by Michael Maoz | January 23, 2015 | Submit a Comment
Absorb the lesson of the Theseus Ship and you have all of the tools to advise the Marketing team when they ask IT help to create great customer experiences. None of you had the gift of suffering under the tutelage of Mr. Hadley Ellis Alcott’s course in Greek literature, which he named, Modern Shadows Cast by the Ancients. Therefore, here is the essence of the Theseus Ship: the question is asked by x if, since the ship with which Theseus set sail from the port of y was battered and repaired, from stem to stern, above deck and each plank below, and from uppermost sheet and mast to the lowest of cleat, there was no piece of the ship that could be called original. Though to the eye of the beholder standing ashore as the ship pulled into the harbor nothing had changed in the ship’s appearance from when they had first cast off until the moment many years later that they lay anchor years later, in fact nothing was the same. That so, was it fair to call this the ship of Theseus, or was it in fact a new entity?
What has any of this to do with IT assisting marketing, and marketing working with operations and customer service and a chief customer officer? Well, in the enterprise we gather information about the prospective customer, or the persona of a customer, we build segments that we enrich with as much data as possible, and we market to these entities in the hope of making them customers. We gather even more information about those who we do bring into the funnel as customers. We have captured them as a customer in a particular moment in their evolution. If it is a business, then the business evolves. If it is a citizen or student, they evolve. If it is an individual, or a family, they too evolve.
Often we fail to notice the changes, or fail to recalculate and recalibrate the relationship. A business grows, it expands, it moves to another location, takes on a new focus. The same with a consumer. Styles, experiences, interactions with our products and services, interactions with other businesses, travel, tastes, changes in attitudes, wealth or lack thereof, education – there are hundreds and often thousands of experiences that have changed the customer in a cumulative way to the extent that it is no longer possible to think of them in the same way, or as the same customer, we encountered all of that time ago. It is in the ongoing detection and response to these shifts and micro-changes that keeps relationships going.
To those aboard Theseus’ ship there is an implicit understanding that the ship and its crew are different in profound ways as a result of what life has thrown at them. Standing on the shoreline awaiting the return of the crew, nothing had changed.
What kind of organization are you? Do you recognize the Theseus Ship for what it is? And why, or why not? The answer is usually apparent in the responses that we get to marketing offers, or to customer satisfaction surveys, or attrition rates and profitability. Tracking the changes in the customer and the implications for your business makes the best companies great at customer loyalty.
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by Michael Maoz | January 13, 2015 | 1 Comment
The official 2015 Customer Engagement Center Magic Quadrant kicks off in another week, though it is more de jure than de facto, as it a living creature that updates from moment to moment. Its formal update generates an intense re-visiting of the criteria and definition of the space, which looks at the combination of tools more impactful in engaging a customer who has a need for advice and help, consistently and across all interaction media. A tall order.
Thinking intentionally about the role and definition of customer service in an enterprise endeavor (whether that enterprise be a university or township or US State or branch of a national government or consumer goods company, telecommunications, entertainment, high tech or low tech, utility or other….), and it shares a lot in common with the Higgs boson, AKA, the God Particle. It is so basic, so elementary, so subtle, and so powerful, that it underlies the raison d’etre of every organization: to serve the customer. Like the Higgs boson, it is not zero, even if in your business it is treated as a near-zero by marketing and traditional IT leaders. That is because that, again like the God Particle, it creates nearly no excitations, it is modest, subtle, powerful, and pervasive. To find the Higgs boson they had to build an incredibly powerful particle accelerator under the earth outside of Geneva, run by the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (but known as CERN).
Fortunately for us, any organization can create its own center of customer excellence from the basic materials already at hand: employees and customers. The real trick is a CEO who understands that the customer is at the center. Steve Jobs was known for a fanatical concern for design, yet it was he who said, ‘You have to start with the customer experience and work backward toward the technology.’ It is that simple. With an enlightened CEO, the wheels are in motion. With an enlightened CIO, the parts will be assembled. With advanced spirits in operations and customer support, the right teams and measures will be put in place. They will be your CERN: customer experience and relationship nodes, orchestrated for excellence.
What is in the way? Mindset. Travelling to businesses and speaking with operations and marketing and IT, we look for the VP of customer service. She or he is usually nowhere in the room. Walk down the corridor and you can hear her singing the great 1975 Linda Ronstadt hit, “When will I be loved?”
