One of the most anticipated sessions here at Gilbane SF was the Keynote Industry Analyst Panel moderated by Frank Gilbane. Unsurprisingly, the panel revolved largely around all things social media.

As Gilbane pointed out, it is the second time in a row when this panel is "focused on social media. That fact itself is a very import thing to consider."

This time around, the following analysts gathered on the panel:

  • Jeremiah Owyang, Forrester
  • Hadley Reynolds, IDC
  • Larry Hawes, Gilbane Group
  • Lisa Welchman, WelchmanPierpoint

The Most Important Piece of Advice

Larry Hawes (LH): Documents, web sites, etc. are all formal content. Blogs and wikis, on the other hand, are more of a backchannel types of content.

The industry is seeing more preference and reliance on the backchannel to get work done. Reliance on the backchannel is also driving innovation. Pay attention to the kinds of changes your organization needs to make in order to deal with this shift from formal to backchannel content.

Lisa Welchman (LW): As mentioned in the Adobe talk earlier today, I agree that we should be user-centered. The challenge has been is that we can’t do it. Many people are still stifled.

One of the biggest things that people are ignoring is the revolution in product development that grows from paying attention to quality.

What are your quality controls like? Are you measuring for quality? Are you just reacting and doing stuff? Organizations ought to understand what users need and tool themselves to create quality.

Hadley Reynolds (HR): The most important realization is these are the times when computing is focused on language and impression. Success of Google, for example, is based on their realization that there’s a connection between languages people use.

So much of our lives are electronic , we gonna have to catch up with the fact that machines need to understand us better and understand what customers are trying to do with their lives.

Jeremiah Owyang (JO): The biggest finding in a recent Forrester research indicates that every page on the web will soon be socially ranked and rated. Google Chrome will get some social features. You can’t stop it.

The social movement is happening, and you better damn well embrace it, have a strategy and do it right.

Social Media in Enterprises

JO: The reason we see so much fear when it comes to social media in the enterprise is due to the lack of strategy. Technology is only 20%, while strategy (roles, process, governance, measurement) is the other 80% of the objective. The strategic approach should be as if you’re launching a new product. The benefits on internal sites are obvious and, mainly, involve collaboration.

With social media you can collaborate with people outside your company and reap the benefits of increased revenue and decreased cost. Word-of-mouth marketing is huge, as customers trust each other more than they trust the companies. Reduce cost by having community software.

LW: The number one disengage with social media in the enterprise is lack of engagement and guidance at the executive level.

They’re not going to implement it, but you need to have them involved. A really practical piece to it is guidance. In 90% of cases, it doesn’t exist, and people in the trenches often don’t have the authority to make it stick. In addition to that, culturally, in the U.S., we tend to lack discipline.

LH: Social media is about the innovation process. Dell.com’s Idea Zone, for example, is used to attract ideas on how to improve products. Dell uses this social aspect to supercharge their innovation process and improve the flow of ideas.

JO: The amount of pushback aimed at social media is also based on privacy concerns and legalities that exist around privacy in different countries.

HR: Search function helps in making suggestive kinds of responses.

LW: We’ll get to it as soon as organizations decide that they can create content like that. The impact of these technologies is that you’re changing entire organizations, and you need to retool not only the technology but the C suite as well.

How to Control The Quality of Informal, External Content?

LW: ’Cuz I gotta say web governance at some point today… You really can’t control real-time collaboration. The way you do it really is through governance. Governance is not workflows and procedures; it’s about standards, and setting and executing a policy against those standards.

JO: Salesforce.com, for example, is connecting with social sites, so that organizations can monitor and track these things in your CRM system. The challenge here is that you cannot always connect a person to an ID in your database, as he/she may not be there. Social networks have an opportunity to become CRM systems.

Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Buy-In In Adoption of Social Media

LW: Things happen organically -- that’s the way stuff happens. It grows to a significant size, and then it has to be managed. A person at the top needs to be aware, and set constraints about how to use this stuff.

On Attracting Product Evangelists

LH: At IBM, they test products internally to make them better tools. So-called “ambassadors” are the people who can answer questions and point to training on how to use. They are an organized group of evangelists.

LW (on attracting external evangelists): The first thing that popped in my mind: have a good product. Be in the community and be real. You can’t fake this stuff.