|Michael Idinopulos, vice president, customer success, Socialtext|
[EDITORS' NOTE: This is part of a series of posts that began here, dissecting a two-page chart that appeared in CRM magazine's June 2009 issue on social media. The digital edition of that issue can be found here, and a standalone image of the chart itself can be seen here. (Click on the “View Full Size” button at the top right of that page.) To view all posts in the series, please add this RSS feed to your RSS reader.]
JUNE 10, 2009 — I love CRM magazine’s Social Media Maturity Model, but it doesn’t go far enough. Social media will not only alter the way companies work within existing silos; it will fundamentally redraw the org chart.
The Maturity Model is basically my own Social Software Value Matrix on steroids. The CRM team has taken my concept of social software evolution, and broken it out by corporate function: Sales, Marketing, PR, and Service. The result is a fascinating, dizzying array of icons and concepts. Kudos to the graphics team who put this together!
But the Model doesn’t capture how radical this transformation is going to be. The Model takes as its starting point the categories which define today’s corporate interactions (Sales, Marketing, PR, and Service).
But here’s the rub: In five years, those aren’t going to be the categories.
The Model’s categories reflect four different types of interaction that a company has with outsiders:
- Marketing: Talk with market about yourself
- PR: Get others to talk with the market about you
- Sales: Talk with prospects about yourself
- Service: Talk with customers about yourself
In a world where everyone hears everyone talking to everyone all the time, these divisions are no longer meaningful.
Here’s a scenario: A prospect goes to your company’s Customer Exchange and chats with a current customer about your resolution of a recent equipment failure. Is that Service? Marketing? PR? In a way, it’s all three. It’s a customer talking with a prospect about your company.
Or how about this one: An irate customer twitters about the stopping distance of his racing bike. One of your engineers sees the tweet and tells the customer to replace his third-party brake pads with the ones made by your brand. The customer follows the advice and reports positive results. The advice gets retweeted multiple times, and finally gets written up in a popular cycling blog. Service? PR? Marketing? Sales? Hard to say.
The real five-year story in social media is the convergence of these different activities. Familiar divisions between Sales, Marketing, PR, and Support are driven largely by channel constraints. As those constraints disappear, and public interactions become more transparent, the different conversations all blur into one another. As the conversations blur, so do the functions.
So how will companies be organized in five years?
As public interaction becomes more ubiquitous and transparent, I predict that companies will increasingly organize around expertise. Corporate functions will be defined by what people have to say, rather than who says it or whom they can say it to. In place of PR, Sales, etc., I expect to see companies organize themselves in categories such as:
- Thought Leadership;
- Technical Expertise;
- Relationship Management; and
The familiar corporate functions of Sales, PR, Marketing, etc., won’t disappear entirely. But those roles will morph into one of coordination and project management. They will be routers and trackers of information, rather than originators. To borrow from author and New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, a Marketing professional will be more of a connector than an evangelist or a maven.
In a nutshell, here’s my prediction for social media five years hence:
The people driving the conversations will be the people who have something to say, and they won’t need a lot of corporate apparatus to help them say it.
Michael Idinopulos is the vice president of professional services and customer success at Socialtext. Previously, he had been director of knowledge technology at the consultancy McKinsey & Co. His professional passion is making work easier, more interesting, and more rewarding by helping people connect to each other and the information they need in order to be effective. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelido, and his typical blogging output can be found at Transparent Office and at Socialtext’s own blog.