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Unified Communications And Social Media Reap Real Benefits

Enterprises continue to dance with social media, a recent study from Siemens shows.  If corporate decision makers can get past the hype surrounding social media, they are left with a number of practical questions that relate to the success of social media integration. What are the realistic goals of social media integration? What are the parameters of effective implementation? How predictable and immediate are the benefits?

Improving sales is a goal for most managers and social media is a tool for broadening the impact of a well conceived sales strategy. The goal of an effective social media implementation is to improve the performance of sales agents by allowing them to identify potential sales opportunities, which then results in increasing sales. "Social media does not replace Sales and Marketing 101. Having an enterprise social graph won't help sales representatives close more deals if they can't properly position the product according to the needs of the customer," says Zeus Kerravala, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Research at Yankee Group.

The Siemens study demonstrates how effective use of social media, integrated with unified communications (UC), can facilitate communication both within an organization and externally with its customers. In one example, a UC platform that incorporates social media helps identify the key individuals in the organization who will help a salesman build a proposal. A keyword search of users within the organization related to a technical problem, regulatory issue, or area of expertise, streamlines the process of locating them. Filtering mechanisms help establish their availability. As relates to sales, an effective integration harnesses the power of the tool to overcome normal delays in the sales process.  

However the Siemens study also found that most organizations are only using basic UC applications, such as web-conferencing or instant messaging, while "the more strategic UC applications such as presence and mobile integration remain low in adoption and plans to adopt." Sales benefits and increased revenues won't happen from day one. "Having a presence on Twitter or Facebook won't automatically increase brand awareness," says Kerravala, "The goal is to learn, monitor, measure and engage when appropriate." Of course, there are no guarantees in any business process. On the other hand, clear policies, proven strategies, and an existing support community--all in place--become more effective when aided by UC/social media automation technology.

The Siemens study recommends that any solution should take into account that people prefer using a solution that integrates with the tools they already know. Therefore, solutions that integrate with open, public social media tools are more likely, at least for now, to prove effective. Plus, all segments of the business--from the contact center, to marketing and sales--should be able to access the solution and leverage it for success. But in the end, it's all about helping employees to be successful in what they already do.