Tuesday Oct 01, 2013

Cloud Social: What’s So Awesome About It?

wowWell, it’s not like your company owns Facebook or Twitter, so the notion you can control and execute social “on-site” was always a non-starter.  What you can do is embrace and throw your C-suite weight behind Cloud Social…integrating social relationship management, social data, and social collaboration with other enterprise applications in the Cloud for real-time, actionable insight.


To do this effectively enough to revolutionize your customer experience and make them forever, undyingly loyal to your brand, there must be an overall adoption of Cloud computing and social’s place in it. That’s happening. But is it happening in your organization?


Respondents to a TechInsights Report indicated the cloud is maturing in the enterprise, with IT decision makers achieving better results, faster deployments and lower costs than expected. That was true across Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Given that, it’s no surprise we see increases in Cloud spending. Those using Cloud for 4+ years are nearly 6x more likely to report increasing cloud spending by over 30% this year. Cloud spending even amongst small to midsized businesses is projected to rise to $95 billion by 2015.


If you’re reaction to that is, “Goodie for them,” it might be time to run down the primary advantages of shifting to the Cloud.


  • Cost Savings: more power, speed and storage than you might otherwise be able to afford.
  • Ability to Innovate: cited as the top benefit by US respondents. It’s amazing what you can do when time and money are freed up.
  • Security: often cited as a concern, it’s actually a plus as cloud providers are often better equipped to guard data. Is your current on-site security flawless?
  • Disaster Avoidance: data is automatically backed-up daily and can be restored seamlessly.
  • Smarter Resourcing: stats show up to 80% of IT budget are bogged down in routine maintenance. Is that really where you want your money and the time of your CIO/CTO to go?
  • Options Aplenty: go with a private cloud, public cloud or hybrid depending on your needs and comfort level. The Cloud can scale as you grow.
  • Headache Reduction: fewer worries about updates, maintenance, support, and deployment.
  • Mobility: stakeholders can get what they need from the cloud any time, from anywhere, on any device, making collaboration downright modern.
  • Green: Using Cloud for storage uses at least 30% less energy than on-site servers.


Arguments against enjoying these kinds of enterprise efficiencies are getting harder to find. And where social is specifically concerned, the socially enabled enterprise is hardly possible without it. That’s a lot of incredibly valuable, freely offered customer data to be left chugging along in the slow, expensive lane.


@mikestiles
Photo: David Siqueira, stock.xchng


Friday Aug 09, 2013

The Social Cloud Primer

templecloudThe foundation for the socially-enabled enterprise is cloud-based platforms and software. It has increasingly become the accepted foundation for facilitating integrated processes and data across the organization. And there’s a lot of good news about that. After all, who thinks better efficiencies, more actionable data, improved customer experiences and lower costs sounds like a bad idea?

First, a refresher on what it means to be a socially-enabled enterprise.

Social has become essential for every consumer-facing department and business application. As silos crumble, an integrated approach to data is no longer an innovation or luxury…it’s what is required to remain relevant and competitive.

The socially-enabled enterprise is key for modern customer experiences. Social users are perpetually connected, mobile, and vocal. And because they expect gratifying, real-time responses, corporate workflows are getting spun like a top. Altimeter Group says companies manage an average 178 corporate-owned social media accounts, meaning that for social, systems are needed for publishing, analytics, listening, moderation, engagement, paid social, content management, social app development, marketing automation and admin…none of which can be islands unto themselves.

And that’s just social data. Enterprise data growth is expected to continue at 40% through 2020. The ideal scenario is for the value of all that social data you’re now pulling in to be amplified via integration with other core business applications. Now you’re discovering insights you didn’t know existed, you’re developing dynamic, real-time dashboards, reports and alerts for rapid decision-making, and you’re maxing out your Customer Service, Sales, and Support applications.

About now, you’re getting an idea of the speed, flexibility and processing power this ideal scenario calls for, and that’s where the cloud floats to the rescue. Only a cloud-based, enterprise infrastructure, platform and applications suite that extends social’s power across all consumer-facing touch points can give you the social insight + enterprise data combo that make actionable, real-time views of the customer work.

A 2012 Gartner Data Center Conference poll showed almost 9 out of 10 organizations were planning, piloting, or already using a private cloud. Others are deploying public/private hybrid clouds. But increasingly, businesses are seeing a) the need to process and utilize the vast amounts of Big Data now available and b) the need to rapidly, confidently deploy technologies that become available faster and faster.

With that kind of workload becoming the norm, on-site, traditional IT infrastructures are quickly becoming the most expensive, most inefficient proposition available. Data analysis is faster in the cloud, resources can be added and deployed as needed, and stakeholders can tap into the same data pool to satisfy their varied goals.

However…despite the benefits of systems being integrated in the cloud, many businesses are choosing the quagmire of using multiple cloud vendors for multiple processes. Recently, polled business managers reported staff downtime, missed business deadlines, and stunted innovation initiatives thanks to poor/no integration of cloud applications from multiple vendors. The 2013 InformationWeek State of Cloud Computing Survey showed 66% are using 2-5 providers, and 33% don’t integrate cloud services. It’s a one shop, legitimately integrated enterprise cloud that delivers the kinds of user experiences that make competitors sweat.

Adoption is happening. In 2012, spending on cloud tech was expected to increase by about 25%. IT departments inside the enterprise are standing toe to toe with the future, and must decide whether or not to up their strategic importance by embracing its changing role. Because with the enormity of intelligence that social offers, data collection, processing and analysis is the only hope of bringing order to metrics chaos so brands can fully reap the monetary benefits of intimately knowing their customer.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Jul 16, 2013

Is Cloud Security Holding Back Social SaaS?

Cloud CastleThe true promise of social data co-mingling with enterprise data to influence and inform social marketing (all marketing really) lives in cloud computing. The cloud brings processing power, services, speed and cost savings the likes of which few organizations could ever put into action on their own. So why wouldn’t anyone jump into SaaS (Software as a Service) with both feet? Cloud security.

Being concerned about security is proper and healthy. That just means you’re a responsible operator. Whether it’s protecting your customers’ data or trying to stay off the radar of regulatory agencies, you have plenty of reasons to make sure you’re as protected from hacking, theft and loss as you can possibly be.

But you also have plenty of reasons to not let security concerns freeze you in your tracks, preventing you from innovating, moving the socially-enabled enterprise forward, and keeping up with competitors who may not be as skittish regarding SaaS technology adoption. Over half of organizations are transferring sensitive or confidential data to the cloud, an increase of 10% over last year.

With the roles and responsibilities of CMO’s, CIO’s and other C’s changing, the first thing you should probably determine is who should take point on analyzing cloud software options, providers, and policies.

An oft-quoted Ponemon Institute study found 36% of businesses don’t have a cloud security policy at all. So that’s as good a place to start as any. What applications and data are you comfortable housing in the cloud? Do you have a classification system for data that clearly spells out where data types can go and how they can be used? Who, both internally and at the cloud provider, will function as admins? What are the different levels of admin clearance? Will your security policies and procedures sync up with those of your cloud provider?

The key is verifiable trust. Trust in cloud security is actually going up. 1/3 of organizations polled say it’s the cloud provider who should be responsible for data protection. And when you look specifically at SaaS providers, that expectation goes up to 60%. 57% “strongly agree” or “agree” there’s more confidence in cloud providers’ ability to protect data. In fact, some businesses bypass the “verifiable” part of verifiable trust. Just over half have no idea what their cloud provider does to protect data.

