How We Gave Up Control Over The Social Web

A short but pithy piece over the weekend by Dave Winer titled “Why the Web 2.0 model is obsolete” got me thinking about where we’ve ended up with social media after nearly ten years. Blogs, wikis, and other tools of easily shared self-expression from the early days have given away in recent years to a much less diverse social media monoculture. A few large social networks now control our social identity, content, and behavior, and through their terms of service, often literally own our online existence legally and de facto.

This evolution was perhaps inevitable given the rules through which networks operate and certainly the result has its strengths. It’s far easier for consumers and businesses to adopt a hosted service than set up their own social presence, with all the complicated bits it requires to set up a fully functional social identity on your own these days. It’s also probably more secure, safe, and reliable long term. It’s certainly the shortest route to connecting with the vast captive audiences that the leading social networks now wield.

Yet in the process of making many short term decisions in the name of reach and convenience, many of us have given away our social capital, and along with it much of our online autonomy and freedom. I’ve long since stopped advising companies to drive their traffic to Facebook (disclaimer: I am a shareholder) and build their own online communities and digital ecosystems if they are intending to be strategic about things like social business and open APIs.

Network Effects, Social Media, and Centralized vs. Federated

The impressive thing is that we’ve largely achieved the original vision of Web 2.0 and it’s just how we do things now. We share by default. We use social media more than any other digital activity. Social media is now woven into so much of what we do today. Yet the majority of all of this user generated content and online community is now centralized in a few large social silos that can no longer talk to each other.

Even worse, if we go the opposite direction that might seem better long term, we’ve discovered issues with that model too. For example, we’ve learned that when we create many smaller, self-controlled, and more autonomous social environments we then create fragmentation. We can’t easily communicate or collaborate with each other across these social islands. Thus, for as many downsides as the monolithic social networks have, they do achieve one important thing: They create a very large single social universe that we can all communicate across.

So what should we collectively do? Should we cave in and trust that the corporate owners of the social world will be benevolent, even when they clearly have business models that are very often at cross purposes to our needs and desires? Or should we find a way to solve the problem of creating our own social corners on the Web and then connecting them together, all while making it very easy to do so? Personally, I’m hoping it’s the latter. Certainly I’ve explored previously how open social standards have a genuine shot at helping with this, even if it might be a bit of a long shot.

The reality is that social media silos are now holding us back, both as individuals and as businesses. We can do much better if we want. But getting there requires a little long-term discipline and plenty of widespread demand. That makes it pretty unlikely in the face of the enormously strong network effects of the largest social networks today. But perhaps there’s a third option to regaining control over our social lives. In fact, I predict the next big breakthrough in social media is likely to come from the need to resolve this tension between the unfortunate long term consequences of centralized social media and the benefits of a much more federated and user controlled model. Unfortunately, recent history has been a steady march towards the former.

So until then, we all need to mull over where our collective decisions are taking us, for as social media is perhaps the greatest communication revolution in history, its intrinsic power cuts both ways.

Imagining the Future of the Enterprise

This afternoon at a workshop in Stuttgart, Germany at the KnowTech conference I explored our latest conception of the many transformative technology changes happening within our organizations today. The majority, if not most of these trends, are now being driven by the so-called “big shifts” — and our response to them as people, organizations, and society — that are largely being imposed from outside the walls of the enterprise. Consumerization is clearly here to stay. This is not to say that businesses aren’t innovating. Certainly they still are. But they are greatly outnumbered and frequently outclassed by the tsunami of new ideas sweeping across us from the consumer world.

The pace of advance today can seem overwhelming. It is new mobile devices, social media, cloud services, avalanches of sensor or crowd-created data, all brought to our doorstep via new digital channels and platforms such as mobile apps, app stores, open APIs, new social networks, gamification tools, to name just a few of the bigger and more disruptive technologies.

To proactively deal with all this, I currently advise most companies to develop a “strategy book” that they can readily use to identify important new advances, understand their abilities and ramifications, and then determine the impact to their business, both in terms of opportunity and challenges. Note: The aforementioned workshops typically provide the basis for such a strategy book and the processes required.

Unfortunately for most companies, there are often more challenges than opportunities, since many of these new technologies go against the grain of how traditional companies are structured and operate. Openness, decentralized processes, mass participation, network effects, and radically new distribution models for communication and work are not merely typical of today’s consumer technologies, it’s how they fundamentally work and compete against each other.

Put simply, to survive these generational shifts, organizations must figure out how to absorb new technology changes effectively and at scale. This will require potent strategies that will begin with requiring genuine rethinking of service delivery within our organizations and ultimately arrive at a profound transformation of the company. This will ultimately include its business models, motivations, and sometimes even its reasons for being. One can look at Amazon as an exemplar of this, starting out in e-commerce, and ending up a true and surprisingly pure digital platforms company, successfully wielding mobile, platforms, cloud, and big data to achieve market domination. Amazon is the most well known, but there are others and the route is repeatable, just as it is sometimes difficult.

The end point of all this is where everything is a service, as Dave Gray famously predicted. But also it’s more than that. The future of the enterprise, what I’m calling the next-generation enterprise, requires a mindset that doesn’t think in terms of fixed markets or point products or services. Instead, we must create, cultivate, and control fast-moving and highly competitive ecosystems of people, information, and value across a virtually unlimited number of channels. Those who can move first, co-create, and own the best class of information and then deliver it in forms the market wants, when it wants it, will be the winners in the short-term and long-term. Companies organized to do any less than this will falter and fade.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about and exploring how organizations can get there. There’s still a lot we need to learn, but we’re beginning to see the broad outlines. Unfortunately, there still more questions than answers, even today. Can most organizations make the transition? Does the transition to a next-generation enterprise have multiple routes, if so, what are they? How much investment is required and what is the likelihood of failure? Can we quantify and manage the risk of transforming? All of these questions and more remain difficult to answer.

Related: How Digital Business Will Evolve in 2012: 6 Big Ideas

However, we do know with a fair degree of certainty that most large organizations will need to begin changing faster — starting now — if they intend to survive. Most will need to become next-generation enterprises in a meaningful way within the next half-decade. And they need to have started several years ago.

