Transforming Your Company to Embrace Empowered Employees and Customers

EmpoweredJosh Bernoff and Ted Schadler (Forrester Research) discuss some of the powerful ideas in their book Empowered.  Here’s the summary:

The challenge in embracing social technologies has moved beyond strategy to organization. Technology – mobile, social, video, and cloud – has empowered customers. Employees can use the same technologies to reach out and solve their problems. But companies aren’t set up for this. Based on case studies from over 25 different companies, this session will show how to manage a company so that employee problem-solvers can make these connections.

How can you make the employee problem-solvers in your organization effective? This session will show how to:

  1. Identify the most influential class of customers in your business. Based on Forrester Research survey data, 16% of online consumers account for more than 80% of the influence. Who are they? How does this ratio vary by product type? Learn a technique for identifying the mass influencers in a market.
  2. Turn the influencers to your advantage. Case studies on customer service, mobile, and word-of-mouth will reveal the best techniques and show how problem-solvers in organizations accomplished those successes.
  3. Use these same technologies make better collaboration possible in the enterprise.
  4. Run a business in which managers, IT, and employee problem-solvers work together effectively.

The science of empowerment starts with the social technographics ladder, which shows the different groups:  inactives, spectators, joiners, collectors, critics, conversationalists, creators.  From 2007 to 2010, there is a surge in social participation that is probably the key thing making companies take notice.

There are four technologies that empower these consumers:

  • smart mobile devices
  • social technology
  • pervasive video
  • cloud computing services

Empowered is the next chapter in the story that goes like this:

  • In 1995, we saw the rise of  the Web where publishing was important.
  • In 1999, it was the beginning of the eCommerce era where transactions were important.
  • In 2004 began  the rise of social computing where sharing was the thing to do.
  • Now, in 2010, we are empowered (customers, employees, etc.) where engagement is how to do it.

The thesis of the book is that companies need to organize around the customer in a holistic way (across departments and up and down the organization).  ONLY EMPOWERED WORKERS CAN SERVE EMPOWERED CUSTOMERS.  They call these HEROes or Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives.

It is these HEROes who are coming up with answers to customer problems that are making our companies  succeed.  Without these HEROes, we fail.

Another acronym to remember is IDEA, which leads us through the four steps to build customer influence:

  • Identify your mass influencers. (That’s a small group that influences the most people.)
  • Deliver groundswell customer service. (Read about Best Buy’s TwelpForce.)
  • Empower with mobile information. (Move your product to other form factors.)
  • Amplify your fan activity. (See for an example.  I’m a PC!)

Every year in the US, we create 500 BILLION impressions on one another, where advertisers make 2 Trillion impressions.  Already, consumers make 1/4 of the impressions of advertisers.  And, the consumer impressions are influencing in a much stronger way, because they are influencing close peer groups and strong connections where there is already trust.

Our brains are wired for consumer apps and you can see that in the enterprise as a problem, an opportunity, or a mandate.  More than a third of employees are using unsanctioned technologies just to get their job done. (Source: North American Technographics Empowerment Online Survey, Q4 2009, US.)

The new HERO Compact


  • Know customer needs.
  • Use technology to serve customers.
  • Operate safely.


  • Make innovation a priority.
  • Support HEROes.
  • Work with IT to manage risk.

IT (has to change most):

  • Support HEROes with technology.
  • Scale up solutions.
  • Provide tools to manage risk.

IT must no longer be the department of “NO”.  This doesn’t mean support everything.  It means, stop shutting everything down.  Stop being the police.  This deeply resonates with me.  Not only because I’m in IT now, but because I’ve worked so long in my career with customers, solving their problems.

There are lots of great examples in the slides, so check them out.  And, buy the book.  Hand it out to your staff and give it as a gift to your executives.


Author: Ynema Mangum

Ynema Mangum is an experienced, data-driven principal product manager of mission-critical composable infrastructure at HP Enterprise. Constantly curious, her passions draw her to emerging technologies. She joined HP 6 years ago as a solutions architect for private IT cloud computing. She then served as owner of the enterprise social collaboration domain at HP, responsible for its future direction. Prior to her current position, she was a senior product manager for the massive HP ConvergedSystem 900 for SAP HANA. At SUN, she was a product line manager for cloud computing, responsible for the requirements for common subsystems of the Sun Cloud, as well as user personas, industry analysis, and competitive research. Her product experience also includes building web based database management systems at BMC Software targeted at Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, DB2 and DB2 UDB. Y provides an invaluable hybrid mix of strategist, architect, product manager and product marketer with an unbendable passion for the user experience. Her entrepreneurial experience allows her to understand business as a whole and drives her to make decisions and execute quickly. As an added bonus, she is certified in ITIL v3 best practices for IT and Pragmatic Product Management. Ynema is a change agent. She considers herself a determined influencer and a connector whose collaborative nature ensures success in introducing new concepts and services into the mainstream -- even in the most complex environments. She thrives on doing what seems to be impossible, and enjoys taking calculated risks in her personal life -- snowboarding, skiing, SCUBA diving or wake boarding when the season is right.

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