I’ve been cheated
When will I be loved
I’ve been pushed down
I’ve been pushed ’round
When will I be loved
That is kind of what it is like. Marketing says that they own the customer journey maps and customer experience maps. IT says it owns tool selection. Procurement tells customer service that it will go with the best priced tools. HR tells customer support what it can pay for the right talent. Other than those limitations, fly!!! By the way, Linda Ronstadt was playing a cover of a 1960 song written by Phil Everly. It took 15 years, another arranger and singer, and a change in the order of the lyrics before it became a huge hit on the album, Heart Like a Wheel. Greatness can take time, and little tweaks of an awesome idea, new owners, new leaders, and collaboration, can result in greatness.
What is standing in YOUR way? Is it you, the CIO? Or you, the VP of Operations who is too timid? Is it your CEO? It is NOT your customers. They do not enjoy your departmental squabbles and hijinks that hobble their experience, and when they’ve had enough, they move to your competitor. We all have a choice. What do you see in the DNA of the great companies? Are you one of those great companies? Why, or why not?
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by Michael Maoz | January 8, 2015 | 2 Comments
In the military, one of the more interesting jobs is the supply specialist who keeps the armory and warehouses stocked. These wonderful folks, usually infectiously enthusiastic and salty of tongue, are the difference between theater success or failure. The amount of ‘stuff’ that a single soldier needs can be overwhelming. In early military days you might get two uniforms, boots, a helmut, a rifle, and out the door. Today it is helmut, vest, mask, rifle, pistol, bomb suit (you do not want one of these), packs/sacks/bags for gear, clothing for all temperatures, first aid, entrenching tools, ammunition, night vision equipment, an iPhone, and a whole lot more.
Listening to CIOs, many sound like the chief supply officer working with their supply specialists. Yes, they are on top of inventory, issue the RFPs, unload the supplies (hardware/software), issue the equipment/gear (test/provision), troubleshoot, coordinate delivery. That is not strategy.
As much as you cannot win a war without logistics (and Napolean was the best example of grasping this), you also cannot win at business on logistics and supplies alone. Vision, strategy and tactics have to be orchestrated perfectly with logistics for success.
To support the view that there is a gap between the current vision of the CIO and the role of the best CIO, take a look at Gartner surveys of the CIO and CEO asking them about the focus of investment.
The CIO says: 1) BI/Analytics 2) Infrastructure and Data Center 3) Cloud 4) ERP 5) Mobile
The CEO says: 1) Digital marketing 2) eCommerce 3) Customer Experience 4) Business analytics 5) Cloud based
Basically, the CEO is communicating: we need to do our best to attract the customer in a digital world, get the goods and services into their hands, make sure that they are happy, be able to measure the profitability and agility, and get the technology onto a modern stack. Clear, direct, top/bottom line orientation.
And the best CIOs are in synch with the CEO – looking for the innovative technologies to attract, transact, and please the end customer (not the internal customer), all of the while measuring the results.
Who are you? Supply specialist or maestro of business innovation?
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by Michael Maoz | January 6, 2015 | 1 Comment
One of the recurring jokes that gets a laugh regardless of the times heard is from George Carlin: “I put a dollar in a change machine. Nothing changed.” With advanced data mining tools, that could be your best outcome, versus things getting worse. Here in the United States we have just passed through the storm that is known as the “Holiday Season.” It is a six week period during which $600 billion in retail sales are recorded, along with spikes in travel, movie going, restaurant visits, and media consumption. The US is the Goldilocks of world buyers: they spent 5% more this year, versus the EU area that spent about 1.5% more and the Chinese who spent 11% more.
Here is an interesting experience: throughout all of that shopping, car leasing, travelling, hotel stays, automobile rentals, and restaurant experiences, not one company managed to extend me or anyone I know a relevant offer that exhibited even the most rudimentary level of data mining. I am not talking about the level of skill that Colin Kaepernick needs to hit Michael Crabtree on a cross-pattern in heavy traffic during a blitz. No: most of what we experienced was below what a clerk in Chor Bazaar, Mumbai could muster just by reading your body language. Some choice examples: checking into the hotel in Delray Beach, where we stayed using ‘award points’ and being seen as thieves stealing rooms from the paying customers. Not being recognized as having moved from no status to silver, then gold, and then platinum. Or the car rental explaining why I need three types of coverage that they should by now, after 12 years a customer, understand that I have. Or the restaurant where we book the same table every year at the same time of year, but they have never once reached out. Or the car lease with an automobile dealer that has 18 years of service history and could easily obtain complementary data about the driver, yet displays not a scintilla of insight about preferences.
