Future of Work: Hire, Train & Retrain

Training tomorrow’s Marketers on Big Data

Big Data Boot Camp for Marketers

Big Data is rock’n the Marketer’s world. It is signalling a wake-up call that marketers need to be more metrics driven, more technically savvy and more process oriented. At the top of the food chain, CMOs are taking on responsibilities that traditionally belonged to CIOs. And at the middle management level, marketers are being required to be more technical and metrics oriented.

The days of just fishing for eyeballs or operating based on one’s gut instinct are long gone. It is no longer acceptable to just look at demographics or psychographics or just count eyeballs. Instead, marketers need to focus on the numbers — people’s tribes, their behaviors, their interests, their online behavior — both in terms of surfing the website or a mobile app or transacting with a page or shopping cart..

Most marketers would agree, however, that they are not prepared for the incoming Big Data wave: they lack resources, lack data know-how, and they don’t know how to get started.

According to a study from The Economist Intelligence Unit, only 24% of marketers use data for actionable marketing insight. Furthermore, in that same study almost 50% of marketers cited a lack of capacity to analyze big data. Some companies are increasing their budgets for Big Data analytics. The problem is that there’s no road map for getting these marketers up to speed.

Rather than focus on the bells and whistles (the technology) of big data, here’s are 7 steps a marketer a marketer can take to get out of their comfort zone and jump into the Big Data World:

  1. Understand the definition of Big Data, which is usually defined by the 3Vs:

    1. Volume or the amount of data involved

    2. Variety or to how the data is structured

    3. Velocity or the rate at which it is generated and analysed

  2. Subscribe to and learn from few key bloggers, who can teach you the ropes:

    1. SemAngel Blog by Gary Angel: Gary brings over twenty years of experience in decision support, CRM, and software development. Gary co-founded Semphonic and is the President and Chief Technology Officer.  But don’t let the CTO title fool you. Gary is the the brightest consultant I have worked with and can take complex techn issues and break them down into easily digestible and understandable. chunks for markets

    2. Analytics Blog by Justin Cutron: Justin is currently the Analytics Advocate at Google, so he has a boatload of knowledge. In his blog, he breaks down digital analytics for businesses.

    3. Customer Analytics blog by the SAS’ companies – This blog is for anyone who is looking for ways to improve the business of marketing and communicating with customers, which includes everything from multi-level marketing to social media campaigns.

    4. Big Data Hub by IBM: This blog is filled with case studies, videos, etc. from key players at IBM and beyond.

    5. Business Analytics Blog by Tim Elliot: Tom is an Innovation Evangelist for SAP. This blog contains his personal views, thoughts, and opinions on business analytics.

  3. Get your organization big data ready:

    1. Tear down your organization’s silos and engage multiple departments

    2. Give team members homework — tell them to read the blogs mentioned above.

    3. Think about how you will link your current data infrastructure to your project (that means a business analyst, and IT guy, etc. should be involved in the meeting)

    4. Know and recognize that Big Data is a team sport

  4. Work with  framework your organization agrees on, such as:

    1. Define Your Goal

    2. Understand your resources

    3. Review key segment’s Journey

    4. Confirm you are capturing data during each phase

    5. Establish benchmark

    6. Create a small measurable deliverable (test)

    7. Track over time

    8. Establish toll gate reviews

    9. Expand program

    10. Tweak your programs as needed

  5. Define the desired outcome and the one question you want to answer

    1. Yes, narrow it down to one (primary) question

    2. Answer the question and move on

  6. Understand your inputs by breaking down your customer(s) journey

    1. Identify the different sources of data, such as social network behavior, information from third party lists, mobile usage, downloads, etc.

  7. List out different types of potential metrics you could track:

    1. Information related specifically to the customers transactions (or actions)

    2. Information related to a segment’s usage patterns

    3. Information related to the overall marketing program

In some respects Big Data is just an extension of database marketing, a popular term in the 1980s and 1990s because it focuses on leveraging customer information to segment an audience and develop personalized campaigns. The biggest difference now is that we can leverage unstructured data (video for example) and implement just-in-time programs.

