In 2014, I had this to say about the trend of putting a word in front of the word economy and declaring a new era: Something Economy: seems like a popular trend – stick a word in front of economy and use it to describe the next big thing. Some of these words are: Peer, Maker, Sharing, Gig, Collaborative, Green, Circular, Mesh, Digital, Innovation, semantic, and more.
Another year is coming to a close, and that means it’s time for 2013 predictions. Blog posts and articles will focus on the possibilities that lie ahead in the coming year. With so much uncertainty in the global community, people predict at their own peril. So this year, I am focusing my thoughts on the journey that I believe will dominate the rest of the decade. That journey will span three very broad categories: the accelerated movement towards systems of engagement, operating model change, and Digital innovation.
So here it goes – my thoughts for 2013:
I recently viewed a video titled The Future of Social Inside the Enterprise, a thought leadership presentation from the recent Dreamforce 2012 conference. The presentation is delivered by Dion Hinchcliffe of the Dachis Group, and Alan Lepofsky at Constellation Research. This is a fifty minute journey through the past, present and future of social business. You’ll find some content on the business value associated with social, and some good examples of how social is evolving to support the way we work.
You can start to see how systems of record may integrate with systems of engagement. Two examples are given by Mr. Lepofsky. The first describes a stream level integration, which allows system of record events to be broadcast into the activity stream. This stream level interface is envisioned to be the place where people spend time doing their jobs. It is pointed out however that stream level integration has its issues, the biggest in my mind being the loss of context. Comments made in the activity stream do not work their way back to the system of record, so context is lost. The other critical issue is the noise level associated with these streams. Without robust intelligent filtering, these streams become worse than email. This filtering – finding the actionable insight among the noise – is critical to the effectiveness envisioned by future systems of engagement. I had a discussion this week with senior executives from a large Financial Services firm, and the general belief is that this critical filtering will take years to develop and optimize. It took IBM four years to tune IBM Watson to compete in the Jeopardy challenge. This is not simply a sentiment analysis exercise.
2011 in my mind will be viewed as the launching point of a digital revolution. The momentum started in 2010 and kicked into overdrive in 2011. The rapid adoption of tablets and Smartphones fueled an aggressive development of mobile applications, while E-Book sales increased at a remarkable pace. Meanwhile, the world continued to go social in ways that few would have imagined. World leaders felt the power of Social Media, as revolutions expanded through the organizing power of Facebook and Twitter. Business leaders came to grips with the power of social media, as skepticism waned and social business turned the corner. Data continued to grow exponentially, expanding the gulf between available data and meaningful insight. Lastly, 2011 marked the year that cloud computing burst onto the enterprise landscape – In fact, 2011 may eventually be viewed as the year of the Cloud.
These factors combined to drive an aggressive digital expansion that in most cases happened through isolated initiatives driven by marketing. Businesses with indirect channels to market looked towards direct to consumer models. Regulated industries embraced the opportunity of social media, while addressing its risk. Customer experience became the mantra for many businesses, as re-inventing customer relationships topped most priority lists. New digital executive positions were created in response to growing questions about effective governance models. The notion of holistic digital strategies was in fashion again, and innovation and operating dexterity rounded out the top priorities for most executives in 2011.
I find myself talking a lot lately about the slow evolution from basic social listening to a more robust use of analytics to truly gain actionable business insight. I have long felt the evolution was inevitable – of course I often think these things and they take years to materialize – a story for a different day. This Recent Forrester Blog Post touches on the notion of moving from social listening, to integrating social and customer data. It also presents a roadmap for how to move through the crawl-walk-run-fly stages.
I am sure the authors realize that although this is a piece of the evolution, there are other steps along the path to actionable business insight. I’m already seeing the movement from basic social media monitoring to the broader use of text analytic platforms. Companies that started their journey focused on brand mentions are evolving to new use cases that deliver considerable business value. One of the signs that we are reaching an inflection point can be found in a growing move towards evaluating text analytics software for a broader set of use cases.
In a recent presentation, Forrester describes the uniqueness of our current business environment as a perfect storm of technology innovation. In the past, technology cycles were driven by one major innovation (mainframe computing, personal computing, networked computing). The current environment sees a perfect storm of cloud computing, social business, mobile computing, advanced analytics and smart computing. This latest cycle begins a period of accelerated innovation, and introduces a larger potential for disruption than in past cycles.
Disruption in many different forms is not just possible, but likely. Business models across many industries are already under attack. The Information Technology (IT) function itself will see considerable change over the next several years. As the workforce and business leaders play a bigger role in technology selection, the role of IT will evolve. What IT looks like in the future is anyone’s guess, but change is almost certain. The current outsourcing model that so many companies have embraced over the years, will change as cloud computing widens its footprint. The way companies build and deploy applications will change, as mobile apps and app stores shift from the consumer world to the enterprise. The way companies interact and communicate with all stakeholders will change, as social media evolves to social business.
Update 8/3: This Article by Jay Greene summarizes the results of a recent survey of mobile application developers. This quote captures the key message from these results: “The new quarterly survey of mobile application developers by Web development tool maker by Appcelerator and market research firm IDC found that two-thirds of the 1,621 respondents to the question “Can Google+ catch up to Facebook?” replied yes. The reason: more than 68 percent of the respondents believe Google’s other assets–search, YouTube, and maps, among others–trump Facebook’s social graph lead”.
