Friday Dec 13, 2013

Profit: Weekly Wrap-up, December 13, 2013

Check out these 10 business stories, handpicked this week by the editorial staff of Profit. Find out what we’ve been writing, reading and thinking about this week. We’re always interested in learning more about innovative ideas for doing business, so please use the comments below to tell us about any great stories you’d like to share with our editors, and community.

From Oracle:

Five Leadership Qualities Great Executives Must Have
In some ways, that’s the real challenge of leadership: the ability to push aside anything that’s not directly tied to setting a great strategy, executing upon it brilliantly, and putting terrific people in the right positions.

Team Spotlight: Chris Tonas, Vice President, Mobility and Development Tools
"At Oracle OpenWorld 2013, we introduced Oracle Mobile Platform. It contains everything an enterprise needs to mobilize its existing enterprise systems with bespoke application development and on-premises deployment. We developed this solution in response to requests from the field for an integrated, end-to-end mobilization solution at an attractive price."

Top 5 Reasons to Attend Oracle Value Chain Summit 2014!
We have heard over and over from our customers that the best reason to attend events like OVCS 2014 is the opportunity to network with fellow Agile users. The best conversations often occur spontaneously during breaks between sessions, or at the end of the day, over cocktails.

Top Database Security Trends in 2014CX
Looking forward, it all comes down to two questions: where is my sensitive data, and who has access to it? To answer those questions, organizations need a database strategy that tracks all sensitive data and protects it with both preventive and detective security controls.

Kids, Code, And The Future Of Technology
Beyond CS Ed Week, students will need to hit the books, the classroom, and online coursework for a deeper dive into C++, Java, Python, Ruby, and the other languages, tools, and techniques of the trade. The good news is that there are a growing number of ways for students to come up to speed as schools, tech companies, entrepreneurs, and non-profits develop curricula and new platforms for computer science learning.

Why Database As A Service (DBaaS) Will Be The Breakaway Technology of 2014
DBaaS is gaining converts because it enables business to deploy new databases quickly, securely and cheaply.

From Other Thought Leaders

7 Powerful Facebook Statistics You Should Know About
Writing shorter posts isn’t just handy on Twitter. Keeping your posts below 250 characters can get you 60% more engagement than you might otherwise see.

10 Surprising Twitter Statistics to Help You Reach More Followers
"...keep the hashtags to a minimum. 1 or 2 will get you 21% more engagement than if you add 3 or more."

What We Can All Learn From The Presidential Selfie
When you take a selfie, there is a sense that you’re in “control.” You’re the one holding the camera, you’re the one choosing how to present yourself in the best light possible, you’re the one putting more care into the image than anyone else you might just hand your camera too. But once you post it online, you’ve giving up control entirely.

Predicting Big Data's 2014
The overarching themes in most of the predictions are: Big Data technologies going mainstream; highly specialized areas of analytics becoming more accessible; an increased influence from cloud and mobile; the continued explosion of data volumes, driven by device- and machine-borne data; and disruption to the incumbent megavendors' hold on the database market.

Friday Dec 06, 2013

Profit: Weekly Wrap-up, December 6, 2013

Check out these 10 business stories, handpicked this week by the editorial staff of Profit. Find out what we’ve been writing, reading and thinking about this week. We’re always interested in learning more about innovative ideas for doing business, so please use the comments below to tell us about any great stories you’d like to share with our editors, and community.

From Oracle:

HR Executives Need to Think Like the CMO
What does it take for forward-thinking HR organization to adopt modern digital marketing techniques? Four elements are key.

Oracle’s SVP of Applications Development Chris Leone: Strategic Human Resources Leaders Need Modern Tools
"The overriding trend we see is that CHROs want simple, easy-to-use applications that engage their workforce. It’s not enough to get work done; they want employees to be excited about doing it. This includes mobile technologies so they can get work done very easily when they’re on the road, at home, or at a ballgame. "

Securing The Cloud: How To Avoid A Greek Tragedy
"80% of attacks target weak passwords & that’s a problem because 40% of users don’t use strong passwords," says Rex Wang, Oracle Vice President of Product Marketing

Q&A:'s Customer Care Leader Michele Watson on Modern CX
"Mobile is huge for us. In fact, 50 percent of our customers access our services through smart phones. Oracle Service Cloud helps us serve these customers and optimize our apps across different platforms, including both Android and iPhone. With the Oracle solution, we can also deliver functions such as dynamic FAQs and agent chat on mobile devices."

