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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.

Imagine How Social Media Can Transform Your Company Part II – Enterprise 2.0 Implementation Challenges

February 22, 2010 2 comments

This is the second part of my series on how Social Media can transform your company. In Part 1, I talked about the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 to a company. I cited three key benefits: 

  • Improved Collaboration – One of the defining principles of Enterprise 2.0 is collaboration. Groups of people and even virtual teams with members from different geographic locations and organizational levels can work together.
  • Information Discoverability – One of the key advantages of Enterprise 2.0 is knowledge sharing, retention and discoverability. Imagine how much corporate knowledge and information are held by only a handful of employees in your company.
  • Enhanced Customer Experience through Social CRM Social CRM evolved from the need to create new customer relationships through the social media channel—relationship that is built on trust. This means actively participating in social media forums.

Governance Model for Risk Mitigation

To mitigate risk the first thing that companies should establish in an Enterprise 2.0 initiative is the governance strategy. Some companies, for example, encourage its employees to participate in mainstream social media. They support employees who write blogs internally and externally; however, they have to follow a set code of conduct. A common component of these policies is the “don’t tell secrets policy”. Companies want to safeguard proprietary and confidential information. Go to Social Media Governance Database if you want to see free examples of Social Media Policies from almost 100 companies. Let me share with you one of the most interesting social media policy that I have read online—the Social Media Policy of Intel. Over time, Intel created a comprehensive set of social media policies. These guidelines are now available in over 35 languages designed to help everyone use social media in a respectful and responsible way.

Cultural Change a Serious Challenge to Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

There are existing solutions in the market (such as blogs, wikis) that can be easily installed and applied to foster collaboration.  So some might think it is easy to implement Enterprise 2.0.  If that’s what you are thinking, you are wrong. I think implementing Enterprise 2.0 has little to do with technology. The most important component is adoption and cultural change. When I say culture, I refer to the way of work, values, behavior, etc. that altogether constitute the unique style of the company. There should be a strong strategic principle that guides the organization through an incremental adoption approach to ensure chances of success. It can’t be forced. There are no shortcuts.

Support from Users is Critical 

Here is a key question: how important is top management support in Enterprise 2.0 adoption? Like any other initiative, senior management support is critical. But more than that, an Enterprise 2.0 adoption needs support from all levels of the organization. Yes you need management support; however, to be really successful, companies need to focus on the benefits of the users first and then the value creation for the company next. You can’t convince an employee to change the way he works just because it will benefit the company. You have to convince employees that this will make their job easier. This approach is important. It will fuel faster adoption from the grassroots. 

Importance of Training in the Adoption Process

I would like to end this post about Enterprise 2.0 implementation with emphasis on the importance of training. Like any other project that includes implementing technology and process, training is a critical success factor.  By just having Enterprise 2.0 tools and social media policies do not necessarily mean an organization’s employees will understand them or use them in how they perform daily work. It is the training combined with a clear social media policy that will provide a structure for employees to increase their participation. With that in place, a comfort level evolves between employee participation and management’s concerns.

Image courtesy of sniki.org.

Imagine How Social Media Can Transform Your Company

If you have been following my blog since last year, I am sure you have read about these two related topics—Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0. In the first one entitled, “New Internet Version” is All About Participation, I tried to explain Web 2.0 by comparing it to Web 1.0 or earlier version of the Internet. Web 1.0 is a general reference to the World Wide Web before the developments of advanced internet collaborative applications. The article about Enterprise 2.0 entitled, Web 2.0 + Application to Business = Enterprise 2.0, posted last October 2009 described what Enterprise 2.0 is and the challenges of adopting the model in the business setting. This post will take the discussion about Enterprise 2.0 even further.

Imagine This…

There are over 800 million users of social media sites in the Internet. Between Facebook and Twitter alone there are close to 600 million unique user accounts. Chances are you are one of them and you have several friends in your network. Now imagine this

  • Imagine having an “internal Facebook” in your company’s intranet.
  • Imagine your co-worker inviting you to become a collaborator. (similar idea as becoming friends in a common social networking sites)
  • Imagine becoming a fan of a project or initiative in your company that makes you a virtual member.
  • Imagine posting a blog about a marketing idea that creates a huge impact elsewhere in the company’s global operations because it matches the need of that country’s market segment.
  • Imagine being able to engage your customers in social networking sites and being able to provide value and gain value from that interaction. 

