I had the opportunity last week to participate in a discussion, as part of a panel at Deloitte’s EMEA TMT Business School, talking about social media, social business and the realities. I was there representing Avaya and there were the other heavyweights from Microsoft and Oracle as well. Also there was a customer of Deloitte talking about their experiences as well. The moderator posed the first question to me asking about the ROI of social media for businesses. This is a typical curveball type question which is often written about and I answered with the currently accepted thought that this is just too early. I had just week spoke about the same item and had run across a comment from Richard Owen of Satmetrix where he talks about having found the ROI of social media. More on that in another post.
The discussion went on for the hour and I was given the final, closing words which was not planned but the question related to the last comments from other panelists talking of the challenges of allowing employees to speak in the name of the company and the dangers it brings. I was asked what I thought of all this and how this would influence the acceptance or success of social communications. Again, this was an easy one, a “Steilvorlage” one might say in German. My answer was simple, social media must be open and without the chains of typical communications. I used the example of the Arab Spring last year and how if people feel that someone is watching over their shoulder they will not share, or open up to the others.
I know that was a bit too esoteric perhaps but since I was talking to a crowd of business consultants I needed to repeat this. For me working in social media for the last years I have seen this in both the public conversation as well as the internal communications of social business solutions.