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Shiny Object or
Digital Intelligence Hub?
Evolution of the Enterprise Social Media
Command Center
By Susan Etlinger
with Andrew Jones and Charlene Li
Includes input from eight ecosystem contributors
A Market Overview Report
March 18, 2014
In June 2010, Gatorade unveiled its “Mission Control Center.” And in December of that year, Dell
announced its “Social Media Command Center.” Since then, organizations such as Hendrick
Motorsports, The Oregon Ducks, Symantec, and others have discussed how they use their
social media command centers to listen to hundreds of thousands — even millions — of
posts, interact with fans and customers, solve service issues, and surface trends, risks, and
opportunities.1
In 2013, as social media and social data continued to proliferate inside organizations, social
technology vendors such as Salesforce and Brandwatch announced new command center
products. But what business problems, really, does a social media command center solve? Is
it a hub for addressing customer concerns, a marketing tool, or a significant source of insight
for the organizations that use them? Or is it a shiny object, a silo, or, worse, a cost center within
the business?
The answer, as it happens, can be a little of everything, depending on the implementation. To
learn more about the state of social media command centers, Altimeter Group spoke with
three brands — MasterCard, eBay, and Wells Fargo Bank — that we see, each in their own
way, as social business leaders. We found significant variations in objectives, priorities, and
technology for the command centers but similarities in strategic focus and business planning.
We also uncovered some of the more salient challenges of the command center model as it
exists today.
Most importantly, we discovered that, for these three businesses, the importance of the
command center lies less in impressive visualizations and high-definition screens and more as
an operational foundation for real-time digital intelligence in the enterprise.
This report presents these findings, case studies, and expert recommendations for evaluating,
building, and fine-tuning your own command center deployment — and planning for the future.
Executive Summary
Table of Contents
Executive Summary	
Three Stages of Social Business Evolution
Stage 1: Community
Stage 2: Strategy
Stage 3: Insight and Action
Command Centers in Action: Three Use Cases
1. MasterCard: Driving Strategy and Brand Identity
2. eBay: Context Is King
3. Wells Fargo Bank: A Nerve Center for the Enterprise
Challenges of the Command Center
Recommendations
Implications for the Future	
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Three Stages of Social
Business Evolution
Facebook’s recent 10th birthday is a reminder that social
media is effectively a decade old and that the notion of a
“social business” is still a very new concept. Groundswell,
co-authored by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, was
published in 2008, although research for the book began
as early as 2006. Li hosted her first social marketing
Shiny Object or
Digital Intelligence Hub?
4
workshop with a group of Fortune 500 brands in July
2005 and wrote her first report on blogging in November
2004.2
During this time, we’ve seen social media adoption by
business evolve through three stages, each learning and
building on the previous one (see Figure 1). In each, the
goals, strategies, and critical roles evolve significantly as
social media becomes more ingrained throughout the
organization.
Figure 1 Community, Strategy, Insight and Action: Three Stages of Social Business Evolution
Engage external audiences
Community development,
blogging
Community manager
Goal
Primary
strategies
and tactics
Key Role
2006 2014
Understand and learn
from social data in context of
other business signals/data sets
Analytics, social data as integral
input to enterprise
decision-making
Social data analyst, data scientist
Define and deploy
social business strategy
Communities of practice/centers
of excellence, social media
command center, social media
monitoring/engagement/publishing
Social strategist
STAGE 1
Community
STAGE 2
Strategy
STAGE 3
Insight and Action
Source: Altimeter Group
5
Stage 1: Community
In the first stage of social business (2006–2009,
roughly), the goal was to use social media as a means
of building community via blogging, community
platforms, and the emerging notion of “engagement.”
An emerging role during this period was the community
manager, tasked with building relationships, moderating
conversations, and promoting positive interactions with
the brand.
One of the pioneers of what has since become known
as “social customer service” was Lionel Menchaca,
who built Dell’s first social service capabilities during
the infamous “Dell Hell” period, in which Jeff Jarvis’
complaints about Dell went viral, catching Dell by
surprise. Soon after, a Dell laptop caught on fire in
Osaka, Japan, prompting Menchaca to use the Dell blog
to speak directly to customers — an unprecedented
and courageous move that has now become common
practice.3
Stage 2: Strategy
In the second stage, which began during the global
recession of 2009, organizations realized that becoming
more open and customer-centric — more social — would
be essential to their survival.4
An increasing number of
highly public social media crises, such as the “United
Breaks Guitars” video in 2008, made the perils of poor
service — and worse, not listening — increasingly
obvious.5
Less obvious was how to approach this new
listening and response imperative at scale.
In 2010, Dell announced the first social media
command center, arguably the dominant model
for social organizations.6
During this time period,
organizations sought to integrate social media into
their own businesses, both as a strategy and as an
operating reality. To lead this effort, they appointed
social strategists who became responsible for defining,
implementing, and measuring the impact of social
media within the business.
Stage 3: Insight and Action
In 2014, new priorities emerged, driven by the
proliferation of social media within organizations and
the tremendous amount of “big data”7
it now generates
for a multitude of stakeholders. To community and
strategy, we now add insight and action as desired
outcomes for social business programs.
This goes far beyond the typical volume metrics — likes,
shares, re-tweets, impressions — of the early years
of social media. It reflects a growing understanding
that outside-in data, coming from interactions with
customers, prospects, partners, consumers, and others,
yields information that organizations can use to improve
their relationships and, hence, their performance.
For many companies, the social media command
center represents — with hundreds of thousands to
millions of posts, social actions, videos, images, sound
files, reviews, and other data points to capture, analyze,
triage, share, and act on in real time — one of the most
salient big data challenges within the enterprise. As a
result, organizations now seek analysts with specific
expertise in social data, as well as data scientists who
can derive insight from other complex, fast-moving, and
heterogeneous data sets.
But this shift raises important questions: What value
do organizations receive from their command centers?
What are the use cases? Is it just a set of shiny 60-inch
monitors in an executive briefing center, or does it have
demonstrable value throughout the organization? Is the
command center model the right one to address the
many challenges of social business and social data? Or
is it simply an artifact of social media evolution?
To answer this question, we interviewed eBay, Wells
Fargo, and MasterCard and identified five common use
cases for social media command centers (see Figure 2).
Figure 2 Five Use Cases for Social Media Command Centers
Listening
to brand and product
conversations
Publishing
content to promote
engagement,
consideration and
potentially
conversion
Analyzing
the conversation to
detect trends and
issues
Routing and Triage
to concerned
stakeholders within
the business
Engaging
with individuals for
support or other
purposes
Listening
Engaging Publishing Analyzing
Routing and Triage
Source: Altimeter Group
6
Even with such a small sample, we found clear evidence
of expansion beyond managing one-to-one interactions
to insight and action and triage within multiple groups
within the business. This is consistent with Altimeter
Group’s finding in a recent survey that at least 13 groups
within enterprise-class companies are actively engaged
in social media.8
This suggests that the command center, as it
is implemented among some businesses, can
become more deeply integrated into the fabric of
the organization. But there was also a fair amount of
variation among eBay, Wells Fargo, and MasterCard with
regard to the priorities of these use cases. There was a
clear message that the best practice is to optimize for
just a few of them.
Each of the companies Altimeter interviewed
approaches social media command center planning
and deployment differently because each company’s
core business is unique. This demonstrates that there
is no “right” way to build and deploy these centers.
For command centers to be relevant and drive value
throughout the organization, they need to be purpose-
built with clear goals in mind. The following examples
represent today’s best practices in matching command
center strategy to deployment, from physical layout to
organizational structure, to resourcing, to measurement.
Command Centers in
Action: Three Use Cases
Following are three examples that illustrate the breadth
of command center deployments.
1. MasterCard: Driving Strategy and Brand
Identity
“I think the day of the command center as it was
traditionally known is over.”
­– Andrew Bowins, SVP Worldwide Communications,
MasterCard
7
Strategy
First things first: MasterCard is not, as many think,
a “credit card company.” It’s an electronic payments
company, and MasterCard is deeply committed to
educating the market about what that means. Spend
even a few moments with its employees and you’ll
quickly realize that you’re deep into a passionate
discussion about financial inclusion, the value of
cashless payments for small business owners, and even
the vision of a cashless society.
Given the strong topical focus at MasterCard, and
the complex and intangible nature of its products, the
company’s social media command center (which it calls
its “Conversation Suite”) focuses primarily on what it
can do to understand relevant social conversation and
appropriately educate the market. For that reason, the
Suite focuses primarily on conversation monitoring and
garnering content-related insights, which inform real-
time and future content strategy.
While the suite tracks conversations in real time, its
objective is to use social data to derive insights that
inform meaningful business decisions across the
organization — specifically, for stakeholders within
customer care, marketing, risk management, human
resources, recruiting, product, and others. For example,
MasterCard recently detected a cluster of issues
related to the complexity of one of its mobile payments
products for some small businesses and was able to
route that information to the product team, which used
the feedback to simplify the process.
Structure
Based in an airy atrium in its I. M. Pei-designed New
York headquarters, MasterCard’s Conversation Suite
operates in 43 markets in 26 languages, collecting
insights from both traditional and social media. The
suite, which went live in April 2012 after nearly a year of
business case and platform development, is powered
by PRIME Research, which provides both conversation
monitoring technology and human-coded analysis to
MasterCard. The Suite is active around the clock, with
automated updates appearing every four minutes and
human-coded updates provided by the PRIME team
every 24 minutes.
The Conversation Suite is located centrally within the
building and is made up of a cluster of cubicles around
a 40-foot screen. While it’s a source of business insight,
it’s also become a hub for impromptu conversations,
demos, and meetings. “You can’t come into the
building without tripping over it,” laughs Marcy Cohen,
Vice President, Senior Business Leader, Worldwide
Communications.
While the Suite reports into Worldwide Communications,
one important feature is that anyone with HTML5 and
the appropriate credentials is able to log in and view the
data.
Benefits
Cohen states that the biggest benefits to date have been
both strategic (such as education and organizational
alignment) and operational (such as cost savings
via combining social and traditional media listening
into one tool). The company has also seen improved
content performance, which has helped support both
communication and marketing goals.
But a lot of the proof of the Suite’s value — and of the
potential for organizational change — is clearly evident
in the impact it has made on decision-making at
MasterCard. “Today we are being asked for data to help
inform the strategy,” reports Cohen.
The team is in the process of expanding beyond
measuring volume metrics (such as unique monthly
visitors, engagements, shares, and referrers) to the
ultimate goal: deriving insights and, ultimately, delivering
predictive analytics.
What’s Next?
The next step will be to connect social data with
business data to enable brand managers, product
leaders, and others to make business improvements.
For example, the Worldwide Communications team is
currently working with customer support to roll out a
social support program, a considerable challenge for
the company given the complexity of the credit card
business.
While the team’s goal is to provide the highest level of
service possible to MasterCard customers, the company
8
is limited in terms of the services it can provide to
cardholders. This is because the cardholder’s financial
institution, not MasterCard, is the issuer of the card and
is therefore responsible for resolving issues related to
service, payments, interest rates, and fraud.
The team also has a healthy respect for the volume and
complexity that social and other digital data presents.
As a result, there is a tremendous need to prioritize
the types of questions likely to elicit the best possible
insights. “The data is only as good as the questions you
ask it,” says Cohen.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the team is
focused on the organizational change needed to make
broad access to conversation suite data available
across the organization, as well as to country-level and
regional teams, to give them information that is relevant
to their business. This requires a tremendous amount of
education about the data and its implications, which will
require an unprecedented level of collaboration across
departments and geographies.
2. eBay: Context Is King
“We’re making social another input into the business so the
organization can think from the customer first.”
– John Bodine, Senior Manager, Social Content and
Insights, eBay, Inc.
Strategy
It’s an embarrassment of riches: While some companies
struggle to generate conversation volume, eBay’s
challenge is to manage it. The company receives nearly
80,000 brand mentions per day, which translates to
more than 29 million per year. That said, eBay has a
very clearly defined set of objectives for its social media
command center. Its core functions are:
•	 Listening. Understanding the nature of
conversations about the brand in context;
•	 Engagement. Finding and filtering conversations to
enable customer support to respond;
•	 Publishing. Driving content strategy within the
marketing team; and
•	 Analytics. Detecting and understanding changes to
sentiment, volume, and other indicators.
While it reports into marketing, the impact of eBay’s
command center extends far beyond marketing to
customer service and product development. For
example, the company recently launched “Collections,”
which enables people to curate collections of items
they like, share them with their social networks, and
follow others. The company is now tracking social
activity around this service. Fundamentally, however,
the objective of the command center is to understand
and better respond to — and eventually anticipate —
customer needs and concerns across all areas of the
business.
Structure
eBay’s Social Media Command Center is powered by
Attensity for listening, engagement and analytics, and by
HootSuite for publishing. It is part of the Social Business
team within Marketing, and everyone on the 12-person
social business team has a dashboard that provides
visibility into the command center data. The command
center also includes five agents who handle social
customer service.
In terms of physical layout, Bodine sits among two 50-
inch and four 30-inch displays that include a tag cloud
screen, a map, an influencer screen, share of voice vs.
competitor metrics, and specific queues for customer
support. Currently, it operates 16 hours per day and will
expand to 24/7 in 2014.
Benefits
Bodine characterizes the benefits achieved to date into
three categories: insight, consistency, and “customer
first.” From an insight perspective, the command
center is an important source of insight on topics
such as product enhancement requests, application
performance, bug fixes, marketing effectiveness, and
customer experience.
With regard to consistency, the goal is to provide
“a single source of truth” among data sources. For
example, the data feeding the command center is
9
shared with social customer service, enabling agents to
read and assess the content and respond accordingly,
facilitating a more consistent customer experience.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the command
center acts as a critical conduit for context and insight
for the business, facilitating the ability to think and act
from a customer-centric point of view across multiple
dimensions.
What’s Next?
Like many other companies, eBay feels the next frontier
is to better understand what influence consists of in
the context of its business, measuring the impact of
influence against KPIs in specific business units, such
as customer service or the consumer protection team.
But Bodine has even more ambitious plans. “If I could
walk through the company and see command centers
showing customer conversations relevant to those
departments,” he says, “that would be great, especially
if those command centers were connected to our own
data.”
eBay wants to better understand the correlation
between changes that it’s made and the effect on the
business as a whole. “Ideally, there would be a closed
loop that would help us see the relationship between
metrics such as declining number of posts about bad
sellers versus an increase in purchased items.” As
always, the goal is for the company to continuously
optimize its ability to extract insight from social and
other data so it can put the customer first.
3. Wells Fargo Bank: A Nerve Center for the
Enterprise
“Build your command center like a business.”
– Renee Brown, Senior Vice President & Director of
Social Media, Wells Fargo
Strategy
It’s easy to forget that Wells Fargo is a 162-year-old
company, founded the same year that Franklin Pierce
became the 14th President of the United States and
Napoleon became Emperor of France. And if — fast
forward to today — you think of Wells Fargo’s social
business efforts, it’s likely in the context of the
company’s @Ask_WellsFargo account on Twitter, which
addresses questions and provides information on
banking issues.
But what’s under the waterline of this and the bank’s
other public social media initiatives is a more profound
goal: to help the bank become more intimately
connected to its customers — to become a social
business — within a highly regulated industry.
The company is well aware that even one small misstep
in social channels can have dramatic consequences.
