If you’ve been following our @FirstRain Twitter feed, you’ve heard how excited we are to be sponsors of Dreamforce 2012! Dreamforce is Salesforce.com’s annual cloud computing conference held at San Francisco’s famous Moscone Center. Last year the event brought in more than 270 exhibitors and attracted over 45,000 people (plus an additional 35,000 who tuned in virtually). This year’s event will be September 18-21st and is expected to be the biggest Dreamforce yet. It’s centered around the theme: “Touch the social enterprise” and aims to focus on how more and more businesses are now going social.
Key headlining speakers include Jim Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, Former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, Angela Ahrendts the CEO of Burberry, Sir Richard Branson the founder of the Virgin Group, and a musical performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers!
Natutally, FirstRain is in the midst of planning some awesome events for Dreamforce—however—we’re (almost, but) not quite ready to share them yet! In the meantime, make sure to follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our blog Market Mine for more information and updates on `FirstRain at Dreamforce‘.
If you plan on attending Dreamforce 2012, reach out to me on Twitter @justineleviand let me know!
For more information on Dreamforce please visit: http://www.salesforce.com/dreamforce/DF12/
And if you would like to attend Dreamforce, you can register here.
“Only the strongest professions have the strongest associations“ - 2012 SLA Hall of Fame inductee Susan Fifer Canby
Chicago in July is hot, even with the lake breeze you can’t escape the concrete jungle heat. So I learned that the key to my personal success in attending the annual SLA (Special Library Asociation) conference was:
Two weeks ago, I attended the SLA 2012 (Special Library Association) conference as an attendee, not as a vendor staff person as I have for many many years (although, I always made sure I was able to sneak away and go to some sessions that I really wanted to go to— often negotiating booth time slots with my coworkers). This year, my focus was on attending as many interesting sessions as I could and to meet as many information professionals as possible that had similar interests.
Here are some high level themes I came back to California with:
- Throughout 2011 I kept an eye on the SLA Future Ready Project, a project that Cindy Romaine, SLA President 2011 had led with the goal of finding and sharing information about how information professionals had to get ‘Future Ready’. Many of the sessions and conversations this year were focused on what and where the professions of ‘Special Librarians’ were going. I had numerous conversations on value (perceived and measurable), extension of roles (where else in the organization to embed oneself) and identity (what is a special librarian, what is the role of information in the enterprise, etc.). The general consensus I heard was that as a profession, information professionals feel that they are or are on the way to being ‘Future Ready’.
- I attended a session on collaborative insights that highlighted some new information professional roles. I thought these roles were great role descriptions for the skills and experience that come with being an information professional in an enterprise including:
- In more than one session and conversation, the topic of ‘delivering information to users where they are’ came up. Mary Ellen Bates in one panel, made the association that it is not only about giving users the ability to ‘search’ but being able to proactively ‘alert’ within context of what they are doing, regardless of what device they are using.
- The rise of internal enterprise app stores and the opportunity for Information Resource Centers/corporate libraries to become front and center to that new enterprise ecosystem. Being first in line to delivering valuable enterprise applications within these new platforms would raise awareness of the services provided and direct value to the enterprise.
- Types of collaboration skills to develop as an information professional includes ‘Horizontal Collaboration’ within organization— IT, HR, and very importantly rainmaking with C level executives.
- In regards to collaboration, I really liked this reminder from Mary Talley : “collaboration requires intimacy“. - The shift to self service and self curation and the changes in how end-users use and consume information was another popular topic heard in many sessions— unlike the ‘clients’ of the past, the skills AND the tools available to end-users enable self access (and success with it). Information professionals MUST understand and become champions of these tools.
- Very popular sessions: 60 Apps in 60 minutes conducted by Scott Brown of the Social Information Group and Joe Murphy who highlighted the need for information professionals to have a good grasp of tools readily available so they can make recommendations, compete effectively and become part of the app culture that the corporate enterprise is now embracing.
