Monday Aug 13, 2012

Prioritizing Social Business Projects: Where Should You Start?

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Don’t miss our next session in the Oracle Social Business Thought Leader Webcast Series later this week on 08/16/2012: 6 Counterintuitive Best Practices for Social Collaboration Adoption featuring John Brunswick 


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As we begin a week looking at Social Collaboration, IDC Analyst, Michael Fauscette provides our first guest post.

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Prioritizing Social Business Projects: Where Should You Start?
Michael Fauscette, GVP, Software Business Solutions, IDC

Companies often ask me where they should start when considering applying social tools and processes to some part of the business. I wish I had a simple answer, but like many business issues, it’s a bit complex and depends on several factors. There are some common pitfalls though, that should be avoided when one starts to evaluate where to invest in social tools and in trying to bring about the subsequent change that must accompany any successful social business initiative.Michael Fauscette

It’s easy, for example, to jump immediately into some customer-facing social business activities, mostly because it seems obvious that it’s important. A lot of the initial use of social tools by businesses was tied to marketing, but that has changed quite a bit over the last three years. Customer-facing projects may very well be the highest priority for your business, but before starting any project there are some things that you need to sort out.

The second pitfall is to get so lost in all of the “cool” social tools, that you lose sight of what you’re trying to do. Believe me, I’m as nerdy as anyone and I love new software and technology in general, but the focus of social business is on changing business culture and behavior, not on new software tools. The technology is simply an enabler to make the change easier and more effective.

So, how do you build a social business strategy? First, you have to commit to doing just that — building a strategy based on what’s happening in your market and your business objectives. Many companies start using social tools in an unconscious way, as a grassroots effort. That’s not necessarily wrong or “bad”; grassroots efforts can often point you to areas in the business where they’ll make a real difference and where the culture is ripe for change. They’re just a part of the growing-up process as a social business. At some point though, the business has to consciously decide to invest in social tools and figure out a strategy.

To build an effective social strategy a business should consider:

  • Market (what is impacting your business)
  • Economy
  • State of your brand (positive or negative)
  • Current workforce dynamics
  • Your competition
  • Market share dynamics
  • What your customers are telling you
  • Etc.
  • Social business objectives (what at your business wants to accomplish)
  • Building a collaborative and knowledge sharing culture
  • Increasing customer engagement
  • Improving brand sentiment
  • Increasing product / service innovation
  • Getting employees more engaged and contributing to the business in a broader fashion
  • Building a partner ecosystem
  • Etc.

These are only a few of the many possible market issues and business objectives; they will vary greatly by business. Once you have an overall strategy you can then build a roadmap and start to target the specific projects that you should do. The above list is prioritized according to the business objectives and the strategy. It’s best to start small and increase participation over time, by the way. Remember that whatever you’re doing with social business, you are changing culture and the way people work, and change is never easy.

There are dozens of use cases for social business, but they tend to fall in a few basic categories:

  • Enterprise social networks
  • Customer experience
  • Innovation management
  • Sales enablement

The most common first projects, at least from my research, tend to be either centered around improving the customers experience, like adding social customer support, or around enterprise social networks.

While there’s no way for me to look into a crystal ball and tell you where to start, I do know that many businesses see significant productivity gains from enterprise social networks, or, in other words, from working to eliminate organizational silos, increase collaboration and increase knowledge sharing. It’s often challenging to be more engaged with your customers when internally you are still operating a business that cannot collaborate and communicate effectively.

Where are you seeing the biggest returns? Leave me some ideas in the comments.

Organic Business Networks - featuring Michael Fauscette, GVP, Software Business Solutions, IDC

To hear more with featured guest speaker, Michael Fauscette, GVP, Software Business Solutions, IDC -  Watch the On-Demand webcast of the Oracle Social Business Thought Leader Webcast Series - “Organic Business Networks: Doing Business in a Hyper-Connected World”

Friday Jul 20, 2012

The CXO in the Next-Generation Enterprise

Michael Fauscette

Todays guest post by:
Michael Fauscette, GVP, Software Business Solutions, IDC
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The CXO in the Next-Generation Enterprise

Less than six years ago, no company had a Facebook page or Tweeted about its brand on Twitter. In fact, just a little more than 12 years ago, most companies treated Websites like a billboard — a destination where people went to “learn” about the company’s products. Brands controlled their messages and presented those messages to customers and prospects.

Today, prospects and customers look for information about a brand online everywhere but the company-controlled Website. Social networks offer trust-filtered advice and information that’s perceived as much more accurate. The social Web, with its communities and user-generated content, has helped fuel a change in attitudes and expectations across a broad population.

Another key trend, consumerization of IT, has created a different path of innovation in business, where the most innovative ideas and technologies are formed in the consumer space and pulled into the enterprise, again creating different expectations and empowered action.

Business is under pressure from customers, employees, stockholders, stakeholders and partners to do things differently, as the economy shifts away from the old industrial models into an age driven by information and the Internet’s ability to create different business models, communication channels, and open systems. Nowhere in business are these pressures felt more than in the executive suites across all industries, and spreading to all geographies.

