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It is great to be sharing the Hynes Convention Center in Boston with some of the top minds in social business collaboration at Enterprise 2.0 this year. As you can imagine, the conference is abuzz with community managers from around the world, and the speaker lineup is so remarkable, it is hard to choose which sessions to attend. That said, let me share what caught my attention yesterday:

Big themes:

1.     Social collaboration is about business results:

The first keynote was delivered by Nathan Bricklin, SVP, Head of Social Strategy for Wells Fargo’s Wholesale Services. Nathan took an interesting approach to his session – he used a series of tweets from speakers he met at E2 last year to make his points. For Nathan, social collaboration is about specific results – as it is for Richard Foo, Collaboration Director at Nike. Besides sporting a nice Nike workout outfit, Richard stressed that for him and his team at Nike, which did not exist just two years ago, social collaboration is about connecting people within the Nike network that don’t know each other so ideas can flow more freely. As Richard put it, social collaboration is about the journey – there is no finish line. You have to keep it simple; start small and focus on the ‘why’ for the end users. Richard pointed out it is important for companies to stay the course. He notes that social collaboration is experiencing the same adoption cycle that we saw with email – initially people were suspicious about the benefits – who would really want to send an email when you can pick up the phone and talk?  Now, email is part of our work DNA and, as everyone in the audience agreed, not going anywhere any time soon.

For a great in-depth review of the keynote sessions, read The Brainyard’s Enterprise 2.0 Keynoters: Time To Get In The Game by David Carr.

2.     Social business is becoming increasingly data-driven

You may have sensed that – but to see the social experiment run by Michael Wu, Principal Scientist of Analytics at Lithium Technologies, was truly eye opening. Michael started his session by explaining how companies need to think about influence and its six core elements. Those elements, shown below, include Credibility, Bandwidth, Relevance, Timing, Alignment, and Confidence.

Bryan Barringer

To identify influence, Richard asked the audience to start tweeting using #e2exp as the hashtag. He showed how using Social Network Analysis companies can identify social influencers, their networks, and ways to engage them – internally or externally to an enterprise. When you know who the people are, how they are connected, and their level of expertise, you can then do some interesting data visualization as show below:

Enterprise 2.0

It is about time we stopped being fooled by single measures of influence like Klout shows.  There is a science behind how we can identify and plot influence – we just need to know what questions we want to address in the first place. As to the social experiment that Michael ran?  Here’s what transpired at the end. An interesting note, R Wang is not physically present at E2 but he is right there, @rwang0 – yes, this is the power of social collaboration!

3.     Mobile and Gamification

The talk by Bryan Barringer, Manager of Enterprise Collaboration Implementation at FedEx Services, was fascinating (although I have to admit that I am not really keen on the term gamification). His main point is that gamification, when applied correctly, can lead to wide internal adoption and viral growth.

Bryan Barringer

Phillip Easter, Director of Mobile Apps at American Airlines, entertained by sharing a mobile vision for AA. He showed a video of their newest app in development – an app that let’s you communicate with customer service agents while on board without incurring additional costs. What can access to a live agent deliver? A delightful customer experience. You can imagine the reaction from the audience, including me – some people doubt that AA would staff their customer service adequately to be able to deliver a delightful experience but let’s not pick on our airline colleagues. After all, it is a tough business they are in.

Interesting E2 Afternoon Sessions:

–        Marketo on Revenue Performance Management: Phil Fernandez, the President and CEO of Marketo, is a speaker who commands your attention. His passion and conviction are clear – to be a successful social enterprise, companies need to finally shed the old, traditional ways of thinking about the sales funnel. Enter Revenue Performance Management – or RPM, the new and much needed approach to aligning sales and marketing to support the buyer’s journey to a sale. There is no doubt we need RPM to make marketing work – according to Marketo’s own research, mature companies see 55%+ of their sales come from marketing leads, and the least mature – 15%. To make RPM a reality, Marketo doesn’t just sell software – they kick off every new client with a 2-day session where they help companies define what a lead is. That common definition then informs how marketing automation is done and ensures close alignment between sales and marketing. So the question is – are you practicing RPM or are you still stuck in the old sales funnel thinking?

–        IDC on B2B social media: The big takeaway from the IDC session was that B2B buyers are still not influenced by social media. I disagree. B2B buyers may not be influenced by vendors’ social media, but B2B buyers are definitely using social means to make buying decisions. The IDC data was clear on that: B2B buyers say that social networks are influencing 18.6% of them, which, I have to agree, means that vendors are not successfully engaging the social buyers…yet. However, since 80% or more of B2B buyers are present in social networks, they visit business and tech blogs at least once a month (60%), and LinkedIn (45%), they have to be present to listen and learn.  It is true – the new B2B buyers are experts, they don’t want to be sold to but want to be offered value – they want to be educated.  So who is doing that successfully? Look no further than Marketo, which was not even on the map a few years ago.

Parting thought from Day Two: If you had to read just one point of voice on collaboration and social business, read Sameer Patel’s Will Social Meet Business blog post. Then ask yourself the question: are we still talking about just sharing, connecting, flows and streams or is there an innate understanding of what meaningful collaboration really entails?

Thanks, Lora, for offering your takeaways and thoughts on Day 2 of E2.