How to Tell If You’re Just Dabbling with Digital

Digital transformation is hot — in a new Altimeter Report, “The State of Digital Transformation”, we found that 88% of organizations we surveyed said that they were undergoing a formal digital transformation effort, which Altimeter defines as “the re-alignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital consumers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.”

But the research found that only 25% had mapped their out the customer journey, while another 12% were in the process of a mapping effort and were awaiting results. What was striking was that 42% of respondents said that while they were not officially researching the digital customer journey they had made efforts to update those digital touch points with new social and mobile investments and initiatives.

This means that while many organizations believe they are making progress to be more focused on the digital customer, I fear they are merely dabbling in their efforts and not truly undergoing a transformation. One organization I worked with had very advanced social and mobile initiatives and applications — but these two teams operated in silos (marketing and digital, respectively), rarely interacted or coordinated, and competed frequently for limited resources — both investments and people. Without a common understanding of the customer journey and alignment on how the organization would develop digital touch points, such conflict and inconsistency is inevitable.

One other statistic serves as evidence that organizations aren’t truly underling transformation — 59% of respondents felt that one of the biggest challenges to digital transformation was “thinking beyond a ‘campaign mentality’ in digital strategy efforts”. If you are jumping from campaign to campaign, your customers will feel it — you aren’t trying to develop a relationship with them, you just want to sell more stuff them.

There are three ways you can use the data from the report to benchmark your digital transformation efforts — and demonstrate to your organization the need to reconsider whether you are truly transforming or just moving chairs on the deck of a ship that’s adrift in the digital seas.

  1. Have you mapped the digital journey of your customers? With data? Until you have this in place, you can’t really align your organization around the journey.
  2. Does your leadership have a plan to address cultural issues that arise with digital transformation? True transformation is hard, painful, and challenges the status quo of organizations. Our research found that people are at the core of the transformation, not technology. Do you have a digital Center of Excellence that coordinates all of your digital efforts (social, mobile, digital marketing, etc.) and also an executive committee in place that has governance in place to identify and resolve these inevitable conflicts? You’ll need these structures in place to guide the organization through these tumultuous waters.
  3. How widespread is digital engagement amongst employees? A surefire way to tell where you are in your transformation journey is how many employees are able to engage with customers. Is it just a few select people in marketing, communications, and customer service? Or are all employees trained and empowered to engage? That second requires a clear understand of how widespread employee engagement with customers is beneficial to both the customer and the organization. It also requires guidelines, training, and ongoing monitoring and education — as well as a change in mindset from authoritarian, hierarchical control to a more open leadership style and approach.

If you don’t have satisfactory answers to the three questions above, then you have to ask yourself if your organization is truly committed to digital transformation or if it’s merely waving the flag. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of advanced with a social presence or mobile application — dig deeper and honestly ask yourself if the organization is transforming or just dabbling. If the first step to change is awareness, then it’s time to make sure that you understand where you stand.

Want to learn more? Join Brian Solis, the author of the report, for a webinar on the report findings on September 17, 2014.

Below is a preview of the report. The full report is available for free download as well.

Infographic: State of Social Business 2013 and Outlook for 2014

Living 2013This past year has been a busy one for me and Brian Solis on the research front. We’ve published the following:

Brian and I recently introduced an infographic that summarizes high level findings across all of our work in 2013 (scroll down to see it below). And the key finding is that while organizers are making significant headway in terms of building out their social efforts, they are far from realizing real business value.

My outook for 2014 is that many more organizations will overcome the stigma of “social” and seek ways to articulate connections with customers and employees into their business. In just the last half of the year, we’ve worked with several organizations that are doing the hard work of connecting their social efforts to business value — it sounds easy to connect the dots but actually building the organization, governance, and process to do this will be most of the focus in 2014.

It isn’t glamorous. It doesn’t have the appeal of new consumer bright shiny objects or excite of a tech IPO. But this is where the real value will be created, real benefits will be built. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, a bit of gut-wrenching leaps of faith as employees and customers are empowered, but hopefully in a year we’ll have seen key numbers like the percent of companies associating social with business value increase from today.

Highlights from the State of Social Business Infographic

Companies are organizing and formalizing social media strategies into social business strategies…

  • 78% of companies have a dedicated social media team. This is up from 67% two years ago.
  • Social media teams have grown from 11 people in 2010 to almost 16 in 2013.

Social business strategies are spreading across the enterprise…

  • Social media headcount across the enterprise has more than doubled at the largest companies from 20 in 2010 to 49 in 2012.
  • According to our research, there are 13 different departments across the enterprise with at least one person dedicated to social media.
  • The majority of resources are allocated to marketing at 73%, but as you can see, social media covers almost every major function. Now, whether or not social media is organized and integrated, well, we know that it’s not really.

