Monday, December 29, 2008

Off the Tracks

I'm doing my annual "goal planning" this week and took some time to review the past few years goals (and success rate) and it isn't pretty.

First, here are the stats:
2005 9/14 63%
2006 12/15 80%
2007 7/13 54%
2008 5/9 56%

My goals are a combination of personal (fitness, finance, charity, vacation etc) and professional goals. clearly, 2006 was a great year, but I've been sliding hard since then.

2008 was an odd year from the beginning with me leaving the IRC for Microsoft, so I expected some fluctuation (notice the drop in total number of goal targets - down to 7 from 13 in 2007). As a way to get this out of my system, here's what I achieved, and what I didn't this past year:

Success!
  • Maintain 180 lbs
  • Coach sports (specifically spring/fall softball and winter basketball). I also helped out with all-star softball and recently started a coaching blog.
  • 1/2 speaking gigs
  • Establish myself in my new role at Microsoft
  • Build blog readership (>200 visits per month) - actual from both npMarketing and Mindnumbing was 1208!)
Things I didn't Achieve :(
  • Break 95 in golf
  • No credit card debt (it's creeping up a bit lately)
  • Save 10-15 gross salary (I haven't calculated it yet, but I'm certain it's less than 10%)
  • Board of small NGO (this is now removed however
I'm feeling like I need to totally retool my goals for 2009 and in someways, up the ante a bit.

In case you are curious, my process includes an important step of writing down a purpose for each goal and culling the master list each year down to about 10 priority goals for the year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Book Notes: Rebound Rules

I just finished reading Rick Pitino's latest book "Rebound Rules." I was looking for some inspiration in both my professional and coaching life and found it here. This is a breezy read for those of us who read a lot of self help books, much of what Pitino talks about is well-tread in other books.

That said, I especially liked some of what he has to say about managing young players. Granted, the difference between the type of coaching he does is a galaxy away from the type of coaching I do!

What I loved most about the book however is how Pitino recounts his Celtics failure and how he rediscovered himself and his passions. His "PHD" (Passion, Hunger, Drive) framework is something that I will be using personally as I begin to plan for 2009.

One other phrase that I really liked was the "darkness of doubt." I've had some recent failures myself in my professional life and realized that the doubt I felt was natural, but something that I simply need to move past. That's a phrase I'll keep in mind for a long time to come.

It's a good read and worth your time.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Book Notes: Exodus to the Virtual World

I guess I've been revisiting my own ideas on virtual worlds and the immersive internet these past few months and picked up a copy of Castonova's "Exodus to the Virtual World" to see how things have been evolving since reading his first book "Synthetic Worlds." It is my opinion that his first book was quite a bit better, although this book does really expand on where virtual worlds are headed in more tangible ways.

The book is really interesting, if not way out there. While the idea of people "migrating" to virtual worlds seems (and feels) odd to me, Castronova makes some extremely compelling and interesting points given from an economist's perspective of the world. That said, I'm not so sure his core concept is valid. It would help me if I were a social scientist and had any sort of knowledge to validate or debunk his thesis.

For scale's sake, Castronova points out that "when 100 million people do something" governments need to take notice. He speaks a lot about "policy making" in the virtual world and does a good job outlining the core areas needed for good policy both in the real, and virtual world.

The main point of the book however, is simple. If people can get a better quality of life by inhabiting virtual worlds, they'll do so - and en masse.

A few things jumped out at me as I read the book, presence being one of the stranger concepts to grasp I thought. What exactly is presence when inhabiting a virtual world? Perhaps "attention" is a better way to think about presence - that is to say that what you are focused on is actually where you are at any given time. The phrase "gaze is location" was a bit of a mind trip for me.

In the chapter named "The Fun Society," Castronova imagines a company modeled on how virtual worlds work. I think in the entire book, this fascinated me more than anything. Below are a few key things that made me stop and think:

"New employees wouldhave to work their way into the company just as new players work their way into games: they start at low levels and work their way up."

"They acquire reputations as good drivers, good mechanics, good forklift operators. Once they get enough points, they are allowed to look for bigger jobs at a different loading dock."

"Management would organize all this activity by stating when and whre it would give out points."

"In general, a company organized along these lines would operate the weird emergent order that one sees in games. Instead of ad hoc bands of one hundred people marching more or less after one another the other into a dungeon to do battle with a dragon and get treasure, it would be ad hoc bands of workers gathering more or less where and when needed to perform some work task to which explicit rewards had been attached."

I'm not sold on that vision, but it is extremely compelling to think through.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Can Save the US Auto Industry, Really!

I have the answer! I really do. But I want to lay out some ideas before dropping the bomb on you.


A few disclaimers before we get started...

In reality, I have very little car experience. Never marketed a car, built a car or designed a car. That said, I've paid for CV boots, brakes, tires and once, an entire new front end. I've wrecked a few cars (no one hurt), and certainly spent plenty of time at the gas pump. I have washed cars occassionally, but don't like it that much.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, here are some actual disclaimers:


  1. I'm not a huge car nut. My brother fills that gap in our family. I did once subscribe to Car & Driver, but only for a short time. I tend to view cars as a depreciating asset, but I do trip out when I see a really cool looking ride.

  2. I actually (delusional or brilliant, you tell me) believe I can save the US Auto Industry with my idea.

  3. The idea is free for you to take and use. All I ask is that I get a free one of my choice one day.


As I said, I am not going to simply drop the idea on you just like that. It would feel trivial I think. Or be misunderstood. You might make smarmy comments on my blog like "you idiot" or "that's the dumbest thing ever. Go die jerkboy." Stuff like that.



Instead, in this first post, I'm going to layout a few ideas. You smarties out there will see where this is going straightaway. Feel free to use your car industry contacts to take the idea and make it happen.

Concept 1: Most folks don't give a crap about [high] performance

Since I have literally no statistics, I'm going to take the bloggers perogative and assume this is true for MOST (but not all) of us. If it is true, I'm already on the right track. Sure, lots of folks want high performance vehicles. But me, I just want something efficient that never breaks. My solution isn't for those of you who can afford $150,000 cars. Hell, it isn't for those of you who can afford $50,000 cars. The sort of performance we want is fuel economy and advanced cup holding technology.

Concept 2: My solution bets on the fact that the theater of cars is the most important factor

As I mentioned in a recent tweet, "my auto industry solution based on: It's a fact that U.S. Auto design has always been more about theater than innovation." I'll expand on this soon, but you already know it's true, don't you!

