Crushpath Reboots the Pitch

I caught up with Sam Lawrence just before SXSW to hear about his latest milestone with the company he founded in 2011, Crushpath.  Readers of this blog will remember Sam as the first highly visible CMO for Jive Software.  Sam’s Go Big Always blog defined the category for social software back in ’09.  Sam’s contribution was always edgy, always provocative, and always right.  There were few in our space that had the voice, influence, and insight Sam had early on.  I’ve missed him over the years, and am really happy to see him back with this amazing new offering.  I told Sam on the phone I simply could not be objective about this product because I frigg’n love it.  Even though I was a Sam fan already, I’m an even bigger Crushpath fan.

What is Crushpath?  As usual, Sam says it best:

Crushpath gives people a way to pitch their product, service, idea, or event with a simple, one page website that grabs the attention and captures leads in a way that email can’t. Your pitch is searchable, shareable, and social, so you get tons of eyeballs on it and are notified every time someone is interested. Then, keep track of your business relationships with a chronological play by play of all activity as it’s happening.

Sam gave me a trial account to experiment with, so I’ve begun building a few pitch sites to see how it works.  The elegance of the user interface and drop-dead-simple design is what does it for me.  Until I spoke to Sam, I didn’t realize Matt Wilkinson was a co-founder.  Matt led product development for another product I absolutely love: Socialcast.  So, that the product is simple to use, looks great, and has a lag time of about 15 minutes to usefulness does not surprise me, considering Matt’s track record with building great software.

But, really, what makes Crushpath brilliant is what it does.  It’s built on the philosophy that “everyone pitches.”  And this is where the company taps into a wellspring of need that has previously gone unanswered in the market.  The plethora of junky email marketing, CRM systems, cold-calls – younameit – that clutters up today’s marketing outreach is sorely in need of a dramatic improvement.  Crushpath cuts to the chase. It sums up what you’re selling and let’s you do that in a straight-forward, no nonsense way.  In the company’s latest announcement, Crushpath reduced its pricing to $9/mo. for a limited time.  At that price,  it’s the best investment you can make on the social web to get your story out and connect directly to your market.   Definitely check it out.  I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do.


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What’s Your Story?



Every social graph tells a story.  In this sweeping visualization of nodes and connections, you can see the shape of my career history and relationships.  This imprint of my LinkedIn social network was generated yesterday. You can see how new contacts and interrelationships jettisoned off from my base when I started to work at 7Summits.  You can also see  how one person in my network connected two clusters. You can also see how some of my “Austin” friends are also “Dachis Group” friends.  The LinkedIn Maps tool will show you who is most influential in your network and how their connections overlap with yours.  Definitely worth a download and a journey into your own path.

I have been invited to speak to an upper level undergraduate class at UT Austin,  The associate professor is Dr. Jeffrey Treem teaches a course called, “Social Media and Organizations.” Among other things, I plan to talk to the students about the vital role our network plays in our career. It can serve as the very foundation of our success.  Regardless of the company or the organization you are affiliated with at any moment, the real value in your work experience comes from the relationships you form.  The reciprocal trust and value exchange you negotiate with each and every node in your network is the real asset of your career.  Sure – credentials, knowledge, performance, achievements – all matter a great deal, but they pale in comparison to the power of your own personal network.  Think carefully about your most significant career changes, chances are someone you know played an assist in your move.

I’ve always been fascinated with Social Network Analysis to draw conclusions and make predictions about organizational performance.  The science is there, and I know that some of the larger social collaboration and community platform companies are doing impressive work in this area.  Michael Wu, Chief Scientist at Lithium, is one of the more interesting veteran researchers to talk to on this subject.  He has been applying social sciences and large-scale network analysis techniques to make actionable observations and predictions for the benefit of Lithium’s many customers for years.  I know that Jive has expertise and some ongoing work in this area too.  David Gutelius, whose company Proxima was acquired by Jive, is a lead in this area for Jive.   While I was at IBM Connect last month, I saw a number of experimental research projects showcased in IBM’s Innovation Lab.  Several of them held a great deal of promise.  For instance, Community Player analyses how a certain event or community member influences behavior in a network.  Community Player is being developed by researchers at IBM Research in Haifa.  It originated as part of the EU-FPZ project ROBUST.  System U focuses on exploring computational discovery of people’s intrinsic traits from the traces they leave on social media.  The project focuses on profiling customers as individuals, yet on a very large scale.  This research is being done at IBM Research – Almaden.  And something that a few of us have been kicking around for a while is being explored at IBM called Work Marketplace.  It’s a concept around crowdsourcing your network for work and projects.