Marketing = 73%
Corporate communications = 66%
Customer support = 40%
Digital = 37%
Social media = 35%
HR = 29%
Product/R&D = 16%
Advertising = 16%
Customer/User experience = 15%
IT = 14%
Legal = 9%

Companies are trying social business to positive business outcomes…

  • About 50% of companies say social business has improved marketing optimization, customer experience and brand health.
  • Nearly one in four have actually seen an increase in revenue.

Companies though have a long way to go…

  • Many social business programs lack a strong foundation.
  • Only 17% of companies identify their social strategy as mature.
  • 52% of companies say that executives are aligned with the overall social strategy.
  • Just 26% of companies approach social media holistically (operating against a cross-enterprise level strategy.)

To succeed, build a foundation for social business…

  1. Benchmark you program with Altimeter’s Social Business reports (see below…underneath the infographic).
  2. Document existing challenges and opportunities to address in 2014 and 2015 (we don’t move as fast as we’d like).
  3. Align all social business efforts with business objectives and priorities.


New Book: The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy

I’m very proud to announce the publication of an eBook that I co-authored with Brian Solis, entitled “The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy“.

Based on research as well as real-world experience with our clients, Brian and I found that there are common characteristics of successful social business strategies, the most important one being a laser focus on achieving business goals. In fact, the most successful businesses are those with an executive who can articulate the vision and strategy roadmap almost as well as the social strategist.

Here’s a summary of the Seven Success Factors of Social Business:

1.  Define the overall business goals. You can’t align your social strategy with your business objectives if you don’t even know what your objectives are.

2. Establish the long-term vision. If you’re not striving toward the end goal, you’re likely to veer off the path. If you want your team to fully invest in your social strategy — and you need the support of your entire team– you’ll need to communicate your vision with clarity and passion.

3. Ensure executive support. In the early days you may be able to fly under the radar, but at some point, if you want to truly have an impact on the business, you’ll need the backing and support of key executives.

4. Define the strategy roadmap. You already know your business objectives and have a clear vision. But how are you going to get there? Plan out your route, what roads you’ll travel, and what roads you’ll avoid.

5. Establish governance and guidelines. Who is responsible for executing the social strategy? What’s your process of listening and responding to your customers? If you clearly define this process and then stick to it, you’ll spend less tie floating along throughout the social sphere and more time strategizing your social growth.

6. Secure staff, resources, and funding. In the early stages of social growth, you might outsource your social media campaign to an agency, and that’s fine. But you should also be looking down the road and planning to develop internal resources to take your company to the next level as your social prowess — and your business — grows.

7. Invest in technology platforms that evolve. Resist the temptation to jump on the latest technology bandwagon before you have a long-term strategic plan in place. Hold off on making significant technology investments until you’re equipped with a sound vision and strategic plan.

The organizations we studied didn’t necessarily have each of these success factors fully developed; rather, we found that it was much more important that each factor was aligned with immediate and long-term business goals.

So ask yourself — how robust is your social strategy? As you look at each of the elements above, consider how well you are doing in each area. Score your social strategy on each factor on a scale of 1 (not doing it well at all) to 5 (knocking it out of the park). In the spirit of open discussion, I’d love hear how you scored yourself — where your strategy is strong, where you need to improve.

In the book, we go into detail about how to approach each success factor, illustrating the key elements with best practices and exercises, as well as common mistakes to avoid. One of my favorite sections is how to convince and even rally decision makers at the executive level. Brian and I also designed the book to be a quick but useful read — at only 100 pages it’s something that you can give to your team and executives and reasonable expect that they will actually read it!

Our hope is that the book will help you move from having a pile of social media tactics to having a social business strategy around which your entire organization is aligned. And if you need additional help crafting that strategy, Altimeter can also help with our Social Business Strategy service offerings.

More information and additional resources:

Upcoming Webinar: Thursday, August 15th 10am PT/1pm ET. Registration and details.

 

Why Most Social Strategies Fail

When I ask people what their social business strategy looks like, I usually get the following response, ”Oh yeah, we’re on Facebook.” The conversation continues apace:

- Twitter account…check.
- YouTube videos….yup.
- People who seem to know what they doing with those accounts…kinda.
- Metrics….Likes.

But that isn’t a strategy – it’s a series of tactics. Having a Facebook page is like having a telephone — it’s a tool that needs a purpose. What you DO with Facebook to meet customer expectations and attain business goals lies at the center of a coherent social business strategy.

