People are the fuel that makes the Social Engine run
Remember, that the Social Engine is my own metaphor for what drives Social Business. My objective is not to cram the word “Social” into the first paragraph as many times as possible, it just looks that way. Social is top of mind, and many people are simply trying to put it all together. So, how about this – I have my networks, my media, I talk about CRM, and I do business with people (left that overused word out). Whether you are talking about Collaboration, Relationships, Knowledge Flows, Engagement, Expectations…It all comes down to people. At the core, Social simply means sharing with other people, in the digital sense, it is done in the open.
“People are the platform”
I wish I could take credit for that statement. Proper attribution goes to Michael Fauscette from IDC. We both attended the #scrmsummit last week in Washington, DC. The statement is not some esoteric, bigger than life hyperbole. It is quite simple really. You cannot have any of these things without people. A Social Business employs people, just as a Social Customer is reliant upon people. A Social Business is one that recognizes the amplification effect – the amplification of value by continuously meeting (or exceeding) the dynamic expectations of the social customer. If you do a good job, other people will hear it. As we are all well aware the converse is certainly true as well.
Co-Creation takes people
Co-creation is another one of those terms which seems overly complex, people throw it around, seem to be scared by it. Paul Greenberg reminded everyone that is does NOT have to be complicated. Friend Wim Rampen writes about it often. I will be honest, it is a term that has scared me. I will give a simplistic example, surely to be corrected (but write and learn right?). Say you are at the local Pizza joint and you select a few cool toppings from the ‘make your own’ section. You also suggest a new topping, say Pineapple. The restaurant does not have Pinneapple, but makes note of it. As it turns out, when talking to other patrons, Pinneapple is an ingredient that is more popular than they thought. Within a week, the restaurant not only adds the ingredient to the menu, but offer a special rate of a pre-made pizza that has Pinneapple as a topping.
Relationships with people generate value
Wim Rampen wrote a great post on this topic a few weeks ago, along with some great dialog and conversation after the post. My favorite theme is that Customers (People) do not value a relationship with a company, rather the outcomes that can be generated by such a relationship. The one addition I make here is that it may be not only customers, but potential customers, influencers, partners and communities (groups of people). Strong, value driven relationships are crucial components for the fuel that drives a Social Business.
Communities are a critical component
So, if I say that people are the fuel, then communities are increasing the Octane content. This is very well stated by friend Michael Krigsman, in his post Social CRM and enterprise business:
“Social CRM recognizes that current technologies enable customers spontaneously to form large, ad hoc interest groups at remarkable, sometimes even viral, speed”.
Esteban Kolsky commented here that these “impromptu communities” are going to help “advance social CRM faster by not worrying about the channels (Facebook, Twitter, Forums) and focus on the behaviors and data.” I will extend Esteban’s comments and say this is beyond Social CRM, but will help fuel the value derived by all members of the ecosystem for any particular Social Business.
People have experiences, and they matter
There are many factors which drive experience. I am not going to call it customer experience, as the Social Business it needs to go beyond the customer. Customer Experience Management is nearly an entire discipline, one that I try to be well read, but tepid to weigh in strongly on. I will speak more from a logical viewpoint, people enjoy (or not) an experience on a relative scale. The scale is based upon their expectations. Esteban recently wrote a post, where we did not comment enough, so we did not meet his expectations. I am not a customer of Esteban, but we work in the same ecosystem. I am using this to simply illustrate the point that experience within a Social Business happens many many ways, beyond just product and service. By the way, he wrote a second post, just about expectations (I took the bait there). ‘Meeting’ or ‘Exceeding’ is an interesting conversation, for my purposes here, there is a bar, you need to get over it. Where the bar is placed changes, and ‘it depends’.
Are people a new kind of fuel?
No, of course not, just one we have not been leveraging very well. Why, because people are passionate, if they are not, they want to be, and we want them to be passionate. John Hagel wrote a nice post “Shifting Identities – From Consumer to Network Creator“. It is a post worth reading for sure. Again, the title sounds a bit complex, but it is not really. The post talks about many things, the last part focuses on the mounting pressures at work. Unfortunately, not many employees are passionate, this will become a problem for Social Businesses. As a business, you will need to encourage employees to find passion, otherwise people will struggle to cope with the pressures.. By the integration of personal and professional lives people will be able to become passionate and passion shines through.
We are Social, we are people and when we all truly recognize that, we will be able to realize a Social Business. Is this a change in business culture, probably…your thoughts?