As we enter the age of digital engagement, the untapped possibilities still largely exist. Most organizations should be utterly thrilled by the uncharted territories in front of them. Unfortunately, I see that most do not even see these as more than a threat, if they see them at all. That then is the first challenge: Changing how we regard our connection and relation to the world, for the biggest changes happening today are not only digital, but to ourselves and what makes our companies work.

Dreamforce 12: Live Blogging the Benioff Keynote

Opening keynote morning at Dreamforce 12
There is plenty of buzz and excitement here at Dreamforce 12 right now, with an estimated double the number of attendees as last year (90,000 by last count), which is saying something. Peter Coffee is doing the pre-keynote hosting and showing off various aspects of Salesforce product. ZDNet’s Larry Dignan has already covered some of the new announcements this morning. I’m sure also we’ll hear plenty of details and success stories from Marc Benioff and other customers and Salesforce execs during the keynote session today.


Slide provided to industry analysts and press by Salesforce

Liveblogging and analysis of the Dreamforce opening keynote

9:00am: Peter Coffee is doing opening introductions and safe harbor notices.

9:01am: Now introducing MC Hammer onto the stage…

9:03am: Really trying to pump up the crowd, like it needs it very much… Singing Too Legit to Quit

MC Hammer at Dreamforce 12

9:07am: OK, MC Hammer is offstage after doing a quick shout out to social business platforms.

9:09am: Montage of Salesforce and customer stories. Burberry, General Electric, Men’s Wearhouse, Perrier, and many others.

9:11am: Plenty of pounding music and video about Salesforce products, customers, and stories. Quite a bit of mention of both social and sales. No one on stage yet, it’s all video.

9:13am: Now Marc Benioff is up on stage in front of a Business Is Social banner. “I’m going to help you walk through a door. You’ve created the world’s largest technology event. Saying 90,000 people registered for the event. “The Cloud is coming…”

Mark Benniof at Dreamforce 12

9:17am: Reviewing Salesforce’s charitable efforts. Putting 1% of their equity, profit, and product into a 501(c)3 charity. Very proud of the 350,000 hours of service and $40 million in grants donated.

9:19am: Announces they’re giving away $10 million to San Francisco District 10, five grantees in all. Also grants to $4 million to JCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

9:20am: “We are standing on the shoulders’ of giants.” Talking about mainframes, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and client/server computing. Google for creating the cloud. Amazon and Jeff Bezos gets a shout-out. Mentions the “late great” Steve Jobs as a visionary, gets a big hand from the crowd.

9:21am: “The social revolution is being led by many new prophets.” Mentions Mark Zuckerberg. Moving forward in the continuum. That’s why we’re all here at this conference. “This social revolution is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before.” A single video on YouTube can cause massive disruption around the world. (Clearly referring to the Innocence of Muslims video.)

9:22am: Asking the audience how many companies use social in their busineses today in some way. Most of the audience raises their hands. Says 70% of businesses use social in how they work. Cites McKinsey’s $1.3 trillion economic benefit stat for social business. Most of the audience raises their hands.

9:24am: Says social is now the fastest growth investment of any IT category.

Social Business is Highest Growth IT Segment

9:25am: CEO study reports that business leaders think social will be one of top 2 ways to engage with customers.

9:27am: “Our core mission is to help you connect with your customers in a whole new way.” It’s not just about how or why we’re connecting. It goes deeper. It’s getting down into the fundamental interaction between each one of us. Because we’re changing how we’re doing business. How we interact with our employees, customer, partners. It’s incredible what’s happening. It’s getting down to a fundamental change in business.”

Related: Eight Ways to Prepare to Socially Engage at Scale

9:28am: “About 5 years ago we went through a big transformation. We realized we had to change our core values. Customer success was our highest value. But we saw something else. To really be successful in this new time. We would really have to become a company customers could trust. We’d need more openness and transparency. Half transparency isn’t enough. We’d have to focus on individuals, with greater alignment, and leadership than ever before. To do this we’d have to get to a level of trust that would take our industry — and that would take us — to a whole new level.”

9:30am: “The social revolution is a trust revolution. The incredible value of trust.”

9:30am: “Are you and your company going through a social revolution? We believe that this will demarcate the companies that will be successful going forward. The future is about being connected to workers, customers, and partners.” Now talking about Jeff Immelt reaching out to Mark to talk about the future of GE. He went to talk to GE’s top executives.

9:32am: Continuing the discussion about talking with Jeff Immelt about the future of GE. Immelt said two things. First, said the future of GE is about the man/machine interface. They make CAT scanners, turbines, jet engines. Those machines are becoming more and more intelligent. The future of our profitability and revenue is about the effectiveness of their customer engagement. Talking about APIs and ‘socially’ collaborating with GE products which will get feeds, status updates, and other social trapping around their products. Side note: Social products is a hot topic.

Related: Last year’s Dreamforce 11 Keynote Live Blog

9:34am: Talking about the GE Share vision still and how GE is planning to connect with customers in a whole new way. Citing Toyota Friend from last year’s keynote. Now showing a video of how GE is using social to connect employees to customers to machines.

9:38am: Video is exploring how jet engines are being integrated into the social fabric of running GE. Social and Salesforce “helped connect the dots” and makes the business more approachable. “If you’re a business, you need to become social to get closer to the customer.”

9:40am: Mark is back and talking about how social adds value to the business. Now inviting Charlene Begley the President and CEO of Home Product Division up to talk. Saying “GE is Social.”

How General Electric is Social

9:41am: “Social is about accelerating learning, communication, and access to information.” Have 300,000 people that need to turn data into information. Social unlocks huge value.

9:42am: Mark: “How to transform the way that you sell to your customers? Market to your customers? Support your customers? How to do you transform the way that you collaborate with your customers? How to transform how you fundamentally work inside your organization.” Says Forbes has selected Salesforce has selected them twice as the most innovative company. “How do you transform how you innovate?”

9:44am: “Social Revolution: The New Social Front Office, Where Trust Lives.” Now breaking down the benefits of social business. “How do we give you the information you need to go back and transform your companies?” Going to tell six stories of six companies to illustrate how it’s done.

