Taking your business through growth

I was recently invited to speak at a tech entrepreneurs’ lunch.

In the audience were entrepreneurs just starting out sitting alongside those a number of years in who had successfully navigated the stages of early growth to something more sustainable. We were also lucky enough to hear research presented by Cameron Research Group on key growth inflection points for SMBs.

There were a number of insights gained through the research and the discussions that followed:

1) Focus and commitment to success

Many had chosen to do their own thing not just because they were driven to harness an opportunity and to create a new future, but also because they liked the control it offered. Entrepreneurs felt they could live the life they wanted, and the more time spent on forging their own way, the less likely they could ever work for anyone else again. The result? Total focus on making their venture successful.

2) Managing growth through key inflection points

The way someone was able to run their business in the early days could only get them so far. That point seemed to be at 20-30 employees, at which point entrepreneurs needed to think about switching from a control model to an empowerment model, from an authoritative leadership style to more democratic style of leadership. This meant hiring differently, bringing in new systems, enhancing leadership capability, and formalizing HR and marketing resources and programs.

The next growth inflection point was at 70 employees, where the audience again recognized that what had been built to get them to that size would need to be revisited again, particularly in terms of systems, leadership and culture. The main concern each entrepreneur had was on how to keep and protect their company’s culture and the way they wanted their business to run when they could no longer be personally involved with, or connected to, every decision.  An emphasis on investing in building a strong culture based on values, trust and empowerment was key to those who were successful.

3) Four main growth pain points

This seemed to be universally agreed upon. To grow their businesses from startup to success, entrepreneurs needed to:

  • focus on cash flow,
  • scale recruitment and performance management
  • scale sales and marketing,
  • control costs.

Everyone agreed that all of these were challenging, especially when gearing up for sustainable and often accelerated growth. This has certainly been our experience at Digivizer and we have put much investment in each of these areas.

What was particularly insightful for me was the number of businesses that had realized they had to switch their marketing models from doing it themselves to recognizing they needed external solutions.

And it was especially interesting to hear that once businesses grew to that 20 employee point, they needed to save time and become better at seeing and understanding what was working for them. In particular, it was time for them to invest in solutions as it was important for them to easily and quickly know the ROI of marketing expenditure. They needed to be able to easily measure what was working for them, and to focus resources there ie do more of what works and fix or stop doing what was not working. Data matters and tools could help over manual options.

This resonated with us, given that at Digivizer our focus is on helping businesses create better experiences for their customers by knowing more about them and what they care about in order to help them generate leads and sales from digital.

All of which makes me even more focused and committed to rolling out our technology and solutions in an affordable way for every business.

This article is also published on LinkedIn.

Key Speaker for Government’s “Women in Global Business” Conference

Emma is invited to speak and present a case study as to the key ingredients to achieving global success at the July

Women in Global Business Speaker Series.

Here are some of the details being shared to promote the event:

Australian women will have the opportunity to hear from prominent women who have succeeded internationally at the Women in Global Business Speaker Series in July and August.The annual event held in states and territories across the country will feature speakers from a variety of industry sectors, providing businesswomen with practical advice on venturing overseas.

Women in Global Business national program manager, Cynthia Balogh, believe the event is beneficial in helping women overcome international barriers, particularly those in the Middle East.

“The Middle East presents quite specific barriers for women; some of the Asian and South American markets can do the same,” she said.

Balogh told Dynamic Export the event offers business owners the opportunity to learn and network with like-minded people.

“It’s an opportunity to see their role models, who have often had quite tough journeys to expand their businesses into those market places, women often learn from seeing role models. It helps them overcome some confidence issues, whether it’s personal confidence or confidence in business,” Balogh said.

Digivizer CEO, Emma Lo Russo, who will be speaking at the Sydney event can relate to the personal challenges women face when growing their business.

Lo Russo believes the event will provide shared mentorship and allow women to learn from real-life experiences.  “Having real honest examples of what works, is quite empowering. Instead of feeling like you have to navigate the unknown or have a goal and do it alone”.

