Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trend 5 - Five Trends that indicate Social Media and ECM are Converging

Trend 5
Authenticity – Be Real or Be Gone!
More Details From the Article: The Convergence of Social Media and ECM

Trend 5
Authenticity – Be Real or Be Gone!

clip_image025Authenticity does not need to be an added expense. Real does not necessarily mean a person needs to be on the other end of the line. There are some transactions that are best done by systems (bots) and don’t require human interaction. This might fly in the face of the concepts behind Social Media. However, there are cases where I don’t want, expect or need a human to have an authentic experience. The key point here is that the people or systems (bots) have access to the corporate content in order to provide access to your data.

Additional Details about Trend 5

A few points about authenticity -

  • No one wants to be sold by a corporate shill.
  • Don’t pay people to represent your company under the auspices of being independent. People can tell.
  • Be Authentic.

Bots and Authenticity - 

Bots – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

  • The use of Bots is not a crime.
  • Depending upon how Bots are used it can ruin the authenticity and ultimately the integrity of the experience.

Bot Use and Mis-Use - Depending upon your Point of View:

There are some cases where a Bot (an automated responder) can be better than a human. For example, when I sent my XBOX360 in for repairs a bot replied to let me know it had received my request. This was a good thing that did not require human interaction. They key point here is that the bot also provided some content – a repair number, a shipping document (pre-printed and pre-paid --- Thank You Microsoft!), and a tracking site. This content is what Microsoft, the repair depot, and I can use to track the process through to completion. This is a simple example where many complex system interact to provide a great customer service experience. Amazon, Expedia, and many other companies use similar bots to do the work and do not require a human. How did it end up? See Trend 1 – UPS uses Bots.

Of course, the corollary to this also exists in that there are still a few things computers cannot do as well as humans. Including listening for nuances in the human voice and searching for the intent that is between the lines for an effective search. Humans are much better at divining Stephen Covey’s 5th Habit “Seek first to Understand” – something bots don’t do well … yet.

Another example, Twitter users can opt-in for services that provide automated @replies and Direct Messages. These can be both annoying and a precursor to the next “unfollow” for Twitter users. There have been numerous Tweets (the parlance of Twitter users when they send out a message) about how much they dislike bots. I noticed this week that some of the automated Twitter response tools have put timers into their software to randomly pick a time between a few minutes and a few hours to reply / auto-follow.

Not to belabor the point, but in certain instances bots can be good. However, when implemented poorly can create a bad experience.

Authentic experiences can be delivered by humans or by bots. The use of bots to automate certain types of experiences will continue to rise. Partially because of the cost factors and also because of the nature of the work or task to be completed. I don’t want or expect a human to help me track a package or to check my credit card bill. However, I do want the option to speak with a human when necessary. The convergence of Social Media technologies and Enterprise Content Management systems will allow for the rise of automated responses. Companies that do it right will create authentic experiences that encourage people to talk about them and to come back again and again.

Thinking Points:
Does Social Media allow for an authentic experience? Do you care if a human or a bot answers your question? Is access to your content 24x7 important to you? 

Your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated. Please feel free to comment on this blog, tweet about it, Retweet it and if you are so inclined send me e-mail directly. You can also find me on Facebook and LinkedIn too.

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About The Author:
I have spent the better part of the last 16 years working in various aspects of the ECM space. I spent time at Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and most recently Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text in Nov 2008). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company.

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