Blog Archives

Why (and how) should a company go to Social Media ?

I recently had the opportunity, together with my friend and colleague Willem Gabilly, to present IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines.  You can access here to the english version of the slides I presented. If you are interested in the French version of those slides, please go here. If you would be interested in the video recorded out my the session, it is available here

Business? It is all about people

I would like to share here the link to my latest (well, it is also the first one…) upload to SlideShare.

Title : Business ? It is all about People

Abstract :
Many analysts and writers talk about the transition that is happening in today’s world: from the “Information Age”, dominated by “transactions and documents” to the “Conceptual Age”, governed by “relations”.
The Conceptual Age redefines many of the traditional patterns. Co-creation is the norm and “Sharing knowledge” becomes more important than possessing it. Leading Companies are accompanying this transformation by redefining themselves, changing from “organizations” to “organisms”, where the previous “mechanical interactions” are being replaced by “organic touches”.
And the way in which these Companies do Business becomes a “social activity” shaped by the rich relationships involving employees, partners and customers.
Becoming a Social Enterprise is the way these leading Companies have chosen to address the challenges of the Conceptual Age.

Can a Social Business address some shortcomings from the first Web era?

I found an interesting article and slideshow here: The Web vs. The World : 9 Epic Battles. There are some really good thoughts in there and I would like here to quote the ones who most hit me:

  • Battle #2 : Personal support vs. Instant support.
    Some companies have even started charging fees for letting you speak to a live support agent.”
    Despite what is often said that the Web brought the customers close to the companies, I think we all experimented the degradation of service in customer-care. We often land to some Automatic Response System that is difficult to navigate. Talking to humans sometimes does not help given the poor knowledge of the outsourced staff…
  • Battle #3: Cheaper Flights vs. Hidden Costs
    To keep their ticket prices competitive, airlines break out add-on fees for seat assignments, baggage checking, and other previously included (or nonexistent) services. As a result, the listed fares seem relatively low, and most people don’t notice all of the tacked-on tolls until after they’ve clicked and committed. Sneaky fees are a shady way of doing business, and ultimately they negate much of the value to consumers of comparison shopping.”
    I think anyone who travels nowadays has a clear perception of the degradation of the service. Of course, travelling 15 years ago was expensive… but was a nice experience also. Today, budget limitations force even business travelers to adapt to very poor standards. (BTW: I am surprised to see that there are still Business Class and First Class seats on traditional airlines… which are the companies which allow their employees to travel Business Class?)
  • Battle #4 : Being Present vs. Being Connected
    how many times have you been at a concert or a movie and seen a group of teenagers tapping away on their phones through the entire show? Some people spend so much time telling the world about what they’re doing that they fail to experience it with their full attention.
    This is really evident with adolescents… but isn’t this also clear in the business world ?
  • Battle #8 : In-depth news vs. free news
    But regardless of how or where you read it, professional journalism fills a crucial role in our society that casual blogging cannot.”

Reading the previous paragraphs made me thinking about Social Business. I think that a Social Business, a company managing (and “living”) its business inside and outside as a community serving its customers, can actually address these  shortcomings and provide a different experience to its customers:

  • Battle #2 : Personal support vs. Instant support.
    Engaging the whole company and, also, its partners and customers, in the co-creation process would certainly help deliver products that address the customer needs.
    And creating strong ties with partners and customers would motivate a company to consider the “customer care” as an additional channel for co-creation. Customer support is not the last step of the sale-cycle but the  “first step” of the creation of a better product.
    This approach cannot be invented in one night. It requires the transformation of a company into a Social Business, both inside and outside!
  • Battle #3: Cheaper Flights vs. Hidden Costs
    It may be strange to talk about this when the economy is getting into a new low-cycle…. but as some expensive products prove, customers are ready to pay something more for an additional value they get (iPhones and iPads are not the cheapest products on earth… but they are in the hands on anybody, regardless of their income!)
    A Social Business understands the needs of its customers, makes the best efforts to please them and to deliver top quality because the relationship with customers becomes personal. And we all behave differently when we engage ourselves personally with other people!
    Are we seeking “margin” in the volume only or in the quality of what we produce ?
  • Battle #4 : Being Present vs. Being Connected
    In order to be a real Social Business, a company must be authentic and transparent. It is not just a matter of having some presence on the web in order to get more customers or to apply analytics to electronic interactions.
    We do not want to tactically use Social Media. We must strategically transform into a Social Business, living the customer interactions with an outbound focus.
    Otherwise, customers will consider us a we do consider people who do not behave coherently and who try to manipulate others.
  • Battle #8 : In-depth news vs. free news
    I think that not everybody has the luxury to in-depth reading and studying what they think is important. We do some in-depth reading normally, but this is not enough to give us the whole spectrum of information that is required to do our job.
    What we normally do in this case?
    We ask colleagues who are expert in a given domain to give us their interpretation.
    Why don’t we ask our customers to give us their interpretation of the things on which they are expert (i.e. how they use our products) ?
    You do not refuse to help or to share your insights with someone close to you, with whom you have some link. In a Social Business, people inside and outside the company boundaries will be likely to help you get what you do not know. Because the Social Business behaves like an organism where all the organs work together to ensure life.
    Because in a Social Business the synapsis between each cell work at the best speed and at the highest efficiency.
    And, magically, the intelligence coming from others is richer than the one I could discover myself browsing around….
    Let’s remember that we have been give two ears and one mouth in order to use them in that proportion.