Details & registration for the event can be found here :

Thursday 26th July 2012

8.30am – 12.30pm

NSW Trade and Investment Centre, Level 47, MLC Centre, 19 Martin Place, Sydney

I’ll post more about my key points to achieving international success here soon.

Commonwealth Bank – Women In Focus 3 day conference 2011

logo-commonwealth-bankEmma is a keynote speaker addressing the Commonwealth Bank’s 2nd Women in Focus conference, held at the prestigious Byron, at Byron Bay 31st August – 3 September, to approximately 100 key banking clients on “How the Social Web is changing the way we do business”.

Emma will be presenting latest research, different value and view points into the social web, some case studies and will lead a workshop session on how to leverage the social web across your entire go-to-market strategy and how to link your activities to specific business outcomes.

If you would like to know more about Emma’s presentation or would like Emma to speak at your next event, contact Emma at emma@emmalorusso.com.

To find out more about DIGIVIZER’s unique capabilties in delivering the social footprint of the people you know (your customers & prospects) and the people you wish you could know (new leads & influencers), visit www.digivizer.com.

To find out more about Commonwealth Bank’s Women in Focus Community, visit www.womeninfocus.com.au.

Growth in a connected world

Emma will be the key-note speaker at next week’s business conference “Growth in a connected world” where she will explore in greater detail the forces of change impacting your business, customer relationships and infrastructure.

Understand, Grow and Lead by embracing these changes.

Read Emma’s related post on Driving your own upturn

DETAILS OF CONFERENCE:

GROWTH IN A CONNECTED WORLD

Date:  Wednesday 23 March 2011

Time:  7.30am for an 8.00am start

Location:  Sydney Masonic Centre, Corner of Goulburn and Castlereagh Streets.

NB: Ample parking available close by.

RSVP:

Register your interest by emailing ned@greengoldit.com.au Or

Register online at www.ontrackaus.com Events Or

Call (02) 9261 5111 / (02) 9248 0162

Who Should Attend:

Business Owners, CEO’s, CFO’s, CIO’s and Senior Managers.

Event hosted by:

Green and Gold People to People & Ontrack Systems (AUS) Pty Ltd.

Supported by SAP and NETFIRA.

SAP Business One, is an affordable integrated business management solution for Small and mid-size businesses, turns your existing business assets into thriving resources.

NETFIRA is a B2B supply chain software solution for small and medium businesses, allowing them to buy and sell online without a need for the website or EDI.

Driving your own upturn

Screen shot 2011-03-17 at 9.20.12 PMThere is no more normal.  No back to normal. No creation of normal.  There is only readiness and the acceptance that certainty in business has been removed.

What is required is a nimbleness and a feeling of empowerment to quickly synthesize and work out the emerging opportunities and the dangers that can be found in the ever-changing markets, changing technology, and changing pressures that surround us.

An organization’s readiness to make decisions, to take risks, to learn along the way, to adjust, becomes the new standard. An organizational culture that supports, encourages, embraces and celebrates new information and innovation. One that equates change with opportunity and an exciting future.

Competition has never been greater.  Competition for talent, competition for resources, competition for your customers, competition to be heard and valued by the people who matter to you – your customers.

Choosing to compete on price is no win for anyone – you lose profits and someone, somewhere is likely to do it cheaper, followed by someone else offering it cheaper again.

Competing on first to market is also time-limited.  Someone will follow and offer the same, maybe more, maybe better and certainly followed by a number of others.

Competing with the product and services you serve today will not serve you tomorrow. They will be substituted by new, better, sexier and more personalized or smarter versions or something that supersedes them entirely.

To remain relevant and of interest to your customers, you can compete on one thing only – your ability to consistently evolve and differentiate and to create the best possible customer experience.

You need to implement a model that supports sustainable and continuous innovation.  To build an organization that supports innovation that supports the improvement of your customer’s lives in a way that is valued and meaningful to them.

And critically, an organization that allows your people to be free to innovate, to think, to create, to build, to serve, to deliver growth.

