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Tom Petrocelli News & Analysis

Mobile Is Changing Your Social Collaboration Apps

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Social collaboration applications have been in a race since their inception to see which could be the most feature laden. It was an arms race of sorts, with each side adding more ways to communicate and collaborate and -- in the process -- becoming more monolithic.

Applications that started as simple activity feeds and corporate microblogging platforms blossomed into much bigger software systems. Modern enterprise social networks, for example, allow end-users to share all manner of content including files and audio. Some allow sharing of business objects which encapsulate data and actions associated with a business process.

Even basic lightweight task management -- a specialty feature just a few years ago -- has morphed into sophisticated workflows with metadata driven program logic and is available in the majority of social collaboration tools.  

CMOs Listen to Customers, Not Processes

It took me a long time to know the difference between being an executive and being a mid-level or senior-level manager. In my first executive position, I tended to act as I previously had rather than what I needed to be. Luckily for me, I received good mentoring and could model executives around me.

One thing that separated the skills of an executive from those of everyone else: the ability to think strategically. While that sounds like some management consulting buzzword bingo winner, it has proven to be true. It’s not about thinking big, it’s about thinking of what’s important and letting others work through the details.

The Line Between Web CMS + Enterprise Social Networks Blur

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While conducting research for my yearly enterprise social network update, a trend that had been simmering for a while bubbled to the top: Quite a few enterprise social networking vendors had or were planning to extend their software in ways that make them nearly indistinguishable from web content management solutions.

That’s not too surprising. Jive Software has, for some time, supported external communities that provide a rich user experience with its JiveX product. Other enterprise social network vendors, for example Jostle, have positioned themselves as “social” intranets. While ostensibly an enterprise social network, products such as these often fill the same role as web content management software. They are used to create rich web-based experiences for internal or external communities.

Where Social Collaboration Is Heading

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Social collaboration software has come a long way, both in terms of acceptance in organizations (if not daily usage) and products. Ten years ago social collaboration was mostly thought of as Facebook for the enterprise, an unfortunate tagline that suggested frivolity and not utility. Since then, social collaboration has embraced many different types of technology that help knowledge workers find and share content and ideas. An explosion of new ways to work together gradually coalesced into the form we see today. This process is driving what we can expect in the next year or so.

Analytics is Everywhere

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We saw the usual spate of announcements coming from the major software companies this fall. Lots of new extensions to the Salesforce.com and Oracle marketing clouds, Adobe extensions and updates to Creative Cloud, and most recently, IBM’s Launch of IBM Verse. And that’s just the big players.

All of the fall software announcements had one thing in common: analytics. Whether it’s sales analysis, data for making marketing decisions or prioritizing emails, analytics -- predictive analytics especially -- is everywhere. It’s behind the latest supply chain management tools and integrated into CRM systems. Analytics is in email too.

Getting Personal with Big Machines

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When we think of personalization of service through analytics, the first thought that likely comes to mind is retail applications or consumer goods.

But what about industrial equipment, especially heavy equipment? The way we service big machines is undergoing a renaissance, thanks to the same technology we use to enhance the consumer experience.

Have Retail Analytics Crossed the Line from Cool to Creepy?

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A body of new solutions for retail businesses promises to both excite and upset consumers. These solutions deliver in-store (or near store) content to consumers that a vendor has decided might want to buy a product in the store.

The drivers are analytics software solutions that crunch data from a plethora of sources -- social, digital, point-of-sale and customer service -- in close to real time.

Consumers are organized into profiles or personas that can be scored by their propensity to buy a particular product at a point in time. Using these profiles, marketing professionals create and distribute personalized content that engages and, in theory, excites consumers enough to prompt a purchase. 

But could the technology just as easily agitate or annoy potential customers?

See the Whole Customer to Guide the Decision Journey

2014-02-September-Watermelons.jpgThe basis of the customer decision journey is that the customer follows a decision path that leads to a purchase. Vendors provide small pokes, prods and nudges along the way, often in the form of engaging content that keeps the customer moving toward buying something. The content needs to be highly personalized and based on demographics, individual buying patterns and other aspects of the buying experience.

While “the journey” is a better metaphor than many previous ones used by marketers, especially the militaristic “campaign” or industrial “funnel,” it tends to belie the complexity of the process of turning interest into purchase.

The Barriers to Working like a Network in Office 365

2014-07-August-Road-Block.jpgIt is frustrating to see the potential of technology and not have it realized. The solution is there but, as they say in New England, “you can’t get there from here.” Such is Office 365.

Social and Digital Channel Diversity Drives Engagement

2014-02-July-Mr-Softie.jpgMultichannel marketing -- interacting with customers through many channels at once -- is the flavor of the month in marketing. In theory, by communicating across social and digital (and perhaps physical and broadcast) channels, better engagement is possible. Like so many marketing buzzwords, one has to wonder if this is a lot of hype or if it is an important concept that everyone should integrate into their best practices.

Social Ideation Finds Ideas Worth Pursuing

2014-03-June-sticky-notes.jpgKnowledge-based companies have been driving much of the economy, especially in the United States and Europe. Information technology, media, biotech and pharmaceutical, financial services companies and many more are based on the ability to generate good ideas, turn them into technology and, eventually, products. The “business” of these companies is intellectual property (IP) -- basically an idea that has value. Even companies that don’t make money directly on IP have to worry about it.

IP is not only a product idea. It may also be a better way of doing business, a price model that offers a competitive advantage, or a way to achieve operational efficiencies.

Where the Differences Lie in Enterprise Social Networks

Where the Differences Lie in Enterprise Social NetworksAs more companies look to enterprise social networks to help boost collaboration, taking the first step can be difficult. Deploy the wrong enterprise social network and no one will use it, providing little to no value. Get it right and barriers between functional silos will fall and teams will operate with greater efficiency, flexibility and responsiveness.

The difficulties that companies have had in deploying enterprise social often start right at the beginning. It’s not hard to understand why choosing a product can be tough since most enterprise social networks look almost identical. All the basics are there in just about every product including microblogging and conversations, groups, and document, file, and content sharing. Security and other major enterprise deployment factors are also similar across vendors and products. On the surface, all enterprise social networks look the same. The path to value, however, lies in some key differences.

The Drag on Enterprise Mobile Applications: Security and Privacy

What we have today could barely be called enterprise mobile applications.

We have enterprise applications that exist in a mobile form. We even have some mobile applications meant for the enterprise. But what we have very little of is mobile applications that an IT professional would feel comfortable calling enterprise grade. There is a simple reason for this -- lack of viable security and privacy options that meet the needs of a large or even mid-sized enterprise.

Spend Time Where it Counts with Predictive Analytics

Spend Time Where it Counts with Predictive AnalyticsThere's a whole new world of marketing out there folks. The old ways of reaching prospects and reeling in customers are no longer enough. TV, radio, print and even internet ads are the price of admission for companies trying to reach and engage customers. Successful marketing professionals now have to contend with social media of many different forms, in-app mobile advertising, and community development and management.

Do Enterprise Social Networks Really Help Collaboration?

One of the most cited reasons that companies deploy enterprise social networks is to enhance collaboration. It’s easy to see why. The theory goes “Your team will collaborate better with an enterprise social network helping people to share information more easily.”

But is this true? Can sharing information more easily really help people to collaborate better?

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