Monday, March 19, 2012

Now Boarding...The Enterprise

I remember giving a seminar to HR Professionals in 2007 extolling the virtue of what I called "Social Networking Tools". At that time, Social Media (as it would come to be tagged) was still suffering from the Paris Hilton stigma. This was the perception that tools like Twitter were of the same ilk as Facebook and that they had no business relevance. The crowd of HR Pros embraced the story I told of recovering addicts who used Twitter to encourage one another throughout the day. But, they still left with eyebrows raised.

Times have changed! I was blown away when I heard's CEO, Marc Benioff, advocate the virtue of what he called "The Social Enterprise" a few years back. The spirit of the keynote inspired business progress through collaboration not competition. This was a foreign message to the cut-throat sales professionals in the room....but Benioff had conviction in his cause and it caught fire!!!!

Last week, I attended another Cloudforce event, sponsored by the aforementioned cloud computing maverick organizational leader. The message again redirected: Social Networking Tools evolved into Social Media which has now become "The Social Enterprise". The social enterprise has adopted two primary functions:
  • Internal Strategy Platform
  • Customer Community
There is a problem with email, it is nontransparent! I can cc the team on project objectives but this traditionally leads to one off cyber-conversations that create silos. What if it was all out in the open? What if you couldn't hide information or misstep deadlines any more? developed Chatter a few years back. Chatter is a social application: an internal platform to share best practices. But, Chatter's divine power lies in transparency. No longer are there side roads in the path to success...we all face it together. Collaborative, Transparent and All-Accountable!

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
People fear social media because the interpretation of intent is a very slippery slope. "give them an inch and they'll take a mile". In other words, if there is an application central to my organization that I can access any time, I might go to happy hour, log-on, and tell them what I really think. So, we turn a blind eye to that which is there to help us for fear that it may expose us. The kids will not learn to play fair in the sandbox if you keep them tied down in their swings.

Today you can go to Twitter, hashtag a company name, voice an issue, and get a reply in real time. No more waiting on-hold. Your issue is out in the open for millions to see....frequently asked questions in real time. An unavoidable basis for pro-active problem solving. Faults can no longer be put off or avoided. The sooner your problem is fixed the sooner they get off the front page. Today everyone works for Consumer Reports!

Customer Community
Let's not mistake the issue, social access is not an invitation to complain. We all simply need to adjust our frame of thinking to collaborate not compete. Before we know it we will all be on the same side of the screen.

The world's best companies are developing communities for their advocates to communicate across the Globe. It's product development through consumer input. You are no longer on the side lines, you are in the game, and your voice matters. Reviews are no longer confined to professional news publications, the board of directors voice is dwarfed by unavoidable customer input, and leader interpretation is backed by metrics from a thousand sources. The only solution is to get better, quicker. That's a good thing!

Mending Fences
We are at the crest of a tidal wave. Companies locked in buildings are becoming communities of unique individuals free to share their vision. Companies are no longer hiding their mistakes, they are inviting others to help create their destiny. Giving up control is no longer a sign of weakness but an invitation to consistently evolve. We live in real-time and everyone has something to teach. The opportunity is massive, if you ignore it, the wave will swallow you.

Don't Forget to Remember!


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