Who is going to be the hero?  The leader of change? The leader of innovation? The leader of your success and future? The leader of growth and upturn?

The answer is You. Yes, You.

You need to create the space in your organization to shine. You need to create space to allow your team to shine and enough to allow all your people to shine.

You need to get every non-differentiating system and innovation-roadblock, innovation-killer and time-wasting activity out of the way so you can spend time on:

  • Finding ways to introduce new products and services to existing customers.
  • Identifying new customer segments to target new, innovative, personalized and relevant offers.
  • Capitalizing on opportunities in emerging markets and enhancing your performance in existing markets.
  • Delighting your customer through their unique experience dealing with you

If you are not already finding this time, thinking or operating this way, then your time is already limited.  Either you will be replaced by others who are, or your organization’s ability to compete will be time-limited.

Tic toc tic toc.

Time is ticking.  Time for change. Time to do things differently. To think differently.

If you want growth and are under pressure to deliver numbers, then take ownership within your organization to drive your own upturn and success.

When One Business Just Isn’t Enough: How to run a portfolio Business

Emma was recently interviewed by Suzi Dafnis of Australian Businesswomen’s Network.  Here she introduces Emma to her network as:

“For many of us, running one business is more than enough. My guest today runs two businesses. Emma Lo Russo is an experienced innovator, organisation leader and marketer. She has brought together her experience gained from leadership positions across a broad spectrum of industries to two businesses.

Digivizer, a business that delivers the digital footprint of the people you know (i.e. your clients) and the people you should know. Digivizer looks at who you should connect to through social media and Validity Coaching, a collective of experienced executive coaches.

Emma joins me to talk about the pros and cons of running a portfolio business, that is, a collection of businesses. We look at:

  • Does running two businesses impact the effectiveness of one or more of the business?
  • How can a split focus help you get better business results?
  • What are the challenges of running more than one business, and how do you overcome them?

Enjoy this interview with Emma Lo Russo.”

http://www.abn.org.au/site/article/Video-When-One-Business-Just-Isnt-Enough-How-to-run-a-portfolio-business-Emma-Lo-Russo-interview

Be the change you want to see in the world…

"We are all connected" by Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org   I love this quote by Mahatma Gandhi.  And I try to live by this mantra.

Having lead an ASX-listed technology company as President & COO for 5 years, and after working 20 years in leadership positions for a range of corporates and agencies( working full time whilst raising my 3 kids), I took the big scary decision to step out last year and take a more entrepreneurial/self-starting career change.

After taking some time out to contemplate what next (travelling around Australia in a Winnebago with kids and husband), I decided to take my future into my own hands and do a number of things:

1)  Stay focussed on doing what I love and feel passionate about “helping people and businesses grow”, and to

2)  Find a new and different way to leverage my experience by playing to my strengths and passions

I now focus my time on sharing my experience and developing people through coaching, leadership development, workshops, speaking, writing and am now working to help businesses grow through harnessing the power and value of the web.

What drives me is my excitement about the increasing ubiquity of the web, faster processing and download power, interconnectivty and mobility through an ever-increasing range of electronic products and platforms, and how this has opened up the global market. 

The model introduced by Apple with the ipod and itunes was a real paradigm changer for all businesses. Now all companies are looking at how to take advantage of technology and how they can connect, interact, create lock-ins with their customers through more personalised, targeted products, services and support – all delivered through the web.

The web is undeniably becoming more social. Right now, people are meeting, finding, sharing, and connecting with one another through the social web – leaving behind digital footprints that are as unique as they are. As an example, a recent Nielsen study found that 75% of global consumers who go online access Social Networks and Blogs, and that there was a 66% increase in time spent on Social Networks/Blogs compared to last year. 

Australia’s social media audience is estimated at 9.9 million and 40% of online Australians are now interacting with companies via social networking sites, reinforcing notions that Australians are open to engaging with brands and companies online. And this type of penetration is typical of western countries and increasing at a rapid rate in the developing countries.

