From December 7-9, I will be taking part in Le Web in Paris and leading an international team of bloggers from and outside Orange
Readers who are not able to make it to the event will nonetheless be able to keep in touch with what happens in Paris at Le Web thanks to our twitter handle @orange, which will lead them to the right resources on blog and other media. The #leweb hashtag will also be funnelled through Orange Timeline so you can see, not only what we are going to tweet and post during the event, but all the content provided by all users talking/writing about the event.
Discover our Social media team’s members
Glenn Le Santo
Writer. Journalist. Broadcaster. Photographer. PR. Social Media commentator. Speaker. His specialties are social media, mobile, people, travel Twitter @lesanto
Social Media Manager at Up 2 Social, blogger (his own blog and a collaborative one, Locita). Social media enthuastic Twitter @camj59
Mobile Marketing Strategy Marketer (at Orange France) – SoLoMo evangelist. His specialities are social, local, mobile, mcommerce, etourism, startup, entrepreneurship Twitter @laurent_local
Health 2.0 Serial Entrepreneur, Corporate Affiliate Lecturer at ESCP-Europe, operating on Soft Skills, Organizational Behavior, Web 2.0 and Open Innovation topics Twitter @raphaellelaubie
Social Media Manager, Blogger and Community Manager for MyCommunityManager – Former Mba EBusiness ESG student. Web, travel, street art and cooking geek enthusiastic Twitter @KDicop
President and chief content strategist at Dot-Connection, a small, fully bilingual consultancy based in Paris, France. Content and web management Twitter @lisajanody
Co-founder of Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. Stewart’s focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. A graduate of philosophy & science, he has studied futurology & foresight to post-grad level. Twitter @stewartbaines
This is the session synopsis of my keynote presentation at Figaro Digital in London on November 23, 2011. I only used a few slides which I will provide later on. In this presentation I gave my tips for organising social media teams in large organisations, based on my current experience at Orange.
This is part 1 of this presentation. In order to gather all parts, click or use the following short link: http://bit.ly/figaroyag11
[all photos by Yann Gourvennec: http://bit.ly/picasayann]
November 2011 is a critical month for instance: Google+ released its business pages on November 4th, 2011 and everybody in Socialmedia.org and everywhere else is asking themselves whether to dip or not to dip a toe in the water … It may seem trivial but how do we get ourselves organised? Do we have to throw more budget onto this – and if so for what purpose? – Or more resources, or do nothing and then run the risk of being a laggard? Decision-making has to be brisk, and the consequences aren’t minimal. Building a new network of fans/followers/likers … whatever you call them is the basis for doing community work and practice word of mouth marketing, and it is a job which requires many efforts and resources.
Even on existing platforms, one has to improve the way in which we are responding. It is particularly true at Orange, because we are a popular service provider with millions of clients and like any other service provider, one has to pay a lot of attention to customer service. It is therefore of paramount importance that we – at Corporate communications – understand that.
As a conclusion to his presentation, Jeremiah demonstrated that there were 4 potential organisational models and that the only viable one in a large organisation, the only one which scales, is the one called multiple hub and spoke or “dandelion”, in which empowerment is enforced, and the focus is on education, delegation, cross-organisational work and best practice sharing.
Now that we have established that there is a strong requirement for implementing the “dandelion” organisation, how do we do that? And how do we do that in a mostly de-centralised organisation. Most organisations, a fact I was able to witness throughout my career, are de-centralised. De-centralised organisations are more creative, but they are also more challenging with regard to how one implements programmes across the board. If your organisation is more regimental, and all you need to do is press a button this presentation isn’t for you. Having said that, even in the Army when I was part of it, I witnessed a lot of de-centralisation which gave us leeway to do things and innovate at our level.
We have been busy working on Social Media at Orange for a long time now. Even though it’s only 4 years, Internet years are said to be longer than ordinary years, only Internet pioneers remember that though. When I started working in this industry this is what used to be common knowledge. Internet years were likened to dog-years, i.e. supposedly 1 year equalled 7 years. Although there is nothing scientific to back this statement up, it is true that a lot has happened in just 4 years and sometimes I realised that everything we have learned has to be re-learned time and time again. 4 years later, approximately 200 people – the number was officially quoted by my colleague who is in charge of our digital HR strategy – are working in and around social media at Orange worldwide. This is a lot of people, but not out of proportion (we have 169,000 employees worldwide). Yet, the challenge described by Jeremiah Owyang in his presentation are really pertinent.
In this article, Time magazine have produced their own info-graphic from data taken from the World Bank, OECD and the IMF.
