It’s all about the skills

c

I’ve recently made the decision to invest in my future by taking a Digital Marketing Diploma – despite having a PR background, the changing nature of the online sphere – with the advent of social platforms like BuzzFeed for instance – creates a world where commissioning  co-creating engaging content with media partners becomes just as important as storytelling, SEO and getting your information into the hands of influence. One consequence of convergence is that although it’s great to have something that you are great at – a strong footing across disciplines is becoming essential.

And it doesn’t end there – tomorrow’s workforce will be a technically savvy one, not just socially literate. We’re already seeing a slew of news articles about teaching future generations to code –  even including it in the national curriculum – My personal prediction is that with the new code army will come a new breed of ‘intrapreneurs‘ that will develop tomorrow’s killer apps but owned by brands. After all, why leave all the fun to the entrepreneurs?

Working within a large business gives you access to reams of data –  this information can often point us to problems that need solving. Multinational consumer and tech brands have the structure, the economical might, the global coverage and the brand awareness to fully realise the potential of a promising piece of tech innovation. Could we see the next WhatsApp coming from within the doors of an established consumer tech brand? I think so!

I believe we’ll see a future where brands not only tell their story through the range of platforms that are already available –  they’ll also demonstrate their innovation by fostering and sponsoring the innovative efforts of digital businesspeople that can hack their way through tomorrow’s business issues.

 

We need Social CIOs to drive the Social Business

Today’s forward thinking businesses –  the HP’s, Thomson Reuters and KPMGs) of this world  – are evolving on social both in terms of their communications, but also in terms of the way they do business fundamentally. Yes, they engage with customers, prospects, partners, advocates and their internal communities, but by treating social as a business critical piece of infrastructure, these companies gain the opportunity to use unstructured social data and analytics to understand the conversations the move their markets.

One of the prominent examples of a company that is living out the vision of a social business for instance, is IBM – whose employees, partners, consultants and advocates are legion on Twitter and the blogosphere , and have an established position on social business. Business initiatives of this nature are simply not possible without the support of the C-suite – and especially, the CIO as the driver of an information strategy that encompasses our evolving digital world. The IBM interactive offering represents a new development in terms of enterprise software companies moving into markets that are new to them, leveraging big data to help companies like Coca Cola and Air Canada optimise their digital activities.

For those that may be yet to fully embrace these ideas, it might seem like a tall order; the question  “where to start”may arise – I joined the Business Value Exchange’s CIO social media Twitter Chat in December 2013 and noticed that as well as some bullish advocates for the Social CIO there were also more reserved voices.

Even if the culture of your business does not support such activity at this time, the simplest way to start acting as a social business is to start finding, following interacting with potential valuable prospects on various professional social platforms, as well as speaking with them in person – mixing the private conversations that take place offline with the more general professional chatter that can take place online, thus increasing the touch points between both businesses. As the individuals that often ultimately sign off on social media policies CIOs are well positioned to be knowledgeable about the parameters.

CIOs can take inspiration from markets where the Social CIO message is more mature –  such as the United States. There are already a number in higher education and understandably tech that they can also connect with and learn from.

Depending on the nature of any given business, there can be a strong case for being given the opportunity to make the technological infrastructure of the business flexible enough to enable more social interaction. A good example comes from a prediction that for many businesses has come true – back in 2012 Carol Rozwell, a Gartner analyst suggested that failing to respond to customer issues on social media will carry the same stigma as “ignoring” customer calls and emails – today an active social CRM system is something that many companies today take for granted, as a way to help drive loyalty. Social business evangelist Brian Solis also marks this year as the one where social becomes mainstream in business for other functions such as internal comms, stakeholder collaboration and recruitment.

Social infrastructure providers and consultants are well positioned to support CIOs to help their enterprise make the transition effectively – it needn’t (and shouldn’t try to) be an overnight process. The cultural change processes and training provided will inevitably take time – and can take place at a pace that respects risk management issues, compliance and other sector trends particular to any given sector.

Despite the concerns that may exist it is essential to be aware of the fact that social business isn’t going away –  and a more mobile, BYOD-driven working world may only facilitate this development further. As a result, it’s better to have a framework in place proactively, than to have to react to the trend as it evolves later.

The Quantified Self: The trend behind the CES wearables race

Lowers9basis_610x436

The Basis Band – Sleep tracker (credit: Hotdigitalnews.com)

Looking at CES coverage this month (and the wealth of trend round-ups in the FT, CNet and, The Guardian and many more sources) has been an exercise in finding out whether there is anything you can’t measure about yourself with a wearable device. Since the launch of Google Glass the common question in 2011-3 regarding whether wearables will go mainstream appears to have been replaced with an all-out race to win the battle for consumer awareness in this sector.

I had a really interesting chat yesterday with Tamara Sword, a company founder, HuffPost blogger and fellow QS fan about the move  from Big Data to ‘body data‘. When we have this level of self insight, we can use this not only for fitness and health, but also to help us become better, more effective and prosperous people, which is ultimately the premise of the trend that preceded this hardware trend –  namely The Quantified Self –  acquiring self knowledge through numbers.

To some outside of the technology world the use of personal is primarily seen as something intimidating  or associated with intrusions on people’s privacy, but what I find exciting about the QS – the trend behind the wearables race – is that masses of personal data –  when handled ethically – can  help data scientists in tandem with social innovators to find solutions to pressing societal issues – a theme explored during the latest TEDx London. We already have the ability to envision (and in some cases create) smart cities with smart uses of Big Data – if we can use ‘body data’ to benchmark ourselves with others we can also have a ‘smarter’ experience of ourselves.

However, the challenges and potential dangers in terms of this personal data being hackable shouldn’t be ignored –  not to mention considering how wearables factor into the BYOD picture when we are at work. and interestingly the legal sphere, which is often late to the party in terms of addressing some of the challenges that may arise has proven quick to the mark in terms of looking at the risks.

January – events I’m going to

The first of these is a breakfast seminar hosted by Mishcon De Reya on the Defamation Act 2013 –  a the first comprehensive review of libel law since 1843, which should come as a welcome change for reputation managers in the era of ‘social business’. I look forward to sharing with you valuable learnings when I attend the event on 23rd january.

The second is Driven Woman –  a mastermind/networking group – I’ve been looking for a group of this nature for some time to connect with other businesspeople looking to share skills and optimise their development. This one is open to all – taking place on January 20th.

Got any event suggestions? Send me a note in comments or connect with me on Twitter.

Speaking@: The London Agile Content Meetup, 3 Feb

Credit: London Agile Content Meetup

Credit: London Agile Content Meetup

Towards the end of last year I discovered a monthly gathering of content strategists, UX designers, web designers and developers called the London Agile Content Meetup – a network/ideas sharing event  at The Book Club where you can learn from people’s experiences, good and otherwise. I’m interested in once the content is created, exploring where it goes and how it can be used to encourage desirable social actions. This is where influence comes in. So on 3 Feb I am giving a ‘lightning talk’ on Making Friends and Influencing People – alongside  GOV.UK, the Government’s digital team.

Happy new year – back to the blog!

Hello!

It’s great to be back on the blog  – I’ve decided that the new year is an ideal time to start writing about social business again. Things have moved on to quite some degree since my last spell on this site, so I look forward to having a lot to share.

As well as sharing insights on social business, I am also interested in how social data intersects with the political sector and current affairs more broadly, so I look forward to talking a bit about that too.

Enjoy a prosperous and successful new year.