Welcome to the Social Enterprise – It’s Not What You Think, B2B Skeptics!

If The Marketing Id had any doubts that social media was still more pervasive as a marketing tool in the B2C world as opposed to the B2B world, those doubts have begun to seriously erode this year.  With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like in the past few years, it’s the customers and employees of the enterprise, both B2C and B2B that have been quick to adopt social networking.  So it came as no surprise at the recent Dreamforce 2011 conference in San Francisco, when Marc Benioff (Chairman & CEO of Salesforce.com) pondered during his opening keynote address, “Customers and employees are social.  Are enterprises social?”  In fact, he went on suggest that they were not social and wondered if there was a way to bridge this social divide between the enterprise and its employees and customers.

While consulting for a digital content management company back in 2007, I had come up with this wonderful tagline, “Bridging the media divide” to encapsulate the essence of its existing managed services and forthcoming SaaS offerings.  So when Mr.  Benioff spoke of a three-step program that Salesforce.com had recently developed to “bridge this social media divide,” I felt a sense of déjà vu.  It also got me to appreciate a key differentiator–while we were ahead of the curve in trying to migrate digital  content management services to the cloud in 2007–social media offerings were pretty much born in the cloud! Thus, all that bridging Benioff’s social media divide required was the establishing of a value proposition that would be compelling to the enterprise.

And, Mr. Benioff did so quite convincingly in his Dreamforce 2011 keynote.  He asserted that for an enterprise, delighting customers is knowing who they are and what they like–Facebook tells us what they like, Twitter tells us what they are saying  and LinkedIn tells us who they are connected to?  So in order to become a “social enterprise,” a B2B needs to follow three steps–begin creating customer social profiles in its database, establish an employee social network and finally integrate these into customer and product social networks with the appropriate security and access provisions as required.

From The Marketing Id’s standpoint, Salesforce.com has done pioneering work in the employee social network domain with its 2010 launch of Chatter–a collaboration application for the enterprise to connect and share information securely with employees in real-time.  At the Dreamforce 2011 conference Mr. Benioff announced that Chatter’s functionality had been extended to include Chatter Now–a presence detection capability to let employees know who was “live” on Salesforce.com and thus allow them to chat and collaborate in real time.  In addition, the Chatter Connect API empowers employees of the enterprise to bring 3rd party streams into Chatter and enhance workflow efficiencies and employee productivity.  Chatter  Groups enables employees to include customers and partners in specific groups to collaborate on proposals, presentations and the like.  And, a telecommuter/road warrior imperative, Chatter Mobile extends these functions to popular mobile devices such as iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android.

As a B2B, if you thought Salesforce.com already rated “good to great” on the Jim Collins scale, their introduction of Data.com with its access to Dun & Bradstreet and Jigsaw data inside Salesforce makes them even better. More importantly, your B2B sales force can now access all their existing data and applications on the road on their mobile devices with the availability of touch.salesforce.com.  Finally, to aid the creation of the afore-mentioned customer and product social networks, Salesforce.com has introduced a multi-language, open, cloud platform for the enterprise that will enable a B2B to engage in social marketing activities such as crowd-sourcing for product feedback, social monitoring of customer conversations, etc.

The above is only a brief summary of the leading edge developments taking place on the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) side of what The Marketing Id has been referring to as a CRM-integrated Marketing Automation Platform (MAP).  The  Marketing Id had also recently blogged about how Siemens Enterprise Communications (Social Media-Integrated Enterprise Products Lead the Way for Social Media-Integrated B2B Marketing) had made rapid strides in the B2B communications domain by focusing on five megatrends that included cloud-based communications, seamless mobility,  social collaboration, consistent consumer-like experience across devices, and ubiquitous reliability and security.  Listening  to Mr. Benioff it seemed pretty obvious to The Marketing Id that Siemens, who is a Salesforce.com customer, is well-aligned with the vision of a social enterprise.  Based on the turnout at Dreamforce 2011 conference and the dominance of Salesforce.com in the B2B domain, The Marketing Id believes that the concept of a social enterprise will catch on quite rapidly in the broader B2B world.

From a marketing standpoint, the social enterprise could become the holy grail for B2B marketers when it comes to sales enablement, demand generation and a truly integrated sales and marketing funnel with one vision of the truth.   With a  CRM-integrated MAP, marketing to the social enterprise becomes a collaborative, real-time exercise that ought to make it a delightful experience to customers, employees, partners, et al. So welcome to the social enterprise, folks!

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About Jack Nargundkar

High-tech marketing is always a constant compromise between logical left-brain analytics and creative right-brain activities. Jack has been living this struggle his entire working career, which he began as a software geek after graduating with a BSEE degree from Bombay University. To hone his marketing skills, Jack went on to pursue an MBA degree from Columbia Business School in New York City. Jack has since gained wide-ranging marketing experience from working at start-ups to Fortune 500 companies in the global IT, Defense & Space, and Telecommunications industries. In the past few years, Jack has focused on developing integrated marketing strategies and plans that incorporate a judicious mix of inbound and outbound marketing techniques. In addition to being a self-published author, Jack has been recognized for outstanding analytical and communications skills, authoring technical articles (self and ghosted) in numerous trade publications and editorial opinions in Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
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4 Responses to Welcome to the Social Enterprise – It’s Not What You Think, B2B Skeptics!

  1. Dreamforce was, indeed, extremely well done and the social enterprise message was quite compelling. I am a believer. I found it interesting that the volume of information I was able to gather and digest while attending Dreamforce was much greater than all the web/social media-based inputs I have come across in recent years, making it well worth the trip. We B2B and B2G marketers need to realize that while there is still a place for more traditional, outward-bound marketing methods, those of us that don’t embrace the social revolution will be at a professional disadvantage… and will miss out on a lot of fun along the way.

    As far as the Enterprise as a social entity, the early adopters are already there, and the rest of us need to drive our organizations in that direction or be left with a serious competitive disadvantage.

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