One of the most valuable functions a services provider can perform for its customers is education. High-level education about industry and technology trends is generally not part of any contract, but, as odd as that may seem, keeping customers apprised of important industry trends can help them make wiser choices in the selection of products, the direction of projects and initiatives and the consideration of long-term commitments to emerging technologies.
Communicating non-commercial educational information can be a tricky proposition, as it is important for any company to avoid the constant barrage of self-serving marketing messages that clog other communications channels. Customers have become impatient with texting and bulk email—and even video, to a lesser degree—as marketing devices. The business customer is suffering from sensory overload. Valuable information has no value if it’s not received.
Into this scenario comes digital transformation, one of the most-discussed and least-understood business/technology trends extant. It is ubiquitous, all over the information technology landscape and is the subject of trade shows, sales seminars and countless magazine articles that may be outdated before they are printed.
With a subject such as digital transformation, one of the most effective carriers of accurate, timely information is from the experts and practitioners themselves, leaving the vendors out of the picture—or, at least, less visible. The question is: how?
In the desire to maintain an educational vehicle with the market, Infostretch established its own YouTube channel for communicating non-commercial messages. Focused on current and future technology trends in software development and delivery in general, the programming explores the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation in particular—which is arguably a vague term being used in various technology market segments. We call it DTV and launched it as a non-commercial YouTube channel. Unlike other corporate-sponsored channels, DTV is not about advertising Infostretch’s offerings. It’s about offering thought leaders an opportunity to see/hear what their counterparts are doing to address the need for and challenges of digital transformation.
With unbiased insight from a variety of industry experts, DTV brings valuable information to a wider audience than would be possible through conventional marketing channels such as direct email.
Episodes are kept to a digestible length—15-20 minutes, typically. Brief and to the point, the presentation is informal but informative. We focus on firsthand accounts from the digital transformation front lines, from Fortune 1000 companies and experts across the globe. Topics run the gamut of information technology’s most timely and business-critical trends including digital strategy, digital development, DevOps, quality engineering, cloud, IoT, data analytics and mobility.
In early weeks, guests included:
- Adeo Resssi, founder of the Founder Institute, who talks about industry being on the cusp of a massive elimination of white-collar jobs (blue-collar elimination already well underway). Digital transformation is part of the cause, and also part of the way that companies re-imagine themselves. Ressi makes a variety of salient observations on entrepreneurship, technology trends and digital transformation.
- Kim Polese, founding product manager at Sun Microsystems (and the person who gave Java its name), who talks about the “AI winter.” She notes the undelivered promises of artificial intelligence of the 1990s and its emergence as part of the corporate landscape today. The famed techno-investor discusses “collective intelligence,” a combination of human and machine intelligence in making decisions. Polese served on President Barack Obama’s tech advisory board; in-between giving JAVA its name and serving on that prestigious board, she was named one of Time Magazine’s top 25 most influential Americans.
- Flying at a higher altitude, Shahin Farshchi of Lux Capital postulates that AI can—or at least can be “trained” to—sniff out fake news and alert consumers of its dangers. What could be more timely?
- North Face founder and retail legend Hap Klopp explains that the online purchasing model is coming to forward-thinking brick-and-mortar retailers; for example, single checkout or self-checkout at a mall with the elimination of cash registers. Also, kiosks that display promotions, specials or other advertising when the customer approaches, rather in the same way online promotions that are tracked to mouse-clicks (or even mouse hovers). His discussion was so content-rich that it was divided into two DTV episodes.
It’s no small benefit, but a well-informed customer can also help Infostretch in at least two ways. As noted above, an educated customer will be easier to deal with, as dead-end roads or expensive implementations become easier to spot. And, being the channel of non-commercial information can help ensure loyalty. A well-informed customer is a benefit to any company, and bodes well for the business relationship.
The latter may need some elaboration: DTV has established Infostretch as a knowledgeable source of information on the myriad aspects of digital transformation—not just what we know but who we know. Meaningful content is conveyed by third parties who are interviewed by Infostretch leadership, people in our brain trust such as Chief Customer Officer Avery Lyford, the author of this article and others. The information and objectivity, coupled with their expert interviewing approach, combine to earn both friendships and trust.
Why YouTube? Two reasons, primarily:
- To have the credibility of an educational platform, we felt it was important to have a comfortable neutral setting for these shows—which, to reiterate, are presented commercial-free.
- As noted above, email and other traditional marketing channels tend to be overused and would not be as effective in imparting this sort content.
In just the first three months, subscriptions grew by one-third and views expanded three-fold, with many episodes being referred before people actually sign up. And, plans are afoot to expand its footprint to podcasts that are available through iTunes.
In the era of information overload, it can be daunting to break through the logjam to assure that meaningful messages are received. As an educational vehicle, the DTV YouTube channel is an innovation that has delivered.