Tag Archives: ibm

Google+ Explained for Business

I recently was asked to talk about how Google+ can be leveraged for business as part of the social media enablement we’re providing for our business division.

It got me thinking as to where the real value lies in Google+.

This is what I boiled it down to:

  • Google+ is yet another social network
  • Google+ has some key similarities with other social networks
  • Google+ differs in some key ways
  • The interaction with other Google services such as Search and YouTube

You can see the meat of the presentation here:

Also posted to SlideShare.

Looking to get started? These are the links I suggest:

  1. Setup an account at https://plus.google.com/
  2. Check out the video series on Getting Started with Google+
  3. Search for people and interests and add at least 10 to Circles
  4. Attend an upcoming IBM Big Data Google+ Hangout

IBM turning 100: smarter planet, social media and meat chopping

2011 is quite a year for IBM. It marks its one hundredth year as company; as a brand.

What does this mean to me. Partly a reflection on what a brand means. Especially as I’m one of the newer entrants and wasn’t around when Big Blue was busy innovating punch card systems, typewriters, mainframes and the PC. Coming from an acquisition which only completed in the last two years, I have a much more recent relationship to the IBM eight-bar logo.

I was part of the web team that hoisted that infamous logo onto our website (before we transitioned over to the IBM.com domain for real) and from one point of view, that really was the extent of the change. Our teams remained intact and the day-to-day duties of the marketing organization remained largely unchanged: we had to continue our efforts of guiding prospects interested in our technologies. As always, we bemoaned the poor decisions of upper management and whined about the inflexibility of our business tools and processes, but now we just had a new object for our venom. So at one level I’d say the change has been superficial. A rebranding feels like little more than painting the lounge. Or a fresh application of lipstick. I had worked for a relatively large technology company. Now I work for a very large technology company.

But a brand goes beyond that.

It exists in our culture; our imagination. Hell, even my next door neighbor (an early-retired teacher) launched into an anecdote of how when he was studying at college he produced his essays on a shoestring budget by cobbling together bits of second hand IBM Selectrics typewriters he picked up at garage sales into one workable machine.

Currently IBM is driving a concerted push to create a ‘Smarter Planet’. I originally had my doubts around this campaign given my background in search marketing – we normally look to the market to find keywords to chase that fit our business objectives. This all felt a bit backwards. At the time (two years ago) ‘smarter planet’ didn’t even register as a search term. No one was talking about it.

I had yet to see the power of a major brand in exerting thought leadership.

Promotions appeared everywhere: from major newspapers to airports. But this was more than just an advertising campaign – internal business projects got on board too. This has given birth to such wonders as a machine that can compete at Jeopardy.

What has been the result? The Smarter Planet initiative is still very much a work in progress but just take a look at how search volumes have mushroomed on Google:

(click on image for more details)

The concept of a ‘smarter planet’ is now in our consciousness (or at least our Google-brain).

This level of cohesion and singularity is even more astounding given the dispersed nature of the IBM workforce. There are very few big hubs and campuses: around half of the workforce work remotely. This leaves little scope for water-cooler discussions but rather a heavy use of telecoms and social computing to bring teams together over teleconferences, screen share sessions or even ‘idea jams’ (short-term online discussion forums covering a set topic).

Internal communications also bleeds out onto the external web. As analyst Charlene Li points out in Open Leadership, “In 2005, IBM led the way… as one of the first companies to put in place blogging guidelines” and in December Mashable listed IBM as one of the top four companies to work for if you’re a social media professional. The nature of the organization has created the demand for social computing. Being one of the homeworkers, I’ll often find out about IBM initiatives through platforms such as Twitter.

So, it’s funny to think that with humble roots in the meat chopping business, IBM is now a global B2B technology force with an indelible print on our culture stretching back 100 years. And it continues to leave its mark: whether it’s easing congestion in major cities as part of the smarter planet initiative, or creating a large social media footprint. And I get to play my small part in this evolving story.

