2021 is now half over – but on a lighter note, The Onlinification Pod just turned six months old! In this episode, we look back at what's happened over the last half-year – after the pandemic year of 2020, what has changed in the world of online and digital, and what do we think the rest of the year has in store?
At Zooma, we're always experimenting with new ways of doing things – in fact, this podcast is the result of an experiment that turned out well. But so far, 2021 has been filled with a bunch of other experiments, some of which have led to something new, and others which we haven't taken any further.
Over the last 18 months, every company has been forced to embrace this spirit of experimentation to some degree. The old way of working simply hasn't been possible, and we've all had to test new things and build unfamiliar solutions. It seems as though the pandemic is now going towards a close (fingers crossed) – so how will this strange period affect us in the future? Will businesses continue building on the things they've learned, or will the temptation to go back to the old normal be too strong?
That's what I chatted about with Anders and Stellan in this episode. You can listen on Spotify or Soundcloud, watch the video version below, or take a look at the transcript further down if you're really in a rush.
And of course, don't forget to subscribe – either on your podcast platform or right here on the blog. That way, you'll get an alert when we release a new episode. Happy listening!
Alexander Evjenth: [00:00:00] So welcome to today's episode. How are you, Stellan?
Stellan Björnesjö: [00:00:04] I am very well, thank you. And you?
AE: [00:00:06] I'm good, and Anders?
Anders Björklund: [00:00:09] Tremendous.
AE: [00:00:10] Nice. You have a nice background, what's the story behind that bookshelf?
AB: [00:00:18] It's actually locker room lockers in wood. And then over there you see one of my hunting trophies. I actually carved this trophy from one of the trees that I took down the other year, so it's not a real head, it's something that I carved, I always like to carve things.
SB: [00:00:49] An unknown skill.
AE: [00:00:51] Yeah. And is it true, or?
AB: [00:00:55] What do you mean?
AE: [00:00:56] That you have carved it?
AB: [00:00:57] No. That's just a lie, I bought it for four or five Swedish kronor in a store somewhere nearby. But it's a good story.
AE: [00:01:08] A good store and a good story. So we are recording this at the end of June, and I thought we could have an episode reflecting on the last six months and talk about what, uh, you two have done, like during the six months. And if you have done any experiments, we can talk about those conclusions that you have drawn. Starting with you Stellan, when we were at the beginning of January if you reflect on how your previous six months have been, was it like you thought back then?
SB: [00:01:59] Six months fly by fast, so.
AB: [00:02:03] Don't get too personal now Stellan, don't go there.
SB: [00:02:10] I think from an overall standpoint, I think everybody thought covid vaccinations would move much faster than they have actually done. And as a consequence, I think many people were thinking like come spring, you know, we can go about our lives as we used to, and that hasn't really come to fruition yet. So I'm thinking enough time has now passed to sort of have this sort of new normal perspective on things, meaning that, yes, we will go back to going to concerts and going to restaurants and stuff like that. But business-wise, there will be less travel and there will be less time spent in offices. And then the sort of details of that is yet to iron out. And it is for Zooma as well. We're in the progress of figuring out our future office. So as I would say, like a lot of thinking back, this is the sort of number one reflection that you get and then, and on a more practical note, I think it's clear that many more companies as a consequence are thinking about sort of the whole of their let's say, relationship stack we could call it, like how do we keep track of conversations that are ongoing with customers and prospects and make sure that we sort of nurture them in a good way. And ultimately, as an excuse to say, how do we get all data on one contact card? And I think that's a discussion that is becoming more frequent and also how you make sense and use of like practically of a lot of the buzzwords that have been thrown around. But I think it's yeah, those would be my top three.
AE: [00:04:15] And we'll get back to those three. But first, Anders, what are your main reflections of the past six months?
AB: [00:04:23] The first thing that I thought about before I start to listen to Stellan was, I mean, we all live in an experiment right now. And when you do experiments, it's a lot up to your ambition. If you look at the others trying to sort of experiment, if you get involved, if you contribute to to the experiment for your own theories and test them. Meanwhile, someone is mixing up something or whatever it is. I hope I'm wrong, but I think when people are not as isolated that one, when more have taken the vaccine and so forth, I think that I might conclude in a while that, "shit people did not use the time possible for reflection, for change, for moving forward, for experimenting and doing everything else", and that I say at the same time, I think, some days before I go to bed, I think, "we've been too slow. We had a fantastic or have a fantastic and unique possibility opportunity to to change things in a direction where we want them," and so on, and some other days I think, "oof, we have done many things since March 2020." And then at the end when I listened to Stellan I thought this is an experiment as well. What we're doing here with our colleagues, with the four of us and everyone else, we're doing a lot of experiments. And they are also driven by the thought that we have been explaining before. No one as a prospective supplier is credible. If you haven't done it on yourself if you haven't been experimenting and living with what you claim that you sort of is driven by that it's very, very difficult. So a lot of reflections and perhaps not the stringent answer from January to now. But I think the four of us who have been participating a lot in the pod need to remember that this is an experiment as well.
AE: [00:07:02] As you mentioned, that figuring out buzzwords has been one task. I'm curious, like in the end of 2020, were there any new buzzwords that were around which you have worked with during these six months, or?
SB: [00:07:26] Yeah, its definition of what is new, but definitely last year changed focus for many. So just the fact that we're now doing a pod one change for us. So is it like a buzzword? Well, it's been around for a very long time. But how many, like, companies used it the way we now do? No, to a much less degree. So I agree with Anders, I think like this that we're doing an experiment. We don't know where it will take us, but we do know that we learn from it and that that will sort of make us be able to make more thoughtful decisions for someone for customers as a consequence. So, yes. So that the point is one thing and consequently another thing we're doing is webinars. And we've done a couple now. We've done the trainings and as well. And we are learning from all of them.
AE: [00:08:36] So could you share some learnings about the webinars, for example?
SB: [00:08:41] So I think one thing is how you invite and also how you follow up afterwards for the people who weren't there. And I know especially about one of the invitations, I know that that I've reached out through LinkedIn and was a very different response rate through LinkedIn compared to some of the emails. And I think that's one thing which is important to pick up and to build from and to also help customers understand how you can leverage existing relationships to share great content and also how you can do prospecting with sharing great content.
AE: [00:09:30] And that's one example of an experiment you have done, Anders, could you just share any other type of experiments you have tried out during the six months?
AB: [00:09:43] Just to put it in context, I personally will not think that our experiment with this pod is ever over. But if we look at the pod, it started based on that you took an initiative. You said that you missed the conversations in the office where you sort of move your headset and you listen to a discussion between two or three colleagues. We can look at that as an experiment and say someone, a colleague had a wish and we said, yes, hey, ho, let's go do that. We added that we will record them. And in the beginning, we started recording with Zoom and now we record with Zencastr. And then we said, oh, now when we have video, perhaps we should make short intros to use mainly on LinkedIn to make people aware that it exists. And then we did a promo of how to get subscribers on the site. And in the beginning, we had Soundcloud and then we changed and we added Spotify and most likely Doug very soon will add more. And then someone came up with the idea that let's use the transcription for SEO reasons, where we put the article about the pod on The Onlinification Hub. And then someone had an idea that let's use the transcriptions and try to create Swedish articles based on our conversations in English here. So so that's a long list of things. And I'm certain that in a while we will add more things to those and we will package them and we will provide them as a well-proven, tested best practice for our customers. And perhaps even if we start to work with some new company this year or next year if we have a place for them. And then the last spin, I started saying, I don't think this experiment is sort of, I don't remember what I said, ready until everyone in Zooma has participated at least one time.
AB: [00:12:06] I can tell you that one of our colleagues, Charlotte, who's a fantastic and spiritual person, when when we recorded videos at the end of 2020 to publish on, no, the end of 2019, I think to publish them on, on social media and on LinkedIn and perhaps use on sort of sections on the site and, and so on. She, she wasn't comfortable at all to, to make a video. Perhaps you remember Alexander and Pe Ishii was involved but, but today she's a TV host. She, she could have her own program about anything. She's sort of behaving exactly like in real life when she's in video meetings when she's on video when she's recording for our Instagram with the book tip of the week. The part of doing experimentation is to make people feel comfortable and in their own tempo and in their own steps to do things. We have other colleagues who didn't want to, another colleague who didn't want to participate in a video that we were doing. She did not feel comfortable about it at all. She did participate. She's still not satisfied with the results. She doesn't strive to do this. But experimenting is also about sort of helping each other. Now, to come up with things if we want to go there. My hope is that everyone in Zooma has participated at least once in the pod before this year is over. The responsibility for that, the DRIs of that is Alexander and Doug – make it happen!
AE: [00:14:02] I take that as an order.
AB: [00:14:06] You very seldom have a problem with me and Stellan that we give too short answers like 'yes' or 'no'.
AE: [00:14:16] So these were some of your personal reflections, I'm just curious how the conversation with clients and other companies has been, what has been the talk during these six months, Anders?
AB: [00:14:37] What do you mean what's been the talk?
AE: [00:14:39] No, but do you see any shift in the conversation or the requests that Zooma gets regarding onlinification, has 2020 changed the mindset of decision-makers you talk to?
AB: [00:14:58] On, most of the companies that we work with and that work with us, that we partner with, I would say have come pretty far, especially when it comes to the intentions. And many of them started digitalising and onlinifying long before, very long before the pandemic or covid-19. But I would definitely say two things - oj oj oj, how much more comfortable people are in having video meetings and how to run meetings and how to distribute, who's going to talk or say something, interact, use the chat. Most people would laugh about their own behaviour in March 2020 if they had a possibility to look at it in June 2021. That's one thing. And secondly, I would say for the companies that we work with, they think way more commercially and they think way more like Stellan said at the beginning of this episode today – they don't know exactly how to phrase it, but what they mean is that we want to become an intelligent company who has a coordinated and aligned view internally of what the customer wants and what they do and how they've been interacting and so on. That I definitely say, and perhaps one more reflection of reality is that I think many have realised the extremes of working from home.
AB: [00:16:58] That doesn't sort of go exactly for our customers, but if I'm sort of very general, some long back, so much to the real business life of having it cosy in the office, sitting on a plane, driving a car. Real meetings. I'm actually right now based on that, I got a direct order from Stellan to write an article about it yesterday. I have had a long article ongoing about this. And then the other extreme is that that they have done studies with their colleagues and asked how many that wants to be working zero to five days from home, and they have realized that, "oj, it will be an empty office." We still have the office, but most of the time it will be an empty office. So the two extremes among companies are really extreme. And I think actually during this whole period, it has been the same from day one. Some have adapted temporarily and some have adapted permanently to how the world has changed
AE: [00:18:17] And Stellan, I know we will follow up on this, but when you get your second dose of vaccine, how do you think your life is going to change after that from what it has been this six months?
SB: [00:18:32] I think it won't change how we go about our daily lives, except in two things, I think. And number one is having more people over. So having conversations and dinners with people, with friends that, yeah, we haven't been able to have. And then the second one is travel. And by that, I don't mean business travel, I mean private travel. And those are the two things because as you could see, I got my eldest son for a short visit and they've been going about their school and so on, exactly like nothing happened for the past one and a half years. So that has been sort of a, let's say, an element of normality in what has otherwise been working from home and, you know, avoiding stores, avoiding physical spaces, avoiding going on public transit and so on.
AE: [00:19:46] Well, thank you for participating today.
SB: [00:19:51] Thank you.
AB: [00:19:52] Before I say thank you, Alex. I just had an SMS from Jeff, a lot of emojis here. He's so happy because now we have promised him that when we launch the book this autumn, his company will be the second distributor of the book in the world. So, funny, he's so happy now. I have never, ever received an SMS or a text with so many emojis. So, good for you, Jeff. But you need to sell to keep the possibility to sell it. So thank you, Alexander.