If you follow Anders Björklund on LinkedIn, you'll know that he regularly posts some short thoughts on the state of online and digital. In this episode, we chatted about these thoughts - we discussed what the idea is behind them, what the reaction has been, and expanded a bit more on some of them. Enjoy!
As you might expect, we discussed the effects of the pandemic in this episode. Many B2B companies have had to make a huge shift in the way they do things, and more than anyone, CEOs have had to adjust and adapt their way of working. Some CEOs have met these challenges well - while others haven't. We talked about the differences between these two groups, and gave some more general tips to companies who are looking to ramp up their digitalisation as things start returning to normal.
As always, you can either listen to this episode, watch the video version below, or read the transcription at the bottom if you're in a rush.
Also, The Onlinification Pod is now available on Apple Podcasts! Lots of other popular podcast apps use Apple's podcast directory, so if there's another app you like to use, it's probably on there as well. Additionally, all the video episodes are now available on our YouTube channel. So there's a couple of new ways to subscribe!
Listening and subscription options
AE: [00:00:00] So hello Anders!
AB: [00:00:02] Hello, Alexander.
AE: [00:00:04] You still miss David Bowie today?
AB: [00:00:08] Yes, I do, sir. I do so every day of the year. I don't dare to tell the truth that it's every hour. So I stick to the days. And actually, you and I were planning that today Pe Ishii, our colleague, should be part of this episode, where is he?
AE: [00:00:29] He's out kayaking.
AB: [00:00:32] Aha. Because it might have been because he has exactly the same t-shirt, so we might have been lucky so that both of us should have worn the 'I still miss David Bowie' t-shirt. Do you remember what we said in the latest recording?
AE: [00:00:50] I don't, no.
AB: [00:00:52] If we say "uhh" when we talk today, it was one krona to Gothenburg Stadsmission.
AE: [00:01:01] That's true. Yeah, I agreed with that challenge. So to the listeners, that's a good preparation if we are sounding a bit weird, we are trying to keep away from that word. So since it's only us doing this episode, I have gone through your LinkedIn feed for the past six months Anders. And was it, it was a couple of months ago you started with an experiment writing one thought every second week or every week, you share one thought about something.
AB: [00:01:47] It's actually not that structured. It started as an experiment to sort of, think in a different way. Meaning that that many years ago when I was running a personal blog, I put up a thought each and every day, could be a reflection from something or whatever, And just one day I thought, hmm, that's a thought, I'm going to put it there, and I did, and sometimes it's a fact and sometimes it's a statement. Can be when I sit and work with something else or when I hang out or look at something, I don't know. So it's not that structured, it sounded very structured when you described it.
AE: [00:02:37] Yeah, yeah. But I personally find those, even though it's only one or two sentences, it's a thoughtful thought, which can give you as a reader as much value as reading an article or a blog, just seeing those. So in this episode, I thought we were going through some of them and just hear more comments about your thoughts. So here's one thought you published a couple of months ago - "everybody talks about digital transformation, but who can show real business results and tell how and what they have done?" And this is a thought that we have touched on in many episodes.
AB: [00:03:31] Yes, I think the companies that need the examples, I never see them and most companies that claim they have the examples never show the proof that they have them. And think it's not more much more complicated than that, and the world needs the what and hows, everyone needs the what and hows.
AE: [00:03:59] And do you think we're going to get there?
AB: [00:04:03] I'm certain we're going to get there, but it would be very helpful if people stop trying to claim that they can make such massive changes and large changes, I think it would be very good for everyone involved if everyone showed small, easy, simple examples of how they have done things more easily, achieving effortless simplicity. However small the thing is, the better because then it's doable for others to do it.
AE: [00:04:40] Yeah. And when you say sharing, do you mean sharing internally or is it communication?
AB: [00:04:47] Internally, externally, describing it at the dinner table with with customers, in video meetings, whatever. Listen, I just want to tell you something, we tested a thing last week, you have that sort of everyone being transparent with the small changes with large effect, rather than claiming or believing that you should change the whole company.
AE: [00:05:17] Great.
AB: [00:05:18] Do you think any listeners now listen if we say "uhh"?
AE: [00:05:24] Probably! I already forgot it, so. Any more comments there on that first comment or thought?
