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Understanding the Social Enterprise Technology

I am presenting a webinar on BRM and Social Media on June 20, Friday at 11am EDT. To get a chance to discuss this topic with me and learn more, register here.

I am an avid user of social media sites that exist out there, I blog, tweet, and I use Facebook. These social applications have been really useful to me personally. Facebook, for instance, is my way to connect with my family who live in the Philippines. Every time I post a picture of my kids on Facebook, I always have my family in the Philippines in mind. This is how I can share moments of my kids’ life with them. Through Facebook, I also keep track of my nephew and nieces. Early on, I realized the value of social networking to my personal life so I started thinking how such platforms extend to the enterprise. Even before the existence of full-strength Enterprise Network Tools available today, I wondered how such collaborative practices extend beyond personal use and find their way to become an integrated set of functional offerings that delivers business value.

Think about an “enterprise Facebook”. What’s the equivalent of posting a status or photo? If I post about a project I am working on, blog about a business problem I am trying to resolve, or share a screen of a user interface mobile application I designed – what will it take for my peers in the office to be able to access, read and see them? To usher in adoption of the tools seamlessly is a challenge for those who have blazed the trail. If you can’t convince employees that using it will make their job easier or if you can’t convince business leaders that using it will create business value, it is tough to succeed.

According to Forrester Research, organizations will increase their spending on enterprise social collaboration software at a compound annual growth rate of 61% through 2016. With the social software market now looking to be a hefty $6.4 billion part of the industry, every big player from IBM, to Oracle, to SAP are busy developing their offer. If you look at this amount of investment and demand, obviously the companies are seeing competitive advantage and value of social tools in their organization now and in the future.

The Benefits of Social Enterprise Technology

There are essentially three categories of benefits that can be derived from using social enterprise technology. So, broadly, we see that in order for social enterprise technology to create business value, it should not only provide strong content-centric features but also must extend social capabilities in execution of business processes and facilitating innovation through collaboration in the company.

Benefits of Social Enterprise Technology

Benefits of Social Enterprise Technology

Companies who have embarked in the early adoption of social tools in the enterprise have done so to capture one or more of these business benefits. CEMEX, a multi-billion building materials company, initially began in 2009 to develop an internal social network which called Shift. Shift was designed to innovate and help make the company more efficient and agile by empowering employees to implement the new best practices they learn by collaborating globally in their business units. By building a collaboration platform accessible to employees throughout the company and around the world, CEMEX is empowering employees in new and important ways that go beyond traditional titles and roles. From the SAPPHIRENOW event in Orlando this June, I learned about how Kaeser Kompressoren uses SAP’s social enterprise application SAP Jam to streamline their sales and customer service processes and build a bridge from the first client contact through to the offer improving information and communications quality. They are leveraging integration between SAP Jam with seamless integration with SAP CRM module to join social capabilities and traditional work stream.

Implementing a social tool for collaboration is just the first step. To get employees to use it collectively enough to change the way they collaborate is the much bigger challenge. Adoption of social tools in the workplace setting requires more than compliance and a management mandate. It is about culture transformation from within and for all employees, from top to bottom. I think the part of enabling the Social Enterprise application is the easy part of the process, the challenge is adoption. Benefits are realized when:

  1. You successfully change the culture, the way employees in a company collaborate, and you break geographical and political barriers.
  2. You optimize your enterprise work stream by having business processes accessible and executable through social interactions happening in the collaboration space.
  3. You bring innovation by empowering employees to organize around ideas that develop organically during social interaction.
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Utilizing the Connection Power of Social Media for Your Business

Social media allows you and your business to participate in an open dialogue with your target audience.

The use of social media channels for business can be much cheaper than the traditional approach. You can use existing platforms to minimize spending on tools, developers and consultants. Depending on the need you are addressing, you can utilize existing resources and teams. For example, for customer interaction, you can use your customer service team who already knows your products and services. They are trained in customer relationship management so they have an advantage in engaging customers. How big is the social network? The answer to this determines the potential you have in reaching your target audience.

Social Media Usage and User Stats

Last month, Facebook announced that it has reached the milestone of one billion monthly active members. Twitter has reached half a billion users last June 2012, according to the analyst group Semiocast. LinkedIn reported 175 million registered users last July 2012. YouTube streams 4 billion online videos each day. This is more than one for every other person on Earth and a 25% jump over eight months ago, according to Gartner research. WordPress, the leading blog platform, powers 56.4 million sites (including mine) worldwide and has over 367 million people view more than 2.5 billion pages each month.

