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Social Enterprise: Value co-creation putting people at the center

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Social collaboration that works

Pubblicato da Emanuele Quintarelli | in Enterprise 2.0

Social collaboration has been more art than science. Organizations and practitioners have experienced this on their own skin and the unfortunate truth is well known among consultants.

While any company and any project are a different story, I believe there is still much to learn. Other than directly helping our clients, together with Stefano Besana I’ve tried to accelerate this growing awareness by launching the Social Collaboration Survey, the first free, public, quantitative study in Italy regarding the challenges, best practices and most effective strategies for success in Social Enterprise initiatives.

300 companies from every industry and of every size have generously shared their data and perspective to let the entire market understand both the state of Social Collaboration and the critical levers that distinguish top performers from laggards.

Thanks to it, in the results you’ll find detailed information about the level of maturity, business benefits, barriers, accelerators, budgets, roll-out strategies, available resources, approaches to result measurement, integration of collaboration to external social media and much more. Exactly what you need to avoid expensive mistakes that others have done before you and to convince your management about the best way to get started.

Now all this information is available to you in a synthetic form (25 diagrams circa) and in english. Feel free to read and use the data to guide your projects and your reasoning:

While the study has been conducted in Italy, one of the lessons learned from the recent Enterprise 2.0 Summit 2014 in Paris is that most of the evidences resonate both with other European and with non European countries. Italy or Europe may be a bit behind but overall we are all fighting the same battle with the same weapons.

Yet another reason to keep battling together!

Commenta »   9 March 2014

Breaking down the walls of the Social Enterprise

Pubblicato da Emanuele Quintarelli | in Enterprise 2.0

At its sixth year, the Enterprise 2.0 Summit is among the longest living conferences in Europe on social collaboration and digital transformation initiatives. I’ve seen its evolution through Frankfurt and more recently Paris by participating at all of its editions with this last one dedicated to getting the social enterprise ready.

Starting from the results of the recent Social Collaboration Survey done with Stefano Besana, I’ve discussed the maturity of the Social Enterprise market with its significant progress and also its huge stumbling blocks in order to stimulate a data driven reflection on how to go from pilot projects to strategic transformation programs.

If you want the long version, here it is the video of my speech together with the accompanying slides:

And even more, after it, you may want to listen to the vibrant discussion it generated between me and the well-known thinkers, thought-leaders and practitioners below:

  • Luis Suarez – formerly Social Computing evangelist, IBM Software group
  • Dr. Chee Chin Liew – Enterprise Community Manager, BASF SE
  • David Terrar – Founder & CXO, Agile Elephant
  • Simon Levene – Senior Strategy Consultant, Jive Software

For those having only a few of minutes left, these are some key points I’ve shared during the session:

  • Social enterprise is getting more important. 3/4 of the market will consider it strategic in 3 years
  • Adoption on the contrary has a long way to go, stuck at 10-30% of the workforce for the majority of our sample
  • To make it strategic, cultural and value perception have to be addressed by 60% of the laggards, while leaders are still struggling with the ROI
  • Organizations heading the pack have hit the target by gaining top management buy-in, mixing bottom-up and top-down roll-out strategies, devoting enough community management resources, spending more than 100K Euros /year, measuring results in 91% of the cases and, finally, bridging internal and external engagement initiatives

The panel has been particularly busy in discussing the direction Social Enterprise should follow (if mostly top-down or bottom-up) and how much success we have seen at this point. What I took out from it, is that even experienced practitioners still somewhat disagree on best practices and even about the need of best practices. While the numbers seem to tell quite a clear story of what to do and what not to do, it is then not really surprising how managers are still not aware or are not yet following the most effective route to success.

Among those of us seeing social collaboration as the transformational path towards the future of the work, some prefer to be organizational terrorists arming employees to gain control from the ground-up, others consider themselves mostly as mediators between managers and the ranks. In any case, to let enterprise social software and internal communities play a strategic role in tomorrow’s businesses, something more will be needed. Much more than what has been done until today.

It is time to stop focusing on technology features and to start advancing organizational models, constructs and enablers. It is time to definitely replace obsolete management paradigms and bring back humanity inside the board room. It is time to stop adapting social enterprise initiatives to the constraints imposed by hierarchies, political turfs, disengaged employees and to start adapting both the culture and power dynamics in organizations to a profoundly different kind of future.

A long and not so clear road lies ahead. Nonetheless a route dramatically worth being covered.

Commenta »   17 February 2014

How Social Customer Service Pays Off in 45 Case Studies

Pubblicato da Emanuele Quintarelli | in Social Business, Social CRM

I’m afraid we all agree that unfortunately, at least at this point in time, social media is much more chaff than wheat. Nonetheless there is a growing and already impressive list of success stories that are worth sharing, especially when there is some sort of ROI or clear business benefit attached to them.

So why not doing it? That’s the goal of this post.

I’ll keep it synthetic and straight to the point by focusing specifically on social customer service and leaving it to other future posts to address additional Social CRM or employee empowerment use cases.

Before getting to real case studies and numbers, let’s have a look at the most important measurable business benefits social support is expected to deliver:

  • Direct deflection – Customers receive a direct answer through a social channel (range 15 – 40% of threads that result in a deflected call)
  • Indirect deflection – Customers find  an existing answer in a community and don’t need to call (range 20 – 40% of visits deflected)
  • Agent efficiency – Agents close cases faster and answer more questions without escalating to others (improvement range 15 – 60%)
  • Churn reduction – Lower number of customers that move to competitors or cancel the service in a given time period thanks to social channels (improvement range 20 – 40%)
  • Early issue identification – Identification and solution of costly product / service issues faster ($5K – 50K for each incident)
  • Customer satisfaction – The ability to better serve customers in their preferred channels, response time, tone of voice and through really helpful information.
  • First contact resolution rate - The ability to address customers’ need the first time they contact the organization, eliminating the need to follow up with a second request or an escalation to a different (and quite always more costly) channel.

