Five Social Media Lessons for Business – BusinessWeek

5 lessons in social media from Home Depot executive. Pretty good article.

  1. You can’t control the conversation
  2. Be authentic
  3. It’s about people
  4. Your people need hands-on expertise in what customers care about
  5. Be patient and flexible

At Home Depot (HD), we first realized we needed to have a real conversation with our customers back in 2007. A blogger flamed us about customer service in a post that drew thousands of comments. In the past we might have responded in a corporate voice, but our chief executive officer took a different tack. He wrote a personal response in the comments, acknowledging that the blogger was right and that we had to work to improve.

Social media has since become a way for us to improve our customer service—not merely a vehicle for us to talk about it. In 2008 we started on Twitter, but many of the solutions our customers were looking for needed more than 140 characters. In 2009 we launched our Facebook page and a year later started a DIY (do it yourself) community online.

One of our more important decisions was to use store associates in much of our social interaction. They are the ones with the project and product expertise customers need. It was the right choice.

Here are five lessons we’ve learned about social media from our own still-evolving experience.

Five Social Media Lessons for Business – BusinessWeek

Size Matters – BusinessWeek

Really cool article.

Ooh, that is a big idea, a really, really big idea. The other guys have ideas, but theirs are so small. You’d better watch out or you may hurt someone with that big thing. And I can see you’re very excited about it, too!

We know what you’re thinking. We’re just a couple of guys overly amused by sophomoric humor, making a lame attempt to get your attention and some cheap laughs, right? Well, kinda.

We admit to not taking ourselves too seriously, but before you rush to judgment, let us make a simple point that leaders too often miss when it comes to innovation: It is easy to make a big idea small and nearly impossible to make a small idea big

Innovation: Size Matters – BusinessWeek

Announcing NEW Data Offerings and International Availability – Windows Azure Marketplace

Yesterday at  BUILD, Microsoft Server and Tools Business President, Satya Nadella made two announcements around the Windows Azure Marketplace and shared details on how Ford Motor Company and eBay are using the Marketplace to add further value to their business.  This post will dive deeper into both of these announcements.

International Availability

Microsoft announced the upcoming availability of the Windows Azure Marketplace in 25 new markets around the world, including: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore. Customers in these new markets will be able to discover, explore and subscribe to premium data and applications on the Marketplace starting next month.

Starting today, partners can submit their applications & datasets to publish on the marketplace. Interested partners can learn how to get started here.

BING Data Available on Windows Azure Marketplace

Microsoft also announced the coming availability of a number of exciting data offerings on the Windows Azure Marketplace. The first of these, the Microsoft Translator APIs are available today, along-side a fast-growing collection of data sets and applications, with more being introduced through the remainder of the year. The Microsoft Translator APIs, which were previously available here, allow developers and webmasters to provide translation and language services in more than 35 languages, as part of their applications, websites or services. This is the same cloud service that delivers translations to millions of users every day via Bing, Microsoft Office and other Microsoft products. 

Through the Windows Azure Marketplace, Microsoft will make available both a free, limited throughput version of the Microsoft Translator APIs, as well as a number of paid, higher throughput versions of the APIs. Starting today, Microsoft is offering customers a 3 month promotional period during which the higher throughput versions of the APIs will be available free of charge.

Developers can now start using Microsoft Translator APIs through Windows Azure Marketplace in web or in client applications to perform machine language translations from or to any of the following languages (list updated regularly).

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How are others using the Windows Azure Marketplace?

Ford Motor Company

Ford will launch its first battery-powered electric passenger vehicle at the end of the year.  Fully charging the vehicle at home or a business should take just over 3 hours to complete, however as the cost of electricity can vary by the time of day, when you charge the vehicle can have an important impact on costs of ownership. So, every new Focus Electric will offer the Value Charging system powered by Microsoft, to help owners in the US charge their vehicles at the cheapest utility rates, lowering cost of ownership. To do this, Ford will rely on an electric utility rates dataset on the Windows Azure Marketplace that currently has information from 100 utilities covering more than 10,000 US zip codes and 1,500 Canadian Postal Codes.

eBay

eBay has a popular mobile application on Windows Phone 7 called eBay mobile, with more than 300k downloads to date. In the coming weeks, eBay will release a major update including faster payment flows and selling capabilities as well as the ability to have listing details automatically translated to and from 37 different languages.  This is accomplished by leveraging the Microsoft Translator API, which is now available in the Windows Azure Marketplace. By leveraging the Translator API, eBay is able to create a more global product – delivering product listings in multiple languages to a broad global audience.

ESRI

Esri, a leading provider of geospatial software and services, is extending their ArcGIS system to Windows Azure Platform. With ArcGIS Online customers can create “intelligent maps” (starting with Bing, topography, ocean and other base maps) to visualize, access, consume and publish data-sets from Windows Azure Marketplace and their own data services. This will make a rich set of geographic tools, once only available to geographic information professionals, broadly available to anyone interested in working with geospatial data e.g. environmental scientists interested in visualizing air quality metrics against specific geographies. These maps can then be served up to the cloud and shared between individuals and their defined groups, across organizations and devices.  This solution is available today, and can be accessed here.

To read more about all of the Windows Azure-related announcements made at BUILD, please read the blog post, "JUST ANNOUNCED @ BUILD: New Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8, Windows Azure SDK 1.5, Geo-Replication for Windows Azure Storage, and More".  For more information about BUILD or to watch the keynotes, please visit the BUILD Virtual Press Room.  And follow @WindowsAzure and @STBNewsBytes for the latest news and real-time talk about BUILD.

Visit the Windows Azure Marketplace to learn more.