One of the many pleasures of the role of driver in a carpool that transports high school students to-and-from school is the glaring clarity of their insight. Today’s gang-of-four conversation started with:
a) “I know, right? Who needs all of that @#%$ from Facebook. They’re only doing it to make money.”
b) “Yeah, they’re like Google. All that new stuff is such a &*$!@ waste of time. I don’t want to see your stupid dog every time I search on you.
c) “It used to be so cool at first. When are they going to do anything new that does what I want it to do? It used to be so much more fun.
The average age of these four young people is just under 16. They are jaded. I didn’t see THAT coming. They wouldn’t dream of unplugging Facebook, but they are much more cautious. They can’t search without Google (“Bing? That’s lame.” – yes, I had to ask), but neither does it have the ‘cool’ feel that they associate with Tumblr. Full disclosure: I do not really know what Tumblr is for.
Their bottom line is that social media is about companies making money off of their activity. And while you might say, in their vernacular, ‘duh!’ – you would be way, way off base: there is a fine balance, and those born into social media can smell a dead fish or phish faster than any CIO or head of Marketing. They always sensed adults out there were scooping up money. And in the same way that they don’t care that gold refining demands earth-destroying levels of cyanide or building their favourite i-device requires mountains of plastics and sweatshop- feats of labour, they ask in return only that they perceive there is something wonderful in it for them.
All of that brought me, on the ride home from the school campus, to the world of the average CIO. You could possibly spend as much (or more) time looking at the large enterprise application suites from the major software vendors. I am not calling anyone out, but none of them have Customer Engagement Platforms, or whatever you might want to call them. The core systems are boring. They are hard to change. Within them it is difficult to model a customer process and then configure for that. They lack engagement tools. You want to share the interface in real time? There’s a bolt-on app for that. Want to collaborate with a colleague? There’s an API into that. Want to view the customer community in real time? Just swivel your chair over here. Basically, it is an IT Flea Market in a technology world that demands the equivalent of Meccano. We want our Spykee mini robot kit for CRM!! Simple, graceful, engaging and affordable. (http://www.meccano.com/models/spykee_mini_robots/ - in case you have no children or nephews and think I make this stuff up!).
CIOs are on the hook for innovation, but finding the right gears to pull it together is not easy. For every writer that contacts me to remind me that ‘it is NOT about the technology’ I have to remind them that they have not witnessed fetal surgery. Go watch Hanmin Lee in action and THEN say it isn’t about the technology. His theatre of action enables physicians to perform feats of magic. So: YES – people and process – but meanwhile, for most organizations, we are supplying functions like Social and Customer Support with junk food right out of Savoy Truffle - Montelimart, Ginger Sling and a pineapple heart. If you know enough about music of a certain time period you will have already begun humming and your lips will form, despite your effort to repress them:
“You know that what you eat you are. But what is sweet now turns so sour.” From an IT perspective, it looks good: nice box, nice company, nice conferences, job security, great toolkit. But is it really addressing the emerging needs of the departments you support?
Bottom line: CIOs are going to have to work in a more public way, in a more “Social” way, to pressure big software into delivering a new generation of enterprise applications that meet the needs of the Engaged Enterprise. After 20 years of gavage, most of us have customer-facing tools that leave us more like caged geese than Usain Bolt.
Speak up – and thank you for your steady stream of responses. Your insights are very helpful to us. Are we off base? Are the major suite suppliers delivering the apps you need for this decade’s challenges?
Ah – and if you happen to be a Gartner client, I’ve laid out the research focus for our team over the next 12 months on Gartner.com - http://www.gartner.com/resId=1897114 .