Find and Create Meaning.

March 8th, 2018 by dewprocess.

Each day that we awake should ideally be a day in which we find and create meaningful impact. Ideally. Of course, some days seem to dictate that deadlines, workloads, and other impediments mitigate our efforts to accomplish even one of these two.

So, today, as we celebrate those individuals who somehow seem to get it all done, and for less pay and often less credit, it behooves us to make that extra effort to find and create meaning.

Who was that one woman, other than your mother, who influenced you so positively that your debt of gratitude remains unpaid? Name her today.

Who is that one woman in your life, professional or otherwise, who you know deserves more than she gets? Whether it is in your power directly or not, may I suggest you make every effort to ensure she finally gets that credit, and – if possible – that pay raise, that promotion, that thanks.

What Lies at the Heart of a Business?

June 21st, 2016 by dewprocess.
Businesses all too often find themselves pulled by powerful gravitational forces into the black hole of “quarterly prosperity at all costs”. The vision becomes about paper profitability, and the true core value is lost in the mists of market competition.
 
Great business is, however, always tied to great community, great innovation, and great people. Without those ingredients, the heart of a brand fails, and all the remnant frantic activity is little more than life support, performed on a gradually failing entity.
 
No matter the size of your venture, be it startup or multinational, always remember your people, your vision, and your community are your core.

People Still Lie At the Heart of Business

August 12th, 2015 by dewprocess.

I love productivity and efficiency. I preach it, I evangelize on its behalf. I campaign for its adoption across every enterprise and initiative that seeks my advice and counsel. There is a line between Utility and Assistance, however, which cannot yet be crossed – no matter how many startups try valiantly to ignore the prevailing reality. Utility is a largely passive operation, which must be activated and managed by the user to fulfill its potential. It’s a useful tool such as Prompt.ly, OneNote, or Wunderlist. Assistance is an active function that manifests itself independently, and must anticipate and manage multifarious unqualified scenarios to be truly effective.

The list of Virtual Assistant startups grows daily. It’s the present fad. For every variation that promises to reinvent the VA space yet flames out (Zirtual), another two replace it with air-dancing artificial plums (e.g.: Genee, x.ai). The new holy grail of tech startups is AI virtual assistant apps. For the next 6 months or so, all the early adopters will fall over each other, just to be able to claim they had “Amy”, “Genee”, “Cortana”, “Siri 2.0”, et al, before everyone else. What you won’t hear much about is the fact that all these AI solutions fall far short of useful. Virtual assistants have existed for years, and work with varying degrees of success. Productivity apps have been around for a long time as well, exhibiting capricious achievement in their own right (yet but few pretentions to actually *replace* staff). Zirtual did not fail to provide the services they promised to clients. The company failed because, like so many startups today, it was encouraged to grow too fast, in an unsustainable quest for lightning ROI. The likely result was an inability to meet financial covenants, founders and investors working at cross-purposes, and lack of transparency between stakeholders seeking markedly different objectives. Whoever takes over the operations, such as they are after this negative brand impact, will assuredly restructure for more realistic growth metrics, if any future is to be realized for the employees and their clients.

I have no doubt that after various highly overvalued iterations churn through talented developers, employees, and investors, the chasm between AI VA concept and reality will begin to narrow, such that solutions that provide useful value finally establish themselves on semi-solid footing, and scale sustainably. Until then, you will have to contend with one offering that has access to your calendar, but not the other party’s calendar; another unable to process plain language text or speech; and probably none that take “drive time”, “weather”, or “distance” in to consideration when booking meetings back-to-back, not to mention the probability of client A being notoriously late, or client B correspondingly early, by habit. In short, none will be able to do what a proficient human assistant can do.

