On the Social Enterprise
On September 22 Mark Zuckerberg closed his presentation at Facebook’s annual F8 conference with a reference to Moore’s Law, the trend of exponential technology growth first observed in 1965 by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore. Zuckerberg used the reference to make a point about the bevy of new Open Graph features the world’s largest social media platform had just announced. He said Facebook was “taking the next step” with additions that would enable more flexible interactions on the web, and invited those watching or in attendance to take future steps with them. Translated: change is constant, and we will continue to accelerate it.
Whoooooooooooooooosh. Did you hear that? It was the sound of a bullet train known as social media racing towards the horizon. And if you’re not already onboard, now is the time to get your ticket-- or at least try and grab the caboose as it whizzes by.
After F8, Forbes referred to Facebook as, “the social infrastructure of the internet,” and wrote positively about the way “It constantly changes itself.” In the same article, Salesforce.com Founder and CEO Marc Benioff said Facebook had, “the best strategy ever for a technology company.”
So what is a brand or a retailer to do? You may not even be finished implementing that Like button into your product pages, or have yet to find your brand’s voice on Twitter, and already the landscape is shifting. The answer, I believe, is to expect constant change and ride with it. Your customers are increasingly using the social web, so why shouldn’t you?
Next Stop: The Social Enterprise
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual user conference. To call Dreamforce a “user conference” doesn’t quite do it justice—more than 45,000 people were in attendance, and it is now the largest enterprise software conference in the industry. The entire theme of this year’s show was around creating a social enterprise. During Dreamforce, Salesforce.com unveiled a host of new features that would enable organizations to more easily interact both inside and outside their own walls. The not-too-far-off vision was, I believe, an accurate one: businesses collaborating internally through social systems, capturing social data on their customers, interacting naturally with them in new ways, and delivering great experiences at the right time, on the appropriate platform.
But it wasn’t just the new features like social media profile tracking and connectivity into CRM, the addition of Radian6, multiple enhancements to its Twitter-like Chatter system that signaled the shift in how leading enterprises will attract, engage and retain customers. The overall tone of Dreamforce, from CEO Benioff’s keynote, to the exhibit halls, to the individual sessions, all had a social feel. It felt as though Dreamforce—a user conference for one of the world’s largest CRM systems--had become a social media conference. And that was the point.
So many things about the way consumers interact are changing, and the tools we use to manage our relationships with them are changing as well. And just as it has taken the better part of a decade to remove the “e” from ecommerce, so too will it take time for most businesses to become a true social enterprise. But don’t underestimate the pace of change in which consumers are using the social web. The ways and means exist now for organizations to fully embrace social media and board the bullet train alongside their customers.
So all aboard. This is one platform you don’t want to be left standing on.
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