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Deep flows the River between Social and Business… July 25, 2012

Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Enterprise 2.0.
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It’s been quite a while since the world has been gripped by the Social Media fever . However, as is the case with any new concept that catches the masses by their eyeballs and wallets, social media too has turned into a big Gold Rush with many following suit.  Suddenly, plenty of creative designers, copywriters, and account managers have now turned into peer-recognized and self-proclaimed social media specialists.

Yet, like every time the dust rises, it also has to settle down. When it does settle down, are we going to see despair as we did with the Dot Com bust in the 1990s? For everyone’s sake, I hope not, but, somewhere deep inside I sense a repeat of history.

Can businesses reinvigorate themselves from the inevitable social media overkill when the time comes? Yes, it can and this will be the time when they wake up to Enterprise 2.0. Coined by Andrew P. McAfee, Enterprise 2.0 is defined as “Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.”

However, the future will not be just about Enterprise 2.0 platforms; this will also be a journey of how the corporate world adopts its Customer Engagement Strategies. Customer Engagement sees itself metamorphose itself over 4 key stages, namely, Initiation, Integration, Intelligence and Value Creation.

  • Initiation – being the welcoming stage for the customer
  • Integration – stepping it up to engage the customer to consume the products or services
  • Intelligence  – used to accumulate past learning and understand the customer’s engagements
  • Value Creation – to develop an ongoing relationship through knowledge gained from the previous 3 stages.

Today, we can witness a trend where Initiation and Value Creation are being actively promoted on the Social Media ecosystem through interactive products like events, games, competitions, etc. Obviously, these are conceptualized from the Intelligence gathered over time through proven methodologies. However, a weak Integration presence would result in many customers being bored of all the fun around without any real work being done.  All Play and No Work can also make Jack a dull boy.

So, what does all this mean? This means that until Social Technology evolves in such a manner that customers can execute business transactions via these platforms, they will over a period of time go the way of Newsletters and Raffle Draw tickets as just another marketing gimmick.

This evolution has been defined very eloquently by John Mancini of AIIM in this info graph published in his OccupyIT manifesto.

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Yes, Facebook has taken interaction with the customer to different experience, but it still lacks that most important activity between a customer and a provider and that is the “business transaction”. Naively portrayed below is my vision of the future and where I believe the future should move to.

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A world where one can log on to online banking, traverse to a single transaction and engage in a query or clarification with customer service.

The future is not just social and it’s not just business, but in a nutshell, it will and must be socio-business.

Inside the Process Multiverse October 19, 2011

Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Business Process Management, Enterprise 2.0.
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As a child growing up in the UAE, I remember a distant relative visiting us and educating my dad about sending money home to his parents in India through him and his “contacts” and that dad would get a better exchange rate. Obviously ignorant to the concepts of Informal Value Transfer or more popularly known as Hawala, my dad chose this more financially rewarding funds transfer system. This was the 1980s and India was still a closed economy and instant transfers were not yet effective. This was how India’s parallel economy boomed.

It’s a different story that my dad became enlightened and soon enough used the legal channels to transfer funds and now in the new millennium, better regulations and systems have definitely controlled the Informal Fund Transfer. However, it still exists and is now as much a fabric of society as is the legal economic world.

Into Business Process Management, I regularly come across different parallel process worlds in organizations. While many of them exist to cooperate and avoid redtapism and bureaucracy, some exist with nefarious intentions of fraud and theft. Quite similar to the parallel economy, these parallel process worlds fall under the radar of formal business management and do not reflect in the KPIs or other performance reports.

Social tools and collaboration tools have been formed to replace the coffee machine discussions; those unrecorded telephone conversations and bar talks. Yet, would they replace them? I must say the answer would be an emphatic NO.

Similar to the parallel economy, these worlds are borne out of suffocating and restrictive business environments which neither encourage nor engage the business users to move forward and gain rewards.  The reason lies in the root causes of these parallel process worlds.

Ego

As employees move up the corporate ladder and gain power, along with it comes ego. Ego when bloated beyond acceptable levels can have a strangling effect on peers and subordinates, thus, resulting in parallel worlds to bypass the Ego.

Nepotism

As is the case in every domain, nepotism exists within an organization and friends or relatives are usually given either positions of authority or squeezed into key decision making processes to justify their existence. As they are not deployed on merit, they tend to either blockade or hamper the processes leading to parallel process worlds to minimize their influences.

Nescience

Quite prominent in fast developing or widening domains like Information Technology, it is quite natural to find people occupying positions and having authority over domains where their expertise is prehistoric. Current generation finds it then difficult to get things done as it forces them into painful education or explanations. Again, respite is found in the parallel process world where the nescient and rendered ignorant.

Racism/Sexism

It is quite normal in cosmopolitan societies to find organizations headed by a single prominent race over others. Cultural similarities to the management promote people of the same race over others and this creates divides further down the ladder. The same case applies for Sexism as well.

And what’s the way out again? Form your own process world.

Corruption/Immorality

Not every parallel process world is due to political factors. Some are borne from corrupt and immoral practices leading to subvert processes. Perhaps the most harmful of its kind, these processes are usually detected only in hindsight either by audit or the downfall of the organization’s businesses. They are usually manufactured processes and most definitely, the least spoken of.

Today, as I stare at my BPMN diagrams, I ask myself, would BPM or a BPMS solve these concerns and I know they will not. It is therefore necessary to understand that BPM is not the single cure for all problems and that the management of a business is so much more than just processes. If you fail at your principles and ethics of business management, your BPM practice or BPM systems will also fail.

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