It is through this changing world and the increasing take up of what has become the social web that I co-founded DIGIVIZER together with my (very smart) partner Clinton Larson to help businesses bring sense to the billions of connections and conversations that are happening on the web each day.  To help them find what matters to them and to help them use it in ways that they can extract value and a return to their bottom line.

And so I now introduce DIGIVIZER to you… 

DIGIVIZER delivers to businesses the digital footprints of people you know and people you would like to know, providing insights into who and what people are saying and about things that matter to you. All presented in meaningful, people-centric, easy-to-understand and easy-to-access sets of data.

When integrated with your customer relationship, sales and marketing platforms and programs, DIGIVIZER gives you a new edge to enable more powerful personalization and targeting through all customer interactions – significantly increasing the return on your marketing and sales investment.

We are in the early stages of growing, balancing client requirements with the development of the base platform.  It is exciting, it is challenging, and it is unlocking some powerful results.

I truly believe this Social CRM is the future for businesses and as a very wise person said, that the personalization of our experience on the web will no doubt be viewed as the characterizing aspect of the current phase in the evolution of the web and the way we will do business.

And so, the journey continues.  And it all starts with making the changes you want to see in the world – starting with yourself and your world, then looking beyond. 

Exciting times for us all ahead!

Senior Women share the Benefits of Mentoring

women-and-businessRecently I was asked to support FITT’s Mentoring Program in the capacity of interviewer to help assess and match the right mentor to the mentee candidates. 

 FITT (Females in Information Technology and Telecommunications)  run a dedicated Mentor program connecting experienced and senior women with up and coming managers and executive women within the industry.  Mentors volunteer their time and range from CEOs, CIOs, COOs, Executive Directors and HR Directors to Senior Architects, Project Directors and Senior Business Analysts. These women are impressive – with significant achievements and scope of responsibilities and sit at the top of very well known top organizations in the technology and telecommunications space. 

Mentoring generally refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.  It provides an informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support relevant to work, career, or to personal or professional development.

With huge gender representation divides in boards and senior management across all industries, this program provides a structured support process for these high-achieving women who are already at the top, to share their journeys, their experience and tips for overcoming any barriers with others still on their rising journey.

Ultimately it helps demystify the path, approach and strategies taken and is designed to help address gender imbalance and the question of “how do we get more women to the top”.

Although the mentees obtain great insight and knowledge through the program, the Mentor’s who operate in this capacity, also see the benefits. 

Here are the main benefits of mentoring shared by these inspiring women:

  • Rewarding – each Mentor recognized the great satisfaction and reward gained at a personal level when helping someone else learn, grow and develop their potential, their confidence and their skills.  There were many “proud” stories shared of helping others through promotions, major projects and major decisions.  Many previous mentor relationships had developed into friendships and mutually-rewarding business relationships where both parties felt they had learned much from each other and enjoyed the connection and history they had shared together immensely.
  • Recognition – each Mentor could share a story of how someone had helped mentor them along their path to the top.  They recognized the value in having a powerful role-model, someone to share their experience and wisdom and connected this to their own learning and support at critical times in their own career progressions.  Mentoring was seen as a gift for helping them and it was now time for the gift to be passed on or as a way “to give back”.**
  • Growing – each Mentor sees mentoring as an opportunity to grow themselves.  By taking time out to help someone else, they recognized that they would benefit from self-reflection, from learning about someone new and their different experiences, from the language and skills you use as a Mentor.  Often a mentee will push the mentor with their questions, suggestions and probing. These relationships were seen to be mutually sharing and beneficial.
  • Motivation – each already had a passion for developing people, however mentoring others was seen to be motivating and re-invigorating to themselves.  It helped them push themselves, to revisit their own strategies and challenges, to recognize the strengths in others and in making them more aware of their own strengths.  It helped them revisit and retap their own drivers of what makes someone successful and more importantly what makes them successful.  By taking time out to share experience and knowledge, it unlocked additional wisdom and energy to be applied in new ways.