Concept 3: My solution requires a totally new business model. The record companies thought Napster was tough - ha! My solution will require even more pain (hey, I never said my solution was going to be easy did I?)

Ok, more to come soon... if you can guess what my solution here is by leaving a comment, I'll give you a special prize. Yes, I'll tell you if you are right.

Fun In B2B Social Networks

I've just finished reading "The Theory of Fun" by game designer Raph Koster. I had been meaning to read this book ever since hearing him speak at a Serious Game Conference way back in 2005. While long overdue, the timing was quite good.I've spoken to a few of you (and lots more folks who probably don't read my blog) about some ideas that I have around using gaming concepts within social networks. In my role at Microsoft, driving engagement inside the CIO Network has been my primary focus. It hasn't been easy!

Koster's book is quite good for lots of reasons, like understanding what fun is, and how to have it for example. I was really pleased however with his discussion and call out of Game Designer Ben Cousin's concept of "ludemes." Ludemes, according to Cousins and Koster are the basic units of gameplay - the fundamental components (atoms?) of what makes a game a game.

Koster lays out some fundamental elements that make for successful games. My challenge is to figure out how (and if I should even try) to apply these ludemes and concepts in trying to create deeply engaging experiences within a B2B framework. Maybe I'm nuts, but I'm not done digging this well.

Here are the elements:
  • Preparation (players get some time to get ready - healing up, buying new equipment or perhaps by doing research, or understanding the parameters of the upcoming challenge.)
  • A sense of space - in games, this would be the map or playing field. In a B2B social network, this is perhaps the network itself or the parameters of a given problem/opportunity space that the group wants to work on together.
  • A solid core mechanic. The puzzle to solve and an interesting rule set.
  • A range of challenges. Content.
  • A range of abilities required to solve the encounter. Games are dull if all you need is a hammer to hit the nail with.
  • Skill required in using abilities. Bad choices lead to failure whether you are trying to kill a dragon, or develop a solution to a thorny IT issue.
Koster then goes on to talk about some additional features needed to make the experience a learning experience:
  • Variable feedback system. The results should not be totally predictable.
  • The Mastery Problem must be dealt with. In gaming, this means that high level players don't get any benefits from easy encounters. For me, it means that problems have to be hard to solve!
  • Failure must have a cost (at least an opportunity cost)
So what does this all mean, and how could/should it apply to a B2B social network? Good question, and one I'm struggling with. In the case where a member of the community wants to solve a problem using the network, it means we have to construct some game like conditions that will excite the community and give them a sense of fun, adventure and learning.

I don't have any solutions yet, but like I said earlier, I'm not done digging this well. There is something here, I know it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Book Notes: The Future of the Internet

I heard Jonathan Zittrain speak at a CIO Magazine event about 9 months ago in Boston and had his book "The Future of the Internet" in a big pile up until about a month ago. The subtitle "and how to stop it" put me off a bit and in my usual way, I judged the book by it's cover, thinking that this was yet another explanation about how the Internet is about to collapse, sending us back to the dark ages.

The thrust of the book however is all about "generativity" - the ability of certain technologies which allow users to create new and unexpected things from humble, typically underground or misunderstood beginnings (think... the Internet itself!). The PC as a generative platform however is probably the biggest and most effective example, it being at the very core of some of the concepts Zittrain tackles.

The book uses some terrific (and recent) examples but ultimately leans on Wikipedia a bit too much. Have you noticed that many, many recent books lean on Wikipedia's singular example?

Ultimately, the book deals with generative technologies vs. appliances. After outlining some terrific arguments about security (or lack thereof) and discussing privacy 1.0 and 2.0 towards the end of the book, I believe that Zittrains's book is an effective warning against locking things down too tightly.

At the end of the day, as we all begin to rely on managed devices like iPhones, Tivos and Xboxes and managed services like Hotmail, Gmail and Flickr, the issue become two fold. First, these appliances and services have zero generativity. You can only customize them just as much as the manufacturer or provider allows thus limiting what we all can create that is new and unexpected.

Secondly, while appliances theoretically would/could be more secure, there are no guarantees, and what we give up with these appliances and services ultimately put us in a major position of weakness from both a data ownership and privacy standpoint.

For years I've railed against iPods because of this very concept. I HATE the fact that they control what formats they will allow played on the device and HATE even more that you can only purchase and manage music via iTunes on their terms. As we've seen recently when Yahoo and Wal-mart shuttered their music services, very bad things happen when the providers decide to close the service or change the rules of the game.

As for how this relates to my role at Microsoft it's perfectly aligned. The CIOs in our online community must certainly be thinking a lot about these issues, even if they haven't read this book. Controlling things from end to end is many an IT managers dream, yet what happens when generativity is turned off inside an organization and all you are left with is locked down appliances? I'm guessing that things end up more secure, though a bit less innovative.

For a terrific review by Cory Doctorow visit Boing Boing. Cory also points out that the book is downloadable via CC license.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Like Greg Grunberg

I really do. I liked him in Alias and love him in Heroes. Never saw Felicity. I'm just hoping he doesn't get Sylar to come split my head open and steal any of my powers after reading this post.

I've been following @greggrunberg on Twitter for a while now and really enjoy his updates. He seems like a normal, cool guy who happens to be an actor. I dig that about him. Just a few minutes ago, I spotted this update from him which promptly prompted me to write this post.
greggrunberg GREGGRUNBERG.COM I'm just sayin'!!!! http://www.greggrunberg.com/ -- I'm LIVE baby! Just went live and it's good to be live! GREGGRUNBERG.COM

I'm thrilled he has his own web site. I've had my own since God knows when and would never begrudge a celeb their own slice of cyberspace. Good on him. Good on him until I checked out his site that is.

Hey! What happened to the @greggrunberg guy that I like to follow on Twitter? Why is it that I cannot find, no matter where I look a link to his Twitter account or any of the photos that I know he's linked to before?

Here's a list of how his new site completely FAILS to match what he's doing so successfully on Twitter.

  • Typical celebrity website filled with professional photography and slick flash effects FAIL.
  • News section... ok, I'm hopeful as I click news, thinking of course, they are using Twitter to feed the news section, good idea! Nope. News = press releases. FAIL.
  • I click "Grunny" section - this must be it.. the guy has his own section on his own site, cool... hmm.. a bit better I think but still, over produced garbage. And still no twitter feed. About Us section however is required, B+.
  • Projects. Who cares, I already know, he's in Heroes and well, they already have an awesome site. Required though for any web site. B.
  • Photos. Holy crap! I found buried way down in the midst of a crap load of photos a link called Grunny on Twitter (I knew he had linked to some photos). More photos taken by Grunny himself. Too many photos though and not enough that appear to be taken by Grunny and friends. B.

In fact, here's my advice. Trash this piece of crap and go get a Wordpress blog. Make the blog and twitter the main homepage and bury the rest of the crap somewhere else.

  • Lastly, why do I need to register for a site like this? The bare minimum required would be to please list some benefits of registering AND put in big bold letters that you won't sell my info, trade my info or give my info to anyone under any circumstances. FAIL, FAIL, FAIL.

Nice try, you can do better (and your fans I think would appreciate it). Don't you love social media?

The same rules apply to brands as do celebs and obnoxious bloggers... be consistent, be authentic and be open to criticsm.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Role Playing in Immersive Worlds




I've been participating in a new community focused on the immersive internet called ThinkBalm. We did an in-world "role-play" a few weeks ago that despite the usual and significant user issues, technology hurdles and confusion worked out pretty well.

Erica Driver, the curator of the ThinkBalm community and a few community members (including me just a tiny bit) helped write a paper about the experience titled "Role-play redux: ‘Convince the curmudgeon.’” Visit the link to see more and download the pdf of the article.

I continue to be fascinated by immersive worlds for many reasons but continue to struggle with their business applicability because of significant user interface issues, training and technology hurdles. Consider me an early adopter!

Visit the ThinkBalm site to learn more about the community and getting involved.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Coach

My passion is coaching youth sports. I've been a coach ever since I was a camp counselor at 15 years old and I can often be overheard saying that one day... I'll be coach youth sports full-time. I wonder how that will happen.

In any case, I'm really into it lately and in addition to coaching my daughter's softball team, I'm coaching two basketball teams this winter. That means games Monday through Thursday with practices on Saturdays. There is so much good stuff a girl (or boy) can get out of a well coached team, that I tend to take it really seriously, putting in time to develop practice plans, setting goals and communicating with parents. Now, I'm only talking about 9, 10 and 11 year olds, but good practice habits and learning game strategy is critical at this stage of their development.

I want these girls to keep playing, even if in recreational leagues for a long time and to develop friendships and work habits that transcend a given sport and help them succeed in their lives. I know, big goals for a guy coaching 11 year olds...

I started blogging my thoughts on coaching on weplay (but recently moved to Wordpress) a while back and just realized that I hadn't really linked to it from this blog. So here you go...

If you are a parent or a coach, check out my blog every so often.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Squirrel, Inc.

I just finished reading a neat little book called "Squirrel Inc.: A Fable of Leadership through Storytelling" on a colleagues recommendation and really loved it.

In short, it's a neat little fable about a Squirrel with a great idea on how to save her company, Squirrel, Inc. She thinks the company needs to stop burying nuts and start storing them!

It's a quckie read but I took some key lessons in storytelling with me.
  • How do you persuade people to change?
  • How do you get people working together?
  • How do you share knowledge?
  • How do you tame the grapevine?
  • How do you communicate who you are?
  • How do you transmit values?
  • How do you lead people into the future?

Each chapter takes our hero through a different type of storytelling, each one optimized for the desired effects. It's a fun, quickie read that will leave you wanting to tell more stories!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm a PC

Microsoft bought the entire terminal corridor at JFK and I just so happened to have my flip with me. Silly little video, but hey, I'm silly.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

How Tiger Does It

Cross posted from my golf blog... I just finished reading a terrific book "How Tiger Does It" by Brad Kearns. It provides some great insights into Tiger's life and how he maintains his competitive edge. The book is much more interesting however, when read from a parent's point of view, I think.

The author talks a lot about kids and parenting (he must have his own!) and translating Tiger's winning ways into tools you can give your kids. The biggest takeway for me, across the board however is the idea that your child must be internally motivated (pure motivation), and that motivation must come from inside them.

My daughters both play sports (softball, basketball, soccer and golf) but never, ever practice on their own without being asked. Never. They do however, read, write and practice their instruments. My younger one draws pictures just because she feels like it. It's hard as a parent who knows that in order to get better, your kids have to practice - but the very act of pushing them to practice could be just the push your kid is looking for to quit. I'd prefer they keep playing casually instead of quitting because I've been an overbearing, winning obsessed parent.

The author points out "tips for raising a Tiger" towards the end of the book. I think they are worth listing here:
  1. Nurture your child's pure motivation and natural potential (in other words, don't project!!)
  2. Be a good caddie (help your child navigate, but let her take her own shots!)
  3. Place high expectations on your child (no for results, but honest, sportsmanlike and maximum effort in competition - direct praise at effort and behavior, not at ability or results)
  4. Apply the success formula (don't over do it, enforce expectations for effort and character and reduce emphasis on natural ability and winning)

The book is filled with great stories about Tiger's youth, his dad and mom's approach and full of quotes and bromides from the man himself. Well worth the time to read this book.

Full disclosure: I was not asked to do this review, I found the book in the library!

Marketing and Communities Conference Notes

I spent the day in NYC at the Forum One Marketing and Communities Conference (tag #moc2008) yesterday and had a pretty good time. I was happy to get out of my office dungeon for a bit and meet some new people. To follow the twitter stream, start here.

I don't have much time for a completely coherent blog post, but did take a lot of notes during the day. I organized them into a top X list (let's see how many are worth listing) and go from there. These are mostly in chronological order as I read down through my notes.
  1. Heather Gold was terrific (a bit like Sarah Silverman if you ask me). She's funny as hell and led a kickoff discussion. "Presentation as conversation" is what I wrote down.
  2. During that same session, this quote popped for me as well: "Vulnerability leads to connection." How true! My experiences managing online communities prove this over and over again. I can be scary to allow yourself to be vulnerable in an online community, but it goes a long way to proving that you are an actual human being.
  3. The party metaphor came up time and again during the day... the host role being key to welcome new members, clean up the mess and know who is coming back and who is not.
  4. People subscribe to people. True in most cases I think! Following institutions on Twitter for example is becoming more popular, but there is a real person behind there somewhere, isn't there? Maybe they are vulnerable tool.
  5. The more emotional investment community members have, the deeper the conversation.
  6. Offline communications is just as important as online communications when building a community. I tend to forget this myself.
  7. AMEX Members Project: Belinda Lang, the person from AMEX was refreshingly honest about her goals... "if it doesn't move the business, it doesn't matter." Yes! Clear goals win. Transparency wins.
  8. My god... the advertising barbarians are at the gates of community! As an industry, I advocate that we come up with a new word to describe these advertising based, transient, product focused micro sites and NOT call them communities. Please?
  9. I heard the phrase "we own [insert some large number] of customers. I hate, hate, hate this phrase. Brands that think they "own" customers deserve what they are about to get. Slapped.
  10. Another phrase I heard during one session focused on advertising and communities was "We don't want to be too intrusive." Wait... isn't advertising by definition intrusive. Shit, if you are going to do traditional advertising, why mess around. Go for it and intrude all you want. You're already across the line folks.
  11. Hypothesis for me to work on: Does the fact that a site (CIO Network) is free, make a negative or positive impact on whether or not members commit to the site? Hmmm.
  12. Issue to consider in B2B communities - how to best handle users who at times want to represent themselves, and at other times want to represent their company. One forthcoming site allows uses to click a box to change their "affiliation." Is that good enough?
  13. Community is becoming the new loyalty program, but the currency is different.
  14. A speaker, can't remember said something I couldn't agree with less. "The online world is not a mystery, it's really quite mature." EVEN if he/she was referring to the ad business online, he/she is dead wrong. It's not mature at all, and it is evolving so quickly that it requires a totally different mindset to be successful.
  15. The Mac and Cheese at lunch was amazing. I highly recommend it if you are ever at the Tribeca Grand in NYC.

