Are Peer Recommendations the way of the Future?
Written BY: Alex Pirouz
Social Media is just another evolutionary step in the way Internet is a connector of people. Every year we are becoming more and more connected with people all around the world and as the years go on we are only going to get closer to each others' lives.
Social media has enabled our lives to be more effective and efficient in how we connect and stay in touch with people. Because of this more people are turning to their friends for product/service recommendation before making a decision on whether or not they are going to buy.
According to a study conducted by The Nielsen Company, participated by approximately 25,000 respondents from 50 countries, 90 per cent of consumers surveyed noted that they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70 per cent trusted consumer opinions posted online.
“The explosion in Consumer Generated Media over the last couple of years means consumers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don’t, has increased significantly,” says Jonathan Carson, President of Online, International, for the Nielsen Company.
This general fact is evident in our everyday lives. If you think about it, you would normally trust what your closest friend would say against what is said on TV or newspaper ad.
It is an indication that people find it more enticing to purchase with what their friends or other consumers suggest rather than what they see on commercials.
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According to Adam Davis of Show Clicks, “People these days want up to date information and want to connect with each other at a more effective and efficient manner. With conversion rates you can already see social media taking over other forms of advertising. Obviously you can reach a lot of people through a TV ad but then again you will have to pay the price whereas with social media you don’t and you will get a better trust rate.”
So the next time you think of advertising, conduct market research and find out the main avenue your customers are using to buy and market in that space to get maximum value from your marketing spend.
Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business
As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?
In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.
You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?
They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.
Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening.
I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.
How important are smart skills in leadership today?
Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.
I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other.
So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?
Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’.
Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here