Posts Tagged ‘SCRM’

Event Report: CRM Evolution 2013 – Seven Trends In The Return To Digital Business And Customer Centricity

Market Leaders Refocus On Digital Business and Customer Centricity

The annual gathering of the industry’s top thought leaders, users, and vendors of CRM converged at the Marriott Marquis in New York this past August 19th to 21st.  As with any good conference, the speaker tracks and the corridor conversations provided a glimpse of where market leaders and fast followers planned to make their future investments and provided key insights for 2014.  After speaking with over 100 attendees, the following seven trends emerged from this year’s event:

  1. CRM is dead, well not really. While the term CRM is loosely used to define many things.  Leaders realize that CRM is the technology.  Customer experience is the business process and journey maps.  Customer centricity is a state of mind that’s required of management and leaders.  While customer experience is the new term du jour, all three elements (i.e. technology, business process, and people leadership) are required for success.  Front office is more descriptive than Tom Siebel’s legacy term of CRM.
  2. Customers seek outcomes not products or services. Customers no longer buy products.  Customers expect products to be bundled with services.  Services providers now seek to sell experiences.  Experience providers now sell access to outcomes.  This evolution of what customer’s want and what’s delivered continues to accelerate.  With hipsters and millennials short on cash, access, experiences, and outcomes have emerged as one market category to deliver for in this growing sharing economy.  However, not all customers seek just access. A movement to move too far, will result in a backlash from a majority of customers who seek ownership without the shackles of renting.
  3. Transformation projects now rally behind the shift from social back to digital business. The social business and social crm era focused on a key aspect of CRM – the relationship.  In the past, CRM excelled at management, poorly accomplished customer, and failed at relationship.  Looking back three years,  the rise of social ties back to the need to address relationships.  Now that social moves to the mainstream, market leaders refocus to digital transformation of customer centric initiatives.
  4. Funnels make no sense in an asynchronous world. Classic sales, marketing, and service funnels force fit customers into unrealistic models.  Entry points will ebb and flow as channels and context drive demand into a variety of use cases.  Design must account for this constant state of change.
  5. Big data provides relevancy and context. All the hype on big data continues to miss the point.  Customer centricity requires context.  Context creates relevancy based on a customer’s roles, relationships, products, services, location, time, sentiment, and intent.  Without relevancy, acquisition, targeting, and personalization will fail.
  6. Front office still needs back office integration. Integration with back office is required for customer experience.  A customer who makes an order for a product or service that’s out of stock and billed twice for something they did not receive will most likely be upset.  Customer centricity is both a front office and back office exercise.
  7. Identity plays a key role. Identity plays a multi-faceted role for each individual. The business implications of identity after authentication, authorization, access, and availability touch on commerce, work lives, personal lives, and engagement with each other.  Identity is a unifying factor in the current transformation to a digital world and required for customer centricity.

The Bottom Line: Business Leaders Must Embrace Customer Centricity In Order to Differentiate In A Digital World

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Event Report: Lithium Network Conference 2012 #LiNC

Lithium Technologies Shows Continued Customer Momentum And Success In Social Marketing And Support
To the tune of over 500 customers and prospects, Lithium kicked off LiNC on May 2nd, 2012, at the always stunning Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco.  Compared to previous years, the audience was not only bigger, but also more experienced and energized.  Rob Tarkoff (CEO) and Lyle Fong (Founder & Chief Strategist) kicked off the event with company updates, product road map highlights, and customer progress made over the past year.
Adding to the energy, four compelling case studies graced the morning and highlighted Lithium’s strengths in two distinct and advanced externally focused social CRM (SCRM) use cases: social customer support and marketing.  The wide range of proud customers and brands included Chris Blandy, SVP of Digital Media, Fox; Mark Nichols, Director of Customer Support, Skype; Andrew Leary, EVP & GM, Ipsos; and Steve Young, Sr. Director of Technical Services, Cisco.  During the event, several key announcements were made including:
  • Launch of a new product, Lithium Response. In a top secret OEM partnership, the team unveiled Lithium Response™ a product that enables brands to increase customer satisfaction while reducing costs and improving efficiency in the call center.  Key features include easier processes to turn community conversations from unstructured information to entries into the Lithium Tribal Knowledge Base (TKB), peer-to-peer support and gamification incentives to drive self-service customer resolution, cost effective social-web support, blended contact center capabilities, and mobile enablement.  The product is generally available (GA) in Q3.

    Point of View (POV):
    The OEM’d product comes from a little-known but powerful solution from a privately held, purpose-built social customer care platform.  The product maximizes agent efficiency via categorization, prioritization and queuing, and routing.  The system is smart enough to guide customers to self service by replying with relevant links to community content.  This platform has been battled test with complicated communication service provider (CSP) environments.  Adapted for the Lithium platform, customer can expect a rigorous enterprise class solution that lives up to Lithium’s standards.  Lithium Response™ also takes advantage of Lithium’s access to the Twitter fire hose.  The movement to address multi-channel customer support puts Lithium in unique league with vendors such as Genesys Labs, Kana, and Moxie Software, who can blend contact center and social support.
  • Delivers new release of social marketing. Building on customer feedback, the new Lithium Social Marketing Solution™ focuses on improving engagement.   New features include support for rich media interactions, ad hoc groups, streaming conversations, and a new ratings and reviews module.  A partnership with Shoutlet provides Facebook and Twitter campaign management.  Social engagement is updated to include photo sharing, inline-conversations, groups spaces, and adoption of commons social logins.  The new ratings and reviews module allows community driven content to be included via widgets.  New development tools on iOS improve customer experience in the mobile interface of choice.  The product is now generally available (GA).