Quick note - I failed miserably to note in my notes who said what which is why I can't attribute quotes to any one person in most cases. Lame, I know but I didn't even bring a laptop and minimized my twittering to try to stay in the moment and present during the day.

Another quick note - while I did send off a few tweets during the day, I was pretty appalled by a few folks who literally had their faces buried in their laptops the entire day. At breakfast, during breaks, at lunch, in sessions. Is this really accepted social behavior at conferences these days? I actually felt guilty sending a tweet at one point during a session and put my phone in my bag and zipped it away when I realized what I had done was rude.

Anyway... after attending a conference, I always go back through my notes to find 1 or 2 things I'll implement immediately:

  1. Community host needs to poke and prod members to participate. I've been doing this a bit, but need to turn up the noise with my key contributors.
  2. Find a way to reach out offline to key members (sure, it's connected to #1, but it is still important)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cognition

I ran across this little blurb in the 10/27/08 issue of BusinessWeek that I found endlessly interesting.

People, apparently differ radically on what makes things similar (from a study in Cognition). As a marketer, this really is fascinating. The study showed that about 50% of ~200 subjects defined similarly in a "categorical way," lumping does with cats because both are animals. The other half though more thematically, meaning that they paired dogs with bones instead for example.

The blurb points out a lesson for marketers: if you sell cake online, include "milk' in the search terms you buy!

The human mind continues to fascinate.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stand Up

Social Media Speaking Gig

Here are some of the details of my upcoming seminar/speaking thing. The basic gist is trying to outline the core differences b/w traditional and engagement marketing and then giving some good examples and strategies around both.

About Social Media
What exactly is Social Media? Social Media is media that users can easily participate in and contribute to, like blogs, message boards, forums, wikis and social networks. It’s dynamic and flexible, thrives on the notion of making connections and brings with it the power of every user on the planet. As marketers, we are used to carefully crafting and honing our key messages and measuring results. Social media turns that scenario upside down. Control is shared by all users, and feedback is immediate.

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding social networks these days and companies have been quick to get in on the action by establishing profiles on these web sites to promote their products and services. Online social networks attract millions of users a day and visits to these sites are up 14% from the year before.

The online health industry is also growing rapidly. Internet giants like Microsoft have put resources toward online medical records. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has entered the world of social media with The Health Care Scoop (www.thehealthcarescoop.com), with the tagline “Patient reviews from people like you.” HealthCentral, an online destination for medical information, links people with a particular disease to relevant doctors and blogger-patients. Revolution Health, founded by former AOL chairman Steve Case, aims to be a one-stop shop for health and well-being. It offers a variety of online tools and resources as well as CarePages, online support communities created by patients and caregivers. Services like Angie’s List and Zagat are providing opportunities for consumers to rate their physician and healthcare experiences online.

About The Work Session
Tapping the Power of Social Media to Advance Your Brand Agenda

In this virtual session, we will explore the rise of social media and social marketing. Marc will share information about how businesses and organizations are tapping into this powerful resource, its impact, and how we can get involved.

Key questions to consider as you prepare for the session include:
-How are organizations approaching social media and social marketing?
-How can you connect with and build relationships with consumers receptive to your messages?
-How do you create high levels of engagement, gain good customer insights and feedback?
-What types of tools are involved and which best meet your business objectives?
-How do you build your brandstream? (i.e. a consistent flow of content created by a brand)
-How do you deliver value and measure the effort?
-How can you use new media in combination with traditional marketing techniques to build your brand?
-How do you help your organization move from web 1.0 to web 2.0 (interactive content; engaging consumers in content creation and social interaction)?

The prospects of social media and social marketing for healthcare are compelling for us as marketing leaders, for our organizations and for health care as an industry.

Meet our Catalyst:
In his role as Lead Social Networking Strategist for Microsoft, Marc Sirkin focuses on building business-to-business communities in the Enterprise Marketing Groups. Since 2001, Sirkin has held executive and senior level marketing roles focusing on helping large international organizations benefit from digital marketing. His experience includes leading eMarketing efforts for The Lymphoma and Leukemia Society and the March of Dimes. Marc is a regular blogger and speaker at conferences that include the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, the Direct Marketing Association, and the Nonprofit Technology Network.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Best E-mail in a Long Time

I'm gonna ask you this only once. Do you or do you not know about the birds?

From: Prisament, Robert <RPrisament@birdistheword.com>
To: Marc Sirkin msirkin@yesthatstheword.com
Date: Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 10:14 AM
Subject: Important message regarding the word!

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And in case you are wondering what the hell I'm talking about:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Getting Back on the Speaking Gig Horse

I was asked to speak to a group of Healthcare CMOs about social media and marketing. In fact, I just had a prep call with them and I have lots of thoughts floating in my head right now.

In particular, I found myself really pushing hard on the distinction between traditional marketing and "new marketing."

When I talk about "new marketing," I'm referring to "conversations" and building customer communities. I've been thinking lately about the distinction between the two, and while to some of us it's fairly obvious, to others it's not so clear.

Traditional marketing includes direct mail, telephone, advertising and more. It also now includes ads on social media sites like Facebook and Myspace. It even includes in my own mind, much of what we call viral marketing. To me, traditional marketing is all about manipulating your customers to get them to buy your crap (that's my cynical, I'm wearing my conversation hat definition and I'm sticking to it!). BTW, traditional marketing extends to buying keywords on Google as well in case you were wondering.

