Social Business : success does not matter. Impact does.

impactThere are three things we can’t close our eyes on when it comes to the social and digital transformation of businesses. The first is that project managers are quite happy with how things are doing, even if one can always do better. The second is that their success is still hard to demonstrate in a tangible and undisputable way. The third is even more worrying : leaders still don’t get it and are poorly involved in such initiatives.

Leaders are seduced, not convinced

This last point is the most paradoxical and the most penalizing at the same time. Paradoxical because when you read the strategic discourses and plans businesses set to face their current context, it’s obvious that from customer relationship to operational efficiency, a social business, enterprise 2.0 or social CRM project makes sense. But the truth is that excepted, sometimes, Social CRM, the other initiatives do not manage to trigger an active involvement and a strong support from leaders. So these initiatives live their own lives, apart from other plans that are seen as more priority and which they complete and enable. Leaders are seduced. Not convinced.

Most of times it’s due to the way such initiatives are shown to them. Engagement, conversations, communities are as many concepts that mean very little to them. Not because they’re not interested, just because it’s only about means while leaders are focused on goals.

Social initiatives have been locked into their own logic, with their own vocable, inaudible from leaders, and their own metrics, both incomprehensible and useless because they only measure means, not results. No matter how successful digital and social initiatives are, what leaders are looking for is impact. Never forget that the K in KPI stands for Key.

Such initiatives can be successful without having any impact. 3000 communities, millions of conversations, engaged employees, tons of “like”. And so what ?

3 things leaders focus on : revenue, costs, risk

No matter the name things are given, leaders want to know three things about a social initiative

1°) How it will contribute to increase revenue

2°) How it will contribute to lower costs

3°) Is it possible to mitigate the risk caused by transformation

The two first points are the difference between a successful social business that’s successful as a project and a project that has an impact on the business. The third is what will prevent the opportunity to become a risk without any proportion with the expected benefits.

From Success to Impact

So if your social business project still thinks it’s the center of the universe, does not understand he had to meet higher stakes and that its – relative – success won’t necessarily have an – absolute – impact on what matters to leaders, there’s no way to expect anything from CxOs, no way to try to explain them anything.

The point is not the intrinsic value of transformation and of what supports it, it’s the piece of reasoning and discourse (first) and of implementation (then) that won’t make the project successful but impactful.

Hence why it’s easier to start with customer relationship : that’s the simplest, most intuitive and most natural link between transformation and impact. Even if in some cases…

Business success prevails over social business success

In 99% of cases, social business initiatives are aligned with the corporate strategy. What lacks is the articulation, the joint that are not existing, audible, understandable and sees as certain systematic enough. Leaders don’t care about being successful into social business, they only want to be successful in business.

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