|By Dana Gardner||
|December 2, 2011 10:00 AM EST||
Social media and the increased role that linked communities of users have on issues, discourse, and public opinion are changing the world in many ways -- from how societies react such as in the Middle East turmoil to how users flock to or avoid certain products and services.
The fact is that many people are now connected in new ways and they’re voicing opinions and influencing their peers perhaps more than ever before. Businesses cannot afford to simply ignore these global -- and what now appeared to be long-term -- social media trends.
The latest BriefingsDirect discussion then focuses on the impact that social media is having on enterprises. We specifically examine with an executive at Capgemini on what steps businesses can take to manage social media as a market opportunity, rather than react to it as a hard-to-fathom threat. Hear too how services are being developed to help businesses to better understand and exploit the potential of social media.
The discussion with Paul Cole, Vice President of Customer Operations Management and Business Process Outsourcing at Capgemini, is the first in the series of podcasts with Capgemini on social media issues and business process outsourcing. The interview is conducted by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: Capgemini is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: It seems a bit of a twisted logic when we say that social media can be both a threat and an opportunity. How could social media be both?
Cole: It's all in how you decide to respond. Social media, in and of itself, is a neutral topic. It could be viewed as a utensil or a platform, upon which you can do things. And depending on your intent, whether you’re an enterprise or a customer, those activities could be viewed favorably or negatively. And that's true as much in the sociopolitical world as in business.
The important thing is that social media is the platform, not the action itself, and it’s really what you decide to do over that platform that makes the difference in business and in the world at large.
Gardner: Do you have any evidence, research, or findings of any sort that bolster this notion that social media is a sea change and not just a blip?
Cole: Well, based on a survey we commissioned last winter, somewhat surprisingly, a bit more than one in 10 executives did characterize it as a fad relative to the business world.
However, you can look at it in the everyday world around us and the media as it relates to impact on society and in the sociopolitical spectrum, and there's very little doubt that it’s changing the game there. I believe it will have an equally profound impact on business over time.
Social media has become the bullhorn of the 21st century. It allows people to spread their message, to amplify that message, to mobilize the community, and also to monitor in real time the events as they unfold.
We are having to deal with it across the political, social, and cultural spectrums. Witness, unfortunately, the emergence of something that we’re now calling flash mobs, a case where the platform is being misapplied toward organizing a community of people who have damaging intentions.
So back to your question on threat or opportunity, significant or insignificant impact, it’s all based on the intent and actions of the individuals utilizing the utensil.
Gardner: On one hand, we seem to see a lack of control or at least different aspects to how people behave. We don’t have the necessary tools. But on the other hand, we're seeing a lot more information generated, and information often is the lifeblood of how organizations react and adjust to markets.
Cole: Information overload is one potential consequence of this. It’s all a matter of how you take that information and translate it into actionable insights, against which you can make some smarter business decisions, and from our perspective, ultimately deliver a better customer experience which will help you grow.
What’s neat about what’s happening in the world of technology, on top of the social environment, is that there is a whole new generation of tools emerging that allow you to develop that insight.
There are four steps that a company can go through to generate social intelligence. First, is listening to what is going on out there. There has not been an earpiece for us to really take the pulse of the market, and what's happening in the virtual world or the internet world until the recent development of some of these social listening tools. So the ability just to know what's going on, who is saying what, who are the influencers, what are their sentiments is an important first step.
The second step is the ability to monitor that over time and see how attitudes, perceptions, and most importantly, behaviors are changing and what are the impact and implication of that for your business, either from a marketing or a selling or customer service standpoint. In addition to monitoring that, you’re also now able, with text analytics tools to not simply track and describe what happening, but also isolate cause and effect.
So if I'm launching a Twitter campaign, putting a new product out there, running a contest, or engaging in some kind of social care activity, what is the impact it's having in terms of the customer’s behavior and what adjustments can I make to be more successful?
It's being able to get attribution and get to a root cause by applying these analytic tools. So you've listened, monitored, and analyzed. The killer app, if you will, is the last step of closing loop in terms of your ability to respond. So many companies today are putting their toe in the water in the social world by listening with these tools and trying to understand what's being said. It's new enough where not that many have actually industrialized their process for responding.
Ultimately, your ability to now go back into that community and influence the customer or attempt to influence the customer and their behavior is where there is a tremendous upside for companies in terms of generating higher growth and profit.
Gardner: How is Capgemini working toward some solutions on this?