I am a big believer in learning by doing. If a Marketer really wants to be figure out how to integrate big data into their business processes, they need to have on-the-job training. (And to that point, I actually believe this is important for the CMO as well as the Business Analyst, although the latter might get more in the proverbial data weeds!). If marketers don’t do this, they will lose their admission ticket to be in the marketing world.


The Starbucks Generation!

starbuckslogo2Staffing is one of the most critical parts to the success of any company. While finding and attracting the right talent can be tough, it’s not as difficult as it once was. As the free agent economy continues to grow, there are more and more options to building your workforce, for both the short and long term. As I build my own company, I am now practicing what I have been preaching for years – that you can find great talent online.

In recent years, there have been a surge of websites that act essentially as online job marketplaces for freelancers. Sites such as ODesk and eLance provide companies access to thousands of talented and well-qualified independent contractors. These sites can not only provide additional staff to larger companies but they can also provide tremendous value to the small business economy, especially if you are targeting what Go Daddy calls “The Very Small Business”. I often tell my clients to look at these sites and study the behavior of the different verticals available, such as Sales and Marketing or Copywriting. By reading the job descriptions and analyzing the types of words and language used, companies can gain insights into how to position their own marketing communications.

As site like these continue to see success, it is obvious that the free agent economy is not only booming but also it is continuing to grow as a rapid pace. Some corporate leaders do fear these independent consultants because they have their doubts about telecommuting, require hands-on supervision, they spread themselves too thin across multiple clients, and  that they could potentially really act like free agents, going to the highest bidder. The reality is that a blended workforce — combining both free agents and loyal full-time employees is probably the best solution. Many high tech companies have proven this to be a viable model.

Big companies can no longer ignore the independent contractor market. MBO recently came out with its annual report and some of the key statistics seem to prove this point.

For example:

  • Today, 17 million people are independent contractors. This number is scheduled to grow to 24 million by 2018.

  • 77% of Independent contractors are committed to remaining free agents.

  • 64% are highly satisfied with their current situation of working out of their homes, at Starbucks, etc. The flexibility of working from home, working on your own time, etc. is a driving factor in the growing number in independent contractors and leads to the high job satisfaction rates, which equals happier employees and better quality work

  • Close to $1.2 Trillion have been generated by this segment. This is up from 20% in 2012.

  • There exists a multiplier effect because independent contractors tend to hire each other

The report also goes into the demographics of each of these groups and it may surprise you. For instance, Gen Y or millennials, which I refer to as the Starbucks Generation, make up 20% or almost 4 million people of this segment. To understand more about this generation, read my book Millennial Leaders. I call them the Starbucks Generation because they represent today’s assembly line. Unlike the past when assembly lines existed on the farm or in factories, today’s specialized labor exist behind the counter in Starbucks, Peets’, and McDonalds.

Each week, I work out of four different Starbucks in my neighborhood and each one employs several well educated college graduates. They kids (I can call them that cause I am over 50) are great — motivated, talented and trying to make a dime. In future posts, I will share some of my interviews with them.

Yes, independent contractor are everywhere.

Don’t learn social media on the fly

Employees can handle the truth, but management can’t

A recent Human 1.0 research study showed that only half of employees feel as if they receive the proper training to successfully participate in social networks. Contrary to what Jack Nicolson says in A Few Good Men, employees can handle the truth and senior management should as well. After all, how can you address your customers’ needs if you give them a chance to speak, even if its online.

