That said, "It's clear to me why we got acquired--because change management is definitely going to be an issue for any company that acquires social technologies," Gray says in an interview. Dachis Group is a social business consulting firm and the employer of BrainYard columnist Dion Hinchcliffe.
Yet the words "social business" occur only once in Gray's new book The Connected Company, and specific technologies for enterprise social networking or customer service through social channels are mentioned only in passing. Instead, the book focuses on the organizational challenges created by the social networks that have empowered consumers to make themselves heard--and in many ways put major corporations in the position of reacting to their whims. With social networks causing so much change on the outside of companies, they will have to be organized more as social networks on the inside, he believes.
"The specific technologies are less critical. You can do these things without any of the technologies, but the technologies are what's creating the imperative today," Gray says.
[ Priorities matter: Choose Your Social Business Strategy Before Your Tools.]
"The reason that the book exists is I felt that the market and the things people were talking about--it all kind of felt to me a bit down in the weeds. The changes to me seemed much more fundamental than you would think by listening to what people were saying," Gray says. "When people talked to me about social business, I wanted to know: 'what is it, beyond just Facebook for the enterprise? What is it really?' I had trouble understanding because I'm not so smart. I'm more like the typical executive trying to fathom this stuff."
CEOs are hearing that they need to change their organizations and become "more social," but they don't necessarily understand why it's so important, and they need to, Gray says. "If we're going to be changing, we ought to understand what is it we're aiming for? What does the top of the mountain look like?"
To explain the impetus for change, he points to examples of customer empowerment like the Bank Transfer Day revolt against Bank of America inspired by Kristen Christian, a lone customer dismayed by the bank's plan to charge $5 per month for the use of a debit card. Turning to Facebook, she launched a campaign to have consumers move their money en masse to credit unions--drawing a response that astonished her and blindsided the bank. "By November 4, the day before Bank Transfer Day, at least 650,000 people had added $4.5 billion to credit union savings accounts. That same week, Bank of America dropped its plan to charge additional fees," Gray reports.
As in many of these stories, the giant institution humbled by the power of its customers repented, but not before significant damage was done to its reputation and its customer base.