02/19/14

The path to Big Data: Challenges and Opportunities

Big dataThe New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online MBA program sent me this infographic entitled “Data Mining and Decision Support Systems“, in which the university describes big data and data mining as the new way of carrying out market research. As a matter of fact, data mining isn’t new – I first heard about it in the 1990s when it started to become fashionable, namely in the Banking industry – and it is not directed at “new  data” but “existing data” as is described in the infographic.

If data mining (or even Big data for that matter) per se isn’t innovative, massive open databases, and unstructured data like those gathered by Facebook and Google actually are the new kids on the block. NJIT even heralds these new giants as the future major players of the data mining industry. To an extent they already are.

And true enough, data mining is bound to become, at last, a major player in the Marketing field for the years to come: when it comes to clients … and prospective customers alike (that’s the real novel aspect of it, we can now gather information about clients to be).

Challenges related to big data implementation

Yet, many challenges will have to be overcome by businesses which want to benefit from this new wave of market research brought by the big data era : improving data quality is one (this is why the retail industry is ahead of the game: check-out data is massive and squeakily clean), allowing time and resources is another, not to mention knowledge and training and, last but not least, internal limitations as to how data can be shared across departments. No wonder that 1% only (according to Information builders) of company information is used at the moment.

Now here’s the challenge, and only those who are able to overcome it will be able to reap the benefits from these new marketing opportunities.

Big data

NJIT New Jersey Institute of Technology – Online MBA

11/19/13

“Social Media is evolving into Social Mass Media” – Hootsuite video

eye-large_thumb.gifA few days ago, I received an e-mail message from Canadian ISV Hootsuite telling me that my video was  online. Then I was swamped with a flurry of tweets and mentions about some of the insights I had delivered in that video. I am very grateful to Hootsuite for shooting such a beautiful testimonial and giving me an opportunity to share my views on social media and how it is evolving. We (Herve Kabla, our publisher and I) are currently working hard on the adaptation of our latest  ”Managing Digital Marketing Like A Boss” opus which should be made available for Christmas, if all goes well. Many thanks to Sam Milbraith for writing up such a great story. I have always loved Hootsuite, I think it’s a great product and  I am a great supporter of theirs. Keep up the good work guys!

  Social Insights from European Thought Leader, Yann Gourvennec – HootSuite Social Media Management

Meet Yann Gourvennec.

He is a Paris-based European expert on social business and the rise of the social enterprise. With over 25 years of international experience in marketing, sales and information systems, he has been perfecting and sharing his wealth of insight on the transformations taking place in the industry since the advent of the internet. At Orange telecommunications corporation, Yann managed the Orange.com corporate website and microsites and built their digital media strategy and social media presence worldwide – from the ground up. He has been a member of socialmedia.org since 2008 and co-founded Media Aces, the French Association for enterprises and social media.

INPI-couverture_V3_com_digiAs a “serial intrapreneur,” Yann challenges the status quo of businesses from the inside out. “You find intrapreneurs in large firms or complex organisations where they bring innovation through their change management skills,” says Yann Gourvennec. “To me, being an intrapreneur means a great deal in terms of philosophy, the way I see things, the way I work with colleagues and the way that I drive projects forward and implement innovation from within a business.”

“Managing Digital Marketing Like a Boss”

Yann Gourvennec’s first book “Social Media Taught To My Boss,” became the most influential digital book of 2012 in France. Since then, he and his colleague Hervé Kabla have released its sequel in French in Paris, broadening the scope to tackle digital marketing at large – not just social media (hence the working title, “Managing Digital Marketing Like a Boss”).

“To Hervé Kabla and I, social media is now part of the digital communications mix,” says Yann. “It’s no longer about whether or not to be present on social media. We’ve moved beyond that, with regard to how you make sense of it all, hone your objectives, polish your strategies, develop your presence and structure your governance. The issue of return on investment is no longer an option either. Social media is part of the mix, a broader issue that has to be grasped by each and everyone in the company, not just by the digital team.”

“If there is one takeaway from our books, it is that we are going through a paradox: digital media is ubiquitous, everybody has to and wants to join in. It looks simple, but it isn’t. It is a proper discipline that requires skills and experience. After all, would you follow through with a surgery done by a surgeon reading “surgery for dummies?” So why would you want your organisation’s entire digital strategy owned by a 2-follower Twitter account owner? While there is an urgent need for the widespread inclusion of all employees to be present online, employing seasoned, skilled professionals in digital media and social media strategy is equally as important.”

via Social Insights from European Thought Leader, Yann Gourvennec – HootSuite Social Media Management.

02/1/13

Why Facebook will NOT be “Yahooed”

news-large

This is my second contribution to the innovation generation blogs, an initiative sponsored by Alcatel. Here is my second piece entitled: Facebook, The Good, Bad and Ugly.

No one knows exactly where the social network is going, but it’s certainly going somewhere. Last September, I organised the San Francisco blogger bus tour on behalf of Orange, a unique experience, in which 14 bloggers from all over the world roamed the Valley in search of evidence that innovation wasn’t stifled by Facebook and other social media giants, as some wanted us to believe.

Yet, all along our visits, we heard claims that “Facebook was passé” and even that “Facebook would be ‘Yahooed’.” Four months later, the news that we are getting about social media is so contradictory that it is very hard to tell what’s going to happen. Yet, marketers from all over the world have invested massively in Facebook.

[photo : antimuseum.com]

The question is, will it prove useless, or will Facebook on the contrary, be the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy? And why does it matter for service providers?

The good

Facebook’s footprint is humongous and there are nos signs of “Facebook fatigue”. So many have moaned that after the one billionth user, things would start to deteriorate. Well, it didn’t happen. Socialbakers’ numbers aren’t showing evidence of that. Even though the recurring purges of fake users trigger falls in numbers, penetration rates can still go up (with less than 50 percent of the UK population, and less than 40 percent in France, there is room for improvement).

When Timeline was implemented in 2012, it was heavily criticized and doomsayers predicted users would leave the platform. They didn’t, they just got used to it, that’s all.

The bad

Facebook and Instagram have a track record for playing tricks with data privacy on the back of users. Yet, despite the recent rumors about users leaving Instagram for this reason, the news has been denied by Facebook itself. Instagram, according to Mark Zuckerberg’s firm, is even gaining users.

Zuckerberg himself admitted that privacy doesn’t matter anymore. A belief which isn’t shared by all and especially in German-speaking countries, where culturally speaking, data ownership is crucial. Max Schrems even founded a group entitled Europeans versus Facebook, which is filing legal action against Facebook.

Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, there is something wrong with the way the world’s largest social network is considering its users. So much so that might one rightfully wonder, like Dalton Caldwell, whether this is what social media was supposed to be, whereas it was meant to “change the world” to use one of Mr Zuckerberg’s famous quotes.

And the ugly

Very recently, LinkedIn’s Mario Sundar pointed out the lack of style in the company’s PR. This isn’t conducive to believing that marketing has changed forever like Tara Hunt had predicted.

Besides, a few months ago, Facebook decided to tweak its secret Edge Rank algorithm so that fewer users in your communities are exposed to your messages. This is no big deal for users, but for brands, it means that they are now offered to pay for “promoted posts” to reach more users. Wait a minute; what if your average TV network was offering your business advertising space and was asking for more money so that viewers are actually presented with your message? You would naturally be angry.

Yet, with Facebook, nothing has happened. Do advertisers have any other credible alternative to Facebook? As I heard one of my counterparts say at a recent advertisers’ meeting: “I know all this stuff about Google+, but Facebook is where all the users are!”

The future

What does the future hold? I’m not certain social media sells soap; what is true though is that there are a lot of similarities with the period that we are going through and the early 2000’s. Back then, everyone argued there wasn’t a business model for the Web. Yet, more than 10 years later, European e-commerce is delivering nearly as much revenue than Telecommunications companies.

Similarly, those who said there wasn’t a business model for online advertising are those who praise Google Adwords now. Multinationals spend up to several dozens of millions of euros on search engine marketing (SEM), including service providers. This is no small business.

Social media and Facebook, in particular, are no different from those early web trailblazers. The world, and service providers in particular, should stop sneering at those shaky business models. Internet business is a self-fulfilling prophecy; it has always been the case. This is high tech innovation for you, no one knows for sure where it’s going, but it certainly is going somewhere.

As a consequence, there are chances that we might have to put up with Facebook’s freaky way of handling privacy for a lot longer; that is to say as long as brands are ready to pay for advertising on Facebook and experiment on the popular social network.

01/16/13

The magic left the building with Jobs

This Is Not What Social Media Was Meant To Be

today’s selection is …

LinkedIn’s Mario Sundar’s piece is, despite its title, not just about Steve Jobs, it’s about the way that PR is done, and the fact that Social Media wasn’t meant to become what it is now. He describes a PR exercise by Zuckerberg and Facebook officials which lacks both the lustre and pizazz of Apple’s classic keynotes. I am not an Apple admirer I must admit, even though I own Apple products and acknowledge that they are beautiful products, but I’m not in synch with the philosophy behind Apple. Yet, Jobs’s keynotes were undoubtedly personal and performed with style. What is most annoying is indeed, as Sundar remarks, all those who try to mimic Jobs’s methods… not always with great success. As pointed out by Herman Mellville: “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

12/6/12

social media API war goes on unabated (reblogged from Gigaom)

eye-large_thumb.gifHere is an illustration for today’s talk at the French Association of Marketing on the future of social media and a sequel to our discussions with Dalton Caldwell in San Francisco last September.