So where is all of this data mining prowess hidden? Is it in a back office filled with amazingly talented data crunchers, people who are brilliant but not necessarily will tuned to the nuances of real customer behaviors, or the real behavior of receptionists and sales people and counter workers and IVRs? The technology is maturing at places like IBM, Microsoft, Interactions, nextIT, BeyondVerbal, or with Google Now, but the issue is: who in the enterprise can take the best in data mining and apply it to the AI engines, assemble them, define the business rules, and get them to work in an integrative manner across engagement channels?
Oh, and all of this without changing your internal organizational structures. Right now IT and the lines of business are essentially Blefuscu and Lilliput, and who has time to solve their quarrels? So look at the great companies who have harmonized teams, or are in the process of, in the name of customer experience. Folks like Unilever and Globe Telecom in the Philippines, Carrefour, Lego and Disney and T-Mobile. All visionary, all pushing the envelope to change on behalf of customers and shareholders alike. There is a lot to learn from their willingness to try new things out.
Until we get our process houses in order, hide the scalpels. W are just creating even better ways to hurt yourselves, faster. Change happens when it happens, not when it is talked about. Who are you seeing within your organization as appointed by the CEO to execute, on a corporate level, strategy to improve the customer process?
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by Michael Maoz | December 10, 2014 | Comments Off
My colleagues and I just released a new piece of research that we titled, “Nine CRM Projects to do Right Now for Customer Service (if you are a Gartner client you can read it here (http://www.gartner.com/document/2939818). What we did was take this year’s top 2,000 inquiries, together with our onsite client visits and Symposia one-on-ones and analyze them for common themes. Over 98% of our inquiries did not involve the CIO directly, but instead a thicket of job titles, all of which focused in one way or another on customer issues outside of pure marketing and sales. Some of these include:
- Business process analyst
- Solution architect
- BPM design manager
- Enterprise architect
- CRM functional manager
- Procurement specialist
- Director of Customer Experience
- VP of network services
Where is the CIO in these discussions? Nowhere is the short answer. The CIO thinks in terms of IT Governance, IT Strategy, Innovation Management, IT Budgeting, IT Cost Optimization. They talk about the business value of IT.
What we did, then, is listen to the folks who are tasked with translating the CIO’s big picture vision and strategy into a set of tactical decisions. In our case: what are the key projects that any of the IT leaders who want to help make Customer Experience a differentiator for the enterprise should undertake in 2015?
We started with customer experience metrics: do you know the right measures of customer satisfaction? Of how to lower the cost of service while providing consistent multi-channel service? How are consumer needs for consistent service on mobile devices being met? Are employees, those tasked with interacting with customers, motivated and happy, or disengaged? Are we using the right analytical tools to understand all of this? You get the idea – and hopefully you can reach the research – but if not think in terms of people/process/technology in that order to improve customer proceeses.
Don’t expect the CIO to help you with any of this – it’s the other way around. Come up with a ‘bottom-up’ set of priorities based on facts. Connect the Customer Engagement projects to process change, technology innovation, improvements in business metrics – and from there roll them up to the big concepts that your CIO is on the hook to demonstrate: better IT Governance, an IT Strategy that yields more customers, more profit, a better brand, the innovative use of mobile applications and video and sensors that show your Innovation Management, the move to the Cloud to improve IT Budgeting, IT Cost Optimization through better customer self service and crowdsourcing. And close by delivering the metrics, the improvements in cost and profitability that your CRM projects have delivered that show the business value of IT.
Give the CIO a break – create your CRM Translation Table today. Already doing that? Tell us about it!
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by Michael Maoz | December 1, 2014 | Comments Off
The IT world is curious in that the farther one gets from core technology projects the closer one gets to value. CRM business applications are similar – it is often the more arcane or little known software products and suppliers delivering value. It is they who are called in by the CIO or IT lead for Customer Experience to find cutting edge solutions to drive better engagement, solve difficult integration problems, improve process efficiency.
There are so many examples out there: delivering software upgrades to thousands of customers who are contractually entitled. How is that done? Through a CRM, but not by it. Or measuring the time a customer service representative is using an application, or searching for a document, or speaking on a phone, or percentage of the time that they are successful. Or uncovering which customers are your more influential, or trending that way. What is the software that analyzes mobile app usage rates? Efficacy rates? Uptime? Or the best natural language processors or virtual assistants or content personalization or CRM analytics tools? Do any of these come from one of the “Major players” in the packaged business application market? You could be forgiven for thinking so.
