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February 15, 2008

Sloan Management Review: How the groundswell makes your company customer-centric

by Josh Bernoff

Sloan What does the groundswell of social technology mean for management? That's the question we had to ask ourselves when MIT Sloan Management Review invited us to write up the research in Groundswell.

I'm delighted to report that  you can now read the results. MIT Sloan Management Review has published our article, "Harnessing the Power of Social Applications." And while most of the articles in MIT SMR are behind a paywall, they are making this one available for free. [Note: as of April 1 the article is no longer available for free -- the link will send you to an excerpt.] Thank you, MIT SMR!

A quick aside. MIT and Harvard have a vigorous intellectual rivalry here in Boston (culturally, it resembles Red Sox/Yankees) -- many of the local professionals are alumni of one or the other. I went to MIT as a Ph.D. student way back when; Charlene, of course, earned her MBA from Harvard Business School. So having our book published by Harvard Business Press, and then getting an article into MIT Sloan Management Review, is a pretty sweet twofer.

Smr_online_preview_2While the article is was free, MIT SMR hasn't give us the right to copy it, so I can tell you about the article but not include excerpts. That said, here are some of the ideas we explored in the article, which jumps off from where Groundswell ended.

The article includes mini-case studies include CBS/Jericho, salesforce.com's IdeaExchange, the Chevy Aveo Livin' Large Campus Challenge, Fiskars' fiskateers.com community, Dell's community forum, and Best Buy's Blue Shirt Nation social network for its employees. (Some of these are also in the book, some are unique to the article.) But we stick to our central framework -- you choose your application based on your objectives -- an idea we debuted on this blog half a year ago and which remains at the heart of our analysis.

The article also includes data on use of social technologies across countries, and which applications are best for which departments within companies. Plus little tidbits of advice for the kind of managers who read MIT SMR (e.g. Line up executive backing, smart small and then expand). But our main point is that the cultural transformation that comes from embracing social applications is the best way to once again get the customer at the heart of decisions in the corporation.

I've seen a lot of advice for companies in the blogosphere, much of it really useful if mostly tactical. We tried to look bigger, at what really happens as medium and large size companies make social apps part of the way they do business. I'd love to hear whether you think we're on target. Go read the article and let us know.



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Nils Koenig

In what print issue of the SMR will the article be published?
Great Work!

Markus Hübner

The article is a great compilation of indeas and data! There is a tremendous demand on marketing & brand mangers agendas on creating some insight into what yields results. Especially the social application / networking / media environment is quite hard to assess, and that is also one of the reason why the spend budget on obviously easier to manage communication channels like print, tv, outdoor etc.

Keep up the good work!

Mike Volpe

Very nice SMR article!

And you are right about the "friendly" rivalry between MIT and Harvard.
I don't think it is as bitter as Soxs/Yanks. But then again, our startup has 8 MIT grads, and no Harvard grads. Don't hold that against us!

Mike Volpe
VP Marketing (and MIT Sloan MBA grad :)


Great compilation! Thanks for the good work.

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