When someone utters the terms ‘social technologies’ and ‘organisation’ in the same sentence, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps something related to an organisation using Twitter for marketing their brand and products? Or maybe using Facebook to respond to customer complaints? Well, according to a 2015 McKinsey survey, which ranked 18 business processes in terms of social technology adoption, customer relationship management and brand and product marketing were ranked 2nd and 3rd on the list, respectively, with the 1st being public relations. While the adoption of social technologies for such business areas have been known to help gain competitive advantage from an external-facing angle, organisations are also able to gain competitive advantage through the enhancement of internal and operational business processes. In this post, we envisage how social technologies could be used in 3 business processes where social technology adoption is least common, as identified by the 2015 McKinsey survey, to gain a competitive advantage. That is, we attempt to best align aspects of current social tools with the activities involved in the financial planning and analysis, risk management and order-to-cash processes, to demonstrate how social technologies can be used in areas other than the marketing and customer relationship management space. Let’s begin!
Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)
The first business area which has been identified as having a low level of social technology adoption is the financial planning and analysis area (FP&A). FP&A involves the forecasting and analysis of an organisation’s long-term financial strategy. This often involves using planning and forecasting software to analyse financial trends, perform a monetary assessment of potential business proposals, create management reports and develop an organisation’s long-term financial plan. While most organisations currently use some form of software to perform these activities, as noted, most of these types of software possess little to no social capabilities. As such, there are certain aspects of current social technologies that can be used in the FP&A space. As the development of financial plans is a process which involves multiple reviewees across a number of management levels, the capability for these reviewees to be able to share, simultaneously view, update and communicate feedback on such reports is ideal. Similar to the capabilities of Google Docs, utilising software with this particular feature would enable employees to obtain instant feedback from managers. Not only would this reduce the likelihood of version conflicts but would also enable a more efficient report and analysis results turnover. Introducing such a feature as part of FP&A software would enhance the communication channel between employees and internal stakeholders, decrease feedback turnover time, and enhance work transparency.
Another business area of low social technology utilisation is the risk management area. Risk management involves identifying, assessing, treating, monitoring and communicating potential and existing organisational risks. Such risks include financial risks, operational and compliance and regulatory risks. Aspects of current social technologies that would be beneficial in risk management activities include the sharing and messaging capabilities to internal stakeholders. Applying the concept of the Twitter, possessing this sort of capability would enable employees to provide updates to managers and other stakeholders, including risk analysis insights, work-in-progress updates and results from implementing risk mitigation strategies. In addition, this feature could also be used to provide communication updates to employees. For example, updating employees of the change in deadline for risk management plan reports. Likewise with the FP&A area, introducing software with such social capabilities would help to enhance the visibility of employee’s activities and work-in-progress statuses.
The last business process, which was reported as having the lowest utilisation of social technologies by the McKinsey survey, is the order-to-cash process. Broadly speaking, this process involves the receival and fulfilment of products, as requested by the customer, and often consists of multiple sub-processes including order scheduling, invoicing and product shipment. The order-to-cash process typically involves interaction between multiple business units, as well as among the business and supplier. By introducing a software with instant messaging capability will vastly improve process efficiencies among different parties. This will allow for users to be able to instantly communicate with each other regarding the shipment status of products, any unforeseen delays or constraints and specific customer change requests. By providing improved communication channels across the order-to-cash process, this will introduce process efficiencies, and inherently increase customer satisfaction with faster turnaround times.
As we have seen in this post, social technologies for organisational use is not limited to external-facing business processes such as public relations and marketing activities. Much like Woody Guthrie’s idea of land being available for all, social technology has the potential to be used in business areas including the financial planning and analysis, risk management and order-to-cash areas, to enhance business operations from an internal-facing perspective.
We’ve managed to align the activities involved in these internal and more operational business processes with aspects of current social technologies for the purpose of enhanced business operations. Although predominantly theoretical, we hope that this post serves as a gateway for further discussion and development of future technologies for these business processes that incorporate these social capabilities. So the next time someone utters the terms ‘social technologies’ and ‘organisation’ in the same sentence, you will be able to recall other possibilities!
Have we missed something? Let us know what you think by commenting below.
McKinsey, 2015, ‘Transforming the Business through Social Tools’, McKinsey & Company, accessed 2 April 2016, <http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/transforming-the-business-through-social-tools>
Rouse, M, 2014, ‘Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)’, TechTarget, webblog, accessed 3 April 2016, <http://searchfinancialapplications.techtarget.com/definition/financial-planning-and-analysis-FPA>
Rouse, M, 2014, ‘What is Order To Cash (OTC or O2C)?’’, TechTarget, webblog, accessed 4 April 2016,
Smith, W, 2010, ‘Using social media as a competitive advantage: the case of small businesses’, Problems and Perspectives in Management, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 193-197, accessed 2 April 2016, <http://businessperspectives.org/journals_free/ppm/2010/PPM_EN_2010_04_cont_Smith.pdf>