Comments Off on Hey 1978 POS welcome to 2014, we’ve been waiting for you!
Everyone knows why phone payment apps don’t work right as well as they should by now, right? Believe me it is not the lack of trying by the phone hardware, software, and operating system producers. The majority of POS (point of sale) technologies are still stuck in 1978…to upgrade = $$$ for not much return, well unless your business knows what they are doing.
Think about how many POS systems you interact with on a daily, weekly, monthly basis…now you understand the undertaking to improve this vast interconnected systems. That over the years have been duct tapped and band aided together with toothpicks and dental floss. My geek friends in IT that implement technologies love that saying. The big mountain the phone and app makers have to climb, is there is a ton of $$$$ in the POS hardware-software industry. How fast would you entrench yourself in the status quo if your company is on the verge of losing millions and possibly billions of dollars and huge percentages of market-share. Big reason the new phone and app makers can move faster than them.
Here test this out download the Apple/Android/Square payment apps using NFC and try and use every time you pay for something in a month bet the % will barely reach 1% of all your POS transactions…not stellar. The other thing to keep in mind is these POS technologies are tied to many back-end systems the customer never sees. Such systems like Inventory Management, Shipping and Receiving, Purchase Ordering, and Accounting, and several other systems to run your business. With the POS being the main source of information of what was purchased as well as returned. Image if the Millennium Falcon was run on a Sup’d up Cummins Diesel engine (I know it is a big powerful engine, but I am not a car guy..ask Joel Feder) and you wanted to upgrade to a warp core engine like what is in the USS Enterprise (you see what I did there). The amount work and testing and building and testing and building and testing. Guess what the POS customers are not asking for this, the customers of the POS customers are asking for it (that’s us!). Guess what we “phone pay” users do not purchase to justify the investment on either side of this equation.
I am glad these phone technologies are pushing the limits, but we are about 5 years away from full integration. So don’t get mad at the Google or Apple they are making the POS technologies to bust out of their status quo. This is hard work! So thank them and try and help both sides as a customer. Provide feedback where you can to improve the overall process, this will go a long way to improve the whole interconnected web of technologies graduating from 1978.
So yes this can be frustrating and sometimes down right madding. I do think there is hope and I do feel with all the credit card breeches utilizing #Ph2Ps (Phone 2 POS) payment processing could pave the way for less hacking our information. The processing of the transaction can be much more encrypted (making things unreadable by the black hats). So as a consumer and user of all these newer ways of paying for things we have to be accountable and responsible to help if we want to improve it. Lastly just try and see what happens, that is biggest leap forward the whole process can take!
I understand standard of living is regional and even statewide, but when one state is 2.9% to 9.9% lower than another state and you put job postings out to pay 45% less you WILL NOT attract senior level great talent to your state! If you don’t believe me here is a recent job posting I received. Believe me this is not the first time this has happened. I was shocked when I moved to Norfolk-Virginia Beach two years ago. And after two years I have not seen any improvements. This is a problem we need to solve, asap!
Take this position for instance.
Project Manager – Agile experience
12-18 month contract opportunity in Norfolk, VA. If interested, please reply with an updated resume and I will follow up to discuss.
I need an experienced IT Project Manager for our Client in the financial services and banking industry. This includes the management of IT development, technology or non-technology efforts that have limited to moderate complexity. Candidate will work within a group of related software applications that provide a defined scope of functionality used to support business activities. Many of the platforms are Agile or have incorporated some Agile best practices. The PM leads the local effort and when it is completed then moves on to another platform to work on another local delivery effort. Candidate must have proven experience leading IT development or IT technology projects, a working knowledge of the IT development life cycle, proven ability to lead a team to desired outcome and establish working relationships with fellow team members, exposure to Agile methodology, familiarity with Clarity or similar project portfolio management tool, and proven ability to lead team matrixed from different internal groups.
This is a pretty senior level job (at least in the job posting). Yet they are paying junior level contracting rates. Here is an example based on personal experience; Minneapolis-St.Paul to the Norfolk-Virginia Beach has a 2.9% to 9.9% differential in standard of living. Norfolk-Virginia Beach is 2.9% to 9.9% less to live in than Minneapolis-St.Paul.
So I would expect 2.9 t0 9.9% (depending on living and working) less in contracting rates for senior level positions, a contractor here should be getting $90.00/hour all inclusive. As you can see this position is 45% less based on the contractor getting $50.00/hour. Now we all know the contractor is getting billed out at around $100 to $125.00 (I get that contracting firms are not a non-profit). This contract gig in Minneapolis-St.Paul would be at least $125 at the low end and $135 at the top end to the contractor, which is more inline with the 2.9%-9.9% difference.
Norfolk-Virginia Beach region is NOT going to attract top talent or even move top talent around (cross-pollination of talent is good for a region too) like we want and desire to happen. As a region if we don’t start paying to get talent, we will not get them, period! Wanting Maybach type talent and paying Plymouth Sundance prices will not get the job done! Ask company management, recruiters, and or human resource professionals in this area see what they say. Bet their first statement will be “We cannot attract talent at the wages this region has set within their budgets!” This is a top down and a bottom up solution driven problem.
What do you think region needs to do to rectify this problem?
If we don’t solve how will this affect this regions growth potential?
Now what I have come to find out is relocating for a wife’s job is quite unique. For us it did not seem all that strange because we have always been a two parent working household sharing just about everything. There are no “man” jobs or “woman” jobs in our house, there are just “jobs”. So there here are the 12 things we learned to stay sane while moving the family across country. Now to give some logisitics background on this, my wife started her job in Virginia in early July the kids, the dogs and I did not come down til three weeks later.
Yes, communication is number one on this list! There are so many details that need to be worked out that if you are not using all means of communication, you will not survive! You must rely on technology, verbal and nonverbal cues as well as listening. Yes, listening is a key factor in communication. There will be many, many, many lists to write down, so listen, well and write down or you will forget…trust me!
2. Rely on people you don’t know
There are many people you will need to rely on for this journey. Many of them you have never met or had a relationship with in the past. There will be relocation companies, Realtors, insurance companies, financial institutions, employers, friends, new acquaintances, hotels, gas stations, and restaurants. That is just a short list. You will in most cases have to trust them, but if your gut tells you “Hey you, ya you with the brain, I just threw a red flag up, want to do something about that?” TRUST what your gut is telling you!
3. Renegotiate everything
That is right! Everything is usually an opening offer and this situation calls for counteroffers. You will not be offending anyone, they expect it. The relocation path is a very fluid and changes daily, sometimes even hourly. What I found is most of the people with this path just want everyone fairly treated. After all, what more can anyone ask for?
4. Pack, unpack, repack, rinse and repeat
The most valuable lesson I learned was packing for the 1,300 miles trip from Minnesota to Virginia. Non-stop packing for the house, for the kids, for myself, and the car. Yes, I drove it all by myself….oh wait I did have 2 kids an 6 year old and an 8 year old, oh yeah and two 50lb dogs. I did a pretty good job of getting all the clothes necessary for the trip and another week before our whole house arrived before the movers showed up (trust me get this done before they show up, they are fast and it will get packed if not in Safe Zone). The one thing I did not do was pack a smaller bag with just clothes and essentials for the road trip. Lugging two HUGE suitcases in and out of the hotels was not fun. Lesson learned!
