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Episode 259: SMAC and the Transformation of Innovation (Free)

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This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast for The PMI-ACP Exam:
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Episode 259: SMAC and the Transformation of Innovation (Free)This interview with Dave Cornelius was recorded at the Southland Technology Conference 2013 in Long Beach. It is, however, about the presentation he gave at the PMI North American Congress in New Orleans.

Dave Cornelius ( argues that social media, mobile devices, analytics and cloud computing (SMAC) have combined to create a technology ecosystem that supports disruptive and sustaining innovation. The ready availability of the SMAC ecosystem connects customers to new innovations and supports shopping on e-commerce sites and in brick-and-mortar stores. Importantly, the SMAC application has transcended retail and consumer marketing activities, and also has significant relevance in banking, healthcare, and other business functions.

In our interview we discuss SMAC technologies and their use in and impact on various industries. Using the SMAC platform, project managers can develop new products and services by renting technology capability without owning the infrastruc.ture, software, and support staff. Project management information systems (PMIS) can leverage the SMAC platform over a secure Internet connection to support collaboration between team members and enable transparency about a project 's health. Social media, mobile devices, analytics, and cloud computing are the amalgamation of mature technologies for the 21st century.

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.


Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Dave!

Dave Cornelius: Well hello, Cornelius, Dave and Cornelius!.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yes! It's always strange when I see you. It's like, do I call you Cornelius, Dave or what?

Anyway, so, we're actually not going to talk about the Southland Technology Conference because you and I were scheduled to record an interview about your presentation from the Global Congress in New Orleans where we both were last week and we missed each other and we never got it done and I walked into you here today and I'm like: "Hey Dave! I didn’t know you were going to be at this conference! Let's sit down. Let's do the recording!"

Dave Cornelius: Yes, nothing like the moment, isn't it?

Cornelius Fichtner: Nothing like the moment, exactly. So your presentation at the Global Congress was "SMAC and Transforming Innovation". Before we look at what SMAC actually means, how did the presentation go?

Dave Cornelius: I thought the presentation went really well. One of my friends from PMI-OC as well as from OC Project Masters Toastmasters Club was there and she found my presentation which was excellent. But also just the people who came and participated in the process. There was an interactive process which was really great that people were allowed to apply SMAC to a new innovation that they came up with during that session. So that was really, really awesome and enlightening.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. How many people were at the session?

Dave Cornelius: I think roughly around 40 something people showed for that presentation.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright, perfect! Moving on, so what does SMAC, s-m-a-c stand for?

Dave Cornelius: Well SMAC stands for Social Media, Mobile technology, Analytic and Cloud Computing. It's the convergence of four mature technologies to give you a great platform to really execute your business and even transform the way you do business as an organization.

Cornelius Fichtner: How long has the term been around? Because frankly when I first saw the title of your presentation, that was the first time I came across it.

Dave Cornelius: I believe the first time I ran into this acronym was in perhaps 2012 or 2013 by a company called Cognizant. They had a whitepaper on SMAC.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! Just so that you know folks, here at the Southland Technology Conference, there is a whole track about SMAC. So they have 4 tracks here --- Project Management Quality Assurance, Personal Development and SMAC. So they have 8 presentations over those 2 days of something that I had never heard before. It's interesting.

Alright! So if we are talking about SMAC and transforming innovation, do I need all 4 parts of this or do I need social, mobility, analytics and cloud computing in order to transform innovation?

Dave Cornelius: I believe the blend of the four gives you a great power. If you do half of it, you may get some benefits from it. But the true benefits that you get is the ability to be more Agile, the ability to be more innovative and the ability to connect with customers in a new way that you've never done before.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! You mentioned that there is a great example around on somebody who has used SMAC and that is the campaign from President Obama.

Dave Cornelius: Yeah, the President in his two campaigns, two elections actually realized that most of the young people under the age of 29's do not have a home phone. Because campaigns would normally call you on your home phone so they had no way of connecting with those young voters.

So one of the things they did, they worked with Facebook and came up with a new app that allow people to share their friends' list. With the new app within the first week, they had over a million young people downloading that mobile app where they could share all of their friends. If you think a million people times 500, that's a very big number right?

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah!

Dave Cornelius: And so with that, they help to understand the voters better, do some predictive analysis really understand the behaviors, when will they vote, at what time? With doing that, they were able to also leverage technology without having to buy a whole lot of servers and computers to do it. They could rent using cloud computing rent services and time on a computer to really collect the information and really do the analysis against that and mobile.

One of the things when their campaign was going on, I would a get a few text and information coming in because your mobile device gives you an interface to the internet. He just leveraged that technology stack to be able to be successful and connect with all those young voters.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! So we've heard about SMAC. We've heard a great example of how SMAC was applied in real life. Let's break it into its 4 components - Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud Computing. We want to go through each of these four and look at their characteristics. So the Social part of it, what are the characteristics here?

Dave Cornelius: When you think of social media, you think of things like Twitter. You think of Facebook. You think of LinkedIn. You have Tumblr.

Cornelius Fichtner: Nobody thinks of Google Plus, I'd like to mention.

Dave Cornelius: Google Plus, it's more for the business people. So when you think of just that platform and it gives you the ability to collaborate with individuals, collaborate with different people and different businesses. And it expands the way we interact. If you think prior to social media, I would have to pick up the phone and call you or send you a letter. Now, I could send you a quick message that gives you an alert on your mobile device.

The other thing is that every time we go in to the social media channels, they are capturing our behaviors and attitudes, if I like something, if I dislike something, if I enter some text about describing my feelings. So they're capturing our behaviors and attitudes. It gives us a new way to engage customers because if you and I are friends Cornelius and I like your beautiful PDU Podcast and I could share that with someone, that means they will trust me more than if someone else just sent that information. And so it kind of influences the behaviors to respond to new and existing brands. So that's a very powerful messages for a company launching a new product or service.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! Second part, Mobility. What are the characteristics here?

Dave Cornelius: When you think of mobile technology or a mobile device, a smartphone, it really extends to reach to customers. Could you imagine, before, if you had a desktop computer, that was your unlimited communication channel. Now, if I have a mobile device in my pocket or I don’t have a purse but if someone else had a purse, you could actually connect with that customer and share information with them.

When you think of the expansion of connections to information - videos, GPS, games - you think of all those elements that you connect in real time leveraging even social media as a communication path that you can leverage that information and really connect with people and share anything that you want to on the internet. When you think about it, Cisco said like by the end of 2013, there will be over 7 billion mobile devices connected, 7 billion, that's a lot.

Cornelius Fichtner: That is a lot! Right now, we're somewhere between just above 7 billion people on this planet. So if you have 7 billion mobile devices and many people in the developing world do not yet have a mobile device, that means many of us have 3 or 4.

Dave Cornelius: Essentially and you think about just…Cisco also in their research estimated that by the end of 2014, you would have about 67% of all interactions would happen through a mobile device. It will be much higher by 2017.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! Puzzle piece number 3, Analytics.

Dave Cornelius: Well, Analytics is a tool that provides insights into customer interaction and experiences. What I described in social media that we leave our behaviors and attitudes in our social media channels.

I'll give you an example. Wal-Mart at one point in time, they had a Supreme Court case against them for gender discrimination. And so they were trying to understand sentiment analysis. They were doing sentiment analysis to understand how people felt about Wal-Mart as an organization discriminating against women for example. So they would go out and pull and grab that information to understand exactly. Did people think Wal-Mart was a bad organization? Did they think women just speak out more? Should they think that Wal-Mart as an organization should pay people better? All of that information is out there in our social media channels and they are collecting that information to better understand "How should I target my customer and change our attitudes?"

Another element of this is predictive analytics where a lot of healthcare organization are pulling and capturing information to kind of reduce fraud. Medicare, Medicaid, even pharmaceutical fraud where people would go from one pharmacy to the next day by day trying to buy the same drugs over a period of a week or more. They're trying to predict or prevent bad behaviors. So they capture that information and they use that for training and communication to change the way people interact with their products and services.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright, so we had social, mobility. We've had analytics and the final piece here is Cloud Computing. How does that fit in to everything?


Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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