ben-kayFollowing yesterday’s announcement that Christophe Langlois from Visible Banking is joining the social business team at IBM, I am delighted to announce that Ben Kay, who was most recently head of social and digital strategy at EE is also joining the team next week.

Ben and I have known each other for some time, and he shares my passion for social business.  What I am excited about is having Ben in the team along with his 15 years of experience inside mobile operators Orange, EE and Three.

With the addition of Ben and Christophe to the team, alongside social customer care thought leaders such as Guy Stephens, IBM is offering an “A-Team” to clients wanting to move from social media to social business.

You can watch Ben explain why he decided to join IBM in a short video we shot at the Hospital Club.

I’m really excited about having Ben on the team from next week and I know there are a number of our clients already looking to leverage his wealth of practical social business experience.

You can find Ben on Twitter @Benjamin_Kay and he blogs here.

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christopheI am delighted to announce that Christophe Langlois, Founder of is joining IBM Interactive Experience next week in our European Social Business team. I have known Christophe personally for a number of years, and he is someone I have been trying to hire into IBM for a while.

Christophe is already well known to many London Calling readers and I am sure you will agree that this is a key hire for IBM to grow our social business consulting practice here in Europe.

While Christophe and I met in a Starbucks in 2009 when I was with Visible Technologies, we actually met again more recently in a Starbucks, via social media.

The story is that one Saturday earlier this year I was in my local Starbucks in Kensington, and had checked in via Foursquare. Christophe was in the area and saw my check-in, and walked past the store where I was sitting at the front next to the window. We saw each other and shared a coffee, and now he’s joining big blue – social in action!

While Christophe is best known for Visible Banking, he started his career in Banking, with Lloyds TSB, Societe Generale, Accuity, and Swift, and over the last 7 years, he has built Visible Banking to become the definitive resource for social media related to financial services.

He speaks regularly at financial services conferences, something I am delighted will continue in his role at IBM where he will be helping our key financial services clients better understand the power of social.

Listen to Christophe explain in his own words why he is joining IBM in a short video we shot at the Hospital Club.


His website is probably the world’s “go-to” site on financial social media information – I encourage you to have a look and also welcome Christophe to IBM from next week.

Christophe is one of two key hires I have recruited into IBM, and I’ll introduce our second key hire tomorrow – stay tuned!

You can also read Christophe’s own blog post on his announcement here, where he sums up his news in the following sentence:

“All those reasons make me believe that this new chapter of my professional life is bound to become my most challenging, most exciting and most fulfilling experience yet.”


Christophe’s social profiles can be found below, and if you’re someone in the financial services industry, you need to follow him.

LinkedIn profile
Twitter: @Visible_Banking

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andrew-presenting-squareI have been working in “social” for some time. I worked out recently that I was “blogging” before it was even called blogging!

The @Forum section of my personal website (seen here in an snapshot from March 2001) was providing my views on the new digital economy some time ago.

Back in 2009, I joined Visible Technologies in London, and as many know I was the CEO of Kred from 2011 – 2013. This was the formal part of my “social media” career where I provided tools and advice to blue chip clients on how to measure and manage their social media presence.

My move to IBM in October 2013 was a deliberate shift from social media to social business, and it is important to explain the difference.

I define a social business in the following way…

A social business is an organization
whose culture and systems
encourage networks of people
to create business value

Note the words I have highlighted: culture – people – business value. No mention of fans, followers, likes, Facebook or Twitter – just real business value.

This what my C-Suite clients want to hear. When anyone mentions social, they immediately think Facebook and Twitter and the conversation and the preconceptions become those related to social media and not social business.

You can see me explain my shift towards social business in the video below, shot by the Drum as I spoke with Jen Faull while we drove around the streets of London in the back of a black cab.

So back to the title of this post – why am I now betting my career on social business and not social media?

I passionately believe that the future of social now lies in companies that realise they need to become a social business and not just “play” with social.

I am now attending meetings where clients have specifically asked me to present to them on social collaboration.

Social collaboration is where internal tools such as IBM Connections, Yammer, Chatter and Jive are used to connect and enhance companies.  For me, internal collaboration is the new way of working, and in the future your value to an organisation won’t be what you know, it will be what you share.

Before I joined IBM, I posted some lengthy reviews on a report from my good friend Brian Solis at Altimeter group on “the evolution of social business”, and it was this report that absolutely convinced me that the future of social was not in the “media” part, but the “business part”.

The opportunity for those companies that become a true social business are way beyond having 1 million likes on Facebook.

A social business uses social to hire and retain the right people, it uses social to ensure that complaints on social business get to the right department.

A social business doesn’t rely on email, they collaborate in real time and share the knowledge of the whole company with each other.

A social business knows instantly how to find subject matter experts – because they make themselves easy to find.

Becoming a social business is not easy though. Far beyond simply putting up a Twitter page, buying a social media monitoring tool and having a social media command centre, the move to becoming a social business involves a significant culture change.

One of the attractions of joining IBM is that we really do “eat our own cooking” when it comes to social business and the culture changes.  Every day I see the impact of how being a social business makes us more efficient and delivers incremental value to our clients.

In pretty much every client meeting, I recount the story of how IBM became a social business, with hundreds of thousands of people using our internal social network on a daily basis, and how for many of us, social is becoming the norm not the exception.

Clients respect that for such a large and diverse organisation as IBM to be embracing the power of social business, then they can learn from our own journey as we help them change and become an organisation that collaborates and shares by default.

In my career, I have been fortunate to work with some amazing people, and also lucky enough to have been ahead of the curve on web, online, mobile and social trends.

Following my instincts, I am now betting the next stage of my career on social business, and I think it’s a pretty safe bet.

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Guy StephensMy good friend and fellow IBMer Guy Stephens (@Guy1067) is well known as a pioneer in the social customer care space, having been involved in the early days of social while at Carphone Warehouse.

I was delighted to read that the has just released a collection of the views from 16 leaders in the social customer care space.  You should download the report and set aside some time to read it.


Guy has assembled an amazing mix of views, from Dave Carroll of United Breaks Guitars fame, through to Frank Eliason formerly of @ComcastCares.

The full list of contributors is below


Frank Eliason, Citibank: @FrankEliason
Richard Baker, Carlsberg Group: @TheIntrapreneur
Graeme Stoker, Freelance Digital Consultant: @Graeme_NCL
John Bernier, Lubrication Technologies: @BernierJohn
Dr Natalie Petouhoff, Constellation Group: @DrNatalie
Esteban Kolsky, ThinkJar: @EKolsky
Bob Thompson, CustomerThink: @Bob_Thompson
Barry Dalton, Strategy&: @BSDalton
Colin Shaw, Beyond Philosophy: @ColinShaw_CX
Vincent Boon, Standing on Giants: @VincentBoon
Wendy Lea, GetSatisfaction: @WendySLea
Mitch Lieberman, DRI: @MJayliebs
Kate Leggett, Forrester Research: @KateLeggett
Dave Carroll, United Breaks Guitar: @DaveCarroll
Martin Hill-Wilson, Brainfood Extra: @MartinHW
Joanne Jacobs, 1000heads: @JoanneJacobs
Joshua March, Conversocial: @JoshuaMarch

What is interesting is that while many of the contributors have founded, and lived through the early days of social customer care, many of them suggest there is still a long way to go for most companies.

What I am seeing as I speak to IBM clients from some of the world’s most recognized companies is many of them have much to learn on how to truly provide excellent social customer care.

Social Customer Care in my opinion needs to get out of the marketing department and become integrated into all parts of the business.