The Benefits of Social Business

9:46am: Marc’s social business benefits summary slide: +32% sales productivity, +29% innovation, +34% employee satisfaction, +31% employee productivity, +37% campaign effectiveness, +34% customer satisfaction. Jibes well with our meta-synthesis of benefits as well.

9:48am: The first story is up. Rossignol discusses in detail their experience with social business and sales.

9:52am: Announcing Salesforce Touch: “Sales is now social. Data is now social.”

9:53am: Talking about Salesforce Partner Communities. Doing a demo of how companies can selectively open up to partners to enable them to collaborate better. Using example of REI, Rossignol, and skis where they can plan collaboratively using social tools. Really switching from the vision down to specific product information. Crowd a little less engaged but it is useful functionality in terms of getting the full context of what’s going on in terms of complex sales environments.

9:56am: Continuing the demo, showing mobile devices and Salesforce Touch in context of a meeting in the field. “Has everything she needs in her hand, can see her Chatter feed, last minute updates. Using ‘digital sales aid’ instead of PowerPoint. Doing a presentation with video and answering all questions on the fly, all using the Salesforce experience. Has integrated experience right to the customer signature and closing the deal in a single seamless experience from presentation to closed deal. Fairly impressive. Saying “That is social selling.” Seeing the power of “social data”.

10:00am: Switching back to Mark (didn’t catch the name of the last person.) Talking about seamless integration of Salesforce and Chatter. Says he lives in the app himself. Now introducing CEO of Rossignol, Burno Cercley.

10:01am: Going to explore how social is transforming Rossignol, says “saving time is part of the DNA of Rossignol. In racing, 100th of second can make you very sad or very happy. Time is of the essence. If we lose a day, we can lose a season. We need to understand the business as quickly as possible. The only way to get the info from the sales guy to marketing, product development, etc is key. We need to understand what’s going on. [Social] is how we will do this.”

Rossignol's Social Business experience

10:03am: Now Charles Schwab’s CIO, Brad Peterson is up and talking about becoming a social business. I like what Mark is saying about trust (he should, given the industry.) “To be a social business, you have to have the DNA of your company support this.” 7,000 advisors are building on the Schwab platform, which Salesforce is providing. Advisors build the relationship with the customer, are building communities to improve this connection.

Charles Schwab as a Social Business

10:05am: Mark: “We are telling you these social business stories to help you transform yourself and your organizations.” 7,700 employees. #1 video game publisher. Rolling a video on how they’re using social. Says they believe that the “swarming aspect” of addressing an emerging problem is going to be key to success. Great Social CRM example, though would love hard numbers.

10:08am: Fergus Griffin, senior VP of marketing, is up. “We’ve just seen this fantastic social transformation of Activision.” Using Service Cloud to do this. Citing http://ideas.salesfore.com. Really pitching Service Cloud, includes federated search, internal objects as knowledge, external sources such as SharePoint. Available as pilot in 2013. Talking about new Chatter Communities for self-service. Combined best of social networking with customer self-service processes.

10:12am: Fergus is going through some detailed scenarios of how they support customers using social CRM. Examples include GameStop, Activision, and Twitter.

10:15am: “Bringing together people to support each other is a customer service dream.” Talking about how Activision has created a ‘Facebook for gamers.’ Have one for Call of Duty and shows examples of how customers support each other, including using gamers to rate the accuracy of socially co-created answers.

10:17am: Continuing very detailed scenarios about using multichannel customer support, including FaceTime and other ways to ensure customers can get the help they need.

Related: CRM investments ramp due to social media and smart mobility

10:19am: Using Service Cloud to redefine what customer service systems looks like. Inviting Robert Schmidt, global CIO of Activision up on stage. Interviewing him on his vision for the future. “Our games are very social, we have 1-2 million people play every day. What the future holds for us is that [social] is not just a technology change, it’s a cultural one.” Telling a story about how social networking in their company. How an employee was hesitant to respond to an issue because their boss hadn’t yet. Said this is the cultural change we need to enable.

10:22am: Mark: Introducing the CEO of Yelp, Jeremy Stoppelman, says he’s the “Father of Trust.” Mark: “Give us some insight on the medium of social networking.”

10:23am: “We have so many tapping into content on the go. All over the country and all over the world. Mobile is one of our key focus areas as social goes mobile.”

10:24am: Mark: “We want to start a new journey with you. We’re going to show you a brand new application today. It’s really incredible. The company that we’re going to use to illustrate this is Commonwealth Bank. Australia’s largest bank.” Rolling video.

10:25am: “You can extend this new world to any one, any time. If you look at the social integration in the business, things like Chatter allow the narrative of the organization to be captured and shared.”

10:27am: Mark: “By 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.” Sidebar: My take on the future of CIOs and CMOs.

10:28am: Introducing Brett Queener, EVP of Marketing Cloud. “Social represents the biggest change to marketing in the last 60 years.” We’re hearing: “We’ve been managing social with one or two people over here in the corner. That’s not going to work any more. They need to manage marketing over every one of their workers and customers.” Talking about the integration of Radian6 and BuddyMedia. “The industries first integrated marketing suite. We all have the ability to do social marketing right.” Certainly, this is a hot space. Note: We’re not doing so bad on this either, as are some others, but it is a compelling story.

10:34am: Brett continuing to show the integrated vision of Marketing Cloud, with real time connection between mobile, Facebook, Twitter, and the social Web. Showing campaign performance, dashboards, demographic breakdowns, and drill downs using Commonwealth Bank as an example. High polish, all in the inimitable Salesforce style. Mobile is a major, if not the primary, focus here, which is interesting.

10:38am: “We can employ the marketing cloud to use the voice of our customer. We can show ROI across both paid and earned media. Can clearly show the number of new customers that we’ve brought into Commonwealth Bank through the power of social. Can you really easily engage and advertise, and understand the return on social? Yes, you can.”

10:40am: Mark is back thanking how everyone collaborated together to create the Marketing Cloud, “it’s a new door for us, an incredible new capability. Bringing up Andy Lark, CMO of Commonwealth Bank. “What is your vision for marketing?”