Cole: As a global provider of consulting technology and outsourcing services, Capgemini attempts to keep its finger on the pulse of market. You have to be blind and deaf to not recognize that social media has quickly emerged on the scene. The question then becomes, as a provider of services, how to translate that into sets of offerings that add value for our clients.
At one level, you could look at social media as a wave or a phenomenon. I’ve been in the professional services, technology services business for 30 years, and we’ve seen the waves come and go, whether that would be CRM or ERP through SAP or eCommerce, which I think this mirrors quite a bit, and Y2K. So there's always an emerging area that people will try to understand, chase, and then capitalize on.
My particular area of expertise is around customer management. So I look through the lens of how a company acquires, develops, and retains its customers and how can we manage some of that process for them in a faster, better, or cheaper manner. We do that today in traditional forms with managing their call centers or their customer service operations, helping them present stronger web content, providing them with insights through analytical services, and so forth.
What social media started to suggest to us was that there was a new opportunity to bring another service to the market that allowed clients to focus on the business problem that they’re trying to solve and provided us the opportunity to provide them with everything they needed to mobilize around that objective in the social world.
In and of itself, social media is not going to drive your business forward. As we've discussed, it's really a platform or a utility upon which you can engage customers for one or more activities based on a business objective. It does, at the end of the day, relate back to what you're trying to accomplish.
When I went to school, we were trained on the four Ps in marketing. You develop a product that the marketplace is interested in. You price that product at a level that the consumer or customer perceives value so they want to transact with you. You need to promote that in terms of distinguishing you against your competitors and bring that product to market with some form of distribution. We call that the four Ps.
Obviously you still need to do all those things, but in the social world now, there is a new twist. If you think about the product, we used to take a very linear approach to doing market research, testing concepts, via surveys and focus groups. In today’s social world, you can do that much more dynamically. There's a whole phenomenon around crowd sourcing with which you can solicit people's input and feedback and iterate on that massively, and closer to real time.
Your ability to get really close to the marketplace is enhanced tremendously by social media. In terms of promoting, it used to be broadcast media, but now you're able to do micro campaigns. You can do tweet campaigns. You can do campaigns through Facebook. Your ability to target the individual that you are trying to influence has gone up exponentially.
We've always talked about the segment of one, but it was very difficult to do. Now, you can get in there and really understand who is driving popular opinion, who are the big influencers, who do you need to convert to be an enthusiast or an advocate of your product, and launch very specific campaigns against them. It's a different form of promotion.
It's the same thing with pricing and distribution. While you still need to do many of the same activities, the way in which you will execute on those activities has evolved and become much more dynamic.
Every function within the organization has a potential application in the social world. I don't think it's the kind of thing that any one executive or any one function is going to own per se.
It's a matter of looking at it through the lens of the process that you're responsible for, and trying to understand how to apply new thinking and activities to improve your efficiency or your effectiveness of that area. That could be public relations and the brand, marketing and developing effective positioning, product development and management, selling through more targeted campaigns or, at the end of the value chain, a better servicing of the customer to generate greater loyalty.
Gardner: Are we going to repeat history and have a fragmented approach to this or is there a better way?
Cole: You’ve really put your finger on a core issue. It all depends. What is social media? That depends on who you are and what you're trying to accomplish. That’s going to be variable based on your area of responsibility within the enterprise.
There is something to be said for standardization and taking a platform-based approach to avoid the recurring tendency of investing in your own individual solutions and then lacking interoperability or having to face integration issues and so forth.
While the application of what you do on top of the social platforms may vary, there is potential for the organization to operate as an enterprise on top of a single instance of a platform. That’s part of why we got into offering a managed service.
We allow the client to focus on what they are trying to do in the marketing, selling or customer service world. We provide them with the infrastructure, the technology, the process discipline, the data, and importantly, the social media advocates, the human intelligence layer that is ultimately conducting the monitoring and the analytics and the interpretation of what’s happening there.
By buying into a managed service the company can avoid having to make capital investments in the technology, avoid the potential risk of different groups going off and doing their own thing. They can remain current, because they don’t have to pay attention to this fast paced dynamic technology market and what is the state of the art. That would be our responsibility.
Hopefully, it's the best of both worlds. They can each, as user communities, decide what they want to get out of social media, but be able to leverage the fact that they're all investing in a common platform. ... It is a different way of storing, distributing, and accessing the data.
What it translates into for us is the ability to provide process as a service. That’s a fundamental shift in the marketplace that’s occurring as a result of the development of cloud capabilities.