Dr. Treem and his academic colleagues are working on studying this area.  I’m really looking forward to diving into this more and learning as much as I can about the current state of this sort of organizational science.  If you have sources (academic and commercial) on how SNA is being applied in enterprise networks, please let me know.  It’s a key area that holds tremendous promise.




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Fracking for Value in the Enterprise

This year in 2012, now that Jive customers are relatively comfortable working in this new way, Jive is pushing customers further and helping them discover the business value buried in their organization that can be extracted. It’s kind of like fracking in the bedrock of the enterprise for stored value.

Finally getting around to publishing some thoughts from JiveWorld 2012.  Jive has always been a leader in pushing the hot buttons on social.  In the beginning, at JiveWorld’s inaugural event, the theme was decidedly about educating the market to “think different” and ingrain a social orientation toward reinventing work and customer outreach.  The market actually needed a lot of hype to get some lift in the early days.  Jive set a high bar on energizing its early adopter customer base.

I wrote then, in 2009:

It takes a startup like Jive to inject innovation, creativity, passion, and excitement to this sector.  Jive is releasing a ground-breaking set of features that will set a new high bar for excellence in the category.  I’m certain the tech bloggers will cover the announcements in depth, but in brief, Jive is announcing an iPhone app (plus an email-driven enriched BlackBerry experience), very slick MS Office integration, and a bridging capability that will unite internal and external communities.  All this in addition to the series of announcements Jive made previously that include social media monitoring and a SharePoint connector.

What’s significant about the Jive announcements is the company’s commitment to releasing timely, innovative new capabilities in response to customer feedback and requests.  I’m here at JiveWorld, the company’s first customer event.  From the energy circulating in the crowd here, it’s obvious to me Jive is customer-driven and loyalty from Jive’s customers handily delivers repeat revenue as well as product improvements.

Jive’s ability to manage the books, pay careful attention to its user base, invest in educating its partners and employees, rationally identify its target market, as well as manage its growth effectively squarely positions the company uniquely from other startup competitors in the space.  Further, it accentuates the advantage startups have over the large enterprise vendors where releases are timed in years, not months.

This year in 2012, now that Jive customers are relatively comfortable working in this new way, Jive is pushing customers further and helping them discover the business value buried in their organization that can be extracted.  It’s kind of like fracking in the bedrock of the enterprise for stored value.  Chris Morace, Jive Chief Strategy Officer, calls it finding the “money laying around” in your organization when you start viewing your organization in a modern way and start using social technology strategically.  With the 6.0 release, the Jive platform itself is morphing into a dynamic institutional intelligence engine that “knows” you and can help you improve your job performance. This is the kind of education and innovation that marks the next stage of evolution in social business transformation. The company has published a guidebook for customers on Business Value with over two dozen specific examples of how Jive customers are realizing hard dollar savings, productivity gains, improved outcomes, and accelerated outcomes.

It occurred to me during the conference that Jive is the real deal on this and way ahead of the social brat pack of competitors pushing into the space.  In the end, it will be great to see all social platform vendors educating customers on where and how to apply social for business advantage, but so many of them are still where Jive was a few years ago relative to basic evangelism and market education.

Value case – Teletech

That said, I picked up on a case study that interested me from my fellow Enterprise Irregular compadre Esteban Kolsky’s panel on “Approaching Customer Service from the Customer’s Point of View.”  It was a comment made during the opening remarks by panelist Lamont Exeter, Executive Director at TeleTech. He said that working socially had actually enabled the company to change a business process that led to a vast improvement in how they handle their escalation process on customer trouble tickets. Considering TeleTech is a the leading business process outsourcing provider of technology-enabled customer experience solutions, I found this to be not a trivial remark. For years, I’ve been pointing out that the opportunity in social is to improve outdated business processes that were originally designed for the industrial age. “Socializing” existing business processes will only get us partially to the potential results inherent in a true social business transformation.  This is exemplified in the TeleTech case.

I followed up later with Exeter, and he explained in detail the business process improvement he mentioned on the panel. A singular changed process resulted in several gains for a TeleTech client. In the old way of doing things, a customer would call with an issue. If a process or procedure change was required , the associate would send an email or manual spreadsheet report and a team leader would open up a ticket.  Then, IT  or a subject matter expert (SME) would either fix the issue and close the ticket or close a ticket without communicating the reason back to the associate.  It generally took about 5 days, on average, to move through trouble tickets and in neither case would feedback be provided to the associate who initiated the ticket. This resulted in associates feeling as though they were not “heard” or valued.