The conversation stuff is less and less about "marketing" and manipulation. It's about having a dialogue with your customers, talking to them and with them about "stuff."

Stuff being... whatever they want to talk about. Even if that stuff isn't what you want them to talk about. If you try to control what they talk about, you've jumped the shark on the conversation and are now not building a community, but doing traditional marketing.

This tends to make it hard to distinguish true communities and communities that are just posing. At Microsoft for example, the CIO Network encourages folks to talk about whatever it is they want to talk about, even if that means taking a swipe at Microsoft or one of our products. I think it's great when one of our members has enough conviction and courage to bash away on our site. In my mind, that's telling us something important. It's having a customer tell us that he wants us to do better, and he's telling us how!

Traditional marketing can never deliver those sorts of responses to you. Ever.

The problem of course, is that you really have to commit to this idea of a conversation and not let your ego or your legal department (ha!) get in the way.

In any case, my talk to these CMOs will attempt to first make this distinction. Then I'll talk specifically about creating a culture of experimentation, success stories and a framework for how to think about conversational marketing. I'll also touch on how to add social media channels to your traditional marketing mix... although that's a topic that frankly, bores me to death. I'll try to load slides up on my slideshare site.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

MS Society

Someone over at the MS Society is paying attention. They've apparently asked for Andy Sernovitz to give a keynote speech and in doing so, Andy's sent out an e-mail presumably to a bunch of folks asking for the answers to 3 question. I just sent him mine, and decided to do a quickie blog post about it (I've been struggling to find stuff to blog about lately!).

Here was Andy's e-mail, my answers are bolded.

I'm giving a keynote speech to the National MS Society (http://nmss.org/) in November. I want to help them learn to earn great word of mouth, motivate volunteers, and raise money.

Please help:

1. Answer the following 3 questions and email me your answer

2. I'll blog all the replies, link to you, and share your ideas with all 1,500 participants at their annual conference

3. Blog about the whole thing when it's posted in a few weeks

Here we go:

1. To get more word of mouth for the National MS Society, they should try ...

> open source their fundraising efforts by building a robust community and giving them the tools and permission to raise money how they want to.

2. Here's an idea to get volunteers excited and active:

> collaborate with patients, families and doctors to create MS-pedia - the ultimate resource and guide to MS

3. The best way get bloggers talking about a cause is to ....

>do something completely out of left field and outrageous

Monday, September 29, 2008

20 Year Reunion

I had my 20th year high school reunion last Saturday night and it was a complete and total trip. On the way over, as I pulled into Bedford Hills, I realized that our prom song from 1988 was playing. Serendipity I guess.

Interestingly as the event approached, I had reconnected on Facebook with so many friends that I hadn't thought about in so many years. The memories had flooded back quickly, some things just stick in your brain for one reason or another.

I think the biggest question I had going to the event was to try to find out what imnpression people had of me from back then. I've been on such a crazy journey since graduating (as we all have I guess). What I realized is that while we've all grown up, we still retain some pieces sof who we were back then.

I found myself reconnecting with a certain set of people who for one reason or another I fell away from towards the end of high school. As the memories came back, I found myself really enjoying myself and wished that I had made a few different choices way back when.

It's hard not to have regrets in life, there are so many things I'd do differently if I could. But since I can't, I'll just say here that it was really, deeply good to reconnect, even if we never get a chance to hang out again.

I also learned that in the 5th grade, I got beat up (sort of) by a girl. I probably liked her and did something obnoxious to her. I got kicked and pushed down for it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Perspective Shifts

I was doing some office cleaning this morning and found a letter my daughter wrote to me a few years ago. It's all about how she wants to be me when she grows up (how sweet!).

It's a great letter.

Towards the end, she writes "I want to be 5'11" tall like my dad. I want to see the world like him."

What a statement. It powerfully reminded me just now about how important my most important job actually is.

It's amazing at how kids (conciously or unconciously) can make statements that hit you like a ton of bricks in such an innocent manner.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Spreading New Ideas...

I was pointed to a great little article by a colleague "The Challenge of Spreading A New Idea" on Fastcompany.com (they are still around?).

I love this framework and applied it to what I'm working on at Microsoft...

To spread a new idea, connect it to a familiar one, then give it a twist. Here are four examples.

Success: Cloverfield
Breakthrough: Blockbuster event movie shot in digital video
Message: Godzilla meets Blair Witch
Upshot: The film has grossed about $168 million worldwide on a $25 million budget.

(Read More examples)

Here's the CIO Network through this lens...

Jury's Out: The CIO Network
Breakthrough: An invitation only, private online network for CIOs to build peer relationships, talk about issues and get connected to Microsoft execs and product developers.
Message: Unique opportunity to connect with like minded strategic CIOs and get behind the scenes at Microsoft.
Upshot: Will CIOs actually participate in such a forum?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Book Notes: Wikinomics

Just finished reading Wikinomics while on vacation in Vancouver and I wanted to dump out some book notes before I get too far into my next book and forget it all.

This was a good book, and one that actually reinforced a lot of what I already think and know about mass collaboration. The case studies in books like these usually never disappoint, and this book was no exception with great examples in Goldcorp, Dell and Innocentive.

Late in the book, the authors drop an incredible quote from Internet Pioneer Vint Cerf that really says it all. Paraphrased, "The 3 golden rules of the Internet are that nobody owns it, everybody users it and anyone can add services to it." It's obvious I know, but these rules mean fundamentally that the Internet is a totally new beast, something different than any preceding communications channel in history. Obvious I know, but still great stuff!

The 4 principles that the authors (Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams) outline are openness, peering, sharing and acting globally. Trust me, the book goes into great depth on these 4 principles.

Mass collaboration seems to be less about complex technology (how simple is a wiki after all?) but more about mindset and culture. It has been interesting to see how the different organizations I've worked in have embraced and/or rejected mass collaboration, and not because the technology was too hard. Even at Microsoft, there is sometimes an unwillingness to use Live Meeting and/or Groove for different reasons that don't ever seem to be technology related (perhaps surprisingly).

For those readers that think mass collaboration isn't a real force in the marketplace, consider that Amazon derives 30% of it's revenue from 3rd party resellers, or that P&G has an ambitious goal of finding 50% of all new innovations from outside the company. It's real, and mass collaboration isn't going away.

I always enjoy Tapscott's book and this was no exception. Highly recommended reading for proof that all this web 2.0, collaboration stuff is very, very real in the marketplace.

