Jeff Schick the VP of Social Business Software in IBM presented at a Dublin Chamber of Commerce event on Wednesday. The purpose of this talk was to let people know the dramatic changes that are happening in businesses at the moment due to adoption of social technologies.
A Social business is a business that has incorporated social technologies as a core part of what they do on a day to day basis within their organisation. It can touch every department and effects every customer.
Social Media marketing is using social software to market your business better. You might use Facebook to market to consumers or LinkedIn to market to other businesses. This is a big, growing and evolving area but it’s a small part of the pie. Social Business is about making major changes to how your business operates. You will change your hiring practices, change how you manage your staff, change how you communicate with your customers and partners, change how to develop your products and much more.
At the presentation Jeff talked about the natural collaborative nature of people. People like to communicate, work together in teams and help each other. But this was more difficult online years ago as the tools were not really readily available to everyone. Now we have these powerful tools at our finger tips to use internally within our workplace and externally working with customers, partners etc.
Jeff also talked about e-mail as a primary communication vehicle has it’s flaws. A lot of useful information in e-mails is locked up in people’s inboxes and not shared. It is much better practice to discuss interesting topics through a forum or a blog so at least this information is available to lots of people. By the way e-mail will disappear in the next 5 to 10 years, ask anybody under the age of 16 if they use e-mail? They will say yes because they register with an e-mail provider to get an e-mail address for their social network of choice, they don’t actually use e-mail.
IBM have adopted social business practices in a big way internally for their own organisation. They also sell social software and provide social business consultancy. Jeff talked about being able to find the right people with the right answers within the organisation with a few searches through their social networks. He talked about being able to simultaneously update and share documents through their internal wiki’s and link up with relevant people within the organisation. It’s actually difficult to understand how a large organisation such as IBM worked efficiently without social business software.
Social Business is a term will you hear a lot more of, it will become more familiar to you than Social Media. Organisations that don’t adopt social business strategies will continue to struggle with ineffective communication, lack of innovation and poor staff performance. For organisations that do adopt social business strategies some will fail to really understand what it’s really about and make ineffective changes to their work practices. However, there will be many organisations that will adopt social business strategies that will make them a more open, collaborative, innovative and agile organisation that will absolutely thrive in this world. They are the ones to watch out for. But that’s just my opinion, what’s yours?