All things digital marketing, social media related experiences. I have been working in digital since 1997. Occasionally I'll write about girlie things - chocolate, cupcakes, fashion, travel and yoga. Passionate about animal welfare and trying to live an organic lifestyle. The postings on this blog are my own and do not represent Juniper Networks’ positions, strategies or opinions. Note that the views and opinions expressed are mine alone and do not represent the official views of Juniper Networks.

Copyright 2014 Zoe Sands

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Building a Social Business Creates an Empowered Enterprise

In part one of my Q&A with Dr Chris Boorman of social business platform vendor Huddle, Chris discussed the need for businesses to be more social and the impediments to change. In part two, he discussed practical steps to take to be a social business.

Zoe: Do organisations need to change, or do they just let “social” ways of working take off?

Chris: I mentioned our report into the state of the information landscape. To compile this report we interviewed 2,000 office workers in the UK and 2,000 office workers in the US – we deliberately interviewed the office workers rather than marketers or the managers, so we got an authentic picture of what was happening. They told us how the consumerisation of IT affected them and how working collaboratively can threaten the security of the working environment if it is not controlled. This is extremely worrying, because your IP is walking out the door and you don’t know where it is going. So organisations need to establish a way to control this environment.

Zoe: What are the practical steps?

Chris: We identify five “pillars”. For us, pillar one has to be security: our belief is that, unlike something like Dropbox that grew up from a consumer heritage, we have a closed security model that prevents you from sharing things unless you are part of the collaboration environment. This is the consumerisation of IT, but with enterprise security around it.

The second is the ability to make effective use of content. Search is passive and time-consuming. Our technology puts the intelligence into the content rather than you having to search for it, so it is delivered to you almost before you know you need it.

The third pillar is to do away with the problem of legacy technology. It’s about saying I don’t need to put up with this old stuff. For example, hosting traditional business tools in the cloud is just re-engineering legacy tools with new technology to make it easier to work together. We need more than that.

Fourth, recognise that it’s just as hard to work together today because there are too many obstacles in the way. It’s hard to use a VPN, it’s hard to work with people beyond the firewall, and it’s hard to use mobile devices to get your job done.  You need to do something about that.

The final pillar is to consult users to validate the success of projects. Remember the old world of big, large application deployments in which IT led the way? The IT department worked out what business users wanted, and deployed it – and users would look at it and said ”What’s this?” You can’t change behaviour in that way.

Zoe: Some organisations say “we work over email with mobile devices; we have a shared calendar, so we are pretty much a social business already.”

Chris: On the contrary, we are being held back by these legacy technologies. Email is the worst tool on the planet to collaborate with. You send me a version, I send it to my line manager, he sends it to his colleague, they all work on their own different versions and all send it back – quite soon we don’t know which version is being tracked and processed. Email loses control of your work: it has no concept of security, because to send it to someone all you need to know is their email address. If you are dealing with highly secure documents you are always worried about whether the wrong person has been copied. You need to move the conversation into a centralised cloud environment with a complete audit trail. Then you know exactly who is looking at what.

Zoe: This is what Huddle does, but is this not what many businesses have implemented with Microsoft SharePoint?

Chris: The thing about SharePoint is that it’s a legacy technology that was built in an era when IT managed every aspect of the business users’ life. You can do amazing things with SharePoint. But, in this day and age the business unit no longer has the patience to use resources this way. SharePoint languishes in small silos of the business as a consequence. It was never designed for for the modern workforce – it was designed for people within an organisation at a time when we didn’t want to collaborate externally, never mind trying to get it working properly on an iPad or iPhone.

Today in the 21st century, we collaborate across the firewall all the time. We collaborate on complex bids in sales with trusted partners. We need to collaborate with lawyers in HR, with branding agencies in marketing, or with facilities companies in operations.  Today everyone wants, needs, to collaborate externally.

Zoe: If IT can’t mandate change, how do organisations encourage their staff to take the first step?

Chris: A lot of what we do is to go into organisations to help them to change their culture – to become an Empowered Enterprise.  Helping them to collaborate means creating completely different behaviour – because often today we fall back on what we know: “I’ll send you an email”.

