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Discussion Point News & Analysis

Discussion Point: Omnichannel Marketing in the 2014 Holiday Season

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Marketing technology vendors love to preach the value of sending consumers personalized offers on the device they're using at just the right moment.

Though we're only emerging from the developmental infancy of omnichannel marketing, several companies offer software and services that promise to do just that. Chief marketing officers at major retailers are spending more of their budgets on collecting data, analyzing actions and monitoring social media -- all with an eye toward increasing sales in their hyper-competitive sector.

Discussion Point: Creating Long Distance Collaboration and Teams

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You may not like everyone who works in your physical office. But at least you know people well enough to have reasons to dislike them. After all, you spend eight or more hours together every day.

Not so in the virtual world, where the lack of serendipitous encounters and chance conversations make it all the more difficult to forge connections — and increase the ease of developing biased perceptions.

Sometimes even the warmest and most considerate people sound cold and abrasive on the phone. A shy person can be misconstrued as cool and aloof. And, curiously, someone suffering from massive insecurities can seem narcissistic and egotistical because he insists on hiding behind a wall of faux achievements.

So in the age of remote workforces, when employees are increasingly connected by technology rather than shared desk space, how do we make lofty concepts like collaboration and cooperation a daily reality?

Can we force people on opposite coasts to actually like each other? Or, failing that, can we just get everyone to respect each other enough to embrace a common culture?

Discussion Point: Is the Cloud Really Secure?

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Cloud computing is on the rise, but with it comes new fears about data security. Cybercriminals are always looking for an in, so cloud services constantly need to stay ahead of potential vulnerabilities.

Nothing has driven that point home more than a flurry of recent high-profile breaches. But because cloud computing comes with many advantages, including cost, ease and convenience, companies have an incentive to find security solutions. But it’s a daunting challenge.

In this week’s Discussion Point we ask experts to weigh in about the risks versus benefits of the cloud. Is true cloud security an unattainable dream?

Discussion Point: Who'll Win the Digital Marketing Arms Race?

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Sitecore CEO Michael Seifert caught our attention last month when he claimed the "arms race" among 1,000-plus digital marketing vendors is hurting the industry.

"Frankly, I think it's getting absurd," he told the crowd at his company's annual symposium in Las Vegas. "Marketing technology is starting to fail the marketer."

His argument was that the smaller players only operate on the channel they serve. Seifert believes Sitecore's comprehensive approach puts it among the marketing cloud superpowers -- like Oracle and Adobe -- that will thrive while smaller players fade away.

Discussion Point: What's the Big Problem With Big Data? [Video]

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Ask 100 people to define big data and you'll get 100 answers, including no answers at all. In theory, big data can help organizations make decisions faster, easier and more accurately. But in practice, faster and easier is just an unrealized goal — and creating business value is often even more elusive.

Riddled with hype and inflated expectations, big data has been nothing more than a nebulous concept for many organizations. 

Rather than successfully analyze a complex set of datasets to discover information that could help teams make better decisions or find new patterns, floods of data often overwhelm the people struggling to make sense of it.

Discussion Point: Will We Still Use Twitter in 10 Years?

discussion-point-1.jpgTechnology tastes change quickly. Things can be hot today, gone tomorrow.

Anybody remember Pointcast? Once the software app of the moment, it was quickly tossed into the rubbish bin of technology history.

That brings us to Twitter, one of the apps du jour. It's amazing how swiftly it has penetrated into the public consciousness. We now see the tweets of public figures scrolling across TV screens during International sporting events.

Founded in 2006,  Twitter has gone public and amassed a $31 billion market cap in less than 10 years.

But will we still tweet 10 years from now? After all, it's just a text message. There's not really any rocket science here. And it's been proven that new social apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp can swoop in and grab the fickle-fancy of teens in a heartbeat.

A decade is an eon in tech terms. When you think of Moore's Law, whereby computer speed and capacity doubles every two years, it makes 10-year old technology look lame.

No app is safe in the zeitgeist of mobile culture.

Discussion Point: Is Work Interfering With Our Personal Lives?

discussion-pointPut down your phone, please — you can call your cousin in a minute. And hold off updating your Facebook status or tweeting about the fantastic mocha latte you had an hour ago or watching the YouTube video du jour.

We've got work to do.

But results of new Ricoh Americas Corp. survey, released just today, confirm what many of us have long suspected: namely, that technology could be sapping our workplace productivity — and enabling workers to do a lot of things other than work.

Terrie Campbell, Vice President, Strategic Marketing at Ricoh Americas Corp., said businesses of all sizes are facing a connectivity conundrum. “We need to be connected to electronic resources for our work, which gives us a tremendous ability to achieve great things. But the flip-side is we’re a click away from alluring distractions like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Hollywood gossip and Angry Birds,” she said.

Discussion Point: Why are We Still Stuck on Email?

discussion-pointEmail: productivity's favorite punching bag. The complaints against email are well known. It's a time suck and ineffective for large scale communication, yet most of us still turn to it on a daily, if not hourly basis to communicate with others (with some notable exceptions succeeding without).

