GOOD & IBM present
Welcome to Figures of Progress

Big Data is empowering and driving 21st Century leaders, whether in business, city government, or even sports. This year, we’re expanding Figures of Progress and inviting you to take part in learning and doing. Join us as we continue the dialogue and explore how big data is being harnessed to change our world.

GOOD & IBM present

Ronnie Maffa

VP, Collaboration Solutions Development and Support

Ronnie Maffa is Vice President in Social Software Development at IBM. Ronnie is responsible for the development of IBM Connections, Lotus Quickr, LotusLive Connections and Engage products.

Check out IBM Social Business
What type of data would you consider the most valuable to developing innovative products and, in your work, what do you do with this information?

I believe in the saying “necessity is the mother of invention.” So, to me…one of the most important pieces of data that I apply, use, and look for every day is really for opportunities where there is a problem to be solved, where something can be made easier or more efficient, an alteration or process that can change the dynamic of how an individual can make progress… [People] always say time is something we can’t create. We absolutely can create time. Today’s technology now allows us to create time.

How does being a social business go beyond having a brand presence on social media sites?

Being a social business is about a new way of operating. My colleague shared a particular experience she had with an airline: She was in the airport and there was a flight cancellation. She went to the counter and tried to alter her flight pattern and wasn’t able to get any answers. So, she went on Twitter and tweeted about it. Within minutes, the airline contacted her to arrange a flight to get her where she needed to be. Now that is brand loyalty you can connect with. That’s not a brand presence on social media; that’s engagement through social media.

Why do you believe social business is important to today’s companies? And what benefits do companies typically experience?

Social business is a really a different way of operating. We can capture the passion of the individual, which is a new thing. Our most valuable assets are really the people on our planet, and that asset is about investment. Social business, at the heart of it, is about the connectedness of people. I think it transforms how a company can win in the market… At the end of the day I believe social business is all about culture, and not all about technology. And, when applied with technology, that transformation is where the value is derived.

How can using the cloud change the way we do business? How is it supporting innovation in the workplace?

The cloud enables a company to rapidly meet the needs and wants of their employees, their customers and suppliers. That’s important. The key here is “rapidly” meeting these needs and wants, because that’s a big channel. The cloud changes the speed at which we can put something in the hands of an individual… And when we can enable humans to serve themselves, people can focus on what they need to do to solve the problem or execute the task that they’re working on, as opposed to taking time to figure out how to get the tools they need to complete their work.

What are the qualities and/or skill sets that you believe future successful leaders will need to have?

One who has the willingness and desire to engage – to engage with their employees, leaders, customers, supply chain, and business partners. Realizing the need for that engagement is an important quality for a successful future leader...and the willingness to understand that what worked yesterday, even presented with the same problem, may not work tomorrow...Their ability to adapt and be responsive is most critical.

What is your greatest hope for how your work can influence positive change in our world?

We’re living in a time when the technological advancement in mobile and the cloud changes the way everyone interacts. [With] OPENPediatrics, we are supporting a set of medical capabilities to save children’s lives. I hope that by enabling people to achieve at this speed paired with the desire to make a difference, that we will truly help the world to create a better and “smarter planet.” That’s not just a tagline, because if we can help people to become better and stronger contributive members, then the limitation is really of mankind. We’ve seen humans make progress over centuries. Yesterday, I was watching the news and it showed Michelle Obama and her children enjoying a stroll at the Great Wall. When you can look back at how few resources were available to those individuals who built that structure, that’s a world wonder to this day, it speaks volumes to humans being the most valuable investment that I think we can all help. I hope a little bit of technology can contribute to that.

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