to try her product; the Daily Deal provider required A to share the same assets to configure the web pages where customers could go and purchase the deal:

(We are up to four locations where the Assets reside now) 

So everything was going great till a couple days later when the CEO comes along and says: “A I have a great idea!  what we need is to change our Brand Colors!”

You see the problem, right? A now requires a manual effort to go about updating these across all services, there has to be a better way!

This is an oversimplification of one of the myriad use case scenarios that a brave group of people at Respect Networks is trying to tackle with the concept of “Personal Clouds”, once capabilities like what is conceptualized by this group become mainstream the opportunity to receive value as individuals and deliver value as companies will dramatically increase.

Let me state upfront that I believe the name has some issues but also advantages as it is trying to drive a parallel from the concept of “Personal Computers” (which are used by individuals as well as businesses), but let not make this post about semantics....

How would this use case scenario look like in a “Personal Cloud” world? Before we go there lets set some basic concepts: oversimplifying but lets think of a personal cloud as Cloud Base computing power and storage with an extensible and open operating systems that allows identity management, event management and rule based (programmatic) processing.. it would probably help if you thought of it as “beaming up” your personal computer to the cloud...
Obviously these “Personal Clouds” on their own wouldn’t really offer much of an improvement over current situation if they could not interact with each other; the idea is that Personal Clouds will connect to each other through a “Personal Channel”; these personal channels basically define the way to do things in the dealings between these two personal clouds.. things such as what data, when, pull/push, etc. These details are defined in the channel “contract” which is defined and mutually agreed at the time the channel is set in place.

Other very important aspect of Personal Clouds is the implications of the availability of Computing Power and Event Management; this basically will allow the Personal Cloud owner to set Agents (Programs) that can deal with events as they arise.. Did something new came through a channel? That is an event, lets look at it based on the event management rules that have been established and based on those trigger actions as appropriate (store, forward, lump with other data and ship through that other channel to a different personal cloud)
The above is clearly a gross oversimplification but it should be enough to go back to our use case scenario; so How would this use case scenario look like in a “Personal Cloud” world?

A would have a Personal Cloud that she controls (through Identity Management the Cloud identified A as its Administrator and entitles her to define Agents, establish channels and change settings) in that Personal Cloud A would have stored the Header Image, Logo and Product Image:

At the moment A decides to use Mailchimp what is done is the establishment of a Channel between A’s personal cloud and Mailchimp’s personal cloud (now you see why I said the “personal” name had some issues?). Through this channel the assets would be transmitted (in this case Mailchimp having a cache of those assets probably makes sense) but there is also a “contract” and logic that indicates every time new assets from A’s cloud come through the channel those will update the assets that Mailchimp’s cloud is storing...
And then the same happens with the Facebook App du jour and the Daily Deals provider du jour personal clouds:

So lets bring back the CEO into the scene:
In the personal cloud world all A has to do is to update the Assets in her personal cloud, this event will trigger a programmatic agent that knows who is “subscribed” to these assets and what channels need to be used to deliver the updated assets and to what clouds:
I hope this simple example helps you see the power and flexibility of such capabilities; an added advantage is that there is always control in this scenario in the right hands; is A ending the contract with the daily deal provider? she can delete the channel for that cloud and any associated subscription.

Now take this basic concept and extend it to other use case scenarios: price changes, scheduling conflicts, simple task requests, restaurant reservations, group and individual notifications, instrumentation of our daily health feeding data to our Doctor, status of our prescriptions, re-stocking of our pantries, etc. Clearly there is incredible value for the individual and great opportunities for companies to deliver values if we had Personal Clouds available to us.

We are progressing in this direction already; in the sense of Personal Clouds services like Dropbox, Facebook, Linkedin, Fklickr and many others can be considered analogous to the TRS80, Amiga, Commodore in the evolution towards the personal computer (I am not trying to demean any of those magnificent services and companies; I am just trying to point out they still lack the capabilities required to call them personal clouds).

We continue to live in interesting times!

What do you think?

Filiberto Selvas