Mark Yohai from Avectra led the discussion by starting off with the premise that the first social network was a chamber of commerce created in 1768. It’s the social collaboration that is important – not necessarily the specific tools.
Things to cover in session:
- What is social business and why customers need it?
- What are key requirements for social business software?
- Vertical opportunities: associations and non-profits
Mark shared a quote from Gartner Group:
“There is one absolute about social CRM: it will be mandatory – not optional – for the majority of organizations”
He underlined this point with a slide showing the projected growth of Social for the next few years. As you might imagine, it was a set of bars growing from small to very large with a swooping arrow above the bars showing crazy fast growth.
The key to social business: people are talking. Are you listening? Engaging? Acting on these discussions?
McKinsey research has shown companies using social business solutions gain greater market share and higher margins. I believe the article in question can be found here if you are so inclined.
Mark shared some specific examples of adoption. The businesses that he spoke about were so large that, to me, they didn’t really apply to my customer base or my situation. I’m sure the IBM’s of the world are effectively doing these things but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to be great for me or my clients.
In the audience, Kevin Cumley from Forepoint spoke up and made this point and tried to get clarification on how it applied to the typical firm in the room. Answered: clarification will come later.
Mark discussed common complaint: my prospects don’t use social networks. He countered this with a slide that discussed how strong and prevalent social networking is. I’m not sure that addressed the point but it’s a given that social networks are growing.
He continued on discussing public vs private networks. For public networks, he made the case:
- Purpose – they make money
- Branding – their brand
- Content – they own
- Network – they own data
- User Experience – they control
And for private networks, you own and control all of the above.
So – do you go with only the private network? He stressed that you use both to ensure maximum value for customers and your organization.
Moving the conversation along, he asked what do we do with this social data? He discussed monitoring, tracking and even grading the particular customer or individual’s interactions with your organization. When the activity falls below a certain threshold, give them a call. When the activity is above a certain level – showing that they are extremely engaged, give them acknowledgement (a plaque, thanks, a gift card, whatever).
At this point, I’m pretty much checking out of this conversation. Mark did a great job presenting the information so it’s no fault of his. He seems to really know his stuff and makes a convincing argument for it.
For me, it just seems so far away from the practical needs of my company and my customers and I can’t see how to apply it.
I agree that this is important stuff for the near-term future and even right now for a small constituency. Your mileage may vary.
(BTW – I think I’m checking out at the right time as he is starting to go into particulars that apply closely to Avectra and their target industries.)