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Customer engagement strategies that heed power of social media

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The power of social media to alter customer engagement strategies — for a product rollout, an executive hire, a policy change — is impressive.

Case in point: Legendary Entertainment did not anticipate the kind of response it would get when it released its trailer for The Great Wall. The decision to cast Matt Damon as the hero in a film centered around the iconic Chinese landmark drew immediate criticism on Twitter and Facebook as another example of a white savior narrative and of whitewashing.

“The whole storyline was meant to be about someone coming into a new culture and learning and growing in that culture,” Matt Marolda, chief analytics officer at Legendary, said at the recent HUBweek, an arts, science and innovation festival in Boston. “But the perception was not that.”

Social media platforms and the swift judgment of the internet are forcing companies to engage in ways they’ve never had to before. And executives from Legendary and Microsoft are sharing their experiences with the new tools for — and rules for — customer engagement.

New tools of engagement

On paper, The Great Wall made sense, according to Marolda. It was 2016, and the U.S. and China were the two biggest movie markets in the world; the East-meets-West film reflected Legendary’s sale to Wanda Group, a massive entertainment company in China. And, based on an analysis Marolda and his applied analytics team did, Damon had an active following and a reputation for taking on high-quality projects.

But what looked good on paper did not translate well to audiences — especially those in the U.S. Marolda said the company reacted to the criticism quickly. For example, the company released a statement from Zhang Yimou, the film’s director whom Marolda characterized as “the Steven Spielberg of China,” defending the casting decision.

After that, the team stood still and observed. “We had time on our side,” said Marolda, adding that the film wasn’t scheduled to be released for nine months. “We could see analytically that the best thing to do was nothing.”

The public ire did cool, but the film couldn’t completely escape the negative press it had received, according to Marolda. The company ultimately decided to shift its marketing strategy. “We then realized that emphasizing the movie’s possibilities outside of the U.S. was as important as emphasizing the movie’s possibilities inside the U.S.,” he said.

The decision appears to have been a good one. While the film bombed in the U.S., it was moderately successful worldwide, and has helped spark a larger conversation about how to make blockbuster films for a global market.

Executives onstage at HUBweek.
Matt Marolda, chief analytics officer at Legendary Entertainment, and Kathleen Kennedy, director of special projects at the MIT Sloan School of Management, onstage at HUBweek.

Customer engagement strategies: Ask three questions

How do companies develop customer engagement strategies that acknowledge the power of social media? A reactive approach — no matter how swift the response or how successful in the short term — doesn’t cut it.   

Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, talked about the role companies should play in the public discourse and stressed that companies need a moral compass today.

“You have to know the issues for which you’re going to take a stand. And you have to be grounded in a certain set of principles,” he said during a fireside chat at HUBweek with Adi Ignatius, the editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review.

Before weighing in on a controversial issue, Smith suggested that companies ask three questions. First, is the issue important to the business? Smith described this question as “an easy space,” and can include tax law or intellectual property law — topics companies have always weighed in on.

Second, is the issue important to its customers? As data has moved to the cloud, companies have entered into a new kind of relationship with their customers, according to Smith. He said it’s vital that they think about the security and protection and actively take a stand on issues like surveillance and privacy.

Third, is the issue important to employees? The company believes a safe work environment doesn’t automatically equate to employee success. Employees could be hindered by issues outside of the office such as an inability to buy the home they want to buy, get the kind of healthcare coverage they need, or marry the person they want to marry, according to Smith.

So when a bill in North Carolina looked like it would restrict LGBT rights, Smith said it “was not a difficult decision” for Microsoft to voice its opposition. The company has a pretty significant presence in Charlotte, employing about 1,000 people there, and Smith said the issue was “important for our employees outside of the workplace.”

In an effort to be as effective as possible and preserve its relationship with the community, Microsoft will often seek out a local business community — a trusted organization that uses its voice to speak up on issues such as these — to partner with. “I prefer a course that’s going to maximize our chances of being effective and not just maximize our chances of being seen,” he said.

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Source: https://searchcio.techtarget.com/news/252451024/Customer-engagement-strategies-that-heed-power-of-social-media

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U.K.’s Wise to join the New Payments Platform in Australia

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Digital money transfer group Wise Plc will join an Australian payments network which should allow transfers to be settled in the country faster and at lower cost, Chief Executive Officer Kristo Kaarmann said on Friday.

The company will become a direct participant and shareholder in Australia’s New Payments Platform (NPP), Kaarmann said.

Wise said that joining the NPP will allow it to lower its average price of money transfers in or out of Australia by bypassing middlemen to clear and settle real-time payments instantly.

Kaarmann did not say how much lower its rates would be after joining the NPP. It charges about 0.56% on its Australian transfers currently, the company said.