    Point of View (POV):
    Customers showed significant interest in the new social marketing solution features.  The ability to improve ratings and reviews is much needed as this has become table steaks in communities and product catalogs.  What’s impressive is the new line of partnerships that align with Lithium’s core strategy.  Instead of building their own content publishing platform for campaigns, Lithium takes advantage of Shoutlet ability to place various types of content easily into the conversation. Partnerships with VMWare’s Socialcast unit allows Lithium’s Social Marketing Solution™ to integrate with internally focused collaboration tools to expedite the concept to product introduction process.
  • Begins concerted global expansion. Lithium announced new APAC headquarters in Singapore which add to its Sydney APAC presence.  Lithium also has a strong presence in EMEA with operations in Paris, Zurich, and London.

    Point of View (POV):
    As the market consolidates through attrition and acquisition, Lithium’s push to get more feet on the ground around the globe is much welcomed by customers.  Lithium needs to expand fast and put its $53M in funding to work to acquire long-term customers in expansion markets.
  • Ups the ante in partnerships and alliances. New partnerships with Ipsos and Geoffrey Moore provide access to market research.  Agency relationships include Sapient Nitro and Acquity group.  Lithium adds software partners such as Shoutlet and VM Ware.  Lithium’s approach is to find a small number but committed set of alliances and partnerships.

    Point of View (POV):
    Lithium’s partnership and alliance program traditionally was the weakest among the major SCRM players.  The addition of Ed Van Siclen, SVP of Global Alliances and BD, brings enterprise class partnerships to the Lithium’s arsenal.  As SCRM matures, key partnerships with major system integrators must be prioritized as well as carefully crafted agency relationships.  Software partnerships back to transactional systems such as ERP, CRM, and master data management will be key to long term success and enterprise adoption.  More importantly, continued alliances with other engagement applications will keep the innovation engine alive for existing customers as they focus on improving engagement.

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Event Report: Clarabridge Customer Connections 2012 #cbc312

Clarabridge “Turns Up The Heat” On Delivering Context For Customer Experience

CEO, Sid Banderjee, opened up Clarabridge‘s 4th annual user conference to 350 customers at the Doral Golf & Spa in Miami, FL on March 5th, 2012.  Clarabridge, a sentiment and text analytics software provider helps companies discern insight from their text based customer feedback and the growing plethora of social and mobile data points.  The goal – aggregation of insights from qualitative analytics that transform key organizational processes in customer experience, new product development, and employee satisfaction.

Clarabridge has shown success with a Global 1000 customer list that spans key verticals in technology/telco, retail/CPG, manufacturing, travel/hospitality, financial services/insurance.  Major clients include Bank of America, Best Buy, Cisco, Dell, Disney, Fidelity, General Mills, Hilton, IHG Hotels, Kaiser Permanente, Marriott, Siemens Sony, T-Mobile, United Airlines, Verizon, Visa, Walgreen’s, Walmart, and Zynga.

Some highlights from the event include:

  • Keynote from customer experience transformist Bruce Temkin. Bruce’s keynote discussed how organizations apply Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs to augment customer experience.  Temkin highlighted his VoC Maturity assessment methodology that drills in on six key areas – detection, dissemination, diagnosis, discussion, designing, and deploying.  The key quote from Bruce was “Customer feedback is cheap, actionable insight may be valuable, but taking action on insight is precious. VoC programs are useless unless you act on what you find”
  • Best practices discussions from Global 1000 companies.Leading brands such as Acer, Best Buy, B/E Aerospace, Charming Shoppes, Choice Hotels International, Inc., Dell Inc, Expedia, Estée Lauder, Fidelity Investments, GE Appliances, United Airlines, Sage, Verizon, Vodaphone, Wendy’s, Walmart, and Zynga shared best practices.   Experiences from Wynn Parrish, VP Product Support of B/E Aerospace showd how customer management and warranty liability could be minimized.  Michael Silverman at Silverman research highlighted how Unilver uses VOC for internal employee programs.  One of the highlights was Jared Anderson (Best Buy) and Jonathan Sunberg’s (Confirmit) panel on voice of the customer at the leading edge/
  • Official details on the Clarabridge 5.0 launch. The launch of Clarabridge 5.0 provides the foundation for a customer insight data analytics hub (See Figure 1).  As part of the launch, Clarabridge Collaborate adds integrated notifications and alerts.  A new satisfaction scoring and sentiment transparency capability brings customer satisfaction scores into the equation to determine customer loyalty and retention programs.  Many attendees expressed interest in the new theme and event detection capabilities which provide custom categorization models to quickly surface new trends.  Last but not least, the natural language processing engine now supports Italian, Dutch, and Japanese.

Figure 1. Transforming Feedback Into Insight


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Executive Profiles: Disruptive Tech Leaders In Social Business – Daniel Debow, Rypple Software

Welcome to an on-going series of interviews with the people behind the technologies in Social Business.  The interviews  provide insightful points of view from a customer, industry, and vendor perspective.  A full list of interviewees can be found here.

