28th May 2012
MyCustomer.com caught up with analyst Ray Wang at SAP's Forum event to discuss how IT convergence and social media are shifting what it means to engage.
Unified communications, mobile, Cloud, Big Data and social. According to Constellation analyst and founder Ray Wang, these are the five forces of change driving the consumerisation of IT. And what's really exciting him is the convergence of these disruptive technologies.
He uses the humble alarm clock as an example. “Your meeting at 9AM gets cancelled, so what time should your alarm clock wake you up? We don’t know. But we now have alarm clocks that look at your traffic or the alarm clock is talking to the car which is saying ‘You need seven minutes to get gas.’ And so it calculates how many more minutes of sleep you get.
“When machines are talking to machines, and machines are talking to people, we get this convergence that’s shifting what it means to engage,” he explains. “We’re rebuilding the matrix as we speak.”
But the shift in engagement does owe much to one of the five forces in particular: social. “Social’s changing the world because we’re traversing space and time and helping us manage relationships in a way that we never thought about,” says Wang.
Social’s emergence in business is changing how people work with each other. Previously, relationships were mostly driven by cost which resulted in the devaluation of people and ultimately customers, says the analyst. As a result, everybody revolted and set up their own communities to engage with each other. But now, he says, businesses are asking themselves how to bring that back inside the organisation?
“Internally, social business is trying to shift how information is distributed. In the old days it was hierarchical and dictorial whereas today we’re having conversations and things pivot.”
Managing social conversations
And of course social is also having major repercussions for the way in which businesses approach engagement with the customer. In particular, well-timed and crafted marketing messages no longer necessarily make an impression on the modern social customer. In a recent article for Harvard Business Review, Wang explains that customers now increasingly ignore targeted marketing campaigns and instead rely on social recommendations.
For customer-focused professionals, they must now ensure they learn how to manage these social conversations - it’s important to have as many people as possible talking positively about your company in the social space, he explains, particularly if your customers become a community of brand advocates.
But the problem for most companies is that with multiple departments testing disparate initiatives across multiple channels, there is an unholy mess emerging, and there is a desperate need to join up these channels to effectively support customer communication.
Constellation’s DEEPR adoption framework details the multiple stages a disruptive technology must pass through, based on metrics, until it becomes an adopted project. But the problem of multiple departments/multiple initiatives still remains.
“If I’ve got five or six different departments and five or six different systems, what does my customer record look like? Am I still even capturing interaction history? I don’t have a complete view. This is where the architecture becomes important – making sure that people agree on a definition of a customer, what we’re measuring, how many times is it measured – the point is to get it where you capture it once.
“The single customer view isn’t obtainable but what you need is really good integration,” he says. “So I can take back my marketing integration, take back to my social communities, take a social analytics feed, take back and see what’s going on in my blog and Facebook and build those composites very quickly. I can build a composite map and make quick decisions and that’s where the integration comes into play.”
Trading privacy for convenience
But Wang is no social media zealot. Facebook, for instance, is not popular with him.
“We don’t think you should be on Facebook – it’s dumb to trade your privacy for convenience. It’s also dumb to keep driving traffic into Facebook. You should drive traffic to your sites and your communities by pulling from Facebook into what you’re doing. That way you have control of the data and make sure that you’re not just selling stuff back to Facebook, which you’re going to buy again.”
And he has even stronger opinions when it comes to the role of the individual on social networks - and the right of the consumer to be off the grid.
“The right to be offline is going to be more important than anything else in the next decade, even in the next century. Give me the right not to be tracked – it doesn’t exist right now," he explains.
“When and if that occurs to the point that you no longer have cash, you have lost the right because as soon as you trade in digital currencies you are tracked every piece of the way. Today I can make a purchase anonymously - in the future with digital currencies and payment technologies that all goes away.
“So if there’s anything I would encourage people to do in the next 12-18 months, it’s to support those people that are fighting for the right to protect your privacy. I don’t believe what Zuckerberg believes. Privacy is what we choose to make a value out of, and so if you want to keep trading your privacy for convenience, go with Mark. But if you really believe that you should have a right to privacy then go fight these things. Join groups like EPIC who are fighting for this around the world to at least give you that level of privacy.”