How do we like the productivity gains brought on by software and robotics so far? Whether it is retail, or manufacturing, or travel or hospitality, there is a lot of dislocation out there helped by automation. Put those together with cyclical economic pullbacks, and a segment like banking, for example, can really feel it: 150,000 fewer people receiving a paycheck in just 24 months. Examples: Bank of America said in September 2012 that it would eliminate 30,000 jobs by the end of 2013. Citigroup: 11,000 jobs wiped out. UBS AG: 10,000, Commerzbank: 6,000 jobs after cutting 9,000 after merging with Dresdner Bank in 2009, Lloyds Banking: 15,000 cut, Barclays lops off 9,000. But why stop there? We could go over to telecoms and find 5,000 at Alcatel, or Nokia Siemens Networks in the process of reducing 17,000, and last year T-Mobile let go over 3,000 folks in their contact centers. Automation is a thing of dreadful beauty, and good for the bottom line, if not employees.
How is social media impacting any employment trends? Aside from moving the deck chairs, are any of the new social processes for crowd-sourcing answers and advice adding or reducing jobs? Will it change in a positive and dramatic way? There does not appear to be data to indicate one way or the other if Social Networks and Media will create or destroy jobs, and which jobs would they impact if they do.
Maybe a more interesting question would be: do any of the new Cloud technologies do anything to enrich anyone other than investors and owners of the software companies themselves? What value is all of this collaboration unlocking for the participants inside of a business?
An interesting question for the long haul will be: how happy in the end will consumers be, depending on social networks to uncover answers and solve problems and receive advice, versus receiving great answers and advice directly from the manufacturer or provider of the product and/or service? Is there a best heuristic to predict how sentiment will shift? Something like the introduction of the IVR or Email was meant to lower costs and improve service – regardless of how it turned out. Now organizations are attempting to respond to the consumer desire to interact with one another to act on their own behalf. Will customers continue to love the Social Care and social media, or will there at some point be a backlash where they figure out that all of this was necessary because businesses were so pitifully inept at delivering good customer service or so focused on profit that they didn’t care?
At the moment just about no one is measuring the ROI of Social Engagement, and consumer sentiment remains in the Honeymoon-phase of the relationship.
Anyone care to bet? Will the chickens come home to roost on Social Media in the enterprise? Or is it all clear sailing ahead?