- Guy Kawasaki— gave the keynote, focused on Enchantment (that is the name of his newest book). Although I wish Guy had focused a bit more on addressing the actual audience of information professionals (something he talks about being a requirement to enchant!)— his core message can be applied to pretty much any profession that is responsible for providing services and products: Enchant people and build something DICEE - Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Empowering & Elegant.
- Last but not least on my list, Lee Ann Benkert (@LRBenkert, pictured above) spontaneously organized an ‘un-conference’ session during lunch. She asked people to join in the social media lounge and self-organize into small groups to talk about topics that were top of mind to them. It was a new thing for many of the attendees, and it was great to see their excitement. I have been to many un-conference events, and honestly, the group session I was in was just OK (it was about one’s identity as a special librarian, e.g., what should the title really be, etc.). But the classy part was that Lee Ann managed to include the expo vendors who might have complained that this was taking people away from the expo floor booths during the time when attendees had free time to visit by coordinating a ‘flash-mob’ visit to the vendor that best included themselves in the process of the un-conference organization—well done!
There were many other sessions which you can view here, many have slide-decks as well (click through the session title) and there is also an eventifier conference overview that has aggregated images, tweets, slides etc.
Thank you SLA for another excellent conference and thank you to all my old and new friends that I got to spend time with— see you next year in San Diego!
Note: This post was originally posted on my personal blog, chitchating about information delivery.
I must be a horrible target for a sales person. I don’t listen to cold call voicemails, I delete 99% of the spam emails I receive and, if a sales person is lucky enough to get me live, they have about 10 seconds to catch my attention before I tune out.
But I am not unusual. My short attention span and company-selfish interests are typical of the busy exec. And this is something too many sales people don’t take into account. They talk about their products and their needs, not my company’s needs.
In one study:
and there is simply no excuse for this any more!
In the recent report on Sales Intelligence the Aberdeen Group not surprisingly found that the types of intelligence that are most useful are the higher level ones — company and competitor, not the basic contact data most sales teams get equipped with. [Note: Image removed from this post by request of Aberdeen]
We see this need again and again. If you want to get through to an executive (like me) you need to understand my business. What drives my business, what I am trying to achieve, and what’s impacting my customers decisions.
Having my social profile, while cute, can actually make a salesperson annoying. Just because you contact me on Twitter or send me an Inmail is not going to make me respond— in fact if it is a cheesy message without substance I am not going to pay any more attention just because your message is on social media. On the very rare occasions an email gets through my filter it’s because it speaks to my business needs.
The solutions exist today to equip your sales team with smart customer and competitor intelligence right in their workflow. Within the CRM, tailored to the market the rep is in, configured to make it easy for the rep to review the customer intelligence and so be knowledgeable about how he/she can impact the customer’s business—and so talk about the customers need first!
So if you want to sell directly to executives, do your homework about their business first or you are wasting your time as well as theirs.
I have been known to get home and pour myself a cocktail once in a while (usually a gin and ginger-ale mix with a fresh Meyer lemon from the tree outside). With a little one in the house, dinner is pretty much happening before the ice cubes even start to melt—so, yes, I have had a cocktail with my dinner. And since my daily information consumption is substantially social, when Chris Moody, COO of Gnip, kicked off the Big Boulder conference talking about ‘Social Cocktails‘, I was all ears. It was then I immediately knew that I was in for two days of good content and smart people (and perhaps a couple of cocktails)—and I wasn’t disappointed.
Unlike many other social data conferences I have been to, the first example that Chris brought up on stage was an Enterprise use case—not a PR/marketing/brand management/customer service one—but an actual example of how an industrial parts supplier can use a ‘Social Cocktail’ that can include Twitter, Blogs, Comments, etc., to find early signals that can indicate an opportunity or a risk in their supply chain.
How refreshing, I thought, a conference where I perhaps won’t have to constantly explain that what FirstRain delivers with FirstTweets is not about monitoring and measuring media, but about business intelligence derived from social content.
