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Redefining management in the Digital Age

Posted by Chad O'Connor  January 22, 2014 06:00 AM

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The world is experiencing a technology-driven transformation that is as big or bigger than the industrial revolution. Just like the change to management brought about by industrial practices, the digital age is forcing organizations to rethink how they manage and organize to create and distribute value.

There are three big trends emerging:

1. The rising power and responsibility of the individual as work (and who does the work) becomes more transparent.

2. Commoditizing access to markets, making it easier for individuals and small firms to find work. This reduces the risk of leaving full-time employment and makes it difficult for large organizations to retain talent.

3. The increase of loosely coupled groups, connected by purpose. These groups can develop and deliver value more efficiently than hierarchically structured organizations.

At The Community Roundtable – a Boston-based research, training and advisory firm – we track and make sense of how these trends are influencing management practices. Our clients are at the forefront of understanding how to drive results within this new business environment – companies like SAP, CSC, Intuit, Whole Foods, EMC, Rackspace, Fidelity, BASF and many others.

We call this the discipline of community management, a long established technique in the public and non-profit sphere, but increasingly becoming commonplace in for-profit organizations looking to achieve business goals and restructure how work gets done.

For the past four years, we have published The State of Community Management – an annual research report on management trends. The research documents emerging management practices, including initiatives and milestones required to derive positive outcomes from these new management techniques. We report on these trends in the context of the Community Maturity Model, which helps frame expectations on how management needs to adapt.

Since we first published research in 2010, community management standards have emerged and the discipline has become more strategic. Our most recent research suggests c-level executives sponsor 25% of community initiatives and VPs sponsor another 35% of initiatives. In addition, over 60% of organizations have some kind of online engagement training for employees and over 85% of organizations are seeing changes in the way people work.

One continuing area of weakness is the ability to track and measure value with these initiatives. Because community growth dynamics are so different from how value is created and delivered today, organizations struggle with how to measure and report on it. Ultimately, traditional analytic techniques fall short when looking at how behavior, relationships and social pressure affect outcomes.

This year our research focuses on specific online communities and the markers of their management maturity. It allows us to benchmark progress across use cases, organizations, and industries. The ability to standardize measurement across organizations is an exciting milestone in itself and suggests that emerging management practices are becoming more common as organizations adapt to the new management realities of the digital age.

If you or someone in your organizations manages online communities – either for internal employee collaboration purposes or for external customer support or marketing purposes - please consider participating in this year’s research.

The survey takes 15-20 minutes and as a thank you we have special participant pricing on TheCR Network memberships and on Community Audit services.

If you are interested in this space and want to learn more, please visit our Community 101 resources.

Rachel Happe is Principal and Co-Founder at The Community Roundtable.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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