Attributes of a Socially Optimized Business

Once again, I had the great pleasure to work with my colleagues on an XPLANATiON with our Social Business Council members.  We interviewed a core group of our members to identify the attributes that comprise the whole of the socially optimized business.  I think you will agree, the results are fabulous.

Where are you on the course from Start to Social?

Special thanks go out to members @briantullis, @jimworth, @kendomen, @kimberlymahan, @kristenritter, @seanwinter, @dpontefract, @bricejewell, @robcaldera, and Joachim Stroh.

I, For One, Welcome our New Social Data Overlords

Historically, the trouble I’ve always had with social media was the precision deficit surrounding the interpretation of its influence.  It always seemed to me that if you could get, say, Chris Brogan to talk about anything, you were successful with social media.  Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, and social media has really never been my area of expertise in the spectrum of all social business.  Readers of this blog know I focus more on the internal enterprise side of social business.  Because, well, it is more rational maybe?  See my coverage of my first SXSW Interactive.


Before I got back into the technology sector in the 90s, I spent a solid few years in the Advertising business.  And not digital or online advertising (it didn’t exist yet). In the real Advertising (TV/Broadcast/Print) world. (With a capital A.)  Think of it as Mad Men for Yuppies (late 80s).  I entered the ad world as an Account Executive on the IBM account. The agency I joined, LGFE, was a boutique outfit, a part of JWT.  We had 100% of the IBM business.  In 1980 dollars, we had a $160M annual media budget for IBM and it comprised the lion’s share of the agency’s billings.  The agency was best known for two things: 1. its launch of the IBM PC and 2. its famous Executive “breakaway” which literally made Advertising history.  But those are great stories for another day.  Like most LGFE employees after the breakaway, I skedaddled my way down Madison Avenue to a new position with Ogilvy & Mather where I helped teach our Creatives about the Unix operating system.  Again, great stories for another day, another blog.  I just wanted to establish a little Mad Street Cred before I get to the heart of this post.

When I think about the burgeoning world of social media, I compare its trends and “findings” with what we were doing 30 years ago in Advertising. Even back then, for all the hoopla, big expense accounts, private limos, and 5-star hotels, Advertising was pretty serious stuff.  It was all about the numbers. (We all thanked the technology gods for Lotus 1-2-3.)  Campaigns that strove to cultivate an emotional connection to a brand were paid for by executives who wanted to see stone cold returns on their investment.  And, I’m going way out on a limb here, after 30 years I’m pretty sure that hasn’t changed.  In fact, the pressure to deliver results from media spend is probably more fierce than ever considering the fracturing of a traditional media landscape that was fairly easy to manipulate in the old days before the Internet and mobile technology.

So fast forward to 2011. No, 2010.  Erik Huddleston joined Dachis Group as CTO. When Erik first arrived, I wasn’t sure what he was going to do.  Get our wifi working in the office or something.  But, the next thing I knew, Erik was presenting at Defrag, whaaa? and young men in black tee shirts that said, “Hadoop” started skulking around the office.   I finally got briefed on what this little dream team was working on buried away in remote locations around the world, and I was kinda blown away.

A beginning step in that effort is announced today for public consumption.  Erik’s team has built a platform that crunches hundreds of millions of data points in near real time to deliver a view on how social a given company is –  how they compare to their industry, their competitors – broken down as best in class by company, subsidiary, geography, department and brand. Culling from APIs, data buys, data partnerships, page scrapes, crowd-sourced data, company contributions, and our own internal data team, we now offer the Social Business Index (SBI) to anyone who wants to get a view into how your company’s brand is performing on the social web.  Over 100 leading companies participated in the early access program to get the data refined and help develop useful insights for its use.  The SBI offers insights for 26,000 brands from over 20,000 companies by analyzing over 100 million social accounts world wide, and hundreds of millions of other sources.

Again, the SBI is simply a lightweight lens on a massive platform that is compiling ground-breaking social data analytics and analysis.  The SBI is free for the companies covered and anyone can sign up to see how your brand is doing at

This first effort is just a taste of what is coming.  Big data will yield something that has been inconveniently missing in marketing on a large scale: evidence-based marketing with business outcomes correlated to measurable metrics. Internet marketers have done a great job with what’s known as performance marketing, but with the advent of big data, marketing spend can be targeted with much greater precision and brands can engage meaningfully in near real time. In fact, interactive advertising has finally matched broadcast TV spend.  Forrester recently reported that, “By 2016, advertisers will spend $77 billion on interactive marketing – as much as they do on television today.”

