As organizations mature, often they become silo’d into groups with similar charters but without a process to align their efforts. As a member of a team that is responsible for the overall strategy for of the company’s digital experience, this lack of alignment can cause inefficient resource allocation or worse yet, competing technology platforms. With speed of innovation in the digital space accelerating daily, the risk of misalignment increases exponentially.
In an effort to insure alignment across our organization, we recently led a cross organizational workshop to define and document our vision for what the digital presence of Cisco should become in the year 2017. We brought together over 45 subject matter experts, from over a dozen teams for a day and a half of interactive design thinking exercises. The exercises focused not on our internal processes, but on how our customers interact with our digital properties. The beauty of design thinking is that it breaks down personal bias in a team and focuses fanatically on the customer experience. By doing this, key themes were defined and agreed to across the teams.
We have all heard these key themes:
content is king
use of data to increase value to the customer
agility over complexity
We all had similar challenges and understood the need to align. Seems easy enough, right?In an organization as large as Cisco, collaboration is critical. In order to drive that collaboration and alignment across the many digital teams, we formed a structure that provided a forum for alignment while keeping governance over the vision that was defined.
We do this through:
commitment at the executive level
driving agreement of the vision thru a cross-functional steering committee
execution is driven through working groups aligned to specific aligned initiatives (such as analytics or partner experience)
The working groups (driving execution) are led by the organization closest to the effort, yet each has representation across several groups to insure alignment across all digital efforts. Each working group is then responsible to report progress to the executive level committees. We continue to build out and refine these processes as needed.
As the working groups have come back with their plans we have noticed the success of this effort was understanding that alignment is not the key issue, all the groups have similar requirements, expectations, KPI’s for success.
The true issue is a forum through which to drive the discussion in an agile fashion to align our digital vision. The expectation of failing fast and failing forward, understanding that the most exciting thing about the digital space is the pace of change and innovation. The journey is more rewarding than the destination, as the destination is always changing.
We all know about the importance of knowing your customer needs, and focusing on the digital journey. But all too often, we overlook the content that customer experiences — and how well it pays off the journey. A few months ago at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association conference, I shared five steps to tune the customer journey and the content needed to support it. Here are some lessons learned (and what you can do to get started).
1. Build out customer personas.
The first step is to bring your customer targets to life. Who are your customers and what do they care about? What are their key go-to sources for web, mobile and social? The key is to understand the roles these target buyers play and the interplay within the purchase process. At Cisco, we started with three target personas for our Data Center buyers and did a deep dive into careabouts for CEO, BDM and Technical Influencer roles. Read More »
Cloud, Cloud, Cloud and… Cloud!! There has been much justified excitement about the Cloud and the benefits that it can provide. XaaS is here to stay with everything from HR systems to CRMs launching multi-billion dollar transformations in the way business is done.
Within Cisco, we are in the middle of an exciting transformation of our own internal Digital services and platforms with the Cloud revolution as a backdrop. The work is exciting, and daunting, as it spans across multiple Communication and Marketing capabilities that will ultimately be consumed by our customers, partners and employees.
So, if things are going well, why put the effort in to changing it?
Jimit Arora has a nice summary in InformationWeek on some of the factors around successful Enterprise Cloud adoption. He points to looking at cloud through the “lens of agility, competitiveness, not cost” and giving people a “compelling reason” to step out of their comfort zone.
In our industry, sitting on your laurels results in quickly being passed. It’s critical for us to be constantly improving how we do things and Cloud is providing a major opportunity to do just that.
Are we there yet?
Cisco is examining the opportunity from a capabilities point of view with an eye towards consolidating and converging areas that exist for both internal and external use. The line between what’s inside and outside of a large Enterprise has been gradually fading since… well, since the advent of the internet. As we tick off each capability we want to enable, there are many examples where we are already ‘there’ and have been for awhile. For example, when Cisco acquired WebEx Communications in 2007, we quickly became their largest consumer of cloud-based Communication services and we remain one of WebEx’s top ‘customers’ by volume today. As a Cisco employee, I use the same service that our customers use and we use it both inside and outside the firewall without giving it a second thought.
Another area of where we are pretty much ‘there’, is with our video capability. Using both 3rd party and Cisco technologies like TelePresence, we are able to move video seamlessly to customers, partners and employees as needed. We demonstrated this capability in a dramatic way during the Cisco CloudVerse launch in 2011. We went so far as to combine a major internal event, our Company Meeting, with a live external broadcast to industry analysts and the press.
However, there are number capabilities that remain an opportunity for Cisco. One area where the improvements could be dramatic is in eliminating needless divisions between internal and external in the content management and delivery space. The lines between what goes to a customer, partner or employee should simply be a matter of policy and not a matter of digital capabilities or infrastructure.
There will certainly be cost savings around the re-use of internal content for external consumption, but the main benefit will once again be around agility. Imagine the possibilities of a simplified architecture where content and new innovative capabilities can be delivered simultaneously to anyone within the broader corporate ecosystem. Getting the right content, to the right person, just-in-time has long been the promise of Digital and that will be greatly accelerated by a converged, cloud-based communication architecture.
If you find yourself within a large Enterprise examining Cloud-based Digital Marketing and Communication capabilities from the IT or Business perspective, I would love to hear your thoughts on the opportunities and challenges in the space.
