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What do Apple, Twitter and Facebook all have in common?


appletwitterfacebook                    linkedin

IBM is doing some interesting things to blur the line between consumer and business computing and the pace they are moving at has accelerated like a Mad Max roadster on nitro.  In the past year they have joined forces with Twitter, Facebook, and most notably, Apple.  The partnerships all bring together complimentary products and services. The venture with Apple, in particular, is worth paying attention to. Apple has virtually no formal enterprise solutions, yet they still dominate the business world with mobile devices. IBM on the other hand, has MobileFirst, their set of mobile solutions for business.  Meanwhile, IBM  has no mobile or desktop hardware and OS, so it must rely on other vendors to provide that foundation. Combining the solutions from Apple and IBM makes for a compelling case against against Microsoft and Google. The one partnership that seems to be missing is LinkedIn.

Add to these partnerships with consumer-focused companies, IBM is doing some consumer focus of its own. They have just released IBM Verse, a new online email application intended to compete with the likes of Hotmail and Gmail, at least to get consumer adoption, with the intentions that it will become the first choice for business too.  While Verse is in the early stages, a steady stream of features are being added on a weekly or monthly basis.
All of these signs lead me to believe that after all these years of analysts and business partners urging and pleading, IBM finally recognizes that it needs to win the consumer first in order to win the business.
They have stepped up their marketing efforts at the same time, which is a treat for business partners.  Who knew that for several years now IBM has posted the largest revenue of  cloud services? (even over Amazon Web Services)
Yes, they still have work to do in marketing their web services.  Often I give demonstrations of IBM Connections Cloud, an ecosystem of software services comparable to Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Work, and I always get several people in the group asking “Why are they keeping this a secret?”

One final step IBM is taking is in making their solutions more attractive to small business, not just enterprise-scale organizations. Their solutions make a powerful case for businesses of all sizes now. I think the next year is going to be game-changing for IBM.  The surveys from 3 years ago are actually proving out.  IBM is proving why it was named one of the Four Horsemen of technology companies.

IBM partners with Twitter
IBM partners with Facebook
IBM expands partnership with Apple

How IBM is raising the stakes with Social Business right in Microsoft’s back yard.


IBM is coming to Seattle to talk about Social Business!
See the event schedule. The event is March 5.

Did I have anything to do with this?  Not that I’m aware of.  But I am glad to see IBM finally recognize the Seattle area market is tired of having no options besides Microsoft to choose from.  Like everywhere else, businesses here like innovation and they like competition.

So from the makers of Watson, the computer that beat the champions on Jeopardy! and the perennial leader in new patents awarded, comes the innovation of Social Business.  This is a game changer in business communications technology much like email, Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing have been.  IBM has the first and only legitimate offering in this new market.  IBM recognizes their leadership in this market and is making it a point to let the world know:
– What is Social Business
– How businesses are using social technologies to drive business value: reduce costs, accelerate communications, increase collaboration inside and outside the organization
– A path for integrating Social Business into your existing systems, regardless of what brand it is and regardless of the size of your company.

Did I mention IBM is doing this in only 3 locations in the United States and one of those places is Seattle, Washington?
If you work with a team or company of more than about 5 people, it is worth your time to see what they are doing.
Read more about what will be presented.
This will also be an opportunity to network with peers and discuss with others how Social Business has transformed their companies.  The ROI comes quickly and the metrics are compelling.  If you can’t attend in person you will miss out on the networking with everyone else, but they also have a session available online.  Be sure to register.

Slideshare: 5 Tips for presenting to Executives


Everyone is a salesperson. Understanding this one fact could have the biggest impact on your career advancement.

Check out this article and short slideshare presentation on presenting to executives.

Whether you know it or not, whether you want to be one or not, you are a salesperson.  Don’t think so?  Ever had a job interview?  You were selling yourself.  You might find yourself in a meeting discussing a new project.  You had to sell your idea or opinion.  How about at home where you need to convince your partner the family needs a new car?  Shoppers coming to visit your garage sale?  Yes, even though your official title may never come close to salesperson, everyone finds themselves in situations of selling on a regular basis.

I think I.T. professionals are particularly challenged by this.  We are accustomed to working with computers.  They are predictable.  As Spock would say, “pure logic”.  So dealing with the unpredictable nature of people can be frustrating.  If you fit this description, set your Javascript manual down for a few weeks and pick up a book on marketing.  You might be surprised that there is actually logic to the concepts.

There are two books I particularly like that cover this subject: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini and Neuromarketing: Understanding the “Buy Buttons” in your Customer’s Brain by Patrick Renvoise and Christophe Morin. (Terrible title, but great book).  These books combined have a wealth of insight.  These books and slideshare on the topic will help you understand where executives are coming from and how to give them the information they need in a manner that will maximize your impact and value.