Many of these women shared their challenges of being a woman in IT.  It is wonderful to see so many of these women now providing real employment opportunities, creating flexible and supportive work cultures and in actively helping other women break down barriers and stereotypes. 

I enjoyed the interview process immensely and commend these women for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their experience, knowledge and wisdom to help promote the next generation of women leaders.

There are real benefits in Mentoring others – and this is not just for women.  So if you see an opportunity to Mentor others outside of your direct report lines, I encourage you to take the opportunity up. 

Enjoy the growth, rewards and motivation that will be yours.

     

** You may be interested in reading this article on returning the gift of experience. Read more>

The Power of People Publishing

An interesting day for media with three stories that illustrate some of the big areas of change that are already underway.

First we have the sad and terrible news of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti. 

Although media publishers were quick to pick it up, it was the virtual real-time publishing of images and details of the desolation and casualties that were published directly from the ground via Twitter (#Haiti, #Earthquake, #Help Haiti).  This early reporting was quickly picked up on blogs and Facebook posts around the world, spreading the news to significant numbers of people which only latter made its way to official news services.

Mobile Phones and the Japanese by CocoarmaniThis is not the first time real-time reporting has come from and been shared by individual people who have already been “qualified” as being valued and newsworthy by their followers.

We also had the move today (Sydney time) by Google who threatened to quit China by announcing it will challenge the strict Chinese censorship rules that ban discussion or viewing images on topics deemed sensitive and “vulgar” by the government. 

David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer of Google announced Google are “no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next  weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”

Although Google have announced they will work with the government to find a way to provide uncensored access to the web, it will be interesting to see whether a compromise can be found and who it will come from. 

Google are responding to the identification of a sophisticated attack late last year on the email accounts of Chinese human rights activists using its gmail service and indicated a further 20 other global organizations were also targeted.

Although Google do not have dominant market share for online search in China, they do carry significant weight in the political and business leadership sphere and thus it will be interesting to see what impact and potential influence it will have on business should Google choose ultimately to withdraw.

Finally today we have the move by Murdoch  to restructure The Australian by creating a separate corporate division for the national broadsheet which is its traditional method for distributing news.  This move is positioned by News Limited Chairman and Chief Executive John Hartigan to help it pursue “the significant expansion of our ambitions”.  This ambition is widely reported and on record by News Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch as desiring to charge for online news content this year.

It seems to me that the Haiti example proves yet again how powerful and how quickly news and images can be shared when people put their mind to it and when people feel passionate about something.

Improving technology will allow for increasingly faster spread of information and utilization via people, niche groups and SMEs.  The historical one-size-fits-all approach by business and media will not exist in the future because it will be too easy for others to enter the market and who can provide at no or low cost, a more personalized, intelligent, relevant alternate option.

And no matter how powerful a government may be, if enough people move against their policies and restrictions, the walls will fall.  Perhaps initially at great penalty and personal loss to individuals, but never enough to overcome the power of people’s collective free-will.  And this is where new media will have its place in connecting groups of like-minded people who can easily organize their own dissemination of information, protests and actions.

Google today is at a cross-road.  It will be interesting to see how they play their cards.  Will they look only to the revenue that can be generated, irrespective to the cost of basic human rights and freedom (the answer today has been yes they will)?  Or will they take a powerful leadership position that becomes the catalyst for wider change and pressures from international governments and organizations? 

The power of people via social media played a significant role in communicating Iranian dissent and protest around the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a time where the Iranian government barred journalists from reporting on “unauthorized demonstrations”.

As TIME’s Lev Grossman reported at the time “Twitter didn’t start the protests in Iran, nor did it make them possible. But there’s no question that it has emboldened the protesters, reinforced their conviction that they are not alone and engaged populations outside Iran in an emotional, immediate way that was never possible before. President Ahmadinejad — who happened to visit Russia on Tuesday — now finds himself in a court of world opinion where even Khrushchev never had to stand trial.”