An Airline that receives a tweet about a lost bag should not have that handled by the marketing team, but instead it should be passed direct (triaged automatically using smart analytics) to the baggage team for action.

Even in recent weeks, I have interacted via social, email, phone and online with a well-known organisation that appears to be doing social “well”. I can report from a consumer perspective that every process I encountered was broken, and only when I spoke to a senior executive at the company by phone this week (bypassing all the protocols and reaching out to the head of social via a DM) did I have any real comfort that the issue I was experiencing was being addressed.

I still think that social customer care has a long way to go, and as Guy asks in his piece at the end of the report – “What will social customer care look like in 5 years’ time”.

Download the report now! It is one of the best pieces of work I have seen on this topic yet.

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halo_effect-femaleAs social media is becoming more prevalent, and people and companies are using it to make purchasing and hiring decisions, the role of social eminence is becoming critical.

Almost on a weekly basis at IBM, I am being asked to speak about social eminence to groups of IBMers and clients.

They all want to know how to become personally eminent, and how to maintain this position once you are.

I estimate that since I joined IBM, I have presented to over 5,000 IBMers on this topic, sometimes in large groups of between 300-700 people at a time.

I am very flattered that I am asked to present on this important topic, and I see the role of education in this space invaluable, and also one of IBM’s competitive advantages.

So how do you become socially eminent?

The quick answer is that it doesn’t happen overnight. My own journey started some 31 years ago, when I started using bulletin boards (BBS) in 1983 in my hometown of Adelaide, Australia.

I knew that I was hooked on this “online” thing back then when my Father had to install a second phone line at home because I was always using our single phone line to dial-up (using my 300bps analog modem) to the Angle Park Computing Centre’s bank of 5 modems to connect to their “Nexus” BBS.

Years later, in 2006 when I arrived in London, I had a very small professional network. I had to do something to stand out from the crowd, so I started this blog.

Initially the blog was focussed on mobile technologies (hence the name London Calling), and as my career and interests changed more towards social media and social business, the focus and the content on the blog reflected that.

This blog has been a major part of my journey to becoming more “socially eminent”, and as a result I am asked to speak at conferences and to C-Suite executives on a regular basis.

The exposure from blogging and speaking has certainly raised my profile, however this has taken 8 long years – so you can’t expect this to happen overnight.

What I do advise IBMers and clients is that you need to start now, and you also have to have something unique and interesting to say.

How do you define and measure influence?

Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion spoke about the 6 key principles of influence:

1. Reciprocity – People tend to return a favour, thus the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing

2. Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because of establishing that idea or goal as being congruent with their self-image.

3. Social Proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing.

4. Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts.

5. Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing.

6. Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales.

These 6 principles can also be used to help with building and maintaining your social eminence.

Especially relevant are Reciprocity, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof and Scarcity when building your personal eminence.

But I don’t have time to do this – I have a day job!

My simple answer to this is that your competition, be it another company or another candidate for the job or promotion you want does.  If you don’t work on building your own eminence, you will be beaten in the market by someone who does.


The concept of your own personal “brand”

My own personal brand is the reason I am at IBM. My “one tweet” story which explains why can be found here – and I use this one tweet on screen as the opening for my social eminence talk. You can also watch a video of me explaining this at the beginning of my London Business School TEDx talk – embedded below.

Each person reading this post has a personal brand, and you may not even realise it. Each one of you are known for something, and has a unique perspective on something. Leveraging this thing about you that is unique will help you with your personal brand.

There is a fine line however between professionally maintaining your personal brand, and overt bragging.

Having run Kred for 2 years before I joined IBM, I have first-hand experience at dealing with self-proclaimed “key influencers”. My antennae is finely tuned to suspect those that have tell me that they’re influential – aren’t really influential or eminent.

And here’s the “key influencer” dirty little secret. They are really only influential because they work hard at maintaining their Klout score, and running multiple twitter accounts to pump up their follower scores – it makes them noisy not eminent in my view.

They need to because their perceived social eminence is how they get business, and have people select them to provide advice – and this is in some ways just simple marketing of a product – themselves.

Real influence and real eminence comes from other people saying “this person really knows what they’re talking about”, and enough people saying this that you become known as an expert in your field.

In the business world, your eminence doesn’t come from the number of followers you have or your position on the “Forbes influencer list” (don’t get me started on this topic..), it comes from the view of your customer, or prospective customer about your value to them.

Social Eminence in practice

By now some of you will be asking “so how does this work in practice”?

Well let me explain.

When your name is mentioned or put forward to work on a project, the first thing your prospective client will do is type your name into Google.  If you don’t believe me – ask them.

You probably do the same when you are considering a particular individual or company – you do your research.

Try this now – type your name into Google (for best effect use the “incognito” or “private browsing”option so you see what your clients see). What comes up?

Here is what comes up when I type my name into Google (click for a larger view).


Seven first 8 results are mine. I can never seem to shake Andrew’s Bar and Grill at number 8 though..

Even the 5 images shown are me – how did I do this?

There is no special trick – I just started early, stayed consistent and created great content that others have found useful and shared with others. Also by being on Twitter and LinkedIn, they are making my name and profile visible to Google.

I also registered my own personal domain back in 1999. My name is my brand so I use it all the time, and as a result Google has indexed my website over the last 15+ years.

Here’s a simple tip – if you are using Gmail or Yahoo for your email, consider purchasing your own domain name.

I use a company called Gandi for all my domain names, and they provide a free email service that would use your domain name.

Consider how much more “on brand” is than

By having your name as a domain name, it will help Google find you among the billions of other names, and associate your great content and thought leadership to your name.

Five tips for improving your eminence

Below are 5 quick tips I give to fellow IBMers to help improve their social eminence

  1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date – add photos and videos to all of your roles

  2. Set up a Twitter profile and start following other people in your own company, customers, and competitors

  3. Set up an page – it is free and gives you a 1 page “social business card”

  4. Share regular updates on what you’re working on via your internal social media platform – such as IBM Connections, Yammer, Chatter or Jive.

  5. Follow @AndrewGrill for tips and insights!


I can’t help you with the content you need to develop and promote – this is up to you. If you do follow my tips above then you will be well on the way to social eminence stardom!

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boardroom-bellwether-coverAccording to the latest FT–ICSA Boardroom Bellwether report, 47% of respondents reported that their board have never discussed a social media policy, and 39% had only discussed it between one and three times. Just 7% responded that their board had discussed social media more often.

The Bellwether is a twice-yearly survey which contacts FTSE 350 company secretaries to gauge the sentiment inside UK boardrooms, and this survey was conducted in June 2014.

Perhaps more worrying was the statistic that only 26% of respondents described a social media strategy as important (or very important) to the board, with 33% as describing it as neutral and 32% even describing it as ‘unimportant’.

The particular section of the report that relates to social media is below – click for a larger view.


In my role at IBM where I lead social business consulting, I am fortunate to come into contact with Board Members, Chief Executives and their management teams on a weekly basis to talk about social business.

Some of these I am providing Executive coaching to on a 1-1 basis to ensure they understand the full benefits of social – not just social media but the full benefits of becoming a social business.

The results from the survey don’t surprise me at all – and here’s the elephant in the room… boards and many of the C-Suite are totally confused by social media. They are told constantly that they “must” be on social media (for all the right reasons), but in my experience these reasons are delivered using social media language (likes, followers, fans etc), and not the language they understand and are comfortable making a business decision based upon.

Instead, when I talk to the C-Suite, I use terms they understand, such as market research, customer satisfaction, and net promoter score. I am simply translating social speak into business speak – and it is working.

My fear however, and this is echoed by the results of the survey, is that boards ignore social because their teams are not able to articulate the benefits, and it is just “too hard” to translate into a tangible business benefit they can release funds to invest in.

The reason for this post is to highlight the opportunity for social that lies beyond “traditional” social media.

When I speak to my clients about social, I always take the discussion beyond social media (which they often equate to Twitter and Facebook and the associated noise about their brand) to social business.

My definition of a social business is below:

A social business is an organization
whose culture and systems
encourage networks of people
to create business value.

Note the 3 parts above I highlighted – culture, people, business value.  This is what executives want to hear.

Social business involves such things as social collaboration, talent management and selection, social customer care (where social signals are plugged into all parts of the business, not just marketing and PR) as well as social intelligence – think market research hypercharged with social data.

When they hear my message, backed with stories of how IBM has been transformed by social business, and how we are helping large organisations such as Tesco on their social business journey, their minds shift from disinterested to fully engaged.

Multiple times over the last few weeks, I’ve had a boardroom of senior executives standing around a projector screen at the front of the room discussing just one slide about social segmentation from psycholinguistic analysis for up to 40 minutes.

When you shift the conversation from social media to social business, and speak in terms they understand, the whole dynamic changes.

Let’s hope that when the next survey is run by FT and ICSA, it includes a review of social business not just social media.

As a postscript, some of my close friends know that my “dream job” has always been presenting to boards and the management of large companies about the benefits, and “what’s next” for social.  I think I may have just found that job.

If you’d like to have me speak to your board or leadership team and have them totally engaged about the benefits of social, then please get in touch.

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made-with-ibm-squareFollowing on from my previous post about the new “Made with IBM” TV spots shown during the US Masters, you can now view all of the spots on YouTube.

A number of publications have profiled the new spots such as the New York Times, Forbes, and AdAge.

The 1:19 spot below sets up the series well.

What is truly interesting about the 60 or so TV spots generated, is the use of IBM’s own employees for many of the commercials.

the-social-employee-coverAs Cheryl and Mark Burgess pointed out in their excellent book “The Social Employee“, IBM absolutely lives its brand through its people, affectionately called “IBMers”.

At a keynote speech IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations in March 2013, Host Jim Owens asked Ginni “Does IBM, do you believe have a culture that truly differentiates itself from other companies either in a technology space of more broadly?”

The question and Ginni’s answer can be seen at the 47:24 mark on the video below, which talks about how IBMers are different and how IBMers aspire to live the IBM values.

As a celebration of the 17 IBMers that appeared in TV spots during the new “Made with IBM” campaign, presented below are their spots, along with the names of the IBMers featured. If I have missed any off, I was going from the playlist of TV spots on YouTube and will add to the list as I find more.

No. 2 Recipes made with IBM Watson featuring IBMer Mahmoud Naghshineh

No. 8 Collaboration made with social
 featuring IBMer Andrew Grill

No. 10 Presence made with mobile
 featuring IBMer Mylissa Tsai

No. 11 New markets made with cloud
featuring IBMer Cleveland Bonner

No. 12 Delivery made with cloud
featuring IBMer Tom Ward

No. 15 Apps made with data
 featuring IBMer Chris Galante

No. 19 Electronic Medical Records in the Cloud
featuring IBMer Adam Kocoloski

No. 22 Reach made with mobile
featuring IBMer Chris Galante

No. 23 Green eMotion: Road trips made with cloud
 featuring IBMer Gerhard Baum

No. 26 Innovation made with cloud
featuring IBMer Jason McGee

No. 28 Influence made with social
featuring IBMer Renee Ducre

I’ve met Renee on a number of occasions and it is great that she has voiced this particular TV spot as she is passionate about social business.

No. 30 Security made with data
featuring IBMer Caleb Barlow

No. 31 A world made with data
featuring IBMer Megan Daniels

No. 38 Engagement made with mobile
 featuring IBMer Hayley Caslin

No. 40 Advantage made with data
featuring IBMer John Cohn

No. 51 Gamers made with Cloud
featuring IBMer Lance Crosby

No. 62 Disruptive innovation made with IBM Watson
featuring IBMer Mike Barborak

No. 65 Influence made with social
featuring IBMer Katie Keating

Katie is another IBMer passionate about social business.

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ibm-logo-small Big news! IBM (my employer) is investing $100M and will employ 1,000 people in their Interactive Experience business.  Importantly, they will be opening regional Interactive Experience labs around the world.

Some really interesting tools have come out of IBM Research, and we’re already using them in our Social Business practice – see the video below, and see my own Psycholinguistic Analytics on @AndrewGrill


Read the full release below…

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced plans to commit more than $100 million to globally expand its consulting services capability to help clients with experience design and engagement.  As part of the investment, the company will open 10 new IBM Interactive Experience labs around the world and plans to add 1,000 employees to create new, personalized models of engagement through data and design.

Located in Bangalore, Beijing, Groningen, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, and Tokyo, the new labs provide clients with the opportunity to work side-by-side with researchers and consultants as well as experts in experience design, mobile and digital marketing. These multi-discipline teams analyze business challenges and jointly create solutions that integrate next-generation mobile, social, analytics and cloud technologies. IBM plans to open additional labs in the future to support the global demand for data-driven experiences.

“There’s no longer any real distinction between business strategy and the design of the user experience. The last best experience that anyone has anywhere, becomes the minimum expectation for the experience they want everywhere, and the quality of that experience is entirely dependent on the use of individualized information,” said Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President of IBM Global Business Services. “As our clients recalibrate what it means to engage with their customers or employees, we’re bringing them the full spectrum of world-class design and IBM Research, book-ended by strategy consulting and our strength in Big Data.”

As hallmarks of the IBM Interactive Experience consulting practice, the new labs will enable companies to engage with their customers in entirely new ways. Researchers within IBM Interactive Experience are developing capabilities to harness the value of data to help clients create personalized experiences, while designers within IBM Interactive Experience are working directly with clients to develop experiences that are increasingly mobile-driven.  These experiences leverage IBM’s MobileFirst portfolio to take advantage of the transformational nature of mobile solutions.  The combination of these capabilities and design elements hinge on insights IBM converts from data — including information on individual decisions, choices, preferences and attitudes.

In addition to the 10 new labs and four existing locations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and Toronto clients can partner with IBM Interactive Experience teams in IBM Research Labs in 12 locations around the world to personalize their every interaction with consumers.

Big Data Capabilities for Customer Experience

Along with the new facilities, IBM also unveiled new data-driven innovations from IBM Interactive Experience that help business leaders gain deeper insights into individuals and transform the way customers experience their products, services and brands. IBM researchers within IBM Interactive Experience invented unique algorithms that conduct the analysis for these new capabilities:

·      Intelligent Customer Profiles is an analytics-driven solution that enables consumers to directly manage the personal information companies use to provide them services. It also allows companies to proactively ask consumers questions, using a learning model to determine the next best question to ask an individual for a clearer picture of their preferences, while respecting privacy constraints. This helps companies improve the quality of customer profiles so they can provide better service, enhancing the relationship between a business and their customer. For example, an airline could use this capability to refine its scheduled service to better meet the needs of specific micro-segments of customers or a bank could make sure it’s providing an individual customer with service on their preferred channel of communication.

·      Influence Analysis is an analytical approach that goes beyond basic social media influencer scoring to identify individuals who influence other consumers related to a specific topic. By knowing which consumers influence others’ opinions of products and services, clients can optimize interactions in consumer communities down to the specific target topic. Combined with existing enterprise data, this capability allows clients to develop their own robust, customized influencer analysis that can be tuned based on specific business factors such as local location or language. This analysis can be used to help a company identify the best ambassador for their brand or hone in on the right targets for a viral marketing campaign, for example.