AB: [00:05:34] Not for now.
AE: [00:05:35] Second thought here: "companies generate more and more content and try to guide and nurture potential and existing customers through their more or less thought-through sales pipelines. And for many companies, it's becoming harder than ever to identify and implement effective methods to connect with their target buyers. The solution isn't to create more content. It's to understand how it is to be them and stay relevant."
AB: [00:06:10] If I would read that and someone else wrote it, I would say. I'm not sure that the first couple of sentences are correct, I think very few really actually try. Perhaps they strive for it, but I don't think they succeed in it, but but the last part with stop, stop trying to find a lot of sort of easy way through automation and other things. For the first time, really, really be interested in how it is to be done. It's the best start from all perspectives. That's the start of it. So if I hadn't been writing that myself, I would have certainly agreed with the last part and said that I was very positive and nice to everyone in the first part.
AE: [00:07:02] Yep, makes sense. Third thought, then: "for many CEOs, online and social media is still something that their kids and relatives do. Less than half of the B2B CEOs that I know have an active social media presence and only a few have posted anything the past year."
AB: [00:07:26] Some of them wouldn't agree with me. But when I actually wrote that, I know what I truly meant about posting that thought that I think too many CEOs of large companies gave been invisible the last 12, 15 months, while a few others. Have used the time to really show who they are, what they think of their colleagues and think of everything externally. A handful of global CEOs have been very visible internally and externally. Too many CEOs, and I talk about big B2B companies, I don't know where they have been since March last year. They have not been visible and they have not been sort of super-clear showing internally and externally where they are about, and where to go and what's next during this sort of pandemic period, so that was the start of that thought, and then I tried to provoke a bit, I guess.
AE: [00:08:44] And were they present before March, or do you think that's a...?
AB: [00:08:50] I would say at least more present when it came to their companies than they have been now. And I think for some of them, the explanation is easy, these have been times that are extraordinary and where they and their boards didn't know exactly how to behave. They haven't been in this situation before. Perhaps some in the board were on board in the 90s when stuff happened. And some of them were around 12 years ago when stuff happened in the world. But I think they didn't know how to behave, especially one CEO of a global company, I think he has done a marvelous job. And I'm not going to mention who it is, but a marvelous, fantastic job with the whole global company, very invisible, internally and externally and for. The financial market for customers and everything, yeah, and he has changed from being a very traditional CEO to become someone who's been participating in pods, videos, webinars, everything. And I would say that huge respect for that. And he has done the right thing.
AE: [00:10:08] How much time do you think that global CEOs should spend on social media online?
AB: [00:10:16] For everyone in business I think it should be a natural part of your working day and how you work, and especially for CEOs due to that whatever you think about it, a listed company is sort of, everyone is looking at the CEO of a listed company for different reasons. But you are the person who guides the culture and how you think about things and how you act on things and how you live your lives in the company. So I, I would suggest that all CEOs should be very present, at least on LinkedIn. For all reasons, I think I've been writing an article about the presence of CEOs on, especially on LinkedIn.
AE: [00:11:09] Yeah, I thought you had. Another thought: “Many companies spent last year struggling to catch up on decades-old trends, such as working from home, video usage, online commerce, digital workshops and virtual events. What had long been a priority suddenly became the main priority, and too many companies found themselves unprepared. Imagine what the pre pandemic reality will reveal for those companies.”
AB: [00:11:40] I agree.
AE: [00:11:45] So the companies you talk to, have they adapted or could they prepare better for these challenges?
AB: [00:11:54] I think everyone should have been better prepared, but sometimes it takes something extraordinary to wake people up. At the same time. I'm still worried that this wasn't enough to modernize. And as we see right now, events and conferences are booked up. Hotels are booked up. I'm not certain that's the right way to go from any aspect. I think many will go back to what they had been longing for exactly like it was before. And some have realized that life, from all perspectives, at work and in private has become better. So we'll see. But hopefully, this period did some things well when it comes to digitalisation. Hopefully.
AE: [00:12:49] Yep. Are you surprised how well or how bad companies have adapted?
