Enterprise 2.0, meet Social Media Monitoring

I am a huge believer in the potential of Enterprise 2.0, the set of Web 2.0 tools targeted for use inside the organization. Others have delivered excellent examples and descriptions of Enterprise 2.0 and how it can bring value to an organization (Andrew McAfee, Chris Brogan, & Scott Gavin, among others) . Unfortunately the vendors that are developing and delivering these tools have not yet discovered the secret sauce that has customers beating down their doors. The typical IT shop has not yet “seen” the ROI. The typical business user doesn’t even know these tools are available.

The problem is that no one gets passionate over platforms (i.e.tools). If I want to build a new house, I don’t really care that Senco has just released the world’s coolest nail-gun. I want to see the blueprint, something that shows me what I am going to get. It is very hard for a business client to see how end-user publishing, tagging and social bookmarking leads to an improved bottom line. Enterprise 2.0 currently represents potential, not fulfillment.

Enterprise 2.0, let me introduce you to Social Media Monitoring.

Social Media Monitoring is another business service that has yet to break through; a lot of potential, but you don’t hear about it too often on the Nightly Business Report. It is a little known secret that there are over 125 pure-play companies globally in this market segment, just ask Nathan Gilliatt, he specializes in tracking it. They all have amazing potential to generate detailed content about your company and your brand. The problem is that even though they deal with social media daily, most of them haven’t embraced the underlying theme of social media, that being, information wants to be shared. A typical Social Media Monitoring report is a PDF file. How 1.0 is that?!? Yes, many of them do provide nice dashboards with nice graphics, but it is still delivered to the client on a limited per seat license. This information enters the organization through a very small pinhole, gets used once for a specific tactical project, and then is buried in a file somewhere.

If we can get the Enterprise 2.0 platform builders together with the Social Media Monitoring content providers, we can deliver something that customers will finally sit up and take notice of. Just imagine a daily dose of customer insight embedded directly into your collaboration tools. An organization’s ability to innovate will accelerate, their ability to respond to market changes will be unprecedented, their understanding of their customer will move to another level. These are the things that grab attention, these are the things that businesses need to address.

One easy example is Customer Service 2.0. Consider a world where a customer with an issue merely has to post their problem on their own blog or any discussion forum and the company will find it and resolve it. You will have removed the burden from the customer of figuring out HOW to complain. Sounds a lot like Doc Searls VRM project to me. And this is just one example. What other opportunities can you think of?

What’s Next?

I have discussed this idea with vendors on both sides of the equation, and they both agree, this type of partnership between content and platform could be the thing that moves the 2.0 evolution beyond Silicon Valley and into mainstream business practice.


Where do you draw the line?

This is just one of those random thoughts that went through my head this weekend, but was too long to get into 140 characters.

  • An enterprise is an entity that is trying to address the needs and desires of those beyond its boundaries.
  • A community is an entity that is trying to address the needs and desires of those within its boundaries.

It is interesting to keep this in mind when you think about customers, employees and all other stakeholders. Do you consider them to be part of the organization or outside of the organization? It matters with respect to how you choose to interact with them. And conversely, how you choose to interact with them implies what you think of them.

Where you draw a line is important.

The Need / Brand Duality

Any Brand would love to be synonymous with the need it addresses, e.g. Kleenex & stuffy nose. In a way this is the objective of all marketing efforts, to create an unquestioned bonding of brand and need. Why do I bring up this point in a blog about Social Media? Because in a world where citizen generated content is becoming the most important information available, most marketing efforts need to be re-evaluated.

In the old days (pre-Cluetrain) Brands had the power to create and control the needs of the consumer through powerful advertising and communications programs. Brand generated content was the most important information available. Marketing efforts focused on doing research that optimized the wording of Messages in order to maximize impact. Those with money and power were able to create the need/brand duality necessary to drive sales.

Today and tomorrow, spending time and effort optimizing the brand message is having less and less impact. Instead to create the coveted need/brand duality, successful brands will spend more time, money and effort understanding the consumer needs as expressed by the consumer themselves. No longer can need be dictated by “effective” messaging. In this new world of marketing, listening will become the core competency. Only then will brands be able to remake themselves to truly reflect consumer need, and have a chance to achieve the coveted need/brand duality.

Principles of Community

In the context of an organization, there are certain principles that can be applied in order for that organization to operate more like a community as opposed to a bureaucracy. I have written previously about why I think this is important.

