Email Evolution or Revolution – From Goethe to IBM Verse

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Eyes wide open, the two IBM gentlemen look at me. They sit up right. Professional. Spot On. You can feel their enthusiasm, their expectations are high. Both are social collaboration leaders at IBM, evangelizing on the #newwaytowork. That’s how the software technology company hashtags their latest journey to the revolution of the email as they call the launch of their new inbox communication software „IBM Verse“. You can tell how excited the two managers in front of me are to talk about the IBM success story. The launch seemed to have gone well so far.

On my opening question both face each other, not sure who shall answer. They are professionals in communication, they are prepared. „The term Verse is historic for communication and conversation“, replies Dr. Peter Schuett, Leader Social Business Strategy at IBM. „In times of Goethe, when carriers brought people hand-written letters, all the communication that went to and fro was written in verse.“ The answer surprised me as IBM’s development sounds like a trip in the past.

It is not. For the first time, IBM has taken a new development approach. They made their customers think about the new software solution by inviting customer to their labs, by rethinking email, and by thinking design and customer experience first, based on real customer feedback, input and inspiration. Not the cheapest way to innovate. The product development cost 100 Mio. US Dollars according to them. It has got to be effective from a customer perspective.


For a long time, IBM has been a forerunner in terms of modern workplace technology. Their „Outside the Inbox“ evangelist Luis Suarez has already been preaching for a business world with less emails. We all know the reasons why he was addressing this. People get approximately 127 emails a day. This means emails kills 28% of our daily work-time, and thus of our daily productivity.

With IBM Verse the software technology company wants to shift productivity. Creating a more effective business culture is the aim. From Ed Brill’s perspective, he is IBM’s social business transformation specialist, email should function as a transmitter. Email today should be serving notes like a private letter what Goethe used to do in hand-written form: delivering private information.

„Email is the service forever. But it needs to be a personal service.“ Dr. Peter Schuett, IBM.

Focussing on the new software solution, I brought up the question in which way this is a revolution to email communication. Ed Brill emphasizes that IBM did not want to reinvent the email. IBM wished for a better email. However, IBM wanted to create a new intersection of email, calendar, social media and analytics. That’s what they have done with IBM Verse.

When I showed a bit of my disappointment around the new solution’s capabilities in terms of being an aggregation platform for direct messaging and functionality as an inbox management system in general, Ed Brill rearranges my expectations in bringing the metaphor on suits which might all look different in design but are in a sense all alike from the amount of innovation in style and structure. And by the way, the power users of enterprise email are still personal assistants.

True, sometimes people forget where they stand in the evolution of modern communication. With their „People“ and „Analytics“ functionality, the modern way of a more personalized communication approach seems to get in that social direction in the future. At least, when we compare IBM Verse and Facebook from a superficial point of view. With IBM Verse people also move into the centre of the communication universe which is meant to map the efficiency form content to people. IBM Verse „People“ learns to show the users dynamically who is important to their communication, by hour, meeting and topic of conversation. Obviously, users can also change that and arrange it according to their premises. The world of communication gets filtered more and more.

Spot On!
IBM Verse is definitely a big evolution step in email communication. Still, they could have made it a bit more of a revolution in delivering a multi-messaging and communication management platform in my eyes which integrates direct communication via Facebook, Twitter and others.

Brill agrees that when CEOs wanted to spread the word around some company, product or people changes in the company, IBM was about to use email for that communication. Today, via IBM Connections -the internal use of their own company community platform- gets 7 Mio. accesses a month, and the CEO messages will reach (and achieve more feedback) more people via internal social messaging than via email in the past.

Nevertheless, the two gentlemen did not want to commit to a statement whether IBM Verse and IBM Connections might become one platform in the future. But the approach to one collaborative workplace platform, serves the option to have fewer apps in the future. But hey, there is hope: „Rome was not build in one day!“ summarizes Schuett in the quick Snapshot video interview in the end of our interview, and smiles.