5. Dads know your role, it is not the one you were taught growing up!
Being that it was a unique situation according to everyone, we were relocating because of a career opportunity for my wife. I got to take on some unique roles for the last 3 months. I essentially became the main caregiver for the last 3 weeks. Which I gladly stepped up and took on and absolutely loved the time the five of us got to spend. I really gained a whole new appreciation for the many roles my wife plays in our children’s life as well as mine. WOW, we have a great mom and wife!
6. Throw your schedules out the car window while driving!
The quickest thing I found out was those pesky times society places on you about breakfast, lunch and dinner, yeah they don’t work in this situation. There is just so much going on you do a lot of relying on your stomach to tell you what meal it was. Breakfast exactly at 8am, lunch at Noon, and Dinner at 6pm really is hard to do. Be flexible and make an adventure out of it. Yes, the kids the first night of the trip ate dinner at 9:00pm. They loved it!
7. Packing your vehicle for access
As I mentioned before, we took a 1,300 mile road trip! Everything must be with in arms reach with easy access. That goes for the Driver as well as your passengers. Keep in mind little kids have car seats and short arms. Make sure snacks, water, DVD’s, coloring books, books, music, toys, and high fives are within an arms lengthen to keep everyone happy. Oh and for the driver make sure Google Maps, Coffee, Water, Snacks, and Energy Drinks can be found without taking eyes off the road. This can be accomplished by setting up your passenger seat with a little strategy! Sidenote: make sure to find all the chargers you will need and put in your bag as you find them!
8. The dreaded “I have to go to the bathroom” from the backseat
There were two things I learned along the way with four passengers with bladders the size of a pea. You have to always, I mean always have them go to the bathroom at every stop you make. Remember to ask! Remember to take them! Secondly, limit the number of times you say “Anyone have to go to the bathroom” you will be stopping everytime you ask. This question some how triggers the “yes I have to go pee” response. It is like the ring bell or something.
9. Invest and leverage YOUR technology
The consumer probably has at its disposal better technology hardware and software than the of the companies in which you will work on this journey. If you get a chance, introduce them to these technologies! Without a printer and Box.Net buying a house in another state would not have happened so quickly. The realtor and loan officer absolutely loved these two pieces of technologies for quick responses and properly processed documentation. Being that Mom was back and forth for a few weeks we used Facetime, Skype video and Google chat video. It all depended on which hardware was in front of us at the time. This really helps stay connected. Texting was a lifesaver, so gear up those thumbs. Most of all I really enjoyed using all the technologies on my phone!
10. Bring your online communities along for the journey
Let people know what your are doing. Share your experiences with your online communities. For the most part people like helping, seeing photos, and sharing the experience with you. In preparation for our move across the country, I established a hashtag #mn2va on twitter. This allowed people to easily see what tweets were in regards to this transition and travel.
I also prepared my facebook with an album called A Man his Two Kids Two Dogs and a Vacuum! #mn2va July 2011. This helped centralize all my photos and comments. Leverage Location Based technologies so people know everything is ok. This is also fun to see what badges and pins you can gather along the way. I also used a great new tool called Glympse! This helped Mom know where we were at all times. She also knew right away once getting to Virginia Beach I was going the wrong way to the corporate housing and quickly called!
11. PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE!
Everything is not going to work out according to YOUR plan. Things must be taken in stride and adjusted every step through this journey. Going back to number 1 on this list helps a lot. Always state the problem, then the desired outcome, then hear solution and then make a decision. There is no need to get angry, yell, scream, call names, or hang up phones (I did none of these things by the way). These tactics and emotions get you nowhere!
12. You are doing the right thing!
There will be bumps in the road, naysayers, confidence reducers and doubts. Just remember many many many folks do this all the time and it works out 9 times out of 10. Especially when it comes to driving across the country with 2 kids and 2 dogs by yourself. I heard “You are a brave brave man” and “Really, you sure you can handle that?” and “Whoa, what are you doing?” have the confidence that with proper planning, using your street smarts, technology, and enjoyment of succeeding, you two can keep your sanity while moving clear across the country.
Comments Off on Have an IT Organization, Try this Model on for Size
This post was inspired by another que from discussing a topic via twitter. So it seems that most mid-size, large, and super large companies are struggling with getting how to get IT and business resources closer to adapt to the rapid nature of the market changes that happen both in business as well as in technology. From what I have seen and what I going to explain is the financial model has to support this interaction model as well. For the most part how a company is paying for things is one component that is getting in the way! The model I am going to explain is based on working inside of the model and not creating the model itself. I am no way shape or form taking credit for the creation.
I do have experience seeing it work and work well and that is the perspective I am offering up. I have also seen many attempts to fix the financial problem at several companies since I have worked in this model and I have yet to seen anyone succeed. The major buzzwords that sometimes associate this financial model are transformation, matrixed organization, centers of excellence, and delivery centers. The model we used had one concept: Internal Consulting Firm or Development Center to our own business. The technology resources within the Development Center model were hired by the business to do a job, they do it, the business pays, and they move onto something else, period.
A key ingredient to the Development Center is that it reports directly to the CTO or CIO of the company. There are basically three layers management.
This flat organization is focused on getting work done and improving the enterprise. I do believe this was one of the key and essential ingredients to our success, but the main course of the feast was the financial model. This model actually facilitated partnering and sharing the responsibility of delivery for the enterprise (not in a buzzword in a powerpoint deck way either). Yes it sounds funny to say a financial model was a main course of delivering success, but it is true.
I am going to dig into the financial model from a very high level. Before I start let me qualify what I mean by financial. I mean financial by the concepts and not hardcore debits and credits, by no means am I a financial analyst or accounting specialist. I would recommend if you do decide on this model find the people that love talking debits, credits, forecasting, and financial modeling and buy them lunch and coffee! This relationships will pay off huge (yes pun intended). Build a Development Center
This is an organizational structure that houses all the disciplines within the development of technology. The development center will have business analysts, project/program managers, engineers, data architects, technical architects, infrastructure architects, DBA’s, server technicians, developers, and one layer of management. These development center resources are able to form a whole development team to partner with a business unit or multiple business units to build and implement technology. Once this technology is implemented the business unit takes over full support for the technology.
This puts the technology and business unit resources really close together to maximize total cost of ownership, time to market, and technology making business more efficient. The development center resources can perform staff augmentation to business units that don’t need a whole development team, as well. They just need a couple resources to enhance a current technology. The development team is there to partner with the business unit technology staff. The us and them is not tolerated in this model. This clearly divides support and maintenance from new development. Ask any IT professional when you have resources trying to do both it never works. This model works because the Development team needs the business unit IT’s expertise, experiences and partnership to deliver on the mark products to that business unit! Revenue and Expense
The Development Center financial operational model is revenue expense. What this means is this unit must operate at zero. The Development Center resources are charged to a project just like hiring an external contractor or consultant. So if the Development Center resource works 40 hours per week at $100 per hour, the business unit pays the Development Center $4,000 to their revenue. On the expense side the Development Center must pay out their own expenses training, salary, bonus, computer, etc. If the expenses total $1,000.00 the Development Center is now sitting on $3,000 in revenue…..got to get back to $0.00!
