There are three relatively new technologies converging to make Cloud 2. All three technologies have been available for many years, though in less robust forms and with less powerful integration. The convergence is driven by their ubiquity, low cost and ease of use. They are social media, mobility and analytics. Together these technologies offer a future that is vastly different from conventional enterprise information processing served from a traditional data center or from a data center somewhere else on the Internet that made up the backbone of Cloud 1. Read the full story here.
Not long ago, well actually a couple of years ago, I began writing about the need for increased use of video in our communications. I was mostly thinking vendor to customer communications.
My logic was three fold, first the technology needed to create video is now available on the desk top. On the Apple platform, which I am more familiar with, Garage Band for creating music loops, iMovie and iPhoto for movies and stills form the basis of a creative suite that enables a talented but not necessarily expert user to create engaging videos. The Adobe Creative Suite is also powerful and runs on Windows and the Mac, but for my money is unnecessarily complex, but you need Adobe or something like it to do some of the more advanced graphics. The challenge for the developer is to keep the video in a duration range of three to five minutes, and of course, to be engaging.
The second reason is slideshow burnout. There are now many books on the market about that attempt to upgrade average people’s slide presentation skills because those skills are deficient today. PresentationZen by Garr Reynolds comes to mind and there are many more. Sending someone a slide deck as if it was a fully articulated document or mock video, exposes the deficiencies of pictures only or pictures with too many bullet points on a single slide. Information was getting into, but not out of, slides and something had to be done.
The third reason that video creation is important involves transportation. Slides were created as speaking aids in a live setting and while we make great efforts to use them via web conferences, something is inevitably lost. But transportation is becoming difficult to justify, but fuel prices continue to rise and, in a recession, most organizations are in some ways restricting the frequency or type of employee travel.
It’s important to note that the above discussion includes an important caveat—most of the video coming to market today, thankfully, does not involve untrained people in front of a camera. Instead today’s video is largely animation and stills activated a la Ken Burns. It works well.
I have been impressed by a small crop of videos available on the Dreamforce website put there by Salesforce and some of its partners in anticipation of next month’s conference and I want to share them with you in case you haven’t been following.
The first video is posted at The Var Guy.com. It’s a straight up recording of an interview in June with Red Hat CEO, Jim Whitehurst titled Red Hat CEO: Cloud Can’t Exist Without Open Source. It’s a good example of old style video that puts a person in front of the camera for three and a half minutes to make a few points. Watching is faster than reading the attached Q&A but it lacks the engagement factor that I mentioned and it makes three and a half minutes seem like a long time.
Next on the list is The State of Cloud Computing from Salesforce.com. It’s all animation and looks like it was developed completely on a desktop; it is the type of video we should all aim at. There are no people on screen but a narrator tells the story over a musical sound track that ducks whenever he speaks. The piece gets its work done in only 3:09, an important criterion in an attention starved world. Given Salesforce’s marketing budget, you can bet this was not inexpensive though I wonder how it compares to other things like white papers and webinars. The video makes the case for cloud computing in all its forms and only brings in Salesforce and SaaS towards the end, placing it squarely in the larger context. A good job.
Eloqua offers a very good video, The Future of Revenue, which discusses the importance of new ideas in business. Most of the 3:41 is table setting, intertwining the stories of several advancements in business over the last century before attempting to place Eloqua in the historical context as the next big thing. The video is effective and I didn’t have trouble with attending to it because it draws you in as any good video should.
The last in this list is by Jess3 titled The State of the Internet . Like the previous two, it’s a desktop effort and it has a musical sound track but no narrator and none is needed. It is a compilation of data about Internet use attractively presented. And while the numbers are impressive, the video is nearing its first birthday so the data represents, if anything, lower values than today. At five minutes, it’s on the outside edge of tolerability for this kind of thing but the information is so compelling and the video so fast paced that you forget about time. My favorite statistics are 81% of email is spam and 84% of social networking sites have more women than men. Reminds me of a book. Hello, ladies!
So this is a small smattering of videos but I think they point out a direction for the future. As vendors continue to find ways to differentiate themselves in the minds of their customers, video that can entertainingly tell a story or provide step-by-step instructions for fixing a common problem, will become vital to most organizations. The cost of production tools has dropped to the point of mass affordability, and distribution is layered on the Internet so it is free.
There are easy ways to make video viral and the need for a sophisticated approach to content distribution in an information-overloaded world is abundantly clear. Video plus social networking may be the thing we’ve lacked with simple text delivery in a social medium—regardless of how elegantly it has been presented. And strange as it sounds, video just might be the killer app for social media and vice versa.
I am at the SAS Media Day in Cary, NC today and then on to Las Vegas for a SAS user conference. The company is poised to announce several new products in the social media analytics space and I will report later along with my analysis.
Bob Warfield does a great job of summarizing “The Eight Flavors of Social” in his post from October 19 .
While I don’t disagree with Bob on these eight popular forms of social media, I might wish to offer an alternative to it or perhaps something that builds on this foundation.
