SXSW Wrap Up on developerWorks


Scott Laningham has a pretty popular and respected blog on the IBM’s developerWorks blogs. So I was really excited when he asked me to join fellow IBM’ers Kate Motzer and Rawn Shah. We summarize our thoughts on SXSW and give some comments on the direction of social media. I hope you enjoy the podcast and feel free to comment. You can find the podcast here: http://ibm.co/gt3192

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IBM and Social Intelligence: Real Time Monitoring and Engagement


The following post is my initial thoughts and ideas as I develop our corporate strategy around real-time monitoring and engagement.  While the team and I are still developing our discourse, we know that we also need to define our approach to social and what our needs are in the form of tools.  For now, we have organized our social intelligence system into three parts:  1) Social Research 2) Real Time Monitoring and Engagement 3) Social Relationship Management.  While real time monitoring is a stand along function, I believe it must be married to engagement.

These categories are not perfectly clear and there are definitely some gray areas and overlap.  Regardless, I am confident that this is a good start to developing our framework.  This system is not just about tools, posts and analytics, rather is it a way to define how IBM (as a brand) and IBM’ers make social media a part of our everyday business.

My current focus is on evaluation of real-time monitoring & engagement tools.  The challenge for us has been understanding how people engage today, where our internal infrastructure gaps are, and what are the metrics and  KPI’s we can standardize on.  What complicates this is the diversity in features and functions of the tools on the market.  This space is continuously evolving in terms of the behavior of the social media practitioner and how companies are developing tools.

People, Places, Posts

At IBM, we have a great internal group called BlueIQ.  This is a core group of experts that don’t just look at social media (Twitter & Facebook) but take a holistic view of social, collaboration, and how companies can benefit from this emerging area.  I sat through a presentations one day in which the presenter segmented social media into three categories: People, Please and Things.  This presentation has always stuck with me.  I think it continues to be the lens I use to view social media.  However, I think I want to transform this into the three P’s of social media:  People, Places and Posts.  These three P’s is how I often approach our business and social.  I’ll try to come back and expand this idea in the future.

Engaging creates a Feedback Loop

What we are looking to do is develop a process and find a tool (or set of tools) to facilitate the day-to-day interactions between IBM’ers and our constituency.  The emphasis is less about tooling and more about interactions and scaling those interactions.  The significance of our mission is to expose more IBM’ers experts to new ideas and people and equally expose the public to our thought leaders.

The focus and quality of engagement will create a feedback loops between IBM and the rest of the world.  This isn’t new.  Companies have been engaging and interacting with their customers, partners and prospective buyers from the early development of commerce. What social changes is the scale and volume of the interactions.  More importantly it creates an environment where consumers can connect with other consumers and exchange comments and sentiment With the emphasis on experts engaging in their topics of expertise you also develop focal points of interaction between two people and or groups of people.  This concentration of conversation can create the richest understanding of a topic and presents the greatest opportunity for thought leadership (Social Media 101, I know you already know this stuff).  Many take this feedback loop for granted, and I believe it’s basic “blocking and tackling” that should never be overlooked.  When I  look at our experts and their influence, I find them in area’s of: research, product development, product marketing, support and consulting.  A organizational map would become even more complicated when you consider the experts that focus on geographies world wide.

Through a series of conversations with people inside and outside the company about monitoring and engagement, I am coming to the conclusion that there are diverse approaches and perceptions that conflict with one another and then those that are just flat our wrong (not that I mine right).

IBM has always been a firm in which is brand equity I directly related to its employee’s success.  Hence, the term the development of the term “IBM’er.”  Over the past 100 years, IBM has taken great pride in the people.  It’s the IBM’er that has helped the world solve big problems.  These interactions have built the company and have given our customers a sense of credibility and reliability behind the brand.  (Take a look at our “100 x 100 video” and our “They were There Video in my previous posts and our Twitter stream around #ibm100)

Today IBM adopts social as a natural extension of what we have been doing for the past 100 years.  So as I look at our social intelligence system, I prioritize our ability for an IBM’ers to engage with our diverse constituents.  Social Media Research and Listening are always the first way to place to start however, the heart of social media is in the everyday dialogue through posts on all platforms:  Our own ibm.com communities & developerWorks Communities, 3rd party Forums, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn (Herein lies my idea of the first two P’s in my 3 P model:  People and Places).

To enable and support these individuals demands that an engagement tool should not just help them post comments rather, empower, inspire and motivate them to be a part of a greater community.  Our experts have tight schedules.  Our constituents have tight schedules.  Communication has to be easy and quick.  Also, Twitter is not the only venue communication.  While popular with the rest of the world, Twitter is not the primary venue for dialogue between IBM and our constituents.  In fact, Twitter is often used as a tool to promote their ideas, and find others to network with.  Most of the real content generated by our experts would have to be in a forum or a blog.

I hope that my next post will be about real-time monitoring.  Looking forward to your comments.

You think you know technology?


Do you really think you understand how and why technology has evolved during the past century? I am confident the video below will help you understand.

The following video is another video that celebrates the achievements of IBM. I especially like these clips because they demonstrate IBM’s contribution to meaningful events in society. The clips focus on the real IBM’ers that were a part of each one of the projects. Over the past 100 year IBM’ers have changed the world we live in today. Here are some of the events that are highlighted tin the 30 minute video “They Were There…..”