So, for Wells Fargo, a key social business objective is
to balance the potential of employee engagement with
mitigating the risk that engagement can create. Its
Social Media Command Center, which is nearing the end
of a multi-year build-out, is at the core of this strategy.
To that end, the bank focuses on three primary use
cases:
•	 Listening and engagement. An early alert system
for customer service issues as they arise.
•	 Routing and triage. Technology supplied by
Brandwatch automatically codes incoming social
posts by topic (for example, a tweet related to its
mortgage or private banking products). In this way,
Wells Fargo is able to identify which group within
the company should receive the information and
routes it to the relevant stakeholders.
•	 Data analysis. A source for trend data for the
company on a range of topics, whether related to
banking products, service issues, or other external
financial issues.
Unlike other command centers, Wells Fargo’s is being
purpose-built to serve the enterprise as a whole, rather
than just one or two departments. When asked who the
primary stakeholders were, Renee Brown, Senior Vice
President & Director of Social Media, says, “It would
be easier to list who is not a stakeholder!” Further,
she says, social business has eroded a lot of the silos
organizations, typically seen between departments.
10
“This is the world of ‘and,’’’ she says. “The lines have
completely blurred between departments.”
In the future, Wells Fargo is considering making
streaming data from the command center more
accessible to a wider range of people, including
customer care, public relations, and even its enterprise
social platform.
Structure
Given that Wells Fargo operates within a highly
regulated environment, the company has taken a
somewhat different evolutionary path than other types
of companies. Rather than jump into social media early
on with a team of community managers and open
interaction, the bank started in Stage 2, crafting a social
business strategy that included a roadmap for a Social
Media Command Center to support the bank’s short-
and longer-term objectives.
Building the Center has been a deliberate process,
partly because the company is so large and distributed.
The company completed its roadmap in late 2012. By
September 2013, the command center was running,
albeit in a limited capacity. As of this writing, the
command center houses approximately 20 employees
in San Francisco and six in other locations. In total,
however, including employees with command center
access who sit in other departments, there are currently
approximately 60 active users of command center
dashboards and data.
The company is in the process of completing the build-
out of the physical space, which will be live in the first
half of 2014. One of the additional goals for this year
is to evolve from a reactive to a more proactive stance
by including staff from social care into the physical
command center.
Irrespective of the physical form it takes, Wells Fargo’s
command center is shaping up to become a nerve
center for the inflow of information to the company,
whether it is one-to-one interactions or a set of posts
that signal an emerging trend.
Benefits
While the company has ambitious plans for the
command center, Brown reports that the benefits have
already been clear: insight for senior leaders; speed
to market of products and services; and improved
customer service. “Social is a great mirror, and we are
able to pull information together in a way that is much
more factual and constructive,” says Brown.
What’s Next
Now that the foundational pieces — policies and
processes — are in place, the next step for Wells
Fargo’s social business will be to engage and train its
260,000 team members to become brand advocates,
all in compliance with regulatory requirements. To do
this, they will need a real-time, relevant data source
that enables employees to anticipate and address
issues. After all, says Brown, “We need to carefully and
methodically do the right things, with training to avoid
missteps. We aren’t competing with other banks; we’re
competing with Amazon.”
Challenges of the
Command Center
It should come as no surprise that a successful
command center requires a significant investment in
people and technology able to extract meaning, identify
and triage issues, solve problems, and make publishing
decisions from the many thousands of brand mentions
that large organizations see every day. But command
centers — whether they are used for social data only or
extended to other data types — raises critical issues for
organizations that deploy them.
The vast majority of data that flows through a command
center comes from social media — which, in many
cases, is disconnected from other critical data sources
within (and outside) the enterprise. So while the
command center can be a valuable resource today, its
future depends on the availability of technology to:
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•	 Reduce the complexity of social data (automated
categorization).
•	 Extract meaning from it at scale (analysis).9
•	 Route it properly and maintain an audit trail
(governance).
•	 View it in context of CRM and other enterprise
business systems and data sets (integration).
•	 Facilitate programmatic and relevant content
delivery (publishing).
Most importantly, however, the future of the command
center — as a source of social media data only or as
a source of many data streams carrying real-time
customer insight — lies in its ability to continue to scale
with the demands of the business.
Recommendations
The examples in the previous section illustrate a few
varieties of command center deployments, as well as
the key decisions you must make when designing your
plan. Most important is to begin with a clear sense of
the following:
•	 Focus. What will be your focus? Is there a particular
emphasis on listening, engagement, analysis,
publishing, triage, or a combination?
•	 Structure. Who will lead it? Will leadership come
from marketing, corporate communications, service
and support, an enterprise-wide steering committee,
or another group or individual?
•	 Physical/virtual layout. What best supports the
structure of your business? Is it local? Global?
Highly centralized? Distributed? In many cases, we
have seen a physical command center paired with
multiple locations able to log into the command
center dashboard.
•	 Access. Who will have primary (administrative)
access? Who will be able to log in and view the
information? What implications arise from granting
access to this information?
Fundamentally, however, the themes that emerged
in our discussions with these companies focused on
two imperatives: to build the command center to serve
the business and to deliver insights — not just data or
metrics. Once you have answered the four fundamental
questions above, you must integrate the following best
practices:
•	 Have clarity of purpose. It’s critical to have a
clear remit for a social command center, to set
expectations, and guard against scope creep. Says
John Bodine of eBay, “Understand your KPIs and
present them clearly so anyone at a glance can
understand them.” In some cases, KPIs may focus
on service issues; others may focus on trying to
generate awareness or consideration. Others still
look for insights that inform business strategy. All
should be clear, measurable, and, most importantly,
actionable.
•	 Establish sponsorship and stakeholders. Says
Renee Brown, Wells Fargo Bank, “We have set up a
best practice of establishing a steering committee
with high-level executives who have power to make
real decisions. This group meets regularly; that
is very important.” She continues, “A successful
command center needs to include a diverse group
of people across departments with the right mix of
background, skills, and point of view.”
•	 Provide broad access. Brown also argues that it’s
critical to provide broad access of command center
data to employees. “I would not recommend limiting
the number of seats, because it’s valuable to so
many different people for different reasons,” she
says.
•	 Prioritize insights. Make analytics core to digital
initiatives so that insights derived from social and
other digital data can contribute to shaping future
campaigns and business strategy.
•	 Don’t underestimate the power of visuals. More
tactical but no less important is the role of visuals
in any content strategy, particularly for global
organizations. Marcy Cohen reports that (1) putting
visuals front and center; (2) making content short
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and “snackable”; and (3) driving back to core
content consistently improves performance.
•	 Think big and move fast. For any type of command
center to be successful, it must provide value
across the enterprise. “Treat it as an enterprise
effort,” advises Marcy Cohen of MasterCard, “not
a business silo.” John Bodine additionally believes
that it’s important to move fast, since social data is
so volatile. “You can’t iterate fast enough,” he says.
To this I would add one final recommendation:
Think beyond social.
The infrastructure, technology, human resources,
planning, and process needed to build out a social media
command center can be significant, especially because
the type of data that runs through it — social data — is
highly complex.
As consumers and devices become increasingly
interconnected, the command center will likely evolve
to ingest and analyze many disparate types of data,
from sensor data originating in electronic products, to
enterprise data, to other real-time data types, such as
images and video. Organizations that plan ahead for
this eventuality and include this expectation in their
roadmaps will be far ahead of the game as other data
types — some anticipated and some not — become
strategic.
Implications for the Future
Whether it’s centralized or distributed; whether
analytics are delivered via algorithm, human coding, or
a combination of both; or whether it’s for the benefit of
marketing, customer service, or across the enterprise,
the social media command center is becoming a nerve
center for real-time digital intelligence, whether it is
related to product, service, sales, compliance, or other
topics.
But as businesses become more adapted to social
data, and as other complex data sets become business-
critical, will specialized social media command centers
continue to exist?