Being that they are revenue expense they have to get back to money if they run a profit based on the resources billable hours. How do they do this, you may be asking? Here is what we did. We called up the business that we technically over charged (I will get into why this is not a bad thing) and said “Hey we have $3,000 here we need to give back to you.” Business Unit: “Uh really, you want to give me money back?” DC: “Yes we do, it’s your money….we don’t sell anything so yeah we want to give it back.” Business Unit: “Oh wow this is awesome!” DC: “Should we set up some time to see what your next set of needs and problems there are to help with?” Business Unit: “Yes let’s do that I have a couple of ideas” This sounds too good be true doesn’t it! I was part of many of these conversations. So how much the conversation changes if you are delivering expected results for your business!
The Art of the Financial Model:
The art of the financial model will start creating collaboration, sharing, and communities of practice! The Business Unit and Development Center technology people proactively and reactively immerse themselves into communities to make each other better (this is not easy and you need some resources dedicated to making this happen). There is no “us and them” there is just “we” deliver technology solutions for making the enterprise work well and in some cases gain competitive advantage in different markets whether that be talent acquisition or not bleeding talent, drive customers to purchase based on allowing the technology the get the consumer closer to the enterprise. In most cases you can not train this, you hire for it if you do not have it. This could mean a complete overhaul of resources. I know that sounds painful, but how less painful and costly is your current model?
Yes the Development resources have bill rates just like the consultants and contractors outside the organization. At the beginning of the year the Development Center is given a budget to cover the resources expenses; including assets, training, and overhead of management (they are not billable). Each discipline was assigned a bill rate that was reflective of their role, skill set and experience. The manager of that discipline was responsible for finding work for their resources and bill them out to cover the expense budget allotted to them at the beginning of the year.
This part of the model was always the relationship building part with our business units. At the beginning of the year we would have Service Fair. All the business units would come in and meet all the resources from the Development Center. The Business Units would explain the types of problems and initiatives they have needs for within that year and how much of each service they would like to buy to get these problems or initiatives implemented.
At the end of the fair we would all get together and figure out how we get back to $0.00 with all the services we sold and just like clockwork, every year the answer was “Uh Oh we do not have enough services to cover our expenses!” It became quite comical because we would all freak out and think wow we run RED for 6 mos they are going to shut us down! This is not a bad way of thinking, it keeps the fire burning trust me, a little pressure to perform is not a bad thing! Low and behold by June we are typically $10 to $15 million in the BLACK. This was not because of poor planning or estimating, it is just software development life-cycles realities. Sometimes your on and sometimes your off, but with good partnerships and real collaborative financial efforts what is produced everyone wins.
This model is a framework and not an end all be all to the solution. This framework can be dropped into just about any company and any industry, but the art of the financial model comes from the people delivering and executing technology to make the business more efficient and some cases gain competitive advantage.
Being that more and more companies are realizing Software as a Service and Platform as a Service is a more cost effective, secure and gets them back to running their business and not upgrades or a software factories (you should not be a software factory unless you are selling software). The Development Center financial model helps facilitate the implementation and management of these new ways businesses should be running their technology landscape.
I think without this organizational and financial structure implementing the above mentioned technologies can and will run into many road blocks and cost overruns (I have seen it!). Because of the flexibility the Development Center offers of tying project teams to solving a problem or innovating and not to an organizational structure, they can solve or innovate and move on. A business unit does not have to pay for 50 people to build, implement, and support because they do not have to with this model.
So next time you are wondering how can I solve my total cost of ownership of technology for my business, implement the Development Center financial and resource model, your wallet, business, and investors will love you for it!
I have been kicking around this idea about what I want to do next and thought “It is a New Year, right!” So I thought to myself “Hey if you write a job description so people can understand the role, skills, and projects I would be looking for!” Additionally, people kept asking “What the hell is a Social Business Analyst?”
A Social Business Analyst is a role, skill set is deeply rooted in understanding how businesses run and applying how that business can run within technology. With the ever growing maturity of the Social Business architecture and operations, a Social Business Analyst comes with the above mentioned DNA, they also have infused not only living in the social business community, they know how to apply skills and techniques to build, document, test, and implement what it means for the business and it’s people.
There are some similar architectural principles, processes, and tools, but every business, culture, and business DNA is different. One size does not fit all and a great Social Business Analyst will be a huge asset to the team and company in making the shift to becoming a Social Business.
Here is what a Social Business Analyst Job description would look like:
Business Analyst plays an important role in a lot of aspects of a company. A business analyst’s job involves a lot of research, data analysis and to some extent problem solving. The BA is responsible for the success of the Requirements Definition (RD) Process including system requirement definition, business scenario development, conceptual and logical modeling, class diagramming, conceptual wireframing, and tools used to make information processing more efficient for initiative team. The BA supports application development in the Systems Domain.
The BA must understand the social landscape from an internal and external context. They must have participated in different online communities and technologies and be proficient at understanding the context and potential. The BA must be a facilitator of training, coaching, and mentoring the utilization of new tools and cultures that develop based on people utilizing these new tools. The BA works closely with tool vendors, social business consultants and other firms to ensure the business scenarios and technologies fit the Enterprise as well as individual units responsible for owning the context of the business execution. The BA must navigate and integrate the ecosystem of people, processes, and technologies from a culture and community aspect for planning and execution for operational success.
The BA understands the technology and business environments, application and process capabilities, and architectural constraints, and is capable of leveraging and successfully applying this information to bring the best solution forward. The BA works closely with Business Representatives (Supply Chain, Distribution, Marketing, HR, Communications, Customer Service, Product Development, and any other Business Unit you have for executing the Business), Application Architects, Data Analysts and Software Developers to provide analytical support to ensure system and business requirements are clearly documented and understood during the design and development of the application. The BA owns and manages system and business requirements definition. The BA participates in a supporting role in the overall design and development of the technology solutions. The BA must be able to resolve conflicts in non-threatening manner. The BA must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and written requirements.
The job of a Social Business Analyst involves many aspects that span from business operations to technology implementation. It requires them to have constant interaction with the clients / customers and for them to be able to provide appropriate solutions in a timely manner. A Social Business Analyst will need to have good understanding of Business, Technology, and Culture of Social (eventually it will be the way a business is run, but must mature just like other business organizations like HR, Marketing, or Legal). Here is a visual representation of where the job duties will fall:
Social Business Analyst - Current
Social Business Analyst - Future
A summary of the job duties of a Social Business Analyst are given below. Many of the job duties fall within each one of the specific spheres above and can be applied to Business, Technology and Social. A Social Business Analyst is going to need to perform many of these duties simultaneously, which is part of BA’s DNA. Many of these job duties can be spotted on a resume based on project work, but can only be assessed by interacting online and or face to face interviews.