·         Customer Identity Resolution is a rules-based matching toolkit that helps enterprises build a broader understanding of who their customers are by connecting information across different data sources such as customer relationship management (CRM) records, social media accounts and other profile information. This is particularly useful for better understanding prospective customers that companies have little information on. After a company builds out comprehensive profiles of their customers, they can use analytics for business insights or conduct direct social marketing to existing customers on an opt-in basis.

These join an existing portfolio of data-driven capabilities including Life Event Detection, Behavioral Pricing and Psycholinguistic Analytics. Clients can choose these capabilities, or team with experts to co-create entirely new, customer-centric, innovative experiences that are unique to their business and the needs of the customers.

About IBM Big Data & Analytics

Each day we generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data from a variety of sources — climate information, to posts on social media sites, and purchase transaction records to healthcare medical images. At IBM we believe that data is emerging as the world’s newest resource for competitive advantage, and analytics is the key to make sense of it. IBM is helping clients harness Big Data & Analytics to provide insights needed to make better decisions, create value, and deliver that value to customers and society. IBM has the world’s deepest and broadest portfolio of Big Data & Analytics technologies and solutions, spanning services, software, research and hardware. For more information about IBM Big Data & Analytics, visit Follow IBM Big Data & Analytics on Twitter @IBMbigdata and @IBMAnalytics.

For more information on IBM Interactive Experience, please visit

To join the social discussion about IBM Interactive Experience please follow @ibminteractive on Twitter.

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At South by Southwest this week, I caught up with a number of really intelligent voices in the social world.

One of these was Mark Schaefer author of Return On Influence about the role of an influencer in a B2B company, Klout’s alleged sale to Lithium, and Millennials.

It was a really interesting discussion and runs for almost 16 minutes – worth watching the whole interview.

Recorded at the Austin Hilton during the South by Southwest Film, Music and Interactive Festival on March 9th 2014.

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imageTonight , 24th February 2014 at 6pm Barcelona time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will present the opening keynote at the Mobile World Congress (MWC).

You can watch the keynote (17:00 GMT) at

Why do I think he is brave?

Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest mobile industry conference. Hosted by the GSM Association, it brings together some 80,000 mobile industry professionals each year to look at the latest mobile products and trends.

This year, I am representing IBM at MWC. You can see what I will be doing in Barcelona on my dedicated MWC page.

With the ink only just dry on the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp, Mark is being very brave to walk right into the heart of mobile operator territory.

How will he address the disruption WhatsApp is causing operators? Will he mention it at all given the pain it is causing mobile operators?

Some would say it is like walking into the lion’s den, albeit with $19Bn of protection.

SMS revenues are falling fast

Back in 2012, I wrote on this blog about the massive digital disruption hitting Operator SMS revenues.

Quoting from my post…

Interesting report just out from Ovum which predicts that global telecom operators are expected to have lost $US23 billion ($22.58b) in SMS revenues by the end of 2012 as smartphone users shift to free messaging applications.

They go on to forecast that the cumulative losses would reach $US54 billion by the end of 2016 as the traditional Short Messaging Service (SMS) gives way to internet-based platforms such as WhatsApp.

Interesting that the WhatsApp purchase price is actually 35% of the forecasted SMS messaging revenue losses by 2016.

The rise of WhatsApp has caught mobile operators on the hop. SMS was for a long time an amazing cash cow for operators. Sub 1 cent costs to deliver an SMS priced at single and double digit cents kept the operators in the black for a long time.

Now with Facebook owning the hottest mobile messaging app on the planet, WhatsApp has the resources to do just about anything and scoop up that $54 Billion of lost revenue by 2016.

Be sure to follow me @AndrewGrill as I will be live tweeting from the keynote here in Barcelona, as I will have a front-row seat to catch the keynote.

What do you think Mark will talk about here in Barcelona – feel free to leave your view in the comments below.

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I was fortunate to have been invited to attend the IBM Connect conference in Orlando Florida last week.

The conference started in 1993 as Lotusphere, and in 2013 was re-branded as IBM Connect.

It is one of IBM’s major conferences, with guests and IBMers travelling from all around the world to discuss the latest in email solutions, social business and workforce solutions.

Below is a quick roundup of the highlights from the conference from my perspective, along with photos and videos taken in Orlando. Read more…

An interesting debate was held at IBM Connect in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday 28th January 2014 around the value of Klout and influence platforms in general, and the value to employers and brands.

Chaired by Louis Richardson, the debate featured Andrew Grill (former Kred CEO), William Tincup, Pam Moore, Jeanne Meister, Mark Fidelman, and Matt Ridings.

It was a very lively debate – watch the full hour below.

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Michael Bay exit stage right at CES 2014 photo:APBy now, many London Calling readers will have seen the video of Transformers Director Michael Bay fluff his lines on stage at CES in Las Vegas and literally “exit stage right”.

In his own words …

“Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES – I was about to speak for Samsung for this awesome Curved 105-inch UHD TV. I rarely lend my name to any products, but this one is just stellar. I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP’s intro line and then the teleprompter got lost. Then the prompter went up and down – then I walked off. I guess live shows aren’t my thing.”

You can see the painful 1 minute video below.

Those reading this post that present for a living will know that from time to time, things go wrong on stage. Projectors and microphones fail, and sometimes even crazier things happen.

One of my most memorable moments was at the Dialog conference in Sweden in 2012, I actually fell off the stage while presenting, and mid-sentence recovered, jumped back on stage and kept going.

Below is how Dell’s Global Social Media Director, Richard Margetic saw the incident unfold.

Having presented at hundreds of conferences since 1999, I have had my fair share of technical problems. My greatest fail to date was actually 10 years ago while presenting a keynote address at the Rotary District 9750 Conference in Sydney.

Andrew Grill presenting at the 2004 Rotary District Conference in Sydney

I was the first speaker on after lunch, so in the break, set up my laptop on stage, ready to present slides following a 3 minute introductory video.

What I had not realised was that in the break, my laptop had put itself to sleep [presenter rule 7 is ALWAYS turn off sleep mode on your PC when plugged in before a presentation].

As the 3 minute video was coming to an end, I walked on stage and looked across at my laptop screen. It was blank. The kind of blank look on the 250 people in the auditorium at the Sydney Convention centre were giving me when nothing appeared on the screen after the video.

So instead of walking off in a huff, what I did was signal to the AV guys we had a problem, and I then invited the audience to get up and stretch for a few minutes, and talk to their neighbours while I rebooted the laptop.

Thankfully the AV guys put on some music as well.

Once I had rebooted the laptop (and that was the longest 3 minutes of my life with 250 people and my now wife looking on anxiously), I calmly started my presentation titled “Bridging The Rotary Membership Generation Gap”.

The comments after my presentation were very generous, acknowledging that I handled the technical issue well, and the content of the presentation and my passion for the subject made them forget about it anyway.

What I was calmly thinking during the 3 minutes while the PC rebooted was that there was nothing I or the audience could do but wait, and that once I got going again, they would enjoy the content.

The lesson here for professional and aspiring presenters – the more you present, the more likelihood that things will go wrong.

If you are prepared for most scenarios, and are passionate about you subject then you can get through just about anything that happens – even falling off the stage!

Have a look at some of my previous presentations on my presentations page.

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rewindOver the Christmas break, I experimented with how I could share some of the 650+ posts (some of them actually quite good) that I have written over the last 10 years of blogging with an wider audience than I have now.

Looking at my blog traffic using Clicky, I could see that I received a flood of traffic each time I published a new post, but only reasonable levels outside that time.