Q&A: Oracle's David Krauss on Line-of-Business Managers and Cloud Technology Investments
"A recent report...estimated that one in two cloud applications is abandoned, most often because of integration problems. At the end of the day, what looks like a quick, easy solution can limit long-term return on investment, " says Krauss, senior director, Oracle Cloud Applications and Services

Five Best Practices for Global Content Management
It is difficult to justify the investment of time to retrofit these techniques, so incorporating them at the start of your enterprise content management initiative is essential.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Gaining Value from Big Data
Unraveling the mysteries of big data requires a series of steps that guide you on the journey to insight. Oracle provides a complete set of products to support you on your journey through the data management lifecycle.

From Other Thought Leaders

Late Leader Nelson Mandela's 5 Most Innovative Moments
“The world's most famous political prisoner was a master of social media before the term existed. During the 27 years he served in Robben Island prison, anti-apartheid activists around the globe took up what has been called the largest social movement in history, under the slogan ‘Free Mandela!’”

Top takeaways from retailers’ “Super Bowl” weekend
“Consumers want to shop when they want, where they want and how they want, regardless of the channel, and retailers are responding. Walmart saw 400 million page views on its web site on Thanksgiving Day, including customers who used smartphones, tablets and computers. And NRF found similar excitement among weekend shoppers: nearly 44 percent of what consumers spent between Thursday and Sunday was spent online, up from 42 percent last year. The average amount spent online also increased, up 3 percent at $178 over the weekend.”

Planet Money's T-Shirt Project
“Our Planet Money team is making a T-shirt and following the shirt around the world as it gets manufactured — from the farms where the cotton is grown to the factories where the shirts are sewn together. All this week on Morning Edition and All Things Considered we'll be hearing stories about the fascinating world behind that T-shirt.”

Friday Nov 22, 2013

Profit: Weekly Wrap-up, November 22, 2013

Check out these 10 business stories, handpicked this week by Profit’s editorial staff. Find out what we’ve been writing, reading and thinking about this week.

We’re always interested in learning more about innovative ideas for doing business, so please use the comments below to tell us about any great stories you’d like to share with our editors, and community.

From Profit

Executive Strategy newsletter: November
Expert advice on managing your value chain, plus this month's biggestarticles from Profit Online

How Do You Optimize a Knowledge- and Service-Based Supply Chain?
“Integrating the value chain will help with the synchronization of processes and functional silos, drive compliance, and optimize sales fulfillment and service delivery,” says Genevieve Mbama, director of Customer Strategy and Insight at Oracle, focusing on Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The Untapped Potential of Strategic Supply Chain Management in the Services Industry
“With the ability to better analyze categories of spend, services and project costs, and execution results, services companies are starting to find that supply chain management can be the same powerful strategic enabler that manufacturing companies have always seen it to be,“ says Javier Perez, director of Oracle Industry Strategy and Insight.

Enabling Enterprise Mobility with Oracle Fusion Middleware
Five guidelines to follow as you begin building and employing mobile applications—plus Oracle technologies and products that support your move to mobility in your enterprise.

From Oracle

Modern Business Nightmare: The Staggering Costs When Your Cloud Goes Down
One recent research study reports that the cost of unplanned data-center downtime will likely be more than $5,000 per minute—or more than $300,000 per hour—and for some it’s clearly even worse than that. And in a follow-up study released this year, 17% of respondents said they would lose more than $500,000 per hour, with another 6% estimating that the cost of such outages would top $1,000,000 per hour.

Welcome to the first episode of the Bold Data Project
Tune into this web show for interviews and discussions about big data, which is a new kind of power that changes everything it touches, just like electricity did a hundred years ago.

Two Questions All Business Leaders Must Answer--Or Else
What business are you in today? And, what business will your customers require you to be in tomorrow? Executives who attend the Oracle Industry Connect conference this spring can get industry-specific education and support as they face these questions.

Q&A:'s Customer Care Leader Michele Watson on Modern CX
We asked Watson, a thought-leader in the industry, about her guiding vision for customer experience (CX)—and how the Oracle Service Cloud solutions are helping her realize that vision.

From Other Thought Leaders

Stop Making Content Just to Make It
A bit of contrarian thinking from Chris Brogan, author of Social Media 101: “If you’re going to make content, check both these boxes: does this serve my business? (pursuits, etc) Does this serve the community? You have to say yes to both, or don’t bother.”

Behold the First 'Selfie' Hashtag in Instagram History
From Mashable: "’Selfie’ officially became the Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year 2013 this week. Usage in the English language has increased by a whopping 17,000% since last year, according to Oxford.”

