As I have talked with business people and
public servants around the world this past year, many of them has asked
me what the difference between social media and Social Business is. It
is a fair question. With all the facebook traffic, the highly visible
bog entries, and the viral videos on Youtube it isn't surprising that
most people have a very good idea what social media is. As pleased as I
am about the wide spread understanding of what Social Media is all
about, I am very encouraged that more and more many people are asking
what Social Business is and even more please just how many are starting
to tell the stories of how their businesses were transformed by Social
Business. I am convinced that 2011-2012 we be remembered years from now
as the period that the social business phenomenon came into its own.
of my colleagues recently challenged me to complete the following
sentence: “Social Businesses go beyond using social media as a new
I thought about it for a few minutes and wrote back:
are accelerating business velocity by capturing and efficiently
harnessing the collective creative potential of their employees and
partners to improve process efficiency, increase the quality and speed
of decision making, and build a culture of innovation.”
It is perhaps a bit wordy but let me explain the rational of why I chose these words.
- “Accelerating business velocity”:
This, I think, is the fundamental business objective. In a global
economy with its global competition and its global market opportunity
and ever increasing linkages... agility, nimbleness, and flexibility
will be the hall mark of durable and prosperous business models.
- “Collective creative potential of their employees and partners ”:
Successful organizations will increasing recognize that they must
engage their employees and partners in decision making and ideation.
There is extraordinary creative potential just waiting to be tapped.
There are two people in different countries on opposite sides of the
planet who each have a piece of the puzzle but neither of them the whole
on their own. They will be brought together. There will be someone who
makes and observation or tries something that works that will share it
so that others may benefit from the experience. The cost of engaging
employees and partners has fallen so much and the analytic technology to
analyze, filter and encourage connections and recommend content and
expertise is becoming so good, that the value of strategically adopting
and “engagement” strategy will become very obvious and compelling.
- “Improve process efficiency”:
Businesses processes have been significantly optimized by ERP, SCM,
CRM, and PLM business solutions over the last 20 years, but still there
is significant latency in the system. That latency has to do with the
people attributes. People need to consult, they need context to approve
something, they need access to relevant content, and also, and often
forgotten, there needs to be a mechanism to capture the feedback and
ideas of the people who are involved in these processes so that those
processes might be continually improved. Business solutions will change
quite dramatically in the era of Social Business. They will become...
well, more social. Social will be baked into their fabric. This space
will likely evolve in the typical way where incumbent business solutions
will adopt and package some social features, (expertise location, wiki
composition tools, activities and to-dos, instant messaging). But I
think that, because of the need to manage the horizontal attributes of
directory and social information, the value of aggregating this
information so that analytics can be run against it to derive value and
insight and because of the desire to de-stovepipe business disciplines,
that many companies will move to a horizontal social platform (such as
IBM Connections) and that they will demand that solution providers
leverage standardized Social Business middleware.
- “Increase the quality and speed of decision making”: This
is one of the biggest attributes of a social business. When employees
can bring the right expertise to bear... when they can access the right
context sensitive content, that the whole “engaged“ organization is
continually creating, they can make much better and well informed
decisions much more quickly.
- “Build a culture of innovation”: This
is the long lasting effect of becoming a social business. Social
Business is transformative. It isn't just about making employees more
productive. It is about changing they way that they work. It is about
changing they way they think about work. It is about engaging them in a
way that they are emotionally involved and have a stake in not only the
success of the organization but in it's continually evolving strategy
are exciting times. The nature of the workforce, the nature of value
networks and ecosystems, and the nature of the very structure of the
corporation are all in the early stages of a very fundamental
transformation. We have seen the impact of discrete bits of the social
phenomenon in the rise and fall of products and companies and even
governments and political regions. As these bits are aligned, integrated
and coordinated.... and harnesses in a systematic way in a business
context, the business landscape will be substantially transformed.
are already wonderful, amazing , and inspiring stories about companies,
universities and government agencies that have decided to become social
businesses. There will be countless more in the next couple of
years..... Exciting times indeed.
you are interested in learning more about Social Business have not
already considered it I would strongly recommend you look into the IBM Connect 2012 and Lotusphere 2012 conferences in Orlando in mid January.