All of these usage and user statistics make a strong indication of the massive connection power of social media. If you are a company whose vital need is to connect to your customers, you cannot discount social media as just an alternative channel of communication.

The key is to be in the world of social media, to be there right now and establish a presence— even if you think that social media is still considered a “future initiative” for your company.  Starting early through staged implementation may overcome a learning curve before adopting a company-wide social media strategy.

Selecting the right Social Media Platforms

When selecting which social media platform is right for your business, it is important to understand who your target audience is. You should aim your efforts towards the channels they use. Based on my experience, the most effective approach is to use a combination of two or more of the existing platforms that has a strong active user base. Social media platforms can serve various purposes.  The main thing is to find the right mix that takes advantage of the respective benefits that each one brings.

Benefits of Using Social Media Channel for Business

For example, you can make WordPress and/or YouTube as platforms to create and house your contents. Tap internal resources to develop articles, pictures, video and blogs about your business, products and services. Then you can deploy Facebook, (and/or) Twitter and/or LinkedIn as a means to push those contents to your target audience (push strategy). Facebook and Twitter work well for consumer brand companies while LinkedIn work better for a more targeted audience based on field and industry. LinkedIn and Facebook can serve as an effective platform to engage your audience (current or prospective customers, etc.) around the topics or ideas you want to talk about in a community type approach.

Social media allows you and your business to participate in an open dialogue with your target audience. It permits you to respond almost instantly to industry developments and have an effective push strategy for information you want to disseminate. The connections your business make with customers and other entities outside is vital. The use of social media can improve your business in a number of key areas: marketing, corporate communication, brand visibility, customer engagement, locating strategic commercial partners, recruitment, and business intelligence.

Past, Present and Inevitable Future of the Internet

We have “known” for decades that telephones would eventually become portable, wireless and small enough to carry around just like a wallet. Do you recall the Communicator device in Star Trek? It resembles the current flip mobile phones. They were used for voice communication connecting individuals between Star Ships. Dr. Martin Cooper, inventor of the modern mobile phone, credits the TOS communicator as being his inspiration for the technology. Although the first “brick” mobile phones were much larger, modern flip phones strongly resemble the original series communicator. 

Early on… 

For me, the development of mobile phone technology is kind of the same thing as the development of the Internet. Our generation has been fortunate to witness its exponential advancement. I remember the first time I used the Internet in the early 1990s. It was through the old Vax mainframe computers at the De La Salle University in Manila and later on, with the more user-friendly Netscape browser in Personal Computers (PCs). Computers at that time were exclusively housed in laboratories where they kept the temperature low to protect the equipment. Despite the tropical heat of the Philippines, we would wear sweaters if we planned to stay longer in the lab to survive the low temperature. I remember the web pages were simple, text-based, had limited contents and features. We were glad to just send emails and read static content that we found online. De La Salle University was one of the first Philippine schools to be connected to the Internet. By the time I graduated in 1997, the Internet had already gone through a series of major developments. 

Advancements today… 

Today, we are in the midst of continuing development of the web fueled by advancements in the Internet and technology. The most notable application is “Social Media” which led to the  inevitable creation of a vast content and knowledge base. There is an abundance of information and the size of social interaction has reached a colossal scale. We are in the age were ordinary people break the news. Just recently, CNN reported that “some of the first public accounts of the military operation that killed the terrorist leader (Osama bin Laden) came in the form of tweets from Sohaib Athar, an IT consultant in Abbottabad — the city where bin Laden was found.” This breaking news spread fast and made ecstatic fans at a game in Philadelphia hold up their mobile phones to show the news of Bin Laden’s death as they received messages from friends. Later on, President Obama announced the news to the world on mainstream TV. This shows that within a span of just one generation, the availability of information, capabilities to create and share, and our access to them has changed dramatically. 

