Posts Tagged ‘Social Media Strategy’

The Entrepreneur’s Paradox

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

The macro picture

Most people associated with business strategy and the challenges of cultivating innovation are familiar with a classic business book by Clayton Christensen called “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. In this seminal work, Christensen examines the impact of new technology on existing industry incumbents and the dilemma that they face in sustaining current business at the same time as embracing disruptive technology.

A recent business magazine article identified that the pace of disruption was accelerating as multiple technologies come together and as innovators constantly try to leverage these technologies for new goods and services. In most cases, the implementations fail but these failures have a significant benefit as they enhance the collective learning of both the innovators and the customers with each new product cycle. This learning aspect for customers is critical because they are becoming familiar with new experiences and technology. Consequently, when the right combination of experience and technologies is eventually created, the market is more receptive as customers are already familiar with it, meaning that the concept goes viral faster and becomes disruptive more rapidly.

In past blogs I have talked about the concept of “boundary blurring” between industries as the impact of combined ICT technologies changes the value propositions and business models of industries such as banking, health, retail and automotive. We have also described a phenomena we call “digital life” which is the osmosis-like process of digital technology absorption into people’s everyday lives. Most individuals do not recognize the degree to which they have adapted to the new technologies around them. However, the stage is set for the emergence of viral disruption in multiple industries in the next couple of years as entrepreneurs, small startups and companies within ICT see the opportunity to apply these new technologies.

The micro picture

Against this macro picture that I have been sharing through my consultancy work over the past 5 years, I have witnessed several opportunities for businesses to cross boundaries and create disruptive new products, services and business models. Together with a partner, I am now in the process of creating a new startup that applies hardware and software technology, systems thinking and creativity to an industry ripe for disruptive innovation. In developing this venture, however, I have stumbled across what I call the “entrepreneur’s paradox” which is the corollary to the innovator’s dilemma.

The paradox occurs because of the above mentioned macro aspects necessary to create ripe market opportunities: the customers are ready, the industry has old and established business models and market perspectives, and mobile and technology startup companies are winning early adopters.

To enter this industry it requires considerable time and investment to develop the product and value proposition. It also requires the exposure of the idea/product to investors, customers and potential partners in order to test the idea and to prove it can create a sustainable business model. Angel and VC investors are notorious for not signing confidentiality agreements in early stage discussions.  In other words, it requires putting the idea out into the public domain, which is the nub of the paradox, because it works against the other desirable attribute of a tech startup – namely, a patented product or idea.

In order to submit a provisional or full patent filing, and claim “first to file” status, it requires no prior public disclosure. So how do you know that what you are filing justifies the cost in terms of being able to create a viable business? And how do you know that the time you spend developing your invention isn’t going to be preempted by someone else fast-cycling a product concept with target customers? The paradox here is: should you file first or seek customer feedback first by creating a prototype product but, in the process, run the risk of the idea being stolen or preempted?

There is no simple resolution to this but as cycles of technology, learning and consumer adoption accelerate, they are bound to challenge the fine balance between the need and desirability for patents versus the finite market opportunity that may exist and needs to be proven. Not an easy decision to make!

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Digital Life – Is your Business Living in a Fishbowl?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Ever feel like your business is swimming around and around in circles, like a goldfish in a bowl? Struggling to accomplish nothing much other than to search for an elusive pool of diminishing food?

Shrinking margins, a downtrodden economy, a rapidly transforming Digital World, and increasing scrutiny from those outside of your company’s fishbowl are all contributing to the “fear factor”. The fear factor is a knee-jerk reaction to these challenges and the common response is to cut costs, reduce headcount, and to lay off people as you cut production or business lines.

Over the past few years we have seen this reaction in nearly every industry. That is the primary reason unemployment is so high and yes, spending is lower by customers who are also driven by their own fear factor – not being able to pay the bills, their mortgage, or put food on the table.

And yet sales of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have continuously risen during this period. Aspects of Digital Life have flourished – more people than ever have accounts in social media venues such as Facebook and Twitter. Consumers are more conscious about what they spend their money on – but they are spending and willing to spend.

