MAD Perspectives Blog

The Cloud is Open for Media & Entertainment

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, June 26, 2013

...or is it? The concept of openness when it comes to technology is an interesting one, especially when creating cloud solutions. In general, open means free redistribution of  software and technology agnostic licenses. The media & entertainment industry, more so than any other sector, has held onto proprietary, purpose built solutions for capturing, creating and managing their content assets. While the telecommunications industry has standards for its networks, the closest the media industry comes to standards are those related to codecs and file-based workflows (only relevant because of some standardization of said codecs). There are no metadata or essence standards. This lack of standards, much less open standards, is an inhibitor to adoption of cloud solutions. 

Industry leaders have hailed the advancement of cloud solutions as they provide for more open options in performing common media workflow tasks, challenging the long term viability of "old school" vendors. This is an industry where collaborations is demanded. Whether in the creative process or in the supporting business management processes, if each player doesn't fulfill his responsibility a project can come to a screeching halt. A benefit of cloud computing is its accessibility, relative openness and ability to simplify and foster collaboration. The cloud can enable creative types to access the technologies to store, manage, share and distribute their content, streamlining workflows when it comes to editing, reviewing content and obtaining approvals.

The challenge lies in what cloud to use. If the cloud is "open" this shouldn't matter, but the cloud is only open in so far as any cloud platform provides a development framework and relevant APIs (application programming interfaces) to integrate various software applications residing on unique hardware platforms. Whether a media company elects to develop a platform using Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Windows Azure, or to access a hosted solutions from the likes of Adobe or Forbidden Technologies, they are still adapting to the development guidelines or user interfaces allowed by that provider. My question is, does that mean these are open platforms.

In a conversation with a colleague recently, I asked him how he liked his new iPhone after years of working at Microsoft and having had a Windows Phone. He responded in favor of the amazing selection of apps, which was no surprise given Microsoft's late entrance to the smartphone market. However, i then asked how he felt about Apple being a "closed" system. He disagreed, stating that Apple's app developer community, in fact, created openness through its structure and ability to allow any developer to create an app available to the masses who use Apple devices. I struggle with this definition of "open".

As content creators address the demand for cross-platform distribution and consumption of content, they are forced to adapt content addressing the requirements different operating systems, networks and device specifications. Can cloud solutions address this concern, and others related to protecting content during the creative process? Can they simplify rights management, ensuring that only users with the right credentials access and edit content, or actually consume content on the devices of their choosing. Does the cloud simplify the resolution of these challenge or does it simply offer an alternative to existing in house solutions?

This is the debate for the media & entertainment sector (and others). The decisions will be driven by financial, operational, cultural, security and business model requirements. What cloud solutions is your media company using or developing? How important is the "openness" of the cloud platform? What standards are you incorporating or wishing for? The cloud is open for business - how will it help your media & entertainment business achieve its goals?

What's your perspective?



Clear Skies Ahead for Cloud-Enabled Media Solutions

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NAB provides an opportunity to view emerging solutions addressing the needs of the broadcast and media industries. Cloud computing has been a topic of conversation for the past few years, yet it did not seem to be a mainstream solution. Last year, every storage vendor was talking cloud and it was the first year for a "cloud pavilion" on the show floor.  The progress over the past 12 months is incremental at best, yet cloud solutions do continue find traction, as do enabling technologies (more on this in a future blog).

The media industry is rife with software-based solutions for editing, transcoding and digital asset management. In fact, the shift to file-based workflows is still ongoing. This transition is the only reason broadcasters can even think about alternative remote production solutions, lowering their costs for producing and delivering live sports and entertainment. While the current focus for this topic is still squarely on decreasing the OB van footprint, initial forays into the cloud are focused on enabling collaborative content creation. Two options that represent different approaches for cloud-based workflow and collaboration are: 

Forbidden Technologies' FORscene: This post-production toolkit is a Software-as-a Service platform that enables cloud-based workflow collaboration around centrally stored content. However, it is not just cloud-based storage, the intuitive interface provides the tools for content ingest, logging, frame-accurate editing, and content reviews and approvals. FORScene has been on the scene since 2004 and has proven that cloud-based workflows can work and provide measurable value to content producers.  Others capitalizing on this trend include, Adobe and Avid.  Their Adobe Anywhere and Interplay Sphere solutions address the collaboration needs geographically distributed professionals. However, both solutions still seem to require on-premise hardware and software, Forbidden Technologies does not.

Microsoft Windows Azure Media Services: This cloud-based media platform enables media companies to develop their own solution for ingesting, processing, managing and delivering media content. The demo at NAB captured real-time content, encoded the content and presented it in "typical" user interface for editing and delivery. It leverages Microsoft's investment in Windows Azure to provide media processes (e.g., ingest content; encode, convert and generate media assets; log and tag assets) and Windows IIS Media Services to enable content delivery. The flexibility of the platform will be appealing to media companies that want to create their own cloud-based platform for managing assets.

In both cases the challenge is the ingest of high quality content. Each option is dependent on the use of low-res proxies for editing. Advances in codecs and bandwidth availability continue to accelerate the adoption of alternative solutions. For true disruption to occur, both types of solutions will need to address the demands of live content and the requirements for delivering GBs of content. Why focus on cloud? Across the media industry, beyond broadcast, the requirements for streamlining access to assets, collaborating across work teams, distributing to multiple outlets are creating new challenges. Solutions that can address the demanding requirements of broadcast prove that emerging technologies can facilitate cost effective improvements for managing and distributing digital media.

What's your perspective?






Corporate Employees - Get Social or Get Out!

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 16, 2012

I love talking to my friends in corporate america. They keep me attuned to the fears surrounding the use of social media within the company and outside the company. I'm such a fan of communication tools that I may overlook these very valid concerns. My job is to help companies communicate effectively.  Their goals are to get their jobs done, be that product development, channel management, sales, marketing, etc.  Because they are so heads down in achieving their defined goals and metrics, they often only use social networks at home, while relaxing, to connect with family and friends.

However, more and more companies are implementing social media strategies to attain and retain customers, but also to encourage and simplify employee collaboration. The tools they use to enable these strategies are similar, yet different. These microblogging platforms (e.g., Yammer, NewsGator, SocialText) all consist of a simple user interface that allows users to login, make connections and post comments. The primary challenge for employees, in using these networks, is fear.

Fear, you say! What are they afraid of?  They are afraid of the time it will take away from other activities. They are afraid to be perceived as unavailable, too available, wasting time, distracting others or sharing inappropriate information. Depending on the demographics, they may think that they are "too old" to use social media - this is something their kids do. Or they may be afraid that if they don't use social tools that they will be considered obsolete and subsequently passed over for positions with greater responsibility. And the greatest fear mentioned to me is the "big brother" factor. Some employees are afraid that their every move will be monitored for negative purposes. Fear is a powerful inhibitor!

How can employees and their employers take fear out of the equation? It's simple.  It's all about communication. Employees are afraid to engage or not engage because they don't understand the guidelines or goals for using social networks. Social media is changing how companies communicate internally and externally. It empowers employees to have a voice. But, if they have not had a voice prior to the use of social networks, they may be uncomfortable. Companies can help by encouraging communication, by setting expectations for professionalism, by setting an example at the executive level or by rewarding social collaborations that benefit the company.

Like email and instant messaging before it, enterprise social networking (aka enterprise 2.0) has a learning curve. Employers should help employees understand the nuances of the tools through online training and best practices. Employees can start small and, depending on their role and their needs, determine how enterprise social media can best help them in their day to day activities. There are pros and cons to any new technology. 

One benefit, of corporate microblogging tied to existing enterprise applications, is the ability to store and retrieve activity streams along with any of the documents related to those discussions. However, some will feel this is evidence of the corporate monitoring of individual performance and behavior. This perception reflects a cultural concern and if based in fact, why would anyone want to work for a company that they didn't trust. 

The advantages of instantaneous communication can lead to new perspectives, reduced cycle times, rapid decision making and great innovation. The opportunity to expand networks beyond existing business silos to access thought leaders, decision makers and experienced peers will benefit the organization. Employees may need help overcoming their fear of new technologies, but they must adopt these new communication tools or they will be obsolete. Studies show that those university students just entering the workforce, no longer consider email a primary communication platform.  Their influence cannot be underestimated as they are the future managers, directors and CEOs.

What's your perspective?






Enterprise Social Software - Another Distraction?

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A colleague complained to me last week about her company's use of a social media platform behind the firewall. She wanted to know why she would use this platform and wasn't it a distraction to her getting her job done. She also wanted to know why so many people felt compelled to spend so much time on social media. This raised a few concerns and questions for me.  I will address these thoughts over the next few weeks.

Why are we compelled to be seen online?  My colleague's thought process was that by being available on a social network, it shows that you are at work. Would her peers and management think she was not working if she was not available on the social network? Alternatively, could being available mean that she was "wasting" time on social media? 

We live in an online world. In the business world, emails are used to inform and request. Recipients are engaged due to a organizational or functional requirement. Information is shared. Questions are asked. Demands are made. Timelines are set. When emails are sent there is an expectation that they will be answered immediately. Instant messenger services stepped into the corporate world several years ago and enabled employees to quickly reach out to each other. 

We want to be part of the conversation, yet we are committed to completing our projects and fulfilling our goals. Enterprise social software provides the forum for quick, trackable, retrievable online conversations. Like general social media, individuals can choose who to follow or "friend". It is possible to be available or not. It is possible to initiate ad hoc conversations to find a quick answer to a challenge. It is possible to gain insight into new products, engage with sales teams (wherever they are), or, find quick fixes to customer concerns.

Enterprise social software (e.g., Yammer, NewsGator, SocialText) is here to stay. It enables collaboration between one or many individuals. These services pose the question "what are you working on?" For increasingly geographically dispersed organizations it provides another channel of communication. It breaks down departmental silos, allows light conversation between teammates not in the same office, enables simple polling on a hot topic. It is often integrated with other corporate applications, like Microsoft Sharepoint, with the intention of enabling conversations specific to existing documents. The benefit is the ability to tag and store the activity streams. 

Like email, social media takes some getting used to. Remember we didn't always talk about how full our email boxes were. We used to complain about voicemail! We, as individuals and employees, are responsible for finding the best ways to achieve our goals within our company's given framework. If email is the mode, then so be it. However, an increasing number of corporations are adopting internal social platforms. Employees may share RSS feeds and invite comment on competitor activity, market trends or customer announcements.

It's up to you to set expectations. Only you can decide how quickly you will respond to email or whether you will engage socially. We should not feel compelled to be online - but we are. We don't have to engage - but we often do. We use email to check the availability of others for meetings. Instant messenger services and now enterprise social software allow you do the same, instantaneously. Perhaps we will be more productive. Perhaps we will be distracted by the increasing flow of content.  Time will tell - and it will vary by individual. However, like email, we will adapt. 

Companies such as LG, HP, Cisco, Deloitte, Ford, Kraft Foods and Weight Watchers have adopted enterprise social media. Has you company adopted an enterprise social software? How are you using it?  

What's your perspective?







Social Media - Growing Up!

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 02, 2012

It's been an interesting time for enterprise social media (called enterprise 2.0 by some).  In the last year, several leading social communication and social media monitoring companies have been acquired. Last weeks announcement of Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer raises the stakes for all companies enabling social connectivity within the enterprise. The difference between Yammer and Twitter, is that Yammer provides connectivity behind the firewall. It's a perfect fit for Microsoft as it is already integrated with Sharepoint. Yammer is focused on enabling real-time collaboration between users across the enterprise. It is already implemented in many large & medium enterprise customers. For the leadership team at Yammer, being acquired by Microsoft gave them access to a $360 million user installed based.  Not bad!

It was not surprising to see Salesforce.com acquire Radian6 in 2011. Given Salesforce.com's customer centricity, Radian6 complimented and enriched their customer relationship management offer. Radian6 provides social intelligence that allows users to benefit from the social chatter surrounding their customers. Salesforce.com, while not perfect, according to the wide variety of users who have volunteered comments about them over the years, has positioned itself as the innovative provider of services to help clients better understand and manage their customer relationships. Then they upped the ante with their recent acquisition of social media marketing giant, Buddy Media.

Of course, this elevated Salesforce.com's battle with Oracle whose suite of CRM solutions includes acquisitions of Siebel and Peoplesoft. Larry Ellison has been engaged in a PR battle with Salesforce.com CEO, Marc Benioff over definition of cloud, how to provision CRM solutions. Oracle has not ignored the social platforms either. They have acquired Vitrue (social media marketing) and Collective Intellect (social analytics), all to support its overall enterprise social business strategy to improve enterprise collaboration.

Now, IDC has released its Worldwide Enterprise Social Software 2012-2016 report. How timely! They project a compound growth rate of 42.4% over the next four years, with the market growing to $4.5 billion in revenue by 2016. Drivers include enterprise interest in adding social collaboration features to existing applications and desire by enterprise users for software that feels like the social media applications they use outside the workplace.

Social media is growing up as it the market consolidates. The maturity of these large enterprises provides expanded go-to-market opportunities for social platforms targeting the enterprise. These companies will certainly integrate these platforms with their various enterprise applications. Social also naturally expands their cloud service offerings as social media has been in the cloud from its inception. The question is, will these social technologies continue to innovate now that they are part of corporate america? 

Is your enterprise getting social? I'd love to hear about it.

What's your perspective?



The 4 Bs of B2B Social Media

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 25, 2012

It's all about business for any company engaging in social media. Sometimes we forget that these platforms are a means to an end. That end is revenue. All the effort to win fans, followers, interactions, comments and click-thrus is part of a comprehensive effort to increase visibility, generate leads and sell products.

So, why is social media so important for companies selling products and services to other companies? It's all about the 4 Bs.  

#1 - Business Intelligence:  Social media allows companies to share content and capture data. Various tools and platforms exist to discover, analyze and assess this data. Individuals and companies gain knowledge about the demographics of their customers, affiliated industries, emerging topics, key trends, competitor activities, opinions regarding products and services, and more. Social media provides additional insight that can help companies create and sustain powerful relationships with their customers.

#2 - Business Development: Revenue is the life blood of all companies.  Without it, a company will eventually disappear. Therefore any tools to simplify or accelerate the acquisition of new business, whether from new clients or existing accounts, are welcome. Social networks provide companies with additional channels through which they can identify prospects, learn about companies and individuals. Platforms, like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Branchout or Zerply, can help users figure out how to connect with key decision makers or influencers. Individuals can learn more about them via blogs, tweets, status updates, presentations or videos.  56% of B2B marketers acquire new business partnerships through social media (Social Media Examiner, 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report). Imagine that first meeting with an understanding of what's been top of mind for that individual based on their social commentary!  

#3 - Business Relationships: Once a relationship is developed, it takes effort to maintain it. It's not always possible to enjoy face time with contacts. Social networks provide an alternative method of staying in touch with colleagues, customers and competitors. It's possible to congratulate contacts on promotions or job changes, make introductions for peers seeking new roles and comment on shared content. Here at MAD Perspectives, we reach out to connections on a regular basis, simply to catch up with old business friends.

#4 - Business Conversations: Social networks are all about engagement. They provide a platform to discuss topics of mutual interest, ask & answer questions, collaborate on new ideas, share content and to learn. Entrants into a new markets can learn about local business culture, business priorities and key competitors. 62% of business technology decision makers now read and post comments on blogs (Social Media Examiner, 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report).  Participants can turn casual conversations into long-lasting relationships. However, just as in face-to-face conversations, each party must provide value to the other.

Social media mirrors the business activities of any company. It is simply another channel through which to pursue these actions. As you consider your use of social media, think about the 4 Bs. Perhaps you are using all 4, or maybe you've just started engaging. Either way, be strategic and tactical about how social media can help you connect, collaborate and communicate to achieve your business goals.

What's your perspective?



Telepresence - Its Time has Come!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When it comes to video conferencing solutions, telepresence is king.  Telepresence is an immersive video conferencing experience with enhanced audio/video enablilng an experience as close to face to face as current technology will allow.  Why is telepresence so compelling?  It provides a customer experience that puts traditional video conferencing to shame.  The key differentiator is the ability to look your participants in the eye, even when they are in a room half way around the world.

Telepresence (or dedicated video conferencing) solutions typically run on a dedicated network, provide very high Quality of Service, include high end audio/video tools and studio style lighting.  All of this provides the endusers an impressive alternative for avoiding airports, travel delays and overall travel expenses.  Most companies that install telepresence already have some experience with video conferencing and use it primarily for internal communications.  However, those internal communications often include executive briefings with customers.  Telepresence improves employee productivity, enhances effective collaboration, accelerates decision making and reduces your company's carbon footprint.

When it comes to companies offering telepresence solutions, Cisco leads the pack.  With their acqusition of Tandberg earlier this year, Cisco arguably has the broadest set of video conferencing/telepresence solutions for business ranging from small to large (and pricing commenserate with size of rooms, number of people and locations).   I have not had the chance to experience Cisco's solutions but have been impressed by their overall strategy related to all things video (for both business and consumer). 

As a former HP employee, I often leveraged HP's Halo Rooms for executive meetings, training sessions and team meetings.  With a global team spread across 3 countries, Halo helped my team manage its travel budget yet still benefit from virtual face to face meetings for internal collaboration, quarterly reviews and hands on solution development.  HP's solutions target the large, multi-national enterprise who may select to install and manage the services themselves or have HP manage it for them.

I recently met with a new entrant into the teleprsence market, Vu Telepresence.  headquarted in India with a keen eye on the U.S. market, Vu is targeting SMBs who cannot afford the high-end, elegant solutions offered by Cisco, HP or Polycom.  I participated in a live session connecting NY, Silcon Valley and Bangalore.  While the system does not enjoy the studio style lighting of the high-end systems, it does provide high quality audio/video, the ability to share a laptop screen and connect up to 6 locations.  The Vu Telepresence solution is a good fit for individuals in SMBs that need to connect between georgraphically dispersed offices.  Think of small to mid size law firms and technology companies with off-shore development or manufacturing.

I'm encouraged to see the investment and growth in this market. I am a big fan of solutions that enable employees and business colleagues to connect and collaborate quickly and easily.  Solution pricing ranges from the low end (Vu Telepresence) of $1500 for one station to the high end (Cisco, HP or Polycom) of $350,000 for a dedicated, private networked, custom built studio. IDC forecasts the dedicated video conferencing and telepresence market to grow to $8.8B in 2014 from $1.9B in 2009.  This is a collobaration solution whose time is now.  The economic recession has forced companies to re-think their travel options.  These high quality video conferencing solutions provide an attractive alternative to time and money consuming travel.

What's your perspective?



Video and Enterprise Communication

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Video is a pervasive part of our lives.  As consumers we watch TV to enjoy comedy, sports, entertainment and news.  We also go online for this same content and more.  We go to YouTube to check out user generated videos as well as professional videos.  We use Skype to for ad hoc video communication.  Enterprise business recognizes the value and power of video, but is still predominantly using video for internal purposes.  Consider the power of video and then consider video as a critical part of the enterprise communication strategy.

Large enterprises have been leveraging video for employee education, customer training, customer support, product promotion and market awareness for many years.  These large (think Fortune 500) companies are also targets for Unified Communication solutions offered by companies such as Cisco, MicrosoftHP and others.  However, there are also many vendors offering solutions for video streaming, video conferencing, webcasting, web conferencing and more.  According to Forrester Research’s Enterprise and SMB Networks and Telecommunications Survey from Q1 2010, within the next 12 months:

-          31% of companies  are interested in Desktop IP Video Conferencing solutions

-           29% of companies are interested in enterprise IP/Digital Video for internal purposes

-          32% of companies are interested in immersive video conferencing (i.e., telepresence)

However, few companies have actual plans to implement and deploy these solutions.    Adoption of these solutions will take into account business requirements, geography, feature/functionality, price, impact on corporate network and ongoing management.  Why should companies be developing actionable plans for video solutions?  Here are some pros and cons:

 

PROS

CONS

-          Video is expressive and compelling

-          Video solutions are complex

-          Video enables participants to see body language, facial expressions and reactions

-          Video infrastructure is expensive    

-          Video is more memorable than the written word

-          Video is time consuming to create, edit, process, upload and consume

-          Video enhances clarity, authenticity and credibility of messaging

-          Video needs to be distributed with multiple media player options (i.e., Microsoft, Real, Apple)

-          Video can be re-purposed across a variety of distribution channels

 

-          Video solution vendors offer increasingly cost-effective business models

 

-          Video can reduce travel expenses

 

 

As companies develop their plans for incorporating video into their enterprise communication strategy, they should consider:
1. How the company will use video

  •      - For internal communication and collaboration
  •      - For external communications and education
  •      - One to one, one to many or many to many communication
  • 2. Developing Content
  •      - Length of meeting or presentation
  •      - Goals for the meeting
  •      - Personality mapping (consider your audience and the type of presenter who can create best impact)
  •      - Metadata description of content
  •      - Search Engine Optimization (based on title and metadata)
  • 3. Post event activity
  •      - Availability of on-demand video “replay”
  •      - Posting/Distribution of content on website or 3rd party sites (i.e., YouTube, BrightTalk)

 

Video has become more than a solution for pushing information to a target audience.  It has become part of the real-time communication process.  With desktop video conferencing and immersive video conferencing (think telepresence) ranging from high-end to low-end, companies have greater opportunities to leverage video on a daily basis.  Whether you are a large enterprise or a small/medium sized business, video can help you communicate with your audience.  Aligning the use of video with your overall business strategy is critical.  Aligning internal business groups (i.e., Execs, marketing, sales, IT, etc.) is also important.  How is your company going to incorporate video into your communication strategy?

What’s your perspective?



Social Media at Compuware - a case study

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

As part of goal to share social media experiences at B2B companies, we are releasing a new case study this week.  Compuware has been providing software, experts and best practices to make your applications work and delivery business value for 25 years.  Compuware also embraces employee empowerment. 

Compuware's approach to integrating social media into their overall marketing strategy reflects this commitment.  Some key takeaways include:

     - Empowerment - Trust your employees.  You hired them because they possessed certain qualities which includes their ability to represent your company.

     - Collaboration - The ability to interact with fellow employees is as important as the ability to interact with business partners and customers.  Great solutions come from great conversations.

     - Culture - The culture of a company is a key element for prospective employees.  Social media allows companies to showcase all sides of their corporate culture.

Learn more about Compuware's use of social media by requesting the case study at:  http://www.madperspectives.com/contact .

What's your perspective?



The Social Web - Empowering Customers

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 04, 2010

Last week, Nigel Fenwick, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester spoke in a joint Forrester/ NewsGator webinar.  The topic was Boosting IT Productivity with Social Technologies.  However, Nigel validated several thoughts that had been bouncing around in my brain. He speaks about the influence and shifts in mobile devices, social technologies, pervasive video and cloud computing.  Each of these converge to enable a more intelligent and influential customer, the empowered customer. I have been thinking about the shift from a focus on customer satisfaction to customer experience and how this has changed, dramatically, with the usage of social platforms.  While I often talk to clients about employee empowerment to use and leverage social technologies, I had not thought about the flip side – that of empowered customers.

Thanks to the social web, customers have access to more information than ever.  It is not just information developed and distributed by various corporate marketing teams.  It is information from individual employees, customers, business partners, competitors, supply chain vendors and anyone else who may interact with that company, its products or employees.  The online customer support forums of the early millennium have evolved to include live online discussions (by text or VoIP) with support staff and interactive chats with fellow customers.  If we are not satisfied with the support we receive, we tweet or Facebook immediately – and usually get some kind of attention from the company’s support team.

Thanks to the social web, prospective buyers can research, investigate and analyze products, services, reputations, ethics, roadmaps and competitors.  They come to you, the vendor providing their product or service of choice, armed with intelligent questions.  They are ready to make decision, but have perspectives based on the information that have gathered and interpreted.  These perspectives will influence their discussion with you (and others!) regarding features, functionality, delivery and pricing.

Thanks to the social web, your company and its employees can also be empowered. Your employees can access the same information as your customers.  As mentioned by Nigel in the aforementioned webinar, they use social technologies to get ideas for their job, to research key topics, to collaborate externally to solve a problem.  Your company may say that they already provide them with the tools to collaborate and investigate.  If they do, this is great, but are they using the tools and the platforms that your customers are accessing?  Can you as an employee gather the same kind of insights so that you can understand the customer’s perspective? Tthe ability for employees to understand a customer's motivation can only help them represent the company to its greatest advantage.

Companies used to control the message.  Subsequently the need for employees to participate and monitor online activities was limited to specific initiatives (i.e., customer support).  However, the social web has changed how information is shared.  It is still shared on websites, but customers are seeking authentic insights and finding them via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn Groups, Slide Share, and Scribd.  If your company is just getting started with social technologies, empower your employees to learn in the same fashion as your already empowered customers.

What’s your perspective?