Don’t spout off about social in the business world. Just use it to get the work done, because that’s what matters most.
I have been reminded of that often during the year. Earlier this month, I wrote about Moxie Software and how it uses the Facebook social graph and a company’s social data to determine the context for chatting with a customer over a branded page. The company uses Facebook and social data to help customers make the right decisions. It’s not about social itself. Social data is just the vehicle to start a chat session when the time is right.
In November, SAP launched Jam, its collaboration software. SAP General Manager Sameer Patel explained that it just helps people get their work done. For example, a salesperson enters a sales lead into the system and up pops the people who can help with the deal. Out of this, a group is formed and collaboration begins through an activity stream. Sure it’s social technology, but that is inconsequential. It’s just a part of the workflow. Social is the glue that binds the process.
This past week I had lunch with Jama Software CEO Eric Winquist. Jama is a service for managing product development. The service sits on top of product-development tools like Raleigh Software and Atlassian‘s Jira and GreenHopper products. Its social features help people get the products completed without the marketing person saying, “What the hell is this goddamn Frankenstein you built?”
SpaceX uses Jama to help build its rockets. Rocket scientists develop the spaceships and the rest of the team can see the project progress, keep track of it, and see all the connections between the different people involved. Once done, everyone is on the same page. In addition, the team can get some reusable IP out of it all. The social graph shows the series of developments over the life of the project. The team can triangulate the different connections and make informed decisions about how to make the product-development process run better between the engineers, the product managers and third parties.
Winquist said research and development gets turned on its head when people can share ideas. One body of work in that collaboration can become a new product. But Jama doesn’t call it a social technology. It’s simply a way for a company like SpaceX to make sure something like an instrument panel gets done the right way.
Here’s the thing. Most of the enterprise world does not operate like GitHub or any of the new-age startups. Think of it this way: A dude steps out of his front door in the morning a modern man, sunglasses on, streaming his Macklemore playlist on his iPhone. He drives to work in his Toyota Prius, walks into the building past security, and enters a different world. Transported back to the pre-social age, he sits at his swivel chair, logs into the company network, fires up IE 6, and gets to work. It’s not all that way, of course. People get their work done any way they can. The new startups out there help them do that. But generic social networks? They make as much sense for the business world as cubicles in your living room do.
However, addressing specific business processes with social technologies to get work done makes infinite sense. Emerging services from companies like Jama transform the way work gets done. But they are not “social” tools nor are they social networks. People don’t use Jama to chat about kittens. They use it to get stuff done.
A Cambridge, U.K.-based consulting firm has managed to use the open source Raspberry Pi computer to replicate the functions normally performed by a 30-foot GSM cellular basestation to create a fully functional mobile network. Using two open source software programs, and a bit of off-the-shelf hardware kit DIY enthusiasts can get their hands on fairly easily, PA Consulting rolled their own mobile phone service.
The system works by routing calls similar to the way they’d be handled by Skype, thanks to an open source program called FreeSWITCH, which also enables SMS communication and phones on the network to connect to the Internet. All of it had to be built in a radio sealed room, to avoid stepping on any spectrum toes and thereby breaking laws. The whole point of the project was just to prove that it could be done: a 30-foot, extremely expensive piece of vital mobile network infrastructure could be more or less replaced with a 3-inch Raspberry Pi, at least in terms of providing an actual, functioning mobile phone network. That bodes extremely well for the future of low-cost infrastructure, and is in keeping with the Raspberry Pi foundation’s goals of delivering affordable, accessible solutions to previously expensive problems.
This lets users stream TV content directly to the device of their choosing, including the computer, tablet or smartphone.
Not only do NimbleTV subscribers get access on any device they’d like, but the app offers unlimited recording like a DVR system along with a channel guide. NimbleTV has even added social features to make sure users can find what they’re looking for on the service.