Perhaps if companies weren’t so concerned about cutting costs and were more focused on what products and services their customers are really willing to purchase, the emphasis on lay-offs and cutbacks could be shifted to providing Digital Life products and services that help their customers live a better life. Unemployment would go down, spending would go up and the goods delivered to consumers would begin to reflect their real wants and needs.

To understand how your business might escape the proverbial fishbowl and evolve to a Digital Life model that overcomes the fear factor, contact us at KeySo Global and register for a free diagnostic interview with our industry leading experts. Please email us at info@keysoglobal.com, call us at +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com.

Steve Benton, Principal, KeySo Global, LLC

Google Plus – A Tool to Transform Knowledge Sharing As We Know It?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

I was a relatively early adopter of LinkedIn and Twitter and although I have a corporate KeySo Global Facebook page, I really live vicariously on Facebook through my wife who, let’s face it, has managed our friendships and social calendar for most of our married life!

Then along comes this Google Plus! I’m invited to join, not by a friend or family member but by a business acquaintance where I suspect I’m in one of his circles labeled “met and might be an interesting or useful contact”!

I have to admit, I’d been intrigued by Google+ and the statistics for its growth are staggering. The media, of course, are claiming it’s the return of the cold war as Google takes on Facebook – but is it? Or is it something far more compelling than just another social network?

This amusing but revealing video on YouTube caught my eye, so I read Pete Cashmore’s blog on Mashable on “10 Tips for New Users”. Then I acquiesced and signed up!

We live in a world of “digital bytes” that consume our attention every second of the day. My biggest challenge is to find a digital tool that blends into my life to make it simpler, and replaces what currently requires multi-tasking with an all-encompassing digital medium. Similar to that which Steve Jobs managed to do with digital music and mobile web access.

Chris Brogan identified some interesting technical, human and etiquette aspects related to Google+ in two recent blogs. Firstly, just because you find someone of interest to follow and put that person in a “circle”, there is no guaranteed reciprocity. Unless you are “circled” in return, those people don’t see any of your updates and you still have the challenge of getting on their radar so that they “circle” you!

The belief is that Google+ will attract more professionals but their plight is the “digital byte syndrome” – compounded with fatigue – from constantly setting up new profiles and being disappointed by limited results. Then there’s the nagging question – what can I share that’s new? As I see it, the opportunity is there to blend the news updates of Twitter with the professional perspectives of LinkedIn and the digital life observations of Facebook, creating an integrated digital montage that could greatly enhance business and personal interactions.

David Armano appears to have a similar take on the situation. He views Google+ as a social layer that cuts across media, search, communication and collaboration services. This social layer potentially provides a capability that integrates the best of Web 2.0 into personalized services. It’s fascinating to consider that this horizontal layering could give rise to unforeseen and potentially transformational implications for our personal and professional lives, and I believe that its impact will extend way beyond that which most of us could predict.

Could the challenges of corporate knowledge sharing, together with the horizontal layering capability of Google+, form the seeds of what we at KeySo Global call “Digital Wisdom Networks”?  These networks face the challenge of bridging the gap between the internal communities within an organization that protect “aggregate” (internal) knowledge and those communities outside an organization, where an explosion of “collective” (external) knowledge has been powered by social networking. Essentially, Digital Wisdom Networks become trusted circles of professionals, in- and outside of a company, who collaborate to share new information for the purpose of generating company specific solutions and fresh innovation. Google+ might be just the tool they’re looking for!

To find out more about Digital Wisdom Networks and how converged digital technologies can greatly simplify collaboration and knowledge sharing within your organization, contact us at info@keysoglobal.com, +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

 

Is it live or is it Memorex?

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

In 1971 Memorex launched its “shattering glass” advertisements, followed up by a series of television commercials featuring Ella Fitzgerald singing a note that shattered a glass while being recorded to a Memorex audio cassette. The tape was played back and the recording also broke the glass, asking “Is it live or is it Memorex?”

