A Manhattanite turned San Franciscan; this holiday season I replace my Times Square disco ball with a Silicon Valley crystal ball.

Below I list a cornucopia of eleven predictions that span the crossroads of customer service, marketing and management. With the recent headlines on the WikiLeaks, North Korea and Ireland’s financial straits, I’m “feeling lucky” on this Wintry post-poultry night to be reporting on the social business landscape for 2011 and not from UN Headquarters.

Get out your champagne glass….
 


Doritos User Generated Ad From 2009 Crash the Super Bowl Contest

Blake’s Silicon Valley Crystal Ball 2011:

1. Drucker’s Disrupt

Disruptive technology will be disrupting management. The need to quickly embrace social technologies will demand companies take a look at internal management practices. Status quo command and control management will not make the use of social technologies easy.

An environment that doesn’t support internal collaboration, information sharing and access to personal social media pages is not conducive for embracing social. Going from Transactional Management to Transformational Management will truly be the leadership challenge of 2011.

2. The Sprouting of the Change Agent

More companies will find agents inside the company who lead the charge in social strategy. Jeremiah Oywang of Altimeter Group recently released a report that provided somewhat of an x-ray into organizations that are experimenting with social. He surveyed 140 social strategists and what he found was there is no shortage of hurdles for these social media evangelists who rise up from the ranks.

3. Centers of Excellence

Companies will clue in to the fact that social business needs to be an enterprise-wide effort. Companies will set up workshops with heads from each department. That includes the CEO, CMO, CIO, CR(egulatory)O, CL(earning)O, CFO, CC(ustomer)O and representatives from the customer base and employee base.

Together this center of excellence will set forth an integrated business strategy, or at least one that offers transparency and communication across departments.

4. “Kids, At One Time In The Exact Place You Are Standing There Was A Call Center.”

I proudly say I “came from” the call center world -- or at least that is how I found CRM and Social CRM (Thank you Paul Greenberg). So while I have a place in my heart for the ugly duckling -- the call center -- we know it is only a matter of time before they disappear.

In 2011 we will watch more dinosaur call centers morph into “contact centers.” These contact centers have multi-channel CRM systems offering web chat, tracking customer conversations on twitter and other social networks and better managing the multi-channel customer experience (yes this is in an ideal world).

Not because they want to -- but rather because they have to. Some companies will begin to outsource this to virtual agents (environmentally friendly, cost effective and helpful for out of work vets, disabled people, housewives/husbands and students).

5. 24 hours Left to Buy The Brazilian Blowout for 150 dollars?!

This week the industry was buzzing with rumors that Google has purchased Groupon for 2.5 billion. With the popularity of Livingsocial and other location based marketing successes, companies need to start going global but thinking local. In addition to competitive pricing like Froogle, marketers -- from mom and pop shops to big box retailers -- need to be provide something too good to refuse. Location based marketing is a fun way for marketers to generate buzz and more importantly create new customers.

6. There’s An App For That

Your customer wants to do a variety of things with their smart phone. At the very least your website needs to have a mobile-friendly version -- or consider yourself toast. For example here are some questions you should ask: Can customers place orders from their phone? Can they request a callback from our customer service team? Have we incorporated text messaging into our marketing or customer service offering? If you are really good you’ve mastered the smart phone and you are already developing your next iPad app. Even Oprah’s doing it.

7. The Domino Effect

While small business can be more agile with social media -- it’s much more difficult to scale social media programs for large enterprises. Medium and large enterprise companies will begin to rollout division-wide programs. This makes it easier for departments to scale by looking at one department at a time. In most cases marketing appears to be first out the gate.

8. Benchmarking With Peers

More businesses will be reaching out to other businesses that have seen success with social strategy. They want to see case studies from their peers and results-proven strategies. We know that there is no standard cookie cutter solution, but we also know there are some really smart tools and methodologies that are making companies money. That includes the Zappos Insights program that helps companies identify their own values and culture. By improving the corporate culture companies can better leverage social technology internally and with customers.

9. Analytics

Everything measured improves? Well companies still think so -- and decision makers who hold company purse strings need to see an obvious return from internal and external social efforts, or they won’t invest. Every social offering will be challenged with the ROI question.

The challenge for the vendors and consultants is creating a truly “tailored” approach. Every business needs to measure their success according to their specific business challenge.

10. Influence Loses the “In” Factor

Amount of followers doesn't = power. This is arguably one of the fallacies being proselytized. A few are working hard to understand the science of influence. Michael Wu, PhD, Principal Scientist for software vendor Lithium wrote earlier this season in The 6 Factors of Social Media Influence that there are two criteria for gauging influence. He says they are Credibility, “The influencer’s expertise in a specific domain of knowledge” and Bandwidth, “The influencer’s ability to transmit his expert knowledge through a social media channel.”

He also reminds us that “there is no such thing as a universal influencer, because no one can possibly be influential in all domains. And influencers are not only specific to a domain of knowledge, they are specific to social media channels.”

The more mistakes we make, the smarter and stronger we become. So in 2011 we will better understand our customers, how we can make them happy and how they can help us improve our products and services.

11. A happy marriage?

E20 and SCRM together at last. Increasingly we see the business value of an integrated internal and external social business program. Companies that “get social media” internally are better equipped to leverage it in communicating with customers. Social business strategist Mark Tamis wrote in his recent blog Enterprise 2.0 and the Flavors of Social CRM, “Social CRM strategy adds the customers interaction to the E2.0 mix to ensure that we focus on understanding what is of value to them so that we can better cater to their needs whilst ensuring the sustainability of our business. Deciding just what approach to take, when and how and with whom will be the crux of the matter.”

Companies like Cisco are changing the way they reach customers and tying it back into their internal social business strategy. As Tamis says, the more we understand the tools internally the more equipped we are to leverage them with customers.

Cheers to healthier businesses in 2011!

“Research” for this article came from the variety of sources, some of which were events. This year I attended a handful of industry events including the Salesforce’s ChatterExchange NYC, BPT Partners Social CRM training, CRM Evolution, Blog World, Oracle Open World, Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara and the upcoming Dreamforce event. Most of these events have squeezed the terms “social business” in to their programs in some capacity -- an example of the market’s readiness for at the very least more information, case studies and vendor showcases. I recommend these events for you next year to learn more about social business.