Organizations can just tap into a service, and that makes it easier for them to get into a new area. It’s faster, it’s less expensive. We're trying to apply that same concept to social media. We can provide a faster, better, and/or cheaper approach. The client buys the process as a service on a subscription model.
We assure the integrity and security of the data. We provide the data management, the repository, the infrastructure, and the toolset. You're buying a service around a process, whether that be listening to your customers, wanting to launch marketing campaigns, providing social care or whatever.
The whole SaaS cloud phenomenon is just changing the distribution model and also facilitating an easier approach for companies to get up and running in this area.
Gardner: How are organizations getting started?
Cole: As evidence of the fact that it is a new phenomenon, you can just notice the volume of conferences that are out there with social media in the title. It just reinforces that companies are trying to understand still what "good" looks like. They’re out there looking for best practices. They are still paying for "PowerPoint," for consultants to come in and help them understand the strategy, the power of social, what that translates into in terms of metrics and governance, and so forth.
The market is very much in its exploratory stage. I'm not sure you can over-architect what social media means to you at the moment. This is something that you have to get in and dip your toe in the water. Instead of "ready, aim, fire," it's probably "fire, fire, aim, ready, fire." This means that you need to iterate.
You don’t know what you don’t know….. until you get in to the market and you start to listen to what is happening out there, identify who the key influencers are, where they're talking about, who are the advocates for the brand, and who are the potential saboteurs who can represent a threat? What are some of the kinds of programs and activities that one can run?
Rather than the grand strategies, the big-bang approach, this particular area is deserving of more experimentation, and iteration. Then, over time, we need the development of a broader strategy. But, you need to get in there, and listen, and learn, and act, and from that you'll figure out what works and what doesn’t work.
Part of what we’re trying to offer our clients is the ability to do that faster than doing it themselves, where they have to go out, acquire the tools, hire the people, and put in place the processes.
In this case, they can say we want to launch a campaign and we’d like to understand how we can use the social world to solve customer service problems or whatever. We provide all the tools and capabilities to do that. They focus on learning and evolving their strategy of what to do in the social world.
... As part of that, in our Social Media Management Solution, we’ve built a joint solution with a company called Attensity, which really comes at the market initially from the text analytics world, but offers a nice suite of applications that enable your ability to listen, monitor, analyze what's being done, and then respond to the customer in terms of workflow and direct customer engagement. So it's what you decide to do, but it's also having the right toolset with which to do it.
Gardner: Are there any places to which we could direct our listeners and readers for additional information, perhaps whitepapers, other research, and/or more information on your services?
Cole: Certainly capgemini.com. We do have a featured social media section on the website. We've recently published a whitepaper called "Harvesting the Fruit from the Social Media Grapevine". We hope that clients will find that insightful. It's a bit of a point-of-view on where the market is today and where it's headed.
You may also be interested in:
- Proliferated, Outmoded Applications and Data Explosion Hamper Enterprises in Innovation, Any Quick Move to Cloud Computing
- Capgeminim CSC Line Up for AppLabs
- Enterprise IT Plus Social Media Plus Cloud Computing Equals The Future
- What Can Businesses Learn About Predictive Behavior from American Idol?
- I Collaborate, Therefore I Think, Therefore I Am ... An Enterprise
In today's application economy, enterprise organizations realize that it's their applications that are the heart and soul of their business. If their application users have a bad experience, their revenue and reputation are at stake. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anand Akela, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Application Performance Management at CA Technologies, discussed how a user-centric Application Performance Management solution can help inspire your users with every applicati...
May. 29, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,761
As enterprises engage with Big Data technologies to develop applications needed to meet operational demands, new computation fabrics are continually being introduced. To leverage these new innovations, organizations are sacrificing market opportunities to gain expertise in learning new systems. In his session at Big Data Expo, Supreet Oberoi, Vice President of Field Engineering at Concurrent, Inc., discussed how to leverage existing infrastructure and investments and future-proof them against e...
May. 29, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,178
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. But what about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today's databases are anything but agile - they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application an...
May. 29, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,496
Once the decision has been made to move part or all of a workload to the cloud, a methodology for selecting that workload needs to be established. How do you move to the cloud? What does the discovery, assessment and planning look like? What workloads make sense? Which cloud model makes sense for each workload? What are the considerations for how to select the right cloud model? And how does that fit in with the overall IT transformation?
May. 29, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,294
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises a...
May. 28, 2015 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,235
SYS-CON Events announced today that SUSE, a pioneer in open source software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SUSE provides reliable, interoperable Linux, cloud infrastructure and storage solutions that give enterprises greater control and flexibility. More than 20 years of engineering excellence, exceptional service and an unrivaled partner ecosystem power the products and support that help ...
