Digital Enterprise Road Map Series: Part 3 – Social

My belief that digital is still very misunderstood is growing stronger. Instead of understanding digital to be the transformative engine that drives sustainability – it is still viewed as an offering or channel. Those are indeed critical pieces of the digital story, but it’s not the whole story.  Those very innovations that drive our current disruptive environment – transform us to deal with the aftermath. Our customers have shifted – and we can’t shift with them if we are inhibited by traditional views of digital. I participated in a recent think tank discussion, where people talked of digital’s small contribution to revenue, concluding that it was not worth the focus.

Heavy sigh!

Without a burning platform, I fear companies will stay on the digital sidelines. This approach may have worked in the past, but we live in a different, fast paced world. Without the vision to see the future, companies will leave themselves no time to react to nimble start-ups or Internet Companies that continue to expand outside their traditional business. Internet Companies and start-ups have a high digital quotient – traditional companies do not.

Part three of the digital enterprise series focuses on the most misunderstood member of the digital family: Social. There is still too much emphasis on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks, as opposed to viewing social as a critical component of future systems of engagement. As these systems emerge, they will do so across three ecosystems: customer, employee and partner.

The initial social ecosystem focused on the customer and was dominated by activity in external social channels. There are great examples of customer communities and other internal social customer efforts created and managed by companies; but the dominate activity in the social customer ecosystem is in the external channel. Social listening has for the most part focused on brand monitoring, with a growing focus on customer service and social leads. Social will increasingly be woven into the fabric of customer-facing processes, and software vendors are already moving down this path.

The second social ecosystem and one that is seeing a growing focus is the employee ecosystem. One typical initiative in this area is the creation of internal communities using software like Jive or comparable products. These efforts will evolve from basic community development to the creation of a social layer that fundamentally changes our business processes. Integrated activity streams, social task management, and interaction histories are just some of the things we will see as this ecosystem evolves. Collaboration, communication and coordination will all improve with this evolution, and the collective knowledge of the organization will be used in a way that has eluded us for years.

The third social ecosystem – and one that is just now getting attention – is the partner ecosystem. As Value Ecosystems emerge, the importance of collaboration grows and social is a key enabler of collaboration excellence. This third ecosystem therefore becomes a key component of the relationship management strategy. Effectively managing an environment that includes a growing number of external stakeholders is a critical success factor. This scenario makes it clear: social needs to break away from traditional views to become the enabler it is destined to be.

Is there a danger of three separate and distinct ecosystems emerging? I think so – and that’s a big mistake. The collective intelligence of complete ecosystems unleashes the knowledge, creativity, ideas and innovation so necessary to future survival – disconnected ecosystems can’t deliver that. Next generation experiences will be delivered by an ecosystem of stakeholders – disconnected ecosystems can’t deliver that either. A system of engagement that uses complete interaction histories to make each moment of engagement an effective one cannot do so without an integrated social ecosystem.

So back to the misunderstood nature of digital – it’s very puzzling to me. How can we enable Digital Enterprise Characteristics so important to future success, if we don’t start thinking differently? Though misunderstood, social is a key piece of future systems of engagement and an enabler of many future enterprise characteristics. The future cannot be realized however, if the three social ecosystems are not integrated. So the third critical element of the digital enterprise road map is the integrated social ecosystem.

The fourth part of this series will focus on developing systems of engagement and integrating them with systems of record.

The first two parts of this series can be found here:

Digital Enterprise Series – Part 1

Digital Enterprise Series – Part 2

6 thoughts on “Digital Enterprise Road Map Series: Part 3 – Social

  1. Dear Mr. Diana,

    It’s very interesting to read your post. I have, in fact, blogged on a similar theme with companies’ reticene to embrace Big Data here:

    I believe that a reason for this reticence is the sunk cost fallacy. Many companies still adhere to their “old ways” of doing things and no doubt, the old methods do work and will continue to do so. Whether these methods would proffer sustainable competitive advantage in the long run is another story.

    As you also referred, a Digital Strategy should be internalized by the organization and become a building block of the organization’s strategy.

    I strongly share your belief that stakeholder centricity is vital in not only building a brand equity in the short and long-terms, but also establish a position in the marketplace. This is especially crucial given the fact that customers are inundated with marketing materials over diverse channels that the divide between value and buzz is nebulous. The tendency is to shunt from the marketing brouhaha and seek for other attributes, such as “values” that resonate with a particular company. A good example would be Patagonia!

    To add my 2 cents, consistent, digital stakeholder-centric strategies allow companies to exploit not only the competitive 80% of the red ocean market, but also explore and gain substantial market shares in the 20% blue-ocean long-tail markets characterized by higher margins and more loyal customers.

    A very interesting read indeed!

    Thanks for the post,
    Mithun Sridharan


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