The following 45 case studies show a mix of such benefits. Nonetheless they have been specifically selected for their attention to quantitative and quantified effects:

  1. A1 Telekom – 25% real substitution rate (customers leveraging the community instead of a traditional support channel). 168K interactions saved per year. 26% of community users found the solutions within a few minutes (Lithium)
  2. Activision – 25% call deflection through IVR and social media self-service (First Direct)
  3. ADTRAN – 22% drop in support tickets for enterprise products and reduction in call handling time (Jive)
  4. AT&T – 16% improvement in call deflection. 21K customer issues solved in 1 year (Lithium)
  5. Autodesk – the online community brought a 25% call deflection for a value of $6.8M in cost savings in 2011. +10% in NPS after 6 months (Lithium)
  6. AvidxChange – 40% call deflection in the first 6 months. 60% call deflection after 12 months. Support turnaround decreased 50%, now averaging 15 minutes. Increased customer base 5x with only one additional support tech. 80% of customers use the community for support and training (Telligent)
  7. Bandwidth – A self-service and peer to peer community achieved a 35% reduction in overall tickets requests and 50% reduction of informational tickets (Jive). Saving of tens of thousands of dollars each month.
  8. Barclays – customer retention improved by 25%. Customer complaints reduced by 50%. Annualized benefits exceed $10M (Lithium)
  9. Best Buy – 2600+ members in the Twelpforce answer customer 20K requests per quarter in less than 12 minutes on average. $5M+ benefits / year through call deflection and sales influence (Lithium)
  10. Bonobos – From 50% to 90% of inquiries handled in less than 1h (Gartner)
  11. BSkyB – A help forum, Facebook and Twitter saved 570 customer service hours in 19K calls. 29% of surveyed customers say they no longer need to call for help. +90% in resolution rate through 1-to-1 live-chat. Increase of customer satisfaction to 87%. (Lithium)
  12. BT – 54K calls deflected / month. 90% customer retention. 50% customers recommend the brand to their peers.
  13. Cisco – Its Technical Assistance Center achieved reduced time to resolution by 32%, reduced case escalations by 42% and case transfers by 11%. The savings from the online community amounted to $7M in the first year and $32M are expected over the following 3 years (Lithium)
  14. Citrix – Call volume reduced by 30% through peer to peer knowledge sharing (Jive)
  15. Dell – 20-50% of customer questions answered online. $1M+ saved / year (Forrester)
  16. DirecTV – 8 customers handling 228K questions / month (First Direct)
  17. FICO – 8M messages read per month. 1% call deflection (vs 23% increase the year before) and 10% calls redirected to the online community (Lithium) decreasing average support call length. The community generates 39% of web traffic from search engines and 13% of all sales involve viewing a community page.
  18. Fotomoto – 300% growth in user base, 5x increase in order volume with a 30% decrease in weekly support calls thanks to stored peer to peer conversations and a two tier Social CRM solution (GetSatisfaction)
  19. Giff Gaff – 130K online requests / month, 95% answered online within 90 seconds on average thanks to 1M+ replies. 20% of customers contribute to the online forum (First Direct, Lithium)
  20. HP – A support forum hosts 500M posts, handles 40M customers and 20% of customer care requests globally for a $50M per year ROI. 100K customers are involved together with 230 HP experts. 95% of content comes from customers directly (Lithium)
  21. IBM – developerWorks community saves $100M support costs annually from 8M developers and IT professionals who leverage this resource instead of reaching out to IBM support (Forrester, IBM)
  22. Infusionsoft – From 1 agent for 55 customers and 77% customer satisfaction rating to a 1 agent to 172 customers ratio and a CSAT rating of 87% (Forrester)
  23. Intuit ( – 47K topics in 12 months. 75% reduction in support tickets after 90 days. 50% of web traffic attracted through search engines (GetSatisfaction, Forrester)
  24. Kaseya – 14x increase in request answered by customers and prospects. Increased customer participation by 300% year over year (Telligent)
  25. Kiddicare – 30% reduction in inbound customer communications and first-call resolution rate increased from 60% to 98% through a community based support (GetSatisfaction)
  26. Lenovo – 20% call reduction from direct and indirect deflection through a support forum. 30 members contributed 44% of the solutions (Forrester, Lithium)
  27. Linksys – 120K+ calls indirectly and 1K call directly deflected per month (Lithium)
  28. McAfee – 58% of community users are able to self-resolve their issues. 25% call volume drop with overall customers number increasing. 17% improvement of the first call resolution rate. Escalation rates cut down 30%. Customer satisfaction increased by 25% and loyalty by 33%. Call-handling costs have been reduced by $2.6M per year (Jive)
  29. Mindjet – 20% decrease in support call. Significant decrease in repetitive case rates (GetSatisfaction, Salesforce)
  30. National Instruments – 46% of  all questions answered by an online developers community instead of support. $7.5M in call deflected annually (Jive, Lithium)
  31. Prezi – 150K+ call deflected for an annual saving of $450K+ thanks to 46K+ users (TSIA, GetSatisfaction)
  32. Rhapsody — 50% decrease in support costs and 53% decrease in weekly support contacts moving from a traditional forum to a Social CRM platform (GetSatisfaction)
  33. Sephora – The most active fans spend an average of 33 hours / month in the expert community spending 10x than the average customer (Lithium)
  34. Skype – A support network reduced customer calls by 10% with a first contact resolution rate of  70% (Lithium)
  35. Springpad – Reduced support emails 80% yet increasing the customer base (GetSatisfaction)
  36. StrongMail – 97% of customers received answers or had issues resolved through an online community. 50% of   support call reduction (Jive)
  37. T-Mobile – 96% resolution rates within 3 days and 70% not escalated issues through online discussions. (Lithium)
  38. Telefonica Movistar – 25K posts per month. 45% of visitors were able to solve their issues online. €10M+ annually in call deflection (Lithium)
  39. TechSmith – Saves about $500,000 annually in staffing costs by collecting feedback and handling support request through a community based solution (GetSatisfaction)
  40. Time Warner Cable – 57% improvement in agent productivity. 30% improvement in social response through Twitter, Facebook and an online community (Lithium)
  41. TomTom – 20k cases handled online in 1 month. 15% contact deflection. 600 min average response time. $150K in savings. A single super-user accounted for 10% of the answers (Lithium)
  42. Ustream – 65% reduction in support tickets by integrating a customer facing forum to an internal collaboration platform (GetSatisfaction, Forrester)
  43. VolunteerMatch – 40% decrease in inbound support emails through 800+ topics and 1000+ users (GetSatisfaction)
  44. Yola – Supporting 2M customers with only 6 full-time customer-service employees. 60-70% in email based trouble tickets.A stated customer preference of 5-to-1 for community as the primary support channel (GetSatisfaction)
  45. Webtrends - 80% of questions asked in the community are answered by customers or are able to be answered by  self-service tools and documentation. The community cases are integrated with CRM (GetSatisfaction)

I know, among the many other visibile names that jumped on the social support bandwagon and that are not part of this list, Comcast is the clearly missing star. As stated initially, I’m searching for real numbers on real business benefits and I simply couldn’t find them for Comcast. I’m thus looking forward to adding it after having found a proper case study on Frank Eliason’s experience.

While I know this is an absolutely not exhaustive list of all of the stories available, I hope this initial set will be helpful to convince more companies to consider social as an additional component in an integrated seamless multichannel strategy in order to build more loyal and valuable customer relationships.

Any major case I’ve missed?



Thanks to Frank Eliason, I’ve found a post from Jacob Morgan with the following info on Comcast: 

Comcast – 14.9M unique visitors a month (back in 2010). 80% of them found an answer directly in the forums. Each call averages $8. Additional $1.2M were saved using Twitter to identify a service black-out during the NHL playsoff and putting up an automatic message (CMSWire)

Commenta »   4 January 2014

HR: The unwanted link in Social Business

Pubblicato da Emanuele Quintarelli | in Enterprise 2.0

Lee Bryant today relaunched a short but thought-provoking piece  by Niall Cook that inspired this post. It’s titled HR: The missing link in social business. It definitely deserves a quick read so If you don’t want to have it spoiled, please stop here and pay Niall’s blog a visit.

For those of you without much time I’ll quote the conclusion below:

The fact is that every successful use of enterprise social networking I have seen has recognised that people are what makes it work … It is my view that HR should own this part of the process.

… sustained and consistent internal and external use of social technologies requires good internal communication, change management and training, often all things that fall under the HR umbrella.

In short, HR represents the voice of the employee when it comes to corporate social networking, in the same way that marketing represents the voice of the customer when it comes to social media.

And that’s why I believe HR has a key role to play in understanding and applying social technologies to support and change organisational culture.

Let me split this in two.

I’ve spent the last seven years repeating how the Social Enterprise is about people and change. Change applied to processes, personal culture, organizational behaviors and targeted engagement of employees on meaningful business problems. Well beyond the hype still on the market, these few points makes all the difference in the world in terms of:

  • A totally different kind of project centered on co-design, bottom-up participation, iterative refinement, inclusion of specific professional needs
  • An enlarged cross-departmental buy-in of the major internal functions (including HR, IT, Internal Communication, R&D, Lines of Business)
  • An impact on business processes through collaboration based exception handling
  • Appropriate KPIs and metrics rewarding knowledge sharing, openness and transparency
  • Brand new and currently rare competencies mixing organization, business, economics, change management expertise
  • Governance dynamics, mechanisms and organisms equipped to support and scale internal communities

Is all this critical? Yes. Is it new in organizational terms? Yes again. Is it HR’s reserved ground? Unfortunately I don’t think so.

This is simply not happening in quite all the companies I’ve worked with and I’m not sure why. It could be for the transactional focus rooted in the 19th century most HR managers and HR processes still have. It could be because they feel treated by a limitless freedom and transparency. It could be because most HR managers are not that used to social media and cannot easily figure out how to apply them in an enterprise context.

Even if HR should clearly be a key actor and enabler in Social Business, it hasn’t ever been until now. Some numbers could be more credible than my own limited perception.

According to the MIT the areas driving Social Business projects are below:

Not surprisingly HR comes after any other “meaningful” department with the only exception of Operations. And what about the most active functions? Here’s the picture McKinsey published recently:

Do you see HR somewhere? Exactly my point.


All those involved with collaborative projects understand the fundamental role HR should have in nurturing bottom-up participation, new management models and a culture of openness… But is this ever going to happen? Human Resources are already a co-stakeholder in the most mature initiatives but rarely the owner or the main driver.

Is it HR a missing or a unwanted link in Social Busienss? I’d like to hear the voice of HR managers.

Commenta »   3 May 2013

The slow transformation towards the digital workplace

Pubblicato da Emanuele Quintarelli | in Enterprise 2.0

It is well known that although Social Business could theoretically unlock a very significant economical impact, realizing this value requires a not linear, not painless process of transformation which, nevertheless, is quickly becoming crucial for the survival of more and more organizations.

Faced with the slow pace of change, it seems pundits are swinging between two equally incorrect and dangerous perceptions: seeing anything through the lens of social or considering social as a plague from which set yourself free as soon as possible and by all means available.

Having reached the peak of inflated expectations, I believe it is time instead to objectively look at the impact informal networks are having on organizations and markets, starting with the figures now profusely available for example through the study just published by Jane McConnell. Given the space constraints of the blog, I will limit myself to pointing out the most interesting Social Enterprise insights, while referring you to the Digital Workplace Trends Report 2013 for any other detail.