May. 28, 2015 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 598
The release of Kibana 4.x has had an impact on monitoring and other related activities. In this post we’re going to get specific and show you how to add Node.js monitoring to the Kibana 4 server app. Why Node.js? Because Kibana 4 now comes with a little Node.js server app that sits between the Kibana UI and the […]
May. 28, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 815
There’s a lot of discussion around managing outages in production via the likes of DevOps principles and the corresponding software development lifecycles that does enable higher quality output from development, however, one cannot lay all blame for “bugs” and failures at the feet of those responsible for coding and development. As developers incorporate features and benefits of these paradigm shift, there is a learning curve and a point of not-knowing-what-is-not-known. Sometimes, the only way ...
May. 28, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,292
Virtualization is everywhere. Enormous and highly profitable companies have been built on nothing but virtualization. And nowhere has virtualization made more of an impact than in Cloud Computing, the rampant and unprecedented adoption of which has been the direct result of the wide availability of virtualization software and techniques that enabled it. But does the cloud actually require virtualization?
May. 28, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,079
Right off the bat, Newman advises that we should "think of microservices as a specific approach for SOA in the same way that XP or Scrum are specific approaches for Agile Software development". These analogies are very interesting because my expectation was that microservices is a pattern. So I might infer that microservices is a set of process techniques as opposed to an architectural approach. Yet in the book, Newman clearly includes some elements of concept model and architecture as well as p...
May. 28, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,661
I’ve been thinking a bit about microservices (μServices) recently. My immediate reaction is to think: “Isn’t this just yet another new term for the same stuff, Web Services->SOA->APIs->Microservices?” Followed shortly by the thought, “well yes it is, but there are some important differences/distinguishing factors.” Microservices is an evolutionary paradigm born out of the need for simplicity (i.e., get away from the ESB) and alignment with agile (think DevOps) and scalable (think Containerizati...
May. 28, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,459
How can you compare one technology or tool to its competitors? Usually, there is no objective comparison available. So how do you know which is better? Eclipse or IntelliJ IDEA? Java EE or Spring? C# or Java? All you can usually find is a holy war and biased comparisons on vendor sites. But luckily, sometimes, you can find a fair comparison. How does this come to be? By having it co-authored by the stakeholders. The binary repository comparison matrix is one of those rare resources. It is edite...
May. 28, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,672
As the world moves from DevOps to NoOps, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. However, applications have been architected with a much tighter coupling than it needs to be which makes deployment in different environments and migration between them harder. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, Netflix and so on is at the heart of CloudFoundry – a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS...
May. 28, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,659
T-Mobile has been transforming the wireless industry with its “Uncarrier” initiatives. Today as T-Mobile’s IT organization works to transform itself in a like manner, technical foundations built over the last couple of years are now key to their drive for more Agile delivery practices. In his session at DevOps Summit, Martin Krienke, Sr Development Manager at T-Mobile, will discuss where they started their Continuous Delivery journey, where they are today, and where they are going in an effort ...
May. 28, 2015 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,426
There is no question that the cloud is where businesses want to host data. Until recently hypervisor virtualization was the most widely used method in cloud computing. Recently virtual containers have been gaining in popularity, and for good reason. In the debate between virtual machines and containers, the latter have been seen as the new kid on the block – and like other emerging technology have had some initial shortcomings. However, the container space has evolved drastically since coming on...
May. 28, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,353
The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential. The DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo – to be held June 3-5, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City – will expand the DevOps community, enable a wide...
May. 28, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,970
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to DevOps Summit 2015 as Conference Chair. The 4th International DevOps Summit will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great team at ...
May. 28, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,695
Container technology is sending shock waves through the world of cloud computing. Heralded as the 'next big thing,' containers provide software owners a consistent way to package their software and dependencies while infrastructure operators benefit from a standard way to deploy and run them. Containers present new challenges for tracking usage due to their dynamic nature. They can also be deployed to bare metal, virtual machines and various cloud platforms. How do software owners track the usag...
May. 28, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 736
Enterprises are fast realizing the importance of integrating SaaS/Cloud applications, API and on-premises data and processes, to unleash hidden value. This webinar explores how managers can use a Microservice-centric approach to aggressively tackle the unexpected new integration challenges posed by proliferation of cloud, mobile, social and big data projects. Industry analyst and SOA expert Jason Bloomberg will strip away the hype from microservices, and clearly identify their advantages and d...
May. 28, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,504
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
May. 28, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,421