Their diagram (thumbnail picture on the lefthand side, buy a reprint for details) shows that it’s easier to do business in many countries in which it is customary to say that it’s not easy to do business.
Beyond the obvious first two contenders (US and UK) we find countries not always hailed for their lack of regulations like Saudi Arabia, Australia, Germany, Japan… And France!
Despite what whingers are saying, it is therefore easier to do business according in those countries. The criteria set by Time magazine used to determine this index are a mix of tax code, loan availability, and numbers such as “the number of days to build a warehouse”; this index is set against the growth of GDP.
From this diagram we can conclude two main things:
Firstly that we have to debunk the myth about deregulation is making it easier for people to do business. There are other criteria in fact. If it takes “311 days to build a warehouse” as in does in China for instance, deregulation might not be very helpful to you. There are other factors such as corruption ,
Secondly, it shows that the the ease of doing business is in fact, even if this is counter-intuitive, not really conducive to important increases in GDP. Another way of looking at it would be to say that the countries in which growth is slowing down need to make it easier for people to do business, but those which are doing well don’t.
As a conclusion, entrepreneurs may be reassured that going through the red tape may in fact be probably good for their own business.
The API landscape is extremely dynamic. The following 2 diagrams taken from ProgrammableWeb describe the most common APIs which are used in order to build mash-ups. They show the dominance of major historic players (check the “see all time” diagram) but also the more recent rise of new players such as Twilio in the recent past (last 14 days), as well as the convergence of Cloud Computing and Telecom.
There is yet more evidence of the emergence of this new ecosystem; it is indeed interesting to notice the emergence of new players offering the technical support to manage API infrastructures such as the new Application Enablement Services Business Unit from Alcatel-Lucent (the one that acquired ProgrammableWeb in 2010), Mashery, Apigee, Aepona or 3Scale.
But let’s come back to the relationship between Apps and APIs.
After all, aren’t applications mere channels? To support their promotion, we can reasonably bet that Brands will also create APIs in the future, with probably a more obvious way to demonstrate Return On Investment through the number of innovative apps created by third party creative developers than through the number of downloads KPI of their own app. Brands could therefore propose APIs in order to extend the reach of their products and services.
Here are some suggestions for a few popular Brands.
Nike could create a “Just Size It” API that gives the perfect shoe size from the photo of your feet,
Evian could create a hydration API that calculates the quantity of water a person needs to drink daily and reminds her when rehydration is needed,
Netflix has proposed an API to tap into its customers’ creative capabilities, and even organized a contest  so as to crowdsource ideas leading to the improvement of the algorithms of its movie recommendation engine,
French off-licence chain Nicolas could create an API that allows its customers to find and leave recommendations about the wine they buy.
How could these companies support the use of their APIs, and therefore the promotion of their Brand? This would be done by the developers who would make sure to make APIs accessible by the end users on different interfaces, and who would find ways to remunerate themselves through the proposition of new business models.
Of course Brands can still develop some specific applications themselves, but the decision to propose an Open API will offer an unparalleled way to boost exponentially the reach of their promotion.
A lot of marketing managers are sometimes the victims of the ‘gadget syndrome’: they follow the trend getting on board the last fashionable feature to include into their marketing plans. One year it is the ‘Facebook Page’, or the ‘Twitter account’, and the year after the ‘Mobile App’.
But as part of a more sustainable marketing and innovation strategy, the best solution may very well not be an application but rather an Open API.
Another trend to take into account as a booster for the number of APIs, is Open Data. The opening of public data by the administrations (After initiatives in the US with Data.gov and in the UK with Data.gov.uk, Etalab is also about to launch the Data.gouv.fr portal of data sets in December 2011) and French cities such as Rennes, Paris or Montpellier have already exposed some data sets with some of them as APIs.
Open Data for businessese
The concept also appeals to businesses as shown by the Bluenove white paper (in French) entitled “Open Data: what are the issues and the opportunities for the enterprise?” with sponsors such as French railways SNCF, French Post Office Group La Poste, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT and the French confectionary giant Poult group. The Civil Service, local governments as well as businesses will have to learn how to attract, engage and manage a community of developers but also of entrepreneurs, researchers, academics, students and companies from other industries to motivate them to use their APIs and boost their innovation.
as a conclusion: the fundamental role of developers
One the one hand major platforms continue relentlessly to open themselves to to more and more end users thanks to more open developments. On the other hand, developers will try to invent new applications but will also have to use an increasing number of available APIs and use new skills to detect, select, integrate them but also contribute to improve them and even ask for new ones.