So we go in and work with one department or business unit, start the process, get them up and running, get them massively excited. Then we expand to other departments through word of mouth. It’s easy to put new technology in place, but it is only one part of what organisations need. Previously I spoke about Richard Williams, the CIO at Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and one of our most innovative users. He has the philosophy to start small, with our technology used in one place - and if it works then identify the champions who will evangelise it, and grow it outwards. Although he works for an insurer, Richard said recently that “One of my secrets is just to have a go.” I think that if you have put a secure platform in place, and can control risk and access, then your ability to “have a go” and see what works is what is most likely to achieve lasting improvements.

Zoe: How do you recognise success in creating a social business?

Chris: If our clients say to us that they achieved greater things than they thought possible, rather than just saying they saved a bit of money. Measuring that will take time, but it is happening.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on part two of this interview, so please do post these in the comments box below, thanks.

What is “social” business? An Empowered Enterprise

Some enterprises claim to be “social” businesses, but not all are Empowered Enterprises. They may use different and innovative types of software and collaboration techniques to create innovation and success, but not all are truly social enterprises. To find out more about how social businesses work and why they succeed, I interviewed Dr. Chris Boorman, Chief Marketing & Customer Success Officer at social business start up Huddle.

In the first of two Q&As with Huddle, I asked what distinguishes a “social” business, and what are the strategic drivers? In the second Q&A, I ask Boorman how can companies collaborate better? And what steps do they need to take in order to be more of a social business?

Zoe: What does a “social” business do, that others don’t do?

Chris: It is a confusing term, many organisations say they need to be social, but don’t know what it means. For me the collaborative nature of a truly social organisation means that these companies have pulled down the silos and barriers that have traditionally impeded efficient collaboration – both internally and externally. Thanks in part to the consumerisation of IT (CoIT), mobile technology and the cloud, they can now work together in a much cleaner collaborative way. They think about solving problems more openly and this means they will work more collaboratively with their customers as well, wherever they are.

For example, one of our favourite customers: Richard Williams, who is the CIO of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, uses Huddle because his staff are always travelling, but need secure access to their documents. Now staff can work wherever they are and access content on all types of devices. Documents are managed and shared in the cloud. The end result for is that staff avoid printing papers for board meetings and sending them by courier countrywide.

Zoe: If this is so desirable, why don’t we all work this way?

Chris: The problem we have is there is a massive wall between the needs of the enterprise to ensure security and the needs of the end user who wants simplicity and access.

All enterprises have grown up over the years putting in place barriers for collaboration, often for the best reasons. For example, strict security policies that prevent collaboration with people outside your organisation. Sometimes documents and materials are locked away in private groups, which prevent cross pollination. Whilst some collaboration technologies have become a barrier to business since they require significant IT resourcing to configure and manage. Even mobile devices are business barriers because most enterprises are simply not using them effectively as yet. So, we often can’t access the important data we need. We use consumer tools like Dropbox that were not designed for business use, or try to surreptitiously and quietly avoid IT by using USB sticks or our smartphones. That’s why at Huddle we think it is important to build a platform that lets all people work together with a closed security model that satisfies IT, but with the ease of use of your favourite mobile app. Now you can share and collaborate on any device, from anywhere, with anyone in a secure and compliant manner.

Zoe: Why is it important to think strategically about designing a social organisation now?

Chris: Organisations have the benefit of the CoIT, mobility and the cloud to make this collaboration possible. But we already have problems with existing half-hearted or unplanned collaboration meaning that we need to think carefully about how we create this new environment.

Recently we did a survey of how people work in the real world, conducted by Ipsos MORI. Among the organisations in our survey, 55% said they are swamped by all the information they have to deal with. Another 28% said time is wasted searching for content – our access to more and more information is making us inefficient. It’s wasted productivity, but we don’t notice it because we have always worked this way. It’s time to change!

Zoe: How can managers build a business case for change; build an ‘Empowered Enterprise’?