It turns out that even if 73% of the participants are moving towards the digital workplace and 93% of them is experiencing some form of social networking among its employees, the gap between technology deployment and effective use is steady at 40%, except for older capabilities with a smaller impact on culture:

How to fill the gap? What is the key to introducing new ways of working that represent a better fit with today’s needs and market expectations?

The 170-page report gives several ideas in this regard thanks to the distinction between the behavior of early adopters and the majority:

  • The diffusion of informal networks for the benefit of employees: early adopters have introduced social networking capabilities 2 times quicker (69% vs 31%) than slower peers being 2 to 5 times more proactive also in respect to knowledge sharing and finding experts / experience, co-creation, comments and ratings, creating communities, sharing photos and videos, activity streams, internal crowdsourcing
  • The management is walking the talk: in addition to being generally in favor, the senior management of the early adopters is 3 times more active as a role model and twice as an engine for the initiative
  • Investments ​​on mobile already made: mobile access will be the priority in 2013 – 2014 (69%) and early adopters have already spent on it two times the investment of the majority with an eye to BYOD (bring your own device)
  • Governance in place: the definition of procedures for decision making, policy and guidelines is between 5 to 18 times more advanced in early adopters despite the huge room for improvement still remaining even in the more mature companies
  • The transformation business processes has begun: 22% of the early adopters claims to have many examples of how collaboration is significantly changing the way people work versus a mere 3% for all the others. 60% of respondents, however, shows the first steps in this direction.
  • Measuring the return of business, not just the amount of participation: while continuing to measure the level of user activity, early adopters evaluate the business value generated by the initiative 2.5 times more than the laggards
  • A culture of sharing, trust and free expression. It’s not possible to say what comes first between culture and effective collaboration, but surely the two go hand in hand with the early adopters that shows an environment with more confidence, willingness to share, ability to voice opinions, involvement of employees by the management
  • Starting from the bottom and from top. Engaging the stakeholders, some benchmarking, some reports are all useful and important steps but early adopters show how collaboration requires an effort that comes both from the top and the bottom. IT is for this very reason that emphasis should be placed on the role of internal champions and the behavior of peers (bottom-up) as well as on the example provided by the leaders and internal communication campaigns (top-down). On the contrary training, physical events, including collaboration in individual goals appear at the bottom of the list together with gamification that is probably still too uncommon for getting better grades
  • Community management, community management, community management. If the community manager is still rarely a new role full-time, more than 60% of early adopters has more or less an official community management support compared to 28% of the others.

Despite these promising approaches characterizing early adopters, dozens of areas are still open for improvement both for pioneers and slow movers. The most striking one are as follows:

  • From deployment to adoption: even among the early adopters, only 25% of participants experience a social networking use by more than 1/4 of the workforce and only 6% by at least half of them with values that are not too far from laggards. The explosion (even 20 points in one year) in the deployment of new tools has not yet translated into satisfactory levels of adoption that remains at 20-25%. This first point should be marked in red. Involvement, adoption, change, cannot be achieved as a hand of creative painting on top of traditional deployments. On the contrary they are the core and key philosophical basis any proposed collaboration initiative should address from day 1. It’s without this that we are still seeing a loss of opportunity / value after so many years.
  • There is still lots of unfulfilled potential: the level of interest remains high with about 25-30% of the companies that have not yet taken the step, but that are about to (“I’m planning or considering introduction). Let’s use this interest to change the world!
  • Mobile is finally becoming an operational channel not just for accessing news, email and calendars but especially to consume business applications needed for daily work (currently limited to 20% of the companies) and by all employees (only true for 27% of respondents). Being always on the move, out from office hours and from the office, mobile is no longer optional.
  • Governance has not made ​​much progress even in the early adopters. The numbers are virtually unchanged compared to 2011 with the vast majority of companies still working on this issue. Governance, rather than as an instrument of control, should be better considered as a lever to focus the action and resources (not only financial ones) needed sustain the project over time.
  • Providing an integrated and consistent experience. The not so linear and hectic deployment of collaboration has surely contributed to massive fragmentation among multiple contexts, applications, access credentials both in terms of experience and multiple applications available. While having an advantage, even early adopters still have works to do in order to put real user needs at the center more than the gut feeling of those in IT department.
  • Budget allocation too unbalanced. Although many understand that technology is not enough, 64% of the budget is still spent on the implementation of the platform, leaving a poor 14% for training and change. The values ​​are even more terrifying for large companies (> 80K employees) where the split is 81% vs 11%. The budget is a good indicator of the maturity of the organization and of the owner of the initiative. Without appropriate resources, companies will never achieve adoption and thus business value.
  • Community management still not widespread. Specifically, the budget for cultivation is still too small with half of the participants not having any community management at all. A terrible confirmation of the findings of the past.
  • The resistance comes from different places based on the maturity level. For those just getting the journey started, top management represents the biggest stumbling block (80%). For early adopters this time has passed and now it’s up to middle management that still stands as an obstacle towards change, together with operational supervisors. Given that change is made up of people and for people, It’s surely good to include transformation as a strategy from the beginning of the project.


Social business is substantially different from the thousands of change initiatives employees have been exposed to so far because it is the first time that it is their role to be challenged through a more weight in the future of the company.

You can’t and you shouldn’t underestimate the scope of this epochal change that deserves to be handled with patience, consistency and dynamics that don’t match with what departments such as Internal Communication, HR, IT have been used to so far. That’s also the reason for the following chart:

Although many organizations have registered some success, the overall picture is rather disappointing and suggests that 50% of them are still in the middle of the journey. A road we learned to be long and dangerous.

