It is clear that the terms “enterprise 2.0” and “social business” mean different things to different people. To move beyond definitions, let’s focus on the impact that an enterprise social strategy can have on an organization. Today’s companies and associations are networked organizations. Employees, customers (or members), and industry partners rely on each other like never before.
When it comes to figuring out how to implement a social strategy across an enterprise, many organizations run the risk of ignoring this interdependence and defining the scope of their strategy too narrowly. Some organizations only focus on connecting employees, while others only focus on building social networks for customers or partners.
The most successful organizations take the development of their social business strategy as an opportunity to bring all of their key stakeholders together around critical business-level goals.
Enterprise Online Community Diagram
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Here are three groups you can’t ignore during the development of your enterprise social strategy.
Enterprise 2.0 initiatives must have a customer-centric mission.
Let’s look at a tale of two enterprise software categories. Both Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and corporate intranets came of age in the late 90’s. Which one has grown to be a $18 billion market today? If you guessed that the enterprise software that helps companies build and strengthen relationships with customers is the more dominant player in the overall business landscape, you’d be right.
While the presence of collaboration tools and online community platforms inside the enterprise is rising in importance, social business professional’s top priority must remain on using web 2.0 tools to improve the experience that customers and prospects have with their products and services.
Increasing productivity is no joke! Implementing a community strategy where employees can share ideas, find answers, and collaborate on projects can have a tangible effect of an organization’s performance.
Employee productivity is driven by more than providing more efficient and transparent communication tools to project teams. In order to stay engaged, your staff also wants a collective voice, deeper involvement in important internal or customer initiatives, and tools to get better results in their jobs.
Your enterprise social strategy can play a big part in meeting these needs. However, it means that organizations can’t just focus on employee collaboration. They need to provide a networked community where employees can engage all of the audience with which they do business.
Creating efficiency in the way partners communicate and stay connected with your organization spans the benefits of the two audiences listed above. For many companies, their distributors and resellers are the lifeblood of their sales and marketing operation. For many non-profit membership organizations (like associations and independent user groups), industry partners, vendors, and sponsors make up a significant portion of their revenue pool.
With social software, organizations of all types have an opportunity to bring partners into the community in the appropriate places to strengthen their value proposition to customers or members, as well as control the costs of keeping these audiences engaged.
Whether it is your consultant partners reducing your support costs by answering questions that customers ask or providing more clarity on your products to VARs using socially-enabled file and video libraries, we can all agree that empowering your partner network to get information faster and provide answers to your prospects and customers more efficiently can have a profound effect on your organization.
Online Community Takeaway
Creating an online community for only one of these audiences may seem easier than creating a community that serves all three, but that is not enough to satisfy the performance goals of most senior management teams. Keep your enterprise social strategies aligned with the major goals of your organization. You can do this by looking at your enterprise 2.0 strategy as bringing your customers, employees, and partners together for the success of your customers.
The segmentation and integration with your backend database (CRM or AMS) built into today’s online community software makes this easier than ever. Organizations don’t need to purchase separate platforms to meet the needs of each audience. Using a single enterprise online community platform, each group can participate and access information that is appropriate for their role.
Tip: Roll out your online community in phases to focus on each specific audience, but be sure that your plan includes eventually bringing all of these audiences into your enterprise social strategy.