Live (sorta!) from IBM Connect

It was really fun and interesting to have a chance to talk with Cheryl Burgess (@CKBurgess) at IBM’s annual confab on the topic of social business: IBM Connect.  The conference had many, many great talks — alas, I only got to be there for a day and most of that was hustling to do my talk.

You should check out Cheryl’s detailed write up here, but in the meantime, you can watch the video here:

IBM’s point of view on Social Business (that’s me, mom)

We initially created this video as part of our Think Academy — a monthly education program that we do virtually for all 400,000+ IBMers on strategic topics like cloud computing, analytics etc. For January’s session, we covered Social Business and the organizers of the program asked me to appear with my colleague Tami Cannizzaro to describe IBM’s point of view on social business. So here you have it — a video initially made just for IBMers, but now we’re using it externally — it’s on YouTube — for example, we played it at my panel discussion with Cheryl Burgess yesterday at IBM Connect.

Mostly publishing stuff elsewhere

I’ve been neglecting my blog…but it’s not for lack of online content creation. Far from it! Here are some links to some articles and podcasts I’ve worked on in recent months for other sites.  I’m having a great time doing it and may ultimately re-post some of it here or revisit some of the topics in greater detail.

For now, the links:

IBM slides from SXSW 2013

Somehow I forgot to post these here despite having uploaded them ages ago to Slideshare.  Oh well, here are my slides from the keynote I did at the OMMA track of SXSW earlier this year.


<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”Enterprise transformation through social media” target=”_blank”>Enterprise transformation through social media</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Ethan McCarty</a></strong> </div>

Social Business presentation

I keep meaning to share this presentation about social business that I did at Ragan‘s event late last year…

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”Social Business @ IBM” target=”_blank”>Social Business @ IBM</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Ethan McCarty</a></strong> </div>

Video: A couple thoughts about IBMers and LinkedIn

I attended LinkedIn’s TechConnect conference a month or so ago — I peeled off for a few minutes to describe a bit about how IBMers are using LinkedIn.

A new value exchange between your brand and employees: authenticity for credibility

Screenshot of running on a mobile device
Screenshot of running on a mobile device

Organizations that allow and encourage individuals/employees to become comfortable integrating their personal and professional personae aren’t getting enough press.  That is to say, we are all experiencing the convergence of organizational brand & culture with personal identity that is unprecedented — and the organizations that will win in this era of greater data transparency, permanence, velocity and discoverability will be those that can attract and retain people who improve company culture by embodying the company’s character.  Essentially, social brand strategists need to create intentional systems of engagement that share benefit with employees and allow these individuals to contribute positively to how the brand is experienced.  Naturally, this is especially true for business to business firms.  It might even be a no-brainer when we look back one day.

One externally visible representation of this strategy in action is where we have begun to experiment with a data service (rendered there on a web page pretty simply) that combines our “official channels” with those of some of IBM’s subject matter experts.  This juxtaposition of the individual IBMer’s expertise and the official channel content seems to have an overall improving effect — for the brand channels, you get additional legitimization because they’re right there with individual people.  For the IBMers, they get the credibility of being in this special data service (which leads to more exposure etc for them.)  We have been building out the criteria, guidelines, registration systems, training etc on the back end for this for a while — but more importantly, we can do this because at IBM we have been working a long time on creating a values-led culture, which somewhat mitigates risks and tends to improve the likelihood that the quality of the interactions will be good (thus obviating decreasing the need for micro-management).

I think this all indicates a new value exchange emerging between employees and firms — authenticity for credibility — and it can flow bidirectionally depending on the context.

*This blog post is an edit to an email exchange I had with Kare Anderson, who is hosting the panel discussion I’m on next week at New Media Expo in Las Vegas, “Driving Social Business Results at Scale” .

What if you were launching “Anonymous Business” instead of Social Business?

Anonymous business anyone?

When it comes to making the enterprise workplace more digital and social, I don’t think we’ve made it clear enough what behaviors are expected around the roll-out of just about any kind of interactions in digital media…we’ve relied too heavily on institutional inertia which has a kind of gravity towards the lowest common denominator in many cases.

What if you were launching something called “Anonymous Business” instead of social business?  What would you do…activate evangelists and coaches and create online tutorials about how to be anonymous and and antisocial while at work?
“Top tips for ignoring your colleagues’ contributions”
“Six easy steps to sending emails from system IDs with incomprehensible instructions”
My point with the silly example is that in absence of definitive behavioral signposts, you have essentially done the alternative.

Meanwhile, there are alternatives…though we haven’t really made it happen yet.  I remember someone telling me about a sign that was up (may still be) in every single Intel meeting room, including the board room, that listed steps for productive meetings (a bit of googling and here’s a link)  Talk about pervasive, contextual cultural signals!  Can you do something like that in the context of your company’s digital toolset? Not just offer how-to instructions, but cultural signposts as well?

We’ve applied some light gameification to some of our how-to guides and enablement materials for the adoption of social business tools and platforms.  It’s not much a cultural signpost yet, but I think there’s potential.

Does anyone have examples of behavioral signposts in the context of digital systems?

Social Media Week Shines a Light on Social Business

This week the digerati and the everyday netizen alike will look up for a moment from their laptops and smart phones to focus their eyes on Social Media Week, a worldwide series of interconnected events and activities about emerging trends in social and mobile media across all major industries.