10:41am: People don’t have PCs as much, now they have smartdevices. Marketing has had all these point solutions, unlike ERP and other IT systems, it’s been hard for companies to adopt. The implication is that Marketing Cloud is an integrated enough solution to be the face of marketing capability.

Commonwealth Bank as a Social Business

10:43am: Introducing George Zimmer, CEO of the Men’s Wearhouse, famous gravelly voice and all. “Well as you know, we built our business on baby boomers and a billion in advertising. We’re now transforming our company to address the millennial generation. Using Marketing Cloud to find out what they like and don’t like.” Nice: “You’ll like the way Salesforce works, I guarantee it.”

10:45am: Now Mark is talking about Virgina America, a $1 billion airline with 2,500 employees. “Culture is something the other airlines can’t replicate. The people are our business, it’s the one thing that makes us a lot different. We’ve been through a rapid growth phase that’s been challenging. This linear communication era that we’ve come out of is no longer happening. How can we make our customers part of the conversation? We found Chatter to be part of the solution. Chatter will let us give customers a personalized experience.” They’re showing how the airline can engage with customers right in the seat, on the screen they provide.

10:49am: Now Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris is up on stage talking about Salesforce Chatter. “Chatter brings social to collaboration.” Introducing Salesforce Chatter for Communities. Facebook for Customer, Partners, and Employees. Trusted security and sharing, pilot with Winter ’13 release.

10:51am: “I’m here today to announce Salesforce Chatterbox.” Sync files across any device. Preview/read documents. Secure File Sharing. Essentially a social Dropbox. Showing a Virgin America skinned version of Chatterbox, “because it’s a platform”, says Parker.

Parker Harris and Chatter at Dreamforce 12

10:54am: Continuing a demo of Virgin Atlantic with many specific examples and using Chatterbox. Interesting demo of sending a Chatter message to an airplane in flight. “Sees a message popup in his seat back.” Shows how Virgin America can provide information on his late flight, his next gate, etc. using Salesforce Chatter Communities. Looks like real functionality from their Red platform. Hands it back to Mark. “Isn’t that an incredible demonstration of the future, integration.”

11:00am: Inviting CEO of Virgin America, David Cush, up to talk. “Social is the best way to get a tip about an airline.” Typically airline communication is very chain of command, we’re changing that to be very egalitarian.”

11:01am: Just brought up famous motivational speaker Tony Robbins, who has a keynote on another day. Aggressive user of Chatter in his organization, they are creating communities where customers can solve their own challenges (using Chatter of course.) Talking about the notorious firewalk emergency recently, how they used Radian6 to manage the crisis. “I’d say the future is connect or die, connect and you win.”

Anthony Robbins at Dreamforce 12 and his Social Business Story

11:05am: Showing a video about how the workplace is changing. “In today’s world, how work gets done is very much social. With your peers, co-workers, and customers.”

11:07am: This is going to be a spectacular new journey. Introducing John Wookey, EVP of Work.com, and Social Applications. “The world of work is changing. Work is social, business is social.” When they see high performing companies, they see alignment. “We talk about leadership, passion, and hard work. But we don’t talk about human resources.” We have to align our team and drive our teams to give great performance over and over.”

11:09am: Announcing Work.com, and a social HR Performance Management Platform. “Completely redesigned from the ground up. We’ve created a continuing evolving vision of work.” Giving a demo of how Work.com supports the culture of the company and helps organizations come together to create success. Can help create motivation, “like a Tony Robbins avatar.” Work.com is a set of applications that will motivate, align, and create great performance. It will drive engagement and impact. Work.com is goals, it’s the foundation. Created with a manager and their team.

11:12am: “Traditional performance reviews are demotivating. They don’t work.” “Creates a single simple real-time performance review. Employees or managers can have a conversation at any time about their performance with the company.” Walking through Facebook’s recruiting process.

Work.com as a Social Busienss HR Platform at Dreamforce 12

11:14am: Have created a new iPad recruiting app. Now talking about Facebook, about how it has created a holistic talent management platform with Workday and the Work.com platform. Pretty impressive stuff and a good view of the workings inside of Facebook.

11:17am: Back to Mark. Welcoming Tim Campos, Global CIO of Facebook, to talk about their story. “Social is inherent in who we are. And it’s helped propel us to have more than 950M people on the site. At Facebook, we say the site is only 1% finished. The way we’re going to get there is through our workforce, and it’s about the people. We have incredibly intelligent individuals. But it’s not about the org chart or structure. It’s about the relationships. We need tools to help us facilitate that.”

11:19am: The new view de-emphasizes the the cost center. “Our workforce is encouraged to provide continuous and authentic feedback every day.” Talking about how they use Work.com presumably. “The next generation of workforce tools is going to create this kind of relationship between employees.”

How Facebook is Social At Dreamforce 12

11:21am: Introducing Aneel Bushri, CEO of Workday, thanking Mark and talking about their partnership. Now switching to the social business story of Coca Cola and how they’re making their beverages social. It’s clear Salesforce is trying to show how social is really happening, now.

11:25am: Continuing video of Coca-Cola, which is talking about mobile, cloud, social, networked environments, and how they are trying to embrace consumerization and mass personalization. I expect another executive introduction.

11:27am: Introducing George Hu, COO of Salesforce. “I want to bring it all back to the most important question. How do we get there? How do we get our organizations get to that level of innovation that we’ve seen [here.] How do we get there. The how is at the heart of Salesforce.com. We want to make the social transformation as easy as a post on Facebook.” Giving a hard pitch for the entire Salesforce.com platform and all its many component for cloud-enabling social.

11:29am: Talking about Touch and Identity as two major announcements. AppExhcange, 1,700 apps, 70% of Fortune 100 customers have installed apps. I think he said 1.4 million users.

George Hu talking about Salesforce Platform at Dreamforce 12

11:31am: Looks like Salesforce Identity is going to open the social graph for enterprises, very interesting. All standards-based says George. “Many of us have thousands and thousands of apps written on other platform. We want to create a seamless social identity for them.” Potentially bigger news: Introducing Force.com Canvas, Gets enterprise apps in Salesforce, just like Facebook. “Can unlock a tremendous innovation. Makes all your legacy applications social and mobile.” Wondering how OpenSocial fits in.

