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Jumping the Gun: E2.0 Predictions for 2012

By Joe Shepley posted Oct 18, 2011 7:10 PM

  

In the spirit of the general cultural trend towards over-anticipation of annual events (back to school sales the first week in July, holiday music in October), I want to do my part to contribute to this overall degeneration of our patience as a society by throwing my hat in the ring for 2012 predictions the second week in October.

To make up for jumping the gun so badly, I’ll promise to keep it simple: two predictions for Enterprise 2.0 in 2012, no more. Hopefully my contribution to curbing the rampant proliferation of Top 10 or5/7/8 Things lists will stay the hand of some of my would-be hecklers…

So, with that said, here goes.

#1. Compliance will be king

I just got back from Jive World 11 last week, and I was impressed by how much talk there was about compliance at the event. This is in stark contrast to E2.0 events I’ve been to in the past where, if compliance was even mentioned, it was more as a roadblock than anything.

This year however, compliance is beginning to be seen  more as a strategic differentiator than as administrative overhead that needs to be overcome.

To me, this is the right way to view compliance, and not just in the context of E2.0. After all, compliance requirements are barriers to entry in a marketplace, and barriers to entry typically make a market more profitable by reducing the number of competitors. So, rather than lamenting the challenges compliance presents, you should welcome them, because, if you can overcome them before your competition, you will enjoy first (or at least early) mover advantage and make lots more money.

What would it be worth to a large Telco, such as T-Mobile, A&T, Verizon, Sprint, or U.S. Cellular, to solve the compliance challenges of using social media tools six months before their competitors did? How many more customers could they acquire? How much could they increase their margins by lowering customer service or sales costs? What cutting edge innovations could they bring to market by listening to what their customers (and their competitors’ customers) want from their mobile service provider?

Think about Chase, which went to market with a robust personal banking app way ahead of the competition. Those commercials showing happy couples drinking coffee on a Sunday morning in bed, snapping pictures of their checks with their iPhones and uploading the images to deposit them created a powerful advantage for Chase, which immediately became the bank that “got” how folks wanted to bank in the twenty-first century. And while lots of other banks now have similar apps, they do so as imitators playing catch up.

That’s the strategic value of compliance as a competitive differentiator in action.

#2. Business case will also be king

Hand-in-hand with E2.0 compliance, building the business case for E2.0 will become an expectation rather than the exception. It’s important to note that this isn’t because less folks are considering E2.0 “dial tone”, if anything, I’m encountering more folks who think of E2.0 as a must have for successful organizations.

Rather, as E2.0 continues to mature, it’s becoming less about doing E2.0 for its own sake and more about doing it as a means to some business end(s). And once you start working toward a business end, you necessarily get involved in building the business case for that activity.

In addition, as E2.0 becomes more business focused, more mainstream business folks get involved in addition to the usual suspects of IT, marketing, and corporate communications. And it’s precisely these other business folks who are typically the most experienced (and successful) at building business cases that get their initiatives support and funding.

What I think we’ll see by the end of 2012 is that those E2.0 programs that got founded (and funded) on the dial tone approach will begin to peter out, hitting the maximum activity that their organizations will support without knowing more specifically what the costs and benefits will ultimately be. On the flip side, those E2.0 programs that take the time to prove out and articulate their business value will see tremendous growth (particularly as more organizations realize the strategic value of compliant E2.0 to their operations).

The final word

There you have it: my premature prognostication on the immediate future of E2.0. Nothing too surprising, given where E2.0 tools and approaches are on their path to maturity, but definitely welcome changes both for E2,0 practitioners and the organizations they serve if they turn out to be accurate.

In the spirit of dragging my audience down to my level, I’ll encourage all of  you to dust of your crystal balls a few weeks early and dive into the fray here by asking what big trends, changes, developments you all see on the horizon for E2.0 in the coming year. And of course, if you have no predictions you’d like to offer but simply want to poke holes in mine, jump in—glad to get the conversation started at my expense!

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