Many of the posts I have written in the past 18 months or so about social business and digital trends are still relevant in 2014.

Last year I would occasionally re-tweet old posts to test the reaction from my community.

Each time, I could see a new audience was being exposed to my writing, and new people were engaging with me via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

Using a couple of excellent plugins by Ajay Matharu, namely Tweet Old Post and Buffer My Post, I have implemented a series of Rewind: posts, re-sharing my best posts from the last 18 months.

Setting up the plugins

Both plugins were pretty easy to set up, and have a number of options – covered below.

Out of the box, Tweet Old Posts tweets “from” the Tweet Old Posts app, and so I changed this by creating my own Twitter app to tweet “from” “London Calling Rewind”, and updating some of the plugin code.

This “tweeted from..” indication can be seen on a few Twitter clients, but Twitter removed this feature from their own apps some time ago.


As I love transparency, each post that is tweeted by the plugin is prefaced by Rewind: so my readers know this is an old post.

The settings for Tweet Old Post allow you to specify how often to tweet. I have experimented with between 4 and 8 hour intervals, to ensure that my global audience gets a chance to see some old posts. As I write this post, I have the interval set at 6 hours.

You can also set which categories tweets are sent from, and also exclude individual posts that are not relevant for a re-post and should not be shared.

Finally, Tweet Old Post has the option to allow me to use my own URL shortener, to allow me to brand the links I am sharing and view detailed analytics on each link shared.

For those of you that have a YOURLS installation, use the settings below (click each image to enlarge).


Other settings below control the range of posts randomly selected for the next interval.


The facility to exclude individual posts is also excellent.


Tweet Old Post works with Twitter only. To post to other platforms, you need Buffer My Post and an account with Buffer.

As Buffer my Post is from the same author, the setup from the plugin side is almost identical to Tweet Old Post and you can exclude posts and set the frequency as well.

You do need a Buffer account (the free version allows you to have only 10 items in your “buffer”), and I have set this up to post to my LinkedIn account at 4 different times each weekday, to promote my old posts to UK/EU, East Coast, West Coast and Australian audiences in their respective timezones.


The 10 items Buffer limitation on the free version can be circumvented by having Buffer My Posts send Buffer 4 new posts every 12 hours when you already have 6 in the buffer.

What has the reaction been to Rewind: ?

Over the last week or so of testing my new Rewind: series, I have seen a greatly increased level of engagement with a number of my older, but still relevant posts.

One example from yesterday showed a great debate on Twitter as a result of a Rewind: post about Blogger transparency between @PaulFabretti, @mseasons  and @DaveParkinson. See the full thread at


I hope you find this post and my older posts via Rewind: of interest.

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waitrose-logoIn the UK, the competition between High Street chains is intense.

Not only are the 5 large chains looking for a larger share of a consumer’s wallet or purse, they also want the data that goes with it – linking each purchase to the individual profile of a shopper.

Two competitors are taking a very different approach to loyalty and consumer data.

The leader in both fields for some time has been Tesco. Not only are they the largest UK retailer, and are number 3 in the world behind Walmart and Carrefour, they were also one of the first retailers to really understand the power of big data.

club-cardIntroducing Clubcard

In 1993, Tesco’s then CEO, Terry Leahy was looking for the next generation of loyalty cards. Tesco had provided Green Shield (trading) stamps for some time, but it is pretty hard to get insights and analytics from stamps. Clive Dun together with Edwina Dunn sold the concept of an intelligent loyalty program to Tesco via their company DunnHumby.

Clubcard is the envy of other retailers because it links an individual shopper (via their clubcard number) to every single transaction they make. In return for logging every transaction and demographic information provided by the clubcard member, they receive valuable loyalty points.

my-waitrose-cardEnter Waitrose, the up-market (middle class) grocer, who are part of the John Lewis Partnership.

They have launched their own card called myWaitrose. They don’t have anything near the sophistication of Clubcard, so are looking for ways to have their customers rapidly sign up for their loyalty program.

According to Mark Price, Managing Director of Waitrose,”loyalty cards are ‘meaningless’ – consumers want immediate rewards“.

In stark contrast to the Tesco Clubcard approach, Waitrose has decided to provide more near-term and tangible rewards such as Spend £5 and receive money off your shopping when you buy selected newspapers, or winning back the value of your groceries, as well as 10% discounts.

The most visible and immediate benefits of the myWaitrose loyalty program is a free tea or coffee every day. Waitrose has installed coffee machines in their stores (the one below is from my local Kensington High Street store), and last week when I visited the store there was a steady stream of people lining up for their free coffee.

waitrose-coffee-queue waitrose-coffee-in-store

Big data is key to any loyalty scheme

It doesn’t matter what the consumer benefit is (be it money off, holidays, or a free coffee), the real prize here for the retailer is big data. Companies such as Tesco and Waitrose need to attach purchase history to an individual, and learn as much as they can about that person to help their marketing efforts.

I do hope that Waitrose has taken a leaf from Clubcard and produced a sophisticated CRM behind the scenes. One also hopes that the loyalty scheme will become socially enabled and social data is captured as part of the process (with permission).

As outgoing Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts said


When talking about big data and groceries, this cartoon I saw recently made me laugh.


Unexpected side effects

Over the Christmas period, news reports of a “middle class revolt over free coffee loyalty card” were appearing about the Waitrose free coffee offer.

Angry shoppers used Facebook and Twitter to vent their frustration, arguing that handing out free drinks is turning Waitrose into a soup kitchen and the stores are packed with less affluent customers, which is putting some customers off.

Quoting one Waitrose shopper, “I think seeing people walking round the store holding on to takeaway cups of tea and coffee looks quite ridiculous and brings down the image of Waitrose until it is just like everywhere else – in which case I might as well shop anywhere else.”

I wonder if Waitrose considered human behaviour and the lure of an instant reward, delivered in-store rather than months later via the post when they designed the program.

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Is the news that Blogger Robert Scoble has started to go cold on Google Glass cause for concern for Google?

In his latest Google+ post, he writes an open letter to the Google Glass team who seem to have now lost one of their biggest advocates.

How could Robert go in just 12 months from someone who said “I will never live a day of my life from now on without it (or a competitor). It’s that significant.” and was even photographed wearing them in the shower, to saying “It’s gotten to the point where even I don’t want to wear them around.

Summarising Robert’s post, here are the issues he has with Glass as it stands:

  • People have too high of expectations for Glass
  • Glass in its current iteration is “too hard to buy and acquire”
  • There aren’t enough apps. For instance, it’s still missing Uber and Foursquare, and it’s still lacking support for Facebook
  • The UI itself simply can’t handle a lot of apps
  • The battery doesn’t work well for shooting video. He says it only lasts 45 minutes for video
  • It’s too hard to push images from Glass to your smartphone in real time
  • There’s no “contextual filtering. When I’m standing on stage, why does Glass give me Tweets? Why can’t it recognize that I’m at a conference at least and show me only tweets about that conference?”
  • There’s no easy way for developers to let Glass users test out their apps

This is not a technology issue – it is an influencer management issue

Reading Robert’s post, and stepping back from the numerous technical issues that Robert raises, my view is that this is more of an issue with how the Google Glass team has managed their influencers, than the tech itself.

Now I know a bit about influencers and influencer management, having launched Kred, and been the CEO from 2011 – 2013, as well as written extensively about it on this blog.

In addition, I also have experience in what it is like to become an influencer in my own right.

Robert’s post (ironically on Google Plus) provides a detailed view of what is wrong with the product and the approach the team has taken (or not) to keep Robert on-side.

If the Google Glass product team had kept closer to Robert over the last 8 months, then he would never had published the post, and instead he would have been providing this feedback direct to the team, and in confidence.  In turn, the Glass product team would have been able to feed this feedback into the design and launch a better product.

Is Scoble a good bellwether for a product’s success?

Robert has become very influential in the tech scene (and he knows this), and his opinion does matter.

He has loved, and them left Friendfeed.

He was red hot on Quora, then admitted just a month later he was wrong.

He is still an advocate for Google Plus, but it is quite interesting that he has openly and publicly questioned where Google Glass is heading.

One of Google’s issues here is that most of their products are permanently in beta. I am sure that Google’s view on Robert’s post is that all of these issues will be fixed over time. However Google has missed a huge opportunity here, and Google may not be able to recover from this.

If Google wants to have a real consumer facing product that they sell themselves, then they need people like Robert that are connected to the tech and consumer press to be regularly signing their praises.

The news today is filled with headlines that “Google Glass is doomed” – something that I am sure is not in the Google Glass marketing plan!


Lessons for Google

When launching a new product, even one where the participants pay $1,500 for the privilege, you need to stay close to your influencers as they can literally make or break your new product.

kred-launch-ukWhen we launched Kred back in 2011, we looked to influence the influencers.  In London the week before the official launch, we gathered 50 key influencers at the Hospital Club’s screening room and gave them a sneak preview.

The feedback after the event and for the subsequent launch was incredibly positive, as a result of the relationships we developed during this event.

The following year, in May 2012, we flew 30 key influencers to a Kred Leader’s summit, and developed some really key relationships as a result – many that continue even into 2014.

shankman-unitedOne of the attendees at the Kred summit, Peter Shankman had a great experience with United Airlines in May 2013. The team at United allowed Peter to become an airplane geek for a day, and stack baggage and guide planes in at Newark Airport. This is publicity money can’t buy, and United didn’t have to.

Google have I fear missed out on millions of dollars of influencer promotion via Robert Scoble, and have no real way of clawing this back.

What is your view – is Robert’s criticism just, and how should the Google Glass team have handled his (and others) involvement in the program?

Leave a comment below or tweet me @AndrewGrill

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I was reading the cover story from Bloomberg Businessweek’s December edition titled “Can UPS Save Christmas” during some downtime over the last week.


The article profiles Scott Abell (“Mr Peak”) who is in charge of the peak planning at UPS for seasonal events in the US such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Bloomberg looks at what might happen if the peak planning team gets it wrong at the busiest time of the year.

Did the article jinx Christmas for UPS?

As we know from all of the media coverage, Amazon deliveries were severely impacted by delays in the UPS network in the days before Christmas.

A WSJ article explains how the late surge in web buying blindsided UPS and retailers, and reports that web sales jumped 37% from the year before, according to IBM Digital Analytics.

One of the telling parts of the December 2013 Bloomberg story that made me wonder if UPS could cope with a late surge was the following paragraph:

“But plans can be ephemeral. Abell grows slightly exasperated talking about a last-minute decision by one of his largest customers that will dump a huge number of packages into UPS’s network on the weekend before Christmas. As a result, Abell spent five days developing a new plan allowing UPS to operate double shifts at Worldport during the final weekend before Christmas.”

While it is unfortunate that many people had their Amazon deliveries delayed, the whole episode points to an interesting change in behaviour from both online sellers and consumers.

Online Sellers – what’s changing?

For online sellers, the promise of “have it tomorrow” is fine to make if you can get all of your own logistics in order, but if you then flood a traditional delivery business (in this case UPS) with a 37% increase in packages against last year’s figures, in the days before Christmas then something is bound to go wrong.

It is not only happening around the Christmas peak though, online retailers are promising delivery times that even a year ago would be considered unbelievable as well as uneconomic.

Ebay’s recent purchase of London “rapid delivery service” Shutl will only help to feed the consumer appetite for “I want it now” as they promise delivery from a variety of retailers in under an hour when the buyer and seller are in the same area.

Some analysts suggest that Amazon needs to start their “own UPS” in order to have end-end control of the buying and delivery process.

Amazon drones aside, the company may be closer to having their own delivery network a reality.

Amazon Fresh, already available in their hometown of Seattle, Los Angeles and now San Francisco (think an Ocado grocery delivery service for those reading this in the UK), uses Amazon’s own trucks and drivers to deliver groceries the next day.

Changing Consumer behaviour

Encouraged by the “next day” promises from online retailers, consumers seem to be changing their behaviour to that of a “just in time” mentality.

This lead to many parents in 2013 leaving their Christmas shopping to literally the day before, and relying on the next day delivery promise.

Coupled with the fact that you can now track the status and location your package on an almost hourly basis, this puts incredible pressure on the retailers to ensure parcels are sent in a timely fashion.

In the days before online shopping (think mail-order catalogues), waiting many days or even weeks for your latest purchase to arrive was the norm.  With no real ability to track the parcel, we simply had to “hurry up and wait”.

The events of Christmas 2013 got me thinking. Now that consumers have the taste for speedy delivery, and digital business are helping to fuel this with hyper efficient warehouse and logistics processes, will we see a shift towards these “last mile” delivery firms such as FedEx and UPS gearing up to handle next day deliveries as the default?

Online Shopping – my own experience

I remember when online shopping became a permanent fixture in the Grill household.

I was in Sydney in February 2010 visiting clients when my wife called from London and told me she had “discovered Amazon”.

She had always been reluctant to dive in head-first to online shopping because of 2 main barriers.

1) delivery – knowing when your parcel is being delivered. Who wants to sit at home all day waiting for a delivery? Knowing when your parcel is being delivered (down to an hour window) means you can go and enjoy your day.

2) returns – the biggest issue for my wife was around returns.  If she did not like the item, or it was the wrong size, then she wanted a no-fuss way of sending it back.

Thankfully these 2 issues seem to have been solved, and we hardly ever visit a grocery or department store.  All of our Daughter’s books, DVDs and toys come from Amazon.  Our groceries are delivered by UK company Ocado, and my wife even buys our clothes online, safe in the knowledge that the retailers we deal with have a zero-hassle returns policy.

Online retail in 2014

Recent figures from the US Commerce Department shows that e-commerce accounts for about 6% of overall U.S. retail sales, and for the 2013 holiday season, online purchases will be nearly 14% of sales.

In the UK, leading retailer John Lewis has reported a bumper Christmas period, and echoing the trend in the US, CEO Andy Street was quoted as saying that consumers had held back spending until the final week before Christmas and that retailers who “held their nerve” by not cutting prices will have benefited.

“People were expecting it to be better, but, actually, one of the most interesting features is how trading has been a different shape from previous years. You usually see a steady uplift and then it actually plateaus, but there was a very intense, late peak.”, said Mr Street.

Mr Street also predicted that by 2020 online sales will account for half of John Lewis revenues.

“We will have national coverage, we will probably be a 50-50 business: 50pc online, 50pc in store”.

So if online retailing is the future, and we saw what can go wrong during the Christmas season, what innovations will we see in 2014 to take online shopping to the next level, and what % of online sales will we reach in December 2014?

Interesting times ahead…

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I’m delighted to announce that I have been named as a featured speaker at the IBM Connect conference in Florida in January 2014.

I will be joined by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert along with many of my social media friends such as Mark Fidelman, Cheryl Burgess, Pam Moore, as well as fellow IBMers Ed Brill, Scott Hebner, Jonathan Ferrar and Sandy Carter. The lineup of all featured speakers is shown below.


