How (not) to present Social Enterprise Concepts to your Boss

Your company is stuck in old ways of thinking—old tools, old processes, old top-down control, etc. You want to introduce social enterprise concepts to help your company better collaborate internally and communicate with its customers. You see the changes from the consumer web coming into the business realm and you know you can help your company stay relevant in this new world. Maybe you’ve even put some time on the calendar to make your case. But where to begin?

Here’s a video to start your thinking:

  1. Use a soundtrack for your presentation that evokes a car chase. Grinding guitars and pounding industrial drum loops always put your audience in a frame of mind to weigh foreign concepts—especially button-down baby boomer management types. If you’re delivering to a younger and hipper crowd, consider a piano concerto or anything by The Eagles.
  2. Pepper your presentation with a mystifying onslaught of tiny graphics jumping off the screen and into your audience’s laps. Cascading screenshots and logos from Facebook and YouTube and Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook and Flickr and MySpace and Dopey and Smurfette and Facebook will create a calming, meditative effect on your audience—particularly when combined with the right music. Flying stuff is your sure-fire winner.
  3. Right out of the gate, make a bold declaration like “It’s a social revolution!” Remember, these are corporate types taking time away from printing out their email to meet with you. Tell them since the beginning of recorded history, people have been recording history. Then pause for ensuing gasps. Cave painting, cuneiform, hieroglyphics, Greek, movable type, the telegraph, BBSes, broadband, Blackberry: all Greek to them. Their advanced degrees and years of steady ascent through the corporate ranks have completely insulated them from the winding and insistent march of communication technology. Their kids aren’t on Facebook. Constantly. So remember to shock.
  4. After a couple of snazzy charts, a few glamorous product shots, maybe some name-dropping, don’t forget to append to your pitch to management about thirty seconds or so featuring just your logo—their logo actually—and more of that sweet sweet metallic soundtrack. Figure ten seconds for your audience to emerge from hypnosis (flying stuff!), about ten to erupt in rapturous applause, and ten as they open their wallets. You may want to dry run with closings of varying lengths until you find the right feel.

Okay, so I’m a little off-track with that fourth tip. I’ve seen this video before; maybe you have too. The applause ran far longer and wallets were opened well ahead of the presentation—years ahead in some cases.

See, this video kicked off Dreamforce 2011, the perennial Salesforce.com user conference, held in San Francisco for 45,000 attendees and streamed live to thousands more on Facebook.

Over several days of presentations, keynotes, and breakout sessions, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff unfurled his vision for the social enterprise and his company’s response to the uniquely modern customer-centric condition. It’s compelling stuff.

With the latest news out of Redmond, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft will gain traction with a competing social enterprise vision.

These are strange times indeed. As customers evolve, so must companies and the software vendors that supply them.

How have you presented the social enterprise to your boss?

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