Scaling Social Business for the Real World

Dion Hitchcliffe has offered some very useful advice through his post, How To Scale Social Business For The Real World. He notes that the means to interact with customers have greatly expanded with the advent of social business.

However, it is not simply more channels, but qualitatively different types of channels.

The first major difference he writes about is the movement from containing engagement to enabling it. Dion writes about these new social channels, “Unlike the old narrowcast venues of phone and email, they are much more open, public, and participatory. They’re also less linear, harder to control, quite a bit messier, and significantly larger in size by any number of measures, including number of people, simultaneity (how many people talking at once), length of conversation, and complexity of conversation.”

This has created a quandary for some old-school types and an opportunity for those who recognize it.

The issue reminds me of the farmer in Nova Scotia who told me, “the weather is bad but if you like bad weather, it is good.” In this case customer communication has gotten complex and messy but it if you like complex and messy for the expanded options then this is a good thing. You just need to recognize and take advantage of it.

Dion explored some cases in his new book Social Business By Design and I recommend looking at it.

He writes that you need a clear strategy and effective leadership balanced by an evolving and adaptable plan for dealing with fast-emerging new engagement technologies.

To be successful, Dion writes that you need a continuous evolution of engagement within the organization. There are several characteristics. First, everyone in the organization needs to be fluent in engagement, even the many who only do customer engagement on a very part time basis. Second, you need to have workers dedicated to engagement such as community managers.

As my Merced Group partner, Catherine Shinners has written, the role of community manager has greatly risen in importance in the new world of social business. Third, you need a centralized listening capability and support for specialized de-centralization. Finally, the engagement process needs to match the organization. He adds that tools are not a strategy but they are vital for success.

I certainly agree with all these points. I would add one more that is certainly implicit in what Dion writes. You need an information architecture to support this engagement.

This architecture needs to be driven by the strategy, but it is a separate step that applies the strategy to technology.

One of the keystones of this architecture is the ability to share content across the multiple tool sets that are now available and are actively used with organizations. This is why we at AppFusions focus on application integrations.

For example,

  • is your issue tracking tool integrated with your collaboration tools to both share information across systems and better monitor and manage product management and customer feature requests?
  • Can you effectively mitigate potential risks and make the most of customer feedback opportunities?
  • Are your document management systems containing your fixed documents integrated with your issue tracking or collaboration systems, or are you still sending ad hoc attachments via email?
  • How about instant messaging – seems to make logical sense to launch instant message chats directly in context with your issue tracking or collaboration system where the conversation details are being tracked.
  • … and many more system to system questions where mixed data, workflow, or communications make sense.

To support these efforts, AppFusions has created integration connectors for Atlassian’s JIRA, the issue tracking tool used by 85% of the Fortune 500, and Confluence to such other commonly deployed Enterprise collaboration and content management tools, such as as JiveIBM Connections, and IBM SametimeBox, iRiseAlfresco, Google Docs, DropBox.

We are continuing to build more platform add-on application integrations to support our “connected enterprise vision” and help organizations better handle the new school approach to customer engagement that Dion describes.

What do you think? Please share...