Archive for the ‘Employees’ Category

Blending the Art of Marketing with the Science of Technology

By Jeff Schick, Vice President, Social Software at IBM

Investments in IT have long been the domain of the CIO, but all of that is changing as CMOs increasingly impact IT investments in today’s social and digital world. Given the business realignment between marketing and technology, the CMO and CIO can no longer afford to operate on separate stages. To succeed, they’ll have to forge a shared agenda to deliver business results through innovation and efficiency.

CMOs: imagine your job, but with next-generation skills, expanded peer networks, and the tools and technologies to transform your profession. CIOs: think about sharing your expertise in enterprise IT integration and expanding your horizons further outside the firewall. Together you can approach marketing as an essential enterprise system that delivers innovation, business results, and better customer experiences.

One area challenging both CMOs and CIOs is how to leverage the growing social sphere.

Today’s CMO is struggling with how to better reach and engage with customers. According to the 2011 IBM CMO Study, 82% of CMOs say they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years. We know today’s consumer has unlimited access to information and can instantly share it with the world. This immediacy has raised consumers’ expectations for 100% personalized communications and top-notch service.

At the same time, CIOs are facing a similar struggle within the organization’s walls. That same empowered consumer is today’s empowered employee striving to meet deadlines and deliver superior results at an even faster pace. According to IDC, employees typically see up to 30% increased productivity using social tools internally to complete their work. With a workforce that is socially oriented and geographically distributed, CIOs today are struggling to provide company data on every type of device for their on-the-go, highly motivated employees.

While social is a common denominator for today’s CMO and CIO, what does it look like when they come together to achieve their goals and in the end realize business value for their organization?

Here are some examples of organizations across the globe that are leading the charge, pioneering this C-suite social agenda, and as a result, delivering a superior social, digital brand experience for their customers and employees:

  • Taking advantage of cutting edge digital experience and social technologies, Wimbledon has transformed its web presence to meet the needs of the 16 million people who tune in online to the annual tennis championships. By visiting its website, www.wimbledon.com, fans can share information, interact with, and connect to The Championships as though they were actually there.
  • Cars.com is similarly embracing web experience technology to provide a 360-degree view of its entire business operations, enabling dealers to examine current inventory, change pricing, and manage photos, among many other business activities—ultimately providing better services to its customers. Today, Cars.com has scaled to support 200 million unique visitors a year, an increase of 145 million visits since 2007.
  • Gruppo Amadori, a wholesale distributor of quality foods in Italy, has improved its online presence, enabling the company to communicate more directly with younger consumers and increase consumer loyalty. The organization can create new mini-sites up to 40% faster, saving time and costs. Amadori has also created an up-to-date database of consumer details, helping the company better understand the needs of its customers.
  • The region of Windsor-Essex, Ontario, Canada has created a community portal built to provide the region’s government and related organizations with the tools to help citizens with emergency and community services, transportation, health, utilities, and life events, such as getting married, having a baby, or retiring. Through the region’s innovative use of IBM technology, asthma attacks have been alleviated, a local automobile manufacturing plant diversified into the aerospace industry, and 250 tons of waste materials from a road construction project was made into new housing for those who needed it the most.

Despite a few trailblazers, like the organizations listed above, this collaboration between CMO and CIO is the exception and not the rule, but it’s clear that if your organization is looking to gain an advantage over the competition, this relationship is the ticket to success. It’s time as a marketer to knock on your IT department’s door and get collaborating!

LinkedIn Helps You Pay It Forward to Nonprofits

By Wayne Breitbarth, CEO of Power Formula and author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-Start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search

You’ve polished your LinkedIn profile, developed a large network of valuable contacts, and joined the most advantageous LinkedIn groups. From a professional standpoint, you should now be reaping the benefits—growing your client/customer base, seeing increased activity on your website, and becoming a thought leader in your industry.

You obviously did not get to this point alone. Friends and business associates have written recommendations for you, used the introduction function to introduce you to key members of the business community, and shared your status updates with their networks. Along the way, you have undoubtedly assisted your connections as well, but now it is time to pay it forward in another way—by helping your favorite nonprofit organization.

Here are six ways you can use LinkedIn to benefit your favorite charitable group:

  1. Include information about the organization in your LinkedIn individual profile. In the Experience section, list as a current job your title and/or involvement, along with the name of the organization. You then have 2,000 characters to explain the organization’s mission, accomplishments, and needs. Once you do this, the organization will appear in the top box of your profile. You can list three websites on your profile. Use one of the three websites for a hyperlink directly to the organization’s website. In the Summary section, consider having a special section to describe why this organization is important to you. Include in the Specialties section the name of the organization or other keywords that describe the group. You can then be found more easily if someone searches for people involved in your specific group or other groups with a similar mission or purpose. Use SlideShare or Google Presentation to share a PowerPoint or video about the organization. Use Blog Link or WordPress applications to connect the organization’s blog to your profile. Finally, list the name of the organization in the Groups & Associations section.
  2. Use the Status Update Box on your home page or Discussions/News in groups you belong to. Here you can publicize an event, recruit volunteers, share results and accomplishments, ask a question of the group or your network that will help solve a problem, and find employees, suppliers, and/or vendors for the organization.
  3. Use the LinkedIn Advanced Search function to find out who in your network knows people at the significant foundations and companies in your marketplace. Then facilitate an introduction to the staff of the nonprofit organization.
  4. Search for and join LinkedIn groups in and out of your regional or local market that appear to be in the same space or have a similar mission as your organization. This is a great way to keep track of what others are doing, saying, and sharing.
  5. Start a LinkedIn group for the organization’s supporters, donors, and/or volunteers. A subgroup can be created to share information that is only pertinent to volunteers, for instance. Starting a group for an event you are planning can help you share information leading up to the event and wrap up information after the event.
  6. Use the Events application to promote the organization’s upcoming events.

