Web Summit Highlights; Day Two

I headed to the marketing stage this morning, and ended up spending most of the day there.

Content is King

contentA discussion with Adam Singolda (Taboola) Ian White (Sailthru) Sean Moriarty (Demand Media) Michael Learmonth (IBT)

Brands are more important in digital; as the due to noise:signal ratio grows, branded content helps viewers/customers find quality.

Brands need a content strategy, it’s not enough to just push content out there. Need a strategy behind it, and to measure the value to readers. Keep the ROI high, this allows you to keep building quality content.

In conversation with Clara Shih

This was the most relevant to me today, and I found myself agreeing with everything Clara Shih said.

Social is normal for people in their personal lives, it will become the standard operating procedure for companies. It always takes a decade or more to operationalise these things for enterprise, it seems to take a while for the change management to kick in.

Must understand social throughout the company – it can’t just be a team sitting in marketing – but through the company including the C-suite.

Shih sees 3 trends for social;

  • social becomes a service layer on top of everything; IoT, wearables
  • more data, meta data = shift towards hyper targetted “segment of one”
  • customer will expect exchange of data to give them something in return

Connected World

Raced over to the Machine Summit to hear a colleague talk about the Connected World. There was a queue to enter to prevent overcrowding, I was about the last person they let in.

There was some discussion on the opportunities of a future connected world. More features on devices came up as one option, for example adding a camera to a Roomba so that you can document what happens if your house floods – all I could think of was put a camera on it and film your pets. I guess that’s why I’m not working in connected devices.

One of the biggest challenges in this area was data standards and privacy questions. If you extract data from a device how do you protect that?

  • Explain what you do with the data in a way people can understand
  • Do a better job of always making it “opt in”
  • Define and share best practices around privacy and security on collection, anonymising, use and re-use of data
  • Privacy and security seen as a base layer – beyond that let people choose what to share

The future of connected – in the next five years?

Move from thinking about discrete devices to infrastructure and embedding connection into our homes and workplaces.Move to network of devices, and move to connected services. Move to configuration of homes for different purposes, eg; your home office disappears when guests visits.

Joanne Bradford from Pinterest

Introduces Pinterest as “inspiration plus action”, people use it to design their homes, think about their wardrobe, get inspired about exercise, collect recipes. The engagement is high because people use their boards. (OK, I’m the exception).

It was a platform created as a series of communities, starting with mum bloggers, and that meant it was under the radar in Silicon valley to start with.

They still see that community matters and arrange events for pinners, and invite them to press events.

Some stats;

  • 750M boards
  • 300B items
  • best pins have great image + useful link + good description
  • #1 category = comedy

Future of Media with John Ridding (Financial Times)

Always believed in the value of quality journalism, even when others saw a crisis of print media and declared that no-one wanted to pay for content. The mantra was “internet wants to be free”, but the internet is a channel so has no desires of it’s own.

More than half of their revenue now comes from Digital, and it’s the subscription model, not the ad revenue that’s winning it for them.

Innovation Divide

The challenge of getting some “start up” innovation fire into large enterprises, and an inside peek into the fantastic Unilever Foundry, which is great way of bringing fresh ideas and working them into something practical.

Pointing out the dangers of perfection mindset this presentation gave me the quote of the day

every day that a good idea sits in a powerpoint presentation is another day that the idea dies.

Keith Weed, CMO, Unilever

They’re one of the world’s big spenders when it comes to marketing, and they continued spending through the crisis although the breakdown of where that spend goes is shifting.

Marketing spend winners in general are social, search and increasingly mobile. But in terms of social media spend there isn’t a “winner takes all” platform as it makes sense to use multiple platforms depending on your purpose.

For consumers in social there are ongoing privacy and trust issues, right now technology is ahead of regulation, there are things being developed in technology that legislators don’t understand. I’d add that customers understanding is also often behind – even as their expectations grow.

As the Dutch saying goes “trust arrives on foot and leaves on a horse”

Brands have an opportunity to solve this ahead of regulation, and build trust with customers.

It was another packed day – lots of great speakers. The agenda on the marketing stage was rather random, as adjustments had to be made for speaker availability. So it was a bit of a surprising day, the other – less happy – surprise was the wifi. It wasn’t keeping up with demand, so my “life tweeting” was all over the place. OK, for an attendance of 20,000 people I guess it’s a challenge.

I’d still like an answer to my sheep tweet though.
Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 18.03.42

Web Summit Highlights: Day One

Phil Libin, CEO Evernote

websummitI missed his presentation last year, but my colleague recommended him as a speaker and a visionary, so this year I was determined to be in the room.

