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Posts Tagged ‘business strategy

To the letter: How truth speaks to stakeholders

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Technological change is blasting us forward and continues to solidify the role reputation and trust play for typeorganizations of all kinds. Even some news organizations, entities multiple stakeholders look to for unbiased information, can succumb to what is less than best practice.

According to Gallup, distrust in the media has hit a new high, with 60 per cent saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly. Pew found almost “one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to”.

In the New York Law Journal, 2009 was referred to as “the Year of Investor Anger”. FAIR Canada published a report in 2011 called A Decade of Financial Scandals highlighting fraud as a problem and making recommendations for prevention, detection, prosecution and compensation. Edelman‘s recent study on trust revealed trust in banking and financial services has dropped 50 per cent even amongst global, informed publics.

Against this backdrop, where investors both small and institutional are looking for a return but also an investment they can believe in, Laura Rittenhouse looks beyond what is reported in most public companies’ financials. She looks for innovation in communications.

Rittenhouse writes about CEO communications. She focuses on strategy, culture and performance with the idea of truth key in her audits.

Truth as competitive advantage

Today, forward-thinking companies are embracing the opportunity to really “talk” to investors and other stakeholders. There’s so much noise surrounding annual general meetings and annual reports that investing in communicating regarding contentious issues pays dividends.

An organization that sees the light on corporate transparency thinks in a more holistic way. Organizations stepping forward to be thought leaders are creating best practice not rushing to engage in best practices because others have already set the agenda for them.

Truth in reporting is so obvious that it bears more focus. Sometimes, it’s the obvious issues that fall out of the cross hairs of what’s important for managements to do.

Richard Edelman notes how logic becomes oxymoron:

[CEOs demand] … less regulation while CEOs suggest that enforcement of the new regulations has restored trust; this is a baffling logic problem.

Yet this is part of the duality of the human being. Although we know what’s right, we don’t always do what’s right.

Anyone who doubts what negative sentiment or negative media attention can do when an organization is held up to pursue less than best practices, and what that can do to reputation, might want to take a look at what legislators are calling “egregious” and “outrageous” regarding Apple’s “web of tax shelters”.

[While other companies have taken advantage of loopholes,] … I’ve never seen anything like this, and we don’t know anybody who’s seen anything like this.

              — Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations

Business culture suffers due to lack of transparency. The reputation of business is left to the media which will tend to focus on the worst rather than the best. The media plays a vital role in highlighting tremendous failures in business but it’s up to businesses that are engaging in innovative practices to tell their story.

Business needs to get better at communicating. Business needs to communicate true innovation and best practice. It may have been the best of times with respect to some companies, but the organizations that showed up most often in the wake of the financial crisis are the ones that reflect a “worst of times” operational execution.

In such an environment, companies operating in a forward-thinking manner will be best positioned to gain from stakeholders’ need for a positive story. While it’s important to reveal worst practices, corruption and other failings, there’s a decided human need for the positive, for the feel-good story wrapped in the long-term resilience of truth.

Rittenhouse is a big proponent of a new wave of letters from directors and boards. She feels it’s a “powerful opportunity” to make a statement about governance.

A letter may be traditional but it’s impact can be revolutionary. Truth is the revolution. Companies need to tell the truth not only for the advantages truth will bring from a long-term operational point of view, but because it’s absolutely the right thing to do.


Part Two: Why boards need to deal with the issues

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Social Media: A universe expanding at an incredible rate

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The more researchers study the social media space, the more value and productivity they find. Social media, enterprise media, hangs like the baby in Kubrick’s famous movie.

What does that baby represent?

A nascent technology evolving into something like a new consciousness. A metaphor for what we are becoming: SocialMind.

The collaborative expansion of knowledge-sharing for those who search becomes the competitive advantage of those who find. Creation is cosmology.

The cosmology of social media. The context of enterprise media.

Just as a focus on searching our galaxy and universe are uncovering astronomical and astrophysical discoveries day after day, so, too, are researchers finding a cosmology of the new enterprise. We are continuously looking for ways to leverage competitive advantage through new tools creating new holes in the fabric of old enterprise.

Theoretical physics in the shape of Higgs-boson, has shown us that we may exist in a multiverse. Our universe may be getting smaller as our knowledge goes beyond our stars.

The astronomy of the social media value add

McKinsey Global Institute’s research shows social media could unleash “value and productivity” through communication and collaboration that could add $1.3 trillion to the economy.

Most of this value would come through productivity:

  • 98 per cent of the value add would come through the professional services companies sector

Social media universe? Multiverse? Consider what companies like Oracle, and Microsoft are doing:

  • bought GoInstant and Buddy Media

Short-term damage done and enormous opportunity

These purchases indicate where enterprise companies are going. The Facebook IPO damaged the reputation of social media, but that’s in the short-term.


Because interactions workers have the highest spread of profits per employee. Because what companies saw as their business before the explosion of social technologies, is not what they see as their business now.

Not alone.

Evolving through holes in space:

Breaking through to the new business model

Companies are lookng through holes in space. They are looking to evolve. Disruptive technologies create as part of their process.

Organizations are going through wormholes. They are seeing other worlds. Their visions and strategies continue to develop as they embrace enterprise media to travel beyond their old business models.

Ask yourself:

Where do breakthroughs come from?

The companies mentioned above aren’t in the habit of following. They are leaders. Leaders in enterprise.

The future is social. The future is perpetual change.

In industries like banking, this will be huge. Make your most important capital, your people, more effective, and you will dramatically increase the profit spread per employee. Connected by the potential in social technologies, we communicate, we collaborate, we create our cosmologies of knowledge.

Nielsen recently found total time spent on social media (U.S., PCs and mobile) increased 37% to 121 billion minutes.


To touch the face of your audience

Banking and financial services clearly demonstrate the need for tools that can reach out and engage consumers with great immediacy. The financial crisis, multiple scandals including LIBOR, are all examples of ongoing media stories compounding the reputational damage to an industry full of hard-working, honest people.

With the financial crisis, we have seen the greatest business upheaval in most of our lifetimes. The need to reach out and engage with publics to restore trust is not an option. The bold step is a necessity.

Shock wave and rebirth

The reputational damage left after the financial crisis is a star going supernova, still spreading its shock wave. But supernovae created the building blocks of life.

Reaching out, engaging, informing publics that have been burned by an exploding star, and listening to them, is crucial.

Missing the potential in these channels will separate the forward-looking from the fearful. And more channels will be born.

Social media in the context of enterprise media is spreading its influence. It’s an explosion of tweets blasting through our collective consciousness. We are going beyond where we’ve gone before.

I am become social, the creator of worlds

We are the SocialMind

Organizations are touching the faces of audiences through ideas and channels that were once just concepts. Companies are communicating with their audiences as they exist in their own times and spaces through a cloud interface.

Through social technologies, we have become something different. We are the SocialMind.

We are the creators of worlds.

What kind of worlds will we create?

Our starships are enterprise media travelling at the speed of light within and without organizational planets and galaxies.

We are going beyond where we have gone before …

And we are all made of stars.


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The social multiverse at work?

A friend of mine sent me the following, startled at how similar the beginning of it was to my pieces on the social multiverse. Interesting …

How Twitter Is Reshaping The Future Of Storytelling

Update: Here’s a great infographic on Social Media ROI.

Infographic: The ROI of Social Media
Infographic by MDG Advertising

Coming soon:

Universes. Multiverses. Messages. Creating social cosmologies.

More on social media? Find it here:

Reputation. Reputation. Reputation. Your key differentiator: Corporate Social Responsibility

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Stand out by being a CSR thought leader

“In the business world, the rear view mirror is always clearer than the windshield.” — Warren Buffett


A study by Adam Friedman Associates continues to confirm the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR’s becoming a harder asset.

Executives from Fortune 1000 organizations said that the C-suite and/or board of directors involve themselves directly in “decision-making and measurement processes with regards to the company’s CSR programs.” There’s lots of talk about being different but when it comes to CSR and “getting it”, decision-makers at the forefront of thought leadership understand that CSR is a key differentiator.

Be different. Be better.

Who are you? What do you stand for? Where are you going?

Competition is fierce. Tools that define who you are and what you stand for as an organization show a company to be forward-thinking with a strategy that reaches beyond the latest quarter and far into the future.

The C-suite’s talking about CSR. Executives are more and more conscious of how CSR contributes to business.

CSR: Growing. Growing. Grown.

Results of the study show:

[T]here has been an expansion in scope and focus of CSR strategies and resource allocation. Many CSR initiatives were created in response to environmental issues and pressures, but companies are now expanding their focus to social, health, diversity, labor and safety issues. While many companies still focus much of their time and resources on environmental issues, CSR has grown to include almost any issue or concern that affects the operations and reputation of the company.

So, CSR is growing its influence.

More measurement. More third parties.

Measurement’s still not universal. But there are more third parties involved and more supplier audits. Of course, reception of programs by consumers and media are important and impact evaluation.

Transparency and volume of information have made consumer opinions more important than ever.

CSR and profitability are clearly linked for many corporations. Today’s thought leaders no longer see CSR “as a ‘soft’ discipline within the corporate structure”.

CSR directly affects profitability.

Integrate. Maximize. Get results.

Still think social media is a digital smoke screen?

The study found:

Social media has become an important tool companies use to communicate to their publics about their CSR efforts in addition to traditional media. This allows companies to communicate their CSR activities and progress in a manner that is fast, easily accessible and provides them with vital feedback from their publics.

Companies are using social media to supply their stakeholders with information and content. They are building online communities.

Companies are using social media to find out what their stakeholders care about. They’re using incoming messages to help craft future social media strategies.

Thinking strategically, companies have embedded CSR communications deep into their overall communication strategies. Employees are using social media to measure the effectiveness of CSR.

Everything that makes CSR disappear, makes CSR stronger:

In integration, find strength

Some executives believe:

[T]he CSR function may disappear altogether as corporations begin to absorb CSR into all aspects of their business and make it a part of every employee’s responsibilities. As companies begin to assess and measure the effects their CSR programs have on the business’s reputation, CSR may increase in both scope and importance. Based on the interviews conducted, some CSR practitioners said they believe CSR should not be its own function or department but rather an integrated part of the business … Senior executives should pay more attention to the views of their external stakeholders when developing CSR strategies because their sentiments will affect the company’s reputation and/or its position among competitors.

The study found businesses need to look at CSR as a growing function. CSR strategies should be integrated into all areas of business.

In a world where the media is full of stories of corruption, best practices will continue to resonate.


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Find the study by request.

Find more on reputation and CSR/sustainability here:

How can social media help with lead generation if you’re not using it for lead generation?

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You’ve got to plant seedlings to growplmotree

Some have criticized social media for lead generation. But it’s harder to criticize a tool if you’re not using it.

Eloqua posted an interesting infographic recently, showing*:

  • 65 per cent of B2B marketers are using social media


  • 40 per cent know they’re not using its full potential

But what really stands out is:

  • 53 per cent aren’t using it for demand generation

Now, if these companies aren’t using social media for demand generation could that be part of the reason why some are questioning the validity of social media for demand generation?

Are you leading from the back?

Consider yourself a strategic thinker?

Consider this:

  • 43 per cent of companies said they had no strategy in place when it came to social media and demand generation

Now, let’s see:

If you don’t build it, will they come?

If you don’t make it part of your strategy, will you build it?

While LinkedIn is three times more effective than other popular social media platforms for lead generation, use of LinkedIn trails other major platforms.

Know what you know

Metrics are important. The ongoing story of social media tools and best practices for using those tools bears close attention. Measuring your social media activity is the only way to provide yourself with great data. Broad research informs but is in no way a replacement for your direct research.

Studies are useful but your own personal, professional use of social will differ from studies. There’s no better intelligence for how your social strategy’s working than your own measurement.

Here’s an interesting read from McKinsey on social intelligence.

McKinsey thinks social intel is changing old-school intel.

Dig the “crowd”

In another study:

  • 69 per cent of executives said they used social tools
  • Senior managers were more likely to post questions and engage with thought leaders via social networks during research processes
  • More than 40 per cent of social media users said they followed discussions/threads to learn more about topics they were researching
  • 37 per cent said they posted specific questions on social networking sites seeking feedback on how others solved specific business challenges
  • Nearly 90 per cent indicated that blogs impacted their research during the “Solution Analysis” phase and 3 in 4 respondents used social media

B2B buyers like to share experiences after purchase:

  • 60 per cent like to share what they learn from their research and buying process
  • One-on-one discussions were most common for sharing insights
  • Blogs and discussion forums on social sites are a growing area

Zeno just did a study showing:

That is a truly shocking statistic today. And it shows B2B is trailing behind B2C in social thought leadership.

Your own personal Catch 22

Not using social? Missing an opportunity to connect with important audiences?

The questions are:

  • Do researchers using social media have an edge on those who aren’t?
  • Will neglecting to use social media for research purposes kill a crucial value add?
  • Will neglecting social media become a growing weakness for businesses not involved?


  • Will companies miss out on executive audiences who are active on social media?

It’s time to go where corporate decision-makers play.

Social media is a tool. A forest is made up of many trees.

How full is your toolbox?

How many seedlings are you using to grow the forest for your bigger picture?

Grow some trees.

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More on social media? Find it here:

You can find the Eloqua infographic here. They’ve adopted a galaxy theme. Interesting considering my main metaphors for social media are the universe and the multiverse.

* I put out a request to Eloqua asking them where they got these stats but so far have not heard back. It’s always nice to know where the statistics come from on an infographic. Regarding the stats, it’s not the first time data on social and lead generation have presented similar results.


Written by johnrondina

December 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

SocRev: The social revolution and its potential to revolutionize the corporation

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Children of the social revolution:

The business potential for social technologies to revolutionize the corporation

If only we knew what we know, we’d be three times more productive

SocRev: Empowerment. Lightspeed. Win-win.

The ultimate activity of all businesses is to increase sales. Social media can be a fundamental tool in an integrated strategy to develop business. But the competitive advantage doesn’t stop there.

Corporations don’t talk. They don’t share information well, generally. The enterprise that collaborates …

… enables the tools to make itself an organizational powerhouse – a veritable braintrust of collaborators:

Lean communicators/information sharers who garner the hidden advantages of Big Data.

Examples of Big Data:

  • 10,000 payment card transactions are made every second around the world
  • Walmart handles more than 1 million customer transactions an hour
  • 340 million tweets are sent per day … Nearly 4,000 tweets per second

Big Data. Imagine if you could harness the power of every tweet ever sent on an organizational objective over the last five years. You would have one massive, digital braintrust of information.

Opportunity lies hidden in the massive amount of information underutilized by organizations. As corporations learn to exploit their own braintrusts, it will be social/digital technologies that will enable some of the most innovative thinking planet Earth has ever seen. Companies must be ready with a strategy to use the newest and most tactical tools to emerge since the internet.

Just as the latest research in theoretical physics is slowly adding challenge to Einstein (see research on the Higgs boson particle), the social/digital sphere will create the power of the employee to the exponent “x”.


  • Microsoft bought the enterprise social networking company Yammer

Social = Customer relationships

A report from Deloitte, which surveyed 3,748 executives from 115 countries and 24 industries, found:

  • 80 per cent of respondents stated social media had a key role to play in building customer relationships
  • Another 74 per cent agreed it could foster innovation that delivered genuine differentiation
  • 65 per cent cited benefits linked to hiring and retaining talent
  • 61 per cent referenced revenue-generating possibilities


  • Just 18 per cent of the respondents thought social software was extremely important to their company at present


  • 40 per cent expected it to be extremely important one year from now

Do these executives expect social enterprise to be less important three years from now?


  • 63 per cent expect it to be extremely important three years from now

LinkedIn: Facebook-for-grown-ups

Facebook has experienced some challenges to its business model, but much of this can be attributed to the hype process that surrounded its IPO, its less-focused business strategy, and its incredibly rapid growth in users.

Yet LinkedIn has increased stock market share value since its IPO. LinkedIn has grown rapidly, with less hype and more purpose than organizations like Facebook. Professionals realize its potential within the social media landscape.

Use of LinkedIn amongst professionals in every sector of business, non-profit and government has grown quickly. Professionals see the advantages in networking, collecting information, fundraising, marketing, communications and sales.

  • 71 per cent of LinkedIn members in Canada use the service for networking
  • 72 per cent of LinkedIn members are more confident about the professional information on LinkedIn than other social media sites

Just how many LinkedIn users are there?

  • LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the internet with more than 175 million members in over 200 countries and territories

Not only has LinkedIn’s user base increased at a staggering rate over the last few years:

  • Professionals are signing up at a rate of two per second

Trust in LinkedIn is very high. The value add of credibility is a strong competitive advantage, one that smart companies are using and will keep using.

Coming soon:

Social media: A universe expanding at an incredible rate

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This post follows a series that began with:

Social media is enterprise media: How business can expand with the social universe


Social. Mobile. The future.

*Sources: Gartner, LinkedIn


Digital at the speed of light: Who’s afraid of social media?

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Companies fear of social media may be the greatest danger to companies’ digital strategies

Fear. Fear of a social planet.

Over the last few years, communications professionals have been challenged by the rise of social media. They also face the challenge of a consumer who has issues with trust.

Consumers feel burned by great financial forces that left many repositioning their opinions of the financial sector. The financial crisis has been a profound instructor. Companies need to communicate transparently in order to work at rebuilding trust.

If you monitor issues related to CSR/sustainability and social finance, you’ll find interesting comments left after articles. Read the wrong way, they can be paralyzing.

The virtual world can be filled with negatives about corporations, banks, fees and a litany of other topics. We live in a social world. Business is going to have to get used to consumers’ flexing their opinions socially.

Consumer empowerment is changing business. Businesses that aren’t getting it could be in for a universe of pain. An enormous part of the lifeblood of business is its ability to adapt to changing environments, opinions, priorities.

Seeing social tomorrow

Strategists work hard to understand the direction and impact of social enterprise. It’s important to see the grand scheme of things.

“Social” touches so many moving parts of the communications world.

Social enterprise isn’t one definition. Social technology isn’t Facebook. It’s not Twitter. Not alone. It’s a vast union of technologies converging, changing and moving, evolving at a pace that would freak Darwin out.

When Facebook went through a very public reputational (it is a word if you know Fombrun) convulsion, many linked social media as a whole with the avalanche of bad news that hit Facebook.

Social enterprise and social media: Evolution happening so fast, it’s hard to forecast what SocEnt/SocMed will become.

Social media: Where will ROI be tomorrow? Power in communications has always come through the integration of communications technologies.

Evolution. Don dark shades and miss the rays of light.

There is nothing to fear but change itself (for some)


Change can frighten.

With the flip of a tweet, Joe Average has become Superman. The creation of movements depends on the successful communication of ideas. The successful communication of ideas rarely results from someone sounding off, spreading impenetrable jargon out into the world.

But 140 characters, for those who learn to do it well, is a succinct statement to the universe. And the universe is listening. The universe is hungry.

The marketplace loves technologies that promise much. At the same time, the consumer craves a relationship based on trust. When 85 per cent say, worldwide, they expect companies to become actively involved in solving world issues*, brands have to notice.

How the elitist fails in communication

One of my professors used to say that if you go about sounding like an elitist, you’re not going to make a whole lot of friends. His popularity was due, largely, to his ability to communicate at a very grassroots level. A kind of Warren Buffett of the academic world.

He had a genuine love for his students. It came through loud and clear.

Joe Average doesn’t always have a well-researched opinion. But what Joe A. does have is the pulse of Main Street thumping through his veins. Digital Joe Average is the social revolution. The “x” to the exponent “many voices” that can come together and cause immense, pivotal social moments.

So, there’s Josephine and Joe A., looking for something they can believe in. A partnership.

Talk to any number of individuals involved in development in business or the not-for-profit sector, and you’ll see they welcome partnerships. Much is  accomplished through partnerships spanning inter-organizational objectives.

