11 September, 2010

Sustainability - stakeholder analysis

So yes, I'm back at school. As you know, improving oneself can be a bit of a chore.

But we do try to find ways to make our academic assignments a little more exciting and a little less turgid. So when the Managing for Sustainability lecturer asked if anyone would like to present using Prezi rather than Powerpoint, we jumped at it. Prezi, being a "Zooming presentation editor" meant that some rules had to be broken.

And then a few more rules had to be bent. But no students or animals were harmed.

In this assignment we were representing the Palm Oil Producers - but we took it a step or two further, and imagined a "Possible Future", where Palm Oil becomes the "Good Oil". All we need is an epiphany or two. But hey, they've happened before.

This particular version has some out-takes (unplugged) at the end.

To best appreciate:
- click on the arrow
- wait for the sliding bar to load (left to right)
- "rollover" More, and click on full screen
- wait to load, then use the right arrow to proceed.

31 May, 2010

Brainmates bigger horse

I was fortunate enough to attend the recent Brainmates seminar – “How to Capture the Right Customer Insights”. This was a panel discussion with multiple questions from the floor. The panel consisted of Steven Noble – Forrester Research, Natalie Rowland – Redrollers Research (Qual) and Adrian Ewart –Veda Advantage Solutions Group (Quant). So, all bases covered.

There were a couple of things that stuck in my mind, which I’d like to go over.

Firstly, there was concern expressed that consumer research may not be helpful if the product/service is new and innovative. The rationale is: how can you research a need that doesn’t (yet) exist?

The example given on the evening, is this. Had Henry Ford asked people what they wanted, they would have said “a bigger horse”. I reckon Henry knew what people wanted.

Rather than genetically engineering a larger horse, he engineered a substitute for a bigger horse. The Model T had a 20 horsepower engine, and the ability to carry 4 people in (relative) comfort. Now that’s (figuratively) a bigger horse – albeit, mechanical.

The point being – you need more than just the research “I want a bigger horse” but the ability to link customer wants to new products and services that take a leap, that provide solutions that are “figurative rather then literal”. Otherwise we’ll only get incremental innovation.

With that, I’ll just say “iPad” – literally an underperforming notebook and oversized iPhone that can’t make calls. Figuratively – the 3rd category.

Secondly, there was a question about doing qualitative analyses on large amounts of unstructured data. Panel members suggested that you ought not do qual on big groups.

There has been a growth in textural and sentiment analysis of late, a major driver being analysis of social media discussions / blogs / comments, which are unstructured, and in their 10’s of thousands.

There are a number of products using automated sentiment analysis and natural language processing – and they’re getting better. Take a look at this recent Mashable article .

And Bruce Temkin (ex Forrester) thinks it’s a Customer Experience Mega Trend. His blog – Experience Matters, is also an excellent resource for Voice of Customer (VoC).

What do you think? Are there any other points, clarifications, or thoughts that stuck in your mind? Perhaps we can keep the conversation rolling?

And thanks once again to Brainmates + Steven Noble, Natalie Rowland, and Adrian Ewart for an “insightful” evening. Brainmates, when is the next one?

27 May, 2010

The Social Media Imperative

At the end of March I attended a seminar titled “Risks Associated with Social Media”, run by Turner Freeman (Lawyers), Aon (Insurance and Risk management Services) and SR7 (Social Media Risk and Reputation Management). I’d like to thank all those involved.

I spoke to a few fellow attendees afterwards and it was pretty obvious that they just didn't get it. They were very concerned about how dangerous social media is – how risky it is. Very very anxious. Not that surprising given what was presented.

What they didn't get was how risky it is to not be involved.
 So I prepared this – hoping that it’d be helpful to them, and perhaps even to you. It's what could be called The Social Media Business Imperative.

Era of Social Innovation

1. Forrester Research

We're entering a new era of Social Innovation, or so say Forrester Research – the research firm focused on the Internet and technology.

