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Terra Cotta Army, Mobility and Social Engagement Platforms

This week I had the pleasure of teaching a SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) strategies workshop in Brussels for a very large insurance and banking company.  Following the workshop, my colleague in the mobility practice, Hugo Taborda, took me to see a visiting display of the Terra Cotta Army from China.

For those not familiar with the Terra Cotta Army, it is a collection of over 7,000 terra cotta statutes found by a Chinese farmer in 1974.  Seven thousand soldiers and horses in long lines, standing silently, ready to escort their king into the afterlife.

Yesterday on my return flight to Boise, Idaho I had ample time to meditate on terra cotta statues.  They were buried around 210 BC.  They have stood silent, ready for duty, for over 2,000 years.  Whether their king journeyed into an afterlife or not, they remained buried in Lintong district, Xi'an, Shaanix province, China.  They were immobile.  They have withstood the ravages of time (most of them), but cannot share their experiences or witness to the events of history.  I know, as I tried to interview one.

How does a Terra Cotta army relate to social engagement platforms and enterprise mobility?  Well here it goes!  Many companies are blessed with large numbers of brilliant employees that bring with them in-depth industry experience, vast amounts of knowledge, skills, innovative ideas, and problem solving capabilities, but they are never effectively utilized.  They are a modern day Terra Cotta Army, ready and willing, but immobile and silent, there is no effective engagement platform in place.

We have done a good job of automating business processes with ERPs and other systems, but when there are exceptions, problems, disagreements and opportunities, we almost completely fail at providing effective platforms of engagement.  ERPs and other tools that capture, standardize and automate the routine, usually operate in silence and with minimal social interaction, however, the real-world operates in a noisy, chaotic, and non-standard place called reality.  It is here, where innovation, negotiation, new products, new businesses, brain-storming and problem solving happens.  It is here where profits are made or lost.

It is time for companies to research and learn about social engagement platforms.  How can you better utilize and benefit from the brilliance lying dormant, silent and waiting to be discovered.  I recently read an article where the author predicted the next big productivity wave will come from effectively utilizing existing resources through social engagement and enterprise collaboration platforms.  I agree!

As in our personal lives, social engagement is enabled by social networking platforms and tools.  Likewise, in our companies, social engagement platforms, purpose built to support effective business engagement and collaboration can provide huge benefits. These platforms will have a mobile first approach.  Mobile apps will be the primary means by which participants engage.  Apps that enable your best and brightest minds, no matter their physical location, to be able to contribute.

The world already has seven-thousand terra cotta soldiers.  We don't need more.  Today, we need an army of bright minds, engaged and contributing.

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Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for SMAC, Cognizant
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated futurist, Principal Analyst at the Center for Digital Intelligence™, C4DIGI.com, emerging technologies analyst, and digital transformation and business strategy consultant. In the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries, and is a keynote speaker at conferences worldwide. He spent nearly 5 years working as a Senior Analyst at Cognizant (CTSH), and 2 years serving in Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work where he wrote many reports, hundreds of articles, interviewed technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries. He has written articles published in The Guardian, wrote the Forward to SAP Press' book titled "Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP", published over 3,000 articles and was featured as thought leader and digital strategist in the Department of Defense's IQT intelligence journal. Kevin lectures and leads workshops, teaches and consults with companies and government agencies around the world to help develop digital transformation and business strategies. Visit his website at C4DIGI.com.

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