What the Instagram fight says about Twitter as a media platform — Tech News and Analysis

Instagram says it is removing the ability for Twitter to embed photos because it wants users to go to its own website instead of Twitter’s to see that content. Other media companies should probably also be asking themselves similar questions about their relationship with Twitter.

Remember when Twitter was just a free and open conduit for whatever content its users wanted to distribute? Those days are long gone now, replaced by Twitter’s desire to control and monetize as much of its platform as possible, and as much of the content that flows through it. The latest skirmish in this ongoing battle came on Wednesday, when Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom confirmed that the service has removed support for Twitter’s “expanded tweets” feature, and therefore photos won’t be showing up in Twitter any more. While Instagram’s relationship with Twitter is complicated, its reasons for doing this should make other media companies stop and think about how they use (or are being used by) Twitter as well.

As noted by Nick Bilton in a New York Times piece and by my colleague Erica Ogg — and confirmed by a post at the official Twitter blog — what Instagram has done is to remove support for the expanded view of tweets that shows up on the Twitter website and in its official apps. These tweets have a special pane that displays excerpts from blog posts and news stories published by certain partners, or photos and videos from certain external services. Twitter originally launched this as something called “expanded tweets” but it has since become a much more ambitious platform called “Twitter Cards.”

via What the Instagram fight says about Twitter as a media platform — Tech News and Analysis.

11/13/12

Brogan Declares Social Media Not Dead But Boring

Today’s selection is…

exclamation-smallChris Brogan’s latest piece which shows that those who were in first, had to go out first too. I remember Chris from his presentation at Like Minds 2010 in Exeter where I keynoted too: he was passionate, energetic… and warning the world that something big was happening.

with Chris Brogan after Like Minds 2010

All that is gone now! three gazillion repetitive blog pieces later, you now know everything about how to optimise your corporate Twitter account and/or how to trick (or survive) Facebook’s ever-changing edge rank algorithm. Or rather, you don’t! because possessing focus focusing on tools is useless! Take a bit of hindsight with this piece and find out why…

by Chris Brogan

Isn’t it time we started telling bigger stories than this?

When Julien Smith and I wrote The Impact Equation, we had a very specific goal in mind: help people get attention, understanding, and eventually a relationship of value. We built the book around the premise that well-defined goals were needed to craft ready-to-understand ideas, and that people could build a platform to spread those ideas to a network of people who cared enough to share those ideas with others. That’s the simplest possible summary of the book.

What people maybe thought they were getting was a book about social media and social networks, about marketing and campaigns. Some people believe that’s what Julien and I do. Social media are a set of tools. They’re not all that interesting to talk about in and of themselves. The “gee whiz” has left the station. We want to talk about action– or if you’ll pardon the self-reference, impact.

via Social Media Isn’t Dead: It’s Boring.

10/17/12

Google’s Page lashes out at Facebook for lack of openness

Today’s selection is…

Miguel Helft’s piece for Fortune Tech about the recent and much awaited appearance of Larry Page, the new yet not so new CEO of Google, in which many things are debated including his vocal cord problems. However, the most important passage from that story is as conclusion in which page lashes at Facebook for not being open enough and pledges openness of social data. Now you’re talking Larry! I’m almost in love with Google plus again. Let me find my old password…

[is Facebook – and other social networks – gearing towards a closed Internet?]

After long silence, Google’s Page speaks

[…] After extolling the virtues of Googles multi-year effort to develop an accurate digital representation of the real world with its mapping services, he said the company was “almost there.” In a clear reference to Apple’s embarrassing rollout of a mapping application that was riddled with errors, he added: “We are we are excited that other people have started to notice that we’ve worked hard on that for 7 years.”MORE: Facebook vs. Google: The battle for the future of the Web. He said it was “likely” that Google would try to make its maps available on Apple devices, despite its lack of control over how they would appear or be distributed.

And in a pointed criticism at Facebook refusal to open up its data to outside parties, including Googles search engine, he said the Internet worked best when essential data was shared across companies. Speaking specifically about social data, he said: “I would love to make use of that in any way we can.”

via After long silence, Googles Page speaks – Fortune Tech.

