Bold Statements About Content, Collaborations, Customers #gilbane
We’re live from Gilbane Boston 2011. Over the course of these two days, we’ll be examining the key elements of content, collaboration and customers so we can better understand how they all come together to enhance customer engagement across platforms, be it web, mobile or social. New social technologies and web content platforms can aid our approach, but the words we use and the way we share can also influence our impact.

Bold Statements, Big Ideas

The opening keynote featured a who’s who of strategists, analysts and thought leaders within the web content and digital media industry. Each panelist offered up a single big idea or bold statement about what the future of content and collaboration technologies will bring.

Christos M. Cotsakos, Ph.D., Founding Chairman, CEO & President, EndPlay

It seems as if our Quantum Content is taking a quantum leap into helping us turn exploding amounts of data into something valuable. With so much data being consumed, generated, we’ve become data junkies. Our need to feed our brains or smartphones with more video, more content, more updates about Justin Bieber and the Kardashians is putting a rather big strain on those of us who are trying to better understand what our customers want.

Data generated and consumed follow no rules or structure, so it’s not as if sorting it into buckets of likes, dislikes, wants, needs and nice to have help any. We want and hate it all. Cotsakos isn’t deterred though. He says that out of data chaos, there is a great opportunity to sort treasure from trash and turn volume into value. Exactly how you do it, well that’s the $5 billion question. By combining machine learning with social intelligence, we can begin to understand our customers holistically. People are complex, and so is the data they consume, so why should we expect to learn more about them without factoring complexity into our engagement models? When we do this, Cotsakos says we will begin to better understand each other.

Christer Johnson, Partner, North American BAO Advanced Analytics Leader, IBM Global Business Services

Social media analytics help us understand what people are saying about your brand and services online. Yet, for as much as people are using social media analytics, few can connect what they’ve learned to actual key performance indicators. If you are looking for a correlation between results and goals, social media isn’t the place to look. However, if you’re looking for a bigger story behind your brand, product or services, social media is a fountain of knowledge. But only if you’re listening, monitoring and leveraging the information in the right way.

Johnson cited many examples of companies that were able to leverage the story their customers were telling to shift their marketing strategies so they can better serve and deliver a better product. Sometimes nothing more than the words they used changed, but it was enough. Social media analytics will continue to fail you if you’re looking for the perfect metric to make it all fit together. Instead, put on your anthropological hat and look for patterns of behavior, cultural significance and other information that can help you make your brand more relevant in the marketplace.

Learning Opportunities

Maureen Chew, Chief Applications Officer, Information Technology Division, Commonwealth of MA

When you think of Boston, the Big Dig comes to mind. But what about Big Data? It turns out that Boston is about transparency and open data in government. In fact, the entire Commonwealth is opening up machine-related data to the public with new mobile apps that provide minutes from City Hall meetings, or an Open Check Book that allows users to see payments made by state and local government, the vendors that received payments and the services rendered, as well as employee salaries.

Chew attributes the success of open data to a functional governance model, great project management, executive support and web technologies upon which it was built. Above all, the data provided needs to be useful, easy to understand and meaningful to citizens.

Georgiana Cohen, Manager, Web Content and Strategy, Tufts University & Co-founder, Meet Content

Elements of a good story include the ability to connect words and actions to encourage listeners’ imagination. To Cohen, storytelling is an act of community. Stories that are shareworthy mean more to the people who tell them.As brand marketing strategies evolve, the ability to tell a good story will help to differentiate.

Cohen says that “a brand needs good stories like a website needs good usability.” As a result, we’re only as good as the stories that are told about us. Who is the hero? Ultimately it should be the user. It’s not about the company, it’s about empowering the user to feel victorious. When the user is empowered, great stories are told. The heroic tale will be told across platforms, and if it resonates, it will become legend!