The Great Mind Challenge: IBM and USC bring #socbiz to the table
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  daryl_pereira great_mind_chalenge social_business sandra_chrystal usc
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"Social needs to be seen as a tool for business," says Sandra Chrystal, vice dean, USC Marshall School of Business. Chrystal recently served as a panelist at a Social Business Symposium co-hosted by IBM and USC focused on the increasing need for social business skills and curriculum. Having spent years investigating how collaboration is redefining the workplace and classroom, Chrystal feels we are now poised to see social networking transform the very fabric of business.
She certainly has support in her thinking. Forrester Research says the market opportunity for social software is expected to increase 60% annually from 2010 to 2016, while IBM's 2011 CIO Survey of 3,000 global leaders indicates more than 55% of companies identified social networking as having a strategic significance to their company's growth. But with this growth and adoption comes the increasing need for relevant skills, a gap which IBM and partner academic institutions like USC are working to fill through programs like The Great Mind Challenge, an academic initiative focused on helping to turn students' social savvy into business ready skills.
Last week at USC, students, thought leaders, professors and current experts in the field of social business joined together to paint a picture replete with the current challenges and opportunities social business offers. The USC students had recently completed 10 weeks enrolled in IBM's The Great Mind Challenge. A social networking curriculum was added to the USC students' courses aimed at harnessing the social know-how students already possess and providing students with the opportunity to deepen technical and business skills in the emerging arena of social business, while learning to adapt their knowledge to real-world business challenges.
After viewing the students' presentations at the Social Business Symposium, I must admit, these are truly the future leaders of business, leading the way for social to make more of an impact than I ever imagined. They focused in on streamlining business processes, embedding social into daily workflow to optimize efficiency and increasing innovation. In particular, they honed in on analytics, stressing the importance of mining the influx of social data now available for sentiment and ROI. For instance, Team Revinitives presented a strategy to 'keep GBS competitive in a market influenced by digital media' and the need to track against client acquisition and sales. They also suggested a qualitative and quantitative approach to social measurement. Another team, Trojan Minds (pictured here), suggested a deeper operational use of analytics to help frame the context for social media marketing engagement.
“Collaborating with IBM is helping to bring new vision to our work here at the Center for Management Communication, as well as opportunities for faculty, students and business leaders to interact in a unique learning environment,” said Peter Cardon, associate professor at USC Marshall. “With The Great Mind Challenge, IBM has created a great opportunity for students to get hands-on business experience. At Marshall, we believe this kind of learning is vital in preparing our students for the global business world.”
USC recognizes that social business is here to stay and believes the skills required should be a part of all business curricula. Social networking skills are no longer simply the domain of marketing. These skills are important for business professionals in all disciplines, in every industry. At IBM we encourage all educators to prepare students for the emerging world of social business or else risk them being left behind in the workplace.
Overall, this Social Business Symposium provided fascinating insight into social business through the eyes of both industry and academia. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work with even more universities as we move forward. Reach out to me on Twitter for more information or if you are interested in being involved with The Great Mind Challenge.