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News Digests

Stay abreast of what’s happening internationally with developments in corporate public affairs. Here is news that you may find useful and interesting:

The digital capabilities your company needsND


George Westerman, Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAfee, MIT Sloan Management, 29 October 2012

The authors interviewed 157 executives in 50 large companies and found that the most fundamental technology requirement for digital transformation is a core set of four digital capabilities. The first capability is having a 'united digital platform', which essentially means data integration across the different areas of the company. The second capability is 'solution delivery', which means the ability to modify their processes or build new methods onto the data and process platform. Third is 'analytic capabilities', referring to the ability to combine integrated data with powerful analysis tools. The fourth capability identified is 'business and IT integration', which stresses the importance of a strong relationship between business executives and IT executives. For more information see www.sloanreview.mit.edu

Dodgy social media: buying followers, and why it may not always be a bad ideaND


Patrick Stafford, SmartCompany, 25 October 2012

Companies have been hiring the services of businesses and individuals to artificially inflate their follower numbers. Whether it’s on Twitter or Facebook, “likes” or “followers” are simply another commodity ready to be sold or traded. There’s a clear benefit to buying social media followers quicker than your normal timeline would allow: speeding up the process by putting the page in front of people who may be interested. But social media experts argue these followers are never going to be as engaged with your brand had they found your company organically. If someone visits your page and notices your high follower count, it won’t mean a thing if you don’t have many conversations happening on your page or feed. Fake ‘likes’ might add a sense of legitimacy or popularity, but probably will not stimulate engagement with the brand. For more information see www.smartcompany.com.au

Integrity pays dividends: the case for minding your own businessND


Timothe Devinney, The Conversation, 25 October 2012

The author argues that in order to achieve the benefits of 'corporate' social responsibility (CSR), organisations need to redefine the concept in terms of “individual social responsibility” (ISR). The idea is that corporations can be socially responsible only in proportion to which the individuals who are party to the corporation − customers, employees, investors, managers, and so on − are themselves socially responsible. Organisations that are made up of individuals possessing integrity are more productive and efficient, and individuals possessing more integrity will be more likely to have economic and social opportunities open up to them. The key to more social responsibility may not lie in more standards and regulations meant to demarcate ‘good’ from ‘bad’ behaviour, but the ability to get more individuals to behave with integrity. For more information see www.theconversation.edu.au

Managing successfully in the Asian centuryND


Rachel Nickless, Australian Financial Review, 17 October 2012

As Australia seeks further regional economic integration, it will become increasingly important for Australian companies and executives to become ‘Asia-literate’ – understanding certain cultural and behavioural difference between the Australian and Asian workplaces. Among the lessons that Australians will need to learn include adapting to an inter-cultural workplace, recognising that Australian banter isn’t always appropriate, and the value of informal meetings as opposed to boardroom meetings. Additionally, Australians will need to recognise the fact that employee benefits are highly valued in China, and that contracts are not necessarily the end point of negotiations. For more information see www.afr.com

Why measuring user engagement is harder than you thinkND


Mathew Ingram, Bloomberg Businessweek, 12 October 2012

Measuring online engagement is important because its allows companies to determine which channels they should be focusing on. However tracking engagement may be easier said than done – as there is increasing evidence that people are engaging through difficult to trace channels such as emails and instant messaging, or what is called ‘dark social engagement’. While there may be software that can shed light on some of these difficult to track engagement channels, the broader implications for attracting larger online engagement is that it’s not necessarily the channel that is used, but more the message that is being conveyed. For more information see www.businessweek.com

No good deed goes unpunishedND


Doug Pinkham, Public Affairs Council, 3 October 2012

Many business executives believe that commitment to developing a stronger reputation will protect a company during a crisis. However, a new study from Northwestern University concludes that the perception that reputation can act like 'insurance' against activist challenges may be wrong. Key findings include: that firms with the highest reputation rankings are more likely to be targeted for boycotts; firms that do lots of CSR-related media outreach are more likely to be targeted; and firms that regularly engage the media are also more likely to be targeted. Lessons from the research include: that investing in a good reputation is not a one-time expense; that activists trying to garner attention are most likely to target large, well-known firms; and that being a good corporate citizen doesn’t mean you get a free pass when you do something controversial. For more information see www.pac.org

Success factors in CSR integrationND


Claudia Woo, CSR Asia, 3 October 2012

The author identifies several factors as particularly important for full CSR integration. The first element for success is 'leadership and corporate tone'. The author suggests that management should explicitly set a clear CSR vision for the entire company. The importance of engaging line managers is also stressed, as they may enjoy higher levels of trust than senior management. It is also suggested that CSR is embedded into Human Resource Management, and that it is crucial to incorporate CSR into the code of conduct, employee recruitment policy, training, and remuneration and performance appraisal systems. In measuring CSR, it is suggested that companies need to analyse the list of material issues (as defined by stakeholders, including the company’s strongest critics,) categorise them, and select meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress. For more information see www.csr-asia.com

Retailers fail to find a friend in FacebookND


Chris Zappone, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 2012

Nearly half of Australia's retailers have shrugged off the need for a Facebook page. Roughly one third of retailers do have a Facebook page, though 47 per cent don't have one and don't plan to get one within the next year, according to data compiled by Experian. More than half, 54 per cent, don't use Twitter and don't plan to in the next year, either. Pinterest is of particularly little interest to retailers, with 72 per cent saying they have no interest in the site. Many retailers are unwilling to walk away from earlier investments geared towards a non-online environment, said Experian Marketing Services general manager Matt Glasner. “In our experience retailers are most hesitant to abandon their legacy infrastructure investments," he said. For more information see www.smh.com.au

The role of corporate citizenship in high performance organisationsND


Vimal L. Kumar, CSR Asia, 26 September 2012

Increasing stakeholder expectations, the tightening of laws and regulations as well as media scrutiny over the past decade can now make a major integrity lapse potentially devastating to an organisation. Combining high performance with high integrity can help address the pressures that are regularly felt by those within high performance cultures and therefore help manage risk exposure. But it’s not only about managing risk. Ensuring that the highest standards of integrity exist within high performance organisations fosters “corporate citizenship”. When properly managed this can create corporate benefits, both internal and external. Internally it empowers employees to speak up on performance and integrity issues while helping attract and retain high caliber talent. The organisation's reputation is then viewed positively by society at large, and can result in the potential for greater thought leadership in public policy debates. For more information see www.csr-asia.net

Companies that invest in sustainability do better financiallyND


Gerrit Heyns, Harvard Business Review, 19 September 2012

According to the author, it is a common misconception that sustainable investments result in diminished investment returns. Data on corporate sustainability collected over the last decade shows that resource efficient companies — those that use less energy and water and create less waste in generating a unit of revenue — tend to produce higher investment returns than their less resource-efficient rivals. Resource-efficient companies also display high levels of innovation and entrepreneurship pushing core value metrics above the average large cap global business. An investment strategy based on resource efficiency not only produces returns in excess of global benchmarks, it also identifies management teams that are forward thinking, aware of the economic imperatives brought about by resource constraint. For more information see www.blogs.hbr.org

Financial sector development: thinking outside the box to reach Myanmar’s unbankedND


Alyson Slater, CSR Asia, 9 September 2012

One piece of vital infrastructure that is missing in Myanmar is a stable and accessible financial system. Financial sector development is a priority for the Myanmar government, but the author suggests it will require a medium to long-term process of reform and implementation. A further challenge will be to educate people, especially those with low incomes in rural locations, about financial services and how to safely and responsibly participate in the formal financial sector. The author suggests some business models that have been proven successful in reaching poor, rural clients in other markets could be adaptable for implementation in Myanmar. These include: 'banking beyond branches' in rural areas, for example using local shops as surrogate branches; micro-insurance for small businesses, implementing new 'mobile money' technologies; and introducing simple savings accounts with no minimum balance requirements and reasonable transaction fees. For more information see www.csr-asia.com

The digital you at work: what to considerND


Renee Boucher Ferguson, MIT Sloan Review, 9 September 2012

Employee interaction with their employers' social media is increasingly being analysed by employers, using data analytics tools to determine employees' value, influence or motivation within and outside an organisation. There is now software available which builds a digital character for each employee that is mapped against a model of the organisation’s normal behaviour, and any deviations from normality are detected. This can produce a variety of findings, from who the really skilled managers are to who is involved in risky behaviour. The author suggests that employees and candidates should actively and carefully build a 'digital persona'. In fact, survey data shows that online personas may be costing candidates job opportunities, as a third of the HR respondents surveyed said they have found information that has caused them not to hire a candidate. For more information see http://sloanreview.mit.edu

Risky (social) businessND


Robert Berkman, MIT Sloan Management Review, 30 August 2012

The most commonly identified social media risk is that it may leave one's organisation vulnerable to posts, discussions and unauthorised information releases that could be potentially damaging. Findings of a new study into social media risk mitigation by Altimeter include: two thirds of companies surveyed say that social media is a significant or critical risk to their brand reputation; the biggest concerns revolve around brand reputation; and the major sources of risk that companies say they are most concerned about are the “big three”: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The research was based on interviews with professional in the functions such social media managers, compliance officers, lawyers and chief security officers. In general terms, the suggested risk mitigation process involves identifying, assessing, managing and then monitoring the risks. For more information see www.sloanreview.mit.edu