AB: [00:12:57] Instead of talking about others I can talk about Zooma, and Zooma has done it really well. And if I would apply what I said in that thought on Zooma, we made a huge step, if we talk about everyone in Zooma, in relation with our customers and internally, in how to use digital and how to use virtual meetings and video and customer follow up and events and demos and presentations and everything else. So I would say shame on us that we were not further ahead when March arrived last year, but very well done since that. And we will continue forward. So if I don't have opinions about anyone else, that's how I conclude what we have done.
AE: [00:13:50] Why do you think we succeeded with adapting so fast?
AB: [00:13:54] It comes from all the people that that work within Zooma, looking positive at a very negative situation, gathering around that, "Oh, perhaps we could do this better than we did when we needed to meet in an office every day," and hopefully in a while when we have perhaps physical meetings and an office again. I think we will do this even better, and I think that many of our customers will say, "should we have a physical meeting or digital meeting?" And I presume that there will be very few physical meetings with all the project members in Zooma and on the customer side that actually meet. Perhaps we will do that once a year when we do an evaluation or have a dinner or something else. And I presume that we will travel very little to and from customers, I presume that. Otherwise we haven't learned anything from this. And when it comes to much larger companies than us and others, I'm not certain. I don't know. Is this going like you wanted it to go, discussing the thoughts?
AE: [00:15:16] It is. And it feels a bit like a card game or something, I take a card and you need to come in. So I'm thinking about a Zooma game. Maybe we can develop that.
AB: [00:15:32] Yes, maybe. And maybe we should involve Herr Wåhlander, Mr. Wåhlander, Carl Wåhlander, our colleague.
AE: [00:15:40] Yeah.
AB: [00:15:40] He's been in the pod hasn't he?
AE: [00:15:42] Yeah he has. We didn't talk about games then, but yeah, I think in the episode where Elisabet talked about things you could do to maintain the social connection working remotely, she mentioned that each Friday we have a Friday fika, and Carl Wåhlanders is the person who is presenting a game each week, so, yeah, he would probably be the product owner of such an initiative.
AB: [00:16:21] Yeah, we have to talk with Carl, Mr. Wåhlander.
AE: [00:16:25] So I'm picking another card here: "Due to the extraordinary time we live in, customers are unlikely to purchase unless they need it right here and now. That means companies' efforts focused on actively pushing sales may fall flat. Clicking through online ads, social media posts and emails are the three least popular ways for buyers to research a purchase decision." I really liked this thought and I feel very, as a person who wants things right here, right now when I get it. Were you in a specific situation when this thought came up, or?
AB: [00:17:11] I believe it was connected to that, that I looked at my own behavior while I was writing an article about customer behavior. I think this is the thought that I put up then, and the reason was that I ordered something privately and it said within five days you get it home. And for me, that was the prerequisite to buy, to purchase it, and then later on, they said it will come in seven weeks. And after that, they said it will come in 17 weeks or whatever it was. So the thoughts started there, working at the dinner table here. And then at the same time, I was writing an article about customer expectations or behavior. So it just showed up like that.
AE: [00:18:03] Yeah. So does that mean that the customer journey is shorter or is it just important to...?
AB: [00:18:12] I mean, of course, it depends on the driver of the purchase, meaning the driving force behind the purchase. Very, very few B2B products are "I need it tomorrow." But there are things that I need now, and tomorrow or the day after which when you come to the B2B business where the aftermarket could be spare parts, could be service, could be anything, that's on-demand and you need to react immediately. And I think it's a much better mindset for companies to have that if someone is looking to solve something, you need to be there. You need to be there in person with an expert, and you need to be really fast. You need to presume that if someone clicks your chat or goes to your buy section or whatever they do, they want it here and now, and then perhaps it's something within B2B that everyone knows is a delivery time of three or four weeks. But you can't wait, you can't just say or blame or claim that "you know, in our business it's three to seven years before they buy something." Yeah, but when they contact you, they presume that you will react immediately. They don't presume that you will wait three months to answer what they asked for. So I think it's a very good mindset in B2B to think here and now, and you want it immediately. Otherwise, you talk to someone else that is faster.
AE: [00:19:49] It's very interesting to see in B2C, how the trend of quick commerce and these new startups that promise to deliver essentials within 20 minutes or so, the logistic networks being built up.
AB: [00:20:09] You see such a difference when you get things sent to the home, who they have signed with for distribution, how modern they are, is it a text that arrives, do you need to do something actively, is it an app that they provide where you can change with short notice and you get the latest update from where they are or do they call you and presume that you have time to answer the phone, otherwise they skip the delivery. And no difference in B2B, no difference at all when something is important, it is very interesting to see. And now when people have been home ordering stuff for 15 months or 16 months, then they have gotten used to being fairly spoiled by some. And if they take that back to work when it's office supplies or whatever they are waiting for, let's wait and see, then they perhaps start to get questions. How come that when I order home blah blah, but when I'm at work, blah, blah? Hopefully. That would be lovely.
AE: [00:21:18] So I'm picking the last card of this episode, and everyone is closing their eyes. And the thought is: "imagine Spotify or Netflix without suggestions and recommendations. What do you see?" And you got some comments on that?
AB: [00:21:40] Again, that's important, I don't expect people to answer, and I think that if I could take away the like button and the comment field on LinkedIn when I write these thoughts that that would be marvelous. Fantastic, because I'm not looking after the answers. I'm not looking for people to say, "oh, that was smart," and put a like or whatever. I'm interested in that if at least one person starts thinking about it, then it's good, and my target group for everything I do on LinkedIn is these people that I like. And people that I like, hopefully, one of them spends 10 seconds thinking about the answer. But I don't say that people can't comment, but that's not what I am looking for. I'm looking for that people actually, like you said, close your eyes for a couple of seconds and imagine Spotify or Netflix without sort of active suggestions. Nothing. That's just sort of a big card game, and you sit down and scroll and la, la, la, la, la. And if we turn that and we think that it's whatever in B2B, it could be forklifts, could be trucks, could be boats, could be whatever, that's what it looks like today in many cases, then some try to do a bit more branding, and...
AE: [00:23:19] More personalization.
AB: [00:23:21] ...Much more personalization or at least segmentation. If I've been to the site before and I have given them permission to use my data. Come on, some things are not interesting at all for me. You don't need to be sort of scientist to understand that. And if it's an existing customer, please give them the guidance to give them the help. Most people that B2B does business with have at least Spotify or Netflix, or do things in private where they are, not spoiled, but they get some basic help, so that's the intention and very happy if at least one person who sees those thoughts has a thought. That's enough. That's the reasoning behind it. And of course, that I like to think like that. And then always before I publish, I think, OK, before you click publish, how do we do that at Zooma? And then I think hopefully one individual at Zooma looks at it and thinks and then moves on. Yeah. So a colleague perhaps can get an idea or think something or do something.
AE: [00:24:50] And it's an excellent way of, of creating content as well and, and repurposing it, like in this podcast and also longer articles and, and so on. So I really appreciate those short updates.
AB: [00:25:11] Then I'm happy because then that's at least one person, and actually, two of the ones you have mentioned now are now becoming articles, because I've been thinking about what I wrote and then I sort of started to create articles around that. Sometimes it's just a thought and sometimes you can elaborate and think it through and get more content out of a few thoughts. So maybe you and I should make a recommendation for people that when you have a thought, put it in notes or in Grammarly or whatever, keep it there, look at it sometimes, and perhaps your thought has evolved to something that can become really interesting content. But if we look at the times, a very modern person, We could say, Seth Godin, his blog has been the same for ages and he's putting thoughts there. And now when you and I sat down and discussed this, I actually thought, shit, sometimes I think this. Postings are too long and I mean, what are we talking about at most, 20 sentences, and sometimes my brain tells me you don't have time to read through this today. And if I don't read Seth Godin's blog immediately, there's a new one the next day. And yeah, I just made a decision that I'm going to put in my calendar 30 minutes per week and read through the seven latest thoughts from Seth. It's a decision now. But what I'm thinking about is that maybe and perhaps it's good to have very short and sort of stringent thoughts because people do not have time.
AE: [00:27:13] No, and it also gives a lot of room for self-thinking. You leave out a lot of space for reflections.
AB: [00:27:26] Good. No Pe today, but a lot of thoughts, and thoughts on the thoughts, could we say so?
AE: [00:27:33] Yeah, so thank you very much.
AB: [00:27:35] Thank you, Alexander.
AE: [00:27:37] Bye bye.