Monday, November 17, 2008

The C-Suite starts to get it

Here's an interesting post from The Economist Intelligence Unit. Apparently, nearly 80% of companies see social media and user-generated content as an important part of their businesses going forward. Many companies have started experimenting with communities, and blogs and wikis are part of the vocabulary. It seems people think SM can help grow the topline and reduce costs. Yep, shows they read the newspapers.

CFO's are more dubious, and middle management are not as sure. No surprises there either! CFO's are part of the show-me-the-money crowd - and there is little doubt that the metrics side of the social media revolution has been a little slower out of the gate than the enthusiasts. Provided the bean counters focus on the bottom line, I have no problem at all with their approach. That can only provide rigour, meaning better job security for the SM guys and girls.

Middle management - of course they're doubters. Most of us forget that middle managers are hired to ... wait for it ... manage! Manage means maintain the status quo. If these people started to innovate on a serial basis, business would get out of control in a minute.

The surprise for me is the very low knowledge base from where C-suiters are starting. The recent US election showed us one thing very clearly - brands (and Obama is as much a brand as he was a candidate) need to empower people to get involved. It's not only about having customers come up with new product ideas, or about reducing the cost of advertising. It's about thinking about two-way conversations, and about mutual benefits. The executives in the survey are acting as if they are still in sole control of their brands.

I only have bad news for these people - it ain't so, and you better figure out a way to let go. Otherwise, you'll find you're on the express ride to oblivion.

On the positive side, most companies expect SM and UGC to be the biggest factors changing the ways they interacts with customers or employees. They see it "as an opportunity, not a threat". Phew! Now, if we all could only see them as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Thought for the Day: Forget about the CFOs and middle management. Concentrate on the customer experience, let your advocates speak for you, and never forget where you came from.

1 comment:

Marc said...

First, Terry, I'd never heard of that one before--C-suiters. Thanks, Wiki, for the etymology, where the plural (C-suites) rings in the ear a little like the French word "suif" or tallow. Anyways....

Your post on user-generated content reminds me of the noises-off rumblings and requests I've heard over the years, for user-generated clinical trials for consumer products (dietary supplements). The notion has been dismissed as too-risky (what'll happen when results come in negative), but still, it's an intriguing notion. What do consumers expect their supplements to do, really, scientifically? What CAN they expect them do scientifically, if they don't know how science works? Thanks for giving me food for thought.