Why do our procurement officers and our CIOs often overlook the best and settle for less? It seems to be in part the Bandwagon Effect. For those non-US English speakers, this is a social behavior where individuals adopt a way of acting, or buy a product or service, at a rate of increase in proportion to the growth of others who have done so. Another way of looking at it is that there is strength in numbers. What my respected cohort does, I feel safe doing.
It requires true independence, confidence and strength to resist the powerful gravitational pull of the trendy. And that is what I see in so many Gartner clients devoted to the most inspiring projects: disregarding the herd and braving the odds to go after true shareholder value. Or better citizen engagement, or better connections for students. And the software used very often comes from “None of the Above.”
These project owners were sure enough of themselves that they built a business case, did their homework, and focused on the essentials: revenue growth, cost savings, new business enablement. They focused away from: status quo, sure thing, trendy, peer acceptance. Thomas Paine, the philosopher who wrote Common Sense in 1776, said that ‘when men (today he’d say men and women) yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.’ Another way of looking at this is that in the end going after the easy project that one’s peers have chosen and are pushing for. But as a business or as an IT organization that is a lazy option that could, in a time of a downturn, come back to haunt. And when we sit with the thoughtful CIO and IT leader who makes the independent choice, there is always that same electricity and passion for the customer and for the business. This gives them the clarity of thought to make the independent choice.
What are you seeing?
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by Michael Maoz | November 4, 2014 | 1 Comment
Just about every student in the 1960s and 1970s in the Western world was exposed to Herman Hesse’s short novel, Siddartha. Everyone, it would seem, except future CIOs. But it is not too late, any more than it is ever to late to read Lou Gerstner’s Who says elephants can’t dance. Any time is a good time to read them. To save time, here’s the deal: Siddartha is reared in a beautiful palace, unaware of the turmoil that is life. He eventually leaves the confines of the palace, only to spend much of the rest of his life coming to understand the every truth has another and opposite truth. Only when he becomes aware of the totality of life’s dimensions do his eyes open and he attains enlightenment.
Let’s get practical: I brought my Passport, Visa application to China, photographs and letters to a logistics company three days ago for overnight delivery to a distance of 150 km – under 100 miles. I had printed labels for the company that was to receive the package, signed the forms, paid the tab, and trustingly left. When the 24 hours were up, I called the Visa processor to see how it was going. No package. OK, let me wait a bit. another six hours. Nothing. But the logistics company has tracking, and I enter the number. Nothing – it would appear the package has not been touched for two days. A call is made to the automated service, and then to a human agent, who says it was on its way but the labels were incorrect. Then that they were correct but they missed their flight. Then they were returned to the origin and there they sat. And still sat as of a few hours ago, nearly three days later. And no one appears to know why.
Hey, stuff happens. Force Majeure. Casus fortuitus – call it what you will. At the same time, wouldn’t this be something you would want to alert the customer to? Your urgent package has gone walk-about and you, dear customer, are now in a bad place, and here is the situation and here is what we are trying to do. That would be nice. Instead it is: you caught us.
The CIO of this fine company – great company – has little way of receiving specifics of what goes wrong. Over the years I have had multiple snafus with this company, and others, and the CIOs are all clients. The visibility that you (they) have into the day to day life of the customer is limited. It is the illusion of the 360 degree view that we build to and not the reality. Think this one through: why would a CIO know or care about the most granular aspects of the customer experience? The lack of outreach / notification / update / explanation? How will the multiple failed trips to the website, phone calls to the customer support center, brusque ‘we don’t know’ from the original shipping depot reach a CIO?
The lack of any one person holding responsibility for the health of the customer experience is what chokes progress in its improvement. We in IT can afford to be a tad smug and say, “What does it matter, anyway, what the customer experiences?” Why? Because in many countries since the beginning of 2009 until today the stock market is up over 200%. The secular economic tide has lifted princes and thieves alike. But just as in a time of peace a country should press hardest to prevent war, in a time of corporate affluence the CIO should grab the multiple reins of the customer experience. Siddartha lived as a beggar and a worker for Kamaswami, experiencing life as did the masses, and through this learned empathy. With whom do you, as a CIO or IT leader emphathise? Marketing? The senior leadership? Sales? Logistics? Shareholders? Or the customer? How are you gaining these experiences? Can you trust them? Have you lived the lives or your various customer types? Do you trust the accuracy of the customer experience data that you are receiving? Are you on the hook to improve the customer experience? Have you seen my Passport and documents? (ok, maybe not that.)
