P a g e | 2 Improved organizational productivity based on knowledge‐sharing, silo removal and empowerment The above benefits lead to increased sales, business activity and competitive advantage From the employee’s perspective, benefits include: Increases in morale, self‐confidence, empathy with colleagues Stronger knowledge of company’s products and services Improved communication and collaboration skills How do E2E Communities Compare to B2B and B2C Communities? B2B can be a business‐to‐business, an association with other groups within an association or an NGO with a shared commitment to solve problems, share information and/or learn together. In B2C, or business‐to‐consumer communities, we often see individual consumers and partners in the supply chain participate and partner to solve or share problems, discuss new products and innovations or receive support. It depends on the charter or mission of the community. In an association community, you may see that the sponsoring community provides a space to allow all their supporters and fans to innovate, share and learn together. For some people, a twitter conversation with a celebrity is considered another form of a B2C community. The opportunity for E2E is for leadership to encourage marketing channels (typical B2C channel sponsors) to innovate and invite all employees, consumers and partners to learn and engage socially in conversations to drive business imperatives. We have an opportunity with new media and other community‐building tools to open ourselves up to model new behaviors, as IBM did with their BlueTwit product, where executives can microblog around a variety of topics. They are now allowing employees to feel connected with their executives in a new way. For some people, this can feel inspirational and drive new commitments. It can also break down silos and foster new forms of open communications. Are Companies Connecting Their E2E Communities With B2C? Today, employee‐to‐employee communities are closed and private, which provides a safe space for employees to communicate, innovate and give feedback ‐‐ a virtual sandbox for online communications. Where organizations can really transform themselves is by thinking about flow and openness within and outside their organizational structures and cultures. Many organizations have adopted new media and have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and marketing campaigns using social media. However, what I’m hoping to see is the energy and translation of these into possibilities among employees inside the firewall and with consumer and partner channels outside, which will drive business imperatives and transform cultures. Best Buy had a grassroots effort which created Twelpforce, yet personally, I’ve experienced both Twelpforce success and the absence of this interaction and passion at the local big box store culture level. The culture of operating openly hasn’t filtered throughout the organization. Many organizations have stand‐alone channels for B2C that are amazing and stand‐alone E2E programs. The power will be greatest when we are able to connect and weave them together.
P a g e | 3 What Does it Cost to Create an E2E Community? It depends on the scope of your plans and size of your organization. If you have an existing infrastructure for online communities, you can invite your employees into an area which is private at very little incremental cost at the other extreme; I’ve seen success with a million dollar budget and several FTEs who travel the globe as a team offering educational training, research and connection services as well as community leadership workshops. It’s important for executives to invest time in understanding the strategies around social computing guidelines and education. What are the Critical Success Factors for Creating an E2E Community? Be deliberate about investing in community as part of your company culture. What does this mean? Invest in these concepts as the foundation for all programs in your culture handbook: competency, leadership and performance management programs. Don’t view culture as an expense. Instead, think of it as a critical talent and retention engine, which will create a stronger company and allow you to plan for the future. Set up accountability programs for senior leaders in “social engagement.” Create a blueprint for your culture and help your senior leadership be accountable. Encourage your staff to blog, tweet, update, livestream or livecast in an interactive and collaborative manner with employees, partners and shareholders. Ask product management to open up road maps and innovations, to open multiple channels for dialogue and real time feedback. Encourage leaders within organizations to tweet, blog or use video clips as a real time approach to sharing their day‐to‐day experiences, thinking and how they are evolving their thoughts based on input from the various channels. This will allow customers, prospects and employees to experience how their input and commitment matters. Invest in “social” talent, training and programs. Consider offering sandboxes where people can practice, “walk the talk” and learn together around the notion of “Social Digital Diplomacy’. Embed new media approaches in your executive and leadership development programs. Bring in the X and Y generation from other companies which talk to your senior leaders so that they can understand what makes them loyal employees, what motivates them and/or how they want to engage socially. What are the Common Missteps and How to Avoid Them? Setting up E2E communities for an exclusive line of business. Avoid creating community or social channels only for a specific function in the business, such as marketing. E2E programs foster new opportunities, so why not invite employees to create their own community and collaborative structure to help break through their perceived set of barriers to the vision or business imperatives. Slapping new media solutions onto an old process. Implementing these changes can be costly long‐term if you don’t spend the necessary time up front to do business planning that includes social media and product or service innovation to drive new possibilities through this new media. Lack of cross functional “team think” can be helpful only if you want to get something out the door quickly. However, it does require governance or cross functional thinking to innovate and find new possibilities that wouldn’t happen without multiple
P a g e | 4 perspectives. How would you go about structuring a team think? Engage people that do network mapping to find individuals in your communities who are influencing others. Bring them into the product and service discussions to help broker new thinking and ideas. If this is an employee‐only conversation, why not bring in customers, partners or supply chain into the discussion for the full 360 to help you look around the corners? Not engaging your customers, clients or shareholders into the discovery process. This can be costly long‐term as you might fail to identify what your customers really need, expect and/or want. People are already interconnected, they are the network that nourishes us today and needs to be part of the counsel to help you understand what works and makes a difference today and what could work and make a difference tomorrow. That isn’t to say we don’t look outside our eco‐system, but certainly they are all customers. Many of the best products on the market were directly related to customer input, so we need to embrace this and not fear it. Apple is dominating the tablet market due to their listening to their customers and incorporating that feedback into their strategy, despite what Wall Street may have told them. It takes courage to consider new ways of behaving. Conclusion Social business has been and will continue to be a part of our daily lives. This is especially true when we think about how we interact with our co‐workers, the people with whom we spend most of our waking hours. As leaders, we must ensure that we invest time in our employee communities and corporate communication so that every member has a part to play. Communities are game changers for organizations. With the right courage and commitment, you can harness the power of these communities who hunger for purpose, voice and connectedness.