Daniel Debow, Co-CEO,  Rypple Software


Biography

Daniel is co-founder and co-CEO of Rypple, a social performance management platform that helps Facebook, Gilt Groupe, and other innovative companies recognize great work, run fast, efficient feedback loops, and coach employees to achieve their goals. A sought after speaker on how social media is changing the workplace, Daniel is a regular contributor to Fortune.com and the Huffington Post. He’s been widely quoted in Wired, the Financial Times, the Economist and Bloomberg Businessweek. He holds a JD/MBA from the University of Toronto and an LLM in Law, Science and Technology from Stanford University.

The Interview

1.  Tell me in 2 minutes or less why Social Computing is changing the world for your customers.

Daniel Debow (DB): Ray, Social Performance Management (what we do) is changing the world for our customers because it takes a dreaded and ineffective process—the performance review—and makes it relevant again.

Over the last decade, the review process has become disconnected from real business performance. By delivering key feedback and information in real-time, rather than in six-month batches, we are helping managers and their teams work more effectively, efficiently, and collaboratively. At the end of the day, this is the core promise of any type of business software: improved business results.

More generally, social computing is effective because in many cases, it is more efficient. While it may seem like an oversimplification, large corporations have succeeded by standardizing the delivery of products and services as they scale. These large-scale standardizations of “process” work incredibly well when it comes to managing supply chains or product pipelines. But when it comes to the management of people, standardization of process has translated into enterprise applications that suck. They remove the “human” from the workplace, and are major contributors to the alienation of people from their work.

In order to get people to the next level, we have to bring the “human” back into the work place. A huge amount of value-creating work gets done outside standard process—through social interaction. Today’s enterprise applications don’t model the corporation this way. But social computing does.

Social computing is about taking the metaphor, modelling the reality, and moving faster. It recognizes that when it comes to people, companies are not simply processes moving mechanistically. Instead, the social computing metaphor reflects more accurately what companies actually are: groups of people talking—and coordinating—with each other to deliver productive goods and services in a highly non-standard world. By recognizing this more accurate representation of the corporation, social computing has the potential to make companies more efficient by optimizing the faster, more natural flow of information between people.

In our case, we’ve found that the interactions related to human performance and getting the most out of people are absolutely social. They involve helping people talk to each other in a more collaborative and real-time way: How do we recognize people in real-time? How do we help managers and teams collaborate on people performance. How do we recognize and account for the reality that managers aren’t omniscient about team performance? How do we get one-on-one’s with the boss to be high impact and frequent? How do we create agile goals that reflect changing business reality rather than reality as it existed six months ago? The answer is social computing, which views a company not as a static org chart and a number of interconnected process flows—but rather as a social network with ad-hoc and ever changing relationships and interactions.

This is the essence of social computing.

2. What makes social computing disruptive?

DB: As with all disruptive technologies it meets three key criteria:

  1. It attacks a problem in an orthogonal way.  Almost all social technology appears at first to be a toy.  Customers don’t asking for them, yet they spread into companies like wild fire.  Users say, “I’d never do this in the enterprise.”
  2. It breaks the price-performance curve on a different scale. In many cases, Rypple included, we make it cheaper to deploy than existing technology.
  3. It appears as an incomplete solution from the perspective of incumbents.  Incumbents will state you don’t have the 1000 features they have.

The telegraph, the phone, and email all changed the number of nodes of communication and improved the flow of information between people. Social technologies take communication to the next level. This isn’t just a technological shift; it’s a societal one. We are taking the same metaphors of openness and transparency that have been used to describe the web and applying them to organizations.

When you value results above internal politics and velocity over caution, you create a more innovative, less hierarchical—and ultimately disruptive—organization.

3.  What is the next big thing in Social Business software?

DB: Recently I was on a panel on the future of the workforce, where I talked about two huge developments on the horizon. The first is the shift from an economy of companies to an economy of individuals, as everyone’s reputation and personal brand moves to the cloud. It will be interesting to see what this means for consumer brands like Nike and Pepsi, and how people interact with them.

The second big shift is the ability of social media to create more meritocratic systems for rating true influence and power within organizations. Cloud-based social applications are asking people to rate one another and provide opinions based on far more objective data than the vague subjective impressions that often determine influence.

As that data migrates to the cloud and becomes portable, it will have profound changes on the labor market. It will transform how we look for talent, where the power resides, and potentially the very nature of the corporation.
As reputation becomes a more objective measure, it will force companies to become more fluid in their hiring practices and their operations.

4.  What are you doing that’s disruptive for Social Computing?

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Executive Profiles: Disruptive Tech Leaders In Social Business – Parker Harris, Salesforce.com

Welcome to an on-going series of interviews with the people behind the technologies in Social Business.  The interviews  provide insightful points of view from a customer, industry, and vendor perspective.  A full list of interviewees can be found here.

Parker Harris, Co-Founder and Executive VP of Technology


Biography

Parker Harris founded salesforce.com along with Marc Benioff, Dave Moellenhoff, and Frank Dominguez in the spring of 1999. As executive vice president, Harris oversees the development of all software for salesforce.com.

Prior to founding salesforce.com, Harris developed Web application and salesforce automation expertise at Left Coast Software, a private consulting company he co-founded, as well as at Metropolis software, an early pioneer in field sales force automation subsequently acquired by Clarify.

