#DIF12 – Neville Hobson – social media is a leadership issue for all organisations

21 Sep 2012

Digital media expert Neville Hobson. Photo by Conor McCabe Photography

The massive changes being wrought by social media and how the technology can drive efficiency and forge closer ties with customers needs to be embraced by C-level leadership, not just marketers and PR people, digital media expert Neville Hobson told the Digital Ireland Forum in Dublin this morning. He also warned that the hype cycle behind technologies like NFC and LTE will result in consumer disappointment.

Hobson, who has been blogging since 2002, is also co-presenter with Shel Holtz of the For Immediate Release podcast series, including the weekly The Hobson & Holtz Report, which started in January 2005.

Hobson said no organisation on the planet has yet truly reached the level of enlightenment around social media that would make them expert.

“I know lots of organisations at the foundation level where they may have grasped the fundamentals and have implemented policies and guidance for inside and outside the organisation.”

However, he warned that organisations’ approach to social media so far can simply be described as tweaking or marketing efforts, not fully embracing the opportunities to make their organisations more fluid or connected with the customer.

“This is a leadership issue, not just for marketing or comms folk, but requires real leadership.”

He said that instead of solely talking about social media and social business, he finds social enterprise a far more interesting description.

“It’s about embedding these new tools in your organisation’s DNA. It’s about a fundamental grasping in the organisation to enable people to meet objectives in ways that are new or different. And that scares a lot of people.

“But once you understand the reality, the fear goes away. This is a leadership issue for C-suite executives to address matters.

“You have to have a stable foundation – rethinking your organisation around how you present yourself to the connected consumer and how does the individual see you,” Hobson said.

The hype curve and threat of consumer disappointment

Hobson said the technology industry is racing to bring new innovations to market before they are truly complete or working perfectly.

“We’ve come a long way, new technologies are everywhere and those in the tech industry should recognise the hype cycle.

“There is a lightbulb moment for many where things haven’t happened, expectations so huge that reality is so disappointing.”

Hobson said the tipping point for new technologies happens when the technology actually works.

“My Samsung Galaxy smartphone has facial recognition but when I’m wearing glasses the shine on the lenses makes it impossible to recognise me. I talk to the phone and ask it to do things but it doesn’t always understand me. Sometimes the GPS can’t find me. All these things are actual barriers to consumers.

“When these things come together in sets, that’s when things take off.

“There is a huge amount of hype around 4G and LTE. In the UK, EE has 4G and in Germany T-Mobile has 4G. But members of the tech press are saying these technologies aren’t really 4G, but actually 3G.

“To the average consumer, expectations will be unmet,” Hobson warned.

Watch a video of Neville Hobson’s keynote address here.

More coverage of the Digital Ireland Forum here.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years