November Issue of Profit Now Online

The November 2013 issue of Profit is now available on the web and as a digital edition.

Disruptive business forces are influencing traditional enterprise resource planning functions—such as procurement, order and inventory management, and manufacturing. Supply chain is not immune to these challenges, with new businesses, new partnerships, new complexity, and new risks all threatening to complicate the status quo.

But smart, flexible, and IT—driven processes can add value to supply chain functions, helping managers deal with disruptions and grow in the face of volatility. I hope this issue of Profit adds some value chain insight to your business strategy.

Full Service
Statoil Fuel & Retail automates planning and distribution operations in eight countries.

Keeping Pace With the Game Changers
The rise of new players means new rules for supply chain leaders.

Rising Tides
Increasing pressure on manufacturers means riding out new go-to-market challenges.

Play To Win
The value chain game is changing—and executives are tired of rolling the dice on strategy.

If one issue of Profit isn't enough to get you through to February 2014, visit the Profit archives, or follow @OracleProfit on Twitter for a daily dose of enterprise technology news from Profit.

Monday Jun 03, 2013

Read the latest issue of Profit!

Check out the May issue of Profit, now available on

In April, I had the opportunity to connect with some accomplished IT and business leaders at the Accenture Oracle Leadership Council in Florida. At the event, I had a great conversation with Brad Genson, Accenture's managing director of Oracle business intelligence and analytics.

Genson was leading an Accenture analytics showcase, so he had participated in many discussions with attendees about the strategic role of analytics with many of those in attendance. Because I was in the thick of producing an issue of Profit on the same subject, we had a great time sharing our thoughts on the matter.

Take a look at this issue of Profit to hear more about what I learned from Genson, and get a closer look at the way Oracle customers are using analytics to drive business results. Plus: thought leadership and product news for the analytical business mind.

Dashboard View
As Fiat maneuvers beyond Italy, new analytics help steer managers in the right direction.

Data at the Speed of Life
New fast data technology narrows the gap between reporting and action.

Market Analysis
Oracle Eloqua brings automation, analytics, and benchmarks to modern marketing.

Analytical Mind
Five steps smart leaders can take to embrace Big Data in their organizations.

Predictive Analytics: Four Strategies
With the right steps, managers can reap new benefits with forward-looking metrics.

Miles Ahead
Southwest Airlines reaps big rewards, transforming a successful frequent flyer program into a superior customer experience.

Is one issue of Profit not enough to get you through to August? Visit the Profit archives or follow @OracleProfit on Twitter for a daily dose of enterprise technology news from Profit.

Best Regards,
Aaron Lazenby
Editor in Chief
Profit: Technology Powered. Business Driven.

Tuesday May 21, 2013

Front of the House: Lessons from ABC Bakery's Battle with the Internet

The story of Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Bistro and Café--now know to all by the fractal-like name ABC Baking Company--continues to be glorious tidal wave of slow motion train wrecks.

If you don't follow cooking shows or the Internet, you might not have heard about the owners of the Scottsdale, Arizona restaurant who sent outrageous, angry responses to their Facebook and Reddit detractors pretty much all night long. Who caused culinary hothead Gordon Ramsey to abandon an episode of his show "Kitchen Nightmares" when he found ABC Baking Company to be a nightmare machine he couldn't repair.

But the saga is fast becoming a classic social media case study. Forbes contributor Kelly Clay gleaned “Six Things You Should Never Do On Social Media” from the meltdown (which as been updated now to include seven lessons); Clay’s blog included both rather obvious advice – such as “Don’t Insult People” and also some more specific guidance executives really do need to pay attention to: “If someone mentions you or your business on Reddit, seriously consider whether you can and want to get involved in the discussion.”

Amy’s is reopening today as the owners attempt to restart their business and reconnect with their customers on social media. Profit has some tips for ABC Baking Company, here’s some sage advice taken from some of our recent interviews with social media experts. It’s advice that Amy’s owners – and other executives – can keep their social media plans from collapsing like an undercooked pizza.

Create a Good Social Media Policy: According to Shama Kabani, author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing: “You need to spell out the purpose of your community. What are things that you will respond to and what are things that will be deleted on sight? I think a lot of people get sucked into social media without realizing you can have certain boundaries and dictate some rules. It doesn’t have to be the Wild, Wild West, and a good policy certainly helps you do that.”

