ERP Systems and Social Media – Mobile Communications

For most organisations, IT architecture and backbone is an important aspect for enabling the business. One of the important part of the backbone are ERP systems of the organisation that automate and connect organisation business processes end to end to deliver seamless service towards its consumers and customers. ERP systems are starting to move towards integrating and making their offering social media and mobile communication enabled. There is still lots of space for them improve and become truly social media and mobile communication enabled.

SAP ERP Systems are already offering numerous mobile applications that help the organisation workforce to become more productive using the power of integrated social network for real time data exchange. The area of CRM – customer relationship management is having most of the touch points towards the consumer and customers, SAP ERP Systems have still room to improve their integration with Facebook, Twitter type of social media platforms. In this same space SalesForce.com is offering real time online integration where marketing, sales and service modules have tight social media integration to engage consumers and customers. There is still room for improvement on integrating the campaigns, promotions and contests linkage of ERP Systems and Social Media sites hosting these events. Currently most of the ERP systems offer mobile communication and social media integration for the organisation users through their mobile application solutions. There is a still lot to be done for tighter engagement of consumer and customers through social media and mobile communication platform using ERP Systems as the backbone. Important still is to note that ERP Systems solution providers are working on this and in doing so the first step most of them have taken is to make their solutions real time available using internet and cloud hosting platforms. In coming years more improved solutions would come forward.

This decade and era is a real time business era that is pushing organisations to become real time as well as opening new doors of business using social media platforms. Many organisations have embarked on this. For achieving real success and business growth through social media, it’s important that organisations take phased approach to slowly ramp up their social media presence. This needs to be carefully handled through organisation execution strategy to address how social media and mobile communications platform can help them internally as an organisation as well as externally towards its stakeholder, customers and consumers.

Social Media and Mobile Communications help an organisation to grow internally as well as externally, it can be integrated with the organization’s end to end value chain from idea to market to market to order and order to cash functions. Most impact for engaging consumers and customers can be seen in market to order functions especially in customer relationship management area that comprises of marketing, sales and service.

Social Media and Mobile Communication Solutions and Platforms have evolved and improved a lot in past one decade. The evolution of social media and mobile communication platform integration with ERP systems is still evolving and some progress can be already seen with move towards cloud hosting and mobile applications coming to life with inbuilt integration with social media platforms. The evolution continues and would become even more real time and tightly integrated in coming years.

Use of Mobile Communications and Social media – Organisation Change

Organisation Change

For successful presence and use of Social Media and Mobile Communications platform the organisation must start with their vision and execution strategy. It’s important that the use of social media for organisation growth is clearly underpinned as per part the execution strategy. It starts with having clear social media policy for internal as well as external stakeholders including clarity on what’s allowed and not allowed. The next step after policy is to have social media usage guides available for internal as well as external networks. As social media operates 24×7 using virtual network it’s essential to monitor and control the publications and remarks. Many of these would require senior leadership comments and so it’s highly important the organization’s management team is having clear understanding, owning and support for the initiative. The publications must be clearly reviewed and simple, honest and true communications should be made. Launching, handling and archiving of campaigns, contests and promotions must be handled properly. The initiatives must have clear performance indicators that would give insights on what needs be to achieved, why and how far is the organisation in achieving this. Lastly this would need investment in right resources with skills and capabilities for managing organization’s social media presence. Resources required would in IT, Marketing, Sales and Service teams. This needs to be supported by management and Human Resources team.

Use of Mobile Communications and Social media – Benefits for Organisation

Social Media and Mobile Communications Benefits for Organisation

Social Media and Mobile Communications can help organisations in multiple areas especially in idea to market and market to order functional areas as well as in overall organization’s growth objectives. Let’s go through various areas to understand how social media and mobile communications benefits in those areas,

Idea to Market

Idea to market area covers the business functions related to research, innovation, and product creation. As the name suggests it looks into functions that help an organisation is bringing new products and services to customers and consumers.

Research

Research requires organisations to understand problems and issues faced by the customers and consumers and develop new products and services that can help provide solution to the problems and issues.

Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be used for studying and collecting information on problems and issues faced by customers and consumers. This when combined with market intelligence data, will help create value proposition for an organizations’ future direction as well as products and services. The social media and mobile communication platform can be used internally in an organisation to create an online community / network forum of researchers and business stakeholders for effective collaboration and communication.

Innovation

The next step of research is innovation where the organisation develops or acquires the capabilities required for new products and services to meet the needs of customers and consumers. Innovation involves idea generation, new product prototypes creation and testing.

Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be effectively used for idea generation and comments from customers and consumers. The platforms can also be used for improving brand image by flashing innovations and selecting some online customers and consumers to test and improve the new innovation prototypes. The social media and mobile communication platform can be used internally in an organisation to create an online community / network forum of researchers and business stakeholders for effective collaboration and communication. The platform can also be used to share the innovation with company employees and staff to get their first hand comments and involve some of them in prototype testing and improvements.

Product and Service Creation

The next step from innovation is product and service creation. This is done when the innovation is confirmed by business stakeholders and marked as ready to be mass produced as a product or made available as a service.

Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be of little help during this stage. The social media and mobile communication platform can be used internally in an organisation to create an online community / network forum for effective collaboration and communication during product creation process steps.

Market to Order

Market to Order area covers the business functions related to marketing, sales and service. As the name suggests it looks into functions that help an organisation in bringing new products and services to customers and consumers, selling the products and services and provide post sale service to consumers. Most of the customer relationship management (CRM) activities are part of market to order function.

Marketing and Sales

Marketing and Sales function in a nutshell is responsible for public relations (PR), product and service launch, campaigns, advertising, contests, promotions, market surveys, order management and sales. Marketing and Sales is one of the important functions that helps generate direct value for the organisation through its products and services. The last step of an effective marketing is to ensure the sell is accomplished. Sales have focus on lead generation and conversion as well as acquisition and retention of customer and consumer base.

The Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be extremely useful for marketing as they are easiest and free platforms through which organisations can do product launch, campaigns, advertising, contests and brand positioning. The platforms help organisations reach and engage not just their current consumers and customers but also potential further consumer and customer base. The platforms can be used for improving companies brand image and public relations. Important though is to ensure the contents published are simple and honest and kept up to date. Also important is to ensure any questions and queries from consumers and customers are dealt with in real time cause failure to do so could bring bad publicity as well. The platforms can also be used for publishing paid online advertising through respective platform owners to have organization’s new product and services shown on relevant pages.

Service

Ones the product is sold the after sales service function comes in play to provide post sale services to consumers and customers based on agreed warranty and guarantee communication of the product and service. The service function of an organisation helps in providing product and services feedback in terms of improvements and issues to get them fixed in next releases, customer and consumer retention through good quality service and support and generating value through extended period warranty sign ups. Service is extremely important as this is the function that helps collect consumer and customer information as part of its product registration function which is now done online for most of the companies and while doing this, companies can easily get consumer and customer agreements to share new products and services with them on periodical basis through email, written and social media platforms. This function also get consumer and customer connect to organization’s online social media community and platforms.

The Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be extremely useful for service function as this function helps bring consumers and customers close to organization’s online presence sites through product / service registration and support. Organisations can them using their contacts as well as part of registration, make them join their social media platforms, bring product launch, promotions and other relevant information to consumers using these platforms. Organisations have also started using Social Media for sharing online product and service usage videos which can be viewed by consumers and able to use the products to their full potential. Many organisations have gone one step ahead and are allowing consumers and customers to share their product usage videos and tips online so that the whole community can learn from each other and become more effective. These services forums are also helping in collecting online product feedback and improvement ideas as well as problems and issues that can help organisation is coming up with new product and services. Organisations are increasingly enabling their services using social media and mobile communication platforms like Facebook and twitter integrated service network that helps provide real time and fast solution to consumers and customers.

Order to Cash

Order to Cash area covers the business functions related to supply chain management and receiving the money from consumers and customers for the products and services marketing, sales and service. As the name suggests it looks into functions that help an organisation in delivering the goods and receiving money for products and services from customers and consumers. Most of the supply chain management (SCM) activities are part of market to order function.

Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management function is a vast and an important function for an organisations operations management. This links to delivery of goods to the customers and consumers. The function largely looks in warehousing, logistics and transportation management activities.

Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be of little help during this stage. The social media and mobile communication platform can be used internally in an organisation to create an online community / network forum for effective collaboration and communication during the whole supply chain management function. The social media and communication platform can also be used for communicating with all the distributors and retailers as well as 3PL partners to effectively collaborate and communicate on shipment and delivery in real time.

Billing

Billing function is the last and important step of collection of money for good delivered to consumers and customers. It involves issuing the invoice to consumers and customers and receiving money for product and services sold. For services this could be one time or recurring yearly money that the organisation receives.

Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be of little help during this stage unless the organization’s product and service sales are online and customers are reachable on social media platforms for communications. In cases of online ecommerce sale and services the social media platform can be used to inform the consumer and customer of delivery status and billing status. Although organization’s have not gone this far, it would become reality soon as already when we use PayPal type of service for online payment we receive alert on smart mobile device through their mobile application of payment sent and payment received. This helps organisation to become more real time and faster towards their consumers and customers.

Supporting Functions

Supporting functions in an organisation are Human Resource Management, Information Technology, Finance and Accounting, Legal, Real Estate etc. These functions are essential for an organisation smooth operations management.

The Social Media and Mobile Communication Platform like SocialCast and other equivalent solution providers can help the organisation by providing a place where employees and staff can create meaningful and relevant social community groups/networks. These social communities can help organisations in sharing information, experiences, engagement, team building, innovation, business improvements, best practice sharing and many other internal areas that help an organisation become a world class enterprise for internal as well as external community. The social media platform can help communicate and gather employees views of work culture, products and services and sharing their own story on how the organization’s product and services helping them and their family.

Use of Mobile Communications and Social media – Overview

Overview of Social Media

Social Media in simple words nothing more than a virtual network / group of people who share information and their experiences related to a topic of similar interests. The initiator shares his views or information to which others can agree, disagree and enrich further with their own views by commenting on it. Post internet presence introduction, internet web sites emerged which were used for business as well as information sharing.

The information sharing practice further evolved in social media. In its early form it started with Blog sites and discussion forums where people would publish articles or information and invite other members to review and remarks on it. This led to a powerful idea of using it for the benefits of organisation business to get reviews on products and services of an organisation. Important is to still keep in mind that all forms of social media, first started with and used for information sharing and group discussions related to personal and social information then corporate business.

Another form of social media communication that existed in early 2000 was instant messaging using online internet service. This was used by people to communicate with their near and dear ones using online real time text messaging using computer. This further evolved to become available for group communications and full integration to have real time experience sharing online using social media internet sites.

In past one decade social media platforms became diversified and need focused. Now we can find social media sites and networks that are specific to fulfilling a specific need. Social Media sites/networks at high level can be classified as follows,

  1. Blog: Social Media sites of blog type are used by individuals and organisations to publish and share articles on specific interest area. These blog sites allow users to comment on articles and share their views and experiences. E.g. numerous sites on wordpress.com and googleblog.blogspot.com
  2. Discussion Forums: Social Media sites of Discussion Forum type are used by individual, organisations and e-governments to generate ideas and collect people views and experiences that can potentially be used to solve the problems, come up with new products and services, communicate issues and their intensity. E.g. SAP Forum, Cisco Forum, Apple Forum etc.
  3. Social Networking Sites: Social Media sites of Social Networking type are used by individuals for family and friends bonding plus sharing, organisations for branding, products and services launch plus reviews and e-governments for community boding and sharing. E.g. Facebook, SocialCast, LinkedIn and Plaxo.
  4. Micro Blog: Social Media sites of Micro Blog type are used by individuals and organisations to share short and quick updates about their activities. Micro Blogging is also used for sharing news and faster information broadcasting. E.g. Twitter.
  5. Media Sharing: Social Media sites of Media Sharing type are used by individuals and organisations to share various types of media files like videos and photos. E.g. YouTube.

The Social Media sites mentioned above are some high level examples of famous and highly used social media communications using internet. Important is to take note that many of these are evolving to be able to provide all in one functionality. E.g. Facebook is a social networking site but it allows people to share media and comments as part of its service. It also allows people to share their personal and professional profiles online. Another example is LinkedIn which is a social networking site meant for professional use where individuals and organisations can create their career profile page and connect with each other. The LinkedIn site also allows people to do blogging, micro blogging using twitter, media sharing and comments as part of its service.