Who remembers those ads from an era as far behind us as the Walkman – and why should they matter to us today? If you remember the ads and the company and are reading this blog then you are young at heart and smart enough to know that you need to understand the significance of digital transformation on your business. This story is important for the following 3 reasons:

  1.  Memorex no longer exists – it was started 1961 as a high tech computer storage company, branched into consumer products and after being acquired and broken up, was put into bankruptcy in 1996.
  2. The technologies (audio & video tapes) it was promoting have ceased to be relevant.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, the brand name and power of the message still have value. The brand was acquired by Imation of Taiwan and is used on accessories for iPods, Blueray and flash drives to evoke that sense of authenticity for quality playback.

While companies come and go and technologies fade, the value of a brand and the authenticity are more critical in a digital world than ever before. It is harder than ever today to determine what is live, what is real or fake, who are friends and who are not. Is the Facebook friend a real friend, one who would do for you what you need a friend to do? Is the company you “like” on Facebook a legitimate organization that understands what makes you tick, what really matters in your life? And perhaps most importantly, is trust possible in today’s Digital Life?

There are aspects of human nature that will always supercede the advances of technology – an understanding of right and wrong, good morals, spirituality, the courage to defend one’s family and loved ones, and to help and care for those who are in need. These are the values that define us and do not go away. And this is why brands that we have established an emotional and values-based connection with have such longevity and resonance with us.

Companies and individuals alike both face an interesting dilemma in today’s fast paced Digital World. Do we opt to embrace or ignore new technologies and the changes they bring about? The harsh reality is that ignoring change does not keep things the same!

On a corporate level, ignoring change can lead to disenfranchisement of the brand promise. A classic example of loss and recovery is Apple which owned simplicity with the Mac, lost it in the mid 90’s, only to rediscover it again when Steve Jobs returned and ushered in the iPod.

On a human level, it can hobble our ability to teach our children how to manage time, create expectations, earn respect and create trust by following through using new technologies and mediums, and building on the common values we share. Through the actions we take on a personal level and the brands we chose to validate, we define who we are, and how the world will evolve.

So in the Digital World “is it live or is it Memorex?” translates to authenticity and trust being the critical components of success! As we embrace change, build companies and continue to create more enabling technologies, we must not lose sight of those values that define us as humans. We must use the opportunities presented globally by Digital World technologies to bring health, happiness and the joy of living into the real world.

Organizations will need to change and adapt in order to ensure that their products remain authentic to their brands, and society as a whole will need to adapt to ensure that it remains true to its core values, and rewards those companies and brands that best understand and serve it.

If you’re interested in learning how your business can remain relevant and authentic in the emerging Digital World, we at KeySo Global can show you how. Contact us at info@keysoglobal.com, +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com

Steve Bell & Steve Benton, KeySo Global

Are New Converging Technologies Challenging Your “Business as Usual”?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

In the emergent new age of advancing and converging technologies – especially those of consumer electronics, mobile devices, wireless, broadband, broadcast, ‘smart technology’ and the Internet (which is subsuming them all) – consumers, customers, & clients are all interacting and sharing knowledge and experiences with one another in near real-time, from nearly anywhere. We live in a Digital World of such advanced and converged technologies that nearly a quarter of the real world’s population is now online.

This places unique pressures on existing business models. To remain relevant, businesses must really listen, learn, and engage with their customers, constituents and partners in order to anticipate and provide for their needs and wants. There is no longer available time to compile deep market research, or push safe development and testing paradigms, with longer sales cycles. The risk of losing out to agile competition or new movers is tremendous as the vigilant and fast moving adapt to more unique opportunities presented in the new landscape than at any other time in the history of humanity.

Events from the past can be seen as influencers of today; many that can be used to identify relevant factors that will drive tomorrow’s possibilities. As the low-hanging fruit of today is consumed, the importance of locating the trees bearing the seeds of tomorrow’s fruit increases.

We at KeySo Global have identified many key patterns of behavior change that support this. No longer is mass-marketing working well; people are trusting the opinions of other like-minded people more than they do salespeople, advertisements, or other marketing efforts. They have the means to communicate with one another in real-time using apps that connect through the Internet, the mobile cloud, and use of social media technologies. They are participating in a converged “physical” and “virtual” world, and living a Digital Life.

