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The Social Business Engine (part 1 of n)

January 21, 2010 6 comments

Before any of my friends ask, or slap me silly on the back channel, I do not know the value of ‘n’. The reason is simple, this is not a closed loop process, it is a journey, and we are simply going to need to alter the design as we go along. Second point, I am not trying to add another hashtag, or acronym, that is so 2009!

My thoughts are guided by lots of great folks – many of whom are in my scrm blogroll, affectionately known as the Accidental Community. Influence does not stop there, Clint Oram, a good friend, and one of the founders of SugarCRM is a strong influence as well. I always wanted to hit Clint up for an interview, maybe now is my chance. Finally, the most obvious, witnessing the changes in business large and small, public and private, academia included.

What are the components of a Social Business?

Simple really, they are the same components of every business you have read about for the past 20 years, just with the word “social” stuck in front. Maybe that was not very helpful, my point is that while everything seems new, nothing within is really new. (yes, tech changes and all that, but work with me) The difference is that now whatever we do, we do with an audience, who can talk back. We are no longer afforded the luxury of screwing up in private. Thus, the word “social” is, at its core, a daily reminder of this fact. When we all have that burned in sufficiently, the term will disappear. No ‘Social’ Service Communities, just Service Communities, no ‘Social’ Media Monitoring, just Media Monitoring. Eventually, the Social part of CRM may even go away too…But it will not become Social Relationship Management – sorry, not happening.

But, for now, the word social will stick, not to use it would confuse everyone, not my goal. In order to be successful in the context of a social business, your choices are fewer – no that is a good thing! You know, the ultimate freedom is lack of choice. There is no more trying to hide a product flaw, a price discrepancy, no chance, do not even try – isn’t that a relief?

So, I have trashed the word social, told you that whenever you screw up it is public and added that nothing is new it is just different. I am a ‘glass is half full’ kind of guy, really? If you understand the difference, empower your employees, and align your business to leverage this environment and have some fun along the way you can succeed, and really thrive!

Roles, responsibilities and expectations need to be aligned

Have you ever tried to teach someone (or learned yourself) to drive a stick shift? OK, paint this mental picture – new driver,  stopped on an uphill, a car right behind you and one in front waiting at a red light – sorry, rush hour (of course) – ok, got that picture in your mind? This is how many companies felt about Social in 2008 and 2009. Having my dad start trying to describe how a transmission works, at this point in time, was really not appreciated, followed by the command to focus on the road! This is your CEO telling you that hurry up and “get social”.

The mechanics of this involve the proper alignment, timing and of course giving the engine some gas. Am I talking about a business or a car? Both. We all know the result if things do not go as planned. A crash and burn, in a very public way, with all the neighbors talking. Like I said, screwing up in private is no longer an option. We can play with the metaphor, too much gas, wrong gear, not enough gas….feel free to share. I hope I was able to make my point – The alignment within an organization has always been important – but now that alignment is even more important than ever.

The main reason, because everyone is listening, watching and talking. You need to be ready.

Part 2 of the series will focus specifically on the Sales role within a Social Business. I recommend taking a look at Mark Tamis’s post on the role of Sales, I will build on that, and some of the discussions there.

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