This post is a departure from what I typically cover regarding the Enterprise 2.0 sector, but I’m extremely excited about this work.  On the road map is deep analysis into workforce/partner/supplier engagement, so the relevance for the enterprise is huge.  Even having this type of brand intelligence will impact internal operations in many ways.  Agile companies who can react quickly, will be competitive winners in their categories.

If Dachis Group is known only for its BSD (Big Social Data), then I am totally cool with that.  Being first to market with real ROI on social is sweet, and will go far to relegate the buzzfest of social media 1.0 to the history books.


Social Means Business

I just read Kate’s post on today’s announcement about Dachis Group acquiring Powered.  I had to chuckle, because those of us in that “alternate universe, E20” used to think the same about the social media space.  In fact, I joked to Peter Kim this year at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, “How does it feel not to be a celebrity?”  I feel the same way at SXSWi.  (Truth is, I didn’t even go last year.)

But, Kate is correct, the world is changing and fast.  Every day one of our Council members, who’ve historically come from an E20 orientation – what we at Dachis Group refer to as “Workforce Collaboration” –  is being asked to help out with the enterprise social strategy whether that means social media initiatives, connecting to suppliers, or partners.  Some of our members have relocated entirely out of IT and into Marketing (who wouldda thunk?).  And it’s not just IT and Marketing driving these initiatives, either.  Social is touching every business unit in the organization.

I caution all our members to keep their eye on the bigger picture.  The Council is expanding to embrace all facets of social business.  Going forward, it will not be possible to separate where social media initiatives begin and e20 ends.  And, every customer will tell you they rarely use any jargon when they’re presenting business cases to their executives.  The language they use is rooted in the benefits of social collaboration, not the features.  This is typically different for every company too, and becoming more and more strategic.

This next phase of the evolution of the social business market is about integration.  Social Integration of people, process, and technology.  Integration of Work, Society, and Technology.  Integration of the past with the future.  It’s all good, and it’s why I’m particularly thrilled to be a part of a company executing with precision on that vision.

Chatter: From Both Sides Now

The gala event, Dreamforce,  isn’t really my gig. The Enterprise Irregulars know “up and down and sideways” everything related to Cloud-computing. One of our EIs, Anshu Sharma, was a key architect  of Salesforce’s offering announced last week.   In short, I spare everyone my uninformed opinion on most things Cloud-computing related for which I’m certain my EI pals and everyone else is grateful. But, because I’m an Enterprise Irregular blogger, I guess, I was invited to attend Dreamforce this year.  And even though I’m not really clued into Salesforce (the company), I accepted the invite because I wanted to see for myself – eyes and ears on the ground – what Chatter was all about and how it would fit into the social business landscape.

The good news on Chatter

The good news on Chatter is more about than it is about Chatter the social tool. Like I said last year, having Benioff move front and center to embrace the social revolution is like a dream come true.   This sector needs a Benioff.   Grafting on JP Rangaswami to the SFDC social story was pretty slick as well. It occurred to me at Dreamforce that an item that has been conspicuously absent in the internal social-collaboration space (heretofore  called Enterprise 2.0) has been high quality marketing with great creative and real reach beyond the echo chamber we’ve been nestled in for the past four years.   So, the combination of Benioff who’s somewhat larger than life in real life and agency-designed creative is a huge plus to our sector.  Score one for professional marketing, awareness building, promotion, and tech rockstar iconoclasts. Related is the nature of Salesforce’s corporate culture. Again, I admit ignorance writing about a company I don’t know very well, but there is a detectable undercurrent of raw ambition that seems to drive the company ethos. It’s also a winner-takes-all, scrappy underdog vibe that is easy to spot from Benioff’s jabs at old skool enterprise vendors and thinking, to the high energy vibe on the floor of the Cloud Expo exhibit hall emanating from Salesforce employees and partners. Score two for raw ambition and high energy.  To make a distinction, Salesforce strikes me as the perfect blend of raw ambition without hubris. That’s tough to achieve in a competitive market, but that’s how I see it.  From a company whose primary customer is sales people, it kinda makes sense.   The remaining plus in Salesforce’s corner is its deep technology prowess and its playa status in the broader tech market due in some part to its status as a public company with revenues over $1B.  It’s unlikely to me that Chatter will face any technical obstacle it can’t solve or any partner who’ll reject its overtures. So, score three for technology wunderkind with deep pockets.

