I’m just back from Munich where, as well as enjoying early morning runs around an intriguing city, I had the privilege of attending the BowenCraggs’ Web Effectiveness Conference. It’s the elite event on the corporate web managers’ calendar, which brings together senior personnel from many of the world’s largest organisations for two days of intense strategic discussion and debate on the themes of corporate web management and governance.
The corporate website is alive and well
Despite occasional reports to the contrary, the corporate website is not disappearing anytime soon.
Instead, websites are evolving: moving from one-way communication towards a two-way dialogue with their stakeholders. They’re even moving onto new platforms. There will always be a place for “static” information but increasingly visitors will demand more interaction with the brand, and the ecosystem and communities that support the brand.
What emerged loud and clear at this year’s event is the fact that web operations are slowly maturing. They still pose a huge challenge, but it’s one that companies are now getting used to dealing with. What they’re less confident about are the implications of newer technologies.
Phone apps and social media tools were a hot topic – they’ve exploded onto the scene, bringing with them a raft of new business challenges. How does web governance apply to apps, for example? And what should companies be doing about social media? Is it enough just to ‘turn up’? No.
That these tools are important for business was clear from more than just the presentations – the conference had a lively Twitter presence, with attendees providing updates on what they found interesting – using a variety of apps to do so. And, just as with websites, having realised the importance of these newer tools, businesses are working to harness their strategic potential.
RBS, Nestle and BP all gave presentations on the way social media affects reputational management. All three organisations have been on the receiving end of negative social media campaigns over the past year, but have successfully used the very same tools to contain those issues.
Later, case studies from UK Parliament, EADS, PepsiCo, RBS and Siemens provided powerful insights into what multinationals are doing with their web presence. UK Parliament has used the recent Government cuts as an opportunity to in fact save in more paper by accelerating the digital program (e.g. feeding content into mobile devices), as well as branching into social media; EADS drew attention to handling governance complexities when faced with a large number of stakeholders; and PepsiCo shared the steps they took to become the best improver in Bowen Craggs FT corporate web ranking. Siemens in particular stood out, with its efforts to humanise technology through a series of compelling videos. Don’t watch this one if you’re hungry!
All in all, it was a great two days engaging with the corporate web management community.
Many useful insights on the challenges posed by website globalisation – and a sore thumb from reporting via Twitter.