How Google works by Eric Schmidt (Slideshare)

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Eric Schmidt shared his view on „How Google Works“ in an interesting Slideshare presentation. In a snapshot, this 54 slides presentation gives you some brought insights into the recent NY Times Best Selling book and makes clear how Google acts in their daily business. The message is clear: Get some clever, creative and smart brains at the nucleus of your business and make them shape a product by having access to various tools and more importantly the freedom to invent the future. Throw away your business suits, wear hoodies and free your brains! Sounds a bit wild to most of you, but hey isn’t that exactly what we always wanted?!

How Google Works from Eric Schmidt

„I love advertising because I love lying.“

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In a normal world, when people get the CLIO award, they thank the whole world, their parents and sometimes God for achieving the honorary trophy. Not so Jerry Seinfeld in New York during the Advertising Week. Although the award is seen as the „world’s most recognized international awards competition for advertising, design, digital and communications,“ Seinfeld plays the honor down for having been the longtime spokesman for American Express.

„I think spending your life trying to dupe innocent people out of hard-won earnings to buy useless, low-quality, misrepresented items and services is an excellent use of your energy.“

What an honest statement. What a harsh reality. What a burst of laughter. Don’t bite the hand that’s feeding you, someone like his clients might have said. However, he just let’s it all out and probably makes the whole celebration audience think for the first time in their lives.

Having moderated the dmexco conference some weeks ago, I have to admit that some people also asked, if I hadn’t been too honest when I mentioned that most of the digital advertising companies can be happy that venture capital and private investors exist, as otherwise 80% of the digital parties today would not happen.

Sometime, it is just good to keep the spirit of self-reflecting sarcasm up to drive the future business growth. So, have fun watching Jerry Seinfeld making almost everybody in the room laugh…

dmexco 2014 – Flashback in Quotes & Discussions

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dmexco 2014 Debate HallThe growth trend of the digital marketing show dmexco is impressive and continues to write a promising (hi)story.

Visitors: 31.900 – increase by 16% compared to 2013
Exhibitors: 807 – means over 65 exhibitors more than 2013
Speakers: 470 – as of various stages with new start-up village and work labs

This year I wanted to wait some days before I am writing my little review to see what really stayed in my mind, and what people were talking about after the event. This is what stayed in the brains of my friends – maybe it should reach you.

1. „dmexco is like the Lumascape brought to life.“
#Quote in Breaking Down Silos for Brands Panel
Damian Burns, Director of Global Strategic Partnerships, Google

2. „Nerd is the new black“
Brad Rencher, SVP & General Manager Digital Marketing, Adobe

3. „Online is the new offline.“
Quote by Joko Winterscheidt, TV-Moderator

4. „The play is to work out the first against the second screen.“
Quote in „Addressable TV – A Marketers‘ Dream Panel“
Jim Clayton, Executive Vice President, HE New Business Division, LG Electronics

5. „The digital revolution is over, we are now in the digital evolution.“
Quote in Digital Revenue optimization 2.0 Panel
Sital Banerjee, Global Head of Media, Philips

6. „The brand in many ways need to take the back-seat. It can’t be all about the product if you move into the content section.“
Quote in „The Content Summit“
Jimmy Maymann, CEO, Huffington Post

7. „@ft presence at #DMexco so big they don’t even have a stand! They are on every phone and tablet! @dmexco @ftbized“
Quote from #FT rep/via Oliver Matthews

The three main takeaways from the event for me were…
a) Trend: dmexco stages are challenging global TV stages.
b) Topics: TV goes mobile. Digital is leading corporate strategy.
c) Town: Cologne needs more taxi drivers and/or UBER subscribers.

Really looking forward to moderate the next dmexco, 16th and 17th of September 2015.

CU there!

„Stream me up, Scotty!“ – Viacom study shows streaming is the new black

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Credit: © XtravaganT -

Credit: © XtravaganT –

Scotty’s world is gone. Today’s future is not „beam me up“, but „stream me up“. At least when it comes to listening to music. The Viacom music group, consisting of CMT, MTV and VH1, published some summary results which prove that teenagers and adults up to age 40 consume music in a streaming mode.

In a quantitative study with 1,200 respondents, which also included some qualitative secondary research and some new form of „blography“ component, it made clear that streaming has become a mainstream behavior. Almost four out of five (78%) participants of the survey had streamed music in the past three months. The streaming habit on the way to purchase is most often (91%) a form of auditioning music before buying it – especially YouTube has an important role in this process.

