A New Chapter: Prophet Acquires Altimeter

ag-p_logo-2c-pI’m excited to announce that Altimeter is being acquired by Prophet Brand Strategy, a global brand and marketing strategy consultancy. There are two reasons why this acquisition makes so much sense for us.

First, it will grow Altimeter’s impact and influence. Prophet will invest in Altimeter’s infrastructure to support our research agenda and to help amplify our work. Prophet’s goals of helping clients uncover customer insights, build stronger brand relevance, and deliver engaging customer experiences mirror our own. Our research improves when we can apply it to real client problems. The combination of Prophet’s roster of clients and its global presence and expertise provides a fantastic opportunity for us to create cutting-edge research.

Second, we are joining a company with great culture and leadership. Prophet attracts people who want to build brands and transform companies, and encourages and supports entrepreneurial employees at all levels to make significant contributions. Over the past few months, the Prophet leadership team has demonstrated that they care deeply about both Altimeter’s work and our people. I believe Altimeter has a great future ahead because together our culture and leadership will help us overcome any obstacles that come before us.

What Changes — And What Doesn’t

As with any transition, some things will change, but most won’t.

  • Altimeter’s business remains the same. Altimeter will continue to openly publish research that helps companies understand and act on technology disruption, and offer research-based advisory, speeches, and strategy consulting for both brands and technology companies. And all Altimeter analysts will be continuing with the company.
  • We’ll maintain our independence. We have historically balanced working with clients that we cover in our research, reinforced by the fact that our published research cannot be bought because we make it freely available under Creative Commons.
  • We will operate as “Altimeter, a Prophet company”. This is a recognition of the brand value we’ve built in the marketplace. There is a new logo that recognizes the new relationship.

I want to thank everyone who has supported Altimeter since I started it in 2008 — your willingness to participate in, read, and amplify our research has been the key to our success. I’m excited about this next chapter, and look forward to a great future as a part of Prophet.

Click here to learn more about the acquisition

My New Book “The Engaged Leader” is Now Available!

Picture of Charlene Li holding her book, The Engaged Leader
First time I’m holding the book, @SXSW Bookstore

I’m excited to unveil my latest book, The Engaged Leader, available today. I held it for the first time on Friday and there’s nothing like that first view of your “baby”. I wrote the book for all of the leaders who know they need to engage in digital and social channels — but aren’t. At stake is your credibility as a leader — you can’t exhort your organization to be digitally engaged if you aren’t yourself.

I’ve been on the road sharing this message for the past few weeks and it’s gratifing to hear the takeaways from people. The book is a very quick read — under 100 pages. That means you can easily tackle it during a flight, in an evening, or even lunch if you’re a fast reader and slow eater. Because it’s slim, you can also slip it undetected into the bag of your leader — and chances are they will read it!

Two resources to be aware of: a Frequently Asked Questions page and worksheet that you can use to create your personal engaged leader strategy.

Order by March 30 to Join an Exclusive Webinar

if you order the book by March 30th and email the receipt to engagedleader@altimetergroup.com, you’ll receive a special invitation to an “Ask Me Anything” webinar on Tuesday, March 31st at 10am Pacific Time. This is your chance — don’t be shy, there’s nothing you can’t ask! And I’ll do my best to answer.

Help Spread the Word

I’ve been touched by the many people who have offered to help with the book launch. If you feel so moved, here’s what you can do: Share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — where ever you think your network would want to hear about the book. Here are some pre-made posts to inspire you.

Review the Book

If you’re interested in reviewing the book, please email me. I’m happy to also do interviews, podcasts, and video recordings — it’s a matter of getting it scheduled.


Here’s the presentation that I gave at SXSW — to date, it’s the best synopsis of the book in PPT. Feel free to to download the slides and use it in your organization — I just ask that you give full attribution to me and Altimeter Group.

Announcing My New Book “The Engaged Leader”


My work with CEOs and other leaders has proven time after time that the wisdom and experience a great leader brings to the table are the keys to making his or her digital transformation stick. Any one of the tens or hundreds of digital natives within your organization can teach you to use Twitter, but only you know how to use it (and other digital tools and platforms) to make your business stronger. As a leader, you are better than anyone at separating the signals from the noise and analyzing the emerging big picture.

I’m pleased to announce that my next book The Engaged Leader: A Strategy for Your Digital Transformation will be published by Wharton Digital Press on March 17, 2015, and is available now for preorder. The book was inspired by the many leaders I meet who confess that, while they grasp the need for a personal digital strategy that is as powerful as the one they have in place for their organizations, they are personally at a loss as to where to begin.

This means that while organizations are embracing digital channels to engage with empowered customers, leaders sit on the sidelines, hoping that nobody notices. I’ve heard a litany of excuses from leaders about their absence from digital and social channels, both internally and externally:

  • “I don’t have the time.”
  • “There’s no clear ROI.”
  • “It’s my marketing team’s job.”
  • “There’s no replacement for face to face engagement.”
  • “I can’t get too familiar to my employees—they won’t respect me.”
  • “Who cares what I have for lunch?”
  • “I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t already been said.”
  • “I don’t want to get my company in trouble.”

These statements may sound familiar, either because you have uttered them yourself or have heard your leaders say them. Now, I am not advocating that all leaders have Twitter accounts. In fact, I have no problem if a leader is not active digitally—but only if it’s a conscious, strategic choice. For example, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has a Twitter account but has never posted to it. While Ginni and her team use the account to listen to the conversation on Twitter, she prefers to focus on engaging employees internally on several platforms. She’s constantly reading employee posts, sharing content, and engaging in discussions. From the start of her tenure, she strategically used digital channels to engage with employees in her efforts to push IBM in new directions.

Examples in the book include leaders from the following companies: Aetna, ANZ Banking Group, Cisco, Edelman, General Electric, Humana, IBM, Marriott, Save the Children, Telstra, and UPS. There are also guest appearances from Pope Francis and Barack Obama.

The framework at the heart of The Engaged Leader—listen, share, engage—serves as a template for leaders as they undergo their transformation. It grants permission to practice this new form of leadership and offers a roadmap for connecting directly with those we lead.

I Need Your Help

I’m always struck by the enormous generosity of those around me, and I humbly ask for your help to spread the word about The Engaged Leader. Here’s how you can help:

  • Preorder The Engaged Leader. There’s nothing like being able to say you are among the first to receive a copy of a new book—except when you can say you also received an additional bonus for purchase that book before it publishes. If you order by March 16, 2015, you will receive the opportunity to join my “Ask Me Anything” webinar on March 31, 2015.
  • Consider using The Engaged Leader for leadership training. Need to train your executives and managers on how to lead digitally? Order by March 16, 2015 to take advantage of a special offer.
  • Share The Engaged Leader. Here are a set of tweets, resources, and images that you can use to talk about the book. There’s also information on that page to request a review copy. I’m happy to do an interview for an article or podcast as well.

For more information about the book, including these special opportunities, please visit charleneli.com/the-engaged-leader.

Creating a Culture of Content — Empowering Your Employees

Content marketing is hot, but it is not solely created by, inspired by, or used by marketing. Rather, content needs exist throughout multiple facets of an organization – think sales, customer services, thought leadership, recruiting, etc. The result: more and more organizations are focused on creating what Altimeter calls a “Culture of Content” (CoC) to nurture a content circulatory system that supports content creation throughout the entire organization.

This can be incredibly daunting for organizations that aren’t used to letting employees “speak” internally, let alone externally. But companies like Nestlé have executed significant and massive deployment of internal social networks to evangelize, share assets, and motivate employees to share content, not just internally but increasingly externally as well.

A new report by my colleagues Rebecca Lieb and Jessica Groopman lays out the four components needed to create a culture of content: Inspiration, People, Process, and Content.


Rebecca and Jessica found that there was no consistent framework used by organizations to bring individual employees into a content culture. But they did uncover some best practices when empower employees, namely:

  • Encourage and empower employees to identify content needs or stories worth spreading. For example, if they are in customer support and see people frequently struggling with a device setting or if sales sees a knowledge gap that interrupts the buying process, they can flag a content need.
  • Operationalize with internal enterprise social networks that highlight content best practices, provide case studies, and solicit ongoing feedback.
  • One of the most interesting predictions in the report is that companies with a strong culture of content will make content a part of the hiring process. This is less about aptitude (e.g. a talent for writing) and more about attitude — an enthusiasm to for participation, storytelling, sharing, or otherwise contributing to the content process.

It can be hard to create this culture of content — especially if your organization is “old school” in its approach to content today. The report lays out seven success criteria that organizations need to have in place to successful create this culture of content.

  1. Customer obsession drives content.
  2. Align content with brand.
  3. Drive content leadership from the top down and the bottom up.
  4. Culture requires constant evangelism
  5. Test and learn
  6. Global must enable local
  7. Integrate across all cultural components

How many of you work in organizations that recognize the need to create a culture of content? If you do, what is your company doing to make sure that this culture is nurtured and cared for, especially when it comes to empowering employees to create content? Please share your best practices!

How Good Is Your Social Business Governance?

Gavel GovernanceIn our research and client work at Altimeter, one of the most misunderstood issues we see is social business governance. I’ve seen it defined as everything from social media policies and risk management to organizational structures. My colleague Ed Terpening and I just published a report on how to think about governance – and in particular, the crucial role it plays in supporting strategy (download here).  Strategy and governance are natural partners: Strategy lays the groundwork for new opportunities while governance ensures safe execution, managing the risk of change.

Yet our research found that only 16% of organizations feel that governance is well understood and deployed. Many organizations can’t answer crucial questions such as: Who owns social? How are key decisions made? How do we organize to execute social? How do we manage risk as we scale social across the organization? Left unanswered, organizations face significant risks, including threats to brand health as the result of inappropriate or disjoint social practices. More importantly, organizations can’t truly scale social into a business strategy unless governance is addressed.

Our definition of social business governance is:

An integrated system of people, policies, processes, and practices that defines organizational structure and decision process to ensure effective management of social business at scale.

How Does Your Social Business Governance Stack Up?

The report is filled with data, sample policies, checklists, and case studies. In the end, you need to ask yourself how your social business governance actively supports the execution of your strategy. The capstone of the report is a social business governance maturity map, which I’ve included below. Where does your organization fall on this chart?


We’d love to hear where you are in your social business governance – and to contact us if you have any questions or need help with your governance roadmap. My report co-author Ed Terpening is far too modest to toot his own horn so allow me. He led Wells Fargo’s social media efforts for 7 years from its inception in 2005 until he joined Altimeter two years ago. At Altimeter, he’s helped numerous organizations design governance systems along with their social business strategies. You’ll have a chance to talk with me and Ed in an upcoming webinar, on Tuesday, December 9th at 10am PT. Bring your questions as well as your best practices and war stories – we’re looking forward to learning together with you at the webinar, and in our continued mutual quest to master social business governance.