Apple Dominates In Seattle With 81% Mobile Market Share


I have been extremely busy lately, spending much of my time working on preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam (which I passed on Friday!), taking a class on entrepreneurship and small business management, and working on applying this knowledge in a practical way, at the sacrifice of my blog and sleep. But I thought I would take a quick break from my break to drop a few links for my MacFriends and to illustrate just how much this region is just like everywhere else when it comes to computer preferences.

Apple iOS Dominates Even In Seattle With 81% Market Share For Mobile Web Browsing

If you recall back in November 2010, I posted this article on the grand opening of Microsoft’s store here in town.  Well Apple responded by moving their store to a much larger space and in a dominating position upstairs from the Microsoft store. The first picture in my article is actually taken from what is now the view from the front of the Apple store looking down on the Microsoft store. Check out these articles. I will get some photos posted sometime when I find time.

Apple to move Apple Store Bellevue Square, double its size, cast shadow over Microsoft’s copycat store

Apple Digs at Microsoft With Bellevue Store Relocation

Now back to my studies.

Cheers,
-David, PMP

BlackBerry Business Cloud Services: The truth behind the story from one who knows


There is a lot of talk going around about BlackBerry Business Cloud Services  on various blogs:  Paul Farris’ Blog   Volker Weber’s blog
First, let me say, unless you work(ed) for Microsoft or RIM, this is totally irrelevant and transparent.  BlackBerry support has been available with Office365 for years.  The big deal here is that RIM finally finished their cloud solution which was code-named “Contrail”.  This has been long in the making.  It’s not insider news, it’s just that few people noticed it when n4bb.com published it back in March 2011.

All it means is that instead of those BES servers sitting in Microsoft’s data centers, they will be sitting in RIM’s data centers.  So what’s the big deal?  It’s all in the cloud, so you don’t care where the servers sit.  What’s more, this doesn’t really apply to all of Office365, only the standard edition for smaller customers.  The bigger customers are hosted in dedicated environments and they won’t be moving their BES services for awhile.  But it doesn’t matter.  You won’t notice any difference and the transition is completely invisible to the customer, save that as it is RIM’s product, they will probably be more responsive to upgrades to the latest version and more savvy in troubleshooting issues.  This is really more a positive press opportunity than anything for a company overdue for some good news.

If there were anything even mildly interesting in this story it would be that Domino isn’t mentioned.  But I expect that’s just around the corner and they probably don’t want to confuse the message.  If your company uses Exchange, you don’t care about Domino. (By the way, LotusLive AKA Smart Cloud also supports BES deployments)  This will also give RIM a second press release of glory when they make a similar announcement for Domino.

W3C Social Business Jam Report Just Released


(If you’re following my Grand Canyon story, the next post is coming soon.  This week is Lotusphere.)

The W3C sponsored an online forum to study opinions on social business. The results of the Jam have been compiled and they published their results yesterday.
The jam focused on 6 aspects of social technology:

– Identity Management for Social
– Mobile and Social
– Information Management
– Business Process Meets Social
– Seamless Integration of Social
– Metrics for Social Business

The jam was hosted by W3C member IBM using IBM’s Collaboration Jam platform.  (Not to be confused with IBM’s Social Business Jam, an entirely different report made by IBM )

Not familiar with who the W3C is?  In their words, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web.”   This is the organization that tries to define industry standards that make integrating computer systems possible.  Without them, the world wide web (www.) would not exist.

As Lotusphere 2012 is all about Social Business, the timing of this report is appropriate.  The report provides some great insight into the future of social business from the viewpoint of the jam participants.  A few points:

– Only 18% of the participants Social Business is just marketing hype.  I don’t hold much faith in the longevity of their businesses.  But that also means 82% of those surveyed see Social Business as a real part of business today.  That is important if you are in the business of Social Business.  That means opportunity.

– Only 7% of the participants have only one identity on the web. Does that mean we all suffer from dissociative identity disorder?  I hope not.  Does it mean we don’t trust the world enough to let our whole self be seen by everyone?  Perhaps at least to some degree.  For example, many people don’t use the same identity on LinkedIn as they use on Facebook because they don’t want their employer or prospective employer to know about their personal life.  But it may also say something about how people play many roles in their lives and that one identity cannot represent us appropriately.  You see this in twitter profiles all the time: “CIO, whitewater kayaker, father”.  This becomes relevant because it’s the commonalities you share outside of business that make the strongest bonds for doing business.  It’s the fraternity effect, as I call it.  For Social Business to be most effective, it will need to be able to handle our split personalities.

– The report reveals how we treat our constant-connections of mobile phones so differently from all other devices.  Not just that technology must accommodate this in many ways including partial data wipes that remove corporate data while leaving personal data untouched.  The implications go into the usability features of the devices themselves too.  Think “It’s not business, it’s personal.” for a mobile phone, but “it’s not personal, it’s just business” for the desktop.

– The respondents also see value in social technologies in how they can handle exceptions to processes more effectively than structured forms.  This will shine most in a crisis.  If you are familiar with Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, you can see how this could fit in.  Imagine a natural disaster hits the headquarters of a company.  While their computer systems will survive if they properly setup a co-located data center, layers of leadership may not be available.  Social technologies are inherently flat organizationally, allowing people at all levels to communicate directly with the people they need to in the most effective manner.

– An interesting point that will play out in the near future is the response to the survey question “I want social tools integrated with my other applications”.  This is exactly what IBM is doing with IBM Connections and the Social Edition of Lotus Notes coming soon.  65% agree.  I expect those that disagreed probably just couldn’t envision such an integrated world.  They probably don’t realize that they already have that in places like facebook (if they use it.)

If you want an idea of where social software is going, this report is a worthwhile read.

Social Media 101: Social Media Disasters (be careful with that keyboard, it’s loaded)


Taking a brief break from my break from discussing Social Media to post about this good slide deck from IBM about Social Media and how NOT to use it.  The presentation sites more than a dozen examples of how companies have blundered on the web, but my favorite is definitely Ryanair’s press release stating “Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion.  It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy in corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again.  Lunatic bloggers can have the blogosphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel.”

It describes some etiquette in using social media as a business, but these rules also apply to us as individuals.  I mention this in response to observing individuals engage in a social media personal assault.

With any form of broadcast communications (media), you should be sensitive to your audience.  But with social media, it is even more important because of the broad reach one person can have and the permanence it has.  With social media an individual can broadcast their message as widely as a fortune 500 company with a huge marketing budget, and once posted, it cannot be fully removed.  It’s a loaded gun.  There is no putting the bullet back once the trigger has been pulled.  So when it comes to using it, be judicious.  A great rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you would have these 4 people read it:  your mother, your child, your future employer, and the person it is talking about.  If it can pass this test, it is probably good to publish.

When in doubt, leave it out.
Not to be confused with controversy, which can be healthy as it stimulates discussion and protects us from following on blind faith.  Don’t be afraid to point it out when “the Emperor has no clothes.”

Check out other related slide decks from IBM at http://www.slideshare.net/HorizonWatching/social-media-101-social-media-disasters

IBM and ESPN 3: Using social media to tell the world what they mean by “Let’s build a smarter planet.”


You’ve heard me ask “What does IBM sell?”  Sure, *I* know what they sell.  But my point is: what do they do to make sure the average consumer knows?
Well, on this idle Saturday afternoon, while watching my Gators on ESPN 3 crush UAB, *BAM*, there it was – A smarter planet ad on ESPN 3 with a twist: it ended with a URL: http://www.youtube.com/ibm
What’s the big deal?  First, IBM is talking to consumers.  That’s right, beer-drinking, college football-watching average America.  Second, this is ESPN 3.  In other words, the webcast version of ESPN.  So anyone watching that ad is already sitting at their computer.  I don’t know about smarter planet, but certainly smarter advertising.  So I went to check it out.  On my other monitor, of course.

What did I find there?  The first video was their 30-minute story: “IBM Centennial Film: They Were There – People who changed the way the world works”.  On the new youtube, you can have longer videos than the old 10-minute limit.  Of course, that doesn’t change the fact the the average attention span is somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes and the average time spent on a web page is 1 minute.  That was one of the driving reasons for the 10 minute limit in the first place.  The cool thing about youtube is that everyone can see the results.  It shows how many viewings each video gets.  So we will get to see just how successful the videos are.

The good news:  This video includes IBM founder Tom Watson’s answer to my question.  Retired IBMer Fred Brooks tells the story of how Thomas Watson Sr. used to go into the lab and ask some young engineer: “What do we sell?”
And the young man would say “punch cards sir.”
“NO, NO!” Watson replied.  “We sell a service that satisfies.”

Now the bad news:  This answer comes at 28:52 minutes into a 30:41 minute video.

But this video isn’t about what IBM sells anyway.  It’s about their past.  A good production, but wouldn’t it be more effective to lead with a short ad that builds on the *BAM* that the original ad made on ESPN 3?  Something that teases with a bit more details on what IBM has to offer today and how they will take MY company into the future and give ME an advantage over my competition?  To make ME a leader in a smarter planet?  End it with the viewer wanting to know more.  Make it a two minute video to fill those dead zone commercial breaks that don’t show anything for web viewers.  Just say:

Visit http://www.youtube.com/ibm the next time you see this:

ESPN 3

My compliments to IBM digital marketing.  (Maria, is this your doing?)  Now take it to the next level.

