20 years in basketball, and I’m angry…

If I’ve got my sums right, I’m about to play in the first game of my 20th season of competitive basketball. It’s a cliché, but the game has given me so much. Consistently told that I was bad at sports by teachers at school (because I couldn’t play football or cricket), basketball gave me self confidence, a group of friends from university who are solid to this day, and I even met my wife through the game. I honestly can’t imagine my life without it. If it can do this for me, coming from a fairly privileged, white, middle-class, Surrey background, imagine what it could do for disadvantaged inner city kids.

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Wimbledon – Cloud

cloudCloudMobileSocialAnalytics… they’re all converging. Wimbledon is a great example. We run wimbledon.com by provisioning IBM Customer Experience Suite on our cloud infrastructure and secured by our QRadar platform. Of course, we want to keep the site provisioned to meet capacity, but we don’t want to provision too much. We face the same cost pressures as any other cloud provider. We run a 90 minute rolling forecast window, including structured (order of play, weather forecast, historic traffic trends) and unstructured data, including Social. If, for example, we see a surge in Twitter from people talking about the site, interesting analytics from SlamTracker, or anything that could impact our site performance we are able to take this into account. We combine this with Watson technologies this to predict required capacity over the next 90 minutes. Here you can see our actual capacity, actual traffic and predicted capacity including data gleaned from Twitter.


This is a great example of social being applied to a business outcome. Social itself does not have an ROI, what’s more important is the ROI of the projects you apply it to. In this case, Social allows us to reduce the cost of our web infrastructure, whilst always meeting demand, by predicting required capacity through social media analysis. What KPIs could your business improve by applying Social?

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Wimbledon in a Box

Our marketing team have put together “Wimbledon in a box” – a fantastic portable display of all the great things IBM is doing at Wimbledon and we’ve set up for a few hours at various offices across the UK. I was lucky enough to visit BAT and Unilever, and will be at Aviva during men’s semi-final day on Friday. Here are some pictures.


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Wimbledon – Hill vs World

As a bit of fun, we’re running Social Hill vs World hosted on our SoftLayer platform this year at Wimbledon. You can see it here and it’s also on the app. The idea is to look at the different social sentiment if the ground when compared to the rest of the outside world.

The screenshot taken below was during Andy Murray’s match against Rola on the third day of the Championships.

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 13.43.57

There’s a few interesting points here.

1) Increased optimism for Murray inside the ground than outside. Is there an emotional element to being physically present in Wimbledon (or at your event, or in your store, or at your company all hands meeting)? Is this something we can tap into?

2) Tracking of sentiment across the world. Are there pockets of Murray / Rola / your product supporters or fans in specific locations? Is there a cluster of negative sentiment in specific area highlighting a local problem with your brand?

3) Positive sentiment for Rola despite playing a home favourite. Does this highlight a demographic that is uncatered for? Imagine running this during an event / conference and being able to take real-time action if sentiment was low.

4) Engaging the community by picking and promoting the best fan photos. Could you do something similar to recruit brand ambassadors?

How could you benefit from direct insight into your target market?

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Wimbledon – SlamTracker

We’ve redesigned and simplified SlamTracker for 2014 providing real time stats and predictions for what each player needs to do to win. It’s available on the website or through the app. The reaction so far has been fantastic, and it’s been a key part of Laura Robson’s analysis of matches for the Telegraph.

If Andy wins 54 per cent of those four-to-nine-shot rallies then he will stand the best chance of success against Goffin; when he has hit that key, he has won 86 per cent of his sets.”

How do we do it? Well, we have ~41 million data points in our system to make these correlations. Our tennis experts on site are categorising every point played to provide key statistics for both the fans and the players and our predictive analytics software analyses three key things each individual has to do to win the match. This is catered for each specific match up. What Andy Murray has to do against Nadal is different from the tactics that will beat Federer.

Here (from the iPad app) you can see the overall keys for the Serena Williams / Alize Cornet match from Saturday. Overall – Serena lost out by failing to win points off the return of Cornet’s 1st serve (she did so 27% of the time, whereas she needed to be at 39%). By contrast, Cornet had to win 30% of 1st serve returns and did so 32% of the time.

slam match

It gets more interesting when you dig down into the set by set analysis. In the first set which Serena won 6-1 she dominated on all 3 metrics (winning 1st server return points 50% of the time), and Cornet failed to hit any.