He graduated from Middlebury College with a bachelor’s degree in English literature.

The Interview

1. Tell me in 2 minutes or less why Social Computing is changing the world for your customers

Parker Harris (PH): If you think back to classic customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA) way back when, the software was designed for top down and nearer to the organizations you were selling to.  They’d have SFA and management software.  Executives would buy SFA to drive down process and gain some visibility.

Social computing is doing what agile methodology is doing to our process – it’s breaking down our visibility.  By flattening time and space,  social computing and business is unlocking credible potential within business.  For example, individuals and organizations that weren’t connected before are now connected together.   This changes how people work, makes people more productive, and changes the relationship of the org with the customer.

2. What makes social computing disruptive?

(PH): The technology ignores the hierarchy of the corporation.  Social ignores the classic relationship of the customer with corporation.  Customer is now buying directly from the corporation and going to them for help and support or being marketed to.  Instead it’s happening from a number of different angles.  People are being marketed to for games in their interactions with friends from FaceBook.  Those trying to get support for their iPhones don’t’ necessary trust their carriers so they ask their friends for help.

As a company, we see the consumerization of the world happen.  These disruptive technologies start in the consumer space.  Amazon was disruptive to eCommerce.  We looked at that model and said how can that happen to business.  Facebook has changed how people interact with each other.  In the busienss world, they are changing how they are working with each other and the customer.  This is quite disruptive.  Social challenges classical work structures and the hierarchies of management.  Social challenges the decision making structure and challenges the classic customer relationship chains and how they work.  We are in the middle of that revolution.  We are building technology to keep up with what’s happening in the world.  It’s transforming the way people are working.  We’re bringing the enterprise to the world.

3. What is the next big thing in Social Business?

(PH): The next big thing is starting with how a company connects its employees to each other.  The goal – make them more effective at their work.  There is both a portal approach and a community solution.  On the community level, you are connecting external people to your company.  Just as I see the firewalls in a company go away, the idea that there is some wall between your company and the rest of the world is slowly disappearing.  This will happen with the pervasiveness of social.

As you put it, individuals are becoming more important. Individuals will be working with colleagues both inside and outside of their company.  We bring different social bonds with each context of our engagement.  All of the hand offs today are coarse but in the future, this will feel like a fluid relationship.  It won’t feel like you are shifting gears between companies and shifting into the consumer place from where social is going. Talking to a friend about dinner, you already shift between these worlds.

What’s big?  Facebook is doing some of this already.  I talked to David Sacks on what Yammer is doing. They are supporting OpenGraph.  You’ll start to see this giant web and all the different players playing in it.  Eventually this will become an open world or open system.  As a result,  not any one company or system or technology will win.

Keep in mind, the Internet was born as an open standard and started from the military.  How do we get new things like this that are open where everyone adopts.  The big thing for me is openness and the connective tissue being created as walls are going down.  Walls to your house, company, school, and new groups are forming.  Why can’t I create a social group and bring you into that when I’m selling. If I had a lawyer involved and we were acquiring a company, why can’t we get them all involved and share things.  This fluid nature of groups is what excites me.

4. What are you doing that’s disruptive for Social Business?

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Executive Profiles: Disruptive Tech Leaders In Social Business – Alan F. Nugent, Mzinga, Inc

Welcome to an on-going series of interviews with the people behind the technologies in Social Business.  The interviews  provide insightful points of view from a customer, industry, and vendor perspective.  A full list of interviewees can be found here.

Alan F. Nugent, CEO Mzinga, Inc


Biography

Alan (Al) Nugent is the Chief Executive Officer of Mzinga. He joined the company in early 2010 as CTO-in-residence to facilitate the production release of Mzinga’s flagship product, OmniSocial, and serves on the company’s board of directors.   A highly accomplished software industry veteran, he brings more than 30 years of experience in strategic management and technology innovation to his role as CEO.  Prior to Mzinga, he was executive vice president and Chief Technology Officer at CA, Inc., where he was responsible for setting the strategic technology direction for the company.  Other executive roles include senior vice president and CTO of Novell, executive vice president, CTO, and CIO of Vectant, Inc., senior vice president, CTO, and CIO at American Re-Insurance Company, and SVP and CTO at Xerox Corporation.  Al also participated in the formation of three successful startup companies in the 1980s and began his 30-year career at Hewlett-Packard Company.

Al is an instrument-rated private pilot and has played professional poker for the past three decades. In his sparse spare time, he enjoys rebuilding older American muscle cars and motorcycles, collecting antiquarian books, epicurean cooking, and has passion for cellaring American and Italian wines.  Al is the independent member of the Board of Directors of Adaptive Computing in Provo, UT and a member of several technology advisory boards. He is a frequent writer on business and technology topics and has shared his thoughts and expertise at many industry events throughout the years.

The Interview

1. Tell me in 2 minutes or less why Social Computing is changing the world for your customers?

Al Nugent (AN): It’s not just changing the world for our customers, but all customers, whether they know it or not.  Organizations recognize that their customers now have a voice that they never had before.  The customer voice carries an incredible echo and resonates in ways a single voice never could before.  Companies have to take a proactive approach in dealing with their customers or they will be forced to react.  This is the difference. If the  customer want to be proactive, the company has got to get out ahead of these customers and every interaction they are aware of.  The alternative -  have a customer bash me on twitter and I have to clean up.  This realization has caused our customers both existing, prospective and others to wake up to this new voice and respond to it.

