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Review: Social Readiness – How Advanced Companies Prepare Internally

Altimeter Group published an excellent report today called Social Readiness: How Advanced Companies Prepare Internally. It is chock full of great information – collected from a range of companies – on how to set up internal governance processes and provides a rich analysis of social media crisis. Altimeter’s research went well beyond what currently exists in the market and includes:

  • Survey results of employee policies & processes, cut by companies of various maturity levels
  • Survey results of escalation and response processes
  • The roles and headcount of the average social media team
  • An anatomy of a social center of excellence and its responsibilities
  • A aggregate look at social media crisis

Many of our customers are looking for exactly these types of benchmarks to help their stakeholders understand what it reasonable in terms of resources and investment. Giving those social strategists more ammunition – particularly around headcount numbers – is a great step forward.

There are several key assumptions in the report that we feel are worth more discussion:

  1. That social business is primarily about external/customer engagement needs. In our work with clients we find that many of the companies we think are the most thoughtful about social business start with internal collaboration or knowledge management initiatives that test the new communications dynamics, teach employees, and change the culture. They do this so that when they do start engaging externally, they are fully ready to embrace the new communication channels and have the internal awareness to make the time and quality of response much better.
  2. Internal processes are primarily a matter of ensuring timely external response. This is associated with the above point, but different in that strategically to be what we would consider a ‘social business’ it is about quite a lot more than being responsive to customers – it’s about changing your business model.  To us, a social business orients strategically around its ecosystem and proactively builds interdependencies within the communities that make up that ecosystem. This fundamentally changes the cost structure and value exchange between a company and its market because it is a community or network-based approach.

We COMPLETELY agree with Finding #3 – Ongoing education program and best practice sharing fosters continued learning – which is why we built TheCR Network. We’ve also seen evangelism and education become a critical component of the community manager’s role.

Kudos to Jeremiah Owyang and his team for putting together a valuable report to uncovers some of the critical weaknesses (and opportunities) facing social business strategists today.

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