Set 1


In the second and third sets it reversed, with Serena missing all the targets in the decisive third set and Cornet meeting or exceeding all of hers. You can see that the improvement on % points won on 1st serve made a huge difference.

Set 2


Set 3



So what’s the relationship to Social? Well, we have been doing a ton of work around Workforce Analytics, and how you can analyse what skills and behaviours will drive success in which role and then applying that insight to your hiring, development, and succession planning strategies. We work with organisations to understand what behaviours a sales rep would need to demonstrate in order to increase revenue particular to the culture of your organisation, what would happen to accident rates in your workshops if you increased employee engagement (hint: it’s a three-fold reduction), or which of your high performers are at risk of leaving. This directly links to the work we’re doing around SlamTracker.

And for those who were wondering, here is what Andy Murray needs to do to win today:

Andy Murray SlamTracker

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Wimbledon – Social Media Command Centre

One of the new innovations we are bringing to Wimbledon this year is our Social Media Command Centre. This is hosted in our SoftLayer public cloud, and provides the team with real-time insights into the current focus of conversation.


The editorial team continuously monitor fan interest and conversation from trending topics and adjust the editorial content accordingly. We can also see which courts are generating the most interest. A sudden increase of interest in a certain match on an outside court for example, as opposed to a show court, will allow the team to change their editorial content to meet the fan interest. Of course, none of this would be possible without the web content management platform provided by IBM Customer Experience Suite which I talked about here!

Finding the influencers is also a key capability – this was used in anger last year when Wimbledon identified people tweeting that they were going to come down in the light of Andy Murray’s success. They were able to get the message out onto Twitter not to come down as no more ground tickets were available, and targeted the most influential users to get the message out as quickly as possible. Would you find this useful in your marketing efforts (although maybe you want to encourage people to turn up to events / take advantage of special offers rather than turning them away as Wimbledon was!) 

This technology is available to anyone looking to use social media analytics to understand what content they should target to which audience, in which geography and who is likely to influence their buyers. As my colleague Andrew Grill says, Social is the best piece of market research you never commissioned!

Check out the pictures from the bunker just underneath the courts taken by David Terrar the other day.



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The Wimbledon website

Our flagship digital presence at Wimbledon is wimbledon.com. For two weeks of the year, it is one of the busiest websites of the world with 19.7 million unique users and 433 million page views, and is updated 140,000 times each day. Whilst we have seen a phenomenal increase in mobile apps (and completely refreshed our apps for this year) 80% of users still access the website.

So we need a platform that can:

  • Scale to deal with peaks and troughs compatible with a cloud infrastructure
  • One platform to provide both desktop, mobile and tablet versions through adaptive design (40% of browser views are from a mobile device)
  • Flexible to incorporate the beautiful designs of our Interactive Experience team
  • Integrate with back end applications that manage the real time updates of the scoring systems
  • Simple enough for the editorial team to make real-time updates, responding to trends detected on social media
  • Support the 140,000 updates made each day
  • Ultimately – it needs to be the next best thing to being there


The obvious choice was to use our IBM Customer Experience Suite software hosted in the IBM Cloud environment, which powers some of the best websites of the world including Webby winners, but is also simple enough for our team of tennis experts (it’s easier to train a tennis expert to use our software than it is to make an expert in our software a tennis guru!) update the site at the speed of social.

Customer Experience Suite can also manage the content management and application integration of mobile apps as well as mobile sites, so is ideal for organisations who maintain a mobile web presence as well as a mobile app – you can manage the content from one system. IBM Worklight makes for the ideal mobile application development environment, fully integrated with your mobile Portal and web CMS.

There are some fantastic additions to the site this year, such as a revamped SlamTracker and Hill vs World which I’ll blog about over the next few days. If you need to enhance your web presence, give editorial power back to business users, or engage with customers through mobile sites and apps alongside a traditional desktop site, you should definitely give Customer Experience Suite a serious look.

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Wimbledon logoThis is IBM’s 25th year as the sponsor of Wimbledon – and there are some really cool things we’re doing this year not just in social, but across cloud, analytics and mobile as well.

When we first launched the website in 1995 we had 227,000 visitors. This has increased over 86 times to 19.7 million in 2013 and the Wimbledon twitter account just passed 1 million followers. Today, the website is powered by IBM Customer Experience Suite which provides the application integration into the scoring systems and the content management system – the site has over 140,000 updates per day. This also serves up the responsive mobile site, ensuring an exceptional experience no matter what device you use to access the site. It was designed by our own IBM Interactive Experience – consistently rated as one of the world’s largest digital agencies.

We’ve put a video together that shows the whole end to end involvement of IBM in only 4 seconds of real time:

I’ll be going into more detail on what we’re doing at Wimbledon around Social over the next few days…

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Social Software Pilots

pilotThe topic of social software pilots came up recently – I have long thought that whenever possible you need to get social in the hands of as many people as you can. Pilots of a platform like IBM Connections to a restricted set of people rarely works. This is for many reasons but mainly:

  • The more people who have access the greater the success. A social system with 2 people is less useful than with 10, which is less useful than 100 etc. You are looking for knowledge accidents so you need to increase the traffic in order to encourage ‘collisions’
  • Social is about systems of engagement – and removing barriers to collaboration and information flow. If you artificially limit who can connect with whom the platform will fail as you are undermining the entire premise of the system
  • Adoption of the system is not a valid metric of success. Number of posts/likes/comments etc. is a not a representation of the success. You need to look for outcomes (such as speed of getting new products to market, time to resolution on customer complaints, time to productivity for new hires) that actually impact the business. Do not confuse activity with results.
  • Social is the most successful when people who do not know each other interact. Pilots are usually deployed to a team where everyone knows everyone anyway
  • If it is a pilot I am unlikely to engage as if it is a pilot all the information I post will be lost when it ends
  • Probably the most important point… if I am on the pilot and want to share a file or an idea with four colleagues… two of which are on Connections and two are not… I will not email it to two people and post on Connections to the other two. I will email it to all four and bypass Connections. This will give a false impression of ‘lack of adoption’ whereas if everyone has access there is no need for me to stick to old ways of working.

Our most successful customers are the ones who identify business problems that social can solve, and then deploy social technologies to solve those issues, rather than piloting a system and seeing how it works out. What’s your experience?

Flickr credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/2760112757/in/photolist-5cUimZ-4ccCkJ-7TwwPT-9B6BaJ-cjFa1q-kjLcos-czoaMb-fMbrRY-dQshJL-dQshb1-dhtBVT-Bpjn5-a9rPzT-dCBa1m-5C17Bp-jb5Ui-8pooyx-8GkMC3-a6TkcB-5iJVtW-cuDJ83-dJCNtj-4ZrNve-dJCNto-hsWk8d-cGzA3Y-dqWhwW-fJGKKh-cuDHWG-6ktcyu-8XBYCV-avrzrB-fCNLUf-epCuy2-8qx3b9-9B8F2U-61x6Nn-bUNw1R-fUZqqa-99GR4w-cL9Pnh-4wYt5N-2Ybahh-a2qBnm-6m1mgd-8ZQ56m-4DmMf3-9id2ec-4dLmHn-4Dhw5x

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New role

Smarter WorkforceOver the past 18 months or so I’ve been running the sales integration of Kenexa into IBM Europe. It was an exceptionally interesting experience, and, whilst it dramatically reduced the amount of time I got to spend with customers it was hugely fulfilling in terms of bringing such a large SaaS based sales team into IBM and watching the evolution of our Smarter Workforce story into our Social Business strategy – something I think is truly differential. If you think about it, you provide a social business platform for your employees to allow them to be as effective as they possibly can be, but it’s only one of the levers you pull in order to have a better and more engaged workforce than your competitors. I have long been arguing that Social Business is a means, not an end, and with Kenexa we have the solution across recruiting, engagement and assessments alongside IBM Connections to empower your workforce to beat the competition. For example, here is a video showing our newest offering in this space, the IBM Kenexa Talent Suite fully integrating Talent Management and Social Business (powered by IBM Connections)

But – these roles come to an end. As of 1st April I have taken on my first UK role (previously I had been focused on Europe) leading the entire spectrum of IBM’s social offerings – social platforms like Connections available on-premises or as SaaS, our GBS consulting and IBM Interactive team that builds sites like Wimbledon, our web content management solutions, analytics, and of course Kenexa/Smarter Workforce.

It’s great to be able to work with the whole breadth of IBM Social Business offerings, as well as really focusing on our UK business.

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