In our blogs we focus on what we at KeySo Global see to be happening through the emergence of the increasingly complex, technology-centric, interconnected Digital World. We highlight events that have already happened (or are happening) and identify trends that we see as leading indicators of possibility and threat. We discuss and highlight success stories and lessons learned as enterprises and leaders of all walks struggle to understand and survive the rapidly shifting currents of Digital Life. Finally, we explore options and opportunities, and offer the tools and resources that business leaders need in order to arm themselves and their enterprises for success in the shifting landscape.

As an international hands-on consultancy, we at KeySo Global recognize how complex this rapidly changing landscape can appear and understand the hurdles that businesses have to overcome in order to navigate their way to a successful solution. Let us show you how this can be achieved. Email us at info@keysoglobal.com, call us at +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com.

Steve Benton, Principal, KeySo Global LLC

Social media boot camps – is that all it takes to re-boot your business?

Friday, May 13th, 2011

You can tell when the hype cycle on social media has reached its pinnacle when you see a Sunday newspaper running an advertisement for a “Social Media CEO Boot Camp”. In 90 minutes, this crash course is going to provide you with Social Media 101, successful case studies, proven strategies and tested techniques, and will result in generating new customers for you. And the reason that you’d be interested in this is because “your existing traditional advertising and marketing has stalled”!

The likely probability is that this course will tell you about social networks, including Facebook, forums like Yelp or Trip Advisor, and micro-blogging Twitter, as well as content communities like YouTube; perhaps it will also mention wiki’s and social search sites such as Digg, and the power of RSS. It will inform you about the explosion in social media created by users generating content and companies exponentially increasing their participation, while emphasizing why you must have a voice in this expanding universe. At the same time it will preach to you about the value of search engine optimization and, if the program is really good, it will stress the need to engage listening programs to hear what people are saying about your company and its brands. As a CEO, you will come away in one of two states: either total amazement and full of energy or, more likely, filled with concern about the ability of your organization to catch up.

The reality is that social media is one element of a larger movement resulting from the impact that digital technologies and social business have in changing the interactions of companies, customers and employees on a daily basis. It is no longer about monologue conversations between the company or its employees and consumers; it’s not about control and selling; instead the emphasis is shifting to community engagement, openness and participation.

At a recent seminar on social business run by IBM and “Information Week”, the following component pieces were identified as critical elements in social business architecture:

1. The ability to understand the market dynamics of the industry, including how competition, brands and customers are socially engaging.
2. The utilization of social software, including platforms, applications and technology.
3. The identification of social objectives, including customer engagement, employee empowerment, partner enablement and supplier engagement.
4. The determination of social output, including consistent social media, the creation of communities and the participation in social networks.

The key take-away was that a social business strategy is not just about the deployment of social technology and software but that it is about the organizational, cultural and process shifts that also need to be recognized and planned for.

The audience at this seminar was comprised of technology and information savvy subscribers of Information Week, and yet the majority of the questions related to these four major themes:

1. How do I work with IT so that they don’t stall implementation of our social media strategy?
2. How do I sell the need & concept of a social business strategy to my boss?
3. How do I ensure that my social business strategy addresses security and compliance issues?
4. How do I prevent organizational overload derailing my social business strategy?

At the heart of all this complexity and constant change, resulting from the increasing utilization of new technologies, software and business processes, is the need to take a holistic planning perspective and to recognize the need for good human relations and change management.

As a CEO, you are smart, flexible and adaptable but even you can’t keep pace with what is occurring, so don’t anticipate that a single individual in the organization can either. What is required is the creation of a community of people with the common purpose of acquiring the necessary knowledge and pushing forward with the transformation that is required. In this way you will facilitate, shape and ensure the success of your company in the digital world.

