Empowered Customers Need Empowered Employees Need Empowered IT

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.

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Does Your Organization Have A Great Internal/External Social Community?

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.

Find out how to submit your nomination through the Forrester Groundswell blog here.

If you are a vendor and helping a client implement a social community you may nominate your client with their permission.

Good luck!

The 2010 Forrester Groundswell Awards

I am pleased to announce that we've just kicked off the 2010 Forrester Groundswell Awards. We are now open to submissions detailing how you've put social media to work for your company. This is the fourth running of the awards (and my third year helping judge and organize the entries), and I am truly excited to see the state of the industry as it continues to mature.

This year I'm specifically looking forward to reviewing the "Listening" category entries. There are a lot of businesses out there that listen to social media, but how many of them achieve Social Intelligence and truly use "listening" to inform their business decisions and drive better marketing? If you can prove the business value of your listening initiatives, please submit your entry for either the B2B or B2C Listening categories.

Last year's B2C Listening winner, NASCAR's Fan Council, used an online community for market research. It conducted three times its planned research goals at 80% less cost -- and discovered insights from fan discussion to change NASCAR rules to include a double-file restart (disclaimer: I don't fully understand NASCAR rules and cannot explain what a "double-file restart" means, but was still impressed that it changed the official rules based on insights from tits customers) and in turn improved overall brand sentiment. NASCAR actually listened to its fans, acted on the insight, and generated real business results -- a real Forrester Groundswell Award winning case.

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The Theme Of The Week: Getting Social

It’s been a busy couple of days between talking to clients about my views on social market research, getting comments on the blog and through Twitter about listening, and delivering a teleconference on the topics as well. All in all, it’s been good affirmation that this is an area worth spending some time exploring even further.

To close out the week on this theme, I’d like to direct you to a podcast interview I did with a publication called Research in the UK.  It highlights the three main trends I’m seeing with regard to using social tools in market research, and it speaks to some of the points I raised this week around the interest in and challenges around using listening technologies.

This is a publication that I recommend market researchers follow in general. It’s a good resource for keeping up with market research news on both sides of the pond, and there are always a variety of compelling opinion columns on the current and future state of the industry.

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