Take Your Customers Seriously: “One of the biggest mistakes I still see is people trying to cover their butts,” says Ric Dragon, CEO of DragonSearch and author of Social Marketology. “Deleting comments or not responding quickly, these are the worst things you could do. When it comes to social media, organizations need to be transparent, honest and authentic. This has to be a strong part of your company’s culture, and communicated from the top down.”

Prepare for Rejection: There will always be detractors, but you should pay attention to the proportion of negative v. positive comments, and be prepared to shift course if you notice a trend. As I wrote in an previous blog, “You can't be surprised when you make a mistake or encounter a troll--and the result is a snarky, pointed, or downright combative response from a user. Develop a plan and develop a thick skin.”

Consider Outsourcing: If you are too busy to handle social media marketing on a consistent basis, you may consider outsourcing. (This may also be a good strategy if you are too close to your business and will take critical comments personally. Ahem).

But taking this approach doesn’t mean you get to check out, says Madhur Chaturvedi, director of Insight and Customer Strategy at Oracle. “In such situations, however, companies should make sure they retain control of and full editorial rights to what is being posted on their behalf. Companies can do this by putting in placed automated approval workflows and escalation processes between their partners and internal teams.

Tuesday Apr 23, 2013

Social Media Flashback: Tips from 1997

Prevent your social campaigns from being a Titanic failure Do you remember 1997?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average cracked 7000 for the first time. Hong Kong was preparing for “The Handover”, ending 156 years of British colonial rule. Princess Diana, Mother Theresa, Allen Ginsberg and The Notorious B.I.G. all died that year, but Rebecca Black (of YouTube’s “Friday” fame) and Kylie Jenner (of Jenner-Kardashian fame) were both born. So it was clearly a transitional year.

So aside from 1997 being the year of the Spice Girls, Titanic and the first Harry Potter book, it was also they year I started working with social media.

“How is that possible,” you may ask. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was only 13 years old in 1997. Twitter wouldn’t launch for almost another decade.

Well, according to Forbes, the term “social media” first appeared in the news in 1997, when current Groupon CEO Ted Leonsis uttered the term while working as an executive at AOL. So the concept wasn’t totally unknown, even if the big social players hadn’t emerged yet.

But in 1997—while Leonsis was helping build one of the dotcom era’s signature companies—I was employee #2 at an independent record label in New York. My office was in a stock room, my desk was a card table, and my job was to make sure the CDs stacked up around me somehow got into the hands of people who would pay to listen to them. No small task when my PR and marketing budgets were based on available cash. And when our bank balance approached $0, I had to get creative.

So I inadvertently followed Leonsis: I logged onto our company’s AOL account (where we had our “corporate” email) and started to get friendly with existing and prospective fans of our music. Most of the bands I was working with featured former hair metal stars with surprisingly devout followings. This was back in the day of “message boards,” where it was relatively easy to identify users by tastes and interests based on the forums they contributed to. So I connected with people on these message boards, which helped me let fans know when our bands were coming to their towns, the local music stores where they could find our CDs, and generally create excitement around the products we were selling. All things that would be done today via social media channels.

This story has a bittersweet ending: despite my social marketing efforts, I couldn’t motivate enough interest to keep the record label in business. But my experience talking with customers on the internet got me a new job at an internet marketing firm, where I was assigned to lead “grassroots online marketing” for one of the world’s largest media companies. That was a nice validation of my strategy.

Flash forward to 2013. I recently told someone I had 16 years of experience in social media, referring to these days in the late Nineties. It seemed like a strange claim to make, until I realized many of the principles I followed in 1997 still apply today. For example:

Offer Something of Value: Often, the first question people asked me during my early social marketing efforts was “Aren't you spamming these conversation threads?” My answer then—as it is now—was that because we were offering something of value to a targeted list of people who announced their interests, our marketing messages should be well received. We did not bombard a Natalie Imbruglia message board with anonymous posts, shouting at people to buy her new CD. But when Imbruglia did one of the first concerts to be live streamed on the internet, we made sure her fans knew. And they were appreciative. And they watched the webcast. Everybody wins.

I believe the same holds true today: if you don’t give users something of value or a reason to care, you’re just cluttering their wall, news feed, or inbox. Give people access to exclusive content, discounts, or limited-time offers and you’ll be more likely to get their attention.

Be respectful of the community and conversation: When marketers get together to create campaign strategies and build social campaign assets, it’s easy to forget that the conversation they want to join is already in progress outside the conference room. So when a campaign is launched into the flow of user interaction, it can easily be perceived as disruptive. I definitely saw this in my AOL message board and Usenet (remember those) marketing days. If I didn't enter a conversation delicately—and with respect for the reason the users had congregated online—flame would follow.