Related: Enterprise Social Networks Need Open Standards

11:34am: Now announcing Salesforce Touch Platform. Write Once Deploy Anywhwere. HTML 5, Native, and Hybrid. Secure as well they say.

11:40am: Very detailed demos continuing. Lots of mobile and social.

11:42am: Back to Mark. “I’m so excited about this vision. We keep seeing this same thing: We’re connected to our customers, to our companies, and products.” Introducing Ed Steinike, CIO of Coca-Cola. “Ed, you’re an amazing CIO. One of the industry leaders. Made a major investment in SAP in the back office. Now you’re making a major investment in the front office in social.”

11:44am: Ed: “We do 1.8 billion servings per day of our product. We want to connect those 1.8 billion happy customers with all layers of our company. Mobile is the way this happens.” Mark thanks Ed, that was quick. Now talking about the mobile tsunami.

Related: The “Big Five” IT trends of the next half decade: Mobile, social, cloud, consumerization, and big data

11:45am: Final vignette of the keynote: Burberry. Their CEO, Angela Ahrents, talking on video.

11:50am: Now she’s actually here up on stage. I’ve told their social business story in detail before, which is quite impressive. Talking about their mobile engagement at the Olympics in London. “This is the future [holding her mobile device.]“

Angela Ahrendts of Burberry talking about mobile and social at Dreamforce 12

11:52am: Going over their new mobile experience and putting RFID into the products and immersive virtual experiences that gives the backstory of the products your holding. Thanking Angela, who is definitely a social business and next-generation enterprise leader.

11:54am: And that’s a wrap. Marc finishes and the lights and music turn up. I’ll post analysis on ZDNet as soon as I’m able.

Social Business in Australia in 2012

While traveling around the world recently to discuss social business in Asia and Eastern Europe, I’ve been reminded by the sheer speed at which social networks are changing how we communicate. Most of the Western world has been on social networks for a while but now the rest isn’t far behind.

However it’s people like you and me, sometimes referred to as consumers by the business world, that have been leading this particular technology and societal revolution. Consequently, it’s been taking longer for those in the enterprise to sort out how the “Corporate Spring” will affect them. I’ve written about the concerns over ROI as organizations try to figure out their appropriate level of investment in social media, internally on intranets and externally for social marketing, customer care, and product development.

Australia has been interesting case in particular, and one in which I was fortunate enough to visit for the first time last year when I spoke at Social Business Summit 2011 Sydney. Australia has been listed most recently — along with other highly developed countries such as the U.S., the U.K., France, and Germany — as “social mainstream and mature” by the Boston Consulting Group. 90% of Australians use social networks, ahead of other advanced countries, such as Canada. Facebook usage exceeds 50% of those using social networks.

Aspects of a Social Business: Social Marketing, Social CRM, Enteprise 2.0, Social Intranet, Crowdsourcing

As in other countries, Australian businesses are now catching up now that their customers and workers have change their communication habits and behaviors. The same report I cite above says that 77% of organizations in Australia expect to increase investment in this social media over the next 12 months. But the fundamental question is, given the many directions that social media can take, how best to architect social media into the way a business works? How can social business best be situated in the way that organizations work to derive value that really moves the needle?

To help answer that, I’m pleased to report that I’ll be kicking off the book tour for our new book, Social Business By Design, in Australia with a series of appearances in Sydney later this month, from May 14th-18th. In addition to speaking at Intranets2012, I’ll be giving two workshops that are being exclusively sponsored by Headshift Australia. Details are below as well as here.

I genuinely hope to see you if you’re in Sydney or surroundings so that we can continue the discussion and explore of the future of how organizations will operate and create value for themselves, their customers, and shareholders.

Sydney Workshop Details – May, 2012

Social Business 101

The social media era has arrived and organisations are looking for ways to grapple with the many implications to their business. Companies are increasingly seeing the benefit and need to approach social media activities with integrated external and internal efforts. Professionals can no longer rely on point solutions and isolated activities — no brand, department, or employee is an island in the social landscape. Today, firms can learn from the lessons of early adopters and craft a solid plan for success that includes formulating a winning strategy, applying appropriate game-time tactics, and measuring for meaningful return on investment.
This session provides a cohesive and readily approachable introduction to social business that is immediately actionable by executives, line managers, and workers.

Participants at this session will learn:

  • What social business is and why it matters
  • The key tenets to social business success
  • Strategy and tactics to apply your own situation

When: 9am-12pm, Thursday 17th May, 2012
Who should attend: This workshop will be relevant to people working in different management roles, including sales & marketing, customer service, HR and operations.
Where: Headshift Asia Pacific, East Sydney.
Cost: $275 (excl. GST) per person (includes a signed copy of the book).
Tea, coffee and light refreshments will be provided.

To book this workshop, please use our online registration and payment page here. Please note, that places are strictly limited.

Consumerisation of IT

Employees have begun driving the use of consumer technology in the workplace—bringing their mobile devices, Web apps, and social networking experience with them from home—but the trend goes even deeper than that. It’s a fundamental shift away from IT creating and managing the organisation’s IT assets to accepting that employees now own significant swaths of technology and will lead the enterprise march into the future. Dion has watched organisations large and small struggle with this convergence of mobile, social, cloud and big data, and has helped them prevail in their quest to harness it for innovation to transform the way the enterprise does business.

Dion will explore the new IT landscape and share his consumerisation experiences in the field to set the stage for consumerisation in your organisation by showcasing real-world companies that represent the new generation of IT and business. Participants will be equipped with strategies that will enable them to take steps towards managing the trends and keeping ahead of current trends.

When: 2pm-5pm, Thursday 17th May, 2012
Who should attend: This workshop will be relevant to people working in different management roles, including sales & marketing, IT, customer service, HR and operations.
Where: Headshift Asia Pacifc, East Sydney
Cost: $275 (excl. GST) per person (includes a signed copy of the book).
Tea, coffee and light refreshments will be provided.

To book this workshop, please use our online registration and payment page here. Please note, that places are strictly limited.

