The B2B Social Dilemma
When discussing social web and how it relates to marketing, the focus is mostly on consumers and the communities formed around products and services. Engagement, immediate feedback and responsibility, empowerment of fans, flexibility and having a human voice are the blueprint for companies when interacting with consumers.
The discussion on how these values translate on a Business-To-Business scenario is quite recent, with companies like Dachis Corporation or recent initiatives by SAP exploring these brave new waters. But one thing is to have a 10000 feet view on social business, another is having to deal with day-to-day operations, from procurement to human resources.
We all have heard stories about greedy managers or other forms or corporate assholes, that don’t care about the latest social technologies and are usually control freaks, oblivious about our oh-so-noble concepts of social capital, long tail or crowdsourcing. And worst, they push businesses into a new form of Prisoner’s dilemma.
The prisoner’s dilemma is a fundamental problem in game theory that demonstrates why two people might not cooperate even if it is in both their best interests to do so
Even if we have the best intentions and try to collaborate with other business, the fact is that the amount of effort we put on using social technologies isn’t returned with the same level of commitment by other companies which we deal on a regular basis. Much to blame is the selfish need for maximizing shareholder value that still prevails on many companies (despite having caused the recent economic crisis), forcing stakeholders not to invest in values and technologies more supportive of innovation and social responsibility.
Unlike Business-To-Consumer markets, the reason why i find this dilemma still stands on B2B is because of low adoption of public publishing platforms. Even if we consider Yammer or Linkedin, most of business conversations are shielded by corporate guidelines with a veiled interest on lack of transparency.
When will we see the corporate equivalents of Facebook and Twitter? Where companies cooperate in their best interests, with no hidden payoffs and in a transparent market, where the conversations are regarded with the same importance as in consumer markets. It’s time to replace the traditional industrial complex of pushing goods for the markets with a more design and socially responsible model, where hidden agendas are hard to maintain under public scrutiny.
Yes, i know it’s a dream. But so was landing men on the moon.