Last week — at an industry event that I helped to organize in Silicon Valley — the great marketing strategist Geoffrey Moore was asked to reflect on the impact of one of the most enduring catch phrases in business. I’m not talking about “crossing the chasm,” the phrase that Moore made famous and that is now part of the general business lexicon. I’m talking about “IT doesn’t matter,” the title of a 2003 HBR article written by Nicholas Carr. The point the Carr was making then was that because IT (information technology) was no longer a differentiator because every business had it. At last week’s event, blogger/journalist Tom Foremski asked if the notion still held true today. Moore agreed that we’re at a point where innovations in tech again have strategic value for the enterprise. We’re just at a different point in a never-ending cycle. Said Moore: “the goal should be at any given time for IT to go from mattering to not mattering.”
What Moore said was on my mind earlier this week when I first got wind that one of the original groups supporting social media — the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) — was merging with The Conference Board, an industry consortium of business leaders that is celebrating its first centennial this year.
Yes — a one-hundred year old organization is joining with a ten-year old organization, and yes, it matters.
I’ve got some perspective on this. I was a founding fellow at SNCR, The Conference Board is a former client, and I brokered the introduction in 2014. There are at least three things that make this union noteworthy. First, although social media has been adopted by practically every business in the Fortune 1000 (the market that The Conference Board serves), it is being used strategically — i.e., as a true differentiator — at far fewer organizations. The integration of SNCR research — and its network of researchers and consultants — gives members of The Conference Board the opportunity to look fresh at social, particularly in areas that are not yet common practice.
Second, one area of practice that will soon find its way into the SNCR curriculum could have a profound impact on both marketing and marketing professionals: automation technology. There are two competing narratives that have emerged: (1) robots (automation) will steal your job, or (2) robots will make you a smarter marketer. Because senior social professionals have earned the “brand permission” to advise their organizations on digital disruption, they are uniquely positioned to help lead this important conversation.
But what interests me most about the merger has little to do with digital disruption, and more with the approach to engagement that informed both organizations at their inception. For SNCR — which is known for their industry roundtables — its about creating intimate offline experiences that support professional growth. For The Conference Board — which has been doing industry roundtables since the Wilson presidency — it’s the same thing.
Big difference: The Conference Board has been doing it at scale. In the end, the opportunity for The Conference Board and SNCR may be to accelerate the net wave of online innovation using the more ancient offline tools of community building. That would be a big change indeed, and one that I can believe in.
Related: Shel Holtz posted a podcast about today’s news here.
This article was written by Giovanni Rodriguez from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.