His vision comes down to; make work less sucky.

Evernote are ahead of the curve on productivity tools. They see the free version as their main version, and focus on getting people to “stay rather than pay”. People use the free version for a long time before buying into the product. They’ve also seen that individual users are often their best leads for enterprise to use Evernote.

His advice to entrepreneurs and developers; make something useful, see if people will like it and stay on it. Their best test of whether will use a new feature or tool is whether their colleagues use it.

Lew Cirne

Lew Cirne is the founder and CEO of New Relic, a company founded on the principal of making data visual in a way that is useful.

He had the quote of the day

Life is too short for bad software

The Role of Technology in Filmmaking: John Underkoffler and Tim Webber

John Underkoffler from Oblong worked on Minority Report and went on to make a real version of some of the coolest tools shown in the movie. Tim Webber from Framestore won the Oscar for visual effects in the movie Gravity. What I loved about this discussion was the emphasis on telling a story. The story comes first and the technology is tool to tell that story.

In the future they see the possibility to integrate with reality tools, but that this has to work in parallel with the story rather than detracting from the story. It occurs to me that at some point movies with virtual reality tools will start to blur the line between movies and games.

The next technology challenge is CGI “humans” that are believable and sustainable for a whole movie.

One key to their success is a very interesting skill that has growing importance in all sorts of companies. Movies are now made across several teams located in different countries, so collaboration in virtual environments has become an essential skill.

Eva Longoria

Room starts to fill up – this might be the closest geeks ever get to genuine stars.

This is not the most original of interviews, some of the questions seem to have been cribbed from an old Cosmo magazine. But Eva Longoria is gracious and funny and she gets her points across.

  • in the cycle of poverty the best intervention is education
  • women start biz at 3x rate of men but have trouble getting access to expertise and capital (in US)
  • her foundation starts addressing these issues

By the end of the 20 minute interview there is a crowd at the front in a photo frenzy.

Gary Marcus

Artifical Intelligence has been disappointing, all the best stuff is always promised as something 20 years away – but we’ve been saying that for 50 years. As Peter Thiel once said “We wanted flying cars, we got 140 characters”

Privacy Discussion

Last year there was a panel discussion in a tiny hard-to-find room, that ended up over-crowded with people peering in through the door. This year it’s on the main stage. Privacy is a real issue, and a challenge for all companies working in digital. An ongoing challenge in my work in social media.

Legal rep for NSA vs CEO from Cloudflare on the basis of privacy in the digital world; neither of them deny the importance of privacy and the challenges faced. But the discussion is where does the responsibility lie?

Peoples’ expectations have changed, many users will sacrifice some privacy for free services. Facebook and Google have a business model that exploits this, selling aggregated data to advertisers. But this is not everyone’s business model; Apple, Cloudflare and Ello are showing that.

There seems to be an ongoing tension between security and privacy; is this inevitable?

Drew Housten

The CEO and founder of Dropbox, a tool I’ve loved and used for years.

He begins by talking about a tennis ball and the number 30,000

The tennis ball represents obsession – think of a dog at play, and 30,000 represents the number of days you have have in your life. Realising at the age of 24 he’d used up a third of them jolted him into starting out as an entrepreneur.

As Dropbox became successful he got a call; Apple were interested. He famously didn’t sell. When asked what number was on the table, he admits they never got as far as stating a number. Before the meeting someone told him that if he didn’t want to sell the company then don’t discuss selling the company.

When asked about competition he answers almost casually “We’ve always had competiton”, but manages to give the impression that being seen as a competitor to giants such as Google et al is a sign of success.

There was an announcement earlier – Dropbox and Microsoft have agreed to work together and produce deep integration between their two products. This leads to a question about equal pay – given the Microsoft CEO’s advice to women to rely on “karma” for salary equality. His answer is unequivocal “two people doing the same work should get the same money regardless of gender”.

And with a round of applause I wander off to find a Dublin shuttle bus. The driver roars “it’s two euro and tirty-five cents, all Dublin buses take coins only” and when we look surprised “this information is all on the web”.

Ego Surfing

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 23.28.16It’s a term coined almost twenty years ago, referring to the act of searching for your own name, pseudonym, or handle online to see what information appears.

We often place a negative association on displays of egos, and references to ego surfing on the internet are generally negative or sarcastic.

But ego surfing can be a smart thing to do.

Just as companies manage their online presence and their online reputation so should you, I think this should be an ongoing action, but I’m sure people think of it more when they’re job seeking.

