I have been struggling to see the clear and strongly compelling value for social technologies in a B2B environment for the last two years. Though having spent time looking at - and personally working with - social technologies including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, I haven’t found it very compelling for B2B (sure LinkedIn is not bad for marketing yourself). They are very compelling social technologies worth lots of money to folks marketing to consumers – B2C. But for B2B, it’s been unfulfilling. Am I too old or just a Luddite?
I am a firm believer that new technology has to be a LOT better than the old way to get people to change behavior. The consumer social technologies are clearly delivering that – a LOT better way for us to keep up with friends, reconnect with old friends we lost touch of, helping families with members spread across the country and globe, making new new friends, arranging social events and much much more. The “old way” of telephone, and linear email and text just wasn’t getting the job done.
Now I have seen the light
It’s the B2B focused social “SHARING” technologies that include web services like Chatter, Yammer – and more recently at my company, Autodesk 360 Pro. Increasingly these B2B sharing sites are becoming Facebook for us business types. Why settle for sending an email to my team (38 people located around the world) that would lead to several “side threads” with various team members – when I can just post it for everyone to see, comment, like/dislike, and post related information? Why limit my team from sharing through limited linear email and text – or struggle with the ugliness of a conference call meeting with team members in 10 different time zones? Why limit the ability to for my team members to deliver content on a subject in whatever format they so choose - photos, spreadsheets, Word and GoogleDocs, links, videos and more – that can be shared from their device of convenience? Why just share information with a limited number of my staff because of my limited bandwidth to field email responses – when questions can be shared and answered by the team? Why not use the new social technologies to quickly create teams “on the fly”, get the job done and then disband the team a few months later? Why not quickly build teams that span organizations and talent outside Autodesk tying them together in a flexible real time “stream” of communication, sharing and innovating? Why not let team members and partners share information in the way best for them – whether sitting at their desktop, using a phone or tablet, through a browser on a friend’s device – wherever and whenever? Why do I struggle getting my team to go beyond my personal limitations – when I can empower all of them to run in front of me?
I finely get it. It’s been near two months now since I made the leap to flexible powerful B2B social, and as I was looking for from the beginning, the clear and strongly compelling value is there.
Its NOT about marketing.
Its about efficient and powerful sharing, collaboration and teamwork.
And I am never going back.
As my kids told me a few years back, “email is lame”. Yes it is. Just took me a few years to really and deeply get it for the B2B environment I live in.
If you dance with an elephant, what is their social strategy and technology – and how are you planning to leverage it? Because if you don’t have a social answer your current and future customers are going to leave you for someone who does. If your favorite elephant doesn’t have a clear strategy for how they are going to help their and your joint customers collaborate freely and easily, it’s time to find another elephant.