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Clara Shih Discusses New Book "The Social Business Imperative" on DisrupTV

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 3.50.49 PMHearsay Social CEO and founder Clara Shih (@ClaraShih) today had the pleasure of being a guest on DisrupTV (@DisrupTVShow), a web series focused on leadership, innovation and disruption.
Co-hosted by R “Ray” Wang (@RWang0), principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research, and Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar), chief digital evangelist at, the show features candid, informal conversations with game changers in business, technology and media.
On the show, Clara shares the inspiration behind her newly released book, The Social Business Imperative: Adapting Your Business Model to the Always-Connected Consumer (including how she was able to accomplish writing it while on maternity leave). She also discusses:

  • Why social and digital have become too important and too strategic to delegate to a junior or siloed team; CEOs, boards and management teams must personally own and drive their companies’ digital strategy
  • How today’s customers want and expect to be able to engage with the brands they purchase from and how companies that do not leverage digital communication channels are at risk of being disintermediated
  • Examples of companies that are embracing Social Business

DisrupTV Episode 0020: Featuring Clara Shih, Naveen Rajdev & Alan Lepofsky 6.17.16 from Constellation Research on Vimeo.
Please ‘like’ the The Social Business Imperative Facebook Page to get the latest updates on book signings, appearances, updates and more. Also, be sure to follow #DisrupTV to stay informed on upcoming shows and guests!
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The Wall Street Journal: What Keeps Companies From Thinking Digitally?

Clara Shih, CEO and author, says the problem is often a lack of leadership

MCX110113_147Consumers are spending more and more time online and on social-media sites. Yet many companies have yet to adapt.
That’s the argument made by Clara Shih, chief executive and co-founder of Hearsay Social Inc., a maker of digital marketing software founded in 2009, and a director of Starbucks Corp. Ms. Shih – who has written a new book on the subject called “The Social Business Imperative” – argues that every company needs to accept the fact that it, too, must become a technology company.
In other words, opening a corporate Instagram account won’t cut it.
Ms. Shih spoke with The Wall Street Journal about her role at Starbucks and what’s holding larger companies back digitally. Following are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Everyone’s job
WSJ: What do you see as your role on the Starbucks board? Is it fair to say you’re a digital ambassador to the company?
MS. SHIH: My job is to be a director. You can initially start with digital ambassadors, but ultimately digital becomes so strategic that it’s everyone’s job. You can’t delegate it to a single director or small group of directors. You can’t delegate it to a social-media team or to the digital team. It really has become everyone’s job, whether you’re a CEO, chief marketing officer, front-line salesperson, customer support.
I contribute like anybody else. I ask questions. I offer specific insights. The questions and insights that I tend to volunteer often come from the Silicon Valley startup culture. I by no means am the only person who asks those types of questions, nor are those the only types of questions that I ask.
WSJ: You joined the Starbucks board in 2011 and now it’s 2016. How has the company evolved in that time?
MS. SHIH: We continue to become more technology-oriented. A number of the directors are really digitally savvy. It’s really independent of tenure and generation. I think having Kevin Johnson – having been an executive of Microsoft and Juniper – appeals to Starbucks in that this is a technology executive who really infuses that DNA into Starbucks. It’s further reinforcing that Starbucks is a technology company.
WSJ: In your book, you argue that, today, every company has to be a tech company. What does that mean?
MS. SHIH: You have to be where your customer is. If your customer begins their buyer’s journey online or if they want to complete their buyer’s journey on social, mobile and digital, of course, you have to be there too.
When I think of the store experience, it’s not just the physical merchandising and layout of the store. People are often on their devices when they’re in the store, so part of the store experience is the Wi-Fi, it’s the content we can deliver through the Wi-Fi, it’s the mobile app.
WSJ: Are companies embracing this perspective?
MS. SHIH: I think most are doing something and they’ll acknowledge that technology and digital are important – but it’s all about execution. Transformation is much more than putting up a Twitter account and training your customer-service rep or marketing team to tweet.
The need for leadership
WSJ: What’s the stumbling block?
MS. SHIH: Here’s the thing about companies: They’re made up of people. Of course, there are people within the company who view technology and innovation as imperative. But there are also a lot of people, especially in big companies and especially in regulated companies – take any of the banks that Hearsay works with – whose job it is to minimize risk. We see this with Hearsay, too, where a chief marketing officer or a head of sales will say, this is great. Then somebody in compliance looks at it and because their mandate is to reduce risk they say no. That’s why companies can’t move forward. They kind of get stuck.
Unless CEOs personally take ownership for digital and innovation, it’s not going to happen, because there’s going to be an impasse with the people that want to go forward and the people that don’t.
WSJ: Any good examples of an older company that has transformed?
MS. SHIH: I saw many, and I’ll share one such story with you and that’s John Hancock Insurance. Traditionally, [insurance] was an entirely offline experience for everything from purchase to claims. The second issue is they don’t have frequent touch points. Most of the time you buy insurance and then you never hear or want to hear from the insurance company again until there’s a claim.
Last year, John Hancock partnered with a company called Vitality [owned by South Africa-based insurance company Discovery Ltd.] and they launched this new program in the U.S., where they provide free Fitbits to their insurance customers for the purpose of encouraging them and tracking how active they are. They realized that all the actuarial tables show that the more active you are, the longer you’ll live, the healthier you’ll be. They said, instead of being this passive assessor of risk, what if we became an active coach?
WSJ: How can other companies be more digitally oriented?
MS. SHIH: Every company wants to be innovative, they want to change. That’s why they come out and do these visits in Silicon Valley and they launch these innovation labs. Most of the time, it doesn’t work out.
It’s because there are two issues. One, the company culture was established to be very risk averse. Two, which is related to culture but is more process oriented, is that it’s hard to take an idea and operationalize it. Imagine having 200,000 employees and trying to get everyone to change direction. That’s a struggle that many companies face right now.
Original article published May 30, 2016, in The Wall Street Journal.