And yet, according to the “Private Cloud Vision vs. Reality” InformationWeek Report, 82% of organizations say security/data privacy are one of the main reasons they’re still holding the public cloud at arm’s length. That’s going to be a tough position to maintain, because just as social is rapidly changing the face of marketing, big data is rapidly changing the face of enterprise IT. Netflix, who’s particularly big on the benefits of the cloud, says, "We're systematically disassembling the corporate IT components." An enterprise can never realize the full power of big data, nor get the full potential value out of it, if it’s unwilling to enable the integrations and dataset connections necessary in the cloud.

Because integration is called for to reduce fragmentation, a standardized platform makes a lot of sense. With multiple components crafted to work together, you’re maximizing scalability, optimization, cost effectiveness, and yes security and identity management benefits. You can see how the incentive is there for cloud companies to develop and add ever-improving security features, making cloud computing an eventual far safer bet than traditional IT.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday May 21, 2013

Social Data Part 2: Socially Enabled Big Data Analytics and CX Management

This is the second in a series of posts on the value of leveraging social data across your enterprise, from Oracle Social VP Product Development Don Springer

In this post, I will cover more advanced “next” steps in how to leverage social data within your enterprise’s Big Data Analytics, Business Intelligence and Customer Experience Management deployed applications and systems. This is a follow-up to a post I wrote in April around the first step in implementing a Social CRM approach and the value for your enterprise specific social data.

Social Data Integration Framework to Socially Enable Big Data Analytics and CX Management.

Once you have successfully deployed a Social-CRM Platform as described in the post referenced above, it’s possible to know more than ever before about your customers, prospects and key target segments. Expanding your social listening capabilities to not only capture customer and prospect signals, but also their key profile information along with your results from social engagement, opens up a comprehensive approach to socially enabled big data analytics and CX Management.

The framework diagram below shows a representation of how this infrastructure could look within your enterprise:

Springer1

At the core, is a Socially Enabled Consumer Data Store to provide a 360 view of your customers, integrating:

  • Unstructured content that captures your customers intentions, interests and needs along the ‘Customer Lifecycle Journey’ from social and internal data sources
  • Quantified transactional, behavioral and customer profile data within your CX Management Applications.

As you delve deeper into this new data store, your data starts to have the following characteristics:

Springer2

As this unified view of your customer data comes together, you have the ability to support the following key capabilities in regards to Big Data Analytics and CX Management (leveraging the initial diagram in this post):

Springer1

Let’s dig a bit more into each of the core components within this framework:

Social & Enterprise Unstructured Data - Signal Detection

  • Social. The ability to quickly and consistently filter through all the noise in the publicly available online environment and capture highly targeted, relevant customer/prospect signal information,
  • Enterprise Text (Call Center Transcripts, Chat and Email Logs). Additionally, capture signal detection from your internal customer-to-company internal data sources to provide a unified, consistent and repeatable approach for all customer & prospect real-time and historical signal detection.
Socially Enabled Consumer Data Store (Next Generation)
  • The data repository should be architected to support high performance and horizontal scalability for both structured and unstructured data. The data model should be designed to support your specific CX Management and Business Analytics data models, combining hadoop, map reduction (for unstructured data) and r-base (for structured data) for complete and seamless data access. 
  • Within this environment, customer & prospect signal data should be enriched with your other structured enterprise data (Via CX Management systems and other Business Intelligence customer data) in a continual, near real-time basis.
  • What’s new in this data-model: A combined content perspective – social and transactional.  And a combined profile perspective – profile (marrying internal client profile information with social profile information) and behavioral (demographics and psychographics)
Insight Discovery (built on the consumer centric data repository)
  • An ability for your analysts to uncover new insights across structured and unstructured data by conducting contextual data drill-down about your customers, prospects and key business data.
  • Take these insights and determine if new, unique, high-value Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be generated within your business intelligence systems for faster decision making and real-time business management (action via CX Management). 
Business intelligence & Real-time Analytics
  • Repeatable, near real-time dashboard and reporting on existing and newly discovered KPIs to easily see trends, determine important variances & outliers, and track overall performance. “Correlations and patterns from disparate, linked data sources yield the greatest insights and transformative opportunities” - Gartner
  • Real-time alerts based on pertinent conditions. For example, a client may have indicated in Social Media that they are investigating a competitor’s offerings. Analytically, tracking this on a periodic basis for trends across filtered and group KPIs is important for data-driven, objective decision-making across the line of business for executives and their teams. 
CX Management
  • CX Management for Sales, Marketing, Services and Commerce allows your suitable business functions to act on any newly generated signals (alerts). For example, take action on the customer’s signal when they are evaluating a competitor.  
  • Engagement can be managed via your CX Management application’s workflow to match that customer need to the appropriate, company determined response. 
  • Broadcast Delivery, via Marketing Automation solutions, will allow results achieved through specific customer experience interactions to be amplified through targeted segment communication efforts.

