6 ways companies should adapt to the social revolution

Anton Schubert • Principal Consultant / Design Strategist

When talking about the digital revolution or the digitalisation of everything, we should realise, that we're actually talking about a social revolution. The evolving digital world, which technically consists of digital tools, is made, constructed and developed by people.

All companies that are developing and adopting digital services and products as part of their core business will be influenced and effected by this social revolution and need to find their own ways to integrate into it and adapt to it. A change of mindset and way of working is required. For many companies it means taking a leap of faith and getting involved.

Recently I met Don Norman author of Emotional Design and Living with Complexity, and asked him this question:

How are the big companies going to survive?

Don: “They are not. They are just prolonging their death. It’s the startups_ [that will survive].” _

Let's get back to the social revolution and look at the words. Social usually means that you are good at connecting to others and have the ability to foster a meaningful or interesting dialogue that the other party or person is keen to listen to and take part of. 

The word revolution would suggest a radical change of a fundamental new way of doing things that fights against the old and creates new. Companies need to adapt to the social revolution that digital has enabled. If they don't they risk becoming obsolete. 

Futurice believes the most successful companies in the future will be social companies, and here are six great examples, how to do it right. 

1) Be social 

First step is to take an active role in the conversation through your digital services rather than stand on the sidelines. Social media is about communication, not marketing. It’s about engaging, not pushing. And social media is definitely not just about the media side.

A great example of this is a Danish company called Maersk. Maersk you would not consider as a consumer brand, still their are doing a great job creating conversations and transparency through digital channels. 

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Take a look what else Maersk is doing on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

2) Be revolutionary

Or brave at least. Mobile device innovation has provided an amazing platform for engaging user experience. Most of the old rules for UI design are being thrown out the window. A great example of this is the Katachi Magazine, which won best digital magazine 2013.

3) Co-create

You could use a digital channel or service to co-create with your customers, build in feedback loops and analytics so you can measure how well the service is providing value to your customer. Learn from that feedback and deliver regular and dynamic iterations.

A very nice example of this is the Finnair quality hunters campaign. Finnair recruited a group of keen travellers and flew them around the world to experience their total customer experience. They created a digital channel for them to report back with constructive feedback and ideas for improvment.

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Check out the Quality Hunters on Twitter and Facebook

4) Never forget the human touch

Digital often means optimisation of customer service, but it should be seen as an enabler for a much richer service interaction. Good digital services often replicate the best attributes of great "old fashioned" human service. Apple is doing it on four levels: 1. human, 2. empathy, 3. action, 4. relationship.  

Here, take a look at this Apple customer service email for a friend of mine who had lost one of his iTunes songs. Is this a real human or a robot? I don't know, but whichever way you look at it, its good service. 


5) Celebrate the product 

Simplify the clutter and celebrate the products, inspire, engage and help people to dream. These concepts provided by Mercedes Benz and Adidas really engage the user and help them personalise the products, transfering ownership even before any money has exchanged hands.

6) Develop the relationship, beyond the purchase 

Your digital services are part of a much bigger user journey. They should be seen as living, dynamic conversations with real users. That dialogue needs to be consistently nurtured and developed just like any real life dialogue. The game industry for example are doing an excellent job on this. 

Players are being listened to. New game elements are evaluated by people actually playing the games and changes by the community are implemented on the game regularly. 

​Clash of Clans by Supercell​ ​Clash of Clans by Supercell​

A mindset change is needed

Digital services should be seen as dialogue tools that connect company and customer in ways that deliver much greater value to both parties. They should feel like a real living conversation, both parties are interested in having. Digital services are the modern day tools for the social revolution and they will continue to play an ever increasing role in company and customer relationships in the future. 

Digital dialogue is like any real dialogue it only ends when you want it to end, or in the worse case the customer does not want to have a dialogue with you anymore.

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