The service is currently only available in New York city as a beta, but the company has plans to roll out its software in the U.S. and India, and eventually globally, as soon as possible.
Unlike Aereo, which streams content from free over-the-air signals, NimbleTV lets users get subscription content by acting as the payment provider between the consumer and the TV provider. Users can choose with providers they want, and select a payment package based on their cable needs, along with standard local coverage.
Getting into the streaming TV space is difficult, but worthwhile. Customers are clamoring for affordable pricing and device freedom, however, the broadcast networks and cable providers are forces to be reckoned with. Aereo is currently in the middle of a huge lawsuit for streaming content on its service, and NimbleTV will likely run into similar obstacles.
For now, however, the company is just excited to have its service finally available to users.
One of Facebook’s bigger hurdles in advertising has been to figure out ways of either applying traditional metrics, or coming up with new ones, to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns on the social network. Today, we got wind of one of its latest efforts to connect the dots a bit better. Publishing Garage is a new program — and platform — that the social network has created to work with mega-agencies and brands to improve how brands use Facebook to market themselves, and measure when it’s working well.
The existence of Publishing Garage was first spotted by the blog Fusible, which noticed that Facebook had registered a number of domain names — variations on publishinggarage.com, facebookpublishinggarage.com, and so on.
Fusible also notes that there have been some other hints for it elsewhere: an online search for “Facebook Publishing Garage” takes you to the site of Addie Marino, a brand specialist and creative strategist for Facebook in New York. One of the projects detailed on her site is for logo and design work for Publishing Garage, which she describes as a “program geared at building world-class social publishing systems that enable brands to create the most meaningful connections with their connections and their friends through News Feed stories.” Part of Publishing Garage involves intensive three-day workshops, she says.
I have done some digging and found out a bit more: The Publishing Garage program has actually been quietly running since September. There have been 20 Publishing Garages so far in the U.S. with major brands — but the names are not being made public (one possible candidate: Macy’s). Now Facebook is expanding the program to other markets, starting with the UK. Tomorrow, Facebook is expected to reveal that the first brand to use the platform/program internationally is Doritos, working with its agencies AMV BBDO and OMD, to create its own, optimised publishing system.
The idea is to help court big brands who are already spending a lot, to keep spending that money by ensuring that what they are doing is actually working… and possibly spend more. “Publishing Garage is a Facebook-led initiative for brands to optimise their performance on Facebook, an ignition switch to make the participating brand one of the best publishers on Facebook,” notes a news release on the program.
I believe the agencies involved will change depending on the brand/client; the description seems to imply a strong role played by OMD and AMV at least in the Doritos campaign specifically: “Managed via a cross-agency, client and Facebook steering committee, it incorporates AMV’s and Facebook’s expertise in publishing content with OMD’s skill in understanding audiences and setting creative roles for media.”
Although Facebook has registered about eight different variations on that domain name, it looks like at this point there are no plans to make this a public website — rather, it will remain open only to those brands working on Publishing Garage projects with Facebook. As I understand it, for now it will only be open to brands that are spending above a certain threshold on Facebook marketing.
In addition to offering up a team of creative strategists from Facebook itself (the ‘intensive workshops’) Publishing Garage is aiming to put into place a set of measurements to demonstrate how well campaigns are working. This will be in collaboration with Nielsen as well as other social measurement tools — although which are not yet specified.
Work on the Doritos campaign has been going on since November and the aim is to “optimise the Doritos Facebook content strategy, complimented by longer-term media support. The media investment will amplify key strategic posts and increase awareness of Doritos content at key moments,” the company says.
It’s not clear whether Facebook at some point intends this to replace the functions of third parties like Vitrue, Nanigans or others who provide marketing expertise, insight and platforms for brands that want to advertise on Facebook, but it’s one more sign of how the social network is getting increasingly sophisticated in its bid to court big ad dollars.
Read the original post: Meet Facebook’s Stealth Marketing Platform, “Publishing Garage”