Creating your own pathways through the cloud

Companies like Microsoft have many types of customers, but by embracing cloud they have multiplied their impact on IT’s everyday dilemma – the rogue customer.

Meet the customer where the customer is – a truism pervasive to sales and marketing speak over the past few years – is now also the overall motto where IT meets business.

James Staten, Chief Strategist Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft, spent a few days in Stockholm at IP Expo Nordic  and a few minutes with me on the balcony overlooking the trade show floor. Just off the stage speaking about the end of the era of IaaS we were looking at the specifics behind his statement:

“Hybrid Cloud is the future and Microsoft will continue to invest in the dynamic interchange and complexity of public cloud and on premise computing.”

The Microsoft Cloud offers customers a global infrastructure with 30 available, and 36 announced, datacenter regions. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella just confirmed this commitment on Oct 3, 2016 by adding several European countries to the list of countries hosting or acting as hubs for their datacentres. And by introducing a novel concept where access to customer data is controlled locally through a trustee – T-Systems International in Germany. Thus addressing the continuous resistence to placing and handling data outside of your jurisdiction which is particularly fierce in Germany.

The dilemma of empowerment and control

In 2010 we could still put everything into boxes and linear progression charts

4layers_of_cloud

This linear layered view of computing vs cloud as illustrated by industry expert R Wang in 2010 was a nice illustration of where the -as-a-Service had disrupted traditional IT – but this no longer applies: It is being disrupted by the citizens=users themselves.

“Just about 15% of the world’s developers have the highest level of skills required to build advanced and full scale deployments on Iaas (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) but there are 10 times as many developers who have excellent basic coding skills in various languages who are creating business value for the enterprise,” James Staten explains. “If you then consider that there are 80 times as many people in the world who can code and deploy to a selected cloud platform, there is a nightmare scenario out there from the IT Operations perspective which can inhibit innovation and growth.”

James Staten is a visionary. As a former Gartner and Forrester Analyst   and ex-CMO he is an expert at connecting the dots and creating a cohesive narrative.

To understand the reason why Microsoft believes in the hybrid cloud and is leaving the focus on -aaS combinations, you need to understand who your customers are and under which assumptions they operate.

 

Historically, IT called the shots when business needs were met in the enterprise. And even structure lovers like myself, can see that what the architecture of today’s large enterprises mostly resembles is a maze. But with today’s tools at their fingertips, customers want to do their own thing. And the challenge is on the IT management to keep it safe and secure despite everyone going rogue on them.

When basically everyone can or can learn to code, or at least subscribe to cloud based business process applications they could deploy themselves, the infrastructure has been disrupted by user behaviour. Just like a path created by people simply trying to find an easier way.

James Staten feels that if you support the developers by providing them with the tools they feel comfortable with as they navigate safely in the Cloud, you are also helping IT to stay in control of their infrastructure and protect their investement in existing platforms and processes. This is where among others the Microsoft Azure Security Center wants to help  IT managers sleep at night.

If we want to achieve true developer empowerment in this next generation of cloud, we have to encourage more coders to be productive with their existing skills. We can do this by letting them program with the languages they want to use — and are most appropriate to the type of app they are building — giving them reliable and consistent access to as broad a set of services as possible, and doing this in such a way that leverages open source and open standards. You want their processes to be painless and intuitive to encourage productivity and be applicable across the needs and services that your business operates and leverage where your customers are when they want you there. (Source: Geek.ly “Cloud Empowerment should not stop at highly skilled developers” by James Staten)

Star struck

When you meet people like that, who have visions that reach beyond and above, you should always remember that they are people who want to make the world a better place – in this case, James Staten even held my phone when we took the img_0928traditional SpeakerSelfie – and I am still slightly shaken by the encounter.

