When Discovery Meets Big Data

No big news yesterday at the #IBM_WatsonTLV, but these were my highlights:

Bryson Koehler, CTO, IBM Watson & IBM Cloud told us that AI is here to stay, and that “the cloud-native architecture will define computing (and competing) in the cognitive era”. Daniel Malka, GM IBM Israel, said that only organizations that will be able to combine artificial intelligence with the digital revolution will be the winners of the next decade.
It was interesting to look at IBM itself as a company going through the same transition and digital transformation, acknowledging the fact that its industry has changed dramatically and is on the move from IT to business-  and apps-focus, and changing itself accordingly.

Picture1Talking about digital transformations, Carolyn Heller Baird, Global Research Leader, Customer Experience & Design, IBM spoke about Digital disappointment – why some customers aren’t fans, and shared some interesting research done at IBM showing that executives and consumers are seriously misaligned with their expectations and that this is one of the factors driving customers’ willingness to try companies’ digital CX initiatives.

Picture3Oh and the presentation I liked the most? When Discovery Meets Big Data – Ran Gishri, VP Marketing Taboola.

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What is the connection between escape rooms and marketing?

 No connection.

 

But in the #globesmad2016 conference in Tel-Aviv last week, LEAD advertising built an escape room that drew a lot of attention. (see more in this movie, in Hebrew) The point was to illustrate the stressful reality ad agencies deal with today, and the right way to deal with new challenges and new technologies.

Rami Yehudiha, founder and CEO of LEAD, said “we all feel in panic because of this ever changing environment, and when people panic they make up excuses like: every day there is new technology, Generation Y & Z. These are excuses. We always lived in a changing world”. The right was to deal with these challenges is go back to basics: What is the key to the campaign? What is the big idea? How do I leverage current trends (like escape rooms or generation Z) and use them? And of course how do I take control of new technologies, like big data, and turn it from a big waste of data into a technology platforms that provides me with much deeper understanding of consumer behavior.

Another person who attracted much attention in the conference was David Shing, known as the “digital prophet” of America Online (AOL). He talks about “price, product, promotion and place” being the four P’s which drove advertising when he was growing up; now it’s “platforms, partnerships, performance and pedigree” and an additional two very important P’s; perspective and patience. The proliferation of platforms in the last couple of years, be they for crowdsourcing or cat photos, has given everybody a voice. And while it’s fair to say the value-add of sites like Kickstarter are their equalising effect, Shing argues that the real benefit is “the interconnected network of people who give a shit about the brand you’re building.” Read more

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And last but not least – Ying Wang from the China Business Group at PwC Israel that shared some very useful tips, experiences and insight about doing business in China, and specifically about China’s media marketplace.

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So coming back to escape rooms. Obviously it’s a huge trend in Israel today. Fanta drinks just launch a digital campaign with same theme – www.freefranco.co.il. So being a pretty new entrant myself, I wasn’t exactly sure what should I be looking for when choosing my next escape room experience? Is it about the theme? The level? The number of people that can participate? What are other people looking for / liking / dis-liking in experience rooms? Perhaps a company like http://www.aspectiva.com/ can help me find out.

How to get started with your new website?

So you’re about to re-design your website – where do you get started?

The first question is: what’s the purpose of this makeover, in other words (and it could be cruel and painful) – what’s wrong with your current website? What is missing?  What do you want to change and why? The best way to address that is talk to many stakeholders inside and outside of your organization and get their opinions on what’s wrong. Based on these discussions you can begin to form some key objectives of the project and describe what success will look like.  

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The next step is to look around. What do companies like yours have in their websites; make sure to also check companies smaller / bigger / different than you; what do your competitors’ sites look like?  Customer sites? Take a look at some industry trends and determine which are right for you. Hopefully you are ready to decide where you want to take your site.

And now go down to the details: what underlying technology platform are you using today and do you need any new WCM (Web Content Management) system like Acquia/Drupal or Adobe to support your new objectives?; Site structure and navigation – do they reflect your companies’ current objectives and growth areas and support where you want to go? Is your content professional, fresh, relevant and engaging? Do you have the right processes to keep it that way?

In the next series of posts I will look deeper into each one of these dimensions – so come back to learn more, but in the meantime let me challenge you – can you share with me your favorite web site and tell me what do you like about it and why it’s so great.  

What is the price of not knowing?

Not too many big conference in Israel, however last week there were two: IBM BusinessConnect and Salesforce Essentials TLV.

At a high level in both events they talked about:

  • How digital disruption and the subscription economy change every major industry today: the biggest taxi company (Uber) owns no cars; the biggest accommodation chain owns no real estate (Airbnb); Facebook owns no content; and Alibaba has no inventory
  • A new kind of customer success and how to keep customers happy in the subscription age
  • How data changes your business capabilities from descriptive into predictive and even cognitive, and per Michelle Rohde Unger, General Manager, Cognitive Solutions Europe, IBM: in the very near future every decision process will have some cognitive capabilities in it, and this will become a major differentiator between successful organizations and the rest.

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Enough with the buzzwords and trends, as you can see you’ll hear the same ones wherever you go. The key takeaway for me from these 2 intense days came from Stefano Stinchi, Chief Digital Transformation Italy, IBM. According to him the marketing department is the one that should continuously disrupt the company by constantly rethinking everything: re-assess your business model and strategy, make sure you are agile and try out things that fail and be the first to know. Therefore the price of not knowing, in a digital, cognitive age of disruption is too high.

… and now – a reality check

To summarize my last couple of posts on social media strategy, I think we all agree that social presence without any purpose or strategy behind it is not enough. What you need to do is assess your current situation based on a number of key parameters to understand if and how your social presence serves you and then build a cohesive social media strategy that will leverage your social presence to support the main brand objectives.

Once you’ve determined the right social strategy for you, it’s time for a reality check:

  • Which stage of your funnel do you want social media to impact most? For example, if it is the consideration phase you want to impact, you will need to create a lot of thought leadership and research materials. Based on that you will also need to create a content mix to your various social channels that will ensure continuous relevant content flow.
  • What kind of results should you be looking for? If you’re looking at an awareness strategy your main KPI’s (key performance indicators) should be around brand awareness of the company and its values which can be measured through a survey, search volume, industry recognition etc. But if you’re looking into a loyalty strategy the main KPI should be customer retention.
  • Do you have the right social assets to support your strategy? For example, you might need to build a new community or create a new social ecosystem of pages in LinkedIn to support your new strategy. And btw – cleanup of some old and non-active social assets is always a good idea.
  • Do you have the right team to support your strategy? Everybody wants to be a thought leader, but it usually requires a dedicated team of analysts and researchers that can follow up and comment on industry trends, in order to lead and shape the conversation. Do you have these people available? Are the roles, responsibilities and processes in the marketing team supporting your strategy?
  • What kind of underlining technologies do you need to support your plan? Do you have the right kind of content management system (CMS) and what about the measurement / dashboard tool?

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Reality check can be painful in showing you the gaps and mis-alignments in your organization, but hopefully it will also help you in setting up a realistic plan with achievable KPIs. Good luck!

YOUR BRAND – is this what you need to promote through social?

Maybe it’s the first strategy I should have presented here – applying social media for increasing awareness to your brand values and growing the brand equity. So why did I keep it to last? Well you know why: in many B2B companies we don’t really like our brand … We feel it’s a fluffy story, that doesn’t really say anything, doesn’t really get anyone engaged and definitely doesn’t help get more sales.

Let’s look at 2 examples of some people that seem to be doing it right.

A couple of years ago IBM came out with the Smarter Planet initiative. The initiative seeked to highlight how forward-thinking leaders in business, government and civil society around the world are capturing the potential of smarter systems to achieve economic growth, near-term efficiency, sustainable development and societal progress. For IBM, it was a good corporate story that tied together brand values, social responsibility and their IT solutions.

Ericsson is another example of someone that utilized social media for the brand’s vision – around the networked society. When they launched it, maybe a year ago, they came up with a new corporate video, a lot of new content (~70% of their posts were related to the “Networked Society”  directly or indirectly), and a whole set of new visuals – including even a new font. As a result, they did see high engagement and social traffic contribution, as well as big communities that were created around this topic.

Is it the right strategy for you? To make it work you need to find the right story and create the WIIFM and real connection to your customers and your company.

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Customer Loyalty – Is this the right social strategy for you?

Customer loyalty is another popular social strategy that you can pick for your business. It means that you’ll build and enhance customer loyalty through improving customer satisfaction, by creating a community of valuable resources for your customers and continuously listening to customer feedback. The community can be a support community or a success / champion community, but it should include resources that can truly help your loyal customers.

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Marketo was able to build a community that helps users become “Superheroes”. In the community you can find articles, product documentation & on-demand training, key tips and techniques for enrichment, best practices, and sales and marketing success kits. This community has very high engagement levels, and is able to present true collaboration among over 40K Marketo users.

Any type of a support community is another vehicle to increase your customers’ loyalty. Of course you will need to provide a unique and unusual support experience including capabilities like dedicated pages and groups for customer support; Quick response time and many “How to” guides. Hopefully you’ll see results like positive feedback from your users and above average visit duration.

So is this the right strategy for you? Well, it depends… I think that the 2 main questions you’ll need to address are:

  • Can you provide content with real value to your customers for a long period of time? Something so unique and appreciated that will make them come back to your community again and again
  • Can you work in cooperation and collaboration between internal departments in a way that will genuinely put the customer first? In many cases support sites become a frustration outlet for customers and you need to be prepared and ready to try and turn frustration into loyalty. Not an easy task.