After only the first couple classes of Social Media and Digital Business, I feel as though I am discovering an entirely new way of looking at business that I had never previously considered. As a frequent producer of content on networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Spotify and (regrettably for a short stint during the peak of my awkward stage) Youtube, I feel as though I am fairly well versed in the digital world. As a consumer of these medias, it has become increasingly apparent that businesses have identified these digital mediums as opportune channels for marketing, advertisement, and brand awareness. It is unsurprising that companies have caught on to these trends as social media grows and becomes ubiquitous in the day-to-day lives of millennials and older generations alike.
None of this insight about digital marketing is relatively new information. What is cutting-edge, however, are the concepts of business’ cultural cohesion, efficiency, leadership and agility as they pertain to digital maturity. Previously, when I’ve considered the relationship between business and the digital atmosphere, I have thought solely in terms of the business to customer paradigm. To my exposure, social media has extended only in so far as the customer experience is concerned, but not beyond that limit. It may be naive to admit, but it wasn’t until reading Aligning The Organization For Its Digital Future that it occurred to me how pervasive, and therefor essential to organization, the digital world has become.
The question of the relationship between business and consumer is only a small fraction of the grander equation. Digital media and social networking can no longer be considered one of many variables influencing modern business. In fact digital media is not a business variable at all, but rather the world within which business now operates. Technology is the new modernity to which businesses must learn to adapt. I’m a visual learner, so here is my attempt to depict the shift that has occurred in my mental framework as far as business and digital are concerned:
This complete re-orientation of my conceptualization of business and digital media led me to what some could consider a minor mental breakdown. That sounds a bit extreme, I’m aware, but think about it. Digital media and social networks have become so pervasive in the reality in which we conduct business, that they have arguably become our new reality. Digital fabric has so dramatically transformed the way we interact, perform, inform, strategize and mobilize, that any company that fails to endorse and utilize it risks obsolescence. An obsolescence, that is less concerned with the direct relationship between business and customer, and more to do with the internal foundation of the company itself. From leadership effectiveness, to appetite for risk, to cultural consistency, the entire dynamic of the business is contingent on the degree of digital maturity. No longer are digital capabilities a question for technology consultants, such as the Deloitte Digital team that professor Kane conducts his research with, but I would argue that these matters are equally as relevant to the consulting realm of Human Capital. For a business to adapt to a changing environment, the focus must be on the stakeholders. This need for alignment from a cultural standpoint is driven by innovation on the technological level. Once again we are seeing how technology has completely altered the business archetype- digital media is not a tool for businesses to utilize, but it is rather the essential platform on which they must learn to operate. The avenues by which businesses can achieve competitive advantage and success have fundamentally changed on a huge scale.
If the top of the stairs represents complete understanding of social media and digital business and its transformative capabilities, consider me the huskey pup.
A final observation/connection that occurred to me along with these initial reactions brings me back to freshman year convocation, and the book that was assigned to the class of 2018. For those who did not attend BC undergrad, as a part of first year convocation, BC assigns a book to every class for the students to ideally read and discuss to kick off their four years as eagles. From what I can gather, it is hardly ever the case that first year students actually follow through with this expectation, but I took two lit classes freshman year that required it. The book is called The Circle by Dave Eggers, and it is essentially a dystopian satire in which the pervasiveness of the role of social media as it pertains to both work and personal life is critiqued. It was upon reading Strategic Versus Procedural Approaches to Social Media that I recalled themes from this fiction novel. Specifically it was within the discussion of best practices for combining these approaches that rung the bell:
“One way to involve young social media-savvy employees is to obtain their aid in jump-starting social media initiatives. The main impediment to social media adoption in organizations is often critical mass — getting sufficient activity from employees to generate a sustainable community.”
Rather than delving into an entire synopsis of The Circle, I will identify the novel’s broader thematic questions that this part of the article brought me back to.
- Is there a limit to social media and digital business and how much it continues to radicalize the way we operate?
- Does the ubiquity of social media threaten our personal privacy?
- How much sharing is too much sharing?
- On a social and digital level, how much can companies demand of their employees?
If you have more interest in the parallels that I have made between this class and The Cirlce, but don’t want to take the time to read the entire novel like the majority of my class of 2018 peers, here is a link to a really cool article. It is a NY Times piece that describes better than I did the gist of the social media critiques made by Eggers.