Follow these six simple but highly effective steps—all of which can be done without leaving the comfort of your home or office—and then don’t be surprised when the phone rings with an invitation to join the board of your favorite nonprofit!

The Digital Native: 5 Things You Need to Know

By Michelle Manafy, Director of Content at FreePint

Between all generations lie gaps. Yet in the course of some generations, major events occur that cause tectonic shifts. The fact is that many individuals and businesses today face a massive and growing generation gap. As this digital native generation—which has grown up immersed in digital technologies such as the mobile phones, gaming, and social networks—becomes our dominant employee and consumer base, those in older generations must learn to navigate a radically altered landscape in order to succeed in business going forward.

Here are five key insights into the digital native generation that will help you understand how best to leverage their distinct worldview to achieve your business objectives.

  1. They live publicly online. Without a doubt, the notion of privacy didn’t change overnight with the advent of the Internet. For better or worse (or for lack of a better word), we’ve seen an evolution of privacy. It was once the norm to keep one’s dirty laundry tucked away out of site. This gave way to a generation that would share from the relative privacy of a therapist’s couch. More recently, we have witnessed the era of trash-mouth talk shows and reality TV. However, with the digital native, businesses must address the expectations of a generation raised in social networking environments, in which they routinely share every detail of their activities and opinions with a potentially limitless group of friends. Tip: Often, businesses are hamstrung by outdated notions of privacy. They fail to recognize and capitalize on the digital native’s openness. We need to understand the native’s natural inclination to live publicly to guide these activities so that they are consistent with our business objectives. We can also build business models that leverage on this openness, both in the way we structure our employee activities as well as customer interactions.
  2. They share knowledge. Once we recognize that the natives are living their lives out loud, we can begin to understand how this behavior is shapes all aspects of their lives. Despite a good deal of hyperbole about social media and marketing via Twitter and social networks, as many as 50 to 75 percent of organizations limit or ban the use of social networks while on the job. What this demonstrates is not simply a fear of exposure through inappropriate use of social technologies, it shows a distinct lack of understanding of how to effectively manage and channel the knowledge sharing inclination of this generation. Tip: Beyond crafting guidelines to regulate the appropriate use of social networks on the job, proactive use of socially mediated, open, collaborative ways of working can help companies capture otherwise transient knowledge assets. The old adage was that knowledge is power; for the digital native knowledge shared is power.
  3. They believe transparency yields trust. Because digital natives live publicly and value knowledge sharing, organizations that demonstrate a similar level of openness will be the ones that attract and retain them as employees and customers. Digital natives make new friends, followers, and fans every day. However, it is important to keep in mind that it takes a lot of work to maintain the kind of genuine relationship required with the digital native. If digital natives dislike your brand, they will make it publicly known. Luckily, the reverse is also true. Today’s ultra-connected consumer, raised to share and monitor sentiment, may seem like a fickle friend, but that’s only if organizations don’t stay involved by listening, responding, owning up, and doing the work it takes to maintain a genuine, long-term relationship. Tip: When it comes to attracting and retaining this generation as employees, it is essential to recognize that today’s best employees are also monitoring opportunities and discussing employers online. For recruiting, this can provide insights into who the best, brightest, and most social media savvy are. And for employee retention, employers can leverage these same tools and tendencies to make sure they are competitive in the market and respond to concerns in order to attract and retain the best and brightest.
  4. They are timely, not time managed. While most people are painfully aware that the line between “at work” and “off duty” is increasingly blurred, for the native this will be taken to a whole new level. The digital native will move beyond what previous generations called a work/life balance to a new sort of work life integration. For the digital native, work and social activities are ever present—they travel with the native anywhere and anytime. Digital natives may log more hours at their computers during the course of a day than those in previous generations, but they switch back and forth between work and leisure in short bursts. Though this may strike some managers as inappropriate, it helps to realize that while an older worker might head to the break room or a co-worker’s desk to clear his head, natives are more likely to “info snack” or catch up on a quick burst of Facebook updates. Tip: Moving forward, companies that emphasize collaboration, learning, and socialization will see key benefits in comparison to companies that focus solely on productivity. The native doesn’t need to play all day to be happy. However, there’s no reason that work inside an organization can’t be constructively influenced by the expectations of our younger workforce.
  5. They believe in interactions, not transactions. Social networking, social media, social . . . with all this socializing, one might begin to wonder how any business ever gets done. Suffice it to say, it does, and it will continue to do so. However, organizations that develop good social skills will have a competitive advantage over those that remain socially inept. One quality that will be essential for business success going forward is recognizing that this generation is not interested in traditional transactive business models, which are based upon exchanges of money for goods annd services. This is a generation that is interested in interactions. Tip: Unlike a transaction-based system, an interactive one is based upon social currency. The fact is that all aspects of business will need to embrace interaction, from marketing and CRM to product and content creation. This generation doesn’t just want to do business with companies it views as friends; it wants to do business with itself and expects to see its ideals and objectives reflected in the companies it chooses to do business with.

While there are many digital immigrants who are wholeheartedly adopting digital tools, it is not simply emerging technologies that must be mastered. A lifelong immersion has affected the mindset, behavior, and expectations of the digital native generation. To succeed in business with them, we must understand it and build models based on this new native culture.