10/10/12

Social Media in business today : SMI conference – Marrakech

SMI

I will take part in the forthcoming Social Media Impact conference due to take place in Marrakech, Morocco on October 11-12. Here is an interview I delivered a few weeks ago in order to introduce my pitch over there. I have included a video recording of the interview as well as an embed of my presentation.

What is social media’s place in the professional world today?

It’s actually quite different from what it used to be. We’re about eight years after the introduction of social media in the enterprise so my perspective in this SMI presentation in Marrakech will be that of somebody that manages social media in the enterprise and that has been doing so for the last five years. So obviously the kind of place we are in at the moment is that of the structuring of the initiative. We shall see three major phases in the project surrounding the presentation in social media within the enterprise:

  • the triggering of the project: proving the concept and that it is really worth doing.
  • the development phase: how one ramps up and scales.
  • the structuring phase: that’s where we’re at. The structuring of the organization, the processes and everything else.

With the constant growth and reach of these social networks, can a company survive without them today?

Obviously, certain companies can survive without social media, it depends what you do. If you deal in plastic for instance, there are very few chances that you’re going to be a major player in the collaborative web. Now, if you’re in a market like the telecoms, as we are, or in any CPG market, you’ll have to be where your customers are, and customers are there, online. Northern Africa has been absolutely booming in terms of social media usage and so yes, brands have to be where customers are, to initiate or engage in the conversation.

As a company, how do you know which social media fits best to the message you wish to pass along?

There are a number of things I will dwell on in this presentation. To start, I will change that notion of message, because this is not how social media is working. We’re not working with messages but with conversations which we may not have initiated, or at least not in a traditional way. I will also go through a number of business cases taken from Orange from all over the world (Spain, France, England, Romania), and I will go through all these examples and show some of these cases and their return on investments.

What are the major threats posed by the use of social media in a company?

Well, if you don’t handle social media very well then you could face a number of threats. I think threat number one is just not being there, thinking that the conversation doesn’t happen simply because you’re not listening to it. Threat number two is, once you’re actually there and have engaged in social media, letting things get out of hand. So you have to be there nurturing, every day, and be sure to respond to, if not everything, as much as you can. So there are loads of processes and organization: it’s probably easy to do social media for yourselves, but if you’re a large organization then it is very different.

How do you see the future of social media in the corporate world in the near future?

I think the landscape is going to change dramatically in the next few months and years. We’re going to see a lot more governance thrown in to social media and the way it is organized, or rather disorganized right now. There is going to be massive endeavours in terms of how we train people and get them up to speed with regards to social media, and not just the ‘experts’, or the ones in charge, but the entirety of the enterprise.

Video Interview: interview : SMI conference

10/6/12

Facebook’s very traditional advertising campaign

new Facebook advertising campaign

I’m not sure about the purpose of this commercial which I tend to find very depressing and not really inspiring. Facebook is understandably under pressure from its investors for monetising after it’s disappointing IPO and a flurry of announcements were made recently in that domain, not always convincing by the way.

I am neither certain this campaign will help sell on site advertising nor that this will help improve Facebook’s image in the eyes of its disgruntled investors.

Feel free to share your feelings.

10/2/12

Is app.net ‘s Dalton Caldwell the new Zuckerberg? – #blogbus

Dalton Caldwell, 32, is the founder and CEO of app.net but how he got there is a long story. A native from Texas, he went to university in Stanford, Calif., then joined Symbolic Systems in 2003. He was a precursor in social networks (check his bio on wikipedia) at the time (2003) when Friendster was around; he is the creator of Imeem, which was “originally a Skype-modelled Desktop social network in a peer-to-peer approach”.  After multiple incarnations it became a music sharing system, the 75th largest website in the world and “the first legal music downloading system”. Imeem, as it was called, was eventually acquired by Myspace in 2009. Caldwell was also awarded the best mobile app award by Techcrunch as early as 2008, when mobile was unknown to most. Now you start to understand. Dalton Caldwell is a trail-blazer, and anything but the average start-up founder, he is a true wizard, a brilliant mind who is responsible for the latest buzz in social media in the valley … and the rest of the world. Imagine that, he turned down an “acqui-hire” offer by Facebook which could have made evn richer he already is.

[will app.net turn out to be a home run? photo antimuseum.com]

Now, will app.net replace Facebook and Dalton Caldwell be the new Zuckerberg? If he dons the same kind of hoodies, needless to say his philosophy is entirely different; and I have to admit that I like it a lot … Let’s zoom in on app.net with the notes taken during the interview we had with him last week during the blogger bus tour in Soma*, San Francisco:

image

[Dalton Caldwell, the CEO and founder of app.net]

Caldwell launches mobile photo sharing app before Instagram and loses

Caldwell and his teams wanted “to do something which is mobile first”. What with the immense success of applications like Instagram and Pinterest, the focus is on mobile. Facebook is getting to grips with this now that analysts are criticising them for not being able to monetise on mobiles at a a time when users are shifting from Web to smartphones.

Two and half years ago, the team started working on a mobile photo sharing “pre-instagram” application named Picplz. After they raised funds and came to realisation they would only lose the battle against Instagram, they did the right thing, folded Picpliz and went on to the next thing. It often happens like this in Silicon Valley. In the high-tech business, Pivoting moments like this happen all the time. Don’t forget that Google ended up being a search engine after Yahoo! had refused to buy their algorithm (as per the story described in Scott Berkun’s The Myths of Innovation).

Caldwell turns down acqui-hire by Facebook

The team then “took a few shots with the same infrastructure” and of Caldwell’s own accord, “this is why they were able to catch up so quickly with App.net”. The first idea was to help third party developers find how to integrate their apps within Facebook or Twitter. Caldwell’s team started building more tools for the Facebook platform and after opengraph “came to fruition, it all worked so well with Facebook that they wanted to “acqui-hire” them”. Yet, Caldwell “wasn’t enthusiastic” to put it in his own words. A friend of his then suggested not to worry about the websites but to focus on the APIs. This was in 2008-2009. App.net wasn’t yet what it is now.

Social Networks becoming ad companies will shut down their APIs

If most social networks like Twitter and Facebook started off as APIs and helped build entire ecosystems around them, “[they] couldn’t stick to this because of monetisation” Caldwell explained. He then wrote a blog post (What Twitter could have been) on July 1 (a Sunday) in which he vented his frustration. Little did he know that his post would attract a hug following and that he was about to start something new. The blog post “took off, with hundreds of thousands of visits, (even though it only consists of a few paragraphs). In that piece, Dalton Caldwell contends that “every API will be closed by social networks because [popular social networks] went away from being API companies to become ad companies and it means that they have to control everything”.

if they decide to close their APIs, then why not build an API?

“The idea then became to build an API company!” Caldwell went on. “Most people don’t know how bad things are, and they will notice in the next few months that certain applications stop working” he said.

[apps.net : global feed page]

crowd-funding … in a matter of weeks

$-largeThis is how app.net was given a front end which “looks like Twitter looked in 2007” the young entrepreneur added. Just as a proof of concept, for this front-end is not meant to be a Twitter replacement. Developers are proposed to build applications on it. Imagine a social chess game for instance, all built on the common API and digging from the common user base.

The new project son attracted 10,000 users in a matter of weeks. Which means that the $ 500k goal the company had set up for themselves by the end of August. “This is how start-ups work” Dalton Caldwell explained: “if Youtube had launched 6 month later or before it wouldn’t have succeeded. Social media made it happen it wasn’t us. We are just under 20,000 users now. No idea how long it will take for them to have million of users versus the current 20,000. I don’t know how long it will take us to reach millions, maybe it will never do. In fact in depends on whether somebody develops a killer application based on the App.net AP!” he said.

a lot of people got angry

Caldwell admitted to making a lot of people angry; with a few lines he put his finger on a fundamental issue which is plaguing the current development of social media. Social networks were developed with the idea that Marketing could be done differently and barely 3 years ago, the world was buzzing with Tara Hunt’s Whuffie Factor concept, a founding book placing social capital over financial value. With the race to monetisation – which grew even worse with Facebook’s IPO – all of this is gone for good. We are left with advertising and I admit to sharing Caldwell’s frustration; a frustration I had already vented a year and a half ago as President of Media Aces in France.

“We are building a privacy model and we are not going to impose a business model” Caldwell concluded. “Those who build the best apps will be rewarded and there are 6 apps in the application store so far” he said.

embrace the philosophy … well worth $50

It’s hard to tell whether App.net will scale to millions of users like other platforms. As a matter of fact, it’s not even competing on the same level at all. At any rate, for social media veterans like me, Caldwell is spot on in terms of how he approaches social media and it’s well worth $50 in my eyes. After all, app.net may well just remain a social network for the happy few who want to escape interruption marketing and the use of your private data and content by public companies. If only for that, I feel like joining App.net and supporting Dalton and his teams.

Caldwell may not be the next Zuckerberg after all, maybe just the other way round. Small is beautiful!

notes


*Soma = South of Market (downtown San Francisco district situated south of ‘Market’, a major artery in the centre of the City.