Taking the Plunge, Launching a Corporate Blog

Yes, it’s true, our software product engineering business unit has formally launched its blog this week. You can read it here: http://blog.ness.com/spl

What you say? You are only launching a corporate Blog NOW? Don’t you know that is so 2008. (“So 2000 and Late!” sing the Black Eyed Peas.) Don’t you know that it’s all about Twitter, and Facebook and your social network du jour?

Yes, we know all of those things.

But, we have three simple goals:

  1. We want to have a vehicle for providing our point of view directly to our customers and prospects
  2. We need to advance our thought leadership on software development issues and the market facing opportunities to move our message to the CTO, SVP Engineering types are limited
  3. We need to drive awareness across a highly targeted set of key words

So sure, you can follow us on Twitter (@ness_tech) or visit our Facebook page, check out our LinkedIN company page, or view a few videos from various business units on YouTube, but doesn’t a good ol fashioned blog make sense given the above objectives? And heck the good news is we can learn from vast quantities of tips and tricks out there (good post from HubSpot on the subject here) Even better, we can learn from all of your mistakes!

So check it out, join the conversation, and let us know what you think!


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What did the Olympics tell us about Global Collaboration? Not what you think.

I love the Olympics.

I really do. I prefer the winter over the summer in general, but I love all of it. And in the Olympics that just wrapped up, I particularly enjoyed the hockey. Perhaps it was because it was a group of NHL-ers competing on NHL ice that made it interesting or perhaps it was just a few really great games.

But as I watched the closing ceremony, and watched all of the athletes walk in to the stadium as one. I found it terribly contrived. I know, I know. They have been doing it since the 50s to showcase that the games break down all country barriers and everyone leaves together to spread world peace or whatever.

Brilliant! Except in just a few weeks some of these athletes will all be back at it, beating each other’s heads in country vs country at the World Championships. So much for togetherness. I also enjoyed the story about how Lindsay Vonn and Maria Riesch from Germany are great friends in the off-season, how they share every Christmas together etc. I found this particularly revealing in that the segment ran hours after Vonn’s own teammate essentially called her out for possibly being a lousy teammate.

Further, many of the NHL players across the world were playing for their home country, against teammates from their NHL teams.  In the quarterfinal, The Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara spent the whole game trying to lock up Patrice Bergeron, also of the Bruins. Yet two days later they were right back at it, but this time with the Spoked B on their chests, not the uniform of their countries.

Since I write about global marketing often, and spend probably too much time thinking about global collaboration, I was hoping to find some sort of interesting parable in the Olympics to share.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find it.

Instead I was left wondering if the concept of country vs country is an anachronism in this day of global communication and global business.  Or perhaps the real takeaway is that DESPITE all of this global movement, nationalistic concerns and bias will ALWAYS trump international concerns.

Consider again that a top flight Russian NHL player earns millions of dollars in his career playing in North America, but of course he would go home to play for his country first.  Despite Vonn and Riesch’s deep friendship, when it comes time to ski against each other for the gold, they do so willingly, without giving it a second thought.

It’s worth considering this when you are attempting to launch a global team within your company, or trying to build a unified message. In the end, when the competition is fierce, will nationalistic concerns prevail? Or does the concept of a “metanational” carry the day in the end.

Is it the end of January Already?

Just back from a trip to Delhi, now on my way to Phoenix for the first of two kick off meetings. It’s hard to believe that January is about over. As usual, the crush of the now can become all consuming if you let it.

Allow me a few observations of operating globally picked up over the last few weeks.

Twitter is Good, Twitter is Great, but I must say when I was standing at the Taj Mahal I was much more interested in posting a picture to Facebook then sending out a Tweet. But maybe that is just me.

As I lug a very cute stuffed lamb with me to pass along to a colleague about to have a baby in Prague, I realize that International Shipping is remarkably hard.  DHL wanted $250 to send a box of about $100 worth of GAP Baby merchandise. Seriously?  I can beam a picture of myself “holding” the Taj Mahal instantly around the world, but I can’t cost effectively ship something to Europe?

Context matters. In our meeting in Delhi we heard a very engaging story about how different cultures view things from their own contextual point of view, and that colors their thinking and understanding.  This isn’t a surprise; it just bears remembering as you work cross-culturally. (Did you know that Sushi just means “Rice” in Japanese? I didn’t either.)

And despite being out of the country and our 24×7 TV/News/Internet culture when the Earthquake struck Haiti, I still managed to keep abreast of what was happening.  It wasn’t as big a story in India, but it still mattered. And through Facebook, I was able to keep up with a friends quest to first make sure that her soon to be adopted son in Haiti was alive and OK, and then to somehow get him “home” to the US.  It was a remarkable story that ended happily just yesterday.

And there are dozens, hundreds, if not thousands of stories like this that are playing out whenever there is such a massive disaster, I am glad it worked out for her.  Let’s hope they get help to those who need.

All Communications Are Global

I was reminded over the last 24 hours just how difficult communication can be when operating in a global environment. While communication is surely a challenge in any environment, when you overlay cultural norms, understandings, biases, accents, and plain old politics, things can get really exciting.

In this particular instance a set of 4 people (including myself) from 4 different countries were discussing a particular issue through email and phone.  It became clear that despite agreement amongst the four of us, in fact we were agreeing based on a different understanding of the issue at hand.

Who is right and wrong in this case matters very little. What matters is that without using precise, common language when working with your peers in other countries, a little nuance can lead to a very big misunderstanding.  Usually I am big proponent of “just pick up the phone” but sometimes email works better as it forces you to think about the message and gives you a record that “lives” and can be refined.

As marketers we have learned that communicating our brand and our product value externally needs to identify with local customs and norms. It’s worth remembering that same paradigm applies to how we conduct our internal business as well.