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In my last post about digital transformation, I spoke about the need for companies to realign their internal structures, enabling them to react quickly to customer feedback.

Recently we’ve been discussing some of our own analytics responsibilities, and it feels as though the smaller internal issues serve to highlight the wider-ranging business imperatives we’re starting to see occur.

Let’s take a dive into our reporting and compare notes...

Credit where it’s due

Recently we’ve been tweaking our data analysis here at Econsultancy, and one of the many small points that came up was our use of RSS feeds

Traditionally traffic tagged as coming from feeds has been seen as ‘something vaguely to do with marketing’, but when we actually take a look we realise it relates to editorial effort. 

However, editorial tends to measure traffic and actions that occur once users actually reach our blog, so as RSS feeds represent something that happens off-site, they are attributed to social under our current reporting models. 

This is obviously fine with me, as it adds a few thousand customers a month to my reports, but... well, it’s hardly fair is it? 

To be honest the vast mass of our social traffic can be attributed to editorial. While social frames and curates (and in cases like this, occasionally creates) content, it isn’t putting in as much content-creation graft as editorial. 

Moving beyond attribution

Defining ‘content’ is in itself a difficult proposition, we have equal input from marketing, design, research and more, so while we’ve worked hard to think about a method of measuring social media that works, it’s difficult to definitively say ‘social media is responsible for X amount of traffic, or Y number of conversions’. 

In the past we’ve often spoken about the need for measurement systems that take this into account, although in practice these often fall back on softer metrics. “Is your business doing better now than it was last year?” is probably the only truly inclusive KPI, but in order to focus our investment, time and energy, we have to look at granular metrics as well. 

Rather than defining the impact of all channels working in unison, it may be more useful to define their impact on each other. 

We make a point of making content work hard for us at Econsultancy. A series of Google Hangouts supporting an upcoming event can be posted on YouTube, embedded on the blog, and talked about on Twitter, generating buzz and (hopefully) ticket sales, so that we can talk about content from the event. 

This is still platform-focussed thinking however. We need to move farther out from this and consider the way it impacts other department metrics.

This is a blog post about digital transformation, and to an extent, social analytics; which should help our ability to promote training in those areas. Likewise, people who come on a public training course might decide to follow our social accounts, subscribe and attend events. 

How do we go about sharing the credit properly?

Moving towards measurement based on customer profiles

As more channels become involved in our efforts, and we see increasing integration of on-and offline, it’s fair to say that the idea of ‘digital’ as a separate division is beginning, if not to vanish, then certainly to blur at the edges.

Each department requires a certain amount of bandwidth from all our channels, be it for content promotion, lead generation, customer feedback or something else entirely. 

As this becomes more prevalent, the need evolves for team members to shift focus from a single discipline with a set of defined channels, to a broader role that focuses more closely on customer profiles.

Flattening an organisation to take advantage of customer data is all well and good, but internally it’s merely a first step. 

SingTel: Using customer services to define business structure

SingTel building

For a relevant example of this in practice, it’s worth looking at Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel). The Asian comms giant announced early last year that it would be undertaking a massive internal restructuring programme, as it attempted to make headway against increased competition from OTT (Over-The-Top: Generally speaking, services like Wireless video messaging, VoIP etc etc) services. 

SingTel has been at the centre of prolonged negative feedback from customers over network capacity problems for years, so while it’s an odd example, the actual restructuring format does show how a large business can reorganise itself around services and customer profiles

Formerly operating a convoluted system of heirachical services, SingTel simplified its overall structure into three broad units: 

Consumer, ICT (for enterprise clients). The incongruously named Digital L!fe groups, each with a distinct business function. While this kind of mass organisation structure isn’t uncommon, it’s worth noting the focus of each group. 

The consumer group in particular has a remit that includes ‘setting new benchmarks in customer experience’.

Whether SingTel is successful in delivering remains to be seen, but it’s a clearly defined impetus that all businesses should be aiming for currently.

The interesting point here is that by defining a single group to manage this, SingTel have enabled a more straightforward method of cooperation with other groups, meaning that Digital L!fe, which includes Customer Service, can impart information clearly to the Consumer Group at a senior level, ensuring buy-in and a clearly driven approach to improving products.

In addition to the Consumer unit, Digital L!fe has an interesting role to play here, aiming to increase SingTel’s digital footprint, providing new digital services, including digital video communications, as well as responsibility for new sales models such as mobile bundles and modular service expansions.

SingTel is a traditional company, so this enables something that we often hear about but rarely see in action: disruption.

By investing in new tech and products, the company are transforming not only the communication networks of existing customers, but also the digital comms commercial landscape in its core Asian markets.

This grouping also represents a consolidation of all consumer services, focussing on delivering better products and more useful services based on consumer need.

Written down, it sounds obvious, but the fact is that many businesses, especially those that operate at scale, are stuck in the ‘we know better than the customers’ mindset, which is why we’ve seen widespread adoption of social media used primarily for marketing and customer service, without deeper thought about how social might be used to define a new and more agile approach to internal comms and processes.

The use of social data to improve customer service is a good direction to head in, but there still needs to be more focus on elevating that feedback from direct customer response to a level where it is rolled into business output and used to reshape products and services. 

While hardly a perfect example, this movement underlines the need for a move away from traditional units that focus on channels, towards a model that understands the people who use and interact with them.

Econsultancy currently has a range of services available that can help guide organisational change, business restructuring and digital transformation strategy

To enable delivery of your digital vision (or help you shape that vision) we’ve designed a comprehensive approach to tackle your transformation, covering everything from strategic operational issues, down to specific marketing functions, we will work with you to achieve digital excellence.

Matt Owen

Published 17 June, 2013 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

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