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Corporate IT performance: How did teens get in the driver’s seat?



I sometimes wake up in a sweat due to a dream in which I’m out with my daughter for her first driving lesson. Hopefully I am not the only one slightly worried by the thought of teaching their daughter to drive, nevertheless the dream inspired the title of this article, so a bit of explanation is in order.


According to an eMarketer report, 18- to 34-year-olds account for over half of the UK’s mobile social networkers. And it’s this group—and social networkers in general—who are significantly influencing businesses in ways that would not have been conceived of a few years ago.


They’re influencing customer services, sales & marketing, and development. And because IT is responsible for facilitating strong end-to-end processes within the business, IT is getting pressure from all sides.


What’s driving this influence?

Everyone’s a broadcaster. In the past organisations relied a lot on word-of-mouth marketing to say positive things about them. Clearly this worked just the same for bad news, too. Either way, it isn’t an effective mode of communication, because it takes a long time to reach many people.


Now that everyone’s a broadcaster on social media, the same comments about products, services, brands or companies are online and available almost instantly to anyone who’s trying to find out about them.


So the content and speed of response an organisation makes to messages left online has become very important. A quick response is vital to protecting reputation and driving business processes. For example, when Barclays launched Pingit they soon found that 16 and 17 year olds were asking on social media why they had to be 18 to use the service. After legal checks, Barclays relaxed the restrictions so that anyone 16 and above could use Pingit.


Instant gratification. In our online lives we browse around the Internet, grazing lightly at content. This ability has impacted how we expect everything to be in our lives. In terms of products, services and apps, we expect results NOW.


Apps have to be “good.” Apps – and websites in general – have more responsibility than to simply “do the job.” They have to be easy to grasp in no time, do the job quickly, and be well designed both functionally and aesthetically. All of these factors have an impact on IT systems and the links between them that enable business processes.


Who gets impacted?

Customer services: The customer services team is at the sharp end of seeing consumer likes and dislikes, as well as complaints and compliments. With social media the feedback is both instant and broadcast to everyone, so it’s important that this team has the tools to monitor and respond quickly to online chatter.


Customer services are therefore in the ideal position to identify comments about apps developed by the organisation. Comments, complaints and compliments must be passed immediately back to the development team and/or IT department so that rapid action can be taken to resolve any problems or otherwise enhance the app.


App users are effectively acting as a first alert to issues with apps, and this “service” they provide must be rewarded with public response and rapid action.


Some BT Sport app users tweeted about issues during the first broadcast match. BT quickly apologised and soon resolved the problem so that customers could enjoy full coverage of the remainder of the match. Now if Spurs had been playing then that would have been a major problem!


Sales and marketing: Monitoring and response is crucial here too. Not only can a poor or slow response to a complaint or negative comment online cause the consumer to go elsewhere, it can very soon lead to reputation damage – something which spreads quickly and causes difficult and slow repair.


Don’t forget the impact of all of the promotional and pricing activities that go on within the social media world. Maintaining a conversation with customers allows you to understand how a product is being received in the marketplace. Now you can address potential issues before they become major issues.


IT: Ensuring connectivity and system availability is key to making sure apps work, do what they need in an acceptable time frame and keep users from deleting them.

All of this needs efficient deployment and constant monitoring to anticipate and detect problems so that the customer is always connected when required. Oh, and all of this within a secure environment of course!


Development: Users are constantly demanding new online services and there is an understandable desire to get apps out quickly and rely on users for testing. However, if the app doesn’t work well then you’re quickly going to lose customers, and it’s very hard to get them back again. Therefore app quality is of equal importance to the velocity of delivery.


With visibility of customer and business demands, apps need to be developed—even if systems they rely on are either not available for testing or are simply not built yet. This can prove challenging unless the right tools are in place.


How does your organisation stack up?

Are all departments and business units embracing social media and the drive for change from the younger generations? How are these new, instantaneous channels for comment and complaint impacting your organisation? Are your development teams and IT department confident about delivering in this environment of change? Maybe this isn’t relevant to your business today… but will it be in the future?


In my next article I’m going to turn the focus on business internals and how both staff and technology changes are affecting IT.

View my previous blog post click here, and to stay up to date with all my latest blogs and thoughts follow me on twitter.


Related link:

The care and feeding of millennials


Alastair Corbett leads HP’s UK&I Software Business Unit and has responsibility for its strategy, the promotion and selling of the IT Performance Suite and related services. Prior to this role, Alastair was responsible for defining the new sales strategy and go-to Market models for Worldwide Software Sales, and before that, he successfully led the Worldwide Services Operations team for HP Software. Alastair joined HP from Peregrine as a result of the acquisition in 2005, where he held the role of VP International Operations and was responsible for all Finance and Operations activities in EMEA and APJ. He also led the integration activity for EMEA, as well as leading the Sales Operations function.

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