And so we come back to Murdoch and the move for “The Australian” to begin charging for its online news. For them to do so News Limited will need to overcome the same news which will be available online from competing news publishing mediums including the ABC News.  Digital medium lends itself to quick, fast, easy-to-read communications so holding a position of people paying for “quality news reporting” will be difficult to defend.

They will also need to overcome the news that will be made available from the reporting and sharing from individuals and niche providers.

There is always an opportunity for businesses to charge for something that helps makes someone’s life easier, better and more wonderful than it was before and for as long as you are the only one able to provide it. 

Since this is not a new concept, I am assuming News Limited will explore ways in which they can charge for news that meets that criteria. 

However my bet, reinforced by today’s news and examples, is with people publishing.

The power of people publishing is the future of news.

The extinction of the technoignoramus

ROFLMAO tshirt from fortunecity“TITF” (pronounced tit-ef) my nearly 14-year old son said to me as I lectured him on his responsibilities. 

“What?”

 “TITF – you have Taken It Too Far” he said as he rolled his eyes and sighed again in frustration.

Well yes of course I have.  I used words not acronyms for one thing.

Within days of this experience my friend told me about her 17 year old daughter who looked deadpan at her as she completed a joke and said without a hint of sarcasm “lol”. Clearly using the abbreviated form of “laugh out loud” was more efficient then actually breaking into laughter or even smiling. 

Another friend told me of his son who had an intriguing t-shirt on – one with a picture of Chairman Mao on the front with a picture of Rolf Harris on the back and the word “ROFLMAO”.  Obvious to his son and his friends (and probably anyone under the age of 21) was the clever use of these images with a well-known instant messaging short-hand statement.  To the uninitiated, this stands for “Rolling On Floor Laughing My Arse Off”.

My six and ten year old daughter’s are learning mathematics through an online tool that not only provides relevant and prescribed homework activities, but allows them to “dual” with anyone at the same level who is online anywhere around the world. Assuming that they don’t want to just work to improve their personal best and total scores which allow them to move up levels and win prizes.  

If they play with their Nintendo DS’s together or with friends – they can link up, see each other virtually and send visual or text messages to one another. They learn through interactive smart boards and are encouraged to remember their security log-in and to email their “safe” friends at school.  Online G-rated games allow them to collect virtual points then shop for branded goods – often advertisements for the latest and greatest toy or gadget slyly marketed as movies. 

Don’t worry about spelling – they happily use and rely on auto-correct and voice recognition tools saving their minds for more creative pursuits.

And these are just a few examples of how, where and when technology forms part of their lives already at such a young stage.

It thus makes for an interesting time for any business who wants to appeal to and attract a younger audience – whether this is as potential customers or as employees.  Technology is deeply integrated in their lives and is considered as important to them as oxygen is to the rest of us.  This is regularly reinforced to me as I use the threat of technology bans as my preferred tool to generate positive behavioural change in my children. 

Technology is how they connect, communicate, conduct relationships, learn, evaluate, play, shop, design, share, promote, read, relax and even simply be a fan of their favourite band and brand.  They are able to read moods, decipher genuine and honest representations, find and filter quickly to relevant information and multi-task across multiple platforms.

They connect and share information through SMS, Instant Message, FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, Linked in, Bebo, Orkut, QQ, or their personal blogs.  They share information in groups and communities all of which take precedence over checking their 1 to 1 email (most applications are not smart enough for the way they wish to engage when you can reach 1 to many through other mediums). 

They scan a web page, click and watch the first seconds of a video to see if they will give you the next 10 seconds of their attention.  Communicating your message quickly and succinctly is no longer an art, it is a necessity to get cut-through and engage this generation. 

In business, we increasingly rely on technology to manage most aspects of our customer and employee relationships and engagements.  While there is much value in face to face daily transactions, I have seen first-hand the smartest and brightest employees sitting a metre apart instant messaging each other rather than engaging in verbal communication. 

It is not that they can’t verbalize, it is just they find instant messaging a much more efficient form of communication.  There is much to be said and done, and abbreviating it, using shortcuts or forums to share solutions easily changes the scale of reach from 1:1 to 1: infinite. And this is able to be done much more quickly and efficiently than ever before. 