The bad news on Chatter

Even though it was announced last year at Dreamforce, Chatter is late to the party.  In the Council, we have hundreds (yes, hundreds) of the largest enterprises in the world already engaged in a social business initiative.   Granted, Dreamforce, is like a “revival” (h/t Dennis Howlett) for Salesforce customers and its ecosystem, so there was a lot of giddiness surrounding Chatter and its game-changing energy.   I found myself commenting to my blogger friends, I felt like I was surrounded in a sea of n00bs who just discovered social.  That’s actually not bad news, but it is bad news if the legions of non-converted enterprise employees flock to social via SFDC and cause a disruptive wrinkle (and endless analysis paralysis) in the strategic plan that’s already underway on another platform.  In truth, most of our members are not zealots for their platform (well, some are), but most of them simply want to deliver the best social collaboration platform for the company.  When we first started discussing the Chatter phenomenon, most of our members said something similar to this,

“I am a little worried about it “cannibalizing” some of what we are trying to do.”

Remember, the Council represents a small minority of all organizations on the planet who will eventually move to social platforms.  But, they happen to be some of the furthest along and most advanced.  One of our members summed up a good response after it was all said and done,

“I just got off the phone with Salesforce, followed by a conversation with our internal team that manages it. We will “turn it on” for current Salesforce users only. It will not be positioned for or compete with our enterprise solution. In doing so, we get data on how many Sales folks choose the “Hide Chatter” button, and if by some chance it does take off wildly, that becomes a good problem to solve later next year, and we can look at a much bigger play…”

So, net net Chatter arriving on the scene is probably a good thing for our sector.  I personally am counting on those ambitious SFDC n00bs to spread the word far and wide to the unconverted.  The faster social becomes a phenomenon in the Enterprise, the sooner we get to the promised land.

Mama Weer All Crazee-Social Now!

Indeed, a Quiet Riot is percolating in the heretofore boring ERP sector.  I spotted Josh Greenbaum‘s post on “Enterprise Relationship Planning” this afternoon.  In the Council, we have dredged up a 90s label– The Extended Enterprise— to categorize discussions about how our members are architecting their socio-collaborative initiatives to span partners in their supplier, distributor, and delivery chains.  Included here is the massive momentum around Social CRM that is touching the customer in personal ways as well and reinventing what it means to be proactive and responsive to existing and potential buyers.  One of our largest members recently  made a platform selection choice based nearly exclusively on the chosen vendor’s ability to bridge to external collaborators while retaining the ability to keep the conversation secure behind the firewall.  All of our members are somewhere in the adoption phase of evaluating these options.  The confluence of all SaaS and enterprise legacy systems and social is coming… It’s not if, it’s when.

The unique thread that links the revitalization of  all these mechanical, cumbersome, process-driven software “systems” is people.  People with intelligence, with tacit knowledge, with “exceptions” expertise.  We had a fantastic Council guru Q&A last week with Socialtext’s Ross Mayfield.  Socialtext cites a whopping statistic that turns traditional ERP on its head, “An estimated 60 to 80% of an organization’s work is ‘exception’ oriented.”  Squeezing the life (variability) out of a process is passe and will be replaced or supplementing with social data to improve its effectiveness, not detract from it.  This is a revolutionary idea.

This sentiment is expressed by one of our members, Todd Weidman,  who was discussing the rigidity of the Six Sigma process:

“In my experience in financial services, it’s used as a framework to eliminate as much process variation as possible. The processes become repeatable, follow a strict pattern, and ideally you reduce the cost of any transaction (and make it predictable, standard, and outsourcable). That’s fine if your building something to spec (manufacturing), but in any service-based industry, client needs demand many different types of solutions – think financial planning – there may be a number of different inputs for a customized solution. That, of course, requires collaboration between participants.”

Indeed, the future is about relationships.  And relationships are about people, not stuff.

Enterprise 2.0 Demystified

Novell hired me to do a short webinar explaining the chronology of Enterprise 2.0 and some of the key challenges in embracing it. I created this presentation which has a visual I am continuing to refine that explains e20 relative to the social memes. I created this presentation before the meme wars began this week. Enterprise 2.0 still works to define the business of enterprise transformation for the folks who are currently committing talent and investment to transforming large organizations.

In my experience the word “social” has always presented problems in the enterprise. Management exposed to the philosophies of 2.0 thinking, aren’t keen to encourage socializing in the enterprise, but are very willing to improve working. I saw a similar post by Chris Yeh on this theme. Also, we had a good chat internally in the Council about the meme wars, and members expressed their frustration in a wholesale change to the labeling of the sector. It will cause practical disruption and well as introduce confusion at a time when many in the organization were just starting to “get it.”

Many readers of this blog will be receiving an invite to our 2.0 Adoption Community that is still scheduled to launch tomorrow. I hope we can continue this discussion there with an eye toward improving the experience for the most valuable players in this conversation: the customers who are valiantly trying to get this done.