AI

Sometime in the future, our human administrators may well be replaced by competent digital, or even robotic, facsimiles. However, the truest measure of a great assistant is their ability to adapt to and accommodate the unexpected scenarios, and no algorithm can proactively absorb this aspect of the job, yet. Artificial Intelligence learns, and improves with use, but most companies and executives who require assistants cannot afford to patiently wade through failure, in an iterative quest for efficiency and reliability. If the day comes that Artificial Intelligence Apps crowdsource their refinements, machine learning will accelerate exponentially, and I’m frankly not sure how comfortable I’d be with an employee who mathematically assures me they know what’s best for me, simply because they know more than me.

Pigeonholing Evolution

July 14th, 2011 by admin.

{EAV_BLOG_VER:833d5130113b8052} My friend, Mike Brown recently posted a short piece on his own blog, entitled “Who is creating social media content in your organization?”, exploring where the departmental responsibility for social media (or “social engagement”, as I prefer to call it) lies within an organization. I added a comment to the posting, which drew some very flattering responses via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and email – so I thought I’d post my comments here below (as much to remember what the heck it was I wrote, as to keep the conversation going!):

Perhaps above and beyond the obvious impact Social Media is having, in terms of offering new opportunities for brand evangelists to introduce and moderate their platforms in existing or new constituencies; for product and solution marketing teams to try and launch “campaigns” via new channels; for corporate representatives – be they CRM, legal, or otherwise – to try and cautiously bring their brand and offering connection closer to the end-user, in response to an increasing demand by consumers and clients to participate in the valuation of offerings, further up the value chain….above and beyond these and other immediately evident opportunities, benefits, or enticements (presented across the still primordial social engagement landscape), there is growing one even larger opportunity that has been only tangentially addressed here, and deserves to be directly examined:

Instead of attempting to qualify which existing department should or does own or lead social engagement activities, within traditional corporate infrastructures and silos, the real question of deepest worth may be “has the advent of social engagement, greater organizational transparency, transversal responsibility for failure and success alike, and deeper demands from every part of the process (including consumers) for collaboration in development, innovation, productization, distribution, and iteration (breathe here) created not just an opportunity, but a demand, for organizations to review their org. charts, and functional infrastructures, in order to best respond to and manage new models and ecosystems in customer and client relationships, product sales and management, and other aspects of B2B and B2C business?”.

Perhaps the answer lies not in shoving social media activities into one or the other pre-existing pigeon hole, but instead taking this opportunity to stir the pot more than just a little, and take some time to divest ourselves of 1950’s functional structures..?

This is the moment to loosen our grip on the past and present, and see this undeniably disruptive practice of social engagement as a chance to reinvigorate and possibly reinvent the way we manage innovation, human resources, market penetration, customer service, and so much more. Let’s not get carried away with a presently rather shallow tide, but let’s recognize that the tides have nevertheless shifted, and the currents are moving in compelling new ways which will certainly change the landscape. Where your ship lands depends on how well you learn to navigate these currents and tides, and how efficiently you reassign your crew.

My fundamental suggestion is that corporate and organizational models are ripe for transformation, reflecting massive evolutions in internal and external communications, operations, personnel management and education, marketing, and customer relations – to name but a few areas that are both deeply impacted by and – in turn – heavily influence hierarchies and processes within organizations. The way social engagement permeates an infrastructure could prove invaluable in effecting valuable transformation: watch the practice as it flows through the organization: something akin to a corporate blue dye (BDT) and modified barium swallow (MBS) test! Should Marketing and Communications continue to be lumped together (“MarCom”)? Is the skills set of Marketing best maximized as a Sales support function, or is there a more strategic opportunity therein? Should Communications really be a satellite support function, activated only whenever a Business Unit or other department determines there exists a need to “push” information outward, or is more potential just itching to manifest itself? The communal nature of social engagement gives organizations the priceless opportunity to move beyond legacy charts, developed to manage the 19th Century industrial revolution. Several revolutions have taken place since then, and this latest one – effectively disrupting how we connect, communicate, and transact with one another – presents an opening that should not be overlooked.