Hope to meet again soon at another conference somewhere in the universe to continue our conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and if you would like to see what a rogue customer can look like, here’s one. (Photo courtesy of Miroslav Trzil)

< Disclaimer> Image has no connection to the interview topic or person interviewed.

d746d2b6-5230-4536-ad01-acc9c9a3f2ef-original

What really happened at IPExpo Nordic Sept 2016

Cloud or not Cloud is no longer a discussion we need to have at IT trade shows – for most companies today, it’s by default. The discussion is not about the technology platform, it revolves around the transformation which cloud has enabled.

IP Expo is a trade show  on Cloud and Infrastructure, Cyber Security, Datacentre, Data Analytics and Developers. Vendors use it as a platform to show off new technology, and delegates to educate themselves with training sessions and workshops – and some stellar keynotes. It’s held held annually in the UK, but this year for the first time in Stockholm as a pan-Nordic event.

Overall, there was a gap between the vendors’ view of the IT shop floor and how we work, and the visions and experiences of the  Nordic IT professionals listening to thshowflooreir pitches.

 

Among the 52 exhibitors, there very few were outside the box, so to speak. Mostly, they were addressing singular IT challenges such as cyber security, infrastructure or offering access to the “Cloud” ( eh, what!?).  I am not saying it’s not important, just saying that we need to maintain a broader perspective.

 

You can check out some of the exhibitors and their messages and posts on the IP Expo Nordic Facebook page

Transform – don’t wait for digital, it’s already here. And bring your own lunch

Of course, as the conference program is very congested – no scheduled lunch or coffee break (a NO-NO in Sweden, organizers!) – you cannot possibly get the complete picture if you are not a machine and can sustain yourself on battery energy alone. So naturally, I did not see all the aspects of the messaging and content delivered at the sessions, but delegates I spoke with agreed that from their perspective there was really very little news. As a learning experience, it did not quite deliver.

Out of 81 speakers, only 9 were women (!)

The non-profit organisation Womengineer with their programs to engage large corporations in empowering more women in engineering both in education, trainee programs and in careers was given a small corner on the trade show. Luckily, they also had their own session which was extremely well attended, despite the more glamourous main programme in the auditoriums. Similar to the worldwide efforts to inspire girls to code, Womengineer holds Introduce a Girl to Engineering Days – mark your calendars for the next event on March 17, 2017.

Aroshine Munasinghe, Head of Business Relations at Womengineer and Jenny Stenström, blogger had checked out the gender balance  in the conference program – and including themselves, there were 9 female presenters out of 81. Quite unusual for a high profile conference in Sweden.

And I encountered many professional women in the various sessions.

 

Barbará and Carla from Lisbon, Portugal and were extremely satisfied with the content of the sessions and the high technical standard of many of the presenters. Among their personal highlights was Susanne Fuglsang in the Digital Transformation Panel who literally took center stage in challenging a lot of preconceptions on what digital susannefuglsangtransformation is about.

 We should stop speaking about digital transformation – it has already happened. We should focus on making the transformation a strategic objective in top management and more importantly middle management where resistence to change is prevalent.

(Susanne Fuglsang, Executive Producer, Another Tomorrow)

 

Len Padilla of NTT echoed this very well in his Digital Transformation session tugged away in the basement and coinciding with Trend Guru Alexander Bard’s glamourous keynote. Happy to say, we were at least 25-30 people who were brave enough to go against the celebrity flow and took some practical advice in the dungeon, as Len called it.

Not only do you need to involve more levels of your organisation in the process, you need to enable those managers who’s job it is to “keep the lights on”. They are the least willing to take risks, so to truly transform you must learn to encourage and reward risk taking and the consequent potential failure. (Len Padilla, NTT)

Smarter citizens – not devices

What IPExpo Nordic showed, was the obvious focus these large players and other software vendors have on the Nordics as a market, and the effort they are making to gain momentum with their key messages.

The keynotes from Microsoft, IBM and Amazon Web Services were all delivered by some of the company’s top speakers and all on what PR professionals call “on message”.  Gleefully interrupted by a worldclass presentation on how the CIO of the City of Stockholm, Ann Hellenius, and her team will make Stockholm the world’s smartest city.

How? Not by adding infrastructure: We have that already with Fiber Optics Bands reaching 30 times around the globe covering the greater Stockholm area.

No, by defining a smart city as the merger of human, financial and technological interactions to achieve the highest quality of life and the best environment for business. The main focus here is the interaction between citizens and services, between human and machine.

stockholmvision

The best digitalisation is when you do not notice that it’s there (Ann Hellenius, Stockholm City CIO)

Making sense of the data – the Big data

IBM’s visionary Rashik Parmar  addresses similar thoughts on the concept of smarter cities– but at IP Expo Nordic, illustrating that the focus of the presentations was not on the vision but on the product, he showcased IBM’s cognitive intelligence Watson instead.

(The program also had an encounter with Furhat the Robot Head, but alas, Furhat and I are yet to meet in person, so to speak).

The potential of this technology of course is enormous, and the Nordic audience, albeit not new to the concept, can relate to the potential of using cognitive intelligence to make the world a better place.

Some of us covering IT innovation, gadgets and business opportunities combined, are always looking for the killer app. For Watson and alike there are many, and Rashik Parmar introduced just one: using Watson analytics to “listen” for cracked wheels on long distance trains.

This is a really important job that used to be a manual one, with a railroad worker hitting with a hammer on each and every wheel at each stop to listen for cracks. According to Rashik Parmar, the ability to filter out everything but the sound defining a crack is unique to the Watson technology – the sheer amount of data involved and the processing required to make this a seamless process and not create delays is unique (at this stage) to IBM’s technology. And this saves lives.

No more -aaS abbreviations, let’s all code

Microsoft’s James Staten, Chief Strategist Cloud and Enterprise Division (The Era of IaaS is Coming to an End) warmly enthused about the hybrid cloud being the future and where Microsoft will continue to invest heavily: The combination of on premise computing and public cloud as a strategy.

jamesandpatrick

What Microsoft has probably realised is that they need a broader audience for their products and concepts in order to meet today’s real customers – the so-called citizen developers  as defined by Gartner.

Basically, it means that end users are taking over the world of software applications because everyone today can learn to and uses code. And Microsoft wants to help IT departments stay in control via Azure Security Center, among other concepts. Read more on the visions and strategies for Cloud in my exclusive interview with James Staten in my next blog post due in a few days.

Listening to Amazon Web Services Technical Evangelist Danilo Poccia was perhaps not as inspiring for leaps of thought, but all the same very useful and constructive. The Amazon Journey to the Cloud was just that – his step by step introduction to and presentation of the various services in the Amazon Web Services portfolio addressing today’s needs among developers and IT departments.

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The journey as a strategy is what captured the interest of one of the delegates I asked right after the lights were turned on. Per Nordahl, IT Strategy Manager at Telia, found that Amazon could focus more on the journey when walking through the services as a case – many larger enterprises can relate to this story of digital transformation.

 

What is innovation – can we capture this elusive pimpernell

Amazon defines innovation as (f = mechanism + culture).

Unfortunately I could not reach Danilo Poccia to ask how to attach some real metrics to this. But I think an equation like that could help many businesses quantify and qualify their rate of innovation ultimately to get more senior management buy-in for those crazy ideas we all know we need to stay ahead of the game in a digital world.

Your website is your business

Remember the early days? When companies were proud to announce that they, too, were “on the internet”? When all they did was digitalise their corporate brochure and added an info@ email address. Which sometimes even wasn’t clickable.

Unfortunately, despite all the technology, all the amazing professional designers and developers, there are still far too many websites who do not engage and add value. (At this point, I could add a “wall of shame” to this blog entry, but that is not a nice thing to do. I am sure, if you are one of them, you know it by now.)