Are you still with me? I used to just imagine these things too. Now I have seen and read about companies adopting Enterprise 2.0 early. It is quickly becoming a reality. There are significant benefits but as well as serious adoption challenges. 

What Benefits does Enterprise 2.0 bring your company? 

Improve Collaboration – One of the defining principles of Enterprise 2.0 is collaboration. Groups of people and even virtual teams with members from different geographic locations and organizational levels can work together in a project. Enterprise 2.0 tools are designed to change the way we collaborate with our extended network. It is designed to provide less structure, simple mechanics, and allows users to lead the way. This approach requires employees to communicate, to share, to interact and to generate contents and value output. 

Information Discoverability – If collaboration did not convince you about the value of Enterprise 2.0 maybe this one will. One of the key advantages of Enterprise 2.0 is knowledge sharing, retention and discoverability. Imagine how much corporate knowledge and information are held by a few employees in your company. How much information is stored in servers and shared drives? How many manuals are printed, book-bound and stored in filing cabinets? How much information and knowledge is amassed in emails? Sharing and finding information is one of the defining characteristics of Enterprises 2.0. If information and knowledge cannot be found, it is useless. There is no value. It is best to visualize this advantage by thinking about Wikipedia. If you have your own internal Wikipedia that houses your company’s process manuals it will be easier to find up-to-date and useful information. In this case you don’t need to get your own copy of the manual; you will have access to master versions that are kept updated by the entire community of experts and users. 

Enhance Customer Experience through Social CRM – Successfully maintaining a meaningful and sustained relationship with customers has become an integral component of a company’s commercial strategy. If close to a billion users worldwide participate in social media—the chances of finding your customers in that channel is high. Social CRM evolved from the need to create new customer relationships through the social media channel—relationship that is built on trust. This means actively participating in social media forums. Enterprise 2.0 enables this connection between the managers and operators of the business and their customers.    

Enterprise 2.0 Implementation Challenges 

It will be interesting to see how the governance model will evolve as more and more companies are adopting Enterprise 2.0. When deployed Enterprise 2.0 fundamentally changes the dynamics behind how people work together as well as how they share and find information. Implementation strategy should account for the cultural change that needs to happen.

Risk management in Enterprise 2.0 is a serious challenge. The first thing adopters do during an implementation is to establish a policy for the types of information that can be disclosed. There is always risk (as in any other initiatives) but what I think is important is that managers study and understand the risk versus the reward.   

Governance, cultural change and risk management are some of the serious challenges that Enterprise 2.0 has to overcome to gain momentum. This will be discussed in more detail in my next article.

Connecting to Customers through Social CRM

Connecting to current and potential customers is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. Significant resources are invested in creating and improving customer experiences. Even at this time of economic uncertainties, it’s hard to find a business that is not actively pursuing customer service improvements. The competition is stronger than ever as the economy begins to show signs of recovery. Initiatives related to customer relationship management (CRM) are embraced by many companies as a critical component to their overall business strategy. Organizations continue to spend heavily on CRM — $11 billion annually starting 2010 according to Forrester. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has evolved through the years. It started in the early 90s out of the need to store customer information. Today, through the fast development of social media, a new CRM dimension is starting to gain ground—social CRM or SCRM. Social CRM is the process of monitoring, engaging in and managing conversations and relationships with existing and prospective customers and influencers across the Internet, social networks, and digital channels. This article aims to differentiate between traditional CRM and Social CRM. 

Traditional CRM 

I think in order to understand what Social CRM is, we first have to understand traditional CRM. The strong suit of traditional CRM has been the following— enhanced customer analytics, improved operational effectiveness and improved coordination between areas that provides customer service delivery. 

CRM developed out of the need to store customer information. It started with businesses trying to build databases of customer contacts and converting filing cabinets full of customer files into easily accessible databases. Many organizations today are capturing terabytes of information about customers: interactions, cases, interests, demographics, responses to marketing efforts, and buying cycles. The key challenge for most businesses is how to capitalize on this information.

