Technology Will Only Solve 1/3 of Your Social Business Problem

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I’m behind on writing a bit as I’ve just returned from Norway and before that, Dreamforce in San Francisco. It was my first time attending and speaking at Dreamforce and to be honest, I was completely taken back by the extravagance of it all. With Keynotes from heavy hitters such as Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Imelt and even Colin Powell, not to mention entertainment provided by the Red Hot Chili Peppers—I can only estimate that the event cost tens of millions to produce.

Salesforce also made good on what many observers were already suspecting—it has begun to package and consolidate acquisitions of social platforms Radian 6 and Buddy Media into what’s now known as “Marketing Cloud” moving forward. Shel Israel shrewdly views this as a pivot to catering to CMOs as part of the strategy to convert an enterprise to “social enterprise” and in short follow the money trail as companies grapple with how to integrate social at scale.

But amid enjoying some of my favorite tunes belted out by the Peppers in an outdoor venue filled with well over thirty thousand people complete with free beer and wine I couldn’t help but think this:

“all this money—and companies will only be solving one third of their social business problem” 

The problem with social technology solutions—even really great technology is that it’s incomplete. It’s no wonder why Salesforce is making a killing, because I’ve seen first hand how a business will freely invest in a technology platform thinking that they have purchased a turnkey solution only to realize shortly after that they’ve possibly invested in the wrong solution and most definitely underestimated the other two areas which require investment (people and process).

The Three P’s of Social Business 

People, Process, and Tech Platforms. Each is equally important and yet so many businesses are putting all their eggs in the platform basket because it seems like the most obvious solution. But it’s short sighted and even emphasizes the need for the other two. The most common issue I see from working with large organizations is that once an enterprise social technology solution has been implemented it immediately raises questions about who will operate it, integrate it, adopt it and derive value from the investment. The dirty little secret in the technology world is that technology, even really good technology looks automated but in reality requires people to make it work. 

Life After The Big Buy

Assuming that you’ve been part of the professional population who have invested in the most obvious “P” helping to fuel the enterprise tech economy, you should be asking yourself what comes next. A social CMS (Content Management System) is nothing without content and teams/partners to manage it. The best listening platform is nothing without the ability to filter signal from noise and make sense of it. And even internally, a social collaboration system falls flat without the right culture to sustain it. 

Right now is a great time to pause and think about the other two “P”s of social business—your people and processes. It’s not nearly as sexy as technology, but you need all three to complete the math. Technology alone will only solve one third of your social business problem and while critical, it’s only part of the equation.

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