We at KeySo Global understand the importance of having a strong social business strategy and we’d be happy to show you how converged technologies can be used to help your business run more efficiently and effectively. To set up an appointment, call us at +1 847-478-1633, email us at info@keysoglobal.com or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com.
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

The digital paradox: 5 questions to address

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

We identified in our last blog that CEO’s face a huge paradox: how do they adapt to new digital technologies and adopt social media but at the same time not lose momentum, market share or profitability?

Good inter-departmental collaboration is crucial, and we addressed how social media strategy shared across a company can act as a catalyst for change and engagement. Another more critical problem that organizations have to wrestle with is that their resources have been stretched thinly as the severe economic conditions of the last three years have forced them to focus on efficiency and effectiveness. Processes and systems have been tightened at the same time that personnel has been slashed, resulting in fewer people having to take on more.

The crisis occurs when these fully stretched, 100% loaded systems need to be fundamentally changed in order to adapt to new business model requirements brought about by the digital economy. It’s one thing to introduce a new system but if you don’t have the time and resources to provide the training and support to upgrade and develop necessary staff skills and knowledge, the business will likely implode.

No one is saying that this change is easy but it’s possible to plan and manage this transition effectively with forethought and assistance from external expertise. The key is for companies to have a clear vision and game plan that they can share, communicate and implement internally in order to be able to make this transition run smoothly.

The following are 5 initial questions that you should be asking as you consider embracing digital technologies and adopting a social media strategy for your business:

1. Is your organization structured to engage your customer base and respond proactively to your customers, or will it be you who has to react?
2. Do you have policies to guide & enable your staff to interact, monitor and evolve the message that you want delivered with social media?
3. Will your new digital business strategy and IT systems be architected to allow Marketing to have flexible best-of-breed tools, and at the same time enable integration into existing information solutions that ensure secure data storage?
4. What process will you use to capture ideas from social media , incubate them and determine future strategies?
5. What training & support will you provide your workforce to be better able to listen, analyze and use the information gathered, and at the same time cope with this change?

By considering these questions and having a strong game plan in place when embracing digital technology, it will mean reduced overload and more efficiency for your workforce, as well as more flexibility and adaptability for your organization. Once you involve your staff in the process, show them how simply the end result can be achieved and the benefits to both themselves and the company as a whole, they will be more willing to participate in helping you achieve this goal.

The ultimate outcome of these questions and decisions will be a transformation strategy to move the existing one dimensional business model into the multidimensional digital world in order to take advantage of the opportunities enabled by convergence technologies. Would you like a better understanding of these opportunities or do you need help addressing the challenges associated with this digital transformation? We’d be happy to assist you – just contact us at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com.
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

IT and Marketing – why is collaboration key to digital survival?

Monday, April 25th, 2011

In many businesses there is a raging distrust between IT and Marketing, resulting in a lack of communication between the two functions. As a CEO or business owner, you should be asking: why is this and what can we do about it?

The converged digital marketing channels (television, radio, Internet, mobile platforms, social media) mean that marketing strategies not only have to be cross-channel, they have to be deployed rapidly to keep up with competition and the demands of Digital Life consumers. Decades old marketing approaches to measuring, testing and analyzing such aspects as direct mail and telemarketing have to adjust to the reality that social media plays across multiple channels, as companies now have the ability to interact directly with their customers in real time.

At the same time, due to the growth of cloud computing, there has also been a pronounced shift in the IT landscape. IT professionals are now having to move away from their traditional role of standalone systems, largely servicing finance and supply chain functions, to focus on more integrated and optimized service provision for the entire business, using both internal and cloud sources. Their challenge is to manage the highly complex data that’s being generated by each element of the business, and to integrate it into user-friendly and flexible solutions to drive the business in real time. This involves a holistic understanding of all the digital components, requirements and strategies of the business, as well as the opportunities for using external services to deliver capabilities beyond those of traditional marketing departments.

It was reported in “Information Week” that nearly 2/3 of marketers said they had problems with implementing marketing software; the number one reason given was the low priority that IT gives to the marketing function. It seems that many marketers would prefer to deal with outside marketing specialists than intimidating IT departments! Very often marketing doesn’t consult with IT when selecting marketing software. Marketers don’t think that the CIO understands their objectives, and as a result many prefer for a third party to manage and analyze data for them.

