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Language Of Social Sounds Too Soft To Business
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John Thomson
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John Thomson,
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7/1/2011 | 4:02:00 AM
re: Language Of Social Sounds Too Soft To Business
This is a great article. The insight about the positioning of collaborative technologies to executives being crucial is spot on, and is not really limited to "soft" technologies like social media or collaboration tools. Executives are supposed to be tight with the wallet, and demand hard facts to support the business case, whether they're considering routers that handle tcp/ip traffic or software that routes collaborative messaging.

As such, the advice in this article is well taken for anyone trying to drive an initiative, but especially for those that may appear to be "soft" in nature. And challenges measuring benefit or ROI aren't limited to these soft technologies.

Maybe champions need to develop a vocabulary around adjectives like "lean," "light," or "streamlined" to position these initiatives. :)

Seriously, I think the bottom line is just that business initiatives have to be compelling and concrete to capture the passions of executives charged with meeting quarterly financial commitments. If we're going to problem solve, we have to choose specific and real problems and provide detailed and compelling proposals. Again, Mr. Preston's article is very insightful and applies more broadly than the title suggests. Well done!

John Thomson
tom.reeder
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tom.reeder,
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6/29/2011 | 9:48:30 PM
re: Language Of Social Sounds Too Soft To Business
Rob-

We have been working in this social/collaborative space as management consultants for nearly 3 years now. One of our early findings was not to focus on the technology, names, tools, etc., but rather focus on the "business outcomes" (use case I believe is the more technical jargon). I believe this is what John Stepper discovered by shifting his value proposition to focus on email reduction, etc. I believe this is the point you were making with Hagel's anecdote.

The art of driving adoption is stitching these point-solutions into a compelling reason for change... to fuel the leap of faith to achieve some of the softer benefits you brought up.

Thanks

Tom Reeder
EphraimJF
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EphraimJF,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/29/2011 | 9:46:34 PM
re: Language Of Social Sounds Too Soft To Business
The name "ThoughtFarmer" (http://www.thoughtfarmer.com) is a little more specific than some. It conveys the concept that by enabling collaboration, conversation, expertise location, and serendipitous connection on an intranet a company can increase the value of its knowledge (which sits within people's heads). But increasing that value and providing soil for innovation doesn't cater to clear metrics.

However, Executives should be interested in increasing employee engagement and building more human-centered environments, just for the sake of it. Not only because they're employing valuable human beings, but also because high employee engagement helps the bottom line.

Best Buy has "proven the value of a 0.1% increase in employee engagement is $100k" http://bit.ly/lxnjn1.
BilalJaffery
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BilalJaffery,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/29/2011 | 9:05:17 PM
re: Language Of Social Sounds Too Soft To Business
Great point and speaks the truth as well. Rest of the business world not operating at the cutting edge of the social business movement will need to see impact on Sales/Revenue/Growth to see the light.

It also helps to position such platforms as value-generating tools vs 'just plain ol'e engagement'. We all know the outcome but it's all about the positioning.
DBELDEN208
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DBELDEN208,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/27/2011 | 10:30:50 PM
re: Language Of Social Sounds Too Soft To Business
Actually, it is an advantage to all fluid, innovative, creative companies that traditional business is so slow to recognize the changing dynamic in today's marketplace. An emphasis on Clay Shirky's "cognitive surplus" is giving many new companies a competitive advantage. More power to them!
Alex Dunne
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Alex Dunne,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/27/2011 | 9:58:05 PM
re: Language Of Social Sounds Too Soft To Business
I never thought about the impression that product and company names can give in this market. Excellent point. Perhaps playful names are designed to appeal more to rank and file users, rather than management, since that's how many collaboration tools find their way into the enterprise these days.
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
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6/27/2011 | 12:11:55 PM
re: Language Of Social Sounds Too Soft To Business
I think there is a real need for balance, as there is no denying the importance of soft metrics when it comes to social media. We've faced the same issue with traditional Web platforms, though. For example, you can easily quantify the number of page views a particular piece of content gets, but it's much harder to qualify who viewed those pages and what their value is to the business.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
mor_trisha
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mor_trisha,
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6/25/2011 | 4:49:36 PM
re: Language Of Social Sounds Too Soft To Business
This headline certainly grabbed my attention! As an attendee of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston this year, I was heartened to hear more keynote and session speakers focusing on the need to care about other people, empower employees, and build relationships. I guess that goes to show what camp I fall into. :)

Yes, being able to use business language (winning, losing, competition, out-maneuver) when trying to get executive buy-in is important. The Dr. Phil language of co-creation and delighting customers is also important. I think the third facet needed is how to connect business to the warm-and-fuzzy stuff. Explain in plain language precisely HOW delighted customers or empowered employees increase the bottom line, as is illustrated in the MTA example.
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/24/2011 | 9:56:33 PM
re: Language Of Social Sounds Too Soft To Business
Great piece, Rob. I was just talking with someone today about "soft metrics," and how hard they are to measure with social media.

"Even the names of some Enterprise 2.0 software vendors convey a less than rigorous business purpose. ... No wonder it's taking CEOs and CIOs so long to take social business seriously."

Yammer, Jive, Twitter--let's not forget Chatter. A smart vendor will name its social collaboration platform BizTalk. Oh, wait--that's taken.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard


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