#HBR If Your Mobile Strategy Can Win Here, It Can Win Anywhere #MobileStrategy – My comments

 (Image source HBR)

Great article Morra (Original Article)

You’ve captured critical aspects of relationship building and at the same time addressed the limitations/perceptions and quality (spam) issues of mobile media. More often than not, people/companies look at mobile strategy in isolation and look at ROI in isolation. Am glad you captured the essence of mobile as an enabler/amplifier of other channels (on the ground connect)as well.

Adoption comes from within, but the trigger to adoption is when there is resonance, trust and continuous value. Here is wishing you all the best for your contributions towards making this world a better place.


#HBR: Why Successful Companies Stop Growing : My Comments #Leadership #Strategy #Success #Startup

Original Harvard Business Review Blog: Why Successful Companies Stop Growing 

Great post Ron

Most companies have pockets of employees that are either buzzing with energy or lack it. Typically what we notice in start-ups, where people look for feedback externally in order to start up the company and grow ( progress in their career), whereas in some pockets of established companies, employees tend to look for feedback internally to progress their career internally. The former brings market relevance, the latter brings internal relevance, and when this is left unchecked it spreads across leading the company to a wall.

Also this boils down to the culture of an organisation, some try really hard to maintain the start-up culture like google. Innovation and new ideas within start-ups tend to be easier as it is mainly based on market dynamics, and in some existing companies such ideas tend to be picked up based on internal structures/cannibalisation of existing offerings – of course its not an easy balance, but I guess some companies are doing it.

While the founder of Kodak, George Foreman managed to embrace a new trend at the right time twice (once when he turned down profitable dry-plate business to move to film and then when he invested in color film even when their black and white business was doing well), the successive CEO’s managed to stay on the same old trend and failed consistently ( Read more: http://blogs.sap.com/innovation/sales-marketing/social-networking-could-have-saved-kodak-032300)
My blog covers this topic
Titanic, Icebergs And Network Leadership (http://blogs.sap.com/innovation/innovation/titanic-icebergs-and-network-leadership-033027)

[My new Blog] Why You Need A Strategy That Is Social and not a Social Media Strategy #Socialmedia

Why You Need A Strategy That Is Social and not a Social Media Strategy

Brands, big businesses, small businesses that are planning to move into the social media space have one big problem – they are already there! Customers, arbitrators, critics, detractors and others talk about brands, products, services and their experiences – the way they see it.

Companies (not people) that suddenly step into this environment look out of place and out of pace – think about content, its frequency, context, intent, outcome, is it in line with that of the social media group members? No.

Jack Welch, the former long-time chairman and CEO of General Electric once said, ‘When the rate of change outside your organisation outpaces the rate of change inside your organisation, the end is near’.

Out of pace has a new cousin in social media now – out of place. In today’s setting when companies are consistently out of place, the end is near.

Why You Need A Strategy That Is Social not a Social Media StrategyIn a social media set-up when people are interacting with people, you suddenly have a situation of a brand (which is not a person) interacting with people. Again in a social media ecosystem where people and communities share, co-create, exchange ideas and modify user-generated content, brands tend to insert their own content, it looks out of place and out of pace.

If we go back in time to when the web was born, companies had to put their web-pages of products, services – content was still in their control and with a bit of initial struggle they managed to draw upon the lessons learnt in other mediums and execute their web strategy. With social media, brands do not and will not have complete control on content, so old rules of control or lessons learnt from other mediums (web, TV, radio) are not going to be relevant.

To address issues around being out-of-place, out-of-pace and brand to person interactions, here are 3 steps that brands, big businesses, small businesses could consider

Create an ecosystem of local brand ambassadors:

From the rise of brand managers in the mid 1950s to the rise of brand ambassadors in the 1990s, there has been a gradual movement (Inside-Out) towards the market. Building an ecosystem of local brand ambassadors in the social media age will only increase the ‘net’ positive engagement and branding. Of course sometimes there will have PR issues when there are personal, professional problems with the local brand ambassadors but the ecosystem will evolve.

Companies being passive will not stop self-appointed local brand ambassadors from taking the role, they will take it anyways, but being active will help enable them move in the right direction in a balanced way. Imagine something similar to the impact of Nike + (from 2 min onwards in the video) local brand ambassadors in their respective social communities.