The 70's and 80's was led by Technology Innovation, the 90's and early noughties was the Marketing Era, we're now in the era of Social Innovation. Forrester states that innovation will be driven by customers and employees (through Web and Enterprise 2.0 respectively). IT and Marketing will need to join forces and collaborate much more than previously.

They go deeper:
“True Social Innovation goes beyond customer interaction and idea generation, it requires a powerful and coordinated network of players to take customer-generated innovation and to test, scale and implement it”  – the best way to capture and integrate your Web 2.0 insights is with Enterprise 2.0.

Market Share Facebook vs Google (Hitwise)

2. Hitwise

According to Hitwise, in the week ending March 13 2010, Facebook became the most visited site in the US, surpassing Google.
Over the year Facebook’s share went from 2.5% to 7.07% - a 280% increase
Over the same period, Google’s has gone from 6.5% to 7.03% - an 8% increase

Top 10 web brands (Nielsen)

3. Nielsen

The chart this time is from Nielsen, their methodology for measurement is different from that used by Hitwise.
But there are 2 other interesting figures here.

1) Unique visitors – the chart shows Google at 150.1 million. In January the Nielsen figure was 152.7,  so they've dropped 2.6 million. At the same time, Facebook has climbed from 116.3 million to 122.3,  an increase of 6 million.
2) Let's look at the Time Per Person column. People spent 1hr 16m per month with Google per month, but the Facebook audience spent 6hrs 43m per month on Facebook – 5 times more.

It will be interesting to see how the recent Facebook privacy furore impacts on the May (and subsequent) figures – how many will quit Facebook, and will new customer acquisition be influenced. The monthly Nielsen figures are normally published around the middle of the next month, I'll put them up here.

Consumer engagement via Social Media

4. Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies

In a research study of over 1,500 consumers, followers of a brand were found to be more likely to recommend and more likely to buy from brands once they'd become fans/followers.
For Facebook – 51% more likely to buy from, and 60% more likely to recommend.

The researchers said “Companies not actively engaging are missing a huge opportunity and are saying something to consumers – intentionally or unintentionally – about how willing they are to engage on consumers’ terms.” The study also uncovered perceptions among consumers that those brands not engaging in social media are out of touch.

What does this mean?
1. Social Media is the next era (and the basis) for innovation
2. Social Media usage will continue to grow
3. What are you saying to your customers by not using social media – that you're unwilling to engage in their terms? That you're out of touch?

Whether you're using Social Media or not – you're being talked about. That's what people do. Whether it’s new products and services, a new CEO, a change in Earnings per Share, or that old chestnut, poor customer service – you'll be mentioned, discussed, stated, argued and sometimes laughed at. Sure, there are dragons in Social Media Land – but there's also flowers, babbling brooks and customers. Lots of them.

Much has been written about how to start using Social Media. I won't go into it here, but the Forbes article "Build your customer experience roadmap" is a good primer as it introdices LIRM, Customer Experience and "Voice of the Customer".

And of remember – it's about call and response, and diversity, not command and control.

Addendum - the future of the Internet shattered?
The Hitwise and Nielsen data give pause for thought. If Google's unique audience is dropping and Facebook's increasing, where will we be in a year? Two years? Will we be spending as much on Search Engine Marketing and Optimisation then? It seems heretical and implausible, but why buy key words when your customers and prospects get their purchase referrals from their networks, not some algorithm? And anyway, which is more fun and engaging – an hour with Facebook or an hour with Google?

And there's another thought – as Josh Bernoff says, our use of the internet is becoming device driven, each device using Apps with their own networks and formats. Sure, our Apps use the internet, but where is Search? Where are those ad words in your Apps?
Josh calls this Splinternet – after 15 years of a standardised web, it's being shattered. Shattered by platforms like Facebook and devices with their Apps.

