The Marketing Id came across an excellent keynote address, “Five Megatrends Shaping Enterprise Communications and Collaboration,” delivered on March 3rd this year at CeBIT 2011 in Hanover, Germany by Hamid Akhavan, CEO of Siemens Enterprise Communications. Given its telecommunications pedigree, The Marketing Id believes there is much to learn–regarding the impact of the cloud on Unified Communications (UC), the integration of social media into enterprise communications, and about these five megatrends that are driving the enterprise segment towards renewed growth–by viewing this complete hour-long video online (see link above). Nonetheless, The Marketing Id would like to summarize a few of the highlights from Mr. Akhavan’s address for the benefit of readers, who might then begin to wonder if the social media-integrated
enterprise product cart is ahead of the social media-integrated B2B marketing horse?
At the outset, Mr. Akhavan posits that the revolution in mobile broadband communications brought about by the iPhone, iPad and video streaming, has propelled a growing demand for a commensurate “cosumerization” of the enterprise, a demand which has been further accelerated by the rapid proliferation of social media. So it should come as no surprise that three of his five megatrends that are “driving enterprise cloud communications” originate from end-user needs, which in turn are feeding a couple of IT trends that need to be met. Mr. Akhavan defines these five megatrends as follows:
- Flexible deployment –Enterprise IT must be ready to support cloud-based communications solutions that are private (premise-based), hybrid (flexible) and public (pay-as-you-go) so as to meet customer-specific needs as required.
- Seamless mobility – Enterprise customers want a seamless transition of their ongoing communications from/to various fixed/mobile devices and regardless of their location.
- Integrated user experience – Enterprise customers want a consistent user experience across their various fixed/mobile devices incorporating requisite soft client interfaces.
- Social collaboration – Enterprise customers want various social media tools integrated into their communications solutions so as to enhance their overall collaborative experience
- Reliability and security – Enterprise IT must guarantee ubiquitous service availability beyond traditional firewalls with carrier class redundancy across geo-separated locations and ensure the survivability of remote office locations in case of network failure; and, more critically, safeguard governance and data privacy in this new mobile and expanded enterprise environment.
Mr. Akhavan goes on to establish the viability of these megatrends by demonstrating a few cloud-based UC features such as the on-demand provisioning of a new enterprise user in under a minute, the seamless drag-and-drop transfer of a voice call from a smartphone to a desk phone and back, the survivability of a fixed line call after a cable is cut, the drag-and-drop integration of a UC widget into Google Applications and a consumer-like experience in setting up an enterprise conference call on a smartphone via touchscreen.
So has Mr. Akhavan’s demonstration put the proverbial product cart before the marketing horse? From The Marketing Id standpoint, Siemens has made rapid strides integrating social media into its enterprise applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM). Their contact centers have evolved almost in lockstep with these new communications channels and already provide “cost-effective support for multiple inbound channels including SMS text, voice, video, instant messaging and emerging social media such as Twitter and Facebook.”
Siemens’ state of the art integration of social media into its enterprise products, specifically cloud-based UC, should actually give the B2B marketing segment a boost. The Marketing Id believes that a similar consumerization effort on inbound marketing channels, including relevant social media components, is required across the broader B2B world. It is not that companies have not been trying to implement consumer marketing techniques on the B2B front. But it appears that B2C social media efforts within a B2B environment have been focused more on developing brand equity and less on generating demand, especially where long B2B sales cycles are concerned. More significantly, these inbound and outbound marketing efforts have been largely disjointed. Now, however, with the advent of CRM-integrated marketing automation platforms, such as Eloqua and Marketo, the consumerization of integrated marketing efforts in the B2B world has become easier, even over a lengthy sales cycle.
Suffice it to say that the B2B product marketing carriage will right itself. But the deployment of social media across the traditional marketing mix bodes well for the B2B world. It probably explains why those social media IPOs are doing well – a business model is taking hold that could actually monetize their use in a business setting!