Networking your organization -- making it more agile, more enabled and more responsive -- makes a ton of sense from a practical perspective. From an operational perspective, however, it is much more difficult. Microsoft introduced the catch phrase of “working like a network” through a video for its enterprise social offering. But “working like a network” goes beyond just the social channel -- and permeates every department within the entire organization.

So how does an organization transform how they work? How do you put the concept of working like a network into practice? Let’s look at the three key components of “working like a network” that Microsoft mentions, how organizations can support these components and how they will help create alignment across the company to serve your customers.

Anticipate Trends: Integrate Data Management and Analysis

In order to anticipate what will come next for your organization -- whether it’s from an employee, customer or partner -- organizations have to be able to answer several pertinent questions. What happened in the past and why? Can we forecast or predict what will happen in the future based on the latest information we have? And finally, can we prescribe to different departments in the organization how to address issues and tackle challenges that may arise in the future based on this information?

In order to answer those questions, organizations need a few key ingredients. They need data -- from all channels and touch points -- whether its website, social media or in-store data -- as quickly as it can be collected and normalized. They need data management capabilities to structure and classify the data appropriately -- to remove the noise and to ensure quality of their information. And finally, they need analytics. Analytics allow trends to be identified, patterned and understood -- so that actions can then be taken. Anticipating trends by using data management and analytical techniques is the first step in enabling organizations to “work like a network” in this age of the truly digitally hyper connected consumer.

Take Action: Orchestrate Contact Across Channels

In the introduction to working like a network, Microsoft stated that organizations must provide fast responses, personalized service and better experiences. All organizations strive to provide excellent customer service, but it is difficult for organizations to accomplish for a number of reasons.

The most common and frustrating reason is the difficulty of orchestrating how and when customers are contacted across the organization. Why? Because they don’t have the latest information to make the best and most informed decisions -- which could be due to data issues, lack of the right technology or simply lack of communication.

Organizations have to know when I as a consumer interact with your brand, over what channel, at what time of day, what product or service I was interested in, and what the outcome of the interaction was. If that information can’t be retrieved by any employee responsible for customer interaction -- then getting to the point of working like a network might still be in the distant future.

Create Better Experiences: Through Digital Data Collection and Engagement

Better experiences mean quicker service and resolution times, better product selection, and faster time from research to usage of a product or service. As more and more Millennials and now even Generation Z consumers make their purchases outside of a physical store -- completing the steps in the supply chain from purchase to doorstep are expected to become more and more efficient.

Collecting information about how consumers interact with your web properties, how they speak about your brand on social, and about how they engage with customer service (whether via Twitter, chat, email or phone call) is the best information brands will have as face to face or in-store purchasing diminishes. As the web and social channels become the best source of information that brands have about consumers -- the more important granular data collection about these channels become. As organizations collect and analyze more of this digital data, we will see organizations improve how they engage and interact from a service perspective over these channels. And in turn, better experiences will be the result.

So the concept of working like a network is absolutely spot on -- and global collaboration between employees, customers, and partners -- will benefit all consumers from a service perspective. As organizations get better at adapting, creating better experiences and “wowing” us all with tremendous acts of service -- solid data management, analytical and enterprise digital marketing processes will be behind it all.