The rise of Social Media inside of the enterprise is a bit akin to the follow-on to Odysseus’ initial success in Troy: ten years lost at sea. The concept of “Social” is certainly out there – reaching every department, looking for a home, finding many false starts and frustrating turns. But the heads of IT have their own preening Mnesteres to contend with, and this powerful set of interests is keeping businesses from coming up with an overall strategy.
What has to happen? Someone has to have the power to set up a “Social Center of Excellence.” And that someone should be IT. Not marketing and not customer service. IT. Why? In a way, IT – at its best – is Switzerland. It wants to engineer great things with tremendous precision and just be recognized for their great talent.
The other departments? Well, they are either profit centers, cost centers, or cost centers undergoing transformation to profit centers. IT should be the master of the technologically possible. The arbiters of what is cool and differentiating in business applications and how they could impact key processes.
Right now it is Marketing that has all of the social toys. Everyone gets that: they have the budget. And they largely have defined the rules of social: it’s about impressions and eyeballs and hits and sentiment. And in a secular cycle of greater profits, they are looking good. Yet as “social” becomes more ubiquitous, the loose threads of social CRM initiatives spread across the enterprise and fray: on the website, on fan pages, in forums, mining Twitter, listening to social sites, embedded in customer service, run by ad agencies – there is mini-chaos.
IT can, and should, own the Social Center of Excellence (CoE). To do that it will have to show more vision around not only the key technologies but the most compelling social processes for collaboration, engagement, and participation that are consistent with driving growth and profitability. That last part of the sentence means metrics – ROI metrics that are mostly just shards that need to be reassembled from bits scattered across departments and functions. And those pieces may not all fit together today.
What are you seeing? Is IT up to the task of a CoE?