Friday, November 8, 2013

The Digital Enterprise - Part 2 - Leveraging Social Media

In order to critically evaluate where social media can impart maximum value to the enterprise lets consider the following back drop of how social media is getting used by enterprises.

Most companies have portals / websites for selling their products or services. Most such portals already have a social media dimension embedded in it, mostly in the form of "social media bars".

These social media bars which allow the portal users / customers to "like" or "share" or "comment" certain parts of their portal/website on popular social media like Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

Customers can also like or follow, the company Facebook and twitter accounts, registering interest in these. Customers end up endorsing these products or services on their individual timelines or feeds, thereby generating good sales leads.

So far so good.

Moving beyond using social media as marketing tools

 In the last couple of years, there is also an increasing trend of allowing users to login to company websites or portals using their social media accounts, with an option of sharing the customers social meda account information with the company.

For example, as a customer I can choose to login to a website using my Facebook credentials and then, I get a "permissions" screen asking me if I would like to share my data with Once I acknowledge, I can effectively login into

Enterprise CRM Data can be complemented with social media derived customer data

Most companies maintain a CRM database containing their customer's details. This CRM data can be complemented with customer data obtained from social media.

While the social media data might be viewed as untrusted or non-validated, often it can provide great insights for marketing to act upon,

For example, in the CRM context, capturing data such as "marital status" might be a no-no, but in a social context, users may be okay, sharing that data as part of their Facebook public information.

Also things like Facebook profiles, likes, interests, public tweets, twitter following, twitter lists, etc can be analysed for well-known brands etc, can give back a wealth of information about the lifestyle preferences for the customer. This information can further we used to cross-sell and up-sell to the customer.

The following image depicts a possible architecture for collecting social media customer data, for purpose of analytic at a later stage.

Personalization - Targeted ads / content, for individual customer on portal / website

Once the above data mined from social media is available for our consumption, one creative way of using that data is within customer portal or website or mobile app.

Customers can be categorized by variety of factors such age, marital status, sex, etc. This categorization or segmentation can then be used to push content, ads and functionality that is more relevant to the customer segment.

For example, customers who are male and below 25 years, can be shown targeted ads like 2 seater cars. Also the insurance or wealth management or banking plans relevant to specific customer segments can be shown up more prominently on the website.


Looking at the above discussions, it is fairly clear that a social media analytics framework or module is very much the need of the hour, for every enterprise which is customer centric (who is'nt?)

In the next, part 3, of this series, I will look into "how" some of the above ideas can be implemented using existing tools, frameworks and technologies. The solutions need to be easily integrated into any portal / website and also need to be portable and extensible.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Digital Enterprise - Part 1 - Basics

All over the world, the way business is getting done, is changing at an unprecedented rate. The major disruptive forces, contributing to this change, are
  • Social Media Adoption
  • Big Data
  • Mobile Devices
  • Cloud

These four factors are being popularly referred to as "Digital" - as a concise way to describe the digital revolution that is sweeping enterprises world wide.

Let us briefly consider the factors, contributing to "Digital Enterprise".

Social Media

The exponential increase in social media adoption, at a personal level, in last few years, is fairly evident. But what is really driving relevance of social media, at the level of enterprises and businesses is the fact that businesses and enterprises are becoming completely "customer - centric". 

Ok. Good businesses have always been customer centric :) but till last decade, the channels for knowing your customers were quite limited and conventional. With huge social media adoption, now, the channels for understanding your customer, their preferences, their needs, their likes and dislikes, habits, etc are much more easily accessible.

Businesses are using social media to engage with customers and conversely, customers too are expecting, websites and softwares to get customized, personalized to their likes, preferences and needs.

Typical use cases include
Businesses getting noticed by customers in social media context >> Customers, logging into product's or service's social pages, to see who amongst their friends and acquaintances recommend the product >> Customers expressing interest through likes, get quotes, etc

We can broadly categorize the "digital" initiatives in this area as being related to

  • Customer Analytics - insights into the customers themselves
  • Engagement Analytics - insights about how effectively our engagement tools are working
  • Brand Promotion / Marketing

Big Data

The volume, variety and velocity of data being generated and made accessible is at an unprecedented levels. In order to analyse this magnitude of data, conventional batch processes are going to be following woefully short.

The ability to analyse such structured, semi-structured and unstructured data, so as to be able to derive business value from it, is going to need new tools and technologies that are distributed and can scale linearly with increasing data volumes.

Big Data platforms are definitely going to play a critical role in enterprise level business intelligence.

Mobile Devices

The explosion in the usage of mobile devices like smart phones, tablets, netbooks, etc has clearly transformed the way business is being done. The @anywhere - @anytime demand is being placed on enterprises not only from their customers but also from their internal staff.

Due to the ubiquitous use of mobile devices, business processes are getting transformed and new use cases, based on modern device capabilities like the ability to receive instant notifications or broadcast geo-locations, are transforming business processes like never before.

Mobile apps are changing customer engagement models and customer expectations of support and service levels are also being redefined in the context of these advancements in technology.


Finally, the emergence of cloud computing and related technologies could not have been at a more opportune time. For example, in order to support the thousands of mobiles devices and mobile apps, which are going to access your IT Services, extremely scalable, performant and reliable infrastructures are a need of the hour. 

Elastic scalability, 24x7 availability and operational efficiencies are required to host the business applications of the digital enterprise. These can only be provided with a cloud infrastructure. Public, private and hybrid clouds are playing their part to support the digital enterprise, without a doubt.


The need of the hour is for enterprises to think of all the above factors - mobility, social media, big data and cloud, that contribute to a digital enterprise holistically, rather than trying to implement any one strategy piece-meal.

In the ensuing series of articles, I will be taking a deep dive into areas of interest related to digital, while trying to firm up concepts, solutions, tools, frameworks and technical designs and implementations.

Cheers !