My colleagues Ted Schadler and Josh Bernoff are preparing the launch of their coauthored new book, Empowered, after the success of Josh Bernoff’s Groundswell. Basically, Empowered’s message is: "If you want to succeed with empowered customers, you must empower your employees to solve their problems . . . . From working with many, many companies on social technology projects, we've found that the hard part is not just the strategy. The really hard part is running your organization in such a way that empowered employees can actually use technology to solve customer problems.” (Josh Bernoff, Groundswell blog post).
Coupled with Smart Computing — a new cycle of tech innovation and growth within the technology industry that Andrew Bartels described — this movement toward empowered employees represents what I consider to be Web 3.0: the next generation of Internet/intranet/extranet usage that will benefit the enterprise and employees. By adopting “Web 3.0,” enterprises can expect productivity improvements of 5% to 15% as well as improved customer satisfaction.
Enterprises should prepare themselves to benefit from Web 3.0 by:
Groundswell technology comes to consumers first. At home, we get social, mobile, video, and cloud services pitched to us 24x7. Facebook, Android, iPad, Foursquare, Google, YouTube, Office Web Apps, Twitter. The list is endless and growing every single day. Empowering technologies like these will always come to consumers first. Why? Because it's a wide-open market. A single developer can build an application that changes the world from their broadband-connected bedroom.
All this technology puts tremendous power directly into the hands of your customers. Your customers often have more information than your sales team — or medical staff — does. They can also whack your brand from their smartphone, with video even, while waiting impatiently in line. They can get a recommendation from someone in their business network while listening to your pitch. Customers are empowered by information and connections. You'd better make sure you give customers better information than they can get elsewhere.
The only way to do that is to empower your employees to directly engage the needs and expectations of empowered customers. Only empowered employees can solve the problems of empowered customers.
Fortunately, your employees are not standing still. People are problem solvers. Left alone, your innovative employees (we call them HEROes — highly empowered and resourceful operatives) are building new solutions using these same groundswell technologies — and many others besides — to solve customer problems.
In fact, 37% of US information workers — employees that use computers for work — use do-it-yourself technology to get work done. Personal mobile devices. Unsanctioned Web sites like Skype or Google Docs or LinkedIn or Smartsheet.com. Unsanctioned software downloaded to a work computer.
Tech Populismis a major force that's changing the way wework. Behind the walls of SMBs and enterprises are empowered employees who increasingly make individual choices about the technologies that they use to get their jobs done. With the growing ubiquity of technology in the workplace (smartphones, other mobile devices, and PCs) individual workers are often making decisions for themselves. The opportunity for tech strategists lies in addressing portfolio strategy as well as go-to-market strategy to address this rising tide of new buyers.
To explore Tech Populism, Forrester is currently designing its upcoming Workforce Forrsights Survey to be fielded to 5,000 employees in the US, Canada, France, the UK, and Germany who work at businesses across a range of industries and company sizes. Our target respondents use a smartphone or computer at least 1 hour per day at work.
The Workforce Forrsights Survey will answer questions about how employees:
Each year we conduct a search for the best examples of social media/social communities as part of our search for winners of the prestigious Forrester Groundswell Awards. This year we have added a new category of award aimed at internal communities designed to help management with innovation and/or collaboration across the organization — communities that empower employees.
In the fall I’ll be helping my colleague, Ted Schadler — co-author of the upcoming book Empowered — to judge the winners of the management category. So if you have a social community or social media success story please consider nominating your firm for one or more categories in this year’s awards.