Uber from Consumer Disruptor to Consumer Disaster (and it didn’t take long)!

One word I detest in my world of marketing is the word “digital disruption”, exactly what does that mean? What the mobile phone all of a sudden wakes up and changes your world? It’s like saying guns kill, when in fact it’s people that kill!

So in the world of “consumer disruption” (the actual “geek” word every digital expert is meaning to say), there can be no one more disruptive than Uber and Lyft et.al! Within a very short period Uber created a consumer experience, that connected with the consumer, an easy to use mobile driven experience to get us from A to B from almost anywhere, the world’s largest taxi company that owns no taxis . . . I could go on.

So, what went wrong?

In the initial days, it was a great consumer experience. Open an app, enter your location and destination and within a fairly quick moment, there was a car waiting for you.

Now generally, it was a great consumer experience, you knew what you were paying for, the driver was usually an interesting person doing another job, the car was perfection, water-bottles, phone chargers, massive amounts of leg space and well enough groomed to be able to eat your lunch off the seats. All in all – a “great consumer experience”, that you thought was built around you, it just worked!

But, as all strategically and greed led aggressive growth strategies go, they have let go of their differentiator, the “consumer experience.”

You see, there’s nothing new, innovative or differentiating about Uber, lots of other “venture” money realized that it’s not that difficult to build a competitive set (when you don’t own anything but an app and the ability to employ anyone)!

So where does this leave Uber?

In Chicago (where I live), they are a total disaster, the cars are dirty, beaten up, clueless drivers are mesmerized by “Waze” leaving the common-sense of direction well at home. With the inaccuracies of the navigation downtown in Chicago and the hyper inflated “surge-pricing”, the whole concept becomes an inept, expensive waste of time, that just makes you angry!

So, will big-money win over consumer experience, will this “joke” of a concept finally float and repay some $’s to the speculators of nations bank-accounts. I think not!

But as Forbes pointed out recently, many of the top 500 companies of today will not exist by 2025, will Uber, be the Blockbuster of the “car-pool” world, or will it get it’s head out of it’s ass and realize that their consumers (experiences) are beginning not to give a crap about their business?

Lets wait and see, however in the meantime, I do hope that my “Ubereats” doesn’t take a wrong turn!

Retaining talent through technology investment

Constant staff and talent turnover is one of the most detrimental indications of a poorly performing business. Not only does it bear a huge financial penalty, but it constantly disrupts business operations, knowledge and competence.

Talking to key CFO’s it’s one of the top 10 issues that they want to fix, the financial penalties are huge, it’s like flushing money down the toilet, there is no return, no reason, it’s just plane stupid.

Now you are going to get turnover, but it can be an epidemic in some companies. I remember well meeting a CEO of a large advertising agency in New York 8 years ago, who’s main concern was that every 3 years the company turned over the entire employee roster! Can you imagine, potentially the company has no one with more than 3 years experience and knowledge of the fundamental values of that business!

Technology has a much larger influence now in employee satisfaction. Ask yourself are you a company focused on “technology infrastructure and ERP” or are you a company focused on “social information and mobile technologies.” Although you have to have both, the first one is an exercise in cost reduction, while the later is an exercise in talent investment.

You see 20/30 year olds, your most productive people don’t want to be constrained by complex technologies and email systems, they are just boring, linear and clunky to them. What they want is technology that encompasses their behaviors, beliefs and daily interactions. So Social tools like Chatter, Jive, Yammer are key “social binding” applications that catalyze peoples interactions with the business and it’s talent, they are engaging, interesting, insightful, playful and damn-right effective. Layered on top of your essential business tools, like timesheets, BPM software and your key ERP tools, they remove the irrelevant elements only exposing users to the information that they need.

If your technology leaders are still trying to push out complex, old fashioned ERP/UI tools to your most talented people, you will loose them. ERP technologies to front end users just fail on the user experience level (even Larry Ellison has stated recently that the ERP technologies of the past are not the future), so embed their outputs into the “social interstate” instead. Why do you think Marc Benioff has changed the focus of Salesforce products from CRM to “social engagement” through Chatter? Because he knows that a fair majority of Salesforce licenses stay on the shelf, because the user experience is not that great in the core product.

So have “social business activity” centers, not Enterprise Resource Planning. Have “talent catalyst centers” not Human Resource Software. Have “collaborative and information portals” not desktop office applications, have “social conversations” not email, have “customer knowledge” instead of CRM.

Large companies blow $’s each year on talent turnover, only because once they attain the talent, they cannot leverage the talent and today’s talent is restless, constantly being comfortable with change, new challenges and bold actions, businesses are not.