Clare Tischer, wrote a comprehensive post on Chris’s presentation that you can read here and one of the slides he used (which I have replicated from my notes below) was of particular interest around ‘fast’ and ‘deep’ social data and how they are used within the Enterprise.
Although Chris said that the descriptions of the different groups were not representative of all business units that can take advantage of the ‘Social Cocktail’, there are two specifically that were not on the graphic that I think are very important because they are direct revenue producing groups that our FirstRain solutions target.
The business needs of Major Account or Global Sales, for example, are just quite different than those of a PR Manager. Take, for example, use cases we are seeing with Enterprise Sales Account Managers who are using FirstRain with FirstTweets. As I have written before, typical coverage for territory and market coverage may require:
Meanwhile, market Intelligence teams are often looking for a comprehensive view into the movements of their industry peers, partners, competitors and top customers, keyword searches on monitoring platforms sometimes are not enough and can’t scale across the volume of things they look for and need to find, including:
FirstRain’s patented business-content filtering engines analyze a wide range of global content, including news, blogs, PR, company Web sites, government filings and Twitter of course—extracting only business-relevant intelligence from around the world—without the consumer-related noise that many other social media monitoring tools do a great job at for brands to monitor and support customers.
In part two of my Big Boulder post, I will go more into the other sessions and the messages from the data providers. But overall, the conference was an excellent place to learn more about the value of social data and many of the conversations I had with other attendees and panelists. The conference not only validated, but proved, that with FirstTweets we are taking the right approach to incorporating the ‘Social Cocktail’ for our clients by leveraging our ability to extract and deliver precise, high-value customer intelligence.
(Social Cocktail Menu – Photo credit: www.theverge.com)
Next week SLA (Special Library Association) is hosting their annual conference in Chicago and FirstRain will be in attendance. Daniela, our Director of Business Development, MLIS, a long time member of SLA and champion of information professionals in the Enterprise will be attending and is looking forward to catching up with many of you there!
In addition to learning more about new trends and how information professionals are ensuring that they are “’future ready’ by exchanging ideas and connecting with thousands of fellow information professionals“, Daniela will be looking to meet up with information professionals who are currently working or are trying to get involved in Enterprise Social Business projects incorporating social enterprise software like Salesforce.com/Chatter, Yammer, SharePoint, Jive, IBM Connections, Tibco, Cisco Webex Social and others.
The role of the information professional is often an important one in these enterprise projects, and Daniela (who works directly with these vendors as FirstRain partners, and with the enterprise customers deploying these solutions) would like to see more information professionals involved and driving these projects.
SLA2012 is located at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois from July 15th-July 18, 2012. For more information on SLA2012 please visit their website.
If you are interested in touching base with Daniela please send her an email firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @danielabarbosa.
You’ve been in that meeting. HR’s leading the annual performance review process and you’re being asked to rank your team members with their peers. In larger companies you’re probably being asked to force your team into a bell curve of the top 20%, middle 60% and bottom 20%, or your HR person is talking about “the lifeboat test” (what order would you throw your employees out of the boat), or if you work for Intel maybe you’re being asked to do a literal forced ranking.
It’s a tried and tested HR process. Rank your employees, make sure they fit a bell curve, assign bonuses and merit increases accordingly, fit the merit increase budget that’s been approved at the top. And you’ll be told you’re a bad manager if you think half your team is truly excellent.
Makes sense right? People fit on a bell curve of performance don’t they?
The answer is no, especially not in technology. And as the recent Vanity Fair article about Microsoft points out, this approach to employees is an innovation killer. Kurt Eichenwald’s excellent article about the Microsoft “lost decade” points the finger at many of the reasons Microsoft lost it’s innovation mojo, and one is the adherence to stack ranking. “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited
stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft,
something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald
writes. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day
knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to
get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was
going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It
leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than
competing with other companies.”
So this case is extreme, clearly. But I’ve seen it. I’ve been in the room, cringing.
