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!

2020-Top-Business-Skills

Study: Millennials value workplace friendships but sacrifice them for their benefit

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Credits: Gerd Altmann  / pixelio.de

Credits: Gerd Altmann / pixelio.de

A friendship is not a friendship, when it comes to moving on with your career – at least for millennials. A recent study published by LinkedIn this week shows that millennials believe in friendships at work boosting happiness, motivation, and productivity. However, friendship has an end and makes millennials competitive when it comes to career promotions.

The report states that 27% of the respondents think that workplace friendships boost their job performance. The negative part is that it also makes them more ambitious. Those millennials (68%) would even sacrifice a workplace friendship to get a promotion. The majority of millennials (3 in 5) believe that socializing with coworkers improves their workplace, and every third millennials thinks it will advance their career. Interestingly enough, almost every second millennial states that they would even discuss their salary with coworkers.

The results show quite a big difference to the Baby Boomers where almost the same percentage would never dare to have such a thought. From those workers at the age of 55-65, almost half of them even think a friendship with their coworkers had no effect on their professional performance in any way. Talking about salaries? Only 23% of baby boomers would think about it (and probably not do it).

The study shows that millennials are more open to talk about their very personal business situations like compensation and benefits with their millennial counterparts. Millennials are even heading for those informations instead of showing understatement and not disclosing any information about their personal salary conditions like the baby boomers do. Management should be coaching millennials here, and making sure that they give them insights in why it would be better not being too open with their coworkers.

Don’t limit conversations to only email or formal meetings. Take a walking meeting! Walking meetings are part of LinkedIn’s culture, and they are popular because people tend to relax during a walk, which allows for a more open and creative discussion. Plus, not having a phone or computer interrupt you every second, allows you to be more focused on the person you are talking to, and ultimately more connected.

Take an interest in the personal. While you may not want to give relationship advice, you should have an interest in your teammates as people. Take a few minutes during every one-on-one meeting to connect on a personal level. If your colleague always jets out with their yoga mat, ask them about it! Work is only a part of who we are; if you get to know people’s other passions, it may give you a glimpse into what motivates them.

Congratulate, share and like! A simple gesture on LinkedIn can do wonders for employee morale. Think how great it feels to get “a job well-done” email from your boss, and then imagine having the same recognition shared with your network. It feels great to get acknowledged for your hard work, and by sharing it publicly, you also help to build your professional brand.

The study shows that millennials are more open to talk about their very personal business situations like compensation and benefits with their millennial counterparts. Millennials are even heading for those informations instead of showing understatement and not disclosing any information about their personal salary conditions like the baby boomers do. Management should be coaching millennials here, and making sure that they give them insights in why it would be better not being too open with their coworkers.

How do you manage the millennial workforce in your company? Are they also as open as described in this study?

Relationships @ Work from LinkedIn

Why ‘A’ marketers are better than the rest (Infographic)

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Although many marketers have heard of the analytics, data and technology challenges, a minority of 26% of marketers understand their value for the business they run. This is the latest results of a joint study from VisionEdge Marketing (VEM) and ITSMA Marketing Performance Management (MPM) with input from 380 marketers gives insights on marketing performance and best-practices.

The study shows how marketers can earn an “A” grade from the C-suite as they understand impact on data for business. The outperforming marketers know how to make performance management a priority. They know how to plan and implement a well-defined and documented road map for performance improvement. While many marketers measure effort and activity, these “A” grade marketers find the right metrics on ROI efficiency, while building dashboards in order to communicate business benefits of their efforts.

Not surprisingly, “A” grade marketers know how to align their marketing objectives with business priorities, which are the basis for selecting the right metrics. They understand why their offerings create a bi-directional benefit for customers and shareholders.

Of the top performers, 63% claimed increased customer share of wallet. This is a massive success when compared with 48% of “B” marketers and 38% of low performing marketers. When monitoring improvements for business growth, 54% of “A” respondents confirmed improvements in their win rates. This stands against 39% of the “B” competitors and 25% of laggard marketers.

However, some of you marketers might think you should have the ROI in focus, the “B” grade marketers
are too much looking for sales figures. They are spot on getting leads for their pipeline and try to map the customer journey intensively. Still, they lose the big picture of the long-term web strategy. The lazy laggard marketers just see the production of marketing campaigns as their target instead of producing and generating real business results, according to the study.

ITSMA-VEMMPM-Study-2014

Report sales software: What buyers have, and expect to get.