Some companies are experimenting with banning email communication during non-work hours while others have banned internal email

If email is truly the scourge that it is painted out to be, what explains its holding power? 

Discussion Point: Will the CMO Replace the CIO?

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You've heard it at technology conferences, you've read it in research reports, maybe you've even shared it at the water cooler.

CMOs drive technology decisions today. The CIO's job is obsolete. Soon we won't need CIOs.

It's not a new debate. By now, the topic is covered regularly in the media, including CMSWire. Take a look at headlines like "Goodbye CIO? Why the Role May Ultimately Disappear" and "Should the CIO Report to the CMO?"  Sometimes, it's a plea for survival: "Hey, CMO! Hey, CIO! Work Together or Lose Everything."

Yes, today's CMOs are expected to be technology-savvy managers with a hunger for big data, digital asset management, marketing automation and predictive analysis. They will own revenue goals and formulate sales projections for the CFO based on dashboards they monitor by the hour. 

But, honestly, do they even want to take on the responsibilities of an enterprise CIO? We decided to put the question before four experts who deal with this issue every day -- two technologists and two marketers. 

Discussion Point: How Big are Data Security Threats?

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You may have heard that some cyber criminals in Russia recently stole more than a billion user IDs and passwords -- yes, that's billion with a "B."  

In the past year, online security and data theft has been making international headlines, as evidenced by huge security breaches at retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus.

How bad is it? With our lives becoming more digitally entwined, it makes sense that potential security threats are more visible. Think about how many times a day you exchange digital information using either an Internet connection or a mobile device.

Despite the security hysteria, experts say there are simple ways to take steps to tighten up your Internet security -- whether for your own personal or business use. CMSWire reached out to a collection of Internet security experts to find what's going on.

Discussion Point: Where Do Customer Success Teams Belong?

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Customer success (CS) is one of the hotter topics heard across the sprawling sales and marketing universe today. But does anyone know who those CS folks report to at the office?

You'd think so. Thousands of marketing, customer support and sales people have flocked to customer success conferences this year. There are about 250 CS jobs currently listed on Monster. There's a well established Customer Success Association. And there's a growing list of data, analytics and cloud vendors pitching their wares to flush Chief Customer Success Officers.

Discussion Point: How Will the IoT Change Our Lives?

Thumbnail image for discussion-pointYou can't escape the buzz about the Internet of Things (IoT). From ubiquitous sensors and constant connectivity to wearable tech and appliances that seemingly think autonomously, the potential is limitless.

We're rapidly developing a digital nerve system as sophisticated and complex as anything in the human body.

Proponents boast that the IoT will shape our futures and transform the ways we work, live and play. But will it — and, if so, how? To find out, we turned to four industry experts, including two that rank on Appinions list of the IoT's top 10 movers and shakers. (Appinions is an influence marketing platform designed to help B2B businesses identify, manage and measure the people and ideas that impact companies and their products.)

The Guy Who Believes in Disruption, Innovation and 'Memorable Stories'

Connecting with Bill Sobel

Jonathan Marks is a writer, broadcaster and researcher on a wide range of issues connected with the media.

And he has an interesting position: he "leads disruptive innovation" at Critical Distance, a creative guild of digital craftsmen and women based near Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In a more traditional sense, he is CEO.

But Marks just thinks differently. It's not quite clear what his objective was when he founded Critical Distance in 2003. But it doesn't really matter, because "last year, we rethought everything from the ground up. Why? Because routine is the enemy of change."

Today the company helps entrepreneurs "build, produce and keep really memorable stories."

"We inspire, guide and collaborate to build great companies. We specialize in digital strategy, cross-media productions, consultancy (at senior management level) and training the trainers," he explained.

Before founding the company, Marks was program director at Radio Netherlands. He led the development of online and mobile storytelling on projects in Latin America, South Asia and Africa.

Discussion Point: Where Does HR Go From Here?

Thumbnail image for discussion-pointAnother day, another disruption. 

Or at least that's how it must feel for most every department in organizations today. The repercussions of the combined digital, social, mobile trifecta radiate throughout the organization. But if you mix in economic factors, shifting skill requirements, distributed workforces and new expectations of those entering the workplace, then I think you know which department specifically we're talking about: Human Resources.

Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2014 (pdf) report identified the most urgent trends that HR professionals face today. Number one? Leadership development. Number two? Seventy-nine percent answered retention and engagement. Yet only 16 percent felt ready to tackle these and the challenges they face. 

A fundamental rethinking of the HR department is required to meet these demands.

Discussion Point: What's the ROI on B2B Social Media Marketing?

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I always tell the story of the day a supervisor at a former company told me, "We should get on Twitter."

Get on Twitter. Why? Because others are doing it, of course. 

There was no game plan. How much should we tweet? When should we tweet? What should we tweet? Are our clients on Twitter? Nope, not even that question was considered. 

Today, of course, social media seems to be all we can talk about when it comes to marketing. Even B2B marketers have caught on. Having a presence in social circles is a must.

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