The people who shape the future of our digital lives will share ideas, strategies and insights with an eye towards improving digital experiences for the people and organizations they care about most. While social media has significantly shaped how we communicate and connect in our personal lives, there’s a related trend that the most sophisticated enterprises have already begun to embrace: social business. Engaging in social media through Facebook,  YouTube and the like represent just one element businesses can explore, but business is more than media – so how can businesses apply the principles of “social” to other dimensions of their organizations to improve outcomes?

In today’s business environment, organizations must become more agile, creative and innovative in order to compete. Forward-looking organizations amplify the benefit of human interactions in just about any business process by making them social (as opposed to trying to engineer the human interactions out of the business process, which is the unfortunate legacy of many enterprise systems.) For example, interacting with the sales team of a social business might include benefiting from digital artifacts of human interactions reaching deep into that company’s supply chain or research division. A really sophisticated social business might have friendly and easily navigable visualizations of these artifacts of interactions. So this is to say that social business is a superset of interactions that includes social media — since media is just one dimension of interaction with an organization.

According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016, reaching $6.4 billion, compared with $600 million last year (“Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration,” Forrester Research, Inc., November 30, 2011). Ignore this emerging market and you choose to lose.

Social Media Week is the perfect time for organizations to think about how they can get social and do business at the same time.

Consider just a few of the possibilities of becoming a social business:

Global Collaboration: Extending beyond just document collaboration, social business tools enable organizations to build a team based off their skills, rather than location. Unified communications capabilities allow global teams to collaborate even if they aren’t in the same room (or on the same continent). Actively-managed digital communities of practice provide an opportunity for teams to collaborate and learn on the fly, fostering a greater sense of belonging.  Social organizations can expect to retain more of their best employees as they feel part of a common goal and have a voice in the decision making process.

Mobility: I’ve personally been a mobile employee for nearly a decade – and I’m not alone.  With the mobile workforce expected to reach more than 1.19 billion by 2013, according to research firm IDC, nearly 1 trillion Internet-connected devices will be in market in 2012, generating 20 times more mobile data by 2015. Equipping these employees with social connectivity to collaborate and innovate on the fly has become a major requirement for many organizations. Mobile capabilities for workers that extend beyond email, calendar and voice will be imperative. Document editing, access to enterprise social networking tools, feature-rich data and IM on the go are becoming the new norm. Imagine the opportunities for productivity, innovation and responsiveness when you are part of a team with mobile devices and tablets equipped with social enterprise capabilities.

Social Analytics: Organizations can now integrate and analyze massive amounts of data generated from people, devices and sensors and align these insights to business processes to make faster, more accurate decisions. By gaining deeper insights into customer and market trends and employees’ sentiment over social networking platforms both internally and externally, businesses can uncover critical patterns to not only react swiftly to market shifts, but predict the effect of future actions.

The Currency of Social: People and culture are the drivers for social business success. As consumers have become accustomed to social practices in their personal lives, they are seeking the same capabilities in their workplace. People form networks based on trust and transparency. With social business technology at their finger tips, employees can tap into the creativity, intelligence, and community of their organization to accomplish business goals faster and more efficiently.

The opportunity for social business to transform how we connect people and processes, and increase the speed and flexibility of business is limitless. A successful social business breaks down collaboration barriers and puts social networking in the context of everyday work, from the mobile device or delivery vehicle of your choice, to improve productivity and speed decision-making.

The critical turning point for social business is the realization that the collective knowledge of networks of people can provide businesses with a unique competitive advantage. Social tools are building the next generation of competitive and profitable businesses – and if you’re not latching on to the social movement – you may be doing business with blinders on.

(Originally published in Social business News)

Big Blue is the antithesis of Big Brother. It’s ‘Big Open’

Not that anyone asks me anymore why I work for IBM, but this article in Business Insider by Mark Fidelman pretty much nails it.  Basically the thesis is that open, collaborative organizations are the way of the future and fear-driven, dictatorial organization are gonna go the way of the do-do.  Now, IBM isn’t perfect, but there aren’t many other organizations in the world that can actually claim that they are, in fact, actively working to mold their organizational culture in this way. 

Not only that, but the article lays out the business benefit, “IBM has been so successful in its last few years, that it’s outperformed the S&P 500, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Google and Oracle.”

There’s also some nice, tidy philosophical underpinnings explained.  Here is a selection of my fave quotes from the piece.

“While Apple has been wildly successful, IBM’s Social Business is much more attainable and sustainable than what Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky describes as Apple’s genius led, culture of fear. For the genius is always, as Benjamin Disraeli and later Peter Drucker predicted, succeeded by a “lieutenant of Marines” who understands the business but nothing else. So the company is only left with an innovation vacuum.”


“Work creates a unique social bond – it is the interface between people, technology and culture. Work’s social bond must also evolve. It must responds to market conditions and customer demands. There isn’t a large company that does this better than IBM.
It may be too early for some organizations to come to grips with social business as a strategy. They are stuck in a corporate dystopia, ruled by the equivalent of an Orwellian inner party which condemns individuality and transparency as thought crimes.”


Why Every Company Needs to be More Like IBM & Less Like Apple