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12 Reasons to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business

June 2nd, 2010 by admin.

It’s been quite a while now that “gurus”, “pundits” and “experts” have been bandying about the term “Social Media”, proffering it as the catch-all for market penetration and business success, without honestly having any sort of traditionally measurable proof of merit in hand.

There’s no question that Social Media is an exciting activity sector, promising diverse new and enhanced points of connection with customers and clients. Quite how those connections will translate in to the type of metrics favored by traditionalist CFOs and shareholders is still under debate.

While the aforementioned experts continue to find ways to align this new engagement paradigm with traditional Cost/Benefit analysis modeling, I suggest that such ROI measurement is perhaps something of a fool’s errand, (1) because marketing has never been measurable in the manner that so many companies historically demand, and (2) because the commitment required to successfully maximize the potential of today’s emerging platforms and tools for customer engagement is far less measurable than ad or PR campaigns have been, in the past.

Social Media is more than a marketing campaign ecosystem, wherein one might deploy emerging product offerings or test possible brand evolutions. In fact, I would love to get rid of the term “Social Media” altogether, because it brings with it an unfortunate sense of frivolity that has been compounded by the visible (yet relatively small) part of social media, known as Social Networking (domain of Facebook, MySpace, Youtube, et al).

From a business perspective, the notion of “Social Media” stinks too much of an ongoing teenage chat session, with no goal in site.  Many social media gurus will argue that this is quite so, and crucial to a business’s success in the 21st Century. While I strongly concur that engaging in a more open and collaborative dialog with consumers and users is an imperative in the contemporary marketplace, I also feel strongly that there exist few businesses that can afford to invest time and money in open-ended discussions with their prospects, “just because”. In the end, a business has something to sell, and its activities should be focused on this goal, as well as the post-sales services necessary to ensure the new customer becomes a de facto account executive for the brand. Smart marketing is a strategic endeavor, managed at the C-Suite level, and designed to position a company’s offering(s) as impactfully as possible, with the ambitious objective of turning salespeople into customer relations advocates.

By all means let’s call it “Social Media” when we’re reconnecting with old High School friends and sharing photos with cousins across the world.  With respect to B2B and B2C connections, let’s expand the term, and call it “Social Engagement”. That is, after all what it’s about, isn’t it? The more measurable activity is whether and how we might engage with and activate our end-user community to become partners in the enhancement and advancement of our brand (and its varied offerings).  In some instances this will be sociable (Facebook Pages, Twitter feeds, comments threads, etc), in others more buzz marketing oriented (viral branded content, competitions, internal communications, polls, etc), and in yet others wholly functional and tactical (SEO, brand monitoring, bookmarking, corporate HR, medical resource sharing, media asset management, and so on).

There’s a lot we can do with the tools, platforms, and channels available to our businesses today, but we need to think of our Social Engagement strategy as more than “getting on Facebook” or “starting a blog”. It is a commitment – both online and offline – to connecting with our users, employees, and clients in a more dynamic and potentially rewarding manner than ever before. It is a far more organic and open-ended engagement than we are used to (and perhaps comfortable with). However, it still merits careful strategic forethought and measured management.

To begin, despite that fact that she uses the term I have renounced above(!), I am thrilled to introduce our latest contributor, Pam Dyer, a marketing consultant from Seattle. Her article below offers up a dozen arguments in favor of Social Engagement in the online space. I know that you and I could together come up with an additional 12 reasons, specific to your particular situation, so and I therefore challenge you to make your own list of 8 more, just for the fun of it (and DON’T limit yourself to online opportunities). With 20 compelling reasons to activate your “Media Engagement” endeavors, you will soon be leveraging a previously confusing array of ever changing networks and tool sets, in service to your brand and, more importantly, the long term health of your business.

