I recently attended a seminar on the impact of social media on business. Social media (or “SoMe” as people in Finland tend to call it) is building and leveraging different web (and mobile) communities using Web 2.0 tools: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are probably the best known examples of these tools and sites. Before going any further, I must confess that I do not even currently have a Facebook account which probably makes me fertile ground for propaganda in this area.The presenters were a group of social media experts, most of whom tried to persuade us that only companies taking advantage of social media can thrive (or even survive) in these challenging times. All kinds of proof of these claims was presented, but from the perspective of a regular entrepreneur, the speakers weren’t really quite specific enough in their suggestions.
Because of this, the show was really stolen by a brave entrepreneur who opened the challenges of his own business to an expert panel and the whole audience, asking how he could really take advantage of social media in everyday business. Not only did this discussion give plenty of ideas to develop my own business, it also led me to think how social media could be used in the treasury business.
A visible example of successful social media usage in the treasury area is Treasury Strategies, Inc. Many of you have probably come across their LinkedIn based invitation-only treasury communities; as a matter of fact, I have joined some of them.
One useful thing I learned at the seminar was that using social media tools, a company gets good access to unfiltered information about how the customers feel about the operation, products, and services of the company. Traditionally, feedback and development suggestions are filtered through so many layers they become sort of unidentifiable gray slush that is next to useless in developing new products or better customer service. Using relevant social media tools, a company or a bank offering services to the treasury segment could probably significantly improve the quality of both customer service and products.
And, wait, there is more. I do believe that a corporate treasury can improve its own processes and risk management capability by deploying social media. Corporate treasuries typically have issues with the B2T (business-to-treasury) processes; business units don’t understand instructions given, they don’t know how to or want to give timely and reliable reports, or even leave significant exposures open. Internal discussion forums, the opportunity for online chatting, and even internal blogs could help build an active discussion culture, not only between the treasury and the business units but also between different business units. This would also help treasuries develop better products and services for their customers.