Identifies cause-and-effect relationships and implementing solutions to address causes.
Selects the most appropriate course of action.
Develops initiates or leads an effort to improve procedures or implement new approaches for supporting solutions to problems or opportunities.
Modifies their own behavior with the need, priorities and goals of the organization’s changing circumstances.
Comprehends appropriate channels to quickly expedite customer services and deliverables.
Demonstrates knowledge of the IT organization’s customers, policies and practices.
Demonstrates a sufficient overall knowledge of technology to use internal and external resources of technology assistance effectively.
Formulates specifications for complex systems or application programs.
Stays abreast of new developments and attends professional development activities.
To be able to understand and collect all the business requirements of the clients as well as partners a part of the initiative
Making of proposals and interacting with the client to ensure that the solutions that are being suggested are what he or she want and that they are viable enough to be implemented.
Conducting basic analysis and research of the industry that the customer belongs to.
Prepare and define the scope of the project.
Determining the effort and the cost of the project.
Drafting business requirements.
Interacting and working with a team to ensure that they understand the project requirements and deliver solutions accordingly.
Sets an example by behaving in ways that are consistent with company vision and values.
Creates an environment in which employees have ownership of their jobs and area able to achieve job expectations.
Assumes ownership and accountability for own performance management.
Projects personal and company high standards and develops constructive, trusting relationships in all interactions.
Assesses one’s own strengths and weaknesses and takes actions to improve.
Translates pure business elements and functions as well as technological concepts into language that is understandable to the audiences receiving the information.
Identifies and analyzes problems and opportunities based on business and IT strategic and tactical goals, objectives, and visions.
Analyzes business processes problems and opportunities based on business strategic and tactical goals, objectives, and visions.
Works at one’s own discretion, independently of outside influence or control, contributing to high morale and group commitment that supports goals and objectives.
Originates action to achieve goals or influence events beyond what is mandatory.
Restates the content and feelings expressed in information received from the spoken communication of others accurately.
Communicates effectively, in both verbal and written form, with diverse groups, regardless of level or function.
Sensitive to hierarchical structures of groups and organizations.
Seeks ways of going beyond the limits set by structure to help bring out the best in individuals and groups.
Encourages highly energized, productive, inclusive and meaningful participation and knows how to engage people in planning and decision making.
Conducts meetings to obtain, qualify and evaluate information to support the definition and clarification of requirements and needs.
Understands what customers really want and then measures actions and improvements against that vision.
Provides friendly, caring service and handles any customer situation with confidence and a sense of urgency.
Develops rapport, mutual trust and understanding of customers overall business and related computing needs.
Produces and communicates the meaning of business process and domain models.
Creates business cases to provide support or definition to the strategic direction of a business area
Studies situations and actions, separating them into parts, and identifying common elements, themes, and risks.
Seeks growth of knowledge an understanding of customers, business, industries, technologies, processes and systems.
Identifies and analyzes system objects and presents the findings in a manner that supports facilitation to differing audiences.
Gathers, organizes and evaluates information in a logical systematic fashion, recognizes patterns and similarities between past and present and across customers and industries.
Produces and communicates the meaning of system process and domain models.
Understands the relationship of business processes and domain models to system models.
Identifies the specific data elements and their attributes as they relate to business needs for returning and reporting information.
Identifies the sources of data and how the data is used and interacts with systems and applications.
Identifies the specific data structures as they relate to the sources and targets in order to facilitate collection, storage, and extraction of data.
Identifies and determines the impact to changing requirements on scope and development effort.
Traces requirements to understand dependencies.
Utilizes people effectively by allocating responsibilities and authority to them as appropriate.
Mentors for knowledge, skill and behavior development.
Identifies and offers opportunities to learn and develop.
Participates in cross-functional teams to work on problems or opportunities.
Works cooperatively with other team members to accomplish goals.
Develops effective work relationships on all levels of the organization.
Plan, tracks, and manages the components required to support successful completion of projects.
Adheres to project management methodology to staff and projects or significant assignments.
Follows current enterprise standards and methods to provide consistency in the environment using preferred tools and techniques.
Identifies the need for new or improved standards and methods to provide better communication and stability within the technology and business areas.
Assigns resources, ideas, time and people to accomplish a goal.
Uses criteria to determine the relative importance of problems/goals/options.
Knowledge and Skills
An understanding of .NET/J2EE/HTML/PHP/JS/HTML5/FBML
Understanding or working knowledge of API’s, Integration Technologies, Mobile, Data Modeling
An understanding of Social Technologies such as Twitter, Facebook, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Youtube, Disqus, Pluck, WordPress, Posterous, Sharable Widgets, JIVE, Newsgator, Sharepoint, RSS Readers and Socialtext. Must have an understanding of integrating these tools and technologies internally and or externally or both
An understanding of Social Monitoring Tools configurations, implementation, and reporting such as Radian6, Crimson Hexagon, Lithium, Google Analytics, and Google Alerts. Must have an understanding of what is needed and how to use working knowledge is a must.
B.A. or B.S. degree in Information Systems, Computer Science, Marketing, Communication, Journalism, or related field, or equivalent work experience
10+ years of systems and/ or business analysis or design experience in a systems or technical type role (e.g., application development, use of SDLC)
5+ years of personal experience with utilizing and participating with Social Technologies and Online Communities
10+ years of Business experience within Retail, Healthcare, Financial Services, Product Management, Software, Government, and or Non-Profit
Works on extremely complex problems; assignments involve new technologies or new applications; recognized as enterprise-wide resource
Assist in the definition of objectives to support project success, review and track the completion
Mentor other associates within the IT and Business disciplines.
Assigned projects of critical importance to support of key customers, development of new projects of strategic importance
Exercises independent judgment in developing methods, techniques and evaluation criteria for obtaining results.
Prior experience in dealing with technical teams.
Prior experience working on rapid technical development and collaborative project environments.
Experience in drafting proposals.
So this is the job description I am looking for in 2011. Does this job description exist yet? No it does not?! That is why I am proposing it so the folks figuring out their 2011 plans and budgets may take this into consideration. If companies have these types of questions going into 2011; “What do we need to infuse Social into our company?” “What types of jobs and people do we need to hire?” “Do we have the job descriptions for hiring new types of roles at our company?” Hopefully this job description would answer some of those questions.
What do you think? Would you add to this job description? Please feel free to use this within your companies it can only further my chances of landing this career path somewhere in the near future! Happy planning and budgeting for 2011 and make sure to make room for me, my skills, and my job description!
We have begun the era of businesses turning the corner of complete change in the way they are managed internally to be more affectively run externally for their customers, investors, and communities. There are many blog posts, articles, and conferences being dedicated to this very topic. Since it is relatively new on the business management landscape, people and companies are trying to figure out what works, what does not, and what does the future hold.