I recently participated in the writing of an article on Social CRM for the Insurance industry. The piece is now available online via the Insurance Networking News. The Insurance industry is showing a great deal of interest in social business – and I hear it in most discussions with industry executives. It is clear that the industry is beginning to understand that insight from social channels can drive better decision making. Companies like Farmers Insurance are driving new growth, new product development, and customer retention by sharing information from Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn with their network of Agents.
A recent study indicates that 56% of companies are planning future Social CRM initiatives, while Gartner indicates that 30% of companies will extend their Social Networking efforts to Social CRM processes within the next two years. As I note in the article, social computing will enable a powerful sales, marketing and customer service platform that improves the customer experience and elevates brand identity. The full article is a worthwhile read, and provides some insight into the future use of Social CRM in the Insurance industry.
I have visited with companies over the last couple of months and the term “Digital Strategy” has come up many times. It started me thinking about the last time the term was very popular – the late 1990s and early 2000 time period. I saw a reference to Digital Strategy 2.0 last week and thought it was a perfect way to describe this latest phenomenon. Several factors are driving this renewed focus on digital strategy:
So here’s an interesting example of the world growing more instrumented: A Social Vending Machine. Text messages and videos are being sent by a vending machine. Just more fuel for the data explosion fire. Innovative companies like PepsiCo are generating ideas that we could not imagine even a year ago. Still doubt the staying power of this social phenomenon? Still think it’s a passing fad? Vending machines just went social. Think of all the other social business scenarios on the horizon. All the while, the volume of insight bearing unstructured data just continues to grow. It gets more interesting by the minute.
I came across a very nice visual that describes the Social Landscape. The visual, courtesy of CMO.com, takes a look at the various social media platforms across four categories: customer communication, brand exposure, traffic to your site, and search engine optimization. The diagram provides a lot of information on one page. In addition, this Article provides some perspective on which sites are the best across each of these categories.
In this report – The Forrester Wave Listening Platforms – Forrested evaluates several listening platform vendors. Using 76 evaluation crtieria, Forrester found that Converseon, Nielsen, and Radian6 are the leading vendors. As the need for social intelligence intensifies, companies will continue to invest in listening platforms, while expanding the number of use cases addressed. In evaluating nine vendors, Forrester focused on the strengths and weaknesses of each vendor. The key areas of focus were: user experience, dashboards, data quality, consulting, text analysis, data source coverage, and social media outreach tools.
Understanding the customer in the world before Web 2.0 was a relatively straightforward task – but the emergence of Web 2.0 has brought an explosion of social channels including blogs, wikis, forums, social networks and an array of social media. Today, customers have a loud and clear voice where they openly share ideas, perceptions, and problems about products and companies. They create trusted communities and powerful, influential constituencies. The voice of the customer (VOC) is therefore expressed in different forms through different channels. These channels are insight rich, with a wealth of untapped customer intelligence. Traditional technologies are unable to access or decipher the unstructured content upon which today’s customer conversations and insights are built.
This Article by Michael Hugos titled “Social Media front ends plug into enterprise applications” touches on one of the evolutionary social business paths that I believe is inevitable. Mr. Hugos describes a scenario where social media such as FaceBook and Skype become the user interface and connect to appropriate in-house systems using SOA. He states: “People already know the user interface for these social media platforms so the learning curve is not hard. And the new system runs on all sorts of mobile devices like iPhone, Android and iPad, and it stays current as new devices come out because the social media vendors (FaceBook and Skype in this case) do that job for us”.
In this Recent Article, Collective Intellect CEO Don Springer talks about social media and text analytics. Mr. Springer provides some industry research:
- 127 million people, or 57.5% of Internet users, visited a social networking site at least once a month in 2010. Not only is the number of users growing quickly, but also the audience demographics continue to widen.
- The growth of unstructured data is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 62% through 2012.
This social phenomena that started with Web 2.0 and accelerated with the explosion of FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter, is at its core a platform for communication, interaction and relationships. It will usher in a new era of innovation. Terms like crowd sourcing, the wisdom of crowds and collective Intelligence, all speak to the notion that innovation is not an organizational function, but the ideas of an organization, community, or society.
After some very bad and well-publicized business decisions drove a subprime mortgage meltdown and the near collapse of the auto industry, many would agree that methods for enhancing decision making are greatly needed. Findings in a recent MIT Sloan special report support this notion. Senior executives want their businesses run by data-driven decisions. They want to understand optimal solutions and take action quickly; but as the authors point out, this is no small task. They suggest that in order for insight to drive action, the insight must be closely linked to business strategy, easy for end users to understand, and embedded into organizational processes.
Are you listening? All of the communication occurring in social channels can challenge our listening skills. How are we sure that we are listening in the right places? What should we be listening for? How can listening translate to tangible benefits for my business or organization? Those are only some of the pressing questions that companies are attempting to answer. As companies move down the inevitable path of co-creating products and services with customers, social channels will become an increasing source of ideas and innovation. The business imperative for customer intimacy will drive many company strategies over the next decade.
This diagram effectively presents some social networking statistics and information. These numbers continue to underscore the growing impact of social computing on society, and the inevitable effect it will have on business.
This article by Boris Pluskowski predicts that 2011 will be The Year of the Social Enterprise. He admits that his predictions are somewhat optimistic – but here’s hoping he’s right! Mr. Pluskowski believes we’re about to embark on a new era of unprecedented collaboration and social interaction that leads to the world’s first fully social business. Some key points from the article: