Stop ‘Yer Sobbin’ – Texas Remix

So, I feel compelled to blog a little this weekend addressing the angst that is circulating around the social web on the death of e20/social business/etc.  I’m not going to dazzle you with brilliant insights on what’s happening, why things are difficult, why change has been hard to do.  I’ve chronicled a lot of these details on this blog over the years.  Having really been at the epicenter of some of the largest organizations who have been working on social transformation, I’ve been able to bear witness to all the challenges in doing this important work.

The recent negativity that occasionally pops up on the landscape does not deter me in the least.  It  just makes me feel bad for those who are giving up or moving on to more interesting or perhaps financially rewarding pastures in the technology landscape.  It shows me they weren’t in it for the long game.

More importantly, I’d like to to stop grousing about what hasn’t worked, and start thinking again about what can be.  How powerful this idea of social renovation and renewal can be to fix so many things that are broken in today’s enterprise.  I ran into an old friend recently and couldn’t help myself, but get preachy.  I told him to think about what he wants in life.  Think about the opportunity, the voice he has in the market and how he could make a real difference on systemic change if he wanted to. You really can’t change the world if you’re only a little interested.  Some people are just not interested at all.  And that’s okay.

But, if you’re one of those people who are in it for the long game, in it for the reasons that web 2.0/social drew you in originally, I urge you not to get discouraged.  Stop listening to the haters and the bitter “social change deniers.”  There are many, many, many people around the world who have a positive outlook and are inspired to deliver on the promises of how new thinking, organizational reboots, and liberating technology can truly move the axis and deliver stellar results.  It’s still early in this game.  Be part of the solution.

How Do Enterprise Buyers Research New Software?

A few weeks ago, I wanted to know what role “social” plays in researching enterprise software.  Every one of the billion dollar companies that responded to my inquiry said that blogs, social networks (from Twitter to LinkedIn), and online forums weighed heavily in their initial research and opinion formulation process.  Of course, the traditional research houses (Gartner, Forrester, IDC)  are still the strongest sources of unbiased insights and strategic guidance on large enterprise software.  But, the emphasis on searching social sources for initial inquiries confirmed what I believe strongly –  if you’re selling enterprise software, you need to be a part of the conversation online.

After a very long-threaded discussion, we came up with this mapping to indicate where sources fit in the context of a very nuanced process to research new software players. See if it resonates with you.

This map courtesy of Joachim Stroh.

research

In related research news, I have had the pleasure this year to work with Jane McConnell on developing input to her annual Digital Workplace Trends report.  I suggested she develop a customized Digital Workplace Scorecard for this year’s report.  It will be very handy to track these scorecards over time as enterprises mature.  It can become a benchmark to demonstrate the material returns on transformation initiatives.  The research will be done in February,  and I’m looking forward to presenting it here in the U.S.  You have until October 28 to contribute to the survey.  Learn more here.

As you should know, we are working hard on Change Agents Worldwide.  We are currently testing our models in the market with customers.  Once we’ve moved a few customers through our unique approach to delivering on the business of world-changing, we will be making a formal announcement that explains our goals for the company.  As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

Come Shake your Cosmic Thing in Atlanta this Fall

Gandhi-quotes-In-a-gentle-way-you-can-shake-the-world.-300x300In my new role as social mercenary while I work on the startup, I’ve been doing some work for my good friend, Robin Carey, founder of Social Media Today (SMT).  Robin is one of the key influentials who served as an early catalyst to introduce the social phenomenon to the business world. SMT is a disruptive publishing and community hybrid that has delivered the right mix of thought leadership, exposure, brand value, and community engagement to thousands of early adopters worldwide.   SMT launched in 2007 and as chiefly a new media online enterprise, Robin has always avoided the temptation to get into the conference game.  That changed last fall when Blogworld approached her about doing a conference.  Blogworld’s New Media expo draws thousands to its flagship event in Las Vegas.

What I love about Robin is that she sees the whole market – the macro market – for social’s total potential for impact on a 21st-Century business.  Where she could easily be content to stay sequestered in the profitable social media marketing large chunk of the social pie, she has never lost sight of what social can do internally for an enterprise.  Robin credits her heroes as the inspiration for the conference, but she is a hero to many of us who are thankful she has never let go of that vision.

Robin chose another one of my good friends, Maggie Fox, to serve as MC and content producer for the event.  Maggie too has always been a champion for seeing the larger possibilities in the market beyond social media marketing and serves as a strategic advisor to large companies trying to navigate the social possibilities of a changing world.  She is focusing the conference agenda around issues that demonstrate how social is developing new models and changing traditional roles for individuals and brands.