Family interaction platform… 

It was not until a couple of years ago that my parents in the Philippines have started using the Internet, or a computer for that matter. I was determined to help them catch up with new trends and I knew introducing them to the use of computers and the Internet was something that could create value for them, personally and as well as in their retail business. On the other hand, my hidden agenda was to utilize another communication channel with my family that is effective and cheaper as compared to international calls. The last time that I visited home was December 2009 and one of my objectives then was to convince my father to invest in a laptop. To sweeten the deal, I would pay half of the cost and would stay a little longer so I could teach them how to use it. Teach them I did, starting with the basics of switching the computer on and off, use of the keyboard (comparing it with typewriters used during my parents’ time). Soon, we ventured off to the more fun stuff– the Internet. The first thing that we accomplished was to create an email account, then Windows Live for chat, Skype for video conferencing and then Facebook for social networking. Eventually, we ventured into Excel so that my father can use it to upgrade their process of recording daily sales (he usually just used paper notepads!). After I returned to the United States, in less than two months, they were adept in using their new-found tool. My parents processed their US visa application online, bought plane tickets (even helped friends buy tickets online) and they were also everywhere in social media. I could chat with them, video call using Skype with them, and send them blogs that I have written. A month ago, I was even able to share with them photos and videos of when my twins were born through Youtube and Facebook. The social media and the web have become our platform for family interaction. 

Inevitable Future and Questions… 

The Internet has enabled humans to develop new technologies and social structure that allow us to participate in content creation and dissemination (such as blogs and social networking sites). The advancement and innovation that has catapulted the Internet to ubiquity also reveal enormous use in business. Nowadays, users participate in solutions building through collaborative platforms. Internet has developed social structures that allow interaction without boundaries– thus making our small world even smaller. 

In 10 years, humans and computers will join forces to create “collective intelligence”. Technology will evolve as such that the Internet (and information within it) will be accessible and available to everyone— this will exponentially increase the already massive data we exchange today. How we (and machines) will make sense of as well as analyze and synthesize this collective information, is what will bring us to Web 3.0 and beyond. 

In closing, I leave you with some questions:

  • How do you see the Internet impacting the world, business and human interaction in 10 years?
  • Does the Internet in its generative form need new kinds of control to avoid problems in society and loss of opportunity?
  • Are we looking at a prospect of a better world for our children with seemingly exponential cycle of innovation and growth of the Internet?

Photos courtesy of jscreationzs and Idea go.

Follow Glenn Remoreras on Twitter.

Web and Social Media Provide Japan Needed Resources

Google Crisis Response - a google.org project

It’s not that successful people are givers; it is that givers are successful people. – Patti Thor

I was up early Friday morning to monitor news about the massive earthquake that hit Japan. An 8.9-magnitude earthquake followed by a 35-foot tsunami hit the coast of Japan at 2:46 p.m. Tokyo time Friday. It was the most powerful recorded in the Japan’s history, and the seventh largest ever recorded worldwide. The tsunami warning was issued in virtually all areas of the Pacific Rim. Also, I was closely monitoring news about the effect of the tsunami back home in the Philippines through local news outlet Inquirer. The Philippine government ordered the country’s mostly rural Pacific seaboard cleared of people on Friday. Inquirer reported that 224,243 people were moved off the coasts overnight, either on their own or using military trucks.

Web and Social Media Resources at Work

Beyond Twitter traffic and Facebook, many media organizations like CNN are live-blogging information as it comes in. Click here to access CNN live blog. Government agencies are also providing valuable information on their sites. Citizens have also taken to Flickr to post pictures of the disaster.

I also followed real-time updates from Twitter where thousands of tweets per minute came in. Most can be filtered using two primary hashtags — #tsunami and #prayforjapan. They are trending on Twitter since Friday. (Click on the hashtags to view real-time twitter feed.)

Shortly Google deployed People Finder tool that was so effective during the 2004 Tsunami and 2010 Haiti Earthquake:

“Google Person Finder available after earthquake in Japan to help you get information about loved ones. http://goo.gl/rlR07” – @Google >> (Twitter)

If you are looking for first-person accounts, a lot of residents from affected areas have also posted eyewitness videos in Youtube from inside their homes and public buildings, and from the streets with their neighbors. Click here to see videos posted in Youtube pertaining to the earthquake and tsunami.

How you can help:

Thanks for helping out.@GlennRemoreras

The New York City and Facebook Analogy

You can never have enough of New York City! We made our trip to the Big Apple for the second time in less than a year. Last week I spent a grueling — but rewarding — five days there with my wife, Ivy, and her family. We went on several sightseeing tours, bay cruises and museum visits. The tours brought us to a number of boroughs in the city and historic places where great residents have lived (often proudly mentioned by tourist guides). Those great names have, in one way or another, contributed to the major development of the city. New York City, for many decades now, exerts a powerful influence over global commerce, finance, media, culture, art, fashion, research, education, and entertainment. 

