This week’s curator, Lee Bryant, looks at how we can identify and solve some of the scaling problems that small-team-based organisational structures faec as they grow; he also shares some related guides from Shift*Base and picks 5 links for further reading on the topic.

Social Teams in Utilities can be Key Players in Organisational Change

Earlier this week, I gave a talk to the SMI Social Media in Utilities conference in London about how social teams have a key role to play in organisational change as these large, traditional companies try to develop the sensitivity and adaptability to deal with a very uncertain and volatile future.

Rather than compete with each other on price or brand differentiation, utilities companies are waking up to the challenges posed by self-generation and storage, with devices like the Tesla Powerwall and Schneider Electric’s Ecoblade promising to turn customers into competitors. They also face new competition in renewables more generally, as well as needing to find a place in the world of IoT and smart home solutions. What all these challenges have in common is that the strength, power and scale of yesterday’s utilities firms are no longer advantages. As some of the links below make clear, approaching innovation from a hardware point of view in a software-dominated world is not enough. These firms need to become responsive and more connected to changing customer behaviour if they are to succeed in the combinatorial innovation that will be required to compete in the future.

As one colleague from the Irish ESB pointed out, what the level of pre-orders for the Tesla Model 3 tells us is that consumers have already embraced the future in their minds, but they are waiting for industry to catch up and take them there, and I think the same thing is true with the changes we are seeing in utilities.

Whether it is understanding software, service platforms, IoT or the Connected Home and Connected Office, social media teams are like the canaries in the coal mine – they are closer to the ground and can act as guiding sensors for the business. But also, inside the firm, they possess the social, connected characteristics that these organisations so badly need, which means they should be front and centre of organisational change, and not just pointing outwards, doing Facebook marketing on the edges.

Despite the potential for social teams to be the catalysts for digital transformation and new ways of working, some of the recurring themes of the day were how early and experimental many social efforts in the sector still are; and how much effort still needs to go into building the right level of social media knowledge and expertise in the comms and marketing functions of utility companies. Whether this should be done through recruitment, training, or partnership with external consultancies very much depends on each company’s circumstances, but in each case the lack of current social media ‘capacity’ was seen as a potential barrier to the further expansion of social efforts. We are very familiar with this issue, which is why we have already developed a dedicated offering that enables comms and marketing functions to grow their social capabilities and become more central to overall digital efforts.

See below for the slides of my talk and then, further down, some links I think are relevant to the new thinking needed in utilities.

> See Social Teams and Organisational Change in Utilities

Shift*Base Updates

Some links and articles about organising for social from the Shift*Base collections.Our event with Dave Gray to preview his new book on Liminal Thinking is now full, but we are holding a few tickets in reserve for clients and partners, so let us know if you really want to go but cannot find a ticket.

Shift*Groups Updates

Our (free) invitation-only community for change agents and internal practitioners of social business, collaboration and digital transformation remains open for new members, whilst we conduct a review of the site and look at how to improve its user experience and utility and consult on how we can better support the community.

Weekly Linklog

  • “2016 will be remembered as the year the Internet broke free from its constraints of black glass screens and glowing monitors, and became one with the physical world. Call it the actuated Internet — a virtuous circle of real world objects, at-scale artificial intelligence, and command and control that animates everything of value in our lives.” Android Founder Wants To Give The Internet a Body
  • “Tesla has been making a classic information-age wager: that software and processing can beat hardware. Lidar systems will no doubt continue to get cheaper … Software, by contrast, can be improved cheaply and continually, and can be updated remotely in an entire fleet of vehicles overnight.” Will the Tesla Model 3 Be the First Truly Self-Driving Car?
  • “We are now at the beginning of something new, something different. There is a new wave of platform-based disruptive enterprises that will not only change industries but also bring a deep societal change. It will change how we live, how we make money, and how we interact with each other, and it will give us many new opportunities.” Why Platform Disruption Is So Much Bigger than Product Disruption
  • “The Zumtobel lighting system is already collecting data on consumption and the state of the devices. For the testbed, the building data is transferred to the Bosch IoT Cloud every minute. The backend application ingests the data, aggregates and enhances it, and calculates the derived KPIs. These include energy consumption, lighting operating hours, failure data, temperature, dimming level, and more.” Bosch ConnectedWorld Blog
  • “Why is it that smart homes often seem so dumb? Because they make you do all the hard stuff! Setting everything up, creating complicated rules, logging everyone in to the same account. That’s why we made Thington…” Welcome to Thington

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