In most if not all of the conversations I’ve had or heard about digital media lately, a topic that invariably comes up is who “owns” it in organizations. Or more pointedly, who manages and coordinates the digital programs, who creates the content, who manages the blogs…and who should drive the digital strategy. This prosaic topic may appear trivial, but as any consultant worth his/her salt will tell you process and organization is critical to turning an idea into reality. From what I’ve seen and read, digital media efforts are led by a wide range of usual suspects in major companies – marketing, advertising, corporate communications, IT and sometimes even branding. And this is no surprise, since the elements of Web 2.0 technology cut across all of these departments – relevant to all, but owned by none. The problem with this lack of obvious ownership is that it seriously inhibits coordination and focus – and ultimately effectiveness.
No matter where the digital apostles work in a company or who is the most learned expert or where the blog moderators reside, it’s critical that companies begin to create new structures and processes to help make sense of the Web and drive coherent, integrated programs. It’s also essential to find and leverage the wide range of skills and expertise that are required to design and execute a strong Web 2.0 strategy – including serious technology chops, editorial talent, video production, project management, advertising experience, research, marketing, website design, etc. The list is long. Getting organized can be as easy as forming cross-functional teams that incorporate members from all relevant teams. And it likely means creating some new senior roles so leaders can direct and track the efforts. Without this grunt work, companies may be relegated to one-off efforts that are often disparate and even contradictory. None of this means organizations need to create a new bureaucracy or be paralyzed by analysis – since glacial consensus-seeking and rigid regulation is anathema to Web 2.0 tactics. Think of it more as providing a basic sense of direction and order…Web-style.