Trying to tell a story with a very technical product is challenging for many B2B brands. Many struggle to get their message across in a succinct and efficient way, but most of all, many of these brands struggle with creativity. Creativity is an essential component of effective marketing, and creativity was definitely the route Cisco took. We took a chance and actually humanized our network fabric family, the Network Convergence System (NCS). By incorporating user-owned videos with humorous scenarios, leveraging popular Vine celebrities, and making the NCS’ benefits visual, we were able to thoroughly tell its story and make it relatable to everyone – not just the technical crowd.
The NCS was designed to meet the demands of the Internet of Everything (IoE), Cisco’s flagship campaign defined as connecting people, processes, data and things. We needed to find a creative way to showcase the campaign’s key messages that made sense to the global audience as they were targeting many regions, including Latin America, Middle East, Europe, Asia-Pac and the United States. After sifting through a few dozen ideas and thousands of different humorous clips from around the world, we decided on the top three clips that resonated best with all the different countries. This is one of Read More »
I dare you not to communicate. Go ahead, I dare you. Try it. Try not to reach over to your smartphone. Try not to open a new e-mail. Try not to type a quick instant message. Try…
My point is you can’t not communicate. Yes, I realize the blaring double negative, but it’s true! Communication is innate to our being. It’s one of the many fascinating things that make us human. We communicate—all the time, every time, about everything.
This desire to communicate is no more apparent than in the workplace.
Let’s face it, we all have a lot of work to do that requires the minds of many talented people; and so we not only want to communicate, but we need to communicate. Whether you are setting up conference calls for team communication or rolling out a mass e-mail to inform your company of a major development, you have a message to share, you have something to say.
And while war room meetings, telephone conversations, written e-mails and newsletters are tried and true methods for getting your message out there, video proves to be one of the fastest growing communication platforms. In his 2014 recap of CES for The New York Times, Nick Bilton writes, “Ooyala, a mobile research firm that collects data on the viewing habits of 200 million online video watchers, reports video consumption on smartphones and tablets continued to rise rapidly through 2013.”
Even more compelling—100 million Internet users watch an online video every day according to Sarah Mincher’s blog for DigitalSherpa.com. It’s a no brainer—corporate video should be at the forefront of our communication strategy. Why? Because corporate video is efficient, both collaborative and interactive, and most importantly, it’s connective and engaging.
First and foremost, corporate video provides efficiency.
Take for example a major product launch. Let’s pretend you need to share with both customers and your employees new developments in your product offerings. Have a look at how Cisco promoted its latest ACI roll out:
You lock down a conference room large enough to cram a few hundred people inside to recap the key points of your announcement, but how do you get that message to people based in different parts of the world? Do you fly out to each country to deliver the same presentation? Seems costly. Do you schedule multiple sessions to accommodate everyone’s schedule? Seems time consuming. However, recording that session and making it available for your team to watch on their own time allows for a cost effective and efficient solution. The beauty of corporate video communication is its reach. Video knows no limits—whether your audience is small or large, local or international, readily available or challenging to schedule, a video can get your message to its intended target.
Furthermore, corporate video communication is collaborative and interactive.
It takes a lot of talented people to produce and green light a video. Rarely is corporate video the creation of a single visionary. Instead, it requires a team effort to create a unique concept, to plan a realistic execution, and to mold the final piece. Check out how Cisco University Careers highlights the Finance Rotation Program for career seekers:
The collaboration of content experts, producers, directors, editors, and many more improves the chances of getting your message across successfully. Your bases are better covered as multiple people view your video to provide insight and feedback that you may not have considered.
And in the off chance that your corporate video slightly missed the mark? No worries, your audience is going to tell you why it didn’t work and likely explain what they would have wished to see; because video communication is not only collaborative in making, but interactive in its distribution. Often, we share our corporate video communication on interactive platforms—think YouTube or internal websites—sites where people can leave comments, rate content, and provide feedback.
Sounds like a scary invitation for critique? No! Think of it as market research, audience analysis, metrics that will help you to better craft and hone your communication strategy.
Finally, corporate video is connective and engaging.
It connects people to people, to narratives, and to engaging discussions that they wouldn’t necessarily have access to in their ordinary workday. Watch how Cisco CEO John Chambers invites and welcomes thousands of attendees to Cisco Live!:
In fact, 75% of executives watch work related videos at least once per week according to DigitalSherpa.com. This is especially important for those major corporations where thousands of employees dispersed all over the world must find some way to stay connected to the heart of their company’s mission. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when it comes to our work, to focus on what we need to do to be successful as an individual, and to assume that everyone else is aware of our tasks. However, we are one of many, and corporate video helps to keep us accessible to one another.
I once had a client ask me if I’d ever seen our CEO in person. At first I thought she was joking, as I assumed everyone must bump into him at some point in their career. However, she further explained that she’d only seen him in videos, and like a ton of bricks I became hyper aware of the importance of corporate videos. How would some of the employees of a global corporation “see” their international colleagues, their CEO, and their executives without corporate video? I was reminded of the many communication opportunities corporate video provides employees as things like company-wide broadcasts or streamed conventions allow thousands to watch their leaders have discussions, introduce new strategies, celebrate accomplishments, and work through challenges. I began to wonder if a company as large as Cisco could maintain a sense of unity, pride, and success without the connectivity provided by corporate video?
Luckily, corporate video will continue to grow as employees and customers look for collaborative, interactive, engaging and efficient ways to connect people to their messages.
Ah, but at what cost you ask. We’ll tackle that issue in a future blog.