Friday Oct 03, 2014

What We Saw and Did at Oracle OpenWorld: Thursday

Oracle OpenWorldAll good things must come to an end, although innovations in the Oracle Cloud and Oracle Social Cloud never end and are always an ongoing process. After all, we want to have great stories to tell and great announcements to make at Oracle OpenWorld 2015. Believe it or not, after a great night at Treasure Island with Aerosmith and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, attendees still made it in for one final day of discussions.


In the wrap-up of CX Central (which by itself had over 2000 participants and over 300 sessions) Meg Bear and GM’s Rebecca Harris were talking about the importance of Latent Semantic Analysis in social listening. For instance, Rebecca pointed out that “good morning” is often shortened to ‘GM’ on Twitter…a problem for their monitoring, as is the fact that “Chevrolet” is in the lyrics of almost 2000 songs.


Meg said we’re well past discussions of whether social is a fad and are now hearing more stories about product innovations coming through and from brand social channels. Orgs can turn that into strategic value. Rebecca said every department touches social in some way, with each department believing they’re doing what’s right. But there must be an integrated strategy through the customer lens, which involves stakeholder meetings that aren’t always pleasant.


Oracle’s Rahim Fazal and Mike Ballard led a great session on how governments and utilities can effectively use social before and during disasters/ emergencies. From its very beginnings in Rome, government was intended to be local, instant, personal and social. So governments must consider all channels to serve all constituents of all ages in all socio-economic groups, wherever they are. At its peak, Instagram users uploaded Sandy-related pictures at a rate of 10/second. Facebook mentions of Sandy and Frankenstorm were up 1 million percent!


During a crisis, don’t try to control the conversation. Let people vent. Your job is to provide actionable info. Mike said 624 million customers worldwide are expected to engage with utilities by the end of 2017. You won’t have much trust if you create a social presence when a major issue happens. It has to already be there and ready. Even if a utility is doing a great job in a disaster, nobody will know without steady communication. Mike suggests developing a social engagement and resource strategy, then stress test it to make sure it’ll work during the real deal.


Altimeter Group’s Andrew Jones had a nice chat with us about the importance of social identities. Limited insight will only lead to messages and ads that lack context and make no sense. 57% of consumers are fine with providing personal info if they benefit and it’s used responsibly. 77% would trust business more if they explained how they’re using personal info to improve their online experience.


The benefits of compiling social identities include richer customer profiles, cross-channel engagements, efficiencies of marketing budgets, and social media ROI. It also lets you leverage influencers, identify prospects, reach custom audiences, find lookalike audiences, nurture leads, personalize products, gain real time insight, retain and reactivate, reward loyalty, and tap advocates. Gee, is that all?


Oracle OpenWorld WizardThen it was on to Rahim’s super-casual chat about social data with BlueKai’s Molly Parr and Marriott Rewards’ Michelle Lapierre. Disparate data creates marketing complexity and lost revenue. If they can’t pull together all their data, marketers fail to target the right customers. Yet 82% of enterprise marketers have NO synchronized view of customer data. 58% say social data is important but 52% collect little to none of it.


Molly says data is fine, but the ability to activate on data is finer. Most data is tied to specific execution, but today it must be “unchained,” with focus shifting from campaigns to customers. Can multiple small vendors deliver that kind of unchained, actionable data across the enterprise? Michelle said that’s a tough way to go. It’s putting functionalities under one umbrella that makes more sense.


Thanks to all who attended our social and CX Central sessions at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld and for those who have virtually attended through this blog and @oraclesocial. But don’t leave now. Keep your eyes on these space as we continue to build the power of social listening and data into the newly upgraded Oracle Cloud.


@mikestiles @oraclesocial







Thursday Oct 02, 2014

What We Saw and Did at Oracle OpenWorld: Wednesday

Oracle OpenWorld 2014It was Oracle Social Cloud’s busiest day yet at Oracle OpenWorld 2014, and here come the takeaways…conveniently packaged in a single post because you’re such a faithful Social Spotlight reader!


Faz Shoja-Assadi and Eran Cedar treated attendees to a peek at the Oracle Social Cloud roadmap and vision, explaining Oracle’s goal was to acquire best of breed companies, then unify and deliver one social relationship management platform that’s comprehensive, customer-centric and integrated. With 82.3% of CMO’s agreeing social impacts their business, it was and is a worthy goal.


Eran loves showing off our recent developments, like Custom Audiences, a paid media partnership program, Dynamic Link Tracking, a Mobile SRM, and Actionable Insights. But what fun is a roadmap if you can’t see what’s around the corner? Oracle Social Cloud customers can look forward to a new, modular user experience with a new calendar, Custom Analytics, user role dashboards, and a responsive design. Publishing will get simpler and more powerful; with more social networks, Quick Post, and content curation.


Oracle Social Cloud

And there’s the ongoing development of the newly announced Social Station and Social Intelligence Center, which lets customers show off their social activity at events (like we’re doing at OpenWorld) and at HQ. Integrations with BlueKai, Omniture, and Commerce are on the way. And lastly a Developer Platform will let customers extend Oracle Social Cloud to do what they need it to do via a variety of API’s.


Next, Oracle’s Angela Wells, Holly Spaeth of Polaris, Meghaan Blauvelt of Nestle and Michelle Lapierre of Marriott Rewards dealt with that pesky social ROI topic. Angela said 89% of brand leaders think measuring it is a priority, but only 49% can actually quantify its impact. 66% feel pressured to do so. The panel brought up the “Cost of Ignoring,” i.e. what will a brand lose by not doing social? Holly said since there’s not a clear direct path to the sale, brands should think about ROI in terms other than the sale. For instance, Polaris can save millions in warranty claims just by listening to customers, and that’s social ROI. Meghaan said the ROI of social and media is totally dependent on the quality and ROI of content. And Michelle said if you’re winning trust and preference, you’ve created ROI.


Our Erika Brookes chatted with Melissa Schreiber of FleishmanHillard and Chevrolet’s Jamie Barbour about “Superfans.” A top takeaway: there are differences between influencers and advocates. Advocates have more trust, are likely to recommend, share to help, have passion, and stick around. Influencers have huge followings and can get people to a brand, but from there, advocates are the ones who reinforce how great it is.


Oracle OpenWorld entertainmentThis kind of fandom has power, and value. Social users talking about Olympic athletes in Sochi not being able to get Chobani yogurt generated 380 million impressions and $70 million in unpaid media value. Jamie closed saying people are quite used to using social to tell their stories, and brands can offer bigger stages for them to do that.


Oracle’s Tara Roberts, and GM’s Rebecca Harris and Whitney Drake talked about how to create and operate “Global Command Centers.” GM’s has 16, count ‘em, 16 screens watching activity for their brands. In fact, it was listening on social that led to aluminum steering wheels being removed. They got pretty hot in the south. The panel’s advice was to start small, just start. Make each department’s role in the center clear. Have a “connector” to educate leadership on the tech needs. And be ready to adopt innovations.


Erika Brookes returned to hash out the changing roles in the C-Suite with Oracle Chief Customer Officer Jeb Dasteel; Kevin Bird, CMO of Buddhacom, and EVP Michael Farber of Booz, Allen & Hamilton. The gist was that the marketing and technology worlds are merging. Michael noted how we tend to add positions and not retire outdates ones. The org needs reimagining in anticipation of what platforms will be able to do in the future. His advice is communicate and don’t be so territorial. Jeb recommends the CIO be closely partnered with whatever Chief runs customer-centricity. His advice is to be a change agent and adopt a consultative approach. Kevin wondered aloud if there won’t be more joint C-level situations like Oracle’s co-CEO’s. His advice is to listen, be open to change, and be optimistic!


Oracle’s Tara Roberts and Kathryn Schotthoefer of Heavenspot presented on the effective use of social data. Tara put this wakeup call out there: 2/3 of digital info is created by consumers yet only 1% of the digital universe was actually analyzed in 2013. There’s so much to be learned. Kathryn said they use social data to find out what movie/TV fans are buzzing about. In the past, she’s been dubious but now believes Latent Semantic Analysis can work effectively, interpreting words that have different meanings depending on what community’s using it.


One more day to go! Let’s see what we learn tomorrow.


@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Wednesday Oct 01, 2014

What We Saw and Did at Oracle OpenWorld: Tuesday

Oracle Social Intelligence CenterFew things are more gratifying than being at Oracle OpenWorld and having a big announcement to make. So imagine how gratified we were today to make TWO big announcements about the Oracle Social Cloud.


First, additional features were added to Social Station, the customizable workspace within the Oracle Social Cloud platform. Joining Custom Analytics and the Enhanced Calendar will be the Social Intelligence Center with its real-time data visualizations around geography, topic/theme, influencers, volume, and sentiment. The new Content Curation module helps you quickly find content on topics or for a certain social channels and react within Social Station. The Quick Post module streamlines publishing by letting you create posts alongside other modules. Lastly, the Social Media Mixer aggregates social data from multiple channels into one real-time visualization.


Next, we were proud to announce to all these Oracle fans in SF the release of Social Commerce. Building on the existing integration between Oracle Social Cloud and Oracle Commerce, hyper-targeted content can be delivered to segmented Facebook audiences thanks to insights about digital shopping behavior, resulting in better experiences, better relationships, and more conversions.


For those not yet familiar with the Oracle Social Cloud, Oracle’s Meg Bear, Reggie Bradford and Rahim Fazal gave a “Sky High Overview” with some compelling facts along the way. Gartner says the percentage of customers whose purchase behavior will be dictated by social and digital interactions is 80%. In 2 years, Gartner says 90% of companies expect to be competing almost entirely on the basis of customer experience. With that going on, just look at how marketing’s influence has expanded across business functions.


Marketing across the Enterprise


Forrester says we make 500 billion impressions on each other about products and services every year, so your social management platform becomes a critical tool. Differentiators of the Oracle Social Cloud include: a unified platform with modern configurable UI/UX, deeper precision listening, global social resources, and integration with CX apps and beyond.


You also don’t need a social platform that’s not really into innovation. In addition to Social Station and Social Commerce, the Oracle Social Cloud recently executed on a paid media partnership, SRM mobile, LinkedIn support, advanced global listening, and Dynamic Link Tracking.


The roundtable focused on how rapidly organizations, and the roles in them, are changing. Reggie said they’re starved for time and having to do more with less, so a global platform with integrated components addresses that. Today’s CMO must be embedded in science, data, tech, analytics. It’s not just art like it used to be. As for CIO’s, the smart ones will figure out how to bring their expertise in a way that moves innovation forward, and will see security and protecting the company become a growing emphasis of the position. We encourage you to watch the full interview Reggie did with GM on how social is driving their customer experience that was featured in the session.


And of course, Larry Ellison took to the OpenWorld stage once again, this time to personally conduct a live demo of the upgraded 2014 Oracle Cloud platform. Frankly, he looked like he was having a ball, a sentiment the social chatter backed up. The root of Ellison’s presentation was that everything on top of the platform, and even that YOU build on the platform, automatically inherits the modernizing characteristics of the Oracle Cloud, including social and mobile.


Larry EllisonEllison showed how with a push of a button, data and applications can be moved from on-premise into the cloud (and back if desired). Oracle can access all of your data sources, structured and unstructured, because the Oracle Cloud was designed on hundreds of standards. And while Ellison pointed out Oracle has not historically been known for ease of use or low cost, the company is focused on just that…made possible with automation.


As you can tell, a lot goes on here. In trying to come up with a next-best-thing-to-being-there offering, we’re doing extensive coverage on our Twitter handle @oraclesocial, doing these daily summary blogs, and you can check out our Twitter Waterfall on our Facebook Page. We’ll keep the knowledge coming.


@mikestiles @oraclesocial

Tuesday Sep 30, 2014

What We Saw and Did at Oracle OpenWorld: Monday

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd

Day 2 of Oracle OpenWorld 2014, and there were so many takeaways for social practitioners that there’s not even room for a long opening paragraph.


The day began with a Keynote and a “wheel of customers” hosted by CEO Mark Hurd. Mark pointed out 87% of orgs are using a public cloud, and it’s projected by 2020, 1/3 of all data will reside in clouds. Yet most enterprises are still working off 20-year old legacy applications with over 80% of IT being spent on maintenance. The message: you must modernize to survive.


Walgreens CIO Tim Theriault said seamless integration from Oracle should help them leverage technology, even as IT budgets go down (falling IT budgets was a common theme today). Jamie Miller of GE said Oracle will solve the hard problems in ways we can’t even imagine today. Procter & Gamble uses Oracle to service 4 billion customers per day! Steve Little of Xerox said they have 145,000 employees and about 10,000 contractors, with no single visibility into all that because they’re on 150 HR systems worldwide! Naturally they’re moving toward one global platform. Intel’s Kim Stevenson spoke much truth when she said every industry is in a disruptive state, and she doesn’t know a business leader that thinks IT moves too fast. She asked Mark to make sure Oracle keeps innovating and driving these business transformations.


Oracle OpenWorldOracle Social’s Phil Sykes moderated a session on social for retail. IDC’s Miya Knights said their research shows consumers with 5+ devices are more willing to share data with retailers, but brands must treat that data with respect. Customers are learning how valuable it is. She reminded us many use social for info on how to better use products they already have. Kristina Console of Method says they need social sites to function as commerce sites, which is why they have great interest in Twitter’s “buy now” button. They’re big on Pinterest, offering incentives there, using it to remind customers the company is green, and wrapping products in imagery that conveys feelings, thus yielding amazing engagement.


But…ROI and measurement is still the tough nut that needs cracking. Miya said social listening is an absolute prerequisite for ROI, while Kristina said even if you get huge engagement, proving what happens after it is the hard part. Oracle’s Gary Kirschner aimed for the endgame: every aspect of the customer experience being variable in real time based on customer data.


Our own Angela Wells joined Tom Cernaik of Command Post and Katie Gulas of BBVA Compass Bank to discuss social for financial services. Angela kicked things off by saying the customer journey is no funnel. It’s a figure-8 loop including brand interactions during both purchases and ownership. Katie said social touches several parts of her bank; HR, Corporate Communications, Marketing, Web, and Service. And don’t think banks can’t do social contests. BBVA did one that generated valuable one-on-one interactions with small business leads. She does suggest using a contest vendor, keeping it simple, and anticipating questions though. Tom’s advice was around those fun-filled regulations. For instance you can share 3rd party content via a disclosure banner or an interstitial disclosure. Social is subject to the same rules that apply to traditional media. You should establish documented policies and procedures, train reps on their responsibilities, and disclose & disclaim. And you should have governance based on clear signals from the C-Suite, which must be involved in social processes and policies.


Social Media Customer Journey

Then manufacturers got their social advice from the likes of Oracle’s Bill Hobbib, Marshall Powell, and Polaris Industries’ Holly Spaeth. Bill conveyed that if a loyal customer engages, they’d like some recognition for it. Giving them dynamically personalized content will lead to more conversions. Holly actually did tell a good social ROI story. Their existing social listening tool wasn’t cutting it, so what Oracle Social Cloud offered was a way to eliminate irrelevant signals. Sounds simple, but it saved them 20-30 hours a week at $70 an hour. Money in the bank.


And of course, Oracle OpenWorld attendees continue to fill the Social Intelligence Center, where they’ve been able to see for themselves how we’re applying social listening to OpenWorld itself. Much more tomorrow!


@mikestiles @oraclesocial


Tuesday Jul 08, 2014

Marketing Technology Have You Dazed & Confused?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the growing necessity for brands to have someone filling the role of Marketing Technologist.  Obviously, this wouldn’t be a growing necessity if marketing technology weren’t literally overwhelming management teams.


It’s not that these management teams are unaware, inexperienced, disconnected, aren’t digital natives, or didn’t finish high enough in their class at Harvard. The speed at which technological change is hitting us has everyone back on their heels…including the consumer. How many times have you heard someone say they aren’t on certain social network because they “just can’t handle them all”?


And yet, maybe even unfairly, the public increasingly expects their brands to flawlessly execute the predictive meeting of their needs, instant response and gratification in customer service, and 100% relevancy in the content they’re served…and on whatever channel they might be, 24/7/365 globally.


Yeesh. No wonder there’s the urge to employ new marketing technology as fast as it comes. But because it does come so fast, and because there are so many companies in the space, with disparate products & components of the digital marketing solution, many a corporate eye is glazed over with confusion and doubt. Confusion and doubt leads to not moving forward. Many brands have expensive tech they aren’t even using.


As my great grandfather Stiles never once told me, “Son, too many choices will make your head explode.” So as you’re trying to decide what marketing technology to embrace, consider these things:


  • Whatever tech you adopt, it’s probably going to call for change in strategy, processes, personnel, and budgeting. It’s not like getting a taco from a food truck.
  • You generally get what you pay for. There are plenty of cheap choices out there that will keep you in the minor leagues.
  • Things on the rapid rise like the volume of consumer data, mobile, Internet of Things, cloud, collaborative purchasing (social friend recommendations on steroids), etc. means you can’t sit and wait “until the dust settles.” You will choke on dust.
  • How much fun is a 1000-piece puzzle if none of the pieces fit together? Look to a vendor that has all the integrated pieces you can add on as you grow. It’s the only path to seamless cross-channel customer experiences.
  • Shy away from buying the product without the service. Maximize what you get.
  • Establish an innovation lab for testing or piloting potential new tech products like the one Mayur Gupta has at Kimberly-Clark. It lets you date before you get married.


The proverbial journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step. Get in touch with your biggest pain point. What’s currently causing the biggest disconnect between your brand and your customers? Since marketing is becoming dominantly about user experience, that’s as good a place to start as any. Then resist chasing squirrels. Examine potential marketing technology vendors not just for what they offer today, but whether or not they have the big picture integrated parts of the whole you’ll need as you build.


@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Friday Jan 10, 2014

5 Secrets to Marketing and IT Collaboration Success

Today’s post is from Jack Newton, Dir. of Outbound Product Management & Strategy for Oracle Social Cloud. He shares results from the new Oracle, Leader Networks and Social Media Today study on Marketing/IT collaboration inside the enterprise.


Collaboration white paper coverIf you’re hoping that congress comes together in 2014, it’s probably a lost cause.


But it can be a different story with Marketing and IT leaders in modern organizations.


In Oracle’s Socially Driven Collaboration study, 26% of Marketing and 36% of IT leaders report that they collaborate frequently – with Marketing leading the charge. While that’s great, it’s disappointing that 20% of Marketing and a whopping 38% of IT leaders collaborate rarely or never.


For those who don’t collaborate, they’re holding themselves and their organization back.


In fact, 74% Marketing and 71% of IT leaders collaborating more report that they are more effective as professionals. With the business benefits that can come from collaboration, the C-Suite has a vested interest in creating a strong culture of collaboration, too. Some of the benefits include:

  • Stronger/more compelling marketing messages (54% Marketing; 51% IT)
  • Faster speed to market with products and services (47% Marketing; 43% IT)
  • Greater adoption of the products or services offered (40% Marketing; 42% IT)
  • Reduction in project costs (23% Marketing, 36% IT)
  • Fewer defects in products or services offered (26% Marketing, 27% IT)


How can you bridge the collaboration gap?


1. Get C-Suite Buy-in for Shared Goals

When it comes to the quality of collaboration between groups, 57% of Marketing and half of IT respondents classify their level of collaboration as being only “adequate.”


Turn the tide by tapping into the widespread belief among executives about the potential for social to transform business. An MIT Sloan Management Review executive study shows that 70% of senior leaders indicate that social business presents an opportunity to fundamentally change the way their organization works.

2. Understand the Perspective of Your Peers

For those who do see the benefit of collaboration, it can be frustrating to get the cold shoulder from the other team. More Marketers (17%) report that while they see the benefit, their peers in IT are not receptive.


Why is this a problem? A Lightspeed Research study shows that 25% of customers who complain on Twitter or Facebook expect a response within an hour. If the organization isn’t set up for social customer service, bring IT’s experience with organization-wide technology rollouts and Marketing’s experience with social together to fix it.


3. Be the Role Model

Over the past 12 months, 41% of Marketing and 38% of IT leaders say they have engaged in more collaboration. This means there’s a lot of room for improvement, since the majority of Marketing (56%) and IT respondents (60%) report no change.


Don’t be the anchor that’s weighing the company down. Kick things into gear by picking one point of customer pain or a business priority that has both IT and Marketing implications, then reach out. Be persistent.


4. Find Meaningful Metrics

Pick two or three initiatives that are near-term so you can show impact sooner rather than later. Use the list above for some ideas.


5. Carefully Choose Tools and Technology

Your new bargain basement bike may be able to get you to work now, but it’s not going to be very helpful when your job moves across town… in the wintertime… in the middle of a polar vortex.


One-off social tools are similar. The cost incurred when adopting short-term solutions and then switching to integrated tools can potentially be more than the money saved.


According to one IDC analyst, “aggregating into a new user experience (UX) or augmenting an existing one requires social tools to be integrated with other enterprise systems and needs to be embedded inside the work processes to get the most value.”


Want to learn more?


Download the study to see more findings and read interviews with social media leaders from Whole Foods Market, Chubb and Shell. They share tips and lessons learned that could be applied to almost any business on the journey to becoming more collaborative.


Tuesday Dec 03, 2013

6 Reasons Marketing and IT Might Be “Frenemies”

The two areas being most dramatically affected in the modern transformation of the corporation is marketing and IT. What’s more, the changes involve a forced coming together of two of the most unlikely of compatriots. It can be awkward.


A “frenemy” is someone you’re technically friends with, but the friendly part exists mostly on the surface. Neither is exactly cheering on the other. Here are some reasons marketing and IT are set up for such a relationship.


1. There’s someone or something making them play nice.

Frenemies usually don’t come together by choice. They’re pushed into it by circumstances or some authority figure. In this case, business changes imposed by socially empowered consumers have CEO’s fully expecting their marketing and IT teams to unite and meet these new challenges…like it or not.


2. They’re usually very different people.

Think about company holiday parties of the past. Did the marketing people hang out with the IT people? Didn’t think so. There’s often a different vibe, a different language, and business goals are viewed from a different angle. No longer can each refer to the others as “those guys over in marketing or IT.”


3. There’s resentment over who has the most.

Who has the biggest budget and the most control? The Gartner prediction of January 2012 is oft repeated; the average CMO will have a larger IT budget by 2017 than the average CIO. IT is being eyed for cost containment, not investment. IDC says about 2/3 of tech spending for marketing and rising already comes from marketing. Add to dropping IT budgetary needs the fact that tech strategy is increasingly being led by the CMO, and it can be a tough pill to swallow.


4. Fear of being the odd person out.

Larry Weber of the W2 group points out CIO’s are realizing they may soon basically be working for the CMO as the tech arm of marketing. An Economist survey of C-suite execs found 57% expect their IT function to change significantly over the next 3 years, 43% said their company will increasingly use IT as a commodity service, and already 1 in 6 CIO’s have no real role in setting IT strategy. The choices are to fight (hoping the CEO won’t side with the department driving lead gen), or follow Dell CIO Andi Karaboutis’ lead and make your primary concern “how do I enable this enterprise so they have what they need?”


5. Lack of trust.

CIO’s think marketing promises things without consulting them and without good business reasons. 36% of CMO’s say IT doesn’t deliver fast enough. An Accenture survey came right out and showed the CMO and CIO don’t trust each other. CMO’s are thinking of IT as a provider, not a partner. So convinced are they that IT works against their interests, they go around them. 45% of marketing execs prefer letting marketing employees handle data with no involvement from IT. IT thinks marketers don’t “get” data integration, standards, privacy or security.


6. Everybody around the bad relationship stands to get hurt.

There’s a reason collaboration between marketing and IT is imperative. When it’s not happening or when it’s being done poorly, the customer experience (and thus business) suffers. Nobody wins…except maybe the competition if they’re more unified.


How can marketing and IT move beyond “frenemies” and into a healthy, productive relationship? The good news is younger workers in both aren’t as keenly aware of the divide. New marketers are not opposed to embracing tech. New IT types embrace facilitating lead gen and want to be agile, internal innovators in the process.


Rapid7’s CIO Jay Leader points out, “In the old days, you couldn’t get anything out of a computer unless you came through me or my organization. Those weren’t the good ol’ days.” If marketing and IT can agree on primary business goals, on what’s needed to reach them, and the parameters to do so securely, the foundation exists for real collaboration.


Part 2 of Oracle’s study with Social Media Today and Leader Networks focuses on collaboration between marketing and IT departments, and how enterprise organizations are faring in that respect. We invite you to sign up to be alerted to the paper’s release.


@mikestiles
Photo: Martin K, stock.xchng

Friday Nov 15, 2013

Big Data Crucial to Seeing the Social Marketing ROI Light

LighthouseEveryone calls for the definitive ROI of social marketing, and while we can debate if such a beast exists, we should all agree Big Data is the path to it. In fact, if anyone can show me the ROI of marketing in the dark in 2013, please do.


Remember when people with clipboards in malls tried to take you away to a small room and ask you questions for an hour in exchange for a modest gift certificate? That’s the kind of ambush it used to take to find out what customers liked.


Look at us now. Millions all over the globe are on multiple social platforms voluntarily giving us vast amounts of information about their preferences and behaviors every second. With CRM, we also know what they bought, when they bought it, at what price, and whether they contacted customer service with a problem. They’re giving brands tons of info we claimed we wanted. In return, we act like we have no idea who they are.


To be fair, it’s a lot more info than most brands were ready for. 90% of the world’s data was generated in the last 2 years alone. 80% of that data is unstructured, meaning legacy systems were never intended to deal with it. But that unstructured data is what gives us the kind of customer insight that makes the relevant, personalized, one-on-one customer experiences increasingly essential for modern business possible. So we should probably get serious about it.


Being unable to spot trends, not knowing what your target audience is into, not being able to predict future likely behaviors or product needs, not knowing which customers can influence others in your favor, not knowing which conversations you should join, not knowing the history of a customer who reaches out to you for help, all of that leaves you in the dark.


You know what happens in the dark? You can’t see anything and you miss a lot.


If you’re not ready for big data now, the future won’t be getting any easier for you. Computer Services Corp. says the volume of data produced is expected to be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009, 75% of it being created by individuals. Even if all you care about is SEO, the major search engines are placing a renewed emphasis on the unstructured data represented by social.


So how can there possibly be no ROI in knowing your customers, listening to them, responding to them, making them undyingly loyal, retaining their business, and having them market you to their peers? Big Data is what can get you there. And that’s only going to happen if the CMO and CIO collaborate on data integration connecting social data to enterprise and marketing data.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Oct 29, 2013

Are You Afraid of Each Other? Study Shows CMO’s/CIO’s Missing Benefits of Collaboration

Scared guyRemember that person in school you spent months being too scared to talk to?  Then when you finally did, it led to a wonderful friendship…if not something more. New research from Oracle, Social Media Today and Leader Networks shows marketing and IT need to get over whatever’s holding them back and start reaping the benefits of collaboration.

See the details on the Oracle study

Back in the old days of just a few years ago, marketing could stay on their side of the building, IT could stay on their side of the building, and both could refer to the other as “those guys.” Today, the structure of organizations is shifting from islands to “us,” one integrated body where each part knows what the other parts are doing, and all parts work together in accomplishing job one…a
winning customer experience.


Ignore that, and you start losing. Give your reluctance to change priority over the benefits of new collaborations, and you start losing. You’re either working together and accelerating forward or getting in the way of each other’s separate agendas and grinding down…much to your competitors’ delight.


The study reveals a basic current truth: those who are collaborating in marketing and IT report being more effective, however less than 1/3 report collaborating even “frequently.” In other words, this is obviously a good thing, so we’d better not do it. Smart.


The white paper, “Socially Driven Collaboration,” set out to explore how today’s always-changing digital, social and mobile landscape is forcing change across the enterprise, whether it’s welcomed or not. Part of what it found is marketing and IT leaders are not unaware of what’s going on and see their roles evolving. And both know the ability to collaborate more effectively now exists. And of those who are collaborating, over 2/3 say they’re “more effective” professionally because of it.

Collab slide


Yet even if you don’t want to take the Oracle study’s word for it, an August 2013 Accenture study of 400 senior marketing and 250 IT executives revealed only 10% think CMO/CIO collaboration is at the right level. There’s a lot of room for improvement here, and not just around people. Collaboration is also being called for across processes and technologies.


Business benefits of such collaboration cited in the Oracle study include stronger marketing messages, faster speed-to-market, greater product adoption, faster discovery of product and service shortcomings, and reduction in project costs. Those are the benefits you will cheat yourself out of by keeping “those guys” at arm’s length and continuing to try to function in traditional roles while modern business and the consumer is changing around you.

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” –Stephen Hawking


@mikestiles
Photo: istockphoto

Friday Jun 07, 2013

The Dynamic Duo of the Enterprise

heroNo, I’m not talking about Kirk and Spock.  The Dynamic Duo of the enterprise is the CMO and CIO. No positions are evolving more or faster, brought on by the perfect storm of social, mobile, and data. To triumph, the CMO and CIO must partner as never before.

In the AdAge webcast, “Capitalizing on Marketing & Technology: Social’s Powerful Impact on People, Processes & Technology,” Oracle VP Product Strategy Erika Brookes and Forrester VP & Practice Leader David Cooperstein discussed how changes to these two positions are altering the entire organization’s structure and operations.

Social changed communication. It’s how people now interact, get informed, express themselves, and connect to brands. Facebook has a billion users, Twitter over 200 million, Pinterest over 50 million and Instagram over 100 million. Since 2010, social site visitors went from 58 to 70%. 45% Liked, followed or became a fan of a brand, with the average Facebook user Liking 9 of them.

The 2nd revolution, the shift to mobile, is happening quickly and right now. By the end of the year, there’ll be more mobile devices than people. Mobile is at 55% penetration in the US. More time is spent on smartphones than is spent online. And 55% of social consumption happens on mobile.

So, technology is how marketing is executed. And marketing/CX are technology’s key raisons d’etre. That’s why the enterprise needs heroes, the Dynamic Duo of the CIO and CMO working in tandem, each bringing their unique strengths. Our Dynamic Duo has to go up against:

POW! The Data

80% of data is unstructured and is literally growing by the second. Emails, blogs, Facebook posts, tweets, pictures, videos, online purchases, customer inquiries…all trying to teach us what our customer wants, if we’d just listen. In 2012, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created daily. That’s a 1 with 18 zeros after it.

Time to flash the “C-signal” into the night sky, calling on our Dynamic Duo to determine what data is relevant and actionable, institute systems to gather and process that data, and integrate that data holistically across the enterprise to every customer touch point. They should be fighting for a better “customer-centric” tomorrow, where data leads to exceptional products and flawless customer experiences.

BAM! Internal Disruption

Marketing and technology are converging, a trend that will become the new “normal” in just a few years. In October 2012, Oracle & the Economist released the survey “Cultivating Business-led Innovation,” which found companies with cross-collaboration, taking advantage of disruptive technologies, are the most successful.

Who should instigate these organizational changes? In a perfect world, CEO’s recognize the disruption and see the opportunities therein. Some companies have named Chief Digital Officers. It might stick, or it might be a transitional role given how fundamental “digital” is to business (like having a Chief Copy Machine Officer). Others suggest the formation of a Marketing Technology Office (MTO).

Aside from technology, there are cultural changes wherein roles and habits long and comfortably held get upended. The CIO must understand the speed of marketing is different than the speed of tech maintenance. The CMO must understand tech, period. It can no longer be “those guys in the other department.”

BOP! Social ROI

Ever get the feeling social is held to a higher ROI accountability than many other marketing channels? That’s because it often is. Some use it as an excuse not to deal with the very real changes we’re seeing. At Oracle, we socially enable enterprises such that social is not just a marketing channel, it’s integrated throughout the organization both externally (customers) and internally (employee collaboration).

On the marketing side, perhaps it’s more realistic (and fair) to measure social ROI on whether users were moved to the next step, not necessarily straight to the cash register. Remember that bit about data leading to exceptional products and flawless customer experiences? That’s the kind of thing that should kick the ROI question to the curb.

So cheer on our Dynamic Duo, for they are agents of some of the biggest, fastest changes in business the world has ever seen.

@mikestiles
Photo: Julien Tromeur, stock.xchng

Friday Nov 09, 2012

How Big Data and Social Won the Election

Woman VotingThe story of big data’s influence on the outcome of the US Presidential election is worth a good look, because a) it’s a harbinger of things to come, and b) it’s an example of similar successes available to any enterprise seriously resourcing integrated big data, modeling, and data-driven execution on all assets, including social.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina fielded a data and analytics brain trust 5 times larger than 2008. At that time, there were numerous databases from various sources, few of them talking to each other. This time, the mission was to be metrics-centered and measure everything measurable, and in context with all the other data.

Big data showed them exactly what they needed to know and told them what to do about it.

It showed them women 40-49 on the west coast would donate big money if they got to eat with George Clooney. Women on the east coast would pony up to hang out with Sarah Jessica Parker. Extensive daily modeling showed them what kinds of email appeals, from who, and to whom, would prove most successful in raising cash, recruiting volunteers, and getting out the vote. Swing state voters were profiled and approached with more customized targeting that at any time in history.

Ads were purchased on specific shows watched by the targets, increasing efficiency 14% over traditional media buys. For all the criticism of the candidate’s focus on appearing on comedy and entertainment shows, and local radio morning shows, that’s where the data sent them to reach the voters most likely to turn out for them.

And then there was social. Again, more than in any other election, Facebook was used for virtual, highly efficient door-to-door canvasing. Facebook fans got pictures of friends in swing states and were asked to encourage them to act. Using that approach, 1 in 5 peer-to-peer appeals led to the desired action.

Assumptions, gut, intuition, campaign experience, all took a backseat to strategy shifts solidly backed up by data. Zeroing in on demographics likely to back the President and tracking their mood daily literally changed the voter landscape. The Romney team watched Obama voters appear seemingly out of thin air. One Obama campaign aide said, “We ran the election 66,000 times every night.”

Which brings us to your organization.

If you’re starting to feel like the battle-cry of “but this is the way we’ve always done it” is starting to put you in an extremely vulnerable position, you’re right. Social has become a key communication tool of the 21st century. Failing to use it, or failing to invest in a deep understanding of who your customers and prospects are so the content you post there will achieve desired actions and results, will leave you waking up one morning wondering, “What happened?”

@mikestiles
Photo stock.xchng

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