In 2006 Muhammad Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize for his achievement with Grameen Bank. It gives microcredits to people too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans and the bank made a signficant profit with this business model.
If the Nobel Committee was composed of international CEOs you can be sure Mr. Yunus would probably have received the Nobel Prize for Economics as well. He was able to create business opportunity where it was mostly overlooked or deemed impossible. He did that by offering new services and out-of-the-box thinking.
You can find that kind of innovation when you take a look at Wanda Movil. Telefonica offered the mobile money service to their clients in twelve Latin American countries. A lot of them are unbanked — they had been refused a bank account because they had no permanent residence, no fixed income or no steady employment. However, they do have a mobile phone!
Telefonica’s Movistar alone has 87 million clients in the region. For them, Wanda Movil makes payments far more convenient. And not just for those with a smartphone, but for every mobile phone user. So, even though Telefonica and its partners are not directly aiming for a Nobel Peace Prize, they still empower their customers with payment possibilities not previously available to them because of their lack of a bank account.
That’s truly innovative thinking for an industry which has taken a breating for sleeping while the internet revolutionized business. But examples like Wanda Movil or Vodafone’s mpesa in Africa prove that these companies are willing to invest in new ideas and unlikely places.
After considerable rigidity during the past “internet decade” telcos are becoming a driving power behind innovation in a mobile age. At least they are much more forward-thinking than some other industries. For instance, the banking industry made little use of their market position (with a few exceptions like the Standard Bank in South Africa) and missed all of the mobile money clients they might have had. Fortunately, those potential customers were mobile phone users.
But for telcos the mobile wallet is double-edged and not in all respects the best publicity for telco innovation. While “mobile money” solutions like Wanda Movil proves that telcos are willing to push the mobile wallet and want to own this game-changing technology, the industry is hesitant when it comes to “mobile payment.” And that’s for the wrong reasons.
Most restraints on the industry are due to the lack of a standardized method of payment using Near Field Communications (NFC). But just to be clear: NFC does not equal mobile payment. There is NFC without mobile payment (for example, when you get in the car and your on-board computer synchronizes with your mobile phone) and there is mobile payment without NFC.
Anyone who has ever wanted to park a car in Vienna knows this. There are no parking meters –you pay for parking with your mobile phone. It is, in fact, quite convenient. You get an SMS some time before your parking ticket expires. So, if you are in the middle of dinner or you have still not found jeans that fit you can extend the ticket at the push of a button. And NFC is not involved at all. White it is certain that NFC would make mpayemt easier, it is a fact that the Iphone 5 does not have NFC. But even on an iPhone, mobile payment is very much alive.
The mobile wallet has huge potential. There are a number of industries trying to get a foothold here. If you wonder if it is a hype or not, telcos are among those who can give a good answer. If they embrace the mobile wallet as whole – that is to take mobile payment seriously as mobile money – they have the possibility to make it a complete service with real added value. For that innovation and investment is necessary.
But sometimes even little investments in great ideas can pay off big. Ask Mr. Yunus.
Only 50% of the term Big Data is correct – it’s about data but it’s not primarily about ‘big’. Size or volume of data isn’t the ‘big’ issue. For that matter it’s not primarily about variety either. While both of those factors play important roles, they are only important because of their impact on velocity.
Data storage never was the problem
Traditional relational databases have been able to store massive data sets for a long time. An Oracle 10g database can store over 8 Petabytes while for many years DB2 databases have been capable of storing well over 500 Petabytes. Of course, this is all theoretical. No customer has an Oracle or DB2 database that approaches sizes even close to that. Why? Because the speed, or velocity, at which data can be loaded and queries can be executed approaches zero well before then.
Similarly, all traditional relational databases can store any variety of data as text or binary large objects. The problem is that large volumes of unstructured data cannot be moved fast enough to enable rapid search and retrieval.
Hadoop and MapReduce enable organizations to distribute the search simultaneously across many machines, reducing the time to find relevant nuggets of information in large volumes of data in a scalable way. That’s why Hadoop is being adopted by bleeding edge enterprises moving into the multi-petabyte club. There are already some environments that break the 100 Petabyte level, and theoretically can continue to scale.