For those who were expecting a revolution in a few months, this may represents a delusion but nonetheless the lessons learned from the pioneers are helping everyone else to avoid potential cliffs and properly equip for the big jump.

Commenta »   3 April 2013

Collaborating in Sales Force Enablement

Pubblicato da Emanuele Quintarelli | in Enterprise 2.0

In 2013 organizations will be less and less inclined to adopt collaboration as a confuse, not measurable, for its own sake initiative asking themselves instead where and how to connect it to where value gets generated: key business processes.

To many managers the only kind of understandable value is.. you guessed it right.. money and money is the realm of the Sales department. This notwithstanding sales reps haven’t recently been the central focus of conversation when it comes to collaboration, especially behind the firewall.

This lack of attention is anyway destined to vanish for a number of social, technological and market reasons:

  • The customer (even the B2B one) has gained control. A more informed, more demanding, more connected and empowered social customer is requiring an higher level of quality in the interaction with the organization.
  • The sales cycle has changed forever. Forums, reviews, communities and other online exchanges are seriously influencing the buying cycle at every stage by creating awareness, adding competitors to consideration, convincing stakeholders about the strengths of the product. Other customers and honest discussions are much more credible than marketing collaterals. This is especially true with complex and expensive deals where multiple internal stakeholders are in the game, decisions take months and their impact can accelerate or destroy the career of the involved managers.
  • From product to service. A single standard product is no longer enough. In a globally more fluid, transparent and competitive landscapes, customers are often looking to apparently softer aspects such as support, release cycles, reputation, integration, professional services, online communities and other services that can extend the effectiveness of the investment for years. Buying an ERP is not exactly like buying an mp3 player. Sales reps are required to be more competent not just about the product but also about the market and about the customers.
  • Sales no longer happen in a vacuum.  To address higher expectations, sales reps need real time help from marketing peers (competitive information, collaterals, updated documentations), R&D and product specialists (roadmaps, specific product features, ways to mitigate weaknesses, etc), customer service agents and professional services (does the customer have open tickets?, has the product brought value in the past?, have they met barriers in using it?, etc), customer intelligence (where is the market going?, what are clients expecting?) and any other employee potentially exposed to customers through the web.

In a Social Sales study, Accenture found enhancing team communications and improving access to information as the primary way to increase sales effectiveness and yet the best practice sharing across the sales force was also the area most in need of improvement. Even with 70% of respondents utilizing collaboration, knowledge circulation has seen scarce results mostly due to the remaining prevalence of outdated teamwork approches (telephone and e-mails) and “silo syndrome” preventing employees from working together across different departments:

On the contrary, the move from selling products to addressing complex customer’s issues requires non hierarchical organizational models and cross-unit collaborative behaviors:

Social improves sales force effectiveness, productivity and responsiveness at each phase of the cycle by:

  • Maximizing internal lead generation and account information sharing
  • Sharing insights between sales reps in problem solving and more accurate proposals preparation
  • Enabling agile teams and scaling expertise location to increase the quality of the solutions created
  • Letting sales reps systematically collect feedback from the market to influence both commercial strategy and marketing collaterals
  • Keeping the sales force constantly aligned with updates from the organization about new acquisitions, new features, new campaigns
  • Increasing win rates through shared customer intelligence, more visibility into the sales process, reuse of existing collaterals and a better fit with customer’s needs
  • Skyrocketing the sales rep engagement by building a common sense of identity and belonging
  • Streamlining communication and collaboration to spend more time with the customer
  • Accelerating innovation by allowing subject matter experts to brainstorm and easily share what they know
  • Extending the conversation behind corporate boundaries by including suppliers, partners and even customers

Together with other (mostly customer facing) CRM areas that received much more attention until now, sales force automation and enablement is getting under the spot as a short term opportunity to increase revenues. Nonetheless sales reps have always resisted efforts to push sharing knowledge on their accounts, deals, commercial strategies.

In order to be successful with collaborative sales enablement a few key points have to be kept in mind:

  • Personal value should come first. Sales people are extremely competitive and focused on their budgets and relative position in the organization. Adoption here is possible only by aligning the initiative to their goals
  • Formal buy-in is often required. Given their resistance to change when money is at play and the remaining importance of personal relationships with customers, social sales enablement is strongly facilitated by a significant amount of senior management proactive involvement and sponsorship
  • Integration is an accelerator. Embedding collaboration into CRM records preserves context, maintain all the information in one place and limits the need of switching between different applications to get work done
  • Economical incentives must be aligned. Nobody will share a single bit if this is not economically convenient. Reasoning about collaborative goals helps bringing down silos
  • Exposing lack of knowledge. Complex sells imply extensive expertise integration but sales reps don’t love letting everyone learn what they don’t know. Building trust across the sales force is a fundamental step in adopting collaboration

Even if barriers remain a number of examples show that collaborative sales enablement is not only possible but also very promising. Have you got any experience with it?

2 Commenti »   20 January 2013

Back-forward integration between laughing and doing

Pubblicato da Emanuele Quintarelli | in Enterprise 2.0, Social Business

I’ve always been fascinated by new ideas, by exploration, by going beyond what exists to find alternative options not so much as new shining objects but as concrete opportunities for individuals and companies to thrive.

While going through my friends’ posts in Facebook, this quote from Azim Premji, one of the richest men of India, struck a chord as it happened to me more than a couple of times:

“If people are not laughing at your goals, your goals are too small”

I find it very true.

While nowadays this entire idea of people centric organizations enabled by collaborative platforms is well-known among many web inhabitants and managers, this wasn’t the case at the end of 2006 when the journey started for me. Such as in any meaningful transformation trajectory, changing the way enterprises functioned by putting employees, customers and partners at the center looked dramatically utopic with the the very first years much more similar to a nightmare than to a linear, even if slow, adoption process. Thanks to the initial successes, accumulated case studies, improved change management methodologies, more capable social software platforms and the tireless job of practitioners, some of the initial laughs have left space to the thousands of projects inside organizations.