Speed is the new currency of business

Your ignition key is your website if you want to keep up – and speed up – your act. Modern marketers develop content and interactions based on websites and landing pages where all customer interactions, and thus all the useful data you need in the sales follow up, is tracked, monitored and converted into actionable insights and next steps.

If you do not understand how to act and react fast and to the point, chances are you and your business will be disrupted by someone who does.

waze

Stay on target. Keep the content valuable, up to date, and avoid click baiting your audience to capture their information – and then leave them dissatisfied with the quality of the information they committed their personal details to get access to.

And whenever you create a website, think about what you – yourself – would look for and where you would look. Or better, if you have the time and the budget, engage with an agency that specialises in user interfaces and website navigation.

Be honest and transparent

Recently, I crossed the Oresund Bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö for a quick Christmas family visit. The lovely young agent in the toll booth offered me 50% off my total fee for two crossings, if I saved the discount code on the receipts and logged into their website within 28 days to claim my discount. Pretty straightforward.

Oresund-Bridge-51575

But I never found out how to do it! Because after navigating around the website, checking all the tabs, using the search function, using the FAQ section – there was no mention of this possibility. I gave up twice. Then, finally, on the last day of the offer I gave it a last try. And I realised that the offer was directly connected to purchasing a BroBizz – loyalty program where frequent travelers across the bridge get 50% off their normal fee. But I live very far away, and would normally not go via this route.

Not only did the website make it impossible for me to find what I was looking for, because search functions and FAQs did not include this offer = not up to date. They also were not completely transparent about the main objective of this special offer campaign: to get more BroBizzers.

Be up to date

So, whenever you create a campaign that is driven through your website – make sure the content, layout, call to actions and data management is up to date and synchronized. And that your employees are properly briefed about the campaign objectives and how it works.

You lose consumer respect much faster than you can ever regain it. For someone like the company operating the Oresunds Bridge, the website IS their business. It’s the only channel they have to interact with and add value for their customers and potential customers. With more than 20,000 vehicles passing over the bridge daily according to www.orestat.se there is a lot of potential.

Be social

And your business is social. For inspiration, take a look at www.waze.com – also in the business of facilitating traffic. With this little app, GPS navigation has been seriously disrupted. Users want more than just maps, they want to know where the traffic buildup is right now, where the speed traps, the accidents, the roadkills are at the very moment they are heading in that direction – and what their route options are if they want to avoid them. And while they are at it, they can be social, collect points, rise levels (I am a Waze Warrior and striving to become a Ninja). Google Maps is losing ground as we all outsmart traffic together.

Wikepedia explains, and has more details:

Waze (pronounced ways), formerly “Freemap”, is a GPS-based geographical navigation application program for smartphones with GPS support and display screens which provides turn-by-turn information and user-submitted travel times and route details, downloading location-dependent information over mobile networks.

waze

And in the past month, Waze even had a special Star Wars theme, where C3PO was giving me the directions, and I could collect points by driving on roads where no-one had gone before and thus add to the quality of the maps available to all. Collecting little Tie Fighters. Sadly, this little game is over now.

Happy New Year!

A big thanks to @holman – read his article on what developers were facing when creating websites in the 90s. Those who tried to go beyond digitalising the corporate brochures.

 

The “ambassadorization” of business

Human civilization emerged from tribes – as individuals the early humans would not have survived. The same applies today . No one can survive in a silo, be it a company, an industry, an organization or a department.

Once you realize that, you understand the power of relationships as the foundation of successfully connecting your needs to those of others upon who you are depending. That is why the current mantra in modern marketing is engagement. Every process, every action, every transaction is connected. If you push, someone or something has to move backwards. If you pull, someone or something is moving towards you. Pushing and pulling at the same time creates engagement. When you engage your audience, your partners or your employees, you create a tribe.