So, when is this fabulous conference?  The Social Shake-up Conference will be held September 15-17 in Atlanta, GA.  The tracks are already established, and the sessions are getting filled in quickly.  Although you’ll see a lot of familiar faces in the speaker list for Shake-up, you’re going to be introduced to some new, dynamic speakers too.  The star opening keynote will be Porter Gale, who recently published, “Your Network is your Net Worth.”  I’ve heard she is a fantastic speaker.

In the back channels on the social web, I’ve been hearing a lot of grousing about how there is a hole in the market for a great conference. So many of us who’ve been at this for a while recall the magic that happened when people who knew each other really well online met for the first time in person at an industry conference.   It has always served as a good lesson behind the hoopla that powers the social web that real relationships are forged and forever grounded in the chemistry and bonding of a face-to-face encounter.  I’m looking forward to attending this conference and helping Maggie and Robin in every way I can.  BTW, this is not a conference where you will see a pathetic dearth of women speakers.  Women have been strong voices in the social revolution.  Come celebrate with us in Atlanta.

Early bird registration ends this week, July 5.  There are blogger press passes for influentials too, so just reach out, and I’ll make sure to hook you up.

Bonus question: who can identify the obscure B-52s reference in this post?  

 

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Mad Men and the UNIX Wars

Unix Wars

I’ve been cleaning out my closets and finding some real gems.  I came across my old ad portfolio a few days ago.

With all the increasing tension between transparency and privacy and the role of Internet freedoms, it’s hard to believe there was once a time not too long ago that computers didn’t “talk” to each other.  So-called “closed systems” enabled large manufacturers to secure unfair advantage in the market for hardware, software, and services.  Entire walled garden ecosystems surrounded the largest technology vendors in the world.  The UNIX operating system changed all that.  I remember when the  “UNIX Wars” cropped up when I was working with AT&T on the company’s (ill-fated) foray into the computer market.  I was the liaison between the client, our account team, and our creatives at Ogilvy & Mather to explain the significance of UNIX to, well, the world. (Lucky me!)  I recall we had about a million dollar media budget (in ’88 dollars) to brand AT&T’s special version of UNIX: System V.

These were the days pre-Internet where influence and power had to be levied with massive spend.  AT&T could afford it at the time.  We ran this 1988 full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the Washington Post to flex muscle in the negotiations AT&T was having with its ecosystem and to position it against its rivals.  There’s a great narrative for all you deeply geeky readers on what happened behind the scenes by Christopher Kelty in his book, “Two Bigs – The Cultural Significance of Free Software.”

I’m an avid Mad Men fan.  As I watch the series, I wonder if it will approach the period of time I was in advertising (the 80s). When I joined the advertising world, computer advertising was the #3 spending category.  IBM launched the PC in 1981 and it created a bonanza of new media spend for large agencies, as well as publishing media empires that seized the opportunity to track the industry and attract the newly minted print dollars.

Who remembers the thump of PC Magazine in its heyday?

 

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“I just want to say one word to you. Just one word…” Elastics

nickMy daughter is graduating college next week, and I’ve been thinking about all the advice this next generation will get from relatives and friends.  In the 60s, Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate) received well-intentioned advice from Mr. McGuire, a family friend, to pursue the plastics industry.  Plastics and U.S. manufacturing conjure up an image of the industrial age economy we once knew.  Well, 45 years later, all that has changed.  Plastic is out and “elastic” is in.

I caught up with my former colleague Nick Vitalari yesterday at the third annual Austin IT Symposium.  Nick and Hadyn Shaughnessey who covers innovation for Forbes wrote, The Elastic Enterprise: the New Manifesto for Business Revolution.  The book is well-researched with conclusions drawn from over 80 interviews with leading companies practicing open, elastic strategies. Essentially, the books lays out how enterprises will have to re-conceive “how we scale and operate businesses in the 21st Century.”  Based on five core “dynamics,”  the book simplifies and makes crystal clear how large enterprises will need to transform.  The book is a quick read, highly accessible and chock full of great examples. Pick it up for a flight or download it to your favorite e-reader.

The Symposium agenda was centered around the issues CIOs need to understand to embrace the Elastic Enterprise. A special thanks to my friend Keri Pearlson and the Austin SIM chapter for an invite to the event.

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Yes, this is a public shaming. Sorry. (Not really).

Really Microsoft?

MSFT Enterprise

Did you just DM me TWICE?  I will tolerate this from Russian spammers, porn stars, and the occasional life coach, but I will not sit quietly while you damage your brand @MSFTEnterprise.  MSFT has always in the upper right “most likely to fail” quadrant for me with Social because the company has always been late to the party, buys its way in, and has never demonstrates it groks the Zeitgeist of social.

NEVER, never DM an influencer unless you want to have a real, human conversation.  Otherwise, you’ve just set yourself up for reinforcing entrenched beliefs.

Learn how to use Twitter.

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