My colleague Brian Solis and I are in the midst of conducting research on what makes a good social business strategy and a key finding is that as companies evolve their social initiatives, the efforts get disconnected from business goals. So while the company grows in its social media efforts, strategic focus, with a clear goal in mind, falls to the wayside.

This isn’t about waiting until companies have reached a stage of “maturity” before they are deemed to be successful. Rather, we found companies thriving at every stage of social strategy evolution. The key is coherence, where the business goals, executive support, social business capabilities, and the value created by both internal and external social initiatives all work together in harmony.

Here’s an example: one company we spoke with focuses most of their social efforts on developing their Facebook presence. The company rarely replies or engages with people who post on their page. On the surface, you might dismiss this company as not “getting” social media because they don’t actively engage in a two-way dialog.

But in so many ways, their strategy is far more coherent than companies that blindly engage for the sake of engagement. That’s because they are very clear about the purpose of their Facebook presence, which is to showcase the personality of the company. While they enjoy having millions of fans, the key business metric they track is reputation, which is used across all aspects of the business. On a daily basis, they ask their Facebook fans, as well as people in other channels, how they are doing on delivering their products, and if they are doing so in an environmentally sustainable way. They can then compare which channels are effective at driving their goal of improving reputation.

So how can you tell if your social business strategy is successful or failing? One way is to look across the elements of your social strategy and see if they align with each other in such a way that supports clear business goals. Are your capabilities in line with what you are trying to achieve, or have you bitten off too much and are not realizing the full potential of your efforts? Do you have the organizational governance in place to allow disparate business units to align their social efforts against a common enterprise goals, or is each line of business pulling in separate directions?

Another way to gauge where you are with your social business strategy is to take Altimeter’s Social Business Strategy Survey at http://svy.mk/QkcYRH. The aggregated results will appear in an upcoming report, and as a thank you for sharing, you’ll receive a data cut that you can use to benchmark your company against other organizations of the same size. You will receive this benchmark data after the research report is published.

The survey looks at the following topics:

  • Strategy: What are common goals and objectives? How do you measure the value of your social business efforts?
  • Organization: How are your social business efforts organized? How many people are dedicated to social business?
  • Budget: How much are you spending on external and internal social business efforts? What are you planning to spend on technologies and services in 2013?
  • Social Media Policies: What policies do you have in place? How well do employees understand those policies?

Please note that we plan to end the survey in the next week or so, so please take it as soon as possible! Also, please forward to others who may be interested or share with your social networks. Link: svy.mk/QkcYRH.

Lastly, please share why you think your social business strategy is successful — or on the flip side, what is dysfunctional about it. We’d all love to learn from your experiences!

Book review: The End Of Business As Usual by Brian Solis

My colleague Brian Solis has just published his latest book, “The End Of Business As Usual: Rewire The Way You Work To Succeed“. I was so excited to finally hold the book in my hands, especially after months of having talked and worked with Brian about the ideas in the book.

This is not a book about how to use social media. Read Brian’s last book, “Engage” as it’s an excellent primer with detailed how-tos. Rather, “End of Business” seeks to explain to executives and leaders who aren’t engaged in social media how connected customers are transforming business as we know it.

Written from the point of view of the connected consumer, the first half of the book looks at phenomenons ranging from the evolution of social networks into personal operating systems to the rise of social commerce. If you read Brian’s blog, you’ll recognize Brian’s fingerprints all over these chapters — rich examples, clear explanations, and always a sense that Brian is at your side as a trusted guide.

But I found the most valuable insights in the second half of the book where Brian becomes prescriptive about how businesses need to approach business differently. In particular, Brian makes the case that you must evolve your business to become “adaptive” to the connected consumer. He’s evolved his call to action from “Engage or Die!” to “Adapt of Die!”. I quote from the book on what is different today:

“The pivot of any business is not whether it can reach consumers, it’s the reality of whether consumers, especially connected customers, wish to connect with them now and over time.”

Brian lays out how a business needs to rewire for this new reality, one that turns away from being internally driven by a strategic plan to one that is guided by an entire organization centered on creating a magical customer experience — and importantly, customer relationship — with these connected consumers. Thus the hallmark of an adaptive business is that it will shift and evolve as an organization, from top to bottom, to be responsive to customers. The last three chapters resonated the most with me, as they layout the framework for an adaptive business, how to evolve your business to shift from rigid to adaptive, and the future evolution into predictive businesses.

You can read more about the book at endofbusiness.com. Other resources:

YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DZ9XAzwhlA

Brian’s post: http://www.briansolis.com/2011/10/announcing-the-end-of-business-as-usual-the-new-book-is-available-now/

Jeremiah Owyang’s post: http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2011/10/18/adapting-to-radical-changes-in-business