I’m thrilled that just 10 weeks into IBM, I have been asked to speak at one of IBM’s premiere conferences along with so many social media peers and smart IBMers.

I will be delivering session 1459, titled “From Social Media to Social Business”. You can read more about my session here.

If you would like more information on the conference, follow @IBMConnect or watch the #IBMConnect hashtag, and you can register to attend at the conference website.

I hope to meet some London Calling readers there, please tweet me @AndrewGrill if you are planning to attend.

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better-wayI’ve been speaking with many organisations over the last few weeks about how they can make better use of social in their organisation.

As I speak to senior people about their existing social presence and strategy, something that has really struck me is how isolated some of their social teams are from the rest of the business.

At meetings over the last few weeks, I was told about the “social media reports” prepared by the “social team”.

In many cases, these reports are simply not read in a timely manner by those who should be reading them (or not read at all), because they talk about activity  and don’t provide actionable insights for the rest of the business. Read more…

Over the next few weeks, we will be hearing from many social media pundits on “the top 10 predictions for social media in 2014″.

One prediction I am hoping we will see is how social media will graduate to become social business in 2014.

If you would like to hear my definition of social business vs social media, you can listen to a podcast below I recorded with Neville Hobson from FIR recently.

Looking at what is in store for social business in 2014 is I think a much more interesting question, as I believe that social business is where the real innovation and opportunities for significant transformation will occur,

So how will we see social business transform enterprises in 2014? Read on and I welcome your comments below, or tweet me @AndrewGrill.

1. Social Business: Not Just About Collaboration
Social is no longer just about collaboration; it’s about unlocking the engines of collective knowledge, differentiated expertise and rapid learning across the whole organisation. Social enables businesses to break down organizational and hierarchical silos and barriers. It provides employees an opportunity to share knowledge and locate expertise. In 2014, we’ll see social transform into an organization’s enablement and learning platform.

2. Social Business’ New Role
Social’s new role will be helping to build a smarter enterprise. For example, doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital are already moving in this direction with social; physicians across the globe are sharing peer-reviewed training videos and on-demand curricula to demonstrate the latest life-saving techniques in child care, building an ecosystem of well-trained health care professionals. Read more…

For some time now, Apple has been a stand-out as a company that has seemingly shied away from social media, while at the same time being very successful.

All that may change with the news that Apple has bought social media analytics company Topsy for a reported $200m+.


Apple is flush with cash, and they could have bought almost any social media analytics company – so why Topsy?

It could be because of two things:

1) The Twitter firehose – Topsy is one of just 3 “data resellers” authorised by Twitter to sell access to the firehose, the other two being Datasift and Gnip.

2) Tweet archive – Topsy has all the tweets back to the first one sent on March 21st, 2006 by Jack Dorsey

I know a little about the value of both the Twitter firehose and the archive, having been the CEO of Kred until recently, which was developed by PeopleBrowsr.

Some eagle eyed readers will remember that PeopleBrowsr was in dispute with Twitter over access to the firehose, and later settled.

The nature of the Twitter/PeopleBrowsr dispute proved how valuable the firehose can be to both sides.  The additional benefit of having firehose access is you get to collect each and every tweet, and can build up a sizeable archive.

At PeopleBrowsr, tweets since November 2008 numbered in the 250 Billion range

So what will Apple do with Topsy?

I’d imagine they see more value in the technology and the team than just the pretty charts they can develop.


My initial view is that Apple is keen to dip their toe in the social analytics pond, and see what they can make of social “big data”.

Having access to the full historic set as well as all of the ongoing tweets via the firehose will give Apple a clear advantage in the social analytics space. and it will be interesting to see if Topsy continues to provide their services as-is, or gets absorbed into Apple.

While I am sure that Gnip and Datasift will welcome the news that their market has been validated to the tune of 200M+, and we may start to see Microsoft and Google look more closely at the 2 major firehose recipients as acquisitions.

One thing is sure, big social data should be on everyone’s agenda for 2014.

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Since joining IBM, I have been asked to speak at a wide variety of internal and external events.

At many of these events, I have spoken about the power of twitter, and worked backwards and explained how I happened to be there at that particular moment as a result of just one tweet – shown below from 15th January 2011.

Some background to this tweet. I had been in Seattle as part of a Visible Technologies sales team meeting. I was returning to London via San Francisco, as I had decided to spend the weekend there – my first time in SF.

You can also hear me talk about this story in the video below – simply skip to the 14:52 minute mark (by clicking here or using the time slider on the video below)

Upon landing, I sent the sort of tweet I normally do, letting my global followers know were I am in the world.

This time though I had no idea who I was likely to meet.

As I was preparing to explore the city on the Saturday morning, this tweet popped up from fellow Aussie, Antony McGregor Dey @antonymd who now lives in San Francisco.

Antony and I had never met (we came close a few times – see a tweet when we were both in Sydney in 2010 below), but had never met in person.

We had lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf on Saturday 15th January, and as a result, he agreed to introduce me to Jodee Rich, the founder of PeopleBrowser, and the makers of Kred.

This lead to me meeting Jodee, and agreeing to join his company, where I was the CEO of Kred from 2011 – 2013.

Fast forward to 2013. and I an now with IBM.  I am absolutely positive that my time at Kred helped with IBM’s decision to hire me.

The key lesson that I share at conferences around the world is that by being on twitter, and sharing what I am doing and where I am, opportunities such as Kred and IBM have happened.  When I ask for a show of hands at conferences of who is not on twitter, this story seems to be the trigger for them to join.

As an aside, on the same trip to San Francisco, I scored an upgrade to a suite at the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental. You can read about this story at and one of the tweets that secured the upgrade below.

The blog post about the upgrade has been used by Intercontinental Hotels globally to show the power of twitter.

If you are reading this and not on twitter, or know someone who is not yet a member – think of these 2 key reasons to join:

1) Brand protection – I secured @AndrewGrill in 2007 and this has become my online personality

2) Market research – if you are not on twitter then you are missing out on all the great research, tips and news I get direct from my twitter followers

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fir-logoRecently I spoke with good friend and blogger Neville Hobson.

In this 20 minute interview, first broadcast on FIR, I told Neville why I believe social business is an imperative for organizations today. In my response, I offered a way of defining the term “social business” that focuses on people, behaviours and organization change, rather than purely on social software and networking. Read more…

fir-logoRecently I spoke with good friend and blogger Neville Hobson.

In this 20 minute interview, first broadcast on FIR, I told Neville why I believe social business is an imperative for organizations today. In my response, I offered a way of defining the term “social business” that focuses on people, behaviours and organization change, rather than purely on social software and networking.

We also talked about how some organizations have embraced social business and can demonstrate measurable benefits. We outlined the primary obstacles preventing more organizations understanding and acting on the ideas behind “social business.”

The interview concludes with my top tips and advice to any organization today – no matter its size or industry – regarding what they need to do to embrace the concepts of being a social business.

You can listen to the episode below.

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As a brand new employee to IBM (this is week 4 for me), many have asked me how I have been settling in.

Their concern was that going from a small start-up (CEO of Kred), to an organisation of 430,000+ people I might have a difficult transition.

I have been pleasantly surprised about how smooth the transition has been, helped largely due to the existing broad adoption of internal social tools at IBM.

Inside IBM, we have our own tool (which clients can adopt as well) called IBM Connections.


Join me today, 6th November at 3PM GMT (10am ET) on Twitter – via the #GetRealChat twitter hashtag where I will share my experiences, and collaborate with others on the chat in real time.

More information is below, and I do hope you will join the chat.

The Twitter Chat will be run by Pam Moore in partnership with the IBM Social BusinessExceptional Digital Experience team.

Join the conversation, “Walking the Walk: How a new hire at IBM got engaged using IBM’s Exceptional Digital Capabilities” on Wednesday, November 6th at 10am ET/ 3pm CET on Twitter.

Andrew Grill, former CEO of Kred, recently joined IBM as partner, IBM Social Business. Andrew is going to share his experience as a recent new hire at IBM and how he quickly got engaged using the IBM Exceptional Digital capabilities.

Joining the conversation from IBM: 

Come explore, learn and grow with us as we all commit to reinventing the workforce and empowering our employees with the best tools, technologies, data and resources as a first priority!

#GetRealChat Twitter Chat with IBM Social Business, Exceptional Digital Experiences Team

Date: Wednesday, November 6th
Time: 10:00 am ET / 3:00 pm GMT / CET
Join Conversation:

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20131104-114854.jpgWith the news that Tesco has teamed up with Lord Sugar’s Amscreen to launch “face enabled advertising”, one has to wonder if the scenarios presented in the movie Minority Report are set to become a reality.

If you have not seen the movie starring Tom Cruise, in the future, the movie suggests we will be presented with personalised advertising as we walk past digital billboards.

The Amscreen move is significant, and my point of view is it will either be an amazing success, or an unmitigated failure.

Below is how the BBC’s Click program reported on the technology.

When you play with personal advertising, you can’t afford to get it wrong.

This is not the first time that face recognition has been used with advertising.

Last year I blogged about a billboard on Oxford Street in London promoting the work of the charity Plan UK.

Here, different advertising was shown depending if you were male or female, as decided by the face recognition technology.

See an example below.

Jon Silk in today’s Telegraph asks if this type of technology might lead to “personal shopper recognition” – something that I know the privacy advocates in the UK will have a field day with.

My view is that while this type of technology might lead to more targeted advertising, it still falls short of real, targeted advertising.

The Amstrad technology is market changing, but will it tell advertisers if they actually glanced at the ad, and looked away, or engaged with it which lead to a purchase in-store?

I don’t believe though that if you ask people on the high street, or those waiting in a Tesco store to pay for their shopping that many would say “yes please send me more targeted advertising”.

The challenge that advertisers face worldwide is that consumers are now exposed to so many advertisements, that the effectiveness is on the decline.

The Amscreen approach also simply uses existing displays, as has been done for many years now.

How social can help provide more relevant information to consumers

My strong view is that a new approach is needed – not just for the presentation of the advertising message, but also in the way we engage with customers.

I no longer look at ads. Having a degree in marketing, and working in the industry I know only too well how advertising works.

Instead, if I am after information about a new product, I will turn to my social networks and ask for a genuine recommendation.

I believe the days of mass-advertising are on the way out, and as Tesco has realised, a more targeted/personalised approach is required.

Social media, if used properly, with consumers that are truly interested in your product or service can be a very powerful way to promote your product over another alternative.

The Tesco trial with Amscreen will I am sure be watched very closely to see if advertisers can get closet to that “holy grail” or personalised advertising as proposed in Minority Report.

What are your views about the face-recognition software being used by Tesco? Please leave your comments below or tweet me @AndrewGrill

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Today I can announce that I am joining IBM Interactive to help grow their Social Business practice.

I have greatly enjoyed my nearly two and a half years as CEO of Kred, and I am leaving the team in good hands, and with their best wishes.

You can watch a short video interview explaining the move below.

Read more…


Back in August, I blogged about a preview of an IBM Institute for Business Value report that surveyed 4,000 C-suite executives.

Today the full report has been released – and it makes for fascinating reading.

The report surveyed 4,183 CxO leaders in 70 countries, with a mix of the C-suite from Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs), Chief Information Officers (CIOs), Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Chief Supply Chain Officers (CSCOs).

The IBM study offers insight into how these leaders view the world, their priorities and how they are preparing for the future.

Read more…


Back in August, I blogged about a preview of an IBM Institute for Business Value report that surveyed 4,000 C-suite executives.

Today the full report has been released – and it makes for fascinating reading.

The report surveyed 4,183 CxO leaders in 70 countries, with a mix of the C-suite from Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs), Chief Information Officers (CIOs), Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Chief Supply Chain Officers (CSCOs).

The IBM study offers insight into how these leaders view the world, their priorities and how they are preparing for the future.

Three major themes emerged. Today’s C-suite must:

  • Open up to customer influence
  • Pioneer digital-physical innovation
  • Craft engaging customer experiences

For me, the most interesting part of the report is that CEOs now see that customers are at the heart of the future of their company.

CEOs interviewed in the survey shared that they thought customers exert a bigger influence on their organization’s business strategy than all but the C-suite itself – see the graphic below (click for larger image).


More than half of the CxOs surveyed say customers now have a considerable influence on their enterprises (see figure below). Companies identified as “outperformers” are 24 percent more likely than underperformers to have given the customer a prime seat at the boardroom table.

Interestingly, some of the most advanced enterprises are establishing customer advisory boards to get direct input on strategic issues.


The key insights for me are that these enterprises realize that the groundswell of opinion and innovation being shared on social sites, blogs, twitter chats is the same as customers banging at the door and demanding to be heard.

Savvy leaders know that online input is a vital part of the discourse and have plumbed their organizations to listen closely. Those at the forefront don’t just invite customers in for a chat; they recognize it as an urgent call to action.

This is where social business comes in, and companies learn how to move beyond having social in the marketing department, and instead plug social insights into all parts of the organisation.

Lately, I have seen discussions about the need to “ditch the term social media“, in favour of calling everything social business. In my opinion this is misguided, as the comments on this Drum article rightly point out.

Underperforming companies are just starting to use social media, while their outperforming competitors already have a strategy to put social first, and become a social business.

You can read my previous coverage of an excellent Altimeter report Authored by Brian Solis and Charlene Li on the 6 stages of social business adoption which will help validate my thinking around this.

The impact of social features prominently in the IBM report, and in the second of the major themes “Pioneer digital-physical innovation”, we hear how CxOs are rapidly realising that they need a strong digital strategy in place – as the figure below explains.


I loved the breakout quote by a CIO in Turkey:


One of the key findings from the report was that the lack of a cohesive social media plan is the biggest barrier to an integrated digital-physical strategy, and how how social media fits into the mix.


Apparently when IBM’s Watson analysed more than 10,000 natural language responses, it uncovered the fact that CxOs simply don’t know how to strike the right balance between the social, digital and physical worlds.

Quoting directly from the report (emphasis is mine)

“Understanding the return on investment is also a challenge, particularly if organizations view social simply as something they snap on to existing workflows.

Its value is realized when social inspires entirely new ways of working, learning and orchestrating processes across the organization and beyond.

Easily said, but social is one place where many executives find themselves standing on the sidelines if not well behind the lines — as enfranchised employees channel enthusiasm and energy to test the waters.

CxOs can’t stand by, waiting for a clear strategy to emerge.

They have a role, and one they must step up to, to ensure that their organizations focus social business on issues that are core to the company’s overall strategy and brand.”

The survey found that outperformers are ahead of the game (see below), and they are pioneering innovation at the intersection of the digital and the physical to transform their organizations.


What this says to me, is that CxOs need help.  They don’t need to be told about getting more likes, follows or fans on social media, they need to have someone help them understand how as a social business, they can become outperformers and completely re-engineer their business.

This doesn’t come about without a corresponding cultural change as part of becoming a social business.

Expect to hear more from me on this subject in my upcoming posts.

You can grab the full report from the IBM IBV site – it is probably one of the most comprehensive C-suite reports you will read this year.

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