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Businesses Lag

By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 06-05-2008 Print

Wharton IT guru Eric K. Clemons says customer feedback online will be the next make-or-break criterion for sales. Where does the CIO fit in?

With the explosion of the Internet, why aren't businesses already doing reverse engineering?

Clemons: With operations, we have historically audited for the mean level of performance. We're always trained to measure the middle. But the middle doesn't blog. It's not the mean that affects social networking.

Now we have technology coming into use--social search, social network-based marketing--that has never existed before.

Therefore, we have a new category of event (low probability, high visibility) that determines the ability to market. The data is difficult to gather, and until three years ago, it had no predictive power. Why would anyone be monitoring this?

Now there's a new problem. These are the very things you have to monitor, because these are the very things that affect your ability to sell.

You need to figure out what events affect your customers' perceptions. You need to figure out what caused those events to have their negative impact. It's an interesting detective game that no one cared about before.

Chief marketing officers like Web 2.0. Younger workers do, too. CIOs also are interested. Do CEOs and CFOs get it?

Clemons: A lot of time, when people decide to use Facebook, they don't know what they're going to use it for. The CMO says he'll advertise on Facebook, but we haven't really figured out how to harness community content in a way that doesn't destroy the credibility of the site.

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