Social Media Training: available at Human 1.0 or Wildervoices.com

After working with some of the largest companies in the country, it’s clear that most employees desperately want to learn how to properly conduct themselves online as well as to reach out to unhappy customers. They want to blog well, tweet responsibly, and not break any Facebook laws so they can turn their “detractors” into Net Promoters, where they will change from stating negative comments about the company to recommending it to their peers and friends. This should not be surprising considering 40% of companies hesitate to let their staff engage with customers online for fear that someone might say something negative about their organization. Amazing, considering a survey just released of 870 employers and employees from recruitment company Hays found 19.7 per cent would reject a job offer if they did not have reasonable access to social media sites such as Facebook. (source: Herald Sun Australia)

Most companies want employees to learn social media on the fly

This highlights the need to provide the proper guidelines, guardrails, and guidance to help workers engage more effectively on Twitter, Linkedin and other networks. The problem, however, is that employees usually have to learn social media on the fly and learn how to properly engage with customers through trial and error. This is not the way to run a business.  Social Media Training can help you and your coworkers engage in more constructive conversations online.

Why Is Training Important?

  • The Broken Window Theory:  I was first introduced to this theory in 1990 when William Bratton cleaned up the streets of New York City by significantly reducing crime rates. He believed that without law enforcement, people would damage things, and if they know they could commit these crimes without any repercussions, they would continue to break the law (and not just windows). The same is true for un-moderated communities and social networks. So, its important to have well-trained moderators working in your online communities and reading your blog comments. After all, it’s human nature to test authority figures
  • You’ve Got the Whole World in your Hands:  While everyone knows that mobile devices are increasing in popularity, people often forget that these are, what Peter Mass ProPublica reporter calls, “potentially a gold mine of data-mining information for companies.”
  • The Internet Never Forgets:  All you have to do is go to Waybackmachine.org and look up your company’s home page from the 1990s. If you work at Fortune 1000 company, it’s probably there; or you can start looking at your Facebook Timeline and see some pictures of yourself.

Those are just three reasons why it’s imperative for companies to develop well-thought out social media policies and training programs.

Line Between Work and Pleasure is Fuzzy

The line between online work and personal life and the content (text, photos, video) is increasingly becoming fuzzy. There are also important legal implications concerning the fact that your staff often spends time on social media platforms at work. This has raised a number of legal issues, for example, about who owns a company-branded social media account. Before explaining how to handle online engagement (the subject of my next post), it’s important to focus on clearly defining who owns a company’s Facebook page or Twitter account and how employees should handle themselves on these sorts of networks. Companies need to be “old-schoolish” about setting up their branded social media channels and about establishing clear online policies. Rarely do these agreements explicitly address the following:

  • Policy and process for what happens to a social media after its adminstrator leaves the leaves the company.
  • How much personal information should be on a social media page; even though it’s good to list out your company moderators on a Twitter page, it might not make sense to include the employees name in the sub-branding, such as WilderWidgets, brought to you by Stan Smith.
  • Who has access to edit and change an account (I also recommend having more than one administrative owner of a page) Employees’ online behavior during and after their tenure at a company is becoming a major topic of corporate law.
  • The company’s right to access confidential information on their own social networks; Nearly 20% of companies report that they have investigated the posting of confidential, sensitive, or private information to a social network (source: Proofpoint)
  • The company’s right to terminate an employee who violates company policy; Approximately 8% of companies have terminated employees for organizational violations using social media. (source: Proofpoint)

When to Re-Tweet at a Moment’s Notice

Even though most employees want to do the right thing and post responsibility online, they are sometimes a bit too Twitter trigger-happy and re-tweet without thinking through the original source of the info or who was the original poster. Often we don’t realize that a re-tweet by an individual can be interpreted as their company’s endorsement of the original sites policy. Therefore, it’s important to provide a link to the content-owner’s site. With this, it could potentially violate copyright law, and give the content-owner publisher the rightful opportunity to pay their bills by generating another unique visitor to their site, serving up a banner add, and/or getting a chance to sign up a new registered user.

Develop your Crap Detector

While some this might seem like common sense, every day we find well-educated and street smart, savvy people making mistakes with their online posts, videos, or audio recordings.  Howard Rheingold in his excellent new book, NetSmart, recommends that we use good crap detectors to help us find information we need to know and determine if it is true or not. This is something Ernest Hemmingway talked about in the 1950s.  “Every man should have a built-in automatic crap detector operating inside him.”