10 Leading Books on Social Business

During the research for our forthcoming book, Social Business By Design, I ended up taking a close look at a number of other excellent titles on the subject. In the end, I came away concluding there was more than ample room in the market for another entry, but that’s a story I’ll tell when the book goes into the print in the next couple of weeks. Suffice to say I encountered some terrific thinking, quite useful framing, and plenty of fresh ideas — as well as good company in the form of many of the thought leaders that helped define the social business industry. For an industry it certainly is, with all the requisite ingredients.

In fact, the business landscape is now rife with organizations of all sizes who are attempting to grapple with the rapidly changing business conditions brought on by the global growth of social media, particularly its rising domination as a form of communication. There is also a large and vibrant ecosystem of vendors that supply products and services to help said customers, and analysts and thought leaders that observe the interplay between the two — with the rest of the world for that matter — and try to figure out where it’s all going.

The good news, since we’re near the end of the beginning of the social business journey, is that there is a lot of information that can be drawn upon now, particularly some excellent books on the subject, which I’ll list in a moment. However, one question that has come up often about books on social business is whether the format is appropriate for a way of living and working that is essentially based on open participation. In fact, that’s the core tenet of social business: Anyone can participate. While I’ll save a longer answer for my formal announcement of Social Business By Design when it hits the shelves by the end of April, let’s just say that books are still a widely used communication and learning channel, and one that has a large global ecosystem that remains well established and highly valuable. In other words, books (paper or digital) are still an effective way to reach people and quite acceptable as long as its starts a meaningful conversation amongst their audience that continues onward, which Peter Kim and I hope it will.

But if you’re reading this, you probably just want to know what the leading social business books are and I’ll get to that now. Please keep in mind that this is not a definitive list and I’m aware of several other excellent books making their way to the market. I’ll update this list if appropriate. So, in no particular order, here are the leading books on social business in my opinion…

The Leading Books on Social Business

  1. Smart Business, Social Business by Michael Brito. In his book, Michael clearly conveys why it takes more than social marketing to succeed in today’s deeply connected business world. I particularly liked how he explained what’s often the toughest part: That social business transformation requires a genuine cultural shift in how companies do business and in the way they interact with customers and prospects. Readers are given a detailed tour of the people, process, and technology shifts needed to succeed with plenty of details. The book explores social strategy, governance, tools, and metrics with a healthy dose of real-world case studies.
  2. Socialnomics by Erik Qualman. Views on this book vary widely, yet it’s clearly one of the most popular books on social business, albeit primarily of a marketing and customer engagement bent. Erik explores the impact of social media on business to uncover how businesses can take drive better outcomes in new and innovative ways. His best material is about the changes that must happen to achieve results, specifically the transformation of businesses produce, market, and sell products. Much of the focus of the book is on the different methods businesses must use to connect directly with their customers through today’s global social media platforms.
  3. Engage by Brian Solis. Brian has written a number of books on topics related to social business but this one is the most focused on the specific process of social media enablement and transformation. The book lays out how to develop an online ecosystem for the business and cultivates customers’ loyalty and trust in order to engage them for better business outcomes. Other useful details include how to establish an organizational structure that effectively delivers on social media while being poised for the next-generation just around the corner, including “detailed and specific steps required for conceptualizing, implementing, managing, and measuring a social media program.”
  4. The Mesh by Lisa Gansky. While not directly about social business per se, this book articulates a crucial endpoint for processes that are highly open and where everyone can participate (yes, social business.) In Lisa’s view — and I agree — business today is now about enabling entirely new operating models and ways of creating business value that are highly cooperative and self-organizing. Lisa’s book is vital for understanding the bigger picture for which social business is a key plank. Highly recommended for getting business leaders to think outside the box and get ready for culture and organizational change (and innovation.)
  5. Empowered by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler. A follow up for Bernoff of the highly influential Groundswell, Empowered is a detailed look at how employees with great ideas in an organization can be enabled to innovate and transform a business to better serve its customers. In their view, powered by pervasive social technologies, customer service (aka Social CRM) has definitively become the new source of marketing. Empowered lays out a detailed process for getting there with managers eponymously empowering employee innovators (described as HEROs in the book) and IT/business stakeholders to better serve customers directly to generate a wide variety of interesting results, from word-of-mouth marketing to better product ideas. Bernoff’s and Schadler’s analyst roots pay off with many case studies and pragmatic examples that demonstrate how social business empowerment is already happening in scale.
  6. Macrowikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. The successor to Don’s hugely successful Wikinomics, this book takes the social business conversation up to a whole new level. While some have pointed out that actionable specifics are largely not included in the book, that’s beside the point: The goal of the book is to present a compelling case for the way we’ll organize our businesses, governments, and society now and in the future. A powerful book for those that want the entire big picture of social business (here called mass collaboration) and how it can solve problems that have been intractable or merely just very hard. While not a practitioners book, I advise everyone to be familiar with the strategic conversation Macrowikinomics lays out to get a clear view of the all moving parts that everyone must support.
  7. Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky. Coined from a concept that Clay frequently discusses, namely that we’re just now learning how to tap into the full productive and creative capacity of our collective cultures and communities, this book lays out the whys and hows of using participation to create compelling and unique business outcomes. Subtitled “How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators“, this book the means, motivations, opportunities, cultural issues, and supporting examples into a coherent story about how emergent business solutions powered by social media will change business forever.
  8. The Social Organization by Bradley and McDonald. Authored by two of Gartner’s leading analysts, this book makes a very strong case for employing social technology in the enterprise to get work done better. Sharing insights from their research into the successes and failures of four hundred plus organizations that have employed social technologies for workforce and customer-facing business solutions, the authors go well beyond technology and into the human element. Discussion includes how and why to build strategic communities, designing new ways of openly collaborating, and how to guide social business efforts to achieve a purpose, and so on. Bradley and McDonald also identify the core disciplines managers should master in order to transform social collaboration into otherwise unlikely yet highly potent results.
  9. Get Bold by Sandy Carter. One of the most interesting social business stories of the decade has been IBM’s not-so-gradual conversion to being a social business. While such transformation is generally quite hard to do for large companies, the global technology giant did it in record time. This book, by one of IBM’s top social business evangelists, clearly demonstrates that they truly “get” the changes happening and know how to get there. After making the case for what social business entails, Sandy lays out the steps to reach social business maturity and includes her AGENDA framework for achieving it.
  10. The Social Customer by Adam Metz. Metz treats Social CRM comprehensively considering it from many angles and aspects, from process to tools. He explores the 23 use cases that simultaneously provide the fabric for actionable, practical and approachable methods for engaging usefully with the social customer. Metz borrows from and builds on the excellent work of Greenberg’s CRM at the Speed of Light and Kim and Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy to create a picture consistent with a larger set of thought leadership.