The age group of 22-30 year olds is even more active than their older and younger counterparts. Streaming music has become a daily habit for them (63% do it daily). As the group sample was taken from their target audience, it might be a reason that this result is even higher than in usual user studies.

The young generation of „streamers“ listens to radio as an important source of information to this group. However, the study credited broadcast and the Internet as sources of music discovery. Interestingly enough the study states that the act of listening seems to be passive. User do not seek to find their music, it basically comes to them. It could be a prove that the music industry has understood how to use big data to favor the music taste of their users.

Obviously, TV is another major discovery platform for this generation. 88% of respondents mentioned that they searched for songs on TV shows next to listening to them. This could become another important opportunity for track-identification mobile apps (like i.e. Shazam).

The path from discovery to purchase (which in this study can mean several things, including “streaming it incessantly”) is interestingly charted. The role of streaming in that path is often a form of auditioning music before buying, according to 91% of participants, who use YouTube for that purpose.

Spot On!
Not surprisingly, the respondents state that downloading music via P2P networks is not popular for them (60% see it as „risky“ or „wrong“). Still, this does not mean that the idea is completely gone from their minds. Sharing music data with friends via DropBox or other sharing platforms is a common practice for music fans. However, if 81% of participants believe this is a support to bands they admire can be doubted. Maybe the music fans haven’t quite understood how their bands make money. It probably „beams up“ the bands relevance and popularity more if 63% of fans follow artists on Facebook and share the bands‘ news in their personal networks.

2020: What will be the 10 most important business skills (Infographic)

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It’s hard to look into the future, or claim how the workplace could look like in 2020. And that in mind, although I get invites to different event looking years ahead and telling us, which technology will rock, which cloud model will be staring, and how friendships might die as of millennials heading towards a straight career, and forgetting the working colleagues, they have held close for years.

Still, certain drivers of change become more and more obvious. With the increasing advent of mobile and cloud systems in companies, some smart machines, sensors and systems will replace workload from people, and probably also erase some job profiles. And automation will organize a lot of processes that will connect the world around us.

What I see from our consulting business already today is that „sense making“ and „social intelligence“ has still often not found it’s way towards board rooms. Sometimes this is based on the missing people, sometimes just it’s a matter of traditional management methods that block the change process as of company or personal politics.

Furthermore, I can see that „virtual collaboration“ is desired in many companies. Still, the culture of training and changing the mindset as a basis for this capability gets not the right support and budgets from top management. Finally, „cognitive load management“, the challenge to filter information from importance, was an approach I thought of in my vision of the Personal Web Manager some years ago. It will come, I am sure…!

The guys at Top Ten Online Colleges have create an infographic which summarizes the top 10 business skills for 2020. Have a look and tell us what you think!


The (Mighty) Future of Selfies

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When you think a „selfie“ is nothing but a „selfie“ (meaning a photo of yourself), then you are still living in the past. The future of the selfie is already here – in various forms. You just need to know where to find the next evolution step, how to make it, and see who can assist your efforts. And even if you want to take it to extremes. There are all sorts of selfies ahead.

Although, I have to admit I have taken some selfies lately, I had decided to leave it from now as of bad (or mad) output. However, maybe I just need to go to the DELL Center for Selfie Improvement. No joke! Well. Maybe.

Dell is always good at jumping on the latest trends in the world of social and sharing. Their new „Center for Selfie Improvement“ is meant to help people optimize (if not perfect) the art of the selfie. People shall be trained using different techniques handed down from the very original selfie taker. How this works is explained in this video and on their Tumblr website.

Some people might say „selfies“ are just for people with mega egos. Now, if you are a person of that sort, this winning Cannes Lions Innovation Grand Prix might make you happy. It’s a mega Kinetic installation which enabled people to create massive 3D selfies. The installation can transform in three dimensions. It recreate a selfie face from visitors to Khan’s pavilion. The Khan’s building was a 2,000 m2 cube placed in the Olympic Park in Sochi during the 2014 Olympic Games.

MegaFaces: Kinetic Facade Shows Giant 3D ‚Selfies‘ from iart on Vimeo.

And if you are living in Sweden or Australia, you might not even want to use the release button from your camera or your smartphone any more for your selfie. Just get the latest app from the guys at Crunchfish then. With their GoCam app (just Apple yet) you can take a selfie with their touchless-A3D-software. Simply raise your hand to „push“ the release button.

The future of the „selfie“ is weird, unimportant and funny. Well, it just reflects the nature of a selfie, right?

Study: Social and Native Ads beat Email in Branding

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A recent study suggests that marketers should focus more on social media advertising and native promotions. The results of the study conducted by Millward Brown Digital for MediaBrix show that these tactics are more effective than email.

The respondents -300 marketers from Fortune 5,000 companies in 17 business categories- of the study answered with the follwowing response on which advertising formats and types „meet their digital branding objectives“ on a multiple choice and multiple selection questionnaire.
– Social (51%)
– Native (46%)
– Email (36%)
– Paid search (23%)
– Mobile Web (23%)
– „Emotionally targeted“ in-game (20%
– Mobile in-app (20%)
– Programmatic (18%)
– Regular in-game (14%)
– Text messaging (12%)
– Direct purchse ads from websites and blogs (11%)

When Millward Brown asked marketers on their preferences on „what types of digital ad campaigns has your company conducted“, the reponses were quite similar. Of the responding marketers, 77% mentioned that social is their way forward where as 73% replied email and 68% were heading for native. Although this might suggest that email marketing is a thing of the past, the marketers did not say that email does not work any longer.

Seeing news from Procter & Gamble marketing lately, it illustrates the confusion generated by the marketing industry on what’s the future of advertising going to be like. P&G will invest 70% of their advertising in programmatic in the future. A move that follows the American Express example trying to shift 100% of digital ad buys to programmatic. Against this movement stands some results of the Millward Brown study which shows that 30% of digital marketers understand that programmatic advertising creates some negative consumer experiences, with the unfavorable result in not leveraging but hurting brand loyalty or negating their branding objectives.

Please finds the main results of the study in the following infographic.

Infographic-Social-Native vs Email

Infographic-Social-Native vs Email

Facebook & the „Freemium“. What if Facebook charges one dollar a month?

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money-sepiaStop reading this blog post if you are a Facebook fan. You might hate it. You might like it. Stop it! You won’t? Well then, don’t try to be a consultant and just read this and act like a Facebook user. This is our idea how Facebook could become even better…

When I wrote about The Social Globe -a world of paid social networks- some years ago, people called me „mad“ and „crazy“ teasing such „wild“ and „early“ paid ideas around social networks. Sometimes, I wondered why The Social Globe – a „network“ of social networks like the broadcasting network Sky (earlier Premiere in Germany) never kicked off, bearing in mind all big social networks needed revenue. Maybe it was too big an idea. Maybe too superficially explained. Maybe… Whatever. I never found an answer. Well, maybe one. All major networks want to outplay their competitors. Collaboration is out. Although, we all have the social media philosophy in our heads: Sharing is caring. It does not count for social networks it seems.

Some years are gone since, and we all think about and discuss the value of Facebook. We wonder about it’s algorythm deciding what we see, watch and read. And we blame their advertising programs which often don’t make the user happy, nor does it seem to meet the personal targeting criteria. Well, in case people even notice the ads.

Traveling a lot, I have discussed a new monetization approach with social media and social networking insiders all over Europe. What happened if Facebook would change their business model according to the following „freemium“ scenario. Yes, I know that Mark Zuckerberg has said, Facebook will never cost the user anything.

But what is the value of restricted and filtered content? What if I cannot see the content of my real friends? What if I don’t see (the ads of) my favorite love brands anymore on Facebook? What if Facebook loses it’s personal benefit and value for me more and more?