2. What makes social computing disruptive? (Why is this disruptive in general for the enterprise)

(AN): This breaks the model for what typical enterprise solutions have all been about. Legacy apps  have been carefully controlled from  a cultural perspective.  Let me pick on one category – CRM solutions.  If you remember, CRM was about dealing with the customer better.  But in the end, all the users wanted to do was control the relationship with the customer and put an inside out approach.

Social computing turns everything around and forces you to deal with what’s going on outside the enterprise. It doesn’t quite scale or integrate as easily as it should.  The integration can cause conflicts.  This is an example of a good news versus bad news scenario.  Bottom line – we have to shift to proactiveness.

3. What is the next big thing in Social Business software?

(AN): The next big thing is not the technologies.  It’s about the analytics.  BI is the euphemism that crosses all over interesting activities, processes, and practices. This is the lens that makes businesses happen.  We will see an adoption of different social technologies and the analytics will be the glue that brings it together.  I would also say mobility plays a big role in the next wave.  Mobility will serve more than just a platform technology.  Another area will include delivering a horizontal set of core services that tie back to role based applications.  Overtime, the industry will create an integrated set of services that manifests as a platform.

4. What are you doing that’s disruptive for Social Computing?

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Executive Profiles: Disruptive Tech Leaders In Social Business – David Sacks, Yammer

Welcome to an on-going series of interviews with the people behind the technologies in Social Business.  The interviews  provide insightful points of view from a customer, industry, and vendor perspective.  A full list of interviewees can be found here.

David Sacks, Founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board Yammer Inc.

Biography

David is the Founder and CEO of Yammer, Inc. He has been involved in the internet space for ten years as an entrepreneur, executive and investor, starting with PayPal in 1999. David was PayPal’s Chief Operating Officer and product leader, taking the company from startup to IPO and eventual sale to eBay for $1.5 billion. Subsequently, he founded Geni.com, which is creating a family tree of the whole world, enabling millions of family members to connect, share, and preserve their lives. He also produced and financed the movie “Thank You For Smoking.” He has a B.A. in Economics from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.

The Interview

1. Tell me in 2 minutes or less why Social Computing is changing the world for your customers

David Sacks (DS): Social networking has had a profound impact on the way people connect, communicate and get information in their personal lives. Yammer provides an analogous approach in the enterprise, but as a private, secure business tool. Enterprise social networking is changing the way businesses collaborate, leverage knowledge and share information, both internally and with important customers and partners. It is already having a transformational impact within many leading companies, and we are just scratching the surface.

2. What makes social computing disruptive?

(DS): The flow of knowledge, ideas and information is severely broken within many mid to large organizations. We hear from companies all the time that traditional enterprise systems are not addressing many of the fundamental communication and collaboration challenges they are facing, such as connecting and aligning employees and teams across locations, enabling mobile workers, and improving responsiveness and support for customers regardless of location.

Enterprise social networking helps businesses become more collaborative, nimble, and responsive to customer needs. It can break down silos and enable information to flow into and within a company more freely. It can also flatten organizations allowing ideas and expertise to come from anywhere.

There’s an old saying that knowledge is power. That implies you achieve power by hoarding knowledge and information. We’ve flipped the paradigm on its head and now the power comes from the value of sharing and being collaborative. This concept in itself can be quite disruptive, but is what many leading companies are trying to achieve.

3. What is the next big thing in Social Business software?

(DS): One area is greater integration. Today, there are generally two approaches. Some vendors are building social networks into specific line of business applications, which results in multiple social networks within a company. We believe this approach causes fragmentation and dilutes overall business value. Yammer’s strategy is to deliver a best-of-breed social layer across enterprise systems of record, such as – content management, CRM, finance, etc. Yammer’s approach puts people at the center and gives them easy access to knowledge and expertise of co-workers and to relevant information from systems of record. This is a powerful combination that drives greater individual and organizational productivity.

Another area is use of external private social networks for B2B collaboration. We are seeing a lot of interest and virtually limitless use cases in this area. For example, Razorfish uses external Yammer networks to collaborate more closely with clients. Molson Coors uses external networks to foster an active alumni network of brand ambassadors. With Yammer, it is simple to set up these separate, secure external networks and easily toggle between them. One customer called this capability the “20-second extranet,” because of the speed in which he was able to set it up. B2B collaboration is the next great frontier for enterprise social networking.

4. What are you doing that’s disruptive for Social Computing?

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Executive Profiles: Disruptive Tech Leaders In Social Business – David Bankston, INgage Networks

Welcome to an on-going series of interviews with the people behind the technologies in Social Business.  The interviews  provide insightful points of view from a customer, industry, and vendor perspective.  A full list of interviewees can be found here.

David Bankston, Executive Vice-President and CTO, INgage Networks


Biography

David Bankston is the co-founder and chief technology officer for INgage Networks. He’s a pioneer in the software industry, leading the design, development, and supporting the execution of one of the first Software as a Service (SaaS) products on the market. Specializing in software integration and technical innovation, David has devoted much of his career to creating advanced technologies specifically designed to solve real world business problems. In 2008, U.S. Black Engineer and Information Technology Magazine honored him as a Modern-Day Technology Leader.

Prior to INgage Networks, David’s technology career included 15 years at LexisNexis where he was responsible for many innovations that are still in use today. He builds upon his real world experience as an international speaker and an adjunct professor at Ohio’s Antioch University McGregor.

The Interview

1. Tell me in 2 minutes or less why Social Computing is changing the world for your customers

David Bankston (DB): I’m going to use a customer reference to answer this question.  Think of American Express. They are a 150 year old blue-chip company.  In 2008, AMEX launched Open Forum on our INgage platform. Openforum.com provides a place for AMEX small business card holders to network, connect and learn. It’s a new “social marketplace.” You can see businesses engaging in conversation with each other. This is a social marketplace of the future. It’s very cool, very slick, and there’s nothing like it and it’s very disruptive.

2. What makes social computing disruptive?

DB: If you look at the world today, every good business has to now stop and listen to what their customers are saying. How does your business become a part of the social dialogue that’s happening around the brand?  How do you tap into that 24/7 discussion to stay relevant?  What worked in the past is no longer a solid indication of what’s going to make your business thrive in the future. A business must disrupt its current thinking. Social computing means more interaction and more openness than ever before. And what’s really different – is that it’s generally out there for everyone to see.

3. What is the next big thing in Social Business software?

DB: What’s really needed now is cloud-based social collaboration software optimized for tablets. It’s becoming clear that tablets are making its way into the enterprise. People are moving to simple intuitive interfaces. Existing solutions like SharePoint are often overkill. Remember upgrading from Office 2007 to Office 2010?  Sometimes all you want to do is write a Word document, but now the buttons are moved around and some are even missing or buried in other menus – and unneeded buttons clutter up the interface. Productivity actually dropped for a good period of time before you got the hang of the new layout. Contrast that with a tablet interface and the learning curve. Most people know what they are doing after about 10 minutes on a tablet. Productivity goes up – not down. Many actions are a finger tap away. Menus only have buttons you need in context of the current actions you are performing. For simple everyday tasks, It’s a better and faster way to work.

INgage is working hard to spearhead the merger between the traditional desktop collaboration suites and the simple but limited tablet-based document sharing applications. We think it’s what the market is missing – and we look forward to sharing more about this development in the fall.

4. What are you doing that’s disruptive for Social Computing?

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Monday’s Musings: A Working Vendor Landscape For Social Business

Confusion Persists In The Social Business Market

As with any new disruptive technology, the social business solution landscape faces a dynamic, confusing, and converging market. As vendors seek to grab mind share and market share, customers and prospects remain confused as to what are the right business problems to address with social business. However, rampant confusion among users hampers efforts to solve business issues. Three key factors accelerate this level of confusion:

  1. Early adopter market. Constantly changing conditions force customers to alter original plans as executive sponsorship fluctuates from intense to pensive and back to intense in short cycles. Projects remain secretive for competitive advantage reasons. Consequently, prospects lack strong case studies to build off of despite peer groups, adoption networks. Prospects seek metrics that matter and relevant use cases.
  2. Consumerization of IT. With increased social media penetration, success in consumer grade products highlight the potential for enterprise adoption. However, most enterprise class products remain one to two generations behind in achieving similar capabilities. As business users gravitate towards simple, scalable, and sexy attributes; IT departments seek to rein in shadow IT efforts with safety, security, and sustainability requirements.
  3. Marketing mayhem. Fast paced markets always generate hype in marketing messages. Hence, legacy collaboration, community platform, CRM, unified communications, integration platform, and office productivity vendors seek to reposition themselves and address the emerging and trendy social business use cases customers seek.

Social Business Vendors Converge Towards Business Value Sweet Spot

The vendor landscape for social business market represents a diverse and broad collection of solutions.  Vendors approach the market from multiple heritage points, technologies, and markets.  Four key criteria cut across two axes (see Figure 1):

  1. External facing vs internal facing.  External facing includes customers, partners, and suppliers.  Internal facing include employees and trusted networks within the corporate firewall.
  2. Platforms and infrastructure vs purpose built solutions.  Platforms and infrastructure referred to core technology solutions.  Purpose built solutions address specific applications.

Figure 1. Social Business Vendors Converge Towards Business Value Sweet Spot (Working Draft)

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Executive Profiles: Disruptive Tech Leaders In Social Business – Charlie Isaacs, Alcatel-Lucent

Welcome to an on-going series of interviews with the people behind the technologies in Social Business.  The interviews  provide insightful points of view from a customer, industry, and vendor perspective.  A full list of interviewees can be found here.

Charlie Isaacs, eServices and Social Media Engineering, Alcatel Lucent


Biography

Charlie Isaacs has a track record of R&D leadership, starting with GTE (eventually became Verizon), where he served as Vice President of Engineering and headed a group of over 200 engineers working on Government and commercial applications. Following GTE, Mr. Isaacs held R&D leadership positions at Answer Systems (acquired by Computer Associates), and served as Chief Technology Officer at Broad Daylight (sold to Primus) and at Primus Knowledge Systems until Primus’ acquisition by ATG. Charlie served as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Customer Officer at Kana Software, Inc. Mr. Isaacs holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara and an MBA from California Lutheran University. When Charlie left KANA in 2009 and prior to joining Alcatel-Lucent, he developed and delivered a Social Media strategy for two different companies. Charlie has over 15 years of CRM experience.

