Internet and Information Technology, with the advent of social media, has brought in revolutionary changes in the way individuals and firms interact and transact commerce. The IT outsourcing industry has taken steps to leverage the immense potential of social media to connect potential buyers and influence and the contribution it makes to enhance the brand value of the service provider. Social media is providing a platform for IT services buyers and provider in a more effective fashion, through sharing of information. The social media platforms have become an effective marketing tool for IT service providers, to compete effectively and reach out to newer virgin markets. This paper takes a look at this media in shaping the decision-making process when it comes to outsourcing IT services by buyers.
“We are here to help…” with this message, Alaska Air’s twitter account kicked off its customer twervice (customer service on twitter) addressing passenger queries, and flight updates. This beginning as a social media contact center bolstered the airline to shed its conservative outlook and bring down its operational costs. The early adoption of social media as a business medium by B2C brands influenced B2B businesses to embrace social media.
Initially B2B businesses adopted social media as a brand promotion channel but soon realized the innate business value that social media offered. Among B2B entities, technology companies including IT service providers joined social media with an objective to promote their services and create brand awareness through the medium. But gradual transition in their business goals became evident as the clamor for business value and return on investment from these platforms grew. This led IT service providers to identify opportunities to leverage social media to differentiate their services offerings from competitors. Lately, IT service providers have enhanced their services portfolio by including solutions which leverage social media, and deliver business value to their clients.
On the other side, IT Buyer of outsourcing services have used the content generated by IT service providers on social media to assess the providers capabilities, while making much informed outsourcing decision. This has further encouraged IT service providers to develop well-researched content for their services buyers and position them on top of the buyer’s mind. Social media has provided an opportunity to connect the stakeholders in both IT buyer and provider firms and helped develop a business relationship essential for overall success of the engagement.
The transition in mode of communication from emails to social networks in a B2B environment is seen as a move towards transacting business with higher degree of objectivity. Adoption of social media by buyers and IT service provider organizations, to provide additional touch points to their customers and create regular engagement on social media through blogs, posts, thought leadership webinars etc. has seen tremendous rise in past 5 years. What started as an untested brand promotion medium for IT buyers and service providers, has transformed into a mode of consistent engagement and outsourcing decision guiding tool in a networked world.
With 9 billion inter-connected devices globally, social media has changed the way businesses interact with their customers. Social media has added a new dimension to the marketing tool-kits of IT service providers, by making available creation of webinars, blog & wiki posts, participation in forums & communities. These help them garner greater brand recall in the minds of their buyers. According to IBM Global CEO Study in 2012, customer interaction on social media by CEO’s is expected to rise by 256% in 3-5 years time, which emphasizes the importance of social media and a need for presence on it for the IT service providers.
Alok Ranjan is a marketing specialist and management consultant based in Mumbai, India. He believes, brands are caught in a maze of technology and economic dynamics, caused by disruptive forces, which are changing the way consumers interact with brands. Alok advises brands to shape consumer centric strategy and assists to develop a roadmap for businesses.