29 March 2010

Brands need an online social media strategy

Jeremiah Owyang  is right, a Brand should not “throw away” traffic on its corporate site by inviting visitors to join the Brand profile on Twitter or Facebook or other social site without a well thought strategy.  It is a bit like sales associates of a high street shop telling visitors on their way out: “We invite you to visit us at our small corners inside most department stores”.  This might seem to be sending the positive message “we’re present in these locations” but it might lead to the visitors buying at other Brands also located there as well as not coming back to the original store!  The same as sending a visitor of your Brand website to twitter where he/she will receive twits from many other Brands, is likely to lead to another Brand attracting more of his/her attention, and not have him/her visit your site again!

A Brand does typically spend much much more on its own website than on its social networks presence (if it has one) so if not careful, doing so might mean actually losing these visitors as potential active fan of the Brand, to become at best simple passive observers of some Brand-related activity.

However,  I am not convinced by Jeremiah’s matrix on the Evolution of Social Media Integration and Corporate Websites.  Or rather, I do not see it as a “must follow this path” for all Brands.  Let’s just take the last stage for example: “Complete integration between corporate site and social sites”.  I can think of most of the Brands in the luxury goods sector that would not benefit from such an integration.  This would lower the Brand name status too much to the level of just another network relation such as a friend on Facebook.  The Brand would risk losing its exclusive image, its capacity to generate and fulfill dreams.  Luxury Brands would need to maintain this image online and a complete integration with social media would make this difficult. 

Marci Ikeler from Publicis has a very good presentation on slideshare  “Digital strategies for luxury Brands”. 
She mentions the successful examples of Gucci on Facebook and MAC on twitter, both of which support the Brand image instead of “cheapening it”.  I noted this statement supporting Jeremiah’s first point: “The most successful luxury digital campaigns are fully integrated with a larger digital strategy and align with the brand’s values”.  But do not confuse this with a complete integration of the Brand’s website and social media!

You must read the chapter 10. Use digital to convey exclusivity (slides 43 to 45).  It shows 2 examples of exclusive social networking, illustrating why complete social mass media integration will not be beneficial for all Brands.

24 March 2010

Enterprise 2.0 is not a game anymore, it's serious business

Another good post from Bertrand Duperrin following the Enterprise 2.0 Forum in Paris on March 17th/18th.
His bullet point list of conclusions is good news for everyone (like me) promoting the uptake of E.2.0.

I will highlight the following 4 points:

  • It’s not a game anymore. Now projects are global and carried by the top management. That’s the end of social bubbles disconnected from reality. Companies think global and pilots are not made to test but are the learning stage before global rollout. I really appreciated Claire Flanagan’s approach that set a time limit (5 month) instead of limiting the number of users what allowed her to quickly get a critical mass (nearly 30 000 users) with an opt-in policy.
  • Tools come second. We talked a lot about management, culture, governance. 90% speakers did not even mention the name of the platform they used and, in fact, the question is elsewhere (even than there’s always the same usual drudge in every conference). The best example comes from Danone where the “networking attitude” program was launched in 2003. It’s all about management and behaviors. Management 2.0 without web 2.0 tools. Tools came only when the behavioral dimension was natural in people every life in the workplace.
  • There’s no “one size fits all” adoption model. Each company has to define its own way depending on its culture and on local cultures.
  •  Support from top management. That’s been known for ages but it’s clear that a bottleneck appears when top managers are not active sponsors. I don’t mean being benevolent from a distance (”ok…let’s go guys…I’m watching you play..”) but being able to understand the change, make it theirs and imagine them, their staff and their behaviors in the future, be comfortable with it to be an active sponsor.
I (and many others) have been writing for years now about the importance of a strategic consideration, visible top management leadership, conducive corporate culture, adapted management behaviours and internal processes for the successful introduction of knowledge-sharing tools in an Organisation.  Looks like business leaders are finally getting the message. 

04 March 2010

TCS KM maturity model and implementation methodology

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have defined a simple KM maturity model and a KM implementation methodology (SIGMARG)
Their maturity model for an Organization is as follows:

1. Initial - Organization has no formal processes for using organizational knowledge effectively for business delivery.
2. Intent - Organization realizes the potential in harnessing its organizational knowledge for business benefits.
3. Initiative - Organization have knowledge-enabled their business processes and are oberving its benefits and business impacts.
4 - Intelligent - Organization has matured collaboration and sharing throughout the business processes that results into collective and collaborative organisational intelligence.
5. Innovative - Organizational knowledge leads to consistent and continuous process optimisation giving it a business edge.

If the speed at which an Organization go through the stages will vary greatly, the authors do stress that an Organization must go through these stages in this order and they are "no shortcut" to the innovative level, and they are absolutely right.  A young company with the right leaders might start at level 3 but would need to go through level 4 before reaching 5. 

Having said that, what is important to understand here is less the number of levels and their definitions, but more the fact that a KM strategy cannot be underestimated and will involve a difficult journey requiring strong leadership, committed resources and patience.

The authors are also correct in identifying the 3 main building blocks (or "pillars") of Knowledge Management:
  • People and Culture (the "soft" pillar)
  • Technology (the "hard" pillar)
  • Process (the "glue" pillar) 
A KM strategy must be concerned in taking these 3 pillars through the 5 stages of maturity. 

Minimal information is given about the SIGMARG implemenation strategy (for obvious reasons) but you would expect it to rely on a set of benchmarking tools to assess the current state of the 3 pillars, followed by a roadmap of how to take them through the maturity levels.  For the most important (in my view) pillar "People & Cutlure", my list of cultural traits not conducive to knowledge-sharing could be such a tool to assess the corporate culture for instance: the more of the 20 traits relate to your Organization, the deeper it is stuck at level 1.  I would expect a level-5 Organization not to have a single of these traits.
The next pillar in importance is the Process pillar.  This is primarily to ensure that KM is embedded in all business processes and not considered as an additional activity on top of the regular daily activities.  This is not a simple endeavour and will require process re-ingeneering.  Ideally, the Organization needs to become process-based instead of function-based.
Then only comes the technology pillar to facilitate the cultural and process changes by making them pervasive and time-resistant.