Category Archives: mobile

37% of employees using social media w/o IT permission

We make money or save money by providing value to others in a cost effective manner.  Pretty simple, really.  Technology can streamline the process and make us more efficient at a lower price point — but just as easily technology can be a massive time waster that actually costs us money.

Think of all those apps on Android and the iPhone that are games like Zombie Farm.     Loads of fun, but not exactly productivity enhancers!

Which brings me to a recent blog on the Harvard site.   The article discusses a study by Harvard which shows that employees are using social media including mobile technologies and video to improve how they do their jobs.  These employees are solving your customer and business problems without permission from the information technology (IT) departments:

“In a survey of more than 4,000 U.S. information workers, we found that 37% are using do-it-yourself technologies without IT’s permission. LinkedIn, Google Docs,, Facebook, iPads, YouTube, Dropbox, Flipboard — the list is long and growing.”

Forrester Research even gives this trend a name:  Technology Populism.

In a sense all this end user “power” is a good thing — people are not waiting for IT to solve problems.  Technology like Facebook and other social media proves that if companies don’t take advantage of new technologies then customers WILL and this is not always good for companies.   Many a corporation has been blind sided by consumers angry at faulty equipment or mishandled customer “service.”

Yet picture a large company with employees each “doing their own thing” technologically speaking.  Fairly soon will we not have misinformation from our own employees with videos on YouTube giving out erroneous “facts”?   Will we have “stuff everywhere” and a common corporate value proposition (aka the corporate position) totally destroyed and misinterpreted by people who only see part of the picture?

I am reminded of the story of the blind men and the elephant.   In this parable by Sufi Jalaluddin Rumi we are told that a group of blind men touch an elephant  and then must describe the elephant. Each man feels a different part, but only one part and the result that no one describes the elephant as a whole, but each describes the animal differently based on one piece.  One describes an elephant as long and thick like a boa constrictor — he feels the trunk.  Another describes the elephant as long and skinny — he is describing the tail.  Another says the elephant is flat like a stingray — he describes the ear, and so forth.

If our employees are using social media and other technologies to help “describe” our companies and our products / services are they knowledgeable enough of the whole —  the goals and true strengths — to be helping the corporation, or is there wholesale chaos as each is so focused on one small part that they miss the elephant for the tail?

True enough there is no way to put the genie back in the bottle.  Technology, particularly “Web 2.0” with smart phones and social media is here and will be part of our future if we deal with it or ignore it.   Should we allow our employees to go off willy nilly and be empowered to “do their own thing” or should we try to build some rules around this wild west of technology?   My contention is that in the end we will all meet somewhere in the middle.  We cannot truly control all of our employees any more than we can control our customers (or our children).  Yet, we must put some structure into place or we will face wholesale anarchy.  Welcome to the new, brave new, world of technology.


Social CRM is redefining customer relationships

Have you heard the story about “Dell Hell”?  A few years ago a Dell customer was unhappy with a computer he’d purchased.   In the old days he would have groused to some friends and spent countless frustrating hours on the phone to Dell customer service.    Those days (perhaps unlucky for some vendors) are gone.  Now we live in a social media (Facebook, Linked In, blogging, Twitter, etc.) world where we are no longer “six degrees of separation” from one another — but more right around the internet corner.

In this case the unhappy user wrote a blog and in it he wrote:

I just got a new Dell laptop and paid a fortune for the four-year, in-home service. The machine is a lemon and the service is a lie. I’m having all kinds of trouble with the hardware: overheats, network doesn’t work, maxes out on CPU usage. It’s a lemon.

Jeff Jarvis, the blogger in question, might have been very surprised by the reaction of his blog.  He hit a nerve and within two days his blog was the topic of a New York Times article. This is not the type of public relations any company wants.

In the “old days” of just a few years ago the company drove the message.  Today with social CRM the customer is driving it as well.  If your customers are not happy they are blogging, tweeting and letting the world know of their unhappiness with your products / services.

The future belongs to those who realize that communication with customers is now a ‘two way street.”   Social CRM (customer relationship management) means that the customer can communicate to the world at large without a multi-million dollar ad campaign.   All you need is a keyboard and an internet connection (and the keyboard may be a virtual one on a smart phone).  People “tweet” their unhappiness instantly.

Businesses need to realize that social media can be their friend (as in Gary Vaynerchuk who spent $15,000 on a  direct marketing mailing which won 200 new customers; $7,500 on a billboard ad which brought in 300 new customers; and spent $0 on a  Twitter “tweet” (social media blast of a few sentences at most) and got 1,800 new customers.