Chris: There isn’t a satisfactory direct measure of this inefficiency at the moment, even if companies know that they are wasting time. We are doing some research now, where we are analysing the productivity gains from creating a social business to find out how much more efficient it can be.

When we measure the productivity of how we collaborate, it’s complex – it’s like an equation with a numerator and a denominator. The ability to grow your business better is the numerator, but how can you save IT costs is the denominator. Both can change.

Zoe: There are a lot of vendors who are selling “social” technologies to business.

Chris: But the hardware and the software are only one part of the process. Often vendors describe being “social” in terms of their product, their application. As a result many potential customers think that to be a social business all you have to do is buy the latest cool social product. But it is much more than that – it is a cultural change that you need to go through and most enterprises find that hard. If you don’t get to the root of how people work together in your business and then put the platform in place to encourage it, the project will be a complete failure.

In the second part of my Q&A with Dr Boorman I ask him to identify the steps to build a successful collaborative environment.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on part one of this interview, so please do post these in the comments box below, thanks.

My New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

Learn, discover and enjoy life will be my mantra for 2014.

Now my new year’s resolutions are quite simple… to spend more time with my family and friends, the people that matter most in my life and I love very dearly.

I will say “yes” to more things that will bring opportunities into my life and say “no” to things that are going to zap my emotional energy. Begone those energy vampires.

I will stop thinking too much and just go with the flow, but I will always trust my gut feelings.

I will be less serious and take more risks during 2014, if I don’t ask then the answer will always be no.

I shall dare to be different and stand out from all those sheep. I’ll go back to skating and hope I don’t break anything in the new year. Wish me luck! I will endeavour to try as many new experiences as possible during 2014.

I will let my creativity overflow more in my writing, photography and dancing. I have missed my dance classes and performing on stage, so more Salsa, I think or maybe Tango.

Finally, 2014 will be about embracing change and enjoying the ride. So, with that in mind I will get my full motorbike licence and ride off into the sunset. Who wants to come along for a ride?

Happy New Year!

Peace and love to you all! x

PS I will continue to eat lots of chocolate, a resolution that automatically rolls over each year.

New Year’s Eve in Birmingham

It was such a glorious New Year’s Eve in Birmingham; the company, weather and atmosphere was absolutely amazing fuelled by laughter, singing, dancing and ice skating. I feel blessed to have had such a lovely time in my home city.

Here’s to a fabulous and prosperous 2014!

Peace and love to you all!

My Favourite Marketing Campaign of 2013 is…  Coca-Cola Share a Coke

Earlier this month I spoke at the IDM Knowledge Network: Digital Trends to watch in 2014 in London and I was asked to share a campaign that I thought had been most impactful during 2013. I have to say by far the Coca-Cola Share a Coke campaign stood out the most for me because it was an international personalised campaign that spanned generations and cultures. This integrated online and offline campaign was amazingly well thought through and a little risky by debranding an ironic brand such as Coca-Cola by personalising coke bottles and cans with the top 250 first names within the countries the “Share a Coke” was launched into. Over 350,000 people in the UK joined in with the campaign and shared their experiences via Facebook and Twitter. A dear colleague, Louise Hunter found a bottle of Diet Coke with my first name on it, which I was very touched by when I saw it on my desk at work. It is amazing how something so small can create that warm feeling with a brand, even for me as a marketer this is unusual, as I’m probably less likely to be drawn in by marketing messages. Seeing the bottle with my name on it, made it such a personal gesture, it just goes to show that you can produce personalised products on a mass scale. Personalisation is no longer the domain of luxury limited edition products.

What could have made this campaign more interesting would have been the ability for end users to print off their own personalised bottle labels at home, this would have made the campaign even more special and reached more people with that personalised element. I would love to see Coca-Cola revamp this campaign during 2014.

What was your favourite marketing campaign of 2013? Do you agree with me that the Coca-Cola Share a Coke campaign was the best campaign of 2013?

Finally, what does the future hold for personalisation? Well, 3D printing will make personalisation more accessible and cheaper for organisations to produce in the future. So, watch this space!