Sharing knowledge and thoughts instantly in forums and in collaborative enterprise wiki’s now forms the basis for other’s future education.  It can act as a referencing and training tool for employees, partners and customers.  It is easy to see how it has more potency and is far more powerful than communicating individually and sequentially.  Collaborative documentation tools make easy task of finding, reviewing and tracking of content that can be accessed by many.

Many years ago when I joined a progressive technology company, I joked about how I was the “technoignoramus” of the company.  I knew if I didn’t actively seek to understand, embrace and use the latest technologies I was going to become irrelevant, maybe even extinct. 

Recognizing that there was a gap in my knowledge regarding emerging technologies, I made it my business (and eventually helped me lead the business) in determining how, when and what were the best ways to leverage these new technologies within our products and our enterprise solutions.

This resulted in a growing of the product development roadmap and changing from heavy self-developed software applications to those that were available and supported in the internet “cloud” – much more accessible and beneficial to our moving global workforce. We were able to reduce communication costs through the use of Skype and deliver extended customer training programs using video and having it supported through YouTube.  

Today I still continue to seek knowledge and look to participate in using new and available technologies in order to better understand them. I will play with them, use them, observe others using them, read about them and link to them. This has formed an important element in the role I now play in assisting other businesses and individuals understand where technology fits into their overall business, marketing and customer engagement strategy and see how best they can be leveraged.

With all of this technology around us, it still surprises me how many baby boomers and generation X’s still resist embracing new technology and social networking platforms. 

They cite discomfort about strangers knowing something about them or the arduous chore of sorting through meaningless messages to find those of interest or value.

The one I have seen many shudder at is the concept of “follower” on Twitter.  Somehow this is equated as “stalker” to some.  Certainly in business if you have a bunch of potential customers and partners interested enough to stalk you, this can only be a good thing, right?  They actually tell you who they are, tell you they want to follow you so that they can hear what you have to say, and to whom and what you recommend.   And you can choose what it is that you share with them.

At a personal level it is about understanding the different available platforms, the controls you have and the intent of the people you choose to “friend” or “follow” and who you allow to follow you. You need to be comfortable about what information you provide and finding your comfort levels about reading and seeing information about others.  One of the rules I follow is one I was taught many years ago – don’t ever write anything you would not wish to show your grandmother or would not want published or have attributed to you on the front page of the national papers.

 Advantages of using technology are many – especially in being able to stay abreast of your own personal data and of others that you are interested in, their life successes, major events and challenges.  I recently easily organized and could keep track of both a common interest group and a family event using Facebook. 

I am able to take my office everywhere with me on my iphone which can double as my entertainment tool allowing me to watch the latest TED video or listen to my favourite songs.  I can publish my own blog through WordPress (which has surprised and thrilled me at the size of my readership).  I am able to easily keep in close contact with global friends and colleagues.  I have been able to meet people and new businesses and have opened up many new relationships or rekindled older relationships that previously were either dead or dormant through using a combination of online networking and communication tools.    

There certainly can be no safety in the expression “technology is not for me” or “technology is too scary” or “I delegate technology to others”.  I fear for those who take confidence in standing behind the good old days with statements like “I believe in personal, intimate face to face interaction and in protecting my privacy and those of others”.  In the past fortnight I have personally heard each of these statements.  And unfortunately, none of them for the first time.

I know I don’t know everything.  In fact I am far behind many leading technology pioneers.  But I make it my business to become an early adopter and stay abreast of technology trends and changes. This helps me understand how they are utilized, where they work and fit in to the bigger personal, social, product roadmaps and commercial pictures.  I see this as part of a strategy to help me stay relevant now and into the future and I urge you to do the same.

To be able to engage and be relevant to the broader population, especially the generations that follow us, both you and I can not afford to be a technoignoramus. 

If you choose to stay closed to embracing and using new technologies, your days of being relevant or being heard or understood by others may in fact be numbered.