The most important question about using any particular Social or Mobile Relationship tools is not How?, but rather Why? There is so much talk about how this or that tool is used, how it’s implemented, how to build a network, how to organize contacts, etc. Yet, this is at best the secondary concern. And it is the lack of answering the Why question that keeps many business leaders shy about using the many Social Media and mobile computing platforms in the market today. Don’t get me wrong: I think that Social is good for almost everyone in business; but there are both risks and costs associated for every benefit in social media that need to be addressed.
For the first half of the modern* digital business age, the focus was on productivity tools. Rivals such as Corel, Lotus and Microsoft began creating productivity software for the every day business user and these tools had a sudden impact on every aspect of business, especially for mid-sized businesses. Functions that were highly specialized and took days, could be done in just hours by less skilled people. As companies adapted, they found more opportunities to improve their daily processes so that almost every role in the business world transformed. A sales manager in a small company could create his own spreadsheet to track clients, the sales team and predict orders, where before it required the accountant or office manager a couple of days to generate such reports. Back then, the crucial question was “how” to use the software, because the “why” was obvious to most.
I remember in the early 90s, working for a manufacturer’s representative who’s leaders had been to a trade show and became convinced that they needed to develop a corporate-wide distributed data management system. At the time, it seemed obvious – put all of the data into one system that can be accessed by all branches for all business functions. Obvious benefit. Then, the show came around to laptop computers. No longer does the sales man carry a brief case. He carries a laptop. The corporate president blurted out in his deep southern drawl “Why in the world would I want all of my salesmen carrying around computers???” He went on to answer his own question with expletives assessing how “dumb of an idea” that would be.Continue reading →
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