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What next for Social Business? Patchwork Elephant Event Report

As part of London's Social Media Week we put on an event called Social Business – The Patchwork Elephant Revisited asking "What next for Social Business?".  We were kindly sponsored by our friends here at and we introduced the event and the speakers in an earlier post.  The idea was to get 8 different perspectives on where we are at, and where we go next, with using social and collaboration tools "inside" the business to add value and work more effectively.  Why is the "Social" word seen with such suspicion by some executives in the C-suite?  With the explosion of social media use in marketing or customer support reaching out of the organisation, why aren't more companies using it all over their organisations?  We believe change is happening, but why aren't we further forward with "Social Business"?

A few weeks after our event, Chris Heuer did a guest post on Brian Solis' blog that moved in to the same territory we covered asking Social Business is Dead! Long Live What’s Next! and highlighted the problem with:
"While the ideas behind the moniker are invaluable in defining the future of work, most large companies simply . ...

The Cloud's 5 Key Challenges for the ISV CTO

Back on 26 April I was asked to present "5 Key Challenges for the ISV CTO and How to Beat Them!" at a Ciklum seminar for ISVs that intended to deliver a hype-free conversation among CTOs, Chief Technical Architects and other key executives grappling with the journey to the cloud.  My slides for the session (see below) are already on Slideshare, but they are mostly visual, so I decided to do this  comprehensive (that means long right? - Ed)  blog write up following the slide sequence as a companion piece.  I was in good company, because the other speakers were Jimmy Gasteen of Precursive, Liam Hogan of OpenText and Melissa di Donato of  My pitch was intended to do three things:
  • Give my perspective on the current state of the Cloud landscape
  • Offer my 5 key challenges for the ISV CTO in moving to the Cloud
  • Leave the audience with some practical ideas to take action straight away
The current IT landscape is pretty cloudy.  IT providers are branding whatever product they have that happens to run in a datacentre somewhe as "Cloud" ...

Social Business at IBM's Hopper Collaboration Diner

This week I was invited by IBM (and Ogilvy PR) to join in the collaboration debates at the Social Business Expo, a new strand of the Unified Communications Expo at Olympia .  This is not an event I would normally attend, covering everything from phone handsets through VoIP to tele conferencing, but I'm sure the social business component of ths show will get even bigger next year.  The attraction was to be part of what IBM is doing, which moves a long way from your typical steel, white and blue corporate show stand.  Their event was themed around recreating the late night downtown diner scene depicted in Edward Hopper's famous Nighthawks painting from the 40s.  It represents loneliness and alienation.  IBM are the sponsor, but their partner Collaboration Matters came up with the concept, created and hosted the stand.  The front of the cafe was peopled with actors who remained in character throughout both days, and who alternated between the original solitary view, and using smart phones, iPads and Macs to collaborate and connect with people.  Each character had their own Twitter identity so we could interact and break through the social isolation. ...

Amazon's Kindle Fire diverges the Tablet market

In his book The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin called divergence the driving force that creates a new species.  Last week Amazon enhanced their Kindle range of e-readers, but also applied some divergence to the tablet market by extending in to a new sub-category of mobile tablet devices with the Kindle Fire.  I think it's going to be huge and spell a lot of trouble for Android tablets from the likes of Motorola, HTC and Samsung, and probably BlackBerry's PlayBook too.  Up to now these "me too" devices haven't put much of a dent in the Apple iPad's market leading dominance.  This particular step by Amazon is a flanking move on Apple, but in itself it won't harm iPad sales much.  Amazon is going to take a very strong position at the bottom end of the tablet market, and whatever their next step is things are getting interesting.  Let me explain a little.

Al and Laura Ries applied Darwin to marketing to explain how product categories diverge with their excellent 2004 book The Origin of Brands.  In a follow on article for AdAge, Al wrote:
"In Darwin's words, "nature favors the extremes." The "sweet spot" of a market is an illusion that soon .. ...

Social Media Week London - more out than in

Social Media WeekEarlier this month, starting February 7, Social Media Week ran in 9 cities, with plenty of events running in London.  I watched some of the live streams from Likeminds based events that sounded very good in terms of content although they hit some broadcast problems, kept in touch via the Twitter hashtag and then I dipped in in person on Friday 11.   The networking and meeting friends was excellent, but the content was variable.  My impression of the week was too heavy an emphasis on outward facing social media marketing, social networking and influencing but very little on how social media tools can help organisations do better or teams work more effectively.  In my opinion that emphasis needs to change. Too much fluffy social media marketing and not enough about getting things done.

I started at Talk Talk, with an event explaining the business of blogging. The event had Andy Bargery of  Klaxon Marketing and founder of London Bloggers Meetup providing top tips for business blogging success (@andybargery on Twitter), Lucy Payne from Pass It On Media talking about blogger outreach and blogger engagement (@lucypayne) and Phil Szomszor of  ...

