MAD Perspectives Blog

Connected Awareness

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 25, 2014

Last week i wrote about our addiction to connectivity, which when thinking about it further led me to consider what we could call connected awareness. With our addiction to devices and their apps, we have a heightened awareness of our friends likes or dislikes, to the behavior of celebrities (which broadly include movies stars, musicians, athletes, business leaders, politicians, etc.), entertainment trends (Hollywood, social media) and news. If not for social media, connectivity and awareness, ALS would not have raised $80 billion, yes that's a B!  This is a great example of connected awareness. The ground swell of ALS awareness has been astonishing as anyone from a friend, neighbor or family member to celebrities happily dumped buckets of ice and water overt their heads. Thanks to our addiction to connectivity where we scan the news or social sites while waiting in line or traveling, we are more aware than ever before.

There's a downside to connected awareness. This is exhibited by online bullying, lack of sensitivity (consider Zelda Williams's experience after her father's suicide) or  mis-statement of facts, to name a few. With a potential for groupthink mentality to set in, connected awareness can lead to negative behavior. Hopefully, that will be the exception. Brands, non-profits and politicians hope to capitalize on increased connected awareness.

The media and entertainment sector is and industry that's quite open about its goals to optimize on the connected awareness of its audience. In the TV space, a lot of attention has been paid to Social TV, the second screen and OTT consumption. Nielsen reported earlier this month that 25% of TV viewers were more aware of programs due to social media interactions. The second screen is used to become more aware of product advertised on TV, actors in the program being watched, statistics related to a live sporting event, or to engage with friends. Connected awareness is driven by tweets and Facebook posts.  

In fact, Nielsen has begun measuring the reach of these platforms. Awareness is not about the person sharing content, it's about who sees that content. Looks who's tweeting and what content is driving their activity. It's not wonder that advertisers are actively seeking insight from social networks.

Our connected awareness is influencing our thoughts and actions. We are stimulated by opinions from others about about TV shows, movies, concerts, vacation destinations, restaurants and more. We seek input from others either socially or via text or in some cases, email (which many consider of very old school communication tool). In any case, we are often doing so via our mobile devices with an expectation for immediate response. This expectation is borne from our connected awareness. We anticipate that our friends are accessible, online and ready to influence.

I anticipate that, very soon, we will see some type of connected awareness barometer. It's about measuring more than tweets or Facebook updates. It's more that a Klout score. It's understanding where we connect to obtain content and what action we take upon its receipt. Imagine that as we enter the next presidential campaign cycle, broadcast networks and campaign advisors will be seeking every advantage to understand and to influence the connected awareness of the voting populace. 

How are you connected?  When are you connected?  Where are you connected? And, what do you choose to connect to? Our very connectivity allows for collection and measurement of data. That data leads to a different kind of awareness, but awareness that is still driven by our connectivity.  How has your connected awareness shifted with increased access to smartphones or tablets?

What's your perspective?

The Marriage of Data and Storytelling

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A few weeks ago I wrote about finding the story in the data. This relationship between data and storytelling continues to evolve as increasing amounts of data are available to us. Domo released an enlightening info graphic that exclaims that Twitter users tweet 277,00 times and that Apple users download 48,000 app severy minute of every day. These are just few examples shared in the infographic, which reflects that data never sleeps. With its chronic insomnia, data provides an unending source of stories to entice, educate, elucidate, engage or enrage readers. 

Even as big data is on the cusp of entering the trough of disillusionment phase of Gartner's Hype Cycle, data will continue to be the source of validation for all levels of business strategy and the stories we tell to explain those strategies. Our stories take the form of quarterly earnings, product announcements, R&D proposals, go-to-market programs and customer experience initiatives. The data, that we collect from internal and external sources, structure and unstructured, serves to support those stories. Data and story are intrinsically bound until death do they part.

Of course in any marriage there are supporting cast members. At this wedding, the maid of honor is social media. She provides context in the form of voluntary updates. She can be emotional, repetitive, succinct, and pragmatic. She adds color to the story and sometimes is the instigator of the story. On the other side of the aisle is mobility. He is the enabler of location based data, subscriber data and usage data. He provides a different kind of context to big data, delivering the insight that allows big data and storytelling to target their efforts even more specifically. By bringing these players together and consolidating the value each of them provides, we move closer to the using data prescriptively. Understanding the context of the data is, for now, the secret sauce. This allows our stories to not only share what and when something is happening, but why. We will be able to suggest better solutions for our customers because we will more fully understand the issues that are enablers versus those that are inhibitors to healthy relationships.

Stories have been a key element of all business, from those that introduce a new norm (Ford), found a business segment (HP, IBM), challenge the norm (Apple, Google) or provide new ways to connect (Bell Labs, Facebook). All stories have a common foundation, data - about the market, the product and the opportunity. Data can exist without story, but its value would not be appreciated. What's your story?

What's your perspective?

Mobile at the Intersection!

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 23, 2014

Mobile is changing the face of business as we know it. It sits at the intersection of cloud, social and big data. While much focus in the mobile phone market is about devices and apps for the consumer, I would argue that Microsoft's decision to finally release it's Office suite as apps for both iPhone and IPad is a true barometer reflecting the increasing use of these devices for business purposes. Why is mobile so important? Aside from the flexibility that it provides users, mobile is driving use of cloud based services as the device itself does not function in a typical client/server fashion. These devices are the route to success for social networks as proven by Facebook's continued investment and focus on mobile. They are changing the shape of industries from healthcare to media to financial services. 

How? Healthcare is perhaps at the forefront of the M2M conversation with the ability for devices to share critical patient data with other devices. Or with the ability to simply encourage users to live healthier lives through wearables and apps capturing and tracking cardio activities or comparing healthy food options. Mobile solutions for healthcare also include patient appointment reminders and medication alerts. Doctors can provide virtual consultations and use software based diagnostic tools that incorporate a patient's medical history to make health recommendations. In the background this is all enabled by cloud, big data and social networking concepts.

The financial services sector has adopted mobile for banking, payments and brokerage transactions. Not only can we review account balances, we can deposit checks, transfer funds, research investments and perform transactions. And, the mobile payments industry (which perhaps is as much about e-commerce as it is financial transactions) is still maturing as companies like Square, Dwolla, Google Wallet simplify payments via your mobile device. The amount of data that is now available to financial institutions thanks to mobile banking allows banks to customize their marketing efforts, creating both efficiencies and new business opportunities.

The media and entertainment industry has been turned on its ear by mobile. Everything from cameras to media workflows to ad sales and advertising itself is going mobile. On the operational side, mobile solutions are lowering costs for broadcasters providing coverage of sport events like the FIFA World Cup. Mobile has also forced significant shifts in media workflows as multichannel consumption is now the norm, not an option. This means content producers must consider HOW they will enable content to be distributed and consumed on a wide variety of devices. Mobile allows social sharing of content, opinions. It is the second screen for entertainment. Media is social. It generates consumer data and content data - all of which is beneficial for operational and financial purposes. And, it is all increasingly happening in the cloud.

The industry at the heart of all? The industry without which none of this could happen. No, its not Apple or Google or any of the device or operating system providers. Its the telecommunications industry. they provide the bandwidth, be it 3G, LTE or WiFi, that allows our devices to connect to their networks and access the information, entertainment or people they desire. Not only does mobile "validate" the existence of communication service providers, it offers them new business opportunities. Companies like AT&T and Verizon, offer a variety of services to help businesses, large or small, develop and/or capitalize upon the use of mobile apps. They provide device management solutions to help businesses address the "Bring Your Own Device" desire for many employees. They provide data analytics services to visualize how, when and where users are accessing information.

That brings the final piece of the puzzle to the table. Data. Lots and lots of data. Data about the subscriber, where they are, what they do. Patterns can be illuminated. Browsing habits can reveal new opportunities. Data about devices and networks. How much data is being transported across networks. What type of data is it?  Structured? Unstructured? Is it related to entertainment, social media, sports, financial services, health, e-commerce, travel? It's no wonder that big data analytics vendors are squarely focused on mobility and the ecosystem that exists around it.

Our mobile devices are our most important accessories. How many times do we double check to make sure we have our devices with us when we are laving the house. They are our link to FINDING information -  about products, competitors, customer service, market trends, industry insights and more. They improve our productivity. They save business a lot of money through time saved. They help business invest in new markets and new solutions, through the use of time saved elsewhere. Mobile devices have changed the way we live and the way businesses will evolve.

What's your perspective?

Twitter is #Indispensable

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Twitter.  Everyone knows what it is. Everyone has an opinion as their future viability.  The company went public with much fanfare. The stock opened at $26, climbed to the $70 range and sunk back to $30.  It's now stabilizing, but the question remains - can Twitter hang in there for the long haul?  I'm not a power user of Twitter, nor do I have any financial stake in Twitter. Yet, I find Twitter to be more and more compelling.  

Here's what i like about Twitter. It has taught all of us how to communicate concisely. It's that simple. We've all had to learn how to communicate in 140 characters or less. And that includes any url links or hashtags! I just listened to a report on how to make sure your email is read. In short (pun intended), be direct, be clear, be succinct. It sounds liked Twitter is influencing email.

Twitter is enabling and influencing more than individuals.  It provides personal context to the topics of our day. Twitter has changed the shape of news, politics, sports, TV viewing and business communication.

News:  Twitter has become the source for breaking news. It is so much an accepted force that broadcasters and journalists not only own their own twitter accounts. Twitter is not only incorporated into their reporting, it is now used to get the news out and track audience opinion and interest. It is used to determine the level of reporting associated with breaking or ongoing news topics.

Politics: Then candidate Barack Obama may arguably have been the first politician to capitalize on the power of social media, but the role of Twitter in politics is now, not only acknowledged, it is embraced - until it becomes embarrassing (remember Anthony Weiner?). Twitter helped power the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011. It is such a recognized communication tool that some countries have banned Twitter.  These countries include Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, China, and North Korea.

Sports:  Most professional leagues/teams and college sports programs (e.g., MLB, NFL, NBA, ChampionsLeague, FIFAWorldCup, USOlympics, GoDiplomats, etc.) have active accounts, as do over half of professional athletes. However, the real power of Twitter for sports is in the hands of the fans. The largest spikes in Twitter use surround big sporting events like the SuperBowl, Olympics and the upcoming FIFA World Cup.

TV: This may be where Twitter's influence leading to revenue generation. As Twitter prepared for its IPO, it announced deals with the NFL, Comcast and Nielsen. Twitter, through its acquisition of Amplify, can distribute videos.  However, Twitter users can also click on the "See It" button for certain programs and obtain more information, or watch content on their device.

Business: Twitter has forever changed the nature of business communication. Is there a company, large or small, that does not have a Twitter account? It used to be that a website was the requirement for proving you had a business. Now, it's about both the website (many times as a repository for longer form content) and Twitter. Both B2C and B2B companies tweet to share information, invite engagement, encourage participation and measure customer experience. 

Twitter has become the norm. It is as institutionalized as email when it comes to a form of communication. The difference is that the data in Twitter is extractable and has value. Thus Twitter's acquisitions of Blue Fin Labs and Gnip among many others. Twitter's revenue potential is dependent on monetizing data for advertising, for customer intelligence, for market trends, for consumer insight.

While Twitter subscriber growth is slowing and usage is down (likely due to user inability easily sift through the "noise" to find the "right" content), what other platform has insinuated its way into our daily lives in so many ways? 

What's your perspective?

What's Trending at NAB2014?

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 07, 2014

I'm en route to NAB 2014 in Las Vegas. Since I'm not a vendor I can enjoy a less frenetic NAB experience.  For the uninitiated, The National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas is "Where Content Comes to Live" - to borrow their tag line. Anyone involved in the creation, management, monetization, distribution and consumption of professional content attends. It's a LOUD, BRIGHT industry event. It's also an opportunity to understand the nuts and bolts behind the content that we enjoy at the movies, on broadcast or cable TV, or on the Internet (e.g., Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and others).

While the broadcast industry still utilizes a lot of proprietary solutions to capture, produce and manage content, it is increasingly adopting IT solutions.  As an IT gal, given my past history at Hewlett-Packard, I'm always interested in seeing how the big IT trends impact this industry. As I arrive in Las Vegas, I know there will be a lot of discussion about 4K or UltraHD content. This is an industry specific conversation that impacts the consumer marketplace in the shape of TVs, the telecom industry due to bandwidth required for distribution and the IT industry due to demands on server and storage products. But, 4K is hot topic unique to this industry.

What about Big Data? What about Cloud? What about Social Media? Yes, they all impact this industry and are increasingly shaping the future of this industry. 

  1. Media companies are investing in platforms to gain greater insight into audience desires. Why? To create the content that will attract an audience that attracts advertisers. 
  2. Cloud solutions are evolving for live production as well as post-production. Why? To provide greater flexibility, manage operational costs and improve time to market. 
  3. Social and Second Screen solutions are integrated into existing platforms and workflows. Why? To increase audience engagement and optimize the consumer experience…and create an incremental advertising revenue stream.
I'm interested to see how solutions i've seen in the past have continued to evolve (e.g.,, Forbidden Technologies, Aframe). I'm curious to see the rebranding of several broadcast stalwarts (e.g., Harris/Imagine Communications, Grass Valley/Miranda). I'm looking forward to uncovering new solutions related to advertising, licensing and rights management as will as multi-channel content management & distribution. I'm happy to see former colleagues and meet new ones. 

It's NAB 2014!

What's your perspective?

Trust is Critical

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Trust. It is the most important aspect of any relationship. Be it a personal or business; B2C or B2B or B2B2C. The challenge for B2B businesses is that trust is impacted by many direct and indirect factors throughout the pre-sales, sales and post-sales process. While a sales person can establish a fantastic relationship with their client, a supply chain issue or poor customer service can quickly shift the nature of that relationship. Now, with business communicating and engaging with their customers through multiple channels and via different platforms, their are increasing opportunities to build or break trust.

As Satya Nadella, the newly named CEO of Microsoft, said yesterday in his webcast with customers and partners, "Mobile First, Cloud First".  These new business channels are a mandate, but  trust may be the single most important concern for customers utilizing these technologies. Although, this concern may not be stated explicitly. When analyzing cloud vs. on-premise solutions, the focus is often financial. The discussion revolves around technology, business need, business process, accessibility, reliability, scalability and security. The word trust is not used, but it is the underlying concern. At the core, can the SaaS, Iaas, or PaaS provider be trusted to protect data and guarantee performance.

Interestingly, it is services that we take for granted like email, social media or messaging that provide a context for trust. They all take place in the cloud. They enable communication, collaboration, immediacy - and we trust them. Sure, there are notable, publicly announced breaches. Yet, we access email and social networks from wherever we are. We trust that we can post and share updates. We trust that our business or personal email will find its way to the intended recipient. We quickly connect with friends and family without concern for some random stranger intruding.  

On a larger scale, social media has proven to be a source of great insight for companies. It provides them not only with a channel through which they can connect with their customers, it provides customers with a method for increasing visibility to their needs or concerns. When implemented with thought and care, corporate use of social media has allowed business to enhance their perceived trustworthiness. 

Businesses need to apply that same thought and care to their use of mobile and cloud. These technologies provide for 24x7 access to data and information by employees, partners and customers. This creates demand for the right content at the right time in the right format. The opportunity exists for for business to create deeper customer relationships and greater customer loyalty through the development of apps and services.  And, it's all based on trust.

What's your perspective?

Monetizing Social Media

Peggy Dau - Monday, September 23, 2013

Everywhere we turn there is news about social media. Whether it is the rise of a new social network, an "old" social network going public, the business model for social networks or the ROI an organization can achieve from using a social network. It is perhaps this last point that is the most critical for companies adopting social media as a means of connecting, communicating and engaging with their customers. Nowhere is this more challenging than in the B2B space. However, perhaps the challenge is not in using traditional online metrics of success such as click thrus or consumer social media metrics such as follows. I would argue that the ROI comes from the value of the data now available and how that data is turned into strategies or tactics that deliver measurable results.

I attended Datasift's Social Data Week Conference in New York last Friday. As you can guess from the name, it was all about Social Data. After all, this is Datasift's business. They provide the platform that discovers, aggregates and presents data found in social networks. My key takeaways reinforced some thoughts that had been bubbling since I began work with a new client, TrueVoice, several months ago.

1. Context is King.  Yes, we still need great content. But, the key to monetizing social media comes from understanding the context in which your customers are updating or sharing content online. Are their comments in response to a problem with your product or service, have they been delighted by their interaction with your company or are they sharing your content with others. Or, have they been influenced by another customer, industry thought leader, or peer?

2. Data is a challenge. Capturing, aggregating, analyzing, translating and optimizing social data presents challenges in terms of human resource as well as budget dollars. There are many platforms to monitor and present data. They can provide a lot of insight, if they are programmed effectively. By this, I mean the act of establishing keywords and a series of modifiers that collect the data you really want and that filter out the "dirty" data. Imagine you are Hewlett-Packard (my business alma mater). Most of us know that HP is their accepted name for every day use. However, hp can also stand for horse-power or the steak sauce. I'm sure the social media strategists at HP have invested a significant amount of time establishing the filters to eliminate irrelevant data in their social media monitoring efforts.  Assuming your business has the right resources to filter the data, are they also the right resources to interpret and activate a program using the data? Again, if so, you have answers that will help your business achieve its goal.  

4. Data is an answer. It's not the only answer, but it provides a better understanding of your customer base that other market research techniques. It reveals passion and intention in how individuals post and make updates. In pursuing social data, organizations must not only focus on the tools to capture the data, they must believe that they will discover something relevant. Something relevant doesn't always mean data that supports existing theories, it could be data that uncovers a new opportunity.

The key to incorporating social data into your strategies lies in trusting the wisdom of your customers. When they are social, they are authentic, immediate and transparent. We already know that the opinions of our peers and business colleagues ranks highest when making buying decisions. Why not leverage those same opinions when figuring out how to monetize social media for your business. Monetization does not have to be a direct correlation. The value of social data is in how it is utilized as part of a greater business strategy. It can help validate, redirect, uncover or optimize your strategies for sales, marketing, innovation or support - and these are the dominant areas driving revenue in any business.

What's your perspective?

No Cure for Data Addicts

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 19, 2013

Addiction. It has a negative connotation, yet every industry has the same addiction. We live in a data driven society where every action must be justified by numbers that support investment, change, penalty, promotion, success, failure - you get the picture. When was the last time you your day did not rationalize a business activity  without dependent numbers? It's no wonder that big data is enjoying such growth. With a mentality reinforced by friends, colleagues, management, wall street and even the federal government, we seek numbers to support every decision we make. But, do these numbers really provide the "fix" we crave?

It's Monday, so that means we are measuring box office success of the latest movies. Just in case you missed it, "The Butler" was considered a success, coming out of its opening weekend with revenue of $25M, against a cost of $30M.  On the other hand, "Jobs" is considered weak on opening weekend earnings of $6.7M against a budget of $12.7M.  At the same time Trendrr, the television engagement tracking service, shares that NBC Sports investment in Premier League Soccer is a success - at least for this week - taking the number one and two spots as related to social volume. What do these numbers say to you? Do they influence your desire to see these movies or programs?  Probably not, but, they validate investment in actual production, acquisition of rights or advertising.

Why do we collect the data and analyze the numbers? Because they are an attainable metric that shows progress against stated or unstated goals. There is a lot of attention being paid to social media measurement or the ROI of social media. The original measures of success - numbers of followers, tweets or likes, do not provide a tangible return on investment. But they do provide an indication of consumer interest. The thing to remember about numbers, is that they are only accurate in retrospect. You cannot reveal a number until an action or many actions have occurred. The bigger question is if these numbers can be a predictor of future success or failure.

The financial services industry has been using sophisticated data-based models for years in its attempt to improve investor return. Technologists are using and modifying equally sophisticated algorithms to monitor and measure social media activity - also with an eye toward predicting the best channels through which businesses can engage their customers and ultimately increase revenue. In all cases, the next wave of investment is to bring context to all of these numbers. I've written about the importance of context in social media monitoring, and filtering of "dirty" data. Natural language processing continues to advance with an understanding that prescriptive analytics is the next phase of big data investment.

For all the attention to customer data, there is also an increasing number of internal data available to businesses. Whether this is related to supply chain, sales, research & development, content management or financials, this is the data upon which the business relies for ongoing performance. Social technologies do exist behind the firewall and changing the ways corporations connect and collaborate across geographies, business units and other corporate silos. The McKinsey Global Institute has already stated that there is $1 Trillion in value that corporations can create through the use of social technologies. The question is how businesses define what that value looks like and how they create it.

Context will be increasingly important as big data, cloud, mobile and social all come together to provide data and numbers like never before. What does this mean for business? It means smarter, yet more complex content management systems, technologies to capture, integrate and analyze data from an increasing volume of sources and devices (think big data + social media monitoring + machine-to-machine) and the emergence of  consultants to help business make sense of all the data. Rather than seek rehab to overcome this addiction to numbers, we will continue to feed our addiction through creation of tools and processes to attain even more data.

What's your perspective?

Get Smart About Social Media

Peggy Dau - Monday, January 28, 2013

There have been a number of blogs (here's one from Harvard Business Review) since the new year reflecting a sentiment that companies should reduce their social media presence. If taken out of context, one could conclude that social media doesn't work and that companies are only just realizing this. This is not the case. BUT, it is evident that companies must integrate their use of social media with existing marketing tools to improve the customer experience. Finding the right balance has forever been the challenge of marketing organizations. It's understanding your company goals (which may shift depending on the maturity of your business), the needs of your customers (which vary depending on where they are in the buying process) and your budget (which sadly is never big enough).


Those companies who have made public statements about shutting down social sites have done so because they did not understand the demands of social media. The value lies in the ability to engage in real time conversations with customers, to extend the interaction beyond face to face meetings and website visits, to gain insight about the issues most important to customers.

Just like the stock market, where understanding the strategy, management team, financials and markets is important to making investment choices, social media requires investment. In this case its understanding how social media complements existing marketing programs. If your goal is to increase sales, then aligning social media to lead generation efforts makes sense. This could mean using LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to alert customers to a product launch webinar, to meet key executives at an upcoming conference or to trial new software/services using a special code only available through social networks.  

The investment takes the form of both time and budget - and both are related to the human resource required to define the social strategy, create content and manage your social presence. Social media is more than simply posting intriguing 140 character tweets with links to more information. It's about listening to customers who are sharing their needs, concerns and goals. Their thoughts can guide your investment.


Social Media will never completely displace traditional marketing programs. Customers still want to read data sheets and white papers, engage with execs to understand product roadmaps, get hands-on product demos, compare competitive offerings. Social media is simply another option for sharing much of this information while assessing customer sentiment. The goals of companies will vary. Early stage businesses must incorporate social media to create market presence, while mature companies use social media to remain relevant. Companies manufacturing infrastructure products such as steel, farm equipment or pipelines use social media to educate and inform while technology companies add lead generation and customer support to the social media mix.

Many companies are using social media to extend their touch points with their customers. With travel budgets under constant attack, any opportunity to maintain contact with clients is welcome. Social networks provide an opportunity for ongoing casual contact, keeping your company's name in front of your customers even if your sales representatives cannot be present.


Social media is not dead - far from it. However, companies are putting more thought into how they can best use social media, in combination with other marketing solutions, to achieve their goals. Managing the programs, understanding which solutions fit best given company goals and customer need and aligning resources (financial, human and time) require teams to get smart. For larger companies, there are integrated marketing platforms to help manage programs. Smaller companies will often align manpower alone. In either case, more time is now spent preparing to use social media.

For some interesting statistics regarding B2B use of social media, check out Penton Marketing Services blog.  It re-affirms the point that social media is not dying!

What's your perspective?

Mobile is the new Social

Peggy Dau - Monday, January 07, 2013

Entering 2013, it is almost impossible not to consider the opinions of online, media and advertising pundits heralding the power of mobile. Even though the first mobile phone was released in 1946 (yes, 1946 thanks to AT&T) they didn't get "smart" until the Blackberry hit the market in 1999 and Ericsson introduced the the "smart" term related to its R380 mobile phone.  But, the current phase of smartphones really arrived when Apple launched the iPhone and its App Store in2007. Apps have changed our relationship with our mobile phones, turning them into devices that combine work and play, encouraging us to advance from texting and emailing to interacting with content enabled by the plethora of apps.

When it comes to social networks, mobile is the future. Facebook was criticized in 2012 for its lack of a clear mobile strategy. As the details of their mobile strategy were clarified, the stock began to climb. The Pew Research Center reported in late 2012 that 60% of Americans use their smartphone to access social sites (vs. 68% in Great Britain, 72% in Greece and 74% in Mexico). Why are smartphones so popular with business users? One reason is portability. While mobile phones started as large, cumbersome devices - they quickly shrunk to compact, pocket size devices. Interestingly, the form factor has increase in size to allow for larger screens, but they still fit in pockets. Analysts are already predicting a combination smartphone-tablet as gadget enthusiasts head to CES in Las Vegas this week.

More importantly, smartphones are multifunctional. Not only to they enable voice and data, in the form of both text messaging and email. They allow users to share pictures and video. If you are in business, you can share pictures of products, quickly read and reply to customer questions, research competitive offerings or download the latest price list. With network connectivity constantly improving, accessibility via 3G, 4G or WiFi networks allows sharing of greater volumes of data. From a social perspective, LinkedIn's mobile apps continue to evolve and will allow you to see who's nearby - enabling ad hoc meetings with colleagues in the same locale. Or perhaps you notice a negative tweet about your company, your smartphone allows you take action to resolve a potential problem - whether that is to respond to the tweet, call your social media gurus or text a colleague.

Social networks may connect us to friends and colleagues, but mobile is the enabler for that connectivity. The advancement of mobile apps targeting the B2B community is the next wave of investment. In 2013, look out for apps that improve productivity for the road warrior. Mobile will displace social as the most talked about technology.

What's your perspective?