Social Media replaces lunch?

 This week I’m at the NASSCOM conference in Mumbai, India.

It’s the biggest technology and IT services conference in Asia and although

focused on the Indian IT industry, there are representatives from more than

twenty countries here all making the case for IT in their country.

The failure of many Indian technology service companies to

adopt social media as a way of engaging with customers and industry influencers

was a topic discussed on the NASSCOM blog prior to the conference. Many in the

industry took offence at the discussion, and many asked why B2B firms such as

those in IT services, really need to be all that concerned anyway.

I’ve been meeting people from all over the industry and

asking them about some of these issues. Yesterday, I sat down in the speaker

lounge with Sachin Tikekar, Chief of People Operations at KPIT Cummins, and

asked him about their own efforts in this area – something I wanted to ask as I

had seen them talking about the industry on Twitter. They were clearly

experimenting with online tools and so I wanted to just ask how they – as a

technology service player with strong connections to the automotive industry –

found social media working for them.

The first thing I wanted Sachin to explain was why KPIT

Cummins was doing this, because most social media activity is still in the B2C

area. What can a services player get from engagement? He said: “We are still

just experimenting with this area, but we are seeing a lot more activity. A lot

of very large companies are out there talking to customers and creating

communities for creating knowledge, but a really important reason to have this

online debate is to attract talent. I am not talking about just loading up jobs

on a portal, but you can recruit talent and find people by having conversations

online.”

That’s an interesting point. India has suffered in the past

with sky-high year-on-year wages increases and eye-watering attrition numbers

as people hop around employers with les loyalty than former England captain

John Terry. It’s only been the recession that has created any stability in the

Indian IT jobs market, but now the sector is growing again, there could be a

‘back to chaos as normal’ effect.

Sachin went on to elaborate that there is a possibility in

places such as India to connect even more using social media because they never

had a lot of the tech we are used to in the UK. He said: “Everyone in India has

a mobile phone. There is a kind of leap in that many people in India have

jumped straight to mobile computing rather than growing up through generations

of PCs and browsing that way on a laptop. That means you can reach and interact

with people very directly using these social methods, they are extremely

comfortable interacting this way.”

That’s also a good point and something worth remembering for

tech companies with origins in places like the UK and USA. Sachin finally

reinforced some of the reasons why their social media experimentation is

important for his company. He said: “It’s not really for directly accessing

customers, it’s about reaching influencers, advisors, and analysts, the people

who we want to update and ensure they know what our company is doing. I don’t

think that we will directly find a lot of customers this way, but we can reach

out to the industry in a more conversational manner. Of course you might have

had a structured way of meeting people before, but how many times can the

executives have lunch with how many advisors or analysts through the year? This

way, you can have conversations with many more people and have far more

meaningful real meetings with people in the industry because you have been

talking in between lunches.”

 

That’s a clear vote of confidence in the use of social media

for B2B conversations.

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Thank you Mark for a great post and good tips on how IT cos. can use Social Media. I agree with Sachin that we are still experimenting with social media tools and are yet to leverage its awesomeness. But I am pretty sure, that one day our initiatives will bear fruit. We will update you with the results of our experiments soon.
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