Zen in the Art of the Elevator Pitch

A touch of Zen?
What has an elevator pitch got to do with Zen?  Well good presentation is all about learning to let go of your inhibitions and achieving absolute focus on the objective by keeping things simple, eliminating all the distracting detail along with the bad communication habits you might have.  So take the Zen approach to pitching.   Penny Jackson and I put together some communication exercises and questions for entrepreneurs, start ups and mobile developers to workshop the "pitch" topic at Over The Air 10 some 4 months ago.  We did the workshop version back on September 11 (see handout below).  Here's our blog version.

What is an elevator pitch?
Well, the Wikipedia definition says:

"An elevator pitch or elevator speech is an overview of a product, service, person, group or organization, or project and is often a part of a fundraising, marketing communications, brand, or public relations program.  The name "elevator pitch" reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver an elevator pitch in ...


Twitter is 4 today

A few months back on the 19th of November 2009 NESTA, as part of their Silicon Valley comes to the UK  sequence of events, televised a discussion called "Social Media: A Force for Good?".  The panel was  our very own national treasure, actor, QI master and twitterphile  Stephen Fry, Biz Stone the Founder and Chief Executive of Twitter, and Reid Hoffman the Founder and Chief Executive of LinkedIn (you can see what they said below).  The proceedings were moderated by NESTA's own Chief Executive Jonathan Kestenbaum,  and in his introduction he said:
"It feels like there was never a world before Twitter"
Well 4 years ago today, this was the first ever tweet from Jack Dorsey (via Mashable):

As Biz Stone alludes to in the NESTA session, the idea of using some form of SMS messaging between groups came out of a brainstorming session while they were all working on something else that was going so well for ODEO.  At first they dropped the vowels from the name in common with a trend  for web 2.0 services started by Flickr.   Today four years ago was when they started testing....

In Search of the Obvious - cutting through today's marketing mess

When I first tweeted that Jack Trout's new book "In Search of the Obvious" had arrived from Amazon, my mate @euan suggested his (excellent) blog is actually easy to find.  He called it "The Obvious" because when he started writing about the application of new technology and social media in organizations, he felt that, actually, he was saying pretty obvious things - even though they are important, and often missed by the many.  Jack Trout's book has a similar theme around today's complex marketing mess and era of killer competition that we now live in.  A good marketing strategy should be founded on an obvious idea that makes common sense, when too much of today's marketing messages try to be clever, and complex, with advertising that is more like entertainment.

If you haven't read Jack Trout, you have been missing something.  Jack Trout and Al Ries have written some of the best and most influential marketing books of the last 25 years.  They wrote Positioning, and Marketing Warfare, and the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.  Al went off to write some excellent books with his daughter Laura, and Jack carried on with things like Differentiate or Die. ...

Does a picture paint a thousand words?

I've been spending a lot of time in the last few weeks thinking about the basics of presentations combined with how you get the positioning and messaging for your product right.  To help I've been reading Jack Trout's In Search of the Obvious, a marketing book which is all about making sure you focus your strategy on what is simple and obvious rather than clever and ingenious.  We are bombarded by clever and entertaining advertising these days, but does it really sell the product?  I'll do a review of the book here shortly, but it's good.

So two things jumped out at me this week.  The first was a section in Trout's book about the proverb "A picture paints a thousand words".  The second was a post highlighted to me by @solobasssteve  from Mike Smith - "Narrative is important in technical presentations".  It reminded me telling a story is important in any presentation.  Trout, on page 129-131 of the book suggests that actually, the ear is more important than the eye in picking up the message, and that this saying from Confucius is a popular but misguided preconception most of us, particularly in marketing, have.  He rightly points out ...

Does AccountingWEB get SaaS?

AccountingWEBLet me start this post by saying I'm a big fan of AccountingWEB (in the UK, I don't particularly follow the US edition).  For the accountants in business and in practice or anyone interested in the sector it's one of the key resources to read - they cover everything from tax to technology, but it's the deployment of technology and innovation within the profession that is my particular interest.  The fact that it has blog like capabilities where you can easily comment on articles is great.  The Any Answers section has been a great resource over the years, where accountants or anyone can ask questions (anonymously if they want) and get direct advice from the community.  Like any online community they are subject to the 90-9-1 rule, where 90% of the audience just lurk and consume, with 1% doing most of the talking.  The recent major revamp of the platform has smartened things up very nicely, dramatically improved the search mechanism (which for a period before was almost useless), and added discussion groups which have the potential to be a good forum for debating some of the key issues.  They have 63,000 or more subscribers (it's free to  register,...