So, this is the moment of truth. Users get two account options on Facebook in the future…

a) Free Account
Filtered user account. Ads and branded content to be displayed according to Facebook’s targeting system. Facebook decides what content the user sees. Who your „real friends“ are is decided by the algorithm.
Costs: 0 EUR per month

b) Paid Account
Unfiltered user account. Opportunity to personalize the own stream. Ads and branded content of the user’s favorite brands will be displayed according to their love brand personalization. The users decide what content they see. Who their „real friends“ are is decided by the user.
Costs: 1 Dollar per month

Facebook has opened up a new field of communication, a new way of bringing people closer to each other. No matter how far separated they are. It is a great way to make us aware how close we are living, breathing and experiencing our daily lives.

The idea of paid for Facebook accounts is out there to being discussed. Go ahead and give us your thoughts.

Maybe this is the start of a new way of thinking about Facebook. Maybe we can start a real discussion on how to make Facebook a better social networking place with more personal value, less self-glorification, and so on. One that leverages „real“ personal connections.

Would you use such a paid version, or stick with the old free account?

Adobe Summit 2014: Flashback in Tweets

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Adobe Summit 2014Sometimes when I travel to speak or to moderate at events, I have no idea what I can expect from the stages, the audience, the speakers and their input. Sometimes you fly home disappointed as the news were old, the stories not exciting, the slides were shabby or even impossible for the audience to read. And not often you have a long lasting experience that will change the way you experience the digital (marketing) world. Adobe’s Summit 2014 has proven to become an outstanding event experience, and I am sure the following stories will stay in my mind for a long, long time.

Let me summarize the main messages of the event „Reinvent marketing“ with the following five tweets…

Not often tweets can stand on their own. This tweet has a message that marketer need to obey in order to fullfil the message of the event and justify their position in the company. Marketers don’t need to glorify their brand through advertising. They should simply enable consumers to tell the brand stories from their own perspective. „Storytelling is not story yelling!“ as Gaston Legorburu, Chief Creative Officer at SapientNitro puts it.

Adobe Summit 2014 Gaston SapientNitro

When you hear all the opportunities about big data and see what companies like Adobe can do, it makes you think and wonder what these institutions will do with it – no matter what (EU) regulations we will have in the future.

Adobe Summit 2014 Adobe Values

The feedback from Rod Banner made me think: „I feel pretty sure they won’t. Not even intentionally. It’ll just happen. Remember, „Knowledge is Power“. And the answer from Twitter user Corticelli (whoever you are) seems to support Rod’s and my view: „oh, they will stalk and spam. And ruin that shiny technology fur the rest of us … #AdobeSummit“. Let’s hope the three of us are wrong with our slightly pessimistic view.

Having had the Head of Internet Office from the Vatican at the event was definitely surprising, hearing him speak was like meeting the Pope on stage. His gesture, his facial expression and his words were famous even before they were even spoken out. When Monsigneur Lucio Ruiz collected his words together to frame them in a picture of words that not many people on earth can paraphrase, people started smiling, applauding and laughing. Laughing, not because there was no meaning in them but just being spot on. So he said about the Pope: „His words might differ. The message is always the same!“

Adobe Summit 2014 Ruiz Vatican

Definitely the most inspiring and touching story on starting anew came from Kurt Yaeger. The well-known actor from the American TV series „Sons of Anarchy“ lost part of his left leg on a motorcycle accident in 2006. When the accident happened, he was a BMX professional and the doctor told him that with or without his leg he will only have a max. 20% chance to survive. Although it will kill his career as a bike pro, he did not have to think long to decide what to do. Sometimes, you just don’t have to wait long to stop a routine or a habit.

Adobe Summit 2014 Kurt Yaeger

Personal note
I remember when my son got meningitis in Greece. He asked me to stop smoking that day. I told him while throwing the new pack of cigarettes in the bin: „You get well again soon. And I stop smoking now.“ I have never touched a cigarette again, and that was over eight years ago. And, I will never do it again.

When you get invited to a panel on the future of marketing, it makes you think whether you really know more than the rest of the selected media audience.

Looking back, I have seen more or less all of them taking notes and starting discussions. And, when the Q&A session started, you could feel that this round could have been interesting for a wider audience, not only for the media. But who knows. Adobe reinvents their marketing. And maybe you can also discuss with us about the future of marketing at the next digital or Adobe event.

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