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Buyers like cloud solutions and are looking for automation software supporting their sales efforts. These are the main findings of a recent report based on interviews with 385 prospective buyers of new sales force automation software conducted by Software Advice. Two-third of all respondents (67%) stated they are interested in sales automation software solutions for the first time. Those sales leaders with a deployment preference trying to find a new solution these days were prefer a cloud-based solution (96%). Just 4% were evaluating on-premises solutions.

Interesting to see that still one out of four managers (25%) still use spreadsheets or email clients (21%) to handle their sales activities (tracking leads and managing contacts). Furthermore, a big portion do not have a real system in place (22%); these guys still use pen and paper. Those buyers who have got a system in place use commercial customer relationship management (CRM) software (17%), work with industry-specific solutions (8%), or developed their software in-house (3%).

Software Advice 2014 SFA Status Quo

Almost two out of three prospective buyers (62%) argued their top reasons to buy sales force automation (SFA) with improving organizational output and increasing efficiency. Many managers in enterprises (33%) and also in small companies (22%) are dissatisfied with their current sales management solution.

Software Advice 2014 SFA Evaluating Reasons

The top requested features that managers are looking for are contact management features in their new sales software (93%). Almost two from three respondents (65%) claimed they need a note-taking feature, so they can keep track of interactions between clients and their sales force. More than every second manager (54%) wants lead management features to be included at every stage of the sales process. Only every forth manager asked for sales reporting and forecasting as an expected feature. Larger companies are a bit ahead in that development as 56% of those expect that functionality for their business, says the report.

Software Advice 2014 SFA Requested Features

Report: Most Trusted Marketing Automation Tools

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Marketing automation tools are making their ways into the business world, not only for large enterprises but also for small companies some solutions have proven to be promising, and not only since IBM bought Silverpop. However, which tools are the right ones for your business? At least we get some advice now from TrustRadius“Buyer’s Guide to Marketing Automation Software”. They did a report based on 400 in-depth reviews by authenticated end-users of marketing automation products combined with the results of more than 10,000 comparisons performed on the TrustRadius’ website.

The report looked at software solutions that include various demand generation capabilities like email campaign management, landing pages,or even lead scoring. However, the analysis out those providers which just offer one aspect of marketing automation (i.e. only lead scoring). In their focus were those tools that “help to automate and scale repetitive marketing tasks and the analysis of those efforts.”

These were the findings they came up with…

Small Businesses (Up to 50 employees)
Small companies gave quite positive and high ratings with at least a 4 out of 5 (average was 4.3 out of 5 – better than the average in the midsize and enterprise companies). Then TrustRadius ranked the products via two factors: a) average user rating and b) how does the product serve the business segment (determined by the number of comparisons made by organizations of that size).
The leading 3 solutions were HubSpot (4.8, 69% of comparisons by small businesses), Act-On (4.7, 53%), plus Infusionsoft (4.3, 96%). Other solutions like Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, and Silverpop also got good ratings. Still, they ranked lower as they had a smaller proportion of small business comparisons.

TrustRadius Marketing Automation Small Business 2014

SMB Businesses (From 51 to 500 employees)
The average rating in the midsize company category was 3.9 out of 5. The report shows that a higher demand goes alongside bigger companies and more complex requirements for marketing automation tools. Here, the trusted vendors are Marketo (4.2, 60% midsize category) and Pardot (4.0, 58%). Act-On, Eloqua, and HubSpot also got positive ratings.

TrustRadius Marketing Automation SMB 2014

Enterprise Businesses (500+ employees)
The average rating for enterprise marketing automation products was 3.8 out of 5. Eloqua showed up to be the top marketing automation software for enterprise companies (4.4, 59% enterprise focus). Act-On, HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot also performed well according to users, but they had a smaller proportion of comparisons from enterprise customers.

TrustRadius Marketing Automation Enterprises 2014

Tell us about your findings. Which tools do you use and what has proven to be successful for you? All insights can help other companies make faster decisions.

Study shows, how B2B decision-makers consume vendor content

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Some weeks ago, we spoke about a study that described what B2B decision makers expect to read on vendor websites. Now, a new study of 352 buyers (predominantly large businesses) from The CMO Council and NetLine shows that the majority of organizations (94%) favors to curate and circulate relevant content in their organization before finally deciding to purchase B2B solutions and services. For years, marketers thought B2B buyers and influencers alike are simply using vendor-related content from time to time.

The study makes clear that there is no real sharing structure to be made out from company to company. However, there are three main patterns that the study highlights in their results:
- From the Middle Out (35%): Execution-level executives search and find content about vendors/products and make the purchase. Senior management gets educated thorugh them why the decision was made.
- From the Bottom Up (30%): Junior or mid-level employees find vendor-related content and share their discoveries with senior management. Then they make the final decision.
- From the Top Down (29%): Senior managers find the content, then share it with lower-level managers for analysis and final purchase.

CMO Council Netline B2B content sharing

The same as with the sharing patterns, there are three key personas within the businesses who act according to their own behaviors, expectations and needs.
- Researchers: Primarily focused on new industry reports/research to inform them of advancements in solutions, trends affecting the markets, and opportunities for improvement.
- Influencers: Interested in both thought leadership found in trusted third-party channels and vendor-branded technology specifications, data sheets, and use cases. Their special interest is in summarized content, i.e. infographics, videos, and blog comments.
- Decision-Makers: Want to stay informed through broad research reports and analyst commentary. However, they expect to have access to detailed data to enable better decision-making at the tail end of the purchasing funnel.

Spot On!
The study reveals some further interesting insights. The vendor selection is major to moderate influenced by online content, find 88% of the B2B buyers and more than a third (38%) find that online content provides strategic insights and shapes the purchase decision. The content that is valued the most is research reports and studies (65%), technical spec and data sheets (50%), analyst reports (46%), whitepapers (35%) and posts on trade publishing sites (30%). The power of Google and the vendor website comes out as well: When more than two third state they start their vendor-related content sourcing with search engines and portals, it shows that the best training the marketers is to read the two B2B studies and draw some conclusion out of it for the future of your own content, PR and marketing acitivites. And if you cannot find a solution, we are happy to help…

Edelman Trust Barometer 2014: CEOs recover, social media improving

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Another year, Edelman is offering us insights into the trust in companies, officials and their leaders with their Edelman Trust Barometer. This year’s version sampled 27,000 general population respondents with an oversample of 6,000 informed publics ages 25-64 across 27 countries. The study makes clear what the main trust building attributes are.

Edelman Trust Barometer 2014 Attributes

It also shows that CEOs are regaining trust (43%) since low of 31% in 2009. And there are easy ways to improve the trust scale for CEOs and their companies by communicating clearly and transparently (82%), telling the (sometimes unpopular) truth (81%) and engaging regularly with employees (80%).

The downside of the CEO results is that CEOs still rank second to last out of the most credible spokesperson framework. Those more credible were academics (67%), technical experts (66%), “person(s) like yourself” (62%) and employees (52%).

“CEOs must continue to lead, but to do it effectively they now have to inform and empower employees and academics. So whether it’s discussing possible regulation, supply chain management or the reaction to a crisis, CEOs must work in concert with those who are viewed as being more credible.” Alan VanderMolen, vice chairman, DJE Holdings

Edelman Trust Barometer 2014 CEO Trust Building

The report illustrates also that the trust rust in media decreased by 5% globally to 52% this year. When almost 80% of the responding countries state that the trust in media is down compared to 2013, this speaks a clear language. Although this sounds quite negative, some media sources like online search engines (65 percent), traditional media (65%), hybrid media (54%), social media (47%) and owned media (45%) see some improvement to last year.

Spot On!
The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer is always a good indicator to how much people trust in business and government. And when we see the largest ever gap (14 points) between trust in government and business this year, the leadership teams should try to figure out quickly what the reason for it might be. Although it seems that trust in business leadership improves as it stabalized compared to 2013, it shows that businesses seem to lead government and don’t necessarily need to partner with them in order to gain trust as much as in earlier decades. Thus, it is not surprising that most respondents (84%) think business can pursue its self-interest while helping society. Furthermore, 74% even believe business could be part of the process of formulating regulation in the energy and food industries.

PS: My message to leaders…
Maybe leaders should engage with their employees more and understand what my favorite leaders quote means. “Lead by the power of your employees’ imagination and insights, not the challenges you were given”.

Best and worst times to post social media updates (Infographic)

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The questions we get asked by management team all over Europe are quite similar whenever it comes to best possible conversion times, or perfect hours and days to posting on social networks, to send out updates and to generate engagement. Although this might be an option to boost your social and web activities, it should be clear to everyone that if we all obey these options, we are challenging our clients more and more in generating engagement.