Ranking has a role to play and can be useful, but as a CEO, or team leader, you have to be thoughtful about why you are doing it.
Where the process can be very helpful is to make sure you identify your top performers. Who are the people that really make a difference again and again? If you get your managers in a room and debate that question it’s great to see leaders advocating for their people: why they are great, why they are one of our best, what their impact is on the company and it’s growth. This discussion should lead to a list of people you, as the leader, want to pay close attention to. Are they well taken care of? do they have plenty of stock options? are they paid well relative to the market? do you spend enough time with them? is their manager working with them on their career path and training? would they benefit from a mentor? All good questions that you should know the answers to for your top performers. They are your innovation engine.
It’s also good to force the discussion of the bottom performers. Not to hold a witch hunt, but to make sure your managers are not being lazy and keeping someone in the organization who should not be there. If an employee is not performing everyone around them knows it, it’s probably because they are in the wrong job, and it’s weighing down everyone around them. Forcing the conversation of who the bottom 10% are can illuminate who should be moved on, or who maybe needs some extra help, or moved into a different job within your company.
Forcing a stack rank through the whole population leads to politics without having any business benefit. HR loves it because it’s a clean process that helps them manage the budget, but as deeply technical companies (like Rambus where I chair the compensation committee of the board) know: if you have a world class technical team a great deal more than 20% of them are excellent.
When your goal is to innovate you want to build a team where more than half of them are truly spectacular in their field, and where you demand excellence from everyone. In innovative R&D teams you need a zero tolerance policy for low quality work – and yet at the same time you need to tolerate some failure. Innovation takes risk, risk means some failure. When you are developing new products the concept of stack ranking your team into a mediocre group in the middle is the kiss of death! You simply cannot afford mediocre.
The one team where a stack rank can be useful is sales. Sales is the ultimate measurable job – everyone sees the score card every month. I know a CEO who ran a large CAD company in the 90s and he would fire the bottom 10% of his sales team each quarter on principle. The company was wildly successful, but it had a brutal sales culture. But when you live by the numbers you die by the numbers and so firing the bottom 10% each quarter created the focus on results that CEO wanted.
So what do I do? I run a process, once a year, with my FirstRain leadership team to discuss who the top performers are. Which team members are doing really great work – innovating, delivering excellent technology, winning major accounts – who’s making the difference? It’s always a lively debate. Some of the same names are (of course) on the list every year. It’s exciting to see some new employees join the list quickly, or existing employees move up because they’re growing and their excellence is emerging. It’s a fun discussion and we use it to make sure we are taking care of the people who are making all the difference building the company. And I challenge managers on the non-performers. Beyond that, I think stack ranking is a bureaucracy we don’t need.
I love release days. Not only is there the excitement of announcing great, new product features, but there’s a real thrill each time I see yet another amazing, customer-focused accomplishment for FirstRain. However, release days are exciting for our customers too, since it’s a reassurance that we are working hard for you and your business needs.
When I started at FirstRain (almost one year ago!), we had just announced the integration of our mobile platform for iPhone and Android devices. Since then I’ve seen the introduction of several new products, such as: the development of the iPad app, the introduction of the FirstRain ECI system, and more recently, the FirstTweets and visualization analytics integration. We’ve really come a long way in just under a year!
Today, we at FirstRain have put out our July 2012 Product Release, and with it we are adding some great new updates and additions to many of the great new features we’ve developed in the past year. This month’s release is all personalization. We’ve updated our iPad app, improving the in-app monitor experience, taking an already great app and making it even more powerful and useful. So if you’re a FirstRain user who hasn’t yet downloaded FirstRain for iPad, now’s a great time to do so!
We’ve also updated our iPhone and Android apps and added in some nice, new features throughout the product to better personalize and share your customer intelligence experience. This release focuses on taking what we already have that works well and making it even more personal.
For all of you who are FirstRain customers, I encourage you to check out these new updates and, as always, please let us know what you think!