Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Social Business - what is your company's risk profile?

Enabling employee participation in social discussions does come with risk.  It also comes with a an opportunity to provide significant business value.  Companies need to think about the risk/benefit tradeoff, and how it aligns with their company's values.

It's an age-old issue .. if companies are risk-adverse, their rewards are likely to be minimal (safe).  In some regulated industries, there are strict guidelines that must be followed that may restrict employee participation in social discussions.  If we put regulated industries aside, companies that have a risk adverse culture will find it difficult to trust their employees to collaborate directly with customers and partners.  They rely on the traditional 'push' messaging, which requires approval through an established process.   It's interesting to consider new risks for this model.... the risk of loosing existing market share to companies who enable social conversations.  Companies need to realize this new risk, and evaluate their response based on their corporate culture.  Not participating at all is probably not a sustainable position long term.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are start-up companies that are in business to take risks, with the goal of significant rewards. While this is a small percentage of companies, they may be best positioned to take advantage of new white space opportunities in this new social era.  Since they have minimal 'rules' and process, they are able to create a stronger voice in social channels than their competition.   They are best suited to meet the needs of the 'new' customer who will make purchasing decisions based on my personal interactions and support. 

The environment is changing, as are customer expectations.  Companies need to understand the changing landscape and take a hard look at their risk profile.  What has worked in the past may not work in the future. Exciting times ahead :-)