I decided to take a stab at the actual organizational setup, roles and types of people that will strategize, plan, operationalize, and support the social business structure. The one common sentiment that appears quite often is “how do we get buy-in from senior leaders and the c-suite” I think the best way to get buy-in is to have direct reporting and governance over the organization, people, goals, objectives and measurement of success. This gives the senior leaders direct line of site to the people and structure for it to succeed.
A social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective. The profits are used to expand the company’s reach and improve the product/service. This model has grown from the work of Muhammad Yunus and others. Social business is a cause-driven business. In a social business, the investors/owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but cannot take any dividend beyond that point. Purpose of the investment is purely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company, no personal gain is desired by the investors.
I really like this approach to the definition of a Social Business! It seems a more practical and applicable to most business settings today, whether it is a private, public or non-profit type of organization.
Here is my diagram of an approach to structuring your social business group organizationally. This will be the basis of the ideas below:
Org Chart of the Social Business Group
There are some main components for this structure to be affective and effectively run. The following will be discussed in this post:
2. Business Metrics
3. Get the People out there
4. Eclectic Group of Roles and People
5. Solid Line and Dotted Line Management
6. Reverse Mentoring
The planning is a critical function of the Social Business. The planning has to have an understanding of the collective needs and wants of the organization. A centralized function around planning will provide an enterprise view of all the competing needs and wants of the organization. What the Social Business Group will have the ability to do is collectively prioritize all of these competing needs of all your organizations. One of the byproducts of this centralized planning of the internal and external social business is that silo’d organizations start to share goals, objectives, and measurements of success.
The planning also leads a more collaborative effort to tactical and operational execution of these needs and wants. The Social Business Group will have the ability to flow work back and forth between their group and organizations that will more than likely have the people to execute the tactics. Depending on the needs and wants the Social Business Group can execute for an organization, which allows organizations within the enterprise to expand and contract based on the needs and wants. This cuts down on hiring for duplicate resources for tactical execution. The Social Business Group can synthesize organizations inside the enterprise to leverage one resource for these execution tactics, instead of 4 organizations hire 4 people and they end up all doing the same thing and costing the company four times as much. This group ensures the planning and execution of the social business both internally and externally.
2. Business Metrics
The Social Business Group is driven by Financial and Non-Financial metrics. This group will be responsible for continually monitoring the effectiveness of the needs and wants based on pure financial returns, non-financial activities that will help drive financial return, and reviewing short and long term course correcting success. The Social Business Group will be held responsible for reporting the success and or failures of executing needs and wants. This group will be held to review activities in the future.
So if the need or want has a business case of a return of financial investment in 3 years, when that 3rd year rolls around the group will be responsible for reporting on these numbers. If the numbers are not reached there will be accountabilities and responsibilities that will need to be explained and corrected to find a new program to find that return or documented so history does not repeat itself. There will be a repository built for keeping track of these programs. The following areas below could be some areas that the Social Business Group will be responsible for planning, executing and supporting on an ongoing basis
a. The hiring and retention of employees
b. Finding leads to and tracking the success of closing for financial success
c. Increasing customer satisfaction
d. Increasing market-share for a product or service
e. Increasing spend within the current loyal customer base.
f. Decreasing expensive Call Center phones and leverage more online customer service channels
g. Drive purchasing on niche markets with niche ways of marketing and advertising.
h. Decrease operating costs by reducing duplication of efforts across the silo’d organizations.
These are just some of the financial and non-financial accountabilities and responsibilities the people, processes, projects and technologies will have in this group. To achieve any of these metrics the Social Business Group must be sharing, collaborating and ensuring people and technologies are working together to achieve. The days of silo’d achievement metrics are over if you want to succeed. Success is NOT derived in silos anymore. Unless there is a group fully dedicated to ensure shared metrics are achieved then they really are never achieved. Look at your goals and objectives for 2011 see any shared goals with other silos and your bonus tied to if achieved or not…….didn’t think so.
3. Get the People out there
The Social Business Group does not sit in cubes all day long taking orders or waiting for the next project come in. They are fully integrated with all business functions throughout the organization. They need to seek out the individuals that want to energize the company using new collaborative processes and technologies internally and externally. Most businesses are operating outside their firewall with business partners as well as consumers and investors. This group is always seeking ways to understand the flow of information for decision making and moving the organization and its people forward.
This group is responsible for making sure there are seamless leveraging of the processes and technologies. This group is held to a make sure groups are interacting sharing and collaborating to ensure shareable metrics achievement, sharing of successes and failures, and reusing as much process, information and technology as possible. This cuts down on 8 monitoring tools for 6 different organizations and 6 different groups managing their business and people in a silo. This is complicated and not much costly. The organizations cannot honestly report if they are being successful for the organization as a whole without the infusion of the group ensuring cross collaboration and initiative completion.
About 60 to 70% of these folks will have community management in their DNA. They will always be seeking out people, technologies, and paths to succeed. They will continually look to help, but within helping discovering new ways the organization or people can achieve success. This group of folks will be involved and engaged behind the firewall as well as beyond it.
4. Eclectic Group of Roles and People
The Social Business Group looks very different than most traditional organizations within the enterprise. Since the group will need to be proactive as well as reactive when it comes to technology, people, problems, issues, and solutions, they need to have this eclectic look, feel and interaction, mainly between the people and technology. Organizations will no longer have the ability to isolate the process from the technology or the people that asks for technology and the people that deliver technology. This group will be a reflection of the mantra “Business is IT and IT is Business”
This group will have marketing, business technologists, subject matter experts, project managers, art directors, call center operations leaders, interactive technologists, “infrastructurists”…..This will be an eclectic group of individuals working together to make the group be efficient and the enterprise to be efficient in the execution of needs and wants. This group will be responsible for blending all things traditional with new, this silo and that silo and business and technology in specifically in the areas of:
Initiative Management and Metrics
This group will keep the ecosystem of internal and external in balance and understand when it is not in balance. They will have the ability to understand and react because the relationships of trust have been built with key partner groups and issues or innovations can help efficiently because the time and people were involved all along the way. The only way to achieve this balance is to have an eclectic team working for the betterment of the organization as well as themselves.
The following picture shows the different roles or titles that will reside inside the Social Business Group for the enterprise:
titles in social business group
5. Solid Line and Dotted Line Management
The solid and dotted line organizational structure is the most interesting of organizational design. The solid line gives you control and dotted gives you influence or responsible for execution. Both of these relationships are completely necessary for this organizational structure to work. It essentially boils down to top down and bottoms up meeting up for organizational success and execution. The dotted line provides visibility and shared responsibility in making sure each organization is successful on its own as well as part of the whole organization.
Having the dotted line to these organizational units shows solidarity with these organizations as well as a shared responsibility that if this organization needs to be working with another organization or an organization could use another organizations resources or help; this group ensures and communicates these actions.
With the solid line in place to c-suite this group is responsible and accountable for organization goals, objectives, mission, metrics and return. There is no red tape, there are no trickle down or roll ups, there are just direct line of site of investment and return for the whole organization. This essentially becomes an strategy, planning, operations and tactical execution area for the executive office and officers. Being that most Executive Offices represent the whole organization, they should have a group dedicated to making this a reality. A SWAT Team for the Executive Office of real hard core business and technology planners and executors that are flexible and adaptable for real return for the organization.
