Bernie Leung is the President of MESA Technology. He had this company for over 15 years. Bernie started out as an Electrical engineer. He has always been a “bleeding edge” guy. He was one of those guys that insisted on getting departmental computing back in the days when computing was in a raised floor glass room.
In 2003, he wrote a piece of software that he called MyLifeCircle. It was one of the first social networking software. But we didn’t know what to call it back then. The inspiration came because he and his wife were both travelling a lot back then. With the children, it was tough to keep in touch and keep track of schedules. So he wrote MyLifeCircle to connect. As story goes, Chicago, then, was not a friendly place for IT innovation. How things have changed in 10 years for the better.
How did you business get started?
The business was started as a manufacturing consulting company working with various Fortune 100 companies. It was collaboration in a sense,because we were dealing with many overseas joint venture projects.
How did you get involved with MWLUG?
I joined the local user’s group - Granite a few years back. I attended the first MWLUG in Chicago that Richard Moy started in Chicago. It was a great session to see all the other Lotus users and frankly, learn from them. I always though social includes voice and video. So my interest in more in that area. I love party any way, so when Richard asked me to help out, I said yes.
Why did MWLUG decide to have a social track? How many years have you had that?
I got elected to run Granite beginning of this year. And my goal was to see how our Lotus members can branch out beyond just being administrators and programmers. So in the last 6 months, we’ve been talking about what IBM social collaboration really is.
Then something hit me, social is not just within the inside. Social means connecting inside and outside. There is no domination of market share. So if we are going to see what Lotus can do, we have to see how Lotus can fit in. Users, especially the new graduates, are much more savvy than many of us. We need to fit in so that we do not become irrelevant. We know we have good tools, good skills, but does the rest of the world know that?
This is the first year for the social track. I hope this is beginning of many and other User’s group conferences will do the same.
How did you find the speakers?
Through social media, of course.
But no seriously, I met Wade Burgess of LinkedIn a few years back. Happens he graduated from the same university. So we connected up in Linkedin through the alumni group. When we were planning for MWLUG, I said to Richard, “we can do it” really not knowing what’s going to happen. So I connected with Wade who got promoted to be the Director of Northern Europe, but he replies and said “talk to David Cohen, he is right in your back yard”. So that’s how it go connected. Lessons learned, social networking works and pay up on your Alumni dues.
Then I met Shawn of Shawnimal at a Chicago small business competition. I was one of the judges for Chicago’s social marketing competition. It was co-sponsored by the City of Chicago and Constant Contact. When I found out he was a gamer in his previous life, I said “ Who better to have geek speak about social networking to a bunch of IT techies”. And he graciously accepted.
As for Martin Hatlie. It was a different circumstances. My company is involved with healthcare sector in IT support. But Martin’s organization is in patient safety. He held many events promoting patient safety awareness and training. I’ve helped him with a few webinar events.
Then I found out that Martin was involved with sentiment analysis for patient safety. That really got me excited. This is like ground breaking technology and research. So I proposed it to him and kind of twisted his arm, because he was actually in Minnesota that whole week. He took the effort to fly in just for us and he left that evening. So I am really grateful for that
What “social” stuff is your company doing for clients?
As we are involved with the healthcare sector, we see a lot of opportunites in social networking for that. Nurses, doctors got to communicate with each other, a secured social networking is great for that.
Community health efforts involves internal and external people. LotusLive is perfect for that.
How has your company used external social networking tools for business?
I am in quite a few social networking groups - LinkedIn, Lotus Greenhouse http://greenhouse.lotus.com, LotusLive and Twitter.
But an over looked area is actually in analysis. While I was at MWLUG on Friday, I saw a tweet that came from someone in New Zealand, who was expressing his frustration about a Dominos’s upgrade. Boy, wouldn’t that be a great opportunity for a service contract sales.
What do you think of IBM’s social efforts? Have you seen any of the ads for social media week?
I believe social networking is not about a single solution or a single company. To succeed in it, you have to be open to connect with the world. IBM is late to the game, it has now a “social business toolkit”. It is a good start, but a long ways to go. Unless IBM can make it relevant to the world, all the great technology will go by the wayside.
Guests, please add any topics you think would be of interest. You know your areas of expertise and interest best!
I believe there is a lot of social problems that we can solve with social networking. We’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg for social networking. Collaboration on a worldwide basis will change even more on how we live. This is an exciting area.
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MWLUG 2012 - Pittsburgh - mid-August 2012
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