Social Business Sandy

BIZTECHBUZZ in the world of social, cognitive, IoT and startups

Month: March 2011

Social is Today’s Era. Tomorrow is the Gaming Era.

Live from SXSW!

I am listening to Seth Priebatsch who is working on SCVNGR.COM.  The social layer world is built on today is Facebook, the next layer or era is the gaming layer.

I believe very strongly in Gaming!!!  I help start the gaming initiative at IBM with Innov8 which has lit a fire under social gaming at IBM.  We now have a practice around gaming, a game for Smarter Planet, and more.   Phaedra was the brillant hire I made that has knocked a homerun!   And think about Watson — the ultimate gaming machine!

Interesting points from Seth’s presentation:

  1. School is a game. Just a really poorly designed game.  Example:  Grades.  Not based on progression but to accentuate failure.  Cheating as part of gameplay is rampant.   Princeton changed the rules.  Instead of having professors look for cheating, they changed the rules and set up an Honor Code that is self enforcing.  Bottom Line   Learning at   schools could be improved with gaming techniques to make it more engaging. 
  2. Client Acquisition Strategy:    Leveraging gaming concepts to acquire clients is the next frontier.   Example used was Groupon with their free lunch offer.  The “free lunch” is a “game”.   Since most people don’t buy that there is a free lunch, they expect a “catch”.  The justification here is “a group has to sign up” so the skeptism is removed.  It attracts new clients through trust.   Groupon also uses communal gameplay.   Groupon leverages a countdown clock and according to research having a group with a timeframe and clear rules is a great gaming tactic. 
  3. Location Based Services are not mainstream yet.  And won’t be until the rules of the game are changed.    With the amount of money, the constraint is that you have to be at the location.  So SCVNGR.COM is looking to change the rules to loosely coupled location.  For example, heading to a place, or online at a place.    The other interesting factoid was that when a reward is given like GAP did with checkin and get free jeans, when the reward was removed, the checkins declined. So the effect of checkins was not sustainable.

Overall gaming techniques to use to change your game were:

  • Leverage gaming techniques to enhance your client acquisition strategy  ex countdown techniques
  • Define your rules; and relook at the way your game rules are used. If too hard, then change them.
  • Be careful with rewards — progression looks like best method.  Progression is like good, better best, and no one loses. Example:  American Express does with the green card, up to the desired black card.

Crowd vs Community

Howdy Ya’ll!! I am back in my home tuff with my ropers and my jeans!  Sigh.  Austin SXSW.  Home!

I am in my first great session for Saturday (my first session was a bust!)   It is focused on influence. 

Differences between crowd and a community are:

  • Crowds are motivated by pride; Community are motivated by purpose
  • Crowds are powered by inspiration; Communities are powered by influence
  • Crowds want beneftis; Communities want to belong
  • Crowds want connection; Communites are driven by collaboration
  • Crowds like to get; Communities like to give
  • Crowds are sustained by service; Communites are sustained by Story.

Sometimes you need a crowd.  Sometimes you need a community.    The question is:  How do you move a crowd to a community with purpose!

Eric Knoll from Zappos gave this story.  At Zappos, everyone is trained on the phones for the BEST service.  Eric was on phone and the client was looking for a shoe that was sold out.   He went to look on other sites to find that shoe.  After 15 minutes of searching and chatting, it became apparent that this shoe was 2 seasons old, and not made any more.  But he finally found it on another site, a competitor site, and he gave her the site.   He sent her to that site. And she said “I am so confused”. I only want to buy it from you. So what else do you have that looks similar.   After another 15 minutes — he found the shoes.  This client is now part of the Zappos community.   This is not about graphs – but about people and purpose. To make a client happy!

Bayer Material Science Beyond Information: Becoming A Social Business

This is a translation of the original press release from Bayer Material Science, which was in German and got published in the German CIO magazine here:

It all began with an annoying discovery. Different teams at different Bayer MaterialScience AG (BMS) locations out of the 30 scattered around the world were working on the same subject, not knowing of each others’ existence. This resulted in unnecessary duplicate work, which is not a seldom occurrence in corporate groups the size of BMS with just less than 15,000 employees, but in any case a reason to take action.

“That was the starting point”, remembers CIO Kurt De Ruwe. “If the teams had known they were all working on the same problems, they would probably have stumbled across the solutions sooner.” [see also box: Benefits for the companies]. And yet another aspect played an important role when it came to BMS introducing a collaboration tool: the demographic factor. In the chemicals group boasting a large number of well-trained employees and a large research and development department, the knowledge in the employees’ heads is more than just “human capital”. Even today, it is foreseeable that a series of highly qualified BMS employees will be retiring in the next ten years. “A knowledge management system is to be one of several ways of passing on experience to younger staff”, says De Ruwe.

