[Special Interview] 7 Questions Data and Supply Chain Data Integration: Sandy Carter of IBM


The 7 Questions Interview Series: Data and Supply Chain Data Integration

The 7 Questions Interview Series: Data and Supply Chain Data Integration “The 7 Question Series” is an investigative content series where we seek out key leaders in a specific industry and/or subject matter expertise area and ask them 7 key questions that “inquiring minds want to know”. There is a twist however to these questions. We provide the person being interviewed with a hypothesis for each question. This helps to frame and set context for their answer.

Data and Supply Chain Data Integration Series Objectives:

Data and Supply Chain Data Integration Series Objectives: The objective of this series is to establish direct connections with data experts across the globe and ask them the same set of 7 questions regarding data and data integration in the business. We want to derive insights from their direct experiences and expertise that will help companies, both B2B and B2C at all stages of their evolution. We are also curious to see if their answers are similar or different. These interviews will be featured on this website as a series.

The 7 Questions Interview Series: Data and Venture Capital “The 7 Questions Series” is an investigative content series where we seek out key leaders in a specific industry and/or subject matter expertise area and ask them 7 key questions that inquiring minds want to know in terms of how they view data as part of their investment process. However, there is a twist to these questions: we provide the interviewee with a hypothesis for each question to help frame and set context for their answer.

Special Interview with Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers at IBM

In order to best capture the thought leadership and expertise of Sandy Carter, Virtual Logistics Inc. designed specially tailored questions that are targeted to hone in on Sandy’s extensive expert knowledge base. These questions were designed to incorporate various aspects of Sandy’s work and experience to help our audience get the most information possible.

It is a truly exceptional interview – we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!

Special Interview with Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers at IBM


About Sandy:

Sandy Carter is the IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers and a Social Business Evangelist.

A recognized leader in social business, best-selling author, and one of the most influential people in Web 2.0 technology, Sandy Carter is IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist.  She is responsible for IBM’s worldwide focus on expanding the Cloud ecosystem for ISVs, Entrepreneurs, Developers, and Academics, which influences one third of the revenue for IBM.  Previously, Sandy was Vice President, Social Business Evangelism and Sales, responsible for setting the direction for IBM’s Social Business initiative, where she led the team to five years of #1 market share per IDC.

The author of 3 books, including “Get Bold,” which has been translated into 9 languages, Sandy is a recognized expert, receiving numerous awards and recognition such as:  Top 10 Cloud Influencer, Forbes Global Top 40 Social Marketing Masters, Top Growth Hackers, Top 10 in Social Media, Top 50 Social Business Influencers, Direct Marketer of the Year, 10 Most Powerful Women in Tech, Women of M2M for Internet of Things (IoT), and CNN Women of the Channel. Sandy is on the board of WITI (Women in Technology International), Girls in Tech, and International Child Art Foundation.

The Interview:

Robin Smith: How do you define social business and why is data an integral to this concept?

Sandy Carter: I consider social business any business embedding “social” in all of its processes — connecting people, information, and data — to produce insights. A social business utilizes those insights, leverages the social tools at their disposal, and engages their employees/clients in a two-way dialogue. A social business is transparent in sharing their expertise beyond their four walls and is capable of changing on a dime to face new challenges. They are different from social media, which focuses on the marketing and public relations of a company.

Social usage outputs enormous amounts of data. Businesses that can analyze that data through social analytics will quickly find themselves ahead of the pack in terms of engagement, influence, and more. With the demands of large-scale business transformation, small and enterprise-level companies alike need to leverage social data to succeed across earned and paid digital channels, and within the context of specific business goals and objectives.

Today, products and services can easily be compared online, by consumers, and large e-brokers charge high commission, which hurts smaller businesses who are then required to drive down prices.  For example, Gamifo, an Israeli startup sought to change that.   They wanted to increase sales for retailers without forcing them to reduce prices. By building a social engagement platform, they allow businesses to easily gather insights for targeted marketing. The platform is a way of automating word-of-mouth–in fact, they use the term “word of mobile,” since this is how people interact today.

Robin: Can you define how businesses can or should be using data in a social context?

Sandy: Social data is extremely valuable. Companies can use it to hear and understand a client’s voice in relation to their brand, or understand competitive moves. By harvesting available social data surrounding your brand, you can build a profile of clients and their needs to address. Using data in a social context is a great way to perform corporate outreach, garner public appeal, and create meaningful dialogue with new and potential clients.

Relevancy and reputation management through social tools should be a part of any successful business’ goals. What context does your audience use when referring to your brand? You can influence this from relating to client needs, but you have to listen to understand the context. Open discussions create data, but data without context is meaningless. The Harvard Business Review published an article, Good Data Won’t Guarantee Good Decisions, which highlighted the bigger issues around the data available to us today.

“For all the breathless promises about the return on investment in Big Data, however, companies face a challenge. Investments in analytics can be useless, even harmful, unless employees can incorporate that data into complex decision making. Meeting these challenges requires anthropological skills and behavioral understanding—traits that are often in short supply in IT departments.”

For example, you can search the term “Social Business” and find out how many times it’s talked about in a given time frame. However, if you had the context, you could determine if those hits connect to certain communities, if certain profiles are generating more traffic, and if the discussions occur in the context of business transformation or just personal social media.

At the end of the day, context makes the biggest difference.

Robin: How are the convergent trends of cloud adoption, APIs, and analytics impacting SMBs/SMEs?

Sandy: IDC calls them the “3rd Platform”.  Gartner refers to them as the “Nexus of Forces”.   They are CAMS (Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, and Social Business) and are the growth engines of business.

Small business can leverage these technologies for a competitive advantage. For instance, a small business can extend their new and potential client reach using Twitter or Facebook. By leveraging social analytics, they can target their clients in a particular geographic region or interest area. Once they’re ready to progress upwards to the next technical level, they can leverage CAMS technologies and APIs to grow without absorbing the extravagant cost attached to some of these technologies.

According to the 2015 Business Tech Trends study, pacesetters in the market — small, medium or large — are those who integrate these technologies in the context of a business venture. For example, a small dry cleaning business who reaches out to locals with discounts and advice on “spring cleaning” through a mobile app running in the cloud, but powered by social.

For small businesses, the fact that business apps adaptive pay structures in the cloud is a great equalizer. A small business can have large enterprise IT apps at an affordable price!

Robin: You use the term social intelligence – isn’t this just about data and how it’s being used?

Sandy: Social “Innovation Events” create opportunities for companies to use social intelligence or the “wisdom of the crowd” to get help on difficult topics. Asking your community members, or polling at large, can help you refine your plans or announcements to a variety of audiences.

For instance, many companies use social intelligence for their advertising and public relationship campaigns. McKinsey and company showed research that leveraging social intelligence enables your launches to be on about 20% more successful through leveraging social intelligence. Best practices for communication leaders:  sponsor a time-bound event to open the culture and create innovations, leverage private communities to test messaging ahead of announcement, and celebrate with the community innovations.

For example the City of Melbourne in Australia wanted to draw stronger, more measurable linkages between its annual Melbourne Spring Fashion Week (MSFW) program and the effect the event has on local retail business.   To do this they used social media analytics technology to assess conversations about its fashion week on Twitter and Instagram.  The city was not only able to understand what was happening, but they were able to apply social sentiment insights to help them plan for the following year’s event.    Melbourne can now understand exactly where, what, why and how consumers engaged digitally, how this will impact the next MSFW and what it means to participating retailers.

Robin: In the current competitive landscape, with the increasing importance of data, how can companies create symbiotic ecosystems that allow both small and large companies to work together?

Sandy: It’s important for larger companies, with the means, money, and access to data to lead the way with open, transparent opportunities for smaller businesses. Partnerships with smaller businesses allow larger corporations to guide and grow smaller businesses. These now enabled smaller businesses can transform, benefiting both parties with new technologies that expand their market shares. Opportunities like the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program, IBM developerWorks, and more exist to create this social, data-driven ecosystem between small and large. The lines are blurred because it’s the best way to work together and achieve something new and great.

About IBM:

IBM is a globally integrated enterprise operating in over 170 countries. IBMers around the world bring innovative solutions to a diverse client base to help solve some of their toughest business challenges. In addition to being the world’s largest IT and consulting services company, IBM is a global business and technology leader, innovating in research and development to shape the future of society at large. IBM’s prized research, development and technical talent around the world partner with governments, corporations, thinkers and doers on ground-breaking real world problems to help make the world work better.


Sandy’s Social Outposts:

Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog

Stay tuned for more expert interviews as part of VL’s ongoing 7 Question Series!