Encourage employees to be the eyes, ears, voice:

In the age of pace and relevance, building an enterprise-wide culture of ‘Self-awareness’ is crucial. Customer engagement is not a front line issue alone; it should be an enterprise wide philosophy. Lead users can have corporate social media accounts/pages embedded with their personal identity to build a corporate/person fusion to make it more acceptable whereas other employees can use their personal id’s to interact.

Insights from lead users and other employees can then be shared within the organisation using collaboration tools such as yammer, chatter. Such insights gained makes change management easier when the company adopts a new strategy – else change resistance puts the hand brakes on.

Create a platform for crowd-sourcing:

We now have social shopping companies such as mylovebasket.com, enabling companies such as Kiosked, where users can tag products/price details to their photographs, share them on social media and get a commission when their followers make a purchase from the shared content. Similarly imagine the millennials and others with a particular fashion, product, service inclination creating and sharing photos and videos about their favourite brands.

From the days of 2007 Super Bowl where Doritos aired fan-made NFL ads, they’ve come a long way in creating a solid model – See 5 finalists for Doritos’ Crowsourced super bowl ads, other companies are embracing it.  Companies like American Express has Open Forum – to build user generated content, its more authentic, relevant and most importantly ‘social’. If brands don’t enable it, people will do it anyways, just like blogs.

Social media is not one more new medium like web, radio etc, it’s a way of life similar to one’s local community – parachuting-in with the only intention of business progress won’t work. Businesses cannot benefit from a social media strategy; it’s not an isolated path, businesses need a strategy that is social – driven by the social members and enabled by the business.

Keen to hear your views. You can reach me at Twitter @Ramesh_Ramki

Also published at Business Innovation from SAP,

Linkedin: 9 Qualities Of Truly Confident People #Leadership #peoplemanagement My Comments

Original article

Some people focus on the subject/issue and achieve solid confidence;

Some focus on others perception of them and create shallow confidence;

Some misunderstand ‘Confidence’ and focus on both.

Issue is the 1st route takes time, the 2nd one is fast – its easy to take the path of least resistance, like water, the 3rd route runs with the handbrake on ( doesn’t achieve full potential).

Making Management as Simple as Frisbee #HBR #Leadership #Networkleadership My comments

Original post from Harvard Business Review

Dear Steve, Great post.

There are 2 keys aspects when we relate Frisbee-Organisation
1/ Network mindset shift: A person throws the frisbee and the dog spots it and takes action; whereas in an organisation, the market throws many frisbees and relevant employees need to see it  and take action. In the digital era with information flowing through different networks, its critical for employees mindset to change towards actively building networks and picking up signals as well instead of relying mainly on old methods.
2/ The changing nine dot puzzle: We are familiar with the ‘Nine dot puzzle’, different ways of approaching it, out-of-the-box thinking etc related to it. In todays situation, the frisbee is not a nine dot puzzle, from the time it was spotted to the time you catch this frisbee, it has changed. So the network should continuously keep many eyes on it and also think/interact about the possible form in which the frisbee will change and build a fluid solution.
My latest blog touches a little bit on Network Leadership – Titanic, Icebergs and Network Leadership – spr.ly/6010k9qq 
– Ramesh
Twitter Ramesh_Ramki

Blog: When It Comes To Business Models, Retro Is The Future #Marketing #Business #Startup

Over centuries and decades, technological progress either built new businesses models or buried few. Earlier, starting a business meant high entry barriers and slow rate of change, now the market is becoming a level playing field and rate of change is very high.

Traditional enterprise models approached the market through cycles of forecast, production, sales, delivery, customer service and companies had some time to go through these steps as the major communication was between the company and its customers in a one to one or one to few basis.

Such models are facing a threat from the digital disruption due to tablet, smartphone proliferation as they snow-ball the interactions amongst customers, and companies are getting sidelined as they are unable to ‘sense’ and ‘serve’ the needs in time.

Walmart & Amazon –

Let’s take an example – 50 plus year old Walmart, the largest retailer in the world with an online sales forecast for this year as 2% of its overall annual sales ($450Bn).  Amazon, a 19 year old e-commerce company, the biggest online retailer in the world, reported $61.1 Bn annual sales last year, which is approximately 7 times Walmart’s online forecast for this year. Facing increased competition from online retailers, Walmart uses delivery firms FedEx and also its own same-day delivery service called Walmart-To-Go.

