Zeit·geist = spirit, essence of a particular time

A collection of food-for-thought posts and articles on technology, business, leadership and management. 

Ranking of best executives 2011, Spain: el Economista

Last Tuesday, the financial newspaper el Economista published the ranking of best executives in Spain. A yearly public poll comprising main sectors of the industry. By mistake, or by chance (can't find myself any other reasonable cause), I was included in the pool of telecom's candidates.

Thanks to people voting, and more importantly, to those who didn't vote me. Both groups made the poll come to an unforeseen result, taking my candidature to the second position right between the winner, Johan Andsjo, CEO of Yoigo, and Mr. Cesar Alierta, president of Telefonica

An honor to be included in this ranking among top tier individuals like Francisco Roman (President, Vodafone Spain) or Jose Maria Castellano (CEO at ONO, the fixed carrier).

Apologies to all candidates and other excellent professionals (not included in the survey), for irreverent intrusion. (I really felt like stepping in somebody else's house).

As usual, there is a root cause to this. Masha Lloyd's entry in Facebook, last Sunday, sparked the whole thing. Masha is Yoigo's comms director, ex-colleague and British friend (the adjective is important here).

Her FB entry brought to my attention this survey, and, my name was in the candidate list, ... and, there was race, ... and, I had a PC in front of me with an empty twitter status...

Online polling is a matter of interest to me. I do believe there is a great opportunity turning 'analog' voting into an online, digital process with smartphones (I'll talk about this in the future).

Surprisingly, web polls are still rudimentary and they still miss many of the social aspects around the process, not to mention poor implementation for mobile access. For instance:

- The race to the Top:

Since the very first moment when the web poll starts, and once a critical mass of votes is reached, there is a polarization process towards the two leading candidates. Typically, the minimum critical mass is around 20% of all voters. At the end, there is a one to one fight between these two. Voters are influenced and tend to vote one or the other, diluting any possibilities for the remaining candidates (the same effect we see in politics, there is a symmetric pattern).

Votes turn to be conditioned rather than impulsive, despite the fact you couldn't see the web poll status at first sight, hidden behind the click to a button.

- Campaign elections:

On Sunday, as I was on a budget, I ran my own campaign on a PC, with a pack of donuts, a twitter account, my facebook page and linkedin.

First lesson, candidate influence is key. It is not the same to see a candidate list in el Economista web page than receiving a personal request to participate directly from one of the candidates. The P2P (Person to Person) approach increases favorability significantly (this explains the huge investments from political parties around candidate roadshows, make sense now to me).

My initial strategy on Sunday, phase 1, was pretty straight forward, spread the word and reach as many people as possible to increase participation in the poll (without conditioning the voters) as I was confident my candidature had higher awareness and better attributes than many other competitors (we made record sales of BlackBerry this year in Spain, among other things). It was all about leveraging on brand awareness.

It worked nicely. A critical mass of votes came in the next 48 hours, climbing from 10th to the 4th position, overtaking Paco Roman (paradoxically), and, from there reaching the 3rd place, tailgating Mr. Cesar Alierta in 2nd position at that moment.

Moving into phase 2, from Wednesday onwards, the polarization effect started after Mr. Alierta was relegated to the 3rd place (I really hope he doesn't take it into consideration) and all I needed to do was to close the gap with the winner who, the previous day, multiplied his votes (and I am saying 'multiplied' instead of 'added' for reasons Masha will understand for sure).

On Wednesday I withdrew my personal campaign and let the long tail effect do the rest. We ended up in s-e-c-o-n-d place finally, contrary to all expectations.

As a conclusion, short term marketing strategies do really work and they definitively play a role towards the elections result.

- Online influence:

This is a controversial statement: I do think democratic elections need to evolve and differentiate votes. They should factor in contextual parameters both for candidates and voters, and include metrics like voter influence (klout) or professional competencies (linkedin), applicable, for instance, in the case referred here in this post.

From an user experience point of view, this information should be presented visually, and dynamically in real time, comprising candidate comparisons and voters comparison as well (yes, I envision a Cascades' based interface running on PlayBook doing all of this).

In this way, 'technical' or vertical polls, as in this case, selecting best executives of a given sector, will become more genuine, much more valuable, with voters taking informed decisions, avoiding alterations of the election's course from technofreaks running ego-driven, unconventional digital marketing tactics (although truth to be told, perfectly valid).

Merry Xmas


(Written on a plane from London to Madrid with a BlackBerry 9900)

Social Networks in the Enterprise. Are We who We are? or are We who We work for?