Fast forward to 2012, many of us expected those days to be gone forever thanks to an interrupted learning curve from Social Business infancy to business relevancy. And yet, after 6 years of social media experimentation, we are at it again at two different levels:

  • A bridge into the future. Enterprises are still laughing at social meant as a sterile approach mostly disconnected from the peculiar mechanisms of every industry / business context and not able to produce replicable quantitative benefits. This is not the economic climate for wasting time or money
  • A bridge into the system. It may sound absurd but most of the organizations still don’t have the cultural tools to understand social and won’t ever get it without an enormous effort in building the basic bricks needed to breath how much our world has changed and why this is meaningful to them. When you are not equipped to understand something, it quickly goes into the not so relevant-crappy-stuff basket.

As there is so much to do to fix the situation, I’ve started to call this process back-forward integration. Actually it is not very different from a tree that, in order to live, has to symmetrically develop in two directions: its leaves and its roots. One mirrors the other and for the formers to grow up high the others have to get deep into the ground.

While clearly at the forefront of Social Business adoption, back-forward integration poses two serious challenges to the pioneers of this space:

  • Integrating with the business. To be ingrained into the system we have to intimately understand its internal workings. This means a first hand experience of the specific issues affecting every single industry, region and potentially customer. An industry focus is inevitable for reaching social business maturity.
  • Integrating with the culture. A door is needed to penetrate into the system. With Social Business this passage is quite always connected to the cultural, management, leadership barriers contemporary organizations face when opening up the doors to horizontal participation. This kind of integration requires a common language, common constructs and some shared experience of what is happening outside of the enterprise. A good dose of openness and patience are also welcome.

Without deep roots and extensive leaves, no tree can survive storms, winds and floodings. Without understanding the business and being understood by the current culture, no social business can help the organization.

In this second inning of digital transformation, enterprise are laughing not because they don’t believe this is the future but because they expect much more from it: more value, more replicability, more measurability, more integration at a fraction of the cost. Unprecedented hybrid capabilities at the intersection of technology, business, change management, communication are at play to meet such expectations. Packaging them together will soon differentiate those that add value from those left behind.

If executives are laughing again at Social Business, it may be because our goal is to transform the very world they have learnt to call home.

What do you think? Are you equipped for this?

Commenta »   15 December 2012

How does social meet processes?

Pubblicato da Emanuele Quintarelli | in Enterprise 2.0

Communities of pratice, intranets and team collaboration are not the only scenarios through which social media are percolating inside the enterprise.

More recently a number of pundits have suggested an additional and quite diverse opportunity for injecting peer-to-peer interactions inside work practices by marrying traditional business processes and collaboration. One year ago, Ray Wang and its Constellation Research Group summed up the key targets of this transformation mentioning areas such as Customer Service and Sales, HCM, Marketing and PR, Project Management through 43 use cases.

Social and processes come together following different levels of maturity to introduce a number of benefts:

  • Exception handling as an efficiency lever: according to Forrester, 50% circa of employees consider existing processes too rigid to facilitate adoption and effectively allowing them to reach process goals. Rigid, a-priori designed processes break down in front of an increasing uncertainty, volatility, competition and power consumers get thanks to social media. That’s where being reactive quickly, constantly learning, anticipating issues when they present and improvising becomes important as processes (have a look at From Push to Pull).
  • Social in the flow: switching between tens of not integrated enterprise applications and adding load to existing responsibilities is not something employees are looking for. Deploying social media in the flow of current work practices is thus a clear adoption pattern project and community manager shouldn’t forget
  • Improving knowledge work. According to McKinsey 20% to 50% of knowledge work is inefficient or totally wasted while knowledge workers are the quickest growing and most expensive part of our workforce. An opportunity of making them 20%-25% more productive is at hand. The value locked in internal collaboration is two times bigger than in customer facing engagement.
  • Building the agile enterprise: empowering rank and file by pushing decisional power lower in the hierarchy at the very point where issues arise it’s the possibility for the organization to become more agile and reactive to change. Adding collaboration on top or inside processes gives employees the right to accomodate customer’s requests, to fix inefficiencies, to circulate and aggregate all the knowledge available while minimizing barriers to change management.
  • More easily measuring returns: identifying a ROI from collaboration is probably the first question most managers have when looking at Social Business. Starting from an existing process and its baseline is a great way for seriously evaluating the improvement participative work provides.

How much is this really happening? AIIM brings some data through a new report titled Social in the flow. Transforming processes and sharing knowledge:

  • Integration is important: At least 50% of organizations feel that integrating social to all types of business process would be very or extremely valuable:

  • Some processes have priority. Customer support, marketing, collaborative content creation and reuse processes lead the pack while project coordination, knowledge sharing and internal communication, problem solving and expertise location follows immediately after. All of these processes are good candidates for socialization in the next 12 months at well over 50%:
  • Integration is yet at the beginning but it’s happening. 64% of organizations are using social without any integration to their business processes while 21% are taking the first steps:


By enabling the benefits cited at the beginning of this post, socialization of business processes will probably be the most critical area of focus for organizations willing to reap the largest results from collaboration. CMOs, CIOs, CEOs, line of business and other senior managers are actively promoting it.

It won’t be an easy journey though. Our organizations are not designed to be connected across boundaries and silos. Localized project-based or departmental implementations will keep surviving. Executives in HR, Finance, Compliance are still refusing to adapt. Both security issues and lack of understanding are still mining the diffusion of Social Business. Only 9% of the participants expect full integration to happen in the next 2 years.

Nonetheless in a time of economic crisis becoming more relevant both to the business and to employees it’s the only direction where collaboration could be heading. Other than providing measurable benefits, a more structured approach to peer-to-peer participation brings with it a long list of positive side effects such as a more mature approach to social by:

  • Explicitly defining how it is meaningful to business
  • Giving an active role to those (because a single department is not enough) responsible for the transformation
  • Evaluating where collaboration has to mingle with enterprise infrastructure
  • Building a shared strategy of why, how and to what final form the organization will transition

Is your organization already on its way? Do you see this journey as useful from a business perspective or not?

Commenta »   2 December 2012

Ad Maiora

Pubblicato da Emanuele Quintarelli | in Enterprise 2.0

Facebook is (almost) dead. Social media marketing is dead. Social CRM is dead. Social Business has failed.

All of this while half of the organizations never heard about Enterprise 2.0 / Social CRM / Social Business and the other half is still wondering how to realize any business gain from it:

  • Enterprise 2.0 failed to meet expectations. Altimeter recently discovered that the impact ESNs have on the organization is stil limited (between 1.63 and 2.91 on a scale from 1 to 4), 2/3 of budgets don’t exceed $100K, 61% of organizations have not reached maturity and 69% are not good at measuring results
  • Social CRM is missing the point. According to Awareness, only 16% of respondents are currently using Social CRM, less than 20% of the companies are handling at least 1/4 of customer service issues on social media and listening to IBM there is an immense perception gap between what customers want and what brands think they want
  • Social Media Marketing is going nowhere. Again from Awareness, the majority is not measuring social media initiatives (53%), measuring ROI is challenge number one (57%), increasing the number of fans (66%) and the amount of content posted (56%) is where money is spent
  • Social Business remains just an idea. How many efforts do know of able to strategically integrate internal and external communities while fundamentally transforming the DNA of the organization? Yep, I guessed so. Want another proof? Even in front of a $1300B potential, McKinsey says that no more than the 3% already achieved substantial benefits across all the stakeholders (employees, customers, partners) and according to MIT / Deloitte only 18% considers Social Business important for the organization.

Can’t you see anything wrong with the statements above? Is the wheel spinning too fast or are we looking at it with broken lens?

The fascinating thing is that we moved to the Through of Disillusionment without ever fully experiencing the Peak of Inflated Expectations given that most executives have yet to understand the meaning of this social revolution while pundits are ringing the bell of a next new thing.

As Sameer Patel said, the first inning of Social is over. To me it’s clear why:

  • Social has never been meaningful. Preaching collaboration, fraternizing through online communities, sharing horizontally and without a purpose is not the priority of any executive. There is no ROI until we make the case of how collaboration can improve what organizations are already designed to do. A case made in business language not community manager’s one.
  • Social has never been connected to business processes. No context, no adoption and measurability, no value
  • Social has never been embedded into the flow. Adding wikis and blogs on top of what people do means wasting time and money in an already gloomy economic climate. Until social won’t just become plain business, employees won’t flock to social.
  • Social is but a piece. Quite always a minor one. Customers are already expecting a consistent, integrated, exceptional cross-channel online and offline experience. Social is adding further complexity and fragmentation
  • Organizations are not compatible with social. Command & control, competitive culture, lack of transparency, risk aversion, no meritocracy are the end of any collaborative effort. If you cannot address culture, no cannot deliver value
  • Social is a mean, not an end. Social whatever is not and won’t ever be a goal in itself. Organizations won’t be interested in social until we can prove how social will fit into their priorities. I have never seen this step accomplished.
  • Social is meant for scalable learning not scalable interaction. There’s nothing you can learn by limiting yourself at handling every customer interaction separately. On the contrary an exponential amount of interactions means an immense opportunity to constantly refine your products, services and internal processes at scale
  • Existing actors are not equipped for transforming organizations. Agencies only get campaigns. Software vendors only get licenses. Most consulting companies only get top-down deployments. Smaller actors are not able to scale. What we need instead is winning soul and mind of employees, customers and partners at the enterprise level. It is a new transformational battle aimed not only to improve the business but also the lives of those inside it. You cannot engage people without empowering them and making them the owners of the game. You cannot engage the business without speaking its language.

Is this the end of social? Nope. Social is a paradigm shift and any meaningful change takes time. Consolidation is finally here to wash away the hype of the first inning. Execution, scalability, integration, business value will take its place becoming the new norm.

We can call it Social Media Marketing, Social CRM, Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business. Nonetheless we’ll be still missing the point until the broader picture will come together by connecting social to the digital landscape and embedding digital into the real business realm.

After 5 years, November 23th will be my last day in Open Knowledge. It’s to bring this vision to reality that I’ll start a new adventure.

Stay tuned!

7 Commenti »   20 November 2012

15 Stories to Show the Value of Social CRM

Pubblicato da Emanuele Quintarelli | in Social Business, Social CRM

Yeah, we are at it again. The never stopping, never solved, everyday hotter question of if and how social business (or social media, or social whatever you want) can bring measurable business value.

While many believe this is the case (see among the others $1B+ analysis from McKinsey or the 101 ROI examples from Peter Kim), as a matter of fact some are trying to prove it. Even if the following are not exactly examples of ROI but more leading indicators of the returns, the success stories Lithium put together are nonetheless telling. I won’t get into the details for each case, but I believe that grouping them in a few buckets could provide some insight on what the market has achieved until now.

Scaling customer service and customer loyalty 

Best Buy peer-to-peer support community includes customers, Blueshirts, Geek Squad Agents to generate value in call deflection and sales advocacy. If you need an answer you go to the community, pose the question, engage in conversations with other members, rate and approve solutions. Twitter, Facebook, videos and blogs have been added to provide more information and more channels where to interact. Social channels are integrated and handled by Best Buy community teams directly from the community. Answers seamlessly become part of the knowledge base. An idea management area has been added to the project. 95% of conversations are generated bottom-up by the users (and not by the company) with savings in the range of $5M and contacts with 600K customers each quarter. The full story can be read here.

