The truth is out there

Getting to the knowable in social business

On one hand, this is an easy task. You can purchase Twitter ads or Facebook ads and gain access to analytics dashboards that will show how your investments are performing. In a focused, closed-loop situation, measurement is easy. Results are known.

On the other hand, this is a very difficult task. “What’s the ROI of social?” can generate retorts like “what’s the ROI of putting your pants on?” In an unfocused, overly broad situation, useful measurement is impossible. Results are unknown.

Somewhere in between is the knowable. By starting with business activities, brands can focus on what needs to be measured and why. Good places to start include advertising campaigns, customer advocacy, and internal collaboration. Results are knowable – but measurement is easier said than done.

If you can measure it, you can manage it

Determining social business performance requires a deliberate approach. The setup and delivery of campaigns require use of proper tools and process to monitor and measure activity. In today’s operating environment, the availability and sophistication of tools are increasing, but there’s still plenty of manual labor that goes into filling gaps where existing solutions fall short. Inefficient and incomplete approaches allow only part of the complete picture of business performance in social to be seen, while the rest remains obscured, in the realm of the unknown.

Six months ago, I left Dachis Group and eventually joined R/GA to help the agency build a capability to support the next nine years. Learning from Bob Greenberg and Barry Wacksman was an incomparable experience and I left every meeting inspired and full of ideas.

This week, I rejoined Dachis Group, the company I helped start in 2008. Why? After a cordial meeting with Jeff to catch up during the holidays, I was pleasantly surprised by the progress that had been made during my absence. The tools are the most advanced offerings in market today and continuing to evolve.

I also realized that the challenges that Dachis Group is solving for – how to help marketers make social business work – are the same challenges that have been driving me ever since I joined Forrester Research in 2005. These issues were initially unknown at the advent of corporate social media; identifying the knowable and moving clients into the known is immensely satisfying for me. That’s why I’ve been blogging for over seven years, co-authored a book and speak at conferences worldwide to exchange insights. So I decided to return to the company and help continue to grow what I started. 

The truth about how your social performance is out there – the results are knowable, as long as you’ve got the right solutions to measure and manage your efforts. In my new role – Chief Solutions Architect – I’ll be helping Dachis Group work with clients to drive better business results.

Enterprise 2.0 yields to Social Business

Attendees of the Enterprise 2.0 conference this week in Boston were welcomed by this banner:

Enterprise 2.0 Conference

I welcome this messaging as acknowledgement that social business is the end game and highest order theme for the work our industry is focused on.

Enterprise 2.0 has roots firmly in technologies – CRM, collaboration, social networks. Social media marketing continues to mean B2C communication – monitoring, measurement, and outreach. Both E2.0 and SMM require the support of organizational governance, culture change, and process design. Put it all together and that’s Social Business.

You can download conference content here and follow the conversation at #e2conf.


An outsider’s thoughts on Enterprise 2.0 #e20 #e2conf

I’m returning from TechWeb’s latest Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara. I first attended the event last summer and was curious to see how the space has evolved over the past 18 months.

It’s evolved quite a bit.

The conference originally started as the Collaborative Technology Conference. The Enterprise 2.0 label has been in play since 2007. Currently, E2.0 insiders are debating the emergence of the term Social BusinessMcAfee, Linssen, Boyd, Howlett, Hawes. I call them insiders because they are all prominent voices in IT circles. Coincidentally, none of them were on site in Santa Clara this week.

Although my first job focused on ERP, I’ve operated in marketing, strategy, and management for most of my career. So I consider myself somewhat of an outsider to E2.0. Most of its participants hail from deep IT backgrounds. But what I heard this week on stage and in the halls were conversations about communities, experience, and relationships. The basis for these were certainly grounded in technology – Mindtouch, Socialcast, Jive, Sharepoint, et al. – but the focus has elevated to driving business results. These are conversations currently happening across all departments.

What else has changed? Budgets are coming back and big companies are gearing up for large transformation efforts. Consequently, the “can’t we all get along” days of social are long past and today’s competitors have gloves off, ready to battle for market supremacy. Must be the money.

Business has always been built on people, process, and technology. By definition, trends in work, society, and technology have always been around. It’s critical to recognize when convergence creates opportunities for value capture. For example, why Groupon now but not Mercata back then? Why Hulu not Quokka? Why sCRM not CRM? Why social networks not KM?

Business needs Enterprise 2.0. It needs social media marketing. It needs collaboration and cultural change. Social business provides a unified focus for these movements to work together.

Maybe it’s good to be an outsider. Either way, here’s what I recommend. Attend events in person to make connections and have live conversations – put next year’s E2.0 Boston and SXSWi on your calendar. Dachis Group will be running a series of invite-only Social Business Summits around the world next March as well. Joining the conversation and adding value is easy, as long as you stay focused on what’s going on at the ground level.

Dion Hinchcliffe joins Dachis Group

Dachis Group is off to a great 2010 and hope you are as well. Over the past two years, the company has been putting pieces in place to help companies make Social Business Design a reality. I’d like to think we make a little bit of progress toward that goal every day, but today is not one of those days. Today we make a lot of progress toward our goal by welcoming Dion Hinchcliffe into our company.

To find out more, visit the Dachis Group Collaboratory.

Panopticons and social behavior

"Work Makes You Free."  Taken at Dachau, Germany by Pete Kim.

In the 18th century, English architect Jeremy Bentham designed the panopticon, a prison structure that allowed guards to watch prisoners without knowing when they were being observed – so that prisoners felt that they might be under watch at all times.

Two centuries later, French philosopher Foucault applied the idea to discipline in the organization, particularly in the industrial age.  Managers and foreman stood in offices high above the shop floor to observe activity below.

In modern offices, the panopticon persists in today’s cube farms – where open work spaces may foster collaboration, but also facilitate observation by managers and peers.

In the 21st century, the panopticon has moved online.  Today’s IT departments install keystroke loggers and web proxies that monitor employees’ computing activities.

Employees usually react to panoptic observation by falling in line and acceding to discipline – or leaving the company (only to fall into the same situation, different brand on the door).

But social computing fosters 100% anti-panoptic behavior.  People become exceedingly transparent and open.  Observation loses its power as workers share the information anyway.

Today’s enterprise appears to be headed for a panoptic-social conflict.  Management desires control.  Employees walk out the door every night and want to return with the technologies they find useful in their personal lives.  You may block Facebook and Twitter today – but how long will it be until the Enterprise wakes up and realizes that community participation is the key to success?



Analysis: McKinsey’s enterprise web 2.0 survey

Click here for the original study
McKinsey & Company recently released the results of a survey called "Building the Web 2.0 Enterprise" (free with registration).  Here’s what I found interesting for those responsible for making social technologies work.

1) Social technologies are bigger than just marketing and PR campaigns.  They’re helping to reinvent the organization.  Companies satisfied with their experience with Web 2.0 technologies are applying them within change management practices and organizational structures.  Companies are using new tools to reconnect with customers for co-creation and collaboration.  "Reconnecting," you ask?  Yes, the way businesses started and survived long before advertising as we hate it existed.

2) It’s what’s on the inside that counts.  94% of respondents report internal use of web 2.0 technologies vs. 87% for customer interfaces and 75% for channel relationships.  In fact, internal use increased from 2007 while customer and channel uses declined.  Using web 2.0 applications internally are like picking low-hanging fruit.  Technology operates on standards, communities are pre-formed, and processes have low variation.

3) Success starts at the top.  Web 2.0 may be all about power to the people, but in an enterprise setting it needs a senior stamp of approval.  On average, only 1 in 4 employees use web 2.0 tools; in companies with higher usage, one key is "getting senior managers to act as role models for adoption." Conversely, among companies with low levels of satisfaction with web 2.0, a major barrier to success is seen as "my company’s leadership team doesn’t encourage the use of web 2.0 technologies."

4) IT needs to get aligned with the business.  How do businesses dissatisfied with web 2.0 experiences start using these things in the first place?  Most often, IT selects the technology and brings it to the business.  That’s like having a builder decide how big your house is going to be, what appliances and fixtures you’ll get, while you can decide what color to paint the walls.  Businesses that are satisfied with web 2.0 determine a business need, then find a solution to help.

Takeaways to consider:

– Organizations are changing and may look the same externally but will operate very differently on the inside once social technology adoption reaches critical mass (i.e. a majority of employees using these tools for  work purposes)

– In the near term, this may be a case where the irresistible force (i.e. web 2.0) meets the
immovable object (i.e. senior management).  Adoption of social
computing correlates higher with younger generations…and Gen Xers
aren’t yet running Fortune 500 enterprises.

– Marketing, IT, HR, and Finance all need to get along…but any department’s role as an order taker will be justified unless it can tie itself to business goals and objectives.

(Note: If you found this post useful, let me know and I’ll start making it a habit to publish analyses like this regularly.  Of course, I’ll need your help in hearing about what data is out there and also what perspectives are most interesting to you.)