Is a truly connected enterprise a reality or a pipe dream? It’s the future — but is the future now? If we are not there yet, why aren’t we, and what is it going to take to get there? These are some of the questions tackled by invitees to Connected Enterprise 2011, which was put on by the Constellation Research Group last weekend. Drawing heavy-hitter participants from analyst and practitioner ranks, the CCE struck an enviable balance between big thoughts for the future and grounded assessments of today’s challenges. I’ll be sharing more in-depth nuggets over the coming weeks, but here are some main themes:
Social is not a silo; it’s part of everything we do
Soon enough we can hopefully move past the “social” monicker, and into accepting that social is part of every business and affects every functional area. The time has come to understand how these areas work together to transform the entire business, finding interdependencies to drive business results.
Marketing: Marketers are recognizing the power of the social consumer and are investing in social strategy and execution. However, even though CMOs are increasing spending (9% over the next 12 months, according to the Fuqua School of Business report), integration into the overall business strategy is still a proverbial Achilles Heel. The B2B marketing world is lagging behind as 74% of markets have not implemented a social media strategy, according to the “From the trenches” study by Penton as mentioned by Jeff Ashcroft.
Customer experience: Customer-centricity and customer experience was front and center in speeches by David Armano and Paul Greenberg. Armano articulated the 5 Cs of community — content, context, connectivity, continuity, collaboration – which have to be applied past social media and brought into your organizational design to become truly responsive and adaptive. Paul Greenberg noted that any organization that’s using social to connect with customers for PR purposes is leaving money on the table. To be truly effective at creating memorable customer experiences, you need to have the right culture and organizational process to mobilize and collaborate. Having a strong mission and vision will help engage your employees, customers and the rest of the ecosystem.
Technology. With the consumerization (and fragmentation) of IT trend afoot, IT officers are seeing challenges connecting business systems and fractured business data. It’s imperative to get systems to talk to each other, delivering business data across the organization in a timely manner to help respond, anticipate and innovate. CIOs are also challenged by the sheer volume of ” big data” and technical challenges that arise from scaling, growing data volumes, predictive modeling and shrinking analytics cycles. It’s not just data about external customers and markets that’s important — being able to run predictive analytics within your organization to map employee behaviors to business success is going to become more and more critical. Capgemini CTO Andy Mulholland noted that big data — and especially unstructured data — bring forward challenges around storage. Unsurprisingly, mobility and accessibility are key aspects that IT has to deliver, while also delivering security and scalability.
Human resources: Yvette Cameron smartly noted that the new breed of Chief Human Officers is needed to transition from policy enforcers and administrators to creating value in the organization. To be competitive in a fast-moving business world and deliver unforgettable customer experiences, it’s no longer enough to update processes and tools without the underlying business transformation. HR has a distinct challenge in cultivating the leaders of tomorrow, and is moving from a transactional outlook to strategic.
To be truly successful, social has to drive behaviors that deliver value and meet overall business objectives. Joe Robens, Constellation Protostar and Yammer customer noted that Yammer successfully connected employees who were disconnected from each other as a result of M&A activity. To gain enterprise-wide adoption, make social part of a workflow and use familiar conventions to create understanding, such as likening Yammer groups to rooms.
Be deliberate in organizational design
The Gabriel Institute is doing innovative work around role-based design to help build better and more cohesive teams. There are certain personality types that are better at facilitating collaboration, some that are better at starting conversations, some that are better at finding and disseminating information, some that are better at training and nurturing people, and some that are better at bringing innovation into the business. It’s important to consider an appropriate mix of personalities and value systems in order to form teams, sustain engagement and innovation and not go crazy in the process.
John Hagel, one of my favorite luminaries on the subject, spoke about the emergent paradigm of Pull. Because business is no longer predictable or stable as a result of rapid innovation, the system of Push — characterized by predictability and thus availability of resources — no longer works. The system of Pull, on the other hand, sets up your organization for success by helping you access the right resources at the right time, creating an entire resource ecosystem. Hagel addressed the role of passion and connectedness in designing these human systems, as they help people connect with resources and opportunities “at the edges” of their networks. Serendipity and discovery are a huge vision for us here at Yammer, as they encourage better flow of knowledge, which is oftentimes trapped in silos and people’s heads.
View employees as assets
Passion is not some esoteric, fluffy subject; its very real effect on building relationships and reaching business objectives should be studied and measured in order to stimulate behaviors that get you there. Hagel states that passionate people are unpredictable, which push-based organizations are typically afraid of. One organization called its passionate, creative employees “pizza people” – better suited to hole up in a room, where you pass a pizza box under a door, vs. representing the company in public. An organization ready for Pull knows how to leverage and develop its most passionate and creative employees.
The notion of an employee as the internal customer is coming to replace the view of employee as a replaceable cog. Companies need to invest in creating employee-centric organizations and developing its employees. Ultimately, it’s the passionate employees who will create high-culture organizations that are able to create memorable customer experiences.
Employee-centricity doesn’t just manifest itself in HR processes, onboarding and development. Because organizational design innovation has to be supported by technology, the “build it, they will come” attitude of IT doesn’t work anymore. Consumerization of IT is an undeniable trend that allows the personal and professional selves to merge, and for passion to bubble up.
Analyze, learn and predict
With the oodles of data available about everything, it’s important to move beyond measurement to true insights, understanding of patterns and predictive analytics. Because a connected business is first and foremost a business that has to perform, analytics must be tied to performance metrics. This means being disciplined about the data you collect and analyze, and what conclusions you are making with it. Data doesn’t speak for itself; it has to be applied to the right model.
In conclusion: Connecting and engaging critical business areas and tying them to larger, overarching business objectives is critical to success. It’s equally as important to create a thriving ecosystem of customers and suppliers. In the near future, there will be a conversion that necessitates the understanding of roles and dynamic models.
Photo credit: (cc) Kenneth Yeung - www.snapfoc.us