One sees new types of requirements, services and skills emerging which keep the collaboration and innovation momentum going between the members of these complex ecosystems among which developers have a fundamental role to play.
As I started writing this article at the beginning of October 2011 , the http://www.programmableweb.com/ web site indicated on its home page that it has identified 4007 APIs and 6175 mash-ups on a global footprint: At the moment you are reading this piece on the Visionary Marketing, I am certain these numbers are completely outdated. I agree that, Dear Developers, these numbers are still very far from your ‘Ocean of Apps’ but this new ecosystem nevertheless starts to look like a ‘Jungle of APIs’.
First and foremost, let’s take the time to put this notion of Open APIs back into its context. ‘Application Programming Interfaces’ do enable the connection between different IT platforms and the integration of different application and services through the creation of a ‘mash-up’. Open APIs proposed by a mobile or web player aim at helping the creation of an ecosystem around a common platform, therefore forming a dynamic community of creative developers who are given the opportunity to innovate faster and in many more directions, than if they wished to do it on their own. This is therefore a genuine Open Innovation strategy in which the various players will have to initiate and maintain a long-term bond of trust, based on elements such as stability, sustainability, ease of use of the platform and the APIs, but also based on a win-win relationship with its community of partner developers.
Beyond the major web platforms (Google, Facebook, Ebay, Twitter, Amazon, etc.) that propose to the developers a big set of APIs and of course the main mobile OSes (Iphone, Android, Windows Phone, etc.) offering their SDKs to support the development of mobile applications, similar open programs exist as well in the Telecom industry. Telecom operators such as Orange (with Orange API), Telefonica (with their BlueVia program) or Telenor (with Mobilt Bedriftsnett) also allow access to third parties to some of their network assets such as SMS, click-to-call, location, storage, billing, etc. in order to facilitate the emergence of new services through the innovation potential from developers, start-ups and brands.
A signal demonstrating the need for rationalisation and standardisation in this ‘jungle of APIs’ came up with the GSMA ‘One API’ initiative: a success still to be confirmed.
 ProgrammableWeb has been aquired by Alcatel-Lucent in 2010
The future trends for the foundation, according to its founder are twofold:
on the one hand, it’s about expanding Wikipedia’s language capability and namely the most popular languages of India (in India there are over 20 different languages!”). In order to do that, keyboard issues will have to be overcome; “this will be a challenge!” Jimmy Wales added,
on the other hand, the future is also about a new project name Wikia. “If Wikipedia was the beginning, i.e. an encyclopaedia, wiki is much more ambitious platform; it is meant to be a library!” declared Jimmy ‘Jimbo’ Wales.
[slide: le languages of India, well … some of them at least]
Jimmy Wales gave us a few example of new projects developed from the platform, in order to give us a flavour of what the future holds:
The Guttenplag wiki (http://de.guttenplag.wikia.com) for instance, is a full-fledged critical report of the Ph.D. dissertation of Karl Theodor Freiherr (Earl) zu Guttenberg in which the authors of the collaborative project demonstrated that 371 pages of that dissertation (i.e. over 60% of the whole document) were actually copied from other sources. This led to the resignation of this gentleman as defence minister of the Federal Republic of Germany (for details refer to “Karl Theodor zu Gutenberg: “baron without a title” BBC.co.uk 18th of February 2011). Hundreds of people, not just journalists, took part in this project, Jimmy pointed out. In essence, one could comment that what this Wikia platform is bringing the power of wikis to the people.
On October 26, I attended the iStrategy conference in Amsterdam. Here is part 2 of the account of Jimmy Wales’s presentation on Wikipedia and Wikia.
to gather all the parts of this post together, just type: http://bit.ly/walesvm2!
[slide: novel writer @alisonclement asking her students what and encyclopaedia is]
the Wikimedia foundation
… is the mother company behind the online encyclopaedia. Its primary source of funding is its yearly donation campaigns. “Last year’s campaign was most successful“, Jimmy Wells emphasised. $19 million were donated online, out of the $28 million which make up the annual budget of the non-profit. Running servers and paying for the bandwidth supporting those millions of pages costs a mint of money, and $28 million is a handsome budget. The aim of the foundation is to be “independent, neutral and avoid the whitewashing of anything for anybody” Jimmy added.
Yet, how you ensure neutrality and fairness in the community in which not everyone is capable of editing the content (see part 4 in this series) is a much debatable issue.
Having said that, the foundation has 80 full-time employees working for it, and above 100,000 volunteers. “Do not expect our employee pays to grow to the 4,000 level within 10 years” Jimmy Wales said, this is not supposed to happen!