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Eduardo Niebles

Eduardo Niebles


As Managing Director of International Business at BST Global, Eduardo oversees the direction and strategy for BST Global's international business development and growth worldwide. Eduardo joined BST Global in 2005 as the International Business Development Director, and in 2007 he became Managing Director for the European, Middle Eastern, and African regions. Later, he assumed the position of Managing Director for the Asia Pacific region. In these roles, he has led the market strategy and approach to establish BST Global as the business software provider of choice for architectural and engineering (AE) customers outside of North America.

What is Social Business?

Eduardo Niebles
EduardoNiebles
Manager Director
BST Global
Tweet, Like, Pin, Comment, Share. Repeat. The pervasiveness of social media in our everyday lives is undeniable. From keeping up with close social ties to reviving dormant relationships, nearly 75% of all online adults use social networking sites, according to the Pew Research Center. And it should come as no surprise that this number is only going up – eMarketer projects that the global social network audience will reach 2.55 billion by 2017. What began as a means for people to connect, share, and embrace information in a community network through sites like Facebook, YouTube, and China’s Qzone has rapidly evolved beyond personal use into the era of social business. But, what exactly is social business? By now, you may have heard Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’ concept of a social business that purposefully seeks to solve major social problems like poverty, education, and health care. Surely this is a noble endeavor, but one that should not be confused with the topic of this post. The social business that I am addressing is one that uses social media to develop new forms of communication and collaboration – where organizations are creating their own internal social networks and leveraging information gathered from social for competitive advantage, business intelligence, insight, and value. A social business is not an organization that has merely combined social computing and social media attributes like Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts to their processes. It is one that promotes and encourages the notion of collaboration through social among its employees, partners, and customers to create business value. So, what makes a social business? There are three distinct characteristics:   1. Engagement The empowerment of the individual is fundamental in a social business. It is about allowing employees to engage with customers, partners, and their peers in ways that establish a network of collaborating communities. These communities can add valuable insight from multiple directions to solve major business challenges.   2. Transparency A social business looks to capitalize on the view of one version of the truth by removing all boundaries (e.g. disconnected databases, disjointed business management systems) that would prohibit collaboration. It takes advantage of the massive amount of business intelligence coming from different sources, and directs the right pieces of information to where they can be most useful in helping capture new business opportunities.   3. Agility A social business also harnesses the ability to capture and provide real-time information in order to anticipate how markets are evolving. It leverages the ability to instantaneously provide the most current information to employees so that they can make informed decisions with customers regardless of time and location. Furthermore, the use of mobile and cloud technologies to complement your social strategy deployment ensures that your community is connected whenever and wherever they are.   Whether leveraging existing social media sites or developing custom internal communication networks, many organizations that have implemented social business concepts – like the American Red Cross and Nestlé UK, for example – are seeing benefits that go well beyond facilitating collaboration to the realization of major organizational objectives. Take, for example, the recruitment of talent. The 2014 Moving Beyond Marketing survey by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte found that nearly two-thirds of respondents felt social business sophistication was at least somewhat important to them when selecting an employer. The same survey found that 83% of maturing social businesses are using social to improve leadership performance and talent management. The infographic by MIT Sloan Management below highlights even more benefits maturing social businesses are realizing. Becoming a social business is an extensive internal process that takes much consideration beyond simply what technologies will be used. What social media sites do you currently use in your personal life that you think could be leveraged within your organization? Share your ideas in a comment below.

