Joanna, so glad I saw your post. Very timely.

Sunset or Sunrise #Corporate #Future #SMAC

A Sunset or A Sunrise?

Just yesterday I had two separate, unrelated conversations with FinServ friends in CLE, one a rising star Millennial with a top-tier bank, and the other, a Web-savvy Boomer with a top-tier regional brokerage, both frustrated with their organization’s policy prohibiting the use of Social Media. The Millennial isn’t sure that his company, as much as he likes it, is the right place for him longer term. His concern is around his own professional growth in the context of a company whose actions, in spite of corporate words, clearly indicate that it doesn’t value staying current with technology and the culture it serves. The boomer spoke about the recent surge in turnover at the firm, good people in the middle of the org chart that are leaving because of inflexible policies around working from home and other cultural issues that cause them to not only see, but jump at other opportunities, and thus forcing the boomer to have to go to clients and introduce yet another client relationship manager, etc., etc., etc.

Your spot-on writing, and thanks for sharing, raises the issues. I’m going to write a bunch of stuff and then share this post with a bunch of people. I hope others do as well. It’s an urgent discussion.

I really hope the C-Suite, ALL of them, sees this and other articles like it that point to the real-deal around Social and FinServ. Each C-Suite member needs to understand how Social is impacting their domain, whether it’s Finance, IT, Claims and Service, Actuary and Pricing, certainly Legal & Compliance, HR, and of course Sales and Marketing. Not to drop a lot of Social Tech lingo, but if nothing else, Online Reputation Management is critically important. And Organizational Voice is central to ORM. And the C-Suite is critically important to OV. It’s no longer good enough to do a carefully crafted PR piece every now and then or a quarterly earnings call that the average person can’t relate to.

What I’ve found in working with C-Suites on Social Tech Strategy is the importance of a simple process to get from current state to future state.

Step 1: A C-Level Educational Deep-dive

This needs to be a facilitated discussion in the board room with the C-Suite and perhaps their direct reports, preferably off-site and at least one full-day or two half-days. I know a handful of proven experts in Social Tech, those with a track record, a following, credentials, and a willingness to call it like it is, and a desire to transfer knowledge as well as the process to keep that knowledge current. I call it Building a River of Information. Hire one to come in and facilitate the discussion. The circular arguments must end. There is too much data at our fingertips to continue to waste precious time arguing about the same things over and over.

Step 2: Set the Goals and Form the Team

Form a clear set of organizational Social Tech goals, ones that support the wider enterprise goals, whatever they may be, and a cross-functional Social Tech Implementation Team that represents the entire enterprise. Give the team the C-Suite blessing, marching orders, a budget to work with, time away from other duties once a month, etc. In other words, this is a legit team, not an afterthought placation.

Step 3: A Mature Strategy Dev Process

Then go into a 6-12 month process of working through the strategy for the enterprise, complete with high-level issues and tactical implementations, each of which works together to accomplish the enterprise goals and reach the desired future state. The teams needs to chew on and definitively answer questions like:

  • What are the necessary changes to the IT strategy?
  • How can we leverage Crowdsourcing in IT development?
  • What about Cloud? What about BYOD?
  • What about bandwidth and security within the walled garden associated with opening up Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. internally?
  • What about HR, recruiting, retention, recognition, generational preferences, training, Social Media Policies, etc.?
  • What about record retention, content production approval processes, monitoring and managing communications, both internal and external from a Legal & Compliance POV.
  • And how can we do this at scale and at speed with multiple brands, multiple product lines, multiple states or countries, etc.?
  • And then with Customer Service and Policy Maintenance, Claims, etc., where are our policy holders most engaged in wanting to talk with us about their policies?
  • How do we respond to them, in a compliant, yet effective and timely, manner?
  • How can we move our constituents to cheaper, faster, and better forms of communication? There is SO much here.
  • And certainly from a sales and marketing perspective, we need to look at content, conversations, the sales and marketing funnel of consideration, ORM, OV, eWOM, data-driven mass customization, customer experience (quoting, enrollment, U/W, issuance, maintenance), both B2B and B2C, employee advocacy, the blur of privacy versus publicity and our personal and professional lives coming together thanks to mobile technologies.
  • And then you throw in there Mobile through-out.
  • And then we need to factor in the increasing velocity of change and how all the current tools and measurements need to adapt to changes in underlying technology over time.
  • Where are we going to be in 2020, because we need to be making decisions in 2015 that will get us there? Blockbuster’s the poster child for that, right?

And then lastly, Step 4: Roll out 

Roll out the strategy and the commensurate cultural change initiative, because, as Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch”, right? Seriously, the elephant in the Board Room is that the enterprise will need pretty significant change in order to implement the strategy – call it Social Business, Digital Business, becoming a technology company in the business of risk management, whatever. The point is, as an example, Progressive Insurance has become a technology company in the business of underwriting risk. And their growth in the last 15 years has been stunning. But in general, it’s a whole new set of people and processes? People need to be changed – it’s just the way it is. New people, new processes, up and down the enterprise. Because you can’t put old wine in new wineskins – or new wine in old wineskins.

Sorry for the rant Joanna, but I know you for one, as a technologist with Actiance, will agree with these sentiments and the desire to share them for the sake of the industry. Yes, I’m one of those guys that wants to be hired and facilitate the C-Suite and strategy development process, and thus I’ve become like a heart surgeon with a very narrow focus in a very broad field. Social, Mobile, Analytics & Data, Cloud, tools, metrics, generational preferences, the future of work, and how technology is changing culture, finances, risk, and so on are SO BIG that I want to take every chance I can to influence thought, and hopefully positive change, in these areas.

Because if you’re not growing and advancing, you’re circling the drain.

Thanks, Joanna. You rock.

Follow me on twitter @MikeWise07