September 28, 2012 Leave a comment
Sagar Anisingaraju, Chief Strategy Officer Saama Technologies Inc.
Many CIOs are venturing beyond the risk averse ‘sustaining operations’ mode to progressive engagement using social media. That is a good start, but more needs to be done. When it comes to evaluating and implementing a traditional system of record tools such as ERP, CRM, HRMS etc., CIOs have a fairly good handle on what works and what does not for their LOBs. A certain level of maturity has been achieved in these traditional systems and CIO offices have learned to master the best fit implementations for LOBs. A+ for the CIOs on that count. It is the social media that will, however, redefine the next generation CIO-LOB conversations and grading of CIOs.
First and foremost, CIOs have to be socially active themselves. It is difficult to lead unless you are part of the ecosystem and understand what is going on around the world you live. If you are not ready to flex your muscles in the outside world yet, corporate social networks within your firewalls are a good start. Your employees may already be communicating on Jive, Yammer, Chatter and other social platforms today while you are busy managing the business of IT. It is important that you personally take active participation in these threads.
Secondly, understand the social ‘data’ relevance to your LOBs. After all, you are the keeper of the keys to the most important data assets of your business. Form teams of innovation within IT to actively understand the relevance of social media data on each of the business lines. Block your calendar to work with those creative teams and be engaged. Let me give some examples on where you can make an impact:
Marketing: This is the holy grail of social media relevance. If you are having lesser and lesser conversations with the CMO these days, it is no surprise. CMOs always want to romance with the customers with innovative ideas while you are saddled with risk-averse approach. Let your innovation team identify a subject area that will make the CMO take notice and conduct a social media data experiment. Integrate the social media feeds (Facebook, tweets, blogs etc.) with key marketing metrics. For example, what segments of your customer base are socially active? Who among them are influencers in the social world? Will giving them a discounted offering structure enable you better conversions of their followers? What is the statistical correlation between customer sentiment on the blogosphere and customer loyalty? How are competitors using social media data in their offerings? Do not wait for the CMO to give you a go ahead to these experiments. Be proactive. Debra Martucci, CIO of Synopsys says “‘it is critical that CIO’s are full partners with their marketing organizations around how the company is and plans to evolve in the space of Social Media to communicate to their customers, partners and employees”. The CIO-CMO partnership is going to redefine the future business successes.
Sales: See how you can help your sales folks during quarter-end to focus on the most probable conversions. Your teams already have all the historical data from the CRM system that you are managing. Identify the patterns. Use NLP algorithms and correlate the emotional satisfaction of prospects from their social footprint. Build buyer propensity models and aid the sales process. Your VP of Sales will be your champion even if you offer a slight improvement in closures leveraging social data.
Human Resources: Your global HR head is always worried with employee satisfaction and its impact on retention. Let your team analyze the glassdoor and other internal social forums. Form few hypotheses on employee satisfaction, corporate communication and retention. Run experiments to verify them with your HR data and build a probability model. Your VP of HR will be very keen to incorporate those findings in their plans.
Chief Medical Officers: If you are running a large hospital or services organization, the challenges that your Medical Officer is facing from social media are completely different. They are grappled to answer questions such as; how was the quality of patient care? Are my physicians looking at the discussion notes that my nurses prepared with patients in time? How is this Big Data relevant to my ambulatory services and profitability? Let your teams be proactive in building models for one or two of these questions and discuss with the Medical Officer on how they can use the social data to their advantage.
Audit & Risk Officers: Your Internal Audit and Risk Officers have no easy ways to understand the impact of social media risks from both regulatory and non-regulatory perspectives. What is the ‘tone’ of conversations among employees, customers and partners on your corporate’s ethical values? Is there a chatter going on some systemic fraud in your product warranty returns or claims processing? The traditional GRC systems that your audit teams are busy implementing have not caught up with the social realities of today. The internal audit teams have neither the skills nor resources to understand this Big Data tsunami that might hit one day. You can show them the direction here.
Vendor Management Officers: Your VMOs are dealing with several vendors both onshore and offshore. Is the social media giving any additional insights into these vendors? For example; are there unethical manufacturing practices followed by any of them? Are there any hidden risks in using those vendors for your business? Focused search and analysis of social media can give you leading indicators about your critical partners. Provide these inputs in a systemic way to your vendor management teams and help them strategize better.
There are several other specific examples, but I am sure you understand both the gap and the opportunity. When you actively engage and show LOBs on how they can take advantage of social media with specific data driven experiments, you will start noticing results. Today, you may not have the skilled resources, such as data scientists to do these tasks. You need people with knowledge in sampling methodologies, working with large data sets, conducting experiments and correlating with business questions. You need advanced tools for performing these experiments. They need investments, yes! But unless you invest today and help create these systems of differentiation to your LOBs, they would be looking elsewhere for direction while you are keeping the lights on.
Once you decide on being proactive in helping your LOBs with social intelligence, the actual implementation is not that difficult. In all probability, you are already providing detailed scorecards to your business users about, uptime, service levels, infrastructure, service costs and other key IT metrics. Include LOB specific social intelligence insights as part of your arsenal.
Your social media relevance to the line of businesses may only be at a C+ today; but do not worry! Most of your contemporaries are at a D+ and it is still a level playing field for now.