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The social web — a culture shock for IT organizations

If Mitch Joel brought the reality check to "The Art of Marketing" event, Gary Vaynerchuk (WikipediaBlog / WineTV / Crush It!) brought the shock value. I couldn't honestly tell you if his talk had anything to do with his book ("Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion") but his cutting critique of marketing professionals was compelling.

The main points of Gary's talk were:

  • Brands need to start caring. There is nowhere to hide so we need to start listening and communicating with our customers in the channels they choose.
  • Get over it. The social web is driving major cultural shifts in business and it is only going to accelerate. You can choose to stand on the sideline in hopes it is a fad but you will just fall further and further behind.
  • The tools have changed but this is no easy game. Taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the social web require the same principles that have always led to success; 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. This is hard work.

I've been in IT for a long time and few interactions with IT organizations reassured me that they were being run like a business. I am sure many are, and likely many of the ones I interacted with. However, the points noted above are just as important for IT organizations that are being run like a business and they should consider the impacts on customer relationships.

What is the brand of your IT organization? As Jeff Bezos says, your brand is what people say about you when you aren't in the room. Do you know and care about what they are saying? Do you have a way to measure brand sentiment? What do you do with the information?

Is your IT organization spending more time rationalizing, explaining, and defending than strategizing, collaborating, and solving? Your business users are savvy, time-constrained, and driven. Be assured they will find the shortest route to resolution and value, and it is your choice whether you are directing that journey. And if your barriers to competitive entry are forcing their hand, be aware users will work to go around and tear down those barriers even while working with you. The information, tools, and expertise is too readily available outside the office.

Transforming (or fine tuning) your IT organization into a highly responsive, authentic, value-focused, and business metrics accountable organization is imperative. Start the change now.

Follow Gary on Twitter @garyvee