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Management practice lags behind tech innovation

In many organisations management practice is about 20 years behind the web. Gerry McGovern discusses what this really means…

Rarely do I find organisations where senior management is truly engaged with the web. The web is still seen as some peripheral entity that is somehow disconnected from the core business. Why should that be the case as we enter 2013?

Organisations are slow to change; and the larger the organisation, the slower it is. For example, the reason we tend to have large, useless branding banners on homepages is rarely because the web team wants them, but rather because senior managers want them.

And senior managers want them because they reflect the style of marketing they learned in business school.

The web is rarely measured. Oh, yes, people will talk about hits, page views, time on page, engagement, and all those vague, volume-based, generally useless measures, but very few organisations collect useful management metrics.

The essence of the web is self-service. It’s about customers doing things for themselves. Great websites help customers do things for themselves easily and quickly. So, you would think websites would be actively measuring how easy and quick it is for customers to do things. Not so.

Dimension Data’s Contact Centre Benchmarking Report 2012 surveyed 637 contact centers in 72 countries across Asia, Australia, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East and Africa. The report found that, “few businesses have implemented systems to gauge their customers’ experience of non-agent, self-help channels.” In other words, few organisations measure the true potential of the web.

“The large-scale failure to apply management information systems across new channels, and the subsequent absence of cost measurement activity on every channel outside of the telephone, is staggering,” Andrew McNair, Dimension Data’s head of global benchmarking, stated. “Only 27.9 percent of internet; 19.4 percent of web chat; 9.9 percent of social media; and 6.1 percent of smartphone application contacts are being measured. Only 14.6 percent of participants have any plans to impose measurements.”

Where is management? Absent. Completely absent.

Management today pays lip service to the web but doesn’’t engage. It doesn’t think strategically about the web. It’s all tactical. We need a new content management system. Tactical. We need to be on social media. Reactive. We need more engaging content. Tactical. Where is the strategy?

It needs to be stated: the web can deliver value. Huge value. For one organisation we dealt with the cost of completing a task by phone was $30, whereas the cost of completing the same task online was $1. In another, the phone was costed at $15 per task completion while the web cost $1. The web is significantly cheaper than other channels if done right.

A 2012 UK Government report estimated that, “moving services from offline to digital channels will save between £1.7 and £1.8 billion a year.” However, it went on to state that, “The vast majority (82 percent) of the UK population is online but most people rarely use online Government services.”

Why is that? Because for years we have been focusing tactically on technology and content. We need genuine management engagement. Real strategy that is focused on the customer. With the web, we are sitting on a goldmine but we are managing it like a coalmine.

About Gerry McGovern

Gerry McGovern is an expert in customer-centric technology, CEO of Customer Carewords and a five-time published author. He helps large organisations become more customer centric on the web. His clients include Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, IBM, Atlas Copco and Tetra Pak.

This article was originally published in iStart Technology in Business magazine