Traditional CRM applications provide necessary flexibility to implement and automate front-end processes. It is focused on operational efficiency and improving collaboration. Forrester, for instance, identifies 6 key processes that comprise the common CRM Processes Framework.  They are— Marketing, eCommerce, Direct Sales, Indirect Sales, Service and Field Services. Companies looking to implement these processes would turn to CRM.  There are many solution providers out there that cover the complete package. SAP, Oracle, Salesforce and Microsoft are among the biggest providers of CRM solutions. Traditional CRM ensures that the proper activities and tasks will be performed by the appropriate people, in the correct sequences.

What is Social CRM (SCRM)?

According to Brent Leary, an SCRM expert who authored Brent’s Social CRM Blog, “Social CRM is growing out of a completely different need – the need to attract the attention of those using the Internet to find answers to business challenges they are trying to overcome.” The way I see it, Social CRM extends beyond traditional CRM by focusing on people and not on processes. Processes and information are covered by traditional CRM. Social CRM centers on meaningful engagement—it focuses on content and conversation.

Social CRM evolved from the need to create new customer relationships built on trust. This means actively participating in social media forums with your customers by:

  • Interacting with customers through wikis and blogs
  • Enabling customers to critique your products
  • Encouraging customers to share ideas
  • Creating platforms in partnership with customers that improve the company’s value proposition

To illustrate capabilities of Social CRM, I think it’s best to explore one of the leading providers of SCRM solution today—Lithium. Lithium provides SCRM solutions to build enterprise communities on-demand including forums, blogs, ideas, and a Social CRM platform. Barnes and Noble and Best Buy are two companies that implement SCRM. If you click on the links associated with these companies, it will bring you to their respective community pages. You will see that both companies are using the platform in different ways. Barnes and Noble uses it as a platform to recommend and discuss books while Best Buy collaborates with their customers to talk about electronic products and solve technical issues. You are welcome to participate in those forums as a customer or a potential customer of Best Buy and Barnes and Noble.

Social CRM adds a whole new dimension to customer relationship management but it does not replace the latter. I see it as a much needed complement to traditional areas of CRM. In today’s competitive business environment, you’ll have to go beyond CRM to create new relationships based on conversations and trust. Be reminded that the end goals are the same— customer attainment, retention and profitability.

Photos courtesy of Best Buy and Barnes and Noble.

Follow Glenn Remoreras on Twitter.

Web 2.0 + Application in Business = Enterprise 2.0

People as the platformIn the world of Information Technology, many buzz words and phrases are created everyday. It’s hard to keep up. It’s not only because too many of these words are thrown at us everyday but also because their definitions often change rapidly. One of these phrases is Web 2.0 – which I talked about in my previous article.  Now, let me throw you another one of those technology buzz words – Enterprise 2.0. 

The term Enterprise 2.0 was coined in the spring of 2006 by Andrew McAfee. As an Associate Professor of Harvard Business School, he studies the ways that IT affects businesses. His research efforts are focused on investigating how IT changes the way companies perform, organize themselves and compete. Andrew McAfee defines Enterprise 2.0 as the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers. It is quite simply the application of many of the Web 2.0 ideas to the enterprise.

AIIM, a non-profit organization that provides education and research, takes this further. According to AIIM, Enterprise 2.0 is a system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise. 

Enterprise 2.0 Adoption 

Until now, many firms have yet to recognize the potential advantages Web 2.0 could bring to the business. Traditional command and control management is directly opposed to the distributed and collaborative style advocated in Enterprise 2.0 and there are always a set of rules that discourage change. For this reason, adoption of Enterprise 2.0 tools is happening from the bottom up. Enterprise 2.0 is being brought up gradually by ordinary users. It is uncommon to see adoptions and initiatives – such as establishing a corporate-wide blog or wiki – spearheaded by top management. More often, blogs are started by individuals and small groups in one department as an independent initiative. In some cases, these blogs, social media sites and microblogs succeed and evolve as key components of the corporate internal and external communications arsenal. 

Few companies right now are pioneering the use of Web 2.0 platform. One of then them is Sun Microsystems. Sun uses Open Source and Enterprise Social Software to build a YouTube-style portal for social learning. They have implemented a learning environment called Sun Learning Exchange (SLX) to provide training programs to employees and contractors in more than 50 countries. The entire solution was built for $60,000. One week after launch, there were more than 3000 unique visitors and hundreds of unique content were uploaded. The viral rollout strategy proved to be a success and allowed Sun to create more value with less investment in training. 