At the core, this socially enabled Big Data Analytics and CX Management framework allows your enterprise the ability to integrate your current enterprise data with new sources of public data and corresponding signals for faster decision-making and real-time ‘ROI-oriented’ action.

This post covers some pretty advanced concepts. In my customer interactions, the more savvy and advanced enterprises are just now looking to consolidate their successful experiments into a unified approach described in the diagram above. Hopefully, this post provides you with a suitable a framework to begin thinking about your own enterprise approach for socially enabling your key external facing business functions.

Based on reader feedback, I’ll plan on writing some additional posts highlighting ‘best practices’ from where we are seeing specific customer value from the above approach.

In future posts, I’ll also be bringing in other colleagues to discuss in more detail aspects of socially enabled big data analytics and CX Management including topics like: public Data-as-a-Service (DaaS), lessons learned on data enrichment, a market perspective on data-matching (connecting offline to online profile information), etc.

Friday Apr 12, 2013

Mad Men is Just a Show: How to Be the CMO of the Future

baby macLife has changed, and is still in the process of changing for the CMO.  The marketing opportunities of social, of emerging technologies, of mobile, the rising importance of content, the addition of social data to big data, and how social is changing the enterprise experience have all evolved the required skillset of the position. Since these consumer behaviors are highly unlikely to reverse, I picked the brain of Oracle VP Product Management for Cloud Social Erika Brookes for a look at what today’s CMO should seek to fully understand going forward.

The Customer Owns Your Brand

  • Understand the customer is now in charge and should be the focus. Their expectation is to be respected and treated well. Anything less disappoints.
  • Understand that phenomenal products and services, and personalized, hyper-attentive customer service is the new marketing.
  • Understand social is how the public is choosing to engage with each other and brands, and has kicked word-of-mouth into overdrive. The public is talking about you.
  • Understand social is not a megaphone for ads. Try to internalize how mistrustful of push messaging people are and that the path to drawing attention is to provide something of real value.
  • Understand you’ve got to lead crowd-pleasing content creation efforts, or find people who do know how to entertain/inform.

The Marketer Must Speak API

  • Understand you can no longer be comfortable in what you don’t know. You have to jump into technology head-on, knowing how it will deliver business value.
  • Understand you’ll be collaborating with the CIO and IT to leverage technological advantages faster than ever. You must have a voice on tech matters and implementation.
  • Understand the unprecedented gold mine of social data that, married with enterprise and 3rd party data, can paint an actionable picture of the customer.
  • Understand the importance of your brand’s mobile experience and how fast it’s becoming the primary way social is accessed.
  • Understand the cloud as the best technology practice for gathering, managing, analyzing and acting upon big data.

Know the Science Behind the Art

  • Understand campaigns should be built around what the consumer has shown you, through data, they like.
  • Understand not just social marketing, but social selling, social commerce, social service, social HR, social recruiting, and social collaboration.
  • Understand the value of listening, and how to extract worthwhile data from the noise.
  • Understand all of the social channels and platforms available to you, which targets are using them and how so appropriate strategies, messaging and measurement can be crafted for each.
  • Understand you have to keep moving toward proving the ROI behind the spend.

You Will Likely Conduct an Internal Symphony

  • Understand the changes going on inside the organization. Your role is expanding.
  • Understand that an unprecedented collaboration of people, processes and technology is being called for, and it’s probably you that must conduct that symphony.
  • Understand you have to communicate and align with sales for consistent brand and consumer experiences.
  • Understand you’ll play a large role in finding the technology partner to insure effective execution of social, a single vendor that offers every piece of the puzzle.
  • Understand that even in huge business enterprises, agility offers a competitive advantage and should be aspired to.

Below are some additional resources on the changing role of the CMO that might help you get to the future sooner rather than later.

Webinar with Oracle SVP Product Development for Cloud-Social Reggie Bradford and Forrester lead analyst David Cooperstein.

Social Spotlight Blog: Scandal! The CMO/CIO Relationship Revealed.

Video: “The changing role of the CMO.” Argyle Executive Forum’s 2013 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum (New York).

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Mar 15, 2013

Social Insights: Katie’s Got a Problem

The following is based on a presentation given by Oracle VP Product Strategy JP Saunders at Oracle CloudWorld.  Check the dates to see when CloudWorld is in a city near you.

Katie’s got a problem, and depending on how you handle it, she may have two problems. If you’re set up to have social insights differentiate your brand by improving her customer experience, everything will be fine. If you’re not, Katie won’t be impressed and will be more than happy to tell friends about it.

Katie’s been a loyal customer for years and has made several purchases. She’s also “regularly active” on social. Her daughter’s birthday is in 2 days and she’s trying to get the present she wants.

Most customers still turn first to a brand’s web site help. Whether she Googles the issue or goes right to your support page, she winds up in your self-service portal. She can’t find her answer quickly or easily. So she initiates a service request. Her reward…an automated email saying she’ll get a response. 24-hrs later, still no answer and her daughter isn’t getting any younger.

Now she goes public, posting the question to your Facebook Page with a likely frustrated tone. Typically, Facebook’s managed by Marketing or PR, so that’s who sees her cry for help. The fan base now watching, they tell Katie support will be alerted. Marketing emails support and, you guessed it, another service request is generated. Katie’s having a poor experience and the organization looks confused.

There’s a better way. Katie couldn’t self-serve because she couldn’t find what she was looking for, or it wasn’t there. Social offers the chance to go beyond FAQs and leverage the collective knowledge of your customers. What if she were encouraged to pose her question to other customers so they could solve her problem? Is that better than a “we’ll get back to you someday” email?

When Katie provided an email to get help, you could have asked her to authenticate with one of her existing social accounts. Studies suggest this lowers friction and abandonment rates, but what it does for you is build a social profile of your customers. You don’t have to wait until she’s on Facebook to start collecting social profile data.

When Katie generated a service request, existing social data on her could have helped. You’d know how influential she is on social, you’d be able to prioritize and customize your response to her, she could be asked for her communication preferences, and no matter what touch point she used, you would recognize her as “Katie, your customer.”

If Katie initiated a service request on your site with email, then she went to your Facebook Page where she was authenticated differently, you wouldn’t know this was the same person. The Community Manager wouldn’t know a service request had already been opened. Now Katie’s had a bad experience and there are redundant service requests.

Integration is the key to the entire organization knowing who Katie is. A structure should be in place that manages customer interactions as they cross departments. Social data is tied into CRM data. The conversation suite tracking Katie’s Facebook conversation is tied to the service department. Interdepartmental emails give way to automated holistic toolsets.

Marketing forwards her issue to service with a click, context and content preserved. The handoff to service is tracked. When service resolves the issue, the system updates so everybody knows where things stand with Katie. You’ve improved Katie’s experience so that she remains a loyal, happy customer. And you have better efficiencies and fewer headaches in your organization.

Now Katie can go brag to everyone she’s connected with on social about how great you are. No problem.

@mikestiles

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