By Romain Péchard, BlueKiwi

Social Media and Enterprise 2.0 are changing the way companies define, manage and engage with communities. Now, employees, customers, partners and prospects are discussing brands, products and companies on a global scale. The challenge is how and when to engage with these voices; internally and externally. The conversations will continue whether the enterprise chooses to engage or not. The question for Enterprise 2.0 in 2010 — 2011, is how to securely bring the company beyond the firewall into a space where conversations and collaboration are the norm and are the center of innovation and business strategy?

The market provides several applications and tools to monitor conversations. But a conversation is only fruitful if you can take action on it. The key to leveraging the stream is building processes and fostering an internal culture where taking advantage of collective intelligence is an everyday activity. This requires an open, flexible way for colleagues from multiple groups to gather beyond organizational lines and into critical action groups designed to turn actions into reality.

At the same time, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Traditional communities such as partners, resellers and distributors continue to be critical to the success of a company. But the disadvantage of real-time is just that, real-time. Companies need to bring their partners closer to them, with real-time conversations at the point of need. And the global insight your channels provide can turn into your next million-dollar product. We have truly moved passed the “push years” where a static document was enough to arm your partners with. We are in the “conversation years” where you need to work with each other, hand in hand, to reach the ultimate goal — business success.

So what does all of this really mean?

1. There is a cultural change of open conversation that needs to be fostered both internally and externally. If companies can do this they can deliver a new level of products and services based on real-time market feedback.

2. Investing in the crowd is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” technology. It requires a continuous effort to keep conversations alive beyond organizational charts, hierarchies and firewalls. From here, you can take the most innovative ideas and turn them into action.

3. Speaking of action, its not enough just to create a space for people to talk and then watch the stream. Enterprise 2.0 is about bringing the company, the brand and its products closer to their employees, customers, prospects and partners. And it is critical to build in processes that help you drive ideas into reality.

So join the conversation!

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