Though I didn’t attend Dreamforce two weeks ago, it’s still reassuring that software companies — and not just marketing and PR people — are understanding the power and role of social in today’s enterprise.
That social media marketing platforms such as Involver and Vitrue were sold to Oracle, and Buddy Media to Salesforce, and not to ad agency holding companies like WPP, Omnicom, and Interpublic warm my heart — and let all of us who work tirelessly in the social media world know that ‘Yes, we are actually not just marketing guys.’ Imagine that.
However, a sad reality is that most companies, from small businesses to multinational corporations, are convinced that buying a software package rather than investing in people will solve all business problems.
After all, an Oracle database never goes on maternity leave.
Says David Armano, managing director of Edelman Digital (Disclaimer: I am a former employee of Edelman, in their New York office, waaaay before social every appeared on the scene) in his recent Logic + Emotion blogpost:
The dirty little secret in the technology world is that technology, even really good technology looks automated but in reality requires people to make it work.
Armano discusses how technology is only one-third of what is needed — the other components are people and processes.
People and processes are not just more expensive than technology — they are more uncertain, with wildly variable outcomes.
While this is not something that a CFO or Senior Vice President of Finance wants to hear, when it comes to social technologies, the people element is exactly what can set a company apart from its peers or competition.
People bring in creativity, content and conversation. People can utilize this creativity, content and conversation in a way that makes the social technology platform work more dynamically — driving even more of the three C’s and more sales and revenue in the long run.
Training is a good start. Starting with Microsoft, large enterprise software companies realized the value of creating certification programs not only to sell more renewals but also to ensure that their software was being utilized properly and efficiently.
I expect Salesforce to lead the way in this effort. Already a provider of certifications for administrators, developers, implementation experts and architects, I’m watching closely to see if they start offering a specialized, separate cert for Radian6 or Buddy Media, two of the companies they acquired to build out their Social Enterprise Marketing Suite, also known as @MarketingCloud on Twitter.
Offering specialized certs for these platforms will be yet another benefit for those of us who practice social business, and could close the ‘people gap’ when implementing a social technology platform across the enterprise.
Technology alone will only solve one third of your social business problem and while critical, it’s only part of the equation.