Acknowledging the cost, scale-up and management issues with this model, Walmart is now toying with the idea of crowd-sourcing home delivery – the company is inviting in-store customers to deliver packages to others who made online purchases. Though there could be legal and customer satisfaction obstacles, with the crowd-sourced delivery members requiring personal liability insurance and sometimes delivery delays affecting the quality of some goods etc., it might be a step in the right direction to test and find a workable solution by leveraging the customer-to-customer ecosystem.

Community delivers again:

Prior to the days of large scale retail companies, when local shops were more prevalent people used to easily buy goods and those who couldn’t go to the shops due to time constraints or health issues would ask their neighbours, friends, family to buy/deliver the goods for them. Now with large stores being centralised in towns and with packed weekdays and other reasons, the whole concept of such community delivery has disappeared.

For today’s large and medium retail companies that have a growing home delivery customer market, having in-house employees and logistics partners to fulfil the opportunity may not be effective in the long run, hence companies have to go retro and leverage the old practices – community delivery.

Brand evolution is back:

Before the advent of modern branding, the (brand) promise would evolve from the products/services experience and marketing was more interactive (in-person), this was possible when the shop was local, it was a small customer group and there was a community connection.

Today, with the ‘web of voices’ brand managers are slowly losing control over the messages which are moving to the hands of the customer’s – back to how it was in the local shop situation. Brand managers are moving towards becoming enablers and aggregators of customers’ emotional perception and product messages.

Word of mouth transforms into web of voices:

Word of mouth was and is a very strong influencer and local community shops have a direct connection with their customers, hence pay attention to customer voice to immediately fix issues. Despite various efforts the large, centralised retail companies over years have somehow lost that direct touch of being in-sync with their customers’ voice.

Again technology, social networking and crowd-sourcing delivery can help large retailers to form local (and virtual) customer communities to get back to the starting-point of customer satisfaction – Know your customer. Web of voices is both offline and online.

The power of precision marketing:

In a local shop scenario because the shop owner knows the customer so well, they can make tailored offers only for that customer and they’d know whether they accept or reject it and the reasons. Also if they had stock imbalances they’d make a good deal for few customers and cut their losses. In the centralised model marketers run many campaigns, sometimes the advert shows up in the wrong time ( say 7 months before a car insurance renewal) or the coupons given are either irrelevant or people forget to bring it along to claim.

Similar to the local shop scenario, when a customer enters a retail store – by linking loyalty programs, shopping data, social to the power of mobile using geo-fencing, systems can configure relevant offers, present the offers when the customer is in a particular aisle and is using in-store mobile app to locate the products. Usage of mobile during check-out then shows the marketer the difference between the offers made and offers accepted, so that next time it’s more relevant (leveraging data just like in programmatic buying in the advertising industry).

Taking cues from the retro models, today’s marketers and businesses can re-start customer experience in four steps:

  1. Leverage customer community: Some customers tend to know more about a company’s strengths and weaknesses than some of the employees; companies need to listen more, tweak their approach and customers can contribute towards building or re-building the company when it is a win-win scenario. The early days of experimenting with social media programs are over; the focus now is not only about fans and followers but also about customers and advocates
  2. Leverage employee community: Just like the employees in a local shop, corporate employees tend to have rich information through various sources and can amplify, arbitrate messages within their spheres of influence (communities); with a strong internal program, marketers can leverage ‘web of positive voices’. Best buy trained 2500 tweeting employees to respond to simple customer queries online. In today’s fast and connected world, when there is a delay, a simple problem that quickly gets precipitated leads to negative customer experience despite best efforts by customer services agents.
  3. Think and act like a start-up: Successful start-ups continuously seek information and ‘external’ validation from their customers and do course-correction in order to start-up, stay relevant and grow. Unfortunately, large enterprises sometimes can slow-down due to various reasons including employees seeking information and validation in order to stay relevant ‘internally’ and grow within the organisation. George Foreman, Founder of Kodak, picked a new service on two occasions even though it cannibalized existing services but successive CEO’s didn’t.
  4. Do what you say and say what you do: In the age of ‘web of voices’, if you (businesses and marketers) don’t follow this simple rule, your customers (and communities) will say what you do, which might go viral, and your competitor might just do what you say, which might put you on the defensive. Imagine how life in the community would be for the local shop owner if there is a big gap between the brand promise and the product/service experience by customers.

Keen to hear your views. Follow me on Twitter @Ramesh_Ramki

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