ArntEriksen (2) Speed

At the Speed of Change event in Oslo on April 16, 2015 (organized by Salesforce), trendspotter Arnt Eriksen focused on the power of tribes that develop into movements which ultimately could change the world. You could claim that the Arab Spring – using Facebook as it’s vehicle – started as a tribe and ended as a movement. Similary, Apple started building a tribe, a community of followers who wanted to think differently about computing. And ended up changing the world by engaging with them, changing them into devoted followers (tribes) and making them it’s strongest, devoted and forgiving ambassadors.

Artistic         Collage

(Artist: Maja Eriksson)                                   (Artist: Maja Eriksson)

When you have a purpose that can unite your tribe – such as the Arab Spring – and you have the vehicle to engage with each other – such as Facebook or other social channels – you can become successful as a business in the digital age.

“Convert strangers into customers – and nurture them into ambassadors” (Arnt Eriksen)

Affärshantering i molnet – så tänker vi (post in Swedish)

Hur öppen, flexibel och användbar är din plattform? Hur ofta behöver du uppgradera dina affärssystem, och när det väl händer: är det synkroniserat så att alla är uppe och på samma version på samma tid? Diskuterar ni Cloud teknologi vid fikabordet?

Utvecklas dina lösningar till mobila devices, eller måste du vrida på surfplattan för att få med hela interfacet, eftersom det var byggd för en datorskärm?

Kan du uppdatera dina kundmöten, godkänna fakturor, bygga workflows medan du springer över gatan mitt i Stockhkolms-trafiken? På din mobil?

Det är så man tänker på salesforce.com när man utvecklar lösningar för affärshantering i molnet. Det var Cloud Computing som gjorde det möjligt, men det är vi som får det att hända. Du och jag.

Om man verkligen vill förstå hur allt detta spelar ihop – hur teknologin används för marknad med smarta verktyg byggd i och för social, som säljverktyg och som connected kundservice – då kommer salesforce.com faktisk att bjuda på gratis inspiration. Den 15 oktober på Grand Hotel i Stockholm hålls Customer Company Tour Nordics – en gratisk heldagskonferens (på engelska) med runt 30 utställare och keynote och eftermiddagssessioner där kunder berättar om hur de använder teknologin, hur de skapar nya  verktyg eller bygger egna appar på force.com plattformen, och helt enkelt har mera kul.

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Huvudtalare är Erik Hallberg, VD för TeliaSonera International Carrier som bygger sin IT arkitektur på force.com plattformen och använder Salesforce både som internt collaborationsverktyg, i sälj, marknad och kundservice. Och Line Dahle från norska marinförsäkringsbolaget Gard AS – ett 120 år gammalt traditionellt företag som nu jobbar i molnet med kommunikation, intern kollaboration och hantering av ärenden och kundservice. För speciellt i den branschen måste man kunna respondera snabbt när det smäller till på ett skepp någonstans ute i världen.

Dessutom kommer det finnas demo stations, så att man kan testa själv eller få en av salesforce.com’s egna utvecklare visa. Och session som omhandlar allt från hur President Obama vann valet med hjälp av Salesforce och sociala medier till hur stora företag flytter hela sin verksamhet till en mobil, öppen, social plattform för att möta kunden där kunden är.

Du kan registrera dig här – det är gratis.

The ROI of Social Media – or how to convince your boss

Social Media is engagement – if you don’t get it yet, I hope you will very soon. But engagement is very hard to measure, so even if you do get it, your boss might not appreciate the value of your efforts.

That is why you need to create a social media engagement strategy around metrics and value add = ROI. You need to have a conversation.

The traditional way of counting is through “fluffy” things like Facebook Fans/Likes or number of retweets – which I think is just a natural extension of marketing’s best friend: click-through rate on email blasts. It’s hard to leave your comfort zone, even if you are an innovative marketer who really wants to embrace social.

What does it cost you, if you do NOT have a social media engagement strategy?  Here is a link to a free eBook with some good statistics and methods.