1953: Policy Letter #4
1958: Project SABRE
1964: IBM System 360
1969: The Apollo Program
1974: UPC (Universal Product Code)
1981: The Personal Computer
2005: The Genographic Project

IBM Centennial Film: 100 x 100


As IBM celebrates 100 years of business we will release a series of videos document the companies history. You will also see videos on the what we will be able to do in the next 100 years. The video below gives a great highlight of top 100 innovations by IBM that changes the world. This shows how much IBM’ers like myself are proud of the history and culture that we are a part. This is longer than most corporate videos, but I am sure you will enjoy it.

Social Aggregators


Reflecting on 2010, I have noticed that Social Media aggregators have become a popular tool for many social media marketers. They come in many different shapes and forms, but essentially these tools help brands bring together disparate conversations across multiple platforms. Through aggregation brand are looking to demonstrate to their audience the volume of conversations around their products or services. The idea is that aggregating multiple streams of conversation into a single view will give the general public a holistic view of a conversation and thus the impression that their products or services are popular. It will also provide a single, easy to find location to allow new consumers to engage with an existing conversation. Brands are looking to use an aggregated page as a launch pad for existing influencers to engage with new advocates. Thus, aggregation will bring in fresh thoughts, opinions, and feedback to the broader conversation. I believe this is still an important component of a healthy community.

IBM and other companies have made attempts to use content aggregators across several events and programs. For IBM the initial use of social media aggregators has been around our large conferences around our 5 major software brands (Lotus, Information Management, Rational, Tivoli, WebSphere). We look to leverage the existing crowd at the conferences. Our attendee’s come together and have a great deal of stimulating content and face to face interactions that will prompt them to share and post their thoughts and ideas around our products and solutions. Perfectly sound logic. Yet, I do not believe that the tools I have seen thus far have done enough. Content aggregators need to evolve and develop beyond pulling content into a single view.

Media has always been a way to organize and rally people together. Radio, TV and the web have all been a way for a message to reach a broad audience. Aggregators are missing this very important process. What I want to see from an aggregator is the ability to help a reader find people relevant to what they are looking for. When I say “finding” you may think I mean search, but I think its more than just search. An aggregator must help a reader “discover” new people that are relevant to them. Relevant people can be subject matter experts, customer support, analysts or advocates. There is a person behind all of those status updates and posts.

Social media aggregators do a respectable job aggregating from the main social venues (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube). However, for a company like IBM, most of our customers are posting and engaging in forums specific to their industry or domain of expertise. Such forums can be found on our own developerWorks sites, but many of them are run and managed independently. These are great sites for our customers. People can easily connect with others like them and find the support and guidance that they need. I believe that the current generation of social media aggregators are limited because they do not capture these sites. More importantly, they require that marketers be aware of the sites and must manually aggregate content from these sites. As sated before, I don’t just want to be able to search and find content on these sites, as a reader, I want to quickly find the content and people that are experts. I want to know more about them and understand the contributions they make to the discussions.

Basically, aggregators do what they say they do….big deal! We need more. We need them to be effective, meaningful and to help the reading see the big picture.

I think I can go on about how aggregators need to do more. So I will stop here. However, I think the right thing to do is explain more about my approach. My next post will be on the 3 P’s of social media. This will help give some more context.

Reflections During Transition


Indian Pundit

So its official, I am moving out of my Social Media Strategy role with the Information Management brand at IBM, and into a corporate position.  This must have been the worst kept secret amongst the IBM Social Leads.  None the less, everyone that needs to know, now knows.

I will be a part of a team that will help to define and build our SocialCRM strategy.  I know it sounds really cool, and it definitely is a great moment for me professionally.  I feel a renewed sense of passion and enthusiasm for my work.  However with the new position comes the challenge with solving a real problem: How do you make social media a part of the business while delivering strong business value?

So, my next set of ramblings will be a series of Posts called People, Places and Posts.  The following is a transitional commentary from moving out of the strategic day to day management of social and into really building something for the business.

At IBM we have strong group of social media strategists and we have often been called the social media guru by others in our various segmented brands.  The amount of social media talent that is at IBM is amazing.  Recently Mashable listed IBM as one of the top Social Media Employers of 2010 (http://mashable.com/2010/12/14/top-companies-social-media-professionals/).  I would agree with that assertion.  It’s not just good press.  As a firm, IBM has not only embraced social but is looking to lead the way.  There are some really smart people in this organization that definitely respect and admire.  Many of us are often referred at social media “guru’s” or “mavens” and I have always struggled with this label and believe its too soon for such a label.  I even believe that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg should not be given such label.

Let’s forget all the cultural references that make me cringe every time I am referred to as a “guru” of any sort (still has a great deal of spiritual and cultural meaning for me).  Specifically, I struggle with such labels because social media is a new sociological phenomena (vs a technological one) that has many nuances and dependencies.  To use them requires both art and skill.  The most important reason I think the label fits is because people have not figured out how to make money using social media (I mean make good money…).  This is not just simple transactions rather social needs to account for a significant portion of revenue.  When you have that figured out, then you can call yourself a social media guru.

Guru also means that you have gained wisdom in a practice that you have mastered.  Don’t confuse knowledge with wisdom.  They are very different.  The people that really benefit from social are not those people that are social media experts, rather they are experts in a particular subject area and use social media as a tool.  For example, our DB2 leaders Conor O’Mahony and Irshad Raihan both embrace social media.  They also show up as strong influencer’s in many of our social media analytic’s/reports.  Conor and Irshad have really masted the database space and have gained wisdom technically and from a business perspective.  The content of there engagement with their constituents does not change.  Social just enables a wider audience.

The social explosion has matured, but it is changing so quickly that I don’t think anyone can truly understand let alone predict what is going to happen.