Two weeks away from work. That is an anachronism that made me think of my parents. In their prime they worked a combined 100-110 hours a week, and that did not include commuting. When they did arrive home, work was gone. Work was just that – it was hard, and there may have been nobility in it, but it was a lot. They trusted their company to do the right thing on their behalf, and they believed in the products and services from the bank and insurance company and appliance store. They lived in a small town and there was no place to hide. If you lied, cheated, stole, failed to live up to your promise – well, word got around. I thought about that when I read the online edition of the Washington Post from my iPad one morning at The Brooklyn Water Bagel in Delray, FL. The writer, Vivek Wadhwa, said that Social has lost its sizzle (http://wapo.st/AdIf9p ).
What got me to laugh, aside from the restaurant’s clientele, which one of my children defined as the newlywed and nearly dead, was how much social software and concepts seemed to be (and yes, I have always wanted to say this) ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny. At school I was not a sharp enough knife in a very sharp drawer of knives to ever really get that expression, but now I think I do: the Social Endeavour is leading us in stages that have the shape of things past. Why? Because for all of the Madison Avenue advertising and carnival barking, the reality of the small town was that the local business had no choice but to engage with the customer. The customer could communicate at City Hall, and the coffee shop, and in the local paper, and at the PTA meeting – basically they could project themselves – or ‘scale’ the message.
I think this is where we are now. We are scaling globally to act ‘locally.’ Social may or may not ‘sizzle’ this year for IPOs or corporate agendas, but we are on an inexorable path to deliver tools to the employee and to the customer to help each understand the other. I have been calling this the Intent Driven Enterprise for the past ten years, mostly to deaf ears, but not entirely. The idea is that customers sometimes do and sometimes do not know their value to the enterprise, and quite often the enterprise fails to capture and make available the value of the customer to those people and channels where decisions are made during an interaction. The failure to align the customer’s intent with the business intent – and all of the corporate and social information that such an interaction entails, results in asymmetry. The engagement fails one side or the other. But when we get it right, we are returning the relationship to a form last experienced in the small town.
I hope that the ardor for ‘Social’ does not dampen in 2012. If it does it will be the Igby Goes Down of the enterprise. If you did not have teenagers in 2002 you may have missed Clare Danes and Digby as he failed to deal with the complexity of growing up, but unless our plans for Social mature, you’ll get to live it for yourself. There is still a tremendous amount of work to do. I have two presentations at our March Customer360 Summit in Orlando, http://bit.ly/AnxS5V that expand on this: one that looks at how marketing and customer service will emerge as best friends, and why, and a second looks at the future of customer service and the Contact Center/multichannel interaction. I hope that I will get to discuss this with some of you then.
Examining how your organization/business/government/utility/school will succeed in providing an engaging experience that is profitable to you and rewarding for them will eventually be seamless. It will be driven by principles of the Intent Driven Enterprise. Thanks this week to Jeff Hagen of General Mills for allowing me to look at how his global organization is advancing customer engagement – and the mutual benefit that it is yielding.
Ah – why did I say that two weeks away from work is an anachronism? For the past decade I can’t say that there is a beginning or end to work. I walk the streets of Manhattan and I’m watching customers at the Apple store or Barney’s. I’m at a restaurant waiting for a table and I’m observing consumers on their devices. I’m on a plane or in the lounge and I am meeting other IT professionals and exchanging ideas on how their businesses operate. Am I working? Am I on vacation? Does work begin or end so neatly anymore for you? Would you really want it to? That is a whole other day’s conversation.
As always, I enjoy your emails and posts.