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How CIOs can devise a social business strategy

Kristin Burnham | Feb. 21, 2011
As more companies continue to embrace social technologies, the key to success, Forrester says, is in a social business strategy.

FRAMINGHAM, 25 FEBRUARY 2011 - Untapped data. Inability to scale. Dismal adoption. Overspending. Gaping security holes. These are some of the most common challenges-and often sources of failure-that enterprises encounter following a social solution deployment, according to a new report by Forrester Research.

As more companies continue to embrace social technologies, the key to success, Forrester says, is in a social business strategy. "Yesterday's strategies built around market needs are outdated in today's empowered business world," writes report author and Forrester analyst Nigel Fenwick. "Dynamic, flatter organizations built around social connections that focus on solving business and customer challenges are replacing old hierarchial organizations."

But before developing a social business strategy, CIOs need to partner with the CMO and address two areas:

Create a social business strategy council. Understand that neither the CIO nor the CMO owns the strategy, rather the executive team must own it. Enlist the CEO to create a social business strategy council, comprised of business leaders and managers from across the enterprise, including IT, HR and legal. This team's responsibility, states the Forrester report, is to help create the strategy and see the implementation through.

Engineer your "aha" moment. This moment occurs when senior leadership realizes the full potential of social technologies to improve their business, according to the report. Forretser recommends creating a setting for this moment by bringing together business execs to explore how social technologies are transforming other organizations, and to discuss what is possible in your organization.

Here are the four steps Forrester recommends when creating a social business strategy.

Social Business Strategy Step 1: Considering Your People

Without an understanding of the expectations and experience of your employees, customers and suppliers, developing an effective strategy is difficult.

Start by assessing how creative your employees are. In using technologies such as Facebook or iPhones, do they imagine how they could be used to help customers? Is your company set up in such a way that employees feel free to act on creative impulses? This will help determine how far along your workforce is in social technology adoption, the report says.

Next, think about how social your customers are. Between 2007 and 2010, social networking usage more than doubled, according to Forrester, with 62 million U.S. adults visiting a social networking site at least monthy. "A clear understanding of your customers' use of social technologies yields potential insights into how to engage with them to create value," Fenwick writes.

Social Business Strategy Step 2: Listing Your Objectives


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