Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Customer Centricity on Steroids with Agile Commerce

August 10, 2011

Over the years the term of “Customer Centricity” has been the buzz word for retail organizations. Retailers are now focusing on operations to optimize the customer relationship.  This includes setting up as many touch points within the store and via web and print media as possible.  However, as we move into a social networking paradigm the term of “Agile Commerce” is taking hold and it has a lot to offer retailers on how they take “Customer Centricity” to the next level.

Many retailers recognize the need for visibility everywhere their customers are, but most don’t really know how to do this yet.  As a result, far too many retailers attempt to fit old-school marketing tactics to these new touch points. Display ads on social networks, non-conversational Twitter streams full of nothing but brand announcements, one-time deals attempting to buy fans–are (simply put) square pegs, and hammer as marketers might otherwise think, these types of online marketing programs just cannot fit  in round hole

The key to Agile Commerce is to deliver targeted content effortlessly and seamlessly across multiple touch points such as email, smartphones, social media, websites, print media, and within the four walls of the store.

But how is that accomplished when the constant spread of social means the number of these touch points increases every day?

One rudimentary answer would be to deeply understanding a customer’s needs, and proactively delivering content that meets those needs. Retailers must now “operationalize” customer intelligence across channels from existing systems such as customer relationship management, web analytics, business intelligence, and data warehouses. 

Forward thinking retailing CIO’s are beginning to tackle this issue and those that are not will place their organizations at a competitive disadvantage. 

Forrester Research has best described Agile Commerce as “... not just an incremental change; it’s a metamorphosis to a new form of operations and technology orientation. While the pieces and capabilities of an agile commerce operation may look similar to those focused for years on multichannel commerce, it’s how they come together and how the organization responds to the customer that represents the significant change. With the advent of agile commerce, organizations need to reconfigure resources and capabilities to stay ahead of the rate of change as consumer technology adoption and behaviors change. The customer is now at the center, and delivering relevant content, commerce, and service is the key to delivering on the new reality.”

So the big question is: How do you begin to develop and execute a strategy to better meet the needs of this new paradigm? 

Stay tuned, in my next post I will start to lay out the foundation that needs to be established and the tools that are now available to maximize the relationship with your customer.

Want a Successful IT Transformation Project? Try tweeting, texting and blogging…

March 10, 2011

In the not so distant past, IT Transformation efforts utilized email and communication managers to communicate updates to the employees of an organization. This was only as effective as the communications manager and leadership team ability to keep the mechanism moving. This method of communicating primarily only allowed for one way communication – normally taking the shape of progress reports, status reports or issue reports.

The introduction of Facebook has changed the way we communicate electronically from a one-way to two-way communication to the masses. The ability to get real-time feedback from a small group or from millions of people on a comment, idea, or thought has transformed the way we as a people tend to communicate. Twitter has pushed this concept even further, people now have the ability to “follow” specific people or discussions. Now when one person states their opinion, status or issue, it is heard by hundreds, thousands or even millions of people.

With the advent of social networking, an ordinary person has the ability to reach large numbers of people with minimal effort and resources. And the people you reach have an opportunity to talk back and share their opinions. The power to sway mass opinion is now available to everyone. Companies have recognized this phenomenon and have tapped into this network. At first, most companies viewed this as just another form of feedback or input on their performance. But remember, true social networking is a “two-way” communication. Smart companies have recognized this and are using social media outlets to talk directly with their end consumers, with minimal efforts and cost.

The question has always been asked as to why IT Transformation projects fail and the most common answer after all of the dust has settled is that they fail due to a lack of communication. The second reason they fail is due to a lack of communication and the third reason they fail is a due to a lack of communication. I know it’s redundant, but there is no other reason! Today’s generation are more likely to communicate via Twitter, Facebook and texting than they are by email. Companies undergoing an IT Transformation need to take a page from this generation’s playbook and establish a two-way dialog during their IT Transformation initiatives.

So the question is “How?” Most companies do not want their internal transformation initiatives on Facebook or Twitter.  A good solution is the use of Microsoft SharePoint–a platform that allows companies can create a discussion dialog that allows people to communicate with the Transformation Team and with each other. Not the same as Facebook, but users can “write on a SharePoint wall.” You can also use internal Web Pages that support Blogs or Forums that provide similar functionality.

Almost every company uses some form of internal / external Instant Messenger (IM). Although this is not the same a Twitter, you can simulate some of Twitter’s functionality. As long as your IM software will deliver messages to offline people when they log in, it will function like a “tweet.” In addition, most IM software will allow you to create “chat rooms” that will allow people to communicate with each other on-line and with your Transformation Team.

Now once the tools are in place the Transformation team MUST ALSO use them. The worst thing that can happen is that when people send questions to the team and those questions go unanswered which can also allow rumors to spread across the organization without being addressed. Remember, smart companies are already using social networking tools to reach their end consumer. And really smart companies are turning Social Networking into a mechanism to reduce risk on their mission critical IT Transformation projects.

CIO Movement from Cost to Profit and Social Media?

September 23, 2010

The concept of moving IT from a cost center to a profit center is still fairly new for most companies with the notable exceptions of Google, Facebook, Neilsen and the major telcos. But the role of the CIO is transcending its traditional function of automating and enabling other aspects of the business to driving profit utilizing the data that it is the steward of.

The CIO needs to possess strategic business smarts and superb operational ability. The ability to be able to work with the operational units in devising ways to look at the data that they have an monetize it effectively. Most business become aggregators of data, the ability to monetize those assets is becoming a crucial keeping a profitable business. The companies that understand this are looking at their CIOs and saying, “You own the data now help figure out how we can make money off this — or make more money off it.”

Wireless carriers are starting to realize they can monetize all matter of data collected from mobile users — specifically data that highlights their movement habits. According to MIT Technology Review, researchers and marketers are finding plenty of new uses for call detail records, or CDRs — which allow them to study a mountain of user behavior data. That data can be used by researchers or city planners to study travel behavior — but it’s likely going to be a gold mine on the marketing behavioral front.

The digitization of business assets– in concert with the rise of social media and networking as the vehicles of choice for reaching customers — increasingly puts IT at the center of the business’ marketing effort. It is now becoming very difficult in some organizations to tell the difference between the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Information Officer.

Harnessing Social Media – A new market for the CIO

July 12, 2010

In my last blog posting I spoke about how CIOs need to focus more on revenue generation than cost cutting. In this post I want to talk a little about how CIOs need to embrace social media and find ways to access new markets for their organizations through social media channels.  A study produced by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland sheds some light on this elusive topic.

The study concluded that American college students are social media addicts (tethered a Blackberry, iPhone, computer laptop, television, and iPods, etc.). When they were cut off from using social media for just 24 hours, students described having symptoms associated with drug and alcohol addiction: In withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, miserable, jittery, crazy. They reported feeling unconnected, even to those close by, according to the study. The study found that they were most discomfited by their lack of access to text messaging, phone calling, instant messaging, emailing and Facebook–their primary means of connecting to friends and family.

“We were surprised by how many students admitted they were ‘incredibly addicted’ to media,” noted project director Susan D. Moeller, a journalism professor at the University of Maryland and the ICMPA’s director. “But we noticed that what they wrote at length about was how they hated losing their personal connections. Going without media meant, in their world, going without their friends and family.”

The students also felt extreme anxiety about being cut off from information. Specifically, they worried about having less information than their friends, on everything from sports scores and TV shows to news about their classes and world events. In fact, it seems that the way students learn about news events is almost entirely through the prism of social media. Very few reported that they ever watched TV news or listened to radio news or read a local or national newspaper. “Yet student after student demonstrated knowledge of specific news stories,” the study’s authors wrote. “The young adults in this study appeared to be oblivious to branded news and information. For most of the students reporting in this study, information of all kinds comes in an undifferentiated wave to them via social media. If a bit of information rises to a level of interest, the student will pursue it, but often by following the story via unconventional outlets such as through text messages, their email accounts, Facebook or Twitter.” This indicates that to this group news is not something impersonal, but that it comes to you through your base of friends (filtered and biased by their views) and therefore makes the information much more personal.

The study’s findings have major implications for all CIOs. Companies spend millions on advertising and sales to promote their products and services. Never in the history of technology has there been such an opportunity to transform how revenue and sales are generated than by specifically targeting a product or service directly to an individual via a social-media means.  This  “New Holy Grail” is about our new ability to target a specific message to an individual that will cause that individual to produce a desire result.

Radio, Television, and the World Wide Web cannot do what social-media has the promise to do. Organizations need to start planning now on how to harness this new means of marketing and advertising.  A CIO’s challenge will be to build systems for marketing and advertising purposes that can identify this targeted individual and deliver a concise message to them.