Social Business: the Next Big Step
Read the full Summer 2012 issue.
Add social customer relationship management (CRM) to Enterprise 2.0, and you get something truly transformational: social business.
Social CRM encapsulates a business strategy and approach for serving customers in a more personalized way. Ultimately, this personalized approach, using social media, makes it much easier and less frustrating for customers to consume goods and services from suppliers.
The corresponding phenomenon inside an organization is Enterprise 2.0. This business strategy enables true collaboration, participation and engagement among employees in an enterprise and sometimes suppliers to the enterprise as well.
Despite their differences, these two worlds are closely intertwined. It is time for businesses to take the next step — to become social, inside and out.
Last year, the CMO Council shed some light on the value of being social, in a survey run in partnership with Lithium, a social customer solutions provider. In “Variance in the Social Brand Experience,” they surveyed more than 1,300 consumers and 132 senior marketers. Not surprisingly, 80% of the marketers surveyed reported moving social media up their priority list in the past 12 months, citing its opportunity to directly engage with consumers and the belief that social media can enhance brand influence online.
Creating value networks
To be successful, social business has to be about making transformational business change happen in the enterprise as well. In the past, projects for the delivery of Enterprise 2.0 and Social CRM were often built on buzzwords and flaky business benefits. Initiatives focused on something perceived to be “cool” and the technology required to deliver it, rather than the business change required to make a difference.
The single biggest barrier to successful social business projects is the subject of change itself: business change, culture change, organizational change and changes to the products and services offered by businesses to customers.
Today, we know to take these factors into account. We know to apply tried and tested methods and processes to span the interconnected networks of customers, partners and employees, bringing them together in collaborative value networks.
These networks will provide a shared workplace to co-create products and services while addressing the simplest question from all stakeholders: “What’s in it for me?”
If you are trying to persuade people to do something, they need to understand the reason they should do it. It is even better if that reason aligns with their core values and beliefs. Therefore, a combination of excellent service design and social business is essential for linking the physical and virtual networks that connect employees, partners and customers, enabling them to create value with each other. If you can design products and services that answer the “What’s in it for me?” question and keep everyone in that simple but diverse ecosystem happy, your chances of success are much higher.
Businesses have a long way to go. While 52 percent of marketers reported to CMO and Lithium that they believe their brands have enjoyed greater influence thanks to their presence in social networks, only 17 percent said that social media is fully meshed, aligned and integrated into the overall marketing mix.
“There are significant concerns regarding an organization’s capacity to engage customers in social media as resource requirements and availability was the top concern (67 percent) voiced by marketers,” the report states. “The ability—or more specifically the inability—to quantify and measure the effectiveness of engagement is also a concern for 49 percent of marketers, while 43 percent believe these initiatives require expertise that they do not have.”
Further, the survey found that marketers are struggling to fully integrate social media into their multi-channel strategies. In fact, 34 percent say they have not developed fully integrated strategies for social media, while another 23 percent say they are developing social media strategies, but execution is a struggle.
Closing the gaps
The overlap at the intersection of Enterprise 2.0 and social CRM is social business. It is a much larger and broader effort to tackle, but it is necessary to do so to achieve buy-in from all involved and deliver real change and benefit from investments in people, process and technology in this area.
The courtship between social CRM and Enterprise 2.0 is heating up and will continue to blossom. Product vendors will continue to build their software suites through development and/or acquisition. However, ultimately, the ability to execute social business as “business as usual” will increase.
I know we will have been successful when the “social” moniker is dropped and the principles underpinning social business become just another part of the fabric of everyday business. Organizations seeking to obtain value for money from their investments in social business will most likely do so by delivering a social business portfolio that connects and drives commonality across employee, partner and customer networks.
MARK WALTON-HAYFIELD is a principal social business strategist at CSC.