Brand Engagement

‘Change or Else,’ Says Disrupting Digital Business Author R. Ray Wang

disrupting digital businessAnyone who understands the principles of Enterprise Engagement will enjoy, as I did, the new book, “Disrupting Digital Business,” by R. Ray Wang, published by Harvard Business Review Press. Wang, a veteran technology analyst running two of his own consulting firms (currently Constellation Research, and before that Altimeter) and with past positions at Forrester, Oracle, Ernst & Young and Deloitte, has come to many of the same conclusions as the Enterprise Engagement Alliance faculty, albeit from a different standpoint: that of a technologist.

As a long-time technology consultant, he believes that, as stated in the subtitle in the book, the key to success is to “create an authentic experience in the peer-to-peer economy.”

Many of the chapters overlay the basic framework of what we call Enterprise Engagement. This the perfect book to send to technology leaders seeking to understand the role of engagement in organizational success and the critical role of technology. “When you boil everything down, you can throw out the word ‘digital’ because it is all about relationships with people,” he told me in a recent interview.

Wang also dared say something I wouldn’t: “Companies that don’t make this transformation will go away…We are already seeing increasing gaps in various markets between the market leaders and the No. 2s and No. 3s. What will be the future for Samsung in the handheld marketplace if it continues to lose ground to Apple around the world? They’re getting squeezed at the low end of the market and at the top.”

While coming at engagement from a technology standpoint, the book is surprisingly about people. Wang focuses on the importance of keeping the brand promise, being true to an organization’s core values and reason-for-being; understanding the importance of relationships in every business decision; and addressing the fundamental importance of trust. (This topic is often overlooked by corporate management based on various surveys of CEO priorities over the years.)

Even though he agrees that few businesses apply the principles outlined in his book – and that the problem starts with a lack of knowledge of CEOs – he’s already looking ahead. The potential, says Wang, is to build “an “intention-driven” organization. Simply put, this describes the opportunity to build an organization that continually improves itself organically through the ongoing use of data and information by engaged people in a way that sustainably points the way to new opportunities or challenges.

“The goal,” he writes, “is to develop an authentic business brand. The organization has to ask itself what the company would be like if it were a person. Digital leaders to have think about this every day and then reflect that on customers, employees, partners and suppliers.”

There’s only one difference between us and Wang’s point of view: his belief that organizations that fail to adapt will not survive.

He believes the digital economy and the ability to manage relationships on a one-to-one basis will inevitably wring out the companies that can’t build effective relationships. From our standpoint, I’m sure that this is true of many companies in many industries, especially those in the consumer world. On the other hand, the change required among top management and the way most organizations are structured is so enormous, and human inertia is so powerful, it seems hard to believe that we’ll wake up to a day in our lifetime when all companies are run according to the principles of what Wang has not actually named, but which we call Enterprise Engagement.


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