That compares with the average 5% to 6% the country’s major banks charge, according to Wise’s calculations.

The 10-year old financial technology company is regulated in Britain, the United States, Singapore, and among others, Australia, where it also holds a banking licence. But in many of the over 80 countries where it offers remittances, Wise partners with banks to hold deposits, which increases its costs and prices.

“Our average cost … is already many multiples cheaper than the banks,” London-based Kaarmann said. “We want to get as close to zero as possible, in terms of cost.”

The firm, whose market debut in July became the London stock exchange’s largest ever tech listing, estimates it handles about 1% to 2% of transfers by consumers and small and medium-sized businesses globally.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/uks-wise-join-new-payments-platform-australia/18166

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Google to slash amount it keeps from sales on its cloud marketplace- CNBC

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(Reuters) -Alphabet Inc’s Google will take a smaller cut when customers buy software from other vendors on its cloud marketplace, CNBC reported on Sunday.

The Google Cloud Platform is cutting its percentage revenue share to 3% from 20%, CNBC said, citing a person familiar with the matter. https://cnb.cx/2XZp7ep

“Our goal is to provide partners with the best platform and most competitive incentives in the industry. We can confirm that a change to our Marketplace fee structure is in the works and we’ll have more to share on this soon,” a Google Cloud spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.

Earlier this year, Google cut the service fee it charges developers on its app store by half on the first $1 million they earn in revenue in a year.

(Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/google-slash-amount-keeps-sales-cloud-marketplace-cnbc/18165

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Canada foreign minister says eyes wide open when it comes to normalizing China ties

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TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s “eyes are wide open” when it comes to normalizing its relationship with China, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said on Sunday, after three years of rocky ties with Beijing since the arrest and Friday’s release of a Huawei Technologies executive.

Garneau told CBC News the government is now following a four-fold approach to China: “coexist,” “compete,” “co-operate,” and “challenge.”

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, flew back to China after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors to end a bank fraud case against her. That resulted in the scrapping of her nearly three year extradition battle in a Canadian court.

Soon after Meng flew to China, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – the two Canadians detained by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest in December 2018 – were released by Beijing.

“There was no path to a relationship with China as long as the two Michaels were being detained,” Garneau said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Garneau received the two Canadians on Saturday when they arrived in the western Canadian city of Calgary after spending more than 1,000 days in solitary confinement.

Trudeau, who won a third term on Sept. 20 election after a tight race, had vowed to improve ties with China since he first became prime minister in 2015, building on his father’s success in establishing diplomatic ties with China in 1970.

But even before Meng’s arrest, Canada’s repeated questioning of China’s human rights issues has irked Beijing, and the two countries have failed to come closer.

China has always denied any link between Meng’s extradition case and the detention of the two Canadians, but Garneau said, “the immediate return of the two Michaels linked” it to Meng’s case in a “very direct manner.”

Garneau also said he didn’t think the timing of the men’s return had anything to do with the timing of the federal election.

“I think it just worked out that way.”

(Reporting by Denny Thomas; editing by Grant McCool)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/canada-foreign-minister-says-eyes-wide-open-comes-normalizing-china-ties/18164

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EU says U.S. trade, tech council to boost its clout, set rules for 21st century

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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) will give Europe more clout and set standards and rules for the 21st century, the EU’s trade and digital chiefs said, underscoring global concerns about China’s growing power.

The comments by Valdis Dombrovskis and Margrethe Vestager came ahead of the first TTC meeting in Pittsburgh on Wednesday and as the United States and Europe face off with China in areas ranging from trade to defence to technology and human rights.

“There is real strategic and geopolitical importance to this new platform as a way in setting standards and rules for the 21st century. So we need this Council to amplify our status,” Dombrovskis told reporters.

Dombrovskis insisted, however, that the platform was not targeted at any particular country.

“TTC is not about any specific third country, it is about cooperation and coordination on a number of policy areas between the United States and the EU,” he said.

The Council’s 10 working groups will focus on technology standards, green technology, supply-chain security, data governance, export controls, investment screening and global trade issues, among others.

All these areas are key for the EU, Vestager said.

“What we have achieved is a package that covers, I think, both offensive and defensive interests,” she told reporters.

Dombrovskis said French fury at Australia’s decision to scrap a $40 billion submarine deal for one with the United States and Britain should not deflect the EU from its long-term interests.

“We are allies, partners and friends, and yes friends can easily from time to time make mistakes and we have seen this in recent weeks, but we knew this issue should not cloud our judgment on our strategic alliances,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai will be the co-chairs of the meeting with Dombrovskis and Vestager.

The EU hopes to hold a second meeting next spring in Belgium.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/eu-says-us-trade-tech-council-boost-clout-set-rules-21st-century/18163

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