What's the impact of societal trends on CRM?
As IT-based devices and technologies become more personal in scope and application, social issues will become increasingly important to product success, according to Gartner.
In order to identify and react to major societal shifts and trends, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2010, some 15% of US and European businesses will have formalised "societal trend watching" as a corporate discipline.
Watch them and learn "A connected enterprise must understand the connected society in which it resides," warned Scott Nelson, managing vice president for Gartner. "Most firms wait until societal trends have overwhelmed them before they try to react. Slowness to respond can cost firms incredibly large sums of money and may drive them out of business all together."
Gartner suggests that businesses will increasingly need both anthropological and psychological input into system development to help ensure that entire systems consisting of technology and people are viable, and to help evaluate how changes in employees' and customers' lifestyles are going to affect customers and business decisions in the future.
Trusted information sources Adding technology to the natural human desire to communicate enables individuals to participate in more, richer, faster and denser social networks. Some are enabled by basic internet infrastructure (such as e-mail and instant messaging) while others by more specialist tools or sites (such as FriendFeed, Twitter, Ryze or Orkut). Such networks form an increasing proportion of the trusted information sources that individuals use to make decisions.
"In activities such as marketing it is valuable to find and spend effort on several key influencers that are trusted information sources used by other network participants. Enterprises should work the network and find out where their customers and potential employees are making decisions," Nelson explained. "As many of these networks are implemented using well-understood technical standards, they can be probed and analysed, opening up opportunities for a new generation of social network analysis and simulation tools."
Social group watching The danger that many organisations run into is trying to determine which trends to watch. Gartner recommends giving responsibility to a group to watch societal trends and to focus on several key points to maximize short-term and strategic decisions while positioning the business for the future:
- Social factors will become increasingly important in business and commercial systems. Adopt a human-centric design perspective. Watch these factors on an ongoing basis.
- Appoint staff to review systems and working practices to identify legal, ethical and social risks.
- Conduct an opportunity/threat analysis to identify product and service opportunities enabled by the connected society.
- Understand and exploit network effects in products and services.
- Explore the opportunities to use network effects and the connected society to solve business and government problems in new ways.
- Privacy is a way of life and a business strategy decision, not a technical issue. Appoint a privacy officer.