Managing ECM in content’s new era part 2

Introducing enterprise content management systems can be nightmares of process and procedure, but the integration of social media is making ECM deployments worthwhile

Part two of Computerworld Australia's guide to managing enterprise content management (ECM) systems.

See: Managing ECM in content’s new era part 1

Social media as branding

In the end, managers questioning the value of ECM must remember that investments in ECM are investments in a company’s brand, and in its perception by stakeholders ranging from investors and regulators to end customers. Content without context will irreparably damage the link between ECM and its business purpose, so to preserve its reputation every company needs to ensure its ECM infrastructure and processes are meeting both internal users’ needs, and those of customers.

It’s in the latter area that many businesses are coming unstuck: in an online world where your customers will form the majority of their opinion about you based on the ease-of-use and helpfulness of your company’s website, you can’t afford ignoring opportunities to service them above and beyond the call of duty.

This can prove difficult for companies with poorly-integrated ECM policies, however. Today’s ECM not only needs to manage internal and static content, but to factor ever-changing data sources like social media into their architectures and procedures. It’s bad enough if your business isn’t monitoring Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to see what users think about it – but if your content system can’t dip into the endless currents of rage and fury online, you’re missing a major part of both the conversation, and the opportunity to influence its outcome.

“From a marketing perspective staff are all about wanting to listen online for the bad mentions,” says Lisa Abbott, senior product marketing manager with contact centre software giant Genesys, which is tying social-media monitoring tools into its overall go-to-market proposition and recently released a new platform, Genesys Social Engagement, designed to facilitate the change.

“Social media is starting to replace the focus group: before, you had to bring in a controlled environment and test the message; now we get those messages every day in the form of things being said about your products and offered as advice. A lot of that should be leveraged and viewed across the enterprise to gain valuable insights, help growth strategies, and get a quick heads-up. Social media needs to become part of their DNA.”

Just how you do this is still open to interpretation, but experts agree that making the social-media world an intrinsic part of your own content strategy has become crucially important. Recent studies on what makes people engage with particular brands found that 32.9 per cent of Facebook users following a brand were already customers of that brand, compared to just 23.5 per cent of Twitter users. In what is likely to be a related result, Twitter users were more receptive to online discounts and promotions, but only 5 per cent of Facebook users, compared with just 3.5 per cent of Twitter users, followed the brand for service, support, or product news.

These figures suggest that Facebook has secured favour as preferred channel for richer interactions with brands of interest than Twitter, which is still seen as more of a channel for opportunistic engagement. But with high-value consumers showing their proclivities for social media, companies that are unable to use their ECM platforms to consolidate their marketing message and practice, and identify and respond to online engagements, are going to suffer.

The manner of this integration might vary widely depending on requirements: it’s not enough, for example, to simply read tweets without archiving them and monitoring the company’s response time to any issues raised. This has happened many times, where marketing staff have assumed control of social-media interaction but failed to establish linkages with customer support staff, or to even respond to customers in ways that reflect actual company policy.

It’s not enough to simply employ a few people to engage with social media unless the business establishes clear policies for cross-communication of relevant social-media inputs: poorly managed, the impact can be even worse. And by covering all relevant communications channels, the new ECM becomes an enabler of better conversations that span business silos.

“What we see within the new connected enterprise is that there’s a huge focus on becoming more collaborative,” says Paul Gleason, executive director for convergent sales with Telstra Enterprise & Government. “It’s not just within your organisation, but the interaction you’ve had with your customers and partners.”

“It’s about sharing information in real time, becoming more competitive, servicing your markets with speed, and driving more change with the leverage of agile architecture. Connected enterprises are more innovative, and leverage that connectivity in terms of outcomes that are more innovative in the way they serve customers and constituents.”

Colliers’ Finnimore, for one, is confident that his company’s ECM investment has helped the company do just that. By updating its technical architecture to support content like videos – which could not be hosted in the previous platform – the company has ensured its content infrastructure will be a business enabler rather than a business inhibitor.

“In choosing SiteCore, we knew that ones the business arrives at the place that Marketing was, that we would be able to facilitate that content,” says Finnimore. “We are a service business with 1200 people on the ground representing the face of the brand, and you look at that from a social perspective where you have one product and you’re trying to market around that. The first step is to take the journey for management, and then to market around that.”

Next page: Ten ECM upgrade best practices

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