Updated a few hours later...
Looking at my notes, I realized I left out the most important part of these short book notes. The closing line in the book really summarizes things for me as I move forward as a mass collaboration proponent. "Is your mind ready for wikinomics?" It seems like a trite question that plays off the title of the book. But I think the authors very specifically and intentionally left this signpost for us as a warning and a promise.

If your mind and your organizational culture isn't ready, wikinomics will be hard, if not impossible to work well, if at all.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Recurring Themes...

I keep coming back to this idea about how people recover from career mistakes and how they move on. I recently blogged about Gerald Levin, who moved on from a pretty big error he made while with AOL and I obsessed over J.K. Rowlings Harvard commencement speech about failure. I guess it's on my mind lately!

The latest installment of this story is a new article from Julie Wainwright, the former CEO from Pets.com. Yep, she was the sock puppet lady. It's fascinating to get an inside look at her thoughts and the aftermath which included a deep depression. I really love this article and the 5 mistakes. My favorite mistake is #3 "I stopped believing in myself." I can speeak from direct experience on this one and while fear was a part of my mistake, it isn't the entire story. I got caught in an odd circumstance at a past job and simply couldn't/wouldn't continue to believe in myself.

The honesty and authenticty in this article is like a breath of fresh air to me.. why can't more marketing copy be written like this? Why?!

While you are reading the article - take a peek at the comments. When was the last time a "marketing blog" post generated such amazing words of encouragement and love? (Hint, the answer is never). Also notice for the record, that Julie continues to reply to many of the comments and posts.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Got Perspective?

I was going to blog about Google's new Virtual World and while I was installing it, I was flipping through the latest issue of Business Week. Rather than blab on about Livey (at first glance, it looks like yet another odd attempt to create a usable virtual space), I'd much prefer to talk about the interview Maria Bartiromo did with Jerry Levin.

If you remember your dot com history lessons, Mr. Levin is the guy who was pushed into retirement after the Time Warner/AOL disaster. What I didn't remember, was that in 1997 his son Jonathan was robbed and killed by a former student. I'm always curious and interested to see how really successful people deal with tragedy, and what becomes of them.

One of Maria's first quesitons was "What have you learned in the past half-dozen years that you didn't in all those years climbing to the top?"

Levin's answer stopped me in my tracks. He talks about his relationships and perspective being in a "rather parochial zone of interest." This is so interesting because I feel that lately, I've been getting caught up in a very small, insular world focused on social networking and marketing.

Levin went on to say "If something didn't touch on any of the businesses of Time Warner, then I didn't have any interest." It's natural I think to be focused, but when you start to become too focused, you also lose some valuable perspective.

Finally, Levin saying in a BusinessWeek interview that "it's probably helpful to invoke the feminine principle and be compassionate, empathetic, understanding, give respect to everybody, don't get deluded by the natural hierarchy. And don't get too self-satisfied that you have all the answers" is astounding. It's too bad that it took a life disaster to realize these simple truths.

The interview is great - Levin talks about trying to "find a calm, meditative state every day. With the tempo of executive life, that seems almost impossible, but it's probably the most important thing that you can do." This seems like great advice,sort of like not checking your e-mail incessantly... seemingly impossible, but important to consider.

That's all nice and good, but to the heart of the matter... Bartiromo asked Levin "Do you have any regrets in terms of the way you lived your life in Corporate America?"

His answer, if honest, is absolutely perfect.

I think I'm the poster child for not paying attention to the most important
thing in the world. The death of my son was probably the pivotal experience of
my life.

Everyday since taking my new job with Microsoft I've tried to remember the most important things in my own life. Working from home has given me tremendous opportunities to be more inovlved with my wife and my children and it's vastly improved my perspective and quality of my life. I try to keep my eyes and heart open and to listen both professionally and personally. I may not get it right every time but I think I'm on the right track.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Quotable

I was digging around the wayback machine at some old web sites I managed and found this funny quote on an old Sirkin.com homepage...

"Everything is different, but the same... things are more moderner than before... bigger, and yet smaller... it's computers... San Dimas High School football rules!"

Anyone remember what movie that is from (heck yes I know the answer).

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Future is Theirs

My daughter graduated 5th grade today and I was really blown away by what some of these kids have planned for the future. Brain surgeons, authors, athletes, aid workers and more. The ceremony was terrific and despite me having very bittersweet feelings about seeing my daughter graduate, it was a really good day.

Earlier this year, I taught a Junior Achievement class to my daughter's 5th grade class. It was my 4th time doing this sort of volunteerism, and I continue to really love the experience. As with most volunteer activities, I started out thinking this would be a great way to give something back. In the end though, it's me that gets the most out of the time I think.

This year's class wrote me notes after our sessions ended. While it's always nice to get a thank you, these notes really went over the top. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to show some of these kids more about business and to get them excited about their own futures.

Stephen wrote "It was cool to see how much of a difference unit production and mass production worked. Thank you so much for talking with us about business."

James wrote "I learned that you can find ads almost anywhere."

Anthony wrote "I never knew there were different typs of advertising. I just thought advertising was advertising!"

Jen wrote "When I grow up I want to be a sole proprietor and open a nail salon called Jen's Tens."

Alison wrote "I really enjoyed the toy store lesson because it showed me how a business really needs a lot of different people and equipment. I found the advertising lesson interesting because now when I see a commerical on TV I try and figure out what type of ad it is."


Not only do I think Junior Achievement has a great model, I think it's a super way to bring real world expertise and really rich extra content into the classroom. I can't wait until next year...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Podcasting

I recorded my very first podcast for the Microsoft CIO Network yesterday, finally joining the ranks of bloggers who have tried their hand at podcasting.

I was initially nervous about the interviewing/conversation, but got over that quickly. On the way back to my office, I started to worry about how I sounded, and how I would edit the audio.

I think I sounded OK, but need lots of work on how I interview and how fast I talk (I need to slow down a bit). I used Audacity to quickly edit the podcast and used the Internet Archive to find a snippit of sound to use as an intro bumper for the podcast. I'll share the final podcast here if I can (not sure I can use it in public).

What I really love about this way of developing content for a community is it's potential to be really authentic and informal. I'd like to continue to develop and refine a format that will result in a 20 minute conversation that really gives listeners some insights into the topic(s) and the persion (CIO) I'm talking with. Ad a model, I love how PBS does it's CEO Exchange and of course, Sundance's Iconoclasts.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Here Comes Everybody

I just finished reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky (@clayshirky on Twitter). I took a bunch of notes and wanted to pull out some key things are really impact the development of social network and apply them to what I'm working on at Microsoft.

First up is the notion of "publish, then filter" - with the massive amounts of information being published today both online, broadcast and offline, filtering has become the real issue. As I think about my own ways of consuming information, it's the filters that are available to me that make big differences. For example, Tivo's search functionality, wish list/keywords and swivel search has revolutionized what I watch on TV. Similarly, I consume almost all of news and technology data via RSS feeds from a browser. I still read the NYTimes on Sunday, but I'm not convinced that I do it for any real reason other than I think I ought to.

Emerging platforms continue to accelerate the publish then filter trend - sites like Meetup.com allow users to "filter" by looking at participation. Interestingly, this means that publishers are going to fail a heck of a lot more than they are used to - there's just too much out there for groups, content, and information to succeed at the same rate they did in the past. This failure thing is going to be hard for lots of traditionally thinking companies - it's not in their DNA to embrace failure. I've seen this personally so much in my career in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors.

The open source movement provides a pretty good example of this in motion. Open source movements have no employees, no plan, no nothing really. It's not an organization, it's an ecosystem. The book points out in a blow my mind moment, that open source doesn't reduce the likelihood of failure, it reduces the cost of failure. This massive reduction in transaction costs (Coasan theory) is at the core of the book and is affecting companies across the board.

Shirky lays out a very compelling argument around how technology has enabled us to rapidly create new groups, and populate them with people who formerly would never be able to congregate (either offline or online). The top list of groups on meetup.com includes things like Pagans, Witches, Tori Amos and Slashdot. This, as Shirky puts it, is unlike any other group list, anywhere.

My favorite chapter of the book however is "Promise, Tool, Bargain." Shirky lays out a foundation for how to think about constructing communities. He's careful not to call this a recipe, because while every community needs a promise, tools and a bargain, the mix of interactions is simply too complex to prescribe anything other than a framework. That said, the order of promise, tool, bargain does matter.

The promise creates a basic desire to participate. In my case, the Microsoft CIO Network makes both an explicit and implicit promise to users that we'll connect our CIO's to each other, and give them new ways to access Microsoft insiders. Getting the promise right however is quite different than traditional marketers are used to. The distinction is that the marketing isn't done by us for them (our users), but is done with our users in collaboration. That's a trick you shouldn't try at home.

Tools are obviously what allow members to get involved. Here's where things get tricky (and interesting). CIO's aren't generation Y/millennials in how they use online technologies. While we do have a few members that blog and tweet, the majority just aren't contributors to online forums and spaces. We initially chose a message board/blog tool, but have recently started to add things like teleconference calls, interviews, audio podcasts and in-person events. I do believe we're breaking some new ground here in explicitly trying to build an online community of C-level execs - so we've got our work cut out for us.

Bargain is the implicit bargain among users - it's the culture and the expectation. In our case, I believe it's the humanization of Microsoft. That feels odd to say (and is a tricky subject), but I do believe that if we get this right, members will have an unprecedented doorway to us to help us craft products, deliver strategy and have a conversation with our customers. It's also why I took the job. The opportunity to help a company like Microsoft try something like this is a once-in-a-life opportunity.

There is so much more that I want to write about this book but for now, that's it. Get a copy and read it!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kids Say (and Write) the Darndest Things

My 10 year old wrote this poem for a school project. As I was reading, I was getting more and more alarmed. Had I misread her? Am I a bad parent? Read the poem, and then find out what it's really about at the end.

Over the Wall

The world was spinning
Around and around and around
It left me behind.

The tragedy crashed down on me
Like rocks falling in an ocean.
It broke the surface and stayed below.

Waves lapped against the shore
As people tried to mend my heart

While sadness twisted it
Into crazy shapes.
As pretzel. I'm still confused.
A worm. I don't understand.
A bird. I try to fly above my depression.

It's like a wall, a great looming wall.
It crushes my heart.
It crushes my dreams.

Over the wall I climb.
High, high, high, until the wall is nothing but a memory.
If I fall, I go right back up.
High, high, high.
Into the sky.

So I'm reading this (it was printed and mounted on a purple piece of construction paper) and thinking oh my god, my baby girl has some real issues. When I asked her what the poem was about, she told me it was about her grandfather, who recently died.

I just about fell apart myself and hugged her, thankful that she is in fact, a superb human being.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Failure

J.K. Rowling's commencement speech at Harvard really struck a nerve with me. In particular, her bits about failure and not pretending to be anything other than what she was.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
It's all here for you to read and/or watch.

Read the entire thing if you get a moment, this is one heck of a speech.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Book Notes; Groundswell

I just finished Groundswell: "Winning in a world transformed by social technologies." Groundswell is a much reviewed and commented on book, so instead of my normal book notes, I figured I'd provide some links for you to follow.

The core premise of the book is that much of what's happening in marketing today revolves around creating "conversation" or "social spaces" where brands (er, brand managers) can have conversations with their customers. There's been tons and tons written about this in the past few years, but Groundswell provides a terrific framework that really helps clarify a lot of what many of us haven't been able to articulate to date.

In addition to the framework, the authors have also created a profile tool which allows you to profile your customers to see how likely it is that they are partiicpating in the new world of marketing and online conversations.

As you'd expect, there is also a discussion board where you can jump in yourself to chat about strategy, and marketing tactics.

If you want more.. check out delicious "groundswell" tags and/or "groundswell" on tweetscan to see who is tweeting about the book.

Like most books of this kind, Groundswell includes some terrific case studies and interviews like this one, that one and all the other ones. Like most books of this kind, Groundswell also suffers from bouncing back and forth between trying to please and inform noobs and salty old dawgs.

For my money, the framework alone is worth the price of admission.

And.. here it is:


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Marketing Posts Coming Soon.. but Little Brother for now

With all my recent travels, I've had a chance to read some great stuff lately including "Sea of Monsters," "Infected" by the sick and twisted Scott Siglar and most recently, "Little Brother" by the astoundingly terrific Cory Doctorow.

I was prompted to post about Little Brother after reading a book review on Sci-fi.com who gave the book an A-. It's also got 4 stars on Amazon (23 reviews). I'd give it a solid A- as well, the imagination and use of current technologies really blew me away. I also have to throw in the fact that Doctorow uses the XBox as main character and plot device (I work at Microsoft) which I found hysterical, and totally plausible.

If you are a geek, this book will have you nodding all the way through - from the ARG references and the fact that the characters end up LARPing their way to a terrific ending. If you aren't a geek (or if you are older than 30 and are curious), you'll be amazed at how emerging tech can (and will) continue to change the world around us. I have a feeling that in 20 years, we'll look back at "Little Brother" the way some of us look back at "True Names" and just shake our heads.