If you are a “C-level executive innovator” or “global head of talent” I would advise you to take a strong look at your overall technology strategy and refocus on empowering, enabling and engaging your talent, before the CIO’s strategy makes them head for the door.

Why marketing agencies don’t use social enterprise networks

The rise of social networking has radically transformed how we communicate and collaborate through one simple truth, “social networking mimics human behavior” this “social habit” means that the user is naturally drawn to the communication media through association. So we see Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others all taking advantage of this fact to grow their markets.

Social media of course transformed the media industry forever, not only did the “social web” start translating email threads into open conversations, it also shifted the consumer into social messaging, influences, insights and consumer power and the most important “measurable consumer interactions” consumer data analytics.

Emerging digital media forced the creation of the digital agency to service client demands to access and leverage this new self-engagement platform. So you would have thought that the first place the agency would look is internally, to see how the social enterprise could transform many of the employee habits and actions that the agency clients are also trying to influence in the B2B and B2C sectors?

So why during my travels, do I go into many marketing organizations and find the “enterprise social network” strategy of most of these companies in complete chaos, confusion or disregard? Marketing agencies have been slow to encompass the power of the social enterprise themselves often tripping up over themselves by not being able to strategically change their logical global operating structures.

Most agencies work independently even within the same organization. Many will have disconnection across global accounts and with differing “legal” entities and reporting structures, collaboration and communication platform standardization of both technology and business strategy are often just not there.

Additionally lack of leadership from the c-level executives exasperate the issue. It is well know that for social enterprise technologies to get “self-adoption” (the best type of engagement for cost vs. effort) leadership is key to success. Many agencies do not even employ/recognize the “Enterprise Social Media Officer”, leaving the role somewhere between Corporate Communications, the CIO and Digital Officer, with no clear definition.

The media agencies are leaving valuable business insights, strategies, creativity and competitive advantage on the “cutting room-floor” by not seriously engaging in the social enterprise. Not only do these technologies provide incredible insights into the behavior of your people, with “ideation” you can actually use them to start generating revenue streams, by creating, re-using or morphing existing creativity against new objectives, often problems become “fixable challenges”, arguments become “alignments” and sharing becomes “collaboration”.

These are fundamental shifts in the companies/employees behavior and what “social technology” is doing is providing the “framework” for those organizations who have been talking for years about breaking down geographical, economic and structural boundaries that hold back improved client services, global capability, reduced FTE’s, slimmer more connected companies, more agile, need I go on.

Hence I think the advertising and media organizations need a change of heart, the group companies have to look at the “Enterprise Social Officer” in a new light as a new corporate/board position, that connects the corporate communications, technology and digital needs of the business in the new social era. These new social champions then must work across and through the operating companies constantly breaking down “business complexity” using social tools into “business simplicity” in whatever function this may be both internally and externally.

As an example, I don’t know of one agency using a “Social Enterprise external network” to manage global relationships with a client, however I see plenty of brands already doing this from Virgin to AT&T and the rest, who’s leading who here? Also go and do your own research and see how brand leaders like Richard Branson are leveraging the social platforms for their own “brand advantage”, now go and check on the leading agency CEO’s, the social foot print imbalance is huge!

Agencies need to step up to the mark. Being digital is not about encompassing the newest technology, it’s actually about being able to rapidly access, influence and engage in conversations, insights and actions. So you would have thought that by now the real smart agencies would have fully integrated “social platforms” that leverage continual 24hr value out of their talent and creativity. Then use these social behavior’s to not only service their clients more effectively but also to be used to provide internal “brand health measurements on their own performance”, gain insights into market strategies and market testing, measure creativity, ideas and insight.

In conclusion, the agency c-level executives have really got to start engaging with social in their business and not just talking about it, because they are in an industry where “clear creativity, diversity, talent, communication and openness” are their most valued assets.

All your client business relationships are in your email system, unleash the power!

Ever wondered why the first thing people do when they are “let-go” is back up their email account?

Simple because it’s the one place that all the associations, conversations and threads are stored that records your history, experience, knowledge, connections and skills at the company.

So, why then do we ignore all of this potential valuable email business information when we are employed?

Email is the lowest common platform of business communication and conversation we have. The only problem is that these conversations are linear in nature and not multi-threaded, however, they basically tell a story of events as they happened. Now think about our client relationships, which are so critical to every element of business success from new business through to customer care, we touch our clients daily to service accounts and grow our businesses, through email.

