Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What's the best industry to sell social software to?

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A colleague recently approached me and asked me which industry I thought would be best to sell social software to. He explains that in his region, he has a lot of customers in the education industry and they just didn't get it. I had a similar experience before and blogged about it. The question did take me by surprise, so I told him that I would think about it and then blog about it.

First, I had to figure out what were the industries out there. I found this list, but that was way too long. So then, I decided to look at our customer references and see which industries are covered. Here's a summary of them:

Customer Industry Use Case
Bank of NY Banking Link
Imerys Materials Link
Film Foundation Media Link
Saxion Education Link
km.gov Federal Government Link
Sprint Telecommunications Link
-Contstruction Group- Construction/Architecture/Engineering Enhance collaboration / discover tacit knowledge faster
-Software Maker- Computer Services/Consumer Products Provide employees better access to company expertise
-Travel company-Moosejaw Retail Link (Note: Updated 9/12/2008 to disclose name)
University in Brazil in partnership with a college in FL Education Link (Note: Updated 9/12/2008 to add this row)
Video (Note: Updated 11/5/2008 to add this row)
FAA Government Link (Note: Updated 12/13/2008 to add this row)
Aerospace / Automotive Rheinmetall AG Link (Note: Updated 5/8/2009 to add this row

Of course, the list goes on, but I wanted to capture at least 1 example per major industry. As I keep reading about all of our references, some patterns evolve:

  • Each industry has a unique need for social software
  • Most seem to want to enable a better end-user experience
  • Most want to improve collaboration processes, specially those with dispersed/mobile employees

So I don't think the question is valid. Seems to me like everyone needs social software. But who needs it more than others? My guess is that these companies need it more:

  • Companies who need better ways to assemble teams allowing innovation and collaboration to happen
  • Companies with a high-level of turnover or high-number of employees who will soon retire
  • Companies with large number of dispersed and/or mobile employees
  • Companies who would like to build customer and employee loyalty
In fact, a Force Management, online Corporate Social Networking Survey (ended June 6) agrees. It finds that the most significant catalysts for implementing corporate social networks are (in order of importance):
  1. Attracting / Retaining Top Talent
  2. Improved Brand and Culture Experience
  3. Improving Workplace Diversity
  4. Better Access to and Location of Enterprise Knowledge and Expertise
  5. New Sources of Revenue

Do you agree? Did I miss something ?

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