Now, with TeleTech’s Iris community (powered by Jive), frontline employees can comment on a process and the SME is immediately notified – cutting out all those time-consuming steps.  The SME gets a notification from the frontline team and has 24 hours to reply. The official new time to resolution has been slashed to 17 hours and 43 minutes – a 567% decrease!  The process has a transparent gamification element that motivates employees to close out tickets as fast as possible too.  In addition,  the client cut eighty-eight percent of their ticket reworks because everyone sees the same problem and common answers are available on the community.  It’s internal “crowd sourcing.” The time saved on this resolution efficiency enabled the client  to reassign thirty-three percent of its staff to more productive work, further saving the client labor costs.  By changing this process, TeleTech increased customer satisfaction, saved on labor costs, and now has one of the most competitive low in-bound call volume records in its industry.

Another interesting aspect of the TeleTech case study is the deliberate integration of Jive with 8 different technology platforms including Bunchball (for gamification), leading CRM systems, a learning management system, an employee performance system, and a micro-learning tool.  This myth-busts the notion that all social platforms are islands of irrelevance.  The smartest companies are way ahead on the integration curve and weaving social into the corporate enterprise stack by clever use of API integration and other web services.

All told, the conference was great for all the right reasons.  It was pure pleasure to talk to Jive customers at our 7Summits booth on the exhibit floor, learn from the presenters, and indulge in the hyper-networking that goes on at industry events.  I look forward to continuing to expose the business value cases I’m uncovering with our clients.  Some of them, frankly, are blowing my mind.  For a better understanding of how 7Summits approaches unlocking the value in enterprise by retooling business processes for social, see this introductory presentation by R.J. Reimers.




SMC Austin Chapter hosts a conversation on Social Business

SMC Austin is held at the original Austin City Limits studio. Gorgeous venue.

Be there: Register today.

Just when you think you have all the answers, something crops up that challenges your beliefs on how Social Business works and will work in the future.   Whether it’s new platforms/tools, new regulation, organizational changes, even world events — the Social Business world does not stand still and learning in this space is highly iterative.  At Dachis Group and for our Social Business Council members, we face this reality day in and day out.  The good news on Social Business is there are ample opportunities to increase and share your learning.  To that end,  I’m going to be moderating a panel discussion on Social Business at the upcoming Social Media Club Austin meeting next week. (Tuesday, 8/16 from 6pm – 8pm CT).  I hope you can join us if you’re local, and if you’re not, I’m sure the tweet stream will be buzzing.  The twitter hashtag for Social Media Austin events is #SMCA.

We’ll have a great panel of vendors (who just happen to have great “user” experience as well) relating their own journeys on transforming their clients, as well as their own companies, to become fully-functioning Social Businesses.  There is a lot of collective wisdom represented on this panel of experts, so I hope you’ll join us in the conversation.  This will be my speaking debut to our awesome local Social Media Club chapter (most active club in the world, outside of San Francisco I hear).  I’m looking forward to mashing up my knowledge of the internal enterprise social space with the external expertise resident in this town, as well as meeting lots of new social enthusiasts.

On the panel we will have Jive’s Deirdre Walsh, who is somewhat of a hometown hero of mine as she led National Instruments‘ social strategy prior to joining Jive as Social Media Manager.  Then, we have the amazing Kat Mandelstein who has been a terrific champion for Social Business at IBM and one smart cookie on all things social.  Kat is also on the international board for the SMC and has done a great job supporting the Austin SMC chapter as Vice President.  The other two panelists are Will Staney of VMware (which recently acquired Socialcast) and Jean-Claude Monney of Microsoft.  I have not yet met Will or Jean-Claude, but have heard great things about them, so I look forward to hearing their insights.  Will has an impressive background in introducing social media and adoption of social technology at VMWare with a  solid foundation in community management and new media strategy. Jean-Claude leads Microsoft’s technical strategy in the Discrete Manufacturing industry, chairs the Microsoft High Tech Customer Advisory Board and represents Microsoft as the chair of the OAGi High Tech Council, a global B2B standards organization.

In preparation for the panel, we’re soliciting your questions ahead of time so we can get them into the session.  Don’t be shy.  Let us fashion the panel to suit your interests.

Send us questions you’d like to hear answered.

See you there!



And they’re off… Postcard from Enterprise 2.0 Boston

From the mood here at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, you’d never know we were in an economic recession and still lingering financial crisis.  Most folks I’ve met are upbeat and optimistic about the prospects for business in the sluggish economy.  Of course, the conference has not yet officially kicked off yet, but judging from the tenor of the well-attended workshops yesterday and the wall-to-wall social events that have dominated the experience here, I’d say this mood will probably continue all week.