Back to the CEO’s of companies – they face a huge paradox: how do they adapt to and adopt these new technologies but at the same time not lose momentum, market share or profitability? At KeySo Global, our research and experience has convinced us that the secret to success lies in breaking down the barriers and fostering better collaboration between all departments within an organization. Even more significantly, companies will be better able to respond to their customers’ needs as identified via social media; it’s almost impossible to orchestrate an effective response when departments become silos, and refuse to share information.

An effective accelerated approach is to encourage Marketing and IT to create a joint plan for social media that embraces the new emerging digital technologies, and to hold them jointly responsible to share and communicate their plan with the entire organization. They may need some facilitated help initially to achieve this goal but having a coordinated inter-departmental plan will become essential; particularly since the next major impact of digital technology on business will be the deployment of mobile technologies and eCommerce across the enterprise as a whole.

The next two years will be a very exciting time for many companies, and those that approach the challenges collaboratively will see greater and more rapid benefits; those that don’t will face some very tough issues and difficult decisions. As a business owner or CEO, it’s going to become crucial that you have a better understanding of the impact that digital technologies will have on your business, and we would be pleased to advise you on options and solutions that we at KeySo Global can help you with. Don’t hesitate to contact us at info@keysoglobal.com or give us a call at +1 847-478-1633 for an initial discussion and assessment. Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Can your business be WikiLeaks proof?

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The recent release of embarrassing U.S Government State Department cables by WikiLeaks and selected news media have been followed avidly by mainstream media. Now Forbes magazine has published a scoop interview in London with Julian Assange, the leader of the organization behind the leaks. In this interview Julian identifies that his next focus, for what he describes as Mega Leaks, will be big business. WikiLeaks is no stranger to exposing corporate wrong doing, as shown by the revelations about the collapse of Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank and the funneling of money to the proprietors and companies that they owned, or the Swiss Bank Julius Baer’s offshore tax activities. In Julian Assange’s words “WikiLeaks means it’s easier to run a good business and harder to run a bad business and all CEO’s should be encouraged by this.”
In today’s interconnected world of increased social networking, democracy of information is becoming the new standard. The concept of trust and brand become very critical to a company’s reputation in social media. As an example, the take away from the whole BP Gulf of Mexico issue is “walk the talk”. Despite BP’s best, and in some cases desperate, efforts in social media to contain the situation its focus on its brand image of being green and “beyond petroleum” was never matched by its actions or its commitments; it became hooked on its own brand myth. Environmental groups point out in the blogosphere that BP spent more on branding than renewable energy resources. Now the question of safety protocol violations, after three of the largest oil-related accidents in the past five years, means that BP’s management’s integrity is at severe risk, especially if there are any WikiLeaks.
As a result of the above, C suite executives may have been concerned about the impact of social media and what messages were being broadcast about their business into the digital world. WikiLeaks, however, has just upped the ante on the game completely! With several of our clients, one major problem area that we have identified is that they are not integrating social media as a unified element into their overall business structure and strategy. Brand messages and activity in the real world, online and via other media channels have to be consistent. Dialogues with consumers and business partners have to reflect the culture of the company, the strategic direction and positioning that management is trying to establish. For this to occur it is necessary that employees see a congruency between internal dialogues, external messages and actions taken. Without this congruency, the possibility for misalignment of intent, message and action increases. With the media driven awareness of the prevalence of secure and anonymous WikiLeaks drop boxes and of an organization committed to investigating and exposing unethical, dishonest or inconsistent actions, the opportunity for disgruntled or frustrated whistle blowing employees to ensure democracy of information just exploded exponentially.
In reality, no organization is WikiLeaks proof, despite the best promises of IT and cyber security companies. Today more openly accessible data is being generated within organizations so that it has become impossible to effectively contain and secure it. The best possible line of defense is to maintain consistently open and ethical behavior. CEO’s and boards should give serious consideration to their company’s digital footprint in terms of what their family and friends would think if its behaviors were to become public knowledge tomorrow… because they will!