Social media is fast becoming an essential part part the marketing mix for brands. Companies are increasingly using social tools to monitor conversations about their products, competitors, and industry, and engaging with their customers to build strong relationships. According Forrester Research’s most recent Interactive Marketing Forecast, social media marketing will grow at an annual rate of 34% -– faster than any other form of online marketing and double the average growth rate of 17% for all online mediums:

And new research from Access Markets International Partners shows that almost 70% of small and medium businesses actively use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to promote themselves. But simply posting what your CEO had for lunch isn’t going to help much with your branding efforts — it’s important to strategically use social media tools to increase exposure and reach your target audience.

Here are 12 compelling reasons to use social media to help grow your business:

1. Own your brand’s social presence: If you don’t create official channels online, it’s only a matter of time before your fans do it for you and create their own profiles and communities around your brand. It’s important to claim your brand name across all the major social media platforms. Here are two sites that will help you do this:

  • KnowEm: KnowEm has the highest number of sites (over 350) available for checking username availability. Simply by entering your desired username, you’ll be able to find out instantly if it’s still available. KnowEm also offers paid plans, from just signing up and registering you at 150 sites, to a full-featured plan which also fills in all profile details, complete with pictures, at 100 to 300 different networking sites.
  • namechk: Covering 72 major social networking sites, namechk is simple, fast, and easy to use. If your desired username or vanity URL is still available, you simply click through each one to claim it. If your brand isn’t consistent across the Web, namechk can help you by determining which usernames are still available on a number of the most popular sites.

2. Look like you “get it”: Your target audience is becoming more shrewd about leveraging social media sites as an integral part of their daily lives. If you want to appear relevant and in-step with the latest advances in technology, your potential customers will want to see you on these sites as well. If you don’t have a presence, you appear as if you’re not very savvy.

3. Brand recognition: You need to go where your customers are, and they are increasingly spending a great deal of time on social networking sites. Using social media enables your company to reach a huge number of potential customers. Getting your name out there is incredibly important — studies suggest that people need to hear a company’s name at least seven times before they trust and respect it enough to become a customer.

4. Take your message directly to consumers: Social media tools enable you to directly engage consumers in conversation. Be sure to build trust by adding value to the community consistently over time.

5. Increase your search engine rankings: Social media profiles (especially those on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) frequently rank highly with major search engines. Creating keyword-rich profiles around your brand name can help generate traffic for your both your social-networking sites and your company’s Web site.

6. SEO benefits: Many social media bookmarking sites use NOFOLLOW tags that limit the outbound link value of posts made on their sites, but there are still many leading sites that allow DOFOLLOW tags — including Friendfeed, Digg, and Mixx. You can also benefit from posting to bookmarking sites that use NOFOLLOW tags if people read your posts and link back to your Web site.

7. Social media content is now integrated with search results: Search engines like Google and Bing are increasingly indexing and ranking posts and other information from social networks. Videos from popular sites like YouTube can also be optimized for indexing by the major search engines.

8. Brand monitoring: Having a social media presence gives you a better understanding of what current and potential customers are saying about your products and services. If you actively monitor social conversations, you have the opportunity to correct false or inaccurate information about your brand and address negative comments before they take on a life of their own.

9. Generate site traffic: You can create additional traffic if you regularly post updates on social networks that link back to your Web site. Social media bookmarking tools like Digg, Reddit, and Stumbleupon can also generate additional traffic to your site if you create frequent articles and blog posts.

10. Find new customers through your friends: You shouldn’t neglect your personal social media accounts as potential avenues to promote the activities of your business. Posting regular updates relating to your business and activities can remind your friends about what your company does and influence them to use your services or make referrals.

11. Find new customers through your company profile: Your company profile is a great opportunity for you to post regular updates on your activities and about important news and trends in your industry. This will attract the attention of new customers interested in your industry and increase your reputation as an expert in your field. It’s important to post regularly if you want to increase your followers or fans and convert them to potential leads.

12. Niche marketing: Social media enables you to reach very specific subsets of people based on their personal preferences and interests. You can create unique social media profiles to target these audiences or create strategies based on addressing individual interests.