Today, I believe it’s essential for social marketers to respect the communities and conversations they join—first and foremost. People can smell when a marketing message has been blasted into a social channel with little regard for context. This reveals that the person or brand that contributed the message has little respect for the recipient, other than the demographic they represent or the influence they wield. Even with the proliferation of powerful marketing automation tools, the human touch is key. And respect is a top human priority.

Prepare for rejection: Back in the late 1990s, I would occasionally encounter a user who would complain about my team's presence on their conversation thread. Because we were typically transparent about our identity and motivations, we were easy targets for anyone who wanted to complain about our participation in discussions among fans. Since we were in somewhat uncharted territory in those days, I didin't exactly know how to read the negative feedback. Until other people started coming to our defense. Then I realized that there will always be detractors, and it wasn't the mere presence or absence of negative feedback that defined success--it was the proportion of negative v. positive comments that mattered.

There are plenty of articles on the 2013 internet about how to respond to negative feedback on social media (here's one example). Most of them include "be prepared" as an important step. You can't be surprised when you make a mistake or encounter a troll--and the result is a snarky, pointed, or downright combative response from a user. Develop a plan and develop a thick skin. And do everything in your power to avoid one of these scenarios.

Go in for the long haul: One of the online grassroots marketing campaigns we ran for a mid-tier national band spanned more than a year. Getting a commitment from our client to continuously interact with fans for that period of time allowed us to build a rapport and identity in the online communities we frequented. This, ultimately, was the most valuable asset we generated: the trust and support of the users we targeted.

Consistency and commitment both seem to be critical aspects of current social media best practices. And I know from the anxiety I feel when I don't update this blog that an empty or untended social media channel is a sad thing. And it was as true in 1997 as it is in 2013: be present, be persistent, and take your social media seriously.

Before we leave 1997, here are two amazing songs released that year:

Friday Apr 19, 2013

OAUG President Margaret Wright: Thoughts from Collaborate 2013

One of the many benefits of attending the COLLABORATE 2013 conference (hosted every year by the Oracle Applications Users Group, the Independent Oracle Users Group, and Quest International Users Group), is access to great leaders and thinkers in the Oracle community. Typically, that means having a conversation with the new elected president of the OAUG. This year that meant sitting down with Margaret Wright--who also serves as technology manager at Southern Company, an Atlanta, GA-based utility. Here are some excerpts from our conversation, which inclue Wright's insights into cloud computing, hot topics at this year's conference, and what's on the minds of Oracle applications users.

Cloud Computing: “When your custom code breaks, it your resources you have to spend to fix it. That’s where you are going to spend your IT dollars. So the biggest impact I see Cloud having on enterprise applications in on eliminating budget spent on customizations. "

The Importance of Business/IT Collaboration: “Being a student of the business can be difficult for IT folks, but it’s essential for survival. We can’t act like a hammer, looking for a nail. We need to get away from the traditional IT model of developers in a room with no one else, just coding. We need to understand how the business flows—and the CEO and the CIO need to be joined at the hip.”

Involvement in the OAUG: “Our volunteers put in a lot of hours. To make that level of commitment, you have to have a passion for the technology and user advocacy. For me, being the OAUG president is a dream job. I’m so excited.”

The Women in Technology Series at COLLABORATE 2013: “Still, IT is mostly male at all levels, all the way up to the CIO. It’s important to bring women to the table. It’s important to see accomplished women, who are ready to give back to the user community, in those positions.”

The OAUG's Relationship with Oracle: “We have a great working relationship. I’ve had great conversations this week with Oracle executives, sharing user feedback and requests. It’s essential to let our members know they’ve been heard.”

Hot topics at Collaborate 2013: “I’ve heard a lot this week about using Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle Endeca. The improvements to user experience are making the applications easier and more accessible. Endeca helps make working in Oracle E-Business Suite more like a normal day on the internet.”

Friday Mar 22, 2013

Profit Briefing: Let's Get Social

Wherein a social media powerhouse celebrates a birthday, Oracle goes to SXSW, and we preview our coverage of JC Penney in the May issue of Profit.

Social Business: Happy 7th Birthday, Twitter...
"Twitter is celebrating its 7th birthday with a video showing a short history of the service, from its humble beginnings and co-founder Jack Dorsey's first tweet, to the present day, when it boasts 200 million users." Mashable

Social Business: Oracle at SXSW Interactive
Go behind the scenes with Oracle at SXSW to hear from the thought leaders we talked to at the recent conference. Oracle

Social Business: How to Run an Effective Social Media Program
"Just as big companies have big ad budgets that give them a sizable advantage over small businesses, they also have more resources to invest in their social media programs. But unlike advertising, the playing field in social media can be much more level. The key is to manage your limited resources wisely." Businessweek

Retail: JCPenney Goes Pop
"I still think JCPenney is on the right track. Johnson et al are doing many good things, including the return of sales. If only Johnson hadn’t gotten ahead of himself by firing JCPenney’s shopper before introducing programs to woo a new one. Because that’s what happened in January 2012 when sales got tossed out and the focus turned toward new mobile technology and younger, hipper brands." Forbes

Monday Mar 04, 2013

Profit Briefing: Leadership, Education, and Horse Meat

Wherein managers find inner peace, the cloud becomes a critical part of primary education, and tainted meat supplies underscore the challenges of maintaining quality control in a dispersed supply chain.

Leadership: Be Mindful of...Well, Everything
"According to Harvard professor Bill George, mindful leaders “'end to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.'" Get tips for becoming a more mindful leader. Learning is Forever

Education: Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud
From Sugata Mitra, the winner of the 2013 TED Prize "makes his bold TED Prize wish: Help me design the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can explore and learn from each other -- using resources and mentoring from the cloud." Ted

Supply Chain: Horse meat found in IKEA meatballs
The unfolding horse-meat scandal in Europe is partly a result of a complex supply chain. "In the age of the multiple-use factory, as well as meat sourcing from a multitude of suppliers, the European experience may not be unique." USA Today

Mobile: Girls 'bigger smartphone users than boys'
"Girls aged between seven and 15 are more likely to own a smartphone than boys and 45 per cent of girls say they use a smartphone every day, compared with 35 per cent of boys." The Telegraph

Thursday Feb 14, 2013

Profit Briefing: Social, Big Data, & Workforce Trends

Wherein the music industry's Grammy awards and US President Barak Obama's state of the union address provide teachable moments for social media mavens. Plus: trends in workforce management and Big Data.

Social Media: 7 Social Media Lessons From the Grammys
Get smart insight into what Grammy organizers did right -- and wrong -- before planning how to use social media for your own event. CNET

Social Media: Still Waters
Senator Marco Rubio's famous swig from a bottle of Poland Springs water provided a watershed social media moment for the company. The results? A missed opportunity on Twitter but a thumbs up on Facebook.

Study: C-Level Leaders  Want HR Professionals to Look at Big Picture
CEOs and CFOs said they believe that the HR function’s expertise and experience in people issues can help companies make difficult but crucial staffing decisions in challenging economic times. Oracle

The Future of Work: Millennials Are Most Stressed Generation
Respondents age 18-33 reported highest levels of stress in a recent study by the American Psychological Association. In fact, "slightly more than 50 percent said that overwhelming worries disrupted their sleep in the past month." Los Angeles Times

Dealing With Data: Author Nassim N. Taleb On What To Watch For
"Modernity provides too many variables, but too little data per variable. So the spurious relationships grow much, much faster than real information. In other words: Big data may mean more information, but it also means more false information." says author Nassim N. Taleb. Wired

Tuesday Feb 12, 2013

Editor's Notebook: Oracle #CloudWorld 2013

It's been almost two weeks since
Oracle's CloudWorld events landed on US shores (learn more about how you can attend) and I'm starting to compile my notes into a bit of insight and editorial planning
for 2013.

First the insight:

  • What has Cloud done for me lately? - Executives and business users are now familiar with the concept of accessing a remote IT solution--or having their own solution managed offsite. So adding the word "cloud" to your slide deck is not enough to have a meaningful conversation about the impact a solution can have on your business. Indeed, one of the most common statements I heard from CloudWorld presenters as they showed off their products was "By the way, this is all in the cloud." To me, this statement underscores that it's the functionality of a solution that really matters. Sure, a cloud-based solution it has to perform, be secure, scale properly, and play well with other systems (just like an on-premises solution, BTW). But if a cloud solution can't deliver enterprise-grade functionality, the fact that it's "in the cloud" is just a distraction.
  • How fast do you want it? - A key driving force behind the adoption of cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions is rapid speed-to-deployment. If you need a solution, and need it fast, you can get your credit card and get that application online right away. Certainly there are other benefits to SaaS solutions (system monitoring and maintenance, optimized business flows, backup/failover support, automatic upgrades, etc.), but reducing planning and install time appears to be emerging as the critical differentiator for applications on the cloud. However...
  • Cloud Wrangling - ...since it is relatively easy to acquire a SaaS application (see credit card comment above), an enterprise IT environment runs the risk of having cloud-based applications scattered all over the lines of business. Each LOB executive may enjoy the benefit of ready access to an IT solution they control, but that can put them at odds with the CIO's overall IT plan for the entire enterprise. Especially if one of those SaaS applications contains data (say for instance, key customer or sales records) that must be accessed by on-premise enterprise solutions (an ERP system, for example). Not to mention if a business process spans multiple SaaS applications and on-premise systems. These scenarios threaten to undermine the real potential value of cloud computing by adding new friction to an already complex computing environment. Oracle systems architect Tim Sent, who hosted an excellent CloudWorld session on integration, told me that this problem can be avoided with 1)intelligent use of virtualization in the mid-tier and 2) published requirements/policies that LOB managers must follow when acquiring a SaaS solution. But more on that in the August issue of Profit...

Now the editorial planning: the August 2013 issue of Profit will focus on Cloud. Keep an eye on your mailbox/inbox for that issue. And in the meantime, I'll continue to post notes from our reporting and information about exclusive content updates on this blog. More to come...

Bonus! Oracle CloudWorld featured Facebook's founding CMO Randi Zuckerberg as a keynote speaker. She presented her thoughts on the top 10 technology trends to watch in 2013. They are:

  1. Luxury living without luxury spending. How are you delivering top shelf service to customers?
  2. Your mobile phone is everything.
  3. The rise of the entre-ployees. How how you promoting employee innovation?
  4. Digital detox. Can disconnecting spark creativity?
  5. Big data personalization. Are you turning customer data into customer service?
  6. Everything you need to remember is now in the cloud.
  7. The car is the new mobile computer.
  8. The gamification of everything. A scale that tweets your weight?
  9. Everyone can have a second job. Monitizing hobbies, chores, common activities.
  10. Tech culture is pop culture. Tech fluency now presumed of mass culture audiences.
Zuckerberg might have a personal interest in #10...

Learn more about Oracle CloudWorld events.

Wednesday Feb 06, 2013

NEW - Profit Briefing: What We're Thinking About

This week, we're starting a new regular feature called Profit Briefing. It's basically a collection of links to new Profit content and news in the business/tech world that we find interesting. A bit of a snapshot into the the regular reading habits of the Profit editorial staff.

So, without further ado:

Proposed Acquisition: Oracle Buys Acme Packet
The combination of Oracle and Acme Packet is expected to accelerate the migration to all-IP networks by enabling secure and reliable communications from any device, across any network. Oracle

Oracle Voice: 10 Reasons Why CEOs Don't Understand Their Customers
Oracle Senior Vice President Bob Evans reveals the results of a customer experience study commissioned by Oracle -- and the dangerous implications of its results Forbes.

Trends for 2013: Trends in Employee Training: Online Global Learning Management
"A learning management system is only as good as the learning design, technology, and methodology for delivery that governs it," says Denise Pirrotti Hummel, CEO of Universal Consensus, a cross-cultural management consulting and training firm. Profit Online

Study: Two-thirds of American adults who are online use Facebook.
This, according to a Pew Research study. However, 61 percent of these users say "they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more." Learn the reasons so many say they need a break. Pew Internet

Debate: Is the Internet Making Us More Generous?
Columbia University's first Chief Digital Officer Sree Srennivasan argues that "the Internet has made the world more generous, while also changing our traditional understanding of generosity itself." What do you think? Read his essay and join the discussion. Big Questions Online

The February issue of Profit in now available!

Just after Oracle acquired cloud-based talent management company Taleo in early 2012, the company's former vice president of research, David Wilkins shared some statistics with me about the challenging environment managers face competing for workers in the global marketplace: the US faces a deficit of 3 million workers with post-secondary degrees, China a shortfall of 70,000 executives capable of leading global expansion, and 70 percent of German companies report challenges finding the "right people."

But managers are certainly not helpless in the face of headwind in the global talent market. With the right talent management strategies, corporate culture, IT tools, and (of course) people, many organizations can be inoculated against the skills malaise. But it will require long-term vision and early action.

This issue of Profit looks at some of the forces at work in the market and some of the smart, creative efforts Oracle customers are making to address talent issues in their organizations. I hope the stories prove useful as we face the coming skills gap together.