The Interview

1. Tell me in 2 minutes or less why Social Computing is changing the world for your customers?

Charlie Isaacs (CI): Our customers are recognizing that their customers are extremely well-armed with information required to get the best deal possible, and to make the best buying decision based on accurate and trusted sources–their friends, influencers, and trusted advisors. Our customers are recognizing that they have to need to possess the same information that their customers are using, which includes information about their competition. They also know that their customers have zero tolerance for a bad customer experience and will go elsewhere if they can’t get instant help on a problem that arises, or if anything in the buying process becomes difficult. Our know that they need to use every channel and every vehicle possible to respond to their customers needs because each demographic relies on a different social communication mechanism, and some demographics might jump from channel to channel and social outlet to social outlet. At the same time we are finding that we (Alcatel-Lucent Genesys) have an unfair competitive advantage because when the customers have a huge issue they just want to talk to a human immediately, and few companies offer every channel and every social capability combined with instant voice communication.

2.What makes social computing disruptive?

(CI): Social Computing is disruptive because it is a huge equalizer. Companies selling products and services no longer have the upper hand. If they are selling a crappy product or service the word will get out immediately. Talk about transparency–companies become transparent whether they want to or not. This is disrupting the way companies do business, they way consumers shop, and the way customers are supported.

3. What is the next big thing in Social Business software?

(CI): The next big thing is product-orient social. (I call it object-oriented social, but I have been accused of being a nerd for doing so.) With product-oriented social technology the product is aware of who you are, why you are standing in front of it, and what you are trying to do with it–and the “product” will help you accomplish your goal. For example, if you are standing in front of a TV set at Walmart and you can’t find a store clerk to help you, you should be able to wave your mobile phone across the TV and have it deliver a custom menu that provides you with answers to your questions. The menu should allow you to find an expert instantly (anywhere in the world.) It should help you buy the TV and have it delivered to your house. This “next big thing app” should provide you with comparison shopping and if it finds a cheaper TV down the street at Best Buy, you should be offered a coupon by Walmart to keep you in the store. The coupon should allow you to price match, give you loyalty points for buying the TV, or whatever the analytics indicate that the offer should provide to you at that moment. The next big thing app should automatically scan your friends network for others who have bought this TV (depending on privacy settings) and you should be able to reach out to that friend for a review or for help understanding how it works. And finally, after you have bought the TV, if it breaks a year later you should be able to scan that TV with your smartphone again and it should give you troubleshooting steps or information about your warranty or service.

4. What are you doing that’s disruptive for Social Computing?

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Executive Profiles: Disruptive Tech Leaders In Social Business – Lyle Fong, Lithium Technologies

Welcome to an on-going series of interviews with the people behind the technologies in Social Business.  The interviews  provide insightful points of view from a customer, industry, and vendor perspective.  A full list of interviewees can be found here.

Lyle Fong, CEO & Co-Founder Lithium Technologies

Biography

Lyle Fong is the CEO & Co-Founder of Lithium Technologies, helping great companies build a brand nation and delivering the next generation of customer relationships.

Prior to starting Lithium Technologies, Lyle co-founded GX Media, where he was the CTO. He drove the development of Gamers.com, which was rated the #1 independent gaming portal by Nielsen NetRatings. Lyle was instrumental in raising a total of $15M in funding led by CMGI, negotiating multi-million dollar technology licensing deals with Dell, Sony, AltaVista, and Ziff- Davis, and spearheading the spin-off of Lithium Technologies.

The Interview

1. Tell me in 2 minutes or less why Social Computing is changing the world for your customers

Lyle Fong (LF:) Social computing is more than a communication and social media revolution and it’s more than a set of technologies. Customers expectations have fundamentally changed and they are continuing to evolve and mature. At its core social computing allows companies to rapidly react to the changes in behaviors and expectations.

We have traditionally seen two routes for companies stepping into this space. Usually organizations started with a support community platform, then went to expand outwards, connecting on Facebook. Its not long before they realize it’s not enough – they need a more comprehensive way of managing customer conversations across social networks and web site as opposed to a silo community. More recently we have seen many companies jumping into a Facebook fan page, collecting lots of fans, but soon realizing that there was a need for much deeper conversations between the company and their customers. Organizations were shouting at their customers with PR and ads. The result – organizations were pushing customers away, exactly the opposite of their intention. This time around we are breaking down the walls. You have to ask, “What happens when we treat customers as part of the company?” We are now watching our customers embrace that and create amazing results.

2. What makes social computing disruptive?

LF: Let’s dig deeper into customer behaviors and expectations.  They are not just highly connected, they are always connected.  People are spending more time online more than watching TV.  Customers participating in social media now surpasses porn as the #1 activity on the web.  This pervasive level of communication through Twitter followers and Facebook friends, means that customers have unparalleled access to information, and they trust each others opinions, not that of the company.  So, how do we engage them?  This topic is beyond technology and beyond social computing.

Our customers are basically disrupting their own businesses, re-engineering themselves with new business models.  One of them has 30,000 employees and are figuring out any way to disrupt themselves as they don’t get disrupted by up and coming and competitors.  The adoption is quick – for TomTom, they had 20,000 cases handled and $150,000 return within two weeks of launch.  Brands start by asking, “How do we build a new relationship with our customer?” We even have customers, like giffgaff/O2 in the UK, who engineered themselves to not need a call center/support team, everything is dealt with by the community, fast. 90% of questions are answered in under 5 minutes – a great outcome for a national wireless telcom!