BTW... Siglar's book "Infected" has about 3 or 4 scenes in which I literally had to drop the book and shake an image out of my head. The man is sick - and terrifically awesome. If you haven't listened to the Earthcore podcast (an earlier Siglar work), get on it man! Infected has perhaps the best acknowledgements in any book I've read as well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

R.I.P. Pa

My grandfather died yesterday at 2 PM. He was a stunningly important figure in my life, even as we spent less and less time together. I've been in a fog since I heard yesterday and I wanted to write down some lessons I learned from him and post them here as a way to memorialize my relationship with him. As the now eldest male on my side of the family (both grandfathers and my dad have all passed), the world ahead looks strange. It's a perspective I think better left for later in life. But as with all things, I'll find a way through it all.

My grandfather, known as "Pa" (not pawwww, I'm from NY, not Tennessee) was a pretty amazing guy in many ways. Pa had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. He had a slicing, mean streak in him too and his sense of humor could be biting for sure. I always appreciated it for what it was - a true ability to see something and then laugh at it. It is still something I want to be able to do more readily.

Pa was a salesman in both the "sell ice to an eskimo" Zig Ziglar way and in the sad Willy Loman way. Later in life, he sold trinkets and goods on the streets of NYC. It never seemed like he was telling the truth until one day we actually saw him in midtown Manhatten. He was holding court, sitting on a chair smiling and talking to everyone and anyone. When he noticed us, his face lit up and he immediately started to introduce us to everyone and tried to give us stuff off the tables. He practically forced the pretzel guy to hand over his goods. He was so generous with me. When I was a child, he would never come with 1 present - it had to be a dozen or it just didn't seem like enough to him. I wish I was more generous of spirit. It's a lesson I'm managing to miss more often than not.

He also taught me in an unintentional way to be very open and accepting of people. I always hated how he seemed to be a real life parody of Archie Bunker and even at a very young age, I can remember rejecting that perspective. It's funny (and a little sad) that this was so. But it was what it was - and in the end, I'm better off for it.

I am sure the fog will lift eventually and life will go back to the daily grind, the rush and blogging, twittering and work. For now though, I just feel like sitting quietly by myself.

The post where I briefly return to non-profit marketing...

If you like Seth Godin and/or are interested in non-profit marketing, check out this online chat from the Chronicle.

My favorite question and answer:

Question from Tennessee Nonprofit:
Are brochures dead?

Seth Godin:
and buried

Queue the looney tunes music...that's all folks...

Clay Shirky: Where Do They Find The Time?

This video is stunningly good and thoughtful. Enjoy.

Anyone who seriously and academically claims that the sitcom is social lubricant under which the the wheels came off the enterprise (i.e. society) must be reposted as much as possible.

Makes me feel better for being such a d0rk.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

UPDATED: How Does "Social Technology" Affect Business?

I was going to leave myself a comment, but instead opted to update this post (updated 5/21/08)

The panel went really well - but I changed some of the content as I was taking the train down to the city from Bridgeport. I ended up going with 4 broad trends or factors that are driving the use of social networking and tools within the enterprise.

1. Consumers technology is invading the enterprise
2. Employees have an insatiable need for data, self-service tools and the ability to collaborate
3. Technology is fundamentally driving innovation
4. Generational shift

I think it went well and I hope to re-post video once it is available.

Here's the original, unchanged post:

As I mentioned in my previous post and on Twitter, I'm doing a panel this Friday at NYU. I'm on what looks to be a terrific panel titled "The Digital Future: What Social Networking and Marketing Tools Mean for Businesses and Entrepreneurs."

I'm guessing that my take will be slightly different than my fellow panelists, I'm assuming they'll be talking about the consumer space being from big agencies, Meetup.com and MTV. My focus is, and latest interest is looking at how social networking and marketing tools mean inside the firewall. It's a different spin, and one ripe for a lot more exploration and attention.

I've spent some of my day today going over what I'm going to say regarding this topic and have come up with some key points. Let me know what you think.

1. Consumers and web technologies are quickly and powerfully spilling over into the enterprise
Stories in Business Week about Apple's invasion of the enterprise is just the latest, but think back for a moment the last time that you took a new job. I always have that scary moment when I think, "oh man, I hope they aren't blocking IM, Youtube or Facebook." Not because I want to fool around, but because those tools and sites are critical to keeping me connected to my network and to the information I need as a marketer to get my work done. The iPhone is just the latest consumer technology to come knocking on IT and the enterprise door, and this time, consumer adoption is all but forcing a reaction from IT departments. Businesses can no longer afford not to let these tools and technologies inside - if for nothing else, employee mutiny (and illicit workarounds and/or hacks).

2. Insatiable need to access data, self-service and to collaborate with each other
Business Intelligence, dashboards and metrics; can you imagine running a business without these? It wasn't so long ago that deploying these types of system were either too complex or too expensive. Not so any more and not because it's suddenly cheap to develop a BI solution. Employees and their managers have an unquenchable thirst for data these days and it's a trend that is most certainly accelerating.

Meanwhile, self-service is a hallmark of the "new web" and is something that is easy to take for granted. It was just 6 years ago when I had my first non-profit job and was told there was no way in the world that we'd allow donors to manage their own data on a web site. How quaint!

As for collaboration, I read today that Wetpaint is growing like mad and has something like 900,000 wikis. That's a lot of "wiki" going on in a world where I'm guessing not so many of your managers or executives have ever even heard that term.

3. Technology is driving innovation
How dare a marketing guy make such a statement! At least I put it at #3! Seriously though, this one is simple and easy to see. Advances in technology combined with ever more savvy users is driving innovation at astounding rates. This applies across the board in both the enterprise and consumer spaces and is just amazing. The coolest thing you saw 6 months ago is old hat by now.

4. Within the enterprise, social technology is forcing enterprise IT departments to deploy ever more flexible, scalable and complex systems that put people at the core, not systems
As I was thinking about this panel and talking with friends about this issue it struck me that "social networking" or the broader "social systems" within an enterprise isn't what has changed. Organizations have always had complex social systems but have never had tools and technologies that have laid them bare for all to see. This exposure is forcing IT and enterprises to think about these previously hidden hierarchies and relationships. What consumer applications like Myspace, Facebook and Twitter have done is to put people at the core and circle everything else around them. I remember a time not so long ago when IT systems were about data and processes and completely ignored users, profiles, collaboration and reputation.

That's what I have for now... thoughts?