Pam Dyer has 14+ years of MarCom experience, in-house for a number of years at Northwest Nexus and Winstar, and now as a consultant. To read her other articles, please visit her site here.

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AFI Digital Content Lab to Close

March 10th, 2010 by dewprocess.

For more than a decade, I’ve been involved with the Digital Content Lab at the American Film Institute, as both an advisor and supporter. The DCL, as it came to be known, was where Apple‘s Quicktime technology was launched, among other technologically important milestones. A recent winner of the Technical Achievement Award at the Machinima festival, the DCL was responsible for the deployment of such groundbreaking tech as the mobile interactive apps for WARPED, the Planet Illogica digital artist support network, and the development of the Federally supported ITVS initiative (funding a wide swath of indie films), among others.

This has been a relatively discreet enterprise, known and loved by all of us in the digital media and entertainment industries, but not much of a self-promoting organization, at least when compared to many other non-profits in the entertainment and media industries. This seems, ultimately, to have been to the organization’s disadvantage, as the AFI DCL will apparently be closing its doors shortly, to ostensibly go in to “hiatus” – a direct result of funding shortfalls.

I won’t digress too much into the whys and wherefores of this situation, only to suggest that – like many non-profits today – I suspect that the AFI Board kept focusing too much on large sponsors, and too little on grassroots individual donor channels. The game of fundraising has changed, but for some reason many of the players are still way behind the ball…Social network fundraising demands a commitment, and I wonder whether that commitment was made in support of staff efforts to adopt new models for revenue generation…

When I think of the extraordinary influence that the DCL has had over our industry’s technological advancements, I wonder whether such undeniably admirable enterprises as the ETC or IPG Emerging Media Lab will be able to step in to the breach left by the DCL. These other organizations, impressive as they are in their respect, carry with them their own agenda that inevitably color the value of their offerings. Even though the DCL presented one or two projects of less than astonishing creative, business, or technical merit, the lab’s overall output was nothing short of groundbreaking, game changing, paradigm shifting, and ultimately socially impactful. Under the guidance of Nick De Martino, Anna Marie Piersimoni, Marcia Zellers and, most recently, Suzanne Stefanac, the AFI DCL has left an indelible mark on multiplatform landscapes of entertainment and media production and content delivery.

Those of us who have had the pleasure of attending DigiFest, The Digital Content Festival, the Enhanced TV Workshop, or other DCL gatherings, retain fond memories of all that has been accomplished there (If you would like to share some of your memories, feel free to leave your thoughts on their Facebook Page, at “The AFI Digital Content Lab”).

For a fully interactive roster of the AFI Digital Content Lab’s projects over the years, click here

Sources say that there still remain efforts to keep the Institute’s annual DigiFest event afloat. In the meantime, expect an official announcement about the Lab in the next few weeks. Who knows, perhaps this article and others will encourage people to step in and save the day..? Stranger things are happening.

—UPDATE—2:00pm, Friday, March 11—

Here is a partial list of AFI DCL projects, since 1999:

1999…………………………………………………………………………………
• ACADEMY AWARDS (Telecast)
• EDDIE FILES (PBS)
• EXPEDITION 360 (Discovery Europe)
• FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM: THE HISTORY OF IRISH ROCK (A&E)
• LIQUID STAGE: THE LURE OF SURFING (PBS)
• News Center 4 NIGHTBEAT (KRON-TV)
• SPACE STATION ODYSSEY (Discovery Networks)
• TALK SOUP (E! Entertainment)

2000…………………………………………………………………………………
• AMERICAN FAMILY (PBS)
• BLIND DATE (Universal Worldwide Television)
• DAY ONE (Granada Television, Granada Entertainment)
• EXTREME RIDES (Discovery Channel, Discovery Channel)
• MUSIC FROM THE INSIDE OUT (PBS)
• PERFECT CRIME (Wegelius Television [Denmark])
• ROMAN EMPIRE (PBS)
• THIS FAR BY FAITH (PBS)

