A key question that is out doing the rounds amongst the corporate circle revolves around the role of social media and its benefits to business.
It must be noted that decision makers will not invest in an avenue which they themselves are not very certain about. However, being ignorant to the usage of social media to an enterprise can result in a significant reduction of their competitive edge, as increasingly it is being embraced by all stakeholders. Pundits are of the view that the current year will transform the business landscape where social media is expected to play a significant role. The consensus amongst analysts is the phenomenon that will evolve into a new business reality called ‘Social Business’.
Promoters of the idea have hedged their claims with the hope that business schools, big corporations, NGO’s and their likes will jump on this fast-moving-chaos-driven bandwagon. Increasing number of CxO’s and decision-makers are sounding receptive to the idea of harnessing this vast free-flowing potential of social business. They have come to grips with the fact that social media has the ability to empower almost every aspect of an organisation in manners that are mostly positive.
It may not be an exaggeration to assert that each department of an organisation is affected by some or the other social technologies; be it customer service, SCM, R&D, sales or the board room. The list is never-ending and all-encompassing.
Cynics will however, differ to the notion of the all-pervasiveness nature of social media. They will maintain that since they aren’t engaged in any social media activity hence, are effectively not affected by it. This scheme of thinking is fraught with fundamental anomalies. No matter, if an organization is not promoting or engaging in commerce via the social media but they are, at various points, actively engaged in gathering competitive and business intelligence through it.
Hence, it could be safely concluded that organisations that evolve and integrate social media in their business will ultimately have a lead.
Some trends to watch out for -
The live-wire power of chaos – almost real time
a. In laymen’s term, this implies that even the smallest of things could have a larger effect in the overall scheme of things. The phenomenon would further evolve and will be better equipped to sift through piles of information to recognize the important bits. These fast-moving global business landscapes will require participants to be fully-versed with social technologies and platforms.
b. Organisations will come to terms with the fact that greater control may not necessarily translate into greater revenues. As a matter of fact, its antithesis is true.
c. A change in the attitude of organization towards social media. From being deemed repulsive and repugnant to finding ways of effectively using new tools in order to project themselves in tandem with gathering compelling business intelligence. This will subsequently help in engaging the customers in a better way resulting in a collaborative workforce and a healthier bottom line. Customer content is king!
The ever-evolving and omnipresent – the global social brain
a. Round-the-clock collection and dispersion of data is taking place at break-neck speeds.
b. The contemporary workforce is touted to be solution-oriented as opposed to process-oriented and therefore, is expected to be completely board the social platform regardless of the fact whether it constitutes their everyday work.
c. An upswing in the availability of social metadata that will provide greater insights through better analysis of trends and measurements. Organization who will analyze this metadata effectively and come up with actionable business intelligence will gain competitive edge in the marketplace.
Content collation and revelation - sifting through important information
a. Collecting information and putting it in context will be critical in the future. To this effect, organisations will either create a social system or hire the services of vendors who specialise in aggregation and curation.
b. Competitive edge will be with those organisations that learn to adapt themselves in the art of effective aggregation curation.
c. Newer ideas and insights that are usually glossed over will be encouraged.
Social Media Education - going retro – back to school
a. Social education must be awarded its due recognition. It must be noted that organisations that are behind the social media curve will end up on the losing side in the near future. Basic social media education and preliminary training will be accorded to each employee in the quest to create a knowledge baseline.
b. Decision makers will not shy away from taking outside aid, as for majority of the organisations social media is an alien entity.
c. Organisations will become cognizant to the fact that they cannot embark on a strategy based on social media policy guidelines without comprehensively comprehending the implications of social media technologies. Hence, training will be imparted to executives regardless of the fact that they may never actually use social media as such. Apparently so, as executives cannot manage something they are not aware of.
Hence, the days of shying away from social media are passé. Be careful, lest you lag behind in the race.
(Prashant Deorah is Managing Director at Puretech Internet.)