If you’re a random, unfamous person like me, the occasional search on major search engines will be enough. Here’s how I do it;

  1. Use a browser I don’t use very often
  2. Log out of any accounts, particularly Google
  3. Clear browsing history and cookies
  4. Search for my name, and the name of the blogs I write
  5. Search for the key topics I write about in the hope that my name/blog appears connected to those topics.

It’s important to use a “clean” browser to do this as Google will give you adjusted results based on your location, browsing history and login.

If you find content that shouldn’t be publicly available you have a few options to remove it; WikiHow provides a list of actions you can take. In some cases Google will remove content that they index if it could lead to identity theft (although they won’t remove your date of birth). In some situations EU residents can ask to be “forgotten” by Google when information is dated and has a negative reputational impact.

There are therefore two very good reasons for searching your own name; to check that your name isn’t associated with negative information and to make sure that the content you are publishing is building  your reputation in your field of expertise.

So, be honest, when was the last time you went ego surfing?

 

Image: The Ego Project / Mike Curley / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

 

Tips for your job interview

interviewThe basics of interview technique are pretty well covered; arrive on time, dress appropriately for the job, research the company, don’t take calls during the interview (wait – people need to be told that?).  These are the things that you need to get right to stay in the running for the job. I’ve just been through a round of recruiting and found a great person to hire. Here are some of the things candidates did that made them stand out.

  1. Show Some Personality
    In how you dress, how you speak, how you behave, and in the stories you tell.
    One of the questions we asked related to working with people resistant to change.  Most people gave a textbook answer about change management. The stand out answer was from the person who began “It cost me a lot of pizza” with a laugh.
  2. Be Enthusiastic
    About the company, the role, what you can bring to it, what it can bring you.This goes beyond research the company, find a way to connect something personal or from your work history to the company. And for goodness sake know which products or services you use. We asked everyone we interviewed what products they had in their home from our company – I didn’t have a predefined “perfect answer” for this, but the guy who recalled seeing an old radio from our company at his grandfather’s house scored bonus points for showing some knowledge of the company’s legacy
  3. Interview the Company
    Think of an interview as a date in that both sides need to learn about each other – you both need to know that this is a relationship worth pursuing. I was at an all day interview a while ago, half way through the day I realised that this was not the right company for me. Frankly it was a relief when they turned me down. Ask questions about work expectations, career advancement, company  values by all means. But ask more, ask your future boss how she (or he) likes to work, ask about the company’s most recent success, ask how they correct mistakes. As about the ambitions of the company, the department and the team you’ll be joining. You’ll learn more about whether this is a match for you from those answers.

You’re going to spend a lot of time with the company working with the people there, it needs to be a match.

Tweet: Go beyond a professional confidence – Dare to be yourself (http://ctt.ec/423yc+) #jobinterview

As the candidates had been screened based on their CVs and an initial phone interview the people I met were all strong candidates. Following the interviews there were several I would have been happy to bring on board, and one outstanding candidate who starts next month.

The candidates who stood out in the interviews I’ve conducted in the last six weeks showed something beyond a professional confidence – they dared to be themselves.

Image; Beast of a Job Interview / Mike Licht / CC BY 2.0

 

 

Single Source of Truth

Although this sounds vaguely poetic, it has a specific meaning in the world of information systems. It has particular relevance for large systems.

Done well, it makes content management a whole lot easier.

I’ve heard this used most often in relation to company intranets – large companies where the intranet must serve a mass of information to thousands or hundreds of thousands of employees.

In many large companies intranets grew rather randomly, each business line created their own intranet site, as connectivity improved these were joined together allowing employees to browse from one site to another. But the business retained control of all the information that was available on their site, and employees tended to enter the maze of the the company intranet via their business line home page. Very often this works out well.

In companies of this size there are a policies and defined processes on a wide variety of subjects. Many relate to the employee’s own situation; holiday/vacation entitlement, performance review processes or claiming expenses. Others relate to the company’s operations; finance, brand guidelines, recruitment. Often there is a potential legal penalty if the employee does not follow the policy.

In an intranet that is a collection of connected sites the policies tend to be copied and republished multiple times. Which means keeping those versions up-to-date and consistent becomes difficult and introduces operational risk. Imagine an employee in a far-flung office following the finance policy she has downloaded from her local intranet, relying on it to conduct business, and finding out later that it’s months out of date.

The idea behind the single source of truth relies on improved connectivity between local intranets, and a strong information architecture so that a piece of content – in this case a policy – is published in just one place. It may appear in more than one place across the intranet, but in fact each appearance of it is drawing from the same place; that single source of truth.

