by Lise Janody, reporting live from leweb
As an enterprise, how do you become a social business? Well, it’s a long road, says Richard Binhammer, Director of Social Media & Community Team at Dell, who sub-titled his presentation ‘Miles to go before we sleep’. (How can you not listen to a man to injects a bit of poetry into a #leweb presentation?)
Dell is one of the advanced companies Jeremiah Owyang spoke about yesterday. The company embarked on the road to social business five years ago, when CEO Michael Dell asked: our customers are talking about us on the web, why aren’t we part of the conversation? He strongly believed that being connected to customers would help Dell build a better business.
Binhammer isn’t crazy about term (‘did we ever call it a radio business? A phone business?), but he defines a social business as one where social media breaks down silos, where customer value and business value intersects.
Dell’s listening command center is the heart of Dell’s efforts. The company is mentioned some 25,000 times a day (up from 4,000 times 5 years ago), so it’s critical for it be able to scale in order to make sense of all that.
A team representing the different areas of the group segments the conversations into different buckets. Social media is a tool, not just a channel, he says. There are different uses and things that can be achieved with the information, in different areas of the company. ‘If someone tweets they don’t like the website, that’s not a marketing or a customer support issue, it’s a website issue, so it gets routed there,’ he explains.
Social business applies to the entire company, not just marketing, so central governance is key. ‘All parts of the business gets together once a week to discuss issues,’ he says.
The customer-connected employee is a company rockstar, he says, and that employee can be connected using social web, email, or phone. Dell supports that employee connection. ‘We need to empower our employees, so we are heavily involved in training programs. The use of internal social networks is also very important and helps employees put on social media training wheels, so to speak.’
ROI? Binhammer prefers to focus on business value, which comes in many different ways. ‘Business value is in the full customer lifecycle. It’s not just about demand generation, not just about transactions.’ Rather, it’s about building and maintaining loyalty over time.
So, is Dell ‘there’ yet? Binhammer says there’s still lots of things that need to happen to enterprises before social business is truly a reality.
The technology is not there yet, and the infrastructure is evolving, he says. We’re still in the early days. Social business also requires fundamental changes to organizations, so that they become networked organisms. Data quality is another issue.
All this isn’t very sexy, Binhammer concedes. Social business is so much more than an Old Spice campaign (which he loves). He compares it to barn-raising: very hard work involving large teams for a long time.
…and like the finished barn, the results are worth it.