Last Friday I had the opportunity to participate in Club de Presidentes Expansión @clubpresidentes, an event organized by Carlos Beldarrain @cbeldarr  and  Javier Cremades @javiercremades. This edition focused on one of the trendiest topics now, influence of social networks in corporate environments. There were top-notch presenters, starting with Enrique Dans @edans, from whom I always get valuable insights to understand second derivatives around social networking in particular.

Besides Enrique, we had David del Val @ddelval0 from Telefonica Digital (formerly Telefonica R&D), who is also a fellow runner (we ran together Madrid's marathon this year). David convinced the audience of the benefits of yammer (corporate, closed version of twitter), as an enterprise tool and an efficient internal communication channel.

Prior to the event, I had a chance to discuss with David about smartphones and mobile platform evolution (picture below, extracted from Enrique's awesome presentation). We talked about proprietary approaches, move on to open standards and ended up on future net phones (let's leave this topic for now as it could generate additional 15 pages).

Next... we also enjoyed speakers like Joshua Novick @jnovick, CEO at Antevenio, Mauricio Prieto @mauprieto, CEO at edreams, and outstanding participants in the audience like Marcos de Quinto, @marcosdequinto, a seasoned twitter user combining it with C-level responsibilities as president of CocaCola group in Spain.

These were my learning bytes:

- Getting above 100K followers in twitter doesn't necessarily mean you had a revolutionary strategy or secret tactic. In the case of @edans, it all happened by coincidence when Twitter-masters back in their headquarters decided unilaterally to recommend Enrique as a preferred Spanish speaking twitter user. Immediately afterwards, his twitter account made a leap forward of 30K followers and, from there, organic growth and good content made the rest.

- Metrics are important. Once you tweet, facebook or post anything, you need to dig into the stats, check how many people have seen it and clicked it. You need to know what topics does your audience prefer and, most importantly, you should use emotions around your messages, humor, irony, surprise, etc.

- The boundaries between professional and personal are blurring, twitter is a great example. When I am twitting, who am I? Eduardo (an 'average' human being) or the managing director of a big corporate?. Enrique and Marcos de Quinto defined it clearly, we are both indistinguishable the majority of the time, and this is because, at the end, we ARE the same person who IS working for a corporate.

- Off twitter: protocol term to avoid off-line conversations to be posted in twitter.

- Klout: online reputation and influence, another topic for a long, long post. Talking with Enrique, I truly realized there is a huge opportunity for someone to take the spot on and standardize online reputation. Klout appears to be the rising start in this front, and eventually may become de facto standard. Interestingly enough, we will see Klout index as part of our CVs, included in our skills profile, as a critical metric to evaluate our competencies.

There will be also a retro-feeding effect based on your certified online influence. The higher your Klout index is, the better your content will be positioned by internet machinery. Your content will have more relative value and will generate more buzz around you. This is not yet happening widely (although I have seen seesmic adding Klout index to twitter profiles), but, when a standard is established, it will revolutionize how content is consumed and impact around it (a huge business opportunity here).

Finally, we couldn't go further on this one, but Enrique and Javier Cremades touched it during their presentations. Social networks do not change anything by themselves, everything remains the same deep inside, in the same way there was a revolution, last century, and legal controversy around privacy rights as a consequence of newspapers advent, we live today a similar digital media disruption. And today, newspapers are called, traditional media.

Javier mentioned privacy rights and referred to 1898 debate caused by yellow press in US, when Brandeis & Warren "the right to privacy" article was published, which is today, considered the most influential legal article of all times. This article resembled the profound sociologist changes originated by press and newspapers at that time (similarly to what social networks are doing today, for further reading see Anthony Guiddens and the telecommunications revolutions as main catalyst for globalization)

@efernandez Harvard Law Review, the Right to Privacy, 1898, Warren, Brandeis. Articulo imprescindible, de mas de un siglo, para entender hoy
October 22, 2011

We are living a phenomenal deja vu, where social networks today are what newspapers were last century.

Last but not least, Enrique did a mention in twitter after I explained how the BlackBerry outage happened and the use we made of my twitter account to report in real time. Grateful for it, considering he has nearly 140K followers.

Buenísimo @efernandez contando los insights de la crisis de BlackBerry y el uso que hizo de su cuenta de Twitter #Clubdepresidentes
October 21, 2011

Redes sociales y empresas ¿somos o estamos?

Ayer pude participar en el encuentro del Club de Presidentes Expansión @clubpresidentes, organizado por Carlos Beldarrain @cbeldarr y Javier Cremades @javiercremades que en esta edición se centró en uno de esos temas de rabiosa actualidad, la influencia de las redes sociales en el entorno corporativo. Tuvimos un magnífico elenco de participantes empezando por Enrique Dans @edans, de quien siempre consigo extraer valiosísima información que me permite entender la segunda derivada, especialmente cuando nos referimos a social networking.

