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Archive for the ‘Social Enterprise’ Category

The title of this blog post may at first glance confuse you, as Burberry is a luxury fashion brand, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect to have a digital innovation focus. Indeed, traditionally many luxury businesses have put technology on the back burner out of fears of diluting their brand exclusivity. But Burberry is different.

When Angela Ahrendts became CEO of Burberry in 2006 she began reinventing the company’s brand image and operations. She also redefined the company’s target audience and identified an opportunity existed to increase sales among high-net-worth global younger consumers.

Ahrendt’s vision is to:

“Create a company where anyone who wanted to touch the brand could have access to it.”

In order to make this vision a reality and to reach younger consumers many of whom are digital citizens, a digital platform was needed.

By using social media platforms such as Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, accompanied with SAP application technology and with help from salesforce.com; Ahrendts has begun to transform Burberry into a social enterprise.

Here are some of the components of Burberry’s digital strategy:

An interactive website: Burberry have created an interactive website that entices its visitors to return. On the Burberry website you can watch fashion shows and see artistic creative videos displaying the latest collections. Customers can even order many of the fashions displayed in the videos. There is also an acoustic section on the site that exhibits music videos from previously unknown British singers and groups all wearing Burberry clothing, further promoting the brand.

Salesforce.com: Burberry has incorporated the Salesforce.com Chatter platform to use internally as a portal to enhance communications throughout their operations. When Burberry’s sales teams noticed larger male customers were unhappy with the fit of one of the suit styles, the Chatter enabled them to immediately bring this information to the design team to make adjustments. The company also uses the Salesforce.com Radian6 product to track and analyze what people are saying about them on social media.

Twitter: Burberry holds “Tweet-Walks” bringing images of models wearing their new collection minutes before their models hit the runway.

Facebook: Burberry did an exclusive Facebook fan only sample giveaway during the pre-launch of the Burberry Body perfume.

SAP: Burberry partnered with SAP to develop an application to provide greater customer service. The application will enable sales associates globally to pull up a customer’s information including their transaction history of all past Burberry purchases made anywhere in the world and their Burberry social media activity.

I think Burberry’s digital innovation strategy will continue to be successful for the company as its focuses on creating a wow experience to greater engage their consumers that goes beyond using digital strategy to increase sales. What do you think of Burberry’s digital innovation? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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I am fascinated by technology and what it can do for a business’ efficiency and work environment. The other day in one of my MBA classes we learned about organizations that are social businesses both internally and externally. One example given was the Children’s Hospital Boston. In addition to their extensive external social media activities, the Children’s Hospital Boston has an internal social networking website called SPARC (social platform for accelerating resources and connections). SPARC was designed to foster communication and collaboration to further support the hospital’s innovation acceleration program. SPARC enables its members to join groups, hold conversations, broadcast announcements, and find resources and experts.

Hearing of the Children’s Hospital Boston reminded me of a Business Insider article I’d read earlier this week on another Boston organization Eagle Investment Systems’ innovative workplace. While undoubtedly very different types of organizations, both are forward thinking and adhere to the notions of social business from an internal perspective.

Eagle Investment Systems’ technology has been designed to enable employees to work together no matter where they are located. Like Children’s Hospital the company has an internal social networking website. This portal application contains an instant messaging/web conferencing tool called Jabber. Jabber has enabled employees to communicate more efficiently getting projects launched in two days versus the two weeks it previously took to organize people via e-mail. Now data, contact info, schedules, calendars etc. can be shared through this system, creating fast and effective communications. Interestingly Jabber’s instant messaging tool has replaced e-mail as the workforce’s main communication tool. Another aspect of this technology is status updates, which are displayed on monitors throughout the building enabling employees to efficiently request expertise and keep in the loop with what’s going on.

Eagle Investment Systems’ social networking system is supported by the employees having tablets, laptops and cell phones. There are no traditional desk phones at this company. The work environment is one of huddle rooms to facilitate collaboration. Video conferencing through WebEx is also greatly used and has enhanced relationships with employees in remote locations. Ultimately Eagle Investment Systems’ Head of Information Systems Mike Fitzgerald describes how:

Priorities have shifted away from employees sitting in a cube to what’s happening in the virtual world. It’s all about information flow, data, collaboration… in a dynamic, ad-hoc fashion.’

I personally am intrigued by what Eagle Investment Systems and the Children’s Hospital Boston are doing and think it could represent a vision of the workplace of the future. But what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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