Regardless of whether you’re a fan of baseball or not, you’re probably aware of what a grand slam is and the significance it can make to a team’s success in running up the score and winning a game. I’d have to say that after reading “The Pursuit Of Social Business Excellence”, by Vala Afshar ( @valaafshar ) and Brad Martin ( @Brad_W_Martin ) that they’ve hit a grand slam in providing anyone in management with a well presented case for the complete integration of Social Media into a corporation and the critical role it can play in the overall success of the organization. Whereas there’s so much hype in how Social Media is the greatest thing since sliced bread, Vala and Brad provide a compelling argument that it can be a great thing for an organization if properly integrated within the overall business culture and processes of an enterprise. This is a MUST READ for any executive who wants to remain competitive in today’s business environment.
As part of the senior management team at the networking company, Enterasys, Vala and Brad do an excellent job in describing the who,what,why,and how of a company succeeding in the application of Social Media and Social Collaboration within a business. They’ve learned to love and embrace it. What’s more, it has produced phenomenal results with increased sales, significant cost savings, enhanced customer relationships, and improvements in employee satisfaction and retention. In fact, Enterasys has been repeatedly recognized as one of the best places to work in the greater Boston area. As they’ve emphasized, however, Social Media is not a “lone” soldier, but part of the transformation of an entire corporate culture and buy-in by employees. Without this, they contend that they would not have been successful and that no company can be in applying Social Media or Social Collaboration if these components aren’t present.
One thing I admire about the book is that it is a true case study of the best practices within a company. There’s no B.S.. It’s one of the best overall business books that I have read in years and encompasses many of the methodologies that I was exposed to in working with a large number of the world’s leading edge technology companies over the years. It appears that Enterasys has done an excellent job in benchmarking what others have done and has not only incorporated these within the company, but thoroughly utilizes continuous improvement to enhance them.
The “Customer As King” philosophy is paramount and is discussed throughout the book, but rather than strictly focusing on external customers, the importance of addressing the needs of internal customers and all stakeholders as a critical component to maximizing revenues and enhancing the bottom line is highly stressed. They highlighted the importance of adopting a customer in the kitchen attitude where the stakeholders are all part of mixing the ingredients to ensure the “meal” is the tastiest and most filling available. It’s all about creating an ecosystem that thrives from these initiatives.
Coupled with the stakeholder initiatives, Entrasys has embraced SalesForce.com’s Chatter application and utilizes this as the backbone for what it is doing. Not only is it being employed internally, but is being used with business partners, suppliers, and customers to encourage instantaneous communication and problem resolution. By integrating Social Media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as emails, and other correspondence into this system, the entire platform has been transformed into a tool known as ISAAC (Intelligent Socially Aware and Automated Community). Now, almost everything that the company does is done through this system.
In closing, I was quite fortunate to have met with Vala last week while on a trip to Boston. We discussed the book and all of the great things going on with him personally and professionally. I found so many things about Vala and Enterasys to be fascinating, but perhaps one of the things that really hit home was his sincere appreciation for the works of Tom Peters, author of “In Search Of Excellence” and so many other books and one of the management authorities that I have been following for so many years. It was obvious to me that many of the ideas that have already been implemented at the company have been based on Tom’s principles, but that Vala, Brad and the others have been able to take these to new levels utilizing tools that were not available when Tom wrote his original works. Nevertheless, Vala and Brad are acutely aware that basic concepts still apply when it comes to ensuring success and that tools can’t replace a solid corporate culture, empathy for and proper engagement with all corporate stakeholders.
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