So if we could translate this linear email information into a business relationship map, we have a powerful insight into our key talent relationships, by key search criteria. What we now have is competitive business information that can be leveraged to improve our conversations and insights across all of our business activities like new business, marketing/sales, recruitment and customer services.

There are several business technologies (http://www.datahug.com and http://www.branchitcorp.com) that now enable you to do this and in doing so, every email connection within and outside the organization can now be measured in relation to the strength of the conversations.┬áThese technologies essentially “socialize” your email system and can be used to filter relationships into your CRM systems, social media or customer service systems to build better relationship intelligence, that otherwise has to be formed individually in each software environment.

To take an example pitching for business is all about relationships, it’s not always about “who you know”, it’s about “who knows you!” so one starting point I have always used in New Business is “who in our organization is best to lead our conversations and relationships with this prospect?” and the answer is basically in your email system, I could search against a” brand”, “campaign” or “pitch” and track all the conversations between the parties, showing strengths and weakness in our relationships and where we need to leverage our strength and build new connections.

So if you are a CEO of a business and you need insights into the strength of relationships of people “currently at” or “no longer” at your business, start looking at this simple but effective business data mapping software to unleashing the power of your organization.

Contact the vendors, get them in to show the benefits to your business and how “non-disruptive” this technology is and even benchmark against a similar business, you will be amazed by what you see.

Organizations can now quickly find “competitive and insightful advantage” from e-mail relationships, that you never knew you had. I no longer guess who my best relationship managers are, I now know with insightful accuracy.

Making the “Social Enterprise” a successful business strategy ?

I have seen, used and implemented plenty of business technology solutions in my time, but I was not ready for the transformation that a well engineered “social business engagement” platform can do for today’s business. I use transformation with the greatest respect to a term I loathe as it often promises much but never delivers, this case was different.

So a CEO asks “why is the social network so powerful, what does it do for us?”, well, in a myriad of software technologies and interactive user devices; social platforms enable agility, accessibility and communication, often assisting in providing simplified “collaboration” streams from complex BPM, ERP or HR systems, that in the past delivered content and actions through poorly performing user interfaces.

Secondly the CEO/COO/CFO, business and board leaders are the advocates and ambassador for success. Leadership is gained through followers, think about it all the great leaders, they were good story-tellers who engaged with their audiences and left something to be remembered by. So here is the perfect platform that enables you (in your office) to do the same. Social tools enable conversations around ideas, insights, performance, tactics, you name it it enables it, not just in your office but across and through your business and even into your clients. Your leadership engages, communicates, flattens and removes political, geographical and business barriers instantly. Generates ideas, crowd-sourcing and ultimately the users of social networks become empowered.

A secret of mine for successfully deploying yammer into a 15,000 person business, with little or no resources was based on one thing and one thing only.” Mentoring.”

Mentoring is not a natural element found in most businesses, it is long, means investment and consumes time, what it does do though; is mould the business needs and the technology together very easily. I mentored key executives in social dynamics, developed the business goals and strategies, used analytics to determine growth areas (we never focused on rescuing the dying) and worked with them on a daily basis to establish method trust and more importantly the definition of success. Everyone’s HPO’s should have some social engagement metric, embed the culture, you embed the loyalty that then the conversations. Remember this statement holds no reference to technology yet!

So at the end if you are a CEO/business leader, look at your business now, then look at it through your “facebook” account, see how different your worlds are, you can have this same universal view of your business right-now if you are brave enough to engage with social enterprise networks.

Finally, I am not a tech geek, I am a business person, if you are the CFO reading this let me remind you of what actual returns you get.

1. Employee engagement, I’ll be blunt you will loose less staff, because the social enterprise replicates their life inside their daily work. This will save you $m’s of dollars in finding and keeping talent, mark my words.

2. People, Time and Money, business is not difficult it basically revolves around the afore mentioned, if one moves the others have to give. Socially enabled enterprise automates, drives efficiency and due process through all three. Your people work quicker as decisions get made, your time to market reduces as administration overhead is removed and finally money because you enable people to be effective again and do what they are paid for. Finally in terms of information, knowledge and big-data, it sits in your social tool, all your past conversations, ideas, insights, strategies whatever are on tap all the time, intellectual value is often wasted in business, but social keeps it alive and kicking, just waiting for the right moment.

Millions of operating $’s will be removed from your business, you will be able to scale quickly, have more agility, create quickly, build fast strategies, react to events and re-scale your business capabilities instantaneously. Then wait until you do this with your clients, the world takes off in terms of B2B communication and relationship management, as facebook and social media worlds drive your marketing and market awareness and brand engagement strategies.