2001…………………………………………………………………………………
• ACCORDION DREAMS (PBS)
• ARLI$$ (HBO)
• CALLAWAY GOLF, RULE 35 (Syndicated)
• CNN HEADLINE NEWS (Turner Broadcasting System Inc)
• THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART (Comedy Central)
• THE EUKANUBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS (Animal Planet)
• THE NEW AMERICANS (PBS)
• PEOPLE LIKE US: SOCIAL CLASS IN AMERICA (PBS)

2002…………………………………………………………………………………
• AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD (USA Network)
• ARTHUR (PBS)
• I LOVE LUCY (TV Land)
• MATTERS OF RACE (PBS)
• P.O.V. (PBS)
• SESAME STREET (PBS & Noggin)
• THE BEST OF (The Food Network)
• TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES (Turner Broadcasting System)

2003…………………………………………………………………………………
• BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (SciFi Channel/Vivendi Universal Games)
• BLOOMBERG TELEVISION (syndicated)
• CELEBRITY MOLE II (ABC Television Network)
• IMX – INTERACTIVE MUSIC EXCHANGE (FUSE Networks)
• INDEPENDENT LENS (PBS)
• KCET/KQED ON-AIR FUNDRAISING (PBS)
• KIM POSSIBLE (Disney Channel)
• WASHINGTON REDSKINS GAME DAY (FOX 5 [WTTG]

2004…………………………………………………………………………………
• AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: CASTRO’S CUBA (WGBH/PBS)
• DINOSAUR HIGHWAY (The Science Channel)
• DORA THE EXPLORER (Nickelodeon)
• LIVING FOR THE WEEKEND (Scripps Networks)
• THE L WORD (Showtime)
• HIJACK (MTV Networks)
• QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY (Bravo)
• TV411 (The Adult Literacy Media Alliance/PBS)

2005…………………………………………………………………………………
• DoD PERSONALS (Simmons Lathan Media Group)
• CONSIDER THIS… (LACMA)
• HISTORY DETECTIVES ROAD TRIP (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
• MOMENT IN TIME: WWII (A&E/History Channel)
• MTV NEWS ON OVERDRIVE (MTV)
• MYSTERY ONLINE THEATRE (Telemundo)
• NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL 2 (National Geographic)
• REUTERS ONE (Reuters)
• TOYO (Zodiac Gaming)
• WORLD WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT (WWE)

2006…………………………………………………………………………………
• AIM SHOW PRODUCER (AOL)
• LAW & ORDER: MOTIVE. MEANS. OPPORTUNITY (NBC Universal)
• BEN 10 MEGASERIES (Cartoon Network)
• E2: GREEN MAP FOR LIVING (kontentreal)
• BUZZ (Cynergy Films)
• MC EVERYWHERE (Music Choice)
• SíTV Pure (SíTV)
• UNLOCKING MOVIE ASSETS (CASABLANCA) (AFI/Georgia Tech)
• XXXL (Hit Start)

2007…………………………………………………………………………………
• BRAVO DVR AD PLAY (Bravo)
• CITIZEN NOW (NOW on PBS)
• LEAVING THE GAME (Method, Inc.)
• FILMOCRACY (ITVS)
• PLAYERS (MTV, EA, Mekanism)

2008…………………………………………………………………………………
• VIEWING PARTY (ABC)
• WARPED ROADIE (EarthEcho International)
• HOOKING UP (HBO)
• PLANET ILLOGICA ARTIST IN RESIDENCE PROGRAM (Planet Illogica)

2009…………………………………………………………………………………
• ENVISOR (One Economy)
• FUTUREFEED (ITVS)
• INTERVIEW PROJECT (DavidLynch.com)
• LEONARDO DICAPRIO FOUNDATION CAMPAIGN (Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation)