FoundersPlace #Podcast Episode 40 – Marketing and The Marketer in Today’s World with Michelle Killebrew

“There should be a healthy tension but it shouldn’t be a brawl between sales and marketing in terms of what is quality - what marketing is able to deliver.” ⠀ ⠀

Now leading new ventures marketing at PwC, Michelle has seen organizations flourish or flounder based on the interactions between organizational leaders. ⠀

A must for everyone unifying teams or building bridges within the organization. Marketing is not just pretty colors and fonts, but has moved to help unite companies in their strategy to connect with customers.⠀

Founders Place Podcast, Episode 40

Founders Place Podcast, Episode 40

Perspectives on Lead Management

Published in Marketing Tech Outlook on June 20, 2019.

By Michelle Killebrew, Vice President, Head of Marketing, PwC New Ventures

Lead Management can be complex in its own right. Try to explain it in simple, relatable terms to your counterparts that may not appreciate the nuance of what you’re trying to achieve, and the craft you have honed to make it a reality.

The thing about Lead Management is that it sounds easy; Marketing should create demand via campaigns, collect and manage leads and pass the warm and hot leads to Sales to close. Job done. In reality, Lead Management is a “thing”. Actually, it’s more than a thing in its own right, it is a functional specialty—and beyond that, it’s a technical specialty.

I am a multidisciplinary marketer, but I grew up in the performance world,navigating ecommerce and SaaS marketing analytics before going Enterprise and (literally) teaching teams and our agencies how to be performance-minded. I had a “quota.” That is to say, I had revenue objectives both direct and indirect, and so optimizing spend, conversion and revenue was part of how I measured my success.  Additionally, I’m a tinkerer, so good enough was never good enough. There is always a “how might we” question to test and improve around.

I’m assuming Marketing Tech Outlook readers are technical marketers with an appreciation for the meaning of the phrase “the art and science of marketing.” I will also assume that most of us have, as part of our day jobs, the task of explaining the reality around Lead Management: what it is, why it’s not easy, why it’s not foolproof and why it’s not “free.”

How to Describe Lead Management to Non-Marketing Stakeholders

According to Wikipedia, “Lead management is a set of methodologies, systems, and practices designed to generate new potential business clientele, generally operated through a variety of marketing campaigns or programs.” Which translates into the people, process and technology required to create demand with prospective buyers. It is the way by which Marketing sources prospects to Sales, including the data integrations and infrastructure to pass leads from one place to another. I believe it’s best to set the stage simply at first and then unpack the complexity in subsequent conversations that address the what and why.

Why Isn’t Lead Management Easy

Simply put: scale. If you want to close meaningful revenue, you have to engage with a lot of prospective clients in order to drive the volume needed to convert leads into buyers. Despite sophistication in targeting via digital channels, Marketing will attract far more prospects than those that will convert to actual clients. Maybe those leads represent real opportunities, or maybe they’re just researching options. Maybe they can’t afford it in this budget cycle, or maybe business priorities changed, and the project is no longer in scope. Regardless of the reason, only a small percentage of prospects that engage with marketing convert to client. I’ve found that explaining this to unknowing stakeholders in second-person story form helpful “Have you ever researched a software tool or even a gift idea and changed your mind…?”

Why Can’t Marketing Promise Results

Just like the stock market, there are many external factors at play. And just like the stock market, micro- and macroeconomics play into clients’ willingness to pay. Building a lead management system from the ground up is rife with uncertainty. The only way to validate actual performance for your offering, to your target audience, with your campaigns/messaging, your systems and your team is to actually put it in market. Benchmarking is a great place to start, so that you can make some educated performance goals, but you will never know until you know. Test and iterate. Build it, launch it, and optimize. While marketers by reputation aren’t known to be math experts, Marketing is math. Complex math, given the infinite number of external factors that weigh in. Lead management is literally a numbers game. One that those with the best conversion rates will win. Yes, there is consumer psychology that can and should be leveraged to boost performance, but at the end of the day, it is good to remind your stakeholders that people and markets are fickle.

Why Do You Need Extra  _________[People, Technology or Budget]

Companies that do lead management well have entire functional departments dedicated to this. We’re talking technical marketing staff, data science teams, fully integrated MarTech stacks and an understanding that the expense to optimize lead flow directly impacts gross margin and customer satisfaction (i.e. retained customers and therefore compound growth rates). If you’re just standing up lead management processes, it can be perceived to non-Marketers as super simple: “Can Marketing just sent customer lead lists in Excel to Sales?”

While you know that’s not the answer (because of issues with data privacy and personally identifiable information just to start), you may need to explain that website (CMS), marketing automation (MA), customer relationship management (CRM) systems, minimally, will need to have data integrations to make Lead Management work. If you get more sophisticated, landing pages, digital analytics, data lakes, and more come into the fold. People need to manage these integrations and ensure everything is running smoothly. Then you’ll need to determine (math; automated math) when a Lead is ready to talk with Sales; that’s Lead Scoring. Is a prospect the right profile? Is their behavior indicating that they are ready to have a Sales conversation? This automated math needs both strategy and a practical way to deploy it – again, at scale.

Lead Management can be complex in its own right. Try to explain it in simple, relatable terms to your counterparts that may not appreciate the nuance of what you’re trying to achieve, and the craft you have honed to make it a reality. And at the end of the day, show your results. No one can argue with the revenue that you can prove Marketing has delivered.


From food to software: why you need digital transformation

Interview published on the Skuid blog on August 17, 2017.

Michelle Killebrew knows a little something about digital transformation.

She led the strategy for the social business division at IBM, where she expanded the product line from 89 to more than 400 products to help the company’s clients understand and successfully undertake digital transformation. This covered everything from internal collaboration solutions and communication systems, talent management and analytics, digital marketing solutions, infrastructure security, and information technology (IT)—everything an organization needs to transform to meet the customers’ high digital expectations. In her time at IBM, she was passionate about helping to build that story so that IBM’s customers would know where to begin the daunting journey of enterprise transformation.

Not only has Killebrew won multiple awards as a senior marketing executive, she’s been a TEDx speaker and written numerous articles on the topic of digital marketing. I spoke with her over the phone about her newest role, trends we are seeing in digital transformation, and the growing role of citizen developers in the enterprise.

Skuid: Let’s talk about your background a little bit. What is your current role?

Michelle Killebrew: I’m the chief marketing officer for a food technology company called Nomiku. The founders of Nomiku created the first ever sous vide (precision cooking) immersion circulator for the home. The story goes that the founder was working at a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York and had a desire to bring home one of these sous-vide machines they keep in the kitchens of all of the top restaurants. But they were thousands of dollars and really bulky. While on the first date with her now husband, who’s an astro and plasma physicist, they created the first home immersion circulator. This was in 2010. They’ve since had two successful Kickstarters. They’ve been invited to the White House for an honored Maker Award. Now, we’ve just launched our third generation product.

It’s really exciting because it’s bringing Internet of Things technology into the kitchen. But their focus has always really been on the food; with a mission of “how can we eradicate every obstacle between you and a delicious plate of food?” Which is why we’ve just launched our food program, which is revolutionary because of its RFID inventory management capability as well as future opportunities around health data. For me, it’s a wonderful opportunity to be at the crossroads of health, food, and technology, and how digital transformation of all kinds is making its way into every aspect of our lives, including how we prepare our meals.

Before that, I was working in financial services—wealth management to be specific—where they found me to lead their digital marketing transformation. As you may know, digital transformation is especially challenging for the financial services industry at-large. Given the regulations that financial service organizations are bound to, keeping up with consumer expectations has been difficult.

For me, digital transformation is all about customer-centricity regardless of industry, and customer’s expectations are shifting dramatically towards instant, personal, seamless experiences — B2C and B2B.

While we’re talking about digital transformation, it’s a topic that’s on a lot of people’s minds—not just in the tech industry, but in established enterprises. I’m curious if, in your experience, you see digital transformation as a trend that’s been around for a few years and then in a few more years it may go away? Or do you think it’s something that’s here to stay?

It’s certainly not a trend. I think that things will continue to change as technology changes and consumer expectation changes. What digital transformation is today may not be what digital transformation is tomorrow. It’s interesting if we look back at the transformations that have happened in business history, whether it’s through, say the advent of the telegraph or just in terms of condensing that communication cycle. Or in our more recent history with e-business, when we introduced email and the internet to how we operate on a standard business practice perspective—digital transformation is yet another one of those moments in time where we are pivotally shifting to meet consumer expectations which is advancing rapidly.

Part of this, of course, is the fact that we’re all walking around with smartphones in our pockets. We expect to be able to access information, from corporate information to customer information, to any type of information, at the swipe of our fingers. Those expectations are shifting how businesses need to meet their customers’ demands. It’s easy for customers to switch to their competitors very easily with the next click of a mouse or the next touch of their fingers on their mobile phones. There is less loyalty for loyalty’s sake. You really have to win that loyalty from a customer, and integrate that customer experience across all of your channels, to make that experience seamless and desirable for your customers. There’s a really high expectation. I think that that’s really where the pain points of digital transformation are coming from.

We’ve obviously seen it this year in 2017. We’ve been talking about the retail industry shift over a number of years. But I think we saw the closure of 2,000 retail stores this year. We’re starting to see, just now, that it’s impacting areas that I’m certainly focused on with food and technology. Especially with the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon and some of the other food and technology integrations, with people ordering their groceries online. I think that in other industries, some of this change has been happening a little bit less visibly than perhaps retail. But it’s really coming to the foreground in terms of customer expectations and how they pivot their companies to meet those expectations.

How do you see digital transformation affecting the way employees use technology within the enterprise?

Well, similarly to consumers, employees have high expectations from their employers as well. They expect that they’ve now been groomed with a technology experience. Think about your Apple experience and your iPhone. If you go into an enterprise and you’re still leaning in to lengthy, archaic database systems to get your work done, it’s frustrating. You really don’t have the patience for it from a productivity perspective, especially when you’ve got this “Apple” experience for your personal life. We’ve seen this extensively in enterprise technology; just the expectations of employees with how they’re able to communicate, whether it’s their email systems or their instant messaging systems, how they’re able to collaborate in real time. Document sharing, especially over locations, because you don’t often need to be in the same location. How can you bring those collaboration solutions into a ubiquitous format so that you can collaborate with your colleagues all over the globe?

It’s certainly something that’s just part of that social business category, the solutions for employee empowerment and collaboration. Ultimately, if your employees aren’t happy, your customers will not be happy because your customers are being served by your employees. They’re the frontline of your brand expression and that customer experience. I think over the last several years, digital transformation has really brought home the importance of employee engagement and meeting the needs for their technology requirements. And making sure that the work they are doing is fulfilling and that they’ve got those growth paths. Because it certainly impacts the bottom line.

Do you feel digital transformation is a luxury, or a necessity? And is it strictly for larger, more established enterprises? Or do you feel that’s something that even smaller companies can achieve?

I think it’s for survival. All companies will need to address it. It’s actually probably more difficult for a large company because they’ve got established systems and databases. You really have to think through your data flow and how your systems and processes and people are actually speaking to each other in effective ways to embrace new ways of doing things. For small companies, though, it may be taken for granted that they don’t need to worry about it. But that’s not true. We see this even, say, with small, local restaurants that need to adopt food delivery. Whether it’s on a Grubhub or an Eat24, customers want to be able to either order their food and have it ready for them to pick up immediately, or have it delivered straight to their door. These are just customer behaviors that small businesses need to adapt to as well. Just really being accessible to their clients and thinking through how their clients want to be able to engage with them for communication or for services. That’s why there is a huge market for meal delivery services, like a Blue Apron our our Nomiku Sous Chef Meals, consumers preferences have shifted. They’re extremely time constrained, but want to know what’s in their food, where it came from and have it ready-to-eat on their terms.

Is it something that should always be led by sales and marketing teams? Or, is it something that IT is starting to lead the charge on?

We’ve seen industry-wide that Marketers have really carried the torch. But that’s because they’re customer-facing, and the requisite to change has really been born by the customers’ expectations. That said, for digital transformation to effectively stick within an organization and to be carried-off successfully, it really needs to happen collaboratively between all of the departments. There may be aspects of digital transformation that may be explicit to the department.

Thinking through IT, for instance—it may be restructuring the database or bringing on different technical solutions. However, all of the departments need to collaborate to make sure that they’re not transforming in the wrong directions, that their transformation is happening in a synchronized fashion, so that it truly becomes just as effective across the organization, and that information is flowing. Because the customer experience traverses all departments. Your customer doesn’t care that your call center’s on one system and your email system may be on another. They just know that they’re speaking with you as a brand and want to be able to have their problem resolved as quickly as possible. It doesn’t matter which department spearheads the initiative. It needs to be collaborative between the different departments. There needs to be a clear vision as to what digital transformation means for that particular organization, milestones and roadmaps for how we’re going to get there. Then a real understanding that legacy key performance indicators (KPIs) and measurements of success of before may not be the same KPIs that you need to measure in the future.

If you’re operating differently and you’re then optimizing how that engagement may be expressed, you need to look at a different set of optimized KPIs to reach that goal. And then look at your foundational KPIs and make sure that you’re really focusing on profit and growth margin, if that’s where you are in your digital transformation. Or, if you’re trying to really protect and grow market share, and you have a longer-term strategy to survive the digital transformation and then focus on growth and profit at a later date. That’s one thing that I think is really challenging is that you’re going through and changing systems and practices. But a lot of the reporting and how business has been run and measured in years past needs to be shifted as part of that transformation.

What’s the role of citizen developers when it comes to digital transformation and enterprise technology?

It’s an interesting question. I think the concept of the citizen developer in every single department outside of IT is going to be standard. We’re going to grow into that whether it’s developing marketing apps or HR apps. We can’t operate in waterfall anymore, right? Everything has to be agile. For everything to be agile, you’re going to have a lot more of this pod-style development where you’re going to be able to iterate fast and test it. And then once it proves that it’s worth expanding upon, bring that into a more formalized development process. Because that’s how we’re going to be able to evolve in a very competitive digital transformation world where everybody’s trying to figure it out. Nobody’s written the guidebook because everybody’s going through it together. Quite honestly, that guidebook is going to look different for each organization.

That said, I think that we need to be mindful of not going rogue. As we know, in today’s technical and digital world that we live in, cybersecurity is one of our biggest concerns. We just need to be very mindful that while we may be trying to iterate and develop very quickly, that we have really robust sets of security regulations, especially around customer data or employee data, and to be mindful of the potential risks. I certainly think that the citizen developer is going to be the core to how we reorganize our teams and how we function as we go through this transformation and into the future. But the risk right now is that we are shifting so quickly that we need just to be very mindful of the potential risks that may come along with that.

Dreamforce is coming up in November. Since you live in San Francisco, is it a conference you usually attend? Will we be seeing you there this year?

I’ve been in the lucky position of being able to attend a lot of the satellite events over the years, which has been great for me. I still feel like I’m connected to the community but not necessarily in the throes of the conference itself. The great thing about Dreamforce and being at the amazing event that it has become—and quite honestly it’s truly remarkable, the production level of the event that it’s become …I don’t know how they pull it off—is that there are so many ways to participate in that content, even if you’re not here. People are syndicating or writing a perspective or bringing video live from the event floor. Whether you’re able to make it or not, it’s a wonderful place to bring this whole concept of digital together and get some great minds and hear some perspectives. I’m looking forward to see what the biggest news is this year!

Charlie Moss, Senior Copywriter

Charlie Moss has written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Week, Slate, MOJO, VICE and other publications. He has a passion for comic books, Star Wars, and The Beatles.

Redefining Engagement to Understand the Future of Marketing

Published in ClickZ on July 15, 2015.

Media and technology are continuing to merge providing business opportunities that will engage customers in new ways.

Digital marketing transformation is occurring within enterprise companies across the globe as they seek to better understand their stakeholders who have infinitely greater control. This is not new, we knew this shift to the empowered customer has been happening for years, but it seems to have reached a tipping point.

Businesses of all sizes are (truly) embracing the concept of customer centricity and understanding that marketing is no longer a department, because everyone (customers and employees alike) has a voice that can be amplified through social and mobile channels. Every interaction with a customer is part of their experience with your brand. It is why companies are focusing on employee engagement now more than ever - employees are the face of the company to the customer.

Effectively tackling customer engagement today can certainly be overwhelming. Look at this list of over 2,000 marketing technology vendors that's Scott Brinker has compiled.

Above: The Marketing Technology Landscape, January 2015.
Image Credit: Scott Brinker/

And while at VentureBeat's GrowthBeat Summit in Boston last month, Brinker pointedly called out that "the tech is a distraction," but the fact that marketing is changing "in fundamental ways" is what is driving the landscape so radically. We now need to weave a company’s storytelling into digital experience – and digital itself is changing.

Internet-of-Things (IoT) is coming online rapidly. "IoT provides a new channel to reach customers through devices and interaction points", with Goldman Sachs predicting that IoT has the potential to connect 28 billion "things" to the Internet by 2020, ranging from bracelets to cars," says Cynthya Peranandam. This is providing business opportunities to create new revenue streams by effectively engaging customers in new ways.

But let's take a look at some of the near-term changes in the space. LUMA Partners has forecast the top 5 trends for 2015 and beyond are:

  • Programmatic
  • Mobile
  • Omnichannel/personalization
  • Identity
  • Convergent TV

I encourage you to check out LUMA's "State of Digital Media 2015" presentation to understand these trends in detail and how media and technology continue to merge. Review it alongside Mary Meeker's "2015 Internet Trends" report for a full view into current and future state of how we will engage with customers and each other. I find it helpful to stay informed of these trends as they will quickly be upon us to develop strategic engagement strategies as part of our ever-evolving marketing plans.

We live in exciting times and I can't wait to see the incredible marketing that is created on and from these new insights and platforms!

Is Social Technology Making us More or Less Human?

Show Recap

Michelle Killebrew is a “social optimist.” In this episode of The Social Network Show, she speaks with listeners about her conviction that social technology is helping us be more human, rather than less, as many fear.

Ms. Killebrew leads customer-centered marketing strategy for Social Business at IBM. Since earning a BS in Economics at Santa Clara University in the heart of Silicon Valley, Michelle has worked in IBM’s Enterprise Marketing Management division, thoroughly integrating Coremetrics analytics into campaigns. She then headed up IBM’s World Wide go-to-market and demand generation organization in the Smarter Commerce initiative. Now she is refining the definition of social business and creating research-based content to guide businesses in embracing it.

Together Michelle and Dr. J discuss whether engagement with online communication seal us off from genuine face-to-face relationships. Whether we are inclined toward optimism or skepticism, it is important to realize that technology can be used for good or ill. Public engagement in debate and analysis of the issues involved, such as privacy, security, social skills, and human empathy, is crucial, while apathy and defeatism is a worse enemy than any of the threats technology presents.

Michelle Killebrew’s talk on this subject, delivered at TEDx, University of Nevada in Reno, can be watched on YouTube and you can visit her website to learn more about Michelle.

Michelle Killebrew is passionate about marketing, especially innovative online marketing strategies that deliver a superior brand experience – from initial acquisition through to loyal customer – and increase growth and profitability. She currently leads the go-to-market strategy for IBM Social Business, where her team focuses on messaging and solutions that define social business and demonstrate how organizations can embrace this next information revolution in the workforce. Previously, she headed up the worldwide go-to-market and revenue-bearing demand generation campaign strategy for IBM’s new Smarter Commerce initiative, where her team was responsible for marketing B2B/commerce and enterprise marketing management solutions to meet the needs of the empowered customer. Michelle has over 15 years of high-tech marketing and holds a B.S. in Economics from Santa Clara University.

You can connect with Michelle on LinkedIn and Twitter, and read her recent articles on ClickZ.

Jane Karwoski, PhD

Dr. Jane Belland Karwoski is Chief Science Officer of Social Network Intermedia and The Social Network Association as well as the lead host of The Social Network Show. She holds a doctoral degree in experimental psychology and dedicated her early research efforts to combining social, cognitive and health psychology as they relate to the influence of key opinion leaders in spreading best practices.Prior to the availability of formal online social networking tools, Jane developed Genomicus Americus, an e-newsletter connecting North American and South American social scientists studying genetic and genomic issues. She has been a Research Assistant at the Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (Cardiff, South Wales), an ORISE Fellow with the National Center on Birth Defects (CDC, Atlanta, GA), and a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Center for the Study of Healthcare Behavior (VA of Greater Los Angeles/RAND Health/UCLA). She has held adjunct professor positions in the psychology departments of The University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Excelsior College; and Drexel University.

The Social Business Frontier: Randal Ries on Measuring Progress

Published on the IBM Social Business Insights Blog on April 30, 2015.

“The Social Business Frontier” is a video blog series consisting of a number of short interviews taking a deeper look inside the IBM Research Labs to explore the groundbreaking and innovative social analytics research that's redefining the future of social business. 

In the fifth and final episode of The Social Business Frontier we speak to Randal Ries, IBM Senior Research Analyst, about how IBM is providing an example for businesses to measure the progress of their social business journey. A key aspect of an organization’s transformation into a social business is culture change. In order to measure culture it’s necessary to rely on traditional research methods. It’s Randal and team’s mission to understand employees’ attitudes and behaviors toward working socially. To do this they’ve developed a survey that measures different aspects of a social workplace. Their strategy helped them understand how employees felt about the value of working socially, how their management was embracing social and if there was enough education on how to work socially. Listen in to hear Ries explain how these results helped IBM understand where it is in its social transformation journey and how it can continue to grow as a social business.

Social Business: Shifting From Noun to Verb

Published in ClickZ on March 17, 2015.

Increasingly, businesses need to embrace social strategies in order to succeed in the digital world.

The meaning of the term "social business" needs to and is evolving from being a thing, an end-state, a noun to an action, a methodology, a practice…a verb. The idea that collaboration technology allows us to connect with one another and share ideas is wonderful, but there are fundamental strategies that are even more important.

In 2014, the IBM Social Business Category Management team joined forces with The Economist Insight Unit (EIU) to uncover how different thought leaders in a variety of industries across the globe are enabling social business in their organizations. Leadership driving social business change is diverse — in some cases sprouting up from management systems, in others from customer engagement strategies — but in all instances focused on true people-centric engagement.

The social business phenomenon isn’t just about tweeting and likes – it’s about something far more powerful. As Bryan Kramer explained in his book: "There is No B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human: #H2H" businesses are starting to behave and sound like real people dealing with other people, rather than "business" to "consumer."

We are at a unique point in time with the concepts of social business truly starting to gain a wider foothold, and as such we see companies at various points in the maturity curve for adopting social principles. They have reached their current state by taking varied paths, and yet these pioneers have one main thing in common: action. They are actively seeking information, methods, and practices that can harness the best of the people inside and outside of the organization. These social business leaders are allowing people to share their stories and forge relationships with each other and the brand – and as change agents, they’re asking the tough questions to push their organizations out of "business-as-usual."

"The first question we had to ask ourselves is, 'Can a bank be a social business?'" a Toronto-based bank’s vice president of social media and digital marketing said at a New York conference last year. "We’re a heavily regulated industry, and we take a very conservative approach."

The study was launched publically about 10 months ago, and beyond the findings of the study itself, we have reflected on the process undertaken to conduct and drive awareness of the study, and have learned some details about the process itself. This effort was social from the start, when we leveraged social media to request nominations for social business leaders in one of five categories: Visionaries, Strategic Thinkers, Culture Shapers, Storytellers, and 'Fully Social' (Adaptive, Open, Entrepreneurial). After the advisory board finished the task of narrowing to 25 leaders and the campaign was launched, we went back to social media.

Now, the beauty of highlighting social business leaders is that they have large networks of followers, so with a social plan and content (blogs, video, memes, and more) the campaign took off.

I love when it works out that the message is the medium and vice-versa. In this case leveraging social media to reach social business leaders through a community-based nomination process that then was able to be shared and amplified through a strategic social campaign. During the campaign promoting the study we featured each of the honorees for a week, which gave us content for 25 weeks to use in our newsroom and our employee evangelism - leveraging their profile videos, creating social tiles, and writing blogs to support the leaders' various social business successes. You can see more about what we learned behind the scenes here.

Top 5 Social Business Leaders From the 25 Leaders Named in the Study

Scott Monty
Former chief of global digital communications, Ford Motor Co.
MAKING MESSENGERS: Using old values to make new connections

B. Bonin Bough
Vice-president of global media and consumer engagement, Mondelez International
FUTURE FACING: Embracing the ethos of a start-up

Gilberto Garcia
Director of innovation, Cemex
SHIFT WORK: Making communication simple within a global enterprise

Marisa Thalberg
Vice-president for corporate digital marketing, Estée Lauder
ONLY CONNECT: Using social causes to connect with customers

Chris Laping
Senior vice-president for business transformation, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
COMMUN(ICATE): Giving employees a sense of purpose and ownership

Thanks again to our advisory board for selecting such a varied example of inspiring social business leaders: Brian Solis, Cheryl Burgess, Lisa Gansky, Nick Blunden, Maria Winans and my special thanks to Maria Huntalas for leading the project.

People-Centric Engagement through Social Technology

Published on the IBM Social Business Insights Blog on March 10, 2015.

There is no doubt that the future is upon us and the rate of change we experience in technology and its impact on our daily lives are advancing rapidly. Technology has made it possible for us to connect, and now social media has made it possible to do it in a more organic, human way. Facebook and LinkedIn have been around for over a decade and Twitter almost seven years. Together, they’ve fundamentally changed how we engage with each other online – and opaque social technology like Snapchat and Secret are the next evolution in this area.

Millennials who grew up in a social world are entering the workforce and becoming active citizens. What happens next? Social business.

Social business is the next step in the evolutionary process in the day-to-day functions of digitally enabled organizations. Much in the same way that the Internet revolutionized how we all work in the era of e-business; social processes, technology, and mindsets will revolutionize how people in organizations connect, collaborate, and share knowledge. 

With and despite social and other technological megatrends changing how we live our lives, how can we stay focused on being more people-centric—more human?

I share my perspectives in this TEDxUniversityofNevada talk.

The answer is as simple as it is complex. Because of advances in social, mobile and digital communication channels, society has the ability to share ideas quickly and the opportunity to build and iterate off the ideas of others. The more data we create—and we are creating exponentially more data each year—the more human the message must be in order to garner our precious attention.

In order for messages to resonate, they need to be relevant to the individual, which is forcing us to embrace the ancient art of storytelling and bringing the importance of relationship and empathy to the foreground. Information has been democratized.