To me social media comes in only two fundamental forms, inbound and outbound and like the blood supply to your brain you need both. If you prefer a different metaphor, recall the mantra from the original “Karate Kid” movie — “wax on, wax off.” Either way, you’ve gotta have both.
We’ve done a fabulous job of adopting the outbound side of the social equation and a passable job on the inbound, at least in personal use. But I think the big thing we aren’t getting fully yet is the power of the inbound for business.
In your personal life there is an implied quid pro quo with friends — I’ll look at yours because you look at mine. However, this approach is unreliable because we look when we can or want to or when we are bored. For business use we need greater assurance that our outbound messages are received, understood and acted on. In our personal lives the candy at our social sites — the thing that friends come back for — is the intimate detail of our lives. In business, the candy usually has a string attached because vendors want us to buy things.
For social to fully transition and make it in business there has to be a way to attract people, which means that if we’re using social as a glorified email marketing tool, and if we’re not getting the results we want, we may wish to reconsider how we do things. That’s where communities come in. You can ask any sort of open-ended question in a community and if you follow the threads and apply analytics you might discover the reasons that people are attracted to your business in the first place. With that you can significantly improve your outbound stream and complete the loop.
More on VRM CRM
Doc Searls started a great conversation about VRM and CRM last week at the Berkman Center’s conference on the subject. Berkman is part of Harvard Law School and for those who follow VRM (vendor relationship management) the conversation is not new.
I love this quote that Doc posted in his blog (http://bit.ly/b6AcwW) from Dan Miller who hosted a panel that I was on:
“…current solutions that are based in CRM and social CRM capture and conduct analysis on a broad set of customer generated data and metadata. Companies think they are doing a better job of paying attention but, whether they admit it to themselves or not, they continue to use their resources to analyze activity, target messages and promotions and influence future activity. That’s not listening or engaging in a meaningful conversation.
Sooo true. He goes on,
“VRM involves a totally different engagement model. “Users” (be they shoppers, searchers, mobile subscribers or “other”) initiate conversations with their selected vendors through a trusted resource or advocate. They can compare notes with other shoppers/customers and, while they may be loyal to a brand, they are more loyal to themselves and their peers. In the ideal, the power shifts to the shopper in ways that will disintermediate traditional channels (like the contact center) and influencers (meaning commercials and advertisements).
The train wreck is not the result of there being too many names for the social CRM phenomenon, it is that CRM and VRM are on a collision course whereby one side seeks to grant more power to buyers while the other seeks to retain nearly all the power by pretending to do a better job of listening.
I am not sure about the train wreck part of it, but I am in violent agreement that vendors have been doing a not-so-wonderful job of really listening to customers. In a capitalist system I am not sure that a vendor can listen and generate continuous growth. The current crush of interest in all things social is a telltale sign given that most of what we value in social media is its ability to deliver outbound messages rather than gathering customer input.
On the other hand though, companies like Communispace have made it their business to listen and Communispace in particular seems to have a winning formula because they are growing like a proverbial weed even in the recession. But this brings up another issue for me. Vendors might now be listening or they might not be listening as much as they ought to but in the free market I see a great deal of creativity expressed by regular people that forces vendors to listen albeit imperfectly.
If you’ve followed my postings on some crude research (http://bit.ly/bGEVex) involving searching on terms that include a company name and the word “sucks” you see that even if vendors are not listening, customers certainly are speaking. And the way they speak is having an effect. If I was a vendor I would be loath to find out that my negatives were so high that they elicited hundreds of thousands of hits for a search on my company name and “sucks” but that’s indeed what happens for most companies that I have studied.
What concerns me, and the key to understanding all this is who pays. CRM grew up organically because vendors saw an opportunity to build products that helped to automate front office business practices. In fact CRM exists because of the profit motive, i.e. vendors figured out how to make money selling it.
I can’t say the same for VRM and that’s one of the big hang-ups for it. Who makes VRM and who pays for it? The customers don’t seem interested in paying for anything so don’t look there. And savvy vendors tend to look at VRM as slitting their own throats. Pretty quickly you realize that while there is a need for what VRM does, there doesn’t seem to be a constituency ready to pay for it.
But you do see a movement of individuals calling corporations to account with blogs, wikis, web sites and other self-generated tools aimed at the soft underbelly of corporate indifference. That’s why my conclusion about much but certainly not all of VRM is that it could use an infusion of social media. Note though, I do not advocate social CRM merging with VRM because that would not be helpful.
VRM also deals with things that CRM doesn’t even attempt such as the myriad legal issues governing the burgeoning vendor-customer relationship. But in all of this social media, and especially community development as practiced by Communispace and championed by Eric von Hippel of MIT, could be a major boon to VRM. Right now VRM seems to be doing customer outreach in ways that are more difficult that they have to be.
Much as I like the association of CRM with VRM I think the real association ought to be between VRM and social media. Increasingly, social media looks like the once and future root of both disciplines.