We thought we would do a series of blog posts on the people behind iGo2. The people who perhaps you interact with on Twitter or Facebook or this blog. Or perhaps via email or phone or a combination of all these things. I seem to be first cab off the rank and I can tell you that it is a difficult thing to write about yourself. Here goes:
1. Role at iGo2
My primary role is to work on our strategy - who we partner with; what offerings and services we take to market and how we differentiate what we do. That has been evolving since day one at iGo2 and rarely stays still for very long! This world of social business is nothing if not dynamic! We did recognise early that focusing on social media networks only was not were we wanted to be - nor was it really what we thought would create enduring value for our clients. But working on all aspects of becoming a social business from the inside out really meant something to us. So the key strategic decision was to be more like a management consulting organisation with some solutions for those who want them rather a typical digital agency. We believe this puts us on the leading edge in some areas - which can be difficult when you are trying to build a business but is the right focus where we can deliver value to our clients.
So we have arrived at our four focus areas - Social Business Strategy, Social Business Intelligence, Social Enterprise Platforms (Communities), and Social Governance. We built out our partnerships and our offerings around these focus areas.
The second primary role for me is to produce content. I actually find that is a lot harder than strategy. Clients expect (rightfully) that you have processes, methodologies and frameworks to guide them through what is a transformational journey. Even if its transforming just one process within an organisation to include social business constructs they expect you have a process / roadmap for that. So 'codifying' all of that into documents, collateral, presentations and blog posts is one large task. And the myriad decisions along the way - brand guidelines; brand strategy, values, formats - eeeck!
The third role is the most important. Meeting with customers and prospects. And the most enjoyable. I often feel that we spend some much time talking about 'how' or 'why' that we don't. If we preach listen, participate, engage then there is no better way to do that than to be in the trenches and face to face talking with customers. Period. Nothing ever approaches it either intellectually or for a dose of reality. I try to live by a simple business mantra by asking myself two questions all the time - So What and Who Cares?
2. Why Am I Here?
Easy. We are at the start of the most profound change in the way that we conduct business since, perhaps, the Industrial Revolution. A change in the way we communicate, collaborate and innovate. And that change has produced seismic shifts in the relationships between people and organisations. There are lots of words for it and many have expressed it far better than I but if embraced it literally transforms the way organisations operate - from the boardroom to the customer. And even if you never use Twitter or Facebook in your life it will touch what you do and how you it every single day. I want to be part of that.
3. How Did I get Here?
My entire business career has been a progression from manufacturing to the customer experience. In terms of disciplines I started in manufacturing planning; moved to manufacturing itself as a factory head; then into Enterprise IT from a manufacturing point of view. I eventually made the transition to the IT vendor world and started in ERP, spent some time in Supply Chain and other areas before figuring out that CRM was actually a lot closer to the action. From CRM it just seemed natural to get into social media and digital marketing - I could see the changes in the way customers behave. And from there the realisation that you can't be 'social' as a customer facing brand unless you embrace collaboration and community internally was a natural progression.
Like many, I wanted to get away from old tired multi national 'command and control' type operations. And who doesn't want their own business? And our CEO, who I worked with in a former life, came along and sold me on his vision of iGo2. I am going to let him explain where the name of our company came from. Like many aspects of our business we have evolved a lot from when the name was selected.
4. Best Moments in the Business
The most memorable first milestone was when the founders got together in a farm shed over a very long weekend of work; fueled by country air, huge steaks almost cooked on a BBQ and some small amount of alcohol and forged the framework for who we are and how we do business. Our wives still don't believe how hard we worked that weekend but it remains the cornerstone of who we are.
Our first customer signing was also momentous and when I think how far we have come since then I sometimes shudder at how naive we were. Each customer milestone since then has added to the magic.
Moving into a real live office instead of working in our home offices was pretty big too. For some reason it just felt more real but the ability to interact and socialise is the real benefit. And we do have fun.
5. Who Influences My Thinking in Social?
I am an unashamed Brian Solis fan. I admire his ability to summarise complex constructs and his way of combining media, psychology and sociology with some anthropology.
I am also a Michael Brito fan - his view of Social Business vs a Social Brand has affected my thinking a lot. Olivier Blanchard at the Brand Builder blog blows me away with every post. Boy, some of them are long rants but if you want genuine, from the heart, no nonsense advice on 'social' marketing and brand building then they can't be beaten. And Dion Hinchcliffe at Dachis is my go to authority on Big Data and Social Business Intelligence.
I also like Ant's Eye View as an organisation - their values and offerings seem very much like what we are trying to achieve. And there are some great thinkers at our partners like Telligent and Sysomos and InsideView.
Well, I love sailing but don't have a boat. Fortunately I have some great friends who do and last year helped them sail up the east coast of Australia to the Whitsundays.
I love to have a game of golf but rarely get the time. I have yet to find anyone I can beat consistently.
I am fortunate to have another escape which is about 3 hours away from the city in the form of a farm. So I raise beef cattle when I am not working on social initiatives with our customers. Its in a beautiful part of the world and we raise pasture fed cattle in as natural a way as possible. My stock manager does all the tricky stuff and still beats me at golf easily (even when highly under the influence - hand eye co ordination is a gift). That has led me and iGo2 to assist a local community organisation up there focused on saving the local environment.
My wife and I have been together more than 25 years but married for just over one. I do consider important decisions carefully. Even then we got married in Italy and I could have saved a further 20% via a better exchange rate by waiting another year! But I don't make that point very often.We have two fabulous border collies that pretty much run our private life and have led us to doing some work for a northern Sydney dog club. And I do a little fund raising for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia once a year.
And finally, I count my fellow iGo2 founders amongst the best friends I have and sincerely hope it stays that way!