Altimeter’s Pilot Series: A Community Discussion the Mainstreaming Of Social Media

By Charlene Li

Last week we kicked off our Pilot Series (see all pics), with the goal of giving the people who drive strategies around disruptive technologies (the “pilots”) have a time and place where they can come together to connect, learn, and rejuvenate.

Our first event featured the latest addition to the Altimeter team, Brian Solis, who discussed the changes he’s seen happen in just the past year — and it’s reflected in the paperback release of his book, “Engage“. Brian took the opportunity to edit and re-write significant parts of the book to reflect the mainstreaming of social media into corporate strategies and cultures.

In particular, Brian focused on the changing role of social media in companies, saying, “The roles we have is to realize that what lies ahead in business is bigger than social media.” Several others in the audience echoed this change and shift in attention in their daily jobs. One person said that while she was hired a few months ago to create an external social strategy for her company, in actuality she spends about 50% of her time dealing with internal issues and strategies. And, she shared, internal adoption and mindsets around social media weren’t moving or changing very quickly!

The focus on the challenges of culture change was evident in a real-life “bulletin board” that we had at the event. In the spirit of community, we wanted to create an interactive experience where attendees could talk with each other and even respond to questions we left on the wall around topics like,
“Please tell us your challenges, aspirations, and thoughts regarding Internal requirements necessary for social business (culture, policies, etc.)” Here are some of the responses that reflected a broader business view beyond social media:

“Defining social trust as a survival mechanism for all aspects of business.”
“Getting people to collaborate instead of compete internally.”
“Integration is not adding social into the Web, but putting social into the fabric of business.”

But my favorite was simply a post-it note with the word “workflow” written on it. Clearly, someone was pulling their hair out trying to bring process to the mess world of customer engagement!

To that end, I believe that the most important outcome of the evening was the support that the “pilots” received from each other. Many told us that they appreciated the opportunity to get out of the trenches, to reconnect, and to enjoy each others’ company (event photos). So thank you to everyone who attended our first kickoff Pilot Series, because you helped make it a success!

We’ll continue to have these events, including a future Pilot Series event in July, discussing Social Supply Chain and Social Commerce with our partner Lora Cecere. While the Pilot Series is invitation only, we’ll also be hosting a series of informal roundtables, such as a roundtable next week focused on Gamification, which anyone can sign up here. Please watch this blog to learn about upcoming events or sign up to receive emails of our blog posts.


  1. hi charlene, any chance i can obtain an invite to the pilot series with lora on social commerce? thanks!