Social Computing; enabling the conversation

The Orange Live event had several really great keynote’s with a particular highlight being Peter Sondargaard. A common theme through the keynotes was Social Computing and engaging with both customers and also generation Y as they enter the workforce. As a result Sondargaard pointed out, if you have any policy to block access to sites that encourage the conversation then you need to remove them pretty quickly.

So this almost constant mention of social computing and the importance of the conversation inspired some people to come along and check out the social media team at the event and find out what was happening and how. Several customers called in and asked to speak to people who could help them engage with their customers and we were more than willing to help. We also had a participant who owned the communication channel between his business and his top 35 customers and asked if we could help him engage and take the communication with his top customers to a new level, exciting stuff.

I’m sure we could learn more about social computing and having the 10 external bloggers who’ve links to initiatives such as Amplified, Organic and Media Aces it certainly helped me to expand my horizons as to what can be achieved and how. Maybe next year one of the breakout sessions will be social computing and we’ll get a chance to take the time to explain directly to the Execs present exactly what we’re doing at Orange Business, if you can’t wait till then get in touch or simply leave a comment.

business, trust and the death of email

The post a matter of trust in business sparked a few conversations which is awesome, one of the longer discussions was worth turning into a post to continue the conversation online and keep a record of it;

As email slides out of favor it’s being replaced by social computing, generation Y are starting to enter the workplace and we’re faced with a change in our communication behavior. We’re seeing email replaced by IM and microblogging, documents being created collaboratively on wiki’s or gen Y’s equivalent Google Wave. Right now internal tools are often poor relations of newer cloud based tools that gen Y are already using. As we just mentioned, the wiki is a prime example compare it to Google’s Wave product; one does collaborative editing by a sinlge user, one at a time and the other multi-user collaborative editing in real time, using a wiki after Google wave is like going back from the MP3 to the CD.

As result, social computing will break down the barriers between corporations and it’s customers, discussions will take place on blogs, Twitter, in Facebook, in the open which will and should involve collaboration from people outside the organisation.

Lot’s of big brands have engaged in social computing for their benefit, but in order to maintain the relationship, it’s important that the customers trusts the organisation. The example in the blog post, the pizza company, although not the greatest example there’s plenty of better ones, deomostrates that taking part in the conversation with customers can provide a clear benefit to both.

Therefore it must be transparent communication, no hidden agendas, as every fact can be checked quicker and in more depth that the corporate world can imagine. This conversation, this dialogue based on trust will turn customers into advocates for your products, look how many videos there are for products such as the iPhone on YouTube, most if not all are created by people who have a passion for the company and it’s products, not by the manufacturer.

How does this fit if you’re a services business like Orange Business and not a product based business you may ask, as a suggestion, I’d start be exposing the product guys to customers and encourage the conversation so that the new products are anticipated and eagerly awaited and are exactly what customers want and to do all this requires …trust.

photo from Benjamin Ellis

also posted here on Orange Business Live

a matter of trust in business

A keynote from Peter Sondergaard SVP Gatner, ended with the phrase “may the computing force be with you” but spent a great deal of time covering the topic of social computing and trust. In terms of social computing and it’s clearly ‘much more than just adding a Facebook logo to your web site’ was a key message from Gartner, a hugely respected thermometer of trends, was “do not put in place a policy or technology to inhibit this”, those that do will be big losers.

The example of a major Norwegian packaged food manufacturer was used and a little know fact that 18% of Norwegians eat pizza on Christmas eve. The IT department had engaged with its consumers and was talking parts in conversations with them. As a result of engaging with it’s customers a signal was picked up that ‘paprika’ was not liked in many of its pizza products. This signal identified through trusting the IT department to engage led to the development of a product that excludes ‘paprika’. This paprika-less pizza has gone on to be the biggest selling product in the range.

The trend of social computing was the number one trend highlighted by Gartner, the ability to engage the consumer and allow them to contribute to the business is not to be ignored. Technology can enable trust to be managed, revisit behaviors as the world is changing

also posted on the Orange Business Live Blog


ignore these technologies at your peril

The keynote of Gartner’s SVP, Peter Sondergaard, highlighted how the priorities of business have changed within a short period of time. Gartner identified that in 2009 the top 3 technologies were Virtualisation, Business Inteligence and cloud computing. Looking at the top three in 2010 brings a change in those technologies which are priorities to; Cloud Computing, Advanced Analytics and Client computing.

The first technology not to avoid is Cloud computing, a major technology trend is seeing huge investment, with Gartner expecting that within just a few short years, up to 20% of businesses will own no IT assets, highlighting a major shift to the cloud and managed services. Virtulisation of the client’s environment is becoming a route to cloud computing, so in affect is stepping stone to cloud computing.

Avoiding this second technology is a bad idea, Advanced Analytics. This is allowing businesses to realise that potentially the Meta data they have may be the most valuable asset. Gartner indicates that the current crops of business analysis models are outmoded and need replacing, as unstructured data becomes key data. The credit card business were highlighted as how the meta data they have is allowing them to make business decisions and subsequently offers to consumers not based on spend amounts, but how credit limits can be adjust by life style changes such as divorce even.

The third technology not to avoid is client computing; Peter Sondergaard challenged perceptions with the statement that by 2014 80% of users in western world and affluent users in emerging markets will have a smart phone. This shift to client computing requires businesses to change how they interact not only with it’s consumers but also its employees as they demand access to application to interact with the business via their Smartphone.

also posted on Orange Business Live Blog