A good two years have passed since BMS decided to take countermeasures. The first attempts to install a new software tool failed, with both externally purchased and user-developed solutions. “Employees worked with it for a few months and then the whole thing blew over”, reports De Ruwe. BMS was about to suffer the fate of many companies, where attempts to introduce knowledge management end in a huge data cemetery. One essential reason for that is certainly the fact that knowledge management has less to do with technology and more with psychology. De Ruwe knows that. He estimates that “technology perhaps contributes ten percent towards success”. But nevertheless he goes on to say that, “a tool is important if we are to implement the project at all.”

It was by sheer coincidence that De Ruwe stumbled across different software. This wasn’t knowledge management but collaboration software. Connections from IBM. Here, the crucial parameters aren’t databases, information structures or knowledge sources, but simply the way in which human beings are able to communicate something and work together virtually.

BMS is moving in simple steps towards becoming an Enterprise 2.0. A small group of 50 people from research and development is launching a new attempt. Without any assistance in the form of instructions, training or advertising, the circle of users grew within the shortest of times to more than 700 employees worldwide. It is easy to handle. You set up your profile and you tell others about your special areas and interests and what you’re currently working on. Departmental and national boundaries disappear and colleagues who would probably have otherwise never met find each other.

Collaboration goes beyond pure information. A member of De Ruwe’s team had got in touch with other people through Connections. Together, they were able to work out five different ideas that BMS could now even register as a patent. “Without that tool, he’d never have known that these people existed at all”, says De Ruwe.

It has been a while since its use was limited just to research and development. The number of colleagues who collaborate is more than 2,600 on the worldwide scale and is growing continuously. “Because people like how the tool works”, is De Ruwe’s simple explanation. And yet the software does not necessarily offer particularly cunning functionality. Its actual trump card is its simplicity. “Other solutions cope with far more functions”, says the CIO. “But that only leads to confusion.” By contrast, what is far more important than extra features is the fact that all options are embedded in one application. There is no toing and froing between different applications.

In terms of operation, IBM’s solution reminds you of commonly known social networking sites. If Xing or Facebook can do it, so can Connections. Mind you, the tool allows you to do more than just network employees or distribute notifications in an uncomplicated fashion. Using Connections, you can exchange and edit files and documents, you can write a blog and you can draw up a company lexicon using wiki technology. Employee profiles are more detailed and extend far beyond the descriptions in business networks. Employees tailor them more to the company’s needs. And BMS profits from that. “Nowadays, the tool is becoming a crucial source for finding out who the best people for a project are”, says De Ruwe.

The tool is also easy to install. BMS began with Version 2.5 and only just recently changed over to Version 3. “The complete migration process was completed in one weekend”, explains De Ruwe. Worldwide, three people from his team were involved in technical implementation with support from IBM. This is also because BMS has not made any adjustments and is using the pure standard. Only the LDAP application protocol was integrated so that employees don’t have to log in separately.

At the start of this year, BMS had more than 500 active groups, co-called communities, that the employees had created out of their own initiative. Be it for departments such as IT, Accounting, Marketing or topics such as sustainability or women in the company, there are no limits to the imagination. Similarly to Xing groups, the initiators lay down the rules for access to the groups. These range from open communities that anyone can take part in and where everything is visible to closed invitation-only user groups that are invisible to non-members. That’s not all that difficult either, explains De Ruwe. “Starting a community takes 30 seconds and setting up the rules takes ten.”

The CIO himself sets a good example. He is now a member of 30 communities. And they don’t necessarily have anything to do with IT. What’s more, he has got used to hardly ever writing e-mails, instead posting many communications through Connections. “E-mails always go to a closed circle of recipients”, he says. “Often, though, the information is interesting to far more people.” For the opposite approach, he has set up his system so that it keeps him up to date. A message opens up when a certain person has posted something or a subject crops up in a message, a blog or a wiki entry. For example, this is the case with the key words “Program One”, the large SAP project at BMS.

The success that De Ruwe regularly witnesses in user figures and an activity index is now ringing in the next phase at BMS. In 2011 the CIO wants to launch active marketing to push ahead with staff participation. “Collaboration is one of the top three IT issues this year”, he announces. Now, it will be all about continuing on the basis created up to now and expanding it.

BMS will have to master two essential hurdles. Firstly, collaboration takes up time. This is because it takes time to read things and writing takes even longer. Nevertheless, De Ruwe doesn’t allow that argument to count. “That only leads to a situation in which you never begin”, he says. Anyone who knows how to organise themselves well won’t have any problems with the time it takes. “Ten minutes a day is enough.”