Can you name the companies where the CIO works from the outside in understanding the customer experience and designing processes accordingly? Let’s hear them – we have a long list of our own!
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by Michael Maoz | October 5, 2014 | 2 Comments
Consumers are often frustrated for reasons that the CIO can neither see nor understand. Our consumers are frustrated for reasons that the VP of Marketing cannot see nor understand. If a customer of a business were to sit down with a CIO and give them their point of view, the CIO might find it interesting, though not conclude that it is their job to fix. If the consumer were to then sit down with the VP Marketing, they too would have a friendly conversation, notes would be taken, and little would change. If the CIO, VP Marketing and the consumer were to sit down together, there would be a lot of uncomfortable fidgeting, plenty of commiseration, and notes would be sent to the VP of Customer Service.
The big issue is that we as CIOs, or IT leaders, or Marketing leaders, cannot be everywhere. We need eyes and ears on the ground to tell us what is really happening. We need true feedback to come right at us. When we don’t have a close look at the customer, they stop believing in our slogans and mottoes and marketing hype. The feedback loop for most companies is broken. It is like in Van Morrison’s 1991 Hymns to the Silence album, and the consumer is saying, “I’m not feelin’ it no more, I’m tryin’ to give you the score, just like I did before.” But the lines of business and IT are saying that everything is fine. This is true whether your model is business-to-business or business-to-consumer.
Let’s look at, in pictures, three multinational companies that we interacted with over the past three weeks. Each of these has very high level marketing programs, Business Intelligence software, and high cost IT departments.
First, a car rental company. Returning a car to the airport at 22:46, none of the three shuttle bus drivers of this global company wanted to bring customers to the terminal because their shifts ended at 23:00 and they would only return to the depot a few minutes after 23:00. And the new shift of drivers would not begin until the top of the hour. So customers just stood enjoying the evening air while the employees drank coffee and smoked cigarettes:
How will anyone in a position to institute change receive this feedback? You might say: complete the survey. Been there and done that: no response.
And then on the airplane moving from Asia to the USA, after intrepid traveler upgraded to Business Class in order to be fresh for work the following day, another global carrier could not be bothered refreshing the rest-rooms during the last hour of the flight. This airline has a massive IT project and Marketing program to win customers:
How about a place to leave feedback right away, or upon landing? (When asked why no WiFi, the crew answered: we can’t because we are over water…).
And the final example, a global bank with operations in over 100 countries. They are in the midst of an IT transformation, introducing Cloud computing for their business applications and using analytics to understand customer trends. But in the branch on any afternoon, over 50 customers mill about in multiple queues, holding onto chits of paper awaiting their turns to be called. Mountains of paper lie on every customer service desktop. It is basically like a liquidation sale right as the doors opened. Neither the CIO nor the VP of Marketing will know that the bad set of processes in the branch is a far more serious issue than IT modernization or the mobile banking campaign.
The point? As we launch our Gartner IT Symposium in Orlando, FL (sold out: http://www.gartner.com/technology/symposium/orlando/ ),#GartnerSym this week, let’s look for ways for the CIO and the head of Marketing to reach all of the way down to where the consumer lives in their day to day interactions – at the moments of truth. Each of the businesses above have highly qualified IT leaders, as well as marketing leaders who are passionate about their brand, and have a concern for their customers. The fact that this passion does not manifest itself in the customer experience is understandable: these IT and Marketing leaders do not ‘own’ the customer experience. They own parts of the experience. Form follows function: IT does its best and Marketing does its best. Neither team has the brief, “Ensure that we are a customer centric company, and use direct feedback from the customer to inform our view. Let’s be transparent internally and externally to show where we stand, and how we have improved.” We need better feedback loops and a unified team including the CIO, VP of Customer Support, Customer Experience, and VP Marketing – a team that is measured and whose compensation is impacted by the resulting improvements or lack of improvements in customer experience.
So, the next time that the CIO, a VP Marketing and a customer walk into a bar, are you confident that they will toast one another…
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by Michael Maoz | September 9, 2014 | 1 Comment
Think back over the past 20 years at the innovative technologies that you have absorbed into your life. That first Nokia 3210 back in 1999. Or that Motorola RAZR2 in 2006, or that dreamy iPhone that made you give up your Blackberry. No! Not the Blackberry, they’ll never pry it from my cold, dying hands. And then the next minute: who needs it. In Latin, ironically, one would say mobile vulgus – the public is fickle. Regardless, add that mobile phone to ‘You’ve got mail,’ and then your first Facebook posts just ten years ago. And now it is Pinterest and Instagram and Snapchat.