Partnerships connect people. Ideas are forces for change. Like anything worthwhile, opportunities come with challenges:

  • The challenge to rise up above the norm
  • The challenge to do things better
  • The challenge to break down “us” and “them” mentalities

Silos are vampires. Blackholes. They draw only for and into themselves to increase their own immortality.

Partnerships give birth to new life. They create out of a seed, an idea, a plan: potential.

When partnerships touch a great many people, then an incredible, transformative force is let loose.

Coming soon:

Why win-win thinking triumphs over fear

Update (Jan. 14, 2013):

Software Advice did an interesting experiment involving big brands recently. What the experiment shows is that even big brands can struggle with social media when it comes to employing social media best practices.

Bank of America had the best response rate. Still, the lack of response for most of these top brands is interesting:

Companies only responded to 14% of the tweets.

See the infographic here:

soc cust serv

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*Source: Havas Media

Social. Mobile. The future.

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This post continues from Social media is enterprise media.

The trend is the “send”

You often hear the expression “the trend is your friend” from portfolio managers. Might this be true when it comes to social media? Well, ask the Obama campaign.

By the end of this year:

  • Nearly 82 million U.S. mobile users will use a social networking site on their phone at least monthly, or more than a quarter of the total U.S. population
  • The vast majority of these users (95.5 per cent) will be checking social sites on a smartphone


  • Smartphone users are about twice as likely as overall mobile phone users to do so this year

By 2014, eMarketer estimates:

  • Nearly half of the total U.S. mobile population will be mobile social networkers

Mary Meeker just gave a presentation saying there will be:

  • 1 billion smartphone users but 5 billion mobile phone users by the end of 2012

This means 1/5 of the phones in the world will be social-enabled phones.

The signpost at the road ahead is social-enabled and mobile.

Inherit the future:

It’s the millenials, dude …

  • 43 per cent of people aged 20-29 spend more than 10 hours a week on social media sites

These kids are the future. While you might not want to put your social media strategy in the hands of a 22-year-old, you do want to pay attention to where these future consumers are going to live. And more and more, they’re living and playing digitally.

But there’s a social boom amongst the boomers, too

While boomers weren’t first-in, they’re also embracing the social sphere:

  • Social networking use was only 20 per cent in 2010 but is now 51 per cent amongst those 50-64
  • So, amongst the 50-64 set social has more than doubled

As Boomers and businesses become increasingly social, the opportunities for businesses providing social services will also increase. More and more businesses will want to incorporate social strategy in their marketing, communications and CRM initiatives. Businesses are forging development programs in an integrated strategy to reach and engage audiences faster and more cheaply.

Those who built it saw them come

Some companies saw the opportunity in the social world we now live in: a rapidly growing social cybersphere.

Forbes says:

  • 85 per cent of all businesses that have a dedicated social media platform as part of their marketing strategy reported an increase in their market exposure

Any resource that can deliver an increase in market exposure for a brand is a resource business can’t afford to ignore. Remember e-commerce?

Despite the readjustment of the tech bubble, leaders in e-commerce like Amazon have gone on to become enormously successful. Amazon has outpaced both the Nasdaq and the Dow Jones Industrials by over 12,000 per cent respectively since 1997 in stock appreciation (at time of writing). While we have to pay attention to valuations when they get stretched, we also have to understand that leaders will emerge, and a reluctance to embrace new social resources may leave companies stranded like a non-functional rover on Mars.

Keep it about sales, salespeople

At the end of the day, everyone, everyone is a sales person. We all project who we are onto the world. In the C-Suite, everyone has to be a salesperson. It’s inevitable. As someone develops professionally reaching into the higher levels of management, sales skills are an absolute. It doesn’t matter if this is in the private, government or non-profit sectors. Developing something out of nothing’s not a bad thing.

(More on sales to come.)

While some managers are afraid of the “social” in social media, others are embracing it. The enterprise advantage is not about wasting productivity, it’s about enabling it.

Coming soon:

SocRev: The social revolution and its potential to revolutionize the corporation

Would you have said no to Galileo?

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Source: eMarketer

Written by johnrondina

November 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm

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