6. Reverse Mentoring
The senior leaders of most companies need to be brought up the digital and community interaction landscape. By leveraging the solid line organizational structure the Social Business Group is responsible for training and educating of the people they are reporting to. This will help with vision, business direction, business decisions, and investment. I have found once you unlock the navigation and using the tools within internal and external communities, senior leaders feel a part and then take the responsibility for furthering the execution and success of the Social Business structure for their organization. Once the senior leaders can see how shared goals, responsibility, and information are used for true financial returns they cannot get enough of the interactions with the people and tools.
This is for the betterment of the organization and the people. The one thing I would caution against doing is isolating this group from the rest of their people while they “get up to speed”. Building “walled gardens” for them to play to learn will have adverse affects when trying to integrate back into the fold of the whole company. In their “walled gardens” the senior executive WILL NOT get the sense of all perspectives from top to bottom, because they are only learning from their peers. The public learning together does a lot for building trust and relationships in an organization at all levels.
So what do you think? Will this work in your organization? Do you see any other benefits to this centrally located organization? Please let me know in the comments. Don’t get me wrong, this is not going to be easy. This one won’t be just snap together a org. chart on a powerpoint and it happens. This one takes into account the people and behaviors that will need to change along with this.
Like I infamously put it at a #jmu612 event here in Minneapolis “We are fundamentally changing the way business has been done for the last 50 years, if you try and take this on yourself or within one silo’d organization, it’s like climbing Mt Everest in your boxer shorts, you’re never going to make it!” You need a team, you need buy-in, you need technology and you need new ways. Without it, good luck….
Currently we have this thing about customers opting in or opting out. If they opt out most companies pine over how can we get them to opt in and continually push market in a shot gun fashion around them hoping someone will forward it to them…..costly.
On the other side you have the people that opt in and what do businesses turn around and do, push market the hell out of these customers. No analysis done around who should get what message, when, why and then the customer gets the dreaded noreply@ email address in the From: so you cannot communicate your frustration with said business……ummm costly and annoying.
So how does the opt in become a two way form of communication between businesses and customers. Data, yes the sexy ever glamorous darling of the businesses, Data. Yeah right who I kidding data is not sexy, but it sure is useful! What businesses need to do is partner with their customer around data. The customer has the ability to proactively collect a lot of information about themselves now and the data the business collect about the customer has holes in it to be affective. Typically most businesses have cookies, email address and minimum information about connecting the exact purchases done by their customers.
With so many customers collecting, storing, analyzing, and utilizing their data to make personal business decisions, like where I buy, how much can I spend, and how much I have spent. On the flip side businesses are collecting, storing, and analyzing the data they are collecting with one two pieces or really three pieces of demographic data missing First Name, Last Name, and email address tied to purchasing actions. Missing the actual person and who they are leaves gaping holes in analyzing to take the correct actions. Being able to line the data profile the customer is building and data profile based on a Cookie ID can lead to a powerful conversation, trust relationship and actual deepening the selling and buying between the two.
Enter a company like Buyosphere!They are allowing customers to store and maintain all the purchases they make based on the receipts they can obtain online and eventually the receipts they receive offline, then get them to their online profile. This purchasing information is the start of the two opt-in of sharing information between businesses and customers. With the customers currating and storing their purchasing data and most businesses wanting to know their First Name, Last Name and email address on those purchases, why not have conversations about sharing this information with each other. Businesses that are in a more brick and mortar setting need to find ways to get this purchase information to their customers! Plus we can save a whole lot of trees by not giving out paper receipts too…
Businesses need to invest in emailing receipts to the customer at the time of purchase, giving them a way to enter a code online to get the electronic receipt once they get online, start putting QR codes on the receipt, or maybe bumping phone to POS to get receipt record onto phone (keep in mind this only covers 30% of customers with smartphones).
What this allows the customer to do is curate their purchases and share the data socially or privately with the businesses they are demonstrating purchasing power with said business. This is the start of the 2-way Opt-In partnership around purchasing power using the opt-in as the contract, the handshake, the trust. The businesses offering these types of services and two way opt-in relationships will be able to increase marketshare, service customers based on mutual respect based on buying and selling, and keep the customers you have long term. In business keeping the ones you have is waaaaaay cheaper than always trying to acquire new. I do believe if the customer felt a little more in control of this opting-in action they would probably be more willing to opt-in! I know I would!
Now the flip side of this 2-way Opt-In relationships are the businesses and needing to earn the trust with this Customer information and not get all up in their customer’s grillz with their Pushy MCPusherton marketing and advertising. They have to allow the relationship to build and grow. With always checking in after sending your Customers information, like “How did that feel, was it pushy?” or “Did we hit the mark based on your activity?” This will gain trust and loyalty like nothing before. Image the cost reductions of trying to acquire new costumers and increasing the spend by already existing customer. Just remember this is earned in the long term and screwed up in an instant. Gut feeling is most businesses would have more fun interacting with their Customers too. Employees would have more satisfaction about a job well done or finding new ways to strengthens the relationship with their Customers. I see productivity gains and reducing talent turning over, which is reduction of expenses. When you make you company fun with happy Customers and happy employees really cool things can happen!
So go forth and build and synthesize your data businesses and customers, the economy will thank you! “In the form of a wholly logical data model, in the form of a buying river!”
Comments Off on 4 Tactics to evaluating, buying, and implementing Vendor technology packages
Being a Business Analyst nothing drives me more up a wall when I hear “Oh it is a vendor package, we don’t have any requirements.” My first response to that is Really? Or depending on the political and relationship of the environment a little attitude will be thrown in with the response of Really? In this post I will lay out 4 tactics as to why this thought process dooms your project before you even start. Yes it dooms it, sorry no nice way to put this. In my career I have seen many many many vendor technology packages suck companies dry because of not following these 4 tactics. If I added it all up in the last 10 years, I have seen at least $500 million dollars wasted because the company did not know the technology they already have, what they really wanted or what they really needed.
This goes back to very simple premise; know thy business! Sorry to break the news, but your business is run by good technology and good technology selections. Using these 4 tactics when evaluating, selecting and implementing a Vendors software package you will save time, money and whole lot of headaches. The tactics focus more on using a more iterative, collaborative, and co-creation methodological process (Please insert your methodology definition of what that is, most software development lifecycles SDLC’s are basically all the same with different terms, thought leaders, and definitions. These tactics still do not change).
1. Understand your requirements from a business scenarios context:
Organize all your business scenarios and collaborative processes and technology that will be touching the Vendor package. Yes in todays world there is no longer the black and white of process vs technology. They are and always will be interwoven. No more of this separation of process from technology! Sorry “I only worry about the business process without technology” people! The business scenarios will allow for the project team to put information into containers for easier decomposition, decision making, gap identifiers, and nice to haves highlighting. Without organizing into containers the project team ends up trying to make decisions on a laundry list of requirements and never can answer the question “Do we have everything we need and want?” Having this layer of information will help people find vendor software packages that support their business scenarios. Below is an example of how to model those business scenario containers.
The Business with Circles and Stick Figures
You also will avoid buying software built for the aviation industry and retrofitting to use in financial services (this never works, I have seen this once). This model will help you organize around decisions based on core vs nice to haves. It will also show you how many different users there are for a particular implementation. It is simple circles, arrows, and stick figures to depict how big is this “bread box”(this is the term thrown around when trying to figure out scope). Gather as much information from as many different users, process documents, technical specifications, and industry users as possible. At all costs do try and avoid requirements gathering overload (this is the art that a good Business Analyst brings to the team)! Estimated time for producing a model like this 2-3 weeks.
Now that you have you have identified your business scenario containers you can beginning filling those containers with requirements based on the process diagrams each business scenario has in regards to business rules, functional or user interface requirements, data requirements, non-functional requirements, and security and information requirements. Within the world of software development a project team could provide details of your business scenarios with 57 different types of requirements, that all come with their own set of attributes. All these requirement types make up the ecosystem of requirements management including traceability, impact analysis and conceptual design of the technology. Here is how the information is linked together to understand your whole picture of requirements:
How Requirements Trace
This is typically how requirements trace to each other. The names may slightly differ depending on the methodology you are using, but the model will be somewhat the same across a multitude of methodologies. These are the details that will fit inside each one of the circles above according to your business scenarios. Keep in mind, some of the business scenarios above kick off other business scenarios within the model, that is ok! This will help establish input and outputs of successful completion of that business scenario. This is why having a team that understands the complexity in very usable containers is key to evaluating, buying and implementing vendor software. Without this, good luck and may the force be with you……
The Requirements Management Hard Work Model
This model depicts the process a project team goes through to manage all the information within the business scenario containers. Without this for guidance, project teams often find themselves in chaos, analysis paralysis, or worse stuck on what comes next. All three paths lead to wasting time, money, and resources, not only the Clients, but the Vendor also.
2. Download a free copy make screen shots
This step will be critical in your evalaution process. Start taking screen shots of evalaution copies of software and bounce your business scenario processes and requirements up against the technology you are researching. Yes I know, this causes rework. You have this either way. I would rather do a whole lot of rework on information, than in production when your audience can now see the garbage on the lawn. It is not pretty, trust me! I also said this was not going to be easy and take a couple of hours to do either. Taking the information from tactic 1 will help you bounce your business scenarios up against the vendor’s interpretation of your industry. Start running through your business scenarios in these evaluation copies.
At this point start refining your requirements. They are not set in stone and never will be. If you have a multiple disciplines (SME’s, PM, BA, Tech Lead, Architect, Infrastructure Architect, Support personnel) co-creating you ensure continual buy-in and a successful implementation. You may even discover some requirements for your business using two different vendor packages. Document this information and use them in tactic 4. This information can sometimes lead to changes on the vendor side, which will lead to a better partnership of trustworthy sharing and collaboration (This is a behavior that is missing in most vendor client relationships to begin with)
Sometimes you may find a software package has found a better way to do your business scenario. That is ok! Your business does not always have to have all the answers to weaving business scenarios and technology solutions together. Do not get caught up in thinking this is where your competitive advantage lays for your business. It is your people and empowering decision making with the use of the information in and out of the vendor packages is where your competitive advantage lays. I have seen where companies have gained huge competitive advantage by allowing the vendor package to dictate the process and technology of particular business scenario. The reason is the company gets back to focusing on delivering top notch business services and products to their audiences, this is where you earn your keep with your audience. Additionally, it makes getting to market a lot shorter.
The Vendors you buy packages from focus on one set of processes and technology for a particular industry. These companies live and breathe making the industry specific business scenarios the most efficient, intuitive, and easy to manage within their software package (for the most part….). Take salesforce.com for instance. They focus on making the sales process the most efficient it can possibly be with sound business scenarios and technology to support those business scenarios. Your business scenario is selling a certain product or service to your audience. Let the experts in the sales process and technology worry about that while you sell the product, that is how your business makes money. Your business does not make money by re-engineering your sales process, so partner with the process and technology experts that live and breath certain business scenarios, trust me finding these partnerships will lower costs and increase revenues! I hope this analogy make sense? If not drop me a comment and we can discuss further
3. Get your Business Analysts, Testers, Developers, Subject Matter Experts, Infrastructure, and Project Management disciplines collaborating on the information:
This tactic is probably the most difficult to manage or implement depending on the whole culture of your organization, the behaviors of your people towards collaborating and sharing, and do your disciplines have the street and book smarts in regards to discipline collaboration. A company can state that they are agile or iterative until the cows come home, but if the people don’t process the information in a culture of collaboration and co-creation it just isn’t true. Disciplines must have the comfort and trust built up in their relationships to encroach respectfully into each others disciplines. I show these overlaps in the Business Analyst 3.o post.
The team you pick for performing these tactics must be full time on this effort, any thing less you will not make it a priority and the project will fail. This tactic also brings everyone to the table for the demonstrations of the Vendor package to satisfy all parties involved and will facilitate making a good technology decision. These decisions can not be made in the vacuum by strategists or leaders that will not be using this package on a daily basis. Great, the vendor package has great executive reporting dashboard for executives, but the tactical and operational information going into the package is garbage and slows down your business scenarios. Garbage in Garbage out, this affect is more prevalent in vendor packages, if the decisions to buy and implement is done at a too high level away from executing the actual business scenario.
4. Take control of the dog and pony shows based on requirements
This is where your gathering, analyzing, and scope definition will pay huge dividends. If you allow the Vendor to run these reviews you will be sold to. This is not the fault of the Vendor! They are trained and coached to sell the cool features that cost money. The fault really falls on the Client for not preparing, understanding, and knowing thy business working within a technology platform. This step is where Clients can take back the control and get what is needed and on occasion what is wanted for their business scenarios.
This collaborative demo really makes for a good working relationship with your potential Vendor. Let me explain. The Vendor will not have to waste time helping the Client figure out what they need and can focus more on being a true partner in consulting, recommending, and creating for the Client based on a clear vision. The Client should not be paying $200.00 per hour to figure out their own business…..this to me does not make good use of the of a scarce resource called money!
An additional suggestion I would make is have two demonstrations of the vendor software package. The first one would be completely understood as a time for the Vendor to do their sales, dog and pony show, and offer up their road-map for their product(s). The second demonstration would be completely controlled by the Client with reviewing the product through the lens of their requirements, process flows, and wants and needs of the product features based on their business scenarios. The mood and behavior of the second demo should be collaborative, co-creative, and sharing of “garbage on each others lawns.” All along the way refining the requirement information. There may even be a resource on the project team completely dedicated to keeping information up to date. This is where your triple AAA BA’s learn their craft!
Implementing these 4 hard work tactics (yes sorry to tell you, you will be doing some hard work here, no silver bullet!) will pay dividends for your short term and long term success for your projects to implementing vendor technology packages. These techniques can work for Software as a Service (SaaS), Off the Shelf Install products, Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Social Technology Ecosystems (sorry no silver bullet in this area either). I have seen both sides of this equation and utilizing these techniques has led to buying and implementing the correct technology for true return on investment of time, money and resources.
If you have additional techniques that you have seen be successful on a project please leave a comment. This old dog loves learning new tricks! One added thought on these 4 tactics is swap out the word “business” for “technical” in front of scenarios and it works the same way just a slightly different type of language used in your requirement statements. So you technical infrastructure (servers, routers, modems, switches, wireless hardware, pbx’s, ivr’s, mainframes, etc.) folks we have you covered too!
So you have seen me talk a lot about how Social Media, Technology, and the Outdoors lately so I wanted to write a post about these Misfits or Fit for connecting us as people. Yes I know you probably read that first sentence and said to yourself “What? Are you kidding me I go to the outdoors to get away from all this wacky stuff!” Sorry to tell you, your data is calling your bluff. Yes I would not be totally “transparent” (for my big word users) if I did not agree with that statement a little….but I am going to start a discussion that hopefully has a long tail for outdoor retailers, outdoorsy people, technology retailers, technology innovators, government agencies, non-profits and businesses that relay on people engaging and communicating with the tools and technologies in the outdoors.
Ok here we go. I have been part of many outdoor activities since moving to Minnesota. I have duck hunted, deer hunted, fished, boated, hiked, canoed, motorcycled, rode bike, skied, ice fished, and my favorite RV camping. After reading that list were you like really? Yes the suit 5 days a week is my Clark Kent side. So living an outdoors lifestyle (and believe me there are people way more hardcore at this than I) as well as being involved in many online social communities I have been watching, listening and participating and discovering some patterns that I want to explore with people, companies, and organizations.
I have thought through some initial ideas to get this conversation and action going on how social media+technology+outdoors are truly socially connecting us on and offline for good. I want to explore the data, social objects that people are putting out there, for deeper and richer connections between the people, their technologies, the outdoors, the brands that support these activities, the brands that support them, and how to create real return on investment (have a couple of real dollars in real dollars out ideas) by companies and consumers in this space. Yes, I know the initial reactions are “Keith you are crazy people go to the outdoors to get away from technology and especially social media” Well unfortunately, your data is telling a different story…..so you may want to have a talk with it!
I have teamed up with the fine folks managing the Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis/St. Paul in particular Rick Mahn to leverage the rich social media savvy, technology curious, and experienced people in this community to bring this to light. I have also been in contact with many local providers of products and services within the outdoor space to participate in a the discussion as well to see where this conversation goes. Currently these fine folks have signed up for the first part of a two part plan to kick off the engagement, discussion, ideas, collaborations, co-creations, and real business that can be done based on this topic. The outdoor industry accounts for $5.075 billion dollars in 2009 that is just the retail side selling products and services. Then when you couple in the resorts, campgrounds, guide businesses, hotels, rental shops, RV Boat ATV Dealerships, restaurants, technology services and social media tool side of that money and there are many many many systemic value points to listen, engage, make happy, service to convert into real dollar values.
The participants to kick off the discussion will be as follows:
Molly Solberg from Duluth Pack: Molly is the Director of Social Media and Business Development for Duluth Pack. She is actively managing the twitter account as well as Duluth Pack Blog. Molly has also initiated a Social Media Breakfast Duluth community also! She not only works for a 128 year outdoor company, but she lives and breathes the outdoor lifestyle in her personal life too.
Kim Opitz representing Crestliner as a vendor: Crestliner (twitter acct) celebrates 65 years as an innovator in the aluminum market; delivering a complete line of fishing, fish and ski, pontoon and jon boats to enthusiastic consumers across the United States and Canada. You can find them engaging their communities atFacebook, Flickr, Youtube, andVimeo
Adam Jochum from Crow River Coffee Company: Adam runs Crow River Coffee Company in Watertown, MN. He has graciously offered up his studio that normally broadcasts Spacevidcast.com live. His studio will allow us to have fully interactive discussion with a live feed of the social platforms as well as a livestreaming of the discussion. This is cool! Adam and Crow River totally fits social media+technology+outdoors, because who doesn’t drink coffee in the outdoors. It is a great themed back drop to the whole first part of this experience.
Rick Mahn from Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis St. Paul: Rick has an extensive IT background and understanding of infrastructure, Rick brings the knowledge and skill to help build your personal or professional network through years of exploration of social media, learning its strengths and weaknesses. His practical experience in the industry combined with his love of communication and team building have enabled him to bridge the gap between personal and professional networking with great success. Rick is also one of the founding members of the Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis St. Paul. Rick has established a community of well over 2,000+ community members here in Minneapolis St. Paul. We will have to confirm during our livestreaming discussion but I do believe he is the Social Media Title holder for most community members, longest consistently running SMB, and the SMB with the most sessions 29, to date. We will ask him!
So that is the first part of the plan. Now for the meaty, juicy, slap some pepper jack cheese and big piece of bacon on part two of this plan. Rick and I have had several discussions about how we can take this discussion into the outdoors and really see if we can fully make the equation of social media+technology+outdoors come to life. I do believe we have hit on a plan……now before I go any further you will have to wait a little for part two, but I think we will make it worth the wait, right Rick!
So here is the plan a 2 day Social Media Breakfast camping experience at a campground.
The tentative agenda would look something like this:
Day 1 Arrive at the Campground, SMB’ers with or without families set up campsites and connect throughout the day. Meet each other. Meet sponsors. Meet each others families. Maybe have some technology based contests. Hopefully we have some vendors, retailers, service provides that would like to participate in their element.
Day 2 The regularly scheduled SMB would take place from 8am to 10am. This would be at a couple of the campsites sitting around the campfire ring (with or without fire….still deciding) with hopefully the same participants (maybe even some more based on the longtail discussion) from the livecast discussing what has happened since the livecast, what is on the near horizon, and what does the future look like. This would be a fully interactive discussion, hence in the circle around the campfire ring.This camping adventure would take place sometime in May or Jun 2011.
The livecast of this discussion will take place on October 13th, 2010 starting at 7:30pm. Yes we are doing a livecast with video, chat and twitter stream! So start preparing questions or comments that are on your mind? What areas would you like us to touch on? I am really looking forward to this ongoing discussion. Any person and business is welcomed to just jump in where ever. I have even thought about starting a bi-weekly or monthly twitter chat under the #hashtag of #smtochat, but we will take 1st things first. Lets see how the livecast goes! Be on the look out for details and links to the live webcast!
Additionally, I want this to be an ongoing discussion, so if want to continue the discussion after the livecast just use the hashtag #smoutside10. At anytime we think that another livcast should take place with different participants, it is a ok too. If anyone wants to give me a 2011Keystone Springdale 303BHSSR you could do that too (I am totally kidding……our beloved @pulling was totaled out in a hailstorm this year). This is definitely going to be a community effort. Leave some comments, we would love to hear from you!