Wednesday, 18 May 2011
What comes next after Facebook and Twitter and the challenges of skating to where the puck is going to be
I've been thinking recently about what comes next after Facebook and Twitter. I looked at interesting initiatives like the Future of Facebook project but I also realised pretty quickly that for the majority or organisations the reality is that thinking about what comes next after Facebook and Twitter might be entirely the wrong question.
If the last 5 years have taught us anything it is that constant disruptive change is here to stay. Think about the rapid rise and fall of mySpace and SecondLife, the seemingly unstoppable rise of Facebook and Twitter, the rapid evolution of Facebook into a social commerce platform, the speed at which the tablet PC has entered daily lives…. We don't yet know what will come next after Facebook and Twitter, we don't know what disruptive device will be launched next by Apple or another hardware manufacturer. We don't now what game changing moves Google or Facebook will make next; nor do we know what new social network is currently being dreamt up by a college student in San Francisco, London, Tel Aviv or Bangalore. What we do know is these things will happen. What we do know is that constant disruptive change is now the norm and that without question each change will have an impact on the way that consumers interact with brands and with each other. Of course we also know that most brands will struggle to keep up with this constant game of catch up and that those that fail run the risk that their customers will simply disengage and swarm on to the next device, app or social network…
Whilst I am all for organisations keeping their finger on the pulse of the communications changes happening right now, I suspect that better questions for the majority of organisations might be:
How can we build stronger customer relationships based on true value co-creation that will be less susceptible to cannibalisation by passing fads?
How can we keep track of where our customers are currently engaging with our brand and with each other? How can we spot changes?
How can we cut through vast quantities of customer data with accuracy and drive insight into action faster than the competition?
How quickly can we embrace change within our organisation?
How can we leverage innovation from our customers and partners as well as from the vast armies of open source, SaaS, web and app developers who are either looking to build upon the dominant platforms of today or trying to create the platforms of tomorrow?
What are the foundational elements that enable us to become more agile and integrate (again and again) to new devices, new services, new apps, new networks…? Hint: from a customer perspective think about the way in which you are constantly monitoring the jobs customers are trying to do and how you can help them create value; from a technology prospective think information architecture, open standards / service integration, reusable services, MDM, CRM… from an organisational perspective think about the way in which IT and the business work together (left brain and right brain working in unison), the breaking down of internal silos, the way customer facing staff are empowered to collaborate, fix issues and take action… See my post on "Solid Foundations, Cool Innovations - the importance of CRM to SCRM".
There is a well worn cliche in business circles which is "skate to where the puck is going to be". The reality is that few of us are Wayne Gretsky and can predict where the puck will be 100% of the time. The majority of organisations would gain greater benefit from improving their core customer relationships and their speed & agility so that they can take advantage of changes faster than their competitors, rather than trying to predict what will come next after Facebook and Twitter.
Image via National Geographic