Ever since famous author & philosopher Sir Francis Bacon coined the phrase “knowledge is power,” there have been millions of great examples for why this amazingly simple statement holds so much truth and wisdom.
Let’s not waste time discussing all the different meanings and angles (social, political, etc.) to this this quote. Instead we will relate it to a key trend we are observing in IT today. Let’s make a big jump in history from when the quote originated in 16th century. While one might argue that knowledge, social extraction, and education still remains a source of power for individuals in 21stcentury, we observe that today’s IT allows us to tear down such walls for organizations and companies.
In fact, it’s been advancements in IT that allowed us to better manage our business operations, more easily reach out to and serve customers in far away places, or just simply better understand who we are selling to. It is fair to say that we – at SAP – have always been at the forefront of driving this trend, offering key support including solutions such as enterprise applications (e.g., ERP, CRM) as well as Analytics, and database (e.g., In-Memory Computing) technology.
Again, there are many different angles to this larger trend involving a diverse set of technologies, so please forgive us the simplification in this blog whose clear focus is on pointing out the importance of also gaining knowledge from an ever increasing channel – the “social channel” which includes public social networks like Facebook, Twitter, as well as your company’s community network or other social networks relevant to your industry and segment.
We think it is important though to give credit to the developments we have made in the field of CRM over the course of the last years. This is because today, most companies have become pretty sophisticated in managing customer relations, gathering customer information from interactions or other sources.
Undoubtedly, we have become much more advanced in selling to or serving diverse customers in flexible ways. Some companies have even successfully adopted a very customer-centric business model that aims at providing a superior customer experience than other industry peers, which has been taught as a profitable means of differentiation by Business Schools around the world. Therefore, it is fair to say that customer knowledge has made us more powerful (led to increased revenues).
However, don’t we forget something here? Can we really claim to be truly customer-centric if we leave out the “social channel”? Can we really still claim to support the most important channels in our cross-channel CRM strategy if we don’t allow customers to buy from us or to be serviced by us via their preferred channel, which might be Facebook or other social networks these days? And isn’t there are widely accepted business phrase that says: “you got to go where your customers are”?
Given the tremendous growth and popularity of social networks, we just simply cannot afford to overlook social media, which can be seen as a new voice of the customer as well as a new channel for us reaching out to customers. In fact, initiatives on social networks have become reality by now of course. Most companies (especially in B2C) have experimented with or successfully established social media activities (e.g., campaigns, fan pages, twitter channel, etc.) already.
However, from close engagements with customers on related initiatives our team has come to the conclusion that most of these initiatives did not make the company any more knowledgeable or powerful than before.
But why is that and how is SAP and its new partner NetBase (announced partnership on December 12) supporting companies in gaining “social knowledge”?
In most cases, the Marketing organization is in the lead of course. Thus, the goal might vary, but usually includes monetization, as well as increasing awareness and reputation. The respective channel (e.g., Facebook fan page) or campaign (e.g., product promotion) is defined, created, executed and managed.
We then observe the following key hurdles preventing organizations from gaining valuable knowledge from “social channels”:
- 1. Measuring ROI and implementing the right learnings
- Do you even have the means to measure social marketing ROI other than the financial return (e.g., awareness, feedback/experience)?
- Solution: SAP Social Media Analytics, which is based on the NetBase cloud solution, allows companies to listen carefully to what the social web is saying, while improving their social media P&L. SAP Business Objects customers also benefit from ability to leverage existing BI investments, helping decision makers to draw the right conclusions.
- 2. Social Monitoring & Analytics
- Can you listen to your “social customers” and track sentiment across different market segments?
- Solution: SAP Social Media Analytics and NetBase’s NLP (natural language processing) capabilities allow for advanced drill-drowns on attributes like geography, brand, language, most mentioned topics, etc. Additionally, you can also track competitive sentiment.
- 3. Strategic approach to Social Media
- How do you manage your resource constraints? Doing it right requires the contributions of employees from various departments within an organization (e.g., Service for service handling)
- Solution: SAP Social Media Analytics and the planned SAP Service OnDemand solution enable your company to monitor customer conversations on social networks, automatically identify and prioritize top influencers and key issues, and collaborate internally to craft the best response.
- 4. Superior customer intelligence:
- Do you have a way to match social customer data with your existing CRM/ERP data?
- Solution: Using pre-built integration, SAP Service OnDemand combines your traditional and social hubs, equipping companies with unmatched knowledge (360 degree view) on its customers.
As shown, the “social channel” is a tremendous opportunity, which demands a more strategic approach though than what we are currently observing. At SAP, we want to support your initiatives and bring new means for becoming a more knowledgeable and therefore “powerful” business.
Please engage with our Co-Innovation program today and benefit from our exchange of ideas and requirements.