What do they have in common? No one had to tell you that you wanted them. Without much fanfare, and with no convincing, you fell into them in an intoxicating stupor that you could hardly explain. Suddenly we were calling one another, and texting, messaging, poking, a lot of BFFs and LOLs, connections, links, infectious and inane games that caused the kids in the back seat to forget the traffic jam or the long plane ride.
And now ask yourself: is this the same feeling as wearables? Jawbone UP fitness trackers and Google Glass and a dozen other wearable devices usually land on the same Uber-wrists. The fit and the well-to-do and the educated on the US East and West Coasts, or I’m Right coast v the Best coast. As incredible as the new wearable technologies are, and without underestimating the enormous potential for monitoring health, is there the same fervor? Is there a mad rush to wearables, or is there a phenomenal amount of hype pushing people towards it?
A litmus test is to look at high school and university students. In the past, they were my early indicators. They don’t appear to want to have their lives run more efficiently. Was Angry Birds about efficiency and time saving? Hagel, Seely, Brown models might be great, but they aren’t the models younger demographics have in mind. The point is: as CIO or IT leader, trying to gauge the enthusiasm for wearables, the implications of turning employees and customers to ‘nodes on networks’ – versus other pressing initiatives like basic data about the state of the customer across multiple channels and their likelihood to buy your product or leave you for a competitor – where or where does a wearable go in the planning cycle?
NET: we have a period of IT euphoria for wearables ahead that taps into the overall Internet of Things. Eventually – and that eventually is more in line with IP telephony’s emergence than Facebook’s emergence – wearables will likely have a killer set of applications. In the meantime, now is the time to stage your investments in wearable technologies and applications, a time to build use cases, a time to measure a series of small tactical projects for specific users. Watch carefully for when that ‘eventually’ becomes today so that you are not caught flat footed (there’s an app for that), all of the while slotting in wearables in their proper place.
We may be way off on this – just speak up and say it! I have my Azumio and Strava set up, so I will know if you’ve rattled me.
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by Michael Maoz | August 25, 2014 | 1 Comment
Here are five places where anyone could have observed a Selfie being taken or viewed in any major US city this week: Waiting in line at the DMV, driving a car, checking out at the supermarket, picking up tickets for a film, crossing a busy street. These were the more interesting answers given at a party Saturday night. Interesting in the sense that a sane person once might have asked: ‘isn’t that dangerous? Or silly?’ but today that same person would not ask, as posing the query would draw more of a stare than a Neanderthal on the East Green in Central Park.
Statistics that claim to tally channel usage by consumers are laughable. Dig into them and they are either focused on an industry, a geographic area, a specific demographic or market segment. The variety, depth, and style of using engagement channels and social media channels around the globe by people of various ages, educational and economic levels, and location make averages useless.
What is important is studying your own circumstance, aware of what is happening out there. What is 100% clear is that when Marshall McLuhan wrote Understanding Media – The extensions of man in 1964, he was onto something profound. This is not the first time his name comes up here. Re-read him. Try this line:
“Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the extensions of man– the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society, much as we have already extended our senses and our nerves by the various media.”
We are deeply into the extension of consciousness into social media. Many of us no longer retain information, just a mental bookmark or social link to where the information can be retrieved – we are truly outsourcing our brains. To an extent we are also outsourcing our taste and judgment, preferring to let the crowd comment on an activity, a relationship, an idea, before we firm-up our own thought process. And all of the while we feel comfortable that each of us is in charge and acting entirely on our own. The only highly differentiated ‘me’ left is the me in social ‘me-‘dia.
What do we do with this eerie pattern? As IT professionals we admit that this is outside of our expertise. There are social scientists and evolutionary psychologists and ethnographers who we can tap into. There are universities around the world such as Stanford, MIT, Oxford, and Cambridge where cutting edge research is available. (well, not exactly today in England – another Bank Holiday)
Tapping into the Zeitgeist is harder than we think. Technologies are abundant, while understanding is in short supply. Ask for help, look for allies, and look for the logic and the data to support hypotheses. It is an ultra-exciting time, though by no means a simple time.
Most companies are holding onto more cash than ever before. Rather than pass it into a marketing fog, the CIO needs to be vocal about the need to run small experiments to understand the implications of the media-saturated customer. Just get started. Maybe hold off on taking that Selfie at your next staff meeting, though.
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