You know that when AMR Research's clients want to delve into web 2.0 or try out some social media strategies then something fundamentally has changed. Jonathan Yarmis, Vice President Advanced, Emerging and Disruptive Technologies, whose own background is in traditional media and public relations, refers to their clients as "very pragmatic," but because the firm has its roots in large enterprise and manufacturing company research, you might also use the term "conservative." We're not talking twitter here. "The thing they are most often thinking is 'what do I do about facebook - is there a facebook for the enterprise?'"
When we talked about social media and community last week at AMR's offices in Boston, it struck me, as it frequently does these days, that while there seems to be a dawning realization that web 2.0 tools are offering new hopes for collaboration and customer insight, companies are still largely in the dark about how to prioritize projects and objectives: "They are thinking about technologies first" as Jonathan pointed out, which only exacerbates the schism between the IT department and the users who should be calling the shots. The IT department is traditionally, and in the case of web 2.0, the least embracive of new and disruptive technologies. On top of that, you have what exists in many companies as a disconnect between corporate communications and the marketing or customer-facing functions.
But according to Jonathan there's hope. "One of the common things I say is 'if you guys aren't talking together, these technologies are going to require you to interact.'" When you have three organizations, ie. IT, Marketing, and Communications, that rarely acted together, these collaborative and accessible technologies force, or rather, enable them to act in concert. As Jonathan says, "they can still act alone but would not derive the benefits they could."
On another subject, the global tilt of social media innovation and creation of values to Silicon Valley, Jonathan and I, more or less still New Yorkers, talked about the need for the New York media community to step up to its former leadership in the discussion about business models, media standards, and yes, even technologies. Basically, the big media companies who are centered in New York have been "following the money," which as much as we are seeing shift to online still exists in the form of traditional advertising, not using the more innovative strategies exemplified by facebook's "Beacon," as well as other innovative community strategies and utilization of collaborative platforms. We shared our hope that at some point the East Coast "grown-ups" would get over their grief at the end of media-as-we-know-it and bring their much-needed wisdom to the global content stream, by opening up their brands to greater interaction.