Almost four months ago, I came to a cross-roads in my career.
Having just left yet another start-up that had tons of promise but eventually began to show signs of waning, it was pretty evident that the frustration I had encountered in the last 7 years in the social media business was coming to a head.
I didn’t understand why companies didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why companies were treating social media as merely a campaign channel and nothing more. I didn’t understand why companies were ok with complacency and didn’t feel the urgency to change their ways.
Social media has proven that it’s a medium that’s not going away. Its prevalence has paved the way for pundits’ warning of the inevitable death of marketing.
Today, it’s not a do or die situation, but soon it will be. When I decided to blaze my own path, I sat down to figure out what I wanted to do. Below is my “letter to myself”.
I owe a lot to my trip to Dachis’ Social Business Summit in NY. My time there contributed greatly to this journey. It was also part soul-searching, part anger and sheer will that ArCompany came to be.
As I write this it’s becoming much clearer as to why I need to venture down this path.
Operationalizing social is going to be an inevitable reality. And the more I speak to people the more I realize that it may not necessarily be a hard sell after all.
The concept itself is harrowing but many companies may have already gone down the road of implementing it in one form or another.
What are the drivers of this eventuality of Social Business?
An unstable world economy that results in business flux and move towards developing efficiencies. This, in turn, affects the job market and the resource constraints that are put upon businesses.
Product saturation/abundance was bourne in an age of mass production and mass communication. These days, the opposite is true. Enter Mass customization that’s given rise to increased customer service.
Technology has also splintered communications which has changed from a one-way to two-way channel. Up until just over a decade ago, the voice of the consumer was but a whisper. Nowadays it’s being heard loud and clear.
In the past, the value between a company and its customers was based on transaction history. A true value has emerged that includes customer relationships and behaviours outside of the organization and provides him/her with a stronger voice that the company must heed.
One way static communication has changed to an interactive two-way dialogue.
This dialogue has drastically increased this well of data/information that has the ability to radically inform and provide more power in decision-making
However, companies, for the most, part are not ready. They don’t have the ability nor forethought to recognize the value of the data.
Companies are not ready to shape their processes and structure around this information to properly receive, manage and analyze and action on it (in the appropriate timeframes)–all in an effort to mitigate reputational impacts, to capitalize on potential revenue streams, and to reduce customer churn.
Dave Gray of Dachis said it best:
Social Business means…. having to dismantle some of that precious infrastructure
It can be done
It seems like a daunting feat but what companies don’t realize is that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. While some fundamental mindshifts need to happen, solutions to deal with this slew of information has not radically changed.The same principals and models still apply.
The difference is how to deal with the information in its abundance and the speed at which it is moving and in its unstructured form.
What the market needs…
I need to form a company that will help companies move to that eventual next level. There remains a huge education gap when it comes to social. Many have not totally bought into the promise of social. Their implementations are weak and non-committal.
In the meantime, information and intelligence technology (to make sense of this information) is moving at a faster pace. Those companies that can adapt and leverage this information to their benefit will be ahead of the curve.
In the short term, they will be the drivers of change. They will show the world what it means to really listen and understand their customer. They will show the world how to succeed by bridging these gaps, elevating the relationship with their customers and focusing resources in driving to market needs and expectations.
Here’s what we will do:
We evolve businesses for the inevitable and use data to drive validation and make smart decisions;
We show business how to evolve at their own pace;
We educate and train on best practices and how to manage and foster relationships at each customer touch point;
We introduce technology within the framework of the customer relationship: collaboration, workflow, business intelligence, content and community mapping;
We analyze initiatives to validate implementations and strategies, and ensure they map to business objectives.
So here we are, February 2013. ArCompany has arrived. We named it so because “arc” shows steady momentum and progression. Taken together with “company” it sounds like “Our Company”. The next generation of business will have accountability to the customer– at all levels of the organization.
And I couldn’t ask for a better team to take this journey with me: They are all stellar in their own right:
- Danny Brown, a truly amazing friend who has shown me on more than one occasion how to truly live with integrity;
- Amy Tobin, a spunky and energetic pal who continues to challenge me and make me smile in the process;
- Andrew Jenkins, someone I’ve come to respect for his perseverance and undeniable insight from the enterprise world.
We all live social… everyday. We understand and are passionate about the connected customer. We inherently know how this is going to impact business now and in the long-term.
We look forward to having the conversation. Join us!
Reference for some of this material sourced from the Social Business Journal, September 2012
Photo source: mgifford
Founder at ArCompany, and Co-founder of Salsa AI, Hessie is a seasoned digital strategist, and intelligence analyst having held senior positions for top ad agencies including Ogilvy, Rapp Collins, ONE and Isobar Digital. She also has extensive start-up experience in social tech, online publishing and artificial intelligence like Yahoo! Answers, Overlay.TV, Jugnoo and Cerebri AI. Hessie is the co-author of EVOLVE: Marketing (as we know it) is Doomed! She is also an active writer for Cognitive World, Towards Data Science and Marketing Insider Group.