5 Steps to Becoming a Collaborative Social Business

Eduardo Niebles
EduardoNiebles
Manager Director
BST Global
How important is social business to your organization? When asked this question by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, more than 70% of executives in the professional services industry said social business was important or somewhat important to their organization today. Each year, we learn of more and more companies around the world that are transforming their organizations and creating value through the use of social networks, software, and media that enable connections between people and information – or, what is more commonly known as social business. But as this trend continues to grow, major challenges are emerging. In addition to the absence of a strong business case and too many competing priorities, the lack of an overall social business strategy was among the top barriers identified by social business executives in the Moving Beyond Marketing survey. Currently, there is an overwhelming number of social business best practices, tools, and processes available online – a quick Google search of the phrase yields more than 1 billion results. However, before this complex organizational change can take effect within your company, you must first develop a clear strategy to guide the process. As you explore the opportunities of this global trend, use these steps to make the social business path easier to travel:   1. Learn the terminology. The phrases social technology, social media, and social network are often used interchangeably. However contrary to popular misconception, they do not mean the same thing. Begin your process with a clear understanding of the different terms: Social technologies are the tools and systems that connect people and information, regardless of time and location. Social media are those places where people come together in a digital environment to create and share information. Social networks are the accumulation of the people you know, and the people they know, as well as how you all are connected. By understanding the differences between these terms, it becomes clear that a social business must encompass all three to succeed – first, by activating your networks, then by leveraging media and technologies to foster business value.   2. Establish a clear objective. Determine what you are trying to accomplish with your social outreach. For example, are you looking to improve informed decision-making by creating seamless working teams that act on real-time information? Efficiently solve organizational challenges using social technologies that allow you to quickly canvas your network for additional input and insight? Or gain knowledge on emerging trends that present new business opportunities? Avoid the need to start big, or have grand plans – focus on specific objectives that recognize the value of working in a digital ecosystem (and how you will measure your success in achieving these objectives).   3. Understand your customer and market. Determine who makes up your audience. Will your network include employees? Customers? Partners? Or some combination of the three? After you determine whom you are seeking to reach with social, learn about what engages them in this digital economy. What are their likes? Whose tweets are they following? How do they perceive your organization?   4. Identify your influencers. Look within your organization for the individuals that are digital natives. Who is already active in promoting the organization via connected devices? And how can your organization combine the content these influencers are sharing with the content that your organization is creating?   5. Select and/or develop your technologies. Identify the social media sites already in existence that can be embraced within your organization. Or better yet, conduct a survey to identify social media sites that your employees are already using for collaboration. Can you leverage blogs, LinkedIn Groups, or Twitter chats? These channels are aimed to encourage commentary, engage your network, and facilitate the sharing of quality content. And for those looking for additional security or features, building an internal social technology may be preferred over using public social media sites. Over the next two years, Gartner predicts that 50% of large organizations will have internal social tools. However, the research firm also estimates that through 2015, 80% of social business efforts will fail in achieving intended benefits because of poor leadership, an overemphasis of technology, and the lack of a company-wide social business strategy. To ensure successful implementation of a social business initiative, it is imperative that leadership understands how their people currently work, whom they work with, and what their needs are to improve those processes. Has your organization taken steps towards becoming a social business? If so, what has your initial experience been like?

The Perils of Overlooking Ethos in Expansion [and How to Avoid Them]

Eduardo Niebles
EduardoNiebles
Manager Director
BST Global
There are thousands of books, articles, and excerpts on globalization, international business, and global strategies, each divulging different ways to gain market share and global brand recognition: Should you adapt your products to the marketplace differently? Take advantage of economies of scale? Or look at global growth based on cost and risk reductions given the geographical opportunities? When considering a new global growth model, business leaders usually cover the basics. First, they look at their business model to determine how to adapt the company’s value proposition to the new geographical market participants, and then they determine what infrastructure (enterprise resource planning, outside partnerships, and organizational management – to name a few) is needed to succeed. But one element that is often overlooked – or worse, assumed to be inherently part of the strategic process – is the ethos of the business. The ethos of your business sets the tone for how your organization operates. This core set of values – be it trust, fairness, honesty, or even environmental awareness – is not automatically incorporated into your global strategy; you must make a conscious effort to include it. Just as you discuss how you will create new sales opportunities, you must also consider how your company ethos could affect which strategies you adopt, what trade-offs you might make, and to what degree the ethos of the business itself may need to change. While it is one thing to adapt your business model to gain competitive advantage or to create a “blue ocean” of opportunity, changing your company ethos to quickly gain market share in a new region is a recipe for failure in the long-term. The ethos of a business should not be changed, altered, or adapted to win new business outside of your home geographical boundaries, in my opinion. As simple as incorporating your core operating principles into your international strategy may sound, there are countless case studies on companies that failed when going global because the leaders made trade-offs on mandates of their business ethos that they assumed came naturally, but often did not. To make sure that you continually incorporate your business ethos into your global expansion plans, consider these steps as you go through your global development and execution process:   Align business ethos with key performance measurements. A balanced scorecard (BSC) methodology is a good way for leaders to not only measure performance across key perspectives such as finance, customers, and internal business, but to also integrate external and internal processes. BSC helps leaders see where they have made trade-offs between future success and short-term gains, and ensures that success does not come at the expense of core ethos.   Compare defined activities to core values. Think of this step as a checks and balances system for your plan. Once your organization defines and prioritizes key activities of the global strategy, each action needs to be compared with your business ethos, defining expectations as it relates to what will be executed. A byproduct of this exercise is that you will also see what areas the company needs to excel in to guarantee your core competencies transcend to other regions.   Create a strategy map. Intangible assets like ethos, corporate culture, and employee skills are becoming increasingly vital in today’s world of mobile resources, social networks, and real-time information. However, measuring these assets is often difficult. By developing a strategy map, you can help your employees understand why intangible assets are key to the success of your global plan. The map also helps convert intangible assets into tangible outcomes, as it shows the cause-and-effect links to how your intangible assets can create or change the desired outcome. Creating a successful global organization takes time, patience, commitment, and the flexibility to adapt quickly based on the information you receive on the ground as you begin to execute. By making sure that your business ethos is firmly embedded throughout your global expansion, you can better ensure that you are building a long-lasting organization that fully encompasses your tangible and intangible assets as you leave your home geographical boundaries. How does your organization focus on long-term sustainability without compromising its ethos? Share your ideas in a comment below!

