MAD Perspectives Blog

Don't Forget Rich Media!

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 31, 2009

MAD Perspectives focuses on digital media strategies. Of course, the plethora of digital media solutions available is constantly evolving.  As a result there are ongoing challenges within companies to determine which solutions are the best fit to overcome recognized challenges or to achieve stated goals.

Thanks to the rise of the Internet, advanced  (and always improving) networking solutions and a myriad of devices, employees are connected 24X7 in the office, at home, on the soccer field or at the airport.  There is much written about employee productivity.  Much of this productivity is due to the use of digital media solutions which are usually categorized as either rich media solutions or social media solutions.  Companies have been deploying rich media solutions for the past 10 years or so.  These video-centric solutions facilitate executive communication, distance learning, remote meetings, product training and more.  With the introduction of social media into the enterprise, one may wonder if it will displace rich media.  In fact, they are complementary solutions that round out a complete communication and collaboration strategy.  They will drive greater productivity and create stronger employee relationships regardless of distance.

A valid question arises about where or why to use rich media versus social media or both.  Today, let's focus on rich media.

When do I use rich media?  Isn’t it more expensive?

These are questions you may ask yourself as you consider alternatives for your corporate communications strategy.  Rich media solutions are optimal when:

a) Visual communication can provide intrinsic value to the message being delivered. 
If there are graphical presentations that emphasize key points, webcast provide a simple forum to share that information.  They are also available after the event for on-demand consumption.  This is helpful to road warriors who are not always online when webcast events occur.

b) It is important for executives to be seen and heard by their workforce.
When any level of executive is delivering a message regarding company policy, performance or process, it is meaning for these managers to enable their teams to "see" how important the information is to them.  It reinforces their commitment to the message and often rallies the troops to understand or adopt message content.

Solutions such as web conferences, video conferences or telepresence are viable solutions.  Selection of the appropriate rich media solutions is dependent on the size, geographic location of employees and type of message being delivered.

c) Virtual face to face collaboration enhances interaction.
The ability to see your teammates greatly enhances any kind of collaborative session.  It is important to build a personalized business relationship.  Reading their facial expressions and body language can highlight issues or concerns that may not be raised verbally.  On the other hand, participants can see the excitement when they come to agreement and are moving a project forward.

Video conferencing at the desktop level or in telepresence scenarios provide great value for these meetings.  Factors such as number of participants, goal of meeting, capability of solutions should be considered when planning for or utilizing video conferencing solutions.

The bottom line is to think about what we are communicating and why.  This drives the selection of the appropriate digital media solution.  In some cases, traditional solutions such as email and the phone are still the best way to connect.  Think about what you are communicating (budgets, project updates, strategy, product announcements, financials, etc.) and the confidentiality or regulatory concerns associated with it.  Then consider who needs to consume the content.  With these questions addressed, the appropriate solution will become clear.



Microblogging Within the Enterprise

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 17, 2009

We’ve all read of the increased usage of Twitter.

The business model is still unclear, yet twenty somethings, CEOs and celebrities are using Twitter every day.  There is a love affair with expressing oneself in 140 characters or less.

We’ve read stories about how Twitter has impacted customer service at companies like JetBlue, who has been able to respond to customer tweets regarding a lack of flights for key events, allowing JetBlue to add more flights.  Additionally, JetBlue recently created an account on Twitter to offer last minute discounted tickets.  However, these are examples of customer facing uses for micro-blogging.  We can all agree and imagine many scenarios where this form of instant broadcast communication can provide benefit to both the enterprise and its customers.

However, what about micro-blogging behind the firewall?

When we consider who uses tools such as Twitter, it provides some insight as to who the early adopters may be within the enterprise.  It is clear that new employees are coming to companies with a different set of expectations regarding communication.  They come armed with mobile and other wireless enabled devices with the expectation to communicate instantly and  informally.  While the company will expect them to adopt existing methods of communication, such as email, this generation is happy to blast messages to a wide audience, happy to gain feedback and opinion from a diverse group.  These twenty-somethings currently use Twitter to share all kinds of information.  They will bring their habits and methodologies to the enterprise.  Additionally, employees of all ages are frequently using various instant messagin services to connect.  While this is primarily one to one communication., it still reflects a desire for instantenous communication with peers.

Can microblogging knowledge sharing be adapted for the enterprise?

Can we effectively communicate business thoughts in 140 characters or less?  And, can we capture and save these conversations for future reference?

Apparently, we can.  Deloitte adopted Yammer and has used it to alleviate advertising cost by inviting employees to create taglines for a new campaign.  Employees from across all departments were invited to participate.  They were able to view all contributions and generate new concepts without engaging an outside agency.  AMD has encouraged the use of micro-blogging within the corporation for employees to comment on quarterly executive webcasts.  As a result business groups within AMD are investigating how micro-blogging can help them organize and distribute content.

High Tech firms such as IBM and Oracle created their own micro-blogging tools (BlueTwit and OraTweet) for internal use and to allow their employees to experiment with micro-blogging within the enterprise.  OraTweet is now available for external customers.  Smaller, emerging companies are also providing microblogging solutions .  They include:  Yammer, Utterli, SocialText, SocialCast and Present.ly.  The point is that companies from the very large to the very small are creating micro-blogging solutions.  They believe there is value to quickly posting news, creating links to blogs and forums, gathering customer feedback, providing real-time updates on customer events, marketing and sharing knowledge behind the corporate firewall. If you and your company are thinking about trying a micro-blogging solutions, keep these  thoughts in mind when assessing vendors:

User Identity and Security
Utilize a solution that clearly identifies the employee as your company’s employee.  Your content is your intellectual capital.  You do want to ensure that the information shared via micro-blogging is behind the firewall.  It is possible to leverage intranet LDAP registries. This has the benefit of a single identify for email and micro-blogging.

Reliability and Scalability
Twitter is infamous for its service outages.  Enterprises may want to consider a distributed (rather than centralized) deployment of servers. Given the number of possible users within the enterprise, this will reduce the server impact.  Additionally, the solution must be interoperable with existing enterprise applications.

Groups
While micro-blogging publicly is a very social experience with an understanding of the broadcast nature of the message, behind the firewall it may not always be appropriate to “blast” a message to all employees.  Business groups, departments or project teams may want to micro-blog within the team.  A solution that supports the definition of groups is useful.

Like many social media solutions, it is difficult to define a tangible ROI at this time.  Micro-blogging within the enterprise is new and evolving.  It should be part of an overall communication and collaboration strategy.  It is not a standalone strategy to solve problems of knowledge sharing or community building.  It is a way for employees to quickly share their thoughts, news, information and more, as they experiment with it.  Social media continues to democratize the enterprise.  Micro-blogging is one more tool in your digital media toolkit supporting that effort.

What's your perspective?



Getting Social Behind the Firewall

Peggy Dau - Friday, August 07, 2009

A lot of Buzz

There is a lot of buzz about social media, social networking, social computing, whatever term you want to use.  We all understand that these solutions, which allow for connections to friends, colleagues or groups, emerged and became widely popular in the consumer space.   Now enterprises are jumping on the bandwagon and figuring out how to leverage the power of these technologies.  Initial success has been achieved in the business to consumer (B2C) space in a variety of customer support related models.  

Now, companies are seeking strategies to utilize social platforms, behind the corporate firewall,  to connect employees, increase product innovation, enhance knowledge management and more.   A key thought, to keep in mind as you consider social media, is these methods of communication are inclusive, not exclusive. 

Social Media solutions are a good fit when:


  1. You want to broadcast your thoughts to a wide audience. 
    You may not know who will receive your message. You are open or eager to obtain feedback from anyone who can view the content.  For example, An executive needs to share his thoughts on the company’s position in the market or the company wishes to update its customers on new products.

    Blogs and micro-blogs enable these capabilities.  Blogs allow the author to express their thoughts in a concise manner with supporting facts or links to additional information.  Micro-blogs require the author to be even more concise due to the character limitation of most micro-blogging solutions.

  2. Gathering information from a wide variety of users or consumers. 
    You may seek to create a catalog of key facts or it may be useful for customers to understand the nuances of certain products.

    Wikis allow users to contribute content with being censored.  This brings unbiased thoughts and definitions together for common review.  Customer forums or reviews are open to any user of a product or service.  They allow the users to comment freely on their experience with the product or service.

  3. Collaboration across business groups, skill sets, or geography. 
    It is often necessary to reach out across the enterprise to find relevant resources and share project files.  Social networks (or perhaps a better term with in the enterprise, is collaboration network) simplify an employees ability to find, connect and communicate with the necessary resources.
Social media solutions can enhance existing platforms such as SharePoint or LotusNotes with features such as micro-blogging, embedded internal or external RSS feeds, employee profiles, employee networks, or status & activity updates.

What are your goals?  Can social media help you achieve them? 

What's your perspective?



Transparency & Authenticity

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 27, 2009

 

Tranparent.  Authentic.  These may be the two most overused terms in social media. 

Every social media pundit emphasizes the importance of transparency and authenticity. 

 

Whether we are communicating as an individual or as an organization or company, we are encouraged to be transparent.  What does this mean?  The dictionary definition states “easily seen through, open, frank, candid”.  It means to be clear.  Clarity is often in the eyes of the beholder to adapt a well known phrase.  While the communicator may feel they are being clear, the listeners may not agree.  The evolution of social media is challenging organizations to be very clear in their intent and in their communication.  It also allows the listeners to emphatically state when communication is not clear. 

 

Hand in hand with transparency is authenticity.

The dictionary states “not false or copied, trustworthy, valid”.   It means to be honest.  There is an interesting paradox that states that perception is reality.  However, this does not mean perception is honest or authentic, yet the internet provides a forum for information exchange that is not always true.  Fortunately the increased level of interaction via various customer forums encourages reality checks.  A company can make claims to the value of its products.  However, if even one customer is unhappy there is a chance that they will express their dissatisfaction online, thus disruption the chain of communication promoted by the company.

 

 

Transparency and authenticity.

With the advance of social media, companies are being held to different standards.  Before the internet companies pushed information to their customers.  They created campaigns and messaging to position their products and services in the most positive light.  They were honest, to a point.  They did not have to worry about the viral nature of the internet where one unfavorable comment can mushroom into a perception that takes both time and money to reverse.  The messaging was, sometimes, overly positive.  It focused on the positive and on the benefit to consumers or businesses. 

 

 

Companies are learning to listen.

As they become more transparent (i.e., Dell asking for advice on how to improve its customer service) and authentic (i.e., Zappos) they are understanding that they have an opportunity to create much tighter customer relationships.  They have the ability to understand the needs and demands of their customers better than ever before.  However, they must open themselves up to this interaction by becoming more transparent and more authentic.

So, yes these terms are overused, but they are the keys to success in implementing a social media strategy, internally or externally!

What's your perspective?

 

 



Content Delivery Networks Are Not Dead!

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 20, 2009

Remember 10 years ago when content delivery networks were all the rage?   The ability to cache content at the edge of the network emerged during the rise of Internet.  A plethora of companies emerged, all with patent pending algorithms, to focus on the challenge of making sure the end user’s could easily and quickly  access web content.  These companies included both software vendors and service providers.  As with most markets, consolidation occurred with a few remaining big players and several contenders.

The recent launch and buzz around a new market entrant, Cotendo, acts as a reminder that we need content delivery network solutions now, more than ever.  Just think about the volume of content that is distributed across the Internet every day.  In the late 90s, we were predominantly concerned about delivery of web pages.  These pages were mostly static.  Although, the example of the day to articulate why we needed to acquire CDN technology, was the Victoria Secrets online fashion show.  CDN technology would cache this content at the network edge, ensuring that fans around the globe would not miss one second of Heidi Klum or other angels strutting in their underwear.

Without question, the volume of video content on the web has increased by millions.  Enterprises are streaming executive analyst briefins and customer educationa content externally and using increasing volumes of video content interally.  However, the volume of video content shared between consumers is where the phenomenal growth has occurred.  The networks that sit behind the Internet and the websites that we access to view this content must use CDN technnology to ensure that our user experience is a postive one.

It's interesting (and fun) to see that core technologies such as CDNs stilll get get some buzz.  An undestanding of these solutions should be part of any digital media strategy.  What's your perspective?



It's a Conversation

Peggy Dau - Sunday, July 05, 2009

One of the most important things to remember, when considering digital media strategies, is that it's a  conversation.  The information is being shared, regardless of the audience, is part of a conversation.  Conversation can be formal or informal.  The interaction can be in real time or spread out over days, weeks or months.

Digital media allows us to communicate with our peers, colleagues, partners and customers in a variety of different ways.  We can communicate by voice, video or written word.  The most successful conversations are those that are interactive, collaborative and dynamic.  Think about the exploratory discussions you may have with a business colleague.  The conversation may start on one topic yet progress to many other topics based on the interests, experience or exposure of the participants.  Any digital media solutions utilized should allow for this same dynamic.

It is also important to think about the journalism mantra of ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’.  Who are you talking to?  What information do you want to share or discover?  When will you communicate and when do you need an answer?  Where will the conversation take place?  Why are you communicating?  And, how will you communicate.

The different types of solutions reflect different levels of interactivity and address each of these questions.  Some solutions allow for live, immediate communication.  Others create a continuous exchange of communication over a period of time.  Some, intentionally invite asynchronous feedback.  The key is to consider the type of conversation you would like and think about which solutions align.

As an example:

 

Blog asynchronous feedback via comments 
Podcast asynchronous feedback via comments
Webinar scheduled live interaction
Video Conference real-time  live interaction
Social Network combination of real-time and non-real-time interaction depending on the number of members online at any given time

What kind of conversation are you seeking?  What's your perspective?



Enterprise 2.0

Peggy Dau - Friday, June 26, 2009

I've just returned from the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.

This was a great experience yet also prompted some puzzling thoughts in my mind.  On the positive side, this conference attracts the movers and shakers and early adopters of web 2.0 technologies for use in the enterprise.  This conference looks at how social networking tools such as blogs, microblogs, networking platforms and wikis can be used behind the corporate firewall to increase productivity, enhance knowledge sharing, reduce imaginary barriers (think business silos) and more.

Vendors have a chance to articulate, defend and argue the value of their solutions.  Companies are exposed to best practices, thus far, enjoyed by early adopters such as Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin and Intel.  These are just some of the companies who were eager to share their stories.  The common goals: to effectively and openly share information within the corporate firewall, to simplify how employees could discover colleagues with common projects, interest or knowledge, to create a commong grounds for employees to publish new ideas or concerns.  Overall, an excellent conference for any company considering a social media implementation, but not sure where to start.

On the downside, I found an interesting paradox.

Remember, this event is a about social media or leveraging Web 2.0 tools within the enterprise. The paradox is that from a networking perspective, the event was unfriendly.  By this I mean it was very difficult to engage in a face to face discussion with fellow participants.  While the Vendor Expo was quite friendly, the vendors were there to find leads and sell solutions.  the general sessions were very well attended and many of the breakouts were standing room only.  However, the usual casual chit chat (i.e., who are you , what do you do, what is your company doing, what excites you here at the conference, etc.) was modest. 

Is this lack of verbal communication due to the fact that many of the participants are technology lovers and preferred to use the technology (i.e., Twitter) to communicate their thoughts?  I shared my thoughts with the few folks who were willing to engage in conversation and they confirmed my concern.  They had had equal challenges in fostering verbal discussion.  My cautionary comment for anyone using or considering social media:  it augments the conversation and interaction.  Social media should not 100% replace actual conversations or meetings.  Think about social media as yet another option to connect, collaborate and communicate, not the only way!

What's your perspective?



Why is Networking a 'Dirty' Word?

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 01, 2009

Networking.  What a loaded term. 

Many people have an irrational response when they hear this term.  Combine that with the term “social” and the reaction is more exaggerated.   Dictionary.com defines networking is defined as “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest”  There are some who consider networking to be a social activity with no measurable benefit.  There are others who consider networking life’s blood.    Either way, by its very nature ,networking is social and it is valuable.

If you mention social networking in an enterprise environment, most immediate thoughts lean towards 3rd party or public social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  A few more seconds may pass and LinkedIn and Plaxo will come to mind.  They, at least, are business centric.  However, the first reaction is, social networking is a distraction to accomplishing your everyday work tasks.  Many executives fear decreased productivity as they imagine employees spending hours on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter.

I would disagree.  Networking for mutual benefit has been going on for ages.  Cavemen communicated and shared information through the use of rudimentary sketches.  Seasoned sales professionals use the golf course and favorite lunch spot to solidify business relationships.  World leaders convene to address political, economic and ecological concerns regularly.  Aren’t these all forms of networking?  It is only when we add that word “social” that we think it is personal.  Instead we should think of social as defining the platform.  Social networking is simply networking enabled by platforms that leverage the internet.

We must remember why we network. 

We network to connect.   We connect for knowledge.  We connect for a sense of community.  We network within our companies to understand  what roles others play.  We want to understand when new positions may be available.  We want others to know our ambitions.  We want to find answers to questions about new products, new technology, market trends and more.    We seek interaction.  In company environments that are increasingly geographically dispersed and include office workers and telecommuters, we seek new, innovative ways to connect to our peers.

We network outside the company to drive business, to discover valuable business partners, to leverage complementary products and/or services.  Social networking platforms can be adapted for enterprise use.  Many platforms are used externally already, with more options and uses being implemented every day.  Blogs, wikis, tweets, forums and microsites are used to create communities addressing customer requirements for product information and support. 

The goal is to keep it all in perspective.

Networking, old school or social, is all about how we discover, find and access individuals with knowledge.  As I commence this new adventure called MAD Perspectives, networking is a key to gathering information and making contacts for the business.


This is my perspective, what's your perspective?

[1] Dictionary.com



Welcome to MAD Perspectives

Peggy Dau - Monday, May 18, 2009

It's Day One at MAD Perspectives.

Or at least it's day one on the web!  The idea for MAD Perspectives was born in my mind in September 2008.  I was thinking about what I would do if I left corporate america.  I had been working for Hewlett-Packard for 23+years, at that time.  I had played a variety of roles , traveled the world and learned a lot about how to do business in an ethical, candid and honest manner.  I understood the challenges that large and small companies faced when considering new IT related projects.  I also had been steeped in all topics around digital media for the past 7-8 years.  Could there be a business here?

After doing some informal market testing with colleagues, business partners, industry analysts and friends, I decided to take the plunge.  After 24 fabulous years working for a company that remains an industry stalwart and the grand daddy of Silicon Valley, I happily departed to create a new consulting business.


You may ask, where did the name come from?

Well, check out the the page describing the birth of MAD Perspectives.  Briefly, it's the result of capturing the perspectives of valued friends.  There is power in capturing the mind share of many.  It is this ability to connect, collaborate and communicate that is the cornerstone of MAD Perspectives. 

While I was lucky enough to host a face to face dinner to facilitate the discussion, the business community is increasingly faced with wide spread, geographically dispersed employees.  How can they effectively collaborate to create greater value for their company?  Fortunately, digital media solutions continue to evolve to allow and enable employees, business partners, customer or consumers to share ideas, educate each other, dispel myths and more.  MAD Perspectives will leverage its knowlege of these solutions and the challenges companies face aligning such solutions with strategic and organziational goals to help companies adopt new models for their use of digital media!

Welcome to MAD Perspectives!  What's your perspective?