At Sweden Social Web Camp (SSWC)) on Tjärö island in August, we tried to look at ROI benefits versus costs. What it boils down to, is tangible, measurable and very convincing:

Source: Salesforce.com

Email marketing on its own is not engagement. And it’s getting harder and harder to use on a large scale.  Let’s talk instead.

Soft and Hard: Facts & Figures

Finally, here is a link to all the slides I presented at SSWC – there are some wonderful charts and hard numbers from salesforce.com’s extensive customer research. You can use them in your own context. Or  take them to your superiors to get at least as much – if not more – budget for your social media engagement as your colleagues in traditional email marketing.

Share and Grow – sincere, open, likeable Swedish innovators – you will be sorry you missed it

Conferences, seminars, trade shows, events – the hype this spring are Social Media events. Most of these are focused on understanding social and what it can do for business, still making the point that it really is good for business. But it is – so why do we keep arguing that point?

There is the travelling road show of SMW – Social Media Week which hit the Nordics last week – and then there is SSMX.

SSMX grupp

It’s different. It’s owned by the delegates and it’s as flexible and unpredictable as a friendly amoebae – constantly evolving. These people – and the rest of us – are here growing as a professional, growing our business, growing our influence by sharing what we do with others. Very social.

Sincere – Open – Collaborative – Interested – Authentic – Likeable

Sessions vary from a heavy focus on technical innovation to practical examples to workshops where we sit in a circle and discuss and challenge each other. All sessions are initiated and run by the delegates themselves. Many of them filmed on the spot to share with those not there – take a look at some of them, you will be inspired.

http://video.ssmx.se/

Disruptive Leadership

It’s a myth that the social innovator scene is dominated by young geeks and nerds. I attended a session at SSMX with @johanlange who wrote the book LUCKc taking lean one step further. Once again, one session evolves into a continued exchange, and I will now attend his follow up breakfast sessions in Stockholm discussing out of the box leadership.

Changing the outcome – through Twitter

It’s a myth that social enthusiasts are techies only. I attended a session with @johansbuzz showing just how significant the social presence is in times of crisis by example of the labour union’s perspective of the negotiations with the employees last fall that led to the agreement that kept Scandinavian Airlines flying – at a time where the ultimate worst case was bankruptcy. If you understand Swedish, there is a recording of the session

http://unionenopinion.se/2013/02/unionen-delade-med-sig-pa-ssmx/

Social Customer Service – #UnitedBreaksGuitars

We had an interactive session discussing social customer service by example of airlines. 40 people in the room contacted airlines via three different channels

  1. Twitter
  2. Facebook
  3. Contact Me Forms – Email

Before the session Datasift.com  had analysed 100,000 tweets to/from 33 different airlines to check how responsive they were.

The same winner emerged during the experiment: it took KLM 28 minutes to respond with a qualified/useful answer to the Facebook post. (More on this study and results/experiment in an upcoming blog. Lots of data to analyse.)

What is SSMX – and these unconferences – and how to fertilize innovation?

Try googling SSMX or look it up on Twitter #SSMX (once you learn to ignore a less favourable ongoing Twitter conversation in Japan which had a completely different, and definitely not business facing use of the tag).

Karin Bäcklund SSMX 2013

People share pictures – don’t we all. Here are some nice ones that are truly artistic by @deeped

But they share content, reflections, discussions, presentations, feedback, research and already now feel inspired thinking about how to contribute to the next major sharing event in this community. There are similar unconferences happening across the Nordics, as an example the WebCoast

https://www.facebook.com/webcoast

… in Gothenburg taking the conference out into the region.

Sweden is a big  country with long distances to travel, and not everything happens in Stockholm. Another not to be missed social innovation event is happening over a weekend on an island off the southeast coast called Tjärö. Bring your tent, and beware of the sheep

http://www.swedensocialwebcamp.com/

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