Traditional management and leadership models, just like business models, were created for a different time, and are starting to fall short in helping businesses adapt to change. As the pace of change accelerates, executives are finding that strategy isn’t something that can be static, but instead must be flexible and adaptable to real-time inputs ranging from customer feedback to changing market conditions. Old command-and-control, hierarchical organizational structures are too siloed and inhibit knowledge-sharing and a collaborative culture.

Management models, just like business models, must adapt to the next-generation enterprise that is mobile, social, collaborative, data-driven, and has an adaptable and flexible business strategy. Next-generation executives will:

    • “Coach” instead of “manage”

    • Value and reward personal responsibility and accountability

    • Foster an open and transparent culture that leads to higher ethical standards

    • Build a culture that rewards knowledge-sharing and breaks down old knowledge-hoarding tendencies; information is the life blood of a next-generation enterprise

    • Operate in an empowering environment where employees have the power to and feel the obligation to speak up and take action when things are not working correctly

    • Power and communication are networked (not hierarchical) with people-centric nodes connecting the enterprise together, people to people, people to data, people to information, and people to system

    • All stakeholders have a voice and can influence the community that is now the essence of the business

    • Managers exist to serve, not be served

Business is changing, and management and business models must change to stay competitive. The changes are mostly about culture, and culture often does not change quickly. People fall back to habits that are comfortable, and resist change that seems uncomfortable. While a lot of the changes that businesses are experiencing are coming bottom-up, it is critical that executives understand these changes and adapt to create an environment of empowerment and collaboration.


Organic Business Networks - featuring Michael Fauscette, GVP, Software Business Solutions, IDC



To hear more with featured guest speaker, Michael Fauscette, GVP, Software Business Solutions, IDC -  Watch the On-Demand webcast of the Oracle Social Business Thought Leader Webcast Series - “Organic Business Networks: Doing Business in a Hyper-Connected World”

Tuesday Jul 17, 2012

Creating a Culture of Collaboration

Michael Fauscette

Today's guest post provided by:
Michael Fauscette, GVP, Software Business Solutions, IDC

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Creating a Culture of Collaboration

In almost every business journal you read or business conference you attend, there will be some discussion around the need to build a collaborative business. I guess it’s not surprising really; it’s the realization and changing expectations that employees are bringing into the workplace from their personal experiences on the social Web. It ties directly to the “hot topic” of consumerization of IT that’s been discussed to death over the last five years or so.

It would be hard to argue that collaboration is a bad thing, so many companies are throwing the word around a lot, but what does it really mean to be a collaborative enterprise?

The definition of collaboration, I think, has shifted over the last 5 years. This shift, to me, is a good thing, and is starting to be reflected in a new generation of collaboration tools that are now available. In the past, collaboration often was tied to file management and file sharing more than anything, which was unfortunate. Don’t get me wrong, managing files is important, but it is not collaboration. In fact, many of the old “collaboration” systems were the opposite of collaborative, as they really tracked documents and document versions, and restricted the open sharing of information.

The new definition of collaboration is focused on people-centric collaboration. Many of you are probably laughing at me now; I mean, shouldn’t collaboration always have been about connecting people to people? Absolutely. But think about the technology that was offered under the umbrella of collaboration. Did it help people connect?

Collaboration is about more than technology, of course — it’s really about business culture. So how do you build a collaborative culture? Here are a few things a business can do to start the change ball rolling:

    • Ensure that executives set the tone and lead by participating in collaborative efforts. “Do what you say and say what you do.”

    • Incentives and rewards must be aligned to support collaboration, not individual achievement. You will get the behavior you incent.

    • “What’s in it for me?” If you want participation, you must show employees what they’ll get out of expending the effort and learning new tools, or they won’t support and adopt the changes.

    • Technology is important as a facilitator of the culture shift, and that technology needs to provide the ability to connect people to people, data, information, and to other systems. The technology enables the company to deploy an enterprise social network, and provides the benefits to the company and to the employees that they get from being connected and operating in a more open, engaged environment.

    • Change is hard, and to be effective, you should approach this like any project. Use employee champions to drive use and engagement; train employees on new tools; put important company information into the new tool exclusively so employees get used to using it; and demonstrate that collaboration is rewarded over individual achievement.


With the right executive focus, the right incentives, the right tools, and a real effort to encourage knowledge-sharing over knowledge-hording, a business can  become a collaborative enterprise. Collaborative businesses leverage all their resources more effectively; they use the collective knowledge of customers,  employees, and partners to gain competitive advantage. And they make more effective business decisions that leverage facts over myths. It’s not an easy transition, but the journey is well worth it.


Organic Business Networks - featuring Michael Fauscette, GVP, Software Business Solutions, IDC




To hear more with featured guest speaker, Michael Fauscette, GVP, Software Business Solutions, IDC -  Watch the On-Demand webcast of the Oracle Social Business Thought Leader Webcast Series - “Organic Business Networks: Doing Business in a Hyper-Connected World”




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