Honorable mentions:

Please note, that while I tended to emphasize books that were highly approachable, all of these are worth the time and effort either for your own edification about social business or to help educate your business and technical leadership teams. Finally, while there is no doubt I may have left a few good titles out of this list, I’m happy to — and will — add any titles to this list that commentors are particularly passionate about. I hope you find this helpful and a useful resource for assembling the definitive literature on social business.

Related Reading:

The Social Enterprise: A Case For Disruptive Transformation

Baselining Social Business Maturity: Why and How

Converging on the Social Enterprise

The Path to Co-Creating a Social Business: The Early Adoption Phase

Enterprises and Ecosystems: Why Digital Natives Are Dethroning The Old Guard

Why is it that so many traditional companies with an enormous wealth of assets largely fail to transform them for the digital era? By assets here, I mean established customer base, closely held relationships with trading partners, mountains of data and IP, as well as their bread and butter, the actual products and services they offer. For large organizations, these assets typically represent many billions in long-term investment and accumulated value that is being stranded beneath a digital ceiling they cannot seemingly break through. The lesson has been a hard one: It’s been surprisingly difficult for many companies to make a genuine transformation to digital.

For those just joining this conversation, this transformation is about opening up and digitally enabling the strategic assets of our organizations for better consumption and participation, with as low a barrier as possible. It’s also means doing so in a way that continually maximizes their value over time in today’s deeply networked marketplace. Achieving this triggers the primary engine of growth for digital ecosystems, namely network effects. This is how Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon (new guard), and Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle, and many others (old guard) eventually built hundreds of billions in combined value. They tapped into the relevant power laws of networks by carefully and deliberating cultivating and then closely managing them by harnessing peer production over the network.

Digital Business: Cultivating and Managing Digital Ecosystems (Open APIs, Social Supply Chain, Web Services, SOA, Online Communities, Peer Production, OEMs)

How exactly was this accomplished? They did it by digitally platforming their businesses in specific ways: Enabling self-service on-boarding, viral adoption, open participation, best-of-breed data capture, ownership and control, and took advantage of the fact that relationships — and therefore, ultimately transactions — must take place on the network with as little friction and cost as possible. They realized that we are now all connected together continuously in a single global network and then designed their organizations around this central fact of the digital age. They are now reaping the results of this mindset:

Networked ecosystems must be a core focus and competency of modern business.

This begs the increasingly urgent question: Why then are a large number of older organizations neglecting their digital ecosystems, often failing to meaningfully cultivate them at all for many of their most valuable assets?

This is a key question that fellow Enterprise Irregular Vinnie Mirchandani recently asked in an internal EI mail thread and later posed on his blog:

But for every Apple which has gone one way, I see so many others piss away this huge asset that is their ecosystem. I hear about musicians and filmmakers auditing, even suing studios for accounting disagreements. I hear SAP mentors complain about legal issues getting licenses and other access to new technology. It’s easy to dismiss Joe Konrath’s litany of complaints against book publishers as one from an unhappy author, but the 230+ comments it has drawn shows a deeper angst about how poorly publishers are managing their author ecosystems.

Ecosystems, communities – call them what you want. They are a vibrant organism which deserve far more ink from all of us. And they need professional managers at the companies at the middle who nourish them and not just treat them as railcars to be hustled away whenever inconvenient.

As companies remain inadequately connected to their customers, partners, and workers via digital ecosystems, many of which they do not control, they are missing a rapidly narrowing opportunity. That’s because it’s very, very hard to disrupt a well-established network effect, which is much more powerful than the equivalent notion in the pre-digital era: traditional market share. Network effects are primary focused on pull distribution, while marketshare is heavily based on push, which is much harder and much more expensive to sustain. As digital natives sew up more and more industries and lay down network effects years ahead of their traditional brethren, any chance to reclaim the throne will be very unlikely.

For leading examples of potent digital ecosystems, see open APIs, social customer care, and app stores.

Why is this? There are a number of reasons but a few are particularly significant. What I wrote in the EI thread in response to Vinnie’s original question was this:

I find that in general, the farther you are from the tech business, the less native skill or familiarity there is with system thinking, which is perhaps the critical capacity to have in order to regard your business in ecosystem terms. This is something that in tech is standard fare with constant discussion and focus on platforms, network effects, SDKs, open APIs, app stores, etc.

Traditional publishers are typical of the technically challenged industries that are being blind-sided by newer, much savvier, techno-centric, network-oriented new digital businesses.

Business leaders that can’t deeply see the way forward for their organizations as flexible, highly dynamic, and organic digital networks of customers, partners, workers, and other (likely and unlikely) participants will ultimately fail. But this isn’t the set of skills or mindset that made them successful in the first place, so they don’t value it and don’t think in these terms. They literally throw off digital rethinking like a sort of corporate immune system. Surprisingly, from my talks in the C-suite the last few years, everyone individually seems realizes they have to change, but collectively they are resistant, it’s fascinating to watch.

A big part of the problem boils down to this: Companies are inherently designed to perpetuate the problem they were invented to solve. It’s a particularly thorny instance of the Innovator’s Dilemma, which ensures that a company is unlikely to aggressively re-invent itself until it’s in the process of being disrupted. Unfortunately, this often means it’s already too late.

In fact, it may be too late for a growing number of industries to fully make the transition to being ecosystem-centric. This includes media, publishing, telecom, retail, and many software companies. Under looming threat is real estate, higher education, financial services, professional services, accounting, and even venture capital. In each of these categories, ecosystem-centric firms are building network effects with open network-based products increasingly built by worker/open communities and delivered to customer communities. Those products are in turn built upon by hundreds or thousands of loyal 3rd party partners to bring their own customers and ecosystems to the table. This is an embarrassment of riches that only a few companies, again mostly digital natives, seem interested or able to tap into.