The video ends with the words of another IBMer: “You’ve got to stay alert and you’ve got to be nimble on your feet.  You’ve got to recognize that what was true yesterday will not be true tomorrow in terms of technology.”

Brand as Mythology: Could the Lotus brand elevate to Mythology?


Here is an interesting perspective on branding, marketing, and the idea of a brand elevating to mythology.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/07/just-a-myth.html

How true is his statement:  “People use a Dell.  They are an Apple.”

I think Seth is touching on something that could be applied to the marketing of Lotus IBM software:  “Isn’t that the dream of any marketer? To create a myth?”
As Lotus completes the long and painful process of being absorbed into IBM, could they, as Seth describes, invent a mythic brand with a story that promises to deliver an heroic outcome rather than just a product and a pile of facts. I believe it is possible.  Ironically, by dropping the brand, it may elevate it to mythology.  What do you think?

A split perspective on Quality. Does Quality really matter?


I came across this great article “Defining Quality” by Seth Godin  discussing just what quality is and how it influences the success of a product.  Seth describes the two types of quality:  Quality in Design and Quality in Manufacturing.  These two are as different as a brand new Bentley and a one-year-old Honda Civic.  He also applies these concepts to the software industry.

What I find particularly interesting is his comment regarding these measures of quality:

“The balance, then, is to understand that marketers want both.
A short-sighted CFO might want neither. “

The issue that you may have experienced with corporate decisions about messaging software obviously carries over to just about everything else too.  For those of us in the software industry who deal with CFOs who make seemly illogical decisions to switch software, (and make no mistake about it, it is the CFO more often than anyone else, who makes that decision) you are not alone.  So if you find yourself trying to fend off the arguments for switching your messaging software, don’t think that they care whatsoever about which platform has more features or is easier to maintain or is more reliable.  Before you try to make a case based on those points, you need to ask those most senior decision-makers just what really is important to them.  Be careful of the mid-level managers filtering their responses too.  They may be telling you what they think is important to senior management rather than what is truly important.  If they really knew the pain points of the CFO, they would have already addressed them long ago.  You can also read more about this factor in influencing decisions in the book “Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain” by Renvoise and Morin.

Regardless of your profession or position, you should arm yourself with an understanding of how those decision-makers make decisions and how they are influenced.

A sneak peek into the upcoming announcement about the Lotus brand and IBM’s 100-year philosophy


Is Lotus Notes the next Selectric Typewriter?  This USAToday article about IBM turning 100  reveals some clues into the motivations that drive IBM which might tell us about their plans for the future.

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking IBM is a corporate old-timer that just watched technology evolve. It has remained at the forefront through the decades and tops several of its whippersnapper rivals in some regards. “

Of course we’re talking about the same company that totally missed some opportunities like the operating system for their personal computers that has gone on to become their nemesis.  We’re talking about a company that has taken the once-famous brand of Lotus and made it disappear from the public eye better than a Harry Houdini magic act.

“This isn’t like the auto industry, where the combustible engine still exists, or oil, where many parts of the business are the same,” Iwata says. “We have to let go of what we have invented. We stopped making typewriters, punch-card machines, PCs. We had to move on.”

Hmm.  Is this foreshadowing?  When I was 8 years old I saw the movie “Old Yeller”.  In spite of all the clues, I did not did not see that coming.  I thought that dog would live forever.  Have I gotten any better at reading the clues?  Probably not.  But here’s another one:

“•Ability to move into new businesses without abandoning core tenets. IBM is a classic example of a company that had to get into entirely new businesses, without turning its back on what got it to where it is, Collins says. If you consider what IBM’s mission is, it’s not about computers or technology. It’s about allowing its individual employees to create ways for its customers to solve operational problems, Collins says. Whether that’s a task best done with scales, typewriters or computers doesn’t matter; what matters is that customers’ needs are answered, Collins says. “

I don’t know how this movie will end.  Maybe we’ll learn more on the Greenhouse webcast about the future of the Lotus brand June 28 at 10:00AM ET.

Meeanwhile, let’s get some popcorn and watch a few movie trailers.


Taking Social Media to the next level: “Message on a bottle”


When it comes to helping meet people, Twitter doesn’t compare to this: a vodka bottle with a programmable LED text banner that you can enter your own message.  It gives new meaning to the phrase “social drinker”.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43430391

Check out Medea Vodka’s website.

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