Pero además estuvo David del Val @ddelval0 Telefónica Digital (antes I+D), quien además de compañero de fatigas (corrimos juntos la última maraton de Madrid), nos convenció acerca de la importancia de yammer (twitter en versión corporativa, cerrado para la empresa) como herramienta de empresa y canal interno de comunicación. Pre-event hablé con David sobre la evolución del mundo smartphones y plataformas (gran slide de Enrique sobre esto último, foto adjunta), empezamos por proprietary, pasamos a open standards y acabamos en el net-phone (esto vamos a dejarlo para otro post porque daría para 15 pags).

Sigamos... además de Joshua Novick @jnovick, Antevenio, Mauricio Prieto @mauprieto, edreams, tuvimos participantes en el público como Marcos de Quinto, @marcosdequinto, de CocaCola, con dilatada experiencia en esto de usar twitter al mismo tiempo que llevar un cargo de responsabilidad.

Me quedo con estos learning bytes:

- conseguir más de 100K followers no obedece a una estrategia o táctica especial, para @edans coincidió que los Sres de twitter le hicieron #FF en el momento adecuado y tuvo un salto cuántico de unos 30K followers de golpe, a partir de ahí, crecimiento orgánico.

- es importante medir qué pasa después de twittear, facebookear, postear, no sólo hay que saber cuanta gente lo ha visto, hay que mirar que click through tenemos cuando posteamos un link, qué temas prefiere tu audiencia y muy importante, trabajar las emociones, es decir, usar el humor, ironía, sorpresa, etc para transmitir el mensaje.

- la linea entre lo profesional y lo personal se diluye, twitter es un gran ejemplo, cuando yo tuiteo, quién soy? Eduardo (la persona) o el director de una empresa?, Enrique y Marcos de Quinto lo expresaban perfectamente, somos ambos, muchas veces indiferenciados por que al final, SOMOS una misma persona y ESTAMOS trabajando para una empresa.

- Off twitter: término protocolario para referirse a conversaciones privadas que no se reflejen o comenten en twitter.

- Klout: reputación e influencia online, esto también da para otro post. Hablando con Enrique, me queda meridianamente claro que hay una oportunidad gigantesca para que alguien ocupe el puesto de standard de reputación online, puede que Klout consiga hacerse standard de facto y ésto determinará por ejemplo tu valor profesional (indice klout será parte del CV) y formará parte de tu skills profile a la hora de evaluar tus competencias.

Obviamente, también se producirá un efecto de retroalimentación, es decir, si tienes alta influencia (o alto índice de klout) la maquinaria online te posicionará mejor, tus contenidos serán mas cotizados y te generará más buzz a tu alrededor. Esto todavía no ocurre de una forma generalizada (aunque he visto que seesmic ya te añade el klout index a los perfiles de twitter), pero cuando alguien consiga estandarizarlo revolucionara la forma y el impacto de lo que posteemos o de la info que consumamos (que gran oportunidad de negocio hay aquí).

Por último, no dió tiempo a profundizar en ello, pero Enrique y Javier Cremades tocaron este tema durante su presentación. Las redes sociales no cambian nada en si mismas, todo sigue igual en el fondo, de la misma manera que allá por final del siglo pasado hubo una especie de revolución y controversia legal acerca del derecho al honor y la intimidad debido a la aparición de los medios hoy llamados tradicionales.

Javier hizo una mención con respecto al derecho de la privacidad y cómo surgió el debate por culpa de la yellow press en US allá en 1890, cuando se publicó el artículo de Brandeis & Warren "the right to privacy", considerado el artículo legal más influyente de todos los tiempos y que evidenciaba el cambio sociológico que la prensa suponía por aquel entonces (igual que las redes sociales lo hacen ahora, véase también Anthony Guiddens y la revolución de las comunicaciones como motor de la globalización)

@efernandez Harvard Law Review, the Right to Privacy, 1898, Warren, Brandeis. Articulo imprescindible, de mas de un siglo, para entender hoy
October 22, 2011

Ahora, vivimos un inmenso dejavu donde a lo que fueron los periódicos el siglo pasado son ahora las redes sociales.

Un último apunte, Enrique me hizo esta mención tras exponer como había vivido personalmente la crisis del BlackBerry Blackout y el uso que le di a mi twitter. De recordar y agradecer.

Buenísimo @efernandez contando los insights de la crisis de BlackBerry y el uso que hizo de su cuenta de Twitter #Clubdepresidentes
October 21, 2011