Some highlights from the February 2013 issue of Profit:

Mind the Gap
Getting greater value from millennial and baby boomer employees

Breakthrough Talent
Enterprise systems help employers cope with the global skills shortage.

Chain Reaction
Built on sound IT and standard processes, LinkedIn?s finance department goes from startup to IPO—and beyond.

Giving Up Control
How empowered customers and employees make your business stronger.

Going for the Gold
NBC Sports Group CMO John Miller says social engagement can return unprecedented marketing results.

Innovation at Work
How smart IT solutions are inspiring fresh ideas among the workforce.

Is one issue of Profit not enough to get you through to May? Visit the Profit archives, or follow @OracleProfit on Twitter for a daily dose of enterprise technology news from Profit.

Tuesday Dec 11, 2012

Editor's Notebook - Social Aura: Insights from the Oracle Social Media Summit

Panelists talk social marketing at the Oracle Social Media Summit

On November 14, I traveled to Las Vegas for the first-ever Oracle Social Media Summit. The two day event featured an impressive collection of social media luminaries including: David Kirkpatrick (founder and CEO of Techonomy Media and author of The Facebook Effect), John Yi (Head of Marketing Partnerships, Facebook), Matt Dickman (EVP of Social Business Innovation, Weber Shandwick), and Lyndsay Iorio (Social Media & Communications Manager, NBC Sports Group) among others. It was also a great opportunity to talk shop with some of our new Vitrue and Involver colleagues who have been returning great social media results even before their companies were acquired by Oracle.

I was live tweeting the event from @OracleProfit which was great for those who wanted to follow along with the proceedings from the comfort of their office or blackjack table. But I've also found over the years that live tweeting an event is a handy way to take notes: I can sift back through my record of what people said or thoughts I had at the time and organize the Twitter messages into some kind of summary account of the proceedings. I've had nearly a month to reflect on the presentations and conversations at the event and a few key topics have emerged:

David Kirkpatrick's comment during the opening presentation really set the stage for the conversations that followed. Especially if you are a marketer or publisher, the idea that you are in a one-way broadcast relationship with your audience is a thing of the past. "Rising above the noise" does not mean reaching for a megaphone, ALL CAPS, or exclamation marks. Hype will not motivate social media denizens to do anything but unfollow and tune you out. But knowing your audience, creating quality content and/or offers for them, treating them with respect, and making an authentic effort to please them: that's what I believe is now necessary. And Kirkpatrick's comment early in the day really made the point.

Later in the day, our friends @Vitrue demonstrated this point by elaborating on a comment by Facebook's John Yi. If a social strategy is comprised of nothing more than cutting/pasting the same message into different social media properties, you're missing the opportunity to have an actual conversation. That's not shouting at your audience, but it does feel like an empty gesture.

Walter Benjamin, perplexed by auraless Twitter messages

Not to get too far afield, but 20th century cultural critic Walter Benjamin has a concept that is useful for understanding the dynamics of the empty social media gesture: Aura. In his work The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Benjamin struggled to understand the difference he percieved between the value of a hand-made art object (a painting, wood cutting, sculpture, etc.) and a photograph. For Benjamin, aura is similar to the "soul" of an artwork--the intangible essence that is created when an artist picks up a tool and puts creative energy and effort into a work. I'll defer to Wikipedia:

"He argues that the "sphere of authenticity is outside the technical" so that the original artwork is independent of the copy, yet through the act of reproduction something is taken from the original by changing its context. He also introduces the idea of the "aura" of a work and its absence in a reproduction."

So make sure you put aura into your social interactions. Don't just mechanically reproduce them.

Keeping aura in your interactions requires the intervention of an actual human being. That's why @NoahHorton's comment about content curation struck me as incredibly important. Maybe it's just my own prejudice, being in the content curation business myself. And it's not to totally discount machine-aided content management systems, content recommendation engines, and other tech-driven tools for building an exceptional content experience.

It's just that without that human interaction--that editor who reviews the analytics and responds to user feedback--interactions over social media feel a bit empty. It is SOCIAL media, right? (We'll leave the conversation about social machines for another day).

At the end of the day, experimentation is key. Just like trying to find that right joke to tell at the beginning of your presentation or that good opening like at a cocktail party, social media messages and interactions can take some trial and error. Don't be afraid to try things, tinker with incomplete ideas, abandon things that don't work, and engage in the conversation. And make sure your heart is in it, otherwise your audience can tell.

And finally:


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