As Fred Wilson once said, the Web (and therefore digital business) is all about “building networks on top of networks“, which leads to even more powerful outcomes, like 2nd order network effects.

Fortunately, the force multiplier of the ecosystem model can be stated in a simple, fundamental way: It allows one to tap into the vast size and strength of the external network to drive growth, innovation, and revenue for your own ecosystem. As Peter Kim and I wrote in our new book, the fundamental principle of business in the ecosystem era must be to let anyone participate in every aspect of the business, primarily by inverting the facilitation process of driving shared value (i.e. network effects by default.) Being able to elicit the network (Internet, community, shared data, whatever) to maximum effect to fuel and growth your ecosystem is thus the core competency of the digital era. Unfortunately, this lesson is being lost to most organizations that were built well before this next-generation business model was understood. It will be a great loss that doesn’t necessarily have to happen in my opinion, but will ultimately result in the needless disruption of a large number of companies that just aren’t able to become digital natives.

For additional reading see:

4 Ways to Create Sustainable Business Ecosystems

Why Information Power Is The Future of Business

What Will Power Next-Generation Businesses?

A View of Digital Strategy in the Ecosystem Era

Are We Building Businesses Or Are We Building Platforms? Yes.

How Digital Business Will Evolve in 2012: 6 Big Ideas

How Are CIOs Looking at Today’s Disruptive Tech Trends?

Last October I was invited as a guest to participate in the Tuck School of Business 10th anniversary session of their Roundtable on Digital Strategies. This diverse group of senior IT leaders is comprised primarily of CIOs of some of the world’s largest enterprises. The roundtable members came together to discuss what was termed the present “mega trends” in technology, including the effect they are having in how their businesses currently operate and evolve. It was an eye-opening experience, not the least because of the transformative changes that were evidently taking place in the companies represented.

One fact stood out: Many of these tech trends are happening with or without waiting for information technology departments to embrace them and bring them into the organization in an orderly and controlled way.  I’ve spoken about shadow IT for a few years and it’s clear, particularly with mobility, that loss of control is firmly entrenched in a growing number of large IT organizations.

The mega trends that we discussed that day were the usual suspects. They are the ones that I’ve been exploring in detail recently: Next-gen mobility, cloud computing, social media, consumerization (#CoIT), and big data. In attendance were the CIOs from American Express, Bechtel, Chevron, Eastman Chemical, Eaton Corporation, the Hilti Group, Holcim, Nestle, Sysco, and Time Warner Cable, as well as executives from CompuWare, the Dachis Group (myself), Dell|KACE, and ViON. The Roundtable itself was hosted by the Directors of the Center for Digital Strategies at the Tuck School of Business. The session was moderated by Maryfran Johnson, Editor-in-Chief of CIO Magazine and hosted by Adjunct Professor Hans Brechbuhl, who also wrote his own summary of the day.

Disruptive Megatrends in Technology: Smart Mobile, Social Media (Social Business), Consumerization, Cloud, Big Data

The discussion itself was far ranging and explored all of these megatrends in detail. The resulting outcome, a new 17 page report that has just been issued by the Center for Digital Strategies at the Tuck School of Business, confirmed that companies fall across the spectrum when it comes to adoption of these disruptive technologies. While virtually all the companies represented were feeling the full brunt of smart mobility, others had widely varying experiences with areas such as enterprise social media (aka social business in this context), big data, and cloud, though the first two had the most votes I believe in terms of the trends with the longest term and farthest-reaching impact.

Six key insights about new disruptive tech were derived during the back-and-forth discussions that took place at the roundtable session. These are:

  • “Consumerization of IT” is a core catalyst for other IT mega-trends. The spread of social media and BYOD are clear outcomes, but “consumer” expectations play a surprisingly large role in the development of Big Data and cloud-based applications.
  • Mobility is forcing new approaches to data security. User expectations of anytime/anywhere access to enterprise data conflict directly with IT’s charter to secure and protect the same data; this conflict is one of the sources of the rise of rogue IT.
  • Both mobile and social applications are (finally) adding definable value to enterprises. Social media apps with definable ROI are primarily customer-facing; high-value mobile apps are still mostly internal.
  • Big Data” will affect every aspect of business. From plant operations to stock trading to predicting terrorist behavior, the combination of huge data volumes and massive compute power is beginning to answer questions never even asked before, particularly with respect to predictive analytics.
  • “Designing for loss of control” is one of IT’s key challenges. Between consumerization/BYOD, rogue IT and the cloud, centralized IT can’t keep up with demands yet will still be held accountable for security, reliability and performance.
  • IT’s future differentiation is far more about insight than about operations. With technology so widespread, the ability to compete on IT operations has vanished. IT’s future value lies in delivering immediate, actionable knowledge.

What companies are going to do in order to embrace these trends effectively is going to be the signature generational challenge of our era. I’ve explored the various possibilities (ten strategies to be exact), and no doubt others will discover other routes to success. But the fact that so much of the change is externally imposed on IT departments and the lines of business outside of traditional channels is what makes the transition to them so disruptive. Thus, consumerization may ultimately be the underlying root cause of the rest of the trends as well as the primary driver of enterprise technology for the foreseeable future.

Tuck School of Business CIO Roundtable in October 2011

Tuck School of Business CIO Roundtable in October 2011

Be sure to read the IT megatrends report itself for full details directly from the original sources.  In the meantime, I’ll keep exploring these trends and how companies are planning, coping, and hopefully enabling them for their internal and external customers as IT gears up to have its most exciting decade in a very long time.

Related Reading:

Consumerization in 2012: Cloud and mobile blurs into other people’s IT | ZDNet

The “Big Five” IT trends of the next half decade: Mobile, social, cloud, consumerization, and big data | ZDNet

CoIT: How an accidental future is becoming reality | ZDNet

Dion’s Defrag 2011 Keynote on CoIT | On Web Strategy

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