Like many a good dad before him, when his 20-year-old son Andrew recently told him he wanted to buy a used car, Cam Murray offered to take him out and visit the car lots. But the response wasn’t what he expected. “He looked at me like I had three heads,” said Murray, CIO of Fidelity Investments Canada.
Keen on buying a Nissan 240SX, Andrew went on a global social-networking site for Nissan users, where he checked out blog posts and retrieved all sorts of information on models, years and what to look for. Then he visited a site for used cars in the Toronto area, found out what 240SXs were available, and began online chats with several Nissan owners. Narrowing his focus to two cars, he was now ready to go out with his dad to look at them. Taking pictures of them with his cell phone, Andrew returned home and posted them on the Nissan users’ site, where he got input on how expensive it would be to repair the rust and fix the other problems each car had. Finally, those on the social-networking site collectively decided on which car was probably the best value for the money. Then Andrew went out and made the purchase.
Watching all this was something of an epiphany for Murray. “It made me reflect on the new era we’re in,” he said. “Clearly, the new employee, the new investor, the new investment advisor of the future is going to conduct business totally differently than the way I thought.”
Murray has plenty of company when it comes to gaining a new appreciation for the power of social networking. IT executives across the country are beginning to realize that for business, it’s a game-changer.
This article looks at how social computing is impacting the strategy and operations of three companies in Canada.
Procter & Gamble Canada
Consumer products giant Procter and Gamble is ahead of the curve in using social networking externally while trying to modernize its approach to these tools internally.
“The digital space has exploded, so consumers are no longer happy being talked to; they want to be talked with. They want to have a conversation. And the nice thing about this space is that you can have a one-to-one connection with your consumers,” said Susan Doniz, P&G’s CIO, Global Business Services, Canada.
The company already has several years experience in reaching out to Canadian customers through social media. In particular, it has looked at ways of leveraging the blogging community. One of its first forays into the blogosphere involved Pampers diapers. New moms, expectant moms and moms in general are among the most active communities online, so three years ago P&G Canada created a blogging area on its Web site and opened it up for postings from mothers.
“We had a blogger who was going through her first child and she’d write about it and a discussion would happen,” said Phil McBride, IT Manager, Global Business Services, speaking at the recent CIO Exchange in Toronto.