Velocity is the real Big Data challenge
Don’t get me wrong. Data volume and variety matter, but only in so much as it impacts velocity.
Hadoop is able to search massive data sets much faster than any traditional database, but its batch nature means results come back in a timeframe that does not resemble anything close to real-time, which is proving a limiting factor. That’s why we are seeing many open source projects attempting to build in-memory caches on top of Hadoop. But is this enough?
Enterprises are looking for a solution that minimizes the delay between when an event or transaction happens and a decision is made. This requires more than an in-memory cache on a Hadoop cluster. It requires a radical rethink of enterprise architecture that dramatically accelerates the time from data to decision. This is beyond the capabilities of a traditional relational database, analytic database, or Hadoop cluster. It requires a new approach: an in-memory data platform that transacts and analyzes simultaneously, that leverages Hadoop as a searchable data repository, and that moves from data to decisions in real-time.
It’s all about real-time data. Real-time is the new ‘Big’.
Shadow IT is a growing issue. As departments, tired of waiting for IT and dealing with the processes involved in product creation, turn to third-party cloud computing vendors for innovative products that solve the problem quickly and relatively pain-free.
Unfortunately, all this buying behind IT’s back can lead to disaster for a number of reasons. IT can’t fix a problem when one arises; your company’s data is everywhere instead of home base; and you could face serious compliance issues.
As a CIO, you must turn this obstacle into an opportunity and transform the way your IT department approaches not only the processes they have in place, but also to a more strategic role. One way to do it is to strengthen the relationship with the CFO; another is to stop asking how you should stop it, but instead reach out to organizations to see what they actually need.
Utilizing these insights from your business counterparts can make a big difference in not only the state of your business’s cloud computing, but also how your team is viewed. Becoming a partner is better than a sherrif. Taking back control and becoming a strategic organization is exactly what you need. But first, you’re going to need a plan.
Audit Your IT – ever seen Sex in the City 1? Carrie is moving in with her soon to be husband Big and giving up her apartment. One issues is she has so many clothes they won’t fit in the new (smaller) closet. So, she makes three buckets: keep it, trash it, store it. Even if you’ve never seen the movie you’re going to do what Carrie did. You’re going to: keep it, replace it, or migrate it. This will mean taking a look at what cloud computing applications you have (remember my suggestion of talking with your business counterparts?). Keep in mind the sustainability of your data center, how much room do you have? Or if you’re on a public cloud, what’s the budget?
Sensibly Design Your Cloud – after the audit you’ll know which apps to keep in which department, so design the cloud around these insights. Determine if you need a public, private, or hybrid cloud then design around that. As you’re designing make sure you understand the complexity, you’ll need it for step 4.
Implementation – would you go on a trip to a foreign place with no map, no expertise of the area and only know a few words of the native language? Probably not, but if so I bet you’d find a tour guide. So why would you implement a cloud by yourself when there are “tour guides”. Implementation service providers can do all the work efficiently and more importantly RIGHT.
Oversee It – once everything is up and running, make sure you understand the environment so you can effectively manage. Supervising your cloud computing is one of the most important things because if you let it get out of control you may never see the data again.
Even though I am a huge proponent of cloud computing, by no means do I think every business should run every application on the cloud. However, I truly believe it will be an integral part of every business in the very near future so my suggestion for IT – get with the times and put that plan in place before you’re really too late.
Effective social media content is a lot like a great cup of coffee. People read great content or drink the cup of coffee and go “mmmmmm”. Like a great cup of coffee, that requires great ingredients, a great piece of content requires … well, great content!
For my coffee, I prefer freshly ground beans from Trader Joes. To brew the best tasting cup of coffee I use my favorite filters to make sure I get the taste just right! With my social media content, I use great sources of information and I also put all this content through this 9-step filter process to make sure it delivers maximum value to the reader. I want every reader of my content to say mmmmm-more!
When I worked as a digital strategist on the agency side, we created a similar filter to the one presented below when it came to idea presentation to the clients. This filtered approach proved to be very successful with our ideas, even helping use to win awards.
During my time at SAP, leading the social media strategy in North America, we adjusted this filter-approach to help develop great content to our B2B customers and prospects. The filter is working since our social media performance is increasing on all levels – followers, clicks per message, shares per message and overall reach and impressions. I’d like to share it with you to help you with you social media content marketing.
9 Filters To Brew Up Some Tasty Social Media Content!
Before you press that send button with your next set of messages, make sure it passes each of these 9 filters!
Sit back and pour that great cup of coffee and put your messages through these filters. Remember, your readers run on great content (Dunkin Donuts reference for my readers in Europe, Latin America and Asia!).
It only takes one loop around the dining hall at a trade fair or business conference, meal tray in hand, for many of us to feel like we’re the new student on the first day of school. You scan the tables, noting the ones with lively conversations where everyone seems to know each other, and wonder if you dare to join. You think it would probably be easier to sit down at that nearly empty table by the door and bury your nose in your smartphone. Anything to look busy!
In fact, networking within your company, at industry events, and even at parties pays off: 70% of all jobs are found through networking, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s a smart way to learn about new fields and business opportunities you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. More than that, meeting new people can turn a seemingly boring conference into a fun event. Why, then, is networking so hard? Some people are simply shy and don’t feel comfortable chatting up a stranger. Others enjoy mingling in a new crowd, but never seem to meet the “right” people.
We asked four experts for their tips on networking. With decades of experience attending conferences, and now giving them, these pros talk about everything from the neuroscience behind networking to how to make a good impression.
How to Network Like a Pro
1. What’s in a word: Redefine the word “networking”
Part of the problem people have with networking may be the word itself. It feels forced, formal, and makes the simple act of getting to know someone seem like a ruse to serve your own ambitions. But just because the word “networking” has a bad reputation doesn’t mean you should throw out your Rolodex. It’s all about changing your mindset.
“When you talk about setting up a business network, you automatically create a formality to what you’re doing. That makes it hard to enjoy, especially if you’re a shy person. Instead of networking, simply think of it as seeking out really interesting conversations with people.” – Rachel Happe
“I don’t care for the word networking and I never use it. Instead, I look for ‘mutuality’ with other people that will lead to a satisfying connection and a shared benefit. That may prove to be an exchange of ideas, mutual mentoring, or simply support.” – Kare Anderson
“If you approach networking with the specific aim of developing your business, people will wonder what you’re trying to sell them. It’s more about finding shared interests and seeing how those shared interests might come together in fruitful ways.” – Allen Bonde
“I think of networking as connecting profoundly with a person and figuring out how I can help them. Worst case scenario, it will go no further than a great conversation. In the best cases, you’ll find out you have something in common and can be of service to each other.” – Christine Comaford
Networking shouldn’t be self-serving. In fact, it’s all about collaboration, creating something greater with other people than what you could accomplish on your own.
2. Dos and don’ts: Improve the way you network
Networking done right is fairly simple: Ask questions, listen closely to the answers, and offer help where you can. Our four experts describe how to do this in more detail below:
“Practice networking every day. Talk to people in line at the coffee shop, at the store, on the plane. Once you start connecting more with people in your day-to-day life, it will become second nature at work.” – Christine Comaford
“Try starting a conversation with other attendees before the event starts, either on the event’s Twitter stream or in its LinkedIn group. When you see them at the event, it will be more of a reunion than a first-time meeting.” – Allen Bonde
“Dedicate more of your schedule to breakfast, lunch, and dinner; social gatherings; meeting people; and walking the floor at events. When I first started going to conferences, I used to spend all my time at the sessions. Now, you can watch most sessions online; it’s the in-person relationship building that you can’t get anywhere else.” – Rachel Happe
“Sidle up to people. It’s been shown that you’re less likely to get along with someone that you’re facing directly. Try speaking more slowly and in a lower register. Use fewer gestures. This makes it easier for people to concentrate on what you’re saying.” – Kare Anderson
“Some great questions to initiate a conversation with a person you don’t know are, how did you get into your business, who is your ideal customer, what are your goals, and what do you do for fun?” – Christine Comaford
“Start the conversation with a meaningful question and always ask a relevant follow-up question to prove you’ve been listening. Try to identify a mutual interest and, if you can, make a specific offer to follow-up, either by sending relevant information on the topic or making an introduction.” – Kare Anderson
“Do ‘palm-up’ networking. That means giving first – sharing what you can of your time and expertise – and getting later. This sets up the kind of relationship where you can create something together.” – Christine Comaford
3. It’s all in your head: Understand the neuroscience behind networking
There’s a lot going on in your brain when you meet a new person: you’re learning their name, coming up with meaningful answers to their questions, and maybe trying to recall an article that has to do with their line of work. At the same time, another part of your brain has already determined whether the person is a “friend” or “foe.” This process happens automatically with everyone you meet, and it plays a crucial role in determining whether you connect with someone or not.
