This section explains the meaning of a social business, its value to a company, and some common terminology used when describing and working with social business.
What does it mean to be a social business?
The definition of a social business has three underlying characteristics:
- Engaged - A social business connects people to expertise. It enable individuals – whether customers, partners or employees – to form networks to generate new sources of innovation, foster creativity, and establish greater reach and exposure to new business opportunities. It establishes a foundational level of trust across these business networks and, thus, a willingness to openly share information. It empowers these networks with the collaborative, gaming and analytical tools needed for members to engage each other and creatively solve business challenges.
- Transparent - A social business strives to remove unnecessary boundaries between experts inside the company and experts in the marketplace. It embraces the tools and leadership models that support capturing knowledge and insight from many sources, allowing it to quickly sense changes in customer mood, employee sentiment or process efficiencies. It utilizes analytics and social connections inside and outside the company to solve business problems and capture new business opportunities.
- Nimble - A social business leverages these social networks to speed up business, gaining realtime insight to make quicker and better decisions. It gets information to customers and partners in new ways -- faster. Supported by the ubiquitous access on mobile devices and new ways of connecting and working together in the Cloud and on open platforms, a social business turns time and location from constraints into advantages. Business is free to occur when and where it delivers the greatest value, allowing the organization to adapt quickly to the changing marketplace.
The most effective approach to enable social business centers to help people discover expertise, develop social networks and capitalize on relationships. A social business enables its employees – and customers – to more easily find the information and expertise they seek. It helps groups of people bind together into communities of shared interest and coordinate their efforts to deliver better business results faster. It encourages, supports and takes advantage of innovation and idea creation and builds on the intelligence of the crowd.
An effective social business embodies a culture characterized by sharing, transparency, innovation and improved decision making. Such a culture enables deeper relationships with customers and business partners. By allowing people (both inside and outside an organization) to document and share their knowledge and ideas and others to recognize, refine and promote the value of those ideas and content, a social business can reap great benefits. Among them:
- The ability to leverage more expertise and a greater diversity of skills and experience
- Better realtime use of current knowledge (contrasted with formalized, but less current knowledge)
- Improved situational awareness and use of social intelligence in decision making.
A social business shifts the focus from documents, project plans and other temporary artifacts to the source of the energy, creativity and decision making that moves the business forward: people. A people-centric approach relies on:
- Networks – Globally integrated networks of employees, partners and customers are the backbone of a social business. Rich online profiles of trusted experts enable collaboration and agility and allow for exploration of expertise, publications and networks of colleagues to quickly initiate action or fulfill a business need.
- Social and realtime collaboration – Connecting remote teams of people to improve decision making and discover relevant expertise or related work empowers people and enables problem solving.
- Mobility – A social business benefits from enabling individuals to use the device best suited to their needs and keeping them connected whenever and wherever they are. The speed and relevancy of information exchange are increasingly essential.
- Integration – Bringing social collaboration capabilities into the applications people use to do their jobs, without overwhelming them, allows for information sharing within the context of business processes.
Value of social business
As the rapid growth of social networking and mobility has erased some of the boundaries that separated individuals in the past, people increasingly use their relationships with other people to discover and use information to accomplish innumerable tasks. New opportunities for growth, innovation and productivity exist for organizations that encourage people – employees, customers and partners – to engage and build trusted relationships. Individuals are using social networking tools in their personal lives, and many are also incorporating it into their work lives. Astute organizations will embrace social software and find the most effective ways to utilize it to drive growth, improve client satisfaction and empower employees.
Social business software has gained significant momentum in the enterprise, and this trend is expected to continue, with IDC forecasting a compound annual growth rate of 38 percent through 2014 and 2015. However, becoming a social business is not simply a matter of deploying some collaboration tools and hoping for the best. It is a long-term strategic approach to shaping a business culture and is highly dependent on executive leadership and effective corporate strategy, including business processes, risk management, leadership development, financial controls and business analytics.
Realizing the potential value of social business is predicated on an organization’s ability to recognize and design for this transformation.
Social businesses can orchestrate and optimize new ways of generating value through innovation, creativity and utilizing the right skills and information at the right time. They become more flexible and agile in the face of the global market’s competitive pressures and rapid rate of change.
Common industry technology, strategy, and business opportunities
The following is a list of common industry terms associated with social business:
- Enterprise 2.0: Mostly focused on collaboration behind the firewall between employees and partners. When applied effectively, it can enable large organizations to become more nimble and agile and, in many ways, act more like a “small” business in the best sense of the world.
- Social CRM: A strategy that allows an organization to make customers a focal point of how it does business, where the customers are actually a key force behind the development of the ideas, services and products that the organization produces.
- Social media: Social media is another channel composed of various social sites such as Twitter and Facebook. These channels have their own processes, guidelines, governance and forms of accountability. As an organization develops a social business strategy, social media might be one of the channels to pursue.
- Social software: The broader set of social tools (messaging, chats, blogs, wikis, activities, file sharing, profiles, forums, analytics, tagging, etc.) that enable all of the concepts above and include applications used within an enterprise behind a firewall as well as third-party services that extend beyond the firewall.
Three key business value opportunities arise from the social business transformation. Becoming a social business can help an organization:
Information and references
- Deepen customer relationships
- Drive operational efficiencies
- Optimize the workforce
For more information and references, see: