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Archive for December, 2010

Photo courtesy of GigaOM

Debra Chrapaty, SVP and GM of the Cisco Collaboration Software Group stated, “You must have the people, process, and technology in place to enable effective collaboration.” She intentionally held technology in third place because you cannot successfully utilize innovative technologies without the right people and processes in place. Her presentation was exceptionally well suited as an overarching theme for the Net:Work 2010 Conference hosted by GigaOM on December 9th. The following are three of the major themes I heard during the event.

Executive decision making and compensation models will change to encourage collaboration. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, is shaking up both his compensation structure and executive planning meetings to improve collaboration within the company. He stated that any employee can earn the same salary as an SVP within his organization moving forward. Compensation will adjust based on performance and he believe some of the best thinking in his company stems from those outside his leadership structure. Most interesting was his recent change to executive offsite planning meetings. He said the executive staff appeared as if they were the “Illuminate” going off to perform some rituals when an executive offsite meeting occurred behind closed doors. Now, he streams his entire offsite meetings live and provides a recorded version of it for all individuals to learn from and collaborate on during the year. His planning sessions are now “live” throughout the year.

Understanding identity and relationships is rudimentary at best with current tools. Jeff Bonforte, CEO of Xobni, discussed the point that explicit data, the type we find on a LinkedIn profile or Facebook page tells us very little useful information about a person. He went on to state, “Implicit data will redefine identity and relationships.” Xobni acquires this information by performing statistical analysis on the messages in a person’s inbox. Most important about the market position his young company is taking is that there will be a revolution in productivity tools when this much greater level of insight is revealed to everyone.

Segmentation matters in the enterprise. Segmenting user behavior based on demographic, ethnographic, and psychographic research isn’t just for establishing strategies to win in the consumer marketplace. A few interesting facts discussed at the conference include the point that Gen Xers are the most likely generation to want to start their own business and that only 33% of North Americans embrace use of video in collaboration tools versus Europe at 66%. These differences in behavior matter and they must be understood. Based on the statements above, I expect very simple and inexpensive collaboration tools to dominate amongst Gen Xers starting their business; whereas, more sophisticated collaboration tools with the use of video to perform better in Europe as a whole.

In wrapping up my summary of the experience, my favorite quote of the conference was that, “we are in the business of connecting people to people, not people to data.”

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Analytics and optimization are a crucial part of any product or marketing campaign, but analytics programs are useless unless acted upon. The ability to iterate and improve what exists is what separates the players from the leaders.

Measurement of increased impressions, leads or conversions is just a start. These trailing indicators suggest where your investments might have paid off and what might be going wrong, but they won’t tell you how you can improve. What your team needs is an optimization program that invites innovative and forward thinking.

Most innovative thinking doesn’t occur as a brilliant flash of light from a singular genius. It comes from a combination of a deeper understanding of your customer’s need, the ability to anticipate how those needs will change, a clear business vision and a well thought out analytics and optimization program.

This combination leads to winning ideas that enable you to design ahead of your competition. For the customer, that means a better experience that exceeds their expectation. It shows someone has been thinking about what they need and it allows  you to create distance between you and your competition in the mind of the customer.

I recently shared this concept in the context of the Global Total User Experience at the Smart Seminar on Globalization hosted by Medialocate. Here’s a bit on what I discussed at the event.

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