Monday, May 3, 2010

The Power of Social Media for Customer Driven Innovation

Chris Andrews, Forrester Research, reporting at FEI 2010

I just attended Scott Hirsch’s “The Power of Social Media For Customer Driven Innovation”. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, as I have followed the changing market for innovation management tools (along with some colleagues) for several years. We get a lot of questions about how social media is changing the way organizations can innovate, and there are many theories that social media is either changing the enterprise for good, or in the midst of a huge bubble.

A few points I heard during this session:
· Scott put up a slide from an analyst firm highlighting some key areas for social in the enterprise: Marketing, sales, services and support, innovation, collaboration, customer experience.
· Scott points out connectivity and mobility are changing dialog with customers
· Social media is hardly new – community forums have been around for years
· Social media tools are becoming more user friendly and pervasive and therefore more relevant to business
· Scott’s theory is that the future of social media is in social business and customer collaboration.

I agree with him on this last point – social has worked for the consumer and it’s only a matter of time before many enterprises find viable uses. But I’d say most are still in experimental mode right now, or being applied most effectively in marketing and product support areas, in CPG products or in very tech-focused startups. I think a better question is how quickly social media will find real and practical use in a wide variety of business functions, which is a much larger base of companies than Scott discussed.

As an example, putting questions about Apple products into to Google may work for consumers and certain businesses, but it will not work for my enterprise customers and IT groups, who have a broad range of other considerations to work with (huge customer sets, legacy architecture, security, etc). And I still get questions all the time from IT professionals who have recently changed or dropped their innovation management tools, because of “lack of use” or “limited business value.”

My criticism may be a disconnect in focus areas. This audience is likely more closely linked to the groups Scott is describing, than my clients (though the first question was about B2B groups). But these two group will, eventually, need to be working together, so their technologies will need to work together too.

Want to discuss this session or my post? Please find me! I'm in the back of my sessions typing away.

1 comment:

Janelle said...

The future of social media in business depends on its ability to deliver real results. Measuring and calculating ROI is key to adoption. What is the critical business need that social media is addressing will be core to the adoption of social in business. Incorporating social elements, but purposing them towards focused collaboration (with customers, employees, and other defined user groups) around Innovation, seems to be the most promising. See this post on a related topic:

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