This list is a starting point. Please add your own…

Principles of Community

  • Frictionless information flow
  • Integration of the many into the one
  • Listening is more important than talking (or YELLING)
  • Commonly agreed to ground rules, roles and responsibilities
  • Multi-channel, multi-directional communication
  • Transparency
  • Authenticity
  • What’s good for you, is good for me
  • Everyone has a voice

Communication is the Heart

I have been struggling recently trying to figure out my “product”. I need to be able to describe what it is that I bring to the table for a client. I know I CAN bring value, I just couldn’t quite put it in words, that quickly and easily, conveyed that value. I guess what I have been searching for is a clear problem or need that I can apply my solution to. That age old problem of everything looking like a nail to my hammer.

All of my rhetoric and elevator pitches so far have been about how I solve problems. I have not been speaking in terms of the problem to be solved. This morning I think I have come closer to articulating the problem statement.

Communication is at the heart of any organization:

  • communication between managers and employees;
  • communication between functional areas;
  • communication with stakeholders and customers;
  • communication within project teams…

and I have yet to see the organization that has perfected the art of communication.

Enter social media and the community. By embracing a community model, any organization can take a quantum step forward in their communication effectiveness. This is where E Quint comes in. As a Community Architect, I use a structured approach to:

  • assess and understand the current communications ecosystem
  • develop a blueprint for improving communication structure and processes
  • help implement a new infrastructure for conversation

Improving the effectiveness of organizational communication will lead to better decision-making by organizations, which of course leads to what everyone wants, a better bottom line and the ability to keep on keeping on.

Community, Hierachry: Cognitive Dissonance

There seems to be a trend toward companies jumping on the social media bandwagon for marketing and promotional purposes. As much as I love social media and the promise it delivers, I believe that most of these efforts are going to crash and burn. The reason; non-alignment between internal cultural norms and the desired external perception.

Most organizations that are now starting to find the religion of “customer engagement” operate internally as authoritarian hierarchies. This causes cognitive dissonance among the people that are trying to implement the social media strategy. How can you expect someone, that operates day in and day out getting approvals, wondering what the boss wants, and asking permission, to understand and be able to implement an viable external community environment?

If organizations really want to engage with customers and become part of the conversation, they need to start by holding up the mirror and seeing themselves. Only those organizations that are willing to loosen the reins and allow an internal community culture to take root, will be able to successfully engage their external stakeholders as a community.

What’s a Community Architect?

Since I started using the phrase Community Architect the other day, I have been trying to figure out how to explain what one is in a pragmatic way. Or, in other words; what do I deliver?; what is my product?

The first thought that has come to mind is that my deliverable to a client is a Community Blueprint. Development of the blueprint would involve several stages which would define the activity of the engagement. The components of the Blueprint (or whatever product name I settle on) will include:

  • Goal definition – A conversation with the Sponsor of the initiative to determine what they are ultimately trying to achieve. Setting of objectives.
  • Environmental assessment – Review of the current situation, internal and external, with respect to the goal and objectives defined
  • Stakeholder engagement – An active process of bringing all stakeholders (or representatives of all stakeholder groups) into the conversation. Stakeholders will begin using light-weight community based tools at this point in order to see and understand first-hand the concepts of community based collaboration.
  • Roadmap Creation – The process by which stakeholders will identify processes, structures and behaviors necessary to meet goal and objectives.
  • Tool selection – The process by which stakeholders identify specific tools, and vendors that will allow the Roadmap to be implemented.
  • Construction – Setting up the tool infrastructure.
  • Habitation – With the tools in place, the process of encouraging use of the community.
  • Final Inspection – Review with the sponsors to confirm that goal and objectives have been met.

If you will notice, this approach does not distinguish between building a community that is fundamentally internal or external to the boundaries of the enterprise. My belief here is that most communities will span that divide, making such distinction irrelevant. But in those cases where a true internal or external community is prescribed, the process should still be valid.

Project Community

For the past few days I have had a myopic obsession with the word “community”. So, of course, I began to wonder what happens when you combine the concepts of Project Management with the concept of Community. The first thing that pops into mind is the community of people that are project management practitioners. A worthwhile area of investigation, but I want to look at something a little different…

What happens when we think of “the project” (any project) as a social object? By social object, I mean, something around which conversation naturally emerges. If the nature of a project was so compelling that people chose to talk about it out if interest, as opposed to out of requirement, it could really change the complexion of project effectiveness.

I am not talking about getting rid of PM tools, I am just saying that if people were passionate about a project, there would be less need to beat them about the neck and shoulders to meet deadlines. The point here is not that Social Media, as discussed in earlier posts, directly drives efficiencies, but that is can create a community of project stakeholders that are passionate about the successful completion of a project.