As you probably know, on June 4th and 5th in Milan, will be held the 2012 edition of Social Business Forum, one of the most important international events focused on business innovation, collaboration and employees involvement.
I will be one of the speakers, with a speech titled “From big data to insights: Social Media analytics and actionables”, so I am very excited to meet all the other participants there.
In the meanwhile we want to give you a bit of Social Business Forum through this interview with Rawn Shah, Social Business Strategist at IBM and author of “Social Networking for Business: Choosing the Right Tools and Resources to Fit Your Needs” (Wharton School Publishing/Pearson, 2010).
He is also blogger at Forbes and he is expert of selling processes, gamification of training and learning management.
– Hi Rawn, how do you think that gamification could change the organizational processes and learning?
At its heart, gamification is about adding metrics to different activities whether in learning or other organizational processes. However, these metrics are a balance between KPIs from the business’ point of view and metrics around activities that people find personally motivating and interesting. If a company already has business metrics which employees can personally see the impact on themselves, then gamification is more meaningful to both the individual and to the business.
The way gamification is carried out creates a new social understanding of how people are doing their work. Since these metrics are intended to be seen by others, it gives other employees a way to see how people are doing their job. More than that, it can quietly incite the competitive spirit in people. Competition is itself a core element of the economic capitalism. In that way, gamification draws from the very spirit of capitalism to encourage people to show their own value.
– How much a company reputation can be influenced by crowdsourcing and co-creation activities with customers?
Co-creation particularly focuses on product or service innovation, replacing the old methods of collecting customer requirements and feedback on products. So, how much of a company’s reputation is affected by this depends on how much of its business is focused on development.
It is good to keep a perspective on this. A company tha does not develop new products or services or simply delivers the same ones over and again to new customers the emphasis on co-creation can be very low. For example, a nursing home or hospice typically does not need to create a new service, just continue to provide care at a high level. On the other hand, industries such as consumer electronics are very heavily dependent upon developing new products and therefore have reputations that are very dependent upon them.
Co-creation is not the entire source of reputation for a company by any means. That comes from a combination of what people think of its products and services (which comes after the creation part), how it handles customer services, how it works with other businesses, partners, competitors and the industry, and how it works with people, communities and governments.
– Which are, in your opinion, the most important KPIs to measure and evaluate brand activities online?
I find this difficult to answer because there is more than just one context where this can apply. As I explain later in Social CRM, brand activities online are different based on which business functional area you consider. The activities of marketing are very different than the activities of sales and that of service.
Furthermore this is also different based on which perspective you are considering. If you consider what is important for an individual customer, then you need to think about the level of engagement and satisfaction of the customer, regardless of the business function. If you consider what is important for the brand, then you would look at KPIs on an aggregate level: how much engagement is happening across the customer demographics and psychographics, across the sales territories and deal sizes, and across the product family.
I think this is too broad to have a simple few KPIs because the KPIs in question depend so much on which part of business you are looking at.
– How collaboration with employees can leverage and change a company image?
A company’s image can be affected in several ways: inside the company, across the extended enterprise with its business partners, and externally to customers and the public. For employees to affect a change in the image, it matters who they are interacting with.
To improve how employees are happy with the company, and develop work passion, they need to be able to work with each other easily, and create successes. Employees often also want to simply vent and share their frustration with each other. This is typically seen in a negative light until you consider that the company can also proactively do this so they can find areas where they can help.
TD Bank in Canada for example had this situation when they were looking to expand their business hours to keep their branches open on Sunday. By opening a common channel across their employees to share their concerns, they were able to change frustration to excitement at serving customers better.
Similarly, to improve the image with business partners, you can look to how Supplier Connection, a consortium of several dozen large global enterprises that are inviting small businesses to work more easily with their procurement processes. The goal here is for them to encourage more small businesses to succeed, which in turn helps the economy to grow.
It is this kind of impact where another group is directly affected on a deep level that can improve the reputation and image of a company.
– Which will be the evolution of Social CRM?
I think people have a biased view of Social CRM. Many look at it from one perspective or another. For example, they may think of it in terms of how social business changes customer service. Others may think of how it impacts marketing. Still others may look at it for product development and co-creation.
But, think of it in terms of all the ways a customer can interact with a company (editror’s note: Rawn asked me to put this in bold!). The reality is that it is a really big topic because it covers several functions of a business all together: marketing, sales, customer service, innovation, partner relationships, community relationships and corporate social and civic responsibility.
In today’s model of a company, these are usually separate departments and functions, typically run separately by different executives and often impacted by silos and internal company politics. The customer on the other hand expects that they are working with a single organization without any expectations of separate agendas, schedules, databases or other factors.
To better serve the customer may also not serve the community as well (e.g., consider how we can improve products but at the cost of harming the environment). It becomes a balancing act across numerous complex processes and even beyond just the customer. I’ve written about this subject on changing the fundamental models of a business recently in my Forbes blog in several parts.
The near future of Social CRM is to bring perhaps a few of these existing business functions together. The long-term future requires us to rethink the very foundation of how businesses are organized.
– Thank you Rawn!
I guess some of the points he touched are worth a ticket to Social Business Forum…. so see you in June!