Forbes: Lessons From Trekking The Arctic That Leaders Can Apply To Digital Transformation

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Originally published in Forbes.com by Krystal Rose for Oracle BrandVoices

Business leaders looking for direction in their digital transformation initiatives often look to top executives, consultants, coaches, and case studies. There are also lessons in leadership that can be uncovered in unlikely places, such as the North and South poles.Robert Swan, polar explorer and author, is the first person in history to journey to both the North and South poles. He led a team in 1986 through Antarctica and a team in 1989 through the North Pole. As a customer experience consultant with Oracle, I had the privilege of conducting an interview with Swan that was streamed on Facebook Live during Oracle’s 2017 Modern Customer Experience Conference.


Swan’s experience trekking across the polar caps may seem unrelated to the business world. However, those of us fortunate enough to hear him present his lessons in leadership could see how his experience translates to best practices in leadership and even as a possible framework for digital transformation.

Here are lessons and best practices that Swan shared during his interview:

On Leadership

“The world makes leadership really complicated…

Leadership is actually really simple.”

The most important lesson in business is trust. Trust is a key element in any relationship, whether it’s leading a small team, the entire organization, or servicing customers.

To help build trust, leaders should:

  • Avoid lip service. Leaders need to lead by example, not just sell their team a vision with little guidance or support to meeting the objective. Swan stresses the importance of following through on commitments to teams and stakeholders. The consequences of not implementing what is promised would be a loss in credibility for future objectives.
  • Earn respect through “servant leadership.” To gain respect, Swan recommends leaders embrace servant leadership by rolling up their sleeves and getting engaged with teams. Leaders should be present and involved in the transformation process, but without micromanaging. They should also allot room for mistakes.
  • Make inspiration sustainable. Empowerment and guidance are critical to moving forward with a plan, yet leaders often fail to keep their constituents inspired throughout the journey. Leaders shouldn’t expect people to keep inspirational language in mind for 6 months or more, and should therefore motivate their stakeholders throughout the course of a project.
  • Celebrate success. While Swan states that celebrating success is not an original concept he highlights how critical recognition and accolades are to a team now more than ever. It is up to the leader to determine what level of motivation and affirmation their team needs to stay motivated and progress towards the vision.
  • Customize communication within your team. Modern businesses strive to connect, engage, and build relationships with customers by using their preferred language and channels—because that is what their customers value. Communicating with today’s workforce is no different, and leaders should connect and engage with their teams via individual preferences.

On Business Transformation 

“If we don’t make changes, we swim.”

Swan is referring to action needed to tackle the effects of climate changes. Data tells us that the polar caps are melting and Swan highlights that if the world doesn’t make changes to prevent them from further deterioration the consequences can be disastrous.


From a business perspective, brands are faced with tackling challenges in customer experience, operational processes, and competition. If brands do not make efforts to innovate, streamline processes, and address challenges, the consequences can be detrimental to the organization.

Identify the problem and offer a solution. In business and in a modern customer experience, constituents expect timely and convenient resolutions to current challenges. Once an inconvenient truth is uncovered, the next steps are to develop a framework for transformation, deliver a solution, and build awareness of the solution.

Embrace new technology. With technology come mixed emotions. There is both fear and a desire to replace processes, operations, and even sometimes people with advanced technology. Leaders that are faced with transformation can uncover ways to embrace new technology and use it to enhance and enable their people, workflows, and structure. In 2018, Swan and his son will embark on a new Antarctica expedition, using new technology to simplify and maximize operational efforts as well as communicate to their target audiences via a variety of channels.

“The key to making long-term change in business is people,” Swan states in the interview. People can find it difficult to look 25 or 50 years ahead. An important part of leadership is getting people to focus by giving them small, achievable steps on the way to the long-term goal. Simplify what the team needs to do in order to reach their goal and, as a leader, keep inspiring the team and all stakeholders along the way.



Business Transformation

Drivers and Barriers of Digital Transformation

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I originally published this article on the Oracle Sales Blog 

The method of Digital Transformation (DX) is not a new business concept. In fact, it is a process that has been essential to the evolution of businesses since the early 1990’s. If you are currently researching DX you may find varying definitions of what Digital Transformation is. In my own investigation comparing various explanations, I have found similar key takeaways. A hybrid description that is a derivative of the key takeaways is as follows:

A strategic journey of planned organizational and operational change that is driven by threats, risk, revenue or competition, empowered by the workforce, and enabled by innovation and technology.

While the framework for successful Digital Transformation will be unique for each business, there are common drivers and barriers to the DX process. It would behoove organizational leaders to explore and prepare for the following listed drivers and barriers (as well as those not listed) as they transform their business.

Drivers of DX:

  • Digital Disruptors (New and Unexpected Entrants to the Market)

The success stories of Uber and Lyft upsetting the transportation industry with their on-demand ride sharing framework are commonly used as an illustration of digital disruption. This is because they are a prime example of how strategy and innovation, enabled by technology, can unexpectedly influence the course of an entire industry. Now more than ever, with the constant and speedy evolution of technologies, business leaders should transform the way they think about competition and disruptors of their industry.

  • Changing Demographics

As the retirement of baby boomers continues to gain momentum businesses will begin to feel the shift from both a customer perspective and a workforce perspective. As baby boomers, or any generation for that matter, transition into new life stages their expectations, interests and needs from brands and employers will evolve. If companies are not agile and understanding of the changing needs of their target audience, they will struggle to attract and retain customers.

  • Customer Expectations

Advanced technology has enabled consumers to share their opinions, experiences and ideas with the masses at the touch of a button. The modern customer values the opinion (user generated content) of strangers over advertisement and has high expectations for overall customer experience. Customers expect fast responses (60 minutes is the average acceptable wait time) from brands, easy access to solutions and tools, self-serve options, customized messaging and they want to always feel valued at each touch point of their journey.

Barriers of DX:

  • Workforce

From entry level positions to the C-Suite, the entire workforce plays a critical role in a company’s Digital Transformation. According to a study conducted by Dell and Hitachi, 56% of executives surveyed believe that the human aspect is the key to a successful transition. That same study highlights that a third of companies state their largest barrier to DX is the human aspect. These findings tell businesses that the workforce is critical to success yet a big challenge to master. There are many elements that role under the human factor such as;

  • Top talent, which drives knowledge sharing, creativity and innovation, and culture, which empowers employees to take efficient and effective action.
  • Working across silos via integrated technology to share and analyze data, reduce gaps in insights and support a company-wide strategy.
  • Ownership of DX. Consensus on who owns Digital Transformation within the organization is difficult to find. There is support for arguments against and for, the CIO, CMO, CXO, CDO, CEO, etc. leading the DX journey. Yet, it is safe to conclude that ownership depends on the structure and culture of an organization, as well as the resources and data available. Whomever has the ability to enable the DX strategy across all areas of the business and throughout the customer experience, holds ownership.
  • Data & Analytics

Challenges that organizations face when it comes to big data is management’s lack of understanding and lack of organizational alignment. According to NewVantage Partners, more than 85% of respondents to a survey reported that their firms have started programs to create data-driven cultures but only 37% report success thus far. This indicates that there is awareness of the importance of harnessing data but only a third of companies are capitalizing on big data.

  • Operational Agility

In today’s business, operational agility is known by many names such as “lean” or “design thinking”. Regardless of what your business calls it, operational agility is key to keeping up in the digital space. Along with having clear vision, strategy and an empowered leadership, an organization needs to be positioned to quickly and efficiently adapt to changes in technology, market trends and customer needs.

Closing Remarks:

After reading these several drivers and barriers to Digital Transformation, you may recognize that DX is not about technology but rather insight, people and process. Oracle CEO Safra Catz once stated, “the hardest part of digital transformation isn’t technology—it’s managing the business through change…but when organizations embrace digital technology and navigate those changes, they not only meet customers’ needs better and empower employees, but do more while spending less.”




Customer Experience Customer Service Social Media

Add Social Media to The Customer Experience Infographic

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As a contributor on the Oracle Social blog I write articles on how brands can use social media for business. In one of my blog posts, called Stand Out by Adding Social to The Customer Experience, I highlight key tactics for deploying social media to enhance your interactions with customers across the board. The article features key statistics and recommendations to use the vast social landscape for everything from lead generation to customer advocacy. Here is a follow-up infographic that offers more tips and best practices for deploying social media effectively across the business. Pin it, print it or tape it to the office wall, but keep it handy for your next big campaign.

social enabled customer experience oracle social blog infographic - 2




Social Strategy

4 Ways to Use Social Media for Product Launches

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Savvy marketers know that social for business extends further than just marketing efforts. Insights from social data can be used in numerous ways to support the various efforts of your brand’s overall business operations. In my latest article for the Oracle Social blog I list out four ways marketers can use social media to help with their brands product launches.


Can you add to the list? Share your tips in the comments section.




Online Brand Management

If You Want to Enhance Your Brand’s Social Presence, Start With Your Personal Marketing

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Social Media Marketing World took place in April and I am sure if you attended your head is still spinning from all the insights you gained from the sessions. For those of you who did not attend, I want to share some unique insights from Guy Kawasaki’s Personal Marketing session with you.

You are probably wondering, “what does personal marketing have to do with social media strategy?” The short answer — MORE THAN YOU THINK.

business professional on tabletl

The personal image that you, as a marketer, along with every other employee at your company really do matter. If your company wants a reputation of being innovative then its leaders and staff should show a theme of being innovators within their personal branding. If your company’s mission is to be thought leaders within your industry then thought leadership should be reflected throughout the personal marketing of  its leaders, executives, and everyone else who follows suit. Company branding aside, your online presence should reflect the personal brand you want people to see. Because let’s face it, people are always judging.

And we can’t help it. If I am looking to hire an agency to outsource my marketing to and I look up the VP of Digital Marketing’s LinkedIn profile for a potential vendor and I see an empty profile, blank avatar and no updates or activity I am going to make many negative assumptions. Maybe they are not as modern with digital and social media as they claim to be, perhaps that they don’t value online marketing as much as I do or maybe they are way to busy to simply update their profile and they will be too busy to dedicate enough time and attention to me as a customer. These are a little extreme but I can go on and on with assumptions. They point is, these impressions that we get from one’s personal marketing matter and can positively and negatively reflect the company.

Now don’t get confused! When I reference “personal branding”, I am not talking about just your LinkedIn.com or Branded.me profiles. I am talking about ALL OF IT.

All of your social profiles make up your personal marketing/branding and if you think clients, employers, customers, reference, and the competition are not going to check out your Facebook and see your picture of you doing a keg stand at your bachelor party -and judge- you are wrong. As Guy Kawasaki advised his son, it is not about what platform you use, it is about what platform they (your clients, employers, customers, reference,competition, etc) use and are looking for you on.

Still don’t believe that your brand image matters or impacts  your company’s image? Well Guy Kawasaki, author of The Art of Social Media had much to say about the topic at #SMMW16. If you don’t know who Guy Kawasaki is and you are in social media then we have bigger problems but essentially Guy is not only a social media guru, he has also perfected his personal marketing by working with companies like Apple, Canva, Mercedes Benz, and UC Berkeley.

In his Social Media Marketing World session, Guy confirmed that personal marketing is a big deal and attest to in order to be successful at it, you have be able to “adapt to changes, build relationships, and set trends that catch on like wildfire”.

Here are a few of the key takeaways from Guys session:

  • Be strategic with your avatar (profile photo)
  • Every profile is your professional profile
  • Use a 3rd party tool to schedule your media post
  • Repeat your tweets and use media
  • Live video on Facebook
  • Use Hide for unwanted comments
  • Upgrade your video equipment
  • Use Canva.com (I personally recommend using canva.com as well because I use it for this blog …and it is free)

To learn more about what is good and poor personal marketing, Guy provided the audience with a quiz to give yourself a personal marketing audit. Take the test, answer HONESTLY and let me know what score you got!



Maximize Your Reach With Facebook’s Latest News Feed Update

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What Was the Update?

Facebooks is constantly updating their News Feed algorithm and the latest updates include ranking and scoring of posts. This update will influence the likeliness of your brand’s post showing up in your followers News Feed organically (with out Paid Advertisement). The following are the factors that effect the ranking and scoring:

facebook newsfeed post

Who posted it – The frequency of when the user engages with content from that user or a brand page

When it was posted – Recency is an important ranking factor, as people want to be kept up to date with the latest news (if their is a new addition to the family, you want to know about it when it occurs right?!)

Type of content – How often the user engages with this type of content (pics, videos, links, etc.)

Interactions with the post – The amount of interactions a post has had infers a relative level of importance or relevance of the post

There is a lot more that goes in to the ranking but I wanted to keep this high level and brief.

Along with these ranking factors, the News Feed algorithm also factors in time spent reading content, along with Likes, Shares, Comments, etc. along with time spent reading content after clicking a link.

All those factors affect a publishers post getting viewed in the News Feed.

For more insight on ranking and scoring, I suggest reading these posts from Social Media Today:





Why did Facebook do this?

Facebooks believes that these changes essentially will boost the reach of ‘quality’ content. So it really is quality over quantity.

Now given the new process of ranking and scoring, it makes sense that stories from friends and family are going to have their posts show up more often over brand content simply because users are more likely to be engaging with those more personally-relevant posts (such as wedding engagement, graduation, baby announcement).

Clearly, this will make it much more challenging for brands to get significant organic reach. However, the silver lining as I see it is that publishers will have to focus on interacting with their followers, as opposed to out right selling which will push brands to be creative and engaging.


How can you [publishers] maximize your reach?

Publishers will need to engage with their followers and build relationships rather than have a one way conversation. This advice should be nothing new to you. The more publishers connect with their audience and generate interaction, the more likely they will show in Newsfeed.

I have listed a few recommended tips that publishers should consider as Best Practices:

maximize reach on Facebook (1)

Write compelling headlines –publishers should seek to write compelling headlines that give people a real sense of the content that’s behind that click.” Include links in posts – more time spent reading a post or the link in the post benefits the publishers score.

A trend that I am seeing among publishers is that they will use specific words (usually related to life events like baby, congratulations and engaged) to influence a posts relevancy enabling it to show higher in followers Newsfeeds.

Avoid overly promotional content – No one likes being sold too. Stop hitting up followers with salesy promos. Definitely use the platform as a sales tool but be cognizant that too much promotional content can turn audiences off over time which will lead to less engagement resulting in a reduced chances of reaching your audience in their Newsfeed.

Get Creative – Regardless of the success of tricks and trends, what works for one publisher won’t necessarily work for another. So that means you will have to get creative and try and test different media and content to see what resonates with your specific audience.

Publisher tools –How do you keep track of what is working and whats not? Check out the insights on the performance of your posts. How do you do that?

Facebook has their own insight and audience optimizing tools but there are numerous publishing tools that can monitor and analyze your efforts and tell you what is working. The type of tool you use will depend on the size and objectives of your business. Which ever tool you choose to use, it is crucial that you spend time analyzing the data in order to understand what you should be posting, what your audience wants to see, what they respond to and when and where to post it.


Facebook says the updated algorithm will be rolling out over the next few weeks and that they don’t expect that most Pages will see any significant change.


Content Marketing Social Strategy

To Sell, You Can’t Just Write. You Must Persuade.

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I am sure you have heard many times that when it comes to marketing and social media “Content is King”. I say if Content is King then “Quality is his Queen”. Despite the overwhelming amount of content available online today, the quality of content outweighs the quantity by far and you will see a better ROI with persuasive content.

How you ask? Well think about it. When marketers write about ideas, stories or training versus about highlighting the product, prospects will want to read what they are saying. Prospects will also be more willing to share the content or leave a comment because they are not being directly solicited to. With this approach, marketers are acting as a resource, or a thought leader or even a peer and people will do business with people or brands they feel a connection with. The quality and persuasiveness of content helps readers to like brands and feel connected.

Ray Edwards, author of Writing Riches and MoneyWords, says that copy writing is the science and craft of persuasion in communication. Whether you’re speaking to an audience, writing a blog post, doing an interview, recording a podcast, or posting on Snapchat, every communication is persuasion.

I learned a lot from listening to the Social Media Examiner’s interview with Ray Edwards. It is a podcast that explores the art of persuasion and why it’s important to social marketers.

I think the material Ray shared is very useful. You can listen to the podcast recording here.



Social Media

What’s Happening In Facebook

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What Came Out of F8 2016 

The highly talked about F8 annual global developer conference, was packed with new information including the announcement of the integration of bots with Messenger.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out the 10 year plan for Facebook development, which is heading in the direction of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and connectivity. (Source: Oracle Social)

How to Use Facebook Instant Articles for Business

Wondering how to use Facebook Instant Articles? In Social Media Examiner’s article you’ll discover everything you need to know to publish Facebook Instant Articles that stand out in the Facebook news feed. (Social Media Examiner)


Facebook Live Updates

This month, Facebook announced several new features for Facebook Live that will “give users more ways to discover, share and interact with live video and more ways to personalize their live broadcasts.”

Live for Groups and Events: go live in Facebook Groups and Facebook Events

Interactive Features: Live Reactions, Replay Comments, Live Filters: viewers can select Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry, and the reactions animate right on top of the video. people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.

Facebook Live Map for Desktop: People in more than 60 countries can now share live video, and we’ve been inspired by all the different global broadcasts. The Facebook Live Map gives you a window into what’s happening in the world right now.  (Source: Facebook Newsroom)


Customer Service Social Strategy

Add Social to Your Customer Service Strategy

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Did you know that in a few years, 89% of businesses will compete mainly on customer experience? Frankly, I am not surprised by this stat from Gartner.

If you have been keeping up with what is going on in the marketing world you already saw this coming. Since companies can no longer compete on price anymore, they must step up their customer experience game. And at the risk of “trendy word overkill” social media is going to be your #GAMECHANGER.

Learn how your brand can stand out from the crowd by making social media the cornerstone of your customer. Check out my recent article on Oracle’s Social blog http://ora.cl/UEG

How are you using social to enhance #CX?

#SocialMedia #OracleEmp



The Reaction To Instagram’s Update Can Be Described As Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

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Who else shared the utterly blissful moment with me last month, when Instagram reveled it’s new feature where a user can quickly and easily switch between multiple accounts? That is a rhetorical question because I already know… It was everyone!! No longer do you have to deal with the frustrating tasks of logging in and out of accounts, losing your saved hashtags, etc. Personally, it got so frustrating with having multiple accounts that I started carrying around multiple phones just so that I wouldn’t have to log out.

#firstworldproblems  I know.

Then on February 8th, I felt that Instagram finally sensed my frustration (as well as that of the other millions of marketers, bloggers and brands who share the same sentiment) and give us the sweet release of the account switching feature. The elation that I felt that day did not revisit with Instagram’s latest update . In fact, many users are pretty upset with it’s new algorithm feature. Starting this week users may see a change in their timeline which will be that posts from those they follow are no longer in its well known chronological order.

Hmmm sounds like a way too familiar story, right Facebook?

This algorithm will now dictate .. I mean suggest what’s most relevant to show users instead of letting them see the post that their followers posted in the “time-it-was-posted” order (say that 10 times fast).


What does this mean for users?

Well, the intent behind the change is that users will receive posts from those they follow that are most relevant to them based on their engagement, likes, searches, etc. This is great if you are ready to avoid those who you don’t want to unfollow but they spam your wall with selfies, baby photos and cat photos (I actually like all cute animal posts) so you can live without seeing that on your timeline. But the down fall is that you can potentially miss posts that you would have enjoyed from those who you don’t normally have a lot of engagement with. Instagram users have taken to Twitter to express their sentiment on the new change, along with their overall confusion of the update.Instagram users take to twitter


What does this mean for brands, bloggers and marketers?

If you checked out your Instagram timeline Monday morning, you may have seen several instructional posts from those you follow – encouraging you to update your notifications to ensure that you are able to view their posts/updates/selfies/event notices.

Turn on instagram notifications



Currently, the way for brands, bloggers, marketers or really ANYONE to guarantee that their followers are going to see their posts in timelines is to have notifications “turned on” in the users/followers account settings. Instagram Push NotificationTherefore, the users will receive a notice every time anyone they follow posts something with the hopes that the user will see the notification and check out that posts.

“WOW .. that seems a little annoying right”.

TIP: Make sure to put your phone on silent if you do turn on notifications.


Who is currently affected?

If you haven’t seen the changes yet on your time-line that is because the new feed is still in test mode so not everyone will have a non-chronological timeline just yet.

Also, this new change doesn’t necessarily mean that small businesses or new users will be pushed out or prevented from being successful in the platform but it will result in users working a little harder at reaching an audience and especially a “pay to play”environment for marketers. The pro of this is that marketers have more options and (potentially) better results when it comes to targeted posts.

If there was a Facebook “REACTION” for this update, it would probably be the Angry emotion as the majority of users (I have seen) have expressed their dislike for the change. Perhaps in the upcoming weeks to follow the changes will be better explained and more accepted.  As we all know, when it comes to social media — things change at the speed of social. So whether we like it or not, change has arrived to Instagram’s time-line.

Stay tuned for updates. Leave a comment about your thoughts, experience and perception of the update.