Sandy Pentland

How big data can transform society for the better

Scientific American cover Oct 2013Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland directs MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program, and co-leads the World Economic Forum Big Data and Personal Data initiatives. We’ve just found his October 2013 article published in Scientific American, How Big Data Can Transform Society for the Better.

It’s a fascinating read, and the following four quotes leapt out at us given our focus here at Euler on the Six Influence Flows and the Influence Scorecard as a way to redesign organizations for social business.

patterns of idea flow … are directly related to productivity growth and creative output

… The relationship between engagement and productivity is simple: high levels of engagement predict high group productivity, almost no matter what that group is working on or what kinds of personalities its members have.

… exploration – a mathematical measure of the extent to which the members of a group bring in new ideas from outside. Exploration is a good predictor of both innovation and creative output.

… Increasing engagement is not a magic bullet. … we found that at a certain point people become so interconnected that the flow of ideas is dominated by feedback loops. Sure, everyone is trading ideas—but they are the same ideas over and over.

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Philip Sheldrake

What is social business?

3M Think Tank

3M invited our Philip Sheldrake to provide the closing keynote at its recent ThinkTANK conference in Minneapolis St. Paul on the topic of social business.

As you may know, Euler Partners’ vision for social business extends a little beyond the prefixing of the word “social” to the departments and functions of the 20th Century organisation. We won’t say any more in this post, but leave you with the video of the half hour presentation, and the slidestack itself. We hope you like it.

Philip Sheldrake, Euler Partners, 3M ThinkTANK conference, Minneapolis St. Paul, 26th September 2013

Social Business slidestack, 3M ThinkTANK conference, Minneapolis St. Paul, 26th September 2013


In association with Social Media Today

Attenzi - a social business storyOur social business fiction, Attenzi – a social business story, has gently made its way to a small and select audience across nearly every continent (no news yet from Antartica). It’s been used, as we hoped, to help educate, energise and focus teams in large organizations, assisted by the fact that it’s open and free to share in all digital formats.

And we hope now that it might go even further as the 2nd edition is published today in association with Social Media Today in advance of The Social Shake-up conference in Atlanta this week. Robin Carey, Founder and CEO of Social Media Today, has written a new foreword to join the one by Adam Pisoni, co-founder and CTO, Microsoft Yammer.

We’re at the conference, and we hope we have the opportunity to meet if you are too. In the meantime, head over to We hope you enjoy the read.

Paris rainbow

What, exactly, is the value of social?

We’re one week from the European AMEC Summit – the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication. AMEC and The Conclave have been working hard to agree social media measurement standards for presentation at the summit, on: content sourcing and methods; reach and impressions; engagement; influence and relevance; and sentiment and advocacy.

You can read about our contribution to the deliberations on influence and the resulting WOMMA guidebook here.

The final part of this standards initiative is perhaps the most controversial: impact and value. We like to think that this aspect is a particular strength of our consultancy, so we’ve just circulated the following slidestack for discussion. It’s not for the summit per se, but to inform the direction AMEC and The Conclave take afterwards.

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Attenzi – a social business story

We’ve been asked more than once over the last couple of years for a social business case study. That’s a problem. No organization has yet made a full transition in order for anyone to write the case study… bearing in mind of course that we don’t invoke the term social business synonymously with social media.

So I’ve written a fictitious one.

Attenzi – a social business story is out today, with a foreword kindly provided by Microsoft Yammer co-founder and CTO, Adam Pisoni. It’s a narrative related by Attenzi CEO, Eli Appel, that’s designed to be accessible and enjoyable in order to mobilize everyone’s interest in social business – after all, pursuing social business is always going to be a team effort.

The ebook is free and available in HTML, PDF, EPUB, Kindle and iBooks formats at


Google Doodle for Euler

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 306th anniversary of the birth of Leonhard Euler:

Google Doodle - Euler 15 Apr 2013

Leonhard Euler is the eponym of our company name, Euler Partners. As the Guardian writes today: “Euler was arguably the most important mathematician of the 18th century and one of the greatest of all time. He introduced most modern mathematical terminology and notation and was also renowned for his work in mechanics, fluid dynamics, optics, and astronomy.”

The sketch at the bottom of the Doodle, towards the left, portrays part of Euler’s solution of the Seven Bridges of Konisberg problem, considered to be the first theorem of graph theory, which itself is a component of network science. Pure geekiness aside, you can see why his name suits our mission.

And just in case you were wondering, the formula bottom right is known as Euler’s identity and in 1988 readers of the Mathematical Intelligencer voted it Most Beautiful Mathematical Formula Ever.

Main image shows Euler on the Old Swiss 10 Franc banknote.

Dell Social Media Predictions 2013

Dell Social Media Predictions

Dell has published a small ebook with social media advice for its SMB customers. The advice comes from fourteen individuals including yours truly, and you can find it embedded below.

A couple of my favourite quotes are from Lee Hopkins and Michael Brito respectively:

Connecting with your audience is not something that happens overnight, or can be achieved in a short series of funny status updates. It is achieved through the consistent communication of values, insights, discoveries and experiences of organisations over time.

… the best way to appear ‘human’ from a brand standpoint is to ‘be human’.

Michael’s phrase reminds me of one of my own, albeit a little longer. If you want to be perceived to be a great organisation, as having great products, as being a great employer and great custodian of the planet, the only way to be perceived as such is to be as much.


The ebook quotes each of us from fuller responses to Dell’s questions. Here’s my full response.

UK parliament

UK Government Information Economy Strategy

Euler Partners was invited to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills today to discuss the UK Government Information Economy Strategy. The strategy is a critical component in the Government’s wider policy – Using Industrial Strategy to help the UK economy and business compete and grow.

Around two dozen organisations were represented, such as the likes of Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson, Accenture, Deloitte, Cisco and BT, and debate was wide ranging. Importantly, while opinions differed, it was plainly evident that everyone wants the best for ‘UK plc’.

Ken McCallum, Director, Information Economy, BIS, framed the dialogue by saying we have to think about the “Information Economy” invoked in the name of the strategy rather than the IT or ICT or TMT sector, or whichever acronym you think best describes the sector. This isn’t a sector thing. It’s about how the country makes the best use of tech.

This wasn’t the forum to articulate social business per se, but you will imagine we helped articulate primary facets of social business. We soon focused on the soft / people aspects of the information economy over and above hard tech.

Education and skills became a dominant theme, and not just in relation to school children, students, and those starting out in their careers – the need to educate company board directors, and members of parliament come to that, was strongly felt. On challenging everyone to articulate how things might be different in 2020 versus 2013, the response came back that even if technology development froze right now, there were still massive gains to be made just putting today’s tech to good use.

The need to invest in the soft / cultural dimensions of tech-based transformation in business, government and the third sector, and in society in general, became a carrion cry, and the group just started to recognise that technology doesn’t just support what we’re trying to achieve in our respective organisations and in life, but fundamentally changes the possibilities and the potential. If we don’t shape it, it will shape us.

One hard tech aspect did get appropriate air-time however – Euler Partners’ and Cisco’s call for greater investment in IPv6, a topic close to our hearts.

You are invited to have your say. Public consultation is open until 15th March, 2013.

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train tunnel

Influence the influence standards

AMEC Madrid Summit 2013 Every industry has its jargon. The lexicon emerges to aid efficient communication, but that efficiency is only achieved when everyone knows what the words and phrases really mean, and uses them consistently.

Modern PR practice and social business are nascent, fast moving and increasingly business critical, and standards setting is important to realise value sooner than later.

The Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) is pivotal to this effort, and I’m a special advisor. Ahead of the European Summit in Madrid this June, I’m particularly involved in proposing standards around the concept of influence, a topic very close to the approach Euler Partners takes to social business as you may well know.

Should you be interested in our machinations, or indeed in lending your voice, I’ve just posted a document to my personal blog detailing some of the fundamentals our working group is grappling with. We’d love to hear from you.

Now and then I’m asked how all the associations and institutes join together, so let me finish here by listing those bodies that work closely with AMEC to make up what’s informally known as The Conclave:

social media apps

Social Media Management Buyer’s Guide

Econsultancy Social Media Management Buyer's Guide 2013We kicked off our New Year speaking with the eConsultancy team about the upcoming update to their successful Social Media Management Buyer’s Guide 2011. Here’s a rundown of the questions Amy Rodgers put to us and our responses.

UPDATE 13th Feb 2013: The guide is now published and available to purchase from eConsultancy.

1) What are the most important trends occurring in this market?

Maintaining one system for external social media management and workflow, and another system for “buzz monitoring”, and another system for enterprise social networking looks increasingly disjointed. We have media to communicate, and we communicate to influence, and influence flows are the lifeblood of mutual understanding, knowledge building and decision-making. Maintaining technological islands for influence flows with one group of stakeholders (eg, customers) distinct from another island for influence flows with another group of stakeholders (eg, employees) effectively ‘misses the trick’. It fails to recognise that today’s organisations must strive to be more than the sum of the payroll.

2) Where are the biggest opportunities for growth within the social media management technologies market?

Integration. This market is maturing from product to platform with unprecedented speed.