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of

While traversing New York City, one thought kept coming back to me. I wondered how it came to be that scores of great people and so many great things came from this city. Why is there so much celebration and life in the Big Apple? 

I listened to the song Empire State of Mind — I heard it everywhere I went, fueling my thoughts even more… 

“New York! Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York!  These streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you….”  

Unknowingly, the answer to my question was waiting for me at home. I got the answer when I came across an enlightening article from the New York Times entitled “Yes, People Still Read, but Now It’s Social.”  I will quote the part of the article that struck me and provided response to the questions in my mind. 

“It’s no accident that most of the great scientific and technological innovation over the last millennium has taken place in crowded, distracting urban centers. The printed page itself encouraged those manifold connections, by allowing ideas to be stored and shared and circulated more efficiently.”  

Echoing the author’s sentiment— I think it is no accident that crowded  and buzzing metropolises (like Rome in Italy, Paris in France, Berlin in Germany, New York in the United States, Tokyo in Japan, Mexico City in Mexico and many others) were cradles of human society’s progress. Great minds from all walks of life converged in crowded cities that provided a “natural” environment for mass connections and collaborations. 

Natural Facebook – Using People as Platform

Now, I see big cities like New York, as a “natural Facebook” that seamlessly permits several magnitudes of connections and allows residents a fast-paced and persevering lifestyle. New York provides a unique environment to push innovations and inventions forward by harnessing community forces- using people as platform

In big cities like New York there are so much things going on and so much stuff to do that you can’t possibly concentrate on one thing; therefore, you work on loads of “focused items” by multitasking your way and leveraging people and connections. You build on the “popular highlights” of important things. I think that’s how New Yorkers succeed!

Photo courtesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.

Web 2.0 is Changing the Rules of Advertising

The fast growth of technology has exponentially changed how we use the Internet. It has made businesses take a serious look into how to take advantage of the new version of the WWW or Web 2.0. Companies are forced to adapt in order to make the most of internet-enabled channels. This article talks about how social networking sites and search engines have changed the rules of the advertising game.

Social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace, and blog service providers (such as Blogger, Blogspot and Multiply) have created a new medium that has elevated “interweb interaction” to a whole new level. Facebook, for instance, boasts having over 200 million users, LinkedIn has 40 Million, and Twitter, a leading micro-blogging site, has almost 26 million.1

Google is arguably the most influential company of the decade. It has changed advertising more than any other business. Google has revolutionized the ad business by enabling marketers to pay for performance rather than space, time and eyeballs.  It has opened up millions more places to place ads, increasing availability of ad channels.

Google has a simplified approach to advertising. It uses Google Adwords for advertisers and Google AdSense for site owners. With Google Adwords, advertisers only pay when people click on their ads. Companies can create ads and choose keywords related to its business.  These ads appear when users search online—making specific information available to an audience looking for it. Google Adsense on the other hand enables website publishers of all sizes to display relevant Google ads and earn. It gives site owners access to Google vast network of advertisers, so they can show ads that are suited to the contents.

When Universal Studios first announced they were opening the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, they did so by telling just seven people. They invited seven avid Harry Potter fans to a top secret webcast to inform them about the plans for the new theme park. By word of mouth, these seven people told thousands through emails, internet forums and blogs. Eventually, mainstream media picked up the buzz and wrote about it in magazines, news, and TV reports. In a few days, the news reached millions of people.2

The concept of advertising spaces doesn’t quite apply anymore to the world of social networking because we are not talking about static space, billboards, newspaper ad space, and television spots. The internet, where billions of users (estimated to be 70% of total population) have spent some portion of their time viewing pages and exchanging information, is the new medium. Unknowingly, social network users have become natural channels for advertising. For example, while writing this article and simultaneously facebooking, I came across a recent post from Thiago Pierson, a Brazilian colleague of mine, talking about a great steakhouse in Fort Lauderdale. He wrote, “Chima Brazilian Steakhouse in Fort Lauderdale is the best one so far!!” Naturally, being the steak lover that I am, my tendency was to google it.  I read the review and checked the menu. Now I am already making plans to visit.

1 http://helixcommerce.blogspot.com/2009/06/social-sites-are-everyones-space.html

2 The New Rules of Marketing & PR, David Meerman Scott

Web and Advertising

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