SmoothSpan Blog

For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

What the CMO Wants from Web 2.0 Systems Management: A Negativity Early Warning System

Posted by Bob Warfield on September 18, 2007

Enterprise Systems Management is all about Bob the CIO knowing that his IT systems are online and doing the right thing.  Products like Tivoli do this with elaborate monitoring and control panel capabilities for the On-premises world of Enterprise Software.  Presumably, there is an emerging market to do this for the SaaS world as well, since the CIO still needs to know that his SaaS applications are online and doing the right thing.  Savvy SaaS vendors will start thinking about what sorts of Web Services are needed to facilitate this and savvy entrepreneurs and other product innovators will set about providing it.

What about the needs of Karin the CMO with respect to Web 2.0?  Despite her worst fears, Karin has unleashed the Web 2.0 genie because she knows what a powerful force collaboration can be for her company.  In order to sleep better at night, it seems to me that Karin needs a management tool too.  One that tells her all is reasonably well in the 2.0 world and nothing too terrible is happening.  This tool is harder to build than the Systems Management tool, but it is potentially capable of averting a greater catastrophe by preventing an unintended release of negative information or other PR gaff from spreading too far.

I got the idea for this one reading Steve Hamrin’s Outsourcing and Call Center blog.  Steve notes that with the Web 2.0, “The Whole World is Watching.”  He’s absolutely right when he says that for starters, there are sure to be benefits for organisations that conduct themselves in the most ethical, transparent ways, but that still doesn’t eliminate the need for Business 2.0 to have sophisticated monitoring systems in place to understand very quickly who is saying what about them in the Web.

Some companies have evidently already dealt with this problem.  Steve goes on to tell the story of the Standard Charter Bank.  Evidently he had a terrible customer service experience with them, blogged out it, and was a bit shocked when they called him up to repair the relationship.  That World is Watching bit cuts both ways:  The World is Watching You, so You Had Better Watch the World.  If you can spot a disgruntled activist who is passing on his negative experience, you may turn them around as Standard Charter did with Steve.  What better way could their be to demonstrate that you really care?

A potent monitoring solution is not necessarily an easy thing to come by.  There are so many Web 2.0 Personality Spaces to keep up with.  Not all of them are even available to Google directly.  And even if you Google, how do you go about sifting through all that information?  I’d never heard of Standard Charter Bank, which is a leading bank in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, but they have 2.2 million hits on Google.  Bank of America has over 10 million hits and Dell Computer has 112 million.  Clearly tasking someone with just taking a look at search results every now and again is not the answer!

This is a great enterpreneurial opportunity for someone to build a search engine that searches for negativity.  It seems to me that a negativity early warning system would be very useful to companies concerned with customer satisfaction.

Failing such a search engine, what else can be done?

First, the worst kind of negativity is internal negativity: bad messages emanating from within the Enterprise itself.  This sort of thing involves a much smaller set of sources that are potentially easier to monitor.  Think about getting a system in place perhaps built around mashup tools that can track these sources.  I’m not necessarily talking about your already buttoned down mechanisms such as press releases, look to the Web 2.0 mechanisms.  If you have forums, blogs, and other less process-oriented means of communication, put some monitoring in place around those areas.

Second, don’t overlook the human element.  Make it possible to anonymously communicate negativity and make sure it really is anonymous.  Reward folks for calling your attention to outside sources of negativity.  Make sure that your mechanisms for collecting the sources of negativity don’t turn into a percieved witch hunt.  You really do want to hear the bad as well as the good.  If the bad is misinformed, you want to educate it not eradicate it.

2 Responses to “What the CMO Wants from Web 2.0 Systems Management: A Negativity Early Warning System”

  1. […] Comments What the CMO Wants f… on Who’s Afraid of Web 2.0?…Two New Platform Typ… on 7 Tactics for Building a Guerr…7 […]

  2. […] What the CMO Wants from Web 2.0 Systems Management: A Negativity Early Warning System « SmoothSpan … “This is a great enterpreneurial opportunity for someone to build a search engine that searches for negativity. It seems to me that a negativity early warning system would be very useful to companies concerned with customer satisfaction.” (tags: search *2.0 customerservice pr influence) […]

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