The Social Business Imperative: Eight Years Later

Cover_9780134263434_Shih_FinalI’m thrilled to announce the release of my new book, The Social Business Imperative: Adapting Your Business Model to the Always-Connected Customer, available starting this week online (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and more) and in bookstores.
When I wrote my first book back in 2008, social networks were just getting off the ground. The Facebook Era articulated a radical vision for how social media would transform media, relationships, and influence, creating new opportunities for businesses in the process. Skeptics abounded. Even that book title was controversial at the time. People needed a lot of convincing that social media wasn’t just a fad, so I drew on academic sociology research and drew parallels to the rise of the Internet 15 years earlier.
What a long way we have come. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t believe in social media’s profound impact on every aspect of work, life, and society. As consumers, we live the social, mobile, and digital transformation every day – from the moment we wake up and scroll through Facebook to when we tweet the world good night just before falling asleep. Social media now drives more traffic to most websites than search engines do, and last year social media surpassed even email as the top Internet activity.
Businesses, too, have made great strides. Nine in 10 companies now use social media in some capacity. Yet tremendous untapped opportunity remains – $1.3 trillion in business value, to be exact, according to McKinsey Global Institute. Most organizations are still using social media only in superficial ways or only in select departments (generally brand marketing, recruiting, and customer service), but the rest of the organization has yet to catch up. And very few companies more than a decade old have built or adapted their entire business model for the Facebook era. Yet that’s precisely where the biggest prizes await.
Eight years later, many organizations are still wondering where the ROI is, or hoping in vain to stumble upon the next viral campaign. The challenge, as is so often the case, is that vision is easy, but operationalizing vision is hard. The Social Business Imperative (#socialbizimperative) is the execution-oriented sequel to The Facebook Era’s vision. It describes how social has come of age for businesses (what I refer to as Social Business) in an increasingly mobile world, how organizations can take a strategic, proactive approach to operationalize Social Business in every major function and department, and how these currently siloed initiatives can be tied together cohesively to deliver efficient, consistent customer experiences and unlock transformational new business models.
There are two primary reasons why Social Business has become an imperative. First, social media is where customers spend their time and expect to engage. The continued dramatic rise in smartphone penetration and usage is driving up social engagement even further. Second, the so-called big data generated by customers on social, mobile, and digital platforms can be harnessed for predictive analytics – which in turn can be used to power new business models and practices that delight customers with personalized experiences, curation, and convenience.
The book includes case studies from leading companies that have embraced the Social Business mandate, including Warby Parker, Wells Fargo, Raymond James, Ameriprise, Disney, Ritz-Carlton, L’Oreal, Farmers Insurance, Ritz-Carlton, and Netflix, spanning many industries and continents.
As Forbes summed up in its review of the book earlier this week, Social Media is Everyone’s Business – Yours Included, the mistake many management teams make is over-delegating social and digital efforts to fairly entry-level social and digital teams. In reality, social and digital are too important and too strategic for company leaders to not personally own and drive.
It’s been an incredible journey from start to finish and I’m so happy to share the finished product with the world and especially our amazing customers, who are featured in and served as great inspiration for the book.
Please ‘like’ the The Social Business Imperative Facebook Page to get the latest updates on book signings, appearances, updates, and more!
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