Superfans can help quite a bit with building a bottom-up customer service, especially when mixed with company’s ambassadors. Take the HP example where ambassadors (100 of them) contributed 5% of the posts and 10% of the solutions while only 50 superfans provided 52% of the accepted solutions. Here no business results have been formally measured but the community serves 30M customers, 7 languages and 200 countries addressing 20% of the requests globally.

Superusers are key also for Movistar, where the community grand master has 5K posts with over 56.5K minutes spent online. In this case the value to the company has been calculated as a significant $5.75M / year in call deflection.

Autodesk scored even better integrating social support to CRM for case management / escalation and saving $6.8M after the first 12 months with 53% of its subscription customers solving their issues directly online with a 26% deflection rate.


  • AT&T got a 16% improvement in call deflection and solved 21K customer stories
  • Lenovo is helping its customers 24/7 thanks to 30 superfans that contributed 44% of the solutions and 1200 articles in the knowledge base
  • Tomtom capped support costs by handling 20K cases online in 1 month with $150K in savings
  • Linksys (Cisco) substituted its support community to its call center during during an earthquake. Now it has taken the place of email (discontinued!), serving 4M customers and deflecting 120K calls each month. Linksys is also seeing decreased support costs, better product insights and increased customer engagement

Social Support communities bring tangible value in many ways:

  • Reducing costs by deflecting calls through the community’s knowledge
  • Providing answers dramatically quicker (in minutes instead of hours as Giffgaff is doing)
  • Creating better solutions through superusers / advocates / SMEs
  • Nurturing stronger peer-to-peer interactions
  • Getting deeper customer insights through surveys and analytics to guide product and service improvements
  • Generating new business by committing to customer success

According to Forrester, by 2014, integrating communities into customer support will realize a benefit between 10% and 50% in cost reductions only. Not bad to me.

Increasing revenues and influencing decisions by leveraging passion

Can you increase revenues without increasing your marketing budget? Yes if you are able to provide answers that nobody else gives as Redfin is doing by letting customers talk to each other transparently in a otherwise totally opaque real estate market. Thanks to the community, customers can freely discuss market trends, real estate best practices, neighborhood guidance while the company was able to grow revenues by 40% while at the same time reducing marketing spending by 82%. By going open and listening to customer conversations, Redfin also increased its NPS by 5% and influenced 51% of its customers with 22% of the buyers posing questions inside the community.

Sephora with its BeautyTalk is another brilliant example of community where women come to talk about beauty and get expert advice. More than just chatting, the community boosts spending with members having a budget that is 2.5x that of the average customer. This number reaches 10x for superfans.

The same happened for TVG, an interactive horse racing network, where the community not only connects and empowers wagers but also stimulate them to bet. 64% of community users have wager accounts, they account for 20% of the total amount wagered, spend 36% more and show higher handle growth than non members.

FICO is yet another well-known story. The community solved a key issue with providing 850K customers rich individual support on their credit score but also on how to improve it, something the company is not allowed to talk about. An additional effect has been contributing to 39% of the traffic, increasing members spend by 66% and driving 13% of sales.

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas to improve products and services

Even if not traditionally part of Social CRM, innovation is today a key area directly impacted by social media. Other than passively mining peer-to-peer support and customer insights, ideas and feedback can be proactively stimulated as the following examples portray. Given the long-term impact on the innovation process, a clear ROI is often hard to formulate but co-created ideas show a promising potential in terms of new tariffs, additional sales, improved customer experience.

90K Verizon‘s customers have been sharing opinions on products and services for the last 3 years but in 2010 the company looked for a more engaging collaboration by introducing an idea exchange platform aimed to identify product / service enhancements, to facilitate customer-driven suggestions, to reposition the brand around innovation. Consumer generated ideas have become part of the product management process and while business results are not been measured at the moment, customers seem to like co-created innovation by posting more than 1700 ideas with a growth of 107% in comments, 403% in votes, 555% in visitors. 31 ideas have been implemented and other 250 are in progress improving customer retention, early detecting potential issues and getting closer to the market.

With LabVIEW National Instruments bring engineers and scientists at the core of the product design. Among its results the reduction in customer complaints (suggestions are systematically collected in a single place) and the increase in NI productivity while prioritizing new features. The platform is very active (2400 ideas submitted, 9740 comments, 45400 unique visitors) and its outcomes are integrated with the R&D team through tens of features implemented every year in the new version of the product.

Very similarly At O2 the community helps steer the direction by crowdsourcing ideas. The ROI has been positive since month 3 with 900 submissions in 6 months.


These are only a few of the 1000+  examples of large companies embedding collaboration as a mean to not just to communicate with customers but especially to get them involved deep into business processes. In many cases monetary returns have been calculated. In others, the project is yet to be connected with measurable economic gains but nonetheless both the customer and the company are enjoying a better experience, a stronger connection, an increased productivity, ultimately recognizing more value from the mutual relationship.

What these stories prove is how Social CRM and Social Business are starting to affect the bottom line with some recurring patterns:

  • The company is sincerely interested in building value with the customer instead of the customer notwithstanding. Human beings are attracted by credibility, transparency, reciprocity and the freedom to exchange information with their peers and with the organization
  • Passion is the engine of the community both in B2B and B2C contexts. Companies and businesses are made of people often enjoying what they do everyday and looking for solutions to do it better.
  • Success requires careful planning, resources, commitment and patience. From an initial pilot, most of the protagonists of the stories have listened and learned. Case studies can go that far. Experimenting and iteratively improving is the only way for building your own solution for the specific needs of your customers
  • Social Business brings advantage in any industry, regulated or not. Whether you are in telecommunications, manufacturing, services, retail, consumer goods, finance and banking, real estate, there is some good example out there that you can take as an inspiration
Commenta »   29 October 2012