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“THEY” are talking… Are YOU listening?

I was in a strategy meeting with one of our largest customers this week.  During the meeting, the primary objective was to incorporate some of the latest technology enablers into their overall business strategy.  This is a company that has some proven best practices in B2B Commerce, but when we dug into the changes in B2B Commerce - driven in large part by the changes already adopted in B2C Commerce – we had some pretty interesting findings and dialogue around “Social Listening”.

First and foremost, in the beginning it wasn’t at all clear that this aspect of Demand Creation had any obvious role in their company – a market leader in high technology, complex equipment for industrial companies. However, at the end of the conversation, I came away with some good insights… and I want to share them and get this topic into the forefront of our thinking.

Who’s Speaking?  Everyone.

There are countless sources that provide key insights and free information out there.  Your competitors speak! Your customers speak!  Your industry speaks! Economists, analysts, and individuals speak.  The internet economy is buzzing with an overload of unstructured information.  The good news is…… not in the future, but right now, unstructured information can be useful in planning, executing and managing your company’s success.  So, since there’s a lot of talk all around you, finding the right topics will be the key.

Listening – Hearing what’s Essential (Selective Listening)…

The strongest performers in Demand Creation have a plethora of knowledge and are very strategic in how they gather, group and use that knowledge to gain a competitive advantage. They selectively choose the channels and content most relevant to their company’s goals – information and data that will ultimately increase their knowledge IQ and drive better results.

Big Data/Small Data? – Linking what you hear in a cohesive, actionable format is critical.

Organizing for Action - Getting Started – “If we waited until we had a map we’d still be standing on Plymouth Rock looking West”.  That’s what an old ‘rabble rouser’ friend of mine told me when I was a CIO reluctant to embrace his latest technology idea.  I forget exactly what he wanted but I remember his words… “Let’s get started and figure it out as we go”.  One of the beauties of new “EDGE” technologies (those that are on the margin between your internal systems and the rest of the world) is that they are generally inexpensive and non-threatening to your CORE enterprise data and applications.  So, for Social Listening, can you find at least one ‘channel’ to tune into?  Explore some keywords and see what you find.  Follow these as potential sources of competition, market trends, or your own company’s performance.  It’s the start of your journey into BIG DATA.  Stay tuned… they are speaking.


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