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Along with a purported 14,000 others this week, I attended the Cloudforce conference in London focused on the Social Enterprise. While the day was in essence a massive rallying cry for salesforce.com solutions, there were a number of themes that resonated with We Are Social’s consultancy philosophy and practical approach towards developing social businesses.
Social should be at the heart of every business
The session kicked off with salesforce.com’s George Hu referencing the dramatic week with the Facebook’s IPO. Beyond the size of offering, it represents the magnitude and speed of change impacting brands today. Facebook fundamentally changed how we communicate and collaborate and businesses must embrace this with their employees and customers. We believe businesses must adapt and evolve in order to successfully improve their ability to have the kind of conversations that impact business. This will be the differentiator for businesses that succeed in today’s market. As Burberry’s CEO Angela Ahrendt stated during the session: “If you don’t have a social enterprise, I don’t know what your business model is in five years”.
Demand is outstripping the supply of talent
It was noted several times that attendance to the session in London was double from 2011 conference. This is because the demand for social business solutions is growing exponentially. However, there is lack of talent to manage and navigate through modern market requirements. This may be one of the crucial factors that will impede future business success. At a basic level, HR and organisational development teams need to actively recruit for and cultivate the talent required. Using social hiring methods and applications are critical and are reported to be twice as effective than traditional methods. Internally, organisations need a plan to embed the capabilities required of a social enterprise including development programmes, resources and tools.
A roadmap is required
Across the keynote and various breakout sessions, every speaker noted that a roadmap (or blueprint as some define it) is required for businesses to effectively navigate the changes required. Many speakers noted that when they jumped in without a clearly defined vision and approach, it was nearly impossible to create the interest and advocacy for change within their organisations. Similarly, many noted that doing too much at once crippled their organisations. Rather, those that had a clearly defined vision, strategy and roadmap had the greatest success in transforming their business. Transformation will not come overnight but a business can realise short-term wins that deliver on the longer term business impact needed.
Redefine the rules of engagement Woven throughout the keynote was the underlying theme that Salesforce could integrate easily with legacy platforms such as SAP or Oracle. While skilfully played for Salesforce’s purposes, it highlights that the rules of engagement must be redefined. The businesses that reap success in the today’s market will collaborate across external partners, industries and unite internal business competencies. We cannot use legacy models to navigate modern market requirements but we need to understand how old and new align. We must be authentic with our interactions as businesses, build the community amongst our teams and partners, and explicitly work to build trust as well as be trustworthy.
All in all the conversations at Cloudforce reinforced that the need for change is pervasive whether you define yourself as a social enterprise or not. The businesses that are adapting and evolving both internally and externally are already and will continue to reap rewards.
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