Interview with Amanda Holtstrom from Opentext at the Canada 3.0 Forum
The Tie that Binds Great Design: Marketers Must Be Conversation Starters (Part 1)
I interviewed Amanda Holtstrom, Senior Product Designer for Opentext, at the Canada 3.0 Forum. We discussed how user experience has evolved as key area of focus for the development and implementation of enterprise (B2B) software solutions.
If you are in the enterprise software business, presumably your company will create products that will provide a solution and resolve a pain point within an organization (CRM, content management, project management software, supply chain, database management, data mining, data analytics etc.). In Opentext’s case, they are masters of content management and create solutions to deal with the massive amounts of data being produced by modern corporations. As Amanda points out, often times enterprise software will solve a problem for the IT department, but unless those who are expected to use your solution fully embrace this new piece of software, the relationship and the product are destined for failure.
I would guess that someone who has worked for a number of years in a sales or marketing department of a large company has seen quite a few losers in terms of enterprise solutions. Think for a second about where those that failed went wrong. Implementing enterprise software across a large organization can be a costly and time-consuming affair, fraught with many challenges for the IT department. An implementation gone wrong can be very wasteful for organization, not just in terms of costs but also productivity, morale and losing valuable data. Check out this ArgoWiki page on some of the most spectacular enterprise software failures in recent history.
But this post is on what happens before and after the implementation. It is about communication driving great design, and great design driving user adoption. This is where marketers can make the difference.
Our role as marketers is to facilitate communication between the consumer and our company. Effective communication is the key to driving sales and keeping us top of mind with our consumers. It is our role to deploy the tools, programs and initiatives used to create the conversation between the end-user and the company. The cool thing is, in this day and age we have an ever-expanding toolkit of services that marketers can use to facilitate, track and measure (create analytics from) communications between stakeholders. This could be as simple as using a web survey like Zoomerang or Survey Monkey to get feedback on what you are doing well, and what your customers would like to see improved.
For companies that really want to get involved in facilitating a community where communication can occur almost effortlessly, Igloo Software, a Waterloo based company is leading the field. Their web communities provide the web platform for collaboration for groups affiliated with the United Nations like the Academic Council on the United Nations Systems, as well as the Canada 3.0 Forum, and a great number of other public and private organizations. [ed ... previous sentence edited on June 19, 2009 to clarify association with UN per comment below]
Social media and social networking are amazing tools that are really just coming in to their own in terms of utility for marketers. Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and the whole spectrum of social networking sites are valuable ways to connect with and learn from what your target market is saying. Check out this post on the value of Twitter for businesses. The next frontier will be measuring and tracking conversations on social networks to make observations that can be used to guide marketing strategies. Sysomos is a Toronto based company creating quite a buzz amongst social media marketers with their MAP- Media Analysis Platform, for tracking and analyzing social media conversations. This post by Search Engine People makes some great observations on social media for big business from the recent Search Engine Strategies Conference in Toronto.
These services are expanding at the speed of light so leave a comment to let us know what social media tools you are using to create and monitor conversations on social networks!