Global Social CRM meet-up today

For those of you who follow the social media landscape as it relates to businesses, please join an interesting bunch of folks at today’s Global Social CRM meet-up.  While some of us will take advantage of being at a Cisco Telepresence site, you can join via Justin.tv or via WebEx.  Details of the meet-up, and how to attend remotely, are at the link below:

Meeting will start with introduction video by Paul Greenberg, followed by master interviews with Natalie Petohouff, Ray Wang, Mitch Lieberman, Brian Solis and Frank Eliason.

They will cover the following topics:

– How SCRM plays in the world of enterprise applications;

– Justifying Communities in SCRM planning;

– How does SCRM work for SMB?

– How communities grow from Twitter..

This will follow panel discussions with LaSandra Brill [CISCO], Katy Keim [Lithium], Munish Ghandi [HyLy], Peter Grambs [Cognizant], Kira Wampler [Ant’s Eye View] moderated by Esteban Kolksy.

Topics that will be discussed are:

– Using online communities for SCRM;

– How are communities being used today?

– How has the advent of the Social Customer changed communities?

– How are businesses reacting to these new social-networks-as-communities?

– Is there a business justification for using communities?

– What can we expect going forward?

– How can a business benefit from using communities?

– Case studies.

via Happenings, advice and technology thoughts !: Global Social CRM Community meet-up tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to this lively discussion.

MindMeister updates include Cross-Connections

Sample map created with MindMeister plus interface
Image via Wikipedia

I’m a big fan of mind mapping.  For years I used MindJet’s MindManager application, but I’ve since migrated to the cloud based MindMeisterMindMeister is not as robust as MindManager, but it allows for collaborative brainstorming without client-side software.  Over the last year or so, MindMeister has grown in capabilities, including offline mind mapping (through Google Gears), but lacked one critical element of useful mind mapping, cross connections.  The latest release now incorporates that critical function, in addition to other features:

MindMeister News – Mind Mapping on Steroids

Graphical cross-connections

You can now add graphical cross-connection between your ideas in your mind maps, which will be displayed as green arrows. This feature is still beta, so please be kind. We’ll add more functionality here in future, such as control points and formatting.

MindManager is still more robust than MindMeister, but the later is quickly catching up. Mindjet has also begun to offer an online solution, but I haven’t had the time to review it. Quite frankly, MindMeister does the job for me.

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A solid primer on cloud computing

Cloud Computing

Image by stan via Flickr

Dion Hinchliffe, over at ZDNet, has a great description of cloud computing, why it’s gathering steam, and how it may impact enterprise applications in the years to come.

Enterprise cloud computing gathers steam | Enterprise Web 2.0 | ZDNet.com

The days when organizations carefully cultivated vast data centers consisting of an endless sea of hardware and software are not over, at least not yet. However, the groundwork for their eventual transformation and downsizing is rapidly being laid in the form of something increasingly known as “cloud computing.” This network-based model for computing promises to move many traditional IT capability out to 3rd party services on the network.

It’s a lengthy post that I would recommend everyone to read.

Does Twitter matter?

There’s a small dustup underway on the blogoshpere today regarding the relevancy of Twitter. If you scroll all the way down on my blog, you’ll see that I’m an occasional poster to Twitter. I follow a bunch of people, mostly through the Firefox extension TwitterFox, which I’ve found to be the best way to monitor the rants, raves, and occasional nuggets of wisdom from Tweet-land. As for my personal tweets, I try to keep the noise out there to a minimum.

Anyway, it seems that the spark that ignited the debate came yesterday from this brief post by Wall Street Journal writer Kara Swisher. She struck a similar cord that I’ve seen amongst my friends and colleagues. Most don’t use, never heard of, and don’t care what about Twitter is. Taking that thought even further, Gina Tripani, over at Lifehacker, is conducting a poll asking whether trendy Web 2.0 social applications (Twitter, FriendFeed, etc.) are only useful for the geek elite. When put in the context of Gina’s question, it is true that these trendy apps are only immediately useful to the digital elites. I think usefulness and overall impact are two different things, however. As Stevel Rubel reminds us, even a small clique of users can have a large influence in the broader media. The simple fact that major corporations are tracking tweets serves as evidence of the impact of Twitter. The direct usefulness of Twitter maybe limited to a small number of people, but the impact can be felt well beyond that group.

There is also another angle to think about when looking at niche applications like Twitter. The channels of communication that they unearth will eventually drive the way enterprise applications are built. Of the many challenges that face traditional enterprise software companies, none is greater than trying to figure out how to move their industrial platforms (which were designed primarily around accelerating transactional processes) to a more flexible environment where ‘conversations’ within and across organizations are enabled and fluid. The best efforts to accomplish this, so far, have been limited to poorly executed ‘Live Chat’ applications, or some enhanced forum tools. What applications like Twitter (and for that matter Facebook) have done is expose new channels of communication for organizations. As an aggregate, enterprise software companies have automated transactional processes, creating much of the productivity gains of the last two decades. Any further improvements in transactional efficiency will be incremental at best. But one real opportunity is to pick up on non-invasive, non-transactional conversations which form the 75-80% of space where ‘stuff really happens’ in organizations. Twitter is just one of the newer tools that is exposing simplified ways to create ‘opt-in’ engagement on ideas and topics.

So, does Twitter matter? It does. It may evolve into the next generation instant messenger, but it also has the potential of impacting the way organizations manage opt-in communications across all of its constituencies.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Lifehacker’s question was spawned by this post on Alexander van Elsa’s Weblog.