Hello Teardown readers! Welcome to this week’s installation of the Teardown Report. We have a lot of great stuff for you today, so let’s get right to it!
Starting things off, I want to draw your attention to a guest blog from Paul Saunders, a developer and consultant for Conduce. His company makes tablet and smartphone apps for the maintenance, repair and overhaul industry, and he always has an interesting thought or two about mobile technologies for our industry.
In his posting, Saunders recounts the short history of the use of tablets in aviation, touching on their early adoption for electronic flight bag applications. But if you have been reading this blog at all for the past year, you know that the idea of iPads entering the industry is kind of played out by now. Every carrier seems to make a point of the fact they are using tablets for some kind of operation, whether it be in the cockpit or for the cabin’s inflight entertainment platform. Even so, there are still a few kinks for these carriers to work out. For example, a recent story about an iPad update deleting important charts raised questions about whether or not there should be more stringent rules for using consumer technology in flying aircraft.
My personal view is that surely there are enough smart engineers out there to figure out how to keep this kind of thing from happening again, but a deeper issue overshadows these small technical glitches. That issue is that while these novel uses of the devices are fun to use, MROs are going to miss out on a lot of useful applications if they write them off as just an EFB or an alternative to an in-seat screen in the cabin. Instead, there are uses such as augmented reality for repair, logistics tracking and technical publications that will evolve from their primacy now to fully-functional tools for MRO in 2012.
In his guest blog, Saunders gives us plenty of places to look for a new crop of apps in 2012:
“We are also going to see the iPad usage spread from the flight deck to cabin crew, with data acquisition and passenger manifest apps becoming widely available. I expect engineering to get in on the act, too, with several line engineering departments and MROs already running limited trials for specific use cases. Technical pubs, asynchronous data acquisition and business intelligence apps being obvious places to start.”
Saunders also outlines some of the evolution of MRO tablets in his guest blog, and in a recent Slideshare presentation called “Are We There Yet? Realising the Potential for Tablets in Aviation.”
I really love this collection of slides, and not just because of the contemporary spin on a 50s statistics textbook that Conduce has been able to utilize so effectively. Yes, that modern cursive mixed with a beautiful sans-serif looks awesome, but the design dork in me must step back from this conversation for a second to focus on how to use these things in a maintenance environment.
In seriousness, I like the presentation because he gives so many great visual examples of what tablets can do for our industry and answers some burning questions that MRO executives are likely asking. For example, should you deploy your apps via the apple store, or work with a mobile device manager? What happens to the data if an unauthorized person gets hold of the device? These are tough questions worth asking, and the truth is that not many people are discussing those in detail for MRO users. The presentation was a keynote for the Flight Operations Conference, which you can check out on Twitter with the #OpsConf hashtag.
In the next issue of O&M, you can expect to see some of these concerns come up in our “Top 10 Technologies To Watch for 2012” article. I cannot give away the good parts just yet, but we will be taking a closer look at some really exciting ways that MROs are already implementing what we are talking about in this post. I should also mention that if you are an MRO that is trying out this technology, please let us know. We talk to Saunders and his team a lot about this issue, and much of that is because they are actively pursuing the aviation aftermarket. I think that a lot of companies are concerned about revealing a social media and application strategy before they are sure that they are implementing it in the best way. But the truth is, this stuff is changing all the time and even experts have to actively monitor the market to keep up with trends. There will always be the possibility that apps can crash and that a mobile strategy may not work for a company, but the best time to be experimenting with it was yesterday. I hope in 2012 that we see more MROs across the industry create their own innovative approaches to using these things, even if they do not work all of the time. Are you up to the challenge?
One thing that Saunders has mentioned is that the new Windows 8 version is going to open up a lot of functionality to MROs in the future and eliminate some of the concerns about transferring to an Apple platform when you're a big MRO with a complex IT system. Any thoughts on this?
I could talk about tablets all day, but let’s switch gears to make way for today’s guest interview with Liz Duggan, a marketing associate for Duggan Associates. Her company teaches organizations about Lean training and a complement to it called Operational Excellence. I noticed yesterday that she added me on twitter with the handle @lizjduggan and re-blogged one our previous Turnaround Time posts about Kevin Duggan’s new book. I asked Liz about what it’s like to form a social media strategy for a training organization, and here’s what she had to say. Because it is Friday, read to the end for a funny anecdote that sums up professional online networking perfectly. Thanks, Liz!
Tell our readers a little bit about your role at Duggan Associates.
I’m a Marketing Associate at Duggan Associates, a global Operational Excellence consulting and training firm. I’m responsible for setting strategic direction and implementation of the company’s global brand, public relations, social media, advertising and event planning.
Please tell us about how you first became engaged in social media. When did you first start using it and how has your strategy for social networking changed since then?
I initially approached social media like any other marketing strategy: I found my target market and delivered my company’s message. What I’ve learned since then is that social media is about more than just reaching potential clients; it also serves to keep our company top of mind among key influencers such as media professionals and event producers, who now view us as expert sources and contact us regularly with interview and speaking opportunities.
How does social media fit into your duties at Duggan and Associates? Why did you think it would be beneficial to start using it?
Social media is a growing component of our marketing efforts at Duggan Associates. While we initially viewed it as another tool to increase our exposure and grow our mailing list, we’ve become much more strategic – and committed – about our outreach. Today, I manage several social media accounts and spend about 20 minutes each day sifting through various streams on HootSuite looking for interactions to respond to, identifying opportunities to comment or post a RT on, checking the latest posts for keywords I follow, and reviewing my analytics report to track my exposure and engagement with other users.
How long have you been Tweeting for Duggan and Associates, and what have you learned so far from the process?
I began tweeting in April of this year and quickly lost any and all skepticism I had about Twitter! We immediately saw results from our presence and now it’s a critical component of our marketing strategy. In fact, we use Twitter to support all of our marketing efforts at Duggan Associates and continue to look to it for new outreach opportunities we hadn’t even considered before.
What kinds of tweets do you write, and whose profiles are your favorite to follow?
What I love about Twitter is that I can blend my personal and professional interests. So I tweet fun or interesting quotes about Operational Excellence, marketing and graphic design, posting anything from what I learned in my graphic design or MBA class the night before to upcoming work events I’m attending or a link to my company’s newsletter.
My favorite profiles to follow are my peers’. Twitter is a great forum to share successful ideas, trends, and tips. I also follow publications from Duggan Associates’ target industries to help me keep the pulse of how lean and Operational Excellence are perceived in these industries without having to read though 12 magazines a month.
Besides Twitter, does Duggan Associates use any other social media platforms?
Duggan Associates also utilizes LinkedIn, mostly for conference research and networking. We can easily track what events our clients and prospects are attending as well as follow updates from event producers so we can find out about speaking opportunities. When Management at Duggan Associates is on a conference agenda, they update their profiles to communicate this to our target audience.
Has using social media provided you with any interesting new contacts or information that you would not have been able to get otherwise?
Social media has been a great vehicle for me to re-connect with the media and conference producers. Before social media, I would meet these professionals at international events, but the connection was typically short-lived. Twitter and LinkedIn have enabled me to re-establish these relationships and remain within their active network long after the event.
A great example of this happened last month. An event producer I met three years ago sent me a message on Twitter asking if my company could provide a speaker for a conference in Amsterdam the following week. Although this relationship was pre-established, it was Twitter that kept me on her radar.
What is the benefit of using social media in a professional organization?
I really see three main benefits. First, including social media as part of an integrated marketing campaign is a great way to quickly and easily share information, videos and images. And when these materials go viral, you increase your awareness faster than traditional outreach efforts.
Since it offers a lot of opportunity to provide valuable content that’s not self-promoting, it’s also a great tool to boost your company’s reputation and position your leaders as experts.
And of course, including social media in an SEO campaign increases your ranking on search engines and increases traffic to your website.
Do you have any advice for companies that are new to using social media about how to make their networking experience more useful?
Social media is all about staying top of mind among key influencers in your industry. Whether its current clients, prospects, journalists, or event producers, you should know your audience and understand what they expect when they follow you. They are not looking for a 24/7 advertising campaign about your company. They want your expertise. The reason people chose to follow you is to learn from your knowledge.
When you start a social media campaign, you have to be committed to maintaining it with fresh content or you’ll fall off the radar. I find it helpful to have a short list of tweets and status updates ready for those hectic days when I don’t have time for social media, or I’ll schedule them in advance by utilizing HootSuite.
Also keep in mind that, thanks to the great SEO Twitter provides, your potential audience is broader than you think. Take advantage of this fact and include strategic keywords in your tweets to increase your discoverability on search engines.
Lastly, remember that social media is not your traditional advertising campaign. It is okay to be personable. How personable? I’ll end with a fun analogy I read about the personalities of three big social medias: LinkedIn is like attending an event for the Chamber of Commerce, Facebook is attending a company picnic, and Twitter is pretty much happy hour.