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Author's profile photo Susan Galer

Digital Humanism Comes of Age: Can Marketers Tame the Social Wild West?

/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/digitalhumanscn_818658.jpgDigital humanism might sound contradictory, but the prevailing wisdom is that a company is only as strong as the people in its surrounding communities. It makes perfect sense in a hyper-connected world. In less than five years, 2.5 billion people will connect with each other across social networks, the number of connected devices will total 75 billion, and the volume of global business trade between connected businesses will reach a whopping 65 trillion. I came by these statistics listening to a recent episode of SAP’s Coffee Break with Game-Changers entitled, Business Networks and the Digital Economy: Ready for Digital Humanism?. Hosted by Bonnie D. Graham, the episode featured four innovation experts, (including Graham), who powered through a swath of compelling topics relevant to both consumer and B2B marketing professionals.

Connecting to the digital halo

According to Dennis DeGregor, Worldwide Group Executive for CX Services at HP, smart businesses and leaders realize that people are at the center of the digital revolution.

“Machines cannot deliver empathy. It’s the humans that are empowered by the technologies that deliver empathy,” he said. “We have to provide them new advanced technologies that allow them to engage in this empathetic customer experience that drives net promoter scores, revenue, upselling, cross selling and he loyalty matrix.”

DeGregor said marketers may be using digital approaches but many still cling to traditional push models. To be truly customer-centric, they have to fully embrace the entire internet encompassing things, people, places, companies and information.

“The challenge for the future of brand marketing and service is to connect those five pieces of the internet to the consumer with what I call digital halos, meaning what is this customer’s fingerprint or digital portrait that they are leaving in the marketplace that we can organize and use to improve service and marketing. Leading digital marketers are not only looking at the individuals any more. They’re looking at all your Facebook partners, your Twitter connections, your Instagram connections, and so forth. They’re actually marketing not only to you, but to the people you’re connected with.”

Context is Critical

With three billion more people expected to enter the internet world by 2020, Frank Diana, Principal Business Evolution at TCS, agreed companies have to tap into collective knowledge and wisdom.

“I still see a lot of companies using an isolated approach to somebody’s technologies and tools as opposed to a holistic view. Digital age knowledge sharing is more about harnessing the collective intelligence of the crowd or the world,” he said. “How do you take that crowd down to a community that could participate in your process, and then leverage the knowledge that they deliver into that process and where it creates value? We’ve seen companies using crowd knowledge to reduce development cycles from 300 days to 29. We have examples of crowds that have improved insurance algorithms and dropped millions of dollars from the bottom line for very little cost in the process.”

Taming the Wild West of social networks

The big story in digital age marketing is hitting all the right connections that comprise a company’s community, whether consumer or business-to-business. Drew Hofler, Senior Director of Solutions Marketing at Ariba, said what matters is building bridges to connect partners, prospects and customers with relevant information.

“When you build these bridges, you’re able to gain value from other parties who typically didn’t have a voice into a particular process or issue or idea. Right now, it’s about finding where to build those bridges, where they’re most valuable, and start increasing that knowledge,” he said. “With business networks and the digital economy, there has to be an ability for built-in firewalls to information. It can’t be just the Wild West of Facebook and Twitter. There simply is too much information moving for humans to be able to discern and capture everything that’s necessary. Critical pieces have to be highlighted and grabbed so that humans can then interact with it at a human level, but only on that which is most important.” 

Social media may seem like an untamed frontier, but collaborative, cloud-based platforms along with contextual technologies are opening up a whole new marketing landscape. Digital humanism is the new currency in town.

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