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The Social Business Engine (part 1 of n)

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mark Tamis January 22, 2010, 4:45 AM

    Hi Mitch

    So here in Europe we have an advantage because we only know how to drive with a stick-shift ;). The mental picture worked for me – I can very well imagine you sitting in that car 😀

    To continue the analogy, it is like a car that is running fine, the engine is purring like a kitten, and all of the sudden the market requires you to convert it into a hybrid because that is now part of their expectations.

    What do you do, undo all the nuts and bolts stick in an electric motor and some batteries? How to you organise the transmission to optimize the repartition of the forces? A lot of though (and trial and error) will need to go into this alignment.

    Good post, looking forward to the next installment!

    Cheers,
    Mark

    • Mitch Lieberman January 22, 2010, 2:04 PM

      Mark,

      Thanks for stopping

      Your point is taken well – I considered how to include those changes you mention, but the blog was getting a little long. Exactly right though, the name of the game is adapt and adopt – turn on a dime and all that.

      There is a little bit of a turf war going on, the customer is at the center and all of the departments are fighting to be the owner of the relationship. Not sure who is going to win, nor whether the customer is really lucky to be at the center of the battle.

      Cheers,

      Mitch

  • Kathy Herrmann January 22, 2010, 1:16 PM

    Hi Mitch!

    Based on your start, I’m looking forward to more of your social business thoughts.

    I agree with what you what you wrote and have an add on to your comment “while everything seems new, nothing within is really new.”

    To me, social business means stepping into a way-back machine, returning to the era where folks lived and worked in villages or small town. The proximity meant transparency reigned.

    Today, a company’s village may be spread worldwide but the concept is the same.

    Since the Village era lasted much longer than the modern business environment, we can argue what’s really happening in busines today is a return to a more normalized human condition.

    My 2 cents. Keep yours coming!

  • Mitch Lieberman January 22, 2010, 2:07 PM

    Hi Kathy,

    Your point is close to my heart – is the topic of my Enterprise 2.0 conference proposal:

    “We have been trying for a very long time to get closer to our customers. Or, should it be returning to where we used to be? Up until recently, we did this face to face, one on one and in small groups. The owner of the general store knew your name, what you needed, the members of your family. We then we scattered; moved away from friends, moved away from family – yes, moved away from the stores that knew us – and it was/is a bit traumatic. Then the Internet happened, email, chat, AOL, we were stuck behind our computers, 9600 baud and still struggling, getting closer… Then Web 2.0 happened, along with increased bandwidth, FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter and everything became clear, or did it?

    We are substituting technology for proximity, email for relationships, and Twitter for customer service. However, there is simply nothing like being there, sorry, it just is. A handshake, eye contact, body language and tone cannot be replaced, no matter how hard we try. It all begs the question, how close can technology get us to where we need to be? In this talk, I will talk about lessons from the field, and how small business is actually leading the charge and showing how it is done, not how it should be done. Somewhere in the Web 2.0 transition we moved from one on one interactions to a focus on many to many. The Social Individual, who represents the Social Customer cannot get lost in the E2.0 shuffle.”