Who Owns That?

I had an interesting conversation with a senior executive from a large enterprise (in the Global 50) who was expressing frustration with the pace of innovation when it comes to implementing social business in his company. It’s not that they were not doing anything but rather that the act of getting social technologies adopted always seems to run into one large obstacle, who owns it.

This is a problem for a lot of social technologies because in some cases the ownership is truly collective, it’s not a system that gets locked down and controlled by one business unit.

It’s like asking “who owns the logo?”. There is going to be one organization that oversees the company trademarks and another that manages the creative application while another is concerned with the attributes, both real and abstract, associated with it, but in the final equation there is a collective effort behind branding. Social is a lot like this, it’s not a technical system but rather a collective system of tactics and values that drive it.

This is kind of a problem because marketing organizations have been fighting for control of social technologies yet marketing applications for social have been the least interesting. If customer service is really a highly evolved form of marketing then does it not make sense to evolve marketing competencies in customer focused business units?

Customer service organizations are also predisposed to working with other groups in a company, if nothing else it is an essential capability for customer service teams, yet marketing organizations often exist in isolation. The collaborative aspect of social business goes right to the core and having an inherently collaborative system will not in itself make an organization more collaborative as a result if the core DNA isn’t there.

I’m at the Gartner 360 CRM event this week and this is one of the big themes that is being discussed, and if Gartner is right about social being the single most significant cultural trend that companies will confront in the years ahead then the organizational issues that contribute to success or failure online will certainly be a focal point.

 

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