Increasingly the Social Media and Networking communication sites are allowing tighter integration services with other types of sites. E.g. Facebook allows integration to share the Media published on You Tube. LinkedIn gives integration with twitter for micro blogging and integration with Facebook etc.

Key Features and Functionalities provided by Social Media sites can be noted as follows,

  1. Blogging – Publishing articles on specific topic
  2. Micro Blogging – Publishing short message broadcasts
  3. Media Sharing – Publishing videos and photos
  4. Discussion Forum – Initiating discussion topic and receiving comments
  5. Survey / Poll – Publishing short survey or poll to get people’s views and remarks
  6. Like / Dislike – Allowing people to like or dislike published social media contents of the publisher
  7. Groups / Circles – Allowing people to create groups and circles of like-minded and related people
  8. Advertising – Allowing organisations to publish paid advertises related to social media content
  9. Subscribe and Alerts – Allowing users to subscribe to a publisher to be able to receive alerts whenever the published has published something on their social media page.

Mobile Communications Explained

Mobile Communications means use of mobile devices for day to day activities and in this context means use of mobile devices for doing social media communications. The need for speed, availability and reach has made mobile devices evolution from a generic telephone to a smart phone device and now even a smart phone tablet device. The smart mobile devices of today’s era are equivalent and in some case even more powerful, fast and feature rich then personal computers (PCs) and laptops.

Mobile devices now have mobile applications that are designed specially to be used on small screen devices with equivalent features that users get on their PCs and laptops. The adoption rate of mobile devices is very high, on one end where the x and y generation are very comfortable using these devices for communications, many of the baby boomers are also picking up faster on use of these devices in their daily life. Mobile devices are used for personal as well as professional needs.

This has led to mobility solutions and organisations having the need to reach masses on their mobile device for selling their products and services. Social Media platforms are having a key role in making organization’s reach to masses easier as most of the users’ smart mobile devices use one or the other social media platform to communicate with their family and friends. Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube have very high usage and reach worldwide. This has opened vast amount of opportunity for organisations to share their innovations, products and services through these platforms as well as for receiving and improving their brand image through likes and comments from users worldwide. This became far easier with Mobile communications as users can access and participate on these virtual social networks round the clock whenever they have little free time. Additionally users having alerts feature on would receive instant alert on newly published social media contents and remarks.

With mobile broadband available on smart mobile devices with 3G and 4G networks having upload and download speeds equivalent to general office network connection, making social media content viewing and replying even more faster and easier.  Mobile communication is the key for high level of success of social media platforms usage. The usage and participation of social media platforms won’t be as high without their availability and use on smart mobile devices either directly or using mobile applications. Smart Mobile Devices have opened a complete new way of reaching and communicating with individuals and organisations. The evolution of possibilities and use is still continuing and we are moving in the direction of communicating in real time 24×7 with each other.

Use of Mobile Communications and Social media – Introduction

INTRODUCTION

It has been close to two decades since internet was born and it’s been 3 decades since computers were born and came in use. We have made leaps and bounds of progress in automating everything around us and utilizing internet to the maximum possible. In computerization we have gone to an extent where our mobile devices are either at par or sometimes even more powerful in capacity then the laptop computer we use at home and work. The use of mobile devices has made the businesses real time; requiring many organisations to think about their use of mobility solutions to help in their organisation growth.

The powerful mobile devices and equally powerful mobile network/broadband services available at hands of regular consumers is making organisations to think about their product and services reach on mobile devices. Consumers are using the power of internet to do real time communication and make their views and needs heard through Social Media sites and mobile applications. Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and many many more are being used to collaborate on wide range of topics including product reviews, word of mouth marketing for a product or brand, product quality and after sales service.

Social Media and its mobile presence is enabling organisations to leverage internal as well as external growth. Internal growth focusing on having company wide social media platform(s) meant to be used by company employees and staff for collaboration, idea generation, best practice sharing, learnings and leveraging the power of peer network. External growth focusing on product launch, product reviews, customer service, pre and post-sales support and community service by use of social media.