Posts Tagged ‘Enterprise’

Are Your Social Network Groups Democracies or Dictatorships?

March 20th, 2010

We recently started a group on Linkedin called Social Executive Council, SEC. The stated purpose:

Social Executive Council (SEC) is a Invitation-only, Executive Officer (CXO) or senior executives with social strategy or social media responsibility (Director and Above). The purpose of the group is to explore the definition of social market leadership; the social transformation of the various enterprise lifecycles; customer, operational, product, information, and employee that drive the market success and corporate valuation of an organization. This group will be focused on social enablement of the organization from a strategy perspective. We propose the exchange of ideas around development of social strategy, social execution, and social measurement with associated ROI. By opening the discussion to social strategy executives and their respective internal customers, we hope to empower a more substantive dialogue about how to leverage social media, web 2.0, online community, and collaboration technologies.

Our thinking was that we wanted to create a forum for executive level thought leadership to get away from the social media monitoring tools discussions that we found prevalent out on the web and almost every social media event that we go… Not that I don’t think that tools are important, but I have people on our team that work with them on a daily basis. My focus is working through the business strategy to enable organizations to take advantage of the social technologies to create competitive advantage.

When we launched the group, we knew that there were a lot of social media “groups” out there, but very few targeted to Social Strategists and the Executive Teams they service. We thought by keeping it to a VP level that we would keep it strategic. We knew that many of the Enterprise Social Strategy thought leaders were still at the Director level.

The good news is that it has exploded. The bad news is that it kicked off an interesting dilemna that I thought I would share. See, my partner, Judy Mod, is running the online group, soon to launch the non-profit organization and begin recruiting chapter presidents. I am staying “home” to run Social Gastronomy and make sure that we deliver on our promise of socially enabing the organization. We are consultants who run a business of consulting.

I have been helping out with the membership and requests for invitation to the group until the board can be formed. The toughest thing that I have found is to say “no” to potential members who don’t qualify. It is real simple… if you are a CXO/EVP/SVP/VP of a major company, many of the Fortune 500, you want to engage with your peers and rockstar social thought leaders. If I am going to invest my time in a group, I want a return on that investment. I also want to engage with people who look like me or who can process at my level.

So, I made the mistake of letting in some social thought leaders who were not Director level. Best of intentions as they did have some really good backgrounds, but we got called on it from a couple of organizations that complained that their teams were not allowed in. They were right. You make a rule, you have to uniformly enforce it. One manager was extremely upset when I had to revoke membership. I can’t blame them. I personally apologized. I felt horrible and it still bothers me. I openend a discussion thread in the group to discuss whether the level defined was the right one.

We set up the group with an expressed position that for it to work, we needed to open it up to Senior Execs or Social Strategists to have a forum to engage with peers and rock-star strategists. To get that caliber of player, we needed a combination of exclusivity in role in organization, but inclusivity in terms of competitors. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to bring in my blogging or my business in that forum because it would be seen as self-serving.

It brings an interesting point; which now I am getting to… where is that line of opening the community up to the market and maintaining the stated focus for your business. On our end, we started the group because we wanted the credibility and a forum for our thought leadership. We are not completely altruistic as we need to eventually translate our IP and thought leadership into paid consulting services.

On the other hand, we know the audience would not tolerate ANY sales messages. They want education. If they need you, they now know about you, AND they will let you know if they are interested in talking with you. In essence, we created a democracy within the group to foster an open communications platform. We get to participate and influence as founders and members at large.

We made a delineation from the activities in running the group from our business as a compromise and recognition of the need for demonstrated integrity. This blog is my company’s to write more extensively and to share my thoughts on trends and situations that come up in our business. Interesting to the group, maybe, but they will need to come visit our website to read our blog. We wouldn’t do anything that smacked of inequality versus the other consulting firms in the group as we would lose credibility towards the stated purpose.

Additionally, the feedback from the senior execs in the larger companies is that they want a balance of peer discussions, but welcome consultants as long as it doesn’t turn into a sales pitch or they get hounded. They recognize they need consultants, but want to be able to choose when to engage with them and how.

This is pretty consistent with what we are seeing in the market. Almost any market that you go into, you can see a wide spectrum of communities, forums, groups, blogs, lists, etc. hosted by vendors, publications, associations, or enthusiasts. I think that the best of the lot understand that they can’t be extreme on either end of the spectrum… too wide open where the core target is disenfranchised with the noise or selling, but also where it is open enough to promote free and engaging discussion.

The problem with static websites is exactly that… someone said “where on your website do you post which projects that you screwed up?” No one does… The value of social media is that peer validation and credentialling that comes from broader, free discussion.

The other side, is that companies don’t create these forums or groups for completely altrustic reasons. At some point, thought leadership and engagement needs to convert to leads and pipelines. Even non-profits need transactions.

My recommendation in setting up communities is really take a look at the competitive landscape, your real objectives, and the key players in the market to determine what is the appropriate level of “openeness” that makes sense. A public group is more open by nature than a private, branded community.

If I invite you into my home, make sure to take your shoes off…. house rules. Well, actually my wife’s… but you get the point…

Enterprise Social Architecture: Need My House Jack?

January 21st, 2010

We spend a lot of time with larger enterprises discussing how to integrate these newer technologies; web 2.0, community, social media, collaboration, etc. into their existing environments.

There are similarities to owning an older home. Learning a lot lately about how older homes were constructed. Our house was built in the 1950′s and they used a center beam and wing construction model. Think of a ship, center beam and wings fanning out from there. Over time, the center beam begins to sag a little, not very flexible so you put in house jacks, bracket the beam, and put in supports, etc. In older homes, you always find that the previous owners have added their improvements; rewired electricity, added a bathroom, added an addition built on a different foundation, etc.