Customer experience should be part of your businessND


Harley Manning, Harvard Business Review, 29 August 2012

The author identifies three main strategies for optimising 'customer experience'. The first is creating a specialised enterprise-level customer experience team, placed outside of any silo. Through a research process that focuses on understanding customer journeys, the team identifies opportunities for improvement. Then they plan improvement projects, and engage the relevant business owners in their efforts. Second, the author stresses the importance of uncovering and mapping customer journeys. The maps visually illustrate the series of events that make up a customer's interactions with a firm over time. They help companies find problems that occur in the "white space" as a customer passes from one channel to another. The third and final strategy is appointing a Chief Customer Officer (CCO), who drives change that needs to cut across channels and business units and leads management efforts aimed at improving customer experience. For more information see www.blogs.hbr.org

Today's consumer cares about corporate reputationND


Richard Warnica and Tim Shufelt, Canadian Business, 28 August 2012

Consumers know more than ever about where products come from. As a result, their expectations of the provider have risen dramatically. Today, consumers want to know what a company stands for, what its values are and why. They care about what a company is doing, not just what it’s selling. The author argues that corporate scandals over the past decade, from the sub-prime mortgage crisis to the BP oil spill, have produced 'default skepticism' among consumers. However, there is a suggestion that the pendulum has swung too far in favour of reputational marketing, and that marketers have become consumed with corporate image. The issue is that when every company is trying to develop deeper bonds with the consumer, consumers’ attention is distracted and diluted. For more information see www.canadianbusiness.com

Why remote workers are more (yes, more) engagedND


Scott Edinger, Harvard Business Reveiw, 24 August 2012

The author has observed that team members who work in a different location to their leaders were more engaged and committed, as well as rating the team leader higher, than team members sitting right nearby. The author suggests several reasons why this might be the case. The first is that proximity can breed complacency - that even within offices people are using technology like emails as their primary mode of communication. The second is that many leaders make an extra effort to stay connected to those they don't ordinarily run into. It is also suggested that leaders of virtual teams make a better use of tools. The final reason is that leaders of far-flung teams often filter out distractions and maximise the time their teams spend together. For more information see www.blogs.hbr.org

Social media compliance isn't fun, but it's necessaryND


Ryan Holmes, Harvard Business Review, 23 August 2012

For highly regulated sectors like finance, government and pharmaceuticals, social media can be a legal minefield. Firms can be held liable for tweets from an employee's iPhone, outside the office, and after working hours. The good news is that implementing an effective social media compliance process isn't rocket science, but the combination of the right policy and the right technology is required. The first step is developing a social media policy in collaboration with front-line employees, and then providing training for employees - particularly those in sales and marketing divisions. Adopting technology that keeps pace with regulatory requirements is equally important, for example implementing pre-approval for Facebook and Twitter content. For more information see www.blogs.hbr.org

Pinning your marketing hopes on social mediaND


Guardian Professional, The Guardian, 20 August 2012

Networking site Pinterest has nearly 12 million users, and reached the 10 million-user milestone quicker than any other site in internet history. The US-founded network uses imagery as the core of its network system, thus creating a clear point of difference from existing social media sites Facebook and Twitter, which are word-based. Many US businesses have begun to use the site to support their own marketing work. The visual nature of Pinterest lends itself to businesses whose goods and services can be presented well, and food companies in particular have been early advocates of the site. Businesses using Pinterest most effectively are those who understand the networks' 'product life cycle' and its demographics. In the US, Pinterest's core user profiles are 25-34 year-old women within the upper levels of income, while in the UK, the typical user profiles are males aged between 25-34. For more information see www.theguardian.co.uk

Social media shift in businessND


Julian Lee, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 August 2012

As yet another large company feels the heat from social media, marketers are weighing up whether the benefits of being on Facebook outweigh the risks. Last week a landmark ruling threw the responsibility for monitoring the thousands of comments posted on corporate Facebook pages back to companies, which now have to ensure posts are not racist, sexist or inaccurate. Marketers must be forgiven for asking, why are we here in the first place? Gabriel McDowell of Res Publica, an adviser to corporations on social media strategy, said the wrong people running company Facebook pages had compounded recent missteps. Control should be taken from advertising and marketing agencies, who are used to pushing a message, and handed to public relations people, who are better equipped to deal with fallout. For more information see www.smh.com.au

The size and scale of Chinese social entrepreneurshipND


Andrea Krause, The Guardian, 15 August 2012

FYSE has conducted an annual 'Chinese Social Enterprise Survey' survey among social entrepreneurs in China for the past two years. 95% of respondents got involved in social entrepreneurship after 2006, with the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 being a major driving force for participation. The recent interest in social enterprise is reflected in the youthfulness of enterprises: 54% of them are under three years old and only 38% are more than five years old. However, many NGOs striving to become social enterprises struggle due to inadequate business and market expertise, institutional challenges, an unclear business model and inefficient income generating strategies. Therefore they often revert back to grants and donations to cover costs or are unable to expand. For more information see www.guardian.co.uk

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