Thursday, January 27, 2011

'Social' risks - are they unique?

Social Business is all about mitigating risks in support of driving business value.  Risks come in multiple dimensions:  business, legal, HR, technology, etc..  As companies begin to better understand the risks resulting from participating in social conversations, it's interesting to think about which are unique to 'social', and which are fundamentally enterprise risks that existed years ago.  Some examples of potential risks :
  • Someone could post some comments that could potentially damage a company's brand image.  
  • An employee could post confidential information, which could impact a product announcement.
  • An employee could share someone's personal information, which could violate privacy laws.

The question is ... are these unique to social?  Prior to social capabilities ... could someone write an article in a newspaper that could potentially damage a companies brand?  Could an employee e-mail a confidential document to an un-authorized person?  Could an employee copy an external person on a personnel e-mail to an employee with their personal information?

The answer to all of the above is .. YES.   While there are some risks that could be unique to social, most of them are not.  So, when we talk about social business and the associated risks, what are the 'social' risks?

We need to consider the dimensions of risk:  their impact and likelihood of occurrence.  
  • Impact:  While many of the risk themselves may not change, their impact may change .... due to the viral nature of social.  In the case of the newspaper article above.  This comment may only be viewed by a few thousand people (depending on the distribution of the paper).... while it now has the potential to spread in a viral fashion to millions of people very quickly.   
  • Likelihood:  Let's now think about the likelihood of occurrence dimension.   With the easy access to blogging tools and twitter feeds, there are millions more people with easy access to express their opinions (both good and bad).  Could this drive a greater likelihood that someone may post some comments that could damage your brand?
When companies consider the social risks in these new dimensions, they will need to identify ways to mitigate these 'new' risks.  It's highly recommended that companies take the time, and conduct a Social Media risk assessment.  I'm sure it will uncover new insights and recommendations.

I welcome any comments or additional insights you'd like to share.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Manager Memo ...Not Working but Networking!

I liked the title from the ZDNet Blog post, ... Not Working, but Networking.  This is catchy, and powerful at the same time.   There is growing consensus that active participation by employees in social channels will provide business value.  But... there are still many managers that haven't yet gotten the 'memo'.  Blogging and tweeting are seen as personal social activities and are discouraged by many managers, since there is not a clear understanding of how it links to their department mission.  It does remind me of the days where employee use of the internet was also viewed as wasting time.   So, what needs to change?  It's easy to say that the culture of the company needs to change, but it's certainly an evolution. I see it in three major phases:
  1. Grass roots efforts by early adopters is the starting point.  Passionate employees go outside 'cultural norms' and participate (with or without specific management permission). Value derived from these efforts can be used to start momentum within a compnay.
  2. Executive leadership needs to set company wide agendas and strategies in support of Social Business.  Once this happens, it can drive support organizations (i.e. HR, Finance, IT) to align to common goals.  This is the phase where cultural norms begin to shift
  3. Company wide management support, especially at the 1st level, is one of the mature phases of the evolution.  When management uniformly supports cross-company collaboration and social conversation, culture will begin to shift.
Social Business is a journey.  I find it fascinating to watch the evolution happen...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The pendulum swings again with Social Business

Over my 25 year career in large corporations, I've seen the pendulum swing in many areas.  I remember 'dumb terminals' on my desk driven from mainframe computers ... wow, I must be old :-).   The pendulum swung completely in the other direction to an individual workstation solution.  While this had some benefits (allowing customization), it certainly had some drawbacks as well (challenge of security, sharing common documents).  With this new era of social business and cloud computing, I see the pendulum swinging back once again.  People are realizing that there is some value to centralization for certain areas.  Cloud computing has many of the attributes of mainframe technologies, with social computing capabilities enabling easy collaboration across team members.

The pendulum effect has come to mind as I think about one of my current focus areas:  Social Intelligence.  In large enterprises, it's common to have individuals and business units create social listening and action plans based on their specific goals.  With the availability of free web capabilities, it's difficult to control.  While there are benefits to having individuals participate, they are missing out on common linkages between data .  In this new era, there is significant value in the intersection of information.  It's the age-old struggle between individual control and the benefit of the common good.  The challenge for organizations is to provide technology that enables individual customization of a common set of data.  Users are demanding it.   I agree with many of the insights in a recent blog post:  From Community Management to Command Centers.  Companies need to figure out how to effectively engage conversations in real time, encourage individual employee participation ... all while assuring that these actives are connected and leveraged across the enterprise.  It's the next real challenge!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Social Media 2011 prediction: Culture change

Happy New Year! 

I've been catching up on some great blogs with 2011 Social Media predictions.  Most agree that this will be a year where Social Media tools and capabilities start to demonstrate business value.  What is my prediction?  I think that 2011 will be the year where business cultures will shift away from the risk adverse culture of 'try it and see' to a more risk acceptance/mitigation culture that realizes that the rules have changed.  Executives will come to the realization that in order to compete, they need to enable and encourage their employees to be open, collaborative with clients and partners. 

Culture change is foundational, and typically very slow.  On the other side, the technology for early adopters moves very quickly.  In 2011, these enablers will have reached some level of maturity.  When companies change their culture in 2011 and take advantage of the available capabilities, the possibilities are endless.