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The organizational digital divide

As marketers we tend to focus attention on  early adopters and marvel at the promise of new technologies and the “next big thing”.  We believe that the digital revolution has been won, and that with the right digital strategy and great execution, we will succeed.  At our fingertips are the tools to enable instantaneous viral and global communications.  We can create and curate relevant content and promote the fact that our organizations have multiple ways to engage with key stakeholders. Things should be going very well.

But are the employees in our organizations all connected and collaborating with one another? Is the information about our products and process readily available to all and are relationships with our clients  stronger than ever?  Despite our best plans, the types of changes we seek to enact often do not occur.  Do we understand why this is, and what we can do to change things?    Do we even recognize that  we are asking folks to bridge a digital divide?

മലയാളം: പാമ്പൻ പാലം
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When people are embedded in a culture they tend to believe that their assumptions are commonly accepted and that how they operate is typical.  It is only when exposed to other cultures that differences are exposed and individuals come to question things they held be true.  What has occurred is that many marketers are so embedded in digital culture that they have forgotten than the rest of the organization is not there yet.

Marketers will sometimes roll out programs that require engagement and content creation and assume that everyone will jump on the bandwagon.  This does not always happen and blame is placed on poor program execution.  But, often the stumbling block is simply the fact that the existing organizational culture does not support what is being asked for.  By failing to deal with organizational change, many social and digital marketing programs prematurely meet their deaths.  Marketers fail to understand that many folks still live in an analog world.

To succeed, organizations need to transform themselves so that social networking, collaboration, and transparency are part of the fabric of the organization.  They need to evolve to be social businesses.  In social businesses, employees are encouraged to and rewarded for engaging in the type of activities that enable digital marketing programs to succeed.  Cultures of transparency and collaboration are nurtured and even traditional manager-to-employee performance appraisal processes are transformed into platforms for individual and group goal setting and feedback.

In social businesses, employees are aligned with the business strategy and leaders are aligned with their organization’s social strategy.  There are written and widely known rules for governance and guidelines. Training is provided so that all understand the vision and how to implement it.  Metrics and satisfaction levels are obtained so that leaders can understand what is working and what is not.  Finally,  investments are made in resources and  technology platforms so that the necessary infrastructure is there to enable collaboration and transform the culture.

Change is never easy.  But to succeed, sometimes it is necessary.  Digital marketers and their marketing programs will not reach their full potential if the organizations that they are embedded in do not not evolve. To learn more about social business, please join my webinar on January 14th at 11:00-11:30 where I will discuss: Is your company ready for social business?  You can sign up here.

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