Saturday, August 24, 2013

Shifting sands and the rise of systems of engagement

(Imperial Dunes Park, California. Image from Flickr)

As I was contemplating all the changes that have been going on in marketing, in technology, and in my own career, the image of "shifting sands" suddenly popped in my head. If you've ever driven through southwestern California, from San Diego to Yuma, you've undoubtedly seen the amazing sight of these magnificent dunes just inches from I-8, right alongside the US-Mexico border.

I'm not comparing my career or the state of Marketing or Tech to a desert. But more to the "constantly changing but constant" elements of them. 

In terms of my own career, after years of hard work and persistence, I've finally been promoted. I now lead a team of awesome marketers who look after one of the coolest tech areas in IBM: social collaboration software. IBM Notes and Domino, Connections, Sametime, and SmartCloud Engage. It's a lot of new work and a lot of new responsibilities, chief of which is to shift my mindset slightly from 100% "doing" to 50%, with 50% focus on helping my team succeed. I now get to learn how to be the best managers I've always loved working for. It's scary and challenging.

The other shift I've written about quite a bit lately, in guest blog posts for the Business Marketing Association blog and presentations for the Social Media Club and other places. I take the reins of a marketing team in the midst of one of the most fundamental transformations in Marketing since the emergence of golden era of the Ad and network television in the 1950s. I look forward to this shift as well, from tactic execution and "brand management" to enabling entire organizations to live and breath and express the brand with true engagement.

And this is enabled by the constantly shifting sands of Tech. The convergence of social, mobile, cloud and big data are turning general purpose computing from primarily about productivity increases to something much more fundamental: the true unleashing of human creativity, unfettered by tools that were never really designed for people, but rather automatons in a process re-engineering cog. This is truly exciting, and liberating. 

And about time - a recent Gallup Poll indicated that 70% of workers either hated their jobs or were completely disengaged. The Kenexa Blog adds to the sobering stats: 69% of employers believe employees are engaged, but only 34% of employees claim to be. There's disconnect that's finally breaking, another shifting of sands revealing an opportunity to remake the world I work in. The world we all work in. I think it will ignite hyper growth, something Erik Brynjolfsson has spoken about at TED and elsewhere.

I think social + mobile + cloud = is more than a consumer fad. It's a business trend that will lead us away from the (frankly hateful) approach of collaboration as an ever-faster-spinning treadmill of productivity enhancements, and towards true "systems of engagement". I feel very lucky to be working on a big piece of the new systems of engagement - a platform for social and business collaboration. One of the big new things I'm working on right now is the next phase of that social platform. And on September 18, I'm organizing an IBM virtual event on the topic, "Reinvent the way work works". I hope you can join me.