Daryl Pereira is a web and social media manager at IBM who tweets from his little corner of the B2B technology industry @cagedether. For more on the IBM Centennial, search Twitter for #ibm100

IBM Seer: augmented reality and what the umpire doesn’t see at Wimbledon

Funny thing about working for an uber-company is that sometimes you learn about the cool stuff being produced through external sources. Such was the case this week when the excellent FIR podcast made an obscure mention to IBM’s augmented reality (AR) app for Wimbledon.

Tantalized, I had to look further. And this is what I discovered:

Nice, huh?

It’s like using your smart phone as a pair of those goggles sci fi writers used to dream about: superimposing the location of important places (or deadly villains) as you look around. How does it work? The app ties together the live feed from your webcam with your GPS (so the phone knows where you are) and your internal compass (to sense in which direction you are pointing). Add to that a map with all the important places at Wimbledon plotted on it (courts, cafes, info booths, toilets), and you have one very cool app. Disclaimer: this is the explanation of a vaguely technical marketer, no Einstein progeny.

OK, words and pictures will only go so far. See this app in technicolor action through the wonders of YouTube:

BTW, I should point out that this year wasn’t the first time this app was featured at Wimbledon. However, the growth in smart phone usage has made it more widespread and meant it has received more coverage.

What have others being saying about it? Chris Rawlinson points out that Ogilvy worked together with IBM to develop this technology. AugmentedPlanet give more technical background, explaining how the app was developed using the Wikitude browser. Eurodroid found the app surprisingly useful, and not just a piece of mobile marketing fluff. Tennis Video Channel point out that you can even point your phone in the direction of a court and watch live footage (for instance, if you are queuing to get in).

What are the wider implications of a tool like this? I’d suggest it’s overkill for your average company picnic (although could be reassuring to tag your boss and know where they are at all times to avoid any embarrassments), however if you are involved in planning large events, there could be some real value here.

For instance, if you can tie this up with an event management tool, attendees can bookmark their sessions and use an AR application to navigate to the next session. You could also point attendees to places of interest, such as book signings or special events. To cover housekeeping, it makes sense to add toilet facilities, cafes, etc.

Any other applications or case studies around augmented reality you’d like to share? Let me know!

Have you considered segmenting your Twitter strategy?

I had an illuminating discussion with Delphine Remy-Boutang (@DelphRB), who is a social media marketing manager at IBM. She has run some successful social media campaigns and has pulled together some great slides evangelizing the use of social media for B2B marketing.

One of these presentations contained the following Twitter strategy:

TwitterStrategy_Ogilvy

(Credit for the information on this slide goes to Ogilvy)

There can be some real advantages for segmenting your Twitter strategy along these lines:

  • You can micro-manage your audience (eg. customers only see product release information, and not events aimed at prospects)
  • You can task different parts of the organization with running separate channels
  • You may choose different Twitter tools and clients based on the audience (eg. event coverage could be handled through Tweetdeck whereas you might want in-depth social media monitoring tools for crisis management)

I’d say there are some caveats around this approach. The biggest being that this only really makes sense in larger organizations. If you have a smaller ecosystem or there’s only a few of you to manage Twitter, you may just want one handle that pulls all these functions together. In this case segmentation doesn’t make sense.

Another issue to be wary of is ending up with silos for each of these segments. There may be instances where you need to cross-pollinate and share information. For instance, what happens when customer support questions end up being directed to the Product Promotion channel? You need to have an effective way of routing these Tweets back through to the support organization. This problem isn’t confined to just this strategy or Twitter, but rather a larger problem symptomatic of our markets turning into conversations.  It is often marketing departments who monitor these conversations, but marketing may not be best-placed to engage. Organizationally, we need to resolve these problems if we are to effectively communicate in these emerging channels.

For me the strongest message implicit in this strategy is this: we shouldn’t just think of a Twitter channel of another way of broadcasting our marketing messages. Sure, this is one facet of Twitter communication, but there is a much wider picture which we need to take into account.