What do you think?
1. Forrester Research Social Innovation
2. Hitwise Marketshare
3. Nielsen Top US Websites
4. Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies Consumer Pulse


12 May, 2010

Classical Music, Social Media and Jazz

An orchestra, in many ways, mirrors the enterprise structure and corporate communication that was popular in the latter half of last century. The conductor is the CEO, dictating exactly how things should be played. The individual violinists and trumpeters are given no discretion to interpret. The conductor seeks consistency – exactly the same notes played in exactly the same way each and every time they perform.

An Orchestra's layout – as Corporate structure diagram

As such it's a prime example of a “command and control” hierarchy – decisions and innovation come only from the top. And it's best enjoyed sitting down, quietly, hands folded on your lap, no talking, drinking or dancing.

Jazz, on the other hand, has a different heritage and a different ethic. Originally jazz was played by musicians who couldn’t read music. What they’d do is listen to a riff or motif, then play it back, interpreting it, adding flourishes, in a “call and response pattern”, sort of like a conversation, adding layers. The music and notes were not dictated or even written down, so each performance was different.

'Structureless' Jazz band, hamming it up, circa 1921

Usually each musician had an opportunity to ‘go it alone’, to blow or strum or drum or tinkle their own improvised variations of the theme whilst the rest of the band followed. They were not under the steely, controlling gaze of a conductor, thus the music was a product of interaction and collaboration.

And there’d be dancing. The band could tell how well they were doing by how much people enjoyed themselves – in a sort of continuous feedback loop. It wasn't completely free-form though, there were rules. You couldn’t ‘go it alone’ for too long – you had to share with your band members, and you couldn’t stray too far from the theme or motif. Being able to play the instrument helped too.

Social media is more like Jazz than Classical music. In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s Corporations would come into your house via TV, do a well-rehearsed and orchestrated piece in front of you, and then leave. They’d do it over and over again. There was no opportunity for interaction. There was no call and response, no conversation. No dancing. They controlled – dictated – the tune.

Social media isn't like that. It doesn’t seek sameness, consistency or control. It seeks diversity, interaction and collaboration. The notes aren’t dictated. In fact, it’d be pretty un-cool to parrot back the same notes played to you, as if suffering from musical echolalia. Like Jazz, Social Media celebrates the interpretation – the response.

But Jazz does rely on musicianship. A Jazz band has usually practiced together and knows each others’ mettle. And the audience doesn’t join in, other than by dancing or with applause.

Here Social Media is not so much like Jazz. Why? Because the Social Media audience arrives with their own various instruments and varying skill. There you are, up on stage with your band of well practiced corporate groovers(!), and the audience has come armed with their own noise makers – guitars, kazoos, an oboe and a clarinet, a bagpipe, a banjo, a Farfisa organ and some kids have even brought pots, pans and wooden spoons.

It’s going to be a little messy. And chaotic. It’s going to sound pretty weird in parts, especially seeing as that guy with the Farfisa only knows one tune – and it’s called Chopsticks.

But that’s the gig, man. You don’t have to like Jazz to get it. You and your band up on stage with (hopefully) hundreds of people playing and plinky-plonking along…and thousands listening.

There's always going be a guy playing Chopsticks. For him, and the thousands listening, do a ‘set’ with variations on the Chopsticks theme. Blow it slow, blow it fast, syncopate it – jazz it up – add some sass … they’ll love it.

Remember it’s call and response, so you respond to their call too.

Picture credits:
Orchestral diagram: http://blog.fluidcreativity.co.uk/
King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, 1921: http://www.artknowledgenews.com/

23 December, 2009

Jolly Good

Click on the triangle, wait for it to load (sliding bar along the bottom), then rollover "More" and click on "Fullscreen" for a jolly good time.

23 December, 2007

What are you doing for Christmas?

What are you doing for Christmas? Why not shoot a little video on your mobile phone or webcam. Then upload it. It's pretty straight forward, so long as you can get the video off your phone.
I've placed a simple uploader on the right.

I'll have to copy and paste the code before it'll appear here.
Or simply write a comment if you like.