Above all, not all social media platforms are alike. The user types of social networks are different, depending on whether these are coming with a purchase intent, the idea to keep their friends up to date about their latest spare time activities, or whether they are looking for new job opportunities in career networks. Sentiment, time and openness for your updates might vary from minute to minute.

Mitt Ray summarizes some advice on when could be the best and worst time to publish your updates on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Tumblr. Take it for whatever it is worth to you…

Best-Times-and-Days-to-Post-Your-Social-Media-Updates-Infographic

Study 2014: What marketers see as their top priorities

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Obviously, all marketers are ROI-driven – or made to think that way. Not surprising then, the top priority in digital marketing comes to be increasing the conversion rates (47%), followed by increasing/improving brand awareness (46%) and collecting/measuring/using behavior-based data (29%). This is the outcome of the latest study by ExactTarget entitled “2014 State of Marketing”. The report, conducted between October and November 2013, gives insights from over 2,600 global marketers.

ExactTarget-2014-top-priorities-exacttarget

Although I would have expected from our conversations with clients that demand generation comes in as one of the top priorities, only 28% of the marketers said acquiring new subscribers, improving channels (24%) and leveraging actionable data is among their main challenges for 2014.

ExactTarget-2014-success-metrics

The good sign for publishers, consultants, advertising platforms and marketing service providers is that 98% of responding marketers plan to increase or maintain their digital marketing budgets. The rise in digital marketing spends goes primarily to data and analytics (61%), marketing automation (61%), email marketing (58%), social media marketing (57%), and content management (57%).

ExactTarget-2014-budgets

Spot On!
It would actually be interesting to have a study that asks marketers what they define as social media marketing. Why? Interestingly enough, only 34% of those marketers find ROI in social media marketing. As of a lack of definition, we cannot argue whether there is a misunderstanding in the definition or in the company’s approach to social media. Still, only 52% think their social media activities will actually pay out in ROI. But when Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are cited as the most popular social channels for the respondents, I doubt that their social media approach is properly understood. At least there are positive signs when the repondents see that Google+ gets more impact with 18% planning to start in 2014.

Study Social Media: How to budget, staff & measure

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A recent survey from Wildfire by Google and AdAge asked 500 executives from large companies how they budget, staff and measure their social media business. Over half (50,7%) of the surveyed managers work for businesses with $1 billion or more in annual revenue. It shows that marketers in enterprises are increasingly investing in people for this business topic. 46,5% of companies with revenues over $1 billion have a team of 50 or more employees looking after the social business.

Furthermore, they are not afraid of asking for help when needed: 65,5% use a mixture of agencies and in-house personell to manage social media. This is different to smaller companies with revenues of less than $1 billion a year. These companies tend to have one to five employees for social challenges, and almost two out of three use 62,4% use own resources, and not agencies.

Google Wildfire AdAge Allocation Industry Social Media

From all respondents, 45,6% of respondents see their social media spendings rising by 10% next year; 15,9% see even an increase by 11% to 30%. Just 29,1% of the managers have a “pure” social media budget. Others managers seem to be getting their budgets from other marketing budgets like traditional media – 23.9% said their budgets are coming from print, television, and radio.

Keeping up the high level of audience engagement is the main issue for marketers. However, most managers are quite confident today about brand damage due to negative postings. This came in last in the concern list. This could have two reasons: Either shitstorms are not as problematic as some social media consultants define or describe them. Or all managers have a strategy in place how to handle these conversation issues.

Not surprisingly for us, finding tactics to effectively measure social media conversations is the second biggest concern for managers. Maintaining a consistent brand message came in third place probably as many companies have challenges in establishing a streamlined culture of social engagement in their company which we realize as one of the main management topics from top level management to “normal” employee.

Google Wildfire AdAge Concerns Social Media

Retailers managers also see metrics tied to ROI more important than other managers. Still, most companies (58,4%) are tracking content shares as their “most important or important” metric for measuring the ROI of social media. Counting followers comes in second (55,8%), number of page impressions (54,7%) finished third.

Google Wildfire AdAge Measuring Social Media

Spot On!
It is interesting to see that companies are still quite likely to put social media spendings under general brand marketing or digital media budgets. This obviously gives them more flexibility to shift budgets when needed. However, it also shows that the ROI in social media is not really proven in some companies. Predominantly retailers, followed by technology, media and entertainment companies, seem to be confident that there is a reason for social media budgets and have already dedicated budgets just for social.

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