Do you have a problem with social in your enterprise? You may be the problem.
There’s every reason to want to be a social enterprise, whose data universe, innovative powers and collaborative capacity extends beyond its organizational borders and channels. And a lot of companies are paying lip service to exactly that, with significant adoption of social media and connected enterprise platforms. But scratch the surface and you’ll find fatal flaws in the value proposition of the social business as practiced by many organizations.
First, let’s examine the rate and type of adoption. Nearly nine in 10 US companies with 100 employees or more will use social media for marketing in the coming year. Millennials are embracing social like no other group, and more enthusiastically than any other digital channel, across device platforms.
When it gets to that point, a trend takes on a life of its own. With the hyper-social and -connected millennial generation starting to dominate the workforce, the inevitable consequence will be the digitization and “socialization” of the enterprise. This, in turn, makes it entirely feasible that social will soon completely redefine customer value, becoming the dominant means of talent acquisition, customer research and customer service.
But while adoption is impressive in some quarters, many organizations are drastically underserved by their levels of investment, as they continue to struggle with basic capabilities. Case in point: while huge volumes of social data are being collected by companies, just 40% are using it to improve their bottom line. That means 60% are challenged to find actionable use for data collected!
That is a waste and a serious problem. If organizations are not fully equipped to operationalize social across the business, they’re doing it wrong. And being unprepared in the ways and wiles of social can cause swift brand and reputation damage, not to mention create a disenchanted workforce that won’t work for an organization that doesn’t get it.
I don’t think we need to think too hard about why this is happening. It’s no secret that leadership echelons are notoriously slow in their adoption of social channels. At any rate, if an organization is responding to an epochal technology wave in half-hearted fashion (by not making use of social data, for example), it is obviously a problem of leadership.
The CEO may make every appearance of recognizing the disruptive potential and opportunity of social, but is the digital and social agenda being driven as hard as it can be?
Signs that it isn’t include sluggish productivity. Are there more meetings than there need to be? Are they longer than they need to be? Is email a problem to get through during working hours?
Signs that it is include fundamental performance review overhauls, favoring task- and outcome-based appraisals over annual reviews. Are employees frequently reminded to drop busy work and email? Are they incentivized to use the multiple channels and tools available to them to cut out unproductive time in favor of ensuring outcomes?
It’s a very busy workplace out there. Do we really need to email, see, hear and touch people to get their input or contribution, or does it stand in the way of achieving results?
Of course not all organizations are ready for radical change. Too often we hear “the technology isn’t there yet”, or “people aren’t taking to the enterprise social platform”, as if that is its own justification. We hear “nobody’s doing any work while they’re on Facebook”, and “nobody wants to get social with their colleagues or our partners about work”. Those may sound like irrefutable objections to social, but only if you recognize them as such. Thinking constructively about how we can make great technology with great potential stick is in fact a much more appropriate response.
All these millennials coming into the organization and changing it in their image can’t be wrong (even if they are). Think about it: The technology will evolve further. Millennials will get older and take over the organization, and adoption will spread beyond them. As companies integrate social data into their analytics and race ahead, you will be left behind. Those are givens.
What needs to happen now is creating the sort of social enterprises that employees will be inspired to leverage to the full in their jobs, and then to drive adoption hard.
As a first phase, organizations need to become dyed-in-the-wool-digital in their customer interactions. If you can focus on digitization of customer channels and a seamless omni-channel experience of dealing with the organization, you’ve attacked the bulk of the problem.
Secondly, once digital has become entrenched in the organization’s customer-facing personality and the digital quotient of its people, some backend digitalization of corporate processes needs to take place, to create technology-based value from analytics and other opportunities.
And once that is achieved, the digital organization can fully leverage social channels like open collaboration, wikis, blogs and, yes — social media. But how do you encourage adoption?
In my experience, performance-based metrics generally drive adoption best, with gamified rewards and other incentives for social contributions, as opposed to mere participation. Find a collaborative metric that makes sense for your workforce and business strategies.
There are any number of tactics, but in the end they can only work if they’re right for the company, fresh and inspiring, and the leadership of the company are themselves up to their elbows in social.
How millennial is your organization’s leadership?