The rush for business organizations to establish, grow, and adopt social was driven out of necessity and inevitability. The result, however, was a sudden, booming social presence creating touch points with customers, partners and influencers, but without any corporate social organization or structure in place to effectively manage it.
Even today, many business leaders remain uncertain as to how to corral this social media thing so that it makes sense for their enterprise.
Imagine their panic when they hear one of the most beneficial approaches to corporate use of social involves giving up at least some hierarchical control and empowering employees to publicly engage customers. And beyond that, they should also be empowered, regardless of their corporate status, to engage and collaborate internally, spurring “off the grid” innovation.
An HBR blog points out that traditionally, enterprise organizations function from the top down, and employees work end-to-end, structured around business processes. But the social enterprise opens up structures that up to now have not exactly been embraced by turf-protecting executives and managers. The blog asks, “What if leaders could create a future where customers, associates and suppliers are no longer seen as objects in the system but as valued sources of innovation, ideas and energy?”
What if indeed? The social enterprise activates internal resources without the usual obsession with position. It is the dawn of mass collaboration.
That does not, however, mean this mass collaboration has to lead to uncontrolled chaos. In an extended interview with Oracle, Altimeter Group analyst Jeremiah Owyang and Oracle SVP Reggie Bradford paint a complete picture of today’s social enterprise, including internal organizational structures Altimeter Group has seen emerge.
One sign of a mature social enterprise is the establishing of a social Center of Excellence (CoE), which serves as a hub for high-level social strategy, training and education, research, measurement and accountability, and vendor selection. This CoE is led by a corporate Social Strategist, most likely from a Marketing or Corporate Communications background.
Reporting to them are the Community Managers, the front lines of customer interaction and engagement; business unit liaisons that coordinate the enterprise; and social media campaign/product managers, social analysts, and developers. With content rising as the defining factor for social success, Altimeter also sees a Content Strategist position emerging.
Across the enterprise, Altimeter has seen 5 organizational patterns. Watching the video will give you the pros and cons of each.
Decentralized - Anyone can do anything at any time on any social channel.
Centralized – One central groups controls all social communication for the company.
Hub and Spoke – A centralized group, but business units can operate their own social under the hub’s guidance and execution. Most enterprises are using this model.
Dandelion – Each business unit develops their own social strategy & staff, has its own ability to deploy, and its own ability to engage under the central policies of the CoE.
Honeycomb – Every employee can do social, but as opposed to the decentralized model, it’s coordinated and monitored on one platform.
The average enterprise has a whopping 178 social accounts, nearly ¼ of which are usually semi-idle and need to be scrapped. The last thing any C-suite needs is to cope with fragmented technologies, solutions and platforms. It’s neither scalable nor strategic.
The prepared, effective social enterprise has a technology partner that can quickly and holistically integrate emerging platforms and technologies, such that whatever internal social command structure you’ve set up can continue efficiently executing strategy without skipping a beat.