Last Wednesday evening I delivered a keynote presentation at an end of the year student event at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendozza College of Business MBA program (http://business.nd.edu/).
The students are all required to take a class in Futures Studies and this was their end of year event. During the late afternoon Poster Session that was held in the atrium of the Mendozza building, they all assembled and displayed posters that communicated the results of their semester long projects. The topics covered a wide variety of subjects, from the future of Electric Cars to Solar Technology, to how to solve water irrigation in Africa. In all there were over 50 projects from teams of 4-5 students. I was impressed with the students projects and the level of research, analysis and insight generation that went into the poster presentations. I learned a lot just by walking from poster to poster.
After the poster session was done, we all assembled into the auditorium where I delivered my keynote to the students “Leveraging Social Media and Communities for Foresight”. The deck has been uploaded to my HorizonWatching account on Slideshare and is also embedded below.
During the keynote, I discussed how the emergence of online social media and communities is transforming communication around the world. The shift from traditional institutional-led communications that is relatively controlled by a small number of companies to an era where any individual can create and publish content is a shift that is transforming the way individuals learn, collaborate, and create content. This has a ripple effect across all business professionals and certainly is impacting the way we research, analyze and develop insights about emerging trends, technologies and issues impacting businesses and individual citizens.
I provide the students with my personal story of how I’ve led an internal IBM community called HorizonWatch since early 2001 and how I started blogging internally in 2006. I also discussed my public social community effort called HorizonWatching. Both efforts have helped me do a better job of scanning for emerging trends and then developing insights from those scanning activities.
I ended the talk with some advice to the students on how they could get started leveraging social media in their own careers. My main advice was that they should all think about taking control of their personal online brand. As they are soon to turn their attention to job searching, now is the time for them to think hard about what their digital brand looks like to recruiters and potential employers. But after the job search is over, I believe those who will be successful in their careers are the ones that will figure out ways to leverage social media and communities to build their expertise.
As this was their last day of class, they were all eager to go out and celebrate, so the Q&A session was short and sweet. However the 5-6 questions raised were smart and right on topic. I wish all the students good luck and best wishes over the summer and challenge them to begin using social media and communities as a strategy to better understand the future(s).
My presentation is embedded below.