3. What is the next big thing in Social Business software?

LF: Beyond social, brands are keen to move beyond Facebook and Twitter. Right now the technology is only a small piece of what’s needed to enable the transactions. Hence, the socialnomics quote  “The ROI of social is that your business will still be around in 5 years” — is becoming more valid. The next wave of innovations, case studies, and stories will showcase organizations making strategic transformative moves hand in hand with their best and most passionate customers. This whole move will be all around the social customer. We have many stories to share – The Home Depot, Best Buy, Verizon, AT&T, – we just launched Skype across 8 languages – Sephora tells us their superfans spend 10X more then regular customers – the list goes on.  Seeing more and more companies achieve this goal is what’s inspiring!

We see a lot of failures coming from those providers that address social customer solutions with a technology.   They don’t realize that the motivation for an internal employee is far different than what motivates a customer.  For example, who has the most capability for damaging your brand on the social web?   You better hope it’s not your employees.  Moving forward, brands must work with business partners that truly understand how to embrace and reward the social customer.

4. What are you doing that’s disruptive for Social Computing?

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Executive Profiles: Disruptive Tech Leaders In Social Business – Tony Zingale, Jive Software

Welcome to an on-going series of interviews with the people behind the technologies in Social Business.  The interviews  provide insightful points of view from a customer, industry, and vendor perspective.  A full list of interviewees can be found here.

Tony Zingale - CEO, Jive Software

Biography

As CEO of Jive Software, Tony’s responsible for overseeing the company’s overall strategic direction, planning and execution. He currently sits on the boards of Jive Software, McAfee Software, Coverity and Service Source.

Tony brings nearly 30 years of experience building profitable, high growth information technology companies. He most recently served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Mercury Interactive, the worldwide leader of Business Technology Optimization (BTO) solutions. Tony successfully grew Mercury to over $1B in annual sales and then engineered the $5B merger with Hewlett Packard which was completed at the end of 2006.

Tony holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical and computer engineering and a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from the University of Cincinnati. He is a member of the University of Cincinnati Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

The Interview

1. Tell me in 2 minutes or less why Social Computing is changing the world for your customers

Tony Zingale (TZ): We’re entering a new way to work and do business. We’re applying the right parts of the social consumer technology innovations over the last few years to the enterprise. Social Business is not about having fun, connecting with friends, or looking at photos. It’s about getting work done more effectively and making it more collaborative, engaging and rewarding. We have seen wide adoption across all industries, and not just with the tech workers. Industries such as consumer retail, health care, and financial services are all looking to change the way they work with Social Business. This change is disruptive and widely adopted.

Our customers see a strong business value statement behind this adoption. Some benefits of internal communities include a 40% increase in employee connectedness, 30% more ideas being generated, 30% less email and 30% increase in employee satisfaction as they get connected — and being connected means more retention.

On the external side, customers are reporting 30% higher brand awareness, as well as big cost savings from the decrease in support call volumes — first call deflection because a customer resolves one anothers problems. We see better sales across sales teams, sharing of sales materials (normally) stuck in portals and content management systems. Customers just seem to buy more products and services whether at Nike, VMware, Charles Schwab, and others. Social is delivering real business value.

2. What makes social computing disruptive?

(TZ): Enterprise productivity or the work environment that the enterprise utilizes to be productive is broken. We’ve had no innovations in the enterprise in last 15 years! The last breakthrough was CRM. Cloud in general is also great but it’s a delivery vehicle.  The enterprise has been broken and is idea bankrupt.

Why? First and foremost reason is this incapability to be disruptive because there is a void of something new in the enterprise.  What we see in our personal lives is much more powerful.  For example, you tweeted before our meeting.  Facebook, Open Table, and Yelp! are all on smart phones.  We go to work and it is anything but productive and ubiquitous. This is why Social is so disruptive. It changes how we work to be more collaborative and  puts us in touch with our community base.  People want to get to the expertise to get their job done. They don’t care who’s on the org chart.  If they have meaningful information that’s what we care about.

For me personally, I’ve been a CEO, retired, and on boards. It took something this dramatic to get me back into the game. I’m excited about this disruption. The change we’re seeing is not just with innovative brands but with large traditional brands, who are embracing it because of a dirth in productivity in the enterprise apps market.  This is what’s disruptive. We thirst for the productivity of what we have experienced in the last 5 years in our personal lives.

3. What is the next big thing in Social Business software?

(TZ): We are still early on. Having met with Geoffrey Moore, he would say and I would confirm that we are still in the chasm.  Although we have 3000 customers across all the industries and 15 million users and internal employees in social or external communities, we have embraced the early adopters and the innovators. The tornado hasn’t happened yet but the clouds have moved in.

Social can be very noisy if it’s not filtered.  We need to get the right info from the right people or community at the right time.  It would be nice if important or relevant information was recommended to me because I missed something.  We will see a lot of focus on big data and enterprise social graphs that deliver content proactively and intelligently to improve communications. To the tune of the business metrics described earlier, this is why we bought Proximal Labs — we believe that the future of work is personalized by delivering the right information to the right person at the right time.

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