The power of Social CRM is that today’s savvy customers trust their friends (and social media is all about connecting with people who share your interests) more than they trust a paid marketing mailing or billboard.   When Vaynerchuk tweets and someone contacts them he makes sure he contacts them back.  It is a two way conversation.  Granted he is a busy guy and the reply may take a long time — but he DOES respond.  Meanwhile others continue the dialog for him, and the “conversation” (social media is all about conversation and not a one way ad) continues, the audience grows and the control of the message may not lie with the business — but if the business is involved it influences and wins the business.

The way we sell and market is changing — and this change is bringing us back to the “one to one” marketing goal of CRM in a way that big business could never do all on its own.

Dell learned a lot from “Dell Hell,” and you can too.  Realize that if you have a great product people will sit up and take notice.  They will also notice if your product is not so good — and they will tell others of their unhappiness.  The customer relationship is now perhaps the customer / vendor relationship and it is definitely a two way street.

Disney on the cutting edge again (or is that “still”?)

My last blog discussed how smartphones will soon suprass PCs as the main way we surf the ‘net.   In turn this access gives vendors a whole new way to personalize service to us as consumers.   Using GPS, CRM and unified communications we’ll be able to shop smarter and vendors will be able to pinpoint personalized offers to us based not just on our past buying history or our demographics (where we live, our age, etc.) but actually by knowing where we are and what we are doing.

Big brother is watching!

So how does Disney tie into this?   Disney is working on new technology for its theme parks (Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort and  Disney Hong Kong) .  Disney has not announced this, but a former executive is on record as stating that Disney is working on wireless-communication technology to tailor theme park offerings to the likes of individual visitors.  This same source claims that Disney is spending $1 billion to $1.5 billion on this project, so it is considered a “game changer” by them.

What types of things does Disney plan to do with wireless technology?   CRM of course!  They will offer Disney visitors all kinds of enhanced services that will shorten waits on line, customize the “experience” of a Disney vacation all the while they are compiling information on you and your family. . .what rides you went on, what restaurants you visited, where you stayed. . .  this information is then used to offer you knew vacation offers tailored to your likes.

Nick Franklin Executive Vice President, New Business Development

The person in charge of this herculean effort is Nick Franklin, head of global business and real-estate development for Disney’s theme park division.    Franklin has had an exciting career with Disney Franklin as well as serveing as a member of the Executive Committee for the Parks & Resorts segment overall. “This is not the typical opportunity that gets described in business school,” he said. “My job is to help envision the next generation of Disney experiences around the world, which is pretty cool.”

I’d say so!

I’ll bet back in his days at the investment banking at Goldman, Sachs & Co.  Franklin could never have dreamed he’d be working in the “House of the Mouse” working on new generation entertainment venues!

But I digress.   The rumors (and that is all we have at this time, rumors) say that Disney’s NextGen (code name) CRM technology push will include keyless hotel-room doors to rides and shows in which the experience varies based on an individual guest’s preferences.

The main source of information on this oh so secret development project is Michael Crawford, publisher of Progress City USA. Crawford writes that Imagineers (Disney’s name for engineers)  hope to use RFID technology in concert with their new Fantasyland attractions.  RFID stands for Radio frequency identification.  RFID tags can be incorporated as a chip in a Disney park pass (for example).  RFID can track your ID on your Disney “passport”, it can be your room key to your hotel room and even be used to enter mass transit like the monorail or be used as an in park credit card.    All the while Disney knows where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and where you are now.

Pretty slick!

Disney could even use the personalized card to allow attractions to access personalized information about each guest, thus personalizing your “experience.”  This was somewhat tested out last year with Disney’s  Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure at EPCOT in Walt Disney World Resorts.   This features an interactive experience where guests are given a “Kimmunicator” (Kim Possible is a Disney cartoon about a girl who is a spy) found at kiosks in Epcot. These interactive devices use  technology which gives clues from the Kim Possible characters to find “villains” they cna track as they wander around the theme park.

Each adventure is unique, personalized.  CRM, right?  Right!

RFID should be used to make each vacation to a Disney theme park totally random and new — thus removing the “we’ve already been to Disney and it’s boring, can’t we go somewhere ELSE this year?” argument moot.  At least that is the hope of Disney.

It just struck me as interesting that this news hit the Orlando Sentinel today, the very week I blogged about Smartphones and CRM.   As I mentioned in that blog — the world is moving at a very fast clip these days!

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