Breaking down organizational silos in favour of organization-wide collaboration was a predominant theme at CMA’s Social Media Conference last week. Presenters emphasized the significant value proposition of this more holistic approach to management – with the caveat that a full implementation of such a dramatic new policy will prove difficult.
“I think they’ll always be silos,” said David Armano, Senior Vice-President Digital at Edelman, in his keynote address. But you have to make the silos more permeable, he said. Several speakers provided useful examples of how to break down the barriers created by fragmentation. Jeff Gluck, Senior Manager, Marketing Communication and Web with MTS
Allstream, discussed the company’s Idea Factory initiative. The project saw the development of an intranet-based social media tool where employees in all departments could submit ideas to better the company. The response to the project, Gluck said, was very positive. Similar initiatives have been undertaken by myriad organizations – even the United States government operates a similar program though the Department of Homeland Security.
Another illustration of breaking down silos was provided by presenters from Research In Motion. Becky Young and Michelle Kostya are RIM’s Social Media Marketing Manager and Community Manager respectively. While they both leverage social media for the benefit of the organization, they are responsible for separate departments, which have unique areas of focus.
However, they make considerable effort to foster collaboration between their individual segments, particularly with respect to social media. Kostya says within RIM there are councils that have weekly calls to discuss social media policy, ensuring coordination across departments. This helps ensure customers get a consistent approach from Blackberry support teams providing user assistance through social media channels. “When consumers are online (using social media) they don’t expect to hear from one department or the other,” said Kostya. “They just want to hear from the company.”
Additionally, Kostya works out of a Young’s office once a week. This would be a frightening proposition for many - but it surely helps RIM’s Community Manager gain valuable insight into the operations of her colleague’s department.
A full transition of an organization’s structure from one of isolation to complete collaboration will face considerable challenges moving forward. But the introduction of social media tools into the marketing mix has helped to clearly demonstrate the benefits of a more holistic approach to company operations. If marketers continue to discuss and promote these benefits as they relate to profitability, senior managers will undoubtedly be galvanized in support of the destruction of organizational silos. Canadian Marketing Blog - Canadian Marketing Association by Jordan Sandler at CMA