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 12.29.46To deliver this companies must have a connected intranet, a fully thought-out information architecture, a good content managements systems, technical know-how, and governance on the publication and storage of documents. It’s not easy to put this in place in large companies, particularly as intranets are often the “poor cousin” in terms of digital spend.

Obviously the content management should become easier and cheaper, but the really big benefit comes from a risk and compliance stand-point. Having a single source of truth means that you know people are using the same policy across the company, this lowers the risk of errors being made, errors that might leave the company financially liable or create a reputation error. It’s a cost avoidance benefit that can be hard to quantify – until such an event occurs in your company.

Image: truth / Jon Starbuck / CC BY-NC-SA-2.0

 

 

 

The Social Employee

socialemployeeThe Social Employee: How Great Companies Make Social Media Work
Cheryl Burgess, Mark Burgess

The Social Employee goes beyond theory and discusses examples of social media success in detail. This book is packed with ideas.

Most of the easy to find articles and books on social media focus on the success of a social media campaign, it can be difficult to imagine how you could do something similar in your own company or industry. The reasons are often simply that your company is not organised to accomodate social practices, and your employees are not ready to be active in the social sphere on behalf of a company.

In The Social Employee the writers have spoken to some of the biggest companies who have made social work for them, often in the more challenging area of business-to-business. They look at how a company changed their organisation, activities and business culture to deliver business results.

The IBM example points to an expansive use of social media inside and outside the company; an enterprise social network, blogs, hackathons, adoption programme and digital jams. I believe the major reason for their success in an early decision to trust employees. This was backed up with good training and tools, but that act of trust makes a difference for employees.

Dell was an early adopter, and motivated by wanting to be closer to customers “We wanted to feel that customers were walking the hallways” according to Cory Edwards, Director, Social Media & Corporate Reputation at Dell. To do this it was essential to empower employees, and have built a comprehensive training programme for all employees to understand social media. This is seen as so important that CEO is active in the training programme community.

There are examples from Adobe, Cisco and SouthWest, with SouthWest being the most employee centric.

The final part of the book looks at steps a company should take in establishing themselves in social media effectively. There is a short discussion of tool for internal use but more time is spent on building communities, content strategy and building engagement and relationships with customers.

I found the company examples more useful than the theory or the analysis, it was really interesting to see how companies had evolved a presence in social media, and how much of that came out internal change. Challenging but effective.

Highlights from the first 14 days

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 20.01.19Starting at a new job is always a learning curve, as I hadn’t done it in a while I’ve kept a journal of things I notice. Here are some of the moments from the first fourteen days.

Day 1 Can I remember everyone’s names? A colleague draws a mini-organogram which helps. Another colleague shows me where the bathrooms are.
Day 2 I take a selfie of myself looking at the company’s new logo for the internal social network – this attracts attention – am I the fastest person to adopt the brand?
Day 3 My first conference call has 72 participants. I understand little of what is said, it’s the detail I have yet to read about.
Day 4 It seems overwhelming, the change process I’m working on is huge – I have a moment of feeling daunted… and then give myself a virtual slap; it’s day four. Anyway there are team drinks at the end of the day.
Day 5 In a status meeting, as we go around the table I start to put together the pieces of what we’re doing and how my work will fit in. In terms of scale it’s like building a colosseum, but it’s digital so completely invisible. I have a long way to go but at least I can see the next steps now.

I go home early, via the doctor – who diagnoses an ear infection. Too much listening?

Day 6 All part of the learning curve; my new work phone is windows… #newjob
Day 7 Find myself interviewing a candidate for a new position. I cheerfully introduce myself, adding “day 7″ as an explanation for my new status. Candidate frowns, oh dear.
Day 8 I spend some time digging through the internal social media platform, I’m impressed by the obvious pride people have in the company and the products.
Day 9 Today’s tough work assignment; Playing with Google Glass #geekheaven
Day 10 I have a virtual “one-on-one” with a member of my team who is based in the US. I’ll only see her for about a week every two months, we’re figuring out how to work with that.
Day 11 A proposal comes back with “yes” against most items, but “no, no, NO” against one. As a new person I’m asking a lot of questions. #StillLearning
Day 12 A conversation with some of the legal experts, the issues are familiar. They express relief.
Day 13 Solved a bunch of stuff for a company internal community – more ways for employees to show their pride in working here.
Day 14 The learning curve stretches onwards and upwards, my motivation level is super high. And it gets higher after a conversation with my boss.

At the end of the day I’m on a roof terrace with my colleagues, looking across Amsterdam and sharing a glass of wine. #GreatStart

 Image; 14 Blue / Craig Sunter / CC BY-ND 2.0

 

 

 

Digital | Social | Innovation

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