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TechnoVision 2014 - Social Is The New Oil

Category : Innovation
We Collaborate #1 – Social is the New Oil

Consumers not only share what they might think, but also what they actually do, further driven in the forthcoming years by the rise of the Internet of Things. It brings the unique opportunity to link intent with actions for those organizations that become essentially social and customer oriented. If it is possible to use social data to predict stock market sentiments multiple days upfront, why would organizations not use it to predict customers' wants, needs and behavior and then improve their products and services proactively? Social could be the biggest corporate asset of them all.

Call me an old romantic; it’s about being corporately sentimental.

I am a sentimental soul (or so my wife tells me) and as such, I care what people say in my personal life. The question is, should our organizations care just as much?

Brand sentiment and customer intent are potentially powerful weapons to win not only the battle of the boardroom but the ongoing war of consumer loyalty. If we can second guess the intent of an individual or, better still, a demographic and tailor our customer experience accordingly that would make a real difference wouldn’t it?

The heart of tomorrow’s boardroom needs to beat to the ‘tweet’ of consumer intent.

With social sentiment now a key digital commodity, investment in ‘tweets’ rather than ‘seats’ (physical, channel-based interaction) should be a core focus for the boardroom; this needs a paradigm shift in board perception of the strategic value of social data.

We are moving towards a world of interconnected always-on sensors and hand-held devices where our brand interactions are traded on a ‘digital commodity exchange’ against consumer future need.

This exchange will deal in complex futures such as:

1.    Our likelihood to buy product X over product Y at time Z

2.    The most optimal ‘bundled’ and discounted product strategies

3.    Our best product and demographic focus to extend our customer base

4.    The next best course of action with a currently ‘interacting’ customer

Now is the time to construct ‘Digital Refineries,’ processing this ‘crude social oil’ of ‘sentiment-to-intent’ insight as the emerging commodity for an increasingly digitized society.

Social oil refineries take customer experience from ‘crude to shrewd.’

We need to be able to handle large-scale consolidation and refinement of both marketing insight and consumer sentiment. Raw social data simply represents consumer noise and, as such, through advanced deployment of social media, predictive analytics, digital, mobile and big data technology, will need to be increasingly refined into common themes that resonate with your current product capabilities and the mainstream market movements.
Would you like a short back and sidecuts, sir?

‘Oil is distilled into fractions called sidecuts, which in their different forms are incorporated into the hundreds of potential product variants based on market need.’
We should avoid the common mistake of analyzing our social data at a level of minutiae; our focus should be to identify general trends, distill them, and then relate these sidecuts of insight to tangible metrics through which social sentiment can be linked to actual business performance. If our insights are not refined appropriately, it would be akin to putting ‘diesel into your customer’s petrol engine’ resulting in a failure to convert or, worse still, a customer loss.
A happy ‘collaboration generation’ leads to CFO bottom-line revelation!

There are many skeptics out there attempting to undermine the true value of social media when it comes to improving business performance. If your approach to refinement is scattershot in nature, their reservations will be founded.
The new generations are connected, computerized, community orientated and have grown up using social networks as a means to brainstorm and solve a wide variety of problems (my children are intravenously attached to Facebook from dawn to dusk; they could use a smartphone before they could write).
Your future customers will expect immediacy of response and it will therefore be to your organization's ultimate benefit if you can make their experience positive.
So, how do I grease the wheels for social oil refinement in my organization?

1) Stop thinking of social networks as just another venue for marketing.
Focus on specific customer experience-led outcomes; start small and prepare a centralized store of clean and irrefutable customer data on which to measure your social media insights before you start your ‘refinery’ processing.
2) Prepare for a challenge nearer to fracking than deep-sea oil drilling.

Do not think of social oil refinement as non-contentious. Although your early refinement activities may feel like an insulated offshore operation, once you start putting forward transformational adjustments to your customer experience based on this distilled insight, it will feel more like you are setting off incendiaries under your colleagues' desks!
Be prepared to challenge the status quo with a metrics-driven foundation that shows positive impact across at least two business quarters before you widely communicate recommendations, potential benefits and impacts.
3) Focus on immediacy of response through agility of approach.
A recent survey found that 71% of online customers expect to receive assistance within five minutes of reaching out to a company and 33% of these customers prefer contact through social media over the telephone. Furthermore, a good social media experience means that 70% are likely to recommend your company and 21% will increase their corresponding spend.
Ensure you view social activity as a core channel for your organizational journey to a truly responsive customer experience. More than ever, consumers are turning to social media when they experience a problem and that means you will need to be able to understand, adapt and respond accordingly.

The question is, are you ready to move at the speed of the new consumer generation? 5, 4, 3, 2, 1………time's up!

This contribution by Simon James Gratton  

Part of Capgemini's TechnoVision 2014 update series. See the overview here.

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Ron Tolido
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