The most likely outcome, as businesses evolve to a
more holistic model for data capture, analysis, triage,
and action, is that the command center as it exists today
will evolve. It will assimilate other data types, evolving
into an intelligence hub for all real-time digital data. In
some cases, it may remain purely social or focused on
marketing or a specific set of use cases; still others will
be absorbed back into the business.
Whatever the outcome, the importance of the command
center today lies less in impressive visualizations and
high-definition screens in an executive briefing center
and more in its role as an evolutionary step toward
building an operational foundation for real-time digital
intelligence in the enterprise.
In the meantime, organizations should learn from the
experiences of companies such as Wells Fargo, eBay,
MasterCard, and others who have generously shared
their experiences and pioneered and adapted social
technologies — and social data — to support their
unique needs.
Endnotes
1
For more about Hendrick Motorsports’
command center, see [http://
simplymeasured.com/blog/2013/12/16/
how-hendrick-motorsports-uses-simply-
measured-to-manage-multiple-sets-of-
social-data-in-one-place/]. For more about
The Oregon Ducks’ command center, see
[http://mashable.com/2012/08/08/oregon-
ducks-social-command-center/]. For more
about the Symantec command center,
see “Social Data Intelligence” [http://www.
altimetergroup.com/research/reports/
social-data-intelligence]
2
Charlene Li, “Forrester Report on Corporate
Blogs,” http://forrester.typepad.com/
groundswell/2004/11/forrester_repor.html.
3
These stories are discussed in some detail
in Groundswell, by Charlene Li and Josh
Bernoff. http://goo.gl/kvqvzd.
4
BBC News, “Global Recession Timeline,”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8242825.stm.
5
For a case study on the “United Breaks
Guitars” incident, see Harvard Business
Review, http://hbr.org/product/united-
breaks-guitars/an/510057-PDF-ENG.
6
Mashable, “Dell to Launch Social Media
Listening Command Center,” December 8,
2010, http://mashable.com/2010/12/08/
dell-social-listening-center/.
7
It’s critical to understand that social data
is a type of “big data,” as it fulfills the criteria
for big data — volume, velocity, and variety
— set out by Doug Laney and others from
META Group (now part of Gartner Group)
in 2001. http://blogs.gartner.com/doug-
laney/deja-vvvue-others-claiming-gartners-
volume-velocity-variety-construct-for-big-
data/.
8
See “Social Data Intelligence,” page 6.
9
With social posts numbering in the
hundreds of thousands to millions per
month for some brands, human coding
simply can’t address the volume of content.
Complete visibility into social data requires
codification and automation of social data
processing. To this end, Symantec has
made huge contributions to the industry
by defining and coding social posts.
Brandwatch automates process with its
Vizia product; and DataSift Vedo offers
automated categorization at the data
source.
Methodology
Altimeter Group conducted qualitative
research and analyses for this report, using
both interviews and briefings on the use of
social media command centers and their
associated data. This included:
•	 Interviews and briefings with three brands
running social media command centers.
•	 Interviews and briefings with five vendors
assisting brands in building social media
command centers.
•	 Altimeter conducted these interviews
between October 2013 and February
2014.
Ecosystem Input
This report includes input from market
influencers, vendors, and end users who
were interviewed by or briefed Altimeter
Group for the purposes of this research.
Input into this document does not represent
a complete endorsement of the report by
the individuals or the companies listed
below.
Brands (3)
eBay, John Bodine, Senior Manager, Social
Content and Insights
MasterCard, Andrew Bowins, Senior Vice
President, Worldwide Communications
MasterCard, Marcy Cohen, Vice President,
Senior Business Leader, Worldwide
Communications
MasterCard, Jen Stalzer, Vice President,
Global Digital Communications
Wells Fargo Bank, Renee Brown, Senior Vice
President & Director of Social Media
Technology Vendors and Consultants (5)
Attensity, Alice Goldstein, Senior Manager,
Product Marketing
Brandwatch, Sebastian Hempstead,
Executive Vice President, North America
Brandwatch, Will McInnes, Chief Marketing
Officer
Dell, Shree Dandekar, Chief Strategist and
Director, Data Warehousing and Business
Intelligence
HootSuite, Alex Grant, Manager of Technical
Product Marketing; Shawn Bouchard,
Account Executive, Specialty Sales, Rob
Hilsen, Director, Corporate Communications
PRIME Research, Mark Weiner, CEO
Acknowledgements
First and foremost, our gratitude to the
executives and industry experts who gave
so generously of their time and knowledge
by consenting to be interviewed for this
research. Additional thanks due to insights
and/or support from Rob Bailey, Shanee
Ben-Zur, Tristan Bishop, Pernille Bruun-
Jensen, Alistair Croll, Jessica Groopman,
Nick Halstead, Matt Hixson, Sudha Jamthe,
Charlene Li, Nitin Mayande, Vladimir
Mirkovic, Israel Mirsky, Chris Moody,
Patrick Morrissey, Blake Robinson, Maria
Saltz, Adam Schoenfeld, Brian Solis, Jens
Tellefsen, Christine Tran, Todd Wilms, Julie
Viola, and Michael Wu.
Open Research
This independent research report was 100%
funded by Altimeter Group. This report
is published under the principle of Open
Research and is intended to advance the
industry at no cost. This report is intended
for you to read, utilize, and share with others;
if you do so, please provide attribution to
Altimeter Group.
Permissions
The Creative Commons License is Attribution-
Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 United States
at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-
nc-sa/4.0.
Disclaimer
ALTHOUGH THE INFORMATION AND DATA USED IN THIS
REPORT HAVE BEEN PRODUCED AND PROCESSED FROM
SOURCES BELIEVED TO BE RELIABLE, NO WARRANTY
EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED IS MADE REGARDING THE
COMPLETENESS, ACCURACY, ADEQUACY, OR USE OF THE
INFORMATION. THE AUTHORS AND CONTRIBUTORS OF
THE INFORMATION AND DATA SHALL HAVE NO LIABILITY
FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS CONTAINED HEREIN
OR FOR INTERPRETATIONS THEREOF. REFERENCE
HEREIN TO ANY SPECIFIC PRODUCT OR VENDOR BY
TRADE NAME, TRADEMARK, OR OTHERWISE DOES
NOT CONSTITUTE OR IMPLY ITS ENDORSEMENT,
RECOMMENDATION, OR FAVORING BY THE AUTHORS
OR CONTRIBUTORS AND SHALL NOT BE USED FOR
ADVERTISING OR PRODUCT ENDORSEMENT PURPOSES.
THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HEREIN ARE SUBJECT TO
CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.
13
Susan Etlinger (@setlinger) is an Industry nalyst at Altimeter Group,
where she works with global companies to develop both social media
listening and measurement strategies that support their business
objectives. Previously, Susan was a Senior Vice President at Horn
Group. Susan is a published translator and has a bachelor’s degree in
rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley.
Altimeter Group provides
research and advisory for
companies challenged
by business disruptions,
enabling them to pursue
new opportunities and
business models. We share
our independent research on
business disruptions via research
reports, webinars, speeches, and
more. We also offer advisory
services to business leaders
who wish to explore the specific
implications of these disruptions
within their organizations.
Altimeter Group
1875 S Grant St #680
San Mateo, CA 94402
info@altimetergroup.com
www.altimetergroup.com
@altimetergroup
650.212.2272
Authors
Andrew Jones (@andrewjns) is an Industry Analyst at Altimeter
Group where he focuses on social media management and cross-
channel customer engagement. He has helped define the Social
Media Management industry and worked on several reports related
to social management and measurement during the past three years
at Altimeter.
Charlene Li (@charleneli) is Founder of Altimeter Group and author
of the New York Times bestseller, Open Leadership. She is also the co-
author of the critically acclaimed bestselling book, Groundswell, which
was named one of the best business books in 2008. She is one of the
foremost experts on social media and technologies and a consultant
and independent thought leader on leadership, strategies, social
technology, interactive media, and marketing.
How to Work with Us
In conjunction with the new command center research, we are pleased to introduce the Social Data Intelligence
(SDI) Roadmap – a key tool for business leaders who are using, or plan to use, social data to help guide business
decisions. The new SDI Roadmap is built on an Altimeter Group maturity model that is based upon detailed
interviews with enterprise social data users and technology developers. The model lays out a holistic view of social
data use across the enterprise – taking into account data gathered from platforms such as Customer Relationship
Management systems, Business Intelligence and market research – and lays out a set of criteria for organizational
maturity. Deliverables from the SDI Roadmap include a Social Data Intelligence Scorecard and accompanying
maturity model for social data strategy, as well as actionable recommendations for minimizing risk and improving
overall business performance.
To learn more about the SDI Roadmap, contact Leslie Candy at leslie@altimetergroup.com or 617.448.4769

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Shiny Object or Digital Intelligence Hub? Evolution of the Social Media Command Center

  • 1. Shiny Object or Digital Intelligence Hub? Evolution of the Enterprise Social Media Command Center By Susan Etlinger with Andrew Jones and Charlene Li Includes input from eight ecosystem contributors A Market Overview Report March 18, 2014
  • 2. In June 2010, Gatorade unveiled its “Mission Control Center.” And in December of that year, Dell announced its “Social Media Command Center.” Since then, organizations such as Hendrick Motorsports, The Oregon Ducks, Symantec, and others have discussed how they use their social media command centers to listen to hundreds of thousands — even millions — of posts, interact with fans and customers, solve service issues, and surface trends, risks, and opportunities.1 In 2013, as social media and social data continued to proliferate inside organizations, social technology vendors such as Salesforce and Brandwatch announced new command center products. But what business problems, really, does a social media command center solve? Is it a hub for addressing customer concerns, a marketing tool, or a significant source of insight for the organizations that use them? Or is it a shiny object, a silo, or, worse, a cost center within the business? The answer, as it happens, can be a little of everything, depending on the implementation. To learn more about the state of social media command centers, Altimeter Group spoke with three brands — MasterCard, eBay, and Wells Fargo Bank — that we see, each in their own way, as social business leaders. We found significant variations in objectives, priorities, and technology for the command centers but similarities in strategic focus and business planning. We also uncovered some of the more salient challenges of the command center model as it exists today. Most importantly, we discovered that, for these three businesses, the importance of the command center lies less in impressive visualizations and high-definition screens and more as an operational foundation for real-time digital intelligence in the enterprise. This report presents these findings, case studies, and expert recommendations for evaluating, building, and fine-tuning your own command center deployment — and planning for the future. Executive Summary
  • 3. Table of Contents Executive Summary Three Stages of Social Business Evolution Stage 1: Community Stage 2: Strategy Stage 3: Insight and Action Command Centers in Action: Three Use Cases 1. MasterCard: Driving Strategy and Brand Identity 2. eBay: Context Is King 3. Wells Fargo Bank: A Nerve Center for the Enterprise Challenges of the Command Center Recommendations Implications for the Future ............................................................................................................................... ................................................................................... .............................................................................................................................. .................................................................................................................................... ................................................................................................................. ........................................................................... .................................................................... ........................................................................................................................ ............................................................. ................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................................. ................................................................................................................... 2 4 5 5 5 6 6 8 9 10 11 12
  • 4. Three Stages of Social Business Evolution Facebook’s recent 10th birthday is a reminder that social media is effectively a decade old and that the notion of a “social business” is still a very new concept. Groundswell, co-authored by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, was published in 2008, although research for the book began as early as 2006. Li hosted her first social marketing Shiny Object or Digital Intelligence Hub? 4 workshop with a group of Fortune 500 brands in July 2005 and wrote her first report on blogging in November 2004.2 During this time, we’ve seen social media adoption by business evolve through three stages, each learning and building on the previous one (see Figure 1). In each, the goals, strategies, and critical roles evolve significantly as social media becomes more ingrained throughout the organization. Figure 1 Community, Strategy, Insight and Action: Three Stages of Social Business Evolution Engage external audiences Community development, blogging Community manager Goal Primary strategies and tactics Key Role 2006 2014 Understand and learn from social data in context of other business signals/data sets Analytics, social data as integral input to enterprise decision-making Social data analyst, data scientist Define and deploy social business strategy Communities of practice/centers of excellence, social media command center, social media monitoring/engagement/publishing Social strategist STAGE 1 Community STAGE 2 Strategy STAGE 3 Insight and Action Source: Altimeter Group
  • 5. 5 Stage 1: Community In the first stage of social business (2006–2009, roughly), the goal was to use social media as a means of building community via blogging, community platforms, and the emerging notion of “engagement.” An emerging role during this period was the community manager, tasked with building relationships, moderating conversations, and promoting positive interactions with the brand. One of the pioneers of what has since become known as “social customer service” was Lionel Menchaca, who built Dell’s first social service capabilities during the infamous “Dell Hell” period, in which Jeff Jarvis’ complaints about Dell went viral, catching Dell by surprise. Soon after, a Dell laptop caught on fire in Osaka, Japan, prompting Menchaca to use the Dell blog to speak directly to customers — an unprecedented and courageous move that has now become common practice.3 Stage 2: Strategy In the second stage, which began during the global recession of 2009, organizations realized that becoming more open and customer-centric — more social — would be essential to their survival.4 An increasing number of highly public social media crises, such as the “United Breaks Guitars” video in 2008, made the perils of poor service — and worse, not listening — increasingly obvious.5 Less obvious was how to approach this new listening and response imperative at scale. In 2010, Dell announced the first social media command center, arguably the dominant model for social organizations.6 During this time period, organizations sought to integrate social media into their own businesses, both as a strategy and as an operating reality. To lead this effort, they appointed social strategists who became responsible for defining, implementing, and measuring the impact of social media within the business. Stage 3: Insight and Action In 2014, new priorities emerged, driven by the proliferation of social media within organizations and the tremendous amount of “big data”7 it now generates for a multitude of stakeholders. To community and strategy, we now add insight and action as desired outcomes for social business programs. This goes far beyond the typical volume metrics — likes, shares, re-tweets, impressions — of the early years of social media. It reflects a growing understanding that outside-in data, coming from interactions with customers, prospects, partners, consumers, and others, yields information that organizations can use to improve their relationships and, hence, their performance. For many companies, the social media command center represents — with hundreds of thousands to millions of posts, social actions, videos, images, sound files, reviews, and other data points to capture, analyze, triage, share, and act on in real time — one of the most salient big data challenges within the enterprise. As a result, organizations now seek analysts with specific expertise in social data, as well as data scientists who can derive insight from other complex, fast-moving, and heterogeneous data sets. But this shift raises important questions: What value do organizations receive from their command centers? What are the use cases? Is it just a set of shiny 60-inch monitors in an executive briefing center, or does it have demonstrable value throughout the organization? Is the command center model the right one to address the many challenges of social business and social data? Or is it simply an artifact of social media evolution? To answer this question, we interviewed eBay, Wells Fargo, and MasterCard and identified five common use cases for social media command centers (see Figure 2).
  • 6. Figure 2 Five Use Cases for Social Media Command Centers Listening to brand and product conversations Publishing content to promote engagement, consideration and potentially conversion Analyzing the conversation to detect trends and issues Routing and Triage to concerned stakeholders within the business Engaging with individuals for support or other purposes Listening Engaging Publishing Analyzing Routing and Triage Source: Altimeter Group 6 Even with such a small sample, we found clear evidence of expansion beyond managing one-to-one interactions to insight and action and triage within multiple groups within the business. This is consistent with Altimeter Group’s finding in a recent survey that at least 13 groups within enterprise-class companies are actively engaged in social media.8 This suggests that the command center, as it is implemented among some businesses, can become more deeply integrated into the fabric of the organization. But there was also a fair amount of variation among eBay, Wells Fargo, and MasterCard with regard to the priorities of these use cases. There was a clear message that the best practice is to optimize for just a few of them. Each of the companies Altimeter interviewed approaches social media command center planning and deployment differently because each company’s core business is unique. This demonstrates that there is no “right” way to build and deploy these centers. For command centers to be relevant and drive value throughout the organization, they need to be purpose- built with clear goals in mind. The following examples represent today’s best practices in matching command center strategy to deployment, from physical layout to organizational structure, to resourcing, to measurement. Command Centers in Action: Three Use Cases Following are three examples that illustrate the breadth of command center deployments. 1. MasterCard: Driving Strategy and Brand Identity “I think the day of the command center as it was traditionally known is over.” ­– Andrew Bowins, SVP Worldwide Communications, MasterCard
  • 7. 7 Strategy First things first: MasterCard is not, as many think, a “credit card company.” It’s an electronic payments company, and MasterCard is deeply committed to educating the market about what that means. Spend even a few moments with its employees and you’ll quickly realize that you’re deep into a passionate discussion about financial inclusion, the value of cashless payments for small business owners, and even the vision of a cashless society. Given the strong topical focus at MasterCard, and the complex and intangible nature of its products, the company’s social media command center (which it calls its “Conversation Suite”) focuses primarily on what it can do to understand relevant social conversation and appropriately educate the market. For that reason, the Suite focuses primarily on conversation monitoring and garnering content-related insights, which inform real- time and future content strategy. While the suite tracks conversations in real time, its objective is to use social data to derive insights that inform meaningful business decisions across the organization — specifically, for stakeholders within customer care, marketing, risk management, human resources, recruiting, product, and others. For example, MasterCard recently detected a cluster of issues related to the complexity of one of its mobile payments products for some small businesses and was able to route that information to the product team, which used the feedback to simplify the process. Structure Based in an airy atrium in its I. M. Pei-designed New York headquarters, MasterCard’s Conversation Suite operates in 43 markets in 26 languages, collecting insights from both traditional and social media. The suite, which went live in April 2012 after nearly a year of business case and platform development, is powered by PRIME Research, which provides both conversation monitoring technology and human-coded analysis to MasterCard. The Suite is active around the clock, with automated updates appearing every four minutes and human-coded updates provided by the PRIME team every 24 minutes. The Conversation Suite is located centrally within the building and is made up of a cluster of cubicles around a 40-foot screen. While it’s a source of business insight, it’s also become a hub for impromptu conversations, demos, and meetings. “You can’t come into the building without tripping over it,” laughs Marcy Cohen, Vice President, Senior Business Leader, Worldwide Communications. While the Suite reports into Worldwide Communications, one important feature is that anyone with HTML5 and the appropriate credentials is able to log in and view the data. Benefits Cohen states that the biggest benefits to date have been both strategic (such as education and organizational alignment) and operational (such as cost savings via combining social and traditional media listening into one tool). The company has also seen improved content performance, which has helped support both communication and marketing goals. But a lot of the proof of the Suite’s value — and of the potential for organizational change — is clearly evident in the impact it has made on decision-making at MasterCard. “Today we are being asked for data to help inform the strategy,” reports Cohen. The team is in the process of expanding beyond measuring volume metrics (such as unique monthly visitors, engagements, shares, and referrers) to the ultimate goal: deriving insights and, ultimately, delivering predictive analytics. What’s Next? The next step will be to connect social data with business data to enable brand managers, product leaders, and others to make business improvements. For example, the Worldwide Communications team is currently working with customer support to roll out a social support program, a considerable challenge for the company given the complexity of the credit card business. While the team’s goal is to provide the highest level of service possible to MasterCard customers, the company
  • 8. 8 is limited in terms of the services it can provide to cardholders. This is because the cardholder’s financial institution, not MasterCard, is the issuer of the card and is therefore responsible for resolving issues related to service, payments, interest rates, and fraud. The team also has a healthy respect for the volume and complexity that social and other digital data presents. As a result, there is a tremendous need to prioritize the types of questions likely to elicit the best possible insights. “The data is only as good as the questions you ask it,” says Cohen. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the team is focused on the organizational change needed to make broad access to conversation suite data available across the organization, as well as to country-level and regional teams, to give them information that is relevant to their business. This requires a tremendous amount of education about the data and its implications, which will require an unprecedented level of collaboration across departments and geographies. 2. eBay: Context Is King “We’re making social another input into the business so the organization can think from the customer first.” – John Bodine, Senior Manager, Social Content and Insights, eBay, Inc. Strategy It’s an embarrassment of riches: While some companies struggle to generate conversation volume, eBay’s challenge is to manage it. The company receives nearly 80,000 brand mentions per day, which translates to more than 29 million per year. That said, eBay has a very clearly defined set of objectives for its social media command center. Its core functions are: • Listening. Understanding the nature of conversations about the brand in context; • Engagement. Finding and filtering conversations to enable customer support to respond; • Publishing. Driving content strategy within the marketing team; and • Analytics. Detecting and understanding changes to sentiment, volume, and other indicators. While it reports into marketing, the impact of eBay’s command center extends far beyond marketing to customer service and product development. For example, the company recently launched “Collections,” which enables people to curate collections of items they like, share them with their social networks, and follow others. The company is now tracking social activity around this service. Fundamentally, however, the objective of the command center is to understand and better respond to — and eventually anticipate — customer needs and concerns across all areas of the business. Structure eBay’s Social Media Command Center is powered by Attensity for listening, engagement and analytics, and by HootSuite for publishing. It is part of the Social Business team within Marketing, and everyone on the 12-person social business team has a dashboard that provides visibility into the command center data. The command center also includes five agents who handle social customer service. In terms of physical layout, Bodine sits among two 50- inch and four 30-inch displays that include a tag cloud screen, a map, an influencer screen, share of voice vs. competitor metrics, and specific queues for customer support. Currently, it operates 16 hours per day and will expand to 24/7 in 2014. Benefits Bodine characterizes the benefits achieved to date into three categories: insight, consistency, and “customer first.” From an insight perspective, the command center is an important source of insight on topics such as product enhancement requests, application performance, bug fixes, marketing effectiveness, and customer experience. With regard to consistency, the goal is to provide “a single source of truth” among data sources. For example, the data feeding the command center is
  • 9. 9 shared with social customer service, enabling agents to read and assess the content and respond accordingly, facilitating a more consistent customer experience. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the command center acts as a critical conduit for context and insight for the business, facilitating the ability to think and act from a customer-centric point of view across multiple dimensions. What’s Next? Like many other companies, eBay feels the next frontier is to better understand what influence consists of in the context of its business, measuring the impact of influence against KPIs in specific business units, such as customer service or the consumer protection team. But Bodine has even more ambitious plans. “If I could walk through the company and see command centers showing customer conversations relevant to those departments,” he says, “that would be great, especially if those command centers were connected to our own data.” eBay wants to better understand the correlation between changes that it’s made and the effect on the business as a whole. “Ideally, there would be a closed loop that would help us see the relationship between metrics such as declining number of posts about bad sellers versus an increase in purchased items.” As always, the goal is for the company to continuously optimize its ability to extract insight from social and other data so it can put the customer first. 3. Wells Fargo Bank: A Nerve Center for the Enterprise “Build your command center like a business.” – Renee Brown, Senior Vice President & Director of Social Media, Wells Fargo Strategy It’s easy to forget that Wells Fargo is a 162-year-old company, founded the same year that Franklin Pierce became the 14th President of the United States and Napoleon became Emperor of France. And if — fast forward to today — you think of Wells Fargo’s social business efforts, it’s likely in the context of the company’s @Ask_WellsFargo account on Twitter, which addresses questions and provides information on banking issues. But what’s under the waterline of this and the bank’s other public social media initiatives is a more profound goal: to help the bank become more intimately connected to its customers — to become a social business — within a highly regulated industry. The company is well aware that even one small misstep in social channels can have dramatic consequences. So, for Wells Fargo, a key social business objective is to balance the potential of employee engagement with mitigating the risk that engagement can create. Its Social Media Command Center, which is nearing the end of a multi-year build-out, is at the core of this strategy. To that end, the bank focuses on three primary use cases: • Listening and engagement. An early alert system for customer service issues as they arise. • Routing and triage. Technology supplied by Brandwatch automatically codes incoming social posts by topic (for example, a tweet related to its mortgage or private banking products). In this way, Wells Fargo is able to identify which group within the company should receive the information and routes it to the relevant stakeholders. • Data analysis. A source for trend data for the company on a range of topics, whether related to banking products, service issues, or other external financial issues. Unlike other command centers, Wells Fargo’s is being purpose-built to serve the enterprise as a whole, rather than just one or two departments. When asked who the primary stakeholders were, Renee Brown, Senior Vice President & Director of Social Media, says, “It would be easier to list who is not a stakeholder!” Further, she says, social business has eroded a lot of the silos organizations, typically seen between departments.
  • 10. 10 “This is the world of ‘and,’’’ she says. “The lines have completely blurred between departments.” In the future, Wells Fargo is considering making streaming data from the command center more accessible to a wider range of people, including customer care, public relations, and even its enterprise social platform. Structure Given that Wells Fargo operates within a highly regulated environment, the company has taken a somewhat different evolutionary path than other types of companies. Rather than jump into social media early on with a team of community managers and open interaction, the bank started in Stage 2, crafting a social business strategy that included a roadmap for a Social Media Command Center to support the bank’s short- and longer-term objectives. Building the Center has been a deliberate process, partly because the company is so large and distributed. The company completed its roadmap in late 2012. By September 2013, the command center was running, albeit in a limited capacity. As of this writing, the command center houses approximately 20 employees in San Francisco and six in other locations. In total, however, including employees with command center access who sit in other departments, there are currently approximately 60 active users of command center dashboards and data. The company is in the process of completing the build- out of the physical space, which will be live in the first half of 2014. One of the additional goals for this year is to evolve from a reactive to a more proactive stance by including staff from social care into the physical command center. Irrespective of the physical form it takes, Wells Fargo’s command center is shaping up to become a nerve center for the inflow of information to the company, whether it is one-to-one interactions or a set of posts that signal an emerging trend. Benefits While the company has ambitious plans for the command center, Brown reports that the benefits have already been clear: insight for senior leaders; speed to market of products and services; and improved customer service. “Social is a great mirror, and we are able to pull information together in a way that is much more factual and constructive,” says Brown. What’s Next Now that the foundational pieces — policies and processes — are in place, the next step for Wells Fargo’s social business will be to engage and train its 260,000 team members to become brand advocates, all in compliance with regulatory requirements. To do this, they will need a real-time, relevant data source that enables employees to anticipate and address issues. After all, says Brown, “We need to carefully and methodically do the right things, with training to avoid missteps. We aren’t competing with other banks; we’re competing with Amazon.” Challenges of the Command Center It should come as no surprise that a successful command center requires a significant investment in people and technology able to extract meaning, identify and triage issues, solve problems, and make publishing decisions from the many thousands of brand mentions that large organizations see every day. But command centers — whether they are used for social data only or extended to other data types — raises critical issues for organizations that deploy them. The vast majority of data that flows through a command center comes from social media — which, in many cases, is disconnected from other critical data sources within (and outside) the enterprise. So while the command center can be a valuable resource today, its future depends on the availability of technology to:
  • 11. 11 • Reduce the complexity of social data (automated categorization). • Extract meaning from it at scale (analysis).9 • Route it properly and maintain an audit trail (governance). • View it in context of CRM and other enterprise business systems and data sets (integration). • Facilitate programmatic and relevant content delivery (publishing). Most importantly, however, the future of the command center — as a source of social media data only or as a source of many data streams carrying real-time customer insight — lies in its ability to continue to scale with the demands of the business. Recommendations The examples in the previous section illustrate a few varieties of command center deployments, as well as the key decisions you must make when designing your plan. Most important is to begin with a clear sense of the following: • Focus. What will be your focus? Is there a particular emphasis on listening, engagement, analysis, publishing, triage, or a combination? • Structure. Who will lead it? Will leadership come from marketing, corporate communications, service and support, an enterprise-wide steering committee, or another group or individual? • Physical/virtual layout. What best supports the structure of your business? Is it local? Global? Highly centralized? Distributed? In many cases, we have seen a physical command center paired with multiple locations able to log into the command center dashboard. • Access. Who will have primary (administrative) access? Who will be able to log in and view the information? What implications arise from granting access to this information? Fundamentally, however, the themes that emerged in our discussions with these companies focused on two imperatives: to build the command center to serve the business and to deliver insights — not just data or metrics. Once you have answered the four fundamental questions above, you must integrate the following best practices: • Have clarity of purpose. It’s critical to have a clear remit for a social command center, to set expectations, and guard against scope creep. Says John Bodine of eBay, “Understand your KPIs and present them clearly so anyone at a glance can understand them.” In some cases, KPIs may focus on service issues; others may focus on trying to generate awareness or consideration. Others still look for insights that inform business strategy. All should be clear, measurable, and, most importantly, actionable. • Establish sponsorship and stakeholders. Says Renee Brown, Wells Fargo Bank, “We have set up a best practice of establishing a steering committee with high-level executives who have power to make real decisions. This group meets regularly; that is very important.” She continues, “A successful command center needs to include a diverse group of people across departments with the right mix of background, skills, and point of view.” • Provide broad access. Brown also argues that it’s critical to provide broad access of command center data to employees. “I would not recommend limiting the number of seats, because it’s valuable to so many different people for different reasons,” she says. • Prioritize insights. Make analytics core to digital initiatives so that insights derived from social and other digital data can contribute to shaping future campaigns and business strategy. • Don’t underestimate the power of visuals. More tactical but no less important is the role of visuals in any content strategy, particularly for global organizations. Marcy Cohen reports that (1) putting visuals front and center; (2) making content short
  • 12. 12 and “snackable”; and (3) driving back to core content consistently improves performance. • Think big and move fast. For any type of command center to be successful, it must provide value across the enterprise. “Treat it as an enterprise effort,” advises Marcy Cohen of MasterCard, “not a business silo.” John Bodine additionally believes that it’s important to move fast, since social data is so volatile. “You can’t iterate fast enough,” he says. To this I would add one final recommendation: Think beyond social. The infrastructure, technology, human resources, planning, and process needed to build out a social media command center can be significant, especially because the type of data that runs through it — social data — is highly complex. As consumers and devices become increasingly interconnected, the command center will likely evolve to ingest and analyze many disparate types of data, from sensor data originating in electronic products, to enterprise data, to other real-time data types, such as images and video. Organizations that plan ahead for this eventuality and include this expectation in their roadmaps will be far ahead of the game as other data types — some anticipated and some not — become strategic. Implications for the Future Whether it’s centralized or distributed; whether analytics are delivered via algorithm, human coding, or a combination of both; or whether it’s for the benefit of marketing, customer service, or across the enterprise, the social media command center is becoming a nerve center for real-time digital intelligence, whether it is related to product, service, sales, compliance, or other topics. But as businesses become more adapted to social data, and as other complex data sets become business- critical, will specialized social media command centers continue to exist? The most likely outcome, as businesses evolve to a more holistic model for data capture, analysis, triage, and action, is that the command center as it exists today will evolve. It will assimilate other data types, evolving into an intelligence hub for all real-time digital data. In some cases, it may remain purely social or focused on marketing or a specific set of use cases; still others will be absorbed back into the business. Whatever the outcome, the importance of the command center today lies less in impressive visualizations and high-definition screens in an executive briefing center and more in its role as an evolutionary step toward building an operational foundation for real-time digital intelligence in the enterprise. In the meantime, organizations should learn from the experiences of companies such as Wells Fargo, eBay, MasterCard, and others who have generously shared their experiences and pioneered and adapted social technologies — and social data — to support their unique needs.
  • 13. Endnotes 1 For more about Hendrick Motorsports’ command center, see [http:// simplymeasured.com/blog/2013/12/16/ how-hendrick-motorsports-uses-simply- measured-to-manage-multiple-sets-of- social-data-in-one-place/]. For more about The Oregon Ducks’ command center, see [http://mashable.com/2012/08/08/oregon- ducks-social-command-center/]. For more about the Symantec command center, see “Social Data Intelligence” [http://www. altimetergroup.com/research/reports/ social-data-intelligence] 2 Charlene Li, “Forrester Report on Corporate Blogs,” http://forrester.typepad.com/ groundswell/2004/11/forrester_repor.html. 3 These stories are discussed in some detail in Groundswell, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. http://goo.gl/kvqvzd. 4 BBC News, “Global Recession Timeline,” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8242825.stm. 5 For a case study on the “United Breaks Guitars” incident, see Harvard Business Review, http://hbr.org/product/united- breaks-guitars/an/510057-PDF-ENG. 6 Mashable, “Dell to Launch Social Media Listening Command Center,” December 8, 2010, http://mashable.com/2010/12/08/ dell-social-listening-center/. 7 It’s critical to understand that social data is a type of “big data,” as it fulfills the criteria for big data — volume, velocity, and variety — set out by Doug Laney and others from META Group (now part of Gartner Group) in 2001. http://blogs.gartner.com/doug- laney/deja-vvvue-others-claiming-gartners- volume-velocity-variety-construct-for-big- data/. 8 See “Social Data Intelligence,” page 6. 9 With social posts numbering in the hundreds of thousands to millions per month for some brands, human coding simply can’t address the volume of content. Complete visibility into social data requires codification and automation of social data processing. To this end, Symantec has made huge contributions to the industry by defining and coding social posts. Brandwatch automates process with its Vizia product; and DataSift Vedo offers automated categorization at the data source. Methodology Altimeter Group conducted qualitative research and analyses for this report, using both interviews and briefings on the use of social media command centers and their associated data. This included: • Interviews and briefings with three brands running social media command centers. • Interviews and briefings with five vendors assisting brands in building social media command centers. • Altimeter conducted these interviews between October 2013 and February 2014. Ecosystem Input This report includes input from market influencers, vendors, and end users who were interviewed by or briefed Altimeter Group for the purposes of this research. Input into this document does not represent a complete endorsement of the report by the individuals or the companies listed below. Brands (3) eBay, John Bodine, Senior Manager, Social Content and Insights MasterCard, Andrew Bowins, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Communications MasterCard, Marcy Cohen, Vice President, Senior Business Leader, Worldwide Communications MasterCard, Jen Stalzer, Vice President, Global Digital Communications Wells Fargo Bank, Renee Brown, Senior Vice President & Director of Social Media Technology Vendors and Consultants (5) Attensity, Alice Goldstein, Senior Manager, Product Marketing Brandwatch, Sebastian Hempstead, Executive Vice President, North America Brandwatch, Will McInnes, Chief Marketing Officer Dell, Shree Dandekar, Chief Strategist and Director, Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence HootSuite, Alex Grant, Manager of Technical Product Marketing; Shawn Bouchard, Account Executive, Specialty Sales, Rob Hilsen, Director, Corporate Communications PRIME Research, Mark Weiner, CEO Acknowledgements First and foremost, our gratitude to the executives and industry experts who gave so generously of their time and knowledge by consenting to be interviewed for this research. Additional thanks due to insights and/or support from Rob Bailey, Shanee Ben-Zur, Tristan Bishop, Pernille Bruun- Jensen, Alistair Croll, Jessica Groopman, Nick Halstead, Matt Hixson, Sudha Jamthe, Charlene Li, Nitin Mayande, Vladimir Mirkovic, Israel Mirsky, Chris Moody, Patrick Morrissey, Blake Robinson, Maria Saltz, Adam Schoenfeld, Brian Solis, Jens Tellefsen, Christine Tran, Todd Wilms, Julie Viola, and Michael Wu. Open Research This independent research report was 100% funded by Altimeter Group. This report is published under the principle of Open Research and is intended to advance the industry at no cost. This report is intended for you to read, utilize, and share with others; if you do so, please provide attribution to Altimeter Group. Permissions The Creative Commons License is Attribution- Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 United States at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by- nc-sa/4.0. Disclaimer ALTHOUGH THE INFORMATION AND DATA USED IN THIS REPORT HAVE BEEN PRODUCED AND PROCESSED FROM SOURCES BELIEVED TO BE RELIABLE, NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED IS MADE REGARDING THE COMPLETENESS, ACCURACY, ADEQUACY, OR USE OF THE INFORMATION. THE AUTHORS AND CONTRIBUTORS OF THE INFORMATION AND DATA SHALL HAVE NO LIABILITY FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS CONTAINED HEREIN OR FOR INTERPRETATIONS THEREOF. REFERENCE HEREIN TO ANY SPECIFIC PRODUCT OR VENDOR BY TRADE NAME, TRADEMARK, OR OTHERWISE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE OR IMPLY ITS ENDORSEMENT, RECOMMENDATION, OR FAVORING BY THE AUTHORS OR CONTRIBUTORS AND SHALL NOT BE USED FOR ADVERTISING OR PRODUCT ENDORSEMENT PURPOSES. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HEREIN ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. 13
  • 14. Susan Etlinger (@setlinger) is an Industry nalyst at Altimeter Group, where she works with global companies to develop both social media listening and measurement strategies that support their business objectives. Previously, Susan was a Senior Vice President at Horn Group. Susan is a published translator and has a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley. Altimeter Group provides research and advisory for companies challenged by business disruptions, enabling them to pursue new opportunities and business models. We share our independent research on business disruptions via research reports, webinars, speeches, and more. We also offer advisory services to business leaders who wish to explore the specific implications of these disruptions within their organizations. Altimeter Group 1875 S Grant St #680 San Mateo, CA 94402 info@altimetergroup.com www.altimetergroup.com @altimetergroup 650.212.2272 Authors Andrew Jones (@andrewjns) is an Industry Analyst at Altimeter Group where he focuses on social media management and cross- channel customer engagement. He has helped define the Social Media Management industry and worked on several reports related to social management and measurement during the past three years at Altimeter. Charlene Li (@charleneli) is Founder of Altimeter Group and author of the New York Times bestseller, Open Leadership. She is also the co- author of the critically acclaimed bestselling book, Groundswell, which was named one of the best business books in 2008. She is one of the foremost experts on social media and technologies and a consultant and independent thought leader on leadership, strategies, social technology, interactive media, and marketing. How to Work with Us In conjunction with the new command center research, we are pleased to introduce the Social Data Intelligence (SDI) Roadmap – a key tool for business leaders who are using, or plan to use, social data to help guide business decisions. The new SDI Roadmap is built on an Altimeter Group maturity model that is based upon detailed interviews with enterprise social data users and technology developers. The model lays out a holistic view of social data use across the enterprise – taking into account data gathered from platforms such as Customer Relationship Management systems, Business Intelligence and market research – and lays out a set of criteria for organizational maturity. Deliverables from the SDI Roadmap include a Social Data Intelligence Scorecard and accompanying maturity model for social data strategy, as well as actionable recommendations for minimizing risk and improving overall business performance. To learn more about the SDI Roadmap, contact Leslie Candy at leslie@altimetergroup.com or 617.448.4769