A New Reality: How Digital Technology will Transform the AEC Industry

Eduardo Niebles
EduardoNiebles
Manager Director
BST Global
As an industry, we are in uncharted territory. When will an Uber-type company change the AEC industry as we know it, and how can we plan to be a part of it? We read how Mega-trends are redefining the world--in all cases, digital technologies top the list. Financial technology ("FinTech") companies, more flexible than their big bank counterparts, are forcing changes. The amount of information collected and interpreted is growing. No CEO wants to look back and reflect failing to prepare for this fourth 'industrial' revolution. I agree the convergence of various types of digital technologies happening all at once is a key trend. I am, however, of the opinion that we will not witness an Uber-type scenario in the AEC sector. Digital technology will serve as an enabler and not a disruptor to the industry. It will enable new business models to innovate, redefine experiences, and fortify sustainable businesses. The visible impact of digital is how people can now work in a more collaborative way. Social, mobile, cloud, and BIM allow for architects, engineers, surveyors, contractors, and others involved in a project to work from one set of drawings. Moreover, while it is easy to become an Uber driver, the AEC sector necessitates skilled and credentialed professionals to drive creativity, intuition, and judgment. They have the experience to know what questions to ask. Hence, I can envision a new type of AEC firm arising as a result of digital - the digital consultancy. What is a digital consultancy and how can today's firms begin the digital transformation? The digital consultancy represents more than the use of technology to improve operational efficiencies. Rather, it is about creating the environment for employees to gain the knowledge and skills to innovate and build the capabilities to deliver the specific customer value which leads to better shareholder value. It is about data, people, and knowledge. The distinction is placing employees and customers at the center of everything it does as it moves into the digital economy. Consider the following concepts as a strategy map to begin your digital transformation: Communicate the mission - Elevate technology to a chair in the boardroom. The responsibility falls on the CEO. In many ways, the CEO is the Chief Digital Officer. Disrupt yourself - Don't look to disrupt your entire business at once. Keep your primary revenue source intact, but look at the edges of your business to innovate new services and new customers. Use real time information to measure your disruption and get the necessary feedback. Enhance your talent - Hire, train, or create the necessary roles to build the capabilities to deliver customer value. "Data Scientists" or “Digital Engineers" could be new roles to augment new services such as data mining or analytics to smart city schemes. Find new partners - Look to partner with technology companies. Why wait for these digital natives to come in on their terms? Create partnerships to learn from them. Create an ecosystem of partners that can innovate, invest, and offer better customer experience. The consultancy that figures out that the opportunity is for digital to transform the work itself will become the disruptor. There is no opting out of digital transformation-- have you started discussing your digital scenario?