If you think about many of the larger enterprises, they have the same challenges. Centerbeam for support which isn’t very flexible and sags. The center beam is the ERP system and the wings are the other systems that hang off of it; payroll, onboarding, content mgmt, crm, business Intelligence, supply chain, logistics, intranets, portals, various biz apps, email, etc.ERP. Added a lot additions; business intelligence, CRM, content, web apps, intranets, supply chain, etc.

 We spend a lot of time with enterprise organizations and their domain experts talking about how to socially enable the core business systems and processes custom lifecycle management. We hear all the time from CIO’s that they don’t want to make any major system changes as they are still paying for it; with all of the additions and changes, they still have a hefty residual mtg payment or amortization and  would like to get more life out of the systems without having a payment.

 The good news is that the home remodeling busness has advanced with new technologies, techniques, and implementation processes to retrofit an older home with the latest green and or backbone and foundation strengthening and life extending techniques for older homes.

Same thing for larger enterprises looking retrofitting their social backbone for their organization to gain effiencies, competitive advantage, or keep up wth their customer requirements. They can implement a social architecture without requiring them to rip out existing systems or do major infrastructure changes.

 We have begun to develop social program and system implementations with the variuos partner organizations to take advantage of enterprise class social for lead generation, customer lifecycle mgmt, business intelligence, new product development, project collaboration, and emploee engagement as just a sampling of initiatives that we are seeing.

Retrofitting a home is harder than new construction in a lot of ways, but for many homeowners who want to keep the charm of their home intact or who cannot afford to major home repair, it is an attractive option.

Retrofitting older information infrastructures to take advantages of social and collaboration can provide similar life extending and or cost reducing alternatives to upgrading without disruption.

What We Know About the Social Enterprise for 2010

December 17th, 2009

As we wind down 2009, I have had a few moments to think about where we are going with this whole enterprise social media, online communities, social marketing, etc. So, here are my “true-isms” for 2010:

1. Marketing via Social Media is becoming mainstream. Most of it is ad hoc  and mediocre, but there are some notable exceptions and that list is growing. Finding less people saying “why” and more people saying “how”.

2. Innovators are starting to change the rules. When you see a market disruption, the early indicators are the ability to gain market share at low cost by disrupting the status quo. Doesn’t mean that twitter is your end all strategy, but you are finding companies that are leveraging multiple web 2.0, social, community applications to streamline the way they do business; either gaining new customers or efficiencies in servicing the ones that they have.

3. Customer Experience is becoming transparent – if your service sux or is barely mediocre, you need to be concerned. Social media is optimized better that static websites. This means the ANGRY blogger who writes a scathing review of their poor customer experience will get ranked higher than all of the money you just spent on broadcasting to the market.

4. Social Marketing is a “downhill” spend versus some alternative marketing channels that are “uphill” – Means that you get the snowball effect from a $1 spent in social marketing because you get the target audience, influencers, and search benefits. Alternatively, if you are having to spend dollars at trade shows, etc. you have to spend to counter the social marketing of your competitors, it is to a limited audience, and it is gone once you spend it.

5. Social Marketing doesn’t work if you apply a traditional marketing approach to the social networks. You cannot just message and broadcast your advertising or PR messaging on social networks and expect people to engage. The analogy is word-of-mouth marketing in the offline world. Do you hire a street team and then have them drive up and down the block with speakers blanketing the neighborhood with a speech? You laugh at the analogy, but that is exactly what many “interactive” major brands are doing online.

6. Social Media, Marketing, etc will extend from the public networks into the enterprise. We are having conversations with partners and CIOs around business intelligence, lead generation and tracking, customer experience management, enterprise application integration into internal communities, information architecture, employee engagement, organizational productivity gains, integration of external and internal communities, contact center integration, supply chain enabled applications, business process integration, corporate governance and compliance, MBOs, cross-functional alignment, ROI, etc.

7. Social Media is following the same path into the organization that the original “website” did… in the process became web applications, processes, ecommerce, etc. The original web solved a problem for people in aggregating and distributing information. Social Media solves the opposite problem in that it helps people with context and filtering.

8. The “Social Enterprise” is growing up. The last three years have seen pockets of cottage industry level “consultants”… but, everyone claimed to be a social media consultant. Saw the same thing in mid-90′s as everyone was a web consultant, but the difference by the end of the decade was that the real consultants figured out how to map back to business strategy and tie the web to business objectives, ROI, and core business issues. The real consultants figured out that they needed standardized, repeatable methodologies that were scalable across the enterprise (and enterprises) and transferable to their clients. The applications they developed focused on “big” problems and the size required sophistication and strategic understanding. 2010 will be the breakout year for many consulting organizations as they move from tactical point applications to enterprise solutions.

9. Organizations that have embraced the new collaborative economy and all of the challenges and opportunities in 2010 will face hurdles in converting to the social enterprise, but the smart ones will understand that the risks are too high. Smaller companies, non market leaders are looking for an edge or opening to exploit and grab market share or enter new markets. In a down economy, you have to leverage what you have better. The larger companies that cannot adjust can find that market share is a trailing indicator of performance (how we did) versus social media which is a leading indicator (what people think).

10. From 1989 to 1999, 62 of the top 100 companies on the Fortune 100 list changed. 62 came off and 62 new ones entered the list. If you think about it, 62 of the top, most respected market leaders got caught from behind and eclipsed in one decade with the selective use of a new technology and widespread business process reengineering. 62 of those CEOs and other executives probably said, “web?”, not going to affect our business. I wonder how many of them retired early…. I wonder how many of the top companies and executives will still be on the list in 2020…