UniversalIn my article last month, I talked about how Universal Studios used Web 2.0 platform to announce the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter project. They invited seven avid Harry Potter fans to a top secret webcast and informed 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. Universal was able to reach its global audience by first reaching out to a select group of fans through the Internet. They were able to save thousands and perhaps millions in advertising costs. 

Enterprise 2.0 Challenges 

It is understandable that in spite of the current momentum, Enterprise 2.0 is experiencing strong resistance from business managers. I think the challenge is two-pronged: cultural and structural. There will always be cultural challenges when you are trying to make people work, collaborate and organize in a different way. Companies are so used to the traditional management and coordination style that it’s hard to imagine a quick transition. On the other hand, the Enterprise 2.0 model and its supporting structure also need to strengthen. Experts argue that it’s hard to implement something that has no commonly accepted business model and runs in an immature services landscape. Application management, support, security, ownership and identity are also common challenges being confronted by early implementers. 

To be continued… 

We already discussed about Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 in two separate articles. We’ve laid out the groundwork. In my next post, we will further explore these topics and talk about how to incorporate cutting-edge Web 2.0 services within the enterprise networks, create internal social networks, blogs, wikis and manage Enterprise 2.0 security and compliance.

“New Internet Version” is All About Participation

September 19, 2009 14 comments

Just by reading this article in this weblog, you become an official user of Web 2.0.  If you have a Facebook account, keep track of 200 or more friends, tweet at least once a day, have a professional LinkedIn account and rely on Wikipedia for the definition of things – you are an active user of Web 2.0. Congratulations! You are officially part of “generation Web 2.0 plus”! It might surprise you to know that although you might be hearing about Web 2.0 for the first time, you have actually been active users of it for quite some time.   

Comparing Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0

I think the best way to explain what Web 2.0 is to compare it to Web 1.0 which is its earlier version. Web 1.0 is a general reference to the World Wide Web before the developments of advance internet collaborative applications. This was during the period when the internet was dominated by companies who maintained heavy and static sites for promotion and marketing. At that time, it was difficult to maintain personal websites. Many attributed the dot-com-bubble in 2001 as the turning point of the internet. 

Web 1.0 and Web 2.0Basically, what happened was a change in paradigm. This was due to two main factors: people and technology. With people, I refer to us.  Yes — you and me. We who make up the critical mass of internet users who use the internet as a platform for simple, light-weight services that leverage interactions for communication and collaboration. Additionally, advancement in technology enabled these platforms, network and services. The attached illustration contrasts the differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Look at the boxes closely and try to imagine how the internet has evolved from the time you started going online until now.

Web 2.0 is the portion of the Internet that is being developed continuously and interactively by participating Internet users. It is commonly associated with web development and web design that facilitates interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design. Web 2.0 is a catch-all term used to illustrate a variety of developments on the web and a perceived shift in the way the web is utilized. This has been characterized as the evolution of web use from passive consumption of content to more active participation, creation and sharing – to what is sometimes called the read/write web. 

Example of Web 2.0 Tools

Web 2.0 is a platform that enables the user to comment, tag, modify, improve and rank. The most well-known examples of this technology are found in sites like YouTube, Amazon, and Google where user ratings make it easier for other users to find what they are looking for. Social media tools like Facebook and Blogs allow users to write stories and stay connected with friends. Twitter opened up the world of sharing short thoughts. And Wikipedia is powered by users who provide and keep content up-to-date and accurate. 

Personally, I am particularly attracted to the aspects of communication and free online expression of ideas. That’s the reason why I invest time writing articles. A few years ago, it would have been extremely difficult for me to find a medium to express my ideas.  Web 2.0 tools have reduced barriers to the publication and distribution of information. 

In its most basic form, Web 2.0 is about participation. It is about communication and collaboration. It has indeed change the way of life of this generation and it is still evolving! 

Enterprise 2.0 – A Peek into my next Post 

Many of the Web 2.0 platforms began as customer-facing sites designed for marketing and communications until people looked for ways to apply these ideas to the enterprise. You might have noticed already that blogs, social media and microblogs have evolved as key components of the corporate internal and external communications arsenal. This use of the Web 2.0 paradigm and technologies in business is now widely known as Enterprise 2.0. On my succeeding posts, I will elaborate on this further and provide business practical applications of Enterprise 2.0.

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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