There are some news items breaking this morning that I want to get out, although I don’t have time to go into a deep dive on them.  Some interesting news out of SAP and Jive includes and OEM agreement where Jive will integrate its business intelligence software into Jive’s “social business” platform offering community analytics to Jive’s customer base.  The new software will offer a means of capturing and understanding the behavoirs and content that flows through social communities in order to make intelligent decisions.  The rumor, of course, all week was that SAP was buying Jive, but that appears to be unfounded.  This new venture, however, marks a clear initiative by SAP to (finally) take social software seriously, and likewise, it provides a grownup capability for a social software platform like Jive to deliver some clear business benefit.  I’ll be taking a look at the new happy couple later in the day in the demo area.

Secondly, Socialtext has finally announced its long-promised SocialCalc which was developed by VisiCalc’s co-creator, Dan Bricklin.  Additionally, the company is offering free use of its social software platform for the first 50 users aptly called, “Socialtext Free 50.”  The move to a freemium model for Socialtext follows on the heels of Socialcast‘s similar free offering for its social software.  In my experience, once folks are exposed to working socially and encouraged to do so by their peers, social software grows virally.  The freemium model is probably a smart move to take the edge off early adopter user resistance.  I will be curious to see how this move impacts adoption for Socialtext and others experimenting with the model.

Finally, my alma mater, nGenera has made some announcements this week at the conference.  The company launched four “Collaborative Enterprise Management” solutions for Enterprise Collaboration, Collaborative Selling, Customer Experience, and Talent Management.  nGenera is hosting a small event tonight in the hotel (Hancock Room) at 5:30 and will feature well-known author and speaker Tammy Erickson.  If you’re curious about who nGenera is and how they fit into the Enterprise 2.0 landscape, I encourage you to attend the session or talk to the nGenera folks at the show.  The company is uniquely positioned in a high-end slice of the market.

Also, if you’re here at the conference, please consider attending the unconference/barcamp sessions I’ll be participating in on Wednesday afternoon with Ross Mayfield and Brian Magierski.  There has been a lot of talk recently about framing the market and establishing a universal view of the semantics that surround the space.  I have a slide I’d like to invite the community to perhaps validate and improve on that I will be presenting Wednesday afternoon.  Barcamps are fun and interactive.  The best part is if you’re bored or a session’s not interesting, you can get up and walk out at any time.

Jive Goes Bigger (Than Ever)

Now Business Is Social from Jive Software on Vimeo

I’m not sure you can announce your leadership in a category, but that’s what Jive has done with the announcement of its Social Business Software application suite — Jive SBS 3.0. The product does bring a deliberate focus to the logical organizational interests of a social enterprise– namely, Employee Engagement, Marketing & Sales, Customer Support, and Innovation. With that segmentation, along with an overhaul of its Jive Clearspace 2.5 released last summer, the software has been reborn– perhaps in the original image of its founders, according to Sam Lawrence, Chief Marketing Officer. With this new release, Jive is stridently targeting IBM and Microsoft customers with what could prove to be a superior solution.

Lawrence is the beloved Enterprise 2.0 author of the “Go Big Always” blog. For years, he has been framing the issues facing the “category” in entertaining and educational ways. For the wholesale formulation of the category (re)definition, Lawrence solicited help from customers, industry analysts, and other influencers. Lawrence sees the market space in terms of a vast social capital marketplace where business intelligence meets interpersonal relationships. It’s powerful stuff and the software now enables levels of insight that were unavailable from one company until now. The emphasis Jive is taking toward effecting business results is also refreshing.

The key new enhancements include:

  • Bridging: The ability to view employee, customer, and partner communities in a centralized, customizable dashboard.
  • Analytics: Indicators that cull from a data warehouse and track activities in the enterprise
  • Insights: Detailed reporting including sentiment and engagement
  • Video: Secure, high quality video for conversation and training
  • Social Bookmarking: Capture and share content from internal and external sources
  • User Experience: A refreshing, simple and elegant look and feel that spurs adoption

Jive says beta versions of its new product suite are in the hands of customers today. We’ll be looking for customer feedback on how the transition is going. In the meantime, Jive has taken a tremendous leap ahead. I would have liked to have seen an enterprise micro-blogging capability, such as Socialtext recently announced with its AIR-based Signals, or more comprehensive wiki capability for deeper collaboration among work teams. With that said, however, I give Jive much credit for taking the lead on forcing a category definition and building its future on the back of that architected vision.