Interview with Cory Edwards: Creating Social Business Structures

03/23/2014

One of the benefits of a biz blog is sometimes 'fair trade' agreements. Recently Adobe reached out and asked if I would be part of a 4-member Insider group, along with Travis Wright, Elizabeth Osmeloski, Michele Kiss, that would help socialize their digital marketing conference next week .. Adobe Summit. Sounded like good learnings to share. With over 5000 attendees sounded like a biz carnival! Sounded like fun.

Adobe also offered introductions to speakers and attendees who are doing innovative work in digital/social. More good learnings for us. And I've never been to Salt Lake City so I said. "Yes" to the opportunity.

Part One of a series of interviews with Adobe Digital and Social Media Summit Speakers & Attendees. First up .. Cory Edwards from Abode who provides his insights about how to build a Center or Excellence that is more than just a shiny new toy.

Corey Edwards _AdobeAbout Cory Edwards - Corey is head of Adobe’s Social Business Center of Excellence. He is responsible for integrating social media into the way Adobe does business. Prior to Adobe, Cory was director of social media at Dell. Cory is also an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Social Centers of Excellence have become the new ‘must have’ for many organizations. How do you ensure that a company’s center of excellence is a true business tool and not the latest shiny new toy that is here today and gone tomorrow?

Cory Edwards/Adobe: Structure. And I agree with you, far too often companies establish a CoE but frankly don’t institute it with a framework to guide it successfully. While we often refer to our own group as a CoE, I often define it to people internally as an operations group.

If you think of more structured business functions like sales or marketing, they almost always also have a corresponding sales operations team or a marketing operations team. Thinking of social in that light isn’t a bad way to approach a CoE function. It is a corporate function that is focused on creating and maintaining a smooth operation for the social business.

There are a few things that need to happen in my opinion to be successful. First, businesses need to be social by design — that idea lends itself to having a CoE. Secondly, the business needs to parallel path the ‘doing’ of social media with the back-end internal social operation. For Adobe, our back-end social operation is built upon a foundation with 4 core pillars: 

1. Governance (Policies, processes, audits, account management & security, alignment with business units, etc.)

2. Enablement (Training of social media teams & employee base, employee activation, consulting, working with regions, etc.)

3. Measurement (data driven insights, measurement frameworks, Dashboard, Listening research, etc.)

4. Innovation (disruptive pilots to existing business processes, vendor/tool evaluation, identifying needs within the business, POV on industry changes, close ties with the social networks, etc.)

Toby/Diva Marketing: Do you believe that an organization can become a ‘social business’ without the concept incorporated into the company’s overarching strategic direction? Please explain your response.

Cory Edwards/Adobe: That may depend a bit on the company and its industry, but from my perspective it would be awfully difficult to become a social business without that concept incorporated into the company’s direction. That doesn’t mean the company needs to come out and overtly restate its mission so that it includes social, but it does mean that social really is an influencing factor in corporate strategy and various functional strategies (marketing, support, product development, talent acquisition, etc.).

Executives who want to establish a social business should be aware of social trends, open to social insights and willing to explore how the integration of social within various business functions can potentially disrupt the normal way of doing business in a way that might improve it. At Adobe, it has helped tremendously to have two key champions of social: our CEO Shantanu Narayen and our CMO Ann Lewnes, both of whom have stated clearly that they want to see Adobe become one of the most social brands in the world. And believe me, it’s not simply talk, they regularly talk about it, ask about it, provide feedback and generally want to know what we’re doing now and next. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: What is a must bring to Adobe Summit for you?

Cory Edwards/Adobe: Two things: 1- Evernote. I’m a big fan and user for both my work and personal life. 2- Fitbit Force. If I’m going to be walking all those long halls at Summit, I want to make sure I’m getting exercise credit for it. Just think of how many steps I can rack up each day next week!

Cory's Adobe Summit Session - How to operate a social by design business. 

Follow Cory on Twitter @CoryEdwards

This Diva Marketing post is part of an influencer Adobe Insider program for Adobe Summit. I receive incentives to share my views. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Comments

Thanks for sharing this interesting interview. Being social is absolutely important for any type of business especially nowadays that most of your target audience most likely exhibits active participation within social media communities.

Posted by: Jessica Smith on Jun 17, 2014 9:58:18 PM

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