Further developing the Content Strategy

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It has been a fascinating process developing the councils first content strategy, the personal learning and development which I’ve had to do as well as helping others understand the benefits of what we are calling a content strategy has also been an interesting and rewarding challenge.

In an email conversation with Sarah Lay (my unofficial content strategy peer review person) we touched on the issue of whether the content strategy I am creating is actually what the content strategy community would recognise as one…we both agreed and concluded that it didn’t really matter, as long as it did the job!

We touched on the fact that in #localgov we are really getting to a point where a group of disciplines are coming together and depending on your organisation it is likely to approach it slightly differently.

The types of things the content strategy is informing, linking to and dependant on are (in no particular order):

  • Communications strategy
  • Engagement Strategy
  • ICT Strategy
  • Information Strategy
  • Access Strategy

It has replaced a traditional web strategy altogether in my mind as we recognise that the “web” as a platform is essentially how we will manage our ICT infrastructure.

So unpicking the old web strategy further, a new strategy which is the responsibility of my ICT colleagues is an Application Strategy – this is essentially the strategy that informs our delivery of online services.

In my informal consultation on the draft content strategy, it has become clear that:

a) everyone agreed with the spirit of the document but it relied on conversation and explanation to answer people’s questions as they weren’t found in the document < but this is what the process was intended to tease out.

b) I didn't clearly articulate the strategic direction and focused too much on the 2 year roadmap < people were actually more engaged in where we are going than I had anticipated.

c) people didn't understand some aspects of what it is being proposed and the full extent of how we would apply a global experience language < My view is that it will be a complete rule book covering our web domain and not just the visual design of it, it will also form a critical and core part of a future procurement and commissioning framework for web/digital stuff.

One of the benefits of developing a content strategy is that I don't feel we need a social media strategy now. If we get the content strategy correct then our use of social media platforms to increase the engagement and interaction with our content will naturally increase…this does not mean that our use of social media will simply go crazy…but more than we will focus on the needs of the content, where the audience is and how we connect our content with the audience…the logical conclusion is that it won't be on our website but in social spaces.

And it is this strategic direction which people are really supportive of and are really engaged with…I've got one more week of informal consultations then a period of refinement and amendments on my document (which I've already started) then the content strategy will be ready for formal sign off internally by our corporate leadership team (gulp).

The next few weeks are going to be interesting.

Maybe one of the reasons why “social” is scary to public sector folk

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the opportunities and challenges of all things social within my council and the wider public sector and wondering what it is that might be at the root of some of the fears or issues people have around embracing or adopting social within the mainstream operations of the organisation.

I’ve spoken to a number of people who have shared various reasons as to why they can’t possibly use social tool, but none of them really are actually “real reasons”, they are mainly born from alternative perspectives and a lack of awareness of what social is really about.

“It hasn’t got anything to do with technology” is what I often say and it usually helps the conversation along better than saying “Facebook has about 1/3 of the UK population so you better get a move on or you’ll be left behind”

What I’ve started to hear more of is that the thought of all staff having direct access to the public is quite a scary situation to suddenly jump too from perhaps a situation where only a limited few and those who actually understand how to deal with the public…yes we have to learn how to deal with the public before we can interact with them…

This isn’t an insurmountable challenge but you should really take stock and look to understand your local context and the short history of how some of your existing communications and customer access channels and technologies evolved. I think this may help you devise a strategy to how you can socialise the business without focusing on the technologies and tools.

For illustrative purpose your short history might go something like this:

In beginning your organisation only had reception areas and those staff were trained to work in those environments and you rarely got to phone an officer direct.

Once the telephone became more pervasive, cost-effective and mainstream you could continue to visit the reception areas but if you were unable to travel you might also check your local yellow pages or phone book and try one of the 100′s of phone numbers that emerged to contact the various departments. You were unlikely to get a “friendly” service if you got through to someone who had never previously been in a direct customer contact role…if you had dialled the wrong number or simply wanted to deal with more than one enquiry you were often asked to phone back on a different number.

You were essentially witnessing and experiencing the traditional hierarchy and structures that are now breaking down in local government.

Moving on…

After the phone became the default access channel – staff were often sent on customer service training to ensure that those who called got a consistent experience, not always but that was the intention.

Then email came along and this was initially used as an internal system for sending memos etc, but again once the use of emails became more commonplace and more pervasive we started publishing email addresses as a way to contact the council. This also happened to coincide with the emergence of very simple and narrowly focused websites (primarily tourism and visitor information based sites).

Now that email is an official contact channel, standards and training emerge to support those staff who have responsibility to respond…now these standards were different to the phone as the standards included things like acknowledge within 1 day respond within 3 days. This presented challenges to the staff who have worked a particular way for at least the previous 10-15 years plus without any major change to they way they do their work.

The website…

In local government terms the web really became a major channel between 2003-2005 when the government at the time embarked on the national eGovernment programme which among many other things had a target that all councils would have a website and that 100% of services were available online.

This was also the time when contact centre within councils became an official “channel” and the 100′s of numbers were rationalised into either one or at least a consolidated set of numbers to make it easier for the public to contact the council.

As a citizen or customer, you could access the council through a number of channels 24/7, 365 days a year – a major shift and something we should sit back and reflect on for a moment.

In my personal view, organisations could create effective websites without fundamentally impacting their organisational culture and I don’t believe that actually changes anything in the long-term.

Now to the last couple of years and the emergence of  social channels

A completely new approach to contact and the biggest thing is the impact and implication adopting social means to the organisation as a whole.

This means your whole business needs to be social and customer focused if anyone in your business can be contacted via social channels. It represents a flatter structure, one in which knowledge flows inside and outside your organisation seamlessly.

Going back to the comment about contacting anyone in the organisation so suddenly is quite scary for people, this is one of the reasons why it scares them. It challenges everything that know about their current role and job and that will change, in fact it will also change and that is also scary for most if not all people.

So it is worth taking a bit of time and thinking about how you might “sell” or “communicate” all things social within your organisation as there are people who do not want to change and will fight to keep things as they are now. We all know they won’t last or stand a chance but they believe they do…

 

GartnerSym 20:20 Vision

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My second session on Wednesday was more about the future, which is the kind of session i like as it gets my brain thinking and buzzing around with ideas and opportunities. The Session was called 20:20 vision  and the Gartner Analyst was Steve Prentice.

The format of this session was to look at where we are how we got here and then instead of making forecasts or predictions – Steve was going to suggest some projections.

These notes bounce around a bit as it wasn’t a standard session it was intended to stimulate thought and suggest a potential future.

The life cycle of a revolution

In the 1920s Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev described 1920s, the regular “S-shaped” cycles of technological innovation (each lasting 50 to 60 years) that drive the world economy – In 2003 Carlota Perez in 2004 produced “Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital” and built upon Kondratiev’s model and introduced 4 stages:

  1. eruption
  2. frenzy
    (1 & 2 are supply side innovation)
  3. synergy
  4. maturity
    (3 & 4 are demand side innovation)

Some key dates of our current revolution:

  • 15th November 1971 – Intel launches 4004 microprocessor
  • 12th August 1981 – IBM introduce the 5150 the IBM PC
  • 6 August 1991 – Web made available to the public
  • 10th January 2001  – wikipedia is created
  • August 2003 – Myspace goes live
  • 4 February 2004  – Facebook goes live
  • August 2004 – Google goes live with expanded offering
  • 23 April 2005 – you tube goes live
  • 21 March 2006 – twitter goes live

Projection – We won’t see any new technologies over the next 15 years – but we will see an increase in applications built upon existing technology that enable people to consume information and engage with stuff better and more efficiently

More stats

  • global ip traffic is doubling every 2 years
  • mobile traffic is doubling every year (games consoles, digital photo frames, tv’s fridges etc)
  • currently 60 billion smart devices

The internet is big and getting bigger – It is very hard to explain to people how big the web is – a trillion web pages – 250 million websites

Projection – It will take 8 years to get the remaining population of the world connected to the internet.  This is SO SIGNIFICANT you need to pause and consider your business model in this new context?

Device and Data Proliferation will be significant

15 petabytes of information every day – This is huge, in fact i can’t really imagine what all this data looks like, however some common references say that we produce more information in a day 1500 time greater than the contents of the library of congress which has 32 million books on 650 miles of bookshelves. again we produce more than that every day?

Just to give some context Steve said:

A book is a printed kindle  -  A library is a like a physical media centre

This did put a smile on my face, but also made me think that one day i’m sure we will actually have to explain stuff in this way!!

To get a sense of where we are going we need to understand the drivers:

Social
Simply put we are naturally social creatures:

  • 74% of people visit social networking site and remain on their for an average of 6 hours a month
  • 50% of facebook users logon everyday
  • 22% of online time is in social networks
  • 1 billion users across all social media

Practically no one makes a purchase decision without referencing either google or social networks very pervasive

We can now, as individuals build our own infrastructure online and pretty much for free.

Knowledge
The younger minded people of today (notice i write “minded”) often say “why do i need to know something if i can just ask google”  – however people have a naive assumption that what appears in google is the “truth”. Search results are also available in “klingon”!!

Entertainment and Recreation
Gaming is bigger than the movie industry
Average online gamers are 34 years old and core gamers play 48 hours per week?
Social gaming – farmville has more than 60 million active users – 100 million dollar business

What is interesting about this is almost at the same time i was in this session Gartner analyst Andrea DiMaio tweeted the following:

It is already starting to show in people’s thinking about Government and I’ve already posted some thoughts on gaming and government in my World of Govcraft posts:

Mobile

  • SMS 6.3 billion messages a day
  • 150 million mobile facebook users
  • more than 100% penetration in some countries
  • “to text” is now a verb
  • mobile data traffic is rising
  • for the first time in september 2010 mobile data traffic exceeded mobile voice traffic

Commerce
online transactions are growing
social gaming is a huge industry

is access to the web a basic human right and should it be free?

Net neutrality (wikipedia definition)
the power to control what a user can do on the internet

Interestingly Hollywood and China had shared agendas about controlling the web?

Looking forward – the dark side
The web is full of opinion, not facts
Can you distinguish the fact from fiction (if users are influenced by peers, maybe this will be an important issue to consider)
Do a search of your “company name” and the word “I hate” and see the results?

Looking forward- context and cloud

Taking advantage of location and time
Cloud is inevitable but not without risks

Resistance is futile – you WILL be assimilated, i’ve heard this before, but considering this was a future session, it really will be the future.

Enterprises are losing control – the outside is coming in – the walls are tumbling – consumers have choices and they are bringing them with them…wherever they go.

Questions

  • what new institutions will arise – what does a company look like?
  • what new business models will emerge
  • working practices – what does a career look like? portfolio working
  • social integration or tribalism
  • social innovation or technology innovation – how can we manage this effectively
  • does technology free us or enslave us -  we need downtime and we need to disconnect to get balance  “off the web is off life”
  • what is the role of government?
  • will the internet break apart and become the splinternet

Societal change despite constraints
issues – people, resources, geography
by 2025

  • 2.7 billion will face water shortages
  • 60% live in urban areas
  • 24% is over 65

Question: how will tech best serve a global population that is growing, aging and urbanised to levels never seen before?

People need to understand anthropology, social sciences, behavioural psychology to address the societal changes.

The session ended on a slide which spoke about TRUST,  a number of questions relating to this and how we should be considering these from a personal and business perspective. We all need to think about this question in a future which will clearly be very VERY different to what we see today.


GartnerSym – Social CRM The Next Generation of Customer Innovation

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My first session on Wednesday was about Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which I was looking forward to and it didn’t let me down, it was very interesting and highlighted a set of case studies where organisations have successfully used social media for customer relationships and where some had clearly failed to understand what was really going on with social media.

The Gartner analyst leading the session was Jim Davies who started by stating that very few organisations are executing Social CRM against a clearly thought-out social strategy that complements their overarching CRM strategy.

There is much confusion and uncertainty around the impact and scope for nurturing customer relationships through social channels, Jim highlighted 4 different approaches organisations take with regard to Social CRM:

  • Kamikaze – jumps in without a care or thought
    Jim highlighted the Nestle facebook example as an example of “fail”
  • Strategic – Focuses on business opportunities
  • Toe dipper – most people do this
    Curious and doesn’t want to miss out
  • In denial
    Doesn’t believe it will impact on them
The challenge for organisations who are in denial is that the next generation of talent will expect organisations to be socially aware.
Issues
What is social CRM, the following represents my view and interpretation on the areas that Jim outlined:

1) Internal -  “your people, your place”
Essentially this area is about looking at the internal opportunities that are there for you. This is an area which I personally feel will deliver great benefits not just around the learning but in supporting a wide range of internal business issues.

It is important to remember that unless your organisation has articulated business issues you will struggle to get buy in or support.
Some potential business issues you might hear which you could link to these tools are as follows: NB this list is an example and is not comprehensive. It also doesn’t imply any particular approach.

- people finder or skills finder (internal staff directory)
- project spaces and business collaboration
- real-time or near real-time internal communications (yes email is an option but that isn’t always collaborative)
- learning communities and peer support groups

2) External – “your people, other people, your place”

The second area that Gartner referred to was external but a platform that was managed by the organisation. An example of this would be where you host a community function for people to discuss and or support each other like a helpdesk community support function. In local government terms this is a challenge as we need to be careful about trying to create communities that we intend to be organic. So the difference here is that we are clear and open about what we would expect such a community to do or what broad outcomes we would expect.
Again some potential business issues you might here to link to would be as follows:

-  service improvement function
- service user support community
- shared communities of practice
- project spaces and collaboration with partners and other organisations

3) Public – “your people, other people, their place”

This aspect is the area that to be honest most people focus on, it includes facebook environments, twitter, youtube etc. This is where stuff (for most social media people) get interesting. However this is also where most fear resides and organisations are low in awareness around the possibilities, case studies, return on investment figures. BUT this is where the MOST VALUE will be gained to all.

Again some possible business issues (not comprehensive) you might come across which could be linked into these solutions or approaches – however i stress and i say this all the time now. Don’t focus on a single technology, do your homework, work out what will actually deliver the value in any given circumstance.

- connecting and engaging with communities
- civic debate and discussion
- trend spotting, listening to the social web community or as Gartner refer to it “the collective” can provide insights into what might be the next big opportunity or next big issue developing.
- people to people connections
- building relationships

Definitions
Jim outlined a set of definitions which is useful when thinking about “Social”:
Social systems — describe the context for the way all of us work. They emerge from the people, processes, tools, organisation, relationships, skills and information associated with a group of individuals. 

Social computing — describes an approach to IT whereby individuals tailor information-based collaborative technologies to support the way they work.

Social networking — describes the use of online services such as Facebook to share information and interact with others. It is a subset of social computing.

Social CRM – a business strategy that mutually benefits cloud based communities and the business by fostering engagement while generating opportunities for sales, marketing and customer service

One of the key aspects organisations and in particular CIO’s need to recognise is that you need to shift away from Controlling Relationships to Guiding Relationships.
I started to think at this point about all this shifting to “social” If organisations and enterprises invest, adopt and completely embrace social media then do they by definition become Social Enterprises?
One of the top reasons organisations have invested in Social Media is to improve Customer relations, So Jim reminded people of the Eight building blocks for CRM:
1 Vision
2 Strategy
3 Customer experience
4 Organisational collaboration
5 Processes
6 Information
7 Technology
8 Metrics
For me the key is to Socialise these aspects in order to truly embrace and adopt social CRM. This means the whole organisation.
Also organisations will need to understand the links between Social CRM and Knowledge Management. How do we capture community knowledge into organisational knowledge bases and if we take this further – When does social knowledge replace corporate knowledge?
Kim completed the session by looking at the Ultimate sales (engagement) cycle < I’ve added in engagement as i see this as a model for Local Government as well and the sales bit is merely conducting an online transaction.
  • Mobile
  • Presence
  • Social
  • Sales (engagement)

I need a bit more head space to explain this in a local government context so I’ll just leave the four headings there as placeholders.

Ted Talks – Teaching design for change: Emily Pilloton

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As if being at Gartner Symposium wasn’t enough for me this week, i’ve been checking out some Ted Talks this morning.

This particular talk is about Designer Emily Pilloton who moved to rural Bertie County, in North Carolina, to engage in a bold experiment of design-led community transformation. She’s teaching a design-build class called Studio H that engages high schoolers’ minds and bodies while bringing smart design and new opportunities to the poorest county in the state.

So for me, this made me think about 2 things

  1. Social Enterprise’s as a way to address local social, economic and environmental issues
  2. Big Society isn’t about the “Big Stuff”, it’s about doing little stuff in your community and making a real difference – In order to do good, you must first do something.