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November 16, 2009

Wharton Interactive - Telling the Story of the Social Customer From the Boardroom to the Classroom

The social customer is everywhere - leaving their footprints as a roadmap to what they think, how they feel, who they trust and what the like...and love...and hate.... and detest. And they're leaving these social footprints at an exponentially accelerating rate as new sites and services are making it easy for them to do so. And as friction is being removed from connecting and content creation, the amount of sentiment/behavioral information social customers will create for us about themselves will make it easier for us to understand what drives them. But we will only be able to reach that level of understanding (that mythical 360 degree view...) if we are able to collect it in ways that make it easy for us to analyze it.

The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania has taken up the challenge to help companies take this challenge on as part of the Wharton Interactive Media Initiative (WIMI). According to the Steve Ennen, the managing director of the initiative, it is the world's first research center, focusing specifically on individual level data, generated off all emerging technology platforms, and analog platforms. The initiative's goal is to influence decision-making across several industries, and to help companies understand how to monetize interactive data that they and others have collected.

Started in August 2008, WIMI was launched with the support of a $1 million gift from alumnus Arthur Bilger, and brings together a global network of researchers to work with their corporate partners to uncover the real insights about individual customers - and customer segments.

I recently had Steve on my show to talk about WIMI and the need for companies to take a hard look at social footprints being left behind by their customers. We also discuss the importance of exposing Wharton students to this process, and the impact it will have on the future of businesses to embrace the social customer.

In fact WIMI was brought to the attention of my colleague and Barack 2.0 co-author David Bullock. David was contacted (via Twitter) by Wharton MBA students who were working on a research paper on how the Obama campaign leveraged technology and social media to win the presidency. The interaction between David and the students led to our book being a trusted, referenced source for their research paper. It also led to us including that research paper in an updated edition of our Barack 2.0 book.

Use the player below to hear my conversation with Steve, or download the mp3 by clicking here. If you'd like to check out a transcript of our conversation you can do so by clicking here.

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