A Social Business is Person-Centric and, thus, Customer-Centric. It is not about changing the kind of business a company is in…. It is about changing the way in which that very same business is done. Making it Social, I think, helps re-discover the way in which humans built this world: working together, discovering new frontiers and new goods, embracing new ideas and facing challenges .

Living what I work

This post takes origin from two recent excellent articles I read:

When I read the first article, I felt that I was called in. Not because I am in marketing nor because I am part of any of these new approaches and committees.The McKinsey article makes some clear examples of what I call “formal engagement” (an engagement driven and pushed by the organization). But what is in for me?

I work for a company (IBM) and I am, obviously, attached to the success of my company in the market. But is it “enough” ? I mean, doing my job, trying to do it in the better way I can.. these are all good things. I am paid for this, after all!

But the article made me thinking as if I am on “the other side”. I am a customer now. (Well, I am a customer many times during my week!). What motivates me to be attentive to what other people try to sell me? What drives my choice in being more open to listening the message from Company_A instead than Company_B?

This is where I felt “called in”. Regardless from my place in the organization or the tasks I am asked to execute as part of my job…. am I able to deliver the right attention to customers and prospects and ease their life when interacting with me?

 

And here comes the second article.

Work can be more than a job when it stands for something you care about.

‘I’m feeling lucky.’ That’s certainly how I feel coming to work every day, and something I never want to take for granted

Again, Innovation and the experience Susan shared in the article, are great things. But, once again, the personal engagement in what I do, the passion I am doing it, is imho fundamental for both Innovation and for addressing the new market challenges.

I am lucky so far because I am given the opportunity to present, explain, share what I experiment each day. I am lucky because “I am living what I work”, meaning that I can really share what I think is a great way of working. The opportunity I have to talk and explain and share experiences about “Living Social” in the enterprise (and outside of it), reflects the experience I am doing each day. It is not something “I have to do because it is a good thing and because this brings me money in my pocket”. It is something that permeates my work life.

Get Social. What is in for me ?

During the last couple of months, I had several opportunities to talk about “Social Software” and “IBM Connections” to customers. In this period I found myself insisting on a specific concept which I tried to develop customer after customer.

The concept is, imho, very simple. Social Software in the Enterprise is about consolidating the intellectual capital (IC) of the company. IC does not comprise only what is stored in ECM; most of the IC is “transient” in the sense that it is shared among people, it goes hidden into a drawer, it gets forgotten into “C:”…
I think that the consolidation of IC is one of the major gains that Social Software can bring into the picture. Something that goes beyond churn, drawers, hard-drives. And, I think, that this may be one of the possible selection criteria that a company may use to validate the choice of a product: “does product XYZ help me to successfully consolidate the IC of my company?

What I tried to do was to reformulate that same concept for different profiles in the enterprise in order to try to address the question “What is in for me?” at different levels. This because we frequently get objections of the type:

  • “I do not have enough time to do it…”
  • “my people are here to work, not to talk…”
  • “Seems interesting… but what is the ROI of this?”

I have shared a previous post on this point, where I acknowledge the ideas I have found in a very nice article about being able to set the right priorities. I want to share my approach with you.

For Executives: What is in for me ?

Executives should care most about the consolidation of IC:

  • People join a company and leave it.
  • New opportunity arise where it is important to quickly deploy skilled resources.
    How to nurture skills? How to ensure that experiences become part of the background?
  • Each company needs to develop its differentiators in order to chase new market opportunities.
    Corporate culture is what makes the difference, it is the ground on which talents can flourish… How to build a corporate culture based on living experiences?

So, for executives the “What is in for me?” may translate into : how is it possible to consolidate IC and develop my corporate culture in an incremental way? What if people in the company would be able to contribute, each one of them with her own experience, a little glass of water to fill the ocean?

For Managers: What is in for me ?

A Manager has all the interest if her team would be a model in consolidating the corporate IC! Why shouldn’t she encourage people in her team to focus on what really matters for the company and, slowly but steadily, contribute to the culture?

I mean; of course it is fundamental that each person in the team fully concentrates on the priorities and on the schedule. Here we are not defending any anarchical idea whereby people develop long term personal  interests instead of doing their work: here we are saying that instead of leaving good ideas, great discussions, living experiences fall on a stony ground, it may be wiser to have them falling on good earth so that seeds could develop into flowers and trees.

A manager should be proud to drive her team to meet the goals of her company.

For Employees : What is in for me ?

And how does this translate for an employee?
Well, in the current work environment, where we are all deployed on different projects, we are doing several tasks at the same time and where it is more difficult to build strong relationships based on proximity and on long term planning, the possibility to be “the seed which brings a flower” is a career opportunity. It is source of recognition.

And, why not, it is also a possibility of developing interests that go beyond the small perimeter of the projects on which people are deployed (and that are not always chosen by employees….)

When you choose a Social Software platform for your company, make sure that you choose a platform that allows People (Executives, Managers, Employees) to properly build together a company culture by consolidating the corporate IC! Do not choose a platform which only allows people to collaborate or to partially share some information. Choose a platform that puts People at the centre of the experience. As my friend Louis Richardson says: “do not change your business in something different but make your business social!”

  • RSSRSS
  • Social Slider
  • RSS
show
 
close
rss Follow on Twitter facebook linkedin