Christine Comaford, known for blending neuroscience techniques and business strategy, explains what is going on in the brain during a social interaction.
Avoid social pain and trigger social pleasure:
Two brain “networks” are involved when you meet a new person: social pain and social pleasure. The social pain network is triggered by social rejection, like when you feel excluded from a conversation or group. Brain scans show that pain from social rejection can register at the same level as physical pain – and lasts longer. The social pleasure network is activated when you feel support from those around you, and it increases the likelihood of making strong connections.
Understand safety, belonging, and mattering:
One way to show your support for people is to make them feel safe, that they belong, and that they matter. These are three deep-seated needs that we all have. The brain is constantly looking for safety – determining whether people are “friends” or “foes” – and searching for a tribe or group of people to belong to. These are ingrained survival instincts. We also want to feel that we matter, that we’re not just another cog in the wheel.
Give people what they need:
Successful networkers understand these human needs and do their best to affirm them when meeting new people. When you’re talking with people at an event, try to understand their needs. If they say they don’t know anyone, they might be looking for a sense of belonging. If they talk to you about their accomplishments, they probably just want to feel that they matter. Respond accordingly, either by introducing them to other people, or asking more about their work. If you can give people what they most deeply need, you’ll be able to create a much stronger connection with them.
4. Take it online: Use social media before, during, and after events
Being active on social networks, it turns out, triggers that social pleasure part of the brain. While that may explain why millions of people are on Facebook and Twitter, it’s not the only reason you should tune in to your Twitter feed every now and again:
“Social media helps you connect with relevant people much more quickly. When you approach a random person at a conference, there’s no way of knowing if you have anything in common with them. You’re not making the most efficient use of your time.” – Rachel Happe
“One of the most useful thing about social networks is having access to people it would be hard to connect with otherwise, like C-level executives. That doesn’t mean you should cold call them. But if you’ve read their blogs and have something interesting to add, social media makes it very easy to get in touch with them.” – Allen Bonde
“If you know in advance who will be attending a conference you’re going to, you can use social media to identify the people you’d like to get to know better. Start a conversation with them on Twitter and plan to meet up with them at the event. On-site, make yourself more visible by ‘live tweeting’ from sessions and using the hash tags. Afterwards, stay connected and keep the conversation going online.” – Rachel Happe
“Don’t make the conversation all about you. The really well-connected people are those who retweet what others say and add their own insights. It’s like listening and responding, rather than dominating the conversation.” – Kare Anderson
About the contributors:
Kare Anderson is a speaker, consultant, and the author of several books and blogs, including “Say It Better” and “Moving from Me to We.”
Allen Bonde is chief strategist at The Pulse Network and partner and principal analyst at Digital Clarity Group.
Christine Comaford is an expert in applied neuroscience, leadership and culture coach, author of the upcoming “SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together” (Penguin, May 2013) and “Rules for Renegades” (McGraw-Hill).
Rachel Happe is co-founder of The Community Roundtable, a company that offers training, research and advisory services to organizations pursuing community and social business approaches.