Things ought to be far more difficult when it comes to people’s need to express themselves. Anyone who doesn’t say anything in real life will not necessarily become more conversant in a virtual environment. Collaboration calls for an effort on the part of users. Which, contrary to common opinion, doesn’t have much to do with employees’ age. De Ruwe waves aside doubts, saying that “our five most active users are all over 40”. It is rather more the case that many are inhibited when it comes to comparing notes in the semi-public arena of a worldwide corporate platform. They are afraid of compromising themselves or they are not comfortable with the knowledge that they don’t know who is also reading their messages. “The first step is the most difficult”, De Ruwe has learned in the past years. He does not tire of repeatedly encouraging his people to also take this first step.

Conclusion: an exchange of ideas that can lead to patents, problems that can be resolved faster across national borders, feedback from customers that circulates throughout the company, open communication that strengthens employees’ feeling of belonging, and knowledge that is not lost, but is recorded and can be developed further: the list of advantages that justify the collaboration tool at BMS is increasing on a daily basis. “Even today, we have reached the point where we just couldn’t switch it off any more”, says De Ruwe. And he has yet another argument up his sleeve for anyone who is not yet convinced by that, and it’s probably one that will not leave a single CIO unconvinced: “we pay one euro per month per user.” [Text Ende]

The #Social Business Agenda! Not #social media but Business oriented!

So we have laid out our Social Business Agenda to help companies become Social Businesses. I like it because it is based on working with companies in 59 countries, and in all industries. In addition, it has it in lessons of success and failure that we can all learn from!

A is about aligning your goals and culture to be ready to become more engaging and transparent. Do not underestimate the task ahead of you! Take a look at IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines as a way to get started!

G – “Gain Friends through Social Trust” focuses on finding your fans, friends and followers, and forming best friends from your tippers or most influential clients or outside parties. It dives into what social trust is all about and how you instill it.

E – Engage through experiences focuses on how a company can engage its clients and employees and dives into gaming, virtual gifting, location based, mobile, or other stellar experiences to drive that engagement.

N – Network your processes. Since this is about business, figuring out how to add social to your processes is critical. THink about customer service — adding in Twitter to address your customer’s concerns. Or Crowdsourcing for product innovation, or Communities for incrementing your marketing processes around Loyalty!

D – Design for Reputation and Risk Management! This is the #1 areas of focus for the C level — managing the risk of having your brand online, your employees being your brand advocates, and even your clients becoming your marketing department! I think the value outweighs the risk .. but see how to develop a Disaster Recovery plan as you plan for the worst, and expect the best!

A – Analyze your data! Social analytics are the new black! You need to see the patterns of sentiment, who your tippers are, and listen daily !

Let me know if you’d like me to work through this with your company in anyway!


How do you become a Social Business?!

Featuring the New Social Business Agenda!

I’d love your thoughts on this agenda!

Getting ready for BlogHer 2011 in August!


I cannot wait for BlogHer 2011 in August!   I am going to the business Blogher too in March but I am especially excited as my daughter Cassie, at age 10, has been blogging.  As a reward for a blogging project at school, she will be sent to BlogHer and will go with me this year!

The team at BlogHer was so excited and nice about her coming!   Here she is in her “BlogHer” outfit .. getting ready to blog!   She is so excited to meet all the cool and talented women there!

Cassie is excited to come to BlogHer!!!

Cyberbullying – The Internet is the New Playground


A colleague of mine introduced me to an upcoming film on cyberbulling.    Here’s the trailer. 

I was shocked at some of the facts:

  • 40% of all teenagers reported being cyberbullied
  • Only10% told their parents
  • Only15% of parents know about their kids’ interactive habits

See if you want to get involved.

Social Business through an iPad — The Australian Open

Many of you have written me on the use of iPad in Socail Business. Here is a great case study that just happened in PA! The Australian Open!

To engage its fans, Tennis Australia heavily leverages its Australian Open website. This interactive, media-rich online experience allows fans to listen to live radio, review highlights of the day’s play, read blogs and followthe scores from every court as the action happens. Have you used the SlamTracker? It is very coole and lets us fans interact in real time with the draws and scores – make visiting the next best thing to being there. (Not as good for sure as I have had the honor of being there in person!!!)

During the two week tournament, the site attracts almost 10M unique users. With real-time scores, schedules, draws and player information all available on smart phones via a purpose-built Australian Open mobile website, fans can stay in touch with every Australian Open 2011 match while they’re on the go.

The Official AustralianOpen iPhone application takes this experience one step further with real-time scores, radio, Twitter feeds about the Australian Open as well as completed matches, schedules and draws. It is truly integrated social business!!!
This application also includes AO View, an augmented reality feature that uses the phone’s camera and GPS to give fans at the event an enhanced view of the data that is all around them.

iPad rocks!!!! For the first time ever, fans can access the full Australian Open program on their iPad. This new application brings together data from a variety of sources to connect fans with the online mood that the tournament generates. Special features include schedules and draws, fan data and autograph pages. is also viewable on the iPad.

I think this shows one example of a Social Business incorporating the iPad into its business. Any other examples out there?