It seems everyone’s obsessed with Facebook’s IPO right now. And while CMOs are beginning to understand the possibilities of Facebook, and other social technologies, to connect and engage with customers, many CIOs remain unclear on the value of Facebook.
A question many business executives ask is this: “What’s the value of having someone like your page?”
On its own, maybe not much. But the true potential lies in the ability to collect insights about the people who like brands, products or services – be it your own or someone else’s.
For example, the chart below shows the percentage of consumers by age group who have “liked” Pepsi or Coca-Cola. These data suggest Coca-Cola is significantly more popular with 17-28 year olds than Pepsi, while Pepsi appears more popular with the 36-70 crowd. I pulled these data points directly from the Facebook likes of each of the brand pages using a free consumer tool from MicroStrategy called Wisdom. Using this tool I can even tell that Coca-Cola fans are likely to also enjoy the odd Oreo cookie and bag of Pringles.
IBM, as always, put on a really big show at Lotusphere this year. More than 5,000 attendees from all walks of IT and business came together to find out how IBM could help them execute their business strategies — and IBM promised to help them make their business social, and thus more personal and effective. Every IBM executive that I heard present or spoke with had one thing in mind: how to help customers evolve the culture of business from one where employees hoard information and rely on their own ability to solve problems to get themselves and their firm ahead to one where sharing information and insight enables better decision-making and better customer service.
Over two and a half days, I talked to (or heard presentations from) dozens of companies leveraging social technologies to accelerate their business, including:
A global management consulting firm that is using an internal social platform to enable project teams to find and engage process and industry experts for client work — rather than having staffing managers rely on their personal networks — and which plans to extend that platform to support document creation and client delivery processes.
A snack food company that created a public social platform to engage competitors in a process to eliminate a threat to raw material supply across their industry — rather than working on their own to solve the problem for their supply chain only.
A retail bank that uses an internal social platform to optimize routing of customer inquiries to banking products experts located at other branches or central sites — rather than relying on branch personnel who may not know the answer or promising to respond to the customer later.
A lot continues to be said about the impact of “social” on IT support and for some it is now “so 2009.” To me, it was inevitable in 2009, and I wonder how far we have moved on in reality. Yes, some IT service management (ITSM) tool vendors have added in shiny new capabilities inspired by the adoption of mainstream social facilities such as Facebook and Twitter; but how many IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations really understand social (and how social will impact IT support)? This, however, is the meat for another blog from the Forrester Community deli – today I only have time to drop a few sourpuss-thoughts in “virtual ink.”
So why am I being such a sourpuss?
Firstly, I am burdened by “the collective history of the ITSM community.” How often have we seen a great ITSM idea murdered in its execution? Consider the word “execution” here – it seems somewhat appropriate methinks:
What did we learn with the “knees-up” that was CMDB adoption in the late 2000s? It was an expensive party that many would love to forget.
How many I&O organizations are now buying service catalog technology rather than adopting service catalog management best/good practice that is supported by technology?
In September 2009 I wrote a "blog" called "Great ITSM and ITIL People to Follow on Twitter." In stumbling upon it again yesterday I couldn't help wonder:
What had happened to some of the Tweeters on the original list?
Who do I now follow that I didn't way back then?
In doing this I couldn’t help feel that, while I value Twitter as both an information resource and a workspace, I have been somewhat sleepwalking through it the last two years.
Why am I sleepwalking through Twitter?
It seems a strange thing to admit to, doesn’t it?
I literally “work” in Twitter these days and I would lose a dimension of my capabilities and “personality” without it (or a similar social environ). But the fact that I still place a heavy emphasis on the Tweets of the people below, that an updated list would not include that many more Tweeters, and that I didn’t realize that a few of the Tweeters listed are no longer actively Tweeting is quite scary to me.
My conclusion is that I have been very lazy in my use of Twitter (heaven forbid that people think that “number of Tweets” is a sign of Twitter proactivity).
So what should I do?
My original thinking from nine months or so ago (when I realized that Twitter was becoming a little incestuous in terms of my following of people) was to follow more Tweeters. I think I have nearly doubled the number of people I follow but I am still in the same place in many ways.
Just a quickie blog as the ServiceNowKnowledge11 European annual user conference draws to a close in Frankfurt. It’s been a whirlwind three days so far and I still have a couple more sessions to attend including my own (a panel session about working effectively within the information blizzard that is the modern “workplace” … obviously the session has a far flasher title than this … “Information Consumption At The Speed Of Light”). The other is the sexily-titled “Mobility, Cloud, And The Coming Singularity” by Chris Dancy.
A while ago, in fact too long ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away), I wrote a blog called Giving Back To The IT Service Management Community where I surmised that IT service management (ITSM) practitioners need help beyond the ITIL books and associated training. They need real-world help; whether this is by way of guidance, quick-start templates to prevent the “reinvention of the wheel,” benchmarks, or by other means. And that, while some members of the ITSM community already offer help, what practitioners really need is to be offered targeted and focused help. A response that is practitioner “pull” rather than helper “push.”
In short, I proposed that we need to do at least five things (as a community) to help:
Recognize that we are a community and a community that often struggles with the same issues (particularly with ITIL adoption).
Offer up our time to help out others (and often ourselves).
Identify where our efforts need to be applied (for example with the creation of a set of standard (core) ITSM metrics and benchmarks).
Deliver on our promises to the ITSM community.
Never stop trying to improve our collective ITSM capabilities and the quality of delivered IT and business services.
One of the many interesting topics of discussion we get into in our Social Business Strategy workshops is around the social ecosystem. This is the name I have given the collection of business capabilities potentially enhanced by one or more social technologies.
First let me define social technologies. Note I’m using the word “technology” quite deliberately in place of the more common term “social media” because social media is too often associated with consumer-facing technology as deployed in support of marketing. In defining the entire social ecosystem I prefer the more generic “technology”. I define social technology as “any technology that enables one-to-many communications in a public forum (or semi-public if behind a security firewall)”.
No, this isn’t about the returning of your ITIL books to ITIL’s makers (just think how much they would cost to post) but more of the reaping of the knowledge and experience held within the ITSM community (ITIL’s creators, publishers, trainers, consultants, software vendors, ITSM practitioners, and ancillary roles such as analysts) for the benefit of all.
This is by no means a new idea. Various conversations have taken place over the years to create lower-level, more granular, and ultimately more practical best practice information that is freely available to ITSM practitioners. Whether it is in the form of blogs, white papers, discussion threads, podcasts, special interest groups, or “free” training and events, such information is invaluable to the IT people “at the coal face” who don’t want to have to “reinvent the wheel” nor to have to read through a set of ITIL books which IMO isn’t really designed for the hectic work lives of ITSM practitioners. Practitioners just don’t have the time even if they have the inclination. They will also struggle to find really practical help and assistance from such a "sea of text."
We work with a lot of different types of marketers at Forrester, and we always customize the recommendations we deliver to different clients based upon their unique situations and needs. But over the past few years there's one piece of advice I've found myself giving nearly every company I work with: "Hire a listening vendor."
I love listening platforms and the social data they create; it's a powerful source of information that, used correctly, can make marketers and their programs more effective. But not enough marketers are taking advantage of these benefits.
Develop your messaging. If you want to create messages that resonate with your audience, you need to know what they care about. Many of our past Forrester Groundswell Award winners have used private listening communities to craft their marketing messages; increasingly, we're seeing companies use data from public social media to guide their messaging as well.
Source your creative. We know that consumers trust what they hear from other consumers more than any other source of information -- why not use listening platforms to identify positive social content that can be included in campaign creative? I've even seen a UK bank, First Direct, use social sentiment data in an outdoor advertising campaign.
If you think your organization is already doing great things with social technology you may be right. If you are seeing measurable results, I encourage you to nominate your organization for a Groundswell award.
What's a Groundswell award? Josh Bernoff, one of the authors of Groundswell, explains the history of the award in his blog here. Each year we review multiple nominations across various categories of social technology use; we identify the examples we believe best demonstrate the